IN 1970 our government, with 21 others, agreed to spend 0.7% of its income on aid to developing countries.

Today, more than three decades later, Britain, the world's fourth biggest economy, is less than halfway there.

The British government has declared war on poverty, which destroys lives and fuels global insecurity.

Indeed, spending on aid has significantly improved under Labour.

But at the current rate, it will take Britain another 40 years to meet its commitment for aid to reach 0.7% of national income.

The delay is costing poor countries dearly in their efforts to meet development targets such as basic health and education.

In March the UN Finance for Development conference in Mexico provides a golden opportunity for Britain to lead the way and announce that the target will be reached during the lifetime of this parliament, and encourage other rich nations to do the same.

Readers can help by lobbying their MP to urge Gordon Brown to make this vital pledge.

Carolyne Culver, Cranmore Park, Aldershot.