The coalition has been urged to get rid of the Common Agricultural Policy in order to revitalize international trade by a senior Conservative peer.
Lord Michael Howard, speaking at Conservative Friends of International Development , said that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has done "enormous harm" to international trade. The former Tory leader attacked the CAP as a "protectionist" policy, saying:
"I think that one of the worst things that Tony Blair did... was to extend the life of the CAP. He could have vetoed that. he was in a position to have vetoed that and he didn't do it."
The CAP was introduced to be a system of subsidies for European agriculture. However, the former Tory Home Secretary said it damaged farmers' livelihoods in other countries - like Ghana. He blamed the CAP as the reason for the failure of the Doha Round of trade talks.
"Had it not been blocked by European leaders insistent on keeping the Common Agricultural Policy, then the world would be a much more prosperous place than it is today" he said.
Lord Howard suggested that the coalition could use its influence when it chairs the G8 nations next year to radically change the CAP. "We could try and build an internetional consensus, I think that would bring help for all" he said.
Reforming the CAP would be a "good opportunity to improve the lives of poor people", according to Lord Howard. He said it was time for the coalition to seize the opportunity "with both hands".
"I do hope very much it'll be grasped with both hands and they'll do everything they can [to reform it]" he said. However, he lamented that it may be hard to build a consensus due to "powerful forces for agricultural protectionism".
Sources close to DFID told HuffPost UK that "the government has not decided its position on the CAP".
Lord Howard mounted a robust defence of the need for international aid. He said the United Kingdom still had a "moral obligation" to help poor nations, despite the economic crisis. "It is in our self interest to help poorer countries in the world" he added.
He praised the target of 0.7% GDP on international aid as achievable and right.
He told HuffPost UK that he was not phased by rumours of coalition delay on putting that target into law. He said: "I don't care when they put it into law, as long as they get on and reach the target!"
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has previously warned that going back on his promise for a 0.7% target would "cost lives".