British business backs PM's foreign aid pledge

Chief executives of some of Britain's biggest companies -- including BP, Vodafone and GlaxoSmithKline -- on Monday joined the boss of English football's Premier League in stressing the need for Britain to maintain its overseas aid budget.

In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron and published by the Financial Times, 27 bosses wrote that protecting the government's level of foreign aid spending was "not only the right thing to do" but was also a "smart investment."

With Britain at risk of a fresh recession, Cameron is under pressure from some members of his own Conservative party to reduce the coalition government's commitment to provide 0.7 percent of Britain's national income for international aid.

But company leaders, including also the boss of publisher Pearson and alcoholic drinks giant Diageo, have responded with an open letter, in which they said:

"We have written to David Cameron on Monday to applaud his decision to stick to the UK’s commitment to overseas aid to the developing world, despite the tough economic times.

"As chief executives of leading British companies we believe that this is not only the right thing to do, but that it is a smart investment. It is both humanitarian and in the interests of the country for the prime minister to do this and the case for continuing, well-targeted aid is beyond doubt."

They added: "Aid has contributed to improving education, health, sanitation and other public services in many of the world’s poorest countries. This investment in human capital is fundamental for a functioning economy."