Alan Duncan said the UK is forced to hand over money to Brussels but has no say in how it is spent
The European Union is taking millions of pounds in aid from the British taxpayer with no promise it will spend it on tackling poverty, a senior Conservative minister claimed today.
Alan Duncan, the minister of state at the Department for International Development, said the UK is forced to hand over money to Brussels but has no say in how it is spent.
The explosive remarks are likely to trigger renewed calls for David Cameron to reconsider his promise to commit to increasing overseas aid spending to 0.7 per cent of GDP when other areas of public spending face deep cuts.
And in a two-pronged challenge to the Prime Minister, it will fuel demands for Britain to renegotiate its relationship with the EU.
Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary appointed in last month's reshuffle, has ordered an audit of all aid spending to ensure taxpayers' money is not being wasted.
The comments from Mr Duncan, her deputy minister, are likely to face calls for tougher controls on help for poorer countries at the Tory party conference next week.
Mr Duncan said the EU's aid programme needed an overhaul.
'We share the people's anger on this. We are forced to give money to the European Union,' he told the Sunday Telegraph.
'We ask them to focus aid on poverty but they don't, and we have no choice in the matter.'
His remarks come as the newspaper reported 1.4billion, one sixth of his department's budget, is diverted to EU schemes.
Justine Greening has ordered an audit of all aid spending to ensure taxpayers' money is not being wasted
An EU spokesman said it was 'simply untrue' to say that 'Brussels is taking decisions on where funding goes and then imposing them on the UK'.
But a senior Tory quoted in the newspaper claimed the idea this was a 'lie'.
The source said: 'If you want an EU lie, this is a classic one. It is a 100 per cent lie. We have been arguing with the EU whenever we can that the money should have a poverty focus.'
Projects the EU's EuropeAid scheme has supported include an 800,000 water park in Morocco, 223,683 on a consultant to fight corruption in Jamaica and 20million to the Icelandic government prepare to join the EU.
The L'Oasis de Noria near Marrakech in Morocco is receiving more than 1million from EuropeAid as part of a 60million development which includes a spa, water lagoon, tennis courts and 480 apartments.
Another hotel in northern Morocco is receiving a further 650,000 for an energy efficiency scheme.
Iceland, which is technically wealthier than Britain, has also received EU funding to promote tourism around the volcano Eyjafjallajkull which caused global air travel chaos when it erupted in 2010.
Steingerdur Hreinsdottir, who administers the geopark grant on behalf of the Development Centre of South Iceland, defended the funding, telling the newspaper: 'If it's available anyway, I don't see why we shouldn't take it to help a region that's in decline.'