Condition for exercise of power to increase limit: adherence to DFID partnership principles

Part of Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:30 pm ar 6 Rhagfyr 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Labour/Co-operative, De Caerdydd a Phenarth 4:30, 6 Rhagfyr 2016

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I do not want to detain the Committee for too long on this new clause, because it refers to some of the issues that we discussed earlier, in terms of setting the overall framework for what CDC is doing and ensuring it is coherent with what the rest of Government—specifically DFID—are doing. Members may or may not be familiar with the partnership principles, which are an important set of principles that underpins DFID’s bilateral work, the types of relationships it has and the kinds of restrictions and caveats it places on that work.

For the benefit of the Committee, there are four partnership principles. The first is a commitment to reducing poverty and achieving what was then the millennium development goals—I am sure it is now the sustainable development goals. That is the commitment of a partner to address the constraints to poverty reduction and progress against those goals. The second is a commitment to respecting human rights and other international obligations. That is the commitment of a partner to respect human rights—particularly economic, social and cultural rights—as well as the civil and political rights of poor people. Third is a commitment to strengthen financial management and accountability and to reduce the risk of funds being misused through weak administration or corruption. The fourth is a commitment to domestic accountability, which is enabling people—a little bit to do with what I was just talking about with private healthcare and education—to hold their Government and public authorities to account for delivering on their commitments and responsibilities, and not undermining that either by supplanting those relationships or by diverting people’s attention.

Clearly, from some of the comments that the Minister made earlier about coherence with the sustainable development goals and the plans for the strategy, and from CDC’s progress since 2012 in financial management and accountability, I feel quite comfortable that we are probably heading in the direction of the DFID partnership principles in those two areas, albeit the proof will be in the pudding. On partnership principles 2 and 4, I want to hear from the Minister what restrictions and guidance are in place to ensure that the activities of CDC, its investment vehicles and, crucially, its partners in some investments do not undermine human rights and other standards we might expect to be maintained in a bilateral or other investment that the Department might make. On that last point in particular, does he accept that if we simply do development to people, whether through a bilateral programme or a fund investment in a particular area, we perhaps do not empower people to take advantage of their own destiny and opportunities and so develop that positive social contract with the state in their countries?

I am concerned about No. 2. The example of Feronia has been brought up a few times, but War on Want and other organisations have expressed concerns. I have not yet heard a full explanation or a response, but I hope that will be forthcoming. I also hope the Department and CDC will take seriously future concerns about investments, whether expressed by CDC partners or CDC itself. We should be adhering to the highest standards. It would be perfectly reasonable to expect CDC to adhere to the four principles, and I hope the Minister will consider accepting the new clause, or find some other way to put the principles into law. That is what we expect of our bilateral programmes and other partnership relationships, and we should expect no less from CDC.