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 4:45 pm ar 6 Rhagfyr 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Department for International Development 4:45, 6 Rhagfyr 2016

Again, I shall endeavour to be short, before we move on to the final new clause, because Members need to go.

I am very pleased with the tone of the debate. As a result of the Opposition challenges, we will take their proposed measures seriously. The Opposition will hold us to account when they see the strategy and how we plan to address things. Unfortunately, however, there is a technical reason why we are reluctant to accept the new clause, which is that partnership principles are primarily addressed to Governments. At the core of our partnership principles is the intention to strengthen

“the management of public finances” and to enable

“people to hold the government and public authorities to account”,

so we would be reluctant to extend them for technical reasons.

The basic theme behind the new clause, however, is correct, and we shall deal with that through internal processes. We now have a team in CDC who focus on issues of ethics, and they look exactly at business integrity. Until about three weeks ago, in fact, we had a larger team looking at such issues than the International Finance Corporation itself has.

We touched on Feronia, and I am happy to talk about it in more detail—perhaps we can even visit it. The case is a difficult one. The company has been around in various forms for 100 years. It is trying to sustain jobs three weeks upriver in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are really serious about improving standards there and, since we increased our investment, we have been pushing up wage rates and improving safety standards, but there are huge challenges. We have inherited some 19th-century boilers and other challenges, and we have to work closely, but it is a classic example of the challenges of CDC going into a real frontier market, in a difficult and sometimes dangerous place, where 9,000 people depend on us directly and 30,000 indirectly for their jobs. We are trying to get the balance right as we gradually increase standards while maintaining that important part of the economy of the area.

With that, I ask politely for the amendment to be withdrawn.