This week Teresa co-signed a Ten Minute Rule Bill to radically shake-up the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD). The little-known Department uses taxpayers’ money to insure high-risk exports by private companies in the developing world.
Reform is needed because the Department has backed some controversial exports that have helped fuel climate change, enable human rights abuses, and generate millions of pounds of third world debt.
The Bill seeks to clean up Britain’s exports ensure that the ECGD is more transparent and answerable to the public and Parliament. The full text of the Bill is:
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Secretary of State to impose certain requirements on the Export Credits Guarantee Department, including the publication of an audit of all sums owed to the Department, an annual impact assessment and a real-time disclosure policy on all supported projects; to prohibit the support of certain activities by the Department; to provide that debt cancellation by the Department cannot be defined as official development assistance; to prohibit companies from receiving support from the Department for a period of at least five years following a relevant conviction of corruption; to introduce a duty of care provision which must be followed in the Department’s operations to provide access to justice for those affected by supported projects; and for connected purposes.
The Bill was unopposed at First Reading and will have its Second Reading on 11 November 2011. More information about the bill is available here.
Teresa also co-signed the following letter printed in the Guardian on 26 April:
Tomorrow MPs will be asked to back a bill to radically shake up the Export Credits Guarantee Department. Since 1919 this little-known government department has used taxpayers’ money to insure high-risk exports by private companies, today frequently to the developing world. Despite its low profile, the ECGD has far-reaching influence: in 2009-10 it backed business to the tune of £2.2bn, and the department now lies at the heart of the government’s export growth strategy.
The problem is this department has a history of supporting highly controversial projects. The backlist includes the Turkwel Gorge power station in Kenya, which was mired in corruption, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline (Report, 10 March), which, according to Amnesty International, created a human “rights-free corridor” through the Caucasus. Today ECGD continues adding to this record by backing exports that fuel climate change, enable human rights abuses, and generate millions of pounds of third world debt every year.
We believe the ECGD could be a champion for responsible British business by supporting, for instance, green technology exports. But this will require fundamental reform. As such, the Export Credits Guarantee Department bill seeks to overhaul what projects are backed and how they are managed, and ensure the ECGD is more answerable to the public and parliament. We urge all MPs to join us in backing this bill and help clean up Britain’s exports.
Lisa Nandy MP (Labour)
Zac Goldsmith MP (Conservative)
Roger Williams MP (Lib Dem)
Caroline Lucas MP (Green)
Eilidh Whiteford MP (SNP)
Tony Cunningham MP (Labour)
Bob Russell MP (Lib Dem)
Sheila Gilmore MP (Labour)
Teresa Pearce MP (Labour)