World Bank

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 2:35 pm on 29th November 1993.

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Photo of John Denham John Denham , Southampton, Itchen 2:35 pm, 29th November 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he proposes to take to increase the accountability of the United Kingdom executive director of the World bank.

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

The United Kingdom executive director of the World bank is appointed by and accountable to Her Majesty's Government. There is no reason to change that arrangement.

Photo of John Denham John Denham , Southampton, Itchen

Is the Minister aware that the World bank, through its structural adjustment programmes, in effect determines the political and economic policies of many developing countries to which we donate bilateral aid? Is it acceptable that this House has no information about how the United Kingdom executive director votes, what policies he puts forward, whether we support particular structural adjustment loans or which projects we support? Surely an organisation that receives hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money every year should give the House information on our voting record.

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

The hon. Gentleman is an expert on these matters and follows them closely—as I know, having answered some 10 written parliamentary questions from him last week. As he knows, the World bank operates in circumstances in which a degree of confidentiality must be respected because it operates by consensus. The difficulty is always in striking a balance between the need for disclosure and that for confidentiality. However, the World bank is now disclosing much more. Projects under consideration, policy documents, operational guidelines, technical papers and environmental assessments are all made available now to the right people.