Condition for exercise of power to increase limit: analysis of use of separate financial centres

Part of Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:29 pm on 10th January 2017.

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Photo of Kate Osamor Kate Osamor Shadow Secretary of State for International Development 2:29 pm, 10th January 2017

The hon. Gentleman makes a valuable point, but the Bill still needs scrutiny. That is what I am laying out.

We all know that transparency is something that DFID does very well indeed. Its performance in the aid transparency index demonstrates an international gold standard in that regard. Historically, however, the same cannot be said for CDC. It is of the utmost importance that the proportion of the ODA budget that is channelled through CDC be subject to the same checks on outcomes and value for money to which DFID holds itself. New clause 4 lays down conditions that would guarantee transparent governance through an agreed framework reached with the Independent Commission for Aid Impact and CDC. Proper annual measurements of outcome would be a welcome addition to the Bill.

In relation to new clauses 1 and 8 and the issue of CDC use of separate financial centres where countries do not have sufficiently robust regulatory environments, now is the time to put on record the Government’s commitment to strengthening financial service centres in developing countries. The Opposition know that the importance of addressing and tackling CDC’s use of tax havens cannot be overstated. Although we heard assurances in Committee from Diana Noble, the chief executive of CDC, that using offshore financial centres ensures legal certainty and lessens risk for investors, far more than reassurance is needed to ensure transparency on that point. We need clear legislative safeguards, which is why the Front-Bench team will press new clause 1 to a vote. New clause 1 requires any proposal to increase the limit by secondary legislation to be accompanied by a thorough analysis of CDCs use of such centres. Where the countries in question do not have sufficiently robust regulatory environments, it is the UK’s job to ensure that those centres are made more robust.