Business and Trade – in the House of Commons on 23rd March 2023.
What recent assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of businesses’ actions on corporate responsibility.
The Government are rightly proud of the record of UK companies when it comes to corporate responsibility. The UK is home to 10 of the world’s top 100 companies, ranked by social responsibility. These standards are reflected in the UK being considered by business leaders to be the world’s third most important country for investment.
The Government have recently taken action on deforestation in supply chains through the Environment Act 2021, and they have made progress on regulating British companies overseas through the Bribery Act 2010 and the Modern Slavery Act 2015, but I want them to go further. The Cerrejón coalmine in La Guajira, Colombia, has been responsible for widespread, persistent, harmful pollution, and for the diverting and polluting of many rivers, causing the displacement of more than 20 indigenous communities. The companies involved have ignored local court rulings. What more can be done to ensure that businesses registered in the UK uphold human rights and do not commit environmental damage? Will the Minister look again at this case?
The hon. Gentleman raises an important case. The UK is a signatory to the OECD’s declaration on international investment and multinational enterprises, a voluntary set of standards intended to promote responsible business conduct worldwide. My Department is the UK’s national contact point on these guidelines, allowing anyone who thinks there are problems to make a complaint, which will then be investigated. I am very happy to work with him on that basis.
Will my hon. Friend update the House on any recent discussions that he or his Department have had with the Home Office on the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill?
I regularly meet Home Office colleagues, including this week to make sure this legislation is fit for purpose and will do what it says on the tin: tackle economic crime.