Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 95 - 99)




  95. Can I welcome you all here today to talk about this difficult but important subject of corruption? I wonder whether it would be appropriate for you to introduce your colleagues? We do know Mr Hasan because we had an informal session in Dhaka with him about a year ago, I suppose it was, but we welcome you all. Perhaps you would like to introduce your colleagues for the benefit of the shorthand writer.

  (Mr Cockcroft) Yes, certainly, Chairman. Thank you very much. On my far right is Graham Rodmell, who is the Co-ordinator of Transparency International (UK) and who will today particularly take issues to do with UK legal questions. On my right, as you correctly say, is Mr Manzoor Hasan, who is the Executive Director of Transparency International-Bangladesh. I am Laurence Cockcroft, the Chairman of TI-UK, and on my left is John Bray, who is a Senior Consultant to Control Risks Group, who has done a great deal of work on corporate attitudes to corruption and responses within the corporate sector working with companies.

  96. May I, first of all, thank you very much for your written submissions to the Committee, which we have read very thoroughly and from which our questions arise this morning. I understand you want to make an opening statement, Mr Cockcroft. Is that right?
  (Mr Cockcroft) We would welcome that opportunity, Chairman.

Mr Robathan

  97. I just wanted to find out what is Control Risks Group?
  (Mr Bray) We are a business risk consultancy. We are based up the road in Victoria Street, we have a network of international offices and we assist companies in facing up to non-commercial risk, particularly political and security risks.


  98. Mr Cockcroft, perhaps you would like to introduce the statement in writing we have in front of us?[5]

(Mr Cockcroft) Yes, Chairman. The statement makes some points which are not highlighted in our long text because our text, of 70 pages, was designed to respond to the terms of reference which the Committee had set itself. We were concerned that one or two very broad brush issues should not be neglected which did not appear to be adequately reflected—perhaps not in our terms of reference but in our response, which was very specific. So we just would like to say three or four things. First of all, we think it is important to recognise that corruption, both grand and petty, does impact on the very poor in the developing world. We would like to emphasise that corruption is a dynamic phenomenon which changes over time; so questions of whether or not corruption is culturally endemic have to be seen in a dynamic context rather than one in which it is static. Thirdly, we would like to say that we are increasingly convinced within TI-UK (I might say with regret and after considerable debate) that there is a strong case for tapering aid to countries which are endemically corrupt and where governments show no sign of changing their position. But in these contexts we believe that increasingly aid should be channelled to NGOs and civil society, but not neglecting key government institutions which are competently managed, such as the offices of Auditors General, which can actually make a significant difference, even in a corrupt environment. In that particular framework, we want to recognise the fact (which, of course, is implied in your terms of reference) that high levels of corruption do dissuade foreign direct investment, with the exception of smaller countries with a high mineral resource base. So that, in those cases, one can see FDI flowing to those particular contexts. We want to say that although it is very easy to, as it were, castigate countries for corruption and, therefore, for avoiding foreign direct investment or mitigating its flows, this is in fact only one side of the coin. In 1999 for the first time TI published a bribe payers index which was based on a survey of 750 senior officials and business people in 13 different emerging market economies, which was conducted by Gallup, so it was independent. This confirmed that particularly in the arms and civil construction sectors bribes were regularly on offer from international companies. We just wanted to make the point that the Lesotho Highlands Water Project case currently in court does tend to illustrate that particular problem. So the corporate sector has a key role to play, both in, as it were, creating a situation and in potentially rolling it back. Most importantly, and we do think this comes out in our text so we will not emphasise this point now, we want to stress that the UK has responsibilities in this respect which go well beyond the aid programme. In TI we are extremely impressed by what DFID is doing in attempting to deal with the corruption issue. We are much less impressed by what is happening in the Home Office in relation to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the follow-up legislation in relation to money laundering and in relation to effective mutual legal assistance. I know these points will come up in the discussion. So we just wanted to highlight those themes, Mr Chairman, before going into any further details.

  99. Thank you. I think the question of the tapering aid is of particular importance, which I think we will want to go into in the course of the questioning—as to what can we do about corruption. I think we will conclude that in the section of questions which we intend to ask you. I would like to thank you for that. Can I make certain that we are referring to the same table? In your submission to us, on page 21, you have a table where you rank countries which start with China as being the most prone to pay bribes and, at the other end, Sweden as the least prone. Is that the table you are referring to?
  (Mr Cockcroft) Yes.

5   See Evidence pp 104-105. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 5 April 2001