Select Committee on International Development Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by The British Council

  The British Council promotes activities, programmes and projects to counter corruption as part of its work overseas. The Council considers corruption to be a significant barrier to development and good governance. We are aware of and support the British government's views on corruption as an issue in development and of the views of international agencies such as the World Bank, the United Nations and the OECD. We take these into account in any work that we do which contributes to combating corruption.

  The British Council has offices in 110 countries. Each office has a programme of activity tailored to local needs and interests, but within a broad centrally directed framework. Some activities in some country programmes contribute either directly or indirectly to combating corruption. Examples of work which may be of interest to the Committee, include:

    —  Working directly to develop the capacity of anti-corruption agencies. In our capacity as managers of development projects for aid agencies we have managed projects which agencies such as the Anti-Corruption Commission in Egypt and with police forces in countries in Central and West Africa. These projects have generally included the provision of consultancy services and training for individual officers in Britain. Officers from a number of anti-corruption agencies have attended training programmes in the UK on schemes funded or managed by the British Council over a number of years.

    —  Working with agencies, which have an indirect role in combating corruption. We have worked in a number of countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Eritrea and India to develop the capacity of national public audit bodies by training staff and providing consultancy support both with our own funds and through managing donor agency funded projects. We have done similar work to develop the capacity of national accountancy professional bodies in countries including Kenya, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In the legal field we have undertaken work to develop the capacity of the judiciary and of lawyers in a number of countries. We have also managed projects, which have worked to improve record keeping in public sector organisations. Proper record keeping is an essential element in combating corruption. British Council support is principally provided through the provision of training and other staff development opportunities.

    —  Raising awareness of corruption issues. We have contributed to a small number of conferences, seminars and workshops on the theme of corruption, which have brought together representatives of governments, the media and civil society to discuss corruption and standards in public life.

    —  We manage examinations in many countries for several British professional bodies including the ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW and CIB whose work contributes significantly to the promotion of professional standards of competence and conduct in financial management.

    —  From time to time we commission briefing documents to keep our staff up to date on current issues of concern and interest. Amongst these have been Ethics in Public Life and Corporate Governance in the UK from the Centre for Business and Public Sector Ethics and Corruption from the Centre for the Study of White Collar Crime at Liverpool John Moores University (copies enclosed).

David Green

Director-General, The British Council

December 2000

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