Mary Creagh

Working hard for Wakefield

Questions to the International Development Secretary


On Wednesday 8 July, Mary Creagh asked the following questions to the International Development Secretary, Justine Greening: 

Mary Creagh (Wakefield) (Lab): Members on both sides of the House agree that decent work is the best route out of poverty, but last week, Radio 4’s “File on 4” revealed problems with a DFID programme in Nigeria. It alleged that the project exported rocks instead of leather products, and that it was used as a cover for export fraud and money laundering on an industrial scale. The right hon. Lady and her Department refused to speak to the programme makers, so will she tell the House what action she is taking as a result of those revelations?

Justine Greening: The revelations were, as ever, not quite what they seemed. The export enhancement grant is not a mechanism that DFID is involved with at all; it is a Nigerian Government policy that was being misused and abused. We do work in the leather sector, but that work relates to helping local markets to develop. We became aware of issues with the export enhancement grant, and DFID worked with the Nigerian Government to encourage them, in the end, to shut it down, which they did about 12 months ago.

Mary Creagh: It is interesting that the right hon. Lady chose not to share that knowledge with the British public and had to say it here in the Commons. Well, it is interesting that an answer was not given directly to the programme makers, but instead had to be dragged out of the Secretary of State. There is a lack of accountability, transparency and governance in another DFID project: the Private Infrastructure Development Group.

This year, DFID’s spending on private sector development will double to £1.8 billion, up to £400 million of which will be the UK’s contribution to the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank—China’s rival to the World Bank. What oversight and governance procedures has the right hon. Lady put in place to ensure that social and environmental standards and human rights are upheld in the work of the new bank?

Justine Greening: The hon. Lady will be pleased to hear that we tried to make sure that the “File on 4” programme was well aware of the facts. It was aware of the facts and if she feels that the way in which they were presented gave her a misleading impression of the reality, that is an issue for her to follow up with the BBC. I obviously believe in freedom of the press. On the broader question, we are working to make sure that the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has the same quality of safeguards that we expect in the World Bank. Treasury Officials are working very hard on that as well.

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