Its time for action across Government on corruption

Today Ivan Lewis told the Labour Party Conference that the development agenda will be severely undermined unless progress is made fighting corruption.The challenge of international corruption has been an important topic at this party conference and yesterday, at a conference side event that Tearfund, Christian Aid and Transparency International jointly hosted, Ivan Lewis spoke strongly about the need to take action to tackle the issue.

Tearfund welcomes this statement as it echoes our experiences in many of the contexts in which we work.  A community member in Lima told us: ‘Corruption means lower levels of education because the money that gets sent to the district is not well used; teachers are not trained and the infrastructure at our schools is terrible.’ The roots run deep, and affect the most vulnerable in society.

We therefore wholeheartedly welcome the Labour Party’s stand ‘to have an effective new anti-corruption plan’ – from day one of any future Labour Government.

Tearfund, Christian Aid and Transparency International event at Labour Party Conference.
Left to right: Rt Hon Ivan Lewis MP, Christine Allen (Christian Aid), Laura Taylor (Tearfund), Richard Howitt MEP, Stephen Beer.

A cross-departmental plan is essential to show that corruption is seen as a political priority. Corruption is not just a ‘developing world problem’ that DFID should deal with. It is an international curse and and one which is facilitated and driven by many external actors, including many here in the UK. A curse that needs action across Whitehall.

It needs a joined-up strategy.   One that not only draws upon DFID’s approach to support civil society groups overseas, but also addresses the efforts of the Ministry of Justice to enforce the Bribery Act and the need for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to move the EU to adopt robust transparency legislation for the extractives sector. All should be seen as complementary and must be addressed cohesively.  The current fragmentation in approaches and policies cannot continue if the UK is serious about ‘value for money’ and in ensuring that development is effective.

We have the potential for cross-department action now. Further to the cabinet re-shuffle last month, the Prime Minister has yet to appoint a new Anti-Corruption Champion.  This new appointment needs to be made swiftly with a brief to include responsibility for the UK Government’s ‘zero tolerance approach to corruption’. A draft plan, spelling out how the approach works through the activities of all Departments, is a first and obvious step.

This anti-corruption plan would enable parliamentarians (such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption) to effectively monitor and scrutinise the Government’s efforts.

Without a plan, parliamentarians, civil society and citizens are all left in the dark as to whether the Government is really making headway in tackling corruption.

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Matt's 2012 Journey and commented:
    Corruption is something that hinders development and is something that needs to be addressed.

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