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European Bank For Reconstruction And Development

Volume 173: debated on Thursday 7 June 1990

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what position was taken by the United Kingdom Government in discussions on the European bank for reconstruction and development, in relation to the environmental consequences of any development undertaken.

The United Kingdom, like all other potential members of the European bank for reconstruction and development, supports the promotion of economically sound and environmentally sustainable development in the full range of its activities.

The Chancellor and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury will be aware that Mr. Nicholas Brady from the United States Treasury and other European Finance Ministers have taken the lead in calling for environmental objectives to be built into the role of the development bank. May we assume from the Minister's answer that the British Government will support them enthusiastically? Does he agree that there is a big difference between a lot of talk on green issues and practical proposals such as this, which will clean up eastern Europe?

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is not only the recipients of the bank's funds who need to co-ordinate the environmental input into their investment decisions but the industrialised countries of western Europe, which, of course, are the providers of the funds? Is my hon. Friend aware, for example, that the Department of Transport seems to have no accurate comparisons between the environmental input allocated by, say, West Germany or France, as opposed to the environmental input in this country, on transport investment decisions? Would he be so kind as to conduct research within the Finance Ministries of the EEC to see what is actually going on as to the allocation of environmental input in public sector investment decisions?

In so far as that question affects the EBRD, I shall of course ensure that Mr. Attali, when he gets down to his job in London shortly, is made aware of the points that my hon. Friend raises.

The Economic Secretary will be aware that article 2 of the bank's constitution contains a general provision

"to promote in the full range of its activities environmentally sound and sustainable development."
He will also be aware that that provision is due to the leadership and insistence of the United States, not that of the British Government. What practical steps, rather than words, do the British Government intend to take to ensure that that objective is carried out?

If the hon. Gentleman is not satisfied with article 2 of the EBRD's constitution, he should be aware that the EBRD must report annually on the environmental implications of all its policies.