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Commonwealth Development Corporation

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 12 November 1997

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6.

What are her plans for the future of the Commonwealth Development Corporation. [14112]

As has just been said, my plans are to propose to Parliament that private investors should be invited to invest money in the CDC, turning a state corporation into a partnership between the public and private sectors. The Government will retain a substantial minority holding and a golden share, which will ensure that the CDC remains a development organisation. The new arrangements will enable it to increase private sector investment into the poorest countries.

How long will the Government retain their golden share? Does the Secretary of State accept that there is a risk that the CDC could be acquired by an organisation not dedicated to the fullest implementation of the developmental process?

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman is concerned about that. We intend that the golden share will be held in perpetuity. The CDC is working on strengthening the ethical code governing its work. It wants a public-private partnership. It does not want to be an entirely private sector organisation. We do not want that, either. It can act as an important bridge for private sector investment in the world's poorest countries, which do not currently receive such investment. We hope that that will be followed by pure private sector investment. 1 give the hon. Gentleman the absolute guarantee that the CDC will not become a private investment institution. There are plenty of those. It has a different job.