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Business: Ethics

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 4 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which Minister and departmental division in his Department are responsible for corporate social responsibility. (190898)

[holding answer 29 February 2008]: I am responsible for corporate responsibility at DBERR. The Sustainable Development and Regulation Directorate, within the Enterprise and Business Group, leads on this area for BERR.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the budget was for promoting corporate social responsibility (a) internally at his Department and (b) externally by his Department to British companies in each of the last five calendar years. (190899)

[holding answer 29 February 2008]: DBERR leads on corporate responsibility but is supported in that work by many other Departments.

Within DBERR much of our, and formerly the DTI's, work encompasses aspects of the corporate responsibility agenda, for example the national contact point and training for business on UK law on bribery and corruption provided by UK Trade and Investment (a joint DBERR/FCO organisation).

Only the work carried out by the sustainable development and regulation branch of DBERR is formally attributed a corporate responsibility budget. Budgets are not segregated according to whether expenditure is internal or external and information is only available for financial years, not calendar years.

For each of the years 2003-04 to 2006-07 the corporate responsibility expenditure was around £300,000. This expenditure included set-up costs for the CSR Academy, now transferred to Business in the Community (BITC), and a cross-Government corporate responsibility web site. To date in 2007-08 expenditure on corporate responsibility is £130,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many full-time equivalent staff work on corporate social responsibility in his Department. (190900)

[holding answer 29 February 2008]: BERR leads on corporate responsibility within Government but is supported in that work by many other Departments.

Within DBERR, much of our, and formerly the DTI’s, work encompasses aspects of the corporate responsibility agenda, for example the national contact point and training for business on UK law on bribery and corruption provided by UKTI (a joint DBERR/FCO organisation).

It is not possible to give figures for staff working on the corporate responsibility agenda across BERR, but 8.5 staff work within its dedicated sustainable development and corporate responsibility section.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made on the Government's proposals for corporate social responsibility; and if he will make a statement. (191103)

DBERR leads on corporate responsibility (CR) but is supported in that work by many other Departments. Our policy is, via voluntary means, to raise performance above minimum legal standards and encourage companies to look at a wider range of stakeholder interests.

We have created a policy framework which encourages and enables responsible behaviour by business and helps to ensure that we have decent minimum levels of performance in areas such as health and safety, the environment and equal opportunities.

Progress includes improvements in the running of the UK national contact point; the creation of the new DFID-DBERR Trade Policy Unit which brings together trade and development experts to ensure UK competitiveness and market access, work for better trade deals for poorer countries and better support for those wishing to trade themselves out of poverty; the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill, which will give added protection to the consumer; the new provisions of the Companies Act 2006, which are designed to bring greater shareholder engagement and transparency; and the current development of an International Standard on Corporate Social Responsibility (ISO 26000).

Among various international activities the Government champion the extractives industry transparency initiative to encourage greater transparency of oil, gas and mining revenues in developing countries and supports the work of John Ruggie, appointed as the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on human rights and transnational corporations.

Departmental progress on CR-related matters is available through press notices and websites. Links to these can be found at the dedicated CR Government website:

www.csr.gov.uk