Select Committee on Environmental Audit Eleventh Report

1  Introduction

1. The Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) is a non-ministerial department, accountable to Parliament through the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. The ECGD's role is to assist UK exporters by providing financial guarantees and insurance for export contracts in markets where commercial cover would not normally be available. In the 1970s the ECGD supported up to 37% of all UK exports through its guarantees and insurance policies. The level of ECGD business has since declined significantly (in 2007, the ECGD supported less than 1% of UK exports) but it still fulfils an important role for the industries and projects that make use of its facilities.

2. In 2002-03, our predecessor Committee investigated the extent to which the ECGD was incorporating the Government's commitment to sustainable development into its policies and operations.[1] In particular, the inquiry examined the impact of the ECGD's Business Principles and the revised case impact analysis procedures, introduced in 2000. Among other issues, the Committee highlighted shortcomings in the coverage of the impact analysis process, a need for greater transparency, and concerns over the composition of the ECGD's portfolio. Five years on, we felt it appropriate to revisit the ECGD's progress on this matter, especially in the light of the planned review of the Case Impact Analysis Process. In particular, our inquiry examined how well the ECGD takes account of environmental impacts in its assessment and decision-making processes, and how the ECGD's procedures could be improved, especially with regard to information disclosure and transparency.

3. We are grateful to all who contributed to the inquiry, in particular the National Audit Office for its substantial memorandum providing factual and descriptive information on the ECGD's operations and procedures. [2]

1   Environmental Audit Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2002-03, Export Credits Guarantee Department and Sustainable Development, HC 689. Back

2   Reproduced here as ECGD 12, see Ev 81-98. Back

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