HC Deb 31 March 1993 vol 222 cc209-10W
Mr. David Porter

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on how British companies have complied with the European Community code of conduct for companies with interests in South Africa during the 12-month period to 30 June 1992.

Mr. Heseltine

By 1 March 1993, 100 companies had submitted reports to the DTI under the code of conduct. Copies of the reports and of the Department's analysis and summary have, as in previous years, been placed in the Library of each House. These documents may also be inspected at the Department's export market information centre, at the British embassy in Pretoria, at the British consulate-general in Johannesburg, and at the British consulates in Cape Town and Durban.

The analysis and summary is the seventh since the adoption of the revised code of conduct by EC Foreign Ministers in November 1985. Reports were received from all British companies, except two, whose interests are known or believed to warrant a full report under the code. The two companies not reporting were reminded of the existence of the code and of the importance the Government attach to it.

The reporting period under review has seen a further decrease in the number of black employees of British subsidiaries being paid below the code's recommended minimum level. Companies' reports indicated that nearly 99 per cent. of employees were paid above this level.

The level of companies' involvement with trade unions representing black workers was maintained, with the majority of companies reporting formal involvement with the trades unions. Many companies have taken steps to alleviate the particular hardships experienced by their migrant workers.

As in previous years, all companies provided "on-the-job" training and many provided additional training facilities. Companies continued to report impressive levels of involvement in projects benefiting not only their employees and their families but the wider communities from which their work forces were drawn. Companies also continued to encourage the growth of black business.

The period covered by the report has seen the continuation of the recession in South Africa, with unemployment steadily increasing. Progress on the political front has been slower than expected. However, positive steps have been taken towards the achievement of a new democratic constitution and we hope that this will be taken forward when multi-party talks resume early next month.

The Government are once more grateful to companies for their continued co-operation in providing reports and urge them to maintain this performance and to comply fully with the code.