Terms of reference

The Export Guarantees Advisory Council (the Council) is established under Section 13 of the Export and Investment Guarantees Act 1991 as amended by the Small Business enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

Purpose and objectives

The statutory purpose of the Council is to give advice to the Secretary of State, at his or her request, in respect of any matter relating to the exercise of his or her functions under the Act. It does not perform executive functions or take decisions on UK Export Finance’s activities.

Status

The Council is an Expert Committee.

Activities

The Council provides independent advice to Ministers on UK Export Finance’s policies relating to:

  • environmental, social and human rights
  • anti-bribery and corruption
  • sustainable lending
  • disclosure through its obligations under information legislation

The Council gives advice on other issues as requested by Ministers.

UK Export Finance informs the Council of developments related to relevant international agreements and policies set by Ministers which guide UK Export Finance’s operations so these can be taken into account by the Council in providing its advice.

The Council meets with interested parties i.e. exporters, banks, trade associations, special interest groups, to help inform its work.

The Council chairperson meets annually with the Chair of the UK Export Finance Board to report on the activities of the Council and discuss issues of mutual interest.

Engagement with the Minister

The Council’s purpose is to provide government with access to independent, impartial and expert advice, on request or otherwise. The Council will remain independent of Ministers.

Whilst most of the Council’s engagement will be with officials, it has the right, where appropriate, to submit advice directly to Ministers. The Council has the ultimate right to escalate matters to UK Ministers. The Council meets with the Minister once a year.

The Council’s engagement will mostly be with the relevant Minister with responsibility over UK Export Finance, however the Council may approach other Ministers it deems appropriate.

Members and Chairperson

The Council will normally have 8 standing members including the Chair. Membership may vary in accordance with the needs of the Council.

Members are appointed for their personal expertise, and for the relevance of that expertise to the Council’s remit and work programme. Council members are usually drawn from the people with experience in commerce and international engagement and the application of ethical policies in the conduct of trade.

Council members, one of whom is appointed as Chairperson, are appointed by Ministers in line with the recruitment policies and procedures of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Terms of office can be for periods of up to five years and members may be reappointed for further terms. In accordance with rules laid down by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the total length of service in any one post on the Council should not exceed ten years.

Appointments may be terminated at a Member’s request, or by Ministers if Members fail to perform as expected of them, with notice periods of not less than three months.

Quorum

A quorum will be the Chairperson, or his or her nominee, and two other members.

Secretariat

The Council’s secretariat is provided by UK Export Finance. The Secretary is responsible for organising meetings, producing agendas, providing papers and producing minutes of meetings.

Reporting

Minutes of each meeting are produced and published. The Council produces an annual report of its activities which is published in the UK Export Finance annual review and accounts.

Public service values

Council members are expected to:

  • observe the highest standards of impartiality, integrity, and objectivity in relation to the advice they provide
  • be accountable to the Secretary of State for the Council’s activities and for the standard of advice they provide
  • follow the seven principles of public life set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life

Declaration of interests

Council members declare directorships and executive appointments held, and any substantial shareholding or interest held including any held by immediate family members. A Register of Interests is held by the Secretary.

Financial arrangements

The Chairperson and other members of the Council do not receive salaries for this role. Members are entitled to claim reimbursement for costs incurred in travelling (standard class) to and from meetings, including any necessary overnight stays, and for any necessary meals and refreshments covering the period of travel.

Although legal proceedings by a third party against individual board members or advisory bodies are very exceptional, a Council member may be personally liable if a fraudulent or negligent statement is made which results in a loss to a third party. If a Council member has provided advice honestly, reasonably, without negligence and in good faith UK Export Finance will provide an indemnity against personal civil liability.