Clause 10 — Consent to prosecution

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 2:48 pm on 7th April 2010.

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Photo of Claire Ward Claire Ward Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice 2:48 pm, 7th April 2010

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

This Bill will bring about a much-needed overhaul of our criminal law as it applies to bribery. With the Bill on the statue book, we can be proud that United Kingdom law in this area will provide a benchmark for other countries, and with it this country will set the gold standard-I used that term in Committee-for our international comparators. The Bill will help to promote high ethical standards in business and public life, in this country and abroad, and will send a clear message that bribery in all its manifestations will not, and should not, be tolerated.

The Bill will be good for business; often commercial organisations bear the burden of the added costs of doing business in countries where bribery is prevalent. The Bill will also be good for developing countries by helping to ensure that aid and trade benefits those whom it is intended to benefit, and not corrupt officials. The Bill will be good for this country's international reputation, by demonstrating our ongoing commitment to upholding high standards of probity in business and public life. Finally, the Bill will be good for Parliament, demonstrating the value of pre-legislative scrutiny in forging a broad consensus for reform. The Bill has taken a considerable time finally to reach this point, but I believe that it has achieved a broad consensus across the House and that, in reaching that consensus, this House has produced a Bill that is worthy of setting that gold standard.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all those, particularly in the business sector, who have been available for discussion and to ensure that we had an opportunity to get the Bill right. I also want to thank Opposition parties for their co-operation-for the most part-and those of my officials who have ensured the smooth progression of the Bill. I am grateful to hon. Members for helping us to build what has generally been a consensus, which has now brought the Bill to the threshold of Royal Assent. I am proud, as the Member of Parliament for Watford and as a Minister, to have brought the Bill through to Royal Assent. On that basis I commend it to the House.

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