Clause 10 — Consent to prosecution

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 2:51 pm on 7th April 2010.

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Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Justice), Shadow Solicitor General 2:51 pm, 7th April 2010

I take your advice on such matters, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

We welcome the Government amendment today, which will ensure that the prosecutorial power held in the hands of the directors of the Serious Fraud Office and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, and the Director of Public Prosecutions cannot easily be delegated to others in those organisations. We did not believe that the delegation of that important power would be appropriate in all but the most limited circumstances.

The debate that has been had on the Bill has shone a light on the extent to which improper behaviour can so easily pervade business affairs. In an international context, it seems that the old adage, "When in Rome", has applied all too readily to acts of bribery in foreign lands. The Bill will place the UK at the head of a groundswell of international opinion that states that such behaviour will not be permitted; yet Conservatives believe that this should be seen only as the beginning, and not as the end of the process. The Bill is but one weapon in an arsenal to arm the UK in the fight against corruption. It will provide a framework of offences, but it will not, in itself, action anti-corruption measures. The Bill will not, in itself, issue prosecutions, create a healthy modern corporate culture or ensure that British companies are not undermined internationally by corrupt foreign competitors. In recent weeks the SFO has publicly announced cases in which it is investigating alleged acts of corruption. It must be hoped that the Bill will give the SFO and other prosecutors in future the necessary clarity to increase those investigations.

We decided not to move our amendments to provide for an annual strategy report, but the proper allocation of resources, and the monitoring of the Bill's implementation and development over the coming years will be important to ensure that it is up to the challenge of ensuring that the UK meets and beats global corruption in a way that has been seriously lacking during Labour's time in government. There is a large corporate responsibility role for business in playing its part too, and the next Conservative Government look forward to working with business on implementing this important agenda for Britain.

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