I strongly support the Bill, but I would like to make one point that relates to a Bill that I introduced a couple of years ago: the International Development (Anti-corruption Audit) Bill. I speak as the chairman of several all-party groups on matters relating to the third world and developing nations, including Uganda and Kenya, and to the sanitation of water. At that time, I had a lot of discussions with people from the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and the Department for International Development. It emerged that there was a problem elsewhere in the world, and I know that this Bill addresses that problem, as does the OECD report.
I wonder, however, whether there will be sufficient sanctions in place for those who engage in bribery and corruption in third-world countries and elsewhere. This is not just a problem for the third world; it is found in the European Union and all other parts of the world. I am worried about what might happen if we do not have a sufficient degree of sanction in relation to the aid that we give, in terms of any restrictions that might be imposed after a warning has been given. If a Government have been given an opportunity to correct their behaviour and they simply do not do so, we might be left with a problem.
We can deal with this issue as a matter of domestic law here in the UK, and I know that the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses and other organisations have been engaged in consultations with the Minister about how the guidance will operate. These problems will, however, have a serious impact, because so much of this goes on in those countries where the aid money does not reach the people who really need it. At that level, it is essential that the provisions in the Bill relate to what goes on in the countries concerned. If we cannot stop the corruption happening there by using our powers under the International Development Act 2002-which could be amended-I do not think that we will be able to solve the problem.
Perhaps it will never be possible for the whole problem of bribery and corruption to be solved; it has been going on since the world began. The fact is, however, that the Bill does not go quite far enough in tackling the inability of those people to receive the money that is intended for their benefit. The other side of the coin is the necessity to stimulate self-help and enterprise, thereby building up the economies of those countries.
I have had discussions with Hugh Bayley and others who deal with those countries that are prone to bribery and corruption as a way of life. I have also discussed these matters with Transparency International, and with the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre, and I have no doubt that they have what the House of Commons Library note describes as
"impressive anti-bribery strategies on their websites", but I am not convinced that we have grappled with this enough. I do not think that we have quite got there, although I do support the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.
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