Failure to Prevent an Economic Criminal Offence

Part of Criminal Finances Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 21st February 2017.

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Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert Conservative, Arundel and South Downs 4:15 pm, 21st February 2017

I rise to support new clause 6, to which I added my name in the full confidence that I was merely endorsing what I understood to be Government policy on ensuring transparency on these matters in the overseas territories, that policy having been announced by the previous Prime Minister. I find myself genuinely puzzled, therefore, about why that is apparently no longer Government policy, and I wish to raise some issues and put some questions that I hope the Minister can answer so as to reassure me and other hon. Members who have supported the new clause in good faith that there are good reasons why it should not go forward.

First, I thought that the argument about transparency had been established. My right hon. Friend Mark Field suggested that transparency would, in itself, be an undesirable thing for the overseas territories to have to undertake, but it seems to me that we might well have applied that argument to the position in the UK. Had we accepted that argument, we would not have taken action here in the UK to require transparency.