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Volume 497: debated on Thursday 15 October 2009

We published a draft Bribery Bill, based on the recommendations of the Law Commission, on 25 March. Pre-legislative scrutiny preceded that, and the recommendations of the Joint Committee on the draft Bribery Bill were published on 28 July. We said in the draft legislative programme that we intended to introduce a Bill in the next Session.

Is the Joint Committee on the draft Bill right to be disappointed by the amount of time that the Government gave it to consider the Bill? Does the Solicitor-General think that it was deprived of a proper opportunity to carry out that pre-legislative scrutiny?

I am not aware of any risk to the quality of the legislation from over-haste. The Joint Committee was very much in favour of the Bill in its report. After all, the process of modernising our bribery and corruption law has not been speedy. I served on a Committee that considered the last such Bill in 2003, so I cannot imagine that anyone feels that they have been pushed into anything.

Will the Solicitor-General explain the Bill’s remit? Does it cover incidents of bribery and the provision of sweeteners in exports to third countries? In some situations, we have export credit guarantees, but foreign Governments with whom our companies are competing often give better export credit guarantee provision. How do we cope with the fact that sweeteners are a matter of fact in certain third countries?

Discussion of the Bill’s contents will have to wait until the Bill is published. I am not sure whether the hon. Lady is concerned that we will lose out competitively if we do not espouse bribery, but I would be totally opposed to such a principle.