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Transnational Bribery

Volume 501: debated on Thursday 26 November 2009

14. What plans the Government have for legislation to amend the law on transnational bribery; and if she will make a statement. (301679)

The Bribery Bill, already referred to, will provide a modern and comprehensive scheme of bribery offences to equip the prosecutors and the courts to deal effectively with bribery both at home and abroad.

When I introduced my draft International Bribery and Corruption Bill in February 1998, it was opposed by the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant), who sits on the Conservative Front Bench today, and who described it as “fundamentally naïve”. Has my hon. and learned Friend discussed the Bribery Bill with the Opposition Law Officers and will they now support it?

I do not think there is anything fundamentally naïve about this Bill. At first sight, it looks as if the Bill is going to hit the spot and will be much more modern, clearer and less fragmented than what applies currently. Whether the Opposition will support it, I do not know. It will be introduced in the other place by my noble Friend Lord Bach, and when it comes here it will be dealt with by the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Claire Ward), who I have no doubt at all will have conversations with the Opposition. May I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley), who has had a long-term interest in this issue and has focused primarily on ensuring that bribery and corruption go out of overseas development funding? I hope that he will be pleased with the Bill when it comes through.

Has the Solicitor-General had representations about alleged systematic bribery in overseas offices by entry clearance officers, allowing people effectively to buy visas to enter this country?

No, I have not, although I have read, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman has, about some suggestions along those lines. When they are brought to the attention of the authorities, they will, of course, be taken very seriously.