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UK Anti-corruption Champion

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 30 March 2011

4. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Justice on the implications for development of his role as the UK’s international anti-corruption champion. (49664)

My right hon. Friends have had many discussions, including in specific meetings on this important role—yet another meeting will be held on it shortly. We agree about the importance of a cross-government champion. To be credible when working with our developing country partners in tackling corruption, it is vital that we have strong systems in place in the UK.

I thank the Minister for that answer and welcome the news that the coalition is finally publishing guidance on the Bribery Act 2010, because delays to its publication have been very damaging to our reputation abroad. Given the devastating effects that corruption has on developing economies, can he confirm that the guidance has not been watered down to create loopholes for subsidiaries and joint ventures, and so the Act can be implemented, in the words of the Foreign Secretary, “rigorously, effectively and fairly”?

I am delighted to stand here as the guidance is being published, something that has happened pretty rapidly under this Government after we waited for 13 years for something similar from the previous Government. Far from being diluted, the guidance has taken all the representations into serious consideration and it is now something on which we can work. We very much look forward to seeing it in place as the bedrock on which we can build.

Openness and transparency are vital in the fight against corruption and in tackling exploitation of developing countries by global companies. It is a travesty that where there is massive wealth, such as in oil or minerals, local people do not benefit from it. The Government have said that they will support new European Union regulation to make companies disclose exactly how much they pay to the developing country’s Government for the right to extract natural resources, but what is needed is action. Will the Government take the lead on driving through the EU transparency regulation, and will he ensure that companies listed on the London stock exchange report the payments they make?

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Lady for raising this issue. As she knows, it is being addressed through the extractive industries transparency initiative on which I attended a meeting in Paris recently and to which there is now increasing commitment. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor said on 20 February that we would work with our EU partners to look precisely at what we can do to examine the very obvious example that is coming from Dodd-Frank in America, but making sure that is done at an EU level.