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Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 30 March 2011

5. What recent representations he has received on the effects of corruption on the economies of developing countries. (49665)

6. What recent representations he has received on the effects of corruption on the economies of developing countries. (49666)

My ministerial colleagues and I have frequent meetings with non-governmental organisations and others who stress the importance of tackling corruption. Corruption threatens economic growth in developing countries, wastes resources and deters investment. The coalition Government will not tolerate corruption and will do their utmost in all their development programmes to eliminate it.

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. We welcome the publication of guidelines on the Bribery Act, for which organisations such as the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development have campaigned for some time, but will he tell the House how he expects the Act to be properly implemented given that the Serious Fraud Office is facing 50% cuts and many of its members have resigned, including the head of anti-corruption? What discussions has the Minister had with his colleagues in the Ministry of Justice about this?

I am sure that the hon. Lady appreciates that that is primarily a matter for the Treasury rather than the Department for International Development. We believe that corruption is bad for development, bad for poor people and bad for business, and today’s written ministerial statement lays out concrete guidance for the implementation of the Bribery Act to which we look forward.

I, too, welcome the publication of the guidelines on the Bribery Act and wish to pay tribute to the leadership and personal commitment of the Secretary of State on this issue. However, I want to raise the issue of country-by-country reporting. The Government have said they are committed to that but that they will seek to do it through the EU. Can the Minister say how the UK will provide the leadership to ensure that we have the same system as that in the United States?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has already been driving this issue very hard and DFID fully supports a process that is designed to reach agreement at EU level. We want such legislation to require, for example, extractive industries to disclose all their payments to the host Government. That is a very important step and the impact of such measures is greatest when applied to the widest range of countries.

We all agree that tackling corruption is vital to ensuring that development delivers for the people who need it most. As the Government are finally publishing the guidelines on the Bribery Act, may I press the Minister again to assure us that the guidelines will not water down that important legislation?

On the contrary, the guidelines are very strict as the hon. Lady will see when she reads the written ministerial statement that is being published today.