In the Bribery Act 2010 the UK introduced world-leading legislation on bribery, making it a criminal offence for a company to fail to prevent a bribe being paid. We are starting to see the effectiveness of the offence in holding large companies to account, through the first conviction of a corporate entity and three deferred prosecution agreements.
Does the Attorney General agree that corruption is still embedded in the business culture of many developing countries, particularly in Africa, and that it is always the poorest in society who suffer most? This is being encouraged by a number of major trading countries that have not followed our lead. What is he doing, particularly in the OECD, to ensure that those countries come into a line with the UK?
I agree with my hon. Friend. It is the poorest who suffer most when corruption occurs around the world, and it is important that the UK plays a leadership role, not least by setting an example, and we have done that through the Bribery Act and what has flowed from it. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend. In his role as a distinguished Foreign Officer Minister, he was also able to do some of this work, and the work must continue.
Does the Attorney General believe that his Department can provide more clarification on foreign public officials, hospitality and facilitation payments, self-reporting, sentencing and fines, adequate procedures and the meanings of “associated person” and “relevant commercial organisations”? How can that be done?
The hon. Gentleman is right that clarity is important. The Bribery Act and the prosecutions that flow from it are not all that matters here. We need to change corporate culture, and that is happening. It is important that corporations understand their responsibilities, and he is right that if they are to do that, they need to be clear about what they can and cannot do. We will always seek to give greater clarity, but it all depends on the circumstances.
Do we have enough specialist expertise in our prosecuting authorities to enforce the Bribery Act effectively?
Yes, I believe we do. For some of the most substantial cases under the Bribery Act, it is the Serious Fraud Office that prosecutes and investigates, and it has a good deal of expertise. In relation to both convictions and deferred prosecution agreements, my hon. Friend will recognise, as I have said already, that we are presenting good cases and securing convictions.