Examination of witnesses (Questions 820
TUESDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2001
820. Secretary of State, that is exactly the
point I was going to make, it does then ensure that if action
is to be taken against perhaps corrupt leaders in developing countries
that the intelligence gathering is of such strength that it would
stand up in terms of ensuring cases could be brought within British
courts and within other courts around the world to ensure that
money is returned.
(Clare Short) There is a guy who works for Deloitte
ToucheMark Tatham I thinkand he is a sort of audit-trail,
finding-money-that-has-gone-missing expert in international systems,
and he does pro bono work, and he did pro bono work
for Zaire to try and trace the Mobutu money. He did a lot of work,
traced a lot of it, but then no action was possible because there
was no law in Zaire which had been broken; the presidency being
able to put their fingers into the national budget was not criminal.
So it is not just the criminal intelligence systems, it is having
the framework of law which means the misuse of the state's resources
by a politician is illegal.
821. My last point you have answered in some
ways already, talking about the help for Pakistan, which is in
fact this whole area of providing mutual legal assistance to developing
countries who are wishing to recover the proceeds of corruption.
You mentioned that something came in during the middle of last
year, are you able to give us a separate note on what basis this
is laid down, which countries this is available for and how we
can go forward?
(Clare Short) I think we put something in the original
evidence on this. I think we have covered this. We now have agreement
with the Home Office, having got together over the Pakistan case,
where Pakistan felt aggrieved they were not getting any help,
that they will inform us when developing countries come forward
and we and/or the Foreign Office will move forward to assist countries
to access the system. That is a new agreement which should lead
to an improvement. Let me say though that the systems are still
slow even with our technical help, so I think the systems could
be made faster in their own right for everyone. I think it is
239 days or something is the average.
(Mr Mason) 295 days.
(Clare Short) 295 days is the average for processing
an application, and that is not just from developing countries.
That is an awfully long time.
822. Yes, that is very long. Secretary of State,
thank you very much indeed for answering our questions so honestly
and patiently. I think you have given us a lot of material which
we hope will bring about less corruption. Thank you very much.
(Clare Short) Thank you very much. Could I say that
given that there are events which might take place, it would be
terribly sad if there was not a report from the Committee on these
matters before those events which might take place!
823. Your evidence is the last we shall be takingand
tomorrow from Jack Strawon corruption, and then our clerks
are tasked with getting a report drafted and agreed before the
end of March. We will be issuing this report on corruption, and
one on HIV/AIDS, and on the Globalisation White Paper, and participating
in the debate on the new Development Bill. So we will not be idle!
(Clare Short) Good. Thank you very much.