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The hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield also talked about clause 10 and the amendment made in the other place. I am sure that we will return to that issue in Committee, but as my right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary set out in his opening statement, we will propose a further significant safeguard to address the concerns that were raised in the other place. We recognise the concerns about the use of the proposed defence, as
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well as those raised in this debate. We will propose that there should be a statutory duty on the heads of the intelligence services and the armed forces to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place to ensure that conduct amounting to an offence under the Bill takes place only when the defence applies. Those arrangements would then be subject to approval by the relevant Secretary of State. That requirement will provide direct ministerial oversight of the internal arrangements put in place by the intelligence services and armed forces. For that reason-along with that given earlier by my right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary-we cannot accept clause 10 as amended in the other place.

The hon. and learned Gentleman and the hon. Member for Cambridge both referred to parliamentary privilege and the fact that it is not specifically mentioned in the Bill. It is common ground that MPs should not be above the criminal law. However, the Joint Committee on the draft Bribery Bill argued that any evidential problems in relation to bribery offences should be dealt with in a separate parliamentary privilege Bill. In the light of the Joint Committee's conclusions, we decided against including provisions in the Bill on parliamentary privilege. Given the recent institution of criminal proceedings against three Members of this House, we believe it would be appropriate to wait and see what the court has to say in this matter before deciding whether to proceed with any further such legislation.

My right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary has given a good explanation of why we inserted a statutory requirement into the Bill in the other place to produce guidance in respect of the clause 7 offence. We understand that businesses are looking for better guidance and a little more detail on how such offences might apply. We have also given a commitment that such guidance will be in place before the Bill is enacted and the offence comes into play. We are in discussions with business and various industries on that guidance, but it is fair to say that many industries already have good governance arrangements and strong guidance in place. We look to work with a range of companies to find the best of that guidance and build on it. I trust that the hon. Member for Huntingdon will question me further on that in Committee.

The hon. Gentleman also asked whether the offence of failing to prevent bribery would trigger article 45 of the EU procurement directive, which requires the mandatory exclusion of suppliers for public procurement contracts for services, supplies and works. We are giving active consideration to whether conviction for the new corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery-the clause 7 offence-would require mandatory exclusion under the directive. That is not a straightforward issue, and there are a number of complex points that we need to consider. There is obviously a difference of view among European Union member states on how some aspects of the directive are being applied, but we will continue to look into the matter in further detail before coming to a view on it.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the application of the failure to prevent bribery offence to the activities of joint ventures and similar corporate structures over which a company does not have full control. Our purpose is clear: to encourage all those involved in joint ventures and similar business structures to satisfy themselves that adequate procedures are built into their governance
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arrangements. An organisation will be convicted of an offence under clause 7 only if a person performing services on its behalf bribes another to obtain or retain business for that organisation. It is possible for one person or a number of people to perform services on behalf of more than one company. It will depend on the particular circumstances of the case, but it may be that a bribe by a person performing services for one company in a joint venture is rightly regarded as being paid in connection with the business of any of the companies involved in that venture. Equally, it may be the case that, on the facts, the necessary connections are not present to establish liability under clause 7 if a bribe is paid in the context of a joint venture. Ultimately, it will be a matter for the courts to determine where liability stands.

I trust that I have responded to most of the main points made by hon. Members in what I think has been a particularly good debate, in large measure because the Bill has backing and support across the House. I believe that we can, with commitment, get the Bill through the House, despite time pressures, and I trust that our opportunities to debate and consider further details in Committee will in no way hamper the Bill, which is essential to maintaining the UK's credibility as a country at the forefront of fighting bribery and corruption. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

bribery bill [ lords] (programme)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

Question agreed to .

Business without Debate

delegated legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6))

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Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure

Question agreed to.

Queen's and Prince of Wales's consent having been signified-

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Crown Benefices (Parish Representatives) Measure

Question agreed to.

Queen's consent having been signified-

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Vacancies in Suffragan Sees and Other Ecclesiastical Offices Measure

Question agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With the leave of the House, we shall take motions 6 to 12 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6))

local government finance

European Union


Representation of the People

3 Mar 2010 : Column 985

Human Fertilisation and Embryology

Question agreed to.

european union documents

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 119(11)).

Financial Services

Question agreed to.

3 Mar 2010 : Column 986

Proposed Poole Bridge

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.- (Mary Creagh.)

3.23 pm

Mr. Robert Syms (Poole) (Con): It is my privilege to introduce this debate. I have the privilege of representing the borough of Poole-or, at least, two thirds of it, as a third is in the constituency of the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke). Poole is a successful and vibrant place, but it does not always have the infrastructure that it deserves on the basis of its growth over the last decade.

I have always been aware of certain problems with infrastructure in the borough. My constituency is divided, in that Hamworthy is virtually an island, linked to the hon. Lady's constituency in Upton, and the rest of the borough is separated by water, linked by a lifting bridge that was built in 1926 which does a reasonable job for most of the year. As the port of Poole is in Hamworthy-the port is the second or third in the south-west-an awful lot of traffic has to go over that small bridge through the borough or, indeed, up the Blandford road through Upton in the adjoining constituency.

Through a number of schemes over the years, the local authority-a good one, with good officers and good members-has tried to improve the borough's infrastructure, improve communication with the port and take advantage of the fact that it a beautiful place. A great deal of land is under-used, next to water, and it could become an area for development.

When I was first elected, there was a proposal in the national road scheme for a bridge over the A350. It was to be quite an expensive project, and it did not survive the first cull of projects by the new Government. That left Poole with the problem of what to do. Two or three years after that, the council produced a new proposal for a second lifting bridge, called the twin sails project, which would link Hamworthy with West Quay road and allow a large redevelopment of parts of the south of Hamworthy, where there was an old power station site, providing a tremendous opportunity for waterside development.

The proposal would not be a complete answer to the transport problems, but it would certainly help my constituents in Hamworthy, because the 1926 lifting bridge takes substantial maintenance. It is sometimes closed in the summer months for two or three weeks and my constituents in Hamworthy spend a considerable time driving through the constituency of the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole in order to get to the main part of the borough. A journey that should be five minutes can sometimes be a journey of half an hour, which is greatly to the disadvantage of my constituents.

The borough produced a lifting bridge scheme and the Government's initial reaction was that they were not going to pay for it, as it should be a private finance initiative. The project was delayed while the council, under the leadership of Brian Clements and Jim Brooks, the then chief executive, looked into the PFI prospects, but decided that it would not be possible.

There was a prospect of quite substantial private sector funding for the development, so we put in a bid to the Department for Transport for a grant. That was
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progressed, and in one of the bid procedures the Government said that they were willing to put £14.14 million into the scheme. The entire project will cost about £37 million and the balance of the funds will come from the development of housing, businesses and other sites in lower Hamworthy. The design is exciting. It is to be a twin sails lifting bridge, and we have now gone through all the permissions and agreements. Twelve months ago, when early delivery of the scheme was looking a little difficult in the prevailing economic circumstances, the council took the brave decision to secure a £10 million loan from the regional infrastructure fund for that priority project.

By the end of November 2009, the council put itself in the position of advising the Department for Transport that the scheme had been tendered and that procurement could commence immediately, subject to the approval of the grant. All the signs from the Department for Transport were positive. All the way through the project, the signs from the Government office for the south-west were also positive, and the council arranged a special meeting in the first week of January in order to proceed with the project and the approvals.

We all know that the country's economic situation has changed somewhat, and that there will be pressures on whoever is in government after the next general election. Nevertheless, we were a little disappointed that we did not get our permissions. The Department for Transport was considering its overall capital programme, and as I understand it, referred our project to the Treasury. That is where we have been stuck for a couple of months. Because tenders have come in, because all the permissions are in place and because works have already been scheduled, every bit of delay adds extra cost. Moreover, there comes a point at which, if the delay is too long, the viability of the project, the permissions and so forth starts to run out. It is therefore important for us to secure a decision as soon as possible.

There is no doubt that this is an exciting project which will create many new homes and jobs. The intention is to use the bridge as a focus for regeneration. It is expected to deliver more than 2,000 homes-including affordable housing-and 5,000 jobs, and to generate an estimated value of more than £600 million for the local economy. The £14 million grant-I should emphasise that that is the amount for which we bid originally, and that it is therefore well within the envelope-will generate a fair amount of VAT and other tax for the Treasury, as well as stamp duty. I can assure anyone from the Treasury who may be watching this debate that this project would constitute a big positive if permission were given and we could get on with it. The council has already invested some £8 million in local resources, and that, along with the funding plans, agreements and permissions, may be put at risk unless we can proceed with the project.

Poole is an ambitious town, whether under the Liberal Democrat administration of Brian Clements or the present Conservative administration of Brian Leverett. All our leaders are called Brian, incidentally. Everyone in local government really wants to get the town moving. They all want development, and the bridge would involve the redevelopment and regeneration of Lower Hamworthy. It presents a real opportunity for the borough, and would set it in the right direction for the next 10 years.

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