The draft Bill is the product of a long policy-making
process dating back nearly thirty years. The Law Commission published
a draft Bill on corruption in essentially similar terms five years
ago. The written and oral evidence we have received has been highly
critical of the Bill from a wide range of different viewpoints.
While no one has challenged the need for new legislation, there
have been many adverse comments on the approach adopted in the
Bill and its drafting, clarity and comprehensibility.
At the start of this report we list the key questions
we have addressed in this inquiry. Our answers to those questions
are as follows:
Is the existing law on corruption so deficient
that it is necessary now to legislate?
If so, does the draft Bill criminalise all conduct
which is corrupt without criminalising any conduct which is not?
It fails to cover some corrupt conduct such as when
the head of one firm bribes the head of another firm or when an
employer consents to the bribery of his agent.
Further, does the draft Bill state clearly what
types of conduct are punishable as corrupt in language which can
readily understood by the police, by prosecutors, by jurors and
by the public, including - especially - the business and public
sector communities, and their advisors, both here and abroad?
What is the essence of corrupt conduct? How might
it be defined? What distinguishes corrupt conduct from lawful
conduct? Does this Bill draw that line in the correct place? In
particular, is the definition in the Bill - which confined corruptness
exclusively to a principal/agent relationship - both complete
and robust, and is it clear so that it can readily be understood
by all relevant parties?
We believe that (leaving aside related offences)
the essence of corruption would be better expressed in the following
A person acts corruptly if he gives, offers or agrees
to give an improper advantage with the intention of influencing
the recipient in the performance of his duties or functions;
A person acts corruptly if he receives, asks for
or agrees to receive an improper advantage with the intention
that it will influence him in the performance of his duties or
Should parliamentary privilege be waived in corruption
Yes - but in a narrower form than proposed in the
Should the Attorney General's consent for prosecution
for corruption offences be required?
No - the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions
or one nominated deputy would be sufficient.
Should the Intelligence Services be exempt from
prosecution for corruption offences?'
The compatibility of this provision with international
law needs to be re-considered.
The Committee invites the Home Office to bring forward
a revised Bill taking account of these points.