Joint Committee On Human Rights Eighth Report

Draft Corruption Bill

52. The Government has published for consultation a draft Corruption Bill, with Explanatory Notes.[54] It is drafted on the basis of Law Commission Report No. 248 on the subject, published in 1998.[55] The purposes are to codify the various criminal offences of corruption at common law and under statute, and to ensure that the law of corruption applies in the same way to all, including members of the two Houses of Parliament. The law of parliamentary privilege would be amended so that Members charged with corruption would no longer be able to benefit from the prohibition on the use of Hansard as evidence in criminal proceedings.[56] In addition, a civil remedy for damages is envisaged for people who suffer loss or damage as a result of corruption. This would enable the UK to ratify the Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption.[57]

53. A Joint Committee of both Houses, chaired by the Rt Hon the Lord Slynn of Hadley, has been established to report on the draft Bill. Lord Slynn has written to the Chair of the JCHR asking for the JCHR's views on the human rights compatibility of the legislation. Lord Slynn points out that human rights were not as significant when the Law Commission reported as they now are.[58] At the time of Law Commission Report No. 248, the Human Rights Bill was before Parliament but had not yet been passed.

54. We have examined the Bill and considered its human rights implications. In the Explanatory Notes to the draft Bill, the Government writes:

We do not think that there is anything in the draft Bill that conflicts with the Convention. Indeed, it repeals a provision of existing legislation (section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916), which risks being deemed as incompatible.

55. In our view, the Government is right to conclude that no Convention rights are engaged by the Bill in a way that threatens incompatibility. We would go further: in our opinion, the Bill is compatible with human rights under the other human rights instruments which bind the United Kingdom in international law.

56. We therefore report that there is nothing in the Draft Corruption Bill which needs to be drawn to the attention of either House on human rights grounds.

54   Corruption: Draft Legislation, Cm. 5777 (London: The Stationery Office, 2003), presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Home Department Back

55   Law Commission No. 248, Legislating the Criminal Code: Corruption (published 3 March 1998) Back

56   This would give effect to a recommendation of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege in June 1999: HL Paper 43/HC 214 of 1998-99, para. 167 Back

57   See the Foreword to the Draft Bill by Lord Falconer, op. cit. n. 1 above, p. 5 Back

58   The letter from Lord Slynn of Hadley is published in an appendix to this Report, Ev 4 Back

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Prepared 11 April 2003