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Lord Joffe: The OECD evaluation of the implementation by the United Kingdom of the Convention on Combating Bribery signed in 1999 found that not a single prosecution had been brought against any company or person for bribery of a public official. If the Government are serious about the implementation of the convention, it must be desirable that the investigating authority has power to investigate offences covered by the legislation. I support the amendment.
Lord Desai: I too support the amendment. My noble friend has already mentioned the Commission for Africa report which the Government are committed to implementing. The noble Lord, Lord Joffe, has maintained that in the OECD terms we rank very low indeed in our desire to pursue bribery and corruption cases. I am sure that the noble Baroness will say that she cannot accept the amendment nowI can see that comingbut as she said to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, I would be grateful if she can assure the Committee that the Government will keep this matter under review and return to it as soon as possible.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: It is rare indeed for one of my noble friends to have such trenchant support from all around the House: the noble Lords,
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Lord Dholakia, Lord Renton and Lord Joffe, and my own dear noble friend Lord Desai. My noble friend has a full House to support her. She also has, in principle, my support. I am grateful to my noble friend for raising this very important point. I share her view that the disclosure notice powers seem to offer real potential for gathering evidence in serious bribery and corruption investigations. That has not previously arisen during our consultations on these provisions or during the passage of the Bill.
We have not yet had a chance to consider this in detail or to discuss it with the law enforcement agencies. I hope I give her and other noble Lords a modicum of pleasure by saying that we shall do that and we shall consider bringing forward an order under Clause 58 to add to these offences. That is something that I know my noble friend will enjoy hearing.
Baroness Whitaker: My noble friend has really said it all. I should like to thank noble Lords all around the Chamber who have supported the amendment. I have to say that I am not actually surprised, because I think that it is an extremely good amendment. I am most grateful to my noble friend.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: It may help if I say a little more at this stage about Clause 58 since I amif I may put it colloquiallyon a roll in trying to give satisfaction. We are aware of concerns that the compulsory and investigatory powers should be used only for the most serious offences. That matter has been raised. Most of the offences in Clause 58, about which we are now speaking, are inherently serious in nature. However, I recognise that the tax fraud offences in subsection (1)(d) and the offences under Section 17 of the Theft Act referred to in subsection (1)(e) may not necessarily be serious.
To address the concerns we will table amendments for Report tomorrow to set a de minimis threshold of £5,000 for those offences. With that undertaking, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, will agree, in his normal telegraphic style, not to move his amendments to Chapter 1 of Part 2.
Lord Kingsland: I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for her intervention on Clause 58. She will not be surprised to hear that, for our part, we believe that this is a very sensible conclusion to a number of issues that we raised in another place. In those circumstances, we are prepared not to move the amendments that are relevant to those issues.
The noble Baroness said: Again, I am grateful to the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, for tabling his amendment to Clause 67, which would define the expression "legal privilege" regarding material that was not required to be disclosed under a disclosure notice.
The Government accept that the Bill would benefit from such a definition, but we would prefer to adopt the existing definition used in Section 412 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 rather than the one suggested by the noble Duke. Accordingly, I would invite the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, to withdraw his amendment and to support the government amendment to Clause 61 standing in my name.
I turn to Amendment No. 69, to Clause 66. I hope to persuade the noble Duke that this amendment also is unnecessary. In Scotland, the service of documents is regulated by the provisions of the Act of Adjournal (Criminal Procedure Rules) 1996, as amended. It makes general provision for the service of any document on a person under any enactment. Accordingly, we do not need to make specific provision in the Bill; hence the inclusion of subsection (5) in Clause 66.
The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, as my two amendments are grouped with the government amendment, I shall speak to them now. I am most grateful to the Minister for bringing forward her amendment on the definition of legal privilege. I was interested to see that the wording that has found favour is that which was proposed in my earlier amendment on legal privilege. So we seem to be in agreement on that.
My Amendment No. 69 is a probing amendment and, in some ways, the noble Baroness has given us an explanation. It probed why the terms of Clause 66 would not apply to Scotland, and it would have provided clarification on how a disclosure notice would be served in Scotland if the terms did not extend there. I think that the Minister has made that much clearer, so I am most grateful to her.
The noble Baroness said: The new clause inserted by Amendment No. 74 provides that hearings to vary a sentence following an agreement to co-operate can be held in camera or without publicity where the court considers it necessary to protect any person from harm and it is in the interests of justice. Occasionally, knowledge that a specific defendant's sentence is being reviewed would point to his co-operation with the authorities and put him at risk. The amendment makes it clear that the courts have a power to limit those who know about the hearing. We thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice for highlighting that issue for us. The remaining amendments in the group are technical rather than substantive in their nature. I beg to move.
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