There has been talk of a late review of the Bribery Act, due to come into force in April. Much of this has been floated by those who consider that Britain’s competitiveness in international markets will be hampered if British companies are not allowed to bribe and be bribed with the best of them (I paraphrase, a little). The arguments are summarised, and demolished, by an article on thebriberyact with the uncompromising heading The Bribery Act and the review by No. 10: Will pigs fly? We don’t think so.
That prediction appears to be reinforced by an answer given in the House of Lords yesterday – I say “appears” because the Government’s answer does not in fact match the question (asked if commencement will be in April, the minister talks of “commencement of the Act in spring this year” and spring perhaps extends into May. I suspect that years of working for the Blair-Brown government has made the civil servants unaccustomed to giving straight answers to questions.
I was not aware of an outfit called Transparency International, but its head is today reported in TrustLaw as “hopeful that implementation of the Bribery Act 2010 is still on track” whilst warning that Transparency International “will take seriously any attempts to water down the legislation”. I doubt that this on its own will make the government quake in its boots, but it is hard to reconcile the unqualified certainty of the government spokesman quoted by thebribaryact with the faint odour of dragged feet which appears in the TrustLaw article. We shall see.
Meanwhile, some commentators appear to need reminding that bribery is a crime anyway.