The Financial Times’ call to expedite the final stages of the Bribery Bill (Fighting Bribery, March 16) was very welcome. The FT states that ‘Coming close to effective reform and then stepping back would () inflict severe reputational damage on the UK internationally. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has already censured Britian for lax anti-bribery laws.’
In addition to the compelling public policy case for a consolidated law, as pressed by the OECD and Transparency International, there is also broad consensus among businesses that better clarity in this area is long overdue. Debates on the Bill hosted by GoodCorporation have heard businesses repeatedly welcome this legislation. A situation that is not generally the case where enhanced business regulation is concerned.
In many ways, the proposed Bill has already had a strong impact, with many businesses strengthening their anti-corruption processes in readiness for a law. The less proactive will inevitably be dragged along once the Bill is passed. The big danger, if the Bill falls at the last hurdle, is not just that progress will stagnate but that things will start sliding backwards. We cannot allow the unscrupulous to continue to enjoy a competitive advantage over the decent and the fair.