8 Lord Thomas of Gresford debates involving HM Treasury

Autumn Statement 2023

Lord Thomas of Gresford Excerpts
Wednesday 29th November 2023

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, I also welcome the noble Baroness to the Treasury Bench. I think she will find it interesting to be shaping the state in the future.

The noble Lord, Lord Clarke of Nottingham, in his evidence to the Constitution Committee in June of last year, said that

“there are no votes in criminal justice”.

He continued:

“The criminal justice system is in the most appalling state. I would never have believed it”.


He added:

“The present Lord Chancellor has the misfortune of presiding over a department both the large chunks of which”—


the courts and prisons—

“are in a … dire state”—

worse than he can ever remember.

He said that the Lord Chancellor lacked the necessary political clout to get a sensible settlement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Well, he should know; he held both offices of state successively and, after being at the Treasury, at the Ministry of Justice he was the first to take the knee to austerity cuts in departmental budgets at the beginning of the Cameron Government. The Ministry of Justice has never recovered.

The analysis of the MoJ’s statistics published in October by the Institute for Government underlines the present crisis. First, there is a backlog of serious cases awaiting trial in the Crown Courts which, adjusted for complexity, amounts to a record high of 89,939 cases. This seriously diminishes the capacity of our courts system to deliver justice. Victims become disheartened and withdraw their complaints, to the distress of themselves and their families; the memories of witnesses fade; and juries grapple with events that occurred years before the trial. As the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, pointed out, our prisons are overloaded with unconvicted prisoners on remand, awaiting trial—currently more than 15,000. Indeed, 28% of cases in the backlog have been waiting for over a year and 10% for over two years. This represents an increase of 54.2% in prisoners on remand between 2020 and the present.

As I said in my contribution to the debate on the King’s Speech three weeks ago, the major reasons for the backlog are a lack of judges, causing a serious decrease in the number of sitting days, and a lack of barristers, both to prosecute and defend. The diminution in criminal legal aid by 41% since 2010—the cause of the barristers’ strike—has destroyed the attractiveness of the criminal Bar as a career. So I repeat my call for incentives to aid recruitment; if the Government can fund £26,000 bursaries for young teachers to teach maths and the sciences, they need a similar scheme to fill up the vital vacancies at the criminal Bar.

The dire state of prisons was highlighted by the MoJ’s own figures. The backlog of major capital works was £1.4 billion in July 2023. It has been increasing by £220 million a year since 2019. Prisons are filthy and crumbling.

The Prison Service suffers from recruitment problems, compounded by a failure to retain staff at an increasingly alarming rate—currently 15% per year. Between December 2022 and October last, the prison population has increased at a rate of 605 prisoners per month, to reach the highest figure ever, of over 88,000.

The effect on prisoners themselves is that 42% of male prisoners are locked up for 22 hours a day during the week. Education and rehabilitation courses have been dramatically curtailed. The Guardian recently reported that the number of self-harm incidents, including cutting, overdose and hanging, reached the second-highest on record in March 2023, with 733 incidents for every 1,000 prisoners. Three-quarters of the prison population are engaged in cutting, overdose, hanging and other such activities.

Nick Vineall KC, chairman of the Bar Council, said this week that

“the consequences of underfunding are extremely serious for society as whole. Ultimately, we must have a system that properly supports victims and ensures that the guilty are punished and the innocent walk free. We no longer have such a system”.

The Government may be anxious about victims, but the aim of rehabilitation is not to give criminals an easy time; the aim is simply that there be fewer victims in the future. I could go on, but the picture is clear.

The Autumn Statement increases MoJ day-to-day spending from £9.4 billion for 2022-23 to £9.8 billion for 2023-24—a rise of 4% but in real terms a cut, set against the OBR’s projection of 7.4% inflation next year. The capital budget will fall to £1.5 billion in 2024, below the current capital budget for this year, of £1.7 billion.

Justice is not a peripheral matter: it is a central pillar of our society. When it fails, the stability of the state, and its very existence, are at risk. There are innumerable examples from history, both past and present.

The Autumn Statement is peddled with mendacious spin, with claims of tax reliefs as the actual tax burden rises. It is a final blow to the credibility of this Conservative Government. When they pack their tents and steal away next year, they will leave behind the appalling mess of the criminal justice system, to which the noble Lord, Lord Clarke, has referred. Another Government, I hope, will clean it up.

Wales: Economic Investment Projects

Lord Thomas of Gresford Excerpts
Tuesday 12th July 2016

(8 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord O'Neill of Gatley Portrait Lord O'Neill of Gatley
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, as a keen football supporter, let me also add my congratulations on the performance of Wales. I look forward to Manchester United signing some of those players. On the specific question from the noble Lord, that is a matter for the next Prime Minister. What has been committed to in the specific deals between this Government and the various places, particularly Cardiff city, will of course be stood behind.

Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, if I could put a figure on it, £0.5 billion a year of EU investment funds are coming to Wales. Surely the Government will take note of the fact that those who were in favour of Brexit said it was “our” money, and not EU money. Perhaps we can have some of “our” money in the future. Will the Minister guarantee that?

Lord O'Neill of Gatley Portrait Lord O'Neill of Gatley
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I suspect that this will be a rather repetitious session. It will be a decision for the new Prime Minister. Wales is not the only place in the United Kingdom that is in this position, and there are many others that we have to consider.

Budget Statement

Lord Thomas of Gresford Excerpts
Wednesday 25th March 2015

(9 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I want to say something about the impact of the Budget on Wales. This Government will be remembered for three things: first, that a coalition of political parties can provide a strong and sustainable Government in the United Kingdom; secondly, that this coalition Government pulled the country back from the brink of economic disaster; and, thirdly, that they set in train new and exciting developments in renewable energy. It was a prospective parliamentary candidate for UKIP who asked the question of the year at a meeting in Cleethorpes last month, when she asked:

“What happens when renewable energy runs out?”.

We in Wales are delighted that the £1 billion project announced in the Budget to build a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay will be supported. It has a design life of 120 years, it will deliver renewable power to more than 155,000 homes and it will save 236,000 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions each year. Swansea Bay has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world at an average of about 10 metres and will power turbines four times a day as the tide rises and falls indefinitely.

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Minister, has led the charge, and it is thanks to his efforts to make sure that the environment stays top of the agenda that the Chancellor in this Budget committed the Government to negotiations with Tidal Lagoon Power over the contract for difference—CFD—that will guarantee a fixed price for the lagoon’s electricity over a period to be agreed. The project will create 6,000 jobs and the company has said that the jobs will be created in Wales, with the supply of machinery and so on coming from the United Kingdom. It will generate millions of pounds to the local economy through tourism. The plans demonstrate that there will be a 10 kilometre track around the barrage for running, walking and cycling, and the lagoon itself will be an ideal venue for sailing, rowing and other water sports.

Furthermore, Swansea Bay will be the pioneer for similar developments in Wales, where there are plans already in place for tidal lagoons in Cardiff, Newport and in Colwyn Bay in the north. Montgomeryshire is situated between two national parks and has been subjected to many applications for wind turbines and wind farms, and there is a proposal to devastate it with 33 miles of electricity pylons to connect the output to the national grid in England. I think that the tidal lagoon project is a much more satisfactory and environmentally friendly way in which to deal with renewable energy.

Ed Miliband came to Wales last week and said that the Budget has “dreadful implications” for Wales. Of course, he has no knowledge of the lives of the 3,000 Welsh farmers for whom the ability to average such profits as they may make over a five-year period will do much to deal with the uncontrollable factors of weather, disease and fluctuating prices. Mr Miliband does not appreciate the implications for rural motorists who depend upon their cars of the freeze on fuel duty that the Budget announced will continue. He has no knowledge of the relief to commuters and businesses in south Wales as a result of the proposed reduction of tolls on the Severn Bridge, which will I hope be abolished in 2018, or of the 45,000 people in Wales who could with the help-to-buy ISA purchase their first home over the next five years.

In Cardiff, where the Labour-controlled council is incapable of organising anything at all in Brains Brewery—or indeed any other brewery—the Chancellor, as a result of meetings between Jenny Willott, the Lib Dem Cardiff MP, and Vince Cable, has agreed to promote a city deal which would support large-scale infrastructure projects.

Straight from the front page of our last Lib Dem manifesto, the coalition Government have delivered income tax cuts to millions of low-income and middle-income workers. In Wales, that means that 1.25 million workers have received a £900 tax cut and 167,000 Welsh workers will no longer pay any income tax at all.

I am proud of these achievements, and of all those Liberal Democrats who have served in government. This morning there was a demonstration in Old Palace Yard, as there normally is midweek when Parliament is sitting. It was not a big one, but it had all the usual whistles and horns. Despite my admiration for the demonstrators’ optimism that they could achieve anything with parliamentarians heading for the hustings, I decided to put the headphones on and listen to Mendelssohn’s symphonic poem, “A Calm Sea and a Prosperous Voyage”. It all started off smoothly enough, but soon the tempo quickened, the dissonances arose, and the timpanist had a fine time bashing his drums, while the brass built up to a fortissimo passage. But eventually, following a great fanfare on the trumpets, the music resolved into harmony and peace. At the end of this coalition Government, that is how I feel. I just hope that next time I will not be listening to a Scottish “Fingal’s Cave”.

Barnett Formula

Lord Thomas of Gresford Excerpts
Tuesday 10th February 2015

(9 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Newby Portrait Lord Newby
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, as the noble Lord knows, all-party talks are going on at the moment about future constitutional and other developments in Wales, and funding is one of the items.

Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD)
- Hansard - -

The Minister referred to the Holtham commission. Is he aware that last October all four parties in the Welsh Assembly agreed that in conjunction with the UK Government Holtham should be looked at again? What is the current situation?

Lord Newby Portrait Lord Newby
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, in terms of what is happening on the ground in Wales, the level of expenditure which Holtham suggested would be appropriate if there was to be a fair allocation is actually being spent.

Barnett Formula

Lord Thomas of Gresford Excerpts
Monday 3rd November 2014

(9 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Newby Portrait Lord Newby
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the noble Lord will be aware that the system for funding across the nations will change as we move to a greater degree of devolution in Scotland and that, when a greater degree of taxation powers is devolved to Scotland, the importance of the Barnett formula will be proportionately diminished. Therefore, it is not as though we are standing still on this; we are making a move in a direction that I hope the noble Lord will support.

Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I would like to associate these Benches with the tributes that have been paid to Lord Barnett. I used occasionally to share a taxi with him from Euston and he was a delightful person.

Do the Government agree that the cost of providing services to people in Wales on an equal basis is greater than that in England, having regard to relative levels of ill health, poverty and sparsity of population? If so, is not the basic premise of the Barnett formula utterly and fatally flawed?

Lord Newby Portrait Lord Newby
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I think that we need to remember that Wales receives greater per capita expenditure support than England; in 2012-13, while in England as a whole the level was just over £6,000, in Wales it was just shy of £7,000.

Children and Vulnerable Adults: Abuse

Lord Thomas of Gresford Excerpts
Thursday 26th June 2014

(10 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I was a member of the panel under the chairmanship of Sarah Champion MP, sponsored by Barnardo’s, inquiring into the effectiveness of current legislation for tackling child sexual exploitation and trafficking. My particular concern was the way in which the judicial system dealt with complaints. We heard evidence from members of the Bar who were highly experienced in prosecuting and defending charges brought under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. They identified a number of issues.

One was training and specialisation of the judiciary. A judge plays a crucial role in setting out ground rules at the start of a trial. He determines what special measures should be employed for putting a complainant at his or her ease; for example, by the use of remote television. An experienced judge will decide whether a registered intermediary would be helpful. In particular, he may set a time limit for cross-examination. In the course of the trial he will intervene if he feels that cross-examination is too aggressive or strays too far. He should prevent different defence barristers asking the same questions over and over again. I noted what the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, said and I think that this is not a course that is followed in all cases.

The powers of control are not generally exercised in most criminal trials before a jury because when a judge “steps down into the arena”, as we say, a jury may react badly and think that he is taking sides. The trial process may be distorted. It is also the case that in the past many judges may have had no courtroom experience of sex cases, or at least recent experience, since such cases have over the past 30 or 40 years in my experience tended to be left to junior barristers and to women, who are unhappily under-represented on the Bench. In my 35 years as a Queen’s Counsel, I can recall being involved in only three cases in which rape alone was alleged. These have usually involved the most unusual circumstances, such as the alleged rape of an 82 year-old lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. She had died before the hearing and the evidence was confined to a video of her interview.

In nearly 30 years sitting as a recorder, I tried only one case of rape and that was probably a mistake in the listing. Sensitive training of the judiciary is essential. There is such training on sexual offences cases for judges, although it has been reduced quite recently from a three-day course to a two-day one. It is now necessary for any judge who is ticketed to try these cases to undergo a refresher course every three years and there are supplemental courses on vulnerable witnesses. The Barnardo’s report concluded that,

“no judge should be assigned to try a complex child sexual exploitation case without having received such training”,

and that thought should be given to limiting those authorised to preside over sexual exploitation cases unless they had previous relevant experience of working on ordinary sexual offences cases.

With regard to the training and specialisation of advocates, Nazir Afzal QC of the CPS told us that there has been a change of mindset. The CPS has produced revised guidelines on prosecuting cases of child sexual abuse and has introduced specialist rape and serious sexual offences units embedded into the Crown Court team. Patricia Lynch QC, who both prosecutes and defends and is a tutor judge at the Judicial College, told us that her Chambers used to have a self-imposed rule that,

“you didn’t conduct a sex case until you were seven years call and 10 years for rape. Only Silks and very senior juniors did rape and serious sex cases and they were tried by High Court and Senior Circuit Judges. Now anyone can take on a sex case; Silks are deemed too expensive and there are not enough practitioners trained to do the specialist cases”.

There lies the problem. The fact is that no one wants to spend their whole career at the Bar doing this type of case. They are not well paid, are more than usually distressing and rarely of high profile. It is only in the high-profile celebrity cases that you will see Silks of standing stepping forward to do them. They generally have no experience of doing sexual offence cases generally. We called for specialist training for both prosecutors and defence counsel and recommended that,

“legally aided defendants should be restricted in their choice of representation to a panel of solicitors and counsel who have undergone specific training in CSE issues. The professional bodies should have the power on complaint to remove an individual from such a panel”,

if it were appropriate by reason of the conduct of the advocate in court.

Finally, with regard to jurors’ perceptions, all those who appeared before our panel were concerned that a jury consists of,

“people who are unfamiliar with child abuse and how it manifests itself”.

Jurors tend not to understand,

“the levels of coercion and manipulation used to control and exploit young people”.

I hope that abuse is not so widespread that it does come within their life experience. Young people tend not to present themselves as victims and become defensive, aggressive or even laugh as they give their evidence. Eleanor Laws QC told us:

“Trafficked victims don’t behave the way a jury thinks they should behave. There is a danger that the jury sits in judgement”,

not on the abuser but on the victim.

Myths and stereotypes do exist. Judges may warn the jury against making assumptions about the possible effects of sexual offences on victims and increasingly do so at the outset of a case. I proposed that members of a jury panel, before the actual jury is selected out of it, should be shown a standard and agreed video about common myths and stereotypes, just as they now see a video explaining their role as jurors. The report recommended that the Ministry of Justice should explore,

“the development of materials, either written or filmed, to better inform jurors”,

about those continuing myths and stereotypes that undermine our judicial system.

The report contains much more guidance on special measures and the possibility of pre-recorded evidence closer to the time of the offence. There are pilots under way. But the essential thing is that justice is done, for victims certainly, but for the health of society as a whole as well.

Queen’s Speech

Lord Thomas of Gresford Excerpts
Wednesday 11th June 2014

(10 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, as a member of the Association of Military Court Advocates, I associate myself with the remarks of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, and tell him that we shall be addressing the issues at an international seminar at Yale University in the autumn.

I may be from Wales, but it so happens that my four children would be, under Mr Salmond’s plan for Scottish independence, entitled to Scottish passports—although not, it seems, my grandsons Angus, Finlay and Murray.

My family’s links with Scotland derive from coal mining and two mining communities, one in north Wales and the other being the West Lothian coal field. My late father-in-law, who trained at the Polkemmet mine near Whitburn, came to manage Gresford colliery in Wales, among others. At that time, it was still recovering from the dreadful disaster of 1934 in which 266 Welsh miners lost their lives underground. That terrible event drew miners together: the hymn tune “Gresford” became “the Miners’ Hymn”, played by colliery bands in Wales, Scotland, Durham and the north-east, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire and Kent.

Nobody in Gresford claimed the coal for Wales. Nobody in Fauldhouse claimed the coal for Scotland. The people of Britain—drawn together by hardship and adversity, by lost lives in the Great Wars, by poverty and privation—struggled to pool their natural resources and talents to build together a modern liberal country, in which citizens are guaranteed equal social and economic rights. The noble Lord, Lord Reid, set out those rights in his excellent speech this morning, so I will not repeat them.

While this struggle was happening, nationalism was an irrelevance. Saunders Lewis and the Reverend Valentine, founders in 1925 of the Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru, the Welsh National Party, thought it right to set fire to an RAF training camp and aerodrome in the Llyn peninsula just before the Second World War. They ensured that the official policy of their party to that war was neutrality. Neutrality was also advocated by Douglas Young, the then leader of the SNP, which was founded in 1934. They all ended up in prison. A later generation has sought to give nationalism in both countries a more respectable face, but the central aim of independence remains. Why do nationalists wish to break up the common venture of the United Kingdom? Why is devolution, which surely enhances the distinctive identities and cultures of our different peoples but keeps us together, not enough?

What nationalism has succeeded in doing is create tensions within and between the constituent nations of the United Kingdom as to who gets what and what is fair. Nationalism complains about Westminster government and of domination by London. It resents the English, yet there is now increasing discontent in England over Scotland’s share of public spending. There is a perception in England that additional funding enables the Scots—and the Welsh—to enjoy popular policies, for example on tuition fees, which are not available to the English. There is indeed a political question to be resolved which has no mention in the gracious Speech, no doubt because of the imminent Scottish referendum.

In the end, it comes down to the Barnett formula. Under that formula, the amount spent on public services in Scotland is much more per capita than is spent in England and significantly greater than in Wales. The position as between Scotland and Wales would be reversed if the Barnett formula were replaced by funding based on the actual needs of the people, as the Lords Select Committee under the noble Lord, Lord Richard, rightly pointed out in 2009. We have a splendid paradox: Mr Salmond warns the Scots that a no vote means abolition of the Barnett formula and the removal of their mother’s milk but, on the other hand, the Welsh Labour Government say that Barnett must go. The people of Wales may not vote for or against the tax-raising powers that we shall soon be debating in the Wales Bill unless Barnett is replaced.

What devolution must be about is the use of all the resources of these islands to support and develop those areas of the United Kingdom that are most in need—to spread the load, to ensure equality and opportunity and to relieve poverty whether in Wales, Scotland or those areas of England and Northern Ireland where the old industrial or rural economy has collapsed. We stand together. We build together, as we always have. When this referendum is out of the way, all of us, whether Scots, Welsh, English, Irish or a mixture of all or any, have serious business to do.

Financial Crime: Legislation

Lord Thomas of Gresford Excerpts
Thursday 17th March 2011

(13 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the issue that caused the most grief and anguish during the passage of the Bribery Act 2010, as it still does, was the scope of the statutory defence of adequate procedures contained in Section 7(2). Section 7(1) provides that a commercial organisation is guilty of an offence if a person associated with it bribes another person to gain an advantage in a commercial transaction. It was a deliberately wide net, bounded only by the need to demonstrate that the organisation is carrying on a business, whether it is an incorporated body or a partnership formed in this country, wherever in the world it carries on its business, or a foreign company or partnership carrying on business in the United Kingdom.

Attempts were made during the passage of the Bill to insert a requirement that the prosecution must prove that the organisation has, through its responsible managers, acted negligently. However, bribery, or the absence of any objection to bribery, is more often due to the slackness of the company, as the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, pointed out, than to significant negligence that can be tied to specific directors or managers. Negligence by any individual director or manager is a heavy burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt, so there would be no convictions. Another amendment was proposed for the prosecution to prove that the organisation did not have in place adequate procedures to prevent bribery, but that was an impossible burden to place on the prosecution, as it would require it to delve into the files of the company in question.

The Government rightly rejected those suggestions and produced a strict liability offence subject only to the statutory defence contained in Section 7(2), the defence of adequate procedures. The burden is on the organisation to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that adequate procedures are in place. What are adequate procedures? I and others, both in the Joint Committee and in the Chamber, attempted to tie the previous Government down to a working definition of the concept of adequate procedures, but that proved impossible. The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, said in Hansard on 2 February last year that it was for the courts alone to determine in a specific case whether the procedures had been adequate, leaving the matter completely up in the air.

I suggested that a commercial organisation ought to be able to obtain specific advice from the Department for Business about the adequacy of its procedures to prevent bribery, or, if it proposed to trade in a new area or foreign jurisdiction, that it could get advice on facilitation, grease payments or entertainment. What is improper performance? Should the meaning be governed by the standards of the country with which the organisation is dealing or by the stringent standards of a British jury?

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the United States provides that a rebuttable assumption will arise that a person acting in accordance with advice will not commit an offence. An advisory service in the Justice Department of the United States gives that advice. In Hong Kong, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which has brought Hong Kong to number three in the Transparency International scale, stamped out corruption. As part of its organisation, it has the Hong Kong Ethics Development Centre, which offers a full range of consultancy services on corporate ethics. To date, it has advised more than 3,000 private companies and businesses. The ICAC, with which I have some connection, cannot believe how few charges of corruption have been brought in the United Kingdom as compared with its case load. It is satisfied that its advisory service works well.

Unfortunately, it was thought to be un-British to do that in this country when the Bill was going through Parliament. Clearly, the advice of a government department could not pre-empt the decision of prosecuting authorities to prosecute, nor could it be a complete defence, but it could provide an important piece of evidence in support of a defence of adequate procedures under Section 7(2).

The previous Government rejected that approach and preferred to rely on the guidance. We have already heard about the issuing of guidance. An industry then sprang into being. It reminds me of an evangelical Welsh preacher who spends two-thirds of his sermon convincing completely blameless people that they are sinners and will go to hell and then offers redemption in the last third. What has happened is that commercial lawyers are warning companies of dire consequences, saying that directors will go to prison. I am sure that that is why my noble friends Lord Hodgson and Lady Wheatcroft take the position that they do. Directors are being warned that they will go to hell if they are not prepared to pay for advice from commercial lawyers on current procedures. These lawyers are busy tailoring anti-bribery and corruption programmes appropriate for the size and risk profile of their clients. Therefore, instead of the state—the Government—giving advice to a firm, you have to go to very expensive lawyers and others to get that advice.

I have in front of me an anti-corruption and bribery conference brochure, which says:

“Attending this conference will allow you to answer the following questions … How far will the SFO go in prosecuting offences?”.

Who can know that?

“What is the meaning of ‘adequate procedures’?”

I have already given what the Government say and we are waiting for the guidelines.

“Will the Act be reviewed by the Government”?

Who knows? You will have to pay £600 individually to get this useless advice. That is the industry that has grown up and which, I am quite sure, has caused all the problems, the difficulties and the fears for my noble friend Lord Hodgson, just as that Welsh preacher induced fear in his congregation. I do not believe that you need these programmes. The Act is perfectly straightforward. The concepts are perfectly clear and common sense is required. The intensive lobbying that has been going on to delay the issue of these guidance notes and the implementation of the Act is wholly to be deplored.