HC Deb 11 September 2003 vol 410 cc471-2
20. Hugh Bayley (City of York)

What additional resources have been made available to enable the Serious Fraud Office (a) to investigate and (b) to prosecute cases of bribery by UK citizens and companies abroad. [128963]

The Solicitor-General

In this financial year, the SFO budget has risen to £23.41 million and it is due to increase further to £35.34 million by the end of 2005–06. The SFO plans to use some of those resources to expand its permanent staff numbers to approximately 300 by the end of that financial year. Each case referred to the SFO is assessed on its individual merits, including allegations of bribery by United Kingdom citizens or companies overseas.

Hugh Bayley

One of the consequences of the dreadful attacks two years ago on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon was that the House decided to enact legislation to make international bribery and other international financial crimes offences in British law. Naturally, I want to know that the SFO is investigating cases and that prosecutions will follow. I am not asking my right hon. and learned Friend to make a statement in detail to the House but I wonder whether she would be willing for me and a representative from the Transparency International UK branch to talk to her about that matter so that we can be reassured that the legislation is not just gathering dust on the statute book but is actively being used to clamp down on international bribery.

The Solicitor-General

I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to talk about those issues, which he has done so much to bring before the House. Indeed, I acknowledge his role in raising the issues covered by the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. I would be happy to discuss with him the enforcement of that important Act.