Page last updated at 18:41 GMT, Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Lord Howe criticises Bribery Act 'delay'

Former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Howe of Aberavon has criticised the government for "delaying" the implementation of legislation on bribery.

The Bribery Act 2010 was passed by the previous government and covers criminal law relating to bribery but will not come into force until the Justice Secretary has published guidance on the act.

On 2 March 2011 during Lords questions Lord Howe asked: "Is it not the case that it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain the delay and it is doing increasing damage to the reputation of British industry and, indeed, the reputation of the Lord Chancellor [Ken Clarke] himself?"

Justice Minister Lord McNally replied: "We are proceeding with all due speed on the matter. One of the things that is encouraging is that industry itself seems to be quite capable of living with this act."

The Liberal Democrat peer said that he noted Lord Howe's point but that the delay was a question of "implementation" rather than "a matter of the reputation of the Lord Chancellor".

Labour shadow minister Lord Bach, who in government steered the bill through the Lords, said it had received "widespread and vocal support from all sides of the House".

Lord Bach said that: "one year on, after the bill became an act of Parliament, we still don't know when it is going to be implemented. Do you agree that this is totally unsatisfactory?"

Lord McNally replied that the government had not been "idle" and Mr Clarke had held meetings with a wide range of bodies.

Peers also put questions to the government on the number of people employed in the tourism and hospitality sectors, banks and improving outcomes for cancer patients.

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