Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 820 - 823)



  820. Secretary of State, that is exactly the point I was going to make, it does then ensure that if action is to be taken against perhaps corrupt leaders in developing countries that the intelligence gathering is of such strength that it would stand up in terms of ensuring cases could be brought within British courts and within other courts around the world to ensure that money is returned.
  (Clare Short) There is a guy who works for Deloitte Touche—Mark Tatham I think—and he is a sort of audit-trail, finding-money-that-has-gone-missing expert in international systems, and he does pro bono work, and he did pro bono work for Zaire to try and trace the Mobutu money. He did a lot of work, traced a lot of it, but then no action was possible because there was no law in Zaire which had been broken; the presidency being able to put their fingers into the national budget was not criminal. So it is not just the criminal intelligence systems, it is having the framework of law which means the misuse of the state's resources by a politician is illegal.

  821. My last point you have answered in some ways already, talking about the help for Pakistan, which is in fact this whole area of providing mutual legal assistance to developing countries who are wishing to recover the proceeds of corruption. You mentioned that something came in during the middle of last year, are you able to give us a separate note on what basis this is laid down, which countries this is available for and how we can go forward?
  (Clare Short) I think we put something in the original evidence on this. I think we have covered this. We now have agreement with the Home Office, having got together over the Pakistan case, where Pakistan felt aggrieved they were not getting any help, that they will inform us when developing countries come forward and we and/or the Foreign Office will move forward to assist countries to access the system. That is a new agreement which should lead to an improvement. Let me say though that the systems are still slow even with our technical help, so I think the systems could be made faster in their own right for everyone. I think it is 239 days or something is the average.
  (Mr Mason) 295 days.
  (Clare Short) 295 days is the average for processing an application, and that is not just from developing countries. That is an awfully long time.


  822. Yes, that is very long. Secretary of State, thank you very much indeed for answering our questions so honestly and patiently. I think you have given us a lot of material which we hope will bring about less corruption. Thank you very much.
  (Clare Short) Thank you very much. Could I say that given that there are events which might take place, it would be terribly sad if there was not a report from the Committee on these matters before those events which might take place!

  823. Your evidence is the last we shall be taking—and tomorrow from Jack Straw—on corruption, and then our clerks are tasked with getting a report drafted and agreed before the end of March. We will be issuing this report on corruption, and one on HIV/AIDS, and on the Globalisation White Paper, and participating in the debate on the new Development Bill. So we will not be idle!
  (Clare Short) Good. Thank you very much.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 5 April 2001