The Bishop of Leeds asked a question regarding the government’s response to money laundering relating to Russia, during a debate on Russian activities in Georgia on 16th November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, referring back to the original Question, have the Government made any assessment of how corrupt wealth is being laundered to get around sanctions in Russia by pushing the money through places such as Georgia?
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The Bishop of Southwark asked a question about corruption during a debate about treatment of opposition activists in Zimbabwe on 27th October 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, the diocese of Southwark is linked with four of the five Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe and the neighbouring diocese of Rochester with the fifth, Harare. Does the Minister agree that the systemic corruption and long-standing poor level of governance in Zimbabwe continually undermine civil society and reduce the well-being of the people and all the institutions there, including the Church?
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On 13th October 2022, the House of Lords debated the issue of corruption in the UK in Grand Committee. The Bishop of Leeds spoke in the debate, proposing that the government establish an ethics committee and an independent anti-corruption board:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, for securing this urgent debate, unnervingly but possibly appropriately overseen by a rather Caucasian Moses.
I was pleased to see that the United Kingdom Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2022 and the Library note for this debate both begin with definitions of corruption. Broadly speaking, they define it in terms of the abuse of office or illicit procurement for personal gain—the misuse of entrusted power, as the noble Lord, Lord Evans, put it. That is reasonable enough, but I want to offer another definition. Corruption happens when integrity is reduced to expediency and principle to mere pragmatism.
Of the many possible examples we could draw to mind, we might fix on the years of complacent steering of Russian money through the sewers of London. Despite many warnings about both the nature and impact of this, it was financially convenient and politically cost-free. Then, once Vladimir Putin went off-piste in Ukraine, suddenly the language changed to that of moral outrage: same money, same people, same oligarchs, same “brutal dictator”, same banks—the only thing that had changed was the temperature and political expediency. Principles of integrity and transparency, the virtues extolled by Nolan, were frequently mentioned and comprehensively ignored when convenient money was involved.
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On 9th March 2022, the House of Lords debated the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill in its second reading. The Bishop of Leeds spoke in the debate, raising concerns about the background to the bill, which was introduced in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I welcome this Bill and the speed with which it is being brought to us, but I share some of the concerns that have been represented already. I do not intend to go into any of the detail of matters that have already been spoken about; I am sure other noble Lords would be better at that than I might be.
I hesitate to bring an ethical argument because, in my experience in this House, ethical arguments simply get ignored. Indeed, one Minister replied to an ethical argument made on a different Bill by saying, “We will not listen to strictures on morality from anyone.” That led me, at the next stage—on Report—simply to say that that implies there is no place in politics for ethics. But it is my ethical concerns, which one might represent as cultural, that cause me to stand now.
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The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McInnes, for raising this important Question. I draw attention to my non-financial interest as a vice-president of the Leprosy Mission. I hasten to add that, to the best of my knowledge, that excellent organisation has not been infected by the scourge of corruption.
However, all of us involved in third sector aid must be vigilant and realistic about the temptations even for those whose careers and lives are essentially altruistic. The diocese I serve used to have what the Anglican Communion calls a companion link with a diocese in a very poor area of a very poor African country, where corruption is rife at all levels. We found it extremely difficult to support church work, rural clinics, schools and so on without significant amounts of money going astray—despite our best efforts as required by the Finance Act 2010 and by our own ethical standards.
Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough – need to consider impact on smaller aid and development charities of necessary anti-corruption measures”
On 20th April 2016 Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty’s Government “what further discussions they have had with Overseas Territories since last year’s Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council about moves towards greater transparency of beneficial ownership for companies registered within their jurisdiction, in the light of the United Kingdom’s chairmanship of the International Anticorruption Summit in May 2016.” The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, while I acknowledge the good work done by the Government recently on this, does the Minister agree that public transparency is important not only in the fight against corruption but as a very significant moral issue? Does she agree that it is the duty of all Governments, including those of overseas territories, to work towards public transparency? Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough – Government has moral duty to ensure public transparency over offshore tax arrangements”
On 25th March 2015, the Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, received answers to written questions on regulation of the extractives industry:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they will take against extractives industry companies which seek to subvert the intention behind the Reports on Payments to Governments Regulations 2014.
Baroness Neville Rolfe (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills): The Government expects companies to comply with the requirements of the Reports on Payments to Government Regulations 2014.
The Regulations, which came into effect on 1 December 2014, set out the enforcement and penalty regime for any company that fails to comply in part or in full. It is a matter for the company to ensure that it is fully complying with the requirements. On a criminal conviction for not doing so the penalty may be a fine or a term of imprisonment for the directors of the company.
Reports made annually by companies under these Regulations will be published on Companies House website where both government and other interested parties will be able to consider the reports and their accuracy.
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