In the past the authorities in the United States have been much more successful in prosecuting foreign bribery by their companies than the authorities in Britain.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s latest report on steps taken to implement and enforce the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in the United Kingdom is far more scanty than that for the United States (even after allowing for the fact the economy of the United States is much bigger than the UK’s). Further, since the Bribery Act 2010 came into force in the UK almost three years ago, there has been no conviction of anyone for foreign bribery under the Act. And last year, in 2013, there was only one conviction of someone for foreign bribery under the previous legislation. So how can the UK improve its record, and what should those wishing to see this happen do?
Many European governments have used the situation in the Ukraine as justification to increase military spending. But only in Switzerland do people have a direct say in their country’s military policy. And the signal that the Swiss people sent out last Sunday was very clear: Buying expensive weapons systems is not a priority.
In a national referendum, 53.4% of the voters rejected the purchase of 22 Swedish JAS Gripen E fighter jets. The deal was worth £2 billion immediately and £6.6 billion including operations and maintenance over the next few years. The government had proposed the procurement to replace the ageing F-5 Tiger fleet that will be put out of operation next year.
This morning a group of peace activists from Sheffield used Rolls Royce’ AGM as a chance to challenge the board about their involvement with the development and production of propulsion systems for Trident submarines.
The activists highlighted the fact that power of a Trident submarine is 1000 times more destructive than the bomb used at Hiroshima and asked what the company’s response would be to a Trident nuclear strike, and what they anticipated the impact would be on shareholders.
The activists also held up banners that said “No More Trident” and “Trident Kills.” They asked further questions about alternative uses for Roils Royce engineering expertise, such as green energy to sustain the planet, and whether taxpayers would have to pay for Rolls Royce’s lost investment, if Trident was not replaced.
We are writing with respect to the National Security Strategy (NSS) review and the Defence and Security Review (DSR), both of which are scheduled to be published following the 2015 General Election. We do so in light of the report of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee (DC), Towards the Next Defence and Security Review, (HC 197), published on 7 January, to which several of us submitted evidence, and the Government’s response, published on 26 March. We understand that the recommendations of this report will be the subject of a parliamentary debate in the coming months.
We urge you to ensure that the NSS and DSR processes help to shape the UK’s strategy in the world in a coherent manner. In summary, we believe:
At this time of flux, there is a need to address some fundamental questions that have been neglected in the past, in particular the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict and threats to security.
There is a need to be honest about the UK’s capability to contribute to tackling security challenges, and the Government needs to be prepared to change its approach, not simply focusing on dealing with the symptoms of insecurity.
This discussion needs to be frank, inclusive and (as far as possible) take place in the public realm.
The DSR needs to sit clearly and transparently within the NSS, with its decisions justified by reference to the NSS.