A debate on the impacts of corruption is being held in the House of Lords today at 3pm, in the Grand Committee. Baroness Jenny Jones will use it to launch her new report on corruption in the UK.
Her speech and the report aim to highlight three aspects of corruption:
· It impacts upon government policy, regulations and priorities and not just individual contracts or licences
· It’s often about corporate interests, as well as personal greed;
· There is rarely a visible trail of evidence as it facilitated by a tight network of interpersonal relationships;
Baroness Jenny Jones said:
“This government is clearly influenced on major issues like climate change by Conservative Party donors and the network of corporate sponsored, right wing think tanks who deny the scientific evidence that Climate Change is happening. That is just as much a form of corruption as the fast track scheme for covid contracts. Both will result in long term damage to the British economy and to the interests of taxpayers.”
A lack of an evidence trail is a defining feature of these closely woven relationships between power and money. All we can do is look at the receipts in the next year to see how many millions of pounds are donated into the Conservative Party coffers from the hedge fund managers, energy companies and others. For them, it is both an investment and a measure of just how grateful they are.”
The solutions to corruption are many and numerous. Many are contained in recommendations from Parliamentary committees. The experience of recent years has taught us that a corrupt government can ignore all the systems of self-regulation and ethical advisers appointed by the Prime Ministers that they are meant to be holding to account. What we need is a democratic revolution that stops the big corporate donors and their middle men from having any influence on either procurement or policy. We need 100% transparency, with the National Audit Office and others being able to ask the police for phone records when Ministers use WhatsApp to do business with their friends. We also need an anti-corruption unit that is based as far away from the politicking of New Scotland Yard as it can get.”
Jenny’s report covers some of the most obvious examples of corruption in recent times, such as:
1) Political access, where money opens the doors that remain shut for most voters
2) Corporate lobbying can involve a big PR budget, or funding think tanks that promote your interests.
3) Party donations buy you a seat at the table where the decision makers are sitting.
4) Procurement in our privatized system of public services has become a major source of profit. Fraud is endemic and the Covid fast track scheme shows what happens when the rules are by-passed.
5) Companies with a large UK presence have been involved in major overseas bribery scandals and the UK’s financial and property markets act as a laundry for foreign money coming from criminal or corrupt sources.