Home > General Politics, Law, Terrible Tories > The cruellest cut of all

The cruellest cut of all

The government has gone too far with its cuts programme.

There is a well-established case for slashing welfare benefits, making life impossible for disabled people, closing libraries, slashing jobs in the public sector, and generally removing excessive expenditure on social need. 

After all, we do need to get down the massive deficit that Labour is solely responsible for, and such cuts are merely those of strong government, ready and able to get our country back on its feet.

Such cuts will, in any event, mostly affect poor people, who by their very nature are of little worth in terms of the overall UK balance sheet.

But this proposed cut to public expenditure, as reported in the Financial Times, is just too much:

The Ministry of Justice has said that it has not been allowed to spend a penny explaining the Bribery Act, a key new piece of corporate legislation, to businesses in the UK……

The new offence of “failure to prevent bribery” will make small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) responsible for ensuring the compliance of any agent or contractor connected with their businesses – irrespective of where they are in the world.

Quite rightly, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is outraged that such vital expenditure is being cut at this essential time:

Adam Marshall, the BCC’s policy director, said: “The Bribery Act will have massive implications for businesses, particularly small businesses, which do not have the capacity to put together complicated compliance measures.”

He noted that the government’s decision not to spend money explaining the act was in contrast with the £800,000 spent last year outlining changes to the national minimum wage.

It is simply unacceptable that we shouldn’t spend just a few million pounds providing high-quality information to businesses on how they can become involved in very dubious practices indeed, but still stay just inside the law on technicalities and loopholes carefully constructed by their legal advisors.  It is the due role of government to provide such a vital service to our entrepeneurial class.

Exploitative business practice, often carried out through overseas intermediaries,  is what made this country great.  We restrict it at our peril.

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  1. Barney Stannard
    January 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I think the problem is the definition of ‘bribery’ which now seems to include buying a pint for your mate who also happens to be a client. Very dubious activities indeed.
    Of course, the large companies will have no trouble finding lawyers to advise them on the loopholes, but many less well off companies will find that prohibitively expensive.

  2. Paul
    January 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Yeah, I know, I know. I didn’t know much about it but some of it does look a bit extreme (and probably unimplementable) at a skim read (actually as a Company Director who does like going to the pub I’d better read it properly!).

    I wouldn’t have bothered with it but for the way the BCC guy felt the need to compare it to the NMW information.

    Anyway, not the most serious post I’ve ever done

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