The Cabinet Secretaries' Notebooks (CAB 195/7)

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Prevention of Corruption

Prevention of Corruption

Att.G. 

Illustrate by refce to recent B/Trade case.
Betwn. them recd gifts totalling £200.  Import licensing of cars from U.S.A.
Six cases – only one or two.
Seventh (Hadfield) – w'less set, fur cape, 2 carpets, 4 botts whisky and sherry, frocks, electric iron, cigars etc. Prosecuted. No direct evce of corruptn.
At C.C.C. defendant didn't go into box : relied on submn. of no evce. of corruptn and was found not guilty.
Clear from this we shall never be able to prosecute. Because no direct evce of corruption. In cases of discretionary licence.
In contracts Parlt. has put onus of disproof on defendant.
Proposal supported by D. of P.P. and Judges.

P.M. 

1916 Act passed in war.  Has it bn. used?

Att.G. 

Yes: when allegn of corruptn is made in contract case.

Ld.Adv. 

Objn. not based on diffce of Scotts law – but on principle.
Wd. apply to all public servants. Further departure fr. principle of law tht. onus is on Crown. Proof of innocent transfd to accused.
Pol. and publ. criticism unless amply justified.
If this establd prosn wd. have finished if it establd. tht. "money" passed.
True diff. to get direct evce of intent. But inference fr. circs.
Contract case : some condns and standards by wh. conduct can be judged.
Here it's more discretionary. Much more diff. for accused to establ. innocence – in contract cd. show tht. all condns. were satisfied.
Ques. principles of law, therefore ample justifn needed. Evce of racket wh. can't be handled otherwise. In 10 yrs. in large cities in Scotl. no case reported which cd. have gone fwd. if law thus amended. In England, don't know if refces in memo. are to contracts: but in any case not enough to warrant this change in law.
Invidious to do this now, when controls are being relaxed.

J. 

Favour this change. So diff. to prove corruptn. Have to show he wdn't have given licence if he hadn't received the gift – can't do that.
Why not apply proved and welcome procedure of 1916 Act.

H.M. 

Recognise objns to shifting onus.
Onus wd. be only to explaing. circs. of acceptance.
Corruption in public life is gtest danger to democracy.  Lucky we haven't had v. much of it. Where it exists, largest diffy. is always proof.
For all participants are interested to keep it dark.
"Lunches" point. No need to worry about that. No Att.G. wd. give his fiat unreasonably. Much more need to worry over failures to bring rogue to book.
"Revive Lynskey". Why worry? We came well out of it.

P.M. 

Did Humphreys J. suggest amendmt of law?  As in 1916.

Att.G. 

No. But L.C.J. favours change in law.

A.B.

Spkg. qua local Govt.  In small group of Ministers divided opinion.
If we legislate, Bill must extend to Scotland.  Ques. of principle.
Politics. Why so masochistic? Before Genl Election: resurrect Lynskey and invite muck raking. Why? Area of possible corruption has narrowed in last 18 mos. Why give impn tht. Lynskey uncovered a small area of trouble only.
Agree we shd. do this, all the same, if need existed.  But no grounds save one recent acquittal.
We shd. involve all l.a.'s, on heels of controversial local elections.
In l. govt. contracts are cause of whatever trouble there is. E.g. bribes for appointments. Covered by existg. law.
Object to extension of A.G.'s power. Accused is to defend himself on "subjective" grounds. No standards of procedure for licences. Att. G.'s decision on fiat will equally be "subjective". What matters is weight attd to certain actions. A. v. dangerous discretion. Many earlier examples of dispute over powers of Law Officers – rights of prosecution, search etc.
Never raised by l.a. associations.
Will it be possible to restrict this to officials and not extend it to members of l.a.'s. But if you extend it there will be trouble.

P.M. 

Officials and permits only.

C.E. 

But l.a.'s have wide discretion in permits eg. bldg. plans. etc.

Att.G. 

Willing to drop fiat if that helps.

H.W. 

Que. central Govt.
 a)  Political – Lynskey again.
 b)  Legal principles.
 c)  Effect on Civil Service.
Standards are high. Came out of Lynskey enquiry v. well indeed, despite attempts to discredit on political grounds. These are not enforceable by law. Disciplinary methods w'in Service are all the deterrents requd. to keep up traditions.  In spite of gt. expansion of Service and delegation, standards have bn. preserved.
Strong powers of discipline.  Used v. the "rest" mentioned by Att.G. – incldg. retirement. The more diff. to use these if procdgs. are readily available. Eg. Hadfield, being acquitted, must now be disciplined for "indiscretion". May be challenged eg. in H/C.
"Lunches" point did worry me. But Att.G. has removed my apprehension.

T.W. 

Particular case. Junior offl. offered parcel "for his wife" and found £100 in it.
Procdgs. taken. Briber sentenced : 9 months.
Do we need more power?

A.W. 

Two ques.
a) Offl. behavg. wrongly. Can be dealt with by C.S. discipline.
    How can you prove corruptn unless man confesses tht. his judgmt. was influenced.
    Are we not exaggerating prevalence of this evil?
    By introducg. special legn.  Disservice to loyalty of Service.  I am opposed to it.
    Bad advertisement in f. countries.
b)  L. Govt. There have bn. cases.  But no more corrupt today than it was in Tory days.
    Bribes offered to enforcemt. officers eg. on Purchase Tax are ineffective.

E.E.B. 

Timing.
C. Service had diffy. in administering controls. Did it pretty well.
Lynskey enquiry : debate.
Herbert Cttee. on contact men.
If this legn taken now, may suggest there is more corruptn about than there is. I wd. prefer that it shd. be done later. Assumg. there isn't a lot of corruptn.
Must extend to L. Govt. officials. And that may cause diffies.

P.M. 

Is this the right time? No real evce there is much corruptn.
Political – will be said the controlled economy is to blame for any increase.
Wd. prefer to let this stand over for a time.

A. 

Must extend to Scotland.
C.S. standards depend, not on law, but on tradition.
Read memo. with increasing misgivings.
Natn etc., extends scope for malpractices.  Wd. suggest we had reason to think further powers are required.

C.E. 

Favour legisln.

N.B. 

Corruptn less than 40 yrs. ago. But v. serious thing. Wd. have favoured legn. But after hearing discn, favour delay.

G.T. 

V. diff. for innocent man to displace the onus.
What wd. be posn of Minister who eg. accepted a gift for opening school built by special method : Key was presented to buildg. firm.

H.W. 

Even when 1916 Act is extended to licences and permits, you haven't covered anything like the field of C.S. discretion. Other "acts" which may be more valuable to "applicant".
Att.G. Onus. Enough to explain to satisfn of jury circs. in which gift was offered or accepted.
Said v. little corruptn.  But in 1947 : 85 cases : 1946.
                                               1948 : 87 cases – 21 proceeded.
Satisfied law can't be enforced, as it stands.
Don't regard reprimand as enough.
Shall go on prosecutg. in such cases. If I continue to fail, Court will comment.

A.V.A. 

Think law shd. apply equally to all.
1916 Act hasn't disadvantaged Service. Why shd. its principle not be applied to wider field.
On timing – shd. be content to wait.

C.J. 

Agree with P.M. No sufft. evce for radical extension of 1916 principle.

P.M. 

Divided view in Cabinet. Take no decision.

Taken from C.M. 33(49) - Meeting held on 9 May 1949.