Is evidence self-evident?

I’m in a lather of indecision, and I am hoping that you will be able to help.  As regular readers will know, I do love a consultation, and at the moment my very own government is running one that is close to home in all senses: on 29 March 2018 the Treasury Committee launched “a new inquiry into economic crime”.  At the launch of the inquiry (can’t get used to that: I spell it “enquiry”), committee chair Nicky Morgan MP said: “It has been claimed that the UK, particularly the London property market, is becoming a destination of choice to launder the proceeds of overseas crime and corruption – so-called ‘dirty money’.  One estimate suggests that up to £4.4 billion worth of UK properties may have been bought with suspicious wealth.  As part of our inquiry, the Treasury Committee will examine the UK’s role in international efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing and implement sanctions.  We will also look at economic crime at the consumer level, including fraud and scams.”

So what do they want to know?  The relevant webpage explains it quite clearly: when it comes to the anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and sanctions regimes, “the Committee would welcome evidence on: the scale of money laundering, terrorist financing and sanctions violations in the UK, and the means by which this activity is enabled; the current legislative and regulatory landscape, including any weaknesses in the rules and their enforcement; the effectiveness of the Treasury and its associated bodies in supporting and supervising the regimes; the impact of the implementation of the current regimes on individuals, firms and the wider economy, including unintended consequences, such as the removal/refusal of financial services from/to individuals or firms; the role of financial institutions and/or professional bodies in these regimes; the UK’s role in international efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing and implement sanctions.”

They then invite us to submit “written evidence” by 8 May 2018.  But what is “evidence”?  Do they mean this in a scientific sense – i.e. hypotheses tested with scientific rigour and proved (or disproved) with numerical underpinning?  Or do they mean – and this is all I can offer – anecdotal experience?  I would love to submit shedloads of the latter (wind me up and watch me go when it comes to “unintended consequences”!), but I cannot provide any scientific evidence.  To be honest, I can’t imagine that many respondents can, other than, say, the National Crime Agency, LEAs and AML supervisory bodies.  On the other hand, if that’s what they do mean, I don’t want to spend time crafting a detailed response only to have it thrown out because it’s opinion rather than proven.  So, those of you with greater experience of the workings of government, what do you think?  What do they mean by “evidence”?  Ta muchly.

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6 Responses to Is evidence self-evident?

  1. Mary says:

    The committee can save a lot of time and start by reading Private Eye who have reported extensively on the subject.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mary, and welcome to the blog. You’re right: there’s certainly plenty of written evidence in the PE archives! And a bit of light relief might be welcome after hours of committee discussions.

  2. David Winch says:

    I think the key word here is “written”. If it is written & you submit it, then it’s written evidence.

    • Many thanks for this, David. I have sent a quick email to Nicky Morgan – committee chair – to ask her view, and will report back. All of this confusion probably stems from my literal nature! Best wishes from Susan

  3. What David said. I’m sure your input would be very valuable to the inquiry.
    There’s some guidance on written evidence here:

    One point worth mentioning: assume that anything you submit will eventuallly be put online with your name on it.

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