HOUSE OF COMMONS
Fifth Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.
DRAFT REHABILITATION OF OFFENDERS ACT 1974 (EXCEPTIONS) (AMENDMENT No.2) ORDER 1986
Tuesday 9 December 1986
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The Committee consisted of the following Members:
Chairman: Mr. David Crouch
Amess, Mr. David (Basildon)
Baldry, Mr. Tony (Banbury)
Brinton, Mr. Tim (Gravesham)
Churchill, Mr. (Davyhulme)
Forman, Mr. Nigel (Carshalton and Wallington)
George, Mr. Bruce (Walsall, South)
Griffiths, Mr. Peter (Portsmouth, North)
Hanley, Mr. Jeremy (Richmond and Barnes)
Hannam, Mr. John (Exeter)
Hawksley, Mr. Warren (The Wrekin)
Hoyle, Mr. Doug (Warrington, North)
Janner, Mr. Greville (Leicester, West)
Leighton, Mr. Ron (Newham, North-East)
Lloyd, Mr. Peter (Fareham)
Loyden, Mr. Eddie (Liverpool, Garston)
Maclennan, Mr. Robert (Caithness and Sutherland)
Mellor, Mr. David (Minister of State, Home Office)
Soley, Mr. Clive (Hammersmith)
Miss P. A. Helme, Committee Clerk.2 3 Fifth Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c. Tuesday 9 December 1986
[Mr. DAVID CROUCH in the Chair]
Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Committee has considered the draft Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) (Amendment No. 2) Order 1986—[Mr. Baldry.]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hogg): The order follows the introduction in the Building Societies Act 1986 of a new system of regulation for building societies. Unhappily, pressure of time on the passage of the Building Societies Bill prevented us from including these provisions in it. The purpose of the order is to rectify that omission. The Act is part of the Government's wider policy to maintain increased confidence in financial institutions and to prevent fraud. If regulators are to be able to exercise their new powers effectively, it is vital that they can obtain and use information which bears on the fitness of those who hold senior managerial positions. In our view, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 should not prevent, as it presently does, the disclosure for this purpose of previous convictions which have become spent under the Act, nor should it inhibit regulators from taking such information into account when it is right to do so. The order has been drafted to achieve that effect. It will enable both the Building Societies Commission and the societies themselves to put questions to persons who hold or seek to hold senior positions —I emphasise " senior " positions. It will provide for evidence relating to spent convictions to be admitted and required in proceedings before the commission and it will allow the commission to take such information into account in making decisions on a society's authorisation. The exception will affect only directors and others who hold offices as 4 defined in the Building Societies Act. It will not cover other employees who are under the supervision of senior managers, as the responsibilities which they carry do not justify depriving such a large number of individuals of statutory rights. As with the Financial Services Act 1986, the disapplication extends only to spent convictions for relevant offences, which cover fraud or other dishonesty and offences under the Companies Acts or other legislation relating to financial services. The justification for this partial disapplication is that these are the types of offence which are material to judgments about a person's suitability for office in a building society. In our view other offences are not of the same significance in this area, and, where the conviction has become spent, we do not think it right to deny ex-offenders the protection conferred by the 1974 Act. I very much hope that this is the right formulation for exceptions in the financial services sector generally. The order has been drafted to bring the treatment of building societies into line with that for other financial institutions. The aim is to afford proper protection to the investor without running counter to the fundamental intentions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. In our view the order advances the one without unreasonably detracting from the other. It achieves a careful balance, and I commend it to the Committee.
Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith): We welcome the amendment. The Minister said that it was only not put into the Building Societies Act because of constraints of time. My memory is that it was spotted by the Civil Service unions concerned during the passage of the Bill, and it was drawn to the attention of Ministers by myself and others that civil servants could be at risk if they asked certain questions on certain occasions. As a result, the Government took on board the need to amend the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. That is a perfectly appropriate step and we welcome the change.
Question put and agreed to.
Resolved, That the Committee has considered the draft Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) (Amendment No. 2) Order 1986.
Committee rose at twenty-five minutes to Eleven o'clock.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:
Crouch, Mr. David (Chairman)
Griffiths, Mr. Peter
Lloyd, Mr. Peter
The following also attended, pursuant to Standing Order No. 101: Mr. Douglas Hogg (Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department).