PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

Standing Committee C

PROCEEDS OF CRIME BILL

Third Sitting

Wednesday 29 March 1995

CONTENTS

CLAUSE 15, as amended agreed to.

NEW CLAUSE considered.

SCHEDULES 1 and 2 agreed to.

Title, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose at twelve minutes to Eleven o'clock

LONDON: HMSO

£7.50 Net

Members who wish to have copies of the Official Report of Proceedings in Standing Committees sent to them are requested to give notice to that effect at the Vote Office.

No proofs can be supplied. Corrigenda slips may be published with Bound Volume editions. Corrigenda that members suggest should be clearly marked in a copy of the report-not telephoned-and must be received in the Editor's Room, House of Commons,

not later than

Monday 3 April 1995

STRICT ADHERENCE TO THIS ARRANGEMENT WILL GREATLY FACILITATE THE PROMPT PUBLICATION OF THE BOUND VOLUMES OF PROCEEDINGS IN STANDING COMMITTEES

© Parliamentary copyright House of Commons 1995

Applications for reproductions should be made to HMSO

HMSO publications are available from:
HMSO Publications Centre HMSO Bookshops The Parliamentary Bookshop
(Mail and telephone orders only) 49 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6HB (Counter service only) 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square,
PO Box 276, London SW8 5DT 0171 873 0011 Fax 0171 831 1326 London SWIA 2JX
Telephone orders 0171 873 9090 68–69 Bull Street, Birmingham B4 6AD 0121 236 9699 Fax 0121 236 9699 Telephone orders 0171 219 3890
General enquiries 0171 873 0011 33 Wine Street, Bristol BS1 2BO 0117 9264306 Fax 0117 9294515 General enquiries 0171 219 3890
(queuing system for both numbers in operation) 9–21 Princess Street, Manchester M60 8AS 0161 834 7201 Fax 0161 8330634 Fax orders 0171 219 3866
16 Arthur Street, Belfast BT1 4GD 01232 238451 Fax 01232 235401
Fax orders 0171 873 8200 71 Lothian Road, Edinburgh EH3 9AZ 0131 228 4181 Fax 0131 229 2734 HMSO's Accredited Agents
(see Yellow Pages)
and through good booksellers
Printed in the United Kingdom by HMSO

83 Standing Committee C Wednesday 29 March 1995

[MR. JAMES HILL in the Chair]

Proceeds of Crime Bill Clause 15
SHORT TITLE, INTERPRETATION, COMMENCEMENT AND EXTENT

Amendment proposed [22 March]: No. 7 in page 22, line 38, to leave out '(4)' and insert '(3A)' [Sir John Hannam]

10.30 am

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

The Chairman: I remind the Committee that with this we are taking the following:

amendment No. 8, in page 22, line 41, at end insert— '(3A)' Section [Enforcement in UK of overseas forfeiture and restraint orders] and this section come into force on the passing of this Act.'.

Amendment No. 9, in page 23, line 6, leave out 'extends to England and Wales only'

and insert ',except for section [Enforcement in UK of overseas forfeiture and restraint orders] and this section, does not extend to Scotland or Northern Ireland'.

New clause 2—Enforcement in UK of overseas forfeiture and restraint orders'.—(1) In each of the following paragraphs of Schedule 4 to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (enforcement of overseas orders providing for the forfeiture or restraint of terrorist funds), namely—

  • paragraph 10 (which relates to enforcement in England and Wales,
  • paragraph 20 (which relates to enforcement in Scotland), and
  • paragraph 30 (which relates to enforcement in Northern Ireland),
  • there shall be inserted, after sub-paragraph (2), the sub-paragraph set out in subsection (2) below.

    (2) That sub-paragraph is— "(2A) Without prejudice to the generality of sub-paragraph (1) above, the provision that may be made by virtue of that sub-paragraph includes provision which, for the purpose of facilitating the enforcement of any external order that may be made, has effect at times before there is an external order to be enforced." (3) Section 9 of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 (enforcement of overseas forfeiture orders) shall have effect, and be deemed always to have had effect, with the insertion, after subsection (1), of the following subsection— "(1A) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) above the provision that may be made by virtue of that subsection includes provision which, for the purpose of facilitating the enforcement of 84 any order that may be made, has effect at times before there is an order to be enforced.".'

    Amendment No. 10, in title, line 2, after 'conduct' insert ';make further provision for facilitating the enforcement of overseas forfeiture and restraint orders'.

    Mrs. Barbara Roche (Hornsey and Wood Green): rose

    Sir John Hannam (Exeter): On a point of order, Mr. Hill. May I profer apologies on behalf of my hon. Friend the Minister of State, who is taking part in a debate on the Floor of the House? He very much regrets not being with us this morning. Hon. Members will recall that, early in our proceedings, the hon. Member for Warwickshire, North (Mr. O'Brien), raised the recent case of Peter Welch at the European Court of Human Rights. He asked whether that judgment might affect the Bill. My hon. Friend the Minister subsequently indicated that the Government were considering the Welch judgment and might, in due course, seek my agreement to amend the Bill, if it was thought desirable in the light of that judgment. I confirm that the Government have concluded their consideration of that judgment and have sought my agreement to make a small number of amendments to the Bill. I have agreed. I raise the matter now to let hon. Members know that further amendments will be tabled on Report to deal with that matter.

    The Chairman: Thank you, Sir John. It was not a point of order, but it was very informative. I call the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche).

    Mrs. Roche: I thank the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir J. Hannam) for his helpful intervention. I apologise on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), the shadow Minister, who is also engaged in debate on the Floor of the House—the same debate as the Minister. We hope that the Bill will come back to the Floor of the House for consideration on Friday. I should be grateful if the hon. Member for Exeter would confirm that explanatory notes will be provided for all the amendments that he will table then.

    Sir John Hannam: I shall certainly try to ensure that notes on the amendments reach members of the Committee before we get to that stage.

    Mrs. Roche: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that assurance. When we last met, I said that we were somewhat surprised that Opposition Members had not been consulted about new clause 2 and the associated amendments. We were a little puzzled because several of my hon. Friends are sponsors of this important Bill. I asked the Minister to furnish an explanatory note and he sent an extremely 85 helpful note to all members of the Committee. I understand that the Minister apologised for that oversight, but that he wanted to consult first and provide an explanatory note nearer the time. I shall pose the hon. Member for Exeter a couple of questions. I assume that new clause 2 is the result of representations, perhaps from countries with overseas jurisdictions, which were worried about how legislation was working in relation to the proceeds of crime as a result of terrorist activity, sometimes emanating from their own countries. It would help to know whether my assumption was correct and to know the jurisdictions involved. I make the assumption because the proposal clearly has the Government's full support. The hon. Member for Exeter is doing the Government a service in tabling the new clause and the amendments. They obviously considered that the hon. Gentleman's Bill was a convenient vehicle by which to implement such measures. It would be interesting to know, therefore, what consultation the Government have had about the matter. I appreciate that the Minister of State is not in Committee to represent the Government, but in his absence, it would be helpful to know more about the background to the proposals. The new clause would cover terrorist activity in an overseas jurisdiction and the money, property or instruments that were used in that activity, It would add flexibility to our legislation, so that before waiting for proceedings to take place in that overseas jurisdiction, an application could be made to the High Court to keep such property. I should be grateful for confirmation of that. The fact that an application could be made to the High Court is a safeguard, although proceedings may not have started in the other country. Last week, the Minister said that the provisions will provide more flexible powers for enforcing external forfeiture orders. Clearly, flexibility is important because of modern communications. Unfortunately, terrorist activity can flourish between countries more easily than it did previously. We all have an interest in ensuring that terrorism, wherever it takes place, is dealt with as swiftly and properly as possible. There need to be safeguards within such flexibility, however. I should like more information from the hon. Member for Exeter about the new clause and confirmation that it will operate in the way in which I have outlined.

    Sir John Hannam: The hon. Lady has raised some interesting and important matters, which I shall certainly try to deal with in the absence of my Friend the Minister. When the Government were drafting the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, the problem came to light of the restraints that might apply to the seizure of proceeds from terrorism and of goods and facilities that might be used in terrorism—the seizure would be held up during the necessary proceedings in another country. The difficulty related to the length of time that would be needed to secure the necessary overseas order before proceedings could be started here. 86 Amendments to prevention of terrorism legislation were necessary to enable domestic restraint orders to be obtained at an early stage, when proceedings were beginning in a jurisdiction abroad. The proposal arose from discussions with and representations from other countries, especially India. While the external restraint order was being secured there, something would have to be done here to enable proceeds from terrorism and items that could be used in terrorism to be seized. The measure will add flexibility to the powers in our courts to restrain assets in this country on behalf of other jurisdictions; the powers are not directly for our benefit, but to enable other countries to ensure that action is taken. Schedule 4 to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 198 enables enforcement in this country of external orders for the forfeiture of terrorist funds, and the Criminal Justice Act 1990 enables external orders generally to be enforced here. The relationship between the two pieces of legislation is obvious, but it became apparent during work on the terrorism legislation that there was some doubt as to whether the power to restrain assets conferred by section 9 of the 1990 Act was effective. The amendment will rectify that. As the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green said, an application can be made to the High Court before proceedings have begun in overseas jurisdictions, which is important, in that it prevents dissipation of assets. The main problem in all proceeds of crime proceedings is the speed with which one can take action.

    Mrs. Roche: The hon. Gentleman said that an application can be made to the High Court. Does he mean that, if the process is to be used, an application will have to be made to the High Court on every occasion?

    Sir John Hannam: That is correct. The hon. Lady also mentioned consultations, which were not considered essential, as the Temporary Provisions Act provides that orders must be brought before Parliament, where the matter could be discussed. I hope that I have dealt with the points that the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green raised, which were important. I also hope that the Committee accepts that it is desirable that the difficulties that were described in the Minister's letter, which was sent to all hon. Members, should be dealt with expeditiously. It seems right that the opportunity presented by the Bill should be used to remedy the matter and I ask the Committee to accept the new clause and amendments.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 8, in page 22, line 41, at end insert— '(3A) Section [Enforcement in UK of overseas forfeiture and restraint orders] and this section come into force on the passing of this Act.'.

    87

    No. 9, in page 23, line 6, leave out 'extends to England and Wales only'

    and insert ',except for section [Enforcement in UK of overseas forfeiture and restraint orders] and this section, does not extend to Scotland or Northern Ireland'.—[Sir J. Hannam.]

    Clause 15, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    New Clause 2
    ENFORCEMENT IN UK OF OVERSEAS FORFEITURE ADN RESTRAINT ORDERS

    '.—(1) In each of the following paragraphs of Schedule 4 to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (enforcement of overseas orders providing for the forfeiture or restraint of terrorist funds), namely—

  • paragraph 10 (which relates to enforcement in England and Wales),
  • paragraph 20 (which relates to enforcement in Scotland), and
  • paragraph 30 (which relates to enforcement in Northern Ireland),
  • there shall be inserted, after sub-paragraph (2), the sub-paragraph set out in subsection (2) below.

    (2) That sub-paragraph is— "(2A) Without prejudice to the generality of sub-paragraph (1) above, the provision that may be made by virtue of that sub-paragraph includes provision which, for the purpose of facilitating the enforcement of any external order that may be made, has effect at times before there is an external order to be enforced." (3) Section 9 of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 (enforcement of overseas forfeiture orders) shall have effect, and be deemed always to have had effect, with the insertion, after subsection (1), of the following subsection— "(1A) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) above the provision that may be made by virtue of that subsection includes provision which, for the purpose of facilitating the enforcement of any order that may be made, has effect at times before there is an order to be enforced.".'—[Sir John Hannam.]

    Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

    The Chairman: We now come to new clause 1, tabled by the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway).

    Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale) : As the Minister is not 88 present, I wondered whether it might be sensible not to move new clause 1. I hope that the matter can be selected for debate on Report, when it could be debated thoroughly.

    The Chairman: As new clause 1 has not been moved, we move on.

    Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.

    Amendment made: No. 10 in title, line 2, after 'conduct' insert ';make further provision for facilitating the enforcement of overseas forfeiture and restraint orders'.—[Sir John Hannam.

    Sir John Hannam: On a point of order, Mr. Hill. Before the proceedings are closed, I should like to thank you for the manner in which you have conducted the Committee and for your courtesy in dealing with some lengthy debates on technical legal matters. I should also like to thank the Clerks, officials and hon. Members for their patience during the debates.

    Mrs. Roche: Further to that point of order, Mr. Hill. I also thank you for the courteous and amiable way in which you have chaired our debates. May I say that the Committee's proceedings have lasted far longer than they should have done, not because of interest in this important Bill, but because of other considerations of Conservative Members? Some Conservative Members' contributions have had more to do with delaying other important private Member's Bills than their enthusiasm for this Bill. The Opposition have supported the Bill and the hon. Member for Exeter. Again, thanks to yourself, Mr. Hill, and to all the Clerks who have served the Committee well.

    The Chairman: I, too, should like to thank the Clerk for keeping me on the straight and narrow—very difficult with Members of Parliament—the police, the staff of the House, the Hansard reporters, the staff of the Minister, who is not here, and the members of the Committee, who have behaved so well throughout the proceedings.

    Bill, as amended, to be reported.

    Committee rose at twelve minutes to Eleven o'clock.

    THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

    Hill, Mr. James (Chairmen)

    Coe, Mr.

    Coffey, Ms

    Greenway, Mr. John

    Hannan, Sir John

    Heald, Mr.

    MacShane, Mr.

    Roche, Mrs.

    Shersby, Mr.