Vehicles (Crime) Bill

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Mr. Bercow: The hon. Gentleman's amendments specify the deletion of the words

    and such fee (if any) as may be prescribed.

I understand the thrust of his argument. It is an important point. Is it at least conceivable that he might favour a no-fee situation?

Mr. Chidgey: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman because that is certainly one of the options that I regard as a method of encouraging the public to be a part of the crime prevention exercise. I do not have to hand the statistics to tell me how much the public involvement would be effective in achieving that ambition, but I hope that the Departments concerned would have taken it into account and that one of the options that they would consider, when dealing with the public, is the benefits of no fee being charged at all. I should be happy to hear the Minister's response to the amendments.

Mr. Charles Clarke: In the light of the time available, I shall be brief. There are two points to bear in mind: process and substance. For process, we use the word prescribed'' and, as was said earlier, clause 30, line 17 suggests that we prescribe by regulation, so that any fee could be charged and set up by regulation and that the whole process would be subject to parliamentary discussion.

Mr. Bercow: Will the Minister give way on that point?

Mr. Clarke: No, I am conscious of the time.

It is our intention to consult widely with the industry about the matter before reaching a final decision. We do not want to remove the flexibility of being able to charge a fee because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) said, it is likely that the details that we publish on the internet will be freely available more generally. Two questions arise from that: will we publish on the internet all the information that is in the register or only some of the information? We want to establish that with the industry. In the event that inquiries were made for information that was not on the internet, it would be reasonable to consider making a charge in those circumstances.

Secondly, as my hon. Friend said, if people were seeking more information or detail about the administrative costs that were involved beyond what was on the internet, we should like to consider the possibility of charging a fee in such circumstances. We do not intend to charge the police a fee, but I hope that a fee would be charged to the person who requests the information, as set out in the Bill. I hope that I have clarified matters.

It being One o'clock, THE CHAIRMAN adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at half-past Four o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
O'Brien, Mr Bill (Chairman)
Bercow, Mr.
Chidgey, Mr.
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Gilroy, Mrs.
Jones, Helen
Kidney, Mr.
McCabe, Mr.
McIntosh, Miss
Miller, Mr.
Pope, Mr.
Russell, Mr. Bob
Shaw, Mr.
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Thomas, Mr. Gareth R.

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