Proceeds of Crime Bill

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Mr. Foulkes: On a point of order, Mr. McWilliam. I think that amendments Nos. 240 and 268 refer to clause 130.

The Chairman: Amendment No. 240 refers to clause 130. That is why I was concerned that the Government voted for the clause, but they have done it now.

Mr. Foulkes: I was waiting—

The Chairman: Order. The clause has gone through. Amendment No. 240 was not selected because it was a wrecking amendment that would have destroyed the clause. Unfortunately, the clause has gone through and has been ordered to stand part of the Bill. It will have to be dealt with when the Bill reaches a later stage.

Clause 131


Amendments made: No. 241, in page 80, line 20, after 'property', insert '(the management administrator)'.

No. 242, in page 80, line 22, leave out 'first mentioned' and insert 'management'.

No. 243, in page 80, line 24, leave out '130' and insert '127'.

No. 244, in page 80, line 25, leave out 'administrator appointed under section 127' and insert—

    'management administrator'.—[Mr. Foulkes.]

Clause 131, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 132

Application of sums by administrator

Amendments made: No. 245, in page 80, line 31, leave out '127 or'.

No. 246, in page 80, line 35, leave out '127 or'.

No. 247, in page 81, line 17, at end insert—

    '(6A) The administrator applies sums as mentioned in subsection (3)(c) by paying them to the appropriate clerk of court on account of the amount payable under the order.'.

No. 248, in page 81, line 33, leave out '(1) of'.—[Mr. Foulkes.]

Clause 132, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 133 ordered to stand to part of the Bill.

Clause 134

Powers of court and administrator

Amendment made: No. 249, in page 83, line 12, leave out 'realised' and insert 'sold'.—[Mr. Foulkes.]

Clause 134, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 135 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 136

Protection of persons affected

Amendment made: No. 250, in page 84, line 1, leave out paragraph (c).—[Mr. Foulkes.]

Clause 136, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 137 ordered to stand part of the Bill

Schedule 2

Administrators: further provision

Amendments made: No. 268, in page 260, line 22, at end insert—

    '(15A) An administrator may—

    (a) enter any premises;

    (b) search for or inspect anything authorised by the court;

    (c) make or obtain a copy, photograph or other record of anything so authorised;

    (d) remove anything which the administrator is required or authorised to take possession of in pursuance of an order of the court.'.

No. 305, in page 261, line 29, at end insert—

    '(8) In this paragraph, the reference to an administrator is to an administrator appointed under section 129(3).'—[Mr. Foulkes.]

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 138

Administrators: restriction on

proceedings and remedies

Amendment made: No. 304, in page 84, line 9, leave out '127 or'.—[Mr. Foulkes.]

Clause 138, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 139

Serious default

4 pm

Mr. Foulkes: I beg to move amendment No. 251, in page 84, line 37, leave out 'any' and insert 'the'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take the following: Government amendment No. 252.

Clause stand part.

Mr. Foulkes: Amendment No. 251 is purely a drafting amendment, which is designed to clarify that, in relation to the serious default provisions set out in clause 139, it is the criminal investigation into the offence that is relevant. Amendment No. 252 makes it clear that compensation under clause 139 in part 3 will be paid in Scotland only as a consequence of serious default under part 3, and not part 2. Compensation for serious default in Scotland will be paid by the Scottish authorities. Compensation for serious default in England and Wales, under part 2, will of course be paid by the English authorities.

Mr. Grieve: It is not always easy to follow the impact of some of the amendments. In respect of amendment No. 252, is the effect to which the Minister referred its only one? Alternatively, does it affect the type of default for which compensation would be payable?

Mr. Foulkes: As I said, the amendment is designed to clarify that, in relation to the serious default provisions set out in clause 139, it is the criminal investigation into the offence that is relevant. Therefore, it does not the change the definition.

Mr. Hawkins: I have a slightly different point to make briefly under clause stand part. The Minister will be able to enlighten me about which of the England and Wales provisions that we dealt with earlier the clause mirrors. At that time, I inadvertently missed the opportunity to voice my concern that there was a difference in relation to which arm of state funding would pay compensation. Under the England and Wales compensation provisions, police authorities in England and Wales might face compensation bills, whereas in all the other parts of those provisions central funding from the state would pay compensation. Does the same problem exist in Scotland?

Under subsection (9)(a), police authorities would pay compensation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne and I, as Surrey Members, are well aware, the Government have failed in the past to compensate Surrey police authority properly—despite public promises to do so—for the enormous extra policing costs imposed on it by the Home Secretary in relation to General Pinochet's house arrest. If a large compensation claim were made against a Scottish police authority, would council tax payers in that part of Scotland suffer extensively because of Government failure to compensate police authorities fully for extra costs—

Mr. Tredinnick: Will my hon. Friend go back two spaces, as if we were playing snakes and ladders—we might do so this afternoon—and consider the unique situation in Surrey? It is, of course, policed by two forces—the Surrey constabulary and the Metropolitan police—

The Chairman: Order. We are debating compensation and Scottish police. We are not debating Surrey police.

Mr. Hawkins: If I may, without contravening your ruling, Mr. McWilliam—

Mr. Tredinnick: On a point of order, Mr. McWilliam. Was I not on my feet, and did I not, in deference to you, sit down? Am I now able to resume my position?

The Chairman: The hon. Gentleman is quite right.

Mr. Tredinnick: I know that you are a stickler for points of order, Mr. McWilliam, so I would not want to be out of order by not getting to my feet again, which I now am, of course.

I was coming to the point that you were trying to steer me towards, Mr. McWilliam, which is the comparison of the situation in Surrey and Scotland. The unique situation in Surrey has a bearing on the Scottish situation. In the English illustration of a potential Scottish problem, is there a difference in the way in which matters are handled in the area that is one horse ride from Charing cross—the traditional boundary of the Metropolitan police—and the area of Surrey constabulary? I understand from my researchers that Elmbridge— Mr. Davidson: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Tredinnick: I cannot technically give way because I will be called to order. Perhaps I am able to give way—

The Chairman: Order. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok is trying to intervene on an intervention, albeit an extremely long one that should be brought to a close.

Mr. Hawkins: I do not want to try your patience, Mr. McWilliam, by responding in detail, but I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne and I are aware of the matter. The position has been complicated in my area by the transfer of some of the parts that used to be policed by the Metropolitan police to Surrey police.

The Scottish provisions attempt to mirror the English provisions. I am gravely worried because under the English provisions the financial burden will fall on the police authority through one part of the compensation provisions. However, for all the other provisions, the burden falls on central funds. When money comes from central funds, the residents of a particular area—north or south of the border—do not suffer. However, when the police authority pays, such residents might suffer.

We have already experienced, south of the border, what happens when an unusual cost falls on a police authority. That occurs even if a Cabinet Minister has promised that costs will be refunded. The chief constable of Surrey police, Surrey Members and myself went to see the then Home Office Minister, the right hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), and told him that we knew that the then Home Secretary had appeared on the media to say, ''Surrey will not lose out, you will be fully compensated.'' That did not happen. Surrey received a part payment rather than a full payment. That is the situation today.

When we examine the provisions, Scottish Members may find that if a large compensation order falls on their police authority, they and other hon. Members will need to know whether the Government will stand behind the police authority and compensate it. Would it not be better for all the provisions to be even-handed with compensation paid from central funds rather than by police authorities? Subsection (9)(c) states that compensation is payable by the Lord Advocate—that is central funds. Compensation paid by commissioners of Customs and Excise comes from central funds. That does not occur if the police authority pays compensation.

I think that the council tax payers who are represented by Scottish Members may have a problem because they may lose out unless the Minister is prepared to say publicly and at the Dispatch Box—unlike the previous Home Secretary's views, which were advanced on the media and were therefore not binding—that central funds will stand behind police authorities so that they do not lose out. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne will reinforce that point in a moment.

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