|Proceeds of Crime Bill
Mr. Ainsworth: It does not fall only under the provisions for disclosure orders. That is the reason for the duplication and the change of words. The hon. Member for Beaconsfield suggested that we could rely on clause 350 alone to allow us to do what is required. That clause deals with disclosure orders and uses the same words as the previous legislation, as he rightly said, because disclosure orders require information to be disclosed. Disclosure orders are, by their nature, more intrusive than production orders, and later in an investigation, the issuing of and compliance with a production order could lead to a demand for a disclosure order.
We are introducing the requirement for a solicitor to be obliged to reveal information. My hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Ian Lucas) was correct that we use the word ''only'' in the text of the provision for a production order. We do not want to encourage people to go down the road of using a disclosure order unnecessarily.
A production order relates to the production of material. The only reason why material is mentioned is to put it in context. The order obliges the release of information that contains the name and address only. It is a separate provision; a disclosure order is more intrusive than a production order.
We are not opening up anything by using the word ''material''. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar suggests, I shall check that nothing unintended arises from the use of the word.
The hon. Gentleman said that he intends to press the amendment to a vote unless I tell him something about a lawyer's right to refuse. All these powers of investigation have judicial oversight. Therefore, the justification for the issuing of an orderwhether it is a disclosure order, production order or anything elsemust be approved. If that encourages him to vote against the measure, so be it. There is a need to be open. If a production order is approved, it must be complied with. There would not necessarily be a provision that the hon. Gentleman suggests for a lawyer to suggest that he should not be obliged to disclose information that contains a name and address.
Mr. Stinchcombe: What would happen if a lawyer had material that contained a name, address and telephone number? Would he be obliged to make a
Column Number: 1220copy of the material that excised the telephone number, or would he be entitled to argue, ''I don't have material that contains only the name and address of a client, so I don't have to produce it at all''?
Mr. Ainsworth: Let me be honest: I am not certain of the answer. To what extent is a telephone number part of an address, or additional to an address?
Ian Lucas: My reading of the clause is that any document that contains the name and address and additional material would not be disclosable. If I were a solicitor, I would argue that.
Mr. Ainsworth: It is a narrow point, but I do not know whether a telephone number is considered to be part of an address. I shall clarify that, and relay my findings to my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough.
Mr. Grieve: This has been an interesting debate, and I am grateful for the participation of the hon. Member for Redcar, who highlighted the key issue.
I thank the Minister for his reassurance about derivation. I can envisage circumstances in which a lawyer should, notwithstanding privilege, be required to disclose the current name and address of his client. I shall leave aside the interesting point about a telephone number that thereby excludes the document. As the hon. Member for Redcar rightly said, the way in which subsection (1) is worded would allow the seizure of any documents, even historical ones, that showed an earlier name and address of that person. Each of the amendments deals with a different clause, so it was perhaps a mistake to treat them generally because I now see the potential for substantial distinctions to be made.
Subsection (1), from which I want to delete the reference to a client's name and address, raises a major problem to which the hon. Member for Redcar referred, in that the production of historical material could be required. Similarly, clause 343(1) refers to a search and seizure warrant. It does
However, perhaps unintentionally, an attempt may have been made to deal with such matters through the possible seizure of documents or the serving of production orders, and that is not satisfactory. Although it may be possible to amend clauses 337(1) and 343(1) to refer only to the name and current address of a lawyer's client, I wonder whether it would
Column Number: 1221be sensible to apply such a provision only under a disclosure measure. By its nature, that is a specific request to the lawyer to provide the name and address of a client. The other provisions give rise to the anxiety that police officers and others may be found banging around in front of the chambers of solicitors or barristers looking for material, 99.999 per cent. of which will be privileged but certain documents among which will not be privileged. Unless the provisions are amended, that raises the risk of people ending up with a document that it was not intended that they should lay their hands on.
Mr. Ainsworth: The intention was to draft the provisions in a manner that is tailored to the particular order being pursued. That made common sense. Given that there are production orders and disclosure orders, the requirement to give up the name and address under the clause to which the hon. Gentleman referred is the same. That was a drafting decision to ensure that the provision was in place when necessary. He is making some valid points about how the measures should work most appropriately and whether there would be an escalation by leaving the requirement in one clause and not the other. If he agrees, I will make a commitment to reconsider the interplay of the two provisions and decide whether they could be covered better.
I am struggling to envisage what material would contain a name and address and no more than that. As it is extremely hard to do that, it might be better to fall back on the disclosure. If the hon. Gentleman would withdraw the amendment and allow me to consider the matter, I should be more than happy to do so.
Norman Baker: The Minister needs to consider the issue of the telephone number, too, and the issue of what constitutes an address. Is an address a home address, an accommodation address, a postal address or an e-mail address? That, too, requires tidying up.
Mr. Grieve: The hon. Gentleman makes some interesting points. I am grateful to the Minister for having undertaken to reconsider the matter, and I will be happy to withdraw the amendment.
I hope that the Minister will be able to satisfy us on the matter before Report, as otherwise I should feel constrained to reintroduce amendments Nos. 550 and 555, but probably not No. 560, as that is how my mind has been working in the light of what I have heard. I would not want the Bill to go to the other place and to
Column Number: 1222feel that I had not dealt with the matter by default. However, if the Minister will consider the matter, I am happy to beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment made: No. 474, in page 195, line 10, leave out 'may' and insert 'does'.[Mr. Bob Ainsworth.]
Clause 337, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 338 to 340 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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