Proceeds of Crime Bill

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Mr. Grieve: Perhaps I misunderstood the Minister, but earlier he seemed to suggest that the disclosure order was aimed at the person against whom the proceedings were being brought. I am sure that he will agree that that is plainly not the case. The order is aimed at any person. That is particularly so in a civil recovery case, because the application for a disclosure order need state only the nature of the property specified as being subject to a civil recovery order. It is

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almost implicit that such an order would be used as a device to require people who are not the owners or holders of the property to supply that information.

Mr. Ainsworth: The hon. Gentleman is right. If the power is used in civil recovery proceedings, that may be the case, but it would have to be proportionate. The case would have to be made to the judge, who would consider the necessity for such intrusive powers before giving his approval. As I have said, if we removed that weapon from the director's armoury, we would be dealing a massive blow to the effectiveness of the civil recovery part of the Bill. In many cases, that power will be essential if we are to catch up with the proceeds of crime. Of course, it must be used appropriately, with judicial oversight, to ensure that it is being used proportionately. The judge will quiz the director about the necessity for the disclosure order, and about other routes that were available, before granting the power. The ability to grant the disclosure order will be central to the director's armoury.

Mr. Grieve: I am grateful to the Minister for the opportunity to discuss that issue. I think that he has persuaded me of his argument, and I shall not press the amendment to a Division. However, it is important that we are aware of what we are doing, as we gaily send provisions on their way. The civil recovery mechanism causes me anxiety, and I have made that clear. The clause is another example of how powers will be conferred, notwithstanding that a layman's understanding would be that they are civil recovery proceedings being subjected to a civil test. If—

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.

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The following Members attended the Committee:

        O'Brien, Mr. Bill (Chairman)

        Ainsworth, Mr. Bob

        Baird, Vera

        Baker, Norman

        Brooke, Mrs.

        Clark, Mrs. Helen

        David, Mr.

        Davidson, Mr.

        Field, Mr. Mark

        Foulkes, Mr.

        Grieve, Mr.

        Harris, Mr. Tom

        Hawkins, Mr.

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        Hesford, Stephen

        Johnson, Mr. Boris

        Lazarowicz, Mr.

        Lucas, Ian

        McCabe, Mr.

        McGuire, Mrs.

        Robertson, John

        Stinchcombe, Mr.

        Stoate, Dr.

        Tredinnick, Mr.

        Watson, Mr.

        Wilshire, Mr.

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