Proceeds of Crime Bill

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Mr. Grieve: I will press the amendment to a Division.

Column Number: 1376

Mr. Stinchcombe: I urge the hon. Gentleman to accept the Minister's offer. The matter must be carefully examined, and the Minister has undertaken to do that. I do not want my off-the-cuff legal analysis to be taken as gospel. Given the Minister's good will, his offer should be accepted.

Mr. Grieve: The Minister should not withdraw his good will if I decide to press the amendment to a Division. I will press it to a Division, as that will establish the Opposition's point of view, until he returns with a rectification. If he fails to amend the provision, I will table further amendments that will seek, not to repeat this amendment, but to put right what is wrong with the clause.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 7, Noes 10.

Division No. 53]

AYES
Brooke, Annette Carmichael, Mr. Alistair Grieve, Mr. Dominic Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Johnson, Mr. Boris Tredinnick, Mr. David Wilshire, Mr. David

NOES
Ainsworth, Mr. Bob Baird, Vera Clark, Mrs. Helen David, Mr. Wayne Foulkes, Mr. George
Harris, Mr. Tom Lazarowicz, Mr. Mark Lucas, Ian McGuire, Mrs. Anne Stinchcombe, Mr. Paul

Question accordingly negatived.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Wilshire: With regard to subsection (2)(b) in particular, the issue of the functions of the Secretary of State is raised again. I will not discuss it yet again, although I am not satisfied with the responses that have been given.

If I understand subsection (1)(a) correctly, it is intended to make our warrants usable in respect of foreign activities. It allows for the making of,

    provisions to enable orders equivalent to those under Part 8 to be made, and warrants equivalent to those under Part 8 to be issued, for the purposes of an external investigation.

It appears to deal with a foreign jurisdiction's defective powers. I would normally expect a foreign jurisdiction to seek to extradite someone, if it wished to arrest him. Subsection (1) appears to address situations in which a foreign jurisdiction does not have sufficient evidence to extradite people, by allowing our warrants to be made exercisable, so that we can arrest them in this country, and keep them on remand for as long as we choose—in respect of something that has happened abroad.

If that is the case—if we are now being asked to approve arrest powers to back up foreign jurisdictions of the dodgy variety—that is another reason why this entire part of the Bill concerns me. The Government usually try to reassure me with the ''Don't worry'' argument, but I wish to know why they imagine that they need those powers. What situation will we be in when it is necessary to have an order pertaining to arrest warrants and keeping people in custody in this country for a foreign purpose? Why do we need a power to help other people?

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I am worried about subsection (3). It is extraordinary, and I am disappointed that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok is not here, because he would have put the argument far more eloquently than I can. I hope that he has recovered from the nasty thrashing that his country's rugby team suffered.

Mr. Hawkins: I should defend the honour of my fellow rugby player. Although the Minister has been discreet, I must reveal that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok is representing Parliament in Japan this week.

Mr. Wilshire: I am not sure what to make of that. If a person has to go that far away to get over the defeat, the match must have been a bad blow to his morale and pride. If the hon. Gentleman were here, I imagine that he would have similar thoughts to mine. He has always argued that we should not be soft on the drug dealers or the money launderers. They should be the real targets. They do huge damage to his constituency and elsewhere.

The provision states:

    But an Order under this section must not provide for a disclosure order to be made for the purposes of an external investigation into whether a money laundering offence has been committed.

If ever there were an offence that ought to be subject to external co-operation, it is money laundering. Our debates have been about whether a person should carry £25,000 in his pocket. I have been told repeatedly that the time to remove the proceeds of crime from such serious criminals is at the money laundering stage. That is the point at which the money goes from being illegal to legitimate. For the past 38 sittings, money laundering has been at the heart of our debate. However, subsection (3) provides a specific exclusion, and the one thing that matters most to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok cannot be the subject of international co-operation. The provision is extraordinary. I look forward with great enthusiasm to hearing the Minister's explanation.

Mr. Ainsworth: On the hon. Gentleman's first point, I remind him that we are discussing the Proceeds of Crime Bill, not a crime Bill. We are talking not about extradition or court cases for criminality in other countries but about the investigation of the proceeds

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of crime in response to external requests. We are not discussing anything else.

As for the unavailability of a disclosure order, the hon. Gentleman said that money laundering was at the heart of our discussions during the past 38 sittings. It was not. It is a specific part of the Bill. He may recall that we have put an exclusive ring around the use of disclosure orders and the only person who has them as a tool is the director of the agency. He is not involved in the investigation of money laundering. Disclosure orders are not available in the investigation of money laundering domestically, and thus are not appropriate for use in the investigation of money laundering in response to an external request.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 430 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 431 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 432

Interpretation

Mr. Ainsworth: I beg to move amendment No. 301, in page 251, line 16, at end insert—

    '(4A) Property is obtained by a person if he obtains an interest in it.

    (4B) References to an interest, in relation to property other than land, include references to a right (including a right to possession).'.

The amendment is purely technical. Its purpose is to simplify and clarify what is meant by property under part 11.

Mr. Hawkins: We need a little more—

It being One o'clock, The Chairman proceeded, pursuant to Sessional Order D [30 October 2001] and the Orders of the Committee [22 and 29 January 2002] to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Amendment agreed to.

The Chairman then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that time.

Clause 432, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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

The following Members attended the Committee:
Gale, Mr. Roger (Chairman)
Ainsworth, Mr. Bob
Baird, Vera
Brooke, Mrs.
Carmichael, Mr.
Clark, Mrs. Helen
David, Mr.
Field, Mr. Mark
Foulkes, Mr.
Grieve, Mr.
Harris, Mr. Tom
Hawkins, Mr.
Hesford, Stephen
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Lazarowicz, Mr.
Lucas, Ian
McCabe, Mr.
McGuire, Mrs.
Stinchcombe, Mr.
Tredinnick, Mr.
Wilshire, Mr.

 
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