|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Hammond: Will the hon. Lady confirm that the Government are supporting the Bill? She has now been speaking for more than 20 minutes about a measure that commands complete support among Members of all parties and I am beginning to wonder whether she is trying to talk it out.
Miss Johnson: I reassure the hon. Gentleman that I am certainly not trying to talk the Bill out. Indeed, I have been speaking entirely in support of it. I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman had been listening carefully from the Opposition Front Bench, he would be fully aware that everything that I have said warmly supports the Bill, which also has the Government's full support.
I mentioned that the Crimestoppers' campaign is also supported by some law enforcement agencies. Their work is crucial to the fight against IP crime. The Bill will, I hope, give them more consistent and transparent tools to help their work. I also commend the excellent work of the law enforcement agencies, which already play an active role in fighting counterfeiting crime. This Bill will make their work even more valuable.
We should not lose sight of other ways of fighting IP crime. As well as bringing about rationalisation of the criminal remedies, the greater transparency of the consequences of IP crime that the Bill will deliver willI hopehave a deterrent effect.
Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I draw your attention to page 544 of Erskine May, which tells us that the scope of Third Reading debates is not as wide as that on Second Reading, and that debate should be confined to the specific contents of the Bill? It seems odd that the Minister has informed us that the Bill has the support of the House, yet she seems to be taking, shall we say, a fairly wide approach to it, and is making a speech that would be more appropriate on Second Reading.
Miss Johnson: Of course, I certainly take note of anything you say, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have been making the point, which I hope the hon. Gentleman well understands, that the Bill is very important. It will have many consequences for the economy, consumers and business. There is much need to highlight the significance of the issue, the Bill's importance to it and the effectiveness of fighting such crime. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman understands that.
As I was saying, I hope that as a result of the Bill more people will be persuaded that the level of risk, which NCIS identified as very different from that for some other organised crimes, is more significant. I hope, too, that our efforts to raise public awareness may even persuade the public not to buy fakes. Reducing the market for counterfeit goods is one of the most effective crime reduction strategies.
I should like briefly to consider the detail of the Bill. We have naturally taken advice on the text and I can therefore confirm to the hon. Member for Twickenham that clause 1 raises the maximum penalties for copyright and related offences. The Bill does not change the offences, for which the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 provides. The maximum penalties are increased to those that currently exist for trade mark offences concerning product counterfeiting.
I have already said that there is no justification for the different maximum penalties that currently exist. Copyright piracythe wilful theft of copyright materialcan be just as serious as trade mark counterfeiting, which is the wilful theft of a brand name. Harmonising the maximum penalty at an unlimited fine and/or up to 10 years in prison is therefore right.
I understand that some of the most serious cases of copyright crime, in which criminals have been caught making and distributing large numbers of illegal compact discs or videos, have been tackled by prosecuting the offenders for conspiracy to defraud rather than copyright offences. That is because the existing maximum penalty in copyright law, which allows only up to two years in prison, was deemed inadequate for the seriousness of the offending behaviour. A prison sentence of 10 years is possible when a person is convicted for conspiracy to defraud. The Bill will therefore introduce greater transparency into the consequences of copyright theft, which should lead to a greater deterrent effect.
We have also considered clause 2 carefully and believe that it provides some useful rationalisation of existing search warrant provisions for the police. Specific search warrant provisions already apply to some of the copyright
A corresponding amendment of the existing search warrant provision that relates to illicit recordings of performances is also useful. Moreover, it does not make sense to have no specific search warrant provisions for the criminal offences that relate to unauthorised decoders, which are related to copyright. We believe that the clause makes appropriate new provision for that, too.
I know that clause 3 appears complex, but hon. Members will understand that its purpose is to insert two new sections into copyright law that correspond to existing provision in trade mark law. During an investigation into copyright crime, it is not uncommon for the police or others to seize many illegal CDs, videos and so on as evidence. Trade marks law provides forfeiture provisions for goods seized during investigation of the counterfeiting offences that apply both when there has been a prosecution and when that has not been possible. I believe that the clause inserts corresponding provision into copyright law.
I understand that the trade mark provisions enacted in the Trade Marks Act 1994 were modelled on provisions for goods contravening a safety provision in the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Clauses 4 and 5 provide for forfeiture measures that are comparable to those provided by clause 3.
Mrs. Angela Browning (Tiverton and Honiton): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for a Third Reading speech to go through a Bill clause by clause? The measure has already been examined in detail in Committee and on Report.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The Minister is in order in dealing with the contents of the Bill, which is the prime purpose of a Third Reading debate. The Minister may have enlarged on that task earlier, but she is currently talking about the contents of the Bill, with, I hope, some awareness of the time that she has already taken.
Miss Johnson: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As I said earlier, clauses 4 and 5 provide for forfeiture measures that are comparable to those that clause 3 provides, but for illicit recordings of performances and unauthorised decoders for illegal access to conditional access transmissions such as satellite television. The hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) mentioned that in his contribution.
Although the police are able in some circumstances to obtain search warrants to investigate the trade mark counterfeiting offences using provisions in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, there is no specific provision in trade mark law equivalent to that in copyright law. I believe that clause 6 creates useful harmonisation on that by inserting a specific search warrant provision into trade mark law modelled on that in copyright law as amended by clause 2.
Let me deal finally with clause 7. Intellectual property is a reserved matter so it is right that this Bill extends to the whole of the United Kingdom. I understand that the devolved Administrations are aware of the Bill and are content to see it enacted. We have confirmed with the Council of Ministers in the Isle of Man that it is content for clause 6 to extend to that territory in the same way that trade mark law, which is amended by clause 6, currently so extends.
I hope that my comments today have given us a chance to review the way in which the Bill is designed to bring some rationalisation and transparency to the provisions on intellectual property crime. As I explained at the beginning, copyright owners are the major beneficiaries of the measures, and copyright is the form of intellectual property that should be familiar to us all, given its impact on and importance to the many sectors that bring us products to enrich our lives.
I should therefore like to confirm again that the Bill has the wholehearted support of the Government and warmly congratulate the hon. Member for Twickenham and the Bill's sponsors for giving us the opportunity to provide worthwhile improvements in a valuable aspect of law.
'or sums for investment in a Retirement Failsafe Fund'.