Clause 13 - Proceedings for offences under Part I
Vehicles (Crime) Bill
8:45 pm

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

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Mr Michael Fabricant (Lichfield, Conservative)

I wholly welcome the clause, particularly paragraph (b). My point relates not so much to the clause as to consistency in the Bill. The Minister argued powerfully against accepting our amendment to clause 6, under which there would be the right of appeal to the Secretary of State to extend the period during—

9:00 pm
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Mr Bill O'Brien (Normanton, Labour)

Order. We are not discussing clause 6. There are 30 words in clause 13. It is very narrow and I ask the hon. Gentleman to stick to it.

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Mr Michael Fabricant (Lichfield, Conservative)

I shall take your advice Mr O'Brien. Why, when the Minister argued cogently in relation to another clause that the same thing would not be appropriate, is it considered appropriate in clause 13(b) to create a right of appeal under which an organisation other than a local authority or a constable can initiate proceedings but must make the appeal—I use the word in the broad, rather than the legal sense—to the Attorney-General?

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Mr Charles Clarke (Minister of State, Home Office; Norwich South, Labour)

The reason is straightforward. The purpose of the clause will be even more straightforward in just a second.

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Mr Charles Clarke (Minister of State, Home Office; Norwich South, Labour)

We in this Government are never on our own. We are strongly supported by our officials whom I applaud greatly for the work they have done throughout the Committee. The Opposition will not succeed in their efforts to divide us.

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Mr John Bercow (Buckingham, Conservative)

Can the Minister confirm that a piece of paper has wafted down to him from which he is now benefiting?

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Mr Charles Clarke (Minister of State, Home Office; Norwich South, Labour)

I can confirm two things. First, a piece of paper wafted down to me before this sitting even started from which I have benefited while presenting my views to the Committee. Secondly, in response to a question another piece of paper wafted down to me to help me elaborate my arguments in a way that I hope will be convincing to the Committee. I am happy to share with the Committee the contents of the first piece of paper.

The clause allows for proceedings on offences under part I to be brought by a local authority or the police. Proceedings may not otherwise be brought except with the consent of the Attorney-General. That will ensure some control over private prosecutions. I was asked whether, other than stopping and filtering vexatious and malicious prosecutions, which is the obvious purpose of the Bill, and ensuring that local authorities do not have the burden of coping with a large number of private prosecutions, specific circumstances should be brought to the attention of the Committee. There were no such circumstances. The purpose of the clause, which refers to the consent of the Attorney-General, is to ensure we do not have vexatious litigants and can proceed effectively. That is a commonplace in many Bills.

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Mrs Anne McIntosh (Vale of York, Conservative)

I bow to the Minister's authority. What other Bills contain such a clause?

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Mr Charles Clarke (Minister of State, Home Office; Norwich South, Labour)

The Minister's authority, as the hon. Lady knows, is almost endless, but on this occasion it does not extend to answering her question. I cannot cite other Bills. As an experienced parliamentarian, however, she will acknowledge that such provisions exist in other legislation. I am happy to write to her with other examples that may assist her.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 13 ordered to stand part of the Bill.