Clause 4 — Fraud by abuse of position

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 2:14 pm on 26th October 2006.

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Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 2:14 pm, 26th October 2006

For a moment, I allowed myself to be fooled into thinking that people were coming into the Chamber to hear my speech. I have a horrible suspicion that it has more to do with what the Minister for Europe and my hon. Friend Mr. Brady will be saying in a moment rather than what the Solicitor-General and I have been discussing. None the less, I will shout as best I can—although, as hon. Members have said, I do not get paid for shouting.

I was in the middle of a particularly purple passage of my remarks, but you have successfully completely thrown me off my train of thought, Madam Deputy Speaker. I will rush back to my handwritten notes and, with my new glasses on, endeavour to get back to the matter in hand.

The common law conspiracy to defraud aspect is perhaps one area of controversy, but happily that has been settled between the parties and we look to the Government to come back to the House in a few years' time with a report on the conduct of the general common law conspiracy to fraud aspect of the Bill.

I was also pleased to hear that the Government are holding to their undertaking that they will not resile from their promise not to introduce section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which will in some circumstances dispense with the jury in fraud trials, and to return to the House with a discrete Bill dealing with that. Whether that is in the Queen's Speech in November or in some other Queen's Speech we will await with interest.

This is an empty House but despite its brevity the Bill has important aspects that resonate positively. [Interruption.] When I used the expression, "resonate positively", I woke up not only Keith Vaz but myself. One of the Dukes of Devonshire who sat in the other place in the late 19th century had a dream that he was making a speech in the House of Lords, and he woke up to find that he was.

This is a serious subject on which I must not become too flippant by digressing. I congratulate the Law Commission and, as I have said, those officials who worked with the Law Commission and the Government, whether it was in the Home Office or whether it was in the Law Officers' Department, on producing a Bill of this calibre. I commend the Bill, as it now stands, to the House.