I am grateful to everybody who has contributed to the debate on the amendments, and to the Minister and my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey for addressing the points that I raised.
Let me take the amendments in a rather jumbled-up order. Amendment 3 refers to “prison officer” as well as “prison”. The Minister’s explanation that the definition of “prison officer” would not include prison custody officer did not entirely convince me, because that suggests that my amendment needs to be expanded rather than left out. However, I took the point made by my hon. Friend Sir Peter Bottomley made the same point—that nothing stops a prison officer from confiscating an item, and that it may be in everybody’s best interests, not least the prison officer’s, if the authority to dispose of property was taken by a senior manager or the prison governor. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West, I was much persuaded by the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey. I am grateful to him for that.
I was reassured to a certain extent by the explanation that amendment 4 is already covered. I hope that the Minister is right that
“prejudicing the security or operation of the prison” has exactly the same effect as,
“any unauthorised or unlawful purpose.”
I am not entirely convinced that the amendment is covered by the Bill, but I am happy to leave it and see who turns out to be right.
I am not convinced by the Minister’s explanation about amendment 5 and “otherwise dispose of”. My hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey said that he thought that the amendment might be too prescriptive, but that does not explain why the Bill includes “selling it” in the “references to disposing of”. The Minister claims that the phrase “otherwise dispose of” covers
“recycling… or donating it to any charity”,
in the amendment. Again, that does not explain the paragraph,
“references to disposing of an article include selling it”,
if the Minister claims that everything is covered by “otherwise dispose of”.