Clause 1 — Power to destroy or otherwise dispose of property

Part of Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 30th November 2012.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 11:30 am, 30th November 2012

I knew that if I gave my hon. Friend enough of a chance, he would come up trumps and persuade me of the merits of his case. I will take my hon. Friend’s word that the substance of the amendment will be covered in guidance to prisons to encourage them to follow that route, despite the only reference to a definition of disposal being “selling it”. He has eventually reassured me; my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West was reassured much earlier.

I take the point that the Minister and my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey made about amendments 6, 7 and 8. As I said at the start, I do not intend to do anything to cause the Bill any problems. If my hon. Friends say that those amendments would introduce too much controversy into the Bill, and that they may not be supported elsewhere, thus putting the measure at risk, I accept that they are not worth pursuing.

On amendment 9, I am greatly reassured by the Minister’s comment that things are interrogated for evidence when they are confiscated. That is very helpful. I noted that she said that she would write to my hon. Friend Mr Nuttall with more detail about that matter. We thank her for that.

However, we come back to amendment 2. We had an interesting and extensive debate about what was covered. The Minister tried to make it clear that everything that amendment 2 tries to do is already covered by the Bill. I am afraid that I am not persuaded that that is the case. The Bill therefore contains a loophole that should be avoided. Even if the Minister turned out to be right and I turned out to be wrong—it certainly would not be the first time and I am sure that it will not be the last—I do not understand what harm the amendment would do. It tries to ensure that everything is covered. If the Minister thinks that it is unnecessary, it nevertheless does nothing to detract from the measure. In the worst case scenario, it would be a belt-and-braces approach. I do not want some of the loopholes that my hon. Friends the Members for Bury North and for Worthing West discussed to be left in the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey has done a brilliant job in getting the measure this far. Today is probably our only chance to get it right. I cannot see anybody revisiting it ever—or at least not for many years—and I am anxious that we do not leave any loopholes in it. I therefore want to press the amendment 2 to a Division.