My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Rooker.)
Under Clause 72 of the Bill compensation is payable to the defendant who has suffered loss in consequence of a confiscation order, a restraint order, the appointment of a receiver or other orders under Part 2 of the Bill. However, before a defendant is entitled to compensation, he or she must show that proceedings were never brought, or he was not convicted of an offence, or his conviction was quashed, or that he was pardoned.
In all those circumstances any confiscation or other order made will be discharged. The defendant's loss may be modest or substantial. It could be that, as a result of the restraint order, he was unable to continue his lawful business; indeed, he may have lost that business as a result, and that loss could have been substantial.
It is right and proper, therefore, that any person suffering such loss, in such circumstances, should be entitled to compensation. However, before being entitled to compensation, that innocent defendant must prove that there has been a serious default by a member of the police force, the CPS, the Serious Fraud Office, a customs officer or an officer of the Commission of the Inland Revenue. A mere mistake is not sufficient. A careless mistake is not sufficient. Only a serious default gives rise to compensation, however disastrous the consequences for the innocent party.
That cannot be right. The powers given to the police force, the CPS, the Serious Fraud Office, a customs officer or an officer of the Commission of the Inland Revenue can ruin people. Those powers can be exercised even when no proceedings are ever brought. The courts are given little discretion in the matter and in some circumstances must make the order where the prosecutor requests.
We believe that, where there are such powers, there must also be accountability on behalf of the public authority; the two go hand in glove. If a member of the prosecution team makes a careless mistake, we do not believe that the innocent defendant should bear any loss as a consequence.
In short, it is important that those who have those powers exercise them as carefully as they can, and that those who supervise them ensure that they do so. If they fail then compensation should be payable. We suggest therefore that compensation should be payable in cases of negligent default and not just serious default. I beg to move.
I speak to Clause 72 stand part, Amendment No. 77, Clause 142 stand part, Amendment No. 134, Clause 226 stand part and Amendment No. 193. Those are all in the same form respectively as regards England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
We support Amendment No. 76, but we go somewhat further. We suggest that where property is subject to a restraint order then compensation should be paid, whether or not there is negligence, if the order is ultimately refused. The position in ordinary civil proceedings is that, where one party is entitled to or obtains an order from the court to freeze the property of another—normally known as a Mareva injunction—the making of the injunction is conditional upon the party who seeks the injunction giving a cross-undertaking in damages; that is, an undertaking to compensate any other party for any loss suffered as a result of the making of the order.
We believe that that is the right principle and that there is no justification for the Government observing a lower standard of compensation than would be the case in ordinary civil proceedings between private parties. We believe therefore that the appropriate course, where the restraint order is made but is discharged and not replaced by a confiscation order, is for compensation to be paid for the loss which is suffered.
The Government are exercising considerable powers. The power to freeze somebody's property, as the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, said, is one that may cause serious loss. It should therefore be the automatic result that if the order is discharged, compensation is paid. I accept, as would be the case in civil proceedings, that compensation may not be ordered in the exceptional case where the party against whom the order is made has in some way acted so as to cause suspicion and in effect to bring the order on himself. Subject to that there should be an automatic right to compensation.
The two groups of amendments spoken to by the noble Lords, Lord Kingsland and Lord Goodhart, essentially deal with the same part of the Bill but would have a considerably different effect. That is probably recognised in the brief speeches that we have just heard.
The effect of the first group of amendments—Amendments Nos. 76, 132, 133, 191 and 192—would be to make compensation payable where there was negligent default on the part of the enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of an offence, and a loss had been occasioned. The effect of the second group, spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, would be to make compensation whenever a restraint order is discharged without a confiscation order being made, no matter why the confiscation order was not subsequently made. It may be useful for the Committee to appreciate that the provisions were debated substantively in the other place, as recorded in Hansard of 29th November at columns 411 to 426.
I turn to the first set of amendments. The Bill as drafted provides that compensation is payable where there is a serious default. The provision is settled and the Bill reflects existing legislation in that respect. There is nothing new about it. The word "negligent" is broader than the word "serious". The amendments would extend the conditions in which compensation was payable from those where one of the enforcement authorities committed a serious default to those in which the authorities committed any negligent act. Clause 72 uses the word "serious" rather than the word "negligent" because the enforcement authorities must not feel unnecessarily inhibited in the exercise of their duties.
As the Explanatory Notes point out, the restriction to serious default cases is based on the principle that the restraint and realisation of the property is ancillary to a criminal trial—in the same way as is the detention of a person pending trial. In neither case is compensation paid on acquittal as a matter of course. Many years ago, I remember raising the case of one of my constituents who served his term of imprisonment and had been released before he got his conviction and sentence quashed. He was a former police officer, so it was a highly contentious case, but he could not get a penny from the Home Office. I fear that that is the way of the world.
It is reasonable to make statutory provision for compensation where there is a serious matter, such as the fabrication of evidence, but it would be wrong to hang a compensation scheme around the necks of enforcement authorities for genuine mistakes made in the exercise of their duties. Where the investigating and prosecuting authorities have made mistakes leading to the making of a restraint order, it will be open to those affected to sue them for negligence in the civil courts. In deciding whether or not those authorities owe a duty of care, the courts will take into account the relevant public interest in ensuring that crime is investigated and prosecuted. That is our starting point.
The amendments would discourage the investigation and prosecution of crime and ultimately ensure that more criminals were left to hold onto their assets. We therefore find their wording unsatisfactory and I hope that Members of the Committee will not press them.
As I explained, the second set of amendments would give the courts power to award compensation in any circumstances where property is restrained but no confiscation order subsequently made. They would not provide the courts with any criteria as to how they should apply their power to award compensation. That would be completely unacceptable. I remind the Committee that the serious default test recognises the fact that the restraint is an aspect of criminal proceedings where a similar test applies in general before ex gratia payments are made.
The practical effects of the amendments could be enormous. For example, every defendant acquitted on a technicality could lodge a claim for compensation in respect of alleged loss while his property was under restraint. As I explained in relation to the first set of amendments, enforcement authorities must not be inhibited from performing their duties. The amendments would have precisely that effect. Indeed, they would make the whole Bill unworkable.
Obviously, these matters have been considered since they were debated in the other place, but we are less persuaded of the merits of the second set of amendments than we are of the first, because they would make the Bill entirely unworkable.
We do not think that the comparison with the Mareva injunction made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, applies. We are talking about the possibility of criminal proceedings against a defendant. Restraint will be applied only where there is reasonable cause to believe that a defendant has benefited from criminal conduct. Let me make it abundantly clear that we are not discussing fishing expeditions. We do not have criminal prosecution on the basis of fishing expeditions in this country—and quite right too. The same test for compensation applies as under current legislation. There is nothing new about the principle of the Bill's provisions; it has already stood the test of time in existing procedure.
I hope that, having aired this important issue, Members of the Committee will not press their amendments.
I thank the Minister for his response. There is a curious inequality of approach by the Government between what the Minister said about this part of the Bill and what the Government provide in Part 7. Under Part 7, covering money laundering, which the Committee has yet to discuss, an individual who negligently fails to report a particular transaction will be subject to criminal proceedings. Yet in this part of the Bill, a member of the executive arm in one form or another will not be liable, even in negligence, for failing to observe a duty of care in relation to the particular defendant to which his or her attention is directed.
I submit that that is unacceptable. It is wholly appropriate for public officials exercising their powers under this part of the Bill to be subject to the law of negligence. Clearly, a duty of care must be owed, but once it is established that that duty of care is owed, an appropriate standard of conduct should apply.
I appreciate the careful attention that the Minister paid to the amendment. I shall not press it now, but I shall almost certainly return to it on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
moved Amendment No. 86:
Page 48, line 4, at end insert—
"(4) The Secretary of State may by order amend Schedule (Lifestyle offences)."
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendment No. 87 not moved.]
Clause 75, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 76 [Conduct and benefit]:
[Amendment No. 88 not moved.]
Clause 76 agreed to.
Clause 77 agreed to.
Clause 78 [Gifts and their recipients]:
[Amendment No. 89 not moved.]
Clause 78 agreed to.
Clauses 79 to 83 agreed to.
Clause 84 [Property: general provisions]:
The definition of property in Clause 84 is too wide. Under Clause 42, the Crown Court may make a restraint order prohibiting any person from dealing with what is described as "realisable property" held by him. Under Clause 83, "realisable property" means,
"any free property held by the defendant".
Clause 84(2)(a) states that,
"property is held by a person if he holds an interest in it".
Under Clause 84(2)(f), an "interest" means,
"any legal estate or equitable interest".
Under ordinary property rules, an interest in property can be owned, but ownership of a particular interest in property does not mean that the owner of that interest necessarily owns the other interests in the same property. The definition in the clause radically extends the ordinary meaning of property. It means that the mere holding of an interest in that property may be interpreted, for the purposes of a restraint order, as including the property itself and all other interests in it. For example, if a defendant rents a house, he has a legal estate in that house: that is an interest. Under the terms of Clause 84(2)(a), the defendant would be treated as holding not only his tenancy of the house but the entire interest in the house itself. If the tenancy is of a flat that is part of a block of flats, it is at least arguable that the defendant is to be treated as holding the entire block.
That would mean that property outside the defendant's ownership or control would be treated by the Bill as being held by him and could be subject to a restraint order. It is not good enough to say that the court would not make a restraint order extending to such property or that the court would not, for instance, make a restraint order preventing dealings with a house in which all that the defendant owns is a tenancy. However, even the theoretical possibility that such a restraint order could be made makes it difficult, for example, for the landlord of a property that has been rented by the defendant to dispose of the property itself.
We should make it clear that an interest in property is itself a form of property. That is recognised in Amendment No. 90. Of course, there is nothing in the least unusual about that. In any ordinary definition of property, an interest in a property is a form of property. An interest in a house—whether it be a tenancy, a right of occupation by virtue of a trust or licence or some form of right of way over the land owned with the house—is, in itself, a separate form of property. However, we propose also to remove paragraphs (a) and (b) of Clause 84(2), so that only the interest itself can be subject to a restraint order. Thus, a restraint order would be limited to the extent of a defendant's interest in the property and would not extend to other interests in the same property.
The amendment is sensible, realistic and fair. As the Bill stands, the Government's proposals go well beyond anything that is needed or justified. To make property that does not belong to the defendant and is not, therefore, tainted property potentially subject to a restraint order is seriously wrong and could cause serious hardship. I beg to move.
The noble Lord has set his case out well. Amendments Nos. 90, 142, 202 and 265H would define property as including an interest in property. Amendments Nos. 91, 143, 203 and 265J would delete the gloss on the words "held" and "obtained".
The amendments would re-draft the definitions of property in Clauses 84, 153, 238 and 335. Amendments Nos. 90, 142 and 202 expand the definition of property to include interests. However, we consider that interests are already covered by the wide definition of property, particularly that given in paragraphs (b) and (c) of Clause 84(1).
Amendments Nos. 91, 143 and 203 would delete the gloss on the words "held" and "obtained" in relation to property. As the noble Lord explained, he does not see why that gloss is necessary if the Bill has already provided that property includes an interest. However, the terms "held" and "obtained" appear regularly in the Bill. If the paragraphs were removed, it might cause doubt about what is meant when the Bill states that a person holds or obtains property.
The gloss on the words "held" and "obtained" appears in current legislation at Section 102 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and Section 62 of the Drug Trafficking Act 1994. If it were not included in this Bill, it might give rise to the inference that we intended the words "held" and "obtained" to have a meaning that differed from that in existing legislation. That is not the case, and it would be unfortunate if the Bill were to be interpreted in that way.
The amendments to Clause 335, Amendments Nos. 265H and 265J, seem to be unnecessary. They raise concerns similar to those that we have expressed in respect of Clause 84.
For those reasons, we cannot accept the amendment, and we hope that the noble Lord will be able to withdraw it.
The Minister has not really dealt with my arguments on this point. I do not blame him for that; they are, in a sense, highly technical issues of property law. No doubt, the Minister's brief has come from somewhere else. However, there is no doubt about what holding or obtaining property means, in ordinary language. Someone who holds an interest in property holds a form of property. He does not, however, hold a block of flats, simply because he holds a tenancy in the block: he holds the tenancy.
I see no need to resist the amendments on the basis that they would cause any doubt about references elsewhere in this Bill or in other legislation to the holding or obtaining of property. The real problem is that the definition of property in the clause would extend a restraint order beyond the property actually held by the defendant himself and impose a restraint order on any other interest in property in which the defendant held an interest. That goes well beyond anything that can be justified. It is clear that property should be defined in such a way as to mean that all that can be subjected to a restraint order is property held by the defendant himself or tainted property, which can be made subject to a confiscation order. Therefore, I hope that the Government will consider that matter in the interval between now and the Report stage.
I have listened carefully to what the noble Lord has said and I agree that there is an argument upon which we may need to reflect further. I am prepared to give an undertaking to write to the noble Lord so that we can attempt to reach a common understanding and to answer his point. I can see that this is a useful issue on which we should reach a settled view.
Will the Minister also consider the Scottish position because the same point arises in the amendment to Clauses 152 and 153? I mention the point only because the law of property in Scotland differs in some respects from the law of property in England and Wales and if the matter is being considered in relation to the English property provisions to which the noble Lord referred, it would be right also to consider the Scottish position in order to ensure that the point applies equally.
In rising to speak to Amendment No. 92, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 94, 112 and 116 to 118. Amendment No. 92 is a paving amendment for Amendment No. 94, which returns in principle to one of the most important issues of the Bill; that is, judicial discretion.
Members of the Committee will remember that during the course of the first day in Committee, our Amendments Nos. 11, 13, 93, 97, 98 and 144 proposed that the court should have a discretion as to whether an investigation should take place. That proposal was rejected by the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General on a number of grounds. First, he explained that it was a mandatory process that was not new. Secondly, he said that the provision was the only way to make legislation workable and effective. Thirdly, he said that it was unlikely in the extreme that prosecutors would consider it appropriate to spend the time or resources on pursuing confiscation orders where that was "plainly inappropriate".
The noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General went on to refer to Clause 11 relating to criminal lifestyle, whereby once an investigation has already begun safeguards exist to minimise incorrect assumptions and instances under which the court may consider that there would be a serious risk of injustice if the case were to continue. Those safeguards could be triggered only after an investigation has begun. That said, the discretion of the courts could not be exercised.
Our Amendments Nos. 15, 97, 98 and 146 proposed an alternative which could give the judge a discretion whether to make a confiscation order once the court had had the opportunity to decide whether the defendant had a criminal lifestyle; in other words, the court could exercise discretion once the judge had before him the information which underlay the reason for the prosecutor's request for an investigation. We believed that that was a sensible compromise which would retain some expressed modicum of trust in our judges and would undoubtedly save time and money. The Minister rejected that alternative on the ground that if the defendant had a criminal lifestyle, that was that. The defendant should pass over his money and then seek to persuade the court why he should have it returned.
Turning to the clauses in the Bill relating to Scotland, we are proposing in the amendment another possibility to exercise discretion at an early stage. The effect of the amendment inserts a fourth condition which must be taken into account before the court acts. Clause 94 is central to the confiscation procedure in Part 3 and lists three conditions which must be fulfilled before the court will make a confiscation order. First, the accused must have been convicted of an offence either in solemn or summary proceedings. Secondly, the prosecutor must ask the court to act under that section. Thirdly, the court must decide to order a disposal in respect of the accused. If all three conditions are fulfilled, the court will act under that clause.
The difficulty with that procedure is that no evidence will have been laid before the court at that stage to establish the prosecutor's grounds for asking the court to act under the clause. Clause 104 makes provisions regarding the statement of information which is to be given to the courts by the prosecutor. As currently drafted, however, information under Clause 104 will be provided to the court only after a decision to proceed under Clause 94 has been made.
Our view is that the statement of information should form an integral part of the initial assessment of the case and we therefore suggest that a fourth condition is added to Clause 94 stating that the court will act only after considering a statement of information.
Adoption of that procedure will ensure that the conditions specified in Clause 94 will mirror the procedure detailed in Clauses 107, 108 and 109. In those clauses, the court will not proceed unless it has considered the evidence presented to it by the prosecutor. The inclusion of that fourth condition in Clause 94 would therefore ensure consistency of confiscation procedure throughout this part of the Bill.
As regards Amendment No. 112 and consequential amendments, if it is accepted that the court should receive a statement of information from the prosecutor before acting under Clause 94, the prosecutor will be required to provide a statement at the stage when the confiscation is sought. This amendment and those related seek to reflect the proposed altered procedure. I beg to move.
I support this amendment since it has the support of the Law Society of Scotland. One bears in mind that the second condition is that the prosecutor must ask the court to act under the clause. I believe that in practice a prosecutor would not think it right to take that step unless he was in possession of information which would justify proceeding beyond the opening of the procedure in Clause 94 and carrying it through to the end. Therefore, in practice I suspect that the prosecutor would be in possession of the information called for in the additional condition mentioned in the amendment.
If there were practical reasons why the prosecutor could not at the initial stage provide the information then the position would be rather different. My own experience suggests that in practice the prosecutor would be in a position to do this at the outset. There is much to be said for the point made that it would be better to have the position clarified at the outset so it is established before the procedure gets under way.
My understanding is that the issue was fairly debated in another place and given quite a lot of consideration. As the noble Baroness said, subsections (2) to (4) of Clause 94 set out three conditions which must be satisfied if the court is to act. As the noble Baroness said, these amendments insert a fourth condition, that the court must first consider the evidence contained in the prosecutor's statement of information.
Our argument is that Amendments Nos. 92 and 94 are unnecessary. The prosecutor's statement, which sets out the Crown's calculation of an accused's proceeds of crime and assets, will in practice always be served on a convicted person and also lodged with the court. Accordingly, the court will always have before it a prosecutor's statement, so that point is satisfied.
If the convicted person has neither a proceeds of crime figure nor assets, then the Crown would not pursue confiscation. Amendments Nos. 92 and 94 would therefore not provide any further safeguard because the protection is already in place. The remaining Amendments Nos. 112, 116 and 118 are consequential on Amendments Nos. 92 and 94.
I am not an expert on the Scottish situation. It is only the prosecutor who can make such a Motion. The court itself cannot instigate confiscation proceedings of its own volition. In addition, confiscation proceedings are only alive and running when the prosecutor makes a Motion and pursues that course. Therefore, the amendment is unnecessary in any event. We see the point which the noble Baroness makes, but we believe that the situation is already covered. I hope that those assurances are sufficient and that the noble Baroness is encouraged to withdraw her amendment.
I thank the Minister for his response. I accept entirely what he has said, which has given me food for thought. I shall consider it with care and at Report stage we shall consider the contrasting position for England and Wales, which may be very helpful to us. On that basis I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
moved Amendment No. 99:
Page 56, line 23, at end insert—
"( ) In making representations to the court under subsection (8), any person whom the court thinks is likely to be affected by the order shall be entitled to appear before the court."
This amendment seeks to ensure that those persons who are likely to be affected by the making of a confiscation order will have an opportunity to appear before the court to make representations. In essence, it is a probing amendment. While we welcome the expressed position in the Bill, supported by the Law Society of Scotland, to enable third parties who are likely to be affected by a confiscation order to make representations to the court, we believe that it should also be clear from the Bill that such parties can appear before the court to make representations. That should ensure that any confiscation order made will be for the correct amount and that delays in the realisation of the proceeds will be kept to a minimum. Perhaps the Minister can clarify why the reference to representations does not expressly allow for it to be in person. I beg to move.
I hope that I shall be able to satisfy the noble Baroness. The amendment seeks to expand on Clause 94(8) but it does not add anything to it. Subsection (8) provides that, before making the confiscation order, the court must take into account any representations made to it by any person who the court believes is likely to be affected by it. In practice, any person who may be affected by such an order is entitled to appear before the court and make out a case. That is a well-established procedure in Scotland and it is endorsed by the courts.
The proposed amendment does not afford third parties any greater rights than are already afforded to them under subsection (8). I realise that the wording might not give that impression, but in practice it is exactly the same. We are like minds on this matter. The amendment is unnecessary to achieve the purpose to which the noble Baroness referred. I have put it on record that it has no effect and that no one will be denied the opportunity to put their case.
Later, I shall ask the House to delete this clause. Before doing so, I shall speak to Amendment No. 110A. This amendment and others mirror amendments already agreed to by your Lordships' House when we discussed Part 2 of the Bill. The equivalent of Clause 7 in Part 2 of the Bill has already been deleted and the related amendments arise out of concerns expressed in the other place about the drafting of the postponement provisions.
As presently drafted, Clause 95 states that a confiscation order must be made before sentence. However, that is subject to Clause 103, which makes it clear that if confiscation proceedings are postponed under Clause 102, a confiscation order may be made after sentence. In practice, confiscation proceedings are usually postponed and the sentence will normally be passed before a confiscation order is made. That implies that a confiscation order will normally be made before sentence and that confiscation proceedings will be postponed only exceptionally. The terms of Clause 95, as drafted, are extremely confusing.
The amendments are designed to improve the practical and flexible operation of the Bill and mirror the changes already made in Part 2 of the Bill.
Clause 95 negatived.
Clause 96 [Recoverable amount]:
[Amendment No. 101 not moved.]
Clause 96 agreed to.
Clauses 97 and 98 agreed to.
[Amendment No. 102 not moved]
Clause 99 [Assumptions to be made in case of criminal lifestyle]:
[Amendment Nos. 103 to 105 not moved.]
Clause 99 agreed to.
Clause 100 agreed to.
Clause 101 [Disposal of family home]:
moved Amendment No. 106:
Page 60, line 3, at end insert—
"(ba) the needs and financial resources of a person of the same sex as the person concerned, who is and has been for a period of not less than six months living with the person concerned in a relationship which has the characteristics, other than that the persons are of the same sex, of the relationship between husband and wife, or if the person concerned is in custody, had so lived with the person concerned until the person was so remanded;
(bb) the needs and financial resources of any member of the person concerned's family who is, and has been, for a period of not less than six months, living with the person concerned in the family home, or if the person concerned is in custody, has so lived with the person concerned was so remanded;"
This group of amendments apply the admired provisions for the treatment of the family home in Scotland. Amendments Nos. 106 and 108 are the substantive amendments; the remainder are consequential.
Amendment No. 106 seeks to extend the protection currently afforded to spouses, former spouses, children and grandchildren, to other members of the accused's family—for example, siblings—and also to same sex partners of at least six months' standing. Anyone for whom the dwelling is home ought to have such protection and a right of representation. Why should there not be equal treatment? All those who live in the dwelling should have their needs and financial resources considered before the decision to dispose of the home is taken. On the subject of same sex partners, I should point out that their relationship has been recognised in the Scottish Parliament's legislation under Section 87(2) of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.
Amendment No. 108 would require the court to take into account any representation made to it by anyone for whom the dwelling in question is home. It would do so by widening the list of such people under subjection (3) of Clause 101. Elsewhere in the Bill, interested parties are expressly given the opportunity of representation—for example, under Clause 94, which deals with the making of a confiscation order, and under Clause 126, which relates to the protection of persons affected by any action taken by the administrator.
Given the consequences of the sale of a family home for anyone, it is only reasonable that all those involved should be treated equally. I beg to move.
I support the amendment moved by the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, to which I have attached my name. The amendment would extend the protections currently available to the spouse and children of the accused's family under Clause 101 to same sex partners of the accused who have been living with the latter for no fewer than six months; and to those members of the accused's family who have been residing with him or her for a similar period.
In expressing my support for the noble Earl, I must reiterate his reference to situations where it is most important to consider both the needs and financial resources of other members of the family who have been residing with the accused in the family home. Let us take, as an example, siblings who could have been residing together for a period of time in a house that is registered in joint names.
In some ways, we return to some of the points made in a previous debate on this complicated area of the Bill dealing with rights to the family home. As the noble Earl said, Amendment No. 106 seeks to extend the protections available to the spouse, the former spouse, and the children and grandchildren of the accused's family under Clause 101 to same sex partners of the accused who have been living with the latter for no fewer than six months; and, indeed, to any member of the accused's family who has been residing with him or her for a similar period. As the noble Earl pointed out, some amendments in this group are consequential.
I took advice on this amendment, because my original notes did not indicate whether the matter had been raised in the other place. We are dealing with an important area of the legislation, and I make no complaints about the issue being raised again. However, Clause 101 provides a degree of protection to the accused's spouse, or former spouse, and to any child or grandchild of the accused against the disposal of the family home. That replicates the existing provisions in the Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995, which, in turn, mirrors the provisions of Section 40 of the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985.
The Government and the Scottish Executive believe that any changes in this area of law should not be made in a piecemeal way—I do not mean that in a pejorative sense—but rather as part of a coherent consideration of all the issues involved. To that end, the Scottish Executive intends to issue a draft family law Bill, based on the 1992 report on family law of the Scottish Law Commission. I understand that the intention is to try to produce that draft around the end of this year.
For the convenience of the Committee, I should point out that the matter was raised on Report in another place on 26th February, at cols. 609 to 624 of the Official Report, when exactly the same point was made. We believe that this area of law should be considered in the round rather than in a piecemeal way by tagging it on to this Bill. We need to await a full and proper deliberation and consultation, based upon some draft legislation issued by the Scottish Executive. Given my explanation of the position, I hope that the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
I am grateful to the Minister for his response, which I shall certainly want to consider. My instincts are that the Bill is too narrowly drawn, although I take the point that other legislation is similarly narrow. However, if the report of the Scottish Law Commission recommends changes, we need to know whether that would automatically change this Bill. Indeed, when this Bill is enacted, can the Minister say how it can be subsequently changed?
For the avoidance of doubt, I should emphasise the fact that the Scottish Law Commission produced a report in 1992 on family law. The Scottish Executive intends to issue a draft family law Bill based upon that 1992 report. Legislation may, or may not, flow from that process. Obviously I cannot pre-empt a draft Bill to which I am not party and which has not yet been produced—and which, of course, would require consultation and parliamentary approval in Scotland. However, that would be the vehicle for change because it is primary legislation. That is the role of the Scottish Executive in relation to Scottish matters.
Before the Minister concludes, am I right in thinking that there would perhaps be a problem with amending the legislation that will result from this Bill because we are dealing with a United Kingdom Act to which the Scottish Parliament would not be able to make consequential changes? Is there perhaps a case for introducing a power to amend this clause by way of secondary legislation to coincide with Scottish legislation?
I do not know the answer to the noble Lord's question. We are legislating here in respect of areas of Scottish law under the agreed devolution settlement proposals. The Scottish Executive agreed that we could deal with this legislation; in other words, we, the Westminster Parliament, are dealing with Scottish arrangements on behalf of the Scottish Executive. I do not know whether it is a two-way process, but, from a practical point of view, I suspect that is must be so. However, that is not a definitive answer.
moved Amendment No. 110A:
Page 60, line 44, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
"(1) The court may—
(a) proceed under section 94 before it sentences the accused for the offence (or any of the offences concerned), or
(b) postpone proceedings under section 94 for a specified period.
(1A) A period of postponement may be extended."
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Clause 102, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 103 [Effect of postponement]:
[Amendment No. 111 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 111A:
Page 62, line 1, leave out subsection (6).
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Clause 103, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 104 [Statement of information]:
[Amendments Nos. 112 to 117 not moved.]
Clause 104 agreed to.
Clause 105 [Accused's response to statement of information]:
[Amendment No. 118 not moved.]
Clause 105 agreed to.
Clause 106 [Provision of information by accused]:
[Amendment No. 119 not moved.]
Clause 106 agreed to.
Clause 107 [No order made: reconsideration of case]:
moved Amendment No. 120B:
Page 67, line 12, at end insert—
"(aa) there is evidence which was not available to the prosecutor at the relevant time,"
This group of government amendments deals with the ability of the prosecutor to return to court within six years of the accused's conviction for an increase in the confiscation order or a new confiscation order where none was made at time of the original trial. They mirror the amendments that we have already made to Part 2 of the Bill.
The amendments have three purposes. First, under Clauses 107 and 108, the prosecutor is allowed to apply to the court for a revaluation of the accused's benefit from crime only if he has new evidence. There is currently no requirement of this kind in Clause 109. In theory, an application could be made to the court on the basis of evidence held back in previous proceedings. The first purpose of the amendments is, therefore, to bring Clause 109 into line, so that the prosecutor will be able to apply only if there is new evidence.
Secondly, our intention has always been that more than one revaluation should be possible under Clause 109. In looking again at the reconsideration clauses, we doubt whether the wording of the clause currently achieves that intention. It appears to allow for only one application. We have accordingly taken the opportunity to make it quite clear that there may be more than one revaluation under Clause 109. We have also made changes to Clause 110 making it clear that more than one application can be made under Clause 110.
Finally, Clause 110 permits the prosecutor to apply to the court for an increase in the confiscation order where more realisable property comes to light.
Arguably, the clause does not allow such an application to be made where a confiscation order has been varied under Clause 109. We have taken the opportunity to put it beyond doubt that such applications are permissible.
These are fine-tuning amendments. However, I hope that they will send the same message to the criminal fraternity; namely, that we are coming after them for the proceeds of crime. They will certainly help to ensure that the Bill will operate in Scotland exactly as we would wish. I beg to move.
Has thought been given to the inclusion of the words, "even if he had made reasonable inquiries"? In other words, the prosecutor could not have known about the evidence in the first instance even if he had made reasonable inquiries. It seems that at present one can have a second bite of the cherry without having to demonstrate that one made an effort in the first place to discover whatever the evidence might be. Surely that cannot be the case unless an effort was made in the first instance.
Perhaps I may intervene in that connection. The noble Baroness's point matches a provision that allows an accused person to appeal on the ground of fresh evidence. That right to appeal is qualified by a provision which disables him from doing so if the evidence on which he seeks to rely was not available to him or was not reasonably available to him. That qualification has often proved to be valuable in doing justice. So there is some force in the noble Baroness's point—namely, in achieving some kind of symmetry between the various provisions that operate in the various branches of the criminal law.
Before replying to those points, perhaps I may repeat the point I made earlier. Under Clauses 107 and 108, the prosecutor is allowed to apply to the court for a revaluation of the accused's benefit only if he, the prosecutor, has new evidence. As I said, in theory, he could apply to the court on the basis of evidence that had been held back in previous proceedings. I cannot envisage such circumstances, although I suppose that they must arise. The idea of holding evidence back in earlier proceedings in order to have a go at someone later sounds slightly weird.
The provision is subject to the court's discretion. So the court will not grant an application where it deems it to be inappropriate. It will be for the prosecutor to make the case to the court. It is not as though the prosecutor has carte blanche in this situation.
I re-emphasise the fact that the court will have the discretion. If it thinks it inappropriate for the prosecutor to return to make the case on the basis of new evidence, it will be up to the court to determine that, not the prosecutor.
On Question, amendment agreed to
moved Amendment 120C:
Page 67, leave out line 15 and insert "relevant amount"
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendment No. 121 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 121A:
Page 67, line 18, leave out "on which his belief is based"
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendment No. 122 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 122A:
Page 67, line 40, leave out from first "the" to fourth "the" and insert "relevant amount"
On Question, amendment agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 122B:
Page 68, line 20, at end insert—
"(10A) The relevant time is—
(a) when the court calculated the accused's benefit for the purposes of the confiscation order, if this section has not applied previously;
(b) when the court last calculated the accused's benefit in pursuance of this section, if this section has applied previously.
(10B) The relevant amount is—
(a) the amount found as the accused's benefit for the purposes of the confiscation order, if this section has not applied previously;
(b) the amount last found as the accused's benefit in pursuance of this section, if this section has applied previously."
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Clause 109, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 110 [Order made: reconsideration of available amount]:
moved Amendment No. 122C:
Page 68, line 34, leave out from third "the" to fourth "the" on line 35 and insert "relevant amount"
On Question, amendment agreed to.
moved Amendments Nos. 122D and 122E:
Page 68, line 39, leave out "(when the confiscation order was made)"
Page 69, line 8, at end insert—
"(7) The relevant amount is—
(a) the amount found as the available amount for the purposes of the confiscation order, if this section has not applied previously;
(b) the amount last found as the available amount in pursuance of this section, if this section has applied previously.
(8) The amount found as the accused's benefit from the conduct concerned is—
(a) the amount so found when the confiscation order was made, or
(b) if one or more new calculations of the accused's benefit have been made under section 109 the amount found on the occasion of the last such calculation."
On Question, amendments agreed to.
Clause 110, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 111 to 117 agreed to.
Clause 118 [Appeal by prosecutor]:
[Amendments Nos. 123 to 126 not moved.]
Clause 118 agreed to.
Clauses 119 to 121 agreed to.
Clause 122 [Conditions for exercise of powers]:
moved Amendment No. 126A:
Page 76, line 23, leave out from first "the" to end of line 24 and insert "relevant amount (as defined in that section)"
On Question, amendment agreed to.
I beg to move Amendment No. 127, which I can do telegraphically. In considering what property would be affected by a restraint order, in our view due regard must be given to the principle of proportionality. In that respect, consideration should be given as to whether it is necessary to restrain all realisable property or only specified parts. This amendment seeks to ensure that any action taken is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. I beg to move.
In response to the noble Lord's final point, I have every reason to believe that this provision is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The certificate on the front of the Bill is not in any way qualified and thus makes a fairly bold statement. I received good advice that I could sign the paper which declared the Bill compatible and I am satisfied that that advice was sound.
The noble Lord has raised an important point. However, Clause 123(2)(a) provides that a restraint order can apply to all realisable property held by a specified person. This amendment seeks to provide that a restraint order need only apply to specified parts of the realisable property. We believe the amendment to be unnecessary. Clause 123(1) already makes it clear that not all the realisable property need be restrained. In other words, the court in exercising its discretion already has the power to order restraint against only specified parts of the realisable property. Given that, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
So far as concerns opinions about compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights, there are those that are certified and there are those that are certifiable. I cannot accept the view expressed by the noble Lord in the context of this amendment. I wish to test the opinion of the Committee.
I shall be brief. This amendment is similar in principle to previous amendments. It would ensure that those persons likely to be affected by an enforcement order under Clause 131 would have an opportunity to appear before the court to make representations.
We have been in consultation with the Law Society of Scotland, which welcomes, as we do, the express provision in the Bill to enable third parties who are likely to be affected by orders of the court to make representations to the court. We feel that it should be clear from the Bill that such parties can appear before the court to make those representations. The aim of the amendment is to ensure that those who will be affected by the actions of an administrator under Clause 131 will have such a right. I beg to move.
I can be equally brief, because the answer is virtually the same as on the previous amendment. The amendment would not add anything to the clause. Subsection (11) provides that before giving an enforcement administrator the power to manage or realise any realisable property, or before ordering a person to make payments to the administrator, the court must give persons who have an interest in the property an opportunity to make representations to it. The aim of the amendment is to give such persons a right to appear before the court.
However, in practice, any person who may be affected by an action of the court in that regard is entitled to appear before the court and make out their case. This is a well-established procedure in Scotland and is endorsed by the courts. The amendment would not afford third parties any greater rights than are already afforded to them under subsection (11). The question is the same, legitimately asked, and the answer is the same. I therefore hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 131 agreed to.
Clauses 132 to 140 agreed to.
Schedule 2 agreed to.
Clause 141 agreed to.
Clause 142 [Serious default]:
[Amendments Nos. 132 and 133 not moved.]
Clause 142 agreed to.
Clause 143 [Confiscation order varied or discharged]:
[Amendment No. 134 not moved.]
Clause 143 agreed to.
Clause 144 agreed to.
Clause 145 [Criminal lifestyle]:
[Amendment No. 135 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 135A:
Page 89, line 9, leave out paragraphs (a) to (c) and insert—
"(a) it is specified in Schedule (Lifestyle offences: Scotland);"
In moving Amendment No. 135A, I shall speak also to the other amendments in the group.
These amendments mirror similar amendments that have already been discussed in relation to Part 2 of the Bill. The new Scottish and Northern Ireland schedules determine which single offences will attract a criminal lifestyle and, as a consequence, the application of the assumptions in Clauses 99 or 166 of the Bill. The various offences set out in the Scottish and Northern Ireland schedules correspond to those set out for England and Wales in the schedule we have already debated.
I am quite happy to give a more detailed explanation of the individual amendments but, given my brief explanation of what these amendments seek to do and bearing in mind what has already been done in other parts of the Bill, I hope that they will meet with the Committee's approval.