Clause 28 - Offences by body corporate

Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 1st March 2001.

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

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The clause is perfectly reasonably intentioned, and relates to the debate about who is held liable in practice and how the corporate liability of the owner of the licensed premised is tied up with the practical liability of the person on site. Is that part of a general proposition by Government, or is it restricted to licensed premises? There are often issues in relation to liability and corporate responsibility. As I understand it, there is an implied connivance of the ownership if anybody, in any of the positions—especially a manager—is liable.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

Has the precise wording about corporate responsibility been used in other legislation? Will the Minister write to members of the Committee to tell us whether the Government intend to use such wording more widely, not only in future licensing legislation but in legislation generally, and whether there are specific precedents? If he will undertake to do that, I will be satisfied.

Photo of Mr David Lock Mr David Lock Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department

The first issue raised by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey was whether the provision was part of a general proposition by the Government to define the responsibilities of corporate owners. The Department of Trade and Industry is currently undertaking a wide-ranging review of corporate governance. As far as criminal statutes are concerned, the liability of those associated with companies, who stand behind corporate entities that are responsible for ownership or control of premises, must be determined case by case. In response to the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Surrey Heath, the wording of clause 28(1) is based on the equivalent clause in the City of Westminster Act 1996, which refers mainly to sex establishments, although this clause refers to alcohol establishments.

It would not be helpful to conduct a wider trawl of legislation, whether passed under this Government or under previous Governments, for the equivalent form of words, for the reason that I gave in answer to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey. Liability must be determined case by case, depending on the mischief against which the offence is determined. We must compare like with like.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 28 ordered to stand part of the Bill.