Clause 3 - Accreditation and training

Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 13 November 2001.

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Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 4:30, 13 November 2001

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to note that rapid progress has been made under Mr. McWilliam's wise chairmanship, and we are well on target to finish consideration of the Bill—by the early spring of next year. I am sure that we shall see a great deal of each other between now and then.

Those of you who have served under my chairmanship before will know that I tend to take the view that one may have a clause stand part debate before, during or after consideration of a clause, but not all three. On that basis, we come to clause 3 stand part. I understand that the clause has been fully and thoroughly aired during this morning's discussions, so unless any hon. Member has a burning desire to raise an issue that has not already been debated, I propose to put the clause to the Committee.

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

Photo of Ian Davidson Ian Davidson Labour/Co-operative, Glasgow Pollok

Thank you, Mr. Gale, for that invitation to speak. [Laughter.] I shall endeavour to respond in the same spirit.

As these are clearly important matters, it would help if the Under-Secretary could tell us how much will be spent on accreditation and training in England and Wales. How much funding has been set aside for the Crown Office and the Scottish police service in respect of central training and additional financial investigators? How much has been set aside for training in, and co-ordination between, the relevant English, Welsh and Scottish bodies?

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I cannot tell the Committee in detail what sums have been allocated to training alone. The Government have set aside £45 million for the Assets Recovery Agency, and we would expect an on-going provision of funds through the assets recovery strategy. As my hon. Friend knows, the situation in Scotland, where many of the agency's powers will not apply, is very different. In Scotland, existing customs officers and police will be expected to deal with confiscation by using the powers in part 2 of the Bill relating to the confiscation of criminal assets. A civil recovery unit will be set up in Scotland; it will be in the Crown Office, will it not?

Mr. Davidson indicated assent.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

However, it is not envisaged that the unit will be very large. It should consist of about 10 people.

As I have said, discussions are taking place on the level of funding necessary north of the border to enable those powers to be used. Such funding will cover not only a civil recovery unit but a potential claim for funds to train, and to increase the skills of, the constables and customs officers who will apply confiscation procedures north of the border.

Photo of Ian Davidson Ian Davidson Labour/Co-operative, Glasgow Pollok

Will the sums mentioned be separate and additional, or taken from existing budgets? If they are separate and additional, we can haggle about the amount later, once the principle is agreed.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The principle is that moneys will be provided to enable the Bill to be used in the same way north of the border as it will be used south of the border. To the south—but not necessarily to the north—moneys will go to the agency. In Scotland, they will go to the Crown Office and other appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.