Clause 16 - Effect of postponement

Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 22 November 2001.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster 3:30, 22 November 2001

I beg to move amendment No. 105, in page 8, line 29, after `(1)', insert

`Notwithstanding the provisions of section 7'.

This is a relatively small matter of general housekeeping. Hon. Members who can recall the debate at this time last week, which seems like an inordinate time ago, may remember that we debated clause 7 at length. My hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne, who, interestingly, is one of the few non-lawyers in Committee, raised a matter that pricked the Minister's conscience. I can probably say that safely because my hon. Friend is here—but perhaps not so safely because, of course, he is the Whip. At the start of proceedings last Tuesday, he sent a round robin for members of the Committee to note their previous professions. The list showed that there are many solicitors, ex-solicitors, barristers and ex-barristers; I cannot remember exactly what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok was listed as. However, in the analysis, my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne said, ``I've never done an honest day's work in my life'', other than, perhaps, looking after his late mother's affairs—maybe illicit affairs, who knows?—as was discussed this morning. We do not know what old Ma Wilshire was up to in those days that may have come within the remit of clauses 11 and 12 of the Bill.

This is about good housekeeping, and I hope that we can link clause 16 with clause 7, as we envisaged when we discussed the subject the other day. I proposed the wording with that in mind.

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

I thank the hon. Gentleman for reminding us of the allegations that the hon. Member for Spelthorne made about his mother. I do not know which is a worse offence—selling one's granny down the river or shopping one's mother. However, the hon. Member for Spelthorne may clarify what he said about that as the Committee proceeds. It may be interesting to hear the details.

When we discussed clause 7, I recall that hon. Members were doubtful whether the Bill makes it sufficiently clear that it does not prevent the defendant from being sentenced first during a case in which a confiscation proceeding would be postponed. I know that a similar question arises from other clauses of the Bill. I draw hon. Members' attention to the reconsideration clauses 21 and 22, which permit a confiscation order to be made after sentence. As has been pointed out, clause 16(6)(b) says that

``section 7 must be ignored'' if the court proceeds to sentence the defendant under subsection 16(1). The Government believe that that meets some hon. Members' concerns. However, as we have been reminded, the Government are willing to consider whether the Bill makes sufficiently clear the relationship between clause 7 and other relevant clauses, or whether further clarification is desirable. We stand by that commitment and we will tell the Committee our views in due course. We may decide, following further advice, that an amendment is not desirable. Therefore I ask the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster to withdraw the amendment for the present, although I confirm that we are willing to examine whether the drafting is adequate.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Conservative, Spelthorne

I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster tabled the amendment, because we were invited to consider the point that I raised when we reached this clause. However, I will not rehearse those arguments; I intervene only because of the reference to my mother. You were not present this morning, Mr. O'Brien, when I cited the relevance to the Bill of my difficulty in sorting out her possessions following her death a few weeks ago. It is appropriate that my hon. Friend mentioned my mother when discussing clause 16, which is about the effect of postponement. If we had been able to postpone my mother's death, she could have come and told us what she was up to herself.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster

My memory about the wording of the occupation of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok has returned—and I recall that my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne wrote that in Latin. I am happy to beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.