Clause 149 - Realisable property

Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 6 December 2001.

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Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes Minister of State, Scottish Office, Minister of State (Scotland Office) 4:30, 6 December 2001

I beg to move amendment No. 259, in page 90, line 9, leave out subsection (2).

With some trepidation, I say to the Committee that the amendment is designed to simplify the definition of realisable property and brings it into line with that to be used for England and Wales in clause 83.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

That may be so. However, the removal of subsection (2) will, again, widen the definition of realisable property. In particular, it will enable the clause to bite on property held in trust by the accused or the recipient of a tainted gift. Again, I do not expect the Minister to be in a position to enlighten the Committee further now, but this seems to be another area in which Scots law was different and provided a greater degree of protection. It would therefore be useful to know what the provision was designed to achieve, as, unless I am mistaken, it does not appear in the English section. I think that it was designed to protect certain interests held in trust. I presume that there was thought to be a good reason for doing that in Scots law—I see that a note is being passed to the Minister.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 4:45, 6 December 2001

Before the Minister responds, I have a separate point to make in relation to what my hon. Friend has just said. Clearly, the Minister intends to be helpful in trying to make the Scottish provisions mirror the English provisions. I see immediately that getting rid of subsection (2) will make the provisions of the clause exactly the same as those of clause 83. However, subsection (2)(b) refers back to what previously existed under part 2 of the Bill, and I am concerned about getting rid of it. Are the Minister's officials confident that we are simply bringing Scots law into line with English law? I fear that we might be losing a helpful reference back, because subsection (2)(b) refers to all of part 2, and to how the clause relates to restraint orders. It might be sensible to get rid of subsection (2)(a), but is the Minister confident that we would not lose something useful if we lost paragraph (b)?

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes Minister of State, Scottish Office, Minister of State (Scotland Office)

I will start by making a general point with regard to the concerns of the hon. Member for Beaconsfield about the integrity of Scots law. That has been taken into account. Officials from the Scottish Executive Justice Department and the Crown Office have been involved, with Home Office officials, in the drafting of the amendments.

I wish to pay tribute to all of them. They have worked hard. The amendments have been drafted and tabled, and the notes have been provided—as Committee members have noticed—for my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and myself very quickly, after the Government decided to alter part 3.

I can answer a question asked by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield by saying that where property is held in trust, someone else will have an interest, and people with interests are safeguarded elsewhere in the Bill. The hon. Member for Surrey Heath asked, in relation to the point that he raised, whether we are confident. We are confident.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 149, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.