Clause 171 - Provision of information by defendant

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 11 December 2001.

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Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes Minister of State, Scottish Office, Minister of State (Scotland Office) 12:30, 11 December 2001

There may be a misunderstanding about the purpose of the clause. As the hon. Member for Surrey Heath said, it replicates what clause 19 does for England and Wales. The power that the clause gives to the court is important and flexible. It may be used, for example, to require the defendant to provide further information about a point in the prosecutor's statement. Alternatively, the court may prefer to take a broader approach and order the defendant to make full disclosure of all his financial affairs before the prosecutor's statement has been tendered. The court has full discretion in that matter.

I will address the arguments made by the two Conservative Members, although they are not relevant to the clause. The suggestion that things are different in Northern Ireland is rather strange. I do not know the names of the main towns in Surrey Heath and Spelthorne, but if they are anything like Glasgow or Paisley, the intimidation by drug dealers in those towns is just as great as the intimidation in Northern Ireland by terrorists. The level of intimidation and pressure that can be imposed on people is astonishing. The arguments made by the hon. Gentlemen did not demonstrate that the type of pressure that is applied to people in Northern Ireland is different from that which is applied to people on the mainland.