Clause 290 - Report on exercise of powers

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 8 January 2002.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 6:15, 8 January 2002

Although it is, of course, preferable that he should.

There is some force in the arguments of the hon. Members for Spelthorne and for Surrey Heath, in relation both to the appointment of the person—it would be of benefit if more details were set out in the Bill—and to the force behind the report and its

recommendations when it is laid before Parliament. Under the Bill, the appointed person can make any recommendation that he wants, but that is as far as it goes. Such matters simply disappear into the ether at that point. I would prefer some reference to be made in the clause to the idea that if a recommendation were not followed, a Minister should be obliged to give a reason for that refusal. That is not an unreasonable burden to place on a Minister. I can think of any number of reports containing cogent and well argued cases from the Law Commission and other bodies that land on Ministers' desks and stay there gathering dust. If the appointed person is to have power, that would be a fairly sensible way in which to ensure that it is exercised.

I observe in passing that the clause is not well drafted. For example, it states:

''The report must give his opinion''.

That is meaningless. Presumably, the report must give the opinion of the appointed person. That may sound picky, but the present drafting is inelegant.