Clause 319 - Declarations

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 15 January 2002.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 5:15, 15 January 2002

May I deal with this clause and schedule 5 at the same time? That will avoid any need for a substantive debate on schedule 5.

Clearly, the oaths provided in schedule 5 are designed to ensure that the same degree of confidentiality will apply as the Minister explained applies to the Inland Revenue generally. What problems will be caused by the taxation functions of the Assets Recovery Agency being discharged by staff who might perform the other functions of the agency, too?

The Inland Revenue's status and reputation for confidentiality is substantially based on the fact that it is a discrete organisation. I know that we talk about Chinese walls in solicitors' firms when there may be conflicts of interest. However, I wonder how the process has been thought through in practice. If staff are interchanged to perform the different functions of the Assets Recovery Agency, it could cause problems. I wonder if the Minister and his advisers have given any thought to ensuring that such problems do not arise.