Clause 33 - Imposition of civil penalties

Part of Identity Cards Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 27 January 2005.

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Photo of Des Browne Des Browne Minister of State (Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Citizenship, Immigration and Nationality) 4:45, 27 January 2005

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam asks for more flesh on the bones of the court proceedings. I will give him that quickly.

The Secretary of State can enforce a penalty by issuing a claim to the county court for judgment that the defendant owes a debt to him. A copy of the claim form will be sent to the defendant, who can agree that he owes the money or opt to dispute the claim. While it will be open to him to dispute the claim, by virtue of clause 33(6) no question can be raised about the amount of the penalty, whether he is liable to it or whether—given the surrounding circumstances—its imposition is reasonable. That is a matter that should be dealt with early in the proceedings. The proper forum for those issues to be raised is the objections stage or the appeals stage.

Once the Secretary of State has obtained a judgment that the debt is owed to him by the defendant, he can apply to the court for enforcement. There are a number of ways that the judgment can be enforced. It is my understanding that none of those will result in people going to prison. The court stage involves the recovery of a penalty that has already been through the process.  

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 33, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.