Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 13th January 2005.
I beg to move amendment No. 216, in clause 89, page 52, line 1, leave out subsection (3).
I have a sense of déjà vu when I see the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act come back to haunt me. It is amusing and quite instructive to see circumstances—we shall consider them in a moment—in which it has been found necessary to tweak that legislation, despite the 36 sittings in Committee in which, I seem to recall, some of us here today participated.
The first tweak is rather straightforward. I may have misunderstood clause 89, but I thought that it referred to variations that the Secretary of State might wish to make for confiscation order purposes in relation to part 2 of the 2002 Act and part 4 of that Act in relation to Northern Ireland. When I saw subsection (3), I was a little startled to discover that any order that the Secretary of State chooses to make could
''amend, repeal, revoke or otherwise modify any enactment.''
That does not show much confidence on the part of the parliamentary draftsman that amending parts 2 and 4 would not have the most hideous knock-on consequences.
As the Minister probably knows, I think it a somewhat Henrician clause. In the circumstances, I am a bit troubled by it. I should be grateful if she could explain why subsection (3) was thought necessary. It appears to give the Secretary of State extensive powers, over and above what Parliament would normally give except with very good reason.
I hesitate to display my ignorance to the Committee and to my hon. Friend, but will he enlighten us on what he means by a Henrician clause?
I always thought it unfair to Henry VIII. Other monarchs would have liked such powers.
It is an extensive power, and I should like to know why it was felt necessary to include it in subsection (3).
I thought that the hon. Gentleman was going to raise again the point about the magistrates courts. He is particularly interested in that because of his experience on the Committee that considered the Proceeds of Crime Bill.
The Attorney-General and others asked us to make the clause available to make better sense and use of effecting what we wanted from the 2002 Act. I am not sure that my answer will satisfy the hon. Gentleman—I am not sure that it satisfies me—but it might be possible to restrict ''any enactment'' in clause 89(3) to the relevant parts of the 2002 Act. If necessary, I shall seek further information.
If I understand the Minister's reply correctly, she is suggesting that it would be possible to amend subsection (3) so that it is not quite so wide and sweeping. That is reassuring.
I have some more information. I understand that the Delegated Powers and Regulated Reform Committee in another place will be looking at all the delegated powers in the Bill, including those in clause 89(3). We will carefully consider any recommendations that the Committee makes. I am afraid that that is as clear as it is ever going to be.
I am even more grateful for that helpful comment. It is pleasant to be reassured that it was not an attempt by some underhand method to introduce a widespread abuse of power.
The Minister does not need to persuade me of the value of making confiscation orders in the magistrates court. I have had a number of discussions with members of the Government about the matter. It was pretty apparent at an early stage that it should have been in the original legislation. To that extent, I welcome it. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 89 ordered to stand part of the Bill.