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New Clause 7

Serious Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 10th July 2007.

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Limitation of serious crime prevention orders

‘(1) Part 1 of this Act and any orders made under it shall expire at the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed unless the Secretary of State makes a renewal order under subsection (2) below.

(2) No renewal order may be made by the Secretary of State unless it has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(3) A renewal order made under subsection (2) above shall expire at the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which the order is made unless it is renewed by a further renewal order.

(4) No order may be made under this section unless a report has been laid before Parliament under section [Review of serious crime prevention orders] above.’.—[James Brokenshire.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

New clause 7 is a further protection that we seek regarding the operation of serious crime prevention orders. Under it, part 1 of the Bill, once enacted, would subject to annual renewal by order. This is a wide-ranging provision that could be quite significant, given the restrictions on the orders that may be placed. That may or may not be appropriate, but if this power is to be taken, there should be an obligation on Parliament to consider the operation of such orders, for the reasons that I gave in relation to new clauses 5 and 6.

I do not intend to repeat what I said about new clauses 5 and 6. However, new clause 7 would give a great deal of assurance regarding the various concerns expressed in the other place, outside the House and in this Committee. It would also give a positive role to Parliament in applying a robust examination of the operation of these orders, and provide an element of scrutiny of the manner in which serious crime prevention orders are being undertaken. One would have thought that that might find favour with the Prime Minister, given his views on strengthening the role of Parliament and on the functions of the Executive.

I urge the Committee to consider new clause 7 carefully. If the concerns expressed in this place and elsewhere regarding the manner in which the serious crime prevention orders operate prove to be the stronger argument, it would provide an additional protection and a mechanism for ensuring that changes can be made if required.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Crime Reduction)

Through the Committee’s deliberations, we have taken on board, not only in this place but in another place, points that the hon. Member for Hornchurch  and his hon. Friends have made. There is clearly a difference of view on this new clause, and I do not want to repeat the arguments that I made regarding the last new clause—arguments that the hon. Gentleman found so unpersuasive, although many of the same points could indeed be made. Processes are in place regarding the operation of the judiciary, and although the hon. Gentleman does not agree, they provide the safeguard that he is seeking. Our view is that these orders will help law enforcement and prevent harm caused to communities by serious criminals. We believe that the safeguards, both legislative and procedural, provided by these orders are quite considerable. It is not appropriate to keep asking Parliament to reaffirm the House’s commitment to preventing, through the measures in the Bill, the harm caused by serious crime. I therefore ask the Committee to resist the new clause if the hon. Gentleman presses it to a vote.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I hear what the Minister has said but, needless to say, he will not be too surprised to learn that I am not satisfied by his response. He says that it is a question of ensuring that Parliament sends out a message about harm reduction, but that is not the point at issue. The issue is the extent to which the orders might go much further and tread on the remit of the criminal justice and prosecution sphere. That is why we believe, given the points that have been made about the operation of such orders, that the safeguards in new clause 7 are required. On that basis, I would like to test the Committee’s opinion on it.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 4, 9.

Division number 28 Nimrod Review — Statement — New Clause 7

Aye: 4 MPs

No: 9 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.