Serious Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 10 July 2007.

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Amendments made: No. 197, in title, line 3, after ‘fraud’, insert

‘or for purposes relating to proceeds of crime’.

No. 198, in title, line 9, after ‘investigators’, insert

‘, management receivers and enforcement receivers,’.

No. 240, in title, line 9, after ‘investigators’, insert ‘, cash recovery proceedings’.—[Mr. Coaker.]

Photo of Joe Benton Joe Benton Labour, Bootle

There is an item concerning written evidence. I have to inform the Committee that none has been received.

Question proposed, That the Chairman do report the Bill, as amended, to the House.

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

May I take the opportunity to thank you, Mr. Benton, and your co-Chairman, Mr. Bercow, for conducting our proceedings in a way that has shown Parliament in a good light? The debate has been important and of generally a high quality. Although this is an area in which people feel passionately and strongly, the debate has been conducted in a reasonable manner. You, Mr. Benton, and your co-Chair have helped in that.

May I take the opportunity to thank all the officers in the House, and the Clerk in particular? Given the speed with which we race through the amendments, it is astonishing that anyone can lay it out in way that keeps us in order. Therefore, may I thank all the officers in their different guises who have contributed to the Committee?

May I also thank my own officials? A number of them have helped me enormously and I would like to place on the record my thanks to all of them and to the outside organisations that have contributed to our deliberations.

I would also like to thank members of the Committee, including the Whip, the Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury, my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth; the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston, who came late to the Bill but whose mastery of part 2 was something for us all to hear; the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe), who was on the Committee before; and all my hon. Friends for staying the course and being a part of this Committee.

I also thank the hon. Members for Taunton and for North Cornwall for their contributions, the hon. Member for Hornchurch for his constructive and thoughtful contributions to the debate, and the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) before that. As I said at the start, although there were obvious disagreements between us all, the hon. Member for Hornchurch expressed his opinions in a forthright and forceful way, with both conviction and passion. He is a great credit to his party.

It would be wrong of me to conclude without thanking the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham, who has helped me to develop a knowledge of the law that I never would have thought possible. I understand the term is pupil barrister. The pupil part may be right, but I am not so sure about the barrister. He has shown how important parliamentary scrutiny is to a Bill. A good level of  scrutiny from both the Opposition and the Government leads to an improved Bill.

All that is left for me to say is that I have enjoyed the experience immensely and would like to thank everyone whom I have not thanked. It is a bit like being at a wedding and worrying that someone has been left out. Therefore, if I have left anyone out, may I thank them as well?

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

May I thank you, Mr. Benton, for your chairmanship of the Committee? Will you also pass on my thanks to Mr. Bercow? You have both chaired the sittings in a well-judged, even-handed and good-humoured way. May I also pass on my thanks to the Clerk, and the Clerks in the Public Bill Office for dealing with the range of amendments that we have had before us, and the Hansard Reporters for taking down all of the technical and case details and legalistic arguments.

I also thank the police and the Doorkeepers for maintaining our safety and security during our deliberations, and the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Gedling, his colleagues and the Bill team and other officials for the manner in which they responded to our inquiries and questions. We might not have got all our desired responses in relation to the Bill, but I wish to record my thanks for the manner in which they responded to the points that we raised.

We have made some progress on the Bill, although not as much as we would have liked. Considerable uncertainties remain, particularly about the scope, ambit and likely impact of serious crime prevention orders. The Minister has frequently said that they are not intended to apply where prosecution could be brought, but that remains to be tested. We are concerned, because some of the safeguards that we wished to include were not taken forward. Issues of data sharing and data matching remain to be considered. In the context of the Privy Council review on terrorism, we need to examine carefully the Government’s deletion of the provisions on intercept evidence. Similarly, we will reflect on the discussions on gun crime that took place in this morning’s sitting.

I thank my right hon. and hon. Friends for their learned, informed and considered contributions, which have added to the Committee. They have raised a number of important issues, on which I am sure that the Government will reflect as the Bill continues its progress through the House. I thank my Whip, the hon. Member for Reigate, in his absence for his helpful support and assistance and for the cheerful manner of his response to certain points about the work of Whips that have been made in the Committee.

This has been a thoughtful Committee and a number of serious, relevant points have been made. I trust that the Minister will reflect on our deliberations and table amendments to address those matters when the Bill returns to the Floor of the House. We shall await developments with interest, in anticipation of a positive response that will address the points that have been highlighted during the Committee’s deliberations. Ultimately, we need to ensure that the public are protected effectively from serious criminals who are intent on harming them, their livelihoods and their way of life.

Photo of Joe Benton Joe Benton Labour, Bootle

On behalf of Mr. Bercow and myself, I thank the Minister and Opposition Members for their kind remarks. I should like to place on the record my appreciation for the services of the learned Clerk, Hansard and everybody connected with the Committee.  It has been an interesting Committee. I thank hon. Members for that and for their kind remarks.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose at seventeen minutes to One o’clock.