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Clause 32

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 8th May 2008.

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Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 3:45 pm, 8th May 2008

May I reinforce the point that I have just made by way of an intervention because it does raise rather an important issue. We could often have a situation in which the convicted person is essentially a bailee, if I can use that technical word. He is a custodian. Let us suppose that the convicted person is in the business of repairing a car. That is the best possible example because cars can readily be used in terrorist attacks, either as the vehicle for the bomb, for transport or whatever. He has the property of another in his possession and under his control. We could think of almost any property that would fall into that category.

On that person’s conviction, the property belonging to the third party is subject to forfeiture. I acknowledge at once that a provision under clause 34—proposed new section 23B—enables a person, other than the convicted person who claims to be the owner or otherwise interested, to make representations, but nothing in that proposed new section sets out the rights of that innocent third party, if I may characterise the person as such. All he can do is to make representations. The provision does not explain the person’s rights if the court was satisfied that he was wholly innocent—“What is the standard of proof”, I say in parenthesis. What are his rights? They seem to be at large, and I find it difficult to believe that that can be right.

To be truthful, I have not had time to table amendments to clause 34. I make no complaint about that. It is my responsibility to do so. However, we must address such an issue because innocent third parties should not have their property forfeited because the bailee is guilty of an offence. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will reflect on the provision because, as I suggest to my hon. and learned Friend, we shall need to return to it on Report as it concerns a serious issue of third party rights.