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Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 13th May 2008.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General 10:30 am, 13th May 2008

I beg to move amendment No. 173, in page 22, line 44, leave out from ‘terrorism’ to end of line 46.

Good morning, Mr. O’Hara, and may I welcome you back to the Chair for our consideration this week? Under the part of the Bill dealing with the forfeiture of terrorist property—provided for originally in clause 32 —the intention is to confiscate property after conviction if it has

“been used for the purposes of terrorism” or

“they intended should be used, or had reasonable cause to suspect might be used, for those purposes.”

In clause 33, which we are now considering, there are amendments to the section of the Terrorism Act 2000 entitled “Forfeiture: terrorist property offences”. Again, amendments are included, the first ones of which one might think are entirely understandable. Forfeiture may be ordered by the court if the property has been

“used for the purposes of terrorism” or

“it was intended by that person that it should be used for the purposes of terrorism.”

But then subparagraph (iii) goes on to say, if

“the court believes that it will be used for the purposes of terrorism unless forfeited.”

The amendment deletes that third section.

This is a probing amendment, but I should be grateful if the Minister would explain what in fact is the architecture that we are putting in place here. My recollection—though I may be wrong about this—is that the Terrorism Act 2000 provides that there should be forfeiture in the cases of terrorist property—that is, forfeiture of property connected to terrorism. But to include a provision that the court believes that it will be used for the purposes of terrorism unless forfeited seems to be an extension of that principle. It may be justified, but it would be useful for the Committee to understand the Government’s reasoning on this point.

I would like to illustrate my possible concerns. On the basis that the individual concerned would almost certainly have been imprisoned for the terrorism offence with which he has been convicted, if the property has not been connected to terrorism in the first place, that raises the question in my mind: what sort of property will the court then be asked to look at to form a belief that it  will be used for the purposes of terrorism unless forfeited? It seems to me to be an exceptionally wide power. Will the Minister therefore tell the Committee what the Government’s intention is here, and what the criteria are that the court would be asked to apply in coming to that determination.