New Clause 8

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 15 May 2008.

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Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office 2:45, 15 May 2008

I, too, am rather disappointed that the hon. Member for Newark is not here because I know that this is a subject that exercises him. There may be some merit in exploring it further, but not in the context of this new clause. As the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham has said, either it rather lamely describes what already prevails, in circumstances such as R v. Goodyear, or—I am not sure whether this is in the mind of the hon. Member for Newark—if it aims to allow prosecutors to accept a plea on a lesser charge than is justified by the alleged offending, the new clause is objectionable in principle. If he is trying to go for the full-on American-type system, as I described earlier, we object to it in principle.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that we are looking closely at the results of a plea negotiation framework for fraud cases, which is quite separate from this Bill. If that comes up with any ideas in the area of plea negotiation that we think will be useful in combating terrorism, we will take them forward. He quite reasonably says that there is already a plea negotiation process in our due process and I am not sure how much beyond that the hon. Gentleman was seeking to go.

I will explore the idea further, taking into consideration the framework for fraud cases. I do not know whether I will be able to say anything further on the matter on Report, but it may well be in the Committee’s interests for the motion to be withdrawn. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be allowed to enlighten us on Report. I have some sympathy with the thrust of the new clause, but I do not agree with the intent as it has been perceived in the hon. Gentleman’s absence. I ask that the motion be withdrawn.