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 Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 2:45, 15 May 2008

I shall withdraw the motion and I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Newark will have an opportunity on Report to deal with the matter. I will, however, make two brief comments. First, I do not dismiss as rapidly as the Minister the proposition that one should be able to accept a plea for an offence less than that which the evidence discloses. There is sometimes merit in accepting pleas for lesser offences. Never forget that by doing so one is sparing witnesses the trauma of giving evidence and saving a huge amount of money. It is sometimes pretty artificial whether a person is charged with A or B. There is a discretion and sometimes there is merit in not charging for the maximum offence. I hope that the Minister will not be quite so dismissive of that proposition.

Secondly and differently, while I welcome the fact that plea bargaining considerations are taking place in the context of fraud cases, I hope that the Minister will not turn his face from widening the scope of any changes that are brought forward to include offences other than fraud. Truth to say, while fraud is a recognisable category, the issues revolving around fraud, other than the evidential problems, are not in any sense sui generis. I would have thought that if one was going to approve a process for plea bargaining in relation to fraud cases, it is very difficult to see why it should not be extended across the spectrum of criminal law. I hope that he will take a rather more flexible approach than his intervention indicated. Subject to those two observations, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.