Annual reporting: Adequacy of resources

Part of Criminal Finances Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 22nd November 2016.

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Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 11:00 am, 22nd November 2016

Perhaps I can clarify some of the issues. Obviously the word “adequate” is subjective. We heard evidence in Committee from members of the law enforcement agencies, and they did use the word “enough”. My point is that we scrutinise the accounts in this place, and then compare that with agencies’ performance and outcomes. That is how we come to a decision—subjective, often—on whether there are adequate resources. It is not necessary to put that in primary legislation.

Perhaps I could clarify for the hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton the issues around asset recovery and where those funds go. At the moment, if we recover assets from drug dealers, for example, the money is split, with 50% going to the Home Office, and 50% to the Crown Prosecution Service and all the other agencies—the National Crime Agency or the police—involved in that operation, so that they can invest it in their capabilities, and use it to increase their ability to fight crime. I can say today that further to our manifesto commitment, in future, instead of having that 50% of the cake, they will be able to keep 100% of the amount coming in above the baseline, which was set in 2015, if I am not mistaken. They have a very strong incentive to ensure that they are rewarded for their good work, and to make sure that we go after big sums as well as small. That is important.

On the point the hon. Lady raised about returning money that is stolen—we will come back to this—we sent back £27 million to Macau recently. Where we identify the ownership of stolen assets that we can return to a foreign country or wherever, we will, and we have already done that. My colleague the Minister for Immigration signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian Government in August to make it even easier for us to return stolen property or assets to a country’s people. It is absolutely our intention to do that.

Across the money laundering piece, we can identify the owners of certain assets and take steps to return them. Other assets that accrue because of the high margins in the illicit trade of, say, drugs may be harder to return. In fact, the people who contributed to those sums may have committed a crime themselves, so there is a difference there. I recently saw in Mombasa some confiscated stuff that we will be returning, as soon as we can get through the paperwork. It is not our intention to divvy up the proceeds from the house in Knightsbridge and hand them all over to the National Crime Agency, and rob the third country from which the money was stolen.