Amendment 112

Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (4th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords am 7:50 pm ar 7 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Lord Garnier:

Moved by Lord Garnier

112: After Clause 27, insert the following new Clause—“Compensation for victims of fraud and other economic crimes(1) The Secretary of State must, within one year of the passing of this Act, lay before Parliament a review of victims of fraud, bribery and money laundering offences.(2) The purpose of the review under subsection (1) is to identify how victims of such economic crimes could be better compensated without such victims needing to pursue civil action.(3) The Secretary of State must provide for a public consultation on the review.(4) In this section “victims of economic crime” includes United Kingdom and overseas victims of complex corruption cases where the harm caused by the offending is not easily quantifiable.”Member’s explanatory statementThis new Clause requires a review to explore how domestic and overseas victims of fraud, bribery and money laundering offences could be better compensated without the need for civil proceedings to recover their losses or compensation.

Photo of Lord Garnier Lord Garnier Ceidwadwyr

My Lords, this amendment is grouped with an amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, and is supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle. Unfortunately, she cannot be here, so noble Lords will have to deal with me, and I hope I will not detain the Committee very long. I should declare an interest in that I am a barrister in private practice and some of the work that I do involves fraud, bribery and money laundering offences; at least, some of the clients I represent sometimes become involved in that sort of thing. Sometimes, I act for the Serious Fraud Office in prosecuting and dealing with those accused or thought to have been guilty of such things.

The new clause set out in Amendment 112 is designed to require a review to explore how domestic and overseas victims of fraud, bribery and money laundering offences could be better compensated without the need for civil proceedings to recover their losses or compensation. The terms of the new clause are set out on the amendment paper, so I shall not read it out: it is there for those interested to see.

Just before Christmas last year, in December 2023, a company called Entain entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service in response to allegations, which it admitted, that part of Entain had failed to prevent bribery in, most often, Turkey, over a seven-year period. The deferred prosecution agreement that Entain, formerly Ladbrokes, agreed to contained terms which included that it should pay a penalty and a disgorgement of profits of £585 million, plus a charitable donation of £20 million. Prior to that, in the decade or so before the Entain case, multinational companies were fined more than £1.5 billion after investigations by the Serious Fraud Office into corruption abroad, but only 1.4% of those fines, about £20 million, was used to compensate victim countries, according to research by the law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain and, in particular, due to the hard work of Mr Sam Tate, a partner of that firm, who, with others in the firm, has made a particular study of this matter. It seems to me that companies that are convicted in this country of offences which have an effect overseas should be required to compensate their victims overseas—we need to change that.

Much of the corruption involved in these cases has occurred in African countries that are already suffering terrible economic hardship from food and energy crises and from inflation. They are in dire need of economic support to repair the damage caused by corruption. Our own Government have been vocal in their support for compensating foreign state victims of corruption, but the action taken to compensate them tells a different story and, if I may say so, leaves us open to charges of hypocrisy.

Most corruption cases brought before the English courts involve foreign jurisdictions. Therefore, this country is stepping in as the world’s policeman and prosecuting crimes that take place in other countries but keeping all the fines for the Treasury here in the United Kingdom. That is important because corruption causes insidious damage to the poor and the not so poor, particularly in emerging markets. The United Nations has said that it impedes international trade and investment, undermines sustainable development, threatens democracy and deprives citizens of vital public resources. The African Union estimated that in 2015, 25% of the continent’s gross domestic product was lost to corruption. Every company convicted of overseas corruption in this jurisdiction should, I suggest, be ordered to compensate the communities they have harmed; that would be both just and effective. Compensation should come through investment in programmes targeted at decreasing corruption and benefiting local communities by, for example, building and resourcing more schools or hospitals.

At first glance, English law encourages compensation. It is required to take precedence over all other financial sanctions—so far, so good—but as with many noble ambitions, problems lurk in the detail. Compensation is ordered in criminal cases only where the loss is straightforward to assess, even though the trial judge is usually of High Court or senior Crown Court level—that is to say, judges who deal with complex issues every day. Let me give the Committee a couple of examples.

In October 2022, Glencore, the international mining and minerals extraction company, pleaded guilty to widespread corruption in the oil markets of several African states. I interpose here to say that in that case, now long over, I represented the applicant state seeking compensation. Glencore pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay £281 million in penalties and further orders, but not a single penny has been ordered to go back to the communities where the corruption happened, because it was held that compensation would be too complicated to quantify and the overseas state applying for compensation had no legal standing in the case. You could say that I was very lucky to be allowed to speak at all during the proceedings, because the statute says that the people who have the legal standing to make an application to deal with compensation are the prosecutor and the defendant company, and I was not representing either of them. None the less, the judge was kind enough and polite enough to let me advance my submissions to him. He rejected them because the statute prevented his acceding to my application.

The second example is the Airbus deferred prosecution agreement case, which tells a similar story. The company was required to pay €991 million to the United Kingdom in fines, but compensation to the numerous Asian companies where the corruption took place formed no part of the deferred prosecution agreement.

The process for compensating overseas state victims, I suggest, needs urgent simplification, so that real money can be returned to them. An answer lies in incentivising the corporations that commit the crimes to pay compensation voluntarily, on the understanding that it would not increase the total amount, including penalties and costs, that they would have to pay. The company could be given further incentive by receiving a discount on the fine that would still be required to the United Kingdom Treasury or an increase to the fine if it refuses or fails to make redress.

The required changes are straightforward and ought to cost the taxpayer nothing. It would create a standard measure of compensation, which would ensure consistency and transparency, as well as avoiding the difficulty of calculating a specific amount of loss or damage in each case. The compensation figure could equal whichever is the higher of the profit made by the company from its corrupt conduct or the amount of the bribes it paid to obtain the profits. This already happens where companies are sentenced, so that the money goes to the Treasury. The defendant company would pay nothing more, but at least some of the money would benefit the victim state.

It would, of course, be naive to think that compensation paid to a foreign state could never lead to further corruption, and it has been suggested that some foreign states might encourage corruption in order to receive the compensation under the scheme that I have advocated, so that the compensation should go into a Swiss bank account or a corrupt overseas Minister’s bank account. That is clearly a risk. To address this, I suggest that defendant companies should be encouraged, or required, to enter into an agreement with the relevant state, which would include obligations to comply with United Nations guidance on the treatment of compensation funds, and to identify projects for which the funds would be used, possibly with the involvement of a local non-governmental organisation. To encourage states to enter into these types of agreements, corporations would be permitted to donate the compensation fund to the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund for projects in the region instead, or to pay down a country’s debt if an agreement cannot otherwise be reached. The benefit of this approach is that, unlike at present, where there is no disadvantage in doing nothing, it puts the onus on the corporation to take restorative action. It also addresses the difficulties in quantifying loss by creating a simple approach that gives companies early sight of the amount that they will have to pay.

These reforms may not need legislation, albeit I know that the Sentencing Act 2020 precludes victims from having legal standing at the end of a criminal case of this nature. This proposed new clause, and this debate, provide, I hope, an opportunity to probe the Government’s thinking. Indeed, what we require is the political will to amend the sentencing guidelines on corporate corruption. If we do this, and if the Government can come forward with their own well-thought-through and well-drafted amendment to the sentencing regime in relation to overseas corruption dealt with in our criminal courts, it seems to me that we can then hold our heads high and enhance our national reputation in the fight against international corruption.

I repeat that this is a probing amendment. I am not expecting an answer of any detailed nature from the Front Bench this evening, albeit my noble friend on the Front Bench is immensely capable of doing such a thing. I urge the Government, through my noble friends on the Front Bench, to give this matter active consideration. It is not a party-political point; it is a point of justice and morality. The time has come for those convicted in our courts here of offences of money laundering and so forth in overseas jurisdictions to pay their victims their due compensation.

Photo of Baroness Brinton Baroness Brinton Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol 8:00, 7 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier. I have the second amendment in this group, Amendment 116. The amendments are connected by the word “compensation”, but they are actually about very different issues. Mine is a probing amendment to discuss how the current court-ordered compensation scheme could be improved. I thank the London Victims’ Commissioner and Victim Support for their very helpful briefings.

We know that crime can have a significant emotional and financial impact on victims, and research shows that many victims value compensation as a tangible form of redress. Court-ordered compensation is financial compensation that a judge or a magistrate orders must be paid to a victim by a convicted offender, and the money owed is retrieved by the Courts Service on behalf of the victim. The worries are that the system of payment and enforcement of court-ordered compensation is causing unnecessary distress and frustration, because too often the compensation is paid in very small instalments, over a long period, or, even worse, not at all.

The Ministry of Justice’s paper, Punishment and Reform: Effective Community Sentences, which was published in 2012, sets out that:

“Compensation orders are an essential mechanism for offenders to put right at least some of the harm they have caused. They require offenders to make financial reparation directly to their victims, to compensate for the loss, damage or injury they have caused”.

The problem is the slow payments and poor enforcement. The system of payment and enforcement is adding unnecessary distress and frustration to victims’ experience of the criminal justice system. The piecemeal nature of payments also acts as a constant reminder to the victim of the crime. This point was recognised by the Ministry of Justice, in a 2014 publication, which stated that

“the current scheme of receiving compensation can be distressing for victims because it prolongs their relationship with the offender and can prevent them from moving on from the experience”.

HMCTS has a number of powers at its disposal to collect payments from offenders, including taking money directly from their earnings or benefits, issuing warrants to seize and sell goods belonging to an offender, or, ultimately, bringing an offender back before the courts. Despite this range of powers, collection rates remained low for a number of years. In reality, many compensation orders are never paid, with victims asked by the court to write off the debt owed by the offender.

To put that in context, in quarter 1 2023, the total value of financial impositions outstanding in courts in England and Wales was £1.47 billion, up 3% on the previous quarter and 4% on the previous year. The amount of outstanding financial impositions has more than doubled since quarter 1 2015. However, we recognise that a change in policy regarding the collection of financial impositions is partially behind the cumulative increase, as unpaid accounts are no longer routinely closed, and therefore more outstanding impositions are carried over. The latest available data shows that, 18 months after being imposed, only 53% of victim compensation was paid to victims. Slightly more recent data shows that, after 12 months, only 40% has been paid, with only a quarter of compensation paid to victims within three months.

I move on to an example of good practice in the Netherlands. In 2011, the Government of the Netherlands introduced the advanced compensation scheme as part of the Act for the Improvement of Victims in Criminal Procedure. Under the scheme, the state pays the victim the full amount—up to a maximum of €5,000—of compensation awarded by the court if the offender fails to pay within eight months. The state subsequently recovers the amount due from the offender. Originally, the scheme covered only victims of violent and sexual offences, but in 2016 it was extended to cover the victims of any crime.

Victim Support’s research has shown that many victims are very distressed. One victim of crime said:

“I still have not received any compensation after a year and a half”.

Another said that

“you have to keep going and be persistent with any claims for compensation that you feel you deserve. Why should you be a victim twice?”

My amendment sets out a possible mechanism to replicate the Netherlands scheme, because we need to find some balance. The whole point of this entire Bill is to smooth the journey for victims. This final part—compensation awarded by the court, recognising that they have been a victim and providing them with some redress—is not working for our victims. I very much look forward to hearing from the Minister. Any suggestions he may have, even if he does not think this is right, would be gratefully welcomed.

Photo of Lord Sandhurst Lord Sandhurst Ceidwadwyr

My Lords, I will speak briefly to Amendment 112. My noble and learned friend’s proposal is an excellent one and I urge the Government to address it promptly and seriously.

Companies and persons convicted of matters affecting those overseas, particularly overseas companies and the countries themselves, should be liable to compensation. It is important that it does not just feed more corruption, but the concept is plainly right. It will put this country in a good place in the world and show leadership on a really important topic, because there is far too much corruption around the world and too many countries turn a blind eye to it.

I urge the Government to take this amendment very seriously. I hope they will have come up with a concrete proposal to endorse it by Report. I commend it to the Committee.

Photo of Baroness Newlove Baroness Newlove Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, I support the probing amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, which is an opportunity for the Government to look at court order compensation.

The compensation for victims when they leave a court is not the amount they receive and it takes many years. I will not repeat what the noble Baroness has said—it is on my sheet as well—but, for the victims I meet, compensation causes further problems and trauma. It gets worse if victims apply for criminal injuries compensation, because the court order compensation is deducted from any award that is made. This is fine where the court order compensation is paid, but, if not, the victim is left worse off as a result. I agree that we should look at how the Netherlands pays up front.

I know that there is no money tree but, to make it smooth for victims, instead of being for the offender to hide once again and use as a tool in financial cases for coercive control, I hope the Government will review this court order compensation scheme. I know from speaking to judges that they know that, when they award this, the offender will pay it in dribs and drabs. Now is the time for a good review of this.

Photo of Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Justice)

My Lords, I will briefly address both amendments.

On the amendment from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier, supported by the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, I completely agree with the need for a review and the points made by the noble and learned Lord. His speech dealt largely with corruption, but the amendment deals with bribery and money laundering, which gives rise to significant hardship in countries where it can bite. The weakness of our system is that there is no real provision for proper compensation or properly assessing compensation—even in domestic cases, let alone international ones—where there is a conviction but the degree of loss has not been properly investigated. Noble Lords will no doubt have a great deal of sympathy with the noble and learned Lord, who was allowed to address the judge out of consideration and kindness but had his submissions rejected because there was no legal standing.

The first step the Government ought to consider is acknowledging that these cases for compensation in which it is undesirable to have a full civil case will generally arise where there is a conviction, the facts and culpability are not in dispute and there is no defence, but it may be difficult to assess what compensation is appropriate and what loss there has been. First, victims ought to have the status to be heard on the question of their loss and to apply for a proper order for compensation after conviction. The noble and learned Lord mentioned deferred prosecution agreements, which give wide flexibility as to the terms that can be imposed or agreed. It may be no coincidence that, if my memory is right, he was the pioneer of deferred prosecution agreements when Solicitor-General—he points to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas; there may have been others.

Where there is an ordinary conviction by a criminal court, there is no status for the victim to be heard and no opportunity for the court to determine what the loss was. A detailed investigation may not be called for; in a lot of these cases, the total that would be ordered may well not be paid in any event. However, I see no reason why the court should not have the power to make a summary assessment of loss on a reasonable view of the evidence before it, in order to make an order for compensation. If a claimant then chooses to take civil proceedings and give credit for any compensation paid, so be it. That may not always be the case, and it would be a valuable power for the court to have. The court also ought to have the power to consider other forms of restitution as well as a direct compensation order. This review is obviously necessary; we are in only the first stages of considering it and it will not come into statute as a result of this Bill, but the Committee should nevertheless be grateful to the noble and learned Lord for raising it.

As one would expect, since I am speaking from these Benches, I agree with every word of what my noble friend Lady Brinton said on her amendment. The principal point is that these compensation orders frequently leave victims feeling that they have an order in their favour but are still suffering the hardship of not having it paid or having it paid slowly, and being reminded of the offence far too often. Victims ought to have a say as well. The provision in proposed new paragraph (c) gives the right to approve or refuse the payment of a compensation order to the victim. It is also right that consideration should be given in every case to whether compensation which arises from crime ought to be awarded from public funds and the courts ought to have the power to make that order if necessary.

Finally, proposed new paragraph (e),

“access to legal advice at no cost to themselves throughout the legal process”,

is very similar to the free advocacy from an independent legally qualified person that we discussed in the first group. It is plainly appropriate at this stage of the proceedings.

Photo of Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 8:15, 7 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier, and the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, for educating me on these two matters. I was not familiar with the issue in our civil courts. The noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, made a succinct moral point; I thank him and the noble and learned Lord for educating me. If UK plc wants to maintain its position as a leading centre for resolving international disputes between countries and companies, there is a strong moral case for at least reviewing the way in which compensation may be awarded. As the noble and learned Lord said, his amendment is probing and we support it in the sense in which it was moved.

In relation to the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, supported by the noble Baroness Newlove, again I was not aware of the scheme in the Netherlands. However, as a magistrate, I am required to consider compensation for every case I hear, and compensation will take priority over other impositions of the court, such as fines, victim surcharge or costs, or anything like that. When I do so, I am of course extremely aware that I am often dealing with offenders who are on benefits, and even if they are not on benefits, they are often not particularly well paid. It is a fact, which I am not surprised about, that the compensation comes over a long period and often not at all. I take the point that the noble Baroness made about this being a constant reminder to the victim of the offence, and I am aware that sometimes victims are asked to write off the outstanding money which is just not arriving.

The way in which the Netherlands is proceeding is interesting; I do not know whether there has been an estimate about how much money that would cost. It is an interesting idea and I do not know how fully the Minister, when he comes to respond, will be able to talk about the money side of things. The point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, about reminding victims of the original offence—and we are here talking about the victims Bill and trying to ameliorate their concerns—was well made and deserves a full answer.

Photo of Lord Roborough Lord Roborough Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, I thank my noble and learned friend Lord Garnier for raising this issue in Amendment 112. Fraud and other economic crimes have a profound impact on their victims, which is why this Government have been very clear about their commitment to tackle such crimes and to support victims.

The measures in the Bill are designed to improve the experiences of all victims of crime, including economic crimes. One way it seeks to do so is by improving the oversight of service providers’ delivery of all victims’ code entitlements. For victims of fraud in particular, under the victims’ code, all victims who have suffered harm, including economic harm, as a direct result of a crime are entitled to information about compensation and, where eligible, to be told how to claim it. The Government take the compensation of victims of economic crime very seriously, as it is crucial for limiting the harms of these soulless crimes. We are taking active steps to improve reimbursement and compensation routes for victims to ensure that, whenever possible, funds are taken from criminals and returned to victims.

Victims’ interests continue to be a priority issue for the UK. New powers introduced by Part 4 of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act allow applications for stolen crypto assets or funds to be released to victims at any stage of civil forfeiture proceedings. Work is ongoing to implement these reforms in order to ameliorate the negative impacts of criminal conduct, including economic crime.

In cases where there are overseas victims, as the noble and learned Lord mentioned, the Serious Fraud Office, the Crown Prosecution Service and National Crime Agency compensation principles have committed law enforcement bodies to ensuring that compensation for overseas victims of economic crime is considered in every relevant case, and that the available legal mechanisms are used whenever appropriate to secure it. His Majesty’s Government are also fully committed to identifying potential victims and utilising suitable means to return money and/or compensate victims in line with international provisions, per the Government’s transparent framework for asset returns.

As a signatory to the UN’s Convention against Corruption, the UK places great importance on the recovery and return of the proceeds of corruption to those affected by bribery, embezzlement of public funds, money laundering, trading in influence and other abuses of official functions. The UK is obligated to return funds where the conditions for mandatory return are met. However, it also exercises its discretion to return funds in appropriate cases when it is not otherwise mandated to do so.

On the point raised about UK courts being able to award compensation, this requires a co-ordinated, multilateral approach on how to find resolutions for victims. The fraud strategy sets out ambitions to drive global action on tackling fraud. We are developing stronger partnerships with our allies to raise the profile of this transnational threat, improve our understanding of how it manifests globally, share best practice and lead a co-ordinated, multinational response. This engagement will build towards a global fraud summit in early 2024, where key partners will come together to spearhead a co-ordinated diplomatic and law enforcement approach to tackling global fraud.

Measures in the Criminal Justice Bill, which is progressing through the other place, also considers victims’ interests. Further changes are being made to the confiscation regime, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to enable swifter resolution of proceedings and improve enforcement planning, allowing victims to be compensated earlier and more fully. I am aware that this does not fully address many of the excellent ideas raised by the noble and learned Lord, which were supported by my noble friend, Lord Sandhurst, and I would suggest a meeting to investigate them further, if that was acceptable.

As I have set out, extensive work is already being undertaken to strengthen the rights of victims through legislative vehicles which are still undergoing implementation. I therefore do not believe it is appropriate for a legislatively required review to be introduced at this time.

On Amendment 116, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, the Government are clear that it is extremely important that victims are aware of their rights, particularly when interacting with criminal proceedings. The current victims’ code sets out in plain language entitlements for victims of crime, including being provided with information about compensation. I hope it is helpful if I provide some information about criminal compensation orders. Criminal courts in England and Wales are, by law, required to consider compensation in all cases involving personal injury, loss or damage resulting from the offence. Where the court chooses not to impose such an order, it must provide reasons. In determining whether to make a compensation order, and the amount to be paid under such an order, the court must consider the financial circumstances of the offender—as alluded to by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby—to strike a balance between seeking reparation and not imposing debts that are unrealistic or unenforceable. In line with the sentencing guidelines issued by the independent Sentencing Council, if the victim does not want compensation, this should be made known to the court and respected. However, it is right that the decision whether to award compensation and the amount of any award is a matter for the court. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Marks, and his point about the victim’s right to have a court hear their view on compensation, I think that is an interesting idea to investigate, and it would be good to have a meeting.

In addition to compensation orders, the statutory Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 exists to compensate victims who suffer a serious physical or mental injury as the direct result of a violent crime, including physical and sexual assault and domestic violence. Payments under the government-funded scheme can never fully compensate for the injuries suffered but are a recognition of public sympathy.

On expenses and property, victims already have an entitlement under the current victims’ code right 10 to be paid expenses. Victims can claim expenses from the Crown Prosecution Service if they have to attend court to give evidence, including, for example, for travel, childcare and loss of earnings. Right 10 in the current code also sets out that the police should return any property taken as evidence as soon as it is no longer required. The Government do not currently have plans for victims to be paid compensation from central funds. That is because compensation orders are paid directly from the offender, requiring them to make reparation to the victim for any loss, personal injury or damage caused by the offence. The decision whether to make a compensation order in a particular case is a matter for the court, and it has a range of powers for the recovery and enforcement of financial impositions. With the permission of the noble Baroness, I would like to write to give further detail on what actions the Government are taking to improve the enforcement of such compensation orders.

As the noble Baroness will be aware, victims’ cases are prosecuted by the Crown, but we recognise that in some cases legal advice may be helpful—for example, when considering disclosure requests. Therefore, to understand better whether independent legal advice and representation is required, and how that might work in practice, we have asked the Law Commission to explore the merits of independent legal advice as part of its review. This follows a consultation on the use of evidence in sexual prosecutions last year, and we look forward to reviewing the findings on this important issue.

I hope this provides my noble and learned friend Lord Garnier the reassurance that is needed to withdraw this amendment.

Photo of Lord Garnier Lord Garnier Ceidwadwyr 8:30, 7 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, of course I will beg leave in a moment or two to withdraw my amendment. I am very grateful to my noble friend the Minister for his ability, at very short notice, to deal very elegantly with what I would describe as a long hop. The short point is one I made earlier on—that only 1.4% of the value of fines raised in this country has found its way back, under the mechanisms that he refers to, to victim states. That is not enough. That said, I thank him for his offer of a meeting, which I would certainly like to take up, if I may. I thank my noble friend Lord Sandhurst for his support. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Marks, for his very thorough response to my suggestions in Amendment 112, and the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, for his kind remarks.

The reason why I metaphorically doffed my hat at the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, a moment ago, when the noble Lord, Lord Marks, accused me of being the pioneer of deferred prosecution agreements, is because, yes, as a matter of policy, as a Government Minister at the time, I suppose I was responsible for it. I take some pride in it. However, I could not have achieved it without the co-operation of the senior judiciary. From memory, the noble and learned Lord was president of the Queen’s Bench at the time when the late, much-lamented Lord Judge was the Lord Chief Justice. The two of them, with other members of the senior judiciary, dealt with it impeccably as a matter of legal process. They were not in the least bit interested in the politics—neither was I, actually. We were all interested in trying to make the DPA system work. Thanks to cross-party support in the other place and throughout government, and support from the senior judiciary, the deferred prosecution agreement system came in through statute. I am very grateful to all those who helped with that.

I am in danger of going to the church by way of the moon. This is quite an important subject. It needs thought and proper development. Some ideas need to be tested to destruction, but some need to be given a chance—perhaps through a meeting with my noble friend on the Front Bench and others at the Ministry of Justice—to see which parts of this idea are worth germinating. In the light of all that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 112 withdrawn.