Clause 189 - Use of statements obtained under competition act 1998

Enterprise Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:15 pm ar 23 Ebrill 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Ceidwadwyr, Eastbourne 6:15, 23 Ebrill 2002

I beg to move amendment No. 109, in page 135, line 22, leave out from '2002' to end of line 26.

It will be obvious from the wording of the amendment that my comments will be short. Clause 189 deals with the use of statements obtained under the Competition Act 1998. Such statements are obtained in what are in effect civil proceedings, and are used under legislation that introduces some serious criminal sanctions, as we debated at, perhaps, inordinate length. The clause entitles the prosecution to use statements obtained under the Competition Act 1998 if they are inconsistent or contain voluntary admissions. The prohibition on the use of those statements should be wider than it is, as the statements were obtained in civil proceedings and therefore in a more relaxed atmosphere than subsequent criminal proceedings. The CBI supports the amendment. Great care should be taken when evidence in statement form is cross-fertilised from civil proceedings to criminal proceedings, not least because one hopes that the people involved in the civil proceedings will be as open and co-operative as they can be. It is in the interests of the Under-Secretary, the OFT and the relevant authorities to accept the amendment, so that people can be as helpful as they want in giving prior statements in proceedings under the 1998 Act.

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Ceidwadwyr, Huntingdon 6:30, 23 Ebrill 2002

The clause recognises that there will have been civil proceedings before the criminal proceedings. Should not the OFT have to make up its mind whether to commit to a criminal trial first, and then effectively be stopped if it decides to go down the civil route before the criminal route?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

I am not minded to support the amendment. The entitlement to put a prior inconsistent statement to a witness in the course of evidence-taking is important. That has particular implications in Scottish criminal procedure in as much as it can be adopted in certain circumstances; in any event, it can be used to strike at the witness's credibility. The deletion of the subsections would remove that and I can see no good reason to do so.

Photo of Miss Melanie Johnson Miss Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

The safeguard prevents statements that have been obtained under compulsion in a civil

investigation under the Competition Act being used against the person who made them for the purpose of prosecuting the new offence. It is common practice in criminal law for persons to lose that protection where they make inconsistent statements or voluntarily provide information. Our approach is entirely consistent with sections 2(8) and (8AA) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987. We therefore resist the amendment. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw it.

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Ceidwadwyr, Eastbourne

We are all keen to make progress. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 189 ordered to stand part of the Bill.