Clause 105 - Accused's response to statement

Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:00 am ar 6 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Bill O'Brien Mr Bill O'Brien Llafur, Normanton

With this it will be convenient to take the following: Government amendments Nos. 167 to 169.

Clause stand part.

Government amendment No. 170.

Clause 106 stand part.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes Minister of State, Scottish Office, Minister of State (Scotland Office)

The purpose of amendment No. 166 is to make it absolutely clear that there is an obligation on the prosecutor to give the court a statement of information in every case in which he is seeking a confiscation order within a period specified by the court. Amendment Nos. 167 and 168 are purely drafting amendments.

Amendment No. 169 inserts a cross-reference to clause 102 to ensure that the prosecutor receives notice of the accused's response to the statement of information no later than six months before the end of the postponement period, which is a maximum of two years. That is designed to ensure that the final confiscation hearing can take place before the end of the postponement period. Amendment No. 170 is also a purely drafting amendment and is designed to bring the wording of clause 106(4) in line with that of clause 19(5).

Clause 105 gives the accused the opportunity to contest the prosecutor's allegations in the statement of information that is provided under clause 104. Clause 106 empowers the court, at any stage in the confiscation proceedings, to order the accused to provide information that it needs to enable it to carry out its confiscation functions. The power is important and flexible and may be used by the court, for example, to require the accused to provide further information about a point in the prosecutor's statement. The power reproduced in clause 106 has proved useful in practice.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I ask about the change of the word ''assertion'' to ''allegation''. I am aware of the desire for uniformity and I tread delicately because of my lack of knowledge of Scottish legal words. However, something about the word ''assertion'' strikes me that it has the capacity to be a term of art in law while ''allegation'' does not. Why is the amendment necessary? There is either no reason to use the word ''assertion'', in which case one wonders why it crept into the Scottish part of the Bill, or ''assertion'' is a familiar word in Scottish legal terminology, in which case its substitution for ''allegation'' may have a greater effect than initially thought. I do not know whether the Minister or any other hon. Member can enlighten the Committee, but it seems that the two words have a slightly different meaning. Why does Scots law use the word ''assertion'' rather than ''allegation'', and what will be the consequence of getting rid of the word?

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes Minister of State, Scottish Office, Minister of State (Scotland Office)

I understand that the change would not have any legal significance and that the amendment is a drafting amendment to ensure consistent wording with the English part of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 167, in page 62, line 40, leave out

'(within the period it orders)'.

No. 168, in page 62, line 43, after paragraph (b), insert

', within the period it orders'.

No. 169, in page 62, line 43, at end insert—

'(1A) Where by virtue of section 102 the court postpones proceedings under section 94, the period ordered by the court under subsection (1) shall be a period ending not less than six months before the end of the permitted period mentioned in section 102.'.—[Mr. Foulkes.]

Clause 105, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.