Clause 124 - Appeals

Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:30 pm ar 6 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Amendment made: No. 229, in page 77, line 3, leave out 'having an interest' and insert 'affected by the order'.—[Mr. Foulkes.]

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

I beg to move amendment No. 303, in page 77, line 7, leave out subsections (3) and (4).

Subsections (3) and (4) are unnecessary. They are already covered by section 40 of the Court of Session Act 1998, which makes provision about the competency of appeals from the Inner House to the House of Lords.

Amendment agreed to.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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

I wish to return to an important issue that was canvassed by my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath. Is the change of wording to a person ''affected'' from one that has ''an interest'' simply a change in wording, or does it have an impact on the sort of person who could make the application?

We have addressed the matter before, but in this context it refers to appeals. One can imagine circumstances in which a person affected by the order, which is how they will be referred to in the clause, is more restricted than a person who has an interest in the property. Someone might have a contingent interest in the property, which means that, although the seizure of the property at the time of the restraint order did not affect him, he had an interest in it that would have enabled him to be heard under Scots law, but not now that we are changing to the English wording, which is more restrictive.

I assume that that is not the case. It would be useful if we could have an assurance from the Minister. Has he received advice that we are not restricting the sort of person who can apply, especially if we are moving away from an expression that is well known in Scots law to something that is not?

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

This is a genuine point and not just a matter of semantics. It might help the hon. Member for Surrey Heath if I make it clear that the amendment widens the category of person who can make an application, but the court will have to act in accordance with clause 134.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath

I am grateful that the Minister has moderated his tone since he responded on the previous group of amendments. I spoke about an amendment grouped under the previous clause but relating to this clause, and the Minister's reply was that he did not understand my point; I think that he does now. I am concerned to protect entirely innocent third parties. We should always consider the way in which legislation might accidentally affect entirely innocent third parties. That has been a concern of mine throughout our debates.

The Minister said earlier that the position would be absolutely the same north and south of the border. He asserts that, but the provisions for appeals in clause 124 necessarily relate to cases brought before the Court of Session, and we understand that Scots law is different. If he cannot answer in detail now, I would be grateful if he would be prepared to write to me—I do not know if other members of the Committee are interested—to set out exactly how innocent third parties will be affected by the procedure north and south of the border. That is not an unreasonable request, given that this is a Government amendment and that we are genuinely concerned about the rights of innocent third parties. I need to be reassured that my constituents will not be disadvantaged in comparison with people north of the border.

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

It is a genuine point, and it was also raised by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland. The intention is that the clause should operate in the same way north and south of the border. In the light of the repetition of the question by the hon. Member for Surrey Heath, I will double-check. If there is anything different from what I have said, I will write to him. If what I have said is confirmed, I hope that he will not mind if I just leave it at that.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 124, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.