Clause 281 - Other exemptions

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:45 pm ar 18 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:45, 18 Rhagfyr 2001

The civil recovery scheme has been constructed on the basis that, in general, there should be no exemptions from civil recovery proceedings, other than those set out under clause 306. In many cases, when a person holds recoverable property, it will not be appropriate to bring civil

recovery proceedings. However, instead of trying to set out a comprehensive list of those cases, which would be impossible, the intention is to rely on the enforcement authority's discretion about against whom it brings proceedings.

Both the director and Scottish Ministers are public bodies for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998. They must therefore act proportionately in deciding which cases to bring. In addition, the director is under a duty—as we have discussed earlier—to act efficiently and effectively. There is, however, a small category of cases in which it is felt that there is compelling evidence for an exemption from civil recovery proceedings. That clause sets out those exemptions. We arrived at such exemptions after consultation with other Departments and relevant bodies.

One of the main exemptions is with regard to the Financial Services Authority as it is possible that it will hold recoverable property after it has, for example, levied a fine on a company engaged in market abuse. As one of the statutory objectives of the FSA is to reduce financial crime, it would be counter-productive to bring proceedings against that body. Although the consultation was extensive, it is possible that new circumstances may arise in future when there is a compelling case for an exemption and when relying on the enforcement authority's discretion is not sufficient. That is why we have included the order-making power. It will be subject to affirmative procedure if it is used, and I hope that that reassures the hon. Member for Beaconsfield. I hope that I have reassured him that that power should be held in reserve.