Clause 290 - Report on exercise of powers

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:30 pm ar 8 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:30, 8 Ionawr 2002

Until the hon. Gentleman's last point, he was making a good case for the appointed person to be a lawyer—but his last point seemed to undermine it.

The powers are potentially intrusive and Parliament must satisfy itself that they will be used appropriately. The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that the powers and the manner in which they are used are subject to public scrutiny. We do not intend the individual to report on every case—I hope that I have not misled the Committee in that respect. He will require reports to be made to him when appropriate, and those reports will cover such issues as the reasons to suspect that cash was the proceeds of crime or was intended to be used for crime, in addition to the justification for conducting a search without prior judicial authority. We do not intend the individual's subsequent report to go into the details of every case, which was part of the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Davidson). The individual should report to Parliament giving his opinions of the way in which the powers have been used, to allow us to check on an annual basis that they are not being abused, and to take action if they are.

As I said in response to the hon. Member for Spelthorne, the appointed person will be independent and assigned by Ministers to oversee the exercise of the search powers. There will be a separate individual for Scotland, who will be appointed by Scottish Ministers. The terms and conditions of those individuals are yet to be decided by the appointed Minister. We envisage that the post will be part-time, and it may be suitable for a person such as a retired judge.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok is probably right about what should and should not be included. However, if the appointed person is to be independent, it will be for him or her to decide how to structure the report. We do not want Ministers to tell the person what they will and will not report. That

person will examine how the powers are being used and will report on that, and on the trends of use, and will make recommendations if he or she has worries.