Clause 316 - Director's functions: certain settlements

Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:45 pm ar 15 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

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

I can be fairly brief in expressing my concerns about the clause.

In relation to the director's reasonable grounds for suspicion and the service of a notice, would a slightly wider explanation of the settlements concerned be necessary? I appreciate that there is a reference to the Inheritance Tax Act 1984, and, like my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield, I am not an expert on inheritance tax. I once worked as tax clerk in the tax department of Reuters, as a vacation job when I was a student at Oxford, and I picked up little bits of Revenue law as a result. I also had to take a Revenue law paper in my Bar finals. However, I have never practised in Revenue law. If the Minister were to put an explanation on the record, it might help those in another place who may be tax experts. Debates in another place can be assisted if the issue has at least been explored in Committee in this place.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Again, let us put the position on the record.

The clause allows the director to exercise inheritance tax powers over criminal proceeds that have been put into a trust—the legal term is ''settlement''. The mainstream inheritance tax powers covered under clause 315 apply when wealth is transferred, and clause 315 consequently requires the director to identify transfers of wealth that he wishes to take under his jurisdiction. Assets in a trust can, exceptionally, be subject to inheritance tax every 10 years simply by virtue of continuing to be held in trust. Therefore, there is a need to supplement clause 315 in the case of trusts, so that the director can say which trusts he wants to get involved with, and for what period. Apart from that technical difference, the basic approach of clause 316, and the safeguards that apply, are essentially the same as for the director's other tax powers.

I hope that that helps the hon. Gentleman in terms of identifying the settlements concerned.

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

Yes, it helps me to some extent. The Minister is right to say that, essentially, we are talking about trusts. That is how I read subsection (1). I hope that the provision will work as intended. As my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield said at the end of his remarks on the previous clause, one would wish this clause well, and hope that it assists the director to

do his or her job. I am slightly puzzled about how it will do so, but that may be because of my lack of familiarity with the way in which inheritance tax operates in relation to settlements. I am content to allow those who are more knowledgeable to consider it in another place.

Clause 316 ordered to stand part of the Bill.