Clause 328 - Authorised disclosures

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:45 pm ar 24 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 3:45, 24 Ionawr 2002

I mentioned my hon. Friend because he had previously raised the issue with the Minister. This is the correct opportunity for the Committee to discuss it.

The Minister will also recollect that my hon. Friend raised the issue of the level of disclosures. Further information has been provided, but it was predicted in the NCIS lecture that, on current trends, disclosures in the coming year would rise from 18,000—a figure mentioned by the Minister—to well in excess of 30,000. It seems likely that that may be a result of the events of 11 September. Nevertheless, there has been an exponential rise in the number of people contacting NCIS about difficult transactions.

I hope that the Minister will accept that that is a serious issue for those who are trying to discharge professional obligations. They are happy to inform NCIS if they are troubled by a transaction, but they need a rapid response as to what they should do next. The criminalisation provisions of the tipping off clause

mean that they cannot tell their client what is going on, but they are prevented from carrying out a transaction that they are contractually bound to effect as quickly and correctly as possible. That is an onerous burden. I am not satisfied, on the basis of information given to me by those in the legal profession, including solicitors and the Law Society, that the system is operating well at the moment, and I am worried that it will not operate properly in view of the far greater number of disclosures that are likely to arise.

The amendment is probing. I want to have a discussion and debate on an important issue. I do not intend to delete the clause, and I hope that I made that clear through the rather odd way in which I drafted the amendment in the first place.