Clause 346 - Disclosure orders

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:30 pm ar 29 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 4:30, 29 Ionawr 2002

If an arrangement has been arrived at whereby someone has been asked to attend at a police station, that person is unlikely to be under arrest. Indeed, it is likely that the person involved would be not the principal target of the civil recovery or confiscation procedures, but merely someone who was, or was believed to be, connected, and who might be able to provide useful information. The mere fact that he has been invited to attend is, I should have thought, likely to put him on notice about the nature of the questions that he will be asked. If he has been lulled or lured into a police station or another place under false pretences, it would be unfair for someone to turn up and say, ''Oh goody—you've got your solicitor here, so you've got all you need. Here's a notice: start answering our questions now on this topic.'' I would still expect a period to be provided, even if it were short—say, 30 minutes—before that person legally had to provide those answers. The use of the phrase ''at once'' therefore strikes me as odd.

I do not know what is intended. I would have expected the notice to contain words to the effect of, ''Notice is served on you that at 6 pm tomorrow you will have to answer questions.'' I have no problem with that. Perhaps the wording is intended to mean, ''At 6 pm tomorrow, or as soon as we can lay our hands on you.'' I do not think that that is what the Minister intends, which is why I say that in view of the regulations that he wants to draw up, the words ''at once'' are, to use an old lawyers' word, otiose. If the words are not otiose, and it is true that the Minister intends to confront individuals and say, ''In this particular circumstance, we will not give you the option of a time or any notice, and you will answer the questions now,'' that is wrong. I hope that he will reconsider the matter.