Clause 435 - Crown servants and regulators

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:15 pm ar 5 Chwefror 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Ceidwadwyr, Spelthorne 5:15, 5 Chwefror 2002

Thank you, Mr. McWilliam. In that case I shall almost certainly return to the other point that I mentioned when I have finished this one, which relates directly to subsection (3).

The argument used in the explanatory notes is that we do not need the power because the Money Laundering Regulations 1993 deal with the matter effectively. However, I am not persuaded that that is an effective argument that the Bill should not cover them. We have talked about making absolutely sure that we close every possible loophole, and do

everything possible to ensure that the intentions behind the Bill are put into effect. A regulator or supervisor might find a reason why the Money Laundering Regulations should not apply, or, if they did, why they did not cover the conduct for which the person is being criticised, or for which someone was contemplating taking action against the supervisor.

I cannot believe that applying the provisions would negate the opportunity to refer to the 1993 regulations if that were the preferred route. However, if that were to fail, and the Bill could cover for the failure of that route, action could be taken against people who had broken the law—yet we have excluded the possibility of using the Bill to deal with such matters.

Unless the Minister can persuade me that under the amendment action could not be taken, or that it would harm the authorities' ability to take action under the regulations, I believe that the amendment is right and that we should have the fail-safe mechanism of using the powers as well as, or instead of, the 1993 regulations. I therefore believe that this is more than a probing amendment. It is sensible, and unless it harms other routes, or the Minister can give me a reason for doing so, I cannot object to it.

My other point, which would have featured in a stand part debate, is that I am amazed to discover that Crown servants are not subject to the definition of criminal offences in exercising their duties as Crown servants. If that is the current state of play, perhaps I should have known that long ago. We are stating in this case that we should ensure that Crown servants can be proceeded against. Earlier, we debated order-making powers to extend legislation and to introduce new legislation. Perhaps this is an opportunity to introduce a provision to ensure that Crown servants are accountable under the law for everything that they do, not merely money laundering. Can we apply the laws that apply to the rest of us to Crown servants, too?