Clause 6 - Appeals

Anti-social Behaviour Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:15 pm ar 6 Mai 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath 6:15, 6 Mai 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 36, in

clause 6, page 5, line 35, leave out '21' and insert '42'.

Photo of Mr James Cran Mr James Cran Ceidwadwyr, Beverley and Holderness

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment No. 37, in

clause 6, page 5, line 36, at end insert

'but may be brought immediately after the original order or decision'.

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

I can be brief. These are probing amendments. We thought that it was worth debating the appropriate time limit. If I may adopt what was said by both the hon. Member for Ludlow and the Minister in the previous debate, there is always a judgment to be made about what the appropriate time limit is. We felt that it may be sensible to have not merely 21 days as the limit for an appeal but 42 days—

six weeks—because it is not unknown for people, absolutely legitimately, to take three weeks' holiday, whereas it is pretty unusual for somebody to be away for six weeks. That is the basis of my suggestion that 21 days may be a bit on the short side.

Amendment No. 37 is on a similar point. We felt that we may make the Bill more flexible by saying that an appeal could be brought immediately after the original order or decision. That gives flexibility both ways. It gives a longer maximum but states that one need not wait: one can bang in the notice of appeal straight away if necessary. It has been known for somebody to misidentify premises—honest mistakes can be made. If there were a need for an immediate appeal and everybody was ready for it to be heard quickly, there would be flexibility in that regard. The Minister will understand that we do not seek to damage the Bill. We simply aim to introduce extra flexibility. It is worth putting the reasons on the record.

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

Extending the period allowed for appeal would overly lengthen and complicate the process of executing a closure order. It would leave the possibility of an appeal hanging over the process for an excessively long period. The ability to appeal against the use of the power is obviously necessary, but as the power is currently drafted the checks and balances are sufficient to ensure that the decision of the magistrates court is considered and is well evidenced.

An appeal to the Crown court is a last resort in cases in which those with a connection with the property feel that an inappropriate action has been taken. The 21-day period is sufficient to allow for an appeal against an order and is based on the precedent of similar existing powers such as those to close illegal drinking dens in the Criminal Justice and Police Act 1994. In my view, there is no need for amendment No. 38. Under the clause, an appeal can be brought at any time during the 21-day period. There is no need to wait for 21 days, which was the hon. Gentleman's worry on the other side of the argument.

Twenty-one days is in line with other legislation and is sufficient time in which to bring an appeal. I do not see a justification for lengthening the period.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath 6:30, 6 Mai 2003

I hear what the Minister says and he has heard what I have said. I do not agree that it would not be helpful to have some flexibility, but I will not detain the Committee with an argument on that small point. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 7 and 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.