Mr. Grieve: At the risk of repeating the question that I put to the hon. Member for Perth (Annabelle Ewing)to which I received an incoherent and ungracious answerhas the hon. Gentleman read the report of the 15th sitting of the Committee on Thursday 6 December 2001, and if so will he acknowledge that those constitutional points were made by the Conservatives?
Mr. Salmond: I am willing to reveal to the House that even the Conservative party can be caught telling the truth occasionally and the contributions from the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues in Committee were one such example.
In front of the Scottish Affairs Committee, the Minister acknowledged the real difficulty at issue in this debate. The merits of mandatory or discretionary powers for Scottish sheriffs are not at issue, because they will be addressed in a later amendment tabled by the Liberal Democrats. The debate tonight is about the principle of a significant change in legislation.
If the Minister will not be gracious enough to accept the amendment, at least he should tell us what he thinks is the answer to the question. I know that the Minister has enormous powers of persuasion and he may have convinced the Scottish Minister for Justice that the change is okay. However, it is a question not of the Scottish Executive being convinced, but of legislation passed by this House for the Scottish Parliament. Can the Minister tell us what he sees as the answer? Is it to place a rider in the legislation to the effect that if serious changes are made, the matter must go back to the Scottish Parliament to see if it meets with approval there?
It is implicit in the fact that a Sewel motion has arisen that a Bill of this importance requires revision. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Davidson) referred to that revision as being performed by the old codgers down the Corridor, but the fact that we have a second Chamber allows sensible and constructive revision to take place. I am sure that I speak for my fellow Conservatives in hoping that whatever revisions take place in the House of Lords they are constructive and do not destroy the intention of what is proposed. We all hope that the revisions are minor and that we can agree on them.
I have much sympathy with the hon. Members for Perth (Annabelle Ewing) and for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) and their points about Scottish democracy. On this Bill and others in the future, it will have to be decided how, after a Sewel motion has arisen, we can ensure that the right legislative changes have been made. That is one of the problems with the democratic system being thrown into the air after devolution, as we pointed out to the Government five years ago. The issue will remain to be determined in the years ahead.
I hope that the Scottish issue will not affect the main thrust of the Bill, which everyone on the Conservative Benches understands. We have several concerns that have been expressed in amendments that we will come to today or tomorrow. For example, I would be concerned if, in the provisions on money laundering, we were to have a separate English and Welsh track alongside a Scottish track. It might then be perceived that it was easier to launder money through one of the jurisdictions, and the Mr. Bigswhom we all wish to catchwould be attracted to London or to Edinburgh to launder their funds. We need to take the issue seriously and that is why the Sewel motion has arisen. The Bill is complex and should be considered similarly throughout the UK.
The Minister of State, Scotland Office (Mr. George Foulkes): In spite of occasional acrimony in the debate, I propose to be reasonably and perhaps untypically helpful. It was poetic irony that the spat between the SNP and the Liberal Democrats occurred when the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael) was moving an amendment tabled by both parties. Amendment No. 226 would require that the director's annual plan set out how the director intends to exercise his functions in Scotland. However, the remit of the director will apply in Scotland only in relation to his taxation functions under part 6. As experts on the Scotland Act 1998 on both sides of the House will know, taxation is a reserved matter: it is not within the remit of Scottish Ministers or the Scottish Parliament.
The director's tax functions will be delegated from the Board of the Inland Revenue. That arrangement was made precisely because tax is a reserved matter, to preserve a unified tax system throughout the United Kingdom. We do not believe that it would be appropriate for the Scottish Ministers or the Scottish Parliament to become involved,
Under paragraph 10 of schedule 1, the director cannot be a serving Member of Parliament or Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly while he is the holder of the post. Amendment No. 228 would mean that the director would also be disqualified from membership of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. We agree with the principle behind these amendments. There is no obvious reason why the director could become a member of the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly, when he could not be a Member of Parliament here or a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. We do not propose to accept the amendments as drafted, but we will consider how their purpose is best achieved. If appropriate, we will propose amendments to the Bill in the other placeso graphically described by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Davidson).
As new clauses 13 and 14 and Government amendment No. 285 affected Scotland, the Government consulted and were advised closely by Scottish Executive and Crown Office officials. They, in turn, consulted their Ministers. I pay tribute to the officials who advised me and my colleagues on the Bill.
Under part 5, the Scottish Ministers are responsible for civil recovery in Scotland. I am pleased to advise the House that we envisage the creation of a small, multidisciplinary civil recovery unit to assist them in their functions. That unit will be staffed by people with relevant skills, including lawyers, accountants and civilian financial investigators. I am sure that that will please many hon. Members, particularly those of my hon. Friends who have asked for it. That initiative will strengthen the arm of the Scottish Executive in the fight against drug barons and money laundering. It will provide what I hope will be an effective new unit.
In criminal cases, the Lord Advocate and the procurator fiscal will continue to pursue the proceeds of crime of accused and convicted criminals, but with the greatly strengthened powers of the Bill. We envisage that advantage will be gained from seconding to the unit from time to time police constables with experience in investigating the proceeds of crime. On secondment, officers will not take with them their police powers. That would not be appropriate to the civil nature of the part 5 scheme.
Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife): In which Department in Scotland will that unit be located? Will it be among the responsibilities of the Lord Advocate, and therefore located in the Crown Office, or will it be a responsibility of the Minister for Justice, and therefore part of his Department?
Mr. Foulkes: The internal arrangements are a matter for the Scottish Parliament and Executive. Given all that has been said, far be it from me to determine such matters. The unit will, however, work closely with the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency, representatives of both of which I recently met in Paisley.
Scottish Ministers have a number of functions under parts 5 and 8 that it would not be appropriate for seconded constables to exercise. The purpose of the two new clauses is to set out those functions for parts 5 and 8 respectively.
Mr. Davidson: I welcome the fact that a special unit is to be established. As the Minister rightly said, it comes about as a result of an initiative taken by me and my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Harris) and for Glasgow, Anniesland (John Robertson) following discussions with Strathclyde police. Does the Minister agree that that, more than anything else that we have heard, demonstrates the advantage of participating in the Committee? Is not this the time to draw to the House's attention the fact that no SNP Member was ever present on that Committee?
Amendment No. 90 relates to clause 326 and part 6. It is a drafting amendment to achieve consistency on the matter of the long lease, and I am glad to say that it has been welcomed by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve).
Amendment No. 229 would require an affirmative resolution of the Scottish Parliament before Scottish Ministers could make a commencement order under part 3. The Scottish Parliament discussed that provision during a debate on the Sewel motion on 24 October. I attended that debate, which I do not believe is true of any of the four SNP Members who are here today. I must tell them that the SNP spokespeople who did attend that debate actually wanted the Bill to be strengthened. The move towards mandatory provision for Scotland takes account of the representations that those spokespeople made, and which were even more eloquently made by my hon. Friends in Committee. As my hon. Friend would doubtless wish to point out, they could have been made by others in Committee too.