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Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Member for West Derbyshire (Mr. McLoughlin). I am also grateful to the hon. Member for Reading, West (Mr. Salter) for having come to the Chair to confess his sin. He made an error that should not be perpetrated by hon. Members, and I assure the House that his name has not been counted in the tally that we have just heard, and that it will not be shown in the record of the vote.
Amendment made: No. 111, in page 207, line 42, leave out subsection (5).[Mr. Foulkes.]
Amendments made: No. 98, in page 214, line 10, leave out subsection (1).
No. 99, in page 214, line 28, at end insert
'(8) This section does not apply to orders made in England and Wales for the purposes of a civil recovery investigation.'.[Mr. Foulkes.]
Amendment made: No. 165, in page 217, line 9, leave out from "privilege" to end of line 10.[Mr. Foulkes.]
Amendment made: No. 100, in page 233, line 26, leave out paragraph (c) and insert
'(c) any property in respect of which an order under section 131(3) is in force;'.[Mr. Foulkes.]
'(1) Section 18 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (restrictions on disclosure of information for overseas purposes) applies to a disclosure of information authorised by section 429(1)(a) or (b) or 433(1)(a) or (b).
Mr. Foulkes: I am pleased to be at the Dispatch Box, even at this late hour. I was beginning to feel a bit redundantalmost superfluous, even a supernumerary. However, I am glad that I now have the opportunity to move new clause 10.
New clause 10 would bring the powers in clauses 429 and 433 to disclose information for the purposes of an overseas criminal investigation or overseas criminal proceedings within the scope of section 18 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. Section 18 of that Act provides power for the Secretary of State to issue a direction to restrict disclosure of information for overseas purposes. The power may be exercised when it appears to the Secretary of State that the overseas investigation or proceeding relates to a matter in which it would be more appropriate for any investigation to be carried out by the authorities of the United Kingdom or a third country.
We believe that if the Secretary of State makes such a direction in respect of the bodies covered by the 2001 Act, the restriction should also apply to the director, the Lord Advocate or the Scottish Ministers when they make a disclosure in relation to overseas criminal investigations and proceedings. It would not be consistent to allow for such a disclosure to be made under the Bill, when other bodies might be prevented from disclosing information.
Clause 429(1) sets out the purposes for which the director may disclose information. Amendments Nos. 69 and 70 would delete the paragraphs that would allow the disclosure of information for the purposes of a criminal investigation or for criminal proceedings, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.
When we discussed this issue in Committee, the concern was that clause 429(1)(a) and (b) would mean an increase in the powers of the law enforcement authorities, in particular that they could be passed information obtained under powers that were not available to them but were available to the director. I recall that debate, as I am sure that the hon. Member for Spelthorne and others do. We said in Committee that we would reflect further on whether this concern was covered by the judicial approval that is required for the exercise of the director's powers.
I can now tell the House that we are not convinced that there is the scope for abuse suggested in Committee, in terms of cases being referred to the director with the intention of the director using his powers for the benefit of the law enforcement agencies. There will be memorandums of understanding about the cases to be taken on by the director, and any abuse of the powers would soon become evident. The director can only act within his powers, so he can seek the part 8 orders only to help with the exercise of his functions. All these orders are subject to judicial oversightan extra safeguardand it is very unlikely that an order would be granted if it were sought for the wrong reason.
We certainly do not agree that the director should be prevented from disclosing any information for the purposes of a criminal investigation or proceedings, which would be the effect of the amendments. That would prevent the passing of information obtained through means unavailable to the law enforcement agencies, which seems unnecessary. Buthaving, perhaps, been unhelpful to Conservative Members on that matterwe accept that there is concern that, under the Bill as it stands, information obtained by the director under a disclosure order could be disclosed to the law enforcement authorities.
The disclosure order is a particularly far-reaching power; it is granted to the director alone, solely for use in confiscation and civil recovery investigations. We accept that there is an issue with the idea that information that the law enforcement authorities could not have obtained through the exercise of their own powers might be made available to them through disclosure by the director. We therefore propose that restrictions should be placed on the disclosure of information that the director has obtained under a disclosure order, so that it could not be disclosed for the purposes at clause 429(1)(a) and (b). I can tell the Conservative spokesman that we will consider further whether such information obtained under a disclosure order should still be disclosed for the other purposes set out at clause 429(1).
It has not been possible in the time between Committee and Report to table an amendment to achieve this. We need, for example, to ensure that any amendment takes account of the limited uses to which information disclosed in a disclosure order can be put in criminal cases by virtue of the provisions of part 8 of the Bill. But I can assure hon. Members that we intend to table such an amendment in another place. I hope, in the light of that, that hon. Members will not press amendments Nos. 69 and 70 to a vote.
Amendments Nos. 237 to 250, 252 and 254 all relate to how the information disclosure provisions in part 10 will operate in Scotland. I shall start with amendment No. 237 as it stands. [Laughter.] I am sorry. I was slightly distracted then. I was about to say that I was pleased to see the three hon. Members from the Scottish National party here today, as we did not see them in Committee.
Mr. Weir: I am sorry that the Minister has interrupted his speech to make such a cheap shot, but I am not at all surprised. This just proves that he was quite correct to predict his redundancy at the start of his speech.