Proceeds of Crime Bill

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Mr. Grieve: I think that the hon. Gentleman and I are still slightly at cross purposes. If one were to specify the existence of a tort based solely on a breach of observance of the code, it would be necessary to consider specifying statutory exceptions and the precise circumstances in which that tort could be established. That is why I am not in favour of going down that road, and I do not suggest it. However, I do suggest that it ought to be possible, when a breach of the code by an officer has been sufficiently flagrant—and possibly with motives underlying it—for a person to bring civil proceedings based upon a failure to observe the code. That is what subsection (6) is trying to exclude. Because I believe in a flexible legal system, I do not see why we should do that.

Mr. Stinchcombe: The circumstances that the hon. Gentleman describes would surely amount to misfeasance in public office, in respect of which breach of the code would be admissible in evidence under subsection (7).

Mr. Grieve: I agree. Suppose that the hon. Gentleman wished to bring a claim, on behalf of a client or for himself, against an officer for misfeasance in public office, it would be possible—if I understand the wording of the clause, although I do find it a rather

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odd argument—to say that one of the things that he had done had been to breach the code. However, that on its own would not be sufficient to found a course of action. Other things done by the officer would have to be identified in order to maintain the claim. I do not see why subsection (6) needs to be there at all. That is why I invite the Committee to vote for its deletion, and I do not intend to withdraw the amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 4, Noes 13.

Division No. 22]

Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Wilshire, Mr. David

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Ainsworth, Mr. Bob
Brooke, Annette
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Clark, Mrs Helen
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Harris, Mr. Tom
Lazarowicz, Mr. Mark
Lucas, Ian
McCabe, Mr. Stephen
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
Robertson, John
Stinchcombe, Mr. Paul

Question accordingly negatived.

The Chairman, being of the opinion that the principle of the clause and any matters arising thereon had been adequately discussed in the course of debate on the amendments proposed thereto, forthwith put the Question, pursuant to Standing Orders Nos. 68 and 89, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Question agreed to.

Clause 291 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

        Further consideration adjourned.—[Mrs. McGuire.]

        Adjourned accordingly at one minute to Seven o'clock, till Thursday 10 January at five minutes to Nine o'clock.

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The following Members attended the Committee:
Gale, Mr. Roger (Chairman)
Ainsworth, Mr. Bob
Brooke, Mrs.
Carmichael, Mr.
Clark, Mrs. Helen
David, Mr.
Davidson, Mr.
Grieve, Mr.
Harris, Mr. Tom
Hawkins, Mr.
Hesford, Stephen

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Johnson, Mr. Boris
Lazarowicz, Mr.
Lucas, Ian
McCabe, Mr.
McGuire, Mrs.
Robertson, John
Stinchcombe, Mr.
Stoate, Dr.
Watson, Mr.
Wilshire, Mr.

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