Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill

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Mr. Heath: Would there be a requirement on the principal company to list the supplier companies by name in an application for an injunction, or could the application cover any company in a contractual relationship with it, so that it would not need to return to court every time that a new supplier was taken on?

Caroline Flint: I shall check the detail on that point and notify the hon. Gentleman, if that is all right.

A person, in relation to an injunction, includes a body corporate, but it is individuals rather than companies who are the victims of harassment. My understanding is that the term ''person'' would included university institutions as well. I think that that is how the matter stands, but I shall check.

We are trying to bear down on aspects of the matter where there are gaps and problems. One of the difficulties in dealing with animal rights extremists is that they are very canny in identifying loopholes and gaps in the system. The clause is important, but it is also important that it should anticipate future similar activity by other groups. That is why the provisions are
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not confined to dealing with those involved in animal rights extremism.

Without the changes, it would remain uncertain whether companies could apply for injunctive relief under the 1997 Act. It would also be more difficult for the police and prosecutors to charge and prosecute those who harassed employees of different companies, as they would have to show that an extremist pursued a course of conduct that amounted to harassment of the same individual on at least two occasions. The provisions will help the police.

Amendment No. 341 does not add anything to the drafting. The term ''may be'' is no wider than the term ''may be reasonably considered to be''. A person who may be a victim of harassment will clearly already be someone who is reasonably considered to be a victim of harassment. One of the issues is recognition of the wide group of victims that we are considering. A niece
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of the Hall family of Darley Oaks was harassed while working in a pub. I understand that every window of the pub was smashed and she had to leave her job.

There have been instances of harassment of social organisations to which people working for animal research companies, either directly or in supply, belong. The chairman of the local golf club or other association, or a charity that someone is involved with, has been seen as a potential pressure point on the individual who provides supplies for or is directly involved in the research. I understand people's sensitivities about civil liberties and about how wide the provision is going, but it is a matter of the context.

        It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

        Adjourned till this day at half-past Two o'clock.

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