Joint Committee On Human Rights Twenty-First Report

Private Members Bills

Criminal Evidence (Prohibition of Sale) Bill

15. The Criminal Evidence (Prohibition of Sale) Bill,[17] is a Private Member's Bill introduced by Mr Parmjit Dhanda MP and others. It therefore does not carry a statement of compatibility under section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

16. The Bill would make it an offence for any person to offer for sale any evidence (whether in the form of oral testimony, pre-trial statements and affidavits, or real evidence and exhibits) which has been either gathered for the purpose of criminal investigations or used in criminal proceedings. Clause 2 would allow the Crown to assign copyright in evidence used in criminal proceedings. The Bill raises serious issues in relation to the right to enjoyment of possession (ECHR Protocol No.1, Article 1) and the right of freedom of expression (ECHR Art. 10).

17. Clause 1 would prevent the owner of property gathered for investigation purposes or used in criminal proceedings from ever selling the property. It is hard to see how this could be said to strike a fair balance between the rights of the owner and the general interest. It would be likely to be incompatible with ECHR Protocol No.1, Article 1.

18. Clause 2 contemplates a power for the Crown to assign copyright in material when, as a matter of law, the Crown may not own the copyright. This would be likely to lead to an unjustifiable interference with both the right to freedom of expression (ECHR Art. 10) and the right to enjoyment of possessions (ECHR Protocol No.1, Article 1) of the copyright owner.

19. The Committee wrote to Mr Dhanda on the 22 May[18] outlining our concerns and asking for a response by 11 June. We did not receive one and the Bill has since been dropped before it received its Second Reading. However, the Bill was printed and we have stated our intention to scrutinise every Bill that is introduced to the Parliament, and to that end we are publishing our concerns relating to the Bill.

20. The Bill has subsequently been reintroduced as the Criminal Evidence (Prohibition of Sale)(No.2) Bill by Dr Julian Lewis MP and others[19]. The concerns raised for the Bill in the first instance remain for the second.

Bills Considered and Cleared

21. We have considered the following Private Members' Bills since our last report, and consider that they do not require to be drawn to the special attention of either House on human rights grounds.

22. The list includes several Bills that have been re-introduced, in much the same way as the Criminal Evidence (Prohibition of Sale)(No.2) Bill mentioned above. As they did not appear to raise any human rights implications to the Committee, the first time, and the content of the Bills has remained the same, we see no reason not to include them here.

Alcohol Services [House of Commons Bill 124]
Animal Sanctuaries (Licensing) (No.2) [House of Commons Bill 168]
Control of Fireworks (No.2) [House of Commons Bill 172]
Environmental Audit (No.2) [House of Commons Bill 173]
Firearms (Amendment) (No.2) [House of Commons Bill 179]
Food Safety (Amendment) [House of Commons Bill 161]
Health (Air Travellers) (No.2) [House of Commons 165]
Home Safety [House of Commons Bill 140]
Litter and Fouling of Land by Dogs (No.2) [House of Commons Bill 170]
Prescriptions (Chronic Diseases) [House of Commons Bill 151]
Private Hire Vehicles (Carriage of Guide Dogs Etc) [House of Commons Bill 62]
Public Services (Disruption) [House of Lords Bill 73]
Rape Consent [House of Commons Bill 182]
Regulation of Child Care Providers [House of Commons Bill 140]
Shops [House of Commons Bill 160]
Telecommunications Transmitters (Restrictions on Planning Applications) (No.2) [House of Commons Bill 166]
Traveller Law Reform [House of Commons Bill 171]
Vaccination of Children (Parental Choice) [House of Commons Bill 122]
Waste (No.2) [House of Commons Bill 162]

Private Bills

City of London (Ward Elections) Bill

23. The Committee first reported on this Bill in our Fourteenth Report.[20] The Committee received a letter from Lord Avebury, dated 28 June,[21] asking the Committee to look again at the Bill on behalf of a resident of the City of London. The Chairman has written to Lord Avebury, responding to the matters he raised. The letter is printed as an Appendix.[22]

17   HC Bill 109 Back

18   See p Ev 7 Back

19   HC Bill 181, Criminal Evidence (Prohibition of Sale)(No.2) Bill 01/02 Back

20   Fourteenth Report, Session 2001-02, Scrutiny of Bills: Private Members' Bills and Private Bills, HL Paper 93/HC 674  Back

21   See pp Ev 7-Ev 9 Back

22   See p Ev 9 Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 26 July 2002