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Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I support the amendment.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, we are still not minded to accept the noble Lord's amendment or the recommendations of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform in this respect.

As the noble Lord said, we intend to implement the Second European Money Laundering Directive by a revision of the 1993 Money Laundering Regulations, which will include an extension of the regulations to cover the areas of business specified in the directive. Changes to the regulations will be subject to a full three-month period of consultation. On Report, I said that the regulations—and hence the criminal law—would be amended simply in order to fulfil our international obligations, as set out in the directive, which has, of course, been considered and cleared by scrutiny Committees in both Houses.

At that stage, the noble Lord stated that he was not satisfied with that argument, because the directive did not lay down a requirement as to the length of sentence for failing to report suspected money laundering. I must point out that the European directives and other international documents represent a minimum standard. In order to maintain the strong reputation of our financial sector, the UK must be seen as a leader in the field, with strong, effective anti-money laundering provisions in place.

As set out in paragraphs 84 and 85 of the Home Office's memorandum, the Treasury can, at present, change the definition of business in the regulated sector set out in the Money Laundering Regulations 1993 by order subject to the negative resolution procedure under the European Communities Act 1972. That covers issues such as the requirement to establish systems for suspicious transaction reports, keeping records, undertaking training and appointing designated money laundering reporting officers.

The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, made the point that the European Communities Act could not be used to create offences for which the penalties were more than two years and that we should, therefore, not argue that the Schedule 9 power should have the same procedure as the Money Laundering Regulations, which are made under the European Communities Act and contain only penalties of two years. I still disagree with that line of argument. It is clear that we are not trying to say that the provisions in the Bill are the same as the Money Laundering Regulations. Neither are we creating offences by way of secondary legislation. We would be making changes to what constitutes the regulated sector for the purpose of the Act and changes to the list of supervisory authorities. It has already been accepted that the regulated sector will be extended to additional types of

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business, such as accountants and tax advisers, and that they will, consequently, be subject to the failure to disclose offence and the penalties that that offence attracts.

The important point is that we must ensure that the two definitions of the regulated sector are kept the same for practical purposes. It would not be sensible to have one definition of the regulated sector for the purpose of the Money Laundering Regulations but another definition for the requirement in the Proceeds of Crime Bill to make suspicious transaction reports when there were reasonable grounds to suspect involvement in money laundering.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, that must be the weakest argument ever. After all, the House is used to making identical sets of regulations for, say, England and Wales, on the one hand, and Scotland, on the other. The regulations may be identical, but they will be in different instruments. It is perfectly possible to do exactly the same here.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, it would be perfectly possible to do it, but it is equally possible that it would not be done. It is for the House to judge the strength of the argument. If we make one order subject to affirmative resolution, there would be the potential for the definitions to get out of step, while we wait for the affirmative order to be approved. The amendments would also create the rather odd and undesirable position in which amendments to Part 1 of Schedule 9—the definition of the regulated sector—would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, while amendments to Part 2 of the schedule—the list of supervisory authorities—would be subject to the negative procedure.

I hope that what I have said will reassure the noble Lord and that the amendment will be withdrawn.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, I must take up that final point. I emphasised that the thrust of the amendment was that we should deal with the extension of criminal offences to new groups of people. The Minister says that that does not create new criminal offences, but there are dealers in high value goods who today do not commit an offence by failing to report matters that come to their attention but who tomorrow, when the regulations are passed, will commit a criminal offence if they fail to disclose information. That is creating new criminal offences.

We are wholly unsatisfied with the explanation given. However, for the moment—indeed, for the end of the Bill in this House—we will not press the amendment to a Division. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 45 not moved.]

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.

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Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill

6.35 p.m.

Read a third time.

Clause 46 [Functions of Chief Inspector]:

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No.1:


    Page 28, line 6, at end insert—


"( ) the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, before I speak to the amendment, I shall take a moment of the House's time to thank the Minister and all his team for their care and patience in handling our amendments from day one. We have had many meetings outside the Chamber as well as long and interesting debates in it. I feel—perhaps slightly conceitedly—that the Bill has been given a serious and thorough examination. That examination has been treated courteously, carefully and diligently by the Government.

I return to the amendment. The arguments for the proposed change have been made two or three times. The amendment refers to the remit of the chief inspector of criminal justice and to the areas that he should inspect. There is, as I shall hear shortly from the Minister, common ground between us. We agree that the list is not complete. It is also common ground that there are powers for the Secretary of State to add to the list. However, I must make the point a last time. There are organisations in Northern Ireland that are, clearly, part and parcel of the judicial system. Unlike certain noble Lords, I shall not pick on one. Noble Lords will know that people feel more strongly about some of those organisations than they do about others. I sincerely hope that the logic will bear fruit in due course and that we will see a comprehensive list of organisations that will be inspected by the chief inspector of criminal justice. I beg to move.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: My Lords, I support the amendment, but, before I proceed with the debate, I join the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, in expressing gratitude to the Minister and to his colleague, the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland of Asthal, who, I understand, has to be in Brussels today. Both have been exceedingly courteous.

I hope that, in the passage of the Bill through Committee and Report, we have managed to exchange ideas and concerns to the extent that the Bill will benefit society in Northern Ireland. I listened carefully as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Privy Seal assured us again and again that the Bill would not be implemented or the relevant matters devolved until the situation was right and that nothing would be done that would jeopardise that tender plant, the devolved arrangement in Northern Ireland.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, I am concerned that there are 19 organisations under the scrutiny of the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice, which, despite having been asked as long ago as February to consult and consider that particular matter, have been unable four months later to respond positively. I cannot believe that all 19 organisations

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under consideration have been as reluctant. I therefore cannot understand why names have not been put forward. It appears to me that the Police Ombudsman, whose task is to ensure transparency and openness in terms of policing in Northern Ireland, would not wish to be seen as reluctant to be open and transparent in the way in which her duties and those of her office are carried out.

Will the Minister therefore indicate the reason for four months of wavering and indifference on the part of those organisations, or some of them? Will he at least give your Lordships an assurance that, subsequent to today's proceedings, there will be no opportunity for any of those 19 organisations to opt out of their responsibilities to participate in the scrutiny procedure to which this clause of the Bill relates? It would be a matter of particular concern should any of the organisations be able to say, "We are not prepared to participate in the scrutiny for which this Bill makes provision".

The noble and learned Lord knows that I still have considerable concerns with regard to the remainder of the Bill. However, he has endeavoured to reassure me on many matters. I appreciate the correspondence that I have received from him. I hope that he is able further to reassure me today.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, I am conscious that we are revisiting unfinished business in more ways than one. In that context, I must apologise to your Lordships' House that in my final speech on this matter at Report stage a week ago I appear by some Fawkesian slip to have said "5th November" when I meant to say "5th February", which will have made my speech extremely difficult to follow.

To make sense of what I had made a nonsense, the true chronology was that Mr Browne in Committee in the Commons on 5th February had said that he might complete the consultation that underlies this amendment by Report stage in the Commons. The latter occurred on 4th March, and the noble and learned Lord the Minister revealed on Report here on 1st July that Mr Browne had written to the consultees on 28th February, four days earlier. As we now know, that consultation has still not been completed, four months later. I acknowledge that the bodies already on the face of the Bill had two years of consultation. By comparison, therefore, four months is a bagatelle. Equally, however, Mr Browne's original estimate of four days was perhaps a little optimistic.

As the Bill has moved towards the slipway leading to enactment, another drama has been played in parallel. At this elegiac moment in the Bill's progress, I hope I shall be allowed the indulgence of saying that, however sorry I may be that the Government's consultation in this instance has taken four months and may take up to two years altogether, I am delighted that they have taken longer than the period of less than two weeks taken by Queen's University, Belfast to consult on its decision to end the teaching of

11 Jul 2002 : Column 874

Greek, Latin and classical studies. If any of your Lordships wonder at the relevance of that, some of us who had small parts to play in the 30 years of the Troubles have been aware of their classical resonance. The great Seamus Heaney, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature, even before John Hume and David Trimble won theirs for Peace, adapted a Sophoclean episode from the 20 Homeric years of the Trojan Wars into a contemporary play.

In the 17th century, another era of internecine conflict, Dryden translated the epigrammatic Latin of one of his contemporaries to read,


    "For those whom God to ruin has designed,

He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind". I regret the decision to end classical studies at Queen's University, Belfast, which was a most distinguished department. Of course, I do not lay that at the Government's door, but I hope that their consultation has a happier outcome than the one I have just described.


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