1. This bill covers a number of subjects:
- mutual assistance in criminal matters;
- terrorist acts: extra-territorial jurisdiction;
- recognition of other countries' driving disqualifications;
- implementation of various provisions of the Schengen
Convention (police co-operation, extradition and data protection);
- facilitating the EU Framework Decision on non-cash
means of payment.
These topics are summarised at paragraphs 14 to 19
of the Explanatory Notes printed with the bill.
2. This report deals with the Henry VIII provisions
in the bill and other provisions which the Committee wishes to
draw to the attention of the House.
3. There are Henry VIII powers in clauses 58(7),
60(4), 64(2), 65(2) and 91.
4. Clauses 58(7), 60(4), 64(2), 65(2) are limited
to postponing the start of the period during which a person is
disqualified from driving in the United Kingdom because of a foreign
disqualification; and to specifying a longer period for production
of a driving licence. Both the delegation and the level of scrutiny
(regulations subject to negative procedure) seem appropriate.
5. Clause 91 enables the Secretary of State or
the Scottish Ministers, by order, to make
- any supplementary, incidental or consequential
- any transitory, transitional or saving provision,
considered necessary or expedient for the purposes
of, or in consequence of, or for giving full effect to any provision
of the bill. By clause 91(3) amending or repealing provisions
of Acts is permitted. An example of the possible use of this power
is given at paragraph 34 of the Home Office's Memorandum to the
Committee. While we consider that negative procedure is sufficient
for amendments to secondary legislation, we recommend that affirmative
procedure should apply to amendments to Acts of Parliament because
of the importance of the subject-matter of the bill.
6. Clause 52(2)(b) allows the Secretary of State,
by order subject to negative procedure, to designate any country
as a "participating country" for the purposes of Part
1 of the Bill. That country would then be treated in the same
way as member states of the European Union for the purposes of
the provisions of the bill about service of process (clauses 4
and 6), freezing orders (clauses 10 to 12 and 20 to 25), hearing
witnesses by telephone (clause 31) and obtaining information about
bank accounts (Chapter 4 of Part I). The Department explains in
their Memorandum the need for this provision. However, we draw
to the attention of the House the fact that the power is not expressly
limited, in the case of service of process and obtaining information
about bank accounts, to countries that participate in the Mutual
Legal Assistance Convention or Protocol or, in the case of freezing
orders, to countries that become member states of the European
Union at some time in the future. So, as it stands, any country
could in theory be designated using this provision. Unless
the Government brings forward an amendment which would restrict
the scope of this power, we recommend that it should be subject
to affirmative procedure.
7. In clause 27, the Treasury is given power
by order to provide that functions conferred on the Secretary
of State may be exercisable by the Commissioner of Customs and
Excise. The Department's memorandum does not explain why this
power is exercisable by the Treasury rather than by the Secretary
of State. There may be reasons for this, and the Committee
considers that the Government should provide an explanation for
this form of delegation.
8. With the exceptions discussed in paragraphs
5-7 above the powers in the bill are appropriately delegated and
subject to an appropriate degree of Parliamentary control.