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The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, again raises the valuation that banks are placing on consumer credit debt. I can assure him that the FSA forms a view on the adequacy of the marking of all assets by regulated banks to ensure that they represent a true and fair view of the recoverable amount from the credit card borrower in respect of the issues that he raised. Of course, the FSA also makes use here of peer review to attempt to ensure consistency across the industry.

The noble Lord, Lord Oakeshott, referred to the fact that credit card debt is unsecured, but we also had the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, referring to securitisation. Here we have again the complexity of the banking industry which securitises the unsecured. I continue to hold my view that packaging for disposal to someone interested in recovery represents a placing of a debt within a security structure or package. But securitisation is a term which is normally used in creating a tradable instrument. However, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, and I can both go away from this evening's debate content that our understanding is correct and that we are both using the term correctly, albeit to describe something rather different.

I also note the contribution made to the debate by the noble Lord, Lord James of Blackheath. I was for a while a director of a company which issued credit cards. The noble Lord asked whether twitchers represent safer credit exposure. I imagine that they probably do: the people who are drawn to the rural habits of sitting and watching birds are probably likely to be the type who are more diligent in meeting their obligations than some of those who specialise in other sports or recreational activities.

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay: Perhaps the noble Lord might like to apply for a Liberal Democrat credit card, as I have here. It is an excellent product.

Lord Myners: The noble Lord, Lord Oakeshott, referred to the fact that his children were being inundated with offers of credit cards. My own children are being inundated with offers to support the local Liberal candidate in the constituency in which they live in south-west London, which just goes to show that we should regard anything which comes through the letterbox with some caution and scepticism. However, I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment. I praise his attention to and focus on this issue and do so in the knowledge that he will come back to it if he is not happy as the story unfolds, regardless of which side of the House he may be joining the debate from.

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Lord Marlesford: I am most grateful to the noble Lord for his very full answer, which I shall study carefully. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 302 withdrawn.

Amendments 303 to 305 not moved.

Amendments 306 to 310 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Clause 28 agreed.

Clause 29 : Power to require FSCS manager to act in relation to other schemes

Amendment 311

Moved by Lord Myners

311: Clause 29, page 40, line 29, at end insert-

"(9) This Part applies to cases where the manager of the relevant scheme is the Treasury or any other Minister of the Crown as it applies to cases where that manager is any other person."

Lord Myners: Clause 29 inserts new sections into the FSMA Act 2000 to allow the FSCS to act on behalf of another scheme or authority, including a foreign compensation scheme. The purpose of the measure is to ensure that compensation can always be made quickly and effectively to claimants in cases where the FSCS is not responsible for paying the compensation itself. A crucial requirement is of course that acting for another scheme should not impose additional costs on the FSCS and its levy payers. Clause 29 therefore includes a number of provisions to ensure that the FSCS will take on minimal financial risk.

These include provisions that allow the FSCS to decline to act for another scheme if it is not satisfied that additional costs would be reimbursed or that it would not receive the assistance it needs from the other scheme. Government Amendment 311 is a minor technical change to put beyond doubt that these provisions will not apply to the FSCS if it is asked to act on an ad hoc basis for the Treasury or another government department, and therefore ensures that the FSCS would not have any more exposure in such cases than if it was acting on behalf of a foreign scheme. I beg to move.

Amendment 311 agreed.

Amendments 312 to 322 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Clause 29, as amended, agreed.

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Clause 30 : Information relating to financial stability

Amendment 322A

Moved by Lord Myners

322A: Clause 30, page 46, leave out lines 18 to 20 and insert-

"(5) In this section "the financial system" includes-

(a) financial markets and exchanges;

(b) activities that would be regulated activities if carried on in the United Kingdom; and

(c) other activities connected with financial markets and exchanges.""

Amendment 322A agreed.

Amendments 323 to 329 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Clause 30, as amended, agreed.

Clauses 31 to 36 agreed.

Schedule 2 : Minor and consequential amendments

Amendment 330

Moved by Lord Myners

330: Schedule 2, page 63, line 31, at end insert-

"25A In section 348(5)(d) (restrictions on disclosure of confidential information by Authority etc), after "a person appointed" insert "to collect or update information under section 139E or"."

Amendment 330 agreed.

Amendments 330A and 330B not moved.

Amendments 331 and 332 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed.

Clause 37 agreed.

Clause 38 : Commencement

Amendment 332A

Moved by Lord Myners

332A: Clause 38, page 50, line 16, leave out "sections 1 to 5" and insert "section 5"

Lord Myners: As I explained earlier the Government, following discussions with the Opposition via the usual channels, have agreed to remove a number of clauses from the Bill. Amendments 332A to 334 make necessary consequential amendments to these removals. The amendments simply delete from the Bill some references to the clauses that have been removed. I beg to move.

Amendment 332A agreed.

7 Apr 2010 : Column 1540

Amendments 332B to 334

Moved by Lord Myners

332B: Clause 38, page 50, line 20, leave out "8 to" and insert "9 and"

332C: Clause 38, page 50, line 21, leave out paragraph (e)

333: Clause 38, page 50, line 33, leave out second "to" and insert ", 26,"

333A: Clause 38, page 50, line 34, leave out first "to" and insert "and"

334: Clause 38, page 50, line 42, after "20," insert "25A,"

Amendments 332B to 334 agreed.

Amendment 335 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Clause 38, as amended, agreed.

Amendment 336 not moved.

Clause 39 agreed.

House resumed.

Bill reported with amendments.

Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill

First Reading

7.26 pm

The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Appropriation Bill

First Reading

7.26 pm

The Bill was brought from the Commons, endorsed as a money Bill, and read a first time.

Crime and Security Bill

Bill Main Page
Copy of the Bill
Explanatory Notes

Committee (and remaining stages)

7.27 pm

Clause 1 agreed.

Amendment 1

Moved by Lord Marlesford

1: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause-

"Power to search for firearms

If a police constable has reason to believe that a person or persons in a particular area may be carrying firearms, he may arrange-

(a) for that area to be sealed off; and

(b) for the searching for firearms of any people or vehicles in that particular area, by whatever means he considers appropriate."

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, this proposal is not new. I brought it forward on 9 October 2006 as an amendment to the Police and Justice Bill. It was voted on and very nearly accepted, having received support from all parties, particularly the Liberal Democrat party. The result of the vote was contents 93 and not-contents 101. The essence of the proposal is to make it absolutely clear that the police have the right

7 Apr 2010 : Column 1541

to get guns off the streets of our cities and towns. They already have many powers, as has been referred to in previous debates on this subject, but the point of this amendment is that it would make it unequivocally clear to everyone that the police have that right.

Since October 2006, when I last raised the issue, the need for this legislation has become all the more important. Sadly, the extent of gun crime has not really reduced, while in many areas knife crime has actually increased. This amendment is not being put forward on the basis of knife crime, but the same methods by which the police would ensure that guns are not on the street-the use of non-intrusive metal detectors, whether they be arches set up in the street in an area that the police wish to check through which everyone has to pass, or hand-held metal detectors-would be the same. Unlike drugs, which are hard to find without using much more intrusive and controversial methods of searching, it should be possible to make it almost as risky to carry a weapon such as a gun or a knife on the streets as it would be for any of us to attempt to take these objects through an airport and on to an aeroplane in this country. The technology exists, and what is needed is the expectation that it is risky to carry a gun in this country, with the corollary being that of carrying a knife.

There have been so many tragic cases reported since October 2009. One of the most recent, of which all noble Lords will be aware, was that poor young person who was knifed to death outside Victoria station. I am not saying that my proposal would instantly end all such crime, but if it were possible for the police to search without having to go through the other, elaborate legislation that in many circumstances allows searches to be made, and if there were a blanket provision and it were used sensibly, sensitively and intuitively, using good intelligence, I believe that it would be possible greatly to reduce the extent to which people took the risk of carrying a gun or a knife. That is why I recommend it to your Lordships.

I intended to bring this amendment forward had we had a longer opportunity to discuss this important Bill, but it is none the less desirable that we should consider it today. I beg to move.

7.30 pm

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: My Lords, I have supported my noble friend in this amendment on more than one occasion, and I do not believe that any of the circumstances-and they were very powerful ones-that justified that support have diminished in the intervening period. It is important that we should do whatever we practically can to stimulate public confidence in the criminal justice system, and this amendment ought to be carried.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, we congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, on the efforts that he has put into bringing this issue to your Lordships. I was not the holder of my current portfolio on the previous occasion, but my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford congratulated him on,

7 Apr 2010 : Column 1542

and on,

My noble friend went to say that at that time, during the proceedings on the Serious Crime Act 2007,

"We on these Benches are, for the moment, happy with the position that the Government have reached due to his efforts".-[Official Report, 24/10/07; col. 1113.]

I have not had an opportunity to talk to my noble friend today, but having congratulated the noble Lord as I have done, and sharing his concerns about gun crime, I have a number of concerns about the proposed new clause, which seems to be wide. The term "police constable" could mean any officer, while having "reason to believe" and,

are also wide.

How much of what the noble Lord provides in his amendment is not possible now? Paragraph (a) provides for the area to be "sealed off". I am not quite sure what that means, but one has frequently observed that the police block roads when they need to do so. I am not sure what the implication of that wording is. Paragraph (b) talks of,

Again, I am not sure what that might encompass-it seems to be wide. Both people and vehicles are searched now, and we have had many debates on the issue.

While expressing the concerns that I have, I ask the noble Lord if he can tell the Committee what, within the points that he raises, is not possible now.

Baroness Neville-Jones: My Lords, my noble friend is pursuing an important point and we wish to seek clarity on it. My queries are much the same as those that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has just raised. Some of the powers that the amendment would bring should be ones that the police already have. We would be grateful if the Minister could clarify what he believes the position to be and confirm whether that is the case.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My Lords, we believe that the amendment is unnecessary as the circumstances described are already covered by the powers in Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. An amendment to Section 60, made by the Serious Crime Act 2007, extended the powers to add a further circumstance in which they can be used-namely, where a serious violent incident has occurred, the police believe that the weapon used in the incident is being carried in the locality and it is expedient to give an authorisation to find the weapon.

Notwithstanding the good intentions of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, I also have to say that we consider his proposal to be rather sweeping, as the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Neville-Jones, have touched on, and lacking in the appropriate level of safeguards for those who might be searched under the power. There is also the issue of the area being covered, as well as a number of other items. On the basis that the powers sought by the noble Lord's

7 Apr 2010 : Column 1543

amendment are already largely available to the police, and due to our other concerns, I ask him to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, that is exactly the response that I expected. It is the response that I got last time; indeed, even the same legislation was referred to. I said then, and I repeat now, that one of the problems-this is made clear on the Home Office website-is that gun control law is extremely complicated. I seek a simple general provision.

In answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, of course there are important considerations to be taken into account about how that provision would be used, but then that is something that police officers and others responsible for maintaining law and order have to do every day. All I want is, mainly, to persuade the public that there is provision for any detectable weapon that is carried.

The noble Baroness asked me about the method. I said in my opening remarks that the main method that I envisage is metal detectors, a non-intrusive way of checking. I was asked about sealing off streets. Sometimes that would mean sealing off areas; sometimes not. The sort of thing that I imagine would be practical is that if there were a club in which it was felt that people might have weapons, the police could check everyone coming out of it and then, if people had become aware that this was happening and had left their weapons behind, there could be an appropriate search to pick them up. They could open the lavatory cisterns, for example, and if someone had taped a gun in there, that would be a plus.

I am seeking to provide for the police-using the common sense, sensitivity and imagination that I believe they have-the facility to do this in a way that the public were aware that they had the right, and would expect them, to do. As I said at the beginning, my main objective is to make it a great deal more risky for people to carry such weapons on the streets in this country.

Having said that, of course I did not expect at this stage, during the wash-up, that the Government would be able to accept this amendment. I hope to return to it in due course, but meanwhile I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Clauses 2 to 13 agreed.

Amendment 2

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

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