HC Deb 20 October 1972 vol 843 cc652-3

Lords Amendment: No. 3, in page 5, line 41, leave out "and".

Mr. Carlisle

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it would be convenient if we discuss at the same time Lords Amendments Nos. 4, 5, 7—which is a new clause entitled "Recovery of assets for criminal bankrupt's estate"—and Nos. 31 to No. 34.

Mr. Speaker

So be it, if that is the will of the House.

Mr. Carlisle

This looks a formidable Lords Amendment, but I hope that it will not take much longer to introduce it than it would take to read the Amendment as it stands on the Notice Paper.

The Amendment deals with provisions for unravelling transactions in relation to the new provisions of criminal bankruptcy by substituting provisions which were originally in paragraphs 9 to 11 of Schedule 1.

The Bill as originally drafted gave the trustee in a criminal bankruptcy a title to the criminal bankrupt's estate dating back to the beginning of the criminal proceedings, which would be the date of the issue of the writ, the summons or, I suppose, the arrest. It was hoped that this would be a means of avoiding the salting away of the assets by the person who was being charged. It was always appreciated, however, that it did not touch the period between the commission of the offence and the commencement of proceedings. At the same time it might well have adversely affected the rights of innocent third parties during the period from the commencement of proceedings until the date of conviction.

Therefore the intention of the Amendment is to leave the trustee's title on the basis that it exists in ordinary bankruptcy, namely on the date of the act of bankruptcy, namely, for these purposes, the date of the conviction by the criminal court. It will strengthen the powers available for unravelling previous transactions by giving the High Court power to set aside any disposition made by a criminal bankrupt at any time after the commission of the offence which is by gift or under-value afterwards of a type which is suspected of being made with the object of frustrating the effects of the criminal bankruptcy.

Ordinary bankruptcy law provides that the trustee's title to the bankrupt's estate shall be from the first date of bankruptcy. That will now apply to a criminal bankruptcy. I hope that the steps we have taken will make more effective and be a substantial improvement upon our original proposals to strengthen the power of unravelling any moves deliberately taken with an attempt to frustrate the effect of the bankruptcy order.

It is a complicated provision but I do not think I need say any more about it at this stage except perhaps that the court in future will have to specify what would be the operative date to which the trustee could go back. That, of course, will be the date of the commission of the offence or the date of the commission of the first of a series of offences, if it be a series of offences. I shall willingly try to answer any questions on the Amendments.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.

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