HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 cc138-9
25. Mrs. Rosemary McKenna (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth)

What advice she has given on the implications of the Privy Council decision in the case of McIntosh. [150761]

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Dr. Lynda Clark)

I give advice to various Departments on various matters. In relation to the McIntosh case, which concerned a confiscation order following conviction for a serious drugs offence, I presented arguments to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in January. On 5 February, their lordships delivered their judgment and decided that the current legislation was compatible with the European convention on human rights.

Mrs. McKenna

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that answer. Does she agree that that is an important decision for human rights legislation and particularly for the campaign against drugs in the whole of the United Kingdom? Will she advise the House of the main arguments advanced in the case?

The Advocate-General

I considered the case an important one. It was a challenge to the statutory scheme that succeeded at first instance and had implications for the rest of the United Kingdom, where similar legislation exists. The main arguments, which were advanced over about two days in the Judicial Committee, were that the presumption of innocence in article 6(2) of the convention did not apply to the making of a confiscation order following conviction, and that, even if it did, the statutory assumptions were within the reasonable limits permitted and, therefore, lawful. It took us a considerable time to develop those rather basic arguments, but the judgment is now available if anyone would like to examine it in detail.