HC Deb 30 October 2002 vol 391 cc944-6

Lords amendment: No. 148, in page 166, line 13, at end insert—

"() In subsection (1) the reference to an enactment includes a reference to an enactment contained in —

  1. (a) an Act of the Scottish Parliament;
  2. (b) Northern Ireland legislation;
  3. (c) subordinate legislation."

Miss Melanie Johnson

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may discuss Lords amendments Nos. 149 to 155.

Miss Johnson

The amendments all relate to the information exchange provisions in part 9 of the Bill. Lords Amendments Nos. 148, 149 and 150 are minor technical amendments to clause 233. Lords amendments Nos. 148 and 149 ensure that the definition of "enactment" in clause 233 can include Scottish and Northern Ireland legislation, and subordinate legislation. That is to ensure that the Scottish and Northern Ireland legislation can be added to schedule 14 by order after Royal Assent, and so brought within part 9.

Lords Amendment No. 150 ensures that the order-making powers in both subsections (1)(c) and (4) of clause 233 are subject to negative resolution procedure. Subsection (5) of clause 233 of the Bill as it left this House referred only to the power to amend schedule 14 in subsection (4).

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire)

Why does Lords amendment No. 148 not include a reference to a resolution of the Welsh Assembly?

Miss Johnson

I may have to undertake to write to the right hon. Gentleman on the point that he has raised. I cannot answer that point now, but I am grateful to him for raising it.

Lords Amendments Nos. 151 and 152 bring the disclosure gateway for criminal proceedings in part 9 into line with the equivalent gateway in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. Amendment No. 151 amends the gateway to allow disclosure to "any person" for the purposes of criminal proceedings. We made that change after listening to concerns expressed by the Local Authorities Co-ordinating body on Regulatory Services—LACORS—and the Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Piracy that part 9 would have prevented trading standards from disclosing information to consumers and private bodies to assist them in bringing private prosecutions. Industry bodies in particular have used such information to assist with successful private prosecutions for copyright theft. We do not wish to prevent such cases being taken in future, and saw no reason why the gateway for criminal proceedings in this Bill should be any narrower than that in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

8.15 pm

To accompany the widening of the gateway for criminal proceedings, we have introduced an additional safeguard which must be taken into consideration by a public authority before information is disclosed under the gateway. Lords Amendment No. 152 therefore adds a requirement that, before disclosing information for the purposes of UK criminal proceedings, the disclosing authority must have satisfied itself that the disclosure is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by it. This amendment responds to one tabled in the Lords Committee and, together with amendment No. 186, brings clause 237 into line with the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

Lords Amendment No. 153 responds to two important recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights to ensure that the provisions on overseas disclosure are subject to tighter safeguards. First, the Committee recommended that the considerations that will be used by UK public authorities when making decisions on whether to disclose information to overseas authorities should be placed on the face of the Bill. Secondly, the Committee recommended that the criteria should include a consideration on whether the disclosure being contemplated would be proportionate to a pressing social need which the disclosure would address, and whether the matter for which disclosure is sought is sufficiently serious to justify disclosure. Amendment No. 153 therefore adds to clause 238 a set of considerations to which an authority must have regard before disclosing information to an overseas authority.

Mr. Bellingham

In the other place, there was some discussion about the different rules pertaining to British overseas territories. Can the Minister elaborate on whether they will be treated any differently from other countries?

Miss Johnson

I would be grateful for a reference to the report of the debate in the other place in which those matters were considered, because I am not familiar with the point that the hon. Gentleman makes.

On disclosure to overseas authorities, amendment No. 154 will ensure that legislation which is to be specified for the purposes of Community or domestic infringements in part 8 will fall within the definition of "relevant legislation". That will enable public authorities in the UK to disclose information to overseas authorities where those authorities wish to carry out investigations or bring civil proceedings under their equivalent legislation.

If the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham) could supply me with the details of the point that he has just made, I hope to be able to reply to it.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 149 to 155 agreed to.

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