HL Deb 07 July 2000 vol 614 cc1750-1

1.31 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 12th June be approved [22nd Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am pleased to speak to this order which, when approved, will help to combat the serious offence of counterfeiting currency. All currencies should be protected against the activities of counterfeiters whose activities attack not only financial transactions but can also threaten the very stability of a state.

Developments in technology mean that criminal activities can cross national borders with increasing ease and rapidity. It is essential that law enforcers can do the same.

It is here that UK legislation, which is otherwise comprehensive and effective, needs amendment to enable us to participate more fully with our European partners in the fight against counterfeiting. The kind of technological developments to which I have already referred mean that the offence of manufacturing counterfeit currency can be carried out in more than one jurisdiction. For example, someone in the UK may design on a computer part of an image intended to be printed on a counterfeit note. He can then send it electronically to a "colleague" or co-conspirator abroad for the work to be completed.

It is this kind of scenario which the present amendment is designed to address. The order will enable us to prosecute in England and Wales any offence of counterfeiting where a "relevant event"—in other words, any element which contributes to the offence—takes place within England and Wales. This kind of jurisdiction is already in place for other offences of dishonesty, such as theft, fraud and forgery, which are listed in Part I of the 1993 Act. It will also enable us to participate fully in the implementation of the EU Framework Decision on counterfeiting currency which was adopted in May of this year.

I should stress at this point that these counterfeiting offences apply to all legally issued currencies: the US dollar, the Swiss franc and the Spanish peseta are all equally protected by our legislation. There is no question of this amending order giving extra protection to any one currency over and above any other.

For the reason that this amendment will enable the UK to participate effectively in combating the serious offence of forgery at an international level, I urge noble Lords to approve the order. I commend it to the House.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 12th June be approved [22nd Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

Viscount Bridgeman

My Lords, I am happy to agree to this order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.