§ Mr. Steen
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 19 October,Official Report, column 262, when he expects to secure the £20 million which is still outstanding and which has been ordered to be confiscated under the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986; what proposals he intends to introduce to improve the confiscation procedures of the Act; and what additional guidance will be provided to magistrates courts by his Department.
Mr. John M. Taylor
I have been asked to reply.
The Criminal Justice Bill currently before Parliament, for which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department has lead responsibility, contains measures which will improve the enforcement of confiscation orders. In particular, a county court will be able to appoint receivers, which should facilitate their use, and the debt arising from the non-payment of a confiscation order will not be expunged even if a term of imprisonment in default is served.
That apart, as my right hon. Friend said on 19 October, the realisation of confiscation orders can be an extended process, and where, for example, orders are the subject of appeal or offenders have been given extended time to pay, there will inevitably be some delay before magistrates courts can bring their powers of enforcement to bear. Additional guidance to magistrates courts on the operation of the existing and proposed legislation is under consideration.