All 1 Lindsay Hoyle contributions to the Criminal Finances Act 2017

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Tue 25th Oct 2016
Criminal Finances Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons

Criminal Finances Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office

Criminal Finances Bill

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons
Tuesday 25th October 2016

(7 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Keith Vaz Portrait Keith Vaz
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I think that, when it comes to the hon. Gentleman, it is probably a case of “once a lawyer, always a lawyer”. He is absolutely right. Training should be given to those who are involved in these activities, and in each organisation there should be a compliance officer who has received the necessary training. I do not know what kind of law the hon. Gentleman practised, but we would not expect every single lawyer to be trained to deal with issues such as SARs. We would expect a compliance officer in a big firm of solicitors to be able to do that, because there would not be the time to train everyone. However, I do not believe that that would cut the figure of 381,000 to 20,000. Faced with a third of a million SARs, even the best-trained lawyer—and I would put the hon. Gentleman among, probably, the best that one could find—would not be able to lower that figure. So as well as giving the private sector more responsibility to check, we need to ensure that the equipment is fit for purpose.

Let me commend the suggestion made to the inquiry by the outgoing Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. I pay tribute to the excellent work that he did as commissioner. The hon. Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins) will remember that, when she was a member of the Home Affairs Committee—before she was poached by the Policing Minister to become his Parliamentary Private Sector; we used to train them well in the Select Committee— Sir Bernard came up with a suggestion that was very important in relation to those who were involved in criminal activity. I raised this point with the shadow Home Secretary, and I am grateful to her for saying that she would consider it. I hope that the Policing Minister will also consider it, because when it comes from someone as distinguished as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner it is worth looking at again.

Those Mr Bigs or Mrs Bigs who serve their sentence and come out of prison and still have not paid their compensation order are at an advantage. I agree with my constituency neighbour, the right hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Sir Edward Garnier), that we probably should not keep them in prison indefinitely, but there needs to be some sanction for them to pay up.

One of the issues that arose was that compensation orders were given for assets that probably did not exist. They sound like fabulous figures in court—“This criminal involved in mass criminal activity has millions and millions of pounds”—but actually they do not have those kinds of assets. We need to be realistic about what we are going to recover when we issue the compensation orders. However, there needs to be a penalty. We need to ensure that something is done so these people have to pay up before they come out of jail, otherwise they will simply use a sentence as an opportunity to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure and come out and have access to that money.

Finally, Mr Deputy Speaker—or should I say very finally? [Interruption.] I did not realise we were short of time; I thought this debate was ending at 7 o’clock.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle)
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Order. There is not a shortage of time, but when the right hon. Gentleman says “Finally” I actually believe him.

Keith Vaz Portrait Keith Vaz
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Mr Deputy Speaker, after all these years how can you believe a Member when they say, “Finally”—how can you assume they are about to finish their speech? But this is very finally, in honour of you, Mr Deputy Speaker: when the Policing Minister replies, I want him to address the issue of the police funding formula.

We have been waiting for a long time for the new police funding formula to be decided upon. Every Member of this House has a constabulary. That includes you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and Lancashire was very vocal last year: its Chief Constable Finnigan said he was running out of money and the reserves were going to run out.

All the constabularies have been waiting for the Policing Minister to announce the arrival of the police funding formula. His predecessor told the House he could not give us the formula because Sara Thornton, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, now at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, was doing her analysis and we could not have a police funding formula until she had completed her work. I understand that that is not the case and that there is no reason why we cannot have the police funding formula.

Why do we need that to deal with the issues raised in the Bill? It is because it is not all about the City of London. This kind of activity happens all over the country and if we expect local police officers in Leicestershire, Lancashire, Kent, Sussex and throughout the country to be able to plan to deal with this issue, we need the formula. Therefore, I hope that, as well as telling us about ELMER, the Minister will give us the co-ordinates and the new date for the announcement of the police funding formula.