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Protection of Freedoms Bill

Volume 533: debated on Monday 10 October 2011

[1st Allocated day]

Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee

Clause 3

Persons arrested for or charged with a qualifying offence

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendment 1.

Amendment 91, page 4, line 2, leave out ‘3’ and insert ‘6’.

Amendment 92, page 4, line 4, leave out ‘3’ and insert ‘6’.

Government amendments 2 to 5.

Amendment 94, in clause 4, page 5, line 32, at end insert

‘Otherwise the retention period is 6 years.’.

Amendment 83, page 5, line 34, at end add—

‘(4) If the person was under the age of 18 at the time of the offence the retention period is three years.’.

Government amendment 6.

Amendment 84, in clause 9,page 8, line 5, after ‘retained’, insert

‘for an initial period of six years, then’.

Government amendment 7.

Amendment 108, in clause 20, page 13, line 26, leave out from ‘must’ to end of line 28 and insert—

‘place a report in both Houses, after consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), on the suitability of a Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material (referred to in this section and sections 21 and 22 as “the Commissioner”.

‘(1A) Subject to the approval of a report laid under subsection (1) by resolution of both Houses of Parliament, the Secretary of State may appoint a Commissioner to be known as the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material.’.

Government amendments 8 to 15.

Amendment 109, in clause 25, page 16, line 27, at end insert—

‘(1A) The provisions of this Chapter may not come into force until the conditions of 20(1) have been met.’.

Amendment 85,  page 16, line 33, leave out ‘3’ and insert ‘6’.

Amendment 86,  page 16, line 39, leave out ‘3’ and insert ‘6’.

Amendment 87, page 17, line 1, leave out ‘3’ and insert ‘6’.

Amendment 88, page 17, line 4, after ‘derived’, insert ‘6 years or more’.

Amendment 82,  page 17, line 9, at end insert—

‘(d) in the case of material taken or derived less than six years before the commencement day from a person who—

(i) was arrested for, or charged with, the offence and

(ii) has not been convicted of the offence,

the destruction of the material at the end of the period of six years beginning with the day on which the material was taken or derived.’

Government amendments 33 to 38, 65, 66, 72 and 73.

There are several amendments in this group that seek to maintain the current position on DNA retention, as agreed by this House in April 2010 under the Crime and Security Act 2010. We have debated this issue many times, so Members will know that the argument centres around for how long the DNA of those arrested or charged but not convicted should remain on the database. The Government say the period should be three years for those arrested but not convicted of a serious offence—the so-called Scottish model—whereas we say it should be six years if arrested but not convicted of any recordable offence, as agreed by this House 18 months ago.

I realise that I am susceptible to the charge of being an old, sad former Home Secretary revisiting the scene of previous debates, and I may well be guilty of that, but let me explain why I, and colleagues on both sides of the House, have proposed these amendments. When I was Home Secretary—and the newly appointed shadow Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), was the police Minister—we took a lot of time and trouble over this topic. We looked at all the available research before coming down in favour of a period of six years. I hope I can convince the House that we made the right decision in 2010 and that moving to the so-called Scottish model would be a terrible and potentially disastrous mistake.

This is a cross-party amendment. It is sponsored by the hon. Members for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) and for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) as well as the five supporters whose names appear, along with mine, on the amendment paper: my right hon. Friends the Members for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) and for Delyn, my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh), and the hon. Members for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) and for Shipley (Philip Davies).

That DNA is the most important breakthrough in modern policing, and a science in which Britain leads the world, is incontestable. It provides the police with 3,300 matches to crime scenes each month, which amount to almost 40,000 a year. It has led to forensics—the use of DNA and fingerprints—being the critical information in securing a quarter of primary detections in routine crimes such as burglary and car crime in England and Wales, as against only 6% in the mid-1990s. It has made a contribution to the huge decline in those crimes. It has also transformed the ability to detect the perpetrators of the most serious crimes: murder, manslaughter and rape. There were 832 positive matches in 2009. The European Court of Human Rights has accepted that the use of DNA evidence can make a valuable contribution to the prevention and detection of crime and the protection of the crucial rights to life, liberty and security. It said that any mechanism for the retention of biometric material must be justified as both necessary and proportionate to a legitimate aim.

There is no question but that those convicted of a recordable offence should have their DNA stored indefinitely; that is not a point between us in this House. It is necessary but insufficient, as the Government apparently accept which is why they seek to go further. The European Court ruled that indiscriminately keeping the DNA of those arrested but not convicted of a recordable offence was not proportionate. It breached the famous article 8 on the right to privacy and family life, which after last week’s shenanigans may well be known from now on as “the cat’s clause”. [Interruption.] That sounded good in front of the bathroom mirror this morning! The issue therefore is for how long the DNA of those arrested but not charged or convicted should be retained, consistent with the principle of necessity and proportionality. The Government say three years, in accordance with the so-called Scottish model; we say six years, in accordance with all the evidence.

It is worth mentioning that the Crime and Security Act 2010 broke from the Scottish model in not retaining the physical material from which the DNA is derived. That must be destroyed within six months after it has been translated into a series of numbers known as a DNA profile. This meets an important criticism by the European Court and addresses the concerns of those who are rightly worried about the purposes to which such genomes could be put. The Scottish model retains the DNA of those arrested but not convicted of serious offences only for three years, with a provision for a two-year extension that is so complex, bureaucratic and time-consuming that it has never been used or even applied for.

The three-year retention period used in Scotland is not based on any evidence or analysis that I can find. The figure appears to have been plucked from the air. The Minister will tell us that a review of the Scottish system by a Professor Fraser a year after it was introduced proves that the system works, but that review did not assess whether a longer retention period would be beneficial or whether retention for three years was detrimental to solving serious crimes. The retention of the DNA of those arrested but not convicted can be justified as necessary and proportionate under the terms of the European Court’s decision if their risk of being re-arrested is higher than that of the general population. Analysis conducted by the Home Office suggests that that is indeed the case and that the risk falls to that of the level of the rest of the population gradually over a period of six years. It dips after three years, but it leaves a significant tail that is not eradicated until after six years.

This analysis also established that the propensity to be re-arrested is not determined at all by the nature of the original alleged offence; in other words, there is no case for maintaining the DNA of those arrested but not convicted of serious offences. For instance, Mark Dixie, the murderer of Sally Anne Bowman, had his DNA taken because he was involved in a pub brawl—a minor offence. The provisions in the 2010 Act which we seek to retain are therefore based on evidence, unlike the Scottish model which is based on no evidence whatever.

The coalition partners decided to adopt the Scottish model when they were in opposition, since when they have struggled to make the facts fit their policy, rather than their policy fit the facts. Therefore, every so often they ask for a new hazard curve—the research that was done when I was Home Secretary—the latest of which they have published and circulated, claiming, tendentiously, that it is broadly supportive of the approach taken by the Government. That is so in the way that health professionals broadly support the Government’s NHS reforms. This supposed new research comes up with an absolute minimum of three years, a wide variance and a health warning about the size of the data sample.

I have also today seen a piece of Home Office research that the Department sought to bury, and which was painfully extracted from it through freedom of information requests. My right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn will say more about this, but it shows that 23,000 people every year who would be on the DNA database under our proposals but not under the Bill as it currently stands will go on to commit further offences. That illustrates the scale of the crime and security problems that will be created if the House defeats this amendment and supports the Government policy.

I am intrigued by the figures the right hon. Gentleman cites. Is he suggesting that being on the database for longer is a deterrent, and if so, why would people go on to offend?

Potential rapists, murderers, burglars and car thieves knowing about the science of DNA is certainly a deterrent. The argument here, which the Home Office shares both under its new management and its old management, is that we need to look at that hazard curve. The propensity of those arrested to be rearrested is much higher than for the general population. The crucial issue is how long it takes for that curve to even out. If we do not find that out and set this accurately, we will wipe the DNA of people who are likely to commit more crimes—some of them the most serious crimes—and not have the DNA to find and convict them.

The Government persist in seeking to apply the Scottish model in England and Wales, when all the evidence and the very strong police advice—from both sides of the border—is that Scotland should apply the model of England and Wales. Scotland’s rape conviction rate is less than half that of England and Wales. The DNA database in Scotland is far less effective in solving crime than that in England and Wales. In 2009-10, a DNA profile loaded on to the DNA database in England and Wales had an 18% higher chance of finding a match than was the case in Scotland. In 2008-09, 79 rape, murder or manslaughter cases were matched from DNA profiles belonging to individuals who had been arrested but not convicted, 36 of them for non-serious offences. The chief constable of the west midlands, who leads on this issue for the Association of Chief Police Officers, estimates a loss of about 1,000 matches per year if we use three rather than six years.

Let us, for a moment, turn those dry statistics into the actual facts about the people we are here to protect. Abdul Azad was arrested for violent disorder—a non-serious offence—in his Birmingham home in February 2005. A DNA sample was taken and he was released without charge. Five months later, a stranger rape occurred in Stafford, 25 miles away. There were no clues until skin from beneath the victim’s fingernails was profiled and was found to match the DNA taken from Azad. The senior investigating officer said:

“We would never have caught him had his DNA not already been on the database”.

He continued:

“He didn’t even live locally so we had no intelligence leads either.”

Under the Government proposals before the House today, this rapist would have escaped justice.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that not only would this person not have been caught, but he may well have committed further offences? That answers the point made by the hon. Member for St Albans (Mrs Main) about why it is important that we take action on this database.

Given that we know that the nature of rapists is to rape again if they get away with it, that is a very important point.

My right hon. Friend is making a powerful case. Will he speculate as to why the Government are doing this? Does he agree that it is based on the wrong-headed analysis that somehow the last Labour Government created a quasi-police state? If the Government start from that view, they will end up with legislation that does not protect the public, but puts them at greater risk. A few weeks ago, we saw that with the watering down of the protections against terrorism and now we see it with this proposal. Why are the Government so addicted to watering down the protection of the public?

It puzzles me. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire), is an honourable man. He was engaged in these debates in 2010 when the Labour Government were proposing what became the Crime and Security Act. I thought that things would have moved on since then. I read the record of the Committee stage of this Bill and saw the arguments put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford), and I find the paucity of the Government’s case astounding. They latched on to something called the Scottish model. Incidentally, nobody has challenged me about there being no basis of any research for the three-year provision—Labour was in power, by the way, so I am not knocking other parties. This was a figure plucked out of the air. The Government are reluctant to examine this issue on the basis of the evidence, even to the extent of completely ignoring the police, who do have a bit of expertise in this area.

In 1995, a 17-year-old girl was walking home from a night out in Banbury when she was forced into a car by two men, taken to an isolated area and repeatedly raped. In 2003, Lee Ainsby was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, and a DNA sample was taken. Two years later, in 2005, the evidence from the rape case was re-analysed and the DNA profiles were loaded into the national database—one matched, that of Lee Ainsby. He had committed a non-serious offence and he would not have been on that database under the Government’s proposals. A sample taken from his brother matched the second sample and so both of those rapists were caught and convicted.

I just wish to check on the point that the right hon. Gentleman made about that case. I believe he said that this individual had been convicted. As he knows, under the arrangements—I think that there is agreement on this point—where there is a conviction, the DNA would be retained indefinitely.

I did not say that this individual had been convicted. He had been arrested but not charged of a non-serious offence and his DNA remained on the database. The Minister has all these statistics—the Home Office provided me with them, so it can provide him with them too.

Will the right hon. Gentleman concede that unless we take the DNA of every man, woman and child in the country there will always be instances when DNA is found at the scene and not matched with any offender?

I will not concede that argument because, as I said at the beginning, our job, in accordance with the European Court of Human Rights judgment, was to come up with something that is necessary and proportionate. There has to be a logic to this; we cannot have blanket and indiscriminate retention of DNA. Because that is the requirement on us, we need to examine and research, as the Home Office and others have done, the hazard curve for those arrested but not convicted—that is the whole nature of this debate. The Government are not proposing to not keep the DNA of those arrested but not convicted, they are not proposing to take the DNA on conviction and they are not proposing to take the DNA when someone is charged. They are taking the DNA of those arrested but not convicted—innocent—for a reason; they think that it should be kept for three years, with various permutations and lots of complications. Labour Members say that six years is the correct level.

I shall give a final example, because it is important to translate all this into people rather than statistics. In June 2009, Gary Grubb attacked two women while working temporarily in Middlesbrough, indecently assaulting them both and then fleeing for South Africa. However, a DNA sample from the crime scene matched a sample placed on the national DNA database after he was arrested but not convicted for drink-driving—a non-serious offence—in 2006. He was arrested when he tried to re-enter the UK in 2010 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He would be free today if the proposals in this Bill had been in force at the time.

Let me say to Members on the Government Benches that lots of these cases will crop up in the future and this will come back to haunt them if they decide to support what is in this Bill today. The Government are ignoring these and the many other examples of the folly of their dogmatic approach. Their attempt to take the moral high ground consists of trotting out a mantra about these measures being consistent with the principle of innocent until proven guilty. That would be the case only if DNA were taken on conviction. Everybody is innocent when it is checked against previous crime scenes—there is nothing wrong with that, apparently—and the collective view is that DNA should be maintained to match against future crime scenes for a limited period. The Government do not even seek to return to the situation pre-2003, when DNA was taken upon someone’s being charged, not upon their being arrested. The Government will continue to take DNA upon arrest, when every person from whom a sample is taken will be innocent. They now propose, under amendment 5, to introduce a convoluted, bureaucratic system to retain the DNA of innocent people where

“the retention of the material is necessary to assist in the prevention or detection of crime.”

So someone is innocent until proven guilty, unless they are innocent of a serious offence, in which case they will have their DNA retained under a procedure that is bureaucratic, convoluted and complex, and that the police are unlikely to use, as with the Scottish extension.

We are now to have the gloriously named “biometric commissioner”. I remember when my son was small buying him a bionic man—Steve Austin was “the bionic man”—and we now have the biometric commissioner. At best, he will have to open a file for each of the 17,000 suspected rapists, and the police will have to put forward a case in respect of every one of those 17,000 suspected rapists that Rape Crisis says are likely to be wiped off the DNA database. At worst, as Rape Crisis fears, those 17,000 profiles, or a large proportion of them, will be wiped.

Although all the evidence points to the need to adopt this amendment, we all need to accept that much of the research is based on projection. We do not have the six years of actual evidence required to make a proper assessment, and if we carry the Bill unamended we never will. DNA profiles for those arrested but not charged or convicted that are more than three years old will be wiped, never to be retrieved. Let us accept the amendment so that the proper assessment of all the evidence, when we have six years’ worth of it, can take place in a few years’ time. We can go from six years down to three, but we will never be able to go from three years up to six, which is why my right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary has implored the Government—they might be right about the three-year limit, although we doubt it, and it might even be necessary to have a limit of four or five years—to wait until we have evidence rather than projections. Is that not eminently sensible, given that we are dealing with life and death and issues that are so pertinent to criminal justice and so important to our constituents?

The role of the Home Office for the past 229 years of its existence has been to weigh the rights of the individual against the needs of society as a whole. For the Government to pursue their retention policy against all the available evidence and in the teeth of fierce opposition from the police, who will be restricted in their ability to catch criminals, and in defiance of the sensible alternative of reviewing the situation when more reliable evidence is available, is a huge, avoidable and potentially catastrophic error that they will live to regret.

One point of agreement between me and the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson) is that I think that this is a question of balancing collective protection and individual freedom. We can agree on that much, but in some ways the right hon. Gentleman is looking through the other end of the telescope. Through the indefinite retention regime that was the hallmark of the previous Labour Government, he seeks to retain data and information for as long as possible in case it becomes useful. I think he was accusing us of being dogmatic on this point in some ways, but he and his right hon. and hon. Friends come at it from the perspective that they want indefinite retention of everyone’s DNA for as long as possible. Our starting point is different. Our concept is that of innocent until proven guilty, so we come at this from a different direction.

I shall address some of the right hon. Gentleman’s direct points, but, as this is a wide-ranging group of amendments, it might assist the House if I explain the Government’s amendments before responding to those tabled by the right hon. Gentleman and others.

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, who played a key part in Committee. I am sure that I will welcome his contribution to the debate.

The Minister has just said that he has accepted the principle of innocent until proven guilty, but will he confirm that everyone who is arrested will, at the point at which they are arrested, have their DNA sample taken and checked against the national DNA database, so that principle does not hold? The Government accept the principle that innocent people will have their DNA retained for up to three years for various crimes, so does he accept that we are debating the principle of who should have their DNA retained for three years or for six years? On the question of people’s civil liberties, will the Minister take into consideration the civil liberties of those who might be the victims of crimes that will not be detected because of the position that the Government have taken?

I say to the hon. Gentleman—he and I had a fair and clear debate on this matter in Committee—that the Government take into consideration the position of the victim, which is why I said that that principle was our starting point. That is why we are adopting the provisions in the Bill. We recognise that more than 5.7 million people are on the national DNA database and about 70% of the profiles in the EU are on our national database, so it important—and our responsibility—to consider the issues extraordinarily carefully to ensure that we judge the balance correctly.

I shall go briefly through the Government’s amendments before returning to the important issues of principle and to do with the duration of retention. Government amendments 1 to 15, 33 to 38, 65, 66, 72 and 73 fine-tune the provisions governing the retention of DNA. In a number of cases, they pick up on points raised in Committee. The key amendments all touch on the role of the commissioner for the retention and use of biometric material and I shall detail those amendments first.

When we considered clause 3 in Committee, the hon. Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) and others expressed concern that much of the detail about the arrangements for retaining biometric material taken from those arrested for, but not charged with, a qualifying offence was left to subordinate legislation. I gave the hon. Gentleman an undertaking that the Government would take the issue away and consider it. The Joint Committee on Human Rights also raised concerns about the issue in their recent report on the Bill. We have considered the issue further and agree that it is appropriate to place such detail on the face of the Bill. Amendments 1 to 5 therefore remove from clause 3 the existing order-making power for the Secretary of State to prescribe circumstances in which such retention would be permitted and replace it with new section 63FA of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

New section 63FA sets out the circumstances in which a chief officer of police may apply to the commissioner to retain DNA profiles and fingerprints of those arrested for, but not charged with, a serious offence. The first circumstance, in new section 63FA(2), is where the victim of the alleged offender is a minor, a vulnerable adult or is “associated” with the suspect. The second circumstance, in new section 63FA(3), is where none of the criteria in subsection (2) apply but the chief officer none the less considers it necessary to retain the material to prevent or detect crime. The chief officer must give the person to whom the biometric material relates a copy of the application made to the commissioner. It is then open to that person to make representations to the commissioner within 28 days and it will then fall to the commissioner to determine the application based on these papers. Amendment 15 to clause 24 enables the National DNA Database Strategy Board to provide guidance to the police in such cases, thus helping to ensure consistency in the making of applications to the commissioner. Amendment 9 to clause 20 ensures that the provisions dovetail with the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill.

In addition to the commissioner’s review function in individual cases, we believe that the commissioner should also have a more general oversight role. Amendment 11 therefore extends the role of the commissioner to provide him or her with a general function of keeping under review the retention and use of DNA and fingerprints by police and other law enforcement authorities.

I draw the House’s attention to amendment 7, which makes two further exemptions from the normal retention rules. First, new subsection (2A) of section 63T of PACE, inserted by clause 17, ensures that the police can retain hard copies of material on case files. That is in order to ensure that a copy of the material remains available for examination by defence experts, and potentially the Criminal Cases Review Commission, in accordance with the disclosure provisions of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996. The changes are therefore intended to ensure that the provisions discharge CPIA compliance obligations. The CPIA exists to prevent miscarriages of justice and I am sure that we would all agree that nothing in the Bill can undermine that purpose.

In order to enable the police to meet their obligations, new section 63T(2A) provides for the police to retain the minimum amount of biometric material necessary. So the records on the DNA and fingerprint databases would be destroyed in accordance with the existing provisions of the Bill, leaving only hard copies on the police case file that could be examined by the defence or the Criminal Cases Review Commission as necessary.

The second part of amendment 7, which inserts new subsection (2B) of section 63T, arises from a concern raised with us by Forensic Science Northern Ireland. The service was concerned that, because of the way that PACE is drafted, all samples taken compulsorily from a suspect would be caught by the requirement to destroy them in clause 14 of the Bill. That would include material originating from another person that is evidence of contact between people and would often be key evidence in a trial examining that contact. An example may be where traces of a victim’s blood have been taken from a suspect’s hand. New subsection (2B) of new section 63T therefore provides that where material is taken from one person that originates from another it is not required to be destroyed within six months but can be retained for as long as is necessary in the same way as crime scene material can because it is, essentially, crime scene material.

Let me address the amendments in the name of the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle and others. As we have heard, the amendments return to the question of how long we should retain the DNA and fingerprints of innocent people. They would replace the Government’s provisions, which meet our coalition commitment to adopt the protections of the Scottish model, with the core of the previous Government’s Crime and Security Act 2010.

I will, because I know that the hon. Gentleman has taken a close interest in these matters for some time.

The country’s police chiefs have rather helpfully told us that large numbers of those who were arrested following the summer riots were arrested because of matches against the existing DNA database. Has the Minister undertaken any work to ascertain how many of those would have escaped justice under his proposals?

The hon. Gentleman highlights a key issue—the retention of the DNA of those convicted of offences, with which I absolutely agree. Some 75% of those who were engaged in the rioting—or, at least, those who were brought before the courts—had committed prior offences. That clearly makes the point that there is a need to put the DNA of those who are guilty of crimes on the database, rather than keeping those who are innocent of any crime on it, which is the approach of the Opposition and was the approach of the previous Government. The Labour party persists in its approach of keeping the DNA and fingerprints of innocent people for many years, no matter what those people have been accused of and no matter how little evidence was ever uncovered in relation to them.

It is worth putting these issues into context. Of course, DNA is important. I fully recognise the scientific breakthrough of being able to take DNA to search against the database and, most importantly, to retain crime scene DNA evidence in a cold case database against which matches can be made. However, the collection of DNA is part of a process of investigation and is not a panacea in itself. I think that if the Labour party could have its way, it would continue with the previous approach of simply trying to put more and more data on the database regardless of people’s guilt or innocence. However, it is interesting to look at what has been the result of adding many more people on to the database. In 2004-05, 2.8 million people were on the national DNA database and in 2009-10, the figure was 4.8 million people. Now, let us look at the number of detections in those years. In 2004-05 there were 35,605 and in 2009-10 there were 32,552, so when there were 2 million more people on the database, there were 3,000 fewer detections. I therefore challenge the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle that the more people’s DNA is on the database, the more effective it is. The figures do not necessarily equate in that way, as the historic evidence shows.

The total number of detected crimes in which a DNA match was available fell by 11% between 2003-04 and 2008-09—that is what the Minister basically just told us—but over the same five-year period, police recorded crime fell by 17.1%. So there was an 11% reduction in DNA detections and a 17.1% reduction in recorded crime. Those are the figures that the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, the right hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) tried to fiddle in the previous Parliament. Burglary was down 29%, vehicle crime was down 40% and criminal damage was down 23%—so much for fewer cases being solved through DNA.

As a proportion of total detections, DNA detections have remained pretty static. If the right hon. Gentleman is right that the figures I gave were all down to there being less crime—I think that is his argument—what he said about DNA detections would not be the case. Some 2 million extra people have been put on to the database and if hon. Members are suggesting that that change has been positive and would generate many more detections, I am afraid to say that that is not borne out by the evidence.

I think this is quite a good indicator of how much the Labour party played with the politics of this issue when they were in government rather than dealing with the reality. The biggest handicap to the use of DNA in evidence is collection at the crime site, which is very poor. Our police have been poor at that for a long time but Labour did nothing about that throughout the entire period being discussed.

My right hon. Friend makes a very important and powerful case about the effective use of DNA and the fact that crime scene issues can be very important in the detection of crimes and in ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.

I will give way because I know that the hon. Lady has focused closely on the disproportionate impact that the DNA database can have on some minority communities. I will be very interested to hear her thoughts.

I will of course be supporting the amendment in the Lobby tonight, but is the Minister aware that the professor who devised the use of DNA detection processes, Professor Jeffreys, is against keeping the DNA of innocent people? He argues that the amount of DNA that has to be held for that purpose and the intrusion of civil liberties that that brings is not justified by the marginal improvements in detection.

The hon. Lady, who has taken a close and personal interest in these issues for a number of years, makes an important point. I know that some people will say that we should take everybody’s DNA from birth and that this would solve all the problems, but neither party seeks to make that argument here, although some people may. The issue of disproportionality is very important when considering how to strike the right balance on what the retention period should be, on how DNA is used and on the protections that are afforded. That is why we have taken the approach we have in the Bill.

On the gap between the fall in DNA detections and the fall in crime, my hon. Friend the Minister is ignoring the deterrent effect, which my hon. Friend the Member for St Albans (Mrs Main) mentioned earlier. If one’s name is on the database, one is less likely to commit crime and therefore will not be detected, so the matches will go down less than the crime rate is falling. I think that my constituents will be alarmed that there are 23,000 people on this database whose details will be wiped if we go along with the Government’s suggestions. The former Home Secretary has pointed out that on the hazard curve, they are likely to be rearrested within that missing three-year period.

That point was made by the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, but I pray in aid Professor Fraser’s report. I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman says that the terms of reference were not wide enough and that it is not appropriate to rely on the report, but those terms of reference took account of available information and experience elsewhere when the appropriateness of the Scottish system was considered. Indeed, it was the right hon. Gentleman’s colleague in the other place, Lord Bach, who said:

“In determining the appropriateness of the current legislation, Professor Fraser considered data on reoffending rates and conducted a wide consultation. He did not uncover any evidence to suggest that this approach to retention has caused any detriment to the detection of serious crime in Scotland.”

I therefore think it is appropriate to look to Professor Fraser’s investigation, as he is a learned expert on forensics, rather than simply trying to skate over and ignore it as the right hon. Gentleman appears to be doing.

According to the evidence that the hon. Gentleman’s Department gave to the Home Affairs Committee,

“It has been suggested that the research carried out into the Scottish system (by Professor Fraser) did not uncover any evidence to suggest that the Scottish approach to retention had caused any detriment to the detection of…crime…However, that is to misunderstand this research which did not assess whether alternative systems would have been more effective. It was also unable to review how many serious crimes went undetected as the relevant DNA profiles had been deleted and, therefore, was not in a position to conclude whether there was any detriment to the detection of serious crime.”

That is the hon. Gentleman’s Department’s evidence to the Select Committee—collapse of stout party.

Again, I would point to the right hon. Gentleman’s colleagues in the Ministry of Justice, who obviously wrote the letter saying that Professor Fraser’s report came to the conclusion that there was no detriment to the detection of serious crime. As I have highlighted, Professor Fraser’s report was wide-ranging in scope. Needless to say, we have a difference of view on this important point.

In deciding whether to support the amendment or the Government tonight, I have to balance the loss of rights of those people who had crimes committed against them, or who may have crimes committed against them as a result of reducing the period of the retention of DNA from six years to three, against the injustice that might be visited on innocent people whose DNA is kept for three years longer than it otherwise would be. Can the Minister tell me, in words simple enough even for me to understand, what exactly the loss of human rights and the injustice will be to those innocent people who have their DNA kept for three years longer before it is wiped? Can he compare that with the suffering of victims who have crimes committed against them by people who will not be detected?

This is about getting the right people on the national DNA database. By that, I mean those who have been convicted of crimes. We should focus on those who have committed crimes; we should look at recidivism and getting persistent prolific offenders, those who have been in prison and those who have committed crimes on the national DNA database. Interestingly, that was not the approach of the previous Government; they were more fixated with keeping the innocent on the national DNA database. If we take the approach that I suggest, we can ensure that we focus attention where it is needed, and that we do our duty—this is something that I take very seriously—when it comes to protecting the public and ensuring that the police can do what is necessary. I certainly believe that the provisions before the House will enable the police to do that.

My hon. Friend is very generous in giving way, particularly as he knows that this will not be a supportive question. With the greatest respect, he did not answer my question, which was: in practical, simple terms, in what way will these innocent people—let us accept that they are innocent—who will have their DNA kept on record for an extra three years suffer, or have their rights infringed? Can we compare that with the suffering and infringed rights of people who will otherwise have crimes committed against them by criminals who go unpunished?

When I look at the Members of Parliament who contact me about the DNA database, there are not huge stacks of correspondence relating to the retention of DNA. The correspondence relates to the many people who complain about their DNA remaining on the national DNA database when they are innocent of any crime, and who say how that offends them. Let us look at some of the cases involved. GeneWatch UK has been quite helpful in highlighting the issues. There is the 12-year-old schoolboy arrested for allegedly stealing a pack of Pokémon cards; the grandmother arrested for failing to return a football that was kicked into her garden; the 10-year-old victim of bullying who had a false accusation made against her; and the 14-year-old girl arrested for allegedly pinging another girl’s bra. Those people have been arrested; their DNA would be retained under the arrangements that the previous Government seemed to laud. That issue of injustice is very much at the heart of the matter.

Will the hon. Gentleman place in the Library information on exactly how many letters he has received on the topic and how many complaints he has had, as compared with the number of innocent people who will be killed, raped, maimed or injured because of the proposals before the House?

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has chosen to try to take us down that path. I am speaking honestly and fairly about the correspondence that comes from hon. Members on both sides of the House on the injustice that some minority communities feel in particular. The hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) has highlighted how acutely many communities feel about the issue.

Ultimately, it comes down to a question of judgment and balance. The Labour party, when in government, did not focus properly on putting the guilty on the database. We are focused on doing that, and on not retaining all the DNA of those innocent of any crime. The right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle may perhaps suggest that privacy is in some way a science, but it is not. Liberty cannot be decided on by testing in that way. It is a question of judgment and looking at the evidence, and reaching a conclusion on how to strike the balance fairly between collective protection and individual liberty.

As for what has been said about the previous Government’s proposals, the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle may pray in aid all sorts of things, but there was very limited support for the idea that six years was appropriate. We believe that the protection given by the Scottish model means that that is the right approach, and it strikes the right balance, and I therefore commend it to the House.

I confirm to the Minister that this is a matter of judgment—a judgment as to whether one is on the side of victims and the prevention of crime. There are very difficult issues that the Minister knows we have wrestled with to do with balancing civil liberties with the protections that my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson) has so eloquently spoken about today. I pay tribute to him; he has made a compelling case that Government Members ignore at their peril. I do not say that to the Minister in a threatening way; I am simply saying that I suspect that there will be people who are victims of crime because he rejects my right hon. Friend’s amendment this evening.

The Minister will know that my right hon. Friend and I included the provisions that we are discussing in the Crime and Security Act 2010 after considerable thought and consideration of the European judgments that were brought against us. We tried to balance the civil liberties of the British people with their ability to secure their future, free of murder, rape and crime. The Minister will know that there are balances to be struck; ministerial life is about balances. I accept the point made by the hon. Members for New Forest East (Dr Lewis), for Dartford (Gareth Johnson), and for St Albans (Mrs Main): if the amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend is accepted, there will be people whose DNA is on the database for three years longer than the Government propose. Those people may not commit a further crime, and they may well feel aggrieved, but the purpose of the House is to protect the rights of citizens as far as we can.

When my right hon. Friend and I were in government, and were Ministers in the Department in which the Minister is now privileged to serve, we felt that, within European law and within the rights of protection of those liberties, we should try to extend the window of opportunity so as to protect as many people as possible, by ensuring that DNA was collected. We have to balance the aggrieved feelings that the hon. Member for New Forest East mentioned with the rights of citizens as a whole. There will undoubtedly be people who feel aggrieved, but we have to accept those consequences. Ministerial life is about making not just judgments, but the right judgments. On this occasion, the Minister has got that judgment wrong.

Britain is leading the world in DNA technology, which provides critical investigative leads. The DNA database provides the police with almost 3,300 DNA matches per month. There were 832 positive matches on the DNA database in cases of rape, murder, and manslaughter and other serious crimes in 2009. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe) mentioned his concerns; Chris Sims, the chief constable of the West Midlands police, who leads on the issue not for the West Midlands but for the Association of Chief Police Officers, has said that much more detailed information is important to ensure that we protect the public from serious crime. There is no dispute about the fact that three years should be included in the Bill—both sides have accepted that. We are arguing for the maximum envelope that we introduced in 2010, which will protect future victims of crime.

In the oral evidence given to the Select Committee on Home Affairs by Chris Sims of ACPO on 5 January 2010, it was clear that while DNA evidence is an important tool used by the police, it is just one tool that is used in 0.67% of convictions.

Why make the police’s job harder? There are people who would be on the database because they have been caught—they have not been charged or convicted—whose DNA would be on record for between three and six years. My right hon. Friend eloquently described cases that led to people being arrested who would not otherwise be arrested. Those people have been arrested, and as a result they have not committed more crimes: they have not gone on to rape if they are serial rapists; they have not gone on to kill if they are serial killers; and they have not gone on to commit serious violence if they are individuals who commit serious violence. The public is safer, so I do not understand why the so-called party of law and order can sit back and watch a Minister roll back crime-fighting tools that would save people from becoming victims of crime in future.

Unpublished evidence, which freedom of information requests have dragged out of the Home Office—my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) mentioned this last week—shows that every year, 23,000 people, who under Labour’s system would be on a DNA database, will, under Government plans, go on to commit further offences. In the next eight minutes of this short debate, I urge the Minister to tell us which one of those 23,000 crimes he can explain to future victims of crime? Can he look them in the eye and say, “We could have stopped that and prevented it from happening, but we chose, for the sake of the civil liberties of the few”—and I accept those few do have civil liberties—“to allow 23,000 people to become victims of crime in future.”

Of those 23,000, some 6,000 a year will go on to commit serious crimes, including rape, sexual offences, murder and manslaughter. The Government’s so-called hazard curve supports Labour’s six-year retention plan, rather than three years. Members do not have to believe me or the Home Office: that is independently verified by the House of Commons Library. Changes to DNA evidence will make it harder, not easier, for the police to catch and convict criminals. The Government’s weakening of the DNA database goes against Home Office evidence, and 17,000 people arrested but not charged with rape will, amazingly, be removed from the database, thus putting more women at risk.

I hope that the Minister will reflect on that, and listen to my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, who has served this country in high office, and who has looked at the issue seriously to protect the public, as we all have. We will not crow in triumph if the Minister supports my right hon. Friend’s amendment: we will cheer his common sense. If he does not support the measure, perhaps he can look at amendment 108, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker), whom I congratulate on his promotion to the shadow Cabinet, where he will serve with distinction. My right hon. Friend’s amendment, which I am pleased to support, suggests that perhaps we could delay the measure for a few years, so that we could consult ACPO on what is going to happen.

At the moment, the Bill allows police forces to apply to the so-called biometric commissioner for provisions on those who are arrested but not charged, which means that police forces can effectively say that they do not want to have someone deleted from the database. There could be an additional 17,000 cases, and how much police time will be devoted to that? The Minister is transferring risk from the Home Office to the chief constable of every force in the country, who will say, “I will not apply for that risk. I will not apply to ensure that that happens.” What will the work load be for the biometric commissioner? What resources will they have? Who is responsible if a chief constable applies for a waiver, it is not dealt with, and the person concerned commits a further offence?

The Minister has not thought through his proposals, and as my right hon. Friend said, this is about people. It is about John Warboys, the black-cab rapist, who was caught because his DNA was stored when he was arrested, but not charged, for a sex assault. [Interruption.] I would love to give way to the Minister, but his programme motion allows us four more minutes of discussion, and my right hon. Friend needs to reply. If he wishes to reconsider his position, I will certainly give way. The black-cab rapist was caught as a result of DNA evidence. [Interruption.] Well, Kensley Larrier, whom we discussed at length in Committee in 2010—officials presented good information then, so it must be correct, as it was the information supplied at the time—was arrested in May 2002 for the possession of an offensive weapon. His DNA would not be retained under Government plans, but he was jailed for five years, and his name added to the sex offenders register for life.

Mark Dixie murdered 18-year-old Sally Anne Bowman close to her home. DNA evidence was retrieved from the murder victim, and within five hours, he was under arrest, and sentenced to life imprisonment. I do not want to see other Mark Dixies wandering the streets in those three years; I do not want crimes to be committed by other individuals who could be caught and stopped. I accept that civil liberties issues are at stake, but our job is to balance those civil liberties, and make a judgment that protects the public. I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend, because this is about judgment. His judgment is right, and I believe that the judgment of Opposition spokespeople is right. I believe that, sadly, if the Minister does not change his mind, the Government’s judgment will be shown to be flawed in due course.

I have been a Member of the House for 14 years, and I have not heard such a feeble reply from a Minister, not because he is any way inadequate—he is a very good Minister—but because the paucity of the argument is unbelievable. We heard an argument from the Opposition that there was no research behind the three-year Scottish model—that argument was not refuted. The Opposition made the argument that there is no evidence whatsoever that suggests that if someone is arrested, but not convicted of a non-serious offence, that makes a difference to their propensity to go on and be arrested for a serious offence. We put forward evidence about the proportion of DNA evidence and forensics that are used increasing from 6% in the mid-1990s to 25% now, showing the importance of DNA evidence. We put forward evidence of individual cases where, if the Government’s policy became law, murderers and rapists would not be caught, because their DNA would not be on the database.

The arguments that we get back are that the Government originally wanted to keep DNA indefinitely, which is not pertinent to the argument today, or that we would have as many names on the DNA database as we could, as though we were evil repressionists, which may be what the Minister believes, whereas those on the Government Benches are civil libertarians to the core, despite the fact that most of them want to abolish the Human Rights Act. The Government need to engage in the argument. There is no evidence for what they are seeking to do—no evidence whatever about three years. The evidence that has emerged since the Scottish model was introduced in 2007 supports six years. All the projections made by the Department indicate that DNA should be kept for six years.

We are seeking to save the Government from themselves. Members on the Government Benches had better understand, as those who support the amendment understand, that the issue will come back to haunt the Government. The question put by the Leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister about the number of rapists being wiped off the DNA database is only the start. Ignore the amendment and the Government make trouble for themselves, as well as making this country a less safe and secure place.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

Clause 3

Persons arrested for or charged with a qualifying offence

Amendments made: 1, page 3, line 44, leave out ‘any prescribed circumstances apply’ and insert

‘the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material has consented under section 63FA to the retention of the material’.

Amendment 2,  page 4, leave out lines 24 to 31.

Amendment 3,  page 4, leave out lines 43 and 44.

Amendment 4,  page 5, leave out lines 6 to 11.

Amendment 5, page 5, line 11, at end insert—

‘63FA Retention of section 63D material by virtue of section 63F(5): consent of Commissioner

(1) The responsible chief officer of police may apply under subsection (2) or (3) to the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material for consent to the retention of section 63D material which falls within section 63F(5)(a) and (b).

(2) The responsible chief officer of police may make an application under this subsection if the responsible chief officer of police considers that the material was taken (or, in the case of a DNA profile, derived from a sample taken) in connection with the investigation of an offence where any alleged victim of the offence was, at the time of the offence—

(a) under the age of 18,

(b) a vulnerable adult, or

(c) associated with the person to whom the material relates.

(3) The responsible chief officer of police may make an application under this subsection if the responsible chief officer of police considers that—

(a) the material is not material to which subsection (2) relates, but

(b) the retention of the material is necessary to assist in the prevention or detection of crime.

(4) The Commissioner may, on an application under this section, consent to the retention of material to which the application relates if the Commissioner considers that it is appropriate to retain the material.

(5) But where notice is given under subsection (6) in relation to the application, the Commissioner must, before deciding whether or not to give consent, consider any representations by the person to whom the material relates which are made within the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the notice is given.

(6) The responsible chief officer of police must give to the person to whom the material relates notice of—

(a) an application under this section, and

(b) the right to make representations.

(7) A notice under subsection (6) may, in particular, be given to a person by—

(a) leaving it at the person’s usual or last known address (whether residential or otherwise),

(b) sending it to the person by post at that address, or

(c) sending it to the person by email or other electronic means.

(8) The requirement in subsection (6) does not apply if the whereabouts of the person to whom the material relates is not known and cannot, after reasonable inquiry, be ascertained by the responsible chief officer of police.

(9) An application or notice under this section must be in writing.

(10) In this section—

“victim” includes intended victim,

“vulnerable adult” has the meaning given by section 60(1) of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006,

and the reference in subsection (2)(c) to a person being associated with another person is to be read in accordance with section 62(3) to (7) of the Family Law Act 1996.’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Clause 8

Persons given a penalty notice

Amendment made: 6, page 7, line 33, after ‘2001’ insert

‘and in respect of whom no proceedings are brought for the offence to which the notice relates’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Clause 17

Exclusions for certain regimes

Amendment made: 7, page 11, line 43, at end insert—

‘(2A) Sections 63D to 63P, 63R and 63S do not apply to material which is, or may become, disclosable under—

(a) the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996, or

(b) a code of practice prepared under section 23 of that Act and in operation by virtue of an order under section 25 of that Act.

(2B) Sections 63D to 63S do not apply to material which—

(a) is taken from a person, but

(b) relates to another person.’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Clause 20

National Security: Appointment of Commissioner

Amendment proposed: 108, page 13, line 26, leave out from ‘must’ to end of line 28 and insert—

‘place a report in both Houses, after consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), on the suitability of a Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material (referred to in this section and sections 21 and 22 as “the Commissioner”.

‘(1A) Subject to the approval of a report laid under subsection (1) by resolution of both Houses of Parliament, the Secretary of State may appoint a Commissioner to be known as the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material.’.—(Mr Hanson.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Amendments made: 8, page 13, line 28, leave out ‘sections 21 and 22’ and insert ‘section 21’.

Amendment 9, page 13, line 38, at end insert—

(iiia) paragraph 11 of Schedule 6 to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (paragraph 6 material retained for purposes of national security),’.

Amendment 10, page 14, line 10, after ‘functions’ insert ‘under subsection (2)’.

Amendment 11, page 14, line 17, at end insert—

‘(5A) The Commissioner also has the function of keeping under review—

(a) the retention and use in accordance with sections 63A and 63D to 63S of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 of—

(i) any material to which section 63D or 63Q of that Act applies (fingerprints, DNA profiles and samples), and

(ii) any copies of any material to which section 63D of that Act applies (fingerprints and DNA profiles),

(b) the retention and use in accordance with paragraphs 20A to 20I of Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000 of—

(i) any material to which paragraph 20A or 20G of that Schedule applies (fingerprints, relevant physical data, DNA profiles and samples), and

(ii) any copies of any material to which paragraph 20A of that Schedule applies (fingerprints, relevant physical data and DNA profiles),

(c) the retention and use in accordance with sections 18 to 18E of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 of—

(i) any material to which section 18 of that Act applies (fingerprints, DNA samples and DNA profiles), and

(ii) any copies of fingerprints or DNA profiles to which section 18 of that Act applies,

(d) the retention and use in accordance with paragraphs 5 to 14 of Schedule 6 to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 of—

(i) any material to which paragraph 6 or 12 of that Schedule applies (fingerprints, relevant physical data, DNA profiles and samples), and

(ii) any copies of any material to which paragraph 6 of that Schedule applies (fingerprints, relevant physical data and DNA profiles).

(5B) But subsection (5A) does not apply so far as the retention or use of the material falls to be reviewed by virtue of subsection (2).

(5C) In relation to Scotland—

(a) the reference in subsection (5A)(b) to use of material, or copies of material, in accordance with paragraphs 20A to 20I of Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000 includes a reference to use of material, or copies of material, in accordance with section 19C(2)(c) and (d) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, and

(b) the reference in subsection (5A)(d) to use of material, or copies of material, in accordance with paragraphs 5 to 14 of Schedule 6 to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 is to be read as a reference to use only for a purpose mentioned in paragraph 13(1)(a) or (b) of that Schedule to that Act.

(5D) The Commissioner also has functions under sections 63F(5)(c) and 63FA (giving of consent in relation to the retention of certain section 63D material).’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Clause 21

Reports by Commissioner

Amendments made: 12, page 14, line 36, leave out ‘carrying out of those’ and insert “Commissioner’s’.

Amendment 13, page 14, line 39, leave out from ‘the’ to end of line 40 and insert ‘Commissioner’s functions.’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Clause 22

Guidance on making a national security determination

Amendment made: 14, page 15, line 14, after ‘Commissioner’ insert

‘for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Clause 24

National DNA Database Strategy Board

Amendment made: 15, page 16, line 12, leave out ‘this section’ and insert ‘subsection (2).

‘(3A) The National DNA Database Strategy Board may issue guidance about the circumstances in which applications may be made to the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material under section 63FA.

(3B) Before issuing any such guidance, the National DNA Database Strategy Board must consult the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material.’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Schedule 1

Amendments of regimes other than PACE

Amendments made: 33, page 90, line 24, at end insert—

(da) any of the fingerprints, data or samples obtained under paragraph 1 or 4 of Schedule 6 to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011, or information derived from such samples,’.

Amendment 34, page 95, line 31, at end insert—

‘(1A) Subject to sub-paragraph (1), a relevant search (within the meaning given by paragraph 20A(6)) may be carried out in relation to material to which paragraph 20A or 20G applies if the responsible chief officer of police considers the search to be desirable.’.

Amendment 35, page 96, line 10, after ‘(1)’ insert ‘, (1A)’.

Amendment 36, page 97, line 16, leave out ‘paragraph 20H’ and insert

‘a relevant search (within the meaning given by paragraph 20A(6)) or for the purposes of’.

Amendment 37, page 100, line 18, at end insert—

‘(1A) Subject to subsection (1), section 18 material may be checked against other fingerprints, DNA samples or DNA profiles held by a law enforcement authority or the Scottish Police Services Authority if the responsible officer considers the check to be desirable.’.

Amendment 38, page 103, line 6, at end insert—

Part 3A

Material subject to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011

4A After paragraph 10(2) of Schedule 6 to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011(fingerprints and samples) insert—

(2A) But a person is not to be treated as having been convicted of an offence if that conviction is a disregarded conviction or caution by virtue of section 88 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2011.”’.—(James Brokenshire.)

New Clause 15

Offence of issuing excess parking charges

‘(1) A person commits an offence who, without lawful authority requires a driver or any person in possession of a vehicle to pay parking charges in relation to a contract to park that vehicle.

(2) The express or implied consent (whether or not legally binding) of a person otherwise entitled to enter into a contract regarding parking is not lawful authority for the purposes of subsection (1).

(3) Subsection (2) does not apply where—

(a) the person or body attempting to enforce the parking charges is a member of an Accredited Trade Association so accredited by the Secretary of State;

(b) the penalty charge can be appealed to an independent body;

(c) the person or body attempting to enforce the parking charges takes reasonable steps to inform the driver or keeper of the vehicle about the right to appeal; and

(d) the person or body follows a prescribed parking enforcement process including clear signage and contact numbers.

(4) The Secretary of State can, by way of regulation, introduce a maximum charge, under which parking charges would not be subject to subsection (1).

(5) A person who is entitled to remove a vehicle cannot commit an offence under this section in relation to that vehicle.

(6) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine,

(b) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum which must be no higher than charges for an on-street parking offence.

(7) In this section “motor vehicle” means a mechanically propelled vehicle or a vehicle designed or adapted for towing by a mechanically propelled vehicle.’.—(Diana Johnson.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Bill sets out in chapter 2 to outlaw wheel-clamping on private land and to introduce a ticketing regime. We had an extensive debate on this issue in Committee. The major concern that still arises from the way the Bill is drafted is that there is nothing to offer any regulation or protection for the motorist from the problems experienced so far with rogue wheel-clampers. We believe that the rogue wheel-clampers will now move on and become rogue ticketers, and we are not alone in this. We have the support of the RAC, the AA, and the British Parking Association—and I am very pleased to say that today a leader in The Times supports Labour’s amendment on this point.

Our new clause seeks to offer a level of sensible protection for those parking on private land equivalent to the protections offered to people who park on the highway and wish to appeal when they have received a parking fine. For many of our constituents, it is bewildering that the law in each situation is so different. If someone parks on the highway, there is a limit on the fines and an independent appeals process, but if they park in a small private car park, or even a large retail car park, they can face unlimited fines and there is no formal regulated appeals system.

The real reason we need to move this amendment and have this debate is that the coalition Government rushed into the decision to get rid of wheel-clamping, and they did not go through any meaningful consultation with key stakeholders to discuss what the effect of removing wheel-clamping as something that a private landowner could use to protect their land. When the previous Government considered how to deal with rogue wheel-clampers and set out provisions in the Crime and Security Act 2010, those provisions were widely consulted on. Issues that had to be addressed concerned signage, the level of fees that should be paid, the methods available for payment, the evidence required and a full appeals process. They were set out fully in the drafting of the 2010 Act in order to deal with rogue wheel clampers, because it was recognised that regulation was required.

The Government have decided to introduce a ban on wheel clamping on private land, but they have failed to address the real issue now facing motorists, which is what happens when they are faced with rogue ticketers. In this regard, as in so many others, the Government have reacted in a knee-jerk fashion without really thinking through the consequences of the legislation they are bringing before the House.

Does my hon. Friend have any view on unadopted private roads in areas where there is a local authority parking scheme all around and where quite successful operations are currently run, with minimal levels of clamping? From now on clamping will be banned, so far more expensive systems will have to be introduced, which will cost residents a great deal of money—including council and social housing tenants in the area—but achieve nothing different from what exists now.

My hon. Friend makes an important point. That issue was debated in Committee, but unfortunately the Government set their face against dealing with it and recognising that there was a problem.

We believe that under the ticketing regime set out in the Bill, the motorist could still end up facing extortionate fees from rogue parking companies, which could be enforced by aggressive security staff against the driver and, if necessary, against the keeper of the vehicle. We also believe that it may still be possible to use a barrier or even a chain to block an exit to a car park, forcing individuals to pay extortionate ticket fees. We believe that rogue parking companies could threaten motorists with the bailiffs and that their credit ratings could be affected. Our amendments have wide-ranging support from the parking industry and motoring organisations. The Government’s impact assessment recognises the risk of rogue wheel-clampers becoming rogue ticketers, but the Bill is silent on what should happen in those circumstances.

Patrick Troy, the chief executive of the British Parking Association, made it clear in his evidence to the Committee that rogue clampers will just move into another form of criminality—rogue ticketing. He recognised that parking is complicated and that it is often difficult for members of the public to understand the difference between the highway and private land. In the main, motorists remain ignorant of their rights, and rogue ticketers will take advantage of this.

Edmund King of the AA said that the current arrangements for street ticketing—that is, on the highway, for which there is a good independent appeals system through the traffic penalty tribunal—are independent and accepted by motorists and the industry alike as fair and proportionate. Parking companies pay a 65p levy per penalty charge notice to pay for the system, which is fair. We should have the same ticketing provisions on appeal for those who receive tickets on private land, especially as the Government are introducing keeper liability provisions in the Bill. Without a proper, independent appeal, it is unfair and unjust that a keeper could be held liable for a ticket that he or she knows nothing about.

In his evidence to the Committee, Edmund King talked about the following situation arising:

“A company, which seems to be incredibly profitable, is carrying out private ticketing. Its website says, ‘Welcome to the ultimate recession-proof business opportunity’ which has ‘limitless earnings potential’. All the company does is…suggest…that if you have a small piece of land and wanted to make some money, you could apply to my company, and I will send you some parking notices.

You will take your digital camera and take pictures of the cars of neighbours you do not like or of anyone who parks there, and send the pictures to”

that company, which will then

“apply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for their details, send out tickets, and if 60% pay up, which they currently do,”

it will give £10 to the landowner for each ticket and pocket the rest. He continued:

“That company claims to have 1,200 agents who ticket in that way…even though that company claims to be a member of the British Parking Association, the 1,200 people are, as far as we know, just individuals. There is no control, and our worry is that the clampers who have been making money for nothing for the past 10 years are not going to give up”.––[Official Report, Protection of Freedoms Public Bill Committee, 24 March 2011; c. 145, Q419.]

Instead, they will become rogue ticketers.

Mr King also gave examples of problems in challenging the issue of a ticket, because there is at present no opportunity to do so. He cited the example of Mr B’s car, which incurred a private penalty in a Glasgow hospital car park even though Mr B and his car were in the south of France. The company involved commenced debt recovery procedures. A second case involved an AA member who had been issued with a parking charge notice by X. He had parked in the car park of a major DIY store and spent more than £1,000 in the store. It had taken him some time to choose the goods, and he received a parking charge notice from X, which stated that he had overstayed the maximum permitted time of three hours by 19 minutes. He had to pay £80, which would be reduced to £50 if he paid by a certain date.

A third example involved a Bristol driver whose car was spotted during two different visits to a fast-food outlet. The camera or operator took this to be one single visit and issued a penalty notice for 41 days’ parking. Two AA executives were also sent parking charge notices by post for infringing unclear bay marking rules in a local supermarket. Both of them challenged the parking charge notices, but they were threatened with damage to their credit rating and a visit from the bailiffs if they did not pay up.

May I give my hon. Friend another example? It involves the Peel centre, a retail park in the centre of Stockport where many of my constituents have received penalty fines for overstaying in the car park. One of my constituents challenged this in the courts and had the penalty overturned because the signage was so small that it was considered unreasonable to expect people to read the notices. Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be better to have a proper appeals system in place, rather than expecting our constituents to have to go through the courts in such cases?

That is exactly right, and our new clause sets out clearly that anyone wishing to issue tickets should be a member of the British Parking Association or an accredited trade association, and should comply with the code of practice agreed with the DVLA on proper signage and a proper appeals system. We believe that that would solve the problem.

I was retained counsel by the Automobile Association in 2000, in the case of Vine v. London borough of Waltham Forest, so I come to this matter with a degree of experience. Subsection (1) of new clause 15 attempts to create a criminal offence in certain circumstances. Does the hon. Lady agree, however, that those circumstances are already covered by the measures in the Theft Act 1968 relating to obtaining property by deception, or by consumer protection legislation?

It is quite clear that consumer protection legislation has not worked in the motorist’s favour in the past. Creating a criminal offence, as the amendment would do, would send a clear signal about how serious the matter is and how people who are going to issue tickets should be properly regulated. I am not sure that I agree with the hon. Gentleman.

I want to move on to the RAC, which gave evidence that the provisions in the Bill would not create a landscape for parking in which the motorist could be guaranteed a fair deal from the parking industry. I know that the Government have made much of the fact that they are on the side of the motorist, but when motoring organisations and members of the industry itself are saying that the system being proposed in the legislation is unfair, the Government need to think again.

As drafted, the right to challenge a ticket is very limited. It would apply only to cases in which liability could be enforced against a keeper. That means that if a person did not pay up to the parking company, the company could go after the keeper of the vehicle, whose information is held by the DVLA. The protection offered is that only a member of an accredited trade association—currently the British Parking Association—will be allowed access to DVLA information. However, the Government state in the impact assessment that they expect 74% of penalty tickets to be paid up front at the time the ticket is issued, rising to 82% when keeper liability is added in. The expectation is that people will just pay up and will not have the opportunity to lodge any kind of appeal. There is no independent appeal procedure. We understand that, under the Government amendments, members of the British Parking Association must have an internal disputes procedure, but we say that is not good enough: it is not fair and not independent. It is widely perceived that it must be independent.

I mentioned the example of the company that Edmund King suggested made a lot of money out of ticketing. Will the Minister respond on the issue of road parking companies that are not members of the British Parking Association but are able to get information about a vehicle—for example, the address of a commercial vehicle on the side of a van parked in a private car park—or to gain access to lists of customers’ details in a private car park? In those circumstances, the ticketing organisation could pursue the keeper without having gone through the DVLA. As I understand it, that could be done perfectly legally, but it could be threatening if money is demanded quickly in order to avoid the bailiffs coming round.

Will the Minister talk more about contract law and consumer protection? She made much in Committee of the fact that consumer protection law was already in place, but we made the case that that did not provide adequate protection for motorists. Will she therefore comment on the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and explain whether she feels it needs to be strengthened or whether further information needs to be given to the public about its provisions?

Let me make some specific points about the amendments in the group. New clause 15 would ensure that anyone issuing a penalty ticket must be registered with an accredited trade association, that all ticketers were currently members of the British Parking Association who must abide by the trade association’s code of practice, which is agreed, in turn, with the DVLA. The new clause also means that tickets placed on the vehicle or those issued later through the use of ANPR—automatic number plate recognition—would be subject to an independent appeals procedure. This would ensure that the maximum fines on private land are the same as for those on public roads and that the same terms and conditions, the same right of appeal and the same prompt payment discount would apply. This has widespread support. The RAC and the AA have recently conducted a populist poll of 12,000 people, of whom 98% thought that there should be some form of licensing for ticketers. That shows that there is clear and overwhelming public support for this new clause, so I hope the Minister will think again and support it.

Will the Minister clarify some points about the other amendments in the group? We welcome Government amendment 21, which came out of the evidence given to the Committee by Patrick Troy of the British Parking Association and Edmund King of the AA. The Opposition took the view that the drafting of the clause dealing with a fixed barrier was ambiguous. I am glad that the Government have recognised the issue raised by the Opposition and have sought to amend the provisions. I know, however, that the BPA still has some doubts about the new wording, as it fails specifically to mention wheel-clamping.

Government amendment 76 passes liability from the car hire company to the person who has hired the car where appropriate. Will the Minister comment on the fact that she is making it easier to transfer keeper liability in those circumstances? Has she given any thought to the circumstances where, for example, a motorist takes their car to a garage and the garage parks it on someone else’s private land? In that case, can the liability be passed back to the garage? As currently drafted, keeper liability means that the individual car owner would be liable as the keeper, even though the actions were carried out by the garage.

Amendments 39 to 54 are technical, but will the Minister explain why she wants to move from the term “relevant contract” to “relevant obligation” in the wording of the affected clauses?

Government amendment 59 deals with the issue of keeper liability. I understand that it relates to the use of ANPR and would allow a ticket to be sent to the keeper after the parking infringement has taken place. Let us suppose that a disabled person is dropped at an airport where there is a 15-minute limit for use of a parking space. Because of the nature of the disability, it takes up to 30 minutes for the car to be unpacked and moved away. What redress is open to the disabled person? If a ticketing regime were in operation, the person issuing the ticket would presumably be allowed to exercise some discretion on the basis of the disability, but an ANPR system would merely register that the car had entered the parking space at a certain time and left at a certain time, and a ticket would automatically be issued.

There has been a real failure to address issues involving disability, which we discussed at length in Committee. It is a great shame that the impact assessment still fails to acknowledge or deal with the equality issues raised by parking bays and the time that people are allowed in which to park. Perhaps the Minister will comment on the example that I have given.

I understand that the latest definition of car hire is not included in Government amendment 78. According to the hire car associations, specifying a six-month time limit is a rather old-fashioned approach, and it would be better to reflect modern leasing practices, which often involve a much longer period than six months. Perhaps the Minister could comment on that as well. As for Government amendment 62, why do the Government need the power to change the definition of “relevant land”?

I look forward to hearing from the Minister that she has had an opportunity to think again about the Bill’s failure to deal with the issue of ticketing and introduce a fair, independent system of appeal to deal with the problem of rogue ticketers, which I believe will come back to haunt the Government.

As the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) pointed out, we had a long debate in Committee on issues such as ticketing and clamping. Before I reply to her specific questions, let me remind the House what was said by many of the people she cited when we announced that we were going to ban wheel-clamping on private land. Edmund King, president of the AA, said:

“An outright ban on wheelclamping on private land is a victory for justice and common sense.”

The hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson) said:

“I just want to say that this part of the Bill is fantastic and that the Home Secretary has my full support for it.”—[Official Report, 1 March 2011; Vol. 524, c. 210.]

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“We are extremely pleased that the government has decided to deal with the scourge of clamping and towing on private land, as a matter of urgency.”

The AA said in a press release:

“It is a momentous decision to prepare new legislation to end this scourge that has blighted the name of parking control in private parking areas for so long.”

I quoted those comments partly to remind Opposition Members that what they proposed to do was license the companies concerned—in fact, individuals have been licensed, which clearly has not worked according to the tales told by almost every Member in the House about those whose cars have been clamped and from whom money has been more or less extorted—and also to remind them that the system that we propose was wanted by Members on both sides of the House. The issue now is how to ensure that we can implement it. Licensing clamping businesses, as suggested by the Opposition, was not the answer.

We have discussed the “what ifs”—all the issues that might arise—and the potential problems if rogue clampers became rogue ticketers. In Scotland clamping was banned in 1992, very successfully. On deciding to consider the option of banning, the first thing I did was ask my officials to inquire what the repercussions and difficulties had been in Scotland, such as whether the use of barriers had been impossible and whether there were rogue clampers. I looked into those matters in 2010, which was after 18 years, and my officials came back and said there had been just a handful of letters about any problems in all that time.

The hon. Lady will have received correspondence from the Aberdeen Park Maintenance Company, which manages a private road in my constituency. It has an effective, low-cost system of controls and a minimal level of clamping. Under this legislation, however, it will not be allowed to do any clamping at all. Instead it will have to install expensive barriers and employ staff. That will cost everyone, including council and social housing tenants, a great deal of money. I realise this is a somewhat anomalous argument, but in every city there are private and unadopted roads where such issues will arise, and I would be grateful if she would share her thoughts and say what response she will give to this company.

I am sure such issues will arise across the land. The way to deal with them will be through either ticketing or barriers. However, it is also possible—although this is not required—for a local authority to take over responsibility for that land and issue tickets. Such matters can be addressed in that way, therefore. I cannot give a specific response on every circumstance that might arise across the land, but in Scotland the answer was barriers or ticketing; it was not particularly complicated.

We will carefully watch how things pan out, but our proposal is our best effort to get the balance right and to make sure that we proceed without the burdens of regulating everything in the land and instead let the parking industry look after itself so there is no cost to the taxpayer if ticketing is taken forward. An appeals process will also be put in place, and I shall address the detail of that shortly.

I listened carefully to the comments of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North, and I think we are all trying to achieve the same outcome, but we just believe that we can get there in different ways. The best way in which I can respond to new clause 15 is by reference to the Government amendments in this group, which address ticketing issues.

The Government amendments propose a number of changes to schedule 4, which makes provision for vehicle keepers to be held liable for unpaid parking charges in certain circumstances. The amendments, many of which are of a drafting or technical nature, seek to clarify the effect of the provisions in order to reduce the potential for them to be misunderstood either deliberately or inadvertently by motorists, vehicle keepers and those responsible for parking restrictions and enforcement on private land.

In Committee, the hon. Lady argued for the introduction of a statutory scheme for the regulation of parking on private land which was the same as the one we are discussing now. The Opposition were particularly concerned for there to be statutory provision in respect of signage at car parks and appeals rights. That theme is again picked up in new clause 15.

I want the Minister to set out very clearly that the Government amendments do not provide for an independent appeals process, but are instead limited to keeper liability in very specific circumstances. They therefore do not provide proper and adequate independent appeals for anyone who receives a ticket.

For any land that is properly signed and under lawful authority, people will be protected by either consumer law or the appeals process that will be set up by the British Parking Association. If the hon. Lady lets me pursue my argument, I think that some of her questions will be answered.

I made it clear that parking enforcement was properly a matter for existing contract and consumer protection law, backed up by self-regulation by the parking industry. That remains the Government’s position—that is clear. However, we have looked again at the provisions in schedule 4 to see whether they include adequate safeguards for motorists and vehicle keepers, and the amendments strengthen those in two ways.

First, on appeal rights and keeper liability, I fully agree with the hon. Lady that there should be appropriate safeguards for motorists, including access to an appeals body for drivers or vehicle keepers to challenge parking charges where they believe they have been wrongly or unfairly imposed. Amendment 59 makes it clear that the notice to the driver or the keeper of a vehicle must set out the arrangements for the resolution of disputes or complaints. We have asked the parking sector, led by the British Parking Association, to establish an independent appeals body, funded by the parking industry and free to consumers, to cover tickets issued by members of the BPA or another accredited trade association. We have also made it clear that we will not bring the keeper liability provisions in schedule 4 into force unless and until the sector establishes, financially supports and agrees to abide by the decisions of an independent challenge body. Unlike the hon. Lady, we do not see a need to constitute this appeals body in legislation. We believe that effective self-regulation by the parking industry is the right way forward, wherever possible, rather than relying on a governmental regulatory approach.

I am interested in what the Minister is saying. However, self-regulation for wheel-clamping clearly did not work and we are ending up in a similar position in this area. By providing self-regulation, we will find that the good ticketing and parking companies will be members of the BPA but the organisations that are just going to intimidate and impose excessive charges through ticketing notices on vehicles will not be covered by the appeals process.

Intimidation is against the law. I would say to any motorist intimidated by a rogue ticketer that they should report it immediately to the police.

Secondly, on signage, amendment 61 sets out a reserve power to prescribe requirements on the display, content and location of signs at car parks and other relevant land. I say a “reserve power” because parking providers will be able to access DVLA keeper data, and therefore benefit from the keeper liability provisions, only if they abide by the British Parking Association’s code of practice on signage. We do not consider that regulation on signage will be necessary and we would want to introduce statutory rules on signage only if there was clear evidence that the BPA code was not living up to the job. I would be more than happy to read out to the hon. Lady the BPA code on signage, but it is quite long. Suffice it to say, it is big, clear and exactly what one would want in terms of proper parking signage. If that was not the case, we would keep an eye on the situation, but we do not want to introduce statutory rules about signage automatically because we believe that the BPA code will work.

The third significant change introduced by these amendments is to extend the application of the keeper liability regime to circumstances where an obligation to pay a parking charge arises as a result of parking on land without permission, which is to say in the context of a trespass or other tort. This change will help to address the concerns expressed by tenant associations and others about their ability to tackle unauthorised parking in communal parking areas once the ban on wheel-clamping comes into force. We have also made it clear in relation to vehicle hire companies that liability for any parking charges during the period of hire will rest with the hirer of the vehicle once the vehicle hire company provides a copy of the relevant documentation to the creditor. Again that reflects the position for on-road parking contraventions.

Finally, the amendments will allow for the use of CCTV or automatic number plate recognition technology, as well as the physical ticketing of vehicles, in order to manage parking on relevant land. Taken together, these amendments to schedule 4 will ensure that parking providers and other landowners will have an effective means of enforcing unpaid parking charges which are, at the same time, fair to the motorist and vehicle keepers.

On the concerns expressed about rogue ticketers, the Government are fully committed to monitoring the effect of the ban on vehicle immobilisation and removal and the associated keeper liability provisions in schedule 4.

I have cited the case of Scotland, where such things did not happen in anything like the way described by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North, but if there is evidence that we need to take further steps when the new arrangements are in place, we will do so. We recognise that some may attempt to extort money through rogue ticketing, but the evidence from Scotland is that that has not been a significant problem. Rogue ticketers, by definition, will not have access to the DVLA database, so will not be able to pursue the vehicle keeper. All they will be able to do is issue a ticket and hope the recipient pays up, which is quite a different level from the intimidation and extortion that exists through the bad practices of rogue wheel-clampers.

Ticketers will not be able to possess the car and prevent the person from getting away from the place where the car was parked. That is a different level of intimidation and threat to that experienced by those targeted by wheel-clampers who were out to extort money unfairly. No longer will motorists have their cars held hostage, which was clearly the main reason why the unscrupulous clampers were able to levy excessive charges. We believe that the measures we are introducing in the Bill, together with existing consumer protection laws, are sufficient to deal with issues such as rogue ticketing, inadequate signage and excessive charges.

Let me deal briefly with Government amendment 21 to clause 54, which responds to an issue raised by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North in Committee. The hon. Lady referred to the concerns expressed by the British Parking Association about the effect of subsection (3) of the clause. The provision is intended to permit the continued use of barriers as a legitimate means of parking control and enforcement once the ban on wheel-clamping comes into force. As I said many times in Committee, it is not our intention that the presence of a barrier should, in itself, confer lawful authority for the wheel-clamping of a vehicle. It is clear, however, that subsection (3) as drafted has been read as providing such authority. The Government amendment puts the matter beyond doubt. A landowner will not be committing the clause 54 offence in circumstances where a fixed barrier, present at the time when a vehicle was parked on the land in question, restricts the movement of the vehicle, but that does not mean that the landowner will be able to resort to wheel-clamping or towing away in those circumstances. I trust that the amendment makes the position crystal clear.

Let us be clear. Are we saying that if someone receives a ticket in a private car park and there is a barrier that restricts the car from being driven away, that is completely legitimate? Is the Minister saying that a vehicle can still be immobilised by a barrier being put down at the front of the car park, with a ticket being issued, so that the car cannot move away? Is that correct?

The presence of the barrier means that the owner has either expressly or implicitly consented to pay the parking charges, which must be clearly labelled under either consumer protection law or the new laws under the keeper liability or BPA rules. If he or she has paid the charge, the barrier will be lifted and they can leave the car park. They must pay the charge for the barrier to be lifted, like a normal car park. That is what happens in a normal car park—when I go shopping, that is what happens. One complies.

The point I am trying to make to the Minister is that some rogue landowners will put down barriers to immobilise vehicles but will put a ticket for, say, £500 on the car, saying, “Pay the £500 and we will take the barrier up.” That is the issue. I am concerned not about legitimate parking organisations that are members of the BPA, but about those rogue companies that are out to make a fast buck.

That has not been the experience in Scotland. I would say to motorists, first, that they should not enter unless the signage is clear and they know what they are doing, and, secondly, that if that were to happen, they should call the police. [Interruption.] I was about to say that I hope, in the light of the reassurance I have provided in respect of appeal rights and signage, that the hon. Lady will feel able to withdraw her new clause and support the Government’s amendments, but I am not sure that the timing is entirely appropriate.

The hon. Lady asked about the six-month limit for hired cars and she made a good point that we are happy to consider further. She also asked about the effect of consumer protection legislation on ticketing. Where the terms and conditions on which land may be used for parking are displayed on a prominent sign at the entrance to the land, existing consumer protection legislation applies. Such legislation protects consumers from misleading information and unfair contract terms. That deals with the point about the £500 ticket the hon. Lady mentioned, which would, under that protection, clearly be an unfair contract term. For example, where signs for motorists in a car park are misleading or where other misleading or deceptive information is given, such as the use of tickets that look like local authority tickets, there may be a breach of consumer protection regulations. If so, local authority trading standards services and the Office of Fair Trading can take enforcement action.

Where there is no prominent sign setting out the terms and conditions according to which the land may be used, there is no protection, as I have said, and the motorist should not park there as he or she is probably trespassing. However, that may not always be clear and it may be that a car park provider could be accused of making a misleading omission under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 if they fail to provide information that no parking is allowed. Maximum penalties under the regulations are a £5,000 fine on summary conviction—that is in a magistrates court—or a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both, on conviction or indictment in a Crown court. Furthermore, companies can pursue motorists for a parking fee only when they have the motorist’s contact details, and the DVLA will provide those details only to companies that are registered with an accredited trade association. I have seen no evidence that contract law and consumer protection are defective in any way in that regard.

Let me return to the issue of extortionate fees and barriers, which the hon. Lady mentioned. If she was asking whether the exemption for barriers in clause 54(3) means that a landowner will still be able to charge extortionate fees to let motorists out of a car park where there is a barrier, the answer is no because, as I have said, subsection (3)(a) requires that

“there is express or implied consent by the driver of the vehicle to restricting its movement by a fixed barrier”.

Secondly, in order to establish a contract as a basis for payment, the terms for parking have to be clearly displayed. We consider that if a landowner demanded a fee for the vehicle’s release without that basis, he would be committing an offence under subsection (1).

I know that the hon. Lady’s heart is in the right place and that we are trying to achieve something good with this Bill, but it is riddled with holes and exemptions. I foresee a scenario in which a person gets a ticket from one of these companies and the DVLA then provides that person’s address to the ticketing company, which then applies for a bailiff’s warrant in a distant court, and a bailiff then turns up and takes the person’s car. With the best will in the world, ringing up trading standards or the police will not help. If these companies cannot get you one way they will get you another way, and bailiffs’ warrants on vehicles will be in use.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that, but he is wrong. A rogue ticketer who is not a member of an accredited trade association or the British Parking Association would not be able to access the information from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

It is not the norm. This is about making parking work for everyone. We are changing what was an appalling blot on the landscape. There is probably not an MP in the House who has not written to me or the Minister who previously held my position with terrible tales of rogue clamping. At the very worst, if the hon. Lady—sorry, the hon. Gentleman—[Interruption.] I have forgotten my point now; it is lost to posterity.

Anyway, I hope that I have answered the points raised by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North. We are trying to do the right thing; we are removing a scourge. The measures have been welcomed by motoring organisations and people across the land. There is nothing as popular as the measures, as a result of people’s experiences of being clamped in unfair circumstances. I hope that the hon. Lady will feel able to withdraw her new clause and support the Government amendments. I fear that she may not, but I live in hope.

I rise briefly to support new clause 15, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson). In over 14 years as Member of Parliament for Exeter, I cannot recall a local grievance that has caused as many constituents to complain to me or seek my help as have done about the behaviour of private car park operators over the last 18 months or so. Constituents have been fined while going to buy a ticket; fined despite buying and displaying a ticket; and fined despite the fact that the ticket machine was broken at the time and the driver had left a note to that effect on his windscreen. One car park at Exeter airport, which has 24-hour digital recording of the cars going in and out, has fined motorists for using the car park to turn around in, or for driving in and out of it by mistake.

The vast majority of cases concern people who have been fined, not clamped. The common grievance is the sense of summary injustice and the lack of any right of proper appeal. In some cases, when I have intervened, the companies concerned have reduced or even waived the fines. My local newspaper, the Express & Echo, has also taken up individual cases and sought to name and shame the rogue operators, but no system of justice should have to depend on the intervention of an MP or a local newspaper. I wholeheartedly agree with the excellent editorial in The Times today that warned that the Bill threatens to make a bad situation worse. We need a proper right of appeal, and I am afraid that the appeal process outlined by the Minister, which will be on a voluntary basis, will not reassure my constituents.

No. I am making the same point that other Members have made: if we ban wheel-clamping, the danger is in the unforeseen consequences. As I hope that the hon. Lady will appreciate from her experience as a Minister, there is always a danger of moving the problem elsewhere. We are already seeing that happen in towns and cities such as mine. Her approach of a voluntary appeals process is wholly inadequate, given the problem out there; it certainly will not reassure my constituents who have suffered rogue fines.

I completely support the requirements in the new clause for any organisation enforcing a parking charge to be a member of an accredited association; for all parking signage to be clear; and for fine limits to be set at similar levels to maximum on-street parking fines. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North will push the new clause to a vote, and that hon. Members will support her.

I used to be one of the Automobile Association’s retained counsels. That is not necessarily a recommendation, but it is a past fact that I must acknowledge. I am no longer one of its retained counsels, and I am no longer a wheel-clamping specialist, but I was the counsel who represented Mrs Marina Vine. On 6 March 1997, she went to Langthorne hospital in Leytonstone. She was suffering from ulcerative colitis, and effectively she was being tested for a type of cancer. She left hospital, and on her way home, she felt violently sick. She pulled over to the side of the road, went on to what turned out to be private land, and was violently sick approximately 15 yards away from her car, just around a corner from it. In the time that intervened before her return—approximately three to four minutes—her car was wheel-clamped. She literally had to beg the clamper to release her car, but they would not do so unless she paid £105.

Everyone in the House, whether they have been here for as little as 18 months, as I have been, or for longer, understands that there is a significant problem with wheel-clamping which, it is fair to say, the previous Government attempted to address—no one disputes that. It is right that we should change the law to try to reform it, but I wish to stress one point. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) has tabled new clause 15, which seeks to make it a criminal offence to issue an excessive parking charge. I do not intend any disrespect to the hon. Lady, but section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006, which was introduced by the previous Government, the Theft Act 1968 and other measures that deal with obtaining property by deception apply in circumstances in which someone commits an offence without lawful authority—effectively dishonestly—and requires a driver or anyone in possession of a vehicle to pay a parking charge in relation to a contract to park that vehicle.

Effectively, those people take money from someone in circumstances in which they have no lawful authority to do so. I have no objection to reforming or tightening up the law in relation to wheel-clamping, but the new clause alleges that it creates a new criminal offence, when that is manifestly not the case.

Does my hon. Friend have any sympathy with the small company that has a piece of land in front of its office for its staff to park on, only for a member of the public to abuse that car park and park inappropriately and selfishly? The company lacks the ability to enforce provisions on its own land in front of its own building.

Everyone would have sympathy with those circumstances. We have all, in the process of representing our constituents, encountered wheel-clamping cases that are to the detriment of the industry itself and the previous measures that applied.

I am mindful that other Members wish to speak on an important provision, so I shall merely make the point that new clause 15 adds nothing whatsoever to the existing criminal law. As much as I support the efforts of The Times and various organisations, what we have is sufficient.

I am conscious, after the previous debate in which we discussed DNA, civil liberties and serious crime, that this may appear to be a mundane matter. However, as we have heard this evening and on other occasions, it is a source of great concern to our constituents up and down the country. I am pleased that it will be addressed in the Bill.

I very much support, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman) said a few moments ago, the introduction of a ban on wheel-clamping. As the Minister pointed out, a ban has been successful for 19 years in Scotland, and it is high time that such a provision was introduced in England and Wales. However, I very much wish to echo the concerns outlined by the right hon. Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw) and the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) that we may be shifting the problem elsewhere.

The protections that motorists enjoy as consumers differ enormously, depending on whether they park on local authority-controlled land or on privately controlled land. Under the local authority system, which is covered extensively by legislation, as we have heard, there is an appeals process that is laid down in legislation, and there is a reasonable level of fining. If someone transgresses, or apparently transgresses, the rules in a council car park, they are issued with a penalty notice of about £50, which is reduced to half that amount if it is paid within 28 days. Some two thirds of people who appeal to local authority car-park operators are successful, because they can demonstrate that they did indeed buy a ticket, which perhaps fell off the dashboard, or they can give another legitimate reason for their appeal.

That contrasts significantly with the situation of people who park on privately available public car parks and those operated by rogue car park operators. I have had one of those in my constituency. I know from raising the issue in a Westminster Hall debate that many other hon. Members have had similar problems. People, often elderly and vulnerable, receive a threatening letter in the post demanding payment, sometimes of £70 or even more. Within a couple of weeks that demand is hyped up to perhaps double the amount. There are then threats to send in the bailiffs and threats to destroy credit ratings. Even people whom we would not describe as vulnerable get very concerned, understandably, that their credit rating might be affected, and they end up paying the so-called fine—it is not, of course, a criminal penalty—because they simply want the problem to go away.

Earlier in the Session I introduced a private Member’s Bill on the very issue of consumer protection in relation to private car parks. Of course my Bill is rapidly going the way of the vast majority of private Members’ Bills. In it I proposed that local authorities should have the ability to license the operation of private car parks, in the same way as they license publicans or taxis. That would allow a responsive approach through the democratic system at a local level. However, I accept that my Bill is unlikely to find its way on to the statute book.

I hear what the Minister says with regard to self-regulation through the British Parking Association. I have met the chief executive of that organisation on a number of occasions. My assessment of its operation has been that the pilots that it has run so far have not been overly successful. It tends to be the responsible companies that are involved in such schemes, and the irresponsible ones that, understandably, are not.

I recognise that we have enough regulation on the statute book, and that the self-regulation route is the best way to go. However, if we are to go down the self-regulation route, I note that the legislation has provision for reserve powers to have the matter reviewed. I seek an assurance from the Minister that when the British Parking Association and perhaps other accredited organisations introduce an independent system of appeals, that is reviewed in a timely manner. If, as I suspect—I hope I am wrong— self-regulation does not work, those reserve powers will have to be used.

We have had an interesting debate re-examining the issue. Having listened to the Minister explaining the provisions that she is seeking to introduce by means of amendments to the Bill, and having heard her explanation of clause 54(3), I am even more concerned that companies that wish to get round the law, operate in an intimidating way and issue excessive parking tickets will see this as an opportunity to go ahead. Under clause 54(3) putting down a barrier in effect immobilises a vehicle, so I am particularly concerned about the Minister’s response on that.

The impact assessment sets out that when issued with a ticket, 74% of people will pay up, so it is well worth rogue ticketing companies putting tickets on vehicles and getting those 74% of people to pay up. They do not have to worry about dealing with the 26% who might appeal from the keeper liability angle.

I am keen to test the opinion of the House on new clause 15. In terms of rogue wheel-clampers, I think that motorists are going to be out of the frying pan and into the fire and that the rogue companies will run riot. The problem will not be solved and I think that we will be back here another day.

Does the hon. Lady not accept that the Theft Act 1968, consumer protection legislation or, more particularly, the Fraud Act 2006 apply in exactly the same way as new clause 15?

Unfortunately, none of those Acts has ever been used to deal with wheel-clamping problems. I assume that the hon. Gentleman thinks that they could be used where people have obtained excessive amounts of money by wheel-clamping and immobilising a vehicle. However, our new clause has the support of the AA, the RAC and the British Parking Association. Furthermore, given the views expressed by 98% of the 12,000 people polled on this issue, I think that we are on the side of motorists and the British public, and I certainly wish to push the new clause to a vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

Mr Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

Clause 54

Offence of immobilising etc. vehicles

Amendment made: 21, page 38, leave out lines 14 to 18 and insert—

‘(3) But, where the restriction of the movement of the vehicle is by means of a fixed barrier and the barrier was present (whether or not lowered into place or otherwise restricting movement) when the vehicle was parked, any express or implied consent (whether or not legally binding) of the driver of the vehicle to the restriction is, for the purposes of subsection (1), lawful authority for the restriction.’.—(James Duddridge.)

Clause 56

Recovery of unpaid parking charges

Amendment made: 76, page 39, line 11, leave out from ‘keeper’ to ‘has’ in line 12 and insert

‘or hirer of a vehicle in certain circumstances)’.—(James Duddridge.)

Schedule 4

Recovery of unpaid parking charges

Amendments made: 39, page 113, line 11, leave out ‘a relevant contract’ and insert

‘virtue of a relevant obligation’.

Amendment 40, page 113, line 14, leave out

‘or have only been partly paid’

and insert ‘in full’.

Amendment 41, page 113, line 22, leave out ‘claim’ and insert ‘recover’.

Amendment 42, page 113, line 24, leave out from ‘service”’ to end of line 25 and insert

‘means—

(a) in the case of the keeper, an address which is either—

(i) an address at which documents relating to civil proceedings could properly be served on the person concerned under Civil Procedure Rules; or

(ii) the keeper’s registered address (if there is one); or

(b) in the case of the driver, an address at which the driver for the time being resides or can conveniently be contacted;’.

Amendment 43, page 113, line 30, at end insert—

‘“notice to driver” means a notice given in accordance with paragraph 6A;

“notice to keeper” means a notice given in accordance with paragraph 6B or 6C (as the case may be);’.

Amendment 44, page 113, line 31, leave out from ‘charge”’ to end of line 33 and insert—

‘—

(a) in the case of a relevant obligation arising under the terms of a relevant contract, means a sum in the nature of a fee or charge, and

(b) in the case of a relevant obligation arising as a result of a trespass or other tort, means a sum in the nature of damages,

however the sum in question is described;’.

Amendment 45, page 113, line 33, at end insert—

‘“registered address” means, in relation to the keeper of a registered vehicle, the address described in paragraph 7(3)(b) (as provided by the Secretary of State in response to the application for the keeper’s details required by paragraph 7);’.

Amendment 46, page 113, line 39, after ‘on the’ insert ‘relevant’.

Amendment 47, page 114, line 3, at end insert—

‘“relevant obligation” means—

(a) an obligation arising under the terms of a relevant contract; or

(b) an obligation arising, in any circumstances where there is no relevant contract, as a result of a trespass or other tort committed by parking the vehicle on the relevant land;’.

Amendment 48, page 114, leave out lines 4 to 6.

Amendment 49, page 114, line 8, at end insert—

‘(2) The reference in the definition of “parking charge” to a sum in the nature of damages is to a sum of which adequate notice was given to drivers of vehicles (when the vehicle was parked on the relevant land).

(3) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (2) “adequate notice” means notice given by—

(a) the display of one or more notices in accordance with any applicable requirements prescribed in regulations under paragraph 7A for, or for purposes including, the purposes of sub-paragraph (2); or

(b) where no such requirements apply, the display of one or more notices which—

(i) specify the sum as the charge for unauthorised parking; and

(ii) are adequate to bring the charge to the notice of drivers who park vehicles on the relevant land.’.

Amendment 50, page 114, line 40, leave out ‘claim payment of’ and insert ‘recover’.

Amendment 51, page 114, line 42, leave out sub-paragraphs (2) to (6) and insert—

‘(2) The right under this paragraph applies only if—

(a) the conditions specified in paragraphs 5, 6, 7 and 7A (so far as applicable) are met; and

(b) the vehicle was not a stolen vehicle at the beginning of the period of parking to which the unpaid parking charges relate.

(3) For the purposes of the condition in sub-paragraph (2)(b), the vehicle is to be presumed not to be a stolen vehicle at the material time, unless the contrary is proved.

(4) The right under this paragraph may only be exercised after the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the notice to keeper is given.’.

Amendment 52, page 115, line 17, leave out ‘claimed’ and insert ‘recovered’.

Amendment 53, page 115, line 18, leave out

‘the driver under paragraph 6(2)(d) less’

and insert

‘keeper under paragraph 6B(2)(c) or (d) or, as the case may be, 6C(2)(d) (less’.

Amendment 54, page 115, line 20, leave out ‘notice is given’ and insert ‘time so specified)’.

Amendment 77, page 115, line 23, at end insert—

‘(9) The right under this paragraph is subject to paragraph 7B (which provides for the right not to apply in certain circumstances in the case of a hire car).’.

Amendment 55, page 115, line 26, leave out from ‘vehicle’ to ‘but’ in line 28 and insert

‘the requirement to pay the unpaid parking charges;’.

Amendment 56, page 115, line 29, leave out ‘enforce those terms’ and insert

‘take steps to enforce that requirement’.

Amendment 57, page 115, line 32, leave out sub-paragraph (2) and insert—

‘(2) Sub-paragraph (1)(b) ceases to apply if (at any time after the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the notice to keeper is given) the creditor begins proceedings to recover the unpaid parking charges from the keeper.’.

Amendment 58, page 115, line 34, leave out sub-paragraph (3).

Amendment 59, page 115, line 38, leave out paragraph 6 and insert—

‘6 (1) The second condition is that the creditor (or a person acting for or on behalf of the creditor)—

(a) has given a notice to driver in accordance with paragraph 6A, followed by a notice to keeper in accordance with paragraph 6B; or

(b) has given a notice to keeper in accordance with paragraph 6C.

(2) If a notice to driver has been given, any subsequent notice to keeper must be given in accordance with paragraph 6B.

6A (1) A notice which is to be relied on as a notice to driver for the purposes of paragraph 6(1)(a) is given in accordance with this paragraph if the following requirements are met.

(2) The notice must—

(a) specify the vehicle, the relevant land on which it was parked and the period of parking to which the notice relates;

(b) inform the driver of the requirement to pay parking charges in respect of the specified period of parking and describe those charges, the circumstances in which the requirement arose (including the means by which it was brought to the attention of drivers) and the other facts that made those charges payable;

(c) inform the driver that the parking charges relating to the specified period of parking have not been paid in full and specify the total amount of the unpaid parking charges relating to that period, as at a time which is—

(i) specified in the notice; and

(ii) no later than the time specified under paragraph (f);

(d) inform the driver of any discount offered for prompt payment and the arrangements for the resolution of disputes or complaints that are available;

(e) identify the creditor and specify how and to whom payment may be made;

(f) specify the time when the notice is given and the date.

(3) The notice must relate only to a single period of parking specified under sub-paragraph (2)(a) (but this does not prevent the giving of separate notices each specifying different parts of a single period of parking).

(4) The notice must be given—

(a) before the vehicle is removed from the relevant land after the end of the period of parking to which the notice relates, and

(b) while the vehicle is stationary,

by affixing it to the vehicle or by handing it to a person appearing to be in charge of the vehicle.

6B (1) A notice which is to be relied on as a notice to keeper for the purposes of paragraph 6(1)(a) is given in accordance with this paragraph if the following requirements are met.

(2) The notice must—

(a) specify the vehicle, the relevant land on which it was parked and the period of parking to which the notice relates;

(b) inform the keeper that the driver is required to pay parking charges in respect of the specified period of parking and that the parking charges have not been paid in full;

(c) state that a notice to driver relating to the specified period of parking has been given and repeat the information in that notice as required by paragraph 6A(2)(b), (c) and (f);

(d) if the unpaid parking charges specified in that notice to driver as required by paragraph 6A(2)(c) have been paid in part, specify the amount that remains unpaid, as at a time which is—

(i) specified in the notice to keeper, and

(ii) no later than the end of the day before the day on which the notice is either sent by post or, as the case may be, handed to or left at a current address for service for the keeper (see sub-paragraph (4));

(e) state that the creditor does not know both the name of the driver and a current address for service for the driver and invite the keeper—

(i) to pay the unpaid parking charges; or

(ii) if the keeper was not the driver of the vehicle, to notify the creditor of the name of the driver and a current address for service for the driver and to pass the notice on to the driver;

(f) warn the keeper that if, at the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day after that on which the notice to keeper is given—

(i) the amount of the unpaid parking charges (as specified under paragraph (c) or (d)) has not been paid in full, and

(ii) the creditor does not know both the name of the driver and a current address for service for the driver,

the creditor will (if all the applicable conditions under this Schedule are met) have the right to recover from the keeper so much of that amount as remains unpaid;

(g) inform the keeper of any discount offered for prompt payment and the arrangements for the resolution of disputes or complaints that are available;

(h) identify the creditor and specify how and to whom payment or notification to the creditor may be made;

(i) specify the date on which the notice is sent (if it is sent by post) or given (in any other case).

(3) The notice must relate only to a single period of parking specified under sub-paragraph (2)(a) (but this does not prevent the giving of separate notices which each specify different parts of a single period of parking).

(4) The notice must be given by—

(a) handing it to the keeper, or leaving it at a current address for service for the keeper, within the relevant period; or

(b) sending it by post to a current address for service for the keeper so that it is delivered to that address within the relevant period.

(5) The relevant period for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4) is the period of 28 days following the period of 28 days beginning with the day after that on which the notice to driver was given.

(6) A notice sent by post is to be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, to have been delivered (and so “given” for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4)) on the second working day after the day on which it is posted; and for this purpose “working day” means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday in England and Wales.

(7) When the notice is given it must be accompanied by any evidence prescribed under paragraph 6D.

6C (1) A notice which is to be relied on as a notice to keeper for the purposes of paragraph 6(1)(b) is given in accordance with this paragraph if the following requirements are met.

(2) The notice must—

(a) specify the vehicle, the relevant land on which it was parked and the period of parking to which the notice relates;

(b) inform the keeper that the driver is required to pay parking charges in respect of the specified period of parking and that the parking charges have not been paid in full;

(c) describe the parking charges due from the driver as at the end of that period, the circumstances in which the requirement to pay them arose (including the means by which the requirement was brought to the attention of drivers) and the other facts that made them payable;

(d) specify the total amount of those parking charges that are unpaid, as at a time which is—

(i) specified in the notice; and

(ii) no later than the end of the day before the day on which the notice is either sent by post or, as the case may be, handed to or left at a current address for service for the keeper (see sub-paragraph (4));

(e) state that the creditor does not know both the name of the driver and a current address for service for the driver and invite the keeper—

(i) to pay the unpaid parking charges; or

(ii) if the keeper was not the driver of the vehicle, to notify the creditor of the name of the driver and a current address for service for the driver and to pass the notice on to the driver;

(f) warn the keeper that if, after the period of 28 days beginning with the day after that on which the notice is given—

(i) the amount of the unpaid parking charges specified under paragraph (d) has not been paid in full, and

(ii) the creditor does not know both the name of the driver and a current address for service for the driver,

the creditor will (if all the applicable conditions under this Schedule are met) have the right to recover from the keeper so much of that amount as remains unpaid;

(g) inform the keeper of any discount offered for prompt payment and the arrangements for the resolution of disputes or complaints that are available;

(h) identify the creditor and specify how and to whom payment or notification to the creditor may be made;

(i) specify the date on which the notice is sent (where it is sent by post) or given (in any other case).

(3) The notice must relate only to a single period of parking specified under sub-paragraph (2)(a) (but this does not prevent the giving of separate notices which each specify different parts of a single period of parking).

(4) The notice must be given by—

(a) handing it to the keeper, or leaving it at a current address for service for the keeper, within the relevant period; or

(b) sending it by post to a current address for service for the keeper so that it is delivered to that address within the relevant period.

(5) The relevant period for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4) is the period of 14 days beginning with the day after that on which the specified period of parking ended.

(6) A notice sent by post is to be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, to have been delivered (and so “given” for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4)) on the second working day after the day on which it is posted; and for this purpose “working day” means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday in England and Wales.

(7) When the notice is given it must be accompanied by any evidence prescribed under paragraph 6D.

6D (1) The appropriate national authority may by regulations made by statutory instrument prescribe evidence which must accompany a notice which is to be relied on as a notice to keeper for the purposes of paragraph 6(1)(a) or paragraph 6(1)(b) (as the case may be).

(2) The regulations may in particular make provision as to—

(a) the means by which any prescribed evidence is to be generated or otherwise produced (which may include a requirement to use equipment of a kind approved for the purpose by a person specified in the regulations); or

(b) the circumstances in which any evidence is, or is not, required to accompany a notice to keeper.

(3) The regulations may—

(a) include incidental, supplementary, transitional, transitory or saving provision;

(b) make different provision for different purposes.’.

Amendment 60, page 116, line 23, leave out paragraph 7 and insert—

‘7 (1) The third condition is that—

(a) the creditor (or a person acting for or on behalf of the creditor) has made an application for the keeper’s details in relation to the period of parking to which the unpaid parking charges relate;

(b) the application was made during the relevant period for the purposes of paragraph 6B(4) (where a notice to driver has been given) or 6C(4) (where no notice to driver has been given);

(c) the information sought by the application is provided by the Secretary of State to the applicant.

(2) The third condition only applies if the vehicle is a registered vehicle.

(3) In this paragraph “application for the keeper’s details” means an application for the following information to be provided to the applicant by virtue of regulations made under section 22(1)(c) of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994—

(a) the name of the registered keeper of the vehicle during the period of parking to which the unpaid parking charges relate; and

(b) the address of that person as it appears on the register (or, if that person has ceased to be the registered keeper, as it last appeared on the register).’.

Amendment 61, page 117, line 2, at end insert—

‘7A (1) The fourth condition is that any applicable requirements prescribed under this paragraph were met at the beginning of the period of parking to which the unpaid parking charges relate.

(2) The appropriate national authority may by regulations made by statutory instrument prescribe requirements as to the display of notices on relevant land where parking charges may be incurred in respect of the parking of vehicles on the land.

(3) The provision made under sub-paragraph (2) may, in particular, include provision—

(a) requiring notices of more than one kind to be displayed on any relevant land;

(b) as to the content or form of any notices required to be displayed; and

(c) as to the location of any notices required to be displayed.

(4) Regulations under this paragraph may—

(a) include incidental, supplementary, transitional, transitory or saving provision;

(b) make different provision for different areas or purposes.’.

Amendment 78, page 117, line 2, at end insert—

‘Hire vehicles

7B (1) This paragraph applies in the case of parking charges incurred in respect of the parking of a vehicle on relevant land if—

(a) the vehicle was at the time of parking hired to any person under a hire agreement with a vehicle-hire firm; and

(b) the keeper has been given a notice to keeper within the relevant period for the purposes of paragraph 6B(4) or 6C(4) (as the case may be).

(2) The creditor may not exercise the right under paragraph 4 to recover from the keeper any unpaid parking charges specified in the notice to keeper if, within the period of 28 days beginning with the day after that on which that notice was given, the creditor is given—

(a) a statement signed by or on behalf of the vehicle-hire firm to the effect that at the material time the vehicle was hired to a named person under a hire agreement;

(b) a copy of the hire agreement; and

(c) a copy of a statement of liability signed by the hirer under that hire agreement.

(3) The statement of liability required by sub-paragraph (2)(c) must—

(a) contain a statement by the hirer to the effect that the hirer acknowledges responsibility for any parking charges that may be incurred with respect to the vehicle while it is hired to the hirer;

(b) include an address given by the hirer (whether a residential, business or other address) as one at which documents may be given to the hirer;

(and it is immaterial whether the statement mentioned in paragraph (a) relates also to other charges or penalties of any kind).

(4) A statement required by sub-paragraph (2)(a) or (c) must be in such form (if any) as may be prescribed by the appropriate national authority by regulations made by statutory instrument.

(5) The documents mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) must be given by—

(a) handing them to the creditor;

(b) leaving them at any address which is specified in the notice to keeper as an address at which documents may be given to the creditor or to which payments may be sent; or

(c) sending them by post to such an address so that they are delivered to that address within the period mentioned in that sub-paragraph.

(6) In this paragraph and paragraph 7C—

(a) “hire agreement” means an agreement which—

(i) provides for a vehicle to be let to a person (“the hirer”) for a period not exceeding 6 months (whether or not the period is capable of extension by agreement between the parties so as to exceed 6 months); and

(ii) is not a hire-purchase agreement within the meaning of the Consumer Credit Act 1974;

(b) any reference to the currency of a hire agreement includes a reference to any period during which, with the consent of the vehicle-hire firm, the hirer continues in possession of the vehicle as hirer, after the expiry of any period specified in the agreement but otherwise on terms and conditions specified in it; and

(c) “vehicle-hire firm” means any person engaged in the hiring of vehicles in the course of a business.

7C (1) If—

(a) the creditor is by virtue of paragraph 7B(2) unable to exercise the right to recover from the keeper any unpaid parking charges mentioned in the notice to keeper, and

(b) the conditions mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) below are met,

the creditor may recover those charges (so far as they remain unpaid) from the hirer.

(2) The conditions are that—

(a) the creditor has within the relevant period given the hirer a notice in accordance with sub-paragraph (5) (a “notice to hirer”), together with a copy of the documents mentioned in paragraph 7B(2) and the notice to keeper;

(b) a period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the notice to hirer was given has elapsed; and

(c) the vehicle was not a stolen vehicle at the beginning of the period of parking to which the unpaid parking charges relate.

(3) In sub-paragraph (2)(a) “the relevant period” is the period of 21 days beginning with the day after that on which the documents required by paragraph 7B(2) are given to the creditor.

(4) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (2)(c) a vehicle is to be presumed not to be a stolen vehicle at the material time, unless the contrary is proved.

(5) The notice to hirer must—

(a) inform the hirer that by virtue of this paragraph any unpaid parking charges (being parking charges specified in the notice to keeper) may be recovered from the hirer;

(b) refer the hirer to the information contained in the notice to keeper;

(c) warn the hirer that if, after the period of 21 days beginning with the day after that on which the notice to hirer is given, the amount of unpaid parking charges referred to in the notice to keeper under paragraph 6B(2)(f) or 6C(2)(f) (as the case may be) has not been paid in full, the creditor will (if any applicable requirements are met) have the right to recover from the hirer so much of that amount as remains unpaid;

(d) inform the hirer of any discount offered for prompt payment and the arrangements for the resolution of disputes or complaints that are available;

(e) identify the creditor and specify how and to whom payment may be made; and

(f) specify the date on which the notice is sent (if it is sent by post) or given (in any other case).

(6) The documents mentioned in sub-paragraph (2)(a) must be given by—

(a) handing them to the hirer;

(b) leaving them at an address which is either—

(i) an address specified in the statement of liability mentioned in paragraph 7B(2)(c) as an address at which documents may be given to the hirer; or

(ii) an address at which documents relating to civil proceedings could properly be served on the hirer under Civil Procedure Rules; or

(c) sending them by post to such an address so that they are delivered to that address within the relevant period for the purposes of sub-paragraph (2)(a).’.

Amendment 62, page 117, leave out lines 17 to 34 and insert—

‘9 (1) The appropriate national authority may by order made by statutory instrument amend this Schedule for the purpose of—

(a) amending the definition of “relevant land” in paragraph 3;

(b) adding to, removing or amending any of the conditions to which the right conferred by paragraph 4 is for the time being subject.

(2) The power to amend this Schedule for the purpose mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(b) includes, in particular, power to add to, remove or amend—

(a) any provisions that are applicable for the purposes of a condition; and

(b) any powers of the appropriate national authority to prescribe anything for the purposes of a condition by regulations made by statutory instrument.

(3) An order under this paragraph may—

(a) include incidental, supplementary, transitional, transitory or saving provision;

(b) make different provision for different purposes.

10 (1) A statutory instrument containing regulations under any provision of this Schedule is subject to annulment by—

(a) a resolution of either House of Parliament (in the case of regulations made by the Secretary of State); or

(b) a resolution of the National Assembly for Wales (in the case of regulations made by the Welsh Ministers).

(2) A statutory instrument containing an order made under paragraph 9—’.—(Lynne Featherstone.)

Bill to be further considered tomorrow.