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Document Relating To Seizure Of Property

Volume 350: debated on Wednesday 17 May 2000

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'(1) Appropriate Language.
An appropriate language in section 4(4)(b) is one of the following:
  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Albanian
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Azeri
  • Belarussian
  • Bulgarian
  • Croatian (the western variant of Serbo-Croat—also called Croato-Serb)
  • Estonian
  • Georgian
  • Greek
  • Hungarian
  • Kurdish
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Macedonian
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian (the eastern variant of Serbo-Croat)
  • Serbo-Croat
  • Slovak
  • Slovene
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian.
(2) Reasons for Seizure.
The reasons for the seizure are that the person having possession or control has committed a Park Trading Offence, namely (insert offence).
(3) List of Items Seized.
(List the items seized)
(4) Rights and Liabilities.
The person having possession or control and from whom the thing or things were seized shall be informed that—
  • (a) the Secretary of State may retain the thing or things until the conclusion of court proceedings;
  • (b) the Secretary of State may sell the thing or things and use the proceeds to pay his costs if the person having possession or control is found guilty of an offence;
  • (c) the court may order the thing or things to be forfeited and destroyed if found guilty of an offence;
  • (d) the person having possession of the thing or things may make representations to the court about their disposal before the court makes an order.'.
  • It is a pleasure to make such considerable progress on the Bill. We are now beginning to gallop. It is a pity that our proceedings have to be interrupted shortly, because we could polish the Bill off in another hour if only we had the time.

    Had it not been for the statement, we might now be concluding Third Reading.

    My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) and I have always been keen to ensure that we get the Bill on the statute book at the earliest opportunity, following proper parliamentary scrutiny. It is excellent to see the House operating properly, as the Parliament of this country has consistently operated over the years, giving excellent scrutiny to a Bill that will make a fundamental difference to the state of affairs in the royal parks, about which many hon. Members on both sides are concerned.

    My first two amendments are considerable—No. 6 would delete clauses 4 and 5. They are exploratory amendments, although there are others in the group that I may wish to pursue more vigorously. I, too, pay tribute to the Minister for his courtesy and consistency and for the detail of his replies, which has enabled us not to press our amendments, having been persuaded of the merits of the case. However, if his reply to these amendments is less satisfactory than his replies have been so far, I shall unfortunately have to pursue them to a Division. I hope that we can avoid that.

    I do not wish to pursue the first two amendments to a Division, because I do not wish to delete provisions that may be essential to the proper enforcement of the Act. However, it is right to explore, in the Minister's words, the other section of the panoply of legislative sledgehammers that he and his Department feel it necessary to take to those who sell hamburgers, hot dogs and other goods in stalls in the royal parks. We have already dealt properly with fines and explored how effective the Government's proposal of level 3 on the standard scale—a £1,000 fine—would be. We did not press our proposals for a £500 fine; we are happy with £1,000 and consider that reasonable and sensible. We must now turn our attention to whether the parks police should have the additional power to seize all the property of those committing the offences and to retain and dispose of that property—

    It being Seven o'clock, and there being private business set down by direction of THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS under Standing Order No.20 (Time for taking private business), further proceedings stood postponed.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will be aware that this afternoon, in a written answer, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food divulged the rather alarming information that genetically modified crops had been planted in this country during the past two years, contrary to Government policy, on the basis of recent information from Advanta Seeds UK. Perhaps you are not aware that the Minister then provided further information to journalists to the effect that 14,000 hectares of GM crops had been sown and that the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions became aware of that on 17 April.

    Order. I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would put a point of order to the Chair.

    First, have you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, had any approaches from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions or the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at any time during the past four weeks seeking to make the House aware of that information? Secondly, is it in order for a Minister inadvertently to give the House partial and perhaps misleading information in the form of a written answer and then provide much fuller information, which is essential to an understanding of the case, to the press but not to right hon. and hon. Members?

    Obviously, the Chair cannot comment on the contents of answers to questions tabled by hon. Members, but no doubt the Government and the House will have heard the point that the hon. Gentleman has made.