Hold your Criminal Finance horses

Well, it’s here: the Criminal Finances Act 2017 has received Royal Assent.  And it has been quite an education in legislative procedure for me at least.  For instance, did you know that the progress of a Bill (before an Act is approved as an Act, it is known as a Bill) can be tracked through the two houses via its own little “thermometer”?  The one for the Criminal Finances Act is now completed (a bit like those fundraising thermometers) and you can see it here.  If a Bill starts in the Commons (as the majority do) it goes through three readings there, with amendments along the way, before being sent to the Lords for another three readings with amendments.  The final Lords amendments are then sent back to the Commons for approval; if they disagree, back it comes – this to-ing and fro-ing can carry on for some time, and is charmingly known as “Ping Pong”.  If there’s a stalemate, the Bill will die (or “fall”, in the correct parlance).  And some Bills are timed out – in other words, no final decision is reached by the end of the Parliamentary session (which is called prorogation).  This was a real concern with the Criminal Finances Bill, as it then was, as it was still being debated right up to the wire, being sent back to the Commons with some Lords amendments on 26 April 2017, with the prorogation announcement expected on 27 April.  It does, as they say, concentrate the mind, and I even had a little email conversation with a nice lady in the Lords Government Whips’ Office about when it might all happen.

Of course, the passing of a Bill into Act-dom is not the end of the story.  If you look at the (final-ish) text of the CFA 2017 (as I write this it has not yet been published on the legislation.gov.uk website, but I am using the draft printed on 25 April and sent to the Lords for final amendments, which did not affect the point I am trying to make – phew!)… if you look at that final-ish text, right at the end, in the section entitled Commencement, is this little sentence: “This Act comes into force on whatever day or days the Secretary of State appoints by regulations made by statutory instrument.”  Yes: the Act is in existence but not yet in force.  We now have to wait for a Commencement Order to be made to bring the CFA 2017 into effect.  And heaven only knows when that will be, as – what with the General Election and Brexit – the eighteen Secretaries of State may have other things on their minds.

This entry was posted in Bribery and corruption, Legislation, Money laundering and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Hold your Criminal Finance horses

  1. CDWOS says:

    Susan,
    Interesting process somewhat akin to the one out here although we also need Privy Council approval. We also see from time to time wording to the effect that “will come into force when XXXX(Jersey) 2017 comes into force”. Leads to great fun and games. As for you it is in existence but not in force and won’t be until another related or possibly unrelated piece of legislation comes into force at which point you are bound by the legislation that is of interest. So we all understand where we stand!!

  2. Clarinda says:

    Interesting read. Also, commencement will usually be via Statutory Instrument which will be drafted by relevant competent authority – either a government department or a QUANGO (in this case HMT/HMO or HMRC/FCA).

    The expectation from HMRC is that commencement will be from September 2017 but nobody knows whether that will be Sep 1st or Sept 30th….

  3. It all sounds a bit barmy, doesn’t it! I suspect the commencement thing was a wheeze invented when they (some government in bygone days) needed to get legislation in before a certain deadline but weren’t really ready to deal with the fall-out. It has turned out a bit “Red Queen” in effect (sentence first – verdict afterwards)…
    Best wishes from Susan

  4. Pingback: More haste, less progress | I hate money laundering

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