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Right To Have Someone Informed Of Detention Under Terrorism Provisions

Volume 114: debated on Wednesday 8 April 1987

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I beg to move amendment No. 19, in page 9, line 13, at end insert—

'(1A) A person shall be informed of the right conferred on him by subsection (1) as soon as practicable after he has become a person to whom that subsection applies.'.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment No. 22.

In Committee, the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) moved an amendment requiring that a person on whom statutory rights are conferred—clauses 12 and 13 — should be informed of these rights. I should emphasise, as did my hon. Friend the Minister of State in Committee, that in practice when a person is arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984, the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 or for any scheduled offence the RUC is careful to ensure that he is aware of his rights, and it provides him with a card setting out those rights. However, the Government accept that it would be appropriate to set out on the face of the Bill the requirement to inform a detained person of his rights, and these amendments to clauses 12 and 13 achieve that aim. I commend them to the House.

I thank the Minister for putting into legislation the undertaking that was given in Committee. It was a serious debate. We felt very strongly about this matter, and the new wording fully brings the Bill into line with what we discussed in Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move amendment No. 20, in page 9, line 22, leave out from 'period' to end of line 24 and insert—

'referred to in subsection (4A)'.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 21 and 23.

These amendments are intended to meet the criticism that was made in Committee by the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) that the wording of clauses 12 and 13 concerning the maximum period for which the exercise of the rights conferred by those clauses may be delayed was ambiguous, or at least unclear. The amendments do not change the substance of the provision for delay, but they show more clearly the extent of the permitted delay. Where the detained person was being examined before his detention in accordance with an order under section 13 of the 1984 Act—for example, by an examining officer at a seaport or airport— the period of 48 hours runs from the start of the examination. In all other cases, the period of 48 hours runs from the time that the person was detained.

I trust that the House will welcome these amendments in the interest of clarification.

I am in duty bound to express satisfaction with the amendment. It does not often fall to us to get the better of a parliamentary draftsman. On the rare occasions when we do, the draftsmen are always very generous and ready to come to our aid with an even better proposal than that which we had put forward. This, for me, will remain one of those occasions.

I echo what has been said by the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell). It was a pleasure to serve on the Committee. The debates about draftsmanship were at least as interesting as the debates about the substance of the Bill. I welcome the amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No 21, in page 9, line 24, at end insert—

`(4A) That period is
  • (a) (except where paragraph (b) applies) the period of 48 hours beginning with the time when the detained person was first detained under the terrorism provisions;
  • (b) where the detained person was, prior to the lime when he was first so detained being examined in accordance with any order under section 13 of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984, the period of 48 hours beginning with the time when he was first so examined.'.