[2nd Allocated Day]
Further consideration of Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee
New Clause 16
CCTV and crime prevention and detection
‘The Secretary of State must commission a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary into the use of CCTV by the police and local authorities as a measure for the prevention and detection of crime.’.—(Mr Hanson.)
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 110, page 20, line 7, clause 29, leave out
‘a code of practice containing’.
Amendment 104, page 20, line 9, leave out
‘Such a code must contain guidance’
‘The guidance may contain information’.
Amendment 105, page 20, line 12, at end add—
‘(c) the importance of using CCTV to prevent and detect crime,
(d) ways to take into account the views of the public in relation to CCTV provision, including the use of public petitions.’.
Amendment 106, page 20, leave out lines 13 to 28.
Amendment 95, page 20, line 13, leave out from ‘code’ to end of line 24 and insert
‘must have, in particular—
(a) regard to the purpose of prevention and detection of crime,
(b) consideration for petitions from the public as consultation on CCTV provision, with any such petition to be brought to the attention of the Commissioner,
(c) not inhibiting CCTV provision for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime, and
(d) consideration as to whether the use of CCTV will prevent and detect crime.’.
Amendment 107, page 20, line 29, leave out ‘such a code’ and insert ‘guidance’.
Government amendment 20.
Amendment 99, page 21, line 14, leave out clause 30.
Amendment 100, page 21, line 35, leave out clause 31.
Amendment 101, page 22, line 22, leave out clause 32.
Amendment 102, page 22, line 30, leave out clause 33.
Amendment 103, page 24, line 5, clause 34, leave out ‘code’ and insert ‘guidance’.
Amendment 96, page 24, line 6, leave out ‘code’ and insert ‘guidance’.
Amendment 97, page 24, line 6, leave out from ‘code’ to end of line 8.
Amendment 98, page 24, line 30, clause 35, leave out ‘code’ and insert ‘guidance’.
Government amendments 31 and 67.
I rise to speak to new clause 16, tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Eltham (Clive Efford) and for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) and the others listed.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gedling, who originally tabled new clauses and amendments on behalf of the shadow Home Office team, has been promoted to the shadow Cabinet. If you will indulge me, Mr Speaker, I will begin by paying tribute to him for his sterling work in the police field during his time in this brief. Once upon a time, he was the Policing Minister. I succeeded him in government as the Policing Minister, he succeeded me as the shadow Policing Minister in opposition, and I succeed him again as the shadow Policing Minister. Between us, we have several years of service, but not continuously. I wish to place on record my thanks to my hon. Friend for his work in raising what we accept are politically contentious issues at a time when there is real concern about the future direction of policing and there are real differences between the Government and the Opposition. However, I hope I can say, on behalf of the Government as well as the Opposition, that he exercised those duties in a fair and equitable way.
I, too, put on record, in the nicest possible way, my best wishes to the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker). He and I had some frank exchanges over the years, but I certainly mark out the good-natured way in which we were able to reconcile our differences at times, and I welcome him to his new responsibilities.
I am grateful for the Minister’s support for my comments about my hon. Friend. I assure the Minister that I will try to kick him very hard on some of the political issues, but I hope that we can enjoy a similar relationship to that he had with my predecessor. Having dealt with the hon. Gentleman from the Government side of the Chamber when he was in opposition, I am sure that we will have a positive relationship.
I welcome my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Gloria De Piero), who has joined the shadow team and is graciously supporting me in this debate.
Indeed. I strongly appreciate my hon. Friend’s support in dealing with the proposals before the House.
I will move on to the meat of the issue, because that is important for the House. Part 2 of the Bill proposes the introduction of a surveillance code covering the operation of CCTV by public authorities in England and Wales, and the creation of a commissioner to promote compliance with the code. The code will operate as a mechanism of self-regulation and will be set by the Secretary of State. Our new clause and amendments would do several things which we want to explore with the Minister to get a feel for the approach he is taking. These matters were considered heavily in Committee. Perhaps fortunately, on some levels, I was not there, so we may need to revisit some of them today. It is important that we examine the concerns about CCTV; the amendments are designed to get a flavour at least of the Government’s thinking and to place on record the Opposition’s views.
Labour Members want to ensure that the role of CCTV is strengthened and its importance is recognised. We want to ensure that the code operates in an effective way and does not hamper the development of CCTV. We want to have a presumption in favour of the police being able to set up CCTV in our communities to tackle crime through prevention and through bringing perpetrators to justice. The purpose of new clause 16 is to put in place a review by Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary to ensure that we examine, quantify and agree on the definitive benefits of CCTV so that we know exactly the baseline.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way and welcome him to his post. Shortly before the last general election, I heard a police officer from my region say on TV that his vision was to have CCTV cameras on one in three houses. He said that that would really give us a good eye on what was happening. Is that the sort of vision that the right hon. Gentleman has?
I have a vision of CCTV playing a role in stopping crime and catching criminals. Communities in constituencies such as Ashfield and mine in north Wales should have confidence that if a crime is committed, people can be caught using CCTV. It might also have a deterrent effect. We should have a proportionate response with CCTV in appropriate places where police, local authorities and, as we have discussed and will discuss, the private sector feel there is a need to provide such reassurance and support.
I would be comfortable with a reduction in crime like that under the previous Labour Government. I think that CCTV plays an important role. I will come on to that in a moment and we will test whether the hon. Gentleman would support the examples that I give.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his elevation, or perhaps I should say on his sideways move to shadow the position he held in government. I want to probe him on why he chose HMIC as the organisation that would monitor this matter under the new clause. In the new landscape, we tend to put a lot of responsibility on HMIC and I wonder whether it has the resources to deal with these additional responsibilities, important though they are.
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his welcome. One advantage of being in opposition, although there are not many, is that his Select Committee will not scrutinise me and my Department, as they will the Minister. There are occasional silver linings in what are very big clouds.
My right hon. Friend asked a valid question about HMIC. He will know that the new clause was tabled prior to my elevation to this post and that it was my right hon. and hon. Friends who chose HMIC. It is important that HMIC looks at issues of police performance, one of which is the role of CCTV and its effectiveness in fighting crime. There may be other mechanisms to look at that, but I want to hear from the Minister a defence of CCTV. I am already getting a slight sniff that some coalition Members are not so supportive of CCTV.
CCTV clearly has a role, which is why the Bill does not make having it illegal and merely tries to regulate it. CCTV is very useful in some cases. To answer the question that the right hon. Gentleman refused to answer, I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea of having CCTV cameras on one in three houses. I think that that would be a horrible, Big Brother state and it slightly alarms me that he is keen on it.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but he should not put words in other Members’ mouths. What I have said is that CCTV should play a role. I do not expect ever to see one in three houses in my street or in his street with CCTV cameras, but there is no strategic need for us to put obstacles in the way of CCTV being put in place if there is a need for it.
Is it not better to put it slightly differently? Many of our constituents who have suffered nuisance and criminality in their environment come to us and ask, “Why can’t we have CCTV?” Should this not be a matter on which we liaise with local communities to ensure that the scope of CCTV meets their needs?
As ever, my hon. Friend speaks common sense. Perhaps part of the guidance to be issued in due course could be about such consultation. I have not yet, in nearly 20 years as a Member of this House, had anybody come to me to say, “Mr Hanson, please do not put a CCTV camera in our street.”
It may happen in Cambridge, but it does not happen in my constituency in north Wales. In fact, most people in my constituency argue for more CCTV cameras, not fewer. I have digressed, but I repeat that new clause 16 asks for HMIC to make a case for the crime fighting capability of CCTV.
The second objective of our amendments is to strip away some of the bureaucracy that we believe could act as an obstacle to the police doing their job of tackling crime and making communities safer. I would welcome the Minister giving his view on why there has been no mention yet of the private sector’s role in relation to the further regulation of CCTV.
I hope it will help the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) if I say that only a few hours ago I looked through news from the past week or so about the impact of CCTV in our communities. I pulled off the internet four examples from just the past week of real instances in which CCTV has made a difference. I worry that the code of practice that the Minister is bringing in might well have an impact on the ability of the police or local authorities to provide the necessary level of CCTV coverage.
I looked first at the Daily Mail, which, as my hon. Friends will know, is an august publication that is required reading for Opposition spokesmen on every occasion. It had a headline that read, “Masked bank robber caught on CCTV holding a sawn-off shotgun to bank customer’s head”. There was a private CCTV camera in the bank, on which the individual was caught, but helpfully for him he had placed on his head a balaclava that covered his face, so he was not recognised. However, the gentleman concerned, a Mr Trevor Hayes, was recognised pulling his balaclava off his head as he walked away from the bank, in Watlington, Oxfordshire, having been caught on a local authority CCTV camera. I should like to discuss the case with the Minister; Mr Hayes is now serving 15 years for the bank robbery, which was caused by his actions but solved by CCTV capturing him on camera. My question to the Minister is whether his code of practice will ultimately lead to less use of CCTV by local authorities.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but what concerns me is that the coalition’s programme for government states that it is committed to implementing
“a full programme of measures to…roll back state intrusion.”
As part of that programme, it undertakes to “further regulate CCTV”. I am sure he would accept that capturing an individual, who is now serving 15 years, through local authority CCTV on a public highway is not “state intrusion” but a valuable use of CCTV.
That is what I want to test the Minister on. I know that he has discussed the code at length in Committee, and I am sorry that I was not there to share those moments with him. I shall quote the consultation for the benefit of the hon. Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson). It states that the code will include consideration of
“whether the proposed installation is part of a developed and integrated strategy…clarity on the main purpose and perceived advantages of the use of the technology
“assessment of whether…technology will meet that purpose in full…whether there are alternative means of achieving the same outcomes…whether accompanying safeguards (including operating procedures) are already in place or need to be developed”
“impact assessments (including environmental, privacy, disproportionality etc)”.
The hon. Member for Cambridge hinted at privacy considerations. All I am saying is that I am worried that the code—as I understand it, the guidance has not been published—could lead to more hoops for local authorities and/or the police to jump through before a camera is in place in, for example, Watlington, Oxfordshire, to capture an armed robber and lead to his conviction. I should like some clarity before we reach a settlement that stops such a criminal being brought to justice.
My right hon. Friend was the Policing Minister when the Home Affairs Committee in the previous Parliament published its report on the surveillance society. In that report, the Committee warned of the excessive number of cameras. No one denies that there are areas where there is a demand for such cameras and that proper policing priorities mean that there ought to be cameras on some buildings. However, he must accept that we reached the end of the road with the unlimited use of CCTV all over the country in all circumstances. Surely there must be criteria to judge whether it is needed.
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that, in addition to the number of CCTV cameras, it is important to consider their quality? One problem that police come up against is the fact that many CCTV cameras are not turned on or aimed in the right direction, and do not capture the important data that they should capture. Rather than aiding the police in detecting and preventing crime, such cameras do not achieve what they should achieve. Perhaps a regulatory framework would assist rather than hinder the police. A properly framed regulatory framework could improve the situation for CCTV and surveillance in this country rather than create the problems that the right hon. Gentleman seems to imply it might.
May I helpfully—I hope—agree with the hon. Lady? I believe that we need strong, quality CCTV cameras. In one estate in my constituency, incidents have been seen by CCTV, but no convictions resulted, because the camera quality was insufficient and the pictures were blurred.
I apologise if these matters were covered in Committee, but it is important that we cover them again. I am just testing my worry with the Minister. The code will include consideration of
“the appropriateness of permanent or temporary/mobile cameras…cost benefit analysis…consultation with relevant partners…appropriate consultation with the public, or…specific group”
“reviews of the continuing need for, or value of, any system installed.”
Those criteria have been set, and my simple question, which I hope answers the point made by the hon. Member for Dartford, is whether those hoops will help to maintain CCTV, or whether they will say to local authorities, “There is cost, time and aggro. Do you really want it?” Residents of a street in Cambridge might say, “We don’t want CCTV in our street,” but that street might just happen to be the one that Mr Hayes walks down when he takes off his balaclava.
The Opposition’s new clause 16 simply says that we want Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary to undertake separately an assessment of the importance of CCTV as part of the crime-fighting capability of the police. That mechanism would say, “We recognise the importance of CCTV.” I want a clear statement from the Minister and the Government that CCTV is important and that their proposals will not add to the bureaucracy, time and difficulty of putting CCTV cameras in place.
Let us go back to basics. The Government say that they want to roll back “state intrusion”, but I do not believe that capturing a criminal who has just carried out a bank robbery is state intrusion. However, according to the logic of the hon. Member for Cambridge, CCTV cameras are not necessarily a positive thing in those circumstances. His logic is that “state intrusion” and CCTV cameras, used in a wide range of circumstances and covering different streets, might not be a positive thing.
In Northern Ireland, we have a large expanse of CCTV. In my area, we have them in our town, but there is a demand coming from the general public. The right hon. Gentleman has given one example in which cameras have proved useful. In the town that I represent, the general public want CCTV. It has reduced crime in the town centre by 50%, car theft by 45% and theft of other items by 55%. Clearly, CCTV can deliver and is a sleeping policeman that reduces crime.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend—if I can call him that—for his comments. I shall quote from an article last week in the Batley and Birstall News:
“Sgt Chris Hughes from Batley Neighbourhood Policing Team said the cameras were a ‘massive plus’ for the police. He said: ‘CCTV is independent evidence at the end of the day telling us exactly what’s going on and whether someone should be charged with an offence or not. CCTV is a massive, massive investigation tool for the police. We rely on it for everything from street crime to terrorist activity and murder.’”
In supporting the new clauses and amendments tabled by my hon. Friends, I simply point out that the coalition agreement states clearly that the Government want to roll back “state intrusion”. That sends a signal about a starting place which is not the starting place I am at.
The right hon. Gentleman is right to raise the case he did. I do not think that anyone in the House wants to prevent cameras in that situation from capturing people who rob banks, and I do not think that that is the intention of the Bill. However, we could just as easily identify cases in which public cameras are pointed on private areas. We need to find a way, through regulation, of ensuring that public cameras act as a deterrent and provide safety for the public, but do not intrude on private individuals in their own backyards.
I shall try to find some common ground. I do not necessarily think that the public state sector—the police and local authorities, which is what we are dealing with in the Bill—should be training cameras on people’s private homes. However, the code of practice refers to
“appropriate consultation with the public, or any specific group, most directly affected by any planned surveillance”.
I shall cite a case in Southampton this week. A local paper reported:
“A thug who punched two men in separate unprovoked attacks during a drug and booze fuelled night out in Southampton has been locked up. One of Jamal Farooq’s victims was left needing surgery on a fractured jaw after being ferociously hit in the face in the apparently random attack… The attack…came shortly after CCTV cameras had caught Farooq, of Orchard Lane, Southampton, approaching and punching an unknown victim in another apparently unprovoked attack.”
He was only caught because of CCTV cameras in an area where there were public places as well as private places. He was only convicted because of the CCTV cameras.
Following a match between Luton Town and York last year, the police released CCTV footage to the media in an effort to track down offenders, which led to four convictions of individuals for gross activity and violence at a football match, including for
“taking brooms, mops, pans…outside a DIY store in Bury Park and throwing them at police.”
That happened in a public area where, under these proposals, there might need to be appropriate consultation with the public, which might mean further hoops to jump through. I think that the wider public interest, to which the local authority—elected by the public, let us remember—must have regard, and the police, who will shortly be accountable to police commissioners, can provide sufficient control to manage these issues in a way that does not add hoops. I want the Minister to justify the code to ensure that we are not putting in place something that will roll back what is termed “state intrusion” by the coalition agreement.
In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson), the right hon. Gentleman gave a number of examples, but I do not think that they accurately characterise the problem between public and private areas. An example of a local authority possibly creating a problem of privacy would be a local school wishing to put CCTV cameras in the children’s bathrooms or changing rooms. That could create more problems, which we might want to address in a regulatory way. Similarly, a camera placed on a local authority building might also overlook private housing. Those are the kinds of areas in which the public-private dynamic creates problems, and a regulatory framework would be helpful in resolving them.
Those are interesting ideas to test in the debate, but we have not got the guidance. I confess to the Minister that, in the dying days of the Labour Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr Campbell) and I looked at how we might manage this, and we did not reach any conclusions. The key question is: how do we ensure that CCTV in public places is not discriminated against by the hoops that are being set up by the legislation?
The new clause proposes an independent assessment by the police, through Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary, of the importance of CCTV, to ascertain how it contributes to crime fighting and crime prevention, prior to the code and the guidance being produced. We do not want the code and the guidance to militate against the crime-fighting potential of CCTV.
I want to touch briefly on automatic number plate recognition. This is another area in which “state intrusion”, in the form of examining number plates, could be discriminated against by the proposals in the Bill. The random examination of number plates is an effective crime-fighting tool. I have seen it at work in my own force in north Wales, when I have sat in the back of vans, both as a Policing Minister and as a constituency MP. A code could, however, fail to acknowledge its importance. I want clarification from the Minister on whether automatic number plate recognition will be seen as the “state intrusion” mentioned in the coalition agreement.
Let me give an example from my constituency. Only recently, Mr Laurence Bernard Levey and Mr Gary Warner were convicted of conspiring to secure the robbery of some £140,000 worth of cash and jewellery from the home of one of my constituents. After a long trail was followed between a jewellery store and a well-known criminal with previous convictions, the conviction was achieved only because automatic number plate recognition cameras were able to prove that a car had been in a certain place at a certain time, which tied in with the mobile phone records of another party who said that those involved had never met. The automatic number plate recognition and the mobile phone records tied those individuals to that place at that time.
The Government could argue that having automatic number plate recognition equipment stationed at certain places at certain times constitutes “state intrusion”, because such equipment could capture my car, or those of my hon. Friends the Members for Ashfield and for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Andrew Miller) or my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), for example, as we drove past that location, but would that be “state intrusion”, or would it simply provide a record, if it were needed, that a certain person had been in a certain place at a certain time? Such undeniable evidence ultimately led to the conviction last week of the two individuals I mentioned: Mr Warner received a sentence of 16 years in prison and Mr Levey one of 10 years. In my view, that “state intrusion” helped to bring justice for my constituent, whose property was stolen by two people who will now have a long time in prison to reflect on the importance of automatic number plate recognition.
I am not alone in saying that; the Local Government Group said in evidence to the Committee that CCTV had been
“instrumental in bringing criminals to justice including in the Jamie Bulger case, the…bombings in London and the murder of Ben Kinsella,”
and other murders—indeed, CCTV was used in 86 investigations into 90 murders in London in one year. Our starting point is that CCTV is a good tool for the police in tackling crime. I do not want confused and piecemeal legislation that could negatively affect the police’s ability to carry out their work. The purpose of our new clause is to ensure that we analyse the police’s assessment of CCTV before finalising the code and guidance. New clause 16 reinforces our other amendments in calling for HMIC to commission a report on the use of CCTV by the police and local authorities for the prevention and detection of crime. It strikes me—although I would say this—that in tabling our amendments, my hon. Friends have some eminently sensible points to make. I hope that I have done them justice today.
If the Government are to continue to “roll back state intrusion”, they should do so on the basis of the available empirical evidence. We know anecdotally, from what the Local Government Group reported to the Committee, that CCTV is making a positive difference. If there are negative or positive repercussions once the voluntary code has kicked in, policy decisions can then be made on the best information available. We know that automatic number plate recognition helps to bring individuals to justice. Some 20,592 individuals have been brought to justice through automatic number plate recognition in the last couple of years alone, including about 52,000 for vehicle document-related offences—no road tax, for example—and about 41,000 vehicles have been seized for lacking insurance.
Will the Minister clarify the parameters of “rolling back state intrusion”? Would it be state intrusion to install an automatic number plate recognition camera at the end of a residential street in an area with a high level of burglaries, for example, or on a main road used every day by people driving to work or to the shops? Having looked at the provisions of the code—only in the last couple of days, I accept—and having seen what my hon. Friends said in Committee and the Government’s general starting point, I worry that the Bill’s proposals on working towards guidance and the code will restrict the use of CCTV and make organisations such as the police and local authorities think even harder before they use it, thereby leading to an increase in crime.
In passing, I ask the Minister to reflect on something that surprised me when I examined the Bill afresh today. Why does it cover police and local authorities? The vast majority of CCTV cameras are in the hands of private individuals or organisations, so why are they not to be covered by the proposed code of practice? It strikes me that some thought should be given to that as part of the overall strategy. In the first example that I gave today—Mr Hayes committing a bank robbery—the first CCTV picture in the Daily Mail was taken from in the bank, and the second, which was used to convict him, was taken from a camera in the street, yet the proposals in the Bill appear to treat each set of CCTV cameras differently. I would welcome an explanation of that from the Minister.
Finally, let me quote colleagues who gave written evidence to the Public Bill Committee. The Information Commissioner said:
“There is also widespread use of CCTV and ANPR…across all sectors including government agencies”.
He thinks that
“further thought should be given to the implications of limiting the application of the code to the police and local government only,”
which indicates the kind of thinking about the private sector generally that I just mentioned. The chief surveillance commissioner said in evidence to the Committee that there is ill informed and wrong criticism of local authorities in relation to covert surveillance, which is the issue that the hon. Member for Cambridge and others raised. Again, I would welcome a response from the Minister on that. The Local Government Group has been
“keen to ensure that CCTV regulation does not overburden councils and we believe that the new Code of Practice for surveillance camera systems could be a useful resource if it is genuinely a single source of guidance… We are concerned however that new data burdens are not placed on councils, and are also concerned at the potential for confusion from having both the Surveillance Camera Commissioner and Information Commissioner regulating CCTV.”
There is a range of issues there.
In summary, the new clause is saying, “Let’s have an assessment before going down this much more detailed road. Let’s look at what the police and local authorities need to do to ensure that we have CCTV that meets our objectives of catching criminals, supporting the reduction of crime and increasing confidence.” The genuine concerns of Members about how CCTV is used should also be met. My worry is, albeit without having seen the guidance in detail, that the code as drafted will put off local authorities and the police using CCTV. Ultimately, that will potentially lead to a rise in crime. I commend new clause 16 and look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.
I welcome the right hon. Gentleman to his new role. I know he dealt with CCTV issues during his time as Policing Minister, so I recognise that he was examining regulation during his time at the Home Office. He acknowledge some of the challenges and issues surrounding CCTV and its use, and the need to continue to command public confidence so that CCTV can achieve the results we want, which are to protect the public and ensure that those who commit crimes are brought to justice.
The right hon. Gentleman may be reassured about the Government’s approach—I acknowledge that he has not been in his position very long, so he might not have had the opportunity to read the consultation document on the code of practice—if I quote what the consultation document says at the outset:
“We do not intend therefore, that anything in our proposals should hamper the ability of the law enforcement agencies or any other organisation, to use such technology as necessary to prevent or detect crime, or otherwise help to ensure the safety and security of individuals. What is important is that such use is reasonable, justifiable and transparent so that citizens in turn, feel properly informed about, and able to support, the security measures that are in place.”
It is that context of ensuring trust and confidence and moving forward on that basis that will allow us to ensure that CCTV is able to fulfil the important purposes he mentioned.
In the aftermath of the disorder in August, I went to see the Metropolitan police CCTV centre. I was struck by what I saw of the work undertaken there to identify the criminals who had been engaged in looting and other disorder in our communities, and I saw how the work was followed through to ensure that those responsible were brought to justice. The Government recognise the important role that CCTV can play.
From the way the right hon. Gentleman introduced the new clause and amendments, I gained a sense that he felt slightly uncomfortable about some of the provisions. I understand his desire to probe and to go back over some of the debates we had in Committee, and I accept that he might not have had the opportunity to review and reflect on the Committee reports, but I can tell him that a number of the issues he has brought to our attention this afternoon were considered in detail in Committee.
The right hon. Gentleman asked why, at this stage, the code of practice is to apply only to public authorities and the police. We want to take a measured approach: we want incremental change rather than a sudden significant shift, in order not to undermine the purposes of CCTV that he has identified. We want to provide a regulatory framework that allows CCTV to operate and to achieve the desired result of ensuring that the public have trust and confidence in the system.
In 15 years of being a political animal—I was a councillor before I came here—the only complaints that I have received about CCTV have related to private use. As the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood) pointed out, there can be knock-on effects for next-door neighbours. I think that the Government are doing this the wrong way round: they should try to regulate use by the private sector and private residents before trying to deal with the public sector.
There is a potential issue of trust and confidence in the public sector as well. In a review of Project Champion, which involved the use of CCTV cameras in Birmingham, Sara Thornton, chief constable of Thames Valley police, wrote:
“In the course of this review I have met members of the community and have read the press reports and it is clear that many people feel that their civil liberties have been disregarded. As a consequence, the trust and confidence that they have in the police has been significantly undermined.”
Our code of practice is intended to provide a framework that would initially apply to public sector CCTV cameras, but could be adopted by the private sector to raise standards more generally. The Bill provides for an extension of its ambit or remit in due course, if that proves necessary. I believe that that proportionate approach is the right way to address this important issue.
I will give way to the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, because I clearly remember our debate in Westminster Hall about the surveillance state and his Committee’s earlier consideration of the issue. I well understand the importance that he attaches to the subject.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) referred to the statement made by the coalition. The last time the Select Committee considered this issue, we noted that there were 1.85 million cameras in existence, but the number has probably risen since then. Do the Government have a target for the number of cameras, or will a different criterion be used? We keep hearing about how their use will be rolled back, but we are keen to know how many will be rolled away.
It is not a simple question of numbers, but a question of people’s trust and confidence in the use of CCTV in their neighbourhoods and communities. That is the relevant factor and it is reflected in the approach that we adopted in the consultation, whose findings we have published and the responses to which we are now examining. It is a question of whether the public trust what is there. We want CCTV to be seen as a positive benefit that will aid security.
Several years ago, a report by the Home Affairs Committee articulated very well the concerns expressed by, for instance, the Information Commissioner about
“sleepwalking into a surveillance society”.
It was felt that the system had grown up over the years without a proper regulatory framework, but of course there are provisions relating to the Data Protection Act and the information published by the Information Commissioner himself. We want to bring those elements together to create clear guidance and a regulatory framework to which public authorities and the police must have regard, to ensure that that trust and confidence exist.
We must also look at value for money and effectiveness. As the right hon. Gentleman says, there are a lot of CCTV cameras. We must ensure that they are harnessed and used as effectively as possible and that standards are applied. The interim CCTV regulator appointed under the previous Government has focused on that and taken the standards issue further. It is on that basis that we need to look at regulation and trust and confidence, as well as how we can ensure cameras are used more effectively in the fight against crime.
The code of practice says that only local authorities and police forces
“will be required to have regard to the code in their use of surveillance camera systems”.
Will private sector retail cameras also be covered? They might intrude on public spaces. What might be the implications for the use of such cameras in relation to incidents such as the recent riots in London, Birmingham and the cities of the north?
At this stage, we take the view that public sector cameras in the purest sense—those of local authorities and police—should be covered, but we intend that any standards set may be rolled out further in due course and that other providers of CCTV services should consider the code of practice and perhaps adhere to it on a voluntary basis. That is why I have referred to the process being incremental. We want the introduction of regulation to be handled in a measured way, in order to avoid some of the negative consequences to which the shadow Minister alluded and to ensure that CCTV provides protection and assurance to the public.
It is worth highlighting that we have undertaken a public consultation, which has now been completed, to garner feedback from all the different stakeholders. I might point to the evidence given in Committee by Deputy Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard, who is the Association of Chief Police Officers lead on CCTV. He talked about the work the previous Government did in 2007 on producing a national CCTV strategy, and emphasised that that addressed
“standards around images, the retention period for images, the quality of images and ensuring that systems are fit for purpose. We also requested some sort of framework for regulation and a sort of oversight body for CCTV.”
“So in principle, we are supportive of what is being suggested.”—[Official Report, Protection of Freedoms Public Bill Committee, 22 March 2011; c. 16, Q34.]
The House should be aware that there has not been a headlong rush to try to undermine CCTV and its benefits. Rather, we have tried to ensure trust and confidence in its use, both now and in the future, by providing a regulatory framework that gives the protections that many of our constituents have lobbied us about. This is not a kneejerk reaction or an attempt to get rid of lots of CCTV cameras. It is an attempt to give confidence in the use of CCTV cameras, reflecting on initiatives such as Project Champion, by putting in place a regulatory framework.
Let me deal briefly with the amendments in the name of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. Amendment 20 is a response to a similar amendment tabled in Committee by the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker). Clause 29(6) defines surveillance camera systems for the purposes of chapter 1 of part 2 of the Bill. In addition to CCTV and automatic number plate recognition systems, the definition includes
“any other systems for recording or viewing visual images of objects or events for surveillance purposes”.
The hon. Gentleman questioned the need for the reference to “objects or events”. Having considered the issue further, I am satisfied that nothing hangs on these words, and that, as he suggested, they are more likely to confuse than enlighten. Our amendment therefore simply removes the offending words.
Amendments 31 and 67 simply debar the surveillance camera commissioner from also serving as a Member of the House by adding the office to the list in schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975.
In essence, the Opposition amendments seek to replace the proposed surveillance camera code of practice with guidance that will simply provide information about how CCTV can prevent and detect crime. Moreover, they would remove any form of parliamentary scrutiny, and they would remove the duty on the police, police and crime commissioners and local authorities to have regard to the code, and on the surveillance camera commissioner to provide advice about the code, including on changes to it. Taken together, the amendments would remove the code of practice and the framework that we believe is important in order to deliver on those issues that I have highlighted, such as giving trust and confidence to communities about how CCTV is being operated. That is why we do not believe that the amendments are necessary, and I hope that, on reflection, the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) will consider the measured and proportionate approach that the Government are taking and will feel minded not to press his amendments to a vote.
I thank the Minister for being very generous with his time. I just wanted to ask about the use of mobile CCTV cameras by police forces for crowd control purposes, particularly outside football grounds. Fortunately, parties on both sides of the House have introduced legislation and given powers to the police to reduce the amount of hooliganism. What will be the implications of the Bill for mobile CCTV usage by police to reduce crowd hooliganism, in any sport?
It will depend on the nature of the CCTV use—whether it is covert or overt, and whether, if it is covert, it falls within the separate regime under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The code could apply to overt CCTV but, as I have highlighted this afternoon, the actions we are taking are not intended to diminish the effectiveness of the police. From my visit to the football policing unit, I recognise how CCTV and video camera evidence can be very powerful tools in dealing with football hooliganism and those who shame the legitimate football supporters who are proud to support their clubs. I recognise the importance of putting our focus on football policing and how CCTV can play an important role. Given my comments, I hope that the right hon. Member for Delyn will not press the Opposition amendments to a vote.
May I begin by congratulating my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) on assuming the position of shadow police Minister? We remember his many contributions over the past few years as the police Minister in the Labour Government. May I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Gloria De Piero) on joining our home affairs Front-Bench team? I had the pleasure of interviewing her when she came before the national executive committee of the Labour party as a candidate. Although I thought that she was an outstanding candidate and that she would have a glittering career, not even I could have predicted that within 18 months of her election she would be sitting on the Front Bench speaking on behalf of the Opposition on home affairs.
I do not think that there is a lot that divides the two Front-Bench teams on this issue. Although my right hon. Friend is trying to make a great divide between the Government and the Opposition, I heard nothing in the Minister’s speech to suggest that there is going to be a bonfire of cameras. Members on both sides of the House accept that there will always be circumstances in which cameras are necessary and desirable.
This country has 1.85 million of these cameras, one for every 32 citizens. When the Select Committee on Home Affairs in the previous Parliament produced a weighty report on the surveillance society, we were concerned that the country was, in the words of the commissioner,
“sleepwalking into a surveillance society”.
When considering this subject it is important that we balance what our constituents want with the general civil liberties issues. Cases of this kind always involve a balance. When we ask constituents, they say that they want more and more CCTV cameras. The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) talked about his constituents in Northern Ireland. The shadow Minister talked about Mr Hayes and his balaclava, and he will obviously be one of the great features of this debate. I can talk about my constituents in the Northfields estate, as every time I go to a public meeting in that estate they want cameras put up because they feel that that is the only way to reduce crime. That must apply to every Member of this House: local residents feel that one of the best ways of catching criminals is for CCTV cameras to be put up in the neighbourhood.
The problem for local authorities and the police is to ensure that there is a balance. There cannot be a CCTV camera everywhere that people want one. They must be fit for purpose and they must contain film because, as we heard from the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood), in some cases the cameras do not work. Criminals will not necessarily be put off when they see a camera that does not move. In this Chamber, every time somebody moves from one position to another, the cameras move their little heads and follow the Members as they speak. It is very important that cameras are fit for purpose. When they are put up—especially when new cameras are erected—they must pass a test: do they benefit the local community and will they result in criminals being caught? If they are merely being put up for the sake of it, are they necessary? That is the test that we must all follow.
I was glad to hear from the Minister that he is interested in regulation and that there is a desire for a code of practice. I was also glad to hear that from the shadow Minister, although I was concerned by his proposal that the body that monitors the code should be HMIC. In his modest and boyish way, he said that he did not write the amendment, so he was not necessarily 100% clear as to why that body was the HMIC, but there is a danger in placing too much on the shoulders of the HMIC and poor old Sir Denis O’Connor and his fellow inspectors. I think there are only about a dozen of them in total, with one vacancy now that Mr Hogan-Howe is the new commissioner. We should be wary of placing more responsibilities on organisations. The decision was made before my right hon. Friend took office, so to speak, and we do not know why the HMIC is given that role, but I take his point that an organisation needs to monitor what is going on.
We must be very clear that we have probably reached our limit as far as cameras are concerned. With millions of cameras in this country and a large amount of personal information being gathered about individuals, we should be cautious.
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that an additional challenge is the fact that technology in this area will not stand still? In the future, we will potentially see various technologies such as face recognition systems and even CCTV that can listen in on private conversations. If we want CCTV systems to maintain public confidence, we need a code of practice and some regulation that will ensure that they are not misused by public services.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Of course, we all have our own technology—I see that the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) is in his place and he is the Committee’s expert in tweeting and new technologies, whereas I am still a dinosaur—and within seconds of an event taking place, people will capture it on their cameras, they will e-mail it and it will be on YouTube. Such technology is available all around us and it might not be as necessary to have a fixed camera to capture what is happening locally as it was 10 years ago. Mr Hayes and his balaclava could have been caught by somebody else walking around at that time. We should not necessarily rely on fixed cameras.
The report by the Home Affairs Committee in the previous Parliament was concerned with the need for a report to be placed annually before the House by the Information Commissioner. We did not necessarily feel that local police forces were incapable of producing reports to their local police authorities or to their police commissioner if and when they are elected next November, but the fact remains that we felt that a report should be placed before the House and properly debated so that we know the precise situation. That is very important.
There seems to be an attempt by those on the Front Bench to pick a bit of a fight on this issue, but I think this is just the shadow Minister getting back into the groove in the Home Office team. There really is not very much between those on the two Front Benches on this issue. Probably we are all saying, “We’ve got enough cameras. We probably don’t need any more in vast numbers. But those that are there need to be monitored carefully.”
I talked about the cameras in this Chamber. Your office, Mr Deputy Speaker, is in the House. My office is in Norman Shaw North, and since 1 January this year, 25 laptops have been taken from the desks of right hon. and hon. Members there. I would be delighted, as I am sure would fellow Members who reside there, if we had CCTV cameras in the corridors so that we could find out who it is who has security clearance, with a pass, who can get into a building that was the old Scotland Yard, walk through the offices of 25 Members and take their laptops away. My first reaction, as someone who is concerned about the surveillance society, was “When can we get some cameras?” I was astonished that we do not even have sufficient cameras in the car park at Norman Shaw North. If we had a residents meeting in Norman Shaw North, or our own neighbourhood watch meeting there, we would be demanding these things. If we demand them, others would too, but we must be careful and cautious, because they must be fit for purpose and serve the purpose for which they were intended.
We will talk about this later. What the hon. Gentleman did as a wee lad sounds like a fascinating story.
Back to the point. Let us have a proper debate about this. Let us not let down our constituents, who want to see proper mechanisms for dealing with crime, but let us have in place a proper code that will be looked at carefully, and an organisation or individual to monitor what is going on.
I will try to be brief as we do not have much time left. It is a great pleasure to follow the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, particularly after he so politely managed to demolish the argument made by the shadow Minister. I congratulate him on the elegance with which he did that. The right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), at least as he described it, seems to live in a slightly bizarre world where CCTV is either all a good thing or all a bad thing, and that people should either support all of it or none of it. He talked having no obstacles to more CCTV. That is the kind of thinking that has led to us having a huge number of CCTV cameras. I hesitate to admit that I have slightly different figures from my Chair. I have seen the figure of something like 4 million CCTV cameras. However, it is a huge proportion.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the correction.
That is one camera for every 14 people in this country. Let us compare that with other countries that also have interests in law enforcement. Chicago, with a population of 3 million, has something like 10,000 cameras. That is a 20th of what we have. Do we know something that they do not? Across the United States, they use fewer cameras.
The truth about CCTV is that it is not an all-or-none issue. It has its uses and its abuses, which is why we need this code of practice. It has its costs for running and monitoring the systems and it has privacy implications, which is why I absolutely support the Government’s proposals. I hope that the right hon. Member for Delyn will withdraw the new clause.
Debate interrupted (Programme Order, 10 October).
The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83E), That the clause be read a Second time.
The Deputy Speaker then put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).
Code of practice for surveillance camera systems
Amendment made: 20, page 21, line 1, leave out ‘of objects or events’.—(James Brokenshire.)
New Clause 12
Tax in connection with transfer schemes
‘(1) The Treasury may by order make provision varying the way in which a relevant tax has effect in relation to—
(a) anything transferred under a transfer scheme, or
(b) anything done for the purposes of, or in relation to, a transfer under a transfer scheme.
(2) The provision which may be made under subsection (1)(a) includes, in particular, provision for—
(a) a tax provision not to apply, or to apply with modifications, in relation to anything transferred,
(b) anything transferred to be treated in a specified way for the purposes of a tax provision,
(c) the Secretary of State to be required or permitted to determine, or specify the method for determining, anything which needs to be determined for the purposes of any tax provision so far as relating to anything transferred.
(3) The provision which may be made under subsection (1)(b) includes, in particular, provision for—
(a) a tax provision not to apply, or to apply with modifications, in relation to anything done for the purposes of, or in relation to, the transfer,
(b) anything done for the purposes of, or in relation to, the transfer to have or not have a specified consequence or be treated in a specified way,
(c) the Secretary of State to be required or permitted to determine, or specify the method for determining, anything which needs to be determined for the purposes of any tax provision so far as relating to anything done for the purposes of, or in relation to, the transfer.
(4) The power to make an order under this section—
(a) is exercisable by statutory instrument,
(b) includes power to make consequential, supplementary, incidental, transitional, transitory or saving provision,
(c) may, in particular, be exercised by amending, repealing, revoking or otherwise modifying any provision made by or under an enactment (whenever passed or made).
(5) A statutory instrument containing an order under this section is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the House of Commons.
(6) In this section—
“enactment” includes an Act of the Scottish Parliament, a Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland legislation,
“relevant tax” means income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, stamp duty, stamp duty reserve tax or stamp duty land tax,
“tax provision” means any provision—
(a) about a relevant tax, and
(b) made by or under an enactment,
“transfer scheme” means a transfer scheme under section 87,
and references to the transfer of property include the grant of a lease.’.—(Lynne Featherstone.)
Brought up, and read the First time.
These are largely technical amendments, so I can be brief. New clause 12 confers power on the Treasury to make provision varying the way that tax provisions will be applied to any property, rights or liabilities transferred to the new disclosure and barring service from the Independent Safeguarding Authority and the Criminal Records Bureau. It is standard practice that such machinery of Government changes should be tax neutral, and the new clause ensures that that is the case in this instance. The other amendments in the group make other minor and technical provisions in relation to the establishment of the disclosure and barring service.
Like the Minister, I intend to be relatively brief. Let me say clearly that Labour Front Benchers are not against creating the disclosure and barring service. We were concerned, however, that the Government prevented full and proper scrutiny of the setting up of the service by announcing only halfway through the consideration of the Bill the amendments that would achieve that. We therefore now have several other Government amendments, which I recognise are mainly technical in nature, to tidy up those originally tabled.
I hope that the Minister might be able to help me with a few questions about the disclosure and barring service, particularly on the costs of the new computer system that will be created alongside it. It is likely to be a considerable spending commitment, and we know that the Government are very concerned about spending money at this time. Will the Minister clarify the full cost of the new computer system and explain the figure of £37 million for web-based maintenance costs mentioned in the impact assessment?
In the past, unfortunately, Government IT systems have had a poor record of costs running out of control and problems with delivery. There were problems with the CRB checks system when it was first introduced, and people had to wait a long time to get their checks through, but it is now working relatively well and they often get checks within a few days. What reassurance can the Minister offer that the new computer scheme will work effectively and provide the level of protection that we want for children and vulnerable adults during this period of transition from the current scheme?
Having said that, Labour Front Benchers are satisfied with the technical nature of the majority of these amendments.
I thank the hon. Lady for being brief. I am sure she will remember that in Committee we apologised for the lack of time in briefing her about the joining of the two services. I hope that we made up for that somewhat by offering a special briefing to run through the details. The joining of the Independent Safeguarding Authority and the Criminal Records Bureau has been welcomed on all sides as the right way to go, and I am glad that we have all come to that conclusion. As for the IT costs, this was a value-for-money decision. The IT spend estimate is £200 million over five years, which will be funded by fees. We would have had to replace the existing IT regardless of the establishment of the DBS. This has been arranged to time with when the contract would have come to an end.
As the hon. Lady says, CRB checks have improved beyond recognition. As the Minister who receives the correspondence on this issue, I can say that my correspondence tray used to be full of complaints about the time people’s CRB checks had taken. That flow is now reduced to a small trickle.
Question put and agreed to.
New clause 12 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 18
Information included on an enhanced criminal records certificate
‘After paragraph (b) of subsection (3) of section 113B of the Police Act 1997 insert—
“(c) states whether the applicant is on a barred list maintained by the Independent Safeguarding Authority in relation to work with vulnerable adults or children (whichever is appropriate).”.’.—(Diana Johnson.)
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Amendment 111, in clause 66, page 49, leave out from line 32 to line 5 on page 53 and insert—
‘(1) In sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (inclusion subject to consideration of representations), after paragraph (b) insert—
“(c) give the person the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses at an oral hearing in front of a panel of at least two persons.”.
(2) After sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 3 of that Schedule (behaviour) insert—
“(2A) The right to representation must include the right to present evidence and call witnesses at an oral hearing in front of at least two persons.”.
(3) After sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 5 of that Schedule (risk of harm) insert—
“(2A) The right to representation must include the right to present evidence and call witnesses at an oral hearing in front of at least two persons.”.
(4) After sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 8 of that Schedule (inclusion subject to consideration of representations) after (b) insert—
“(c) give the person the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses at an oral hearing in front of a panel of at least two persons.”.
(5) After sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 9 of that Schedule (behaviour) insert—
“(2A) The right to representation must include the right to present evidence and call witnesses at an oral hearing in front of at least two persons.”.
(6) After sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 11 of that Schedule (risk of harm) insert—
“(2A) The right to representation must include the right to present evidence and call witnesses at an oral hearing in front of at least two persons.”.’.
Amendment 117, in clause 78, page 64, line 33, at end insert—
‘(3) After section 113A(3) of the Police Act 1997 (criminal record certificates) insert—
(3A) The Secretary of State must make provision to ensure that the registered person is informed when the criminal records certificate is issued.
(3B) The Secretary of State must make provision to send a copy of the criminal record certificate directly to the registered person when the individual consents.”.
(4) After section 113B(4) of that Act (enhanced criminal record certificates) insert—
“(4A) The Secretary of State must make provision to ensure that the registered person is informed when the enhanced criminal records certificate is issued.
(4B) The Secretary of State must make provision to send a copy of the enhanced criminal record certificate directly to the registered person when the individual consents.”’.
Under new clause 18, the barred status of an individual would be revealed in a CRB check. The House will know that at present, an enhanced CRB check may reveal all convictions and cautions, regardless of whether they are relevant, and allegations made to the police that were not turned into convictions. One gets barred status information only if the person will be working in a regulated activity, and the Bill has produced a narrower definition of “regulated activity” than previously existed. For example, all employed positions in a school are involved in regulated activity and barred status information would be provided for those jobs.
A standard or enhanced CRB check does not reveal barred status. An enhanced CRB check would not reveal that a person had been investigated by experts at the Independent Safeguarding Authority. It would not show that allegations had been verified and references sought, and that the person had been able to make representations. It would not reveal that the Independent Safeguarding Authority had come to an informed decision that the person posed a significant danger to children or vulnerable adults.
What is more, many people on the barred list are not even known to the police. That came out in Committee. The reason could be that the parents do not want to put their child through the ordeal of making a formal complaint to the police, but the school notifies the Independent Safeguarding Authority of concerns about an individual teacher or member of staff. Another scenario is that a supply teacher moves from school to school and, although it is quite clear that there is a problem, the schools just decide not to have the supply teacher back and do not notify the police of their concerns. Eventually, the local education authority may take the view that the ISA should find out why there are so many schools where that supply teacher is not welcome. The ISA might then receive complaints and look at the employment history of the individual and see a pattern of allegations, and the teacher moving on quickly. Again, that might all happen without any formal complaint being made to the police.
With vulnerable adults it is often difficult to substantiate allegations—for example, of theft from dementia patients. A care home might decide not to notify the police, but just to dismiss the employee and notify the ISA. Even though the police do not always get involved in or know about complaints and allegations, such people are clearly a danger to vulnerable people and children, and that information should be made available to their future employers.
It would be a great help to employers, particularly charities and small voluntary sector organisations, if they were informed of concerns that the Independent Safeguarding Authority had looked into, on the basis of which an individual had been barred. The Committee received a number of submissions from sports clubs and organisations that wanted to know that any information about barring would be made available to them when working with, teaching or training young people.
I would like to give the Minister an example and ask her whether such a person will be covered by the proposals in the Bill. X is a former teacher who is barred from working with children following substantiated reports of inappropriate behaviour from three schools. None of the allegations was passed on to the police, as I have explained is common. X presents himself as a retired teacher and volunteers at a primary school. At the primary school, he hears children reading and works one-on-one with the same 10 children every week. Under the current law, the school must check his barred status and would find out about his history. The school would know that information quickly. I understand that schools can obtain barred status within 24 hours.
My understanding is that under the new law, it would be an offence for the school to check his barred status and it would not be given that information. Even if the school followed best practice and conducted an enhanced CRB check, that would reveal nothing, as no allegations had ever been made to the police. There would be no soft information and no criminal convictions on the CRB check. However, this person would clearly be a threat to children in the view of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, and would be on the barred list. As I understand it, under the proposals he would not be prevented from working with children. It would be helpful if the Minister explained why she feels it appropriate that information from the many trained experts at the Independent Safeguarding Authority—specialists in this area who are able to analyse information and allegations—should not be made available to schools and other organisations that wish to rely on that expertise.
I am sure that the Minister will also want to respond to my point about the Bichard inquiry, which as hon. Members know came out after the dreadful Soham murders. The major thrust of the report and recommendations on how to avoid another case like the Soham murders was that information should be properly shared between all interested parties. The Independent Safeguarding Authority is the body that has the most information. All employers, charities, voluntary groups and sports organisations should be able to benefit from its expertise and insight.
Moreover, when a CRB form is processed electronically, barred status comes up immediately. If an employer needs to recruit someone urgently and needs the information speedily, as often happens in the adult care sector because people become ill or move on quickly, they may be tempted to put people into sensitive positions even though they are waiting for a CRB check. I wonder whether the Minister could refer to that issue. This matter is so important that I would like to test the opinion of the House on new clause 18.
Amendment 111, which would amend clause 66, relates to people who commit serious offences. Such people are currently put on the barred list automatically. Since 1933, people who have been convicted of serious offences against children have been banned from working with children. In the Bill, the Government propose that a person convicted of a serious offence should not automatically be barred from working with children. For example, under the new proposals a man working as a lorry driver who had been convicted of raping a child would not automatically be put on the barred list. The test that the Bill sets out is that he would be put on the list only if he was, had been or might in future be engaged in regulated activity relating to children.
As I said, the formal procedure whereby people are automatically put on the barred list is more than 70 years old. It was introduced not by the last Labour Government but a long time ago, and I am yet to be convinced by the Minister that it is necessary to change it at this point. I do not understand why she wants to end a process that is simple and straightforward and, I think, has the support of the vast majority of the population. There is a very good reason why someone who commits a serious offence is barred from working with children—because they pose a serious risk to children. That should mean that they are automatically barred from working with them. The amendment would reinstate the provision of automatically putting them on the barred list.
Under the Bill, a person could be put on the list only if the test that I have just set out were passed. If the advice was that they should be put on it, the Government would allow them to make representations to the ISA before that finally happened. The amendment would go a little further. As I have set out, it would mean a presumption that an individual who had committed a serious offence would automatically go on the list, but it would give that individual the right to present evidence in person and to call witnesses to argue that they should be taken off the list. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has called for that, and it would strengthen the already robust barring procedures employed by the ISA.
The report of the Bichard inquiry made it clear that if we want to prevent further brutal murders, we have to do everything we can to aid information sharing—yet the Government have introduced an expensive and unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that will inhibit information sharing. I have yet to hear from the Minister why she thinks bringing in the new test will assist in keeping children and vulnerable adults safer.
I thought it might help the House if I examined some of the characters who, if the Government’s proposals were carried, would not be on the barred list in future. Levi Bellfield, who, as we know, was the murderer of Milly Dowler and other women, would not be on the barred list, because he was a car clamper. Under the test that the Government have set out, although he clearly posed a threat to young girls, he would not automatically go on the barred list. Because Delroy Easton Grant, who preyed on vulnerable elderly victims and has been linked to more than 100 offences, was a taxi driver, he would no longer be placed on the list of those barred from working with elderly people if the ISA were applying the test that the Government want to introduce.
Such people pose a threat to vulnerable people—children and adults—and should automatically be placed on a list of barred people, to help employers and activity providers identify those who pose a threat and keep them away from children and vulnerable adults. I believe that the Government’s new measures will cost more money, and when we know money is tight and we have to watch where every penny is spent, I fail to understand why the Minister wants to introduce the new test. I also believe that it will cause confusion and that, as I said, the vast majority of the public do not understand why the Government are pursuing it.
The public want people who commit serious offences to be put on the barred list. A survey by Fair Play For Children found that 96% of the population wanted those people to be put on the barred list automatically. Will the Minister explain to the House why she refuses to acknowledge public opinion, and exactly what she hopes to gain by keeping them off the list? I will wish to test the opinion of the House on amendment 111, as well as new clause 18.
Amendment 117 is Labour’s final amendment in this group. It would amend the Police Act 1997 so that the Secretary of State must ensure that the registered person who had co-signed a CRB check application would be informed when the certificate was issued. It would further amend the Act by insisting that the Secretary of State make provision to allow the CRB check certificate to be issued directly to that registered person—when, of course, the individual in question had consented. That would effectively maintain the status quo so that a CRB check would go, for example, to a prospective employer and to an individual at the same time, with the consent of the applicant.
We tabled the amendment because many concerns have been raised about the proposals for CRB checks. There is a great deal of support for the portability of CRB checks, which is welcomed throughout the House and throughout the various sectors that use them. However, many companies that submit CRB checks using the e-Bulk system—a practical requirement for large companies that employ many people in registered activities such as care home work—are concerned that the way in which the Government have designed the system will cause chaos. The Bill will cause those companies massive practical difficulties that I do not think the Minister fully appreciated or addressed in Committee. The result of those difficulties, I believe, will be fewer CRB checks being undertaken and more loopholes being exploited. We know that people who wish to do harm, particularly to children, can be very imaginative and manipulative when there is any sign of a loophole in the law, and will use whatever means they can to get access to children. I am concerned that the new system may present them with opportunities to do that.
We must also consider prospective employers who are being asked to make CRB check applications for prospective employees. They are currently expected to pay £26 for a standard CRB check, £44 for an enhanced check and £6 for a barred status check. Employers can spend the best part of £100 on each prospective employee, but under the Government’s proposals they would not receive a copy of the CRB certificate directly. They should be informed of the fact that a CRB certificate has been issued, and of the outcome of the check, with the individual’s consent.
I worry that within the group of manipulative and imaginative people who want to get access to vulnerable children and adults, some will delay presenting the CRB certificate that is sent directly to them. They may well be able to build up all sorts of excuses for why they will bring it in next week, the week after that or next month. Perhaps it got lost, or perhaps the dog ate it. I am concerned that that could leave employers in a difficult position, and that a number of charities and voluntary sector groups will find the system very difficult to deal with. Amendment 117 would allow an employer to know that a CRB certificate had been issued, and to know when an employee was stalling in presenting it to them.
The e-Bulk CRB check is also important for activity providers. We have had several submissions on the subject, but the two key ones that I want to mention were from the Football Association and Girlguiding UK. At the moment, those groups have teams of experts who receive and review CRB checks from all around the country. They tend to get them back within a week of the application, and they make decisions quickly. If someone is on a barred list they know even more quickly—as I have said, usually within 24 hours. CRB forms are quite technical, and it is important that they are analysed by trained people. Large employers and charities employ complex risk management techniques to assess individuals and, where appropriate, introduce special procedures to manage any risk that they could pose.
It is also likely that the new measures will discourage people from volunteering. We know how important volunteers are to the Government, and we know all about the big society and encouraging people to give their time as volunteers. CRB checks are handled centrally by, for example, the FA and Girlguiding UK, as I have described, and they are anonymous. A person who wants to volunteer with the girl guides fills in their application, which goes to the central Girlguiding UK office, where it is dealt with by a team of experts. Because that is dealt with centrally, there is no embarrassment if that person has a conviction or other information on their CRB check, but it might be embarrassing if they had to deal with the local Girlguiding commissioner, who may also not be an expert in CRB checks, and who may feel that it is better to be safe than sorry, and refuse that person the right to become a volunteer. Will the new system help people to feel confident about volunteering?
There is another issue under the new arrangements that the Government have not recognised, and which they need to address. Under the leadership of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Meg Munn), the all-party parliamentary group on child protection helpfully produced a report that contained a number of recommendations, one of which dealt with this very point. The Government need to work with organisations that use the e-Bulk system, such as the FA and Girlguiding, to fully understand the implications of their CRB check proposals.
In their response to the all-party parliamentary group report, the Government state:
“We are considering what”
“will mean for the e-bulk system, and…in particular, what information should be made available to employers…once that is clear.”
Will the Minister update the House on her current thinking on CRB checks and the e-Bulk system? What will the proposals mean for volunteering with big organisations and charities?
It is also worth mentioning the small organisations that do not have access to specialist help and advice on CRB checks, and that are not familiar with the complexity of the system, in which individuals receive different types of CRB checks. Has the Minister given any thought to what she said in Committee on making information on the new system available to voluntary and community groups, and on providing the information required so that people fully understand what the system means? They also need to understand what is happening when someone is trying to hoodwink them, as I have described, by pretending that the CRB certificate is not available for some spurious reason.
The hon. Gentleman makes a good point, because how that system will work is unclear. I cannot get my head around the updated procedures. What consent will need to be given? What information about employees or volunteers will be made available to employers or voluntary sector groups? When will barring information be made available? If someone is barred while they are employed, will that information be made available readily to an employer? The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point, which illustrates the fact that information on how the system will work needs to be made widely available.
Does my hon. Friend accept that the current system has its faults? There are too many examples of the wrong person being identified, and of information that is not pertinent to them being attributed to them by a false CRB check. Would it not make more sense for the Government to try to streamline the system, so that we have a more efficient system designed for the purpose, rather than adding to the complexity, therefore increasing the chances that such errors will take place and devalue the checks?
My hon. Friend makes a very good point. There are also concerns about the use of fraudulent certificates. Once a number has been allocated, people can take certificates to unsuspecting employers and say, “This is my CRB certificate. It’s all fine and there’s nothing to worry about.” Most employers—especially small employers or voluntary and community groups—would accept that at face value. We need to make the system as streamlined as possible, but we also need to make it as foolproof as possible, and to reduce the use of fraudulent CRB checks as much as possible.
On the basis of the points that I have raised, I hope that the Minister can reassure the House on those questions, which in effect are about keeping our children and vulnerable people as safe as possible, and about keeping people who should not be working with children or vulnerable people away from them.
I shall speak briefly on the issues raised by this group of proposals. As my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) has already stated, the all-party parliamentary group on child protection held an inquiry and took evidence from a wide range of organisations. Some people spoke for a number of organisations and some spoke in their own right. I am grateful that the Minister read and responded to the group’s report, that she met members of the group, and that she has taken on board some of the points made.
I echo the concerns of my hon. Friend the shadow Minister. We are all concerned about child protection and the abuse of children. However, abuse is at times difficult to prove, and it is certainly difficult to get convictions. Sometimes, it is difficult to get definitive evidence even when suspicions of individuals have run for a long time. Children are told to respect adults, and often the most vulnerable children are targeted by abusers, so information does not come out easily.
That is why barred list information is so important, alongside CRB information. It would be a tragedy if people who have criminal records were allowed to work with children, but we know from years of experience that people who have raised significant concerns in their relationships with children in the past go on to abuse them, and in some dreadful cases—thankfully, a minority of cases—kill them. We have a responsibility to do all that we can to prevent that, because getting this wrong could be catastrophic.
May I take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) on the clarity with which she has put her case? I take a keen interest in this matter, and the Independent Safeguarding Authority is in my constituency.
The very people that my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Meg Munn) describes are the ones who gain under the Government’s proposals. I have in mind the words of Sir Roger Singleton, who said that the people who will be most concerned about the proposals are parents. Any parent who listened to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North will be extremely worried about what the Government propose.
I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention, because it leads to the point that I wanted to make. It is because the risks are so great and the results of getting it wrong are so catastrophic that we need clear information and a clear procedure. That might mean that sometimes more is done than is strictly necessary, but in this area we are not talking about what is strictly necessary. In this area we have a duty to ensure that vulnerable children are as safe as possible. I therefore join my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North in asking the Minister to explain in more detail why barring information would not be more readily available. I am reassured by her statement that currently such information is clearly and easily available. It is inconceivable that we would not want that to continue.
Amendment 117, which deals with criminal record certificates, touches on a matter that needs thinking through. It might seem straightforward for a certificate to go to the person having the CRB check, but my hon. Friend has already raised concerns about that. The Christian Forum for Safeguarding has drawn to my attention correspondence between it and the CRB in which the CRB confirmed that many more certificates are returned marked “undeliverable” when addressed to the applicant than when addressed to the registered body. If only one copy is to be sent to the applicant, it obviously increases the risk that certificates will fail to reach the applicant and so cause further delays. I want to return to a point raised by my hon. Friend. CRB checks can cover a wide range of offences. For example, we could be talking about people—often men—in their 40s or 50s who are volunteering for something and who were involved in a pub brawl when they were in their early 20s. That kind of information might be on a certificate, and it could go to the wrong house and be opened by somebody else. There could be an information breach. Under the Government’s proposal, the system could be a lot more vulnerable to such things than currently.
The crucial issue is about the ability of organisations trying to recruit a volunteer or someone to a paid position to understand the situation. My hon. Friend has already quoted from the Government’s response to the all-party group’s report making it clear that this issue of the e-Bulk system—great name!—has not been clarified. If an organisation is in a position to put in place systems that it has made work, it seems a terrible shame to move to something else. I fully accept, as do my hon. Friends, that the system put in place by the previous Government had problems, but we should be addressing those problems and issues, not creating more. We have systems, such as the e-Bulk system, that are working well and which enable organisations and people—for example, a Brown Owl, a Girl Guider or a Scout leader in a local area—to know, “This is not something that I have to concern myself with. It is done centrally and there are experienced people looking at it who understand the nature of the information returned.” Now, however, they will feel in a completely different position. That will cause us great concern.
I welcome the fact that the Minister has sought to respond to the points made by the all-party group when producing the report, but the proposed measure is not the best that this, or any, Government can do. I therefore ask her to address those issues.
I have always believed that on both sides of the House we are doing what we believe is best for the protection of children and vulnerable adults, while balancing that with common sense. As mentioned, the previous scheme would have had 11 million people under its auspices. As we know from all the reports and everything that we have heard, that was creating a world of suspicion. We got to the point where a parent volunteering to read to a child in a class had to get a CRB check, even if they were known and so on. We wish to strike a balance and bring back a common-sense approach to safeguarding, always with the proviso that the protection of children and vulnerable adults is foremost in our minds, as I am sure it was in the mind of the previous Government when they first conceived of this scheme following the Bichard inquiry into the Soham murders.
I shall try to answer some—I hope all—of the points raised today. New clause 18 returns us to our debate in Committee about whether barred list information should be provided on all enhanced criminal record certificates. As I said then, our policy is that barred list information should be provided only in respect of posts that fall within the scope of “regulated activity”. Although we accept that there should be certain specific exceptions—in the case of applicants to foster or adopt a child, for example—we are still not persuaded that barred list information should be provided in other areas. As barring applies only to those who come within the scope of regulated activity, it would not be right for an employer or a volunteer organiser to make a decision based on barring information where the post falls outside regulated activity. Bars from working with children or vulnerable groups apply to regulated activity: it will be a criminal offence to employ somebody in a regulated activity who is barred. However, it does not make sense to disclose barring information for posts that fall outside that scope.
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way, because I understand that she is trying to explain the overall situation. However, is this not precisely where the argument falls down? The whole system is interlinked and questions will arise about what is a regulated activity. The Government propose that not all contact with children will be a regulated activity, but if somebody poses a risk to children, all contact with children, even when it appears at that moment to be well supervised, will pose a risk to children. That is the point. If someone is considered a risk to children and if information about them is on the barring list, that information should be provided, regardless of whether the activity is regulated, in order that the person taking on that individual to do the non-regulated activity can decide whether the information on the barring list is relevant.
I shall come on to that because it is a complicated matter to discuss—there is “regulated”, “unregulated”, “supervised”, “unsupervised” and so on. Obviously, if an activity is unsupervised, it is regulated, so I shall come on to the issues of supervision. In an establishment such as a school, it will be difficult to persuade authorities not to pursue enhanced CRB checks. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) argued that if a referral to the ISA had not been referred to the police, the barring information would not be on the certificate. It would be helpful if I could progress with my remarks in that regard. We disagreed in Committee and I have no doubt that we will end up disagreeing today as well, but I want to assure the House that we are acting with the best of intentions and drawing the line where we believe appropriate.
As I said, bars from working with children or vulnerable groups apply to regulated activity, so it does not make sense—
It should not come as a shock to the Minister to learn that parents do not want people who are barred from working with children to be anywhere near their children, regardless of whether they are supervised. That is our problem with the Government’s position.
As I said, I will come on to that in due course, when I talk about barring information and about what is on the CRB certificates. Ultimately, the fact that someone is barred is not necessarily the key issue—[Interruption.] Well, if someone has been convicted of a sexual assault or other sexual offence, it will be on their certificate. The fact that they are barred from regulated activity will not. [Interruption.] I have now said twice that I am going to cover this matter, so I hope that the hon. Member for Darlington (Mrs Chapman) will let me make some progress.
We do not want to arrive at a position in which an employer could deny a job in a non-regulated activity to an applicant on the basis that he or she was barred from regulated activity. In such circumstances, an employer would effectively be saying, “I’m not giving you this job, because you are barred from a completely different area of work.” That would plainly be wrong, and disproportionate to the aims of the disclosure regime. It could also lead to legal challenges.
I am sure that the Minister will get to all my points, but I want to give her an example that fits the scenario that she has just described, and that ought to worry us all. It involves a taxi driver. Taxi drivers require only a standard CRB check involving the standard disclosure. In this example, the taxi driver was ferrying children from school occasionally, once or twice a month, but numerous accusations that that person had abducted schoolgirls had been recorded with the ISA, and he was in fact barred. The taxi firm did not know that, however. As I understand it, the firm had behaved properly in simply carrying out the standard CRB check. Surely the Minister would accept that, if the firm had known that the person was barred from working with children, that would have affected the jobs that he was given by the employer.
Order. I am finding it difficult to understand the discussion on these points, given the exchanges that are being made across the Dispatch Box. The Minister does not have to give way if she does not want to; she can go on to make her points. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) can seek to intervene whenever she likes, as can any other Member. I would also appreciate it if interventions were a little briefer.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North could produce endless scenarios, but all I was going to say in response to the example of the taxi driver is that the law has not changed. Taxi drivers have been getting enhanced standard CRB checks. Taxi and private hire workers who work regularly with children are eligible for enhanced checks. Other drivers are eligible for standard checks, as the hon. Lady said, and that will reveal spent and unspent convictions, cautions and warnings. We are considering how best to ensure that vulnerable groups are protected, and officials have recently had productive discussions with relevant stakeholders on this issue.
I will come on to the crux of the argument made by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Meg Munn), which was that some referrals to the ISA from employers, schools and so on involve information that never finds its way to the police and that would therefore not be revealed, even in an enhanced CRB check. I was saying that an employer could say, “I’m not giving you this job, because you are barred from a completely different area of work.” We think that that would be wrong. I want to make it clear that an enhanced CRB certificate will still be available to employers and volunteer organisations that employ people in certain work that involves children or vulnerable adults but that falls outside the scope of regulated activity. We will publish detailed proposals in good time on the implementation of the overall reforms to the disclosure and barring arrangements.
The parts that worry Labour Members, and that we have paid attention to, are the positions that were in regulated activity and that are now in unregulated activity and therefore not subject to the controls available to regulated activity.
I just want to clarify a point. The Minister said that there were groups, occupations or opportunities that would attract enhanced CRB checks and barring information even though they did not involve regulated activity. Is this new? Is she saying that this is a new group?
No; either I misspoke or the hon. Lady misheard. Enhanced CRB checks will be available if an employer chooses; it is not a requirement. If there is a post in a school that involves unregulated activity and the school wishes to have a criminal record check for the person undertaking that unregulated activity, it can do so. Obviously, all conviction information will be in that check, and if it is an enhanced check, it will also include soft, local information from the police.
The greater challenge will be in the other direction, because of the conditioning around child protection. People have become incredibly cautious, and that is to be welcomed, but the Government are trying to say that employers and people who run organisations have a locus in this; they have a responsibility. It is not just about getting a CRB check; we want employers to make a judgment to ensure that everyone in their establishment is safe to work with children, whether the work is regulated or unregulated. That is the criterion: when they take someone on as an employee or as a volunteer, it is just as important as the CRB check or whether the person has regulated or unregulated status that employers have their own ways of checking, through references and talking to people, and that they take very conscientiously their duties to safeguard children, for their own conscience and behaviour, in their employ.
I should make it clear that the checks are still available to employers. We will publish more details on that, and we will give more information on statutory and non-statutory aspects when we get to the next group of amendments. The disclosures include information on previous criminal convictions and cautions, spent and unspent, and relevant local police information. It is essential that the fact of a bar be disclosed on an enhanced CRB certificate for regulated activity, because barred people are prohibited by law from doing such work. It is a criminal offence for someone who is barred to apply for work in regulated activity; similarly, it is an offence for an employer knowingly to employ someone on the barred list. Indeed, under the Bill, there is a duty to check whether someone who applying to work in regulated activity is barred.
For other positions, where an employer has discretion whether to employ someone or to take them on as a volunteer, it is even more important that they should see the behaviour itself, in the form of convictions, cautions and local police information, rather than the actual information as to whether there is a bar—this is still about regulated activity, not the ISA referral, which I will come to in a moment. Together with the other information that the employers will have obtained during the recruitment process, they will then be able to make a decision on whether to employ the person.
One of the subjects that we discussed at length in Committee involved the information that arrives at the police. Through guidance, we will encourage employers and volunteer users to ensure that the police, as well as the barring authority, are informed in cases where there is a risk to vulnerable groups. That could then be reflected on the CRB certificate, if relevant, and will assist the police with their wider protection duties.
Although I acknowledge the hon. Lady’s argument about parents not wanting to involve children in getting rid of somebody who is under suspicion at a school and not wanting to refer the matter to the police because that creates difficult circumstances, to be frank, this Government want that referral to be made. That information must be given to the police. It is absolutely inappropriate not to do so if a school or organisation suspects that someone is unsuitable to work with children. We want to take the atmosphere around that situation away, so that what happens is not just that the case can be referred to the ISA—which, as the hon. Lady rightly said, uses its excellent skills to impose a discretionary bar—but, more important, that the information goes to the police, and not just because of the employment situation. If the information is on the enhanced Criminal Records Bureau certificate, the same person—who could be a volunteer or in employment—can also go out of that establishment and down to the local park. It is really important that the information gets through to the police. I want that point to go out loud and clear. Although the hon. Lady raises a valid point, we are hoping to change the position so that it is no longer the case that people use their discretion to refer only to the ISA, and that the ISA shares that information.
The Minister is absolutely right that the police should be informed where there are allegations that need to be properly investigated and, hopefully, brought to court so that people can be convicted, but I am concerned that in some cases that will not happen, for whatever reason. Where the ISA has information that someone should be barred from working with children, would it not be appropriate for that information also to be passed on to employers, voluntary sector groups and charities?
I do not think that we will reach agreement on that point, because we regard it as disproportionate to give barring information in a situation that is not appropriate for barring—that is, where there is not regulated activity. The concept of the barred status of individuals not appearing on certificates for positions falling outside regulated activity is not new; that has been the case. The key changes of our provisions are to the scope and extent of regulated activity, not the application of barring provisions, which remain the same. We have changed the scope.
The hon. Lady raised the issue of people who are barred being able to have access to children on an infrequent basis under the current scheme—for example, as volunteers in schools. That is the case at the moment. I think people who were barred could have access to children three times a month—that is, infrequently. Under the old regime—or the current regime, I should say—if there was infrequent contact, people did not have to be checked. They could be checked, but it was not mandatory. There will always be people who have some contact with children whom parents cannot check. There were under the previous Government’s scheme: as I say, if contact was infrequent, people were not necessarily checked. We cannot eliminate risk entirely, but we believe that we are minimising it.
The hon. Lady raised the case of a former teacher who was barred from three schools where the information was not passed to the police. That teacher went on to volunteer at primary school, working one-on-one with 10 kids. As I have said, the enhanced CRB check would not show the information, because the case was referred to the ISA, but we are saying that in future that information should be passed to the police. More importantly, volunteers in an unregulated situation will be supervised. It is crucial that employers and organisations understand what is appropriate in terms of supervision and, therefore, what is regulated or not regulated activity, which we will come to later. The law would then be involved, because it would be against the law to employ someone or have them in unregulated activity if the barred status had not been checked. However, we will come to that in due course.
I am trying to help the Minister, who may have said something that I am not sure her officials would agree with about someone who is currently barred having access to children in school. Perhaps she could consider it again. My understanding of the current law is that schools have to check the barred status of individuals in schools, so people barred from working with children would not be in schools at the moment.
If they were in regulated activity, they would be barred. It is a duty under the law that they should be checked.
The hon. Lady also raised the concerns of the Football Association and Girlguiding UK, but we see no reason why the provisions in the Bill should discourage volunteering. In particular, there is no reason why central human resource specialists cannot contrive to take decisions about whether to take on a new volunteer. In such cases, the prospective volunteer would send their CRB certificate to the central body rather than the local branch—in this case, to the football coach or the guide leader. The e-Bulk system continues.
The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) asked me to explain continuous updating, and it might help those who were not involved in every aspect of the Committee if I do so. Continuous updating will be an e-system. An employee will be given an exclusive number. When they go for a job, they can give that number—their PIN, as it were—to the prospective employer and, sitting in the interview, that employer can log on with it and check that person’s CRB status in relation to children, vulnerable adults or both. What will be shown on the screen is either whether there has been any change from when the last certificate was presented or that person’s last status. If there is no change, no more information is needed; if there is a change, the screen will tell the employer that there has been a change to the available information. Obviously they will then need a new certificate, so that the employer knows that there has been a change and that there is information that needs looking at. Given that CRB checks are completely clear 92% of the time, the system is obviously very fast.
Amendment 111 would make three substantive changes to the barring arrangements. First, it deals with the test for barring decisions set out in clause 66. In considering the amendment, it is important to examine the provisions in that clause. The vetting and barring scheme developed by the last Government was well intentioned, but the balance was not right. The scheme that was developed was over the top and disproportionate. We have made clear our intention to scale back the scheme to common-sense levels, and that is what we are doing.
Time is running out, but let me just say that we are prepared to consider some of the suggestions on the issuing of the certificate. I will be happy to come back to that.
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Meg Munn) for her well informed speech. She has considerable experience in and knowledge of child protection, which she has usefully brought to our debates. I know that she, as chair of the all-party group, works tirelessly to promote the safety of vulnerable children and to ensure that they are kept as safe as possible. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mrs Chapman), who has a great deal of expertise, as well. Her interventions were a useful contribution to the debate, raising some of the key issues.
I am concerned about the Government’s response to the genuine concerns expressed by employers and voluntary groups about the information they feel they should have to help them in decision making. I still do not understand why the Minister feels that we should not use the ISA’s great knowledge and expertise in child protection and keeping vulnerable people safe. The ISA looks at all sorts of information. Why should that information not be made available to prospective employers or voluntary groups and charities?
Let me make a special plea for voluntary groups, which often rely on individuals to give up their time to run, for example, the Sunday football league in the local park. Those groups often do not have great knowledge of the CRB system, but would greatly benefit from knowing that the experts at the ISA had looked carefully into a person and formed a judgment that they should be barred. I still do not understand why the Government are so against sharing that information. Most members of the general public would think that if someone is on a barred list, that information should be made available to employers and organisations though which that person is likely to come into contact with children and vulnerable people. I ask the Minister to think hard before turning her face against that provision.
I made it clear that I agree with the Minister about the importance of pursuing people through the courts whenever possible, and of ensuring that people feel confident about taking allegations to the police where they feel that behaviour in a school or care home has been unacceptable. We all support that, but it will not always happen. The Minister failed to address those cases where information is not shared with the police; a barring decision has been made by the ISA, but that information will appear nowhere on a standard or enhanced CRB certificate. That means that a Sunday football club might well have organising the football teams and supervising the children a coach that no one knows has been barred from working with children. As my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington said, the vast majority of parents would be horrified to think that such a situation could arise when that information is readily available from the ISA and could have been provided to keep those children safe. That is an important point.
I also want to make a plea for small employers that do not have large human resources departments and do not have the capacity to spend time going through all the procedures that the big companies can. I imagine Tesco and Sainsbury’s have large HR departments that can process applications, take up references and do everything else that has to be done, but small employers, with perhaps just two or three people working for them, are different. That sort of employer will have to get to grips with a whole new system of CRB checks, online updating and all the rest of it. The Minister fails to understand the reality of modern businesses in this country or how complicated the new system will appear to many small businesses.
I have set out the problem in the amendments. Making the certificate available only to the individual rather than to the individual and the prospective employer, as currently happens, is fraught with difficulties. Those who want to use the system for their own ends will find ways around the fact that the certificate does not go directly to the employer.
It might give the hon. Lady some heart if I say that we have listened very carefully to that argument and we are considering whether it would be possible to send notification of a certificate that has not been sent, perhaps going even further than she suggests in telling the prospective organisation or employer that it is clear of anything that needs checking. As I say, we are considering that at the moment.
Let me repeat a comment I made yesterday in a debate on wheel-clamping: one of the problems with this Government is that they rush into legislation without taking the time to consider the practical implications. We are now at the Report stage of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, yet the Minister now says that the Government might well consider looking at the practicalities of the system that they are going to bring in—a system that will cost millions of pounds and cause a great deal of concern to businesses, the voluntary sector and sports groups. I think the Minister should reflect on that.
Goodness, it is like the Health and Social Care Bill all over again! At this point, perhaps I should move on and speak to the Opposition amendments.
I genuinely believe that the protection of children and vulnerable adults is a matter of concern to us all, in all parts of the House; we want to make sure that we get this right. That is why the Labour Front-Bench team tabled the amendments, based on the advice of experts in the field and in response to the organisations that are asking for information to be made available to them so that they can do the right thing and keep children and vulnerable adults safe.
I am worried by the Minister’s reluctance to acknowledge some of the important issues. The taxi driver example I provided is a real-life example that was pointed out to me yesterday. It applies to someone who, I accept, is not working in regulated activity. The standard criminal record check is the one normally used for taxi drivers, but this person was working with children on an irregular basis, despite the clear allegations that the person had wanted to abduct children in the past. The taxi company, which acted perfectly reasonably in the belief that this was a person with no convictions, allowed him to go out and ferry children around once or twice a month. What he had done was on his record, but the taxi company did not have access to the information. Many people would be worried to know that such information was not made available to an employer who was trying to do their best.
The problem is that the barring information is not made available. The point of our new clause is to ensure that barring information relating to individuals judged to be a threat to children should be made available when someone applies for a CRB check. That is the point.
The Minister made a point about locus and about employers and voluntary groups making judgments using their own common sense. Of course we want people to do that; of course we want people to take responsibility for their actions, but I fail to understand why the Minister will not allow individuals, organisations or employers to have all the information, so that they can make proper decisions about who they employ and who they allow to volunteer in their organisations.
I shall divide the House on new clause 18, which deals with revealing barred status when a CRB check is applied for, and I shall also press amendment 111 to clause 66. As we have discussed, the vast majority of people in this country would be horrified to know that the Government no longer wish to put serious criminals on a barred list to protect children. Even at this late stage, I ask the Minister to think again about whether that is the way the Government want to go.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.
Restriction of scope of regulated activities: Children
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Amendment 114, in page 45, line 22, leave out ‘day to day’ and insert ‘close and constant’.
Amendment 115, in page 46, line 27, leave out ‘day to day’ and insert ‘close and constant’.
Amendment 113, in page 46, leave out lines 29 to 40.
Amendment 116, in page 46, line 37, leave out ‘day to day’ and insert ‘close and constant’.
Government amendments 22 and 63.
As I was saying, these amendments deal with regulated activity relating to children and we discussed that, and the closely related issue of supervision, at length in Committee. I should make it clear that these are probing amendments and I will not press any of them to a Division. I would, however, be interested to hear the Minister’s views on the issues that the amendments address.
We have concerns about the current drafting of these provisions. If a person has contact with a child it will generally be in regulated activity, but that is not always the case. For instance, a volunteer in a school classroom where there is a teacher present would not be seen to be in regulated activity so would not be subject to any form of Criminal Records Bureau check or barred status check.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance, Fair Play for Children and other charities have highlighted the problems in using the notion of supervision for deciding whether a person is in a position to exploit their relationship with children. That person could, as I have just said, be a volunteer in a classroom listening to children read, or a volunteer helping the school caretaker, and they are therefore able to build relationships with the pupils as they carry out their voluntary role. The problem is not the activity they are performing, which could well be properly supervised; rather, it is the fact that they are building relationships with children which they might go on to exploit. The charities I mentioned point out that supervision is an inappropriate notion in this context as it ignores this secondary access that can be used to build up a relationship with a child or vulnerable adult. If someone is in such a position of trust, they might later take action that could be detrimental to the child or vulnerable adult.
May I reiterate the concern that is felt? The failure to provide barred status information on people in these unregulated areas is precisely the loophole that the Government should be closing, because if somebody is a risk to children and is having regular contact with them, albeit supervised, the person who is taking them on as a volunteer should have the necessary information to decide whether that is appropriate.
My hon. Friend puts the case very well, and I hope the Minister will reflect on the issue of barred status information not being made available—which we have just voted on—and on this whole area of supervision, and consider whether to redefine or remove entirely the concept of supervision.
Let me discuss the example of David Lawrence. For many years he was a football coach volunteering for a team in a junior league in the Avon area. In the late 1990s, working with Fair Play for Children, the Football League tightened its safeguarding procedures and uncovered a string of allegations made against Mr Lawrence dating back to the 1970s, but he had no convictions. He was removed from the football club and shortly afterwards was convicted of an offence against a young boy. Shockingly, just two months after release, in the early 2000s, he was once again volunteering at a local football club. It was a club in a league affiliated with the Football Association, but it was not conducting even basic checks on those who volunteered with it. Mr Lawrence was in a series of supervised volunteer positions, but if this Bill is passed in its current form there will be no legal requirement to conduct any checks on his background. The case shows that statutory regulation is needed to force activity providers to conduct background checks on individuals. Because so much of the relevant information is often soft information—we have just debated that at length—these background checks should go through the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
A redefinition of “supervision” is set out in amendments 114 to 116, which seek to deal with the Government’s definition of the term. We discussed that at great length in Committee, including a number of different options for the definition. Using a definition of “day to day” supervision to cover people such as a football coach or an assistant in a school classroom is not sufficient, as it allows individuals to be left unsupervised for long periods. For example, a football coach could take the same group of children to a different part of a playing field regularly—on a weekly basis—and that is of concern. The definition would also allow a volunteer at a drama group to teach mime to a group of children in a different room from the person supposed to be supervising them. Someone with that ability to take part in activities away from where their supervisor is should be subject to background checks.
A survey conducted by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations suggested that three quarters of parents want background checks to be carried out unless they have personally chosen the person who has access to their child. The brief on which the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children led stated:
“We are concerned that the proposed definition of regulated activity does not cover some groups of people who have frequent and close contact with children. This creates risks for children. Those who seek to harm children can be predatory and manipulative. If certain types of work are exempt from vetting and barring, in some sectors or settings, but not in others, dangerous adults are likely to target those organisations with weaker arrangements.”
“Our key outstanding concern is about the exclusion of supervised work from regulated activity: The Bill exempts many positions from regulated activity simply by virtue of them being under ‘regular day to day supervision’. However supervised employees and volunteers are still able to develop relationships with children which could be exploited. For example, a volunteer teaching assistant in a classroom of 30 children, with only light-touch supervision by the classroom teacher, has plenty of opportunity to develop inappropriate relationships and groom children.
The definition of ‘regular day to day supervision’ is not sufficient because it could be understood to include individuals who have a ‘supervisor’ on site, but who are able to work with groups of children on their own for significant periods of time, with no one directly supervising their work.”
The first recommendation in the report by the all-party group on child protection was to tighten up the definition of “supervision”. In its response to that report, the Home Office said that it agreed that regulated activity should cover all those positions where individuals have close contact and can develop trusting relationships with children. Unfortunately, the Government have not tabled any amendments to allow us to deal with that.
We welcome Government amendments 22 and 63. We are glad that the Government have heeded the calls made by the Opposition and by leading charities in the area, including the NSPCC, to introduce statutory guidance on the issue of supervision.
One of the concerns that many people and lots of organisations have about supervision—this has been expressed to me and I suspect to many others in the House—is the level of complexity and the degree of risk involved. Does the hon. Lady feel that the Government should reconsider that issue and how they can best address it to everyone’s satisfaction?
The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point. All members of the Public Bill Committee had real concerns about this issue, and wanted further explanation and statutory guidance to be produced by the Government. We are therefore pleased that these amendments will assist that definition, but we are also concerned that we have not had an opportunity in the House to debate and discuss exactly what “regulated activity” and “supervision” are, how they fit together and whether or not we need to revisit the matter. I hope the Minister will be able to give an assurance that the protection set out in the Bill and these Government amendments will be sufficient to deal with the kind of examples that I have given, where people have been able to abuse their position in schools, charities or other voluntary sector groups.
The all-party group’s second recommendation was that the Government should introduce statutory guidance, so again this move is to be welcomed. I would be grateful if the Minister could respond to those points.
There is not much time available, so I shall be brief. There was considerable discussion in Committee about the nature of “supervision”. The Bill describes “supervised work” as being
“any such work which is, on a regular basis, subject to the day to day supervision of another person who is engaging in regulated activity relating to children”.
That is a tight definition. Supervision must be ongoing, so a once-a-week meeting between the supervisor and supervised would not meet the requirement. The supervision must be on a daily basis and it must be done by someone who is in regulated activity themselves and, therefore, has been checked against the barred list.
We believe that our proposals in this part of the Bill strike a better balance between the roles played by the state and the employers in situ in protecting the vulnerable. Those activities presenting the greatest risks, such as unsupervised work with children or vulnerable adults, remain subject to the central barring and vetting arrangements. We do not think those arrangements are necessary where regular supervision takes place on a daily basis. I should emphasise that that does not mean that checks should not, or cannot, be carried out in relation to work that falls outside regulated activity.
Lastly, I wish to say that I am glad that the hon. Lady is pleased with our movement on statutory guidance.
As I said, I do not intend to press the amendment to a Division and I am pleased that the Government have seen the sense in having statutory guidance on supervision. It is unfortunate that the House has not had the opportunity to consider any draft guidance that the Government might wish to introduce, although I assume that we will see that later in the day.
I thank the hon. Lady for giving way; I am conscious of the time. Does she feel that this measure is about reducing the number of those being checked? If it is, it is flawed. That is one of my concerns. Most employers will carry out a non-regulated activity that will not require the barred list information or an enhanced disclosure. In other words, things will thereby not be done in the way they should to get full disclosure. I know that we are not going to divide the House on this point, but I am very concerned about what it means.
Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 10 October).
The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).
Alteration of test for barring decisions
Amendment proposed: 111, page 49, leave out from line 32 to line 5 on page 53 and insert—
‘(1) In sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (inclusion subject to consideration of representations), after paragraph (b) insert—
“(c) give the person the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses at an oral hearing in front of a panel of at least two persons.”.
(2) After sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 3 of that Schedule (behaviour) insert—
(3) After sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 5 of that Schedule (risk of harm) insert—
(4) After sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 8 of that Schedule (inclusion subject to consideration of representations) after (b) insert—
(5) After sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 9 of that Schedule (behaviour) insert—
(6) After sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 11 of that Schedule (risk of harm) insert—
“(2A) The right to representation must include the right to present evidence and call witnesses at an oral hearing in front of at least two persons.”.’.—(Diana Johnson.)
Question put, That the amendment be made.
Amendment made: 22, page 64, line 16, at end insert—
‘(6) After paragraph 5 of Schedule 4 to that Act (regulated activity relating to children) insert—
5A (1) The Secretary of State must give guidance for the purpose of assisting regulated activity providers and personnel suppliers in deciding whether supervision is of such a kind that, as a result of paragraph 1(2B)(b), 2(3A) or 2(3B)(b), the person being supervised would not be engaging in regulated activity relating to children.
(2) Before giving guidance under this paragraph, the Secretary of State must consult the Welsh Ministers.
(3) The Secretary of State must publish guidance given under this paragraph.
(4) A regulated activity provider or a personnel supplier must, in exercising any functions under this Act, have regard to guidance for the time being given under this paragraph.”’.—(Lynne Featherstone.)
Transfer schemes in connection with orders under section 85
Amendments made: 23, page 70, line 43, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 71 and insert—
‘(7) For the purposes of this section—
(a) references to rights and liabilities of ISA include references to rights and liabilities of ISA relating to a contract of employment, and
(b) references to rights and liabilities of the Secretary of State include references to rights and liabilities of the Crown relating to the terms of employment of individuals in the civil service.
(7A) Accordingly, a transfer scheme may, in particular, provide—
(a) for an employee of ISA or (as the case may be) an individual employed in the civil service to become an employee of DBS,
(b) for the individual’s contract of employment with ISA or (as the case may be) terms of employment in the civil service to have effect (subject to any necessary modifications) as the terms of the individual’s contract of employment with DBS,
(c) for the transfer to DBS of rights and liabilities of ISA or (as the case may be) the Crown under or in connection with the individual’s terms of employment.’.
Amendment 24, page 71, leave out lines 8 and 9.—(Lynne Featherstone.)
Interpretation: Chapter 4
Amendment made: 25, page 77, line 22, at end insert—
‘(7) For the purposes of subsections (5) and (6) an attempt to commit an offence includes conduct which—
(a) consisted of frequenting with intent to commit the offence any river, canal, street, highway, place of public resort or other location mentioned in section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 (as it then had effect) in connection with frequenting by suspected persons or reputed thiefs, and
(b) was itself an offence under that section.’.—(Lynne Featherstone.)
Safeguarding of vulnerable groups: Northern Ireland
Amendment made: 63, page 144, line 26, at end insert—
‘(6) After paragraph 5 of Schedule 2 to that Order (regulated activity relating to children) insert—
5A (1) The Secretary of State must give guidance for the purpose of assisting regulated activity providers and personnel suppliers in deciding whether supervision is of such a kind that, as a result of paragraph 1(2B)(b), 2(3A) or 2(3B)(b), the person being supervised would not be engaging in regulated activity relating to children.
(2) The Secretary of State must publish guidance given under this paragraph.
(3) A regulated activity provider or a personnel supplier must, in exercising any functions under this Order, have regard to guidance for the time being given under this paragraph.”’.—(Lynne Featherstone.)
Disclosure and Barring Service
Amendment made: 64, page 148, line 23, at end insert—
‘Use of information
15A Information obtained by DBS in connection with the exercise of any of its functions may be used by DBS in connection with the exercise of any of its other functions.’.—(Lynne Featherstone.)
New Clause 13
Emergency power for temporary extension and review of extensions
‘(1) After Part 3 of Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000 (extension of detention of terrorist suspects) insert—
Emergency power when parliament dissolved etc. for temporary extension of maximum period for detention under section 41
38 (1) The Secretary of State may make a temporary extension order if—
(i) Parliament is dissolved, or
(ii) Parliament has met after a dissolution but the first Queen’s Speech of the Parliament has not yet taken place, and
(b) the Secretary of State considers that it is necessary by reason of urgency to make such an order.
(2) A temporary extension order is an order which provides, in relation to the period of three months beginning with the coming into force of the order, for paragraphs 36 and 37 to be read as if—
(a) in paragraph 36(3)(b)(ii) for “14 days” there were substituted “28 days”, and
(b) the other modifications in sub-paragraphs (3) and (4) were made.
(3) The other modifications of paragraph 36 are—
(a) the insertion at the beginning of sub-paragraph (1) of “Subject to sub-paragraphs (1ZA) to (1ZI),”,
(b) the insertion, after sub-paragraph (1), of—
(1ZA) Sub-paragraph (1ZB) applies in relation to any proposed application under sub-paragraph (1) for the further extension of the period specified in a warrant of further detention where the grant (otherwise than in accordance with sub-paragraph (3AA)(b)) of the application would extend the specified period to a time that is more than 14 days after the relevant time.
(1ZB) No person may make such an application—
(a) in England and Wales, without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions,
(b) in Scotland, without the consent of the Lord Advocate, and
(c) in Northern Ireland, without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland,
unless the person making the application is the person whose consent is required.
(1ZC) The Director of Public Prosecutions must exercise personally any function under sub-paragraph (1ZB) of giving consent.
(1ZD) The only exception is if—
(a) the Director is unavailable, and
(b) there is another person who is designated in writing by the Director acting personally as the person who is authorised to exercise any such function when the Director is unavailable.
(1ZE) In that case—
(a) the other person may exercise the function but must do so personally, and
(b) the Director acting personally—
(i) must review the exercise of the function as soon as practicable, and
(ii) may revoke any consent given.
(1ZF) Where the consent is so revoked after an application has been made or extension granted, the application is to be dismissed or (as the case may be) the extension is to be revoked.
(1ZG) Sub-paragraphs (1ZC) to (1ZF) apply instead of any other provisions which would otherwise have enabled any function of the Director of Public Prosecutions under sub-paragraph (1ZB) of giving consent to be exercised by a person other than the Director.
(1ZH) The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland must exercise personally any function under sub-paragraph (1ZB) of giving consent unless the function is exercised personally by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland by virtue of section 30(4) or (7) of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 (powers of Deputy Director to exercise functions of Director).
(1ZI) Sub-paragraph (1ZH) applies instead of section 36 of the Act of 2002 (delegation of the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland to persons other than the Deputy Director) in relation to the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland and the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland under, or (as the case may be) by virtue of, sub-paragraph (1ZB) above of giving consent.”,
(c) the substitution, for “a judicial authority” in sub-paragraph (1A), of “—
(a) in the case of an application falling within sub-paragraph (1B), a judicial authority; and
(b) in any other case, a senior judge”,
(d) the insertion, after sub-paragraph (1A), of—
(1B) An application for the extension or further extension of a period falls within this sub-paragraph if—
(a) the grant of the application otherwise than in accordance with sub-paragraph (3AA)(b) would extend that period to a time that is no more than 14 days after the relevant time; and
(b) no application has previously been made to a senior judge in respect of that period.”,
(e) the insertion, after “judicial authority” in both places in sub-paragraph (3AA) where it appears, of “or senior judge”,
(f) the insertion, after “detention” in sub-paragraph (4), of “but, in relation to an application made by virtue of sub-paragraph (1A)(b) to a senior judge, as if—
(a) references to a judicial authority were references to a senior judge; and
(b) references to the judicial authority in question were references to the senior judge in question”,
(g) the insertion, after “judicial authority” in sub-paragraph (5), of “or senior judge”, and
(h) the insertion, after sub-paragraph (6), of—
(7) In this paragraph and paragraph 37 “senior judge” means a judge of the High Court or of the High Court of Justiciary.”
(4) The modification of paragraph 37 is the insertion, in sub-paragraph (2), after “judicial authority”, of “or senior judge”.
(5) A temporary extension order applies, except so far as it provides otherwise, to any person who is being detained under section 41 when the order comes into force (as well as any person who is subsequently detained under that section).
(6) The Secretary of State may by order revoke a temporary extension order if the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to do so (whether or not the conditions mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) of sub-paragraph (1) are met).
(7) Sub-paragraph (8) applies if—
(a) any of the following events occurs—
(i) the revocation without replacement of a temporary extension order,
(ii) the expiry of the period of three months mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) in relation to such an order,
(iii) the ceasing to have effect of such an order by virtue of section 123(6A) and (6B), and
(b) at that time—
(i) a person is being detained by virtue of a further extension under paragraph 36,
(ii) the person’s further detention was authorised by virtue of the temporary extension order concerned (before its revocation, expiry or ceasing to have effect) for a period ending more than 14 days after the relevant time (within the meaning given by paragraph 36(3B)),
(iii) that 14 days has expired, and
(iv) the person’s detention is not otherwise authorised by law.
(8) The person with custody of that individual must release the individual immediately.
(9) Subject to sub-paragraphs (7) and (8), the fact that—
(a) a temporary extension order is revoked,
(b) the period of three months mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) has expired in relation to such an order, or
(c) such an order ceases to have effect by virtue of section 123(6A) and (6B),
is without prejudice to anything previously done by virtue of the order or to the making of a new order.”
(2) After section 123(6) of that Act (orders and regulations under the Act) insert—
“(6A) An order under paragraph 38 of Schedule 8 is to cease to have effect at the end of the period of 20 days beginning with the day on which the Secretary of State makes the order, unless a resolution approving the order is passed by each House of Parliament during that period.
(6B) For the purposes of subsection (6A) the period of 20 days is to be computed in accordance with section 7(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946.”
(3) After section 36(4) of the Terrorism Act 2006 (review of terrorism legislation) insert—
“(4A) The person appointed under subsection (1) must ensure that a review is carried out (whether by that person or another person) into any case where the period specified in a warrant of further detention issued under Part 3 of Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000 (extension of detention of terrorist suspects) is further extended by virtue of paragraph 36 of that Schedule to a time that is more than 14 days after the relevant time (within the meaning of that paragraph).
(4B) The person appointed under subsection (1) must ensure that a report on the outcome of the review is sent to the Secretary of State as soon as reasonably practicable after the completion of the review.”’.—(James Brokenshire.)
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
New clause 14—Extension of pre-charge detention—
‘(1) The Secretary of State may by order extend the permitted period of detention under section 41 and Schedule 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to 28 days if the Attorney General has certified that exceptional circumstances apply;
(2) An order made under subsection (1) shall expire three months after commencement;
(3) The Secretary of State must arrange for a statement to be made to each House of Parliament as soon as possible once an order under subsection (1) has been made.
(4) A review of each order made under subsection (1) must be conducted by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, or a person appointed by him, and each review must be published as soon as any risk of prejudice to judicial proceedings has ceased to exist.
(5) Every year, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a report listing any orders made under subsection (1) since the commencement of this section, or since the date of the previous report as the case may be, explaining what exceptional circumstances applied in each case; and if—
(a) six weeks have elapsed from the report being laid, without the report being approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament, or
(b) either House of Parliament declines to approve the report by resolution
this section, and any order made under subsection (1), shall cease to have effect.
(6) When an order under subsection (1) is in force, a High Court judge may extend the period of detention without charge of any person arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 up to 28 days if he is satisfied that—
(a) the person has been lawfully arrested on reasonable suspicion of having committed a specified terrorist offence;
(b) it would be exceptionally difficult to decide whether to charge the suspect with a terrorist offence unless the suspect were to be detained without charge for more than 14 days;
(c) there are reasonable grounds for expecting that it would be possible to decide whether to charge the suspect with a terrorist offence if he were detained without charge for more than 14 days but no more than 28 days; and
(d) the public interest in the administration of justice would be undermined if the suspect were to be released without charge.
(7) An application to the High Court under subsection (6) requires the authorisation of the Director of Public Prosecutions.’.
Government amendments 79, 80 and 75.
The coalition’s programme for government committed the Government to reviewing counter-terrorism legislation. Included in this broad review was the issue of pre-charge detention. The Government are committed to making our counter-terrorism powers fairer and more effective, and they announced in January 201l that, following the results of the review of counter-terrorism and security powers, the limit on pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects should be reduced to 14 days. The 28 days order was always meant to be an exceptional provision; it had become the norm. The Government are not prepared to allow this to continue. The last 28 days order was therefore allowed to lapse on 24 January. The maximum limit for pre-charge detention is now 14 days.
There was a recognition—I will come on to this in the context of the counter-terrorism review—that it might be necessary in an emergency, in exceptional circumstances, for pre-charge detention to be extended back up to 28 days, and it was for that reason that the Government introduced fast-track legislation to pre-legislative scrutiny. I will come on to the pre-legislative scrutiny in due course, recognising that right hon. and hon. Members from the Joint Committee are here this evening, and I look forward to their contributions in this debate.
I want to clarify one point that is not dealt with in the Home Secretary’s response to the Committee’s report, although it was dealt with when she came before the Committee to give evidence. It is silent on a point that is central to the issue—the fact that an extension of detention can be made only if more time is required for investigation and in order to bring cases before the court, and is not intended to be some form of preventive detention. Will the Minister confirm that that is still the Government’s view? It frames the whole of the discussion from that point on.
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about the evidence that the Home Secretary gave to the Joint Committee, and I am happy to confirm that that retains and maintains the Government’s position on the use of the fast-track legislation and the emergency provisions that we have talked about.
New clause 13 introduces an urgent order-making power for the Secretary of State temporarily to increase the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects under schedule 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000 from 14 days to 28 days in very limited circumstances.
An order may be made only where the Secretary of State considers that to be necessary, by reason of urgency. This is an emergency power exercisable only when Parliament is dissolved, or in the period before the Queen’s Speech following the Dissolution of Parliament.
As I have said already, the counter-terrorism review that the Government initiated, which reported at the start of the year, concluded that the limit on pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects should be set at 14 days and that this should be reflected in primary legislation, which is what we have in the Bill. The counter-terrorism review, after examining the options for dealing with the emergency situation, stated that emergency legislation extending the period of pre-charge detention to 28 days should be drafted and discussed with the Opposition but not introduced, in order to deal with urgent situations in which more than 14 days is considered necessary, for example in response to multiple co-ordinated attacks and/or during multiple, large and simultaneous investigations. Lord Macdonald, who was the independent reviewer of the Government’s counter-terrorism analysis, agreed with that, stating:
“It is my clear conclusion that the evidence gathered by the Review failed to support a case for 28 day pre-charge detention. No period in excess of 14 days has been sought by police or prosecutors since 2007, and no period in excess of 21 days has been sought since 2006…I agree with the Review’s conclusion that the risk of an exceptional event, requiring a temporary return to 28 days, is best catered for by having emergency legislation ready for placing before Parliament in that eventuality. This is the option most strongly supported by the evidence gathered by the Review.”
I am following the logic of what the Minister says very carefully. He referred to multiple attacks and multiple investigations. Does he accept that multiple attacks in themselves would not justify the use of the power, and that it is the weight of investigation and preparation of cases that would be the trigger? I know that this sounds a little like dancing on the head of a pin, but I hope that he will accept that clarity here is crucial to an understanding of what the Government intend.
The right hon. Gentleman will obviously have seen the Home Secretary’s response to the Joint Committee’s report. In relation to legislating for exceptional circumstances, the Committee agrees that it does not make sense to have an exhaustive list. She set out three broad scenarios in which a longer period of pre-charge detention may be necessary in response to a fundamental change in the threat environment: first, when the police and Crown Prosecution Service anticipate that multiple, complex and simultaneous investigations would necessitate 28 days’ detention; secondly, during an investigation or series of investigations—but before arrests—that were so complex or significant that 14 days was not considered sufficient; and thirdly, during an investigation but after arrests had taken place. That was how the Home Secretary framed it, and that is the scenario and the analysis that we would point to in this context—although the Joint Committee did set out some other thoughts on exceptional circumstances, which the Home Secretary and the Government welcome as a helpful guide for supplementing the analysis that she set out in the three points to which I have already alluded. Therefore, I think that it is helpful to Parliament to have the additional points referred to in the Joint Committee’s report available to inform consideration in this regard.
Will my hon. Friend give some indication of the role that operational independence will have in considering when investigations have become so complex and difficult that the police will require the extended period in order to complete their investigations?
I will cover that point in further detail in the latter part of my contribution, but I will say that the distinction between individual cases and legislating for the generality, and the need to make a clear distinction between the two, was something that the Joint Committee rightly scrutinised in that context. We believe that it is possible to draw the distinction between an individual case with individual circumstances, and legislating on a need to extend pre-charge detention from 14 days to 28 days as a principle. In order to plan for such circumstances, the Government have published, but not introduced, draft emergency legislation that would increase the maximum period from 14 days to 28 days, which has been subject to the scrutiny of the Joint Committee.
I think that is right. In many ways it is why the Government have taken the approach that we have. Ultimately, it would be for the House to decide whether the circumstances justified the introduction of the emergency legislation. That is an important protection, and represents the underlying distinction in the Government’s approach.
Hon. and right hon. Members who sat on the Public Bill Committee will recall that we had extensive debates in Committee on what the maximum period should be, in what circumstances the Government might seek to extend that period, and what kind of contingency mechanism they might employ to extend the maximum period. As I said then, the Government have prepared draft fast-track legislation, which at the time was subject to pre-legislative scrutiny. The Joint Committee undertaking that scrutiny reported in June, and I am grateful to Lord Armstrong of Illminster and the other members of the Committee for their careful consideration.
Does the Minister believe that habeas corpus itself is in any way affected by the proposals before the House in the new clause, and does habeas corpus not, as Lord Steyn has said repeatedly, supervene against any other jurisdiction, provided that its operation is not excluded by statute?
I know that that is a particular concern for my hon. Friend, but we do not think that it is engaged in that way. I know that he has introduced a Bill previously on this subject, but the clear advice I have received is that the answer is no.
Although the Government still believe that fast-track legislation is the most appropriate contingency mechanism for increasing the maximum period of pre-charge detention, we recognise that, as the Committee pointed out, that approach would not be feasible during any period when Parliament was dissolved. No contingency mechanism will be perfect or able to meet all operational needs while at the same time satisfying every concern that Parliament and the public might have, but we recognised the point raised by the Committee about what would happen if Parliament were dissolved. New clause 13 has been introduced to address that specific concern.
I am aware that the Committee concluded that the Government’s intention to rely on fast-track legislation for other periods was not appropriate, citing potential problems with parliamentary debates and possible difficulties with recalling Parliament during a long recess. New clause 14, tabled by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins), attempts to deal with that issue by introducing an order-making power to increase the maximum period of pre-charge detention, which would be available when the Attorney-General certified that exceptional circumstances applied. The new clause also includes a number of proposed safeguards relating to that power, including retrospective parliamentary approval and a number of conditions that would have to be satisfied before a High Court judge could approve any individual applications for extended detention up to 28 days.
I very much welcome the continuation of the debates that the right hon. Gentleman and I have had over terrorism legislation, and many of the themes that come through in this debate were apparent in our debates on the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill, the enhanced regime and the provisions that it introduced. I think that it is right and proper that we have the debate on the issue in this Bill, particularly as the Joint Committee’s investigation related to the emergency draft legislation to which the Bill is in essence connected with regard to an increase from 14 to 28 days. However, we believe that the exceptional nature of these powers to extend the maximum period beyond 14 days means that, where feasible, the principle of 28- day detention should be debated and approved by Parliament.
In response to the Joint Committee’s report, the Home Secretary said:
“An order-making power of the type described in the Committee’s report”—
and in many ways reflected in the new clause that the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East has tabled—
“would…not be a clear expression that the ‘normal’ maximum period of pre-charge detention should be no longer than 14 days.”
She went on to say:
“28 day detention is so exceptional that I continue to believe that Parliament should have the opportunity to debate the issue first, and that the most appropriate and effective way to do this is by using emergency primary legislation.”
The Government have opted for legislation rather than for the order-making procedure, but by introducing new clause 13 the Minister demonstrates that the legislative approach is a principle that can be departed from in certain circumstances. The Committee found that an essential way to create a pragmatic response would be to apply the order-making procedure in all circumstances. So far, the Government’s response on the matter has been exiguous to say the least.
The first problem is that if we recalled Parliament for a statement and a debate, we would be doing something quite different from recalling Parliament in order to make primary legislation, remembering that that would have had to pass through not only this House but the other place. But there is a further point, and it seems even more significant as a matter of principle. How could one be assured that, in the course of a debate here about such primary legislation, nothing would take place that did not have the effect of prejudicing the right to a fair trial?
Parliament has shown itself capable in the past of conducting debates about sensitive issues and of being recalled quickly in exceptional circumstances. The current consideration of issues such as phone hacking illustrates how Parliament can consider and discuss very sensitive issues, and Parliament’s response to the riots over the summer also highlighted the fact that it is possible for the House to be recalled and to return at very short notice.
We return, however, to the principle that maintaining 14 days in primary legislation, rather than having a general order-making power, represents a clear expression of the very exceptional nature of the powers sought, gives Parliament the opportunity to debate the issues and, crucially, avoids 28 days becoming the maximum by default, as it appeared to be under the previous Government.
I accept the hon. Gentleman’s point, and I do not think that anybody is arguing for access to periods in excess of 14 days in normal circumstances. The principle that he underlines is absolutely right, but the problem with a debate by the House of Commons is that the evidence of the need for a longer period will be based only on a specific case or number of cases. If we have a massive number of cases, we will get away from the individual case, but that is an unlikely circumstance, and if the need for detention beyond 14 days relates just to one case, or to two or three, it is almost impossible to envisage a debate that would not refer to them—so what would be the point of such a debate?
That point was considered in the counter-terrorism review, and the view clearly expressed was that the debates and consideration would need to be handled carefully, but in our judgment that does not make the process impossible; far from it. Indeed, as I have told the House, Lord Macdonald, in his review of counter-terrorism, said that that was the appropriate way to proceed, reflecting what I have said about telegraphing very clearly the norm: 14 days, rather than 28 days. Therefore, we judge that this measure is the appropriate way forward, but no contingency mechanism will be perfect and meet all the needs of everybody. We do believe, however, that it is workable and practical, and underlines most clearly the norm for pre-charge detention.
In addition to the question of whether it is appropriate for Parliament to be the body that debates the conferring of exceptional powers, is it not also significant that what will be discussed is an exceptional threat to the nation? Is it not appropriate to recall Parliament to discuss that? Should not we be required to confer exceptional powers?
I have already said that on this matter neither I nor the Home Secretary feel that crystal ball-gazing is appropriate, but we are looking at exceptional circumstances, and as I have said the process can be handled and managed by the House. We have seen circumstances in which matters have been handled sensitively, and, although we recognise that that issue is a factor, we think that it can be addressed through the consideration of emergency legislation and the recall of Parliament.
Importantly, we have allowed scrutiny of the draft Bill, its operation and functions, so, if it is necessary to take legislation through the House, such deliberation and consideration will be aided by the scrutiny and exceptional work that the Joint Committee has already undertaken.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because he is dealing with important issues. He is right about scrutiny, but it cannot simply be the threat that leads to the power before us being brought in. That would apply to prevention of terrorism legislation, to the Emergency Powers Act 1964 and so on, but in relation to this power only the investigation and preparation of specific cases and the need for additional time can justify the use of such legislation. The House can be sensitive and, in some circumstances, speedy, but surely the Minister accepts that in the consideration of such matters there is a fault line which is problematic for the Government and for the House.
The Joint Committee set out that point very clearly in its report, and we have heard it, but we believe that a distinction can be drawn between the principle of extending 14 days to 28 days and the consideration of an individual case—and that it is entirely possible and practical for the House to do so.
I appreciate that in considering a detention of terrorism suspects (temporary extensions) Bill, Parliament would not be able to discuss matters relating to particular individuals or anything that might compromise an investigation or a future prosecution, but it is important to recognise the clear difference between Parliament's considering whether 28-day detention should be available in principle and the judiciary’s role in determining whether in an individual case to extend a detention warrant under schedule 8 to the 2000 Act. Parliament would not take a decision about an individual suspect or suspects; that would be a decision for the proper judicial process.
Parliament would take a decision about the principle of 28 days in a given set of circumstances, which would be explained in as much detail as possible. Parliament would also be able to discuss in general the issues of the threat and the reasons why an increased threat might require a longer maximum detention period.
I am sure the Minister appreciates that he is treading a rather wobbly line, because clause 57 talks about a permanent reduction in the maximum detention period to 14 days, yet, during the rather special circumstances when Parliament is not sitting or has been dissolved, he is prepared to countenance the idea of an emergency arrangement that would produce 28 days. I happen to be in favour of more than 14 days, but is it not the case that, ultimately, the test should be what is in the interests of the security of the nation, and that, if it is good enough to extend 14 days to 28 in such circumstances, it should apply or could apply generally?
We come back to what I spoke about—the exceptional nature of the powers sought and the point that 14 days should be the norm. Through the new clause, we seek to address the very limited circumstances in which Parliament is not functioning, and we recognise and take on board the Joint Committee’s comments on that. In those circumstances, the Home Secretary and the Government need to be able to act in the national interest to ensure security. For that reason, the emergency order-making power in new clause 13 is limited to periods when the introduction of primary legislation would not be possible—that is, when Parliament is dissolved or before the first Queen’s Speech of the new Parliament.
As we set out in the Government’s response, published last week, to the Joint Committee’s report, we welcome two of the Committee’s further recommendations for increased safeguards, and we have included them in new clause 13. First, applications for any warrant of further detention that would see an individual detained for longer than 14 days may be made only with the personal consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions or the equivalent post holder in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Secondly, whenever an individual is detained for longer than 14 days, their case will be reviewed by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, or someone on their behalf, and a report of that review will be sent to the Secretary of State as soon as possible.
Both those changes will also be incorporated in the draft fast-track legislation to increase the maximum length of pre-charge detention to 28 days. New clause 13 and consequential amendments 79 and 80 ensure that there is an effective contingency mechanism for increasing the maximum period of pre-charge detention in the limited period during which Parliament is dissolved. It is right that we should continue to rely on fast-track primary legislation in all other circumstances. On that basis, I commend new clause 13 to the House.
I will start with some general comments and then come directly to the amendments and new clauses. Obviously, this is the first time that I have spoken about these matters in a shadow ministerial capacity, and I want to underline the fact that Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition remain loyal on these issues. It is often said—just because it is a truism does not make it untrue—that the single most important thing that a Government have to do is protect their citizens, and we fully accept that.
It was said earlier that it is important to balance the security of the nation and civil liberties. I disagree with the framing of the debate in that way, because I think that the two are intertwined—someone has personal liberty only if they are safe and feel it, but they have liberty only if those particular liberties are granted to them as well. I would try to say that the two are not mutually exclusive, but intimately intertwined.
Outside London, people often think that issues of counter-terrorism are primarily the responsibility of the Metropolitan police and to do with what happens in the metropolitan areas of the country. However, I clearly remember that after 11 September, when Americans stopped flying, people were laid off at GE Aviation in Nantgarw just outside my constituency because it did not need to make any more aircraft engines. We are all intimately involved. Following the bombings in London, all the schools in my constituency cancelled their visits to Westminster for about a year, because there was a nervousness about coming up to London. We need to get these issues right.
On the specific issue, I think that the Government have got themselves into something of a conundrum. There are plenty of issues on which we now fundamentally agree. Broadly speaking, everybody agrees that the norm should be 14 days—indeed, we would prefer it if all 14 days were not used; it is a fundamental principle that as soon as it is possible to bring charges, those charges should be brought and the system of criminal justice then proceeds. Whenever somebody is detained pre-charge, that is ostensibly an embarrassment at least and an undermining of that person’s civil liberties.
As the Government’s amendments on what would happen in Dissolution reveal, it is universally accepted that there may be exceptional circumstances in which we would need to go beyond 14 days. Many have speculated about them; my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Alun Michael) mentioned, for instance, when a large number of cases come simultaneously or when it is particularly difficult to gather some of the evidence pre-charge—for example, if a person who was part of a plot left the country and had to be brought back. After 7/7, the European arrest warrant helped us, as we were able to bring people back from Italy much faster than we could have done otherwise.
The Government would not have advanced the power-making role during Dissolution unless they accepted that there might be exceptional circumstances. However, they do not want to provide in statute now for making such a power available to the Secretary of State, however corralled around it is by protective measures. That is where they have got themselves into a bit of a problem.
The power to dissolve Parliament and, for that matter, the power to hold the Queen’s Speech, is held by the Crown, by Government. It seems bizarre that in that exceptional moment, when the Government have more power than at any other time, we would give them the power to allow an extension to 28 days—corralled around in the various ways that the Minister provided for—but not in other circumstances, when Parliament can hold the Crown to account. The amendment relating to the power of Dissolution is ludicrously over-complicated. It certainly would not pass any “easy English” rule, given the number of sub-clauses and intricacies.
Indeed—but we are trying to do better, and I honestly think that there is a danger. At that time, when there would be a Government but not a Parliament, we would end up with something of a constitutional crisis if the Government chose to delay having a Queen’s Speech to invoke the power, notwithstanding the other elements to which the Minister referred.
Then there is the route of emergency primary legislation. The right hon. and learned Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) referred to the dangers, and he is absolutely right. Obviously, there would be a series of debates in this and the other House, because we would have to go through all three stages in both Houses. I cannot conceive of a set of debates in which one would not get close to having to argue why it was all necessary now and therefore it would not be prejudicing any potential prosecution. That is the Government’s big problem about the route of emergency legislation.
I should also say that, on the whole, emergency legislation is a bad idea. In my experience, the Commons does not do emergency legislation well, and their lordships do not do it much better. I presume that the Minister would want all three stages in both Houses in one day, or at most two. There are real problems with that, because Members would have to be able to table manuscript amendments on Report and would not be able to listen to the Second Reading debate before considering the tabling of amendments. All that would be in danger of leading to bad legislation.
I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his position and wish him well in his new responsibilities and duties. Does he accept that when the previous Government were considering the extension to 42 days, they were proposing to use exactly the same mechanism?
I think we have moved on somewhat; certainly I have. Also, the facts have changed. There was a time when a lot more people feared much more that we might need more than 14 days rather more frequently, but the fact is that the powers have not been used—they have not been necessary. The facts have changed, time has passed, and we need to move on. I am grateful for the Minister’s wishing me well, with a slight barb to it.
The Minister said that in the case of phone hacking the House moved remarkably swiftly. In fact, all that happened was Executive action, because the Government were finally persuaded that they should set up the Leveson inquiry. Parliament did absolutely nothing. We did not legislate; we certainly did not go through three stages of a Bill. We may end up legislating in that respect, but it will not happen for some time.
We have had the pre-legislative scrutiny process, and I am grateful to the right hon. and hon. Members who sat on the Committee. However, there is still the danger that following the moment that necessitated emergency legislation—I do not know whether that would be 10, 11 or 12 days in—we would effectively be undertaking ad exemplum legislation, which is always a mistake. I sympathise with the squaring of the circle that the Government are trying to achieve whereby we all accept that the norm should be 14 days, and while in normal circumstances we do not want all those 14 days to be used, we none the less accept that there might be some exceptional circumstances in which 20 days might be necessary. However, I believe that the Government are going down the wrong route in trying to achieve that, as does the pre-legislative scrutiny Committee, which said:
“We believe, however, that the parliamentary scrutiny of primary legislation to this effect would be so circumscribed by the difficulties of explaining the reasons for introducing it without prejudicing the rights of a suspect or suspects to a fair trial as to make the process of justifying the legislation almost impossible for the Secretary of State and totally unsatisfactory and ineffective for Members of both Houses of Parliament.”
As someone who does not have to move on from 42 days, having taken, in my view, the right decision at the time—and previously on 90 days—like my hon. Friend I have the greatest reservations about emergency legislation all in one day. If it is to be detention without charge for 14 days, which, like him, I certainly welcome, I would vote against any measure that the Government clearly have in mind whereby it would be 14 days-plus. That would be totally unsatisfactory, for all the reasons he has cited.
I think that “I told you so” came at the beginning of my hon. Friend’s comments. Quite often he does turn out to be more correct than me, but there we go—that’s life.
I can imagine a point where we are nine days into somebody’s detention and then the Government realise that they need their emergency legislation. They would not be able to start that process until the 11th day, and then they would suddenly be saying, “Right, we’ve got to put it all through this House and the other House in one day.” That leads to very dangerous decision making, and it is a bad route to go down. It would be a mistake for us to decide in principle that that is what we want to do in some given circumstance. That is why I prefer the route advanced by my right hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff South and Penarth and for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins), the right hon. and learned Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell), the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr Knight), and the hon. Member for Poole (Mr Syms) and for Banbury (Tony Baldry). Having said that, we still need to resolve some of the issues about the level of corralling needed to ensure that the power is not used gratuitously, that the Secretary of State is not able to proceed unhindered, and so on.
New clause 14 makes clear some of the specifics involved. If the Government have things they think should be additional, that debate needs to be had. I suspect that this will not be the end of the matter in this House and that their lordships will want to look very closely at whether there is a better route to achieve the same end.
Nobody is trying to end up in a different place in this regard, but the process of emergency legislation that the Government are using is a mistake. In essence, they have already accepted the principle that there should, in exceptional circumstances, be an additional power. They have accepted that in relation to Dissolution and effectively said that it should be present at other times. The issue is simply about how we make sure that the Secretary of State, if he or she were to have that power, would then be circumscribed by Parliament and by other bodies. Undoubtedly, High Court judges and the Director of Public Prosecutions make decisions that do not allow the Secretary of State to act gratuitously. However, we prefer the route that new clause 14 lays out, and I hope that the Government will think again. I do not expect that we will want to divide the House on this matter, but I hope that their lordships will look at it again.
I will speak briefly because I have already gone through this issue on a number of occasions.
I believe very strongly that if there is a case for extending the period from 14 to 28 days, the Government, by referring to the period in question as merely 14 days and describing it as a permanent reduction in clause 57, and then talking about certain circumstances of an emergency nature that extend it to 28 days, effectively sell the argument down the river. I am trying to look at the principle. In my opinion, 28 days is justified. We have been through the arguments, as the hon. Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick) said, about whether it should be 42 days or 90 days. Fourteen days can be a very short period, so if there is a case for it being 28 days in certain circumstances, for heaven’s sake let us just accept that 28 days will be used very rarely and only in special circumstances.
Furthermore, to go back to a point that the Minister made, there is the distinct, continuing right of habeas corpus. If a judge thought that somebody was being ill-treated during a period of detention, which is really what this is all about, and he was satisfied by evidence from other sources and an application for habeas corpus, he would go straight down—in Belmarsh, for example, there is a tunnel—and ask to have the person who was being detained produced for him. He would rapidly work out whether that person was being subjected to unfair or unreasonable treatment—we are talking here about the realities of life—and whether he should be given the full benefit of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus means, “You shall have the body,” or, “You shall produce the person.” That, in my judgment, is ultimately what this is all about.
I introduced a Bill on this matter right back when the former Member for Folkestone and Hythe was the leader of the Conservative party and my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) was the shadow Home Secretary. I had a bit of a disagreement with them because they wanted to do a deal with the Liberal Democrats and I disagreed with that. That was not an unusual circumstance, but I try to stick to my principle. I produced the Prevention of Terrorism (No. 2) Bill for the reason—I have done it again more recently, as the Minister agreed—that I believe that we should justify our actions by reference to legislation that we produce here.
I just throw into the bargain that I think that the Human Rights Act 1998 has a lot to do with this. I am very glad that the Home Secretary has made her speech on the repeal of that Act, never mind what the Deputy Prime Minister says. I was responsible for that policy when I was shadow Attorney-General. I got it through the shadow Cabinet at that time and it stayed right through to the manifesto. The point is that if one disentangles the unnecessary complications of the Human Rights Act from the essence of the question, what we must have is a fair trial, as the right hon. and learned Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) said—I suspect that that is the only point on which we are likely to agree. That was in my Bill. We must also reaffirm the principles of habeas corpus and due process. The combination of those things can be achieved by legislating on our own terms; not through being caught up in all the unnecessary complication of having these matters adjudicated in Strasbourg or wherever.
If there is a vote on the new clause, I shall abstain on a simple issue of principle. I think that the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) is right when he says that the Government are creating a problem for themselves. There is a confusion of principle here. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If there is a case for extending the period to 28 days when there is a Dissolution or before the Queen’s Speech, frankly that is a matter of principle and it should be clear in the Bill that 28 days is an appropriate period. Why is it appropriate? Because the security of the nation requires it. That is the first priority. We have our civil liberties only if the security of the nation is guaranteed. I therefore will not support the Government on the proposal, and I believe that my argument is based on reason, principle and practicality.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash).
I will focus on new clause 14, which stands in my name and the names of the five other Members mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) who served on the Joint Committee on the Draft Detention of Terrorist Suspects (Temporary Extension) Bills, which was appointed earlier this year and whose work on scrutinising the Bills has been mentioned. I am grateful to the Minister for his remarks about the Committee’s work, as I am sure are my colleagues. We are also grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, whom I congratulate on his recent appointment to his important new responsibilities.
The Minister referred to the fact that he and I have begun to engage with each other regularly on these issues. What we are learning is that there are no perfect solutions to these problems; they are difficult and challenging, and often we are looking for the least worst option rather than the perfect option. That is the spirit in which I make my remarks this evening.
The six Members of this House whom I mentioned were joined by six highly regarded and experienced Members of the other place on a Committee that was expertly chaired by Lord Armstrong of Ilminster. We met on 11 occasions, had seven public evidence sessions and took evidence from a wide range of experts. New clause 14 reflects our conclusions and recommendations.
For reasons of principle as well as practicality, our starting point as a Committee was that a maximum period of 14 days’ pre-charge detention is adequate, save in exceptional circumstances. For some members of the Committee—certainly for myself—that represented a change of mind, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda pointed out. Despite all the fierce debates that we have had over the years, I and many colleagues have had to face the fact that detention beyond 14 days has only ever been used on 11 occasions, and not at all since 2007. However, the majority of the witnesses from whom we took evidence acknowledged that contingency arrangements were required for extension beyond 14 days in exceptional circumstances. That, of course, is the view of the Government as well, as the Home Secretary made clear in her evidence to the Committee, and again on 3 October in her letter to Lord Armstrong, to which the Minister referred. In that letter, she set out the Government’s response to the Committee’s report and stated that
“it is sensible to acknowledge that longer than 14 days may be required, and to plan accordingly.”
The question of the best way to make the necessary powers available remains. As we have heard, the Government are in favour of new primary legislation—a full Bill, to go through all stages in both Houses. The Committee’s view was that that route was both unsatisfactory and unreliable, and it recommended an order-making power for the Home Secretary, albeit with a number of important safeguards.
In her letter to the Committee of 3 October, the Home Secretary set out the three broad scenarios that the Minister has described. I will not read from the letter, because he has already read into the record the detail of what she said, but in summary, the three scenarios are: a situation in which there is a heightened threat and a likelihood of many and extensive investigations; an ongoing investigation that is so complex that 14 days is not sufficient; and a situation in which arrests have been made, the investigation is ongoing and it is clear that there is insufficient time for it to be completed within the maximum 14-day period. Frankly, I think the Home Secretary’s assessment of those three scenarios is rather more reasoned and balanced than the one provided by Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, who made clear his view that extension beyond 14 days could only ever be justified in the context of what he described as a “national catastrophe”. The balance of the evidence given to the Committee was that that was far too extreme a view to be practically helpful.
The objective of the Committee and the Government is the same, but the question is how to extend beyond 14 days. The Committee concluded that the route of primary legislation was simply too risky and uncertain to be relied upon in what, in any event, would be extremely challenging circumstances. I draw the Minister’s attention in particular to the third scenario that the Home Secretary outlined in her letter, in which arrests have been made, an ongoing investigation is being carried out and the clock is ticking. Perhaps nine, ten or 11 days of questioning have already passed, and only three or four days are left before the maximum is reached.
It is as well to remind the House that during the course of our taking evidence, a number of arrests were made under terrorism legislation in Northern Ireland. Two suspects were held for 13 days and then released without charge, and one suspect was charged on the 14th day of his detention. We are talking not only about matters of theory and principle but about real-life situations that are ongoing in the current climate.
In the example that the right hon. Gentleman has just used, we do not know, of course, whether the police could have charged before 14 days. That they charged on the 14th day does not mean that they did not have the evidence to charge on the seventh day.
I respect the hon. Gentleman and he and I have had exchanges on this issue, but I contest strongly his assertion. When an ongoing investigation requires detention to be extended beyond seven days for any further period up to 14 days, there is very close scrutiny by the courts. It would be impossible for the police to detain a suspect beyond seven days—for 10, 13 or 14 days—without the court’s explicit approval. A court would certainly not approve the detention of somebody who could have been charged earlier, so I completely refute his argument.
The Committee had a number of specific concerns about the primary legislation route. First—others have touched on this important point—parliamentary scrutiny of such primary legislation would be so limited as to be rendered completely unsatisfactory and ineffective. By definition, such a Bill would be fast-tracked through the House, with very little time for debate. The circumstances in which the legislation would be introduced would dramatically limit what Ministers could say without jeopardising the suspect’s right to a fair trial, or without compromising national security.
I am sure that the Minister would come to the House very well briefed on what he could and could not say—he usually does, and any such future debate would not be an exception—but neither he nor anyone could guarantee that a Member of the House would not say something that could lead to a subsequent trial being compromised. I ask hon. Members present to put themselves in this position: what if 50 or 100 of their constituents had just been blown up and they had to participate in a debate on a request that the suspect who is potentially responsible for those explosions is held for longer than 14 days? We would all be exercised in that situation and might be prone to say something out of place, which would be reported in the media and lead to further speculation that, in turn, could compromise a trial. Both Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation, and Keir Starmer, the current Director of Public Prosecution, told the Committee that putting too much information into the public domain could prejudice a fair trial. Alternatively, so little information might be given by the Minister in the context of the debate that the whole process would be completely meaningless.
The Home Secretary is right to draw a distinction between a debate and a decision on the principle of extending the powers beyond 14 days and the practical application of those powers in each individual case. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Alun Michael) reminded the House earlier, the application is a matter entirely for the courts and not for Parliament. However, in practice, particularly in relation to the third scenario that the Home Secretary gave, the debate on the principle and the debate on the practical application in an individual case would become very blurred. There is a real danger of confusion between the role of Parliament and the responsibilities of the court. Parliament could be asked to vote on legislation, and within days, the court has to decide whether that legislation can be applied in a specific case in specific circumstances. In paragraph 84 of its report, the Constitution Committee concluded:
“It is ill-advised to create a decision-making process that requires Parliament and the judiciary to ask and answer similar questions within a short space of time—or at all. Far from being a system of checks and balances, this is a recipe for confusion that places on Parliament tasks that it cannot effectively fulfil and arguably risks undermining the rights of fair trial for the individuals concerned.”
That is an important point. The close proximity of the parliamentary debate and decision, and the application in an individual case, is fraught with difficulties.
Then, of course, there is the practicality of emergency legislation, which others have touched on. Normal business could be set aside if Parliament was sitting, but there is the question of what happens if it is not sitting but in recess. The Clerks advise us that a minimum of 48 hours would be required to recall Parliament during a recess. Of course, it was recalled very speedily this summer in the aftermath of the riots, but that was for a statement and debate, not to pass legislation. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw), a former Home Secretary, advised the Committee that after the worst atrocity in the history of the troubles in Northern Ireland, when 29 people were killed and more than 200 were injured, it took nine days to reconvene Parliament. In the context of an ongoing investigation into particular suspects in a particularly urgent inquiry, that would make the whole process of primary legislation completely impractical.
It was the Committee’s unanimous view that the Secretary of State should be given an executive order-making power to extend the permitted period of detention beyond 14 days up to 28 days. However, it suggested a number of important safeguards, some of which the Minister mentioned. First, the Attorney-General would have to certify that exceptional circumstances applied. We know that making that judgment can be difficult, but it would not just be the Home Secretary who had to make it; the Attorney-General would have to make a similar judgment for the order-making power to be available.
I have enough confidence in the current holder of that position to know that he would set aside his personal opinion and deal with the legislation as he saw fit. It is interesting. I am asked about the Attorney-General and I am often asked about the Home Secretary. It sometimes appears that Opposition Members have more confidence in the Attorney-General and the Home Secretary than some of their own colleagues, because we want them to have these powers to use when they are absolutely necessary. It is important to have that confidence.
I apologise for missing the earlier part of my right hon. Friend’s speech—I was at a meeting in another part of the building. I understand what he is saying, but very few other countries go beyond 14 days for detention periods and some go much less. Why does he think that we should legislate to allow an extension to 28 days?
My hon. Friend knows enough about this matter to know that we cannot draw simple comparisons between our system and other systems. Other systems sometimes appear to hold suspects for shorter periods when in fact they are held for longer periods. We have a system that reflects our own judicial culture but also recognises the fact that we face enormous threats and challenges from terrorists in this country, perhaps particularly in this city. We have had to work our way through this, but if he missed the earlier part of my speech, he will not have heard me say that I have had pause to reflect and that I have changed my mind. I think that 14 days should be the maximum in most circumstances, apart from the exceptional circumstances that I am referring to.
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I accept that he is a convert to 14 days, although I suspect that if we were debating 42 days, he would not necessarily be up on his feet protesting. On the point about the Attorney-General, are we really to believe—this is not a reflection on the Attorney-General in any Government—that if the Home Secretary told the Attorney-General, in the usual way that these things are done, that it was necessary to increase the 14 days in exceptional circumstances, the Attorney-General would say to the Home Secretary, “No”? It is unrealistic.
I do not accept that it is unrealistic. It would depend on the individual judgment of the Attorney-General linked to the judgment of the Home Secretary, who would have been briefed by the Security Service and others. On its own, it is not a total safeguard, but it is one among several, and I shall briefly go through the others. The Secretary of State would have to give a statement to both Houses as soon as possible. There would have to be a review by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation of any case in which a suspect was detained for more than 14 days. There would have to be an annual report by the Home Secretary listing any orders that had been made; that report would have to be debated and voted on in six weeks. Finally, the Director of Public Prosecutions would have to give his personal authorisation to any application to the High Court for a further warrant for detention. We know that that already happens in practice, but it should be on the face of the legislation. Members of the Joint Committee will be pleased that the Minister has tonight confirmed that he will introduce legislation to make the order-making power available during the Dissolution of Parliament, and that he has acknowledged the importance of an independent review of each case and of the personal authorisation of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Minister is a reasonable man who genuinely seeks to strike the right balance, but I believe that he has landed in the wrong place on this issue. His preferred route of primary legislation is too risky: time might be against him, and a subsequent trial might be prejudiced. This measure is exceptional, and we all hope that it will never have to be used, but if it is required, it is important that it be absolutely reliable and available as soon as possible.
The Committee’s recommendation respects the Government’s view that 14 days should be the normal maximum; frankly, I think that that is the settled view of Members on both sides of the House. That would give greater certainty in the face of extraordinary challenges, threats and attacks. On behalf of the six members of the Committee, I am happy to commend our recommendations to the Minister, and I hope that, even now, he will give them further consideration.
I shall speak briefly in support of new clause 13. I welcomed the Government’s review of counter-terrorism security powers, which concluded that the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorists should be 14 days. I had anticipated that conclusion, but I had not anticipated that the review would further conclude that there might be exceptional circumstances in which it was necessary to increase the limit on pre-charge detention to 28 days. I cannot foresee the exceptional circumstances in which that might be needed, but I suppose that exceptional circumstances are, by definition, very hard to foresee.
Once the review had concluded that there might be such exceptional circumstances, measures had to be put in place, and I support the Government’s approach to fast-track primary legislation. My concern is that, if we had not done that, we might not have had in place the necessary safeguards to ensure that we would seek an extension to 28 days only in exceptional circumstances.
Clearly, this is not as elegant a solution as simply opting for 14 days. In requiring the additional step, we must ensure that pressure is maintained during the first 14 days to ensure that cases are very actively pursued. I have been told that, in some cases, there has not been quite the necessary degree of energy and commitment during those 14 days. Creating a significant hurdle for exceptional circumstances that requires a parliamentary legislative process should ensure that the necessary safeguards are operated, and it reflects the fact that we have not used 14 days since 2007.
I welcome what the Government are doing. They have identified the need for emergency legislation to be available not only while Parliament is sitting but when it is in recess, and the issue that was correctly identified with regard to Dissolution has also had to be addressed. I am happy to speak in favour of new clause 13 and to welcome it this evening.
The Minister responded reasonably to interventions earlier and I welcome the tone with which he has responded to the debate. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) was absolutely right that the Government have dug themselves into a hole, and we are trying to help the Home Secretary and the Minister to climb out of it.
The Minister accepted that the powers in the emergency legislation cannot be triggered on the basis of the threat level, but only by the need for extra time for specific investigations. The debates on emergency legislation would therefore either be so general and free from evidence as to be meaningless in terms of scrutiny, or be about specific cases, in which event they could be prejudiced. The right way is for a clearly exceptional power to be set out in primary legislation, with a high bar and stringent requirements to make abuse virtually impossible. As the Government have set their face against that approach, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins) and the rest of us have tabled new clause 14, which is a reasonable attempt to find a way around this that would not be damaging to the reputation of the Government, this House or the legislative process.
I urge the Minister, if he can do nothing else, to say that he has heard the debate and to give an undertaking to think further on these points, which are made not to cause difficulties for Ministers, but to try to enable the Government to get us to the right place as far as principle and law are concerned.
We have had a good debate on the new clauses. I again pay tribute to the work of the Joint Committee for scrutinising the emergency legislation and, in many ways, for the nature of the debate that we have had this evening.
It is correct to say that there is no perfect solution to any of the scenarios raised—I have said that in respect to the manner in which we have considered this issue, too—but it ultimately comes down to the judgment about settling on 14 days. We have heard contributions from all parts of the House acknowledging that 14 days is now the accepted period for pre-charge detention; that is a recognition on both sides of where to strike the appropriate balance. I very much welcome the comments that have been made about that. If 28 days is absolutely the exception, the structure that we create must recognise that. That is why, although I accept both the help and assistance that has been proffered across the House this evening and the work of the Joint Committee, we have resolved in reflecting on the issue that the structure that is being created with the draft emergency legislation, along with new clause 13, is the appropriate way forward.
At one stage there was a suggestion that, for example, the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 might provide a mechanism for dealing with the issue. That was not the view of the Joint Committee, which is a view that we share. However, it is appropriate that exceptional circumstances may justify a 28-day detention, and the Home Secretary’s letter set out those three scenarios. They are: a fundamental change in the threat environment; an investigation or series of investigations—albeit before arrest—that were so complex or significant that 14 days was not considered sufficient; and a scenario that arose during an investigation but after an arrest had taken place. Those are the three elements of exceptional circumstances which we have focused on for when powers might need to be sought to increase the period.
However, as other Members have said, we hope that that scenario would not arise or ever exist. Goodness only knows, that is not something that we would wish to contemplate, but we have to contemplate it, hence the reason why we have drafted the emergency legislation and the new clause before the House. We believe that the structure being created is reliable and available, and that the House is able to make the distinction and understand its role, as contrasted with that of the judiciary; hence the reason why I commend new clause 13 to the House and urge Members to reject new clause 14, although I recognise the important points that the Joint Committee made. In many ways we have reflected on that and have sought to incorporate certain of the Joint Committee’s recommendations in the new clause, but on balance and after careful consideration—
Debate interrupted (Programme Order, 10 October).
The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83E), That the clause be read a Second time.
Question agreed to.
New clause 13 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
The Deputy Speaker then put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E) .
Interpretation: Chapter 2
Amendments made: 16, page 18, line 32, leave out ‘and (3)’ and insert ‘to (3A)’.
Amendment 17, page 19, line 15, leave out ‘identify’ and insert
‘establish or verify the identity of’.
Amendment 18, page 19, line 16, leave out from ‘obtained’ to end of line and insert
‘or recorded with the intention that it be used for the purposes of a biometric recognition system.’
Amendment 19, page 19, line 22, at end insert—
‘(3A) In subsection (2) “biometric recognition system” means a system which, by means of equipment operating automatically—
(a) obtains or records information about a person’s physical or behavioural characteristics or features, and
(b) compares the information with stored information that has previously been so obtained or recorded, or otherwise processes the information, for the purpose of establishing or verifying the identity of the person, or otherwise determining whether the person is recognised by the system.’.—(James Brokenshire.)
Release and publication of datasets held by public authorities
Amendments made: 26, page 78, line 35, at end insert—
‘(2A) The public authority may exercise any power that it has by virtue of regulations under section 11B to charge a fee in connection with making the relevant copyright work available for re-use in accordance with subsection (2).
(2B) Nothing in this section or section 11B prevents a public authority which is subject to a duty under subsection (2) from exercising any power that it has by or under an enactment other than this Act to charge a fee in connection with making the relevant copyright work available for re-use.
(2C) Where a public authority intends to charge a fee (whether in accordance with regulations under section 11B or as mentioned in subsection (2B)) in connection with making a relevant copyright work available for re-use by an applicant, the authority must give the applicant a notice in writing (in this section referred to as a “re-use fee notice”) stating that a fee of an amount specified in, or determined in accordance with, the notice is to be charged by the authority in connection with complying with subsection (2).
(2D) Where a re-use fee notice has been given to the applicant, the public authority is not obliged to comply with subsection (2) while any part of the fee which is required to be paid is unpaid.
(2E) Where a public authority intends to charge a fee as mentioned in subsection (2B), the re-use fee notice may be combined with any other notice which is to be given under the power which enables the fee to be charged.’.
Amendment 27, page 79, line 20, at end insert—
11B Power to charge fees in relation to release of datasets for re-use
‘(1) The Secretary of State may, with the consent of the Treasury, make provision by regulations about the charging of fees by public authorities in connection with making relevant copyright works available for re-use under section 11A(2) or by virtue of section 19(2A)(c).
(2) Regulations under this section may, in particular—
(a) prescribe cases in which fees may, or may not, be charged,
(b) prescribe the amount of any fee payable or provide for any such amount to be determined in such manner as may be prescribed,
(c) prescribe, or otherwise provide for, times at which fees, or parts of fees, are payable,
(d) require the provision of information about the manner in which amounts of fees are determined,
(e) make different provision for different purposes.
(3) Regulations under this section may, in prescribing the amount of any fee payable or providing for any such amount to be determined in such manner as may be prescribed, provide for a reasonable return on investment.
(4) In this section “relevant copyright work” has the meaning given by section 11A(3).”’.
Amendment 28, page 79, line 40, at end insert—
‘(2B) The public authority may exercise any power that it has by virtue of regulations under section 11B to charge a fee in connection with making the relevant copyright work available for re-use in accordance with a requirement imposed by virtue of subsection (2A)(c).
(2C) Nothing in this section or section 11B prevents a public authority which is subject to such a requirement from exercising any power that it has by or under an enactment other than this Act to charge a fee in connection with making the relevant copyright work available for re-use.
(2D) Where a public authority intends to charge a fee (whether in accordance with regulations under section 11B or as mentioned in subsection (2C)) in connection with making a relevant copyright work available for re-use by an applicant, the authority must give the applicant a notice in writing (in this section referred to as a “re-use fee notice”) stating that a fee of an amount specified in, or determined in accordance with, the notice is to be charged by the authority in connection with complying with the requirement imposed by virtue of subsection (2A)(c).
(2E) Where a re-use fee notice has been given to the applicant, the public authority is not obliged to comply with the requirement imposed by virtue of subsection (2A)(c) while any part of the fee which is required to be paid is unpaid.
(2F) Where a public authority intends to charge a fee as mentioned in subsection (2C), the re-use fee notice may be combined with any other notice which is to be given under the power which enables the fee to be charged.’.—(James Brokenshire.)
Amendments made: 29, page 87, line 14, after ‘Schedule 8’ insert
‘and section (Tax in connection with transfer schemes)’.
Amendment 30, page 88, line 4, at end insert—
‘(fa) section (Tax in connection with transfer schemes),’.
Amendment 31, page 88, line 8, leave out ‘Part 2’ and insert ‘Parts 1A, 2 and 6A’.—(James Brokenshire.)
Amendment made: 32, page 88, line 36, at end insert—
‘(za) sections 85 to 87 and section (Tax in connection with transfer schemes),’.—(James Brokenshire.)
Amendments made: 65, page 149, line 26, at end insert—
‘House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975
A1 In Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 (other disqualifying offices) insert at the appropriate place—
“Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material”.
Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975
A2 In Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975 (other disqualifying offices) insert at the appropriate place—
“Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material”.’.
Amendment 66, page 150, line 1, after ‘to’ insert ‘19,’.
Amendment 67, page 150, line 7, at end insert—
The Surveillance Camera Commissioner
House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975
2A In Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 (other disqualifying offices) insert at the appropriate place—
“Surveillance Camera Commissioner”.’.
Amendment 68, page 151, leave out lines 18 to 33 and insert—
‘(1) This section applies to an application to the sheriff for an order under section 23A or 32A.
(2) Rules of court must make provision for the purposes of ensuring that an application to which this section applies is dealt with in private and must, in particular—
(a) require the sheriff to determine an application in private,
(b) secure that any hearing is to be held in private, and
(c) ensure that notice of an application (or of any order being made) is not given to—
(i) the person to whom the authorisation or notice which is the subject of the application or order relates, or
(ii) such a person’s representatives.’.
Amendment 69, page 151, line 36, leave out from third ‘to’ to first ‘is’ in line 37 and insert ‘which this section applies’.
Amendment 70, page 151, line 38, leave out ‘any order made under’
Amendment 79, page 154, line 26, after ‘substitute “’ insert ‘is’