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Lords Amendment

Volume 670: debated on Thursday 10 March 2005

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

6 After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

"Control orders: supplementary

(1) If, as a consequence of the obligations imposed by a control order, a person becomes unemployed, arrangements shall be made for that person to receive any social security benefits or unemployment benefits to which he may be entitled.

(2) If a control order is made in respect of a person already in receipt of social security benefits or unemployment benefits, arrangements shall be made to ensure that the person shall continue to receive those benefits.

(3) In any case where a control order is made, appropriate arrangements shall be made to ensure that the person in respect of whom the order is made, and his household, shall have access to, or shall continue to have access to, supplies of food, household and personal necessities.

(4) In any case where a control order is made, appropriate arrangements shall be made to ensure that the person in respect of whom the order is made shall have access to such health care as may be necessary."

The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason

6A Because the Lords amendment is unnecessary.

My Lords, I beg to move Motion B, which will be found on page 19 of the Marshalled List, that this House do not insist on its Amendment No. 6 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 6A. This amendment deals with the amendment tabled by the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun of Abernethy, on the previous occasion.

Control orders are designed to disrupt terrorist-related activity, except to the extent of those restrictions deemed necessary for the purposes of safeguarding the public. They are not designed to interfere with a person's ability to live a law-abiding life and to support or sustain himself.

Where an individual is or becomes eligible for benefits—whether unemployment, housing or other type of benefit—obligations imposed by a control order will not interfere with such entitlement. Nor would individuals be denied access to healthcare. It is accepted, of course, that in certain cases, special arrangements for precisely how normal services are accessed may need to be made because of particular obligations imposed on an individual; for example, restricting movement within a certain area at certain times.

However, control orders are flexible: hence, the provision in the Bill which provides that an individual is not in breach of an obligation if prior permission to undertake the specific activity in question has been obtained. Clearly, the Secretary of State or the court, as the case may be, will need to have regard to individual circumstances when determining the precise conditions to be applied and how they will operate in practice.

In addition, the individual concerned may apply for a variation of the obligations imposed should circumstances change. Nor is it true to say that there is no experience of working within this type of framework. One of the 2001 Act detainees—for example, G—is subject to stringent bail conditions which have been tailored to his particular circumstances. Restrictions which take account of personal circumstances often form part of bail and licence conditions in criminal cases.

The provisions which the noble Lady put forward, therefore, are not necessary. The point that she seeks to make will be covered by the ability both of the Secretary of State and the court to tailor the order to the circumstances. I hope, in those circumstances, that this House will not insist on its amendment.

Moved, that this House do not insist on its Amendment No. 6 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 6A.—(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)

moved, as an amendment to Motion B, Amendment B1:

Leave out from "House" to end and insert "do insist on its Amendment No. 6".

The noble Lady said: My Lords, before I speak about the amendment, I want to say how disgusted I was to hear the Home Secretary's misleading reference on the "Today" programme yesterday morning, to,
"the surreal example of Lady Thatcher going into the Division Lobby to vote for increased social security for people suspected of being terrorists".
There is not, and never has been, any question of increased social security payments in my amendment. There is only the matter of such social security payments to which such people are already entitled, or have become entitled due to government action. I reiterate that suspects are innocent until they are proved guilty in a court of law. I dislike intensely my amendment being made a vehicle for a cheap party-political jibe.

The noble and learned Lord has explained to me very carefully why my amendment is unnecessary. Having listened very carefully to what he said, I am reasonably satisfied. However, I hope, by some means or other, to keep a fairly sharp eye on how the whole system will operate. Therefore, I am minded to withdraw the amendment—

My Lords, before the noble Lady sits down, I too heard the intervention by the Home Secretary on the radio and I heard him in the other place yesterday saying that the amendment was not necessary because the existing law provides for social security payments to be made. Therefore, both statements by the Home Secretary cannot be correct. He caricatured the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, as having voted for increased benefits. In reply, I hope that the Government will take the opportunity to apologise to those Members who voted for the amendment and for the misleading statements that were made to the country.

My Lords, before I beg leave to withdraw the amendment, it is of course open—

My Lords, perhaps I may proffer some advice, which is often a dangerous thing to do. I sense that there is a desire for a small debate on the amendment, so it is entirely appropriate for the noble Lady to move it and, in due course, the noble and learned Lord can respond. If, after that, she is still satisfied, she can withdraw her amendment.

My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to Motion B, Amendment B1, leave out from "House" to end and insert "do insist on its Amendment No. 6".—(Lady Saltoun of Abernethy.)

My Lords, I originally put my name to the amendment because I thought that what the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, had said was extremely valid. It is easy to see circumstances in which someone could be incapable of drawing social security benefits. Had the Minister, at the beginning, given the explanation that he has now given the House—the noble Baroness, from a deliciously sedentary position, says that the Minister did.

My Lords, I find the statement made by the noble Earl surprising. In responding, as I hope I did courteously, to the amendment of the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, I made it very clear that there was provision for benefits and that they were in no way adversely affected by this legislation. a fact that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has just repeated. To suggest that that was not firmly before the House is not only, if I may respectfully say so, an inaccurate statement, but also suggests that I did not properly inform the House of the true position. If noble Lords consult Hansard, I am sure that they will see that I was at pains so to do.

12.45 p.m.

My Lords, I am not accusing the noble Baroness of not telling the truth as she sees it, but it was not clear to us. I am very sorry that the noble Baroness puts on that face, but she did not make it clear to us. The noble and learned Lord, with his forensic ability, has now made it very clear to us. The fact that the Government have not known what they are doing, do not know how to present their case and change their case half-way through is the whole trouble with this Bill. I am pleased that the issue has been aired. I was disgusted when I heard what had been said about the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, but I am equally pleased that the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, has indicated that she will withdraw her amendment.

My Lords, we could have an inquest about what has been said in the House in the build up to this point, and we could have an inquest about what has been said on the airwaves, but that would be extraordinarily unhelpful and extraordinarily divisive. Let us focus on the issues.

My Lords, if a person in the position of the Home Secretary makes the kind of remarks that he made about the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, which have apparently no basis in fact at all, surely it is courteous for i he government Front Bench to accept that and to apologise. I had the great privilege of being a junior Minister in the Home Office when Mr Maudling was Secretary of State and he said that the duty of the Home Secretary was to try to be above the political battle and to take an interest in the country as a whole. With respect, the remarks made by Mr Clarke yesterday morning on the eight o'clock programme were in very poor taste.

My Lords, I genuinely do not want to inflame the situation in any way. I cannot start apologising for every statement made. The situation would become a ridiculous to and fro. Perhaps noble Lords heard what some people said this morning about me on the radio. It was absolutely outrageous. I am bearing it with as much equanimity as I can muster. Keep on bashing me and let us get on with the detail of the Bill.

My Lords, before I withdraw the amendment, it is open to any noble Lord in any part of the House, when an amendment is withdrawn, to be Not-Content. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment B1.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Motion agreed to.