Committee (1st Day)
Relevant documents: 5th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, 8th Report from the Constitution Committee, 14th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee
Clause 1: Seizure of passports etc from persons suspected of involvement in terrorism
1: Clause 1, page 1, line 8, at end insert—
“( ) In Schedule 1 to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (civil legal services)—
(a) in Part 1 (services), after paragraph 45 insert—“Extension of time for retention of travel documents45A (1) Civil legal services provided in relation to proceedings under paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
(2) Sub-paragraph (1) is subject to the exclusions in Parts 2 and 3 of this Schedule.”;
(b) in Part 3 (advocacy: exclusion and exceptions), after paragraph 22 insert—“22A Advocacy in proceedings before a District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) under paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015.””
My Lords, the Government have tabled this amendment to provide that civil legal aid may be made available at hearings of applications to extend the 14-day time period in which an individual’s travel documents may be retained in England and Wales. This issue was raised by my right honourable friend Dominic Grieve in Committee on 15 December and it is a matter in which the Joint Committee on Human Rights has expressed an interest.
Legal aid for judicial review is already available in England and Wales, subject to the statutory means and merits test, including for legal challenge by those subject to the temporary passport seizure power. However, this amendment is necessary to ensure that, subject to the means and merits test, civil legal aid may be made available in relation to applications to extend a temporary passport seizure to a district judge—magistrates’ courts— in England and Wales, as set out in paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Bill.
The Scottish Government have confirmed that civil legal aid is already available in Scotland under the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986. The secondary legislation which sits under that may require some amendment and that will, of course, be taken forward through the Scottish Parliament. We are speaking to the devolved Administration in Northern Ireland about whether civil legal aid is already available there, subject to the statutory means and merits test, for individuals subject to the power in that jurisdiction. If an amendment is necessary to cover the availability of legal aid in Northern Ireland, we will bring one forward in due course.
Amendment 1 will amend Schedule 1 to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, or LASPO for short. It will add the provision of legal aid in the proceedings set out in paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Bill as a form of civil legal services for which legal aid may be made available in England and Wales. The matters covered are subject to all the exclusions set out in part 2 of Schedule 1 to LASPO. The amendment also ensures that advocacy before a district judge—magistrates’ courts—may be included in the civil legal aid that may be made available for these proceedings by amending Part 3 of Schedule 1 to LASPO.
The amendment does not alter the statutory means and merits test, nor does it make civil legal aid available for any other civil legal services in England and Wales. The Government consider that an amendment to the scope of the civil legal aid scheme in England and Wales is appropriate in these circumstances due to the important nature of the proceedings set out in paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Bill, the limitations on an individual’s ability to present their own case in these circumstances and the absence of an alternative route to resolution. I beg to move.
My Lords, as the Minister has said, the amendment provides for legal aid for proceedings before a district judge in the light of an application for an extension of the 14-day period. We fully support the Government’s change of heart on this point about legal aid. As the Minister mentioned, the amendment states that its provisions are subject to the exclusions in Parts 2 and 3 of Schedule 1 to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. So that we are clear on exactly what those exclusions mean, it would be helpful if the Minister could clarify what their impact would be in reality, in respect of legal aid being provided, or not, in applications for an extension of time for retention of travel documents, which is the issue covered by the amendment.
My Lords, I too am glad that the Government have addressed the matter of legal aid. There was clearly going to be a call for that. My question, which is a sort of prequel, is about whether advice would be available to a traveller at the point when travel documents are seized and retained. Legal aid is becoming confined to proceedings rather than advice, but this is an important point in the whole process.
My Lords, I shall try to deal with the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, although I acknowledge that I do not have a specific heading relating to it and I may have to write to him to expand on it. Currently, the availability of legal aid depends mainly on where the proceedings or legal processes are taking place, which is related to the point made by my noble friend Lady Hamwee. In general, if the proceedings or processes are taking place in England and Wales, the individuals involved can apply for civil legal aid so long as the matter is within the scope of the LASPO merits and means tests. The noble Lord asked about that precise issue and how that will be applied. If notes are not able to reach me by the time I sit down, I will put that in writing.
We will come to the other point made by my noble friend Lady Hamwee in more detail in later groupings. What we are talking about here is the first period where the issue of the temporary seizure of a passport comes before the courts, what representation is made, how it is funded and how it is made available. There is not a legal process before that, which is a matter that can be debated later on and we will have responses to it later on. We are talking here about the 14-day point at which it comes before the court for approval to extend the period of seizure up to 30 days. With those explanations and the assurance that I will come back to this matter, I hope that the amendment will be agreed.
Amendment 1 agreed.
2: Clause 1, page 1, line 8, at end insert—
“( ) This section shall be in force for two years from the date of the passing of this Act and shall operate thereafter subject to an affirmative resolution in each House of Parliament.”
My Lords, Amendments 2 and 55 provide for the new powers in the Bill to seize travel documents, including passports, from individuals thought to be leaving the country for purposes related to terrorism and the power to place an individual on a temporary exclusion order in order to provide for what the Government have described as a managed return to cease two years from the date that this Bill becomes an Act unless both Houses have passed affirmative resolutions providing for the powers to continue in force until a later date.
The powers in question in the Bill would enable immigration officers, customs officials, qualified officers and senior police officers to take a passport away from an individual and leave them in a situation where they were no longer a passport holder for a period of 14 days or, following a court review, 30 days. The powers in the Bill also provide for the Home Secretary to make whatever arrangements he or she thinks appropriate in relation to the individual concerned during the period when they have no passport or on that period coming to an end.
The temporary exclusion order requires an individual not to return to this country unless that return is in accordance with a permit issued by the Secretary of State prior to the commencement of the journey back or, alternatively, the return is the result of the individual’s deportation to this country. As the Bill says, the effect of the temporary exclusion order while it is in force is that the issue of a British passport to the excluded individual while he or she is outside the United Kingdom is not valid. These two measures in the Bill as it stands will be as permanent as any other legislation passed in this House which likewise does not contain a clause providing that it ceases to have effect on a certain date unless both Houses have passed resolutions before then providing for it to continue.
The reason for these new powers being sought is that the security situation has deteriorated, particularly as a result of some hundreds of people leaving this country, often at very short notice or unbeknown until a very late stage by family or friends, to join up with, or otherwise become involved with, terrorist organisations, not least in Syria and Iraq. The power to take away the passport and other travel documents is to give the authorities an opportunity to make inquiries about an individual in question and their intentions, and within 14 days or 30 days decide whether to return the passport or travel documents or take another course of action. The power to invalidate an individual’s British passport while a temporary exclusion order is in force is to enable that individual’s return to this country to be made subject to complying with terms determined by the Secretary of State.
It may be that it is the Government’s view that the worsening in the security situation as a result of individuals leaving the country to engage in terrorist activity, or subsequently seeking to return, is effectively a permanent development. If that is the case, it would be helpful if the Government said so. If it is not their view, there is a real danger that this measure, which, presumably, most if not all would prefer it had not become necessary to enact, will remain on the statute book long after it is really needed. Governments of all political colours and relevant authorities do not always willingly give up powers—in this case significant powers in relation to retention or invalidation of passports—which they might feel, even after the immediate need has passed, could still come in useful at some time in the future.
The purpose of our amendments is to ensure that there is a proper debate on the need for these powers to continue, in this case, beyond a period of two years from this Bill becoming an Act. The knowledge that Parliament has to agree will help concentrate minds on whether the case still exists, which it may well might, and will at least ensure that the measures which are being introduced in the light of a particular security development in respect of people from this country travelling to engage in terrorist activity or subsequently returning from such activity or involvement does not continue on our statute book longer than the national security situation demands. I beg to move.
My Lords, I strongly support Amendments 2, 3 and 4. The measures contained in the Bill are of fundamental importance, but they are extremely difficult to construct in a way which holds an appropriate balance between state security and individual liberty. The notion in the amendments that the outcome of what we are doing should be reviewed by the independent reviewer within two years and put to Parliament is eminently sound. My only query is whether or not the role of the independent reviewer in looking over the consequence of this part of the Bill might not be better addressed to the whole of it. There are other parts of the Bill whose outcomes are no less difficult and problematic to anticipate. I hope the Government will give a positive response to these amendments.
My Lords, on Amendment 2, can the noble Lord opposite explain whether there is any particular reason for choosing two years for the sunset clause, after which time, subject to an affirmative resolution, there would be a permanent continuation? What is the logic behind that two-year split? Why is there not, in a sense, a rolling sunset clause every two years? If there is a rationale to it, perhaps the noble Lord can explain the reason for that two-year review and then no more, as it were, apart from the normal rules that apply to primary legislation.
My Lords, I, too, would like to understand from the shadow Minister opposite why a period of two years has been chosen. What is the logic? In seeking to explain Amendment 2, he appears to have concluded that there is a strong chance that this measure may not be necessary at the end of a two-year period. I wish that he was right on that—even if he had a hunch that it could be right—but all the commentators that one has been listening to, some more expert than others, have explained to us, as have the Government, that we will probably face great difficulty in the area of counterterrorism for a number of years. In that case, I suggest that a two-year period is far too short, indeed unreasonable, given that an affirmative resolution of both Houses takes time and energy away from the job in hand.
On Amendment 3, I made clear at Second Reading that I support the independent reviewer having the opportunity to review this legislation in the fullness of time. However, I think that producing an annual report is far too onerous and unnecessary. I do not support these amendments.
My Lords, I do not understand the two-year period contained in these amendments. The issue which we are dealing with and which is covered in this clause is, unfortunately, going to last for more than two years. Does the Minister agree that having a two-year sunset clause—even if there were to be a sunset clause at all—would send out a completely incorrect message to those who are minded to go abroad and participate in jihad? We have to show some enduring determination over this issue.
My second concern is that these amendments are too prescriptive for the work of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. Can the Minister confirm that the independent reviewer is able to look at all provisions relating to counterterrorism legislation? Surely it is right that the independent reviewer should be able to focus on those issues which are revealed during the course of a given year as causing concern and report on those, rather than being required to report on too many specific issues? We heard at Second Reading that the current independent reviewer is doing something like 180 days per year. When I started as independent reviewer in 2001, just after 9/11, I was doing 40 days per year. By the time I finished, in early 2011, I was doing 140 days per year. Prioritising the independent reviewer’s work should surely be left to that person.
My final point is this. A great deal of respect has rightly been paid to the current independent reviewer. If the independent reviewer highlights a provision that is not working, surely that is at least as powerful as any sunset clause ever could be?
My Lords, I will not comment on the independent reviewer because, as I understand it, we are not dealing with Amendment 3. We will come to that. I support Amendment 2 and Amendment 55, which are in this group.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, will say if I am wrong, but my understanding of the reason for having a sunset clause with a particular period of time is that there are concerns, which I think are understandable, that the new powers for seizure of passports and for temporary exclusion may raise problems about the practicalities and consequences of these powers. It therefore seems entirely appropriate that, after a period of time, Parliament should take a hard look again at the impact of these powers and consider whether or not they are justifiable and having beneficial consequences. I am satisfied that it is right and appropriate to introduce these powers at this time. However, along with many others, I would be reassured about the diminution in civil liberties which is involved if we stated on the face of the Bill that Parliament will look again at this matter after a defined period. If two years is too short, then we can make it three or four years.
My Lords, at Second Reading of this Bill I asked the Minister whether the Government had given any consideration to sunset clauses in the two provisions that are being discussed in this amendment. He did not reply in winding up the debate and so I look forward with great interest to his response now. Perhaps I may say that the principle of having a sunset clause on these two provisions is rather compelling because it is important to show that we do not believe that this state of affairs, to which we are now responding quite properly and proportionately, is there for ever. The signal that it is not a permanent part of our law is a good one to send, but I would certainly not attach any importance at all to the short period of two years that is suggested. That really is rather unrealistic in the circumstances we face. For me, it is the principle of having a sunset clause, not its duration, that matters. I would be grateful if the Minister, when he comes to reply to the amendment, could address this matter now.
My Lords, I wonder whether my noble friend could help me because I have missed this somewhere else. When looking at the time factor here, what is the legal and international status of someone who has been subjected to a temporary exclusion order? Are they in fact stateless during that period?
My Lords, I would like to support the words of my two noble friends who have recently spoken. We will otherwise be faced with a situation where each new outbreak of terrorism somewhere or other will lead to a cutting back and diminution of traditional, well known and respected civil liberties.
My Lords, perhaps I may start by seeking the leave of the Committee to speak. I did not speak at Second Reading because I was suffering from a kidney infection and therefore was not able to be in the Chamber for the whole day. I have given notice to my noble friend the Minister and he is content for me to speak in Committee. I hope that noble Lords will allow me the same leave.
I rise to support both Amendments 2 and 55 and the comments of the noble Lords, Lord Pannick and Lord Hannay. I do not intend to make a Second Reading speech at this stage. The issues in relation to the concerns about this legislation are well known. I accept that we are in incredibly difficult times at the moment, and the more so in the light of what has happened over the past few weeks. We have seen the situation change again in relation to ISIL this morning. These are indeed difficult and troubled times, and I therefore understand the need for the Government to respond in order to protect our citizens.
However, I would dispute the comments made earlier that we need to send out a strong message to terrorists that we are serious about this. The message to send out to terrorists is that we hold our civil and individual liberties incredibly strongly, we value them hugely and we will not put forward legislation that permanently takes away the very liberties that terrorists would like to take from us. Putting a sunset clause into the Bill sends out a clear message that these are difficult times and we are responding to them, but that we are not going to change the way we do things in the United Kingdom permanently by giving away those liberties which terrorists would like us to give away. I therefore support the need for a sunset clause.
Amendment 55 gives comfort to those of us who are concerned about how this legislation will play out. We can all accept that there will be many individual cases where these powers will be used in subsequent years but it will turn out to be the case that they have been used incorrectly. The fact is that we as a Parliament should be able to say that at a certain time, whatever colour of Government we have at that point, we will reconsider these matters in light of how the powers have been applied and in the light of how we find the world at that time. An indication that this is not a permanent change would give some comfort to those of us who are concerned about these powers.
My Lords, I agree that we should not give away our freedoms in response to terrorism. However, I am satisfied that, properly crafted, this legislation need not do so. It would be a good idea if part of that crafting were to include a sunset clause, primarily for the reasons set out by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. It is the practicalities of this measure—how it will work in practice—that are most in doubt. Those practicalities will significantly impact on the rights of people on whom the orders are imposed. So a sunset clause is a good idea. It is also a good idea for the reason set out by my noble friend a moment ago.
Two years is too short. The threat will be with us for much longer than two years, so that will be too short a time to assess the workings of this legislation. However, I support the idea of a sunset clause so that the House can thoroughly review how the legislation is working in practice.
My Lords, I will add briefly to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. It relates to Amendment 7, to which I hope to return later, and concerns the problem of humanitarian assistance.
I do not want to elaborate just now, but there are concerns about people who offer humanitarian assistance in difficult areas such as Somalia, Syria and possibly Gaza. The way in which terrorism is defined in the Terrorism Act 2000 has a chilling effect on their activities, because of the risk that they might be caught up in what is thought to be a terrorist offence when they are actually trying to co-operate with the bodies there to provide humanitarian assistance. Of course, a prosecution—or a conviction—is a very different matter. However, the way that this measure is proposing to adopt in the fight against terrorism is a decision taken by a constable. It is a much easier thing to take at that stage.
The chilling effect of the threat of that kind of measure being taken against people who seek to provide humanitarian assistance may be quite considerable; it is difficult to assess at the moment. There is, however, considerable force in the point that the House should be able to look again at the way the measure is operating once we know what the effect is on those trying to carry out humanitarian efforts in these difficult areas.
My Lords, it is worth reminding ourselves of the speed of change in the world that has led to this legislation. If these proposals had been before us even 18 months ago, I suspect that we would not even have entertained them. Therefore, the speed of change that has brought them about demands that we say that we do not wish to forgo our existing liberties, some of which would be restricted by this Act, without having recourse, in two or three years’ time, to a serious look at whether the measures are working. So I fully support the idea of a sunset clause. I am prepared to accept that two years may be rather too brief, given all the circumstances and the likelihood that we are going to live with this for some time. I would, however, encourage the House to support these amendments in some form, since I believe that the removal of our liberties that is encompassed in these clauses is so serious that we should not put them into permanent place.
My Lords, I strongly support the inclusion of a sunset clause, for the very good reasons that have been given. The only debate is, really, how long. Two years is possibly too short. We need to think about how quickly we will be able to gain information about how it is working, what the full implications are and so on. Equally, however, we do not want it to be too long. So how long is a piece of string? I would think perhaps three or four years. However, I believe absolutely that we should have a sunset clause.
My Lords, while I agree with noble Lords who have argued that two years would otherwise be too long, one merit of the proposal is that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 has to be renewed, and there might be something to be said for considering these powers in the context of that, so that we get a comprehensive anti-terrorism Act at the same time. That might argue for a shorter sunset period.
My Lords, we have had a very good, short debate on this, with a lot of contributions that in many ways highlight the difficulties that there are in this area when it comes to reaching any common ground as to what the position should be. I am grateful for the two amendments which have been introduced calling for a sunset clause on Chapters 1 and 2, and will outline the Government’s position on this. As was touched on before, it cannot of course be about whether this is a matter of principle, because clearly it is something that the Government have looked at in respect of other chapters of the Bill.
I will give the Committee the reasons why we have come to the position that we have on these particular amendments. The problem that we are seeking to address with these powers is not of a short-term nature—a point very well made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. We do not know how long it is going to be there for or how the threat that we are facing might mutate into different fields and theatres. From that point of view, we felt that having a set date and time on which those powers fall would send the wrong signal. I will come back to the reasons for that. Terrorism-related travel is a serious and ongoing issue, and we can expect the threat posed by British citizens returning from fighting alongside terrorist groups abroad to be present for many years to come. It is important that our law enforcement agencies are equipped to protect the British public from individuals who pose a risk.
Amendment 2 seeks to introduce a sunset clause to the temporary passport provisions. It would ensure that the power would be repealed in two years’ time, unless both Houses pass a resolution that it should continue. The precautions we have established should ensure that the temporary passport seizure power will be used in a fair, reasonable and lawful manner. They are aimed at striking the right balance between our civil liberties—which the right reverend Prelate was absolutely right to focus on—and our right to safety and security, which a number of noble Lords, including my noble friend Lady Buscombe, referred to. The House of Commons considered these factors very carefully, as your Lordships have, and it came to an overwhelming view that it did not feel that a sunset clause was necessary in relation to Chapter 1.
Amendment 55 would introduce a sunset provision to the temporary exclusion power in Chapter 2 of Part 1. Your Lordships will be aware that the Government have tabled amendments to introduce strong judicial oversight of the use of this power. The courts will have a number of opportunities to review whether each temporary exclusion order is imposed appropriately and to ensure that the power is used proportionately against individuals suspected of terrorism. In the light of these strong safeguards on the use of both the temporary passport seizure power and the temporary exclusion power, the Government do not think that it is necessary to bring the power to an end after two years. Indeed, introducing sunset clauses to these powers in two years might, as my noble friend Lord Carlile said, inadvertently send the wrong message to would-be jihadist travellers by suggesting that we lack the intent to deal with the threat that they pose to us.
There are two points here. I reflect on the views and the great experience that my noble friend Lady Warsi has in this area through her excellent work in office. She led for the Government on this, and therefore I listened very carefully to what she said about civil liberties, but there are two sides to this. There is of course the side that deals with the ability of people to travel, and the disruption of travel, which effectively is what we are talking about here. Measures are available under the royal prerogative, under which a passport is not seized but can actually be cancelled, and there is no sunset clause and no basis of appeal for these measures. Under the Terrorism Act 2000, too, there are powers to disrupt and deal with passports. Again, they are not subject to a sunset clause.
I am trying to say to your Lordships that it is not entirely clear what the consistent position is. It is looked at across a range of matters on a case-by-case basis. Your Lordships will be aware of the Constitution Committee, by which Ministers are often brought to book in your Lordships’ House for their work—as I know from its work on European matters, to which I have had to respond. Your Lordships should also be aware that the Constitution Committee, which always takes considerable interest in such matters, did not recommend the inclusion of a sunset clause following its consideration of the Bill. I am, as ever, grateful to my noble friend Lord Lang and his committee for their scrutiny of the Bill and their recent report.
For the reasons I have given, I therefore hope that noble Lords feel reassured that this is not something on which we are saying, “No, never”. As has been said, we have an independent reviewer of all terrorist legislation, and that includes this Bill and the provisions of temporary passport seizure and the temporary exclusion orders about which we are talking. They can be reviewed, not on an annual or biennial basis, but whenever the independent reviewer chooses to focus upon them—and obviously the Government will listen very carefully to his advice.
The situation at present is too fluid for us to put in an arbitrary time limit. People have genuinely focused on that. Between now and Report I am certainly prepared to reflect on the arguments that have been put forward in the debate. If we return to them, I will perhaps be able to offer to the House further views, having reflected carefully on what has been said this afternoon. In the mean time, I hope that the noble Lord might feel able to withdraw his amendment.
Does the Minister not accept that there is a difference between the judicial oversight, on which he laid some emphasis, and the political oversight that comes from having a sunset clause? Her Majesty’s justices can take only certain legal considerations into their protection of legislation. They cannot consider the wider political considerations that bear upon the matter in hand. Does he see the distinction?
I see the distinction between the issues—as did the other place and the Constitution Committee. But in this area, we believe that a sunset clause is not necessary in relation to this chapter of the Bill. In other parts, such as Part 2, when we will come to TPIMs, the sunset clause is there. It is not a general principle written through the Bill; we are looking at this area by area, and we remain open to advice from your Lordships’ House, Parliament and the independent reviewer as to what their thoughts are on the necessity of that.
People have not happened upon the sunset clause up to now because they have found it too difficult to arrive at a precise point for where the amendment should be. Should it be at two, three or four years? We have heard a range of different discussions. It remains there, open to review, and the procedures will be subject to regulations, which will give rise to further debate and scrutiny, but it is not appropriate to offer a fixed and arbitrary time limit for this chapter of the Bill.
I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I have not been sitting here counting up the numbers but I have a feeling that there was rather more support for the general thrust of my amendment than opposition to it. Obviously, I am grateful to the Minister for saying that he will take away what has been said today and reflect further on it—without, I accept, making any commitment to come back with a change—and I am grateful to him for saying that he will look at the matter in the light of the comments that have been made today.
I have to say that I find a little odd the Minister’s comment at the end that the problem was—at least this is how it came over to me—how long should it be before the powers cease unless they are continued by affirmative resolution of both Houses? I have been asked the question; I am not wedded to two years. If it is possible to have discussions and come to an agreement on another period that might gain wider support, the issue at stake is that there should be, after a certain period, a look at whether we still need these powers in force, in view of the fact that they are quite significant new powers. If the issue that the Government have is determining the appropriate length of time—because, after all, not to put anything in the Bill in a sense determines a period of time; that is, there is no review at all—I hope that the Minister will be willing to have discussions on that point.
We have already had different views expressed about the message that the powers ceasing to continue after a certain period, unless renewed, sends. I am afraid I rather subscribe to the view that the message that it sends if you do not have it in is that these powers could continue, metaphorically speaking, for ever and a day, although I appreciate that another view has been expressed that they might be seen as a sign of weakness on our part. As I say, that is not a view to which I subscribe. I do not think that reviewing the need for the continuation of these powers is a sign of weakness at all because obviously there is a distinct possibility that in looking at the situation one might decide that the powers should be renewed.
We have also had a discussion about the role of the independent reviewer, which presumably will be discussed in the next group of amendments. Of course, the issue of the sunset clause covers the question of the current worsening of the security situation, with people from this country going abroad, apparently to engage in acts of terrorism, and subsequently returning. That involves the two issues we are talking about: passports and temporary exclusion orders. I say only to the Minister that within not too long a period of time—although I am flexible about what that should be—the problem arising from people going from this country to engage in terrorism and seeking to return may be a lesser problem than it is now, as opposed to other issues related to terrorism still being fairly high up the list.
That is what the proposed sunset clause deals with: specifically, people going from this country to engage in terrorism and subsequently coming back. It is because we consider it a problem at present that we are talking about and supporting the powers in the Bill. But it is conceivable that, over not too long a period, that specific point may not be the problem it is at the moment, and we ought to have some powers in the Bill to be able to reflect on whether the case is still there for continuing the powers that we are talking about today.
As I say, I am grateful to the Minister for agreeing to reflect further and to all noble Lords who have taken part in the discussion. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 2 withdrawn.
3: Clause 1, page 1, line 8, at end insert—
“( ) The Secretary of State shall commission an annual report to be laid before each House of Parliament by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on the exercise of powers contained in this section.”
As mentioned in the debate on the previous amendment, the group of amendments to which Amendment 3 belongs requires the Secretary of State to commission an annual report to be laid before both Houses by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on the exercise of the powers contained in Chapters 1 and 2 of Part 1 and in Part 2, which relate to the seizure of travel documents and temporary exclusion from this country. The amendments also require the Secretary of State to publish annual figures on the usage of these powers, and for an annual review of the arrangements made by the Secretary of State under the powers in paragraph 14 of Schedule 1 to be published and laid before both Houses.
I think I am right in saying that in its recent report the Joint Committee on Human Rights drew attention to the fact that neither of the new powers in Part 1 concerning the seizure of passports and managed return are made subject to independent review. It seems that the Minister told the JCHR that the Government had considered independent review, but apparently they were satisfied that any review of the extensive new powers in Part 1 should not extend beyond that carried out by parliamentary Select Committees. The Joint Committee on Human Rights referred in its report to the fact that the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation had commented on this issue, saying that if the powers we already have under the Terrorism Act need independent review, then surely the new powers in Part 1 also need independent review. It could be said that if that review took place it might help to inform a discussion on whether the powers needed reviewing if there was a sunset clause in the Bill. The Joint Committee on Human Rights said that, like the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, it believed in principle that the operation in practice of the new powers to impose restrictions on the travel of terrorism suspects should be subject to independent review, and therefore it was recommending that the powers in Part 1 concerning passports and managed return should be subject to review by the independent reviewer.
In moving Amendment 3, I am also speaking to the other amendments in this group. I hope that the Minister will be able to give a positive response to them.
My noble friend Lord Carlile has already referred to the fact that the independent reviewer can, does and did look at far more than is spelled out in statute. My inclination would be to spell that out, but to spell out that the independent reviewer’s powers extend to all terrorism legislation. I have half a clause drafted to that effect for later in Committee stage. That does not mean to say, as these amendments suggest, that that should necessarily be annual. It may need to be done more than annually. Some legislation—I think it is the asset-freezing legislation—requires quarterly reports. As time goes on, subject to the eventual decision about a sunset clause, it may be not so necessary to report as frequently. Perhaps more importantly, I would prefer that a report was not subject to commissioning by the Home Secretary. A future Home Secretary might decide not to commission a report, and we can all see where that might go.
This is an important issue. I am glad that it has been raised, and it has been covered quite substantially already this afternoon. I am not convinced that this is quite the way to go about it. We need to look at the comments made by David Anderson on the scope of the role and the balance between its constituent parts, and not pick bits off in individual parts of the Bill.
My Lords, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee: these amendments raise a very important subject. For my part, I agree with paragraph 7.8 of the report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights that it is absolutely essential that the independent reviewer’s remit is extended to cover all terrorism legislation. I would be quite content to leave it to the independent reviewer to decide when it is appropriate to publish reports. It seems entirely unnecessary and inappropriate to require reports to be published annually.
My Lords, I spoke earlier and will not repeat what I said. Listening to this debate, I agree entirely with what was just said by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and my noble friend Lady Hamwee. It is essential that the independent reviewer has the flexibility to report on any issue that relates to counterterrorism legislation in the order in which he deems it appropriate, subject of course to commissions being given by the Government, or possibly by Select Committees or others, from time to time.
My Lords, I will add to what my noble friend Lord Carlile said. Speaking as a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, it is certainly my understanding that we kept this aspect of our report purposely broad to ensure flexibility and to leave it to the experience and expertise of the independent reviewer in supporting a role for them in reviewing this and all other counterterrorism legislation, ensuring that he or she should not be pinned down by prescription, in either content or time limits.
My Lords, I agree with my noble friends and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, on the need for both broad scope and flexibility in powers for the independent reviewer. On Amendment 4, can the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, say whether there is any further detail on the requirement that:
“The Secretary of State shall publish figures on the usages of powers”?
What sort of degree of detail or scope was envisaged?
On Amendments 41 and 41A, it may just be that I am a little befuddled, coming back from much less complicated EU legislation to more complicated domestic legislation. However, as I read those amendments, they seem to refer only to a review of the arrangements for food and accommodation, because they are specifically inserted after paragraph 14 of Schedule 1. I am not sure that that refers to a review of the whole powers under Clause 1 and Schedule 1 because it seems to be rather specific about just the powers in paragraph 14. Indeed, the term “arrangements” seems to refer only to the arrangements appropriate for the person, which, according to the draft code of conduct, relate to food and accommodation, and so on. It may be that I am completely on the wrong track here; if so, I will be most grateful for the noble Lord’s clarification.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for tabling these amendments, which cover issues concerning the oversight and accountability of officers who exercise the powers in Part 1.
Amendments 3 and 55A would require the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, to report annually on the exercise of powers contained in Part 1. I am grateful to the noble Lord for tabling this amendment because it allows us the opportunity to give due consideration and attention to a very important matter—that of ensuring that there are appropriate checks and balances and independent scrutiny of our counterterrorism powers, including those introduced in the Bill.
We have discussed at length the need for the measures contained in the Bill before us today, as the eight hours of debate in Second Reading amply demonstrated, but it is of course a cardinal principle that these important powers are subject to robust independent scrutiny. As most noble Lords have said, the recent report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the measures contained within this Bill included a recommendation that the remit of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation be extended to cover those areas of our domestic counterterrorism laws which are currently not subject to independent review. I think this, among other things, is recognition of the excellent job which David Anderson QC has done in his current role and the high regard in which he is held. I wanted to take the opportunity to make that point. I hope that virtually all noble Lords who spoke will be reassured that the Government are giving careful consideration to the points raised by the Joint Committee and, indeed, to David Anderson’s last annual report, which covered similar ground.
Another part of this Bill, Part 7, deals with the vital matter of checks and balances by providing for the creation of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Board. I very much look forward to our consideration of that part of the Bill, which I know from the various contributions made at Second Reading and today will be of particular interest to a number of noble Lords. Clearly, there is more to be said about how the board will operate and how it will genuinely support and enhance the independent reviewer’s capacity. It is apparent that we cannot simply keep adding to the independent reviewer’s role. David Anderson has himself been clear that he is operating at the limit of his capacity, as my noble friend Lord Carlile mentioned, and that there is a need for reform of the independent reviewer role. I hope that our debate on Part 7 will allow us to explore these broader considerations.
However, we need to consider the whole question of oversight in the round. If I may say so, it seems a little premature to take this amendment in isolation ahead of the wider debate that I know we are going to have when we get to Part 7 of the Bill. So I ask the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment today in the knowledge that we will certainly consider the issue which it raises during our deliberations of the broader issues about how our oversight arrangements for the use of counterterrorism powers should be structured and resourced, which we will be having next week. I refer, too, to my earlier remarks that we are giving consideration to the JCHR report as well as to the last annual report from David Anderson.
Amendments 4, 41, 41A and 50A introduce a requirement to publish statistics on the use of the passport seizure and temporary exclusion powers on an annual basis and introduce an annual review of the arrangements made by the Secretary of State under Paragraph 14 of Schedule 1, which allows the Secretary of State to make arrangements he or she thinks appropriate in relation to persons whose travel documents have been retained for the retention period. The Government are committed to increasing the appropriate transparency of the work of our intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies, but it is essential that this is done without damaging national security or effective law enforcement and, above all, public safety.
The Government have committed to publishing an annual report on disruptive and investigative powers. The first report, covering the operation of these powers in 2014, will be published shortly. We intend to cover the use of the new passport seizure power in future annual reports. This approach is consistent with our approach to similar disruptive and investigative powers, such as the exercise of the royal prerogative to cancel or refuse to issue a British passport, which are included in the annual transparency report. We will also include the exercise of the temporary exclusion power in these reports.
For the reasons I have given, I therefore hope that your Lordships will feel reassured about the exercise of these powers and, accordingly, I would be grateful if the noble Lord would withdraw the amendment.
Once again, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I hope that if I have misunderstood, the Minister will immediately put me right, but, as I understand it, he is saying that the Government will look at the issue of independent review of these parts of the Bill, or how that might be done, as part of discussions we will have on a later section of the Bill. Have I understood that correctly, or have I misunderstood it?
I thank the Minister for that clarification. Obviously, I am very grateful to him for his comments, which are extremely helpful. I will withdraw my amendment in a moment, not least in the light of his very helpful response.
I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, will not mind if I do not give a detailed response to her question. However, I will look at the issue she raised about some of the amendments that we have tabled. In the short time since she raised the point—obviously, I was trying to listen to what was said in the debate—I have not had a chance to do so. Clearly, if they are wrong, that has been a slip-up on our part. However, I will have a look at the wording to see whether I share her view that that may be the case. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 3 withdrawn.
Amendment 4 not moved.
Clause 1, as amended, agreed.
Schedule 1: Seizure of passports etc from persons suspected of involvement in terrorism
5: Schedule 1, page 26, line 24, leave out from “issued” to “by” in line 25
This is a probing amendment, picking up a point which I raised at Second Reading. The passport which can be seized is either a United Kingdom passport or, according to paragraph 1(7) to the first schedule, one issued by another country,
“or by or on behalf of an international organisation”.
It is the passports of other countries and the international organisations’ documents that I would like to ask my noble friend about. UK passports are not the property of the passport holder and I believe it is the case in some other countries that the passport remains the property of the state. Perhaps my noble friend can confirm the position. Therefore, the first and obvious question is: what international discussions have there been and what agreement, if any, has been reached about this provision? Are other states happy, or at least relaxed, about the seizure of their property? Might there not be occasions when they would themselves ask to have the passport back?
Some international organisations issue laissez-passer documents, of which I think the UN is one. Is this provision compatible with our obligations to those international organisations? As I say, this is a probing amendment, as, I think, are all our amendments today. I hope that my noble friend can assist. I beg to move.
My Lords, we have Amendment 16 in this group. Paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 deals with authorisation by a senior police officer for retention of a travel document. The travel document could, of course, be a non-UK passport. The purpose of our amendment, which provides for the relevant embassy to be informed immediately if a travel document is being retained, is to ascertain how the Government intend to manage the seizure of non-UK travel documents and the individual concerned, including where there is dual nationality.
Bearing in mind that the individual in question, who will presumably be a foreign national, will be unable to leave this country for a period of time, who or what will be informed of this who would not have been so informed if the individual in question was a British national with a British passport? If the country of which the individual concerned was a national became aware, or was made aware, that the passport had been retained and travel denied, would we, if that country so requested, prevent the individual travelling until it had carried out and implemented the kind of measures and procedures which we are providing for under the temporary exclusion orders?
If we were satisfied that the foreign national in question whose passport had been retained was seeking to go to another country, which was not their own, for purposes associated with terrorism, what action might we take? Would we consider legal proceedings against them in this country; would we deport them back to their own country; or would we allow them subsequently to continue on their way to wherever it was they were going?
This is very much a probing amendment to find out how the Government would manage the situation, or what actions they would take in relation to the seizure of non-UK travel documents and the individual concerned. I hope that the Minister will clarify some of the issues that I have raised, as well as those raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friends Lady Hamwee, Lord Thomas and Lady Ludford for tabling Amendment 5 and for providing advance notice of their amendments. The debate on this group has also concerned Amendment 16, tabled by the Opposition, and to which the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, has spoken. I will seek to address the issues that both amendments raise.
Amendment 5 would amend the definition of a passport to exclude,
“a passport issued by or on behalf of the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom”.
It would prevent police officers and designated Border Force officers exercising the power against individuals travelling on a foreign passport. This would mean that the police could not use this power to disrupt the travel of foreign nationals they reasonably suspected to be travelling overseas for terrorist-related activity. In the case of British citizens with dual nationality, the amendment would have the effect that the person’s British passport could be seized but their foreign passport could not. I accept the probing nature of the amendment, and I am sure that my noble friend is aware of that point but is seeking to elicit further information and reassurances.
The increasing number of people leaving the UK and Europe for the purpose of engaging in terrorism-related activity overseas—and returning with enhanced terrorist-related capabilities—means that we need proportionate powers to counter the real threat that we face from terrorism at home and abroad. This power will send out a robust message to anyone considering travelling to and from the UK for the purpose of involvement in terrorist activities.
It would not be appropriate—indeed, it may unlawfully discriminate against British citizens—if the police were able to use this power against British citizens suspected to be travelling overseas for terrorist-related activity but unable to use this power to disrupt the travel of foreign nationals. The power therefore applies to British citizens and foreign nationals, including European Economic Area nationals. Databases at a port would be updated to disrupt any further attempts at travel for the period in which the travel documents have been retained.
Passports are the property of the issuing authority—my noble friend sought clarification on this—and it is an International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, standard for the issuing authority to be shown on the passport. There is no legal requirement to inform other issuing authorities when passports are seized or surrendered in other circumstances, such as to meet bail conditions. That would be the same for a British national in another country subject to similar actions.
Amendment 16 would require the police to inform the relevant embassy or high commission if the police exercised the power at Schedule 1 against their country’s citizens. If a foreign travel document is seized under this power, we will consider whether to notify the Government concerned on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, there could be concerns about the consequences for an individual if information like that is made available. Individuals affected can, of course, if they choose, seek consular assistance from their Government’s representatives here.
Foreign Governments are not routinely notified when their passports are seized or surrendered in other circumstances, such as under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000, when a passport can be held for up to seven days for examination purposes, or when an individual subject to a terrorism prevention and investigation measure is prohibited from possessing a travel document.
My noble friend Lady Hamwee asked about the definition of travel documents. Our definition is anything that is or appears to be a passport, ticket or another document that permits a person to make a journey by any means from within the UK to outside the UK. It would include, for example, a boarding pass. A passport means a UK passport or a passport issued by or on behalf of the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom or by or on behalf of an international organisation or a document that can be used in some or all circumstances instead of a passport.
I was asked whether the power applied to diplomatic passports. Under international law and treaty diplomats may enjoy certain immunities. This power cannot be used to breach one of those. I think that is fairly clear.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked whether we would return a foreign national’s passport to their country, if it was requested. Passports are the property of the issuing authority, as I have already mentioned. There is no legal requirement to inform issuing authorities when passports are seized or surrendered. If the issuing authority requested it to be returned, we would consider whether it was appropriate to do so. In most circumstances we would expect to return it unless it was required, for example, as evidence in connection with a prosecution.
I have tried to answer the points of what I know were probing amendments. I hope with those bits of explanation and justification my noble friend will feel free to withdraw her amendment.
I wonder whether the Minister can help me. It just occurred to me, as I was listening to him, about a foreign national who is in transit through this country. Is this power exercisable to remove the passport of a foreign national who is simply passing through this country with a view to going to a further destination?
I will check this, because it is a very important matter, but intuitively my belief would be that the answer is yes, because they would be in the United Kingdom and they would be reasonably suspected by the authorities or the police of intending to travel overseas from this country for terrorist-related activities. I will check on that and if it is not the case I will write to the noble Lord.
My Lords, I think there may be different types of transit. There are certainly some instances in an airport where you pass through and do not actually go through immigration control. You are simply passing from one airline service to another and you bypass the place where the police officer would be to seize your passport. Other people in transit may have to remain for a while, possibly because they want to see somebody or collect luggage. It may well be that the noble Lord is entirely right that in that situation, because you are confronted by a constable with the power, the power would be exercisable —so it may depend very much on the circumstances of the individual traveller.
I agree and I shall seek clarification on that. It may also be the case that the power is triggered when someone on a no-fly list comes in, even though effectively they are not entering UK territory. However, when they arrive in the UK, they have to present their passport and travel documents—and, as I argued in my answer, at that point I would expect any action to be taken. Again, these are very important points and I will check with the authorities on how this will work in practice. It is probably covered in the draft code of practice on the seizure of passports, which is currently out for review. If so, I will certainly make sure that those views are noted as part of the consultation process.
The answer may be that the powers apply in the case of a person at a port in Great Britain. That is at paragraph 2 of Schedule 1, and “port” is defined in paragraph (1)(8) as including “an airport”. From that, my understanding is that if you are at the airport, whether on the land side or the air side, the power will exist. However, I should be very grateful if the noble Lord could write with the answer to all noble Lords who are interested in this matter.
My Lords, the point about not passing through immigration control occurred to me as well as noble Lords were speaking. Then my mind turned to the question of what would happen if someone was travelling on one passport but carrying the passport of another country and switched half way through the journey. All this goes to the workability of these provisions, which is really the overarching question that noble Lords are asking. I do not think that I am alone in finding it a little difficult to imagine quite how the powers will operate in some circumstances.
It is not always easy to probe something without suggesting the opposite of what one intends. There is another example of that coming up shortly. So the noble Lord is right: I was not trying to take the words out but merely probing.
I am not sure—I may have missed it—whether the Minister referred to international organisations other than quoting what is in the schedule. Perhaps I may look at that after today and, if necessary, have another word with him. It looks as though I may not need to withdraw the amendment quite yet.
I am just looking for help in order to answer my noble friend Lady Hamwee. The answer that I gave on diplomatic immunity was that, under international law and treaties, diplomats may enjoy certain immunities, and this power could not be used in breach of those. Therefore, that is clear. In relation to the point that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, raised on transit passengers, my briefing note says, reassuringly, “Yes, your answer was accurate”. That is helpful. There may be cases where it is appropriate to use this power against transit passengers and, in practice, these will mostly occur following prior information provided to the police about an individual’s intention to travel. The power can be exercised both air side and land side, including against passengers who do not present at immigration control. I hope that that is helpful to noble Lords.
My Lords, that depends on somebody knowing that the passengers are there if they remain air side. I may have this wrong and I accept that my amendment did not take out the reference to international organisations. They may have the equivalent of diplomatic immunity. I was not thinking of that; I was thinking of the large international organisations which issue a laissez-passer, as I understand it. Maybe that is something on which I could have a word with my noble friend. He nods; I am grateful for that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 5 withdrawn.
6: Schedule 1, page 27, line 13, leave out “or is intended to do so” and insert “either intentionally or recklessly as to the consequences”
My Lords, I shall also speak to Amendment 7. Amendment 6 is one of those probing amendments which may seem a bit unexpected or counterintuitive coming from me. It seeks to inquire whether the reference to intention in paragraph 1(10) covers recklessness. The words I have used are, “recklessly as to the consequences”. Will my noble friend share with the Committee the Government’s thinking on restricting the term to intentionality?
My second amendment, already trailed by the noble and learned Lord, refers to humanitarian assistance. This is another probing amendment to ask how the Government plan to deal with workers travelling out who are associated with reputable organisations such as the Red Cross. I accept that this is a difficult area because there can be individuals who are not with such organisations but who, in their own minds, are going out to provide humanitarian aid. They might be so closely associated with those who are fighting that they would be seen by others as providing something which is closer to military support than the broader humanitarian assistance.
We need to find a way through this difficult area, but at this stage perhaps my noble friend can explain the Government’s thinking on this issue and what work they have done with the big, overstretched—I am sure they could do without a further consultation, but there you go—humanitarian organisations working in the Middle East. I beg to move.
My Lords, as I hinted earlier, I wish to add a little more detail in support of Amendment 7, in the name of the noble Baroness. The background to what I am going to say comes from my experience chairing the Joint Committee on the Draft Protection of Charities Bill, which has been considering a clause which would seek to add offences under the Terrorism Act 2000 to the list of offences a conviction for which will result in automatic disqualification from being a trustee of a charity. That may seem a little bit removed from what we are considering this afternoon, but we have heard evidence on that issue from various witnesses speaking about the chilling effect of the risk of prosecution under the terrorist legislation on the efforts of those who seek to provide humanitarian assistance in areas which are under the control of, for example, proscribed organisations.
Among our witnesses was the chairman of the Muslim Charities Forum, who said:
“I go to difficult areas like Afghanistan, South Sudan and Chechnya. Recently, two weeks ago, I was in Iraq, in Baghdad. I have been in Somalia, in Mogadishu and other countries. I think counter-terrorism legislation is preventing us from having access to the neediest people. There are proscribed groups in those areas, and we know them. They are the gatekeepers. How can we go through the gatekeepers to reach the neediest people in Syria, Somalia or different parts of the world?”
That was the problem to which he drew our attention.
Among our other witnesses was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorist Legislation, David Anderson QC, to whom the noble Lord rightly paid tribute early this afternoon and I entirely endorse his remarks. He said that charities operating in these areas run the risk of falling foul of terrorism law—for example, by delivering relief to a general population which may include individuals or groups designated as terrorists. He suggested that increased risk could deter charities and their trustees from delivering humanitarian support. He was talking about the risk that would be created by extending the definition that disqualifies people from being trustees on conviction for these offences. As I mentioned earlier, we are talking about a rather softer mechanism, which is very important but depends on a decision taken by a constable at the point of entry.
One of the points to which David Anderson drew our attention was that there are examples in other countries where this issue has been addressed. The Minister might be interested to know that the kind of exception which the noble Baroness is suggesting can be found in connection with the broad definition of terrorism when one studies, for example, legislation in Australia or New Zealand. They have specific exceptions in terrorism law to meet that point, including that of association with proscribed organisations for the purpose of providing humanitarian aid. That is very important and it is rather odd that it is raised as a tiny, probing amendment in a debate on a temporary exclusion order. It runs right through the effect of the broad definition of terrorism, which Mr Anderson described as quite disturbing because of its breadth, and adds a great deal of force to the noble Baroness’s amendment.
I invite noble Lords to think carefully about that because the humanitarian effort is something all of us would wish to support. Given the amount of effort that the Government rightly put into providing aid overseas, it would be most unfortunate if it is being cut off because of this kind of measure. Of course, there are ways in which it can be done without embarking at all on this kind of risk area, but those who are right at the frontier in these very difficult areas should not be discouraged by legislation of this kind if it is possible to protect them against its effects. The humanitarian exception may be one of the more important issues that we are considering today. I would be very interested, and I am sure that the noble Baroness would be too, to hear how the Minister would wish to consider the point.
My Lords, I, too, want to say a word about Amendment 7. I have some difficulty with the arguments being presented in favour of it. I accept that there is clearly a potential issue about humanitarian assistance in terms of other terrorist legislation, but Schedule 1 relates to, “Seizure of passports etc from persons suspected of involvement in terrorism”. The paragraph is referring to an individual at a port in Great Britain where a constable has reasonable grounds to suspect that person of being involved in terrorism. To amend in terms of humanitarian support seems completely unnecessary. Surely, it is palpably obvious to a constable making this decision that this is not someone engaged in terrorist activity if what they are doing is humanitarian activities.
If, however, an exception is put in, which says that you except people who might be engaged in humanitarian activities, a situation would be created in which people will purport to have been providing humanitarian assistance rather than anything else. It seems to me that, although there is a genuine debate to be had about humanitarian activities and the extent to which crossing into various areas might be deemed to apply, this is a circumstance in which a constable is exercising a judgment about whether the individual in front of him is engaged in terrorist activities. If they are palpably humanitarian, there is no suspicion. If, however, they are given the option of pretending to be humanitarian so as to avoid the constable having the right, it seems to me that an additional problem is being created.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friends for tabling more probing amendments. The Minister and I will be well and truly probed by the end of the Committee stage.
We have had an interesting debate, with arguments expressed on both sides. The definition of “involvement in terrorism-related activity” used in Schedule 1 is the same throughout the Bill. It may be helpful to explain to the Committee that this definition has already been changed from that which exists in previous legislation in line with the recommendation of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation that the definition of terrorism-related activity in the TPIMs Act should be narrowed.
The effect on the current Bill is that involvement in terrorism-related activity does not include conduct which gives support or assistance to individuals who are known or believed by the individual concerned to be involved in conduct which facilitates or gives encouragement to acts of terrorism, or which is intended to do so. David Anderson described these individuals as those who are at three stages removed from actually committing a terrorist act: the giving of support to someone who gives encouragement to someone who prepares an act of terrorism. This change in definition is consistent with the public protection to which the legislation is directed.
Amendments 6 and 7 would amend the definition of involvement in terrorism-related activity as it currently appears in the Bill. The provision to which Amendment 6 relates refers to,
“conduct that gives encouragement to the commission, preparation or instigation”,
of acts of terrorism, whether or not the conduct is intended to do so. The amendment would amend the definition to conduct that gives intentional or reckless encouragement. To answer my noble friend Lady Hamwee, we believe that reckless encouragement is included in the current definition and we believe that accidental or reckless encouragement should be captured when its consequence is to encourage the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
The provision to which Amendment 7 relates refers to,
“conduct that gives support or assistance to individuals who are known or believed by the person concerned to be involved in”,
the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. It is clear that the support or assistance which falls within that definition is that which supports or assists individuals with acts of terror. We do not want to specify explicitly—this point was well made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey—that those providing humanitarian assistance, however defined, are excluded from the definition of involvement in terrorism-related activity. For example, as the noble Lord mentioned, it is possible that a person acting in a humanitarian capacity can also give support or assistance that would enable others to engage in terrorism.
My noble friend Lady Hamwee asked whether we have consulted NGOs or charities on this, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, mentioned its possible chilling effect on charities. We have not specifically consulted, but such organisations are capable of referring to the consultation. We would encourage them to do so and to reply to it.
I want to reassure your Lordships that support or assistance is, in this legislation, quite clearly that which supports or assists individuals with acts of terror and not any other legitimate activity.
Does the Minister appreciate the difficulty our witness was talking about of having to deal with people he described as “gatekeepers”? There is a risk of misunderstanding where someone is trying to get through the gate, as it were, into these difficult areas and is being told what to do, as a condition of getting through to provide the assistance, by the so-called “gatekeeper”, who may well be in a proscribed organisation. There is a considerable risk, so we are told, of being thought to be providing assistance to him because you are telling him what to do, whereas in fact what you are trying to do is to take the aid through to those who really need it. I appreciate the point that is being made, but I wonder whether the Minister will consult a little more carefully on this sensitive issue to see whether it is being accurately dealt with in sub-paragraph (10)(d) on page 27.
I take on board the point made by the noble and learned Lord. I will go back and make sure first of all that I have understood it correctly and then that we have looked at this, though I cannot give any guarantee as to the outcome.
On the basis I have outlined, I hope that noble Lords are reassured that this is specifically to do with acts of terror, and I invite my noble friend to withdraw the amendment.
Just before my noble friend sits down, would he clarify whether I understood correctly that someone could be caught by sub-paragraph (10) if they had accidentally committed any of these activities of giving encouragement or offering assistance? Is this because of general principles of law or interpretation? Maybe I misheard him. Perhaps he could enlighten me.
My Lords, of course there is a difference and it is not just about mutual exclusivity, but I do not wish to pursue that at this point.
On the second of the amendments in this group, one never knows where one’s probing is going to lead. Although the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, may disapprove of my drafting, I am glad that I raised it. I do not think that it will necessarily be palpably obvious to an immigration official why somebody is seeking to leave the country. I accept that the point is not confined just to this schedule and I think it is worth consideration. I would be grateful to have a conversation with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, as to whether we can use the opportunity of this legislation to try to deal with the point more widely. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 6 withdrawn.
Amendment 7 not moved.
8: Schedule 1, page 28, line 3, leave out “reasonable grounds” and insert “evidence or intelligence”
My Lords, my amendments in this group are Amendments 8, 14 and 15. Amendment 8 provides that, for the powers relating to search and seizure in respect of travel documents in paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 to be exercised, a constable must have “evidence or intelligence” to suspect that the person in question is there with the intention of leaving this country for the purpose of involvement in terrorism-related activity rather than “reasonable grounds” as provided for in the Bill.
This power of seizure of travel documents in this way is a new one and is presumably expected to be exercised only where the relevant authorities have either some hard evidence in respect of the individual whose travel documents they intend to retain or intelligence of a nature which they believe, bearing in mind its nature and source, may well prove accurate.
The Bill does not make provision for the person whose passport is seized to be informed, even in outline, of the reasons for the authorities suspecting that they may wish to travel abroad for purposes associated with terrorism and neither does the draft code of practice require a person who is subject to the exercise of the power to search for and seize travel documents to be told anything about the reasons underlying the suspicion that the person is intending to leave the country for the purpose of involvement in terrorism-related activity.
It is important that this new power should be exercised, as I have no doubt whatever is the intention, in a responsible and proportionate manner. The question is this: what do the Government intend the phrase “reasonable grounds” to mean if it does not mean suspicions based on evidence or intelligence? If it does mean that, why not say so in the Bill? No doubt the Minister will address that point in his reply.
Amendments 14 and 15 provide that an individual whose travel document has been removed may appeal against this decision in the courts over the evidence on the basis of which the conditions in paragraph 2(1)(a) and (b) of Schedule 1 were met. Those conditions relate to suspicions that the person is leaving the country for the purpose of involvement in terrorism-related activity or has arrived in this country with the intention of leaving it soon for that purpose. The use of these new powers of seizure of travel documents, including passports, will no doubt be undertaken in an appropriate, reasonable and proportionate manner. But since the tests as set out in the Bill are to be ones of “reasonable suspicion”, there is inevitably scope for genuine mistakes to be made on occasion. Our amendments provide for a right of appeal in court following the temporary seizure of a passport, initially for up to 14 days, over the reasons which led to that administrative decision under the terms of the Bill, a decision which, if wrong, could have significant implications for a person who found themselves, because of that decision, unable to travel outside the country for a period that could be up to 30 days. No doubt if further information had come to light in the mean time prior to the appeal which either strengthened or weakened the case for the original decision to seize the travel documents, that would also be placed before the court. Judicial review alone would not achieve this objective since it would not enable the person whose passport had been seized to challenge directly the basis on which the power had been exercised; namely, whether there were reasonable grounds to suspect that they intended to leave the country to become involved in terrorism-related activity.
It is of course the case that under the Bill the police have to apply to a court for an extension of time up to a maximum of 30 days if they wish to retain the seized travel documents beyond the maximum of 14 days laid down in the Bill. However, the court making that decision is not reviewing the reasons that led to the decision being made to seize the travel documents, but simply whether the authorities considering whether further disruptive action should be taken against the individual concerned had been acting diligently and expeditiously. An authorisation process of the decision to seize travel documents will exist up to the level of chief constable, but there is no provision within that process for the senior officers involved to consider representations from the person from whom the travel documents have been taken or from a representative of that person. That authorisation process surely cannot be regarded as an alternative to a right on application to have the decision to seize travel documents reviewed by a court. I hope that the Minister will be prepared to consider carefully the points I have made in support of my three amendments. I beg to move.
My Lords, I should like to say a word about Amendment 8. With great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, I think that the phrase used in the Bill, if it is properly understood, accommodates the point he is seeking to raise. I speak about this with a certain amount of background because the very first judgment I was asked to write when I began my career as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in this House was in a case called O’Hara against the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, reported in 1997 as Appeal Case 286. What we had to do in that case was consider the meaning of the phrase. A bit of research revealed that it has actually been with us for something like 100 years and has been used repeatedly in measures such as the Public Order Act 1936 and other measures where a constable is being asked to take a decision as to whether to exercise a power of search, entry or something of that kind. That situation is analogous to the one we are contemplating in regard to the position of the constable under this schedule.
What, then, do the words mean? As we said in the judgment, they concentrate on what was in the mind of the constable at the time that he exercised the power. But it is important to appreciate that there are two aspects to what was in his mind. One is what we described as the subjective aspect, which is whether he formed a reasonable suspicion. However, the important point, which is a reply to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, is that there is also an objective element, because he has to be able to say what the objective element was. There must have been reasonable grounds for the suspicion that he formed. They are the grounds that were in his mind at the time when he was judging whether they were reasonable. That is directed to the information that he had when he decided to do what he did. That raises certain questions. What was his information? Where did it come from? What was its content? How could one say whether it was reliable? In particular, who imparted the information to him?
These are the kind of questions that anyone examining the issue would wish to have answers to. The point is not so much whether the information was true or not, because that is not something that the constable can judge at the time. The point is what information did he have and did it include information that purported to be intelligence, which is the kind of point that the noble Lord was raising.
Properly understood, this phrase, which every constable is trained to understand, and the courts are well used to, is really able to accommodate the point quite adequately, and I suggest that the safest course is to stick to the familiar phrase, given the import of the phrase as understood and as explained in the case of O’Hara.
My Lords, with no such authority —neither mine nor anyone else’s—I wrote, against Amendment 8, “If it is reliable intelligence is it not already covered?”. Intelligence may be less than reasonable; evidence may be more than is reasonable. I am not clear what standard would be required by the provision as amended. The noble and learned Lord has made my point much more clearly and authoritatively.
I have a number of amendments in this group. Amendments 10, 12, 13 and 21 all provide for the giving of reasons for the suspicion and for allowing the person the opportunity to make representations at the different stages of the process. I hope that both those items are self-explanatory: there should be an explanation, at the very start and at each stage, and the person concerned should be able to make representations—make representations is about the right level; I am not quite saying make a case—and to state their position.
Amendments 17, 18 and 19—
Before the noble Baroness moves on, she said that she felt the arguments to be self-explanatory. Perhaps, for the assistance of the Committee, she could talk a little about what she means by the reasons. If you present an individual with the reasons, are you in fact asking that all the material that has led to that reasonable view being taken be presented? That could require the provision of intelligence material, which could have an implication for government. It would be helpful, therefore, to understand what the noble Baroness thinks would be sufficient to meet the requirement to provide reasons.
I do not think that the noble Lord was present when I said that all our amendments today, and no doubt on subsequent days, will be probing ones. I think he was here when I said that many of our amendments—not just the ones that I and my noble friends have tabled—are about the workability of these provisions. I am sure that the Committee would like to understand what will happen at each stage.
I do not of course expect an immigration officer to come out with the kind of address that might be made to the Bench at a later point, but there is a very great difference between that and seizing the document under the provisions in Schedule 1. I dare say that the code of practice—and any additional guidance—will deal with this. I hope that it does, because I think it ought to. I am going to talk later, under a different amendment, about perceived discrimination, which I am sure the noble Lord will be as concerned about as I am. That is, in part, addressed when those who are exercising powers are as clear as they reasonably can be at any given stage about why they are doing so.
One set of amendments would change the 14-day period to seven days. The Joint Committee on Human Rights raised this point and drew comparisons with other provisions, such as those relating to property rights under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act, where an application must be made to a court to retain cash after 48 hours; equally, where a person is arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 on reasonable suspicion of being a terrorist, a judicial warrant of further detention must be applied for within 48 hours of arrest. The JCHR recommended that seven days should be substituted for 14 days. I would have hoped that the committee did not make this point, but that would be adequate time to assemble the material that needs to be presented—and indeed to assemble the presentation—to the court, which in any event can extend the time.
The last of my amendments in this group, Amendment 28, amends Schedule 1(8). Under paragraph 8(4),
“the judicial authority must grant an extension if satisfied that the relevant persons have been acting diligently and expeditiously”.
My amendment would add a reference to “reasonable grounds”. In other words, it seeks to ensure that the judicial authority would apply the same test as under paragraph 2.
My Lords, in relation to this group, without I hope stretching anyone’s patience, I will just repeat two questions that I asked at Second Reading, to which I do not think I got an answer. The first question, which may be very daft, is why it is not possible to use powers under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act to retain passports for up to seven days. Why can those not be used for outward travel? The Minister may not be able to instantly answer that. Secondly, how do you stop a rolling renewal? I gave the analogy of declaring the whole of Greater London a terrorism exclusion zone. How do you stop that just being renewed on a repetitive basis?
My Lords, in relation to the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, concerned with the giving of reasons, and in relation to the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, I suggest that the answer is the one given by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, from paragraphs 230 to 233. The obligation in the Bill should surely be that there is a duty to give the gist of the reasons. No one would suggest that all detailed reasons must be given, but if someone is told that their passport is being taken away they should be told the essence of the reasons why if this power is to be acceptable and not criticised as obviously unfair. It may be necessary to write in an exception. There may be security reasons why not even the gist can be given. It is fundamental that if you exercise a power of this sort you give the gist of the reasons for doing so.
I wonder if the Minister could consider a concrete and perhaps not too remote example. Let us suppose the authorities in the United States were to send an e-mail to the authorities in this country, saying that X should be stopped; he is passing in transit through the UK and going to Ukraine— for instance—for terrorism purposes. Would that be reasonable grounds for stopping him and removing his passport? I would like the Minister to consider that. There would be no evidence or intelligence in the hands of the British authorities. A reason given to the passenger could, I suppose, be that their country says that their passport must be taken away; but would that be reasonable grounds? Could that possibly be the basis of the decision by the policeman or immigration officer?
My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
I have a number of amendments in this group and they all relate to judicial oversight of the powers to remove passports and travel documents. They are all ways of giving weight to the right to a fair hearing, as provided by Article 6 of the European convention. Basically, they are ways of making the oversight of the power procedurally fair and it is on procedural fairness that I want to make this contribution.
The relevant parts of Schedule 1 provide for a judicial role and are modelled to some extent on the provision made for warrants for further detention in Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000. That governs the detention of a person arrested on reasonable suspicion of being a terrorist. If you make a close comparison of the two schedules, it becomes clear that the procedural safeguards that were introduced into the Terrorism Act are not present in this Bill. This makes it significantly weaker as a result.
When Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act was procedurally strengthened it was as a result of some of the recommendations of the previous Joint Committee that I was not on. That kind of coherence should be there in legislation of this sort. At the moment Schedule 1 is not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights; the requirements on fair hearing are certainly not. I want to outline where the weaknesses lie, which is why I have tabled my amendments.
Amendment 24 refers specifically to,
“a warrant of further retention”,
to draw that analogy with the warrant for further detention that exists in the previous terrorism legislation. I have an amendment relating to gisting too. I repeat what others have said: a person who is having this power exercised against them really should know the basis on which the documents have been taken and there is the need for an extension. It is just not good enough to say, as it does in the Bill, that we should be preventing people dragging their feet or not being diligent enough. While we want to ensure that people are acting diligently and expeditiously, there has to be more to it. There should be some requirement to consider the grounds for the retention of the documents, so I have inserted that into my Amendment 27.
This is all drawing on the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. With regard to Amendment 29, I urge the Committee to recognise how important it is to have oral argument in something as important as this. To have it done just in writing is not good enough. This is all fair hearing stuff. I really urge the Government to have regard to the ways in which this has been done in previous legislation.
With regard to Amendment 30, I am very concerned that while the Bill provides for a closed material proceeding at the extension hearing, there is no provision for special advocates. I am no great fan of special advocates— that process of having secret hearings—but I certainly feel that if you are going to have a closed material proceeding, you really must have protections for the person who is having their documents taken. I urge the Government to look at this again because I do not think that Strasbourg is going to think that it is compliant. Strasbourg has accepted the procedure that we have introduced here but one of the things it sees as being an important element is the role of the special advocate. There is a case waiting to come up in Strasbourg—Duffy—but I think we will find that this is going to fall foul of our obligations. Having special advocates involved is a very important element here.
Amendment 31 is really just tidying up in order to make the procedures parallel with those in Schedule 8. Amendment 32 says that if the court allows closed material proceedings, the state must provide a summary. Of course, if the state does not want to do that and there are special reasons why the intelligence agencies do not want it to be in the public domain, it is open to the state to withdraw. I think it is important that we use the model of other legislation that we have to help us get the best kind of legislation that the Government are seeking in this set of circumstances.
Those are the reasons for my amendments. I support the reduction to seven days that is being proposed by the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Ludford, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. I hope that the Government will see why it is important that we create fair proceedings around this special set of powers.
My Lords, I support what the noble Baroness has said. There cannot be any doubt that the power to exclude British citizens from their own country is a wholly exceptional power of the sort that we have not seen before. In fact, it is warranted by the threat that emanates from the globalisation of terror and the ease with which young men in particular, but some young women as well, can pass in and out of parts of the world that are controlled by terrorists, and of course the threat that they represent to us when they return from those zones.
However, it is the exceptional, drastic nature of this power, warranted though it is, that requires that procedural fairness is absolutely guaranteed by the processes under which the power is exercised. It is because the power is so extraordinary that it is so important, in order to avoid the scenario that the noble Baroness was talking about at the outset of this debate, that we observe the highest degree of procedural fairness. To that extent, I support what she has been saying.
My Lords, this has been a substantial debate, which is not surprising because there are 24 amendments in the group. I will run through a full response and then address in particular the key concerns and comments which were made. They have been particularly helpful because they provide an opportunity to flesh out the workability of the options before us.
This debate is about judicial oversight of the temporary passport seizure power. I am grateful to noble Lords whose amendments we are considering and all those who contributed their expertise—very deep expertise in the case of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, who has experience of the judgments in which he has taken part and has written.
These amendments cover a number of areas including: requiring the police to inform a person of the reasons his or her travel documents are being seized; allowing an individual to make representations at the point of seizure; creating a statutory right for the person whose travel documents have been seized to appeal the police officer’s decision to a court; and reducing the initial period of retention from 14 days to seven days. I reassure noble Lords that the power is already subject to considerable safeguards proportionate to the level of interference. Safeguards already in place will ensure that, as the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, sought, this power will be exercised in a fair, reasonable and lawful manner and in a responsible and proportionate way. Crucially, individuals can already challenge the exercise of this power, if they choose to do so, by seeking a judicial review. Given the safeguards and constraints on the use of the power, we believe it is the appropriate form of court scrutiny to which the exercise of the power should be subject.
Let me briefly summarise for the Committee the safeguards that we already envisage. The decision to exercise this power will be made by a trained police officer and subject to authorisation by a senior police officer of at least the rank of superintendent who must be satisfied that the test for exercise of the power was met. If the travel documents are still being retained 72 hours after they were seized, a police officer of at least the rank of chief superintendent must carry out a review of that decision and communicate his findings to the relevant chief constable, who must consider and take appropriate action.
Unless a court agrees to extend the retention period, the police may retain the travel documents for a maximum of 14 days from the day after the documents were seized. This timescale has been set deliberately. The investigation should have progressed to the extent that a court can meaningfully consider whether the investigation into whether there are grounds for further action to be taken is being conducted diligently and expeditiously, and the evidence heard should be tailored to the case being considered. A statutory code of practice for police and Border Force officers, which is currently open for consultation, will make provision for how officers are to exercise the powers and guard against any risk of improper use.
I have listened to today’s debate and noted the implication that taking a passport for up to a maximum of 30 days is an infringement of liberty equivalent to detaining an individual in a police cell. Indeed, the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, to name an extension of the seizure period a “warrant of further retention” seeks to draw that exact analogy. Even if we were not facing the threat that we are from foreign fighters, I hope that noble Lords will agree that this is not an appropriate analogy. Individuals subject to this power will remain at liberty. During the period that the police hold that person’s passport, the police and others would work diligently to investigate the situation further.
As the Bill stands, there is a clear threshold that must be met to justify the exercise of the power, and it can be used only at a port or border. The police are not empowered to detain the individual or remove his or her passport privileges permanently under this power. The legislation places a statutory duty on the police to return the travel documents as soon as possible if their investigations do not substantiate grounds to support further action being taken in respect of the person. In the light of the extensive nature of those safeguards, the Government believe that the changes proposed in these amendments are not necessary given the relatively limited impact of the power, and the amendments could have the unintended consequence of inhibiting its use. In other circumstances where a police officer forms a reasonable suspicion about an individual’s activities, there is no automatic court hearing to challenge his or her decision.
I hope that noble Lords will see that while a number of these amendments are helpful on the face of things, they could be damaging to national security if the police are required to justify their reasons for reasonable suspicion. To consider what information can be disclosed without prejudicing national security can take time and cannot be rushed. The use of reasonable suspicion as an evidential standard is used in relation to many other police powers, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, said. What constitutes reasonable suspicion will depend on the circumstances in each individual case. There must be an objective basis for the constable’s state of mind based on the facts, and it must be specific to the personal conduct of the person.
Although we cannot deal with hypothetical cases such as the one I was invited to comment on by my noble friends Lord Thomas and Lady Warsi, I can say that evidence will come to the police officer from many different sources. The point is that he must have reasonable suspicion and reasonable grounds for his suspicion that something is wrong. I know that in many cases the people most concerned to ensure that the individual does not travel abroad are the individual’s family and friends, who care for them, so information may come from that source. In some circumstances it may come from other sources, which we would want to take great care to protect. That is why we have this test in place at present; I will come to some of the specifics in a minute.
Under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000, to which my noble friend Lady Ludford referred, people may be questioned by the authorities for the purpose of determining whether they appear to be persons who are or have been concerned in terrorism without any prior suspicion, and anything found on them, including their passports, can be retained for up to seven days for examination purposes. Under Schedule 7 there is neither a statutory right of appeal nor an automatic court review of passports permanently cancelled under the royal prerogative. If the police apply to the court to extend the retention period of the passport, they will issue a notice to the individual informing him or her of the reasons for the seizure and retention of the travel documents, provided that that information did not prejudice national security. The information provided will enable a person to understand why they are under investigation and will help the court—if the police apply to extend the retention period—to consider whether the case is being considered diligently and expeditiously. Your Lordships should also be aware that a person subject to this power is not prevented from making representations at any time, including at the point of seizure.
Due to the nature of the appeal or review envisaged in a number of these amendments, the court would need to provide for closed material proceedings with the appointment of special advocates. As the House will know, closed material proceedings are resource intensive and it would be challenging for such a hearing to take place within that initial seizure period. Indeed, by the time it is heard the travel documents might already have been returned or alternative disruption action have been taken.
A number of the amendments sought to reduce the initial seizure period to seven days. The 14-day period was set following consultation with the police; by that point the investigation should have progressed to the extent that a court can meaningfully consider whether the investigation into whether there are grounds for further action to be taken is being conducted diligently and expeditiously, and the evidence heard should be tailored to the case being considered.
As I previously outlined, the Government have established rigorous and stringent measures to ensure that this power will be used in a fair, reasonable and lawful manner, that the 14-day retention period is proportionate to the level of interference, and that safeguards are already in place to ensure that travel documents are not retained any longer than absolutely necessary.
Let me just deal with some specific points raised in the debate. First of all, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, raised the issue of judicial oversight and review. In a judicial review, the court will consider whether the police officer’s decision was reasonable and in compliance with the public law and human rights principles. It will not substitute its own view on whether the test was met. However, the level of scrutiny is a high one and appropriate to this power. When we are dealing with closed material procedures, special advocates and gisting, on the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, raised, the Justice and Security Act provides the basis by which closed material procedures could be used in such a judicial review challenge. The police may apply to the judge for an order to exclude an individual or representatives from the court hearing. The Bill sets out the circumstances in which this may happen—for example, if evidence of an offence under the Terrorism Act would be interfered with or harmed. The court is not examining the police officer’s decision to seize the travel documents; there is no explicit provision for special advocates to be appointed. However, case law suggests that magistrates would have jurisdiction to appoint special advocates if considered appropriate or necessary.
The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, raised a couple of questions at Second Reading, and I am sorry that I did not get around to responding to them then, but I shall try to do so now. She asked, quite reasonably, why we could not use Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000. That schedule and this power have different tests and focus on different things. Schedule 7 is a no-suspicion test that focuses on the commission, preparation and instigation of terrorist offences. Any documents can be retained for seven days for the purposes of examination only. This new power has a reasonable suspicion test, and only travel documents can be retained for up to 14 days in the first instance. That is because the purpose, as we have set out, is that this is disruptive; it seeks to disrupt the travel plans of somebody who is reasonably suspected of travelling abroad for the purposes of terrorism-related activity.
The noble Baroness also asked about the rolling renewal of an extension. The power is exercised for 14 days initially and can be extended—so documents may be retained for up to 30 days with the permission of a court. The power cannot be renewed beyond 30 days because, at the end of that time, some alternative course of action might be taken. It might be a TPIM or a prosecution of some type, but the travel documents cannot be retained for longer than 30 days.
I have tried to address most of the issues raised. I shall deal with the particular, formal response about reasonable grounds, on the point raised by my noble friends Lord Thomas and Lady Warsi. It is for the police officer to decide whether he or she has a reasonable suspicion on which to exercise the power. Police officers are familiar with making decisions to this threshold. A request from another state would not be sufficient for a police officer to form a reasonable suspicion for him or herself—but, of course, we have intelligence-sharing arrangements with other states, and they may provide information to a level that would be sufficient for a UK police officer to form a reasonable suspicion about the individual’s travel intentions. In the consultation document that has been referred to, on page 8, there is a very detailed setting out, as noble Lords would expect, of what constitutes reasonable suspicion. Of course, extensive training would be given to those who would exercise that very serious power—I accept that is the point being made—before it is actually used.
With those assurances and explanations, I ask the noble Lord to consider withdrawing his amendment.
My Lords, I realise that there is plenty of material in the Minister’s response for us to read and think about. However, at the start of his response, he said that an officer should not have to justify his suspicion. I wondered whether he was equating that with gisting, which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and others, because I do not think that they are the same thing. If he does not want to commit to answering that point now, perhaps I may have a word with him about that between now and the next stage.
I am happy to expand further on that but, effectively, the justification I referred to was that the police officer would have had to have arrived at a position where he believed that there was a reasonable suspicion, and that the reasonable grounds test had been met. He would then have to justify that to a senior officer of the rank of superintendent or above and then, after 72 hours, that would have to be a chief superintendent and it would have to go to the chief constable, so it was in that setting that I was referring particularly to the justification rather than gisting.
I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate and thank the Minister for his very full reply which, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has already commented, will probably need to be read through fairly carefully in Hansard to make sure that the different points that he made are fully digested. As I understand it, based on the Minister’s reply, the Government do not have any intention of going down the road of either my Amendments 14 and 15 on judicial oversight or, indeed, of the proposition made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which was of a different nature but clearly addressed the same issue. I think I am right in saying that the Government are not making any movement at all in the direction of either my amendments, or, indeed, the views of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Have I understood that correctly?
My Lords, the noble Lord seeks to draw me on this. This is the Committee stage of a very important Bill and we are very much listening and reviewing your Lordships’ comments. I am inviting the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment and therefore, obviously, signalling that we are not comfortable with it as it stands.
I give the assurance now that I intend to withdraw the amendment, so there is no need for the Minister to think that I am about to test the opinion of the Committee, if that is what is running through his mind. I was seeking to ensure that I had correctly understood the thrust of his reply on behalf of the Government, which I think I have interpreted correctly. I suppose that we can all wait in hope that the Government may change their mind, but the Minister did not say that he intended to reflect on the points that were made in the debate today, as he did in relation to other groups of amendments, so I think, for that reason alone, one puts a rather different interpretation on what he said on this group from the interpretation that one might justifiably put on what he said in response to previous groups.
I do not think that we have moved any further on the issue of people being given some indication of the reasons for the powers that be having suspicions that they intended to leave the country for the purpose of involvement in terrorism-related activity. I will need to read Hansard, but I thought that the Minister said that it was open to an individual to make representations at any time, including on seizure, but perhaps I misunderstood what he said. If he did say anything along those lines, I was going to ask him exactly what representations and to whom, but perhaps I misunderstood the reply.
I think that we have different views about what can and cannot emerge as a result of judicial review, since I think the Minister was of the view that somehow that contained a power to review the grounds on which a decision had been made as opposed to not being able to look at that issue, which is my understanding of what judicial review would involve. It would not encompass that question. However, once again, I will read carefully what the Minister said.
We then had the comments in relation to the application to court to extend the period from 14 days up to a maximum of 30 days. Once again, as I understand it, that court is considering only whether the authorities are acting diligently and expeditiously and is not considering the reasons behind the decision—that is, the reasons behind the suspicion. So, in that sense, we do not seem to have moved any further forward in the light of the Minister’s reply. Likewise, I do not think that he responded to another point I made, although I did not specifically ask him to do so. I simply made the statement that, under the authorisation process, there is no provision for the senior officers involved to consider representations from the person from whom the travel documents have been taken or from a representative of that person. As I say, I do not think that the Minister commented on that, so I assume that my version is correct and that there is no provision for them to consider representations. So I think the point of view of those who have tabled the amendments must be that they have not made any progress so far. However, as I said, I will want to read carefully the Minister’s response, as I am sure will all other noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, in order to ensure that we have fully understood it. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 8 withdrawn.
9: Schedule 1, page 28, line 25, after “possession” insert “or under his or her control”
Amendments 22, 42 and 43 in this group are also in my name, and Amendment 11 is in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser.
Amendment 9 has rather an automatic, almost knee-jerk—or perhaps wrist-jerk—wording that anyone who has dealt with contracts for more than five minutes is likely to produce; namely, if something is in someone’s possession, does that adequately cover the situation or do you need to refer to the item as being under that person’s control? Again, this issue is about workability. I raised it with the Bill team some two or three weeks ago, before Christmas, and asked what would happen if it were not the individual but a companion who was holding the travel documents, and what powers would be available to get at those documents. When people are travelling as a pair or in a group, an individual does not always carry his own documents at every point. I understand that the amendment’s wording is wide enough because I think that the documents must always come into the individual’s possession, but I thought that it was worth getting clarity on that in Committee.
Amendment 22 seeks to amend paragraph 6(4). That paragraph states that on reviewing the retention of travel documents:
“The relevant chief constable must consider those findings and take whatever action seems appropriate”.
That is a wide phrase and I do not think the Minister will be surprised that my point boils down to whether he can share with the Committee what is anticipated to be within the range of “appropriate” and how this will be dealt with. Will it be covered by guidance, a code of practice and so on?
My other amendments in the group, Amendments 42 and 43, concern the perception of discrimination in the exercise of these powers—an issue that I have already raised today. I accept that this is an immensely difficult area; I have referred in the amendments to training, including equalities training, and recording the performance of the exercising of the powers. The latter is certainly covered by the draft code, which I saw after I had tabled the amendment. However, I will probably not be the only Member of the Committee who is aware of concerns about discrimination or who has received from one organisation a copy of a briefing to its members to make representations to MPs. It says:
“The proposed legislation could bear serious consequences for British Muslims including”,
and lists a number of items. It then states:
“This is a deeply troubling piece of legislation for British Muslims and will change our lives forever it is passed in its current form”.
I have no easy answer on how to deal with this but the Government must, I am sure, have been considering the perception, particularly in the light of the fact that those against whom it is sought to exercise those powers are likely—that may be the wrong word—to come disproportionately from Muslim communities. I felt that the matter had to be aired for us to seek some reassurance, which I hope the Minister will be able to give. I beg to move.
I have Amendment 11 in this group, to which I wish to speak. Schedule 1 includes the procedure for the authorisation by a senior police officer for the retention of a travel document, and states in paragraph 4:
“The document may be retained while an application for authorisation is considered. Any such application must be considered as soon as possible”.
The effect of my amendment, which is more a probing amendment, is to provide a time limit within which the application for authorisation must be considered—namely, within 12 hours—rather than leaving it somewhat open-ended, as provided for in the Bill.
No doubt, the Minister will indicate in his reply why it was felt desirable not to lay down a specific maximum time limit but to leave the provision without any time limit at all by using the phrase “as soon as possible”. The length of time taken for the application for authorisation to be dealt with is presumably—although I should be grateful if it could be confirmed or otherwise—in addition to the period during which the travel document can be seized, as laid down in the Bill. If that is the case, it is important that such authorisations are not delayed but are dealt with expeditiously. How long do the Government believe it will take for applications for authorisation to be considered, and how long do they consider is reasonable in that context? Who will decide whether it has been dealt with as soon as possible? Who can take any action, and through which channels, if they consider that the application has not been dealt with as soon as possible? How will they obtain the evidence for that?
I was going to ask the Minister: in what circumstances do the Government envisage that it would not be possible to consider an application within 12 hours? It may be that he will say in reply that he considers that an application should be dealt with in considerably less time than that but, bearing in mind my amendment, which aims to find out more about the reasons for the government wording, it would be helpful if the Minister could say what kind of factors leading to a delay—for example, beyond the period laid down in my amendment —the Government would believe were still compatible with dealing with the application as soon as possible. I hope that he will respond to these points, either now or subsequently.
My Lords, I had intended to say a word about Amendment 11. Given that this is Committee, I may do so. I am sympathetic to the questions that the noble Lord has asked, although—as I suspect he may agree—12 hours is too long. However, the point that has been exercising me is whether it is a good idea to have a maximum period, or whether that might become the standard and efforts to deal with the matter as soon as possible will not be made. Perhaps the individuals will think, “I’ve got so long to deal with it and will therefore take that long”.
My Lords, I wish to comment on Amendments 42 and 43 in this group. I have to say that the grouping is slightly odd because it relates to a whole range of different issues. I assume that the purpose of the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is to ensure, first, that the way in which the action of removing someone’s passport is carried out is mindful of equalities issues and the background of the people concerned; and, secondly, that a proper record is kept of what is done, so that any subsequent look at how the powers had been applied can show that they had been applied proportionately. I have no objection to that; indeed, it goes to the essence of the point about this power and the subsequent powers—the extent to which they will be exercised in such a way as to achieve their purpose but avoid a situation in which they alienate a particular community by reinforcing the narrative that suggests that that community is being oppressed or whatever.
In that context, it would be helpful if the Minister could indicate how frequently it is anticipated that these powers will be used? Are we talking about six, 600, 6,000 or 60,000 times a year? It makes a significant difference because if every time people from a particular community try to leave the country they have to go through these procedures—and these documents are held for a period, whether for six, 12 or even two hours—that will produce resentment. If the powers are to be used in a much smaller number of cases, it may be that the proportionality will seem to be more reasonable. It would be useful if the Government, in asking for these necessary powers, were to confirm how frequently the powers would be used. I am sure they have considered that. Perhaps the Government can say, having thought through the information and intelligence that has been available for, say, the past six months, how many times they think they would have sought to use these powers.
My Lords, I, too, will speak to Amendments 42 and 43, which I strongly support and to which my name is also attached. The draft code of practice refers to the need for an objective basis for the constable’s state of mind and how such information must be specific to the personal conduct of the person and not formed on the basis of assumptions about attitudes, beliefs or behaviour of persons belonging to particular groups. Training in equalities would want specifically to address the danger of stereotyping or behavioural assumptions. There has been a great deal of concern in the last decade and a half about what might sometimes be called racial, ethnic or religious profiling. One of the things that distinguishes this country from, for instance, France is that we believe—and this also relates to the need to record statistics on the use of the powers—that it is a useful exercise to record statistics which include, as indeed does our census, a voluntary question on ethnic identity and religious practice because it helps inform social, economic and, in this case, legal lessons to be learnt. It is not helpful, as is sometimes done in other countries, to pretend that we are colour and identity blind, because that actually means that we are blind in terms of the policy conclusions drawn. The need for training to avoid discriminatory behaviour and stereotypical assumptions and to record how the constables and other qualified officers behave and perform their duties is a useful addition to the Bill.
My Lords, listening to this debate and a debate on the previous amendments, some of which I was listening to on my screen elsewhere, I say we must not lose sight of just what an incredibly difficult task our intelligence services and police face in relation to counterterrorism. As I said at Second Reading, we do not know all that the intelligence services know. We must not tie their hands too much and be too prescriptive. I suggest that these powers are not being sought lightly. We have to be really careful when we debate “how many hours” and “as soon as possible” in Committee to step back now and again to remind ourselves why we are here and what we are debating.
With specific reference to these amendments, I have some sympathy with my noble friend Lady Hamwee in relation to “possession” or,
“under his or her control”.
That sounds more all-encompassing; perhaps that comes from my legal background as well. It would be good to hear the Minister’s view on this.
In relation to Amendment 11, “evidence”, “as soon as possible” and “12 hours” have been mentioned. We need to give the security services the freedom—if that is the right word—to be able to do their job and need to trust them to some considerable degree to do the right job. I worry about the reference to statistics and so on in relation to later amendments in this group. Of course we must be concerned about discrimination but at the same time how can we know—and how can my noble friend the Minister, with respect, stand here today and say—how many times we think these measures will be sought or used? We are in an incredibly difficult place at the moment on a global level. We have to do all we can to protect our citizens and collaborate with others across international boundaries to ensure to the best of our ability that we can counter terrorism. In that case, we should not ask for statistics at this stage. I understand where and why statistics look good and that we can look back and say that this made sense or that did not, or that it looks as if we have overused this or that power. Let us give the freedom necessary for the security services to do the job properly or to the best of their ability in the most difficult circumstances, remembering also that the circumstances have changed considerably since our last counterterrorism Bill. We are now in a situation where the speed to be able to act is absolutely of the essence, given that so much of this relates to information and evidence coming from possibly multiple sources and often digitally, in which case with enormous speed. We are asking our security services to act in response to that speed and the speed with which the perpetrators, those who we are seeking to prevent from carrying out terrorist acts, are able to act against us.
My Lords, my noble friend Lady Buscombe makes some incredibly important points, many of which I agree with. Like her I pay tribute to the huge work done by our intelligence services, which are overseen by a very thorough oversight process. Noble Lords will be aware that not all services are perfect and mistakes can be made and it is therefore important that all our services, including our intelligence services, work within parameters.
The lawyer in me always says when I look at legislation, “What is the mischief we are trying to fix?”. When we pass legislation it is important that we bear that in mind. While I accept that these are difficult times and it is important to make sure that we are protected, it is also important that we ensure that we do not make the challenges we face worse. Huge progress has been made under this Government with the reform to stop-and-search powers. There has been progress in the right direction with many communities that felt alienated by the use of such powers and felt that their co-operation with, for example, the police would have been so much better had the powers not been exercised in a way that led to profiling and discrimination. We are all aware of arrests made under terrorism legislation that did not lead to charge and charges that did not lead to convictions. The numbers were so overwhelming at one moment that it appeared the powers were being in used in a way that was doing more harm than good. In those circumstances it is important for us to ensure—not just because discrimination is wrong and we should fight it—that in exercising these powers we do not discriminate and make the problem worse. In those circumstances I support many of the comments made by my noble friend Lady Hamwee and the noble Lord, Lord Harris.
My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords for their contributions to this debate. My noble friend Lady Buscombe pointed out the need to trust the authorities within reason. We accept that there should be proportionate oversight and controls. The issue in this area, as in so many areas of the Bill, is drawing the line correctly between civil liberties and the need that the authorities have to deal with the threat.
These amendments cover issues concerning the seizure of travel documents, the process to authorise the retention of travel documents and the code of practice. Amendment 9, in the name of my noble friend Lady Hamwee, seeks to amend the powers and conditions of seizure relating to travel documents, from the documents being in a person’s “possession” to them being,
“under his or her control”,
based on my noble friend’s experience of corporate law. As the Committee knows, this power disrupts an individual’s immediate travel by removing his or her passport while he or she is investigated. The police then have time to investigate the individual’s travel plans and their reasons for travelling, and to consider whether a longer-term disruptive measure is necessary.
In defining the conditions of seizure in Schedule 1, the current drafting reflects where the power will be exercised and the likely conditions surrounding the travel documents. If a person is at a port and is seeking to travel, they or a travelling companion, as mentioned by my noble friend Lady Hamwee, will be in possession of the necessary travel documents and will need to be able to present them for inspection if asked. My noble friend answered the question herself when she made the point, as I am about to do, that if the travel documents are presented to Border Force officers for inspection at a port by an accompanying passenger, those documents will have legally come into the possession of a Border Force officer and the power may be exercised. Seizing travel documents in a person’s possession, rather than them being under their control, reflects where the power can be used and that the aim is to disrupt immediate travel for the purposes of engaging in terrorism-related activity. Therefore, I hope that the Committee is reassured that this amendment is unnecessary.
Amendment 11, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, seeks to impose a time limit of 12 hours from when travel documents first come into the possession of a constable or a Border Force officer at a port to when authorisation from a senior police officer is provided to retain the travel documents under this power. The decision to retain the travel documents for up to 14 days must be authorised by a senior police officer of at least the rank of superintendent. If authorisation is granted, travel documents may be retained for up to 14 days. If authorisation is refused, travel documents must be returned to the individual.
On 18 December we published a draft code of practice for public consultation, which will run until 30 January. Once finalised, officers will be required to follow the code of practice and the courts will take the code into account when determining any question arising out of the exercise of these powers. We have defined in the draft code of practice that the authorisation,
“must be provided in writing or verbally as soon as is reasonably practicable”.
We have used the term “reasonably practicable” as this provides operational flexibility and is well understood by the police. In any event, in the vast majority of cases we expect the authorisation process to have been completed within 12 hours. We will consider further whether a specific time limit could be set when we consider the responses to the code of practice consultation.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked a number of questions. I may not be able to respond to all of them but I will read the report of this debate and, if necessary, reply to him in writing. One question was: why do we not have a maximum time limit? I agree with my noble friend Lady Hamwee that there is a danger that it could be set as the standard to which police will work rather than providing authorisation as soon as is reasonably practicable. We think that “as soon as is reasonably practicable” will be well within 12 hours. The senior police officer, of chief superintendent level or above, would consider the time taken for the authorisation process in his report to the relevant chief constable at 72 hours. The timeliness of the authorisation —and the reason that we want it to be provided as soon as is reasonably practicable—could of course be affected by the time that the exercise of the power takes place, as ports operate 24/7, or the staffing level at that point. For example, at the point of seizure the superintendent may be based elsewhere or may be otherwise occupied. Therefore, although we consider that it will normally be provided within 12 hours, we would like to retain operational flexibility.
Amendment 22 would require the code of practice to specify potential actions deemed appropriate for a chief constable in receipt of a senior police officer’s review of the decision to seize travel documents. The threshold for exercising the power is a police constable having reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is at the port in connection with travelling for the purpose of involvement in terrorism-related activity.
We have already made it clear in the draft code that, following the completion of the 72-hour review and its findings being communicated to the relevant chief constable, he or she must take whatever action is appropriate. This may include either returning travel documents or upholding the original decision to retain the documents. These are the broad outcomes of the review that we envisage. However, we submit that the differing and often complex circumstances of these cases means that the actions that we specify in the code of practice following the 72-hour review should not be circumscribed. Doing so could weaken police discretion to respond to the particulars of any given case. It is for the chief constable, who is a very senior and experienced officer, to take whatever action she or he deems appropriate.
Amendment 42 refers to a subject that my noble friend Lady Hamwee mentioned in a previous debate concerning equalities. The amendment would require the code of practice referred to in Schedule 1 to specify that equalities training must be undertaken by persons who are to exercise the powers under the schedule. Amendment 43 seeks to require constables, immigration officers or customs officers who perform functions under Schedule 1 to record the performance of these functions. My noble friend acknowledged that there was no easy answer to this problem.
However, I hope to reassure noble Lords, and particularly groups outside this House who are listening to and thinking about this debate and who may be under the impression that this could potentially be discriminatory, that the draft code of practice, currently out for consultation, reminds police officers and Border Force officers exercising functions under Schedule 1 of their existing legal obligations under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. This places them under a duty to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it, and to take steps to foster good relations between those persons.
The draft code of practice, incorporating the Equality Act duty, already requires the police to monitor the use of this power and to consider in particular whether there is any evidence of it being exercised on the basis of stereotyped images or inappropriate generalisations. We will of course consider noble Lords’ contributions to today’s debate, and at other stages of the Bill’s consideration, as part of the public consultation.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, asked how often it is expected that these powers will be used. I think that he asked what has happened in the past six months. We are reluctant to say how often they will be used. It will not be that often but it is difficult to tell. At the moment we would not like to commit ourselves to a specific number on that, except to say that, particularly when you take into account the number of flights and so on going to and from our airports and ports, it will not be very large.
That is more helpful than the noble Lord might have thought when he received that note. To put it in context, if 600 or so—different numbers have been bandied about—individuals have gone out to take part in activities overseas, are we talking about specifically targeting that sort of number or about a rather broader sweep? That is what I am trying to get at.
We would obviously like to stop as many as we can from going, but I am reluctant to give the numbers, or even a broad indication of them, today. I will go back and find out how much we would be prepared to discuss numbers or even ranges but I would not like to commit myself now, if that is all right.
I am very grateful to the noble Lord, who has been very helpful. He referred, on several occasions, to the draft code of practice and to the consultation, which I understand will finish at the end of this month. The Bill comes back on Report only a week later. Are the Government going to be able to give the House their views on the consultation and what they are minded to do in relation to the code of practice at that stage? It is a very short period of time, but unless we know what the Government’s views are it is going to be very difficult to debate these issues.
A lot depends, of course, on how many responses there are to the consultation. I am unable to make a firm commitment today but it will be as soon as possible and if I can get more and clearer information on the subject I will let the noble Lord know.
I hope noble Lords will feel some reassurance and I would be grateful if the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who made the points on equalities, discrimination, the perception of discrimination and so on far better than I did. There is, again, material to consider and perhaps I—and others—should be encouraging responses to the consultation on the draft code. The Government may not wholly welcome a shedload of comments but that is what consultation is about. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 9 withdrawn.
Amendments 10 to 34 not moved.
35: Schedule 1, page 34, line 2, at end insert—
“12A A judicial authority shall have the power to direct payment of compensation by the Secretary of State to any person whose travel document is seized (whether or not retained).”
Amendments 35 and 40 relate to practical and legal provisions. The first, probing, amendment allows a judicial authority the power to direct the payment of compensation to a person whose travel document has been seized. I would not suggest that such a power might be used in anything other than the exceptional circumstances, but there would be disruption and damage—I think that is the right term—to a person whose travel documents have been seized and whose travel has been massively disrupted. If you miss a flight, you miss a flight. You might be delayed by some hours or, depending on your destination, by some days. You might miss some important engagement or event, even if you are delayed by only a couple of hours, because you miss a connection, and so on. I do not think I need to labour the point. Have the Government considered whether there should be a power to direct payment of compensation? If not, why not?
Amendment 40 would amend paragraph 14 of the schedule which allows the Secretary of State to make “arrangements” during the period in which the documents are retained or thereafter. The amendment seeks to ensure that this covers payment for accommodation and alternative travel arrangements. “Arrangements” could mean a number of things so I hope that my noble friend can explain to the Committee what is envisaged here. I would not want to restrict the Secretary of State in making helpful arrangements, but I would like to understand the term a little better. I beg to move.
My Lords, I am not surprised that the Bill does not include any power for the judicial authority to order payment of compensation. As a matter of administrative law, the lawful exercise of an administrative power, provided it is carried out in good faith, will not normally lead to a right for the claimant to claim damages. One hopes it never happens, in this context or others, but if these powers were to be exercised in bad faith, or if there were some other form of misfeasance in public office, the individual concerned—the victim—would already have a right to claim compensation from the state. Amendment 35 is not necessary to cover cases of bad faith or misfeasance in public office. If it is intended to extend to other cases, I would not support it.
My Lords, this comes back to the earlier point about whether the various powers in the Bill are proportionate and effective. What is being done to minimise the risk that they are going to exacerbate problems with particular communities? It is not simply a question of whether the powers have been issued improperly. In that case, I hope that compensation would be paid. It is more about when the powers may have been exercised entirely properly but are wrong in the sense that there was a reasonable suspicion, a passport was seized, investigation over a few hours demonstrated that this was completely wrong and the journey was permitted.
Under those circumstances, the person concerned, who had absolutely no malign intent, will have a real sense of grievance which will be reflected among all their friends, relatives and entire community, and which might be disproportionate to what was achieved. That is not the wrong use of the power: it is just the use of the power under circumstances in which it turned out that the intelligence or suspicion was wrong. That would then have a consequence. I appreciate that this could open up a whole mare’s nest of other circumstances in which this issue might arise. However, I hope that the Government have given this some thought because it is the sort of issue which could provoke a sizeable backlash in terms of people’s consideration of how these powers are being used—powers which otherwise people in that community might feel are reasonable.
The reason why the law does not award damages for the good-faith exercise of administrative powers in circumstances that turn out to be erroneous is because, if you confer a right to damages in those circumstances, you inevitably deter the authorities from taking action in the first place. I think that in this context we would wish to avoid deterring the security services from taking action for which they have at the time reasonable grounds.
I do not want to get into an extended dialogue. I understand exactly the point, but it is a fine balancing act and there is a real issue. If we are saying that one of the concerns is the extent to which these powers are exercised proportionately, given not only that it is extremely important for the entire community and entire society that these powers are exercised and that they exist but at the same time we are trying to avoid a situation in which there is a backlash, these matters need to be considered. I am sure that the Government have considered them and perhaps the Minister will give us an indication as to how they have tried to strike that balance, not in the circumstances where the powers have been used incorrectly or inappropriately but simply when this has happened.
I do not want to go back to the numbers question, but if for example we found that these powers were exercised quite widely because there was a real concern about people going overseas for terrorist purposes but necessarily because of those concerns there were a large number of false positives, the backlash in the communities concerned would be extremely great. It is just the same argument that arises about a very large number of stops and searches taking place—not that compensation arose there—simply to deter a small number of people.
Accepting the view of the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, that we should not give a course of action to someone who has had their passport removed, if the Minister were to give an assurance that the state will be open to ex gratia payments in appropriate cases, the fears expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, would be met. Ex gratia payments are frequently made in circumstances where there has been a degree of injustice. One cannot imagine any greater sense of injustice than to have one’s flight removed and the cost of a hotel imposed without any possibility whatever of being recompensed.
My Lords, we have had an interesting debate on this small group. I hope that I will be able to address most of the points raised by your Lordships.
Amendment 35 seeks to allow the court to direct that the Secretary of State should pay compensation to any person whose travel documents have been seized under Schedule 1. This is regardless of whether or not these travel documents have been retained. Protecting the public from terrorism is the central aim of this power. The power to seize and retain travel documents can play an important role in the detection and prevention of terrorism, and using the power fairly makes it more effective. The Government completely accept the dangers involved with minority groups, as referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and my noble friend Lady Warsi in another debate, and the effect if this power is not used fairly.
However, if the power—this is exactly what the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, said—is exercised lawfully on the basis of reasonable suspicion, there is no legal requirement to pay compensation for any associated loss. This principle is consistent with the exercise of other police powers: if a power was exercised lawfully, there is no requirement to compensate the individual. I take completely the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, that this can have effects that have wider ramifications but, to use the noble Lord’s own words, that would open up a mare’s nest. Therefore, we do not agree that we should change precedent so that compensation is paid in these circumstances.
Complaints about the conduct of examining officers or the treatment of an individual during the seizure and retention of travel documents may be directed to either the police or the Border Force, depending on which officer seized and retained the travel documents. The draft code of practice explains how an individual may complain. If an individual wishes to challenge the police officer’s decision, she or he may seek redress—again, the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, referred to this—including compensation, from the courts. This is the appropriate avenue to challenge the police’s operation of this power and is in line with procedures in similar circumstances.
The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, asked about travel costs and whether the Government would compensate. As with the compensation principle generally that I outlined, if it is exercised in good faith, this would not lead to a requirement to pay compensation. However, at present, if someone’s flight is disrupted due to the use of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act and the police judge that no further action is required, they will often work with the individual and the airline to help them get on another flight, which happens reasonably often. They would do the same with this power where reasonably practicable. Under this Bill, we could also provide assistance to individuals who have had their documents seized, are not resident in the UK and do not have any means to provide for their continuing stay in the UK.
Amendment 40 seeks to illustrate the type of arrangements that may be made by the Secretary of State in relation to a person whose travel documents are retained under Schedule 1. The illustrative examples provided are to include payment for accommodation and making alternative travel arrangements. The power to seize and retain travel documents can play an important role and using the power fairly makes it more effective. The Government are clear: the power in Schedule 1 must be used fairly and proportionately, with respect for the person to whom the power has been applied, and must be exercised in accordance with the prescribed procedures and without discrimination. A failure to use the power in the proper manner will reduce its effectiveness. Amendment 40 is superfluous, as the power under paragraph 14 in Schedule 1 is deliberately broadly framed and could include the Secretary of State making arrangements which include payment for accommodation and alternative travel arrangements for those whose travel documents have been retained.
Protecting the public from terrorism is the central aim of this power, but it is right that we make such provisions to meet our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, if necessary, an individual who has no means to provide for himself or herself would be provided with basic support for the period that his or her travel documents have been retained. This would involve basic temporary accommodation and subsistence if the individual has no other means to support themselves.
However, we assess that the use of this power against those who do not already reside in the UK will be infrequent. In other cases, where for instance a UK resident has had their travel disrupted, if the power is exercised lawfully on the basis of reasonable suspicion, there is no legal requirement to pay compensation for any associated loss, which is consistent with the exercise of other police powers. For the reasons that I have set out, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, the explanation given by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, was exactly as I had understood the position to be. However, for the reasons covered by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, I felt that it was important that we set out during our proceedings the reasons for compensation not being payable. I took care to use the phrase “very exceptional”. Perhaps that was not quite strong enough. As to the suggestion made by my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford about the possibility of an ex gratia payment, one would not presumably need statutory provision for that by definition. However, it is an interesting suggestion.
I was suggesting that it would not need provision by virtue of being ex gratia. After today, perhaps we can think about whether specific provision would be needed to allow an ex gratia payment to be made. The examples given in paragraph 14 are helpful and some of the examples given in response to Amendment 35 probably were at least equally applicable to that paragraph. However, we are at Committee stage and, as I keep saying—I hoped that I was being reassuring—all our amendments today are probing. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 35 withdrawn.
Amendment 36 not moved.
37: Schedule 1, page 34, line 27, leave out “is” and insert “and any accompanying persons is or are”
My Lords, Amendments 37, 38 and 39 are also amendments to paragraph 14. They are probing amendments as to what arrangements the Government might have in mind for the companions of an individual whose travel documents are seized. The Minister may feel that he has covered the ground in his answer to the previous group of amendments but, to put it briefly, if there is anything more that he can say to flesh out the provision, I am sure that the Committee will be glad to hear it. I beg to move.
My Lords, this will be a brief debate—in fact, hardly a debate.
The amendments in the names of my noble friends have allowed us to think about the implications of this power for the travelling companions of a person whose passport has been seized. Amendments 37 and 39 seek to extend the protections in paragraph 14 of Schedule 1 to any persons travelling with an individual whose travel documents have been retained. It would allow the Secretary of State to provide assistance to the accompanying persons during the retention period and would provide that his or her presence in the UK was not unlawful under the Immigration Act 1971 for the retention period.
As I previously set out, the police can exercise the power in Schedule 1 only based on reasonable suspicion. It is possible that the police may reasonably suspect the intentions of one person travelling in a family group but have no suspicions that the entire family is planning to travel overseas for the purpose of terrorism-related activity. In such a hypothetical circumstance, the accompanying family members may require means to lawfully remain in the UK with the stopped person while the police investigation was on-going and the person’s travel documents were retained. This may be particularly relevant if the power was exercised against a person who was under 18.
These amendments would also allow the Secretary of State to provide assistance to those accompanying an individual who had his or her documents seized, or were not resident in the UK and did not have any means to provide for their continued stay in the UK. I am grateful to my noble friends for shining a light on such a circumstance. However unlikely it may be to occur in reality, they have highlighted a potential gap in the current provisions and the Government are committed to considering this issue in greater detail.
Paragraph 14 provides protections to the individual that would apply during the period that his or her travel documents were retained and he or she was unable to leave the UK. Amendment 38 seeks to alter this to include where a person is “unable to make the journey to which the travel relates”. The additional wording is unnecessary, as being unable to make a journey to which the travel relates is captured in the current drafting, which is “unable to leave the United Kingdom”. However, as the amendment has raised some interesting points on how this provision could be applied, the Government are committed to considering this issue, too, in greater depth.
I hope that my brief reply has satisfied my noble friend and has done all that is required.
Yes, indeed. I wonder whether officials in the Home Office have been undertaking role-play as to all the different circumstances that might apply when these powers could be exercised, because, as I said, one of the concerns of the House is always about workability. I am grateful to my noble friend. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 37 withdrawn.
Amendments 38 to 43 not moved.
Debate on whether Schedule 1 should be agreed.
My noble friend is aware of this point—at least I hope that he is, because I sent an e-mail on it. Schedule 1 provides for the usual 40-day period in paragraph 19 and I had intended to ask the Minister to confirm that that period is suspended during the Dissolution of Parliament. However, the question now has a second limb, because the Government have tabled Amendment 45, which refers to a similar 40-day period but actually spells that out. I wonder why there is a distinction between these two. I am not objecting to this. The Statutory Instruments Act 1946 covers the point, but dealing with it in detail in the new schedule raises a question that needs to be sat upon with regard to the first schedule.
I am happy to respond to my noble friend and to thank her for giving advance notice that she intended to speak on this. She asked whether the 40-day period described in paragraph 19 is suspended during Dissolution. I can confirm that the period would be suspended. However, in reality, our intention is for the code of practice to come into force the day after Royal Assent, using the affirmative procedure, as these powers are urgently needed by law enforcement. My noble friend noted that the new schedule in Amendment 45 suspends the 40-day period. It may not be possible to timetable the debate on the court rules necessary to implement the temporary exclusion order provisions by Dissolution. However, we are confident that the House will debate the code of practice on the exercise of the passport seizure provision before Dissolution.
Schedule 1 agreed.
44: After Schedule 1, insert the following new Schedule—
ScheduleUrgent temporary exclusion orders: reference to the court etcApplication1 This Schedule applies if the Secretary of State—
(a) makes the urgent case decisions in relation to an individual, and(b) imposes a temporary exclusion order on the individual. Statement of urgency2 The temporary exclusion order must include a statement that the Secretary of State reasonably considers that the urgency of the case requires the order to be imposed without obtaining the permission of the court under section (Temporary exclusion orders: prior permission of the court).
Reference to court3 (1) Immediately after giving notice of the imposition of the temporary exclusion order, the Secretary of State must refer to the court the imposition of the order on the individual.
(2) The function of the court on the reference is to consider whether the urgent case decisions were obviously flawed.
(3) The court's consideration of the reference must begin within the period of 7 days beginning with the day on which notice of the imposition of the temporary exclusion order is given to the individual.
(4) The court may consider the reference—
(a) in the absence of the individual,(b) without the individual having been notified of the reference, and(c) without the individual having been given an opportunity (if the individual was aware of the reference) of making any representations to the court.(5) But that does not limit the matters about which rules of court may be made.
Decision by court4 (1) In a case where the court determines that any of the relevant decisions of the Secretary of State is obviously flawed, the court must quash the temporary exclusion order.
(2) If sub-paragraph (1) does not apply, the court must confirm the temporary exclusion order.
(3) If the court determines that the decision of the Secretary of State that the urgency condition is met is obviously flawed, the court must make a declaration of that determination (whether it quashes or confirms the temporary exclusion order under the preceding provisions of this paragraph).
Procedures on reference5 (1) In determining a reference under paragraph 3, the court must apply the principles applicable on an application for judicial review.
(2) The court must ensure that the individual is notified of the court’s decision on a reference under paragraph 3.
Interpretation6 (1) References in this Schedule to the urgency condition being met are references to condition E being met by virtue of section 2(urgency of the case requires a temporary exclusion order to be imposed without obtaining the permission of the court).
(6A)(b)(2) In this Schedule “the urgent case decisions” means the relevant decisions and the decision that the urgency condition is met.
(3) In this Schedule “the relevant decisions” means the decisions that the following conditions are met—
(a) condition A;(b) condition B;(c) condition C;(d) condition D.”
My Lords, in moving Amendment 44, I shall speak also to the other amendments in the group.
As I have made clear to your Lordships, the Government are absolutely committed to the appropriate and proportionate use of the temporary exclusion power. As we indicated that we would, we have looked very carefully at the constructive suggestions from David Anderson, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, on the matter of judicial oversight. Following this consideration, we have tabled amendments which seek to introduce oversight of the power in line with his recommendations. Specifically, the amendments propose the creation of a permission stage before imposition of the temporary exclusion order—also very much in line with the amendments tabled by the Opposition. In addition, they propose a statutory judicial review mechanism to consider both the imposition of the order and any specific in-country requirements. I will address each of the elements in turn.
For the permission stage, the court would be asked to consider whether the decision to impose the temporary exclusion order “is obviously flawed” using principles applicable under judicial review, and whether to grant permission for it to be imposed. There would also be a provision for retrospective reviews in urgent cases, where the Secretary of State has deemed the situation of such urgency that the order must be imposed without prior permission of the court. I must point out that this provision for a retrospective review is an additional safeguard which is absent in other amendments which have been tabled. The court would have the power to refuse permission for the order, where prior permission was being sought. In retrospective review cases, it would have the power to quash the order. I hope noble Lords will agree that this gives the courts a significant role in the imposition of a temporary exclusion order.
The second element of judicial oversight which the Government are seeking to introduce is a statutory judicial review mechanism. The in-country elements of a temporary exclusion order will not be imposed until the individual has returned back to the United Kingdom, allowing law enforcement partners to assess the most appropriate measures to manage the risk posed by the individual at that time. The statutory judicial review will ensure that the individual, if he or she applies for it on return to the UK, can challenge any in-country requirements placed on them. Of course, ordinary judicial review would always have been open to the individual, but putting it on a statutory footing in this way provides some additional structure which I hope will be reassuring to the House. Most importantly, the individual will not have to seek permission from the court for there to be a review.
The government amendment provides that the court would not only have the power to consider in detail—and quash—the specific in-country requirements placed on an individual, but it would also have the power to consider again whether the relevant conditions for imposing the temporary exclusion order were and, in respect of the ongoing necessity of the in-country measures, continue to be met, and again have the power to quash the whole order or direct the Secretary of State to revoke it. This is in line with David Anderson’s recommendations and means that there is a further opportunity for judicial scrutiny of the imposition of the order as well as the in-country requirements.
The government amendments place considerable power with the courts in the temporary exclusion process, allowing effective judicial scrutiny of that power both before and after its use. I hope that this provides the reassurance the House seeks in respect of court oversight of this measure, and also in respect of the importance the Government place on an appropriate and proportionate use of this power. I beg to move.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for explaining these welcome amendments. Something is puzzling me and it may simply be my lack of understanding of the field. The test which the court has to determine in the case of prior permission, under Amendment 52, or in the review of urgent TEOs, under Amendment 44, is whether the decisions are “obviously flawed”. I am challenged to understand the position with an in-country statutory judicial review in Amendment 65, which I understand would follow the normal principles of judicial review, including necessity and proportionality. I know that the independent reviewer referred to a test of “obviously flawed” in a commentary that he made, but I do not understand the justification for the difference in the test in Amendments 44 and 52 compared to the statutory judicial review in Amendment 65. The phrase “obviously flawed” seems both a high and a somewhat problematic threshold: obvious to whom? I would have thought that the application of that test would create some difficulties. However, I may be on entirely the wrong track.
My Lords, I want to ask a rather practical question. The whole of Clause 2, together with the amendments, appears to deal with someone over whom the Government assume there will be some degree of control. I take the example of someone who has gone to Syria and comes back through Syria to the airport in Istanbul. He then seeks to fly back to England and is made the subject of a temporary exclusion order. What is to happen to that person in Istanbul? What are the Government of Turkey to do with this person? If you stop them at an airport outside the United Kingdom, is there not a very real danger that they will just go back into Syria or into Iraq? What I have not understood about this temporary exclusion order is what will happen to these people who are not able to come back to this country.
My Lords, your Lordships’ Constitution Committee managed to produce, at fairly short notice because this was a semi-fast tracked Bill, a report in which we drew attention to the absence of judicial oversight and expressed considerable concern about it. Therefore, I welcome the development that my noble friend the Minister has announced today. I do not, for one moment, suggest that we were the only organisation which drew attention to this gap and called for change. The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson, was considerably more robust in his wording than we thought it appropriate to be. He pointed out that,
“in peacetime we have never accepted the power of the Home Secretary simply to place someone under Executive constraint for two years without providing for some relatively speedy process of appeal”.
It seems that the principle of what we, and others, have called for has now been met and I welcome what my noble friend has said.
I thank my noble friend for introducing these amendments and for the progress that has been made. I also thank him for the incredibly helpful briefing session he held last week. Perhaps he can help me with something that did not come out of that session, if this is the right moment to deal with it. What is the Government’s thinking on the extent of time these orders are intended to apply for? The Minister in the Commons, James Brokenshire, indicated that it was intended that these orders would be in operation potentially for only two or three days. I am not sure whether that is the case and I should like clarification on that point if the Minister here were able to give it today.
My Lords, I too welcome these amendments, which introduce judicial control. The Government have listened to the Constitution Committee and the independent reviewer. They have also listened to the observations made from all sides of the other place and indeed here at Second Reading.
The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, raised a concern about paragraph 3(2) in the proposed new schedule set out in government Amendment 44 and the reference to whether the decision is “obviously flawed”. I draw her attention to the fact that its paragraph 5(1) states that:
“In determining a reference under paragraph 3, the court must apply the principles applicable on an application for judicial review”.
So my understanding—I would welcome the Minister’s confirmation—is that when the court asks whether the decision itself is obviously flawed, it will apply the principles of judicial review. It will ask whether the decision has been made on a lawful and proportionate basis, for a proper purpose and other matters of that sort, although of course the court will not look at the merits of whether a lawful decision has been made.
There is one other matter to which I draw attention in the schedule being introduced by government Amendment 45. Paragraph 5 of the proposed new schedule expressly confirms that:
“Nothing in paragraphs 2 to 4, or in rules of court … is to be read as requiring the relevant court to act in a manner inconsistent with Article 6 of the Human Rights Convention”.
That is very important indeed and I welcome the fact that the schedule expressly confirms that the court should comply with Article 6. I ask the Minister to tell me if I am wrong, but I am not aware of anything in the Bill which suggests that the courts, in exercising their judicial control powers, should be required to depart from our obligations under the human rights convention, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Bates, has made a statement on the front page of the Bill under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that in his view the provisions of this Bill,
“are compatible with the Convention rights”.
I hope that that will give some further reassurance to those who are concerned about these powers.
My Lords, I welcome the government amendments and I thank the Minister for his explanation of them. I also welcome the Government’s conversion to the principle of judicial oversight in regard to temporary exclusion orders. That is because it has to be said that any measure which seeks to restrict the movements of an individual and restrict their right to return to the country of which they are a citizen is a hugely significant power. I will not go into the other points that have been raised because we have yet to discuss the detail of how the exclusion orders will work, but the noble Baroness said that they would remain in force for two days. My information suggests that they can remain in force for two years from the date they are first imposed.
The Government previously insisted that this was a power for the Home Secretary alone, but that was not a view we could share. Both the Home Secretary and the noble Lord have referred in their comments to judicial review. That was already in place, but judicial oversight is, as we have heard, something that the Constitution Committee referred to and the Joint Committee on Human Rights said would be a necessity. Indeed, from the beginning we have been convinced of the need for parliamentary scrutiny of this aspect of the Bill. At Second Reading in the other place on 2 December, the shadow Home Secretary, my colleague the right honourable Yvette Cooper, rightly pointed out that there is such a judicial process for TPIMs and stated that we would be tabling amendments on judicial oversight. The Home Secretary responded in Committee on 15 December saying that such oversight was not necessary because it was the operation of a royal prerogative in terms of cancelling a passport, and that it was less restrictive than the conditions under TPIMs. The debate continued through to the Report stage, where again we tabled amendments which both the government parties voted against on the explanation from the Minister that there had not been,
“the chance properly to consider the Opposition amendments”.—[Official Report, Commons, 6/1/15; col. 208.]
Three weeks has been long enough for noble Lords to consider the Bill, but it was not long enough for Home Office Ministers to consider our amendments. That is why I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord. In the 10 days since it was voted down in the House of Commons, the Government have found time to consider the issues and table amendments. It is a minor point, but I received an e-mail about this last Friday evening, which was a little late. Also, it would have been nice to have had the amendments with that e-mail. Perhaps that could be considered for the future when letters about new amendments are sent out at a late stage.
However, those are minor matters as compared with the fact that the Government have come around, and we greatly welcome that. The case for judicial oversight of this has been clear from the beginning. We understand and appreciate that there are times when a swift application and decision have to be made, but the Government have rightly recognised in their amendments that that should be subject to judicial processes.
Perhaps I may raise a couple of points for clarification. There are some differences between the amendments we tabled at the start of the process and government Amendment 52. First, the new amendment does not require the Secretary of State to set out a draft of the proposed notice in the temporary exclusion order application, unlike subsection (2) of the proposed new clause in our Amendment 54. Why do the Government not think it necessary to set out the draft of the proposed TEO notice, as we propose? Secondly, proposed new subsection (2) provides that the court may, in addition to giving the Secretary of State permission to impose a TEO,
“give directions to the Secretary of State in relation to the measures to be imposed on the individual”,
who is subject to such an order. That is not in the government amendment. There may be good reasons for that, but it would be helpful to know from the noble Lord the reasons for those changes.
We are committed to judicial oversight along with the other measures we have proposed. We have not had total success, although the Minister has agreed to reconsider some of them. These measures should be subject to a sunset clause; that is, a renewal requirement for Parliament to look at them again. We also think that Parliament should be assisted in that consideration. There should be further scrutiny in the form of a report from the independent reviewer and a report on their use from the Home Secretary. All these measures are important, but we are pleased that the Government have accepted the need for judicial oversight. It will not threaten the ability of the Home Secretary to impose a TEO where there is intelligence and evidence to support that measure, as the noble Lord has clarified. However, what judicial oversight does provide is legitimacy and validity to the order. That, I think, will provide the public with greater reassurance when they see these orders being imposed.
We support these amendments, but it would be helpful if the noble Lord could give us an explanation of the differences between our proposals and those set out in the government amendments.
I am grateful to all noble Lords for their broad welcome for the amendments which have been put forward. As the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said, we have listened in the other place, which is why my honourable friend the Minister for Security and Immigration, James Brokenshire, said that he would seek to bring forward measures in this House. We have listened to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and what we have proposed has been moulded by and fits in with what he sought to set out. We have also been significantly influenced by the persuasive report of the Constitution Committee, to which I referred earlier. Again, I thank my noble friend Lord Lang for his thoughtful work, which has been extremely helpful. That has all come together and we have made our recommendations and presented the amendments.
Let me deal with some of the points raised, in no particular order. However, certainly on the human rights side, I stand by the declaration that I made in the Bill. It is a very important statement in terms of giving assurance to people about the proportionality of what is being proposed regarding temporary exclusion orders and how they will operate.
The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, asked what was going to happen in-country when these orders are applied. This has been described by some people as a way of managing the return of the individual who is there. We will have issued the temporary exclusion order on the basis of a belief that the person has been engaged in terrorism or terrorism-related activities. That notice will have been served in person, or, more likely, to their last known address. That would be communicated to them before they return home. Part of that is for a very obvious reason: particularly if they are boarding an aircraft—and some terrorist organisations focus their threat on air travel—we want to be absolutely sure that they are accompanied by a police officer during their return to the UK, for example, or that they agree to be on a specific flight and to be met by a police officer, and that when they arrive back in the UK they agree to undertake certain in-country commitments.
This relates to the point of my noble friend Lady Warsi about the duration of these orders. The two years relates to the potential in-country element, so that when they return to the country there could be a stipulation about taking part in a deradicalisation programme, or something similar, or agreeing not to travel, which could be in place for up to two years. It is more likely that they would be switched to one of the other mechanisms, particularly if there was evidence that they had been engaged in terrorist activities and we wished to engage in a prosecution on that basis. So we hope that the amount of time they would be, as it were, at a port, seeking to return, would be very short, and that they would have access to consular facilities in-country. Then they would return and the in-country element of the exclusion order would be part of the conditions for their return to the UK.
The Minister said that the in-country application of a TEO—if I understood correctly—would be two years. Am I incorrect, then, in my understanding that if a temporary exclusion order were served either at the address or in person, the person’s return would be subject to that for two years, so that if at any time in that two-year period they sought to return to the UK they would be subject to the conditions of the TEO? Is he saying that that is incorrect and it is only the in-country provisions of the TEO that last for two years?
I will clarify that point to make sure I have got it absolutely right. My belief, however, is very much that we are talking here about two elements. On the in-country element, technically—of course, we are dealing here with legal processes and they would have to be reviewed—if the person were to refuse the conditions of their return they would not be able to return and therefore the order would effectively remain in place while they are not in the country. The intention, however, would be that there would be reasonable requirements about being accompanied, the time and place, their mode of travel, the fact that they would be met, and the in-country element would expire at that point. However, I will look again carefully at the words that I used and clarify them if need be.
The noble Baroness also asked why we would not provide the court with the conditions to impose on an individual at the application stage. Temporary exclusion orders differ from TPIMs in that the imposition of a TEO is likely to be put in place many months before the individual returns to the UK and is subject to in-country measures, as I have mentioned. The nature of the individuals who will be subject to TEOs means that the specifics of their cases will vary, and it would be inappropriate for the security services and police to decide on the conditions so far in advance. The individual will be served with the conditions of their return to the UK and will be able to challenge these conditions as part of the statutory review.
The temporary exclusion order remains in force for two years. This includes both the out-of-country provision and the in-country element. In practice, how long the in-country obligation lasts will depend on how quickly the person returns, which is what we were discussing there.
I think that I have covered the point of my noble friend Lady Warsi about the briefing session. I am grateful that she found that helpful.
I hesitate to rise but the discussion that took place was about the purpose of the temporary exclusion order. The clear sense that I got from the briefing and subsequent discussion with the Minister was that the whole purpose was to facilitate a controlled entry back into the United Kingdom, and a controlled entry back into a programme of potential deradicalisation and whatever that would involve, a move by the Government which I hugely support and welcome. I felt that if the whole purpose of this temporary exclusion order was not to keep people out of the country—as has been suggested in the press—but was about managing somebody’s return, to make sure that we protected the security of our citizens, then we are talking about an incredibly short period for which the person would find themselves outside the United Kingdom but a much longer period subject to conditions within the United Kingdom. If that is the case, I would be grateful if it was clarified at the Dispatch Box.
On the point just raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, we have been very mindful of the fact that we need to work, not in isolation but in partnership with other countries. The level of co-operation and working across Europe in particular with our European colleagues, not least because of the events in Paris, has increased dramatically. We want to learn what works best. To answer my noble friend’s point, these orders will not exclude somebody from the UK per se. Through them we are saying that if you have been abroad and we believe that there is evidence that you have been engaged in terrorist activities we are not simply going to allow you to drift in and out of this country with impunity. That would need to be managed and supervised. We want that to happen—it is the purpose of the temporary exclusion orders.
My noble friend Lady Ludford—it now seems like a little while ago—was the first to speak about this. She raised a point about the tests and the phrase “obviously flawed”. Here, we are seeking to introduce a permission-stage model and a statutory judicial review mechanism similar to those already in place for the TPIM and asset-freezing regimes, which will consider both the decision to impose the TEO in general terms and for the in-country elements. Having considered these suggestions, we tabled these amendments in line with the recommendation. It is, as was said, simply consistent with those other elements to which we are referring. I hope that that has been helpful.
I apologise for prolonging this, but I forgot to ask my noble friend something earlier. I am trying to understand the architecture of all this. Under the new clause relating to prior permission of the court, in Amendment 52, proposed new subsection (9) says:
“Only the Secretary of State may appeal against a determination of the court under … this section”,
and the urgency provision. I wonder whether that is a bit unfair on the person. Why would the individual not have a comparable right of appeal? Is there a clear reason why that is the case?
Again, I will write if necessary, but I think the answer is simply that in that example, it is the Secretary of State who has made her decision and then subjected that decision to scrutiny by the courts. The courts will obviously make their judgment, and therefore the appeal is in connection with that particular part of the process. The individual concerned with that has access, through different routes, to judicial review of the temporary exclusion order. On the point about the Secretary of State, the individual is not involved in that stage, but will have the chance to challenge the substance. We are basically talking about two not quite parallel but different parts of the process. Therefore, the rights of appeal apply to different entities or individuals, as appropriate to those elements.
With those comments, I commend the amendments standing in my name in this group and invite noble Lords to consider not pressing theirs.
Amendment 44 agreed.
Amendments 45 and 46
45: After Schedule 1, insert the following new Schedule—
ScheduleTemporary exclusion orders: proceedingsIntroductory1 In this Schedule—
“appeal proceedings” means proceedings in the Court of Appeal or the Inner House of the Court of Session on an appeal relating to TEO proceedings;“the relevant court” means—(a) in relation to TEO proceedings, the court;(b) in relation to appeal proceedings, the Court of Appeal or the Inner House of the Court of Session;“rules of court” means rules for regulating the practice and procedure to be followed in the court, the Court of Appeal or the Inner House of the Court of Session; “TEO proceedings” means proceedings on—(a) an application under section (Temporary exclusion orders: prior permission of the court),(b) a reference under Schedule (Urgent temporary exclusion orders: reference to the court etc),(c) a review under section (Review of decisions relating to temporary exclusion orders), or(d) an application made by virtue of paragraph 6 of this Schedule (application for order requiring anonymity).Rules of court: general provision2 (1) A person making rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings must have regard to the need to secure the following—
(a) that the decisions that are the subject of the proceedings are properly reviewed, and(b) that disclosures of information are not made where they would be contrary to the public interest.(2) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings may make provision—
(a) about the mode of proof and about evidence in the proceedings;(b) enabling or requiring the proceedings to be determined without a hearing;(c) about legal representation in the proceedings;(d) enabling the proceedings to take place without full particulars of the reasons for the decisions to which the proceedings relate being given to a party to the proceedings (or to any legal representative of that party);(e) enabling the relevant court to conduct proceedings in the absence of any person, including a party to the proceedings (or any legal representative of that party);(f) about the functions of a person appointed as a special advocate (see paragraph 10);(g) enabling the relevant court to give a party to the proceedings a summary of evidence taken in the party’s absence.(3) In this paragraph—
(a) references to a party to the proceedings do not include the Secretary of State;(b) references to a party’s legal representative do not include a person appointed as a special advocate.Rules of court: disclosure3 (1) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings must secure that the Secretary of State is required to disclose—
(a) material on which the Secretary of State relies, (b) material which adversely affects the Secretary of State’s case, and(c) material which supports the case of another party to the proceedings.(2) This paragraph is subject to paragraph 4.
4 (1) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings must secure—
(a) that the Secretary of State has the opportunity to make an application to the relevant court for permission not to disclose material otherwise than to the relevant court and any person appointed as a special advocate;(b) that such an application is always considered in the absence of every party to the proceedings (and every party’s legal representative);(c) that the relevant court is required to give permission for material not to be disclosed if it considers that the disclosure of the material would be contrary to the public interest;(d) that, if permission is given by the relevant court not to disclose material, it must consider requiring the Secretary of State to provide a summary of the material to every party to the proceedings (and every party’s legal representative);(e) that the relevant court is required to ensure that such a summary does not contain material the disclosure of which would be contrary to the public interest.(2) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings must secure that provision to the effect mentioned in sub-paragraph (3) applies in cases where the Secretary of State—
(a) does not receive the permission of the relevant court to withhold material, but elects not to disclose it, or(b) is required to provide a party to the proceedings with a summary of material that is withheld, but elects not to provide the summary.(3) The relevant court must be authorised—
(a) if it considers that the material or anything that is required to be summarised might adversely affect the Secretary of State’s case or support the case of a party to the proceedings, to direct that the Secretary of State—(i) is not to rely on such points in the Secretary of State’s case, or(ii) is to make such concessions or take such other steps as the court may specify, or(b) in any other case, to ensure that the Secretary of State does not rely on the material or (as the case may be) on that which is required to be summarised.(4) In this paragraph—
(a) references to a party to the proceedings do not include the Secretary of State;(b) references to a party’s legal representative do not include a person appointed as a special advocate.Article 6 rights5 (1) Nothing in paragraphs 2 to 4, or in rules of court made under any of those paragraphs, is to be read as requiring the relevant court to act in a manner inconsistent with Article 6 of the Human Rights Convention.
(2) The “Human Rights Convention” means the Convention within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998 (see section 21(1) of that Act).
Rules of court: anonymity6 (1) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings may make provision for—
(a) the making by the Secretary of State or the relevant individual of an application to the court for an order requiring anonymity for that individual, and(b) the making by the court, on such an application, of an order requiring such anonymity; (2) Rules of court may provide for the Court of Appeal or the Inner House of the Court of Session to make an order in connection with any appeal proceedings requiring anonymity for the relevant individual.
(3) In sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) the references, in relation to a court, to an order requiring anonymity for the relevant individual are references to an order by that court which imposes such prohibition or restriction as it thinks fit on the disclosure—
(a) by such persons as the court specifies or describes, or(b) by persons generally,of the identity of the relevant individual or of any information that would tend to identify the relevant individual.(4) In this paragraph “relevant individual” means an individual on whom the Secretary of State is proposing to impose, or has imposed, a temporary exclusion order.
Initial exercise of rule-making powers by Lord Chancellor7 (1) The first time after the passing of this Act that rules of court are made in exercise of the powers conferred by this Schedule in relation to proceedings in England and Wales or in Northern Ireland, the rules may be made by the Lord Chancellor instead of by the person who would otherwise make them.
(2) Before making rules of court under sub-paragraph (1), the Lord Chancellor must consult—
(a) in relation to rules applicable to proceedings in England and Wales, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales;(b) in relation to rules applicable to proceedings in Northern Ireland, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.(3) But the Lord Chancellor is not required to undertake any other consultation before making the rules.
(4) A requirement to consult under sub-paragraph (2) may be satisfied by consultation that took place wholly or partly before the passing of this Act.
(5) Rules of court made by the Lord Chancellor under sub-paragraph (1)—
(a) must be laid before Parliament, and(b) if not approved by a resolution of each House before the end of 40 days beginning with the day on which they were made, cease to have effect at the end of that period.(6) In determining that period of 40 days no account is to be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than 4 days.
(7) If rules cease to have effect in accordance with sub-paragraph (5)—
(a) that does not affect anything done in previous reliance on the rules, and(b) sub-paragraph (1) applies again as if the rules had not been made.(8) The following provisions do not apply to rules of court made by the Lord Chancellor under this paragraph—
(a) section 3(6) of the Civil Procedure Act 1997 (Parliamentary procedure for civil procedure rules);(b) section 56(1), (2) and (4) of the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 (statutory rules procedure).(9) Until the coming into force of section 85 of the Courts Act 2003, the reference in sub-paragraph (8)(a) to section 3(6) of the Civil Procedure Act 1997 is to be read as a reference to section 3(2) of that Act.
Use of advisers8 (1) In any TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings the relevant court may if it thinks fit—
(a) call in aid one or more advisers appointed for the purposes of this paragraph by the Lord Chancellor, and(b) hear and dispose of the proceedings with the assistance of the adviser or advisers. (2) The Lord Chancellor may appoint advisers for the purposes of this paragraph only with the approval of—
(a) the Lord President of the Court of Session, in relation to an adviser who may be called in aid wholly or mainly in Scotland;(b) the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, in relation to an adviser who may be called in aid wholly or mainly in Northern Ireland;(c) the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, in any other case.(3) Rules of court may regulate the use of advisers in proceedings who are called in aid under sub-paragraph (1).
(4) The Lord Chancellor may pay such remuneration, expenses and allowances to advisers appointed for the purposes of this paragraph as the Lord Chancellor may determine.
9 (1) The Lord President of the Court of Session may nominate a judge of the Court of Session who is a member of the First or Second Division of the Inner House of that Court to exercise the function under paragraph 8(2)(a).
(2) The Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland may nominate any of the following to exercise the function under paragraph 8(2)(b)—
(a) the holder of one of the offices listed in Schedule 1 to the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002;(b) a Lord Justice of Appeal (as defined in section 88 of that Act).(3) The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales may nominate a judicial office holder (as defined in section 109(4) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005) to exercise the function under paragraph 8(2)(c).
Appointment of special advocate10 (1) The appropriate law officer may appoint a person to represent the interests of a party in any TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings from which the party (and any legal representative of the party) is excluded.
(2) A person appointed under sub-paragraph (1) is referred to in this Schedule as appointed as a “special advocate”.
(3) The “appropriate law officer” is—
(a) in relation to proceedings in England and Wales, the Attorney General;(b) in relation to proceedings in Scotland, the Advocate General for Scotland;(c) in relation to proceedings in Northern Ireland, the Advocate General for Northern Ireland.(4) A person appointed as a special advocate is not responsible to the party to the proceedings whose interests the person is appointed to represent.
(5) A person may be appointed as a special advocate only if—
(a) in the case of an appointment by the Attorney General, the person has a general qualification for the purposes of section 71 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990;(b) in the case of an appointment by the Advocate General for Scotland, the person is an advocate or a solicitor who has rights of audience in the Court of Session or the High Court of Justiciary by virtue of section 25A of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980;(c) in the case of an appointment by the Advocate General for Northern Ireland, the person is a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland.Relationship with other powers to make rules of court and other proceedings11 Nothing in this Schedule is to be read as restricting—
(a) the power to make rules of court or the matters to be taken into account when doing so, or(b) the application of sections 6 to 14 of the Justice and Security Act 2013 (closed material proceedings).”
46: After Schedule 1, insert the following new Schedule—
ScheduleTemporary exclusion orders: appeals against convictionsRight of appeal1 (1) An individual who has been convicted of an offence under section 9(1) or (3) may appeal against the conviction if—
(a) a temporary exclusion order is quashed, and(b) the individual could not have been convicted had the quashing occurred before the proceedings for the offence were brought.(2) An individual who has been convicted of an offence under section 9(3) may appeal against the conviction if—
(a) a notice under section 8, or a permitted obligation imposed by such a notice, is quashed, and(b) the individual could not have been convicted had the quashing occurred before the proceedings for the offence were brought.Court in which appeal to be made2 An appeal under this Schedule is to be made—
(a) in the case of a conviction on indictment in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, to the Court of Appeal; (b) in the case of a conviction on indictment or summary conviction in Scotland, to the High Court of Justiciary;(c) in the case of a summary conviction in England and Wales, to the Crown Court; or(d) in the case of a summary conviction in Northern Ireland, to the county court.When the right of appeal arises3 (1) The right of appeal under this Schedule does not arise until there is no further possibility of an appeal against—
(a) the decision to quash the temporary exclusion order, notice or permitted obligation (as the case may be), or(b) any decision on an appeal made against that decision.(2) In determining whether there is no further possibility of an appeal against a decision of the kind mentioned in sub-paragraph (1), any power to extend the time for giving notice of application for leave to appeal, or for applying for leave to appeal, must be ignored.
The appeal4 (1) On an appeal under this Schedule to any court, that court must allow the appeal and quash the conviction.
(2) An appeal under this Schedule to the Court of Appeal against a conviction on indictment—
(a) may be brought irrespective of whether the appellant has previously appealed against the conviction;(b) may not be brought after the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the right of appeal arises by virtue of paragraph 3; and(c) is to be treated as an appeal under section 1 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 or, in Northern Ireland, under section 1 of the Criminal Appeal (Northern Ireland) Act 1980, but does not require leave in either case.(3) An appeal under this Schedule to the High Court of Justiciary against a conviction on indictment—
(a) may be brought irrespective of whether the appellant has previously appealed against the conviction;(b) may not be brought after the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the right of appeal arises by virtue of paragraph 3; and(c) is to be treated as an appeal under section 106 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 for which leave has been granted.(4) An appeal under this Schedule to the High Court of Justiciary against a summary conviction—
(a) may be brought irrespective of whether the appellant pleaded guilty;(b) may be brought irrespective of whether the appellant has previously appealed against the conviction;(c) may not be brought after the end of the period of two weeks beginning with the day on which the right of appeal arises by virtue of paragraph 3;(d) is to be by note of appeal, which shall state the ground of appeal;(e) is to be treated as an appeal for which leave has been granted under Part 10 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995; and(f) must be in accordance with such procedure as the High Court of Justiciary may, by Act of Adjournal, determine.(5) An appeal under this Schedule to the Crown Court or to the county court in Northern Ireland against a summary conviction—
(a) may be brought irrespective of whether the appellant pleaded guilty;(b) may be brought irrespective of whether the appellant has previously appealed against the conviction or made an application in respect of the conviction under section 111 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 or Article 146 of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (SI 1981/1675 (N.I. 26)) (case stated); (c) may not be brought after the end of the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the right of appeal arises by virtue of paragraph 3; and(d) is to be treated as an appeal under section 108(1)(b) of that Act or, in Northern Ireland, under Article 140(1)(b) of that Order.”
Amendments 45 and 46 agreed.
Amendment 47 not moved.
Clause 2: Temporary exclusion orders
48: Clause 2, page 2, line 4, leave out “D” and insert “E”
Amendment 48 agreed.
49: Clause 2, page 2, line 5, leave out “reasonably suspects” and insert “has evidence”
My Lords, I think what has come out of the last debate is that we are all trying to find our way through how the temporary exclusion order is going to work. I come back to the point I made at Second Reading about whether they should ever have been called temporary exclusion orders. I suspect they were named as such because of the Prime Minister’s statement that he was going to exclude people who had fought abroad as terrorists and prevent them from coming back to the UK, which of course is not what is being proposed. “Managed return” is a better description, but we need to understand exactly how that managed return will work in practice—a point made by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi. This is a probing amendment, as is Amendment 59, which we will come on to later, to try to tease out some of the detail of how this will work in practice.
Amendment 49 leaves out the requirement that the Secretary of State “reasonably suspects” that the individual has been involved in “terrorism-related activity” outside the UK and inserts “has evidence”. In this amendment, we are trying to seek some further information on how the process of issuing the temporary exclusion order will be managed. It would be helpful if the Minister could give some information on the evidence threshold. What evidence would be required for the Home Secretary to reasonably suspect that condition A has been met and that someone is, or has recently been, involved in terrorism-related activity? As previously discussed, the imposition of such an order will have a similar legislative impact to a TPIM, and will restrict an individual’s movements over a period of time. There may be other obligations, either through TPIMs or, for example, to engage in perhaps the Prevent programme or Channel.
The Government’s fact sheet is very interesting. It states that MI5 would have to make an application to the Secretary of State for her to consider. Is that the only route to a TEO—for MI5 to apply to the Secretary of State with information and to ask her to consider it? The Bill states only that certain conditions have to be met; it is the fact sheet that refers to MI5. The fact sheet also refers to the threshold, where it merely repeats the “reasonably suspects” wording. I am seeking some clarity on the threshold and on the process. Will a TEO always, and in all circumstances, be considered only on evidence from MI5 or the wider security services? Are there any circumstances where a Home Secretary, or any other Minister including the Prime Minister, could initiate the process? Are there any circumstances in which a Home Secretary could issue a temporary exclusion order without, or against, the advice of MI5? That is what the fact sheet says but, again, it is woolly on the legislation.
I think the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, mentioned humanitarian support earlier. What if someone has left the country—for example, to go to Syria—to be involved in humanitarian support, and although it is quite likely that is what they have been doing there, there is not hard evidence to prove it but, equally, there is not hard evidence to say that they are engaged in terrorism? What, then, would fulfil the definition of reasonable suspicion? When the legislation is in place—and if the Government get their way and do not agree to a sunset clause—it will not just apply to current threats but this will be law for ever and in any circumstances in the future.
We have to ask whether there is a value judgment to be made as to how the UK views the cause on the side of which somebody goes to fight. I want to just explore this with the Minister. I wonder whether he can help me, as I genuinely do not know the answer and am trying to find a way through this. Let us take the case of somebody with dual nationality who travels abroad to fight on the side of a cause in their second country that the UK would support. It has not been unknown in history for us to change sides, but let us say they have gone to another country, we support the cause they are fighting for, and they have dual citizenship of that country and this one. What about the British-Iraqi Kurd who, on his own evidence, leaves to fight against ISIL and against extremism? Could they find themselves subject to a temporary exclusion order? I know that the noble Lord cannot comment on intelligence matters, but just for this amendment it would be helpful to have some clearer explanation of what the Government mean by “reasonably suspects”, and what the evidence threshold will be for imposing a TEO. I beg to move.
My Lords, this allows us to consider the legal threshold for issuing a temporary exclusion order. Before I get on to what our position is, I shall answer a couple of the noble Baroness’s questions.
She asked about the basis on which reasonable suspicion is used in the power to seize and retain travel documents at a port. The test uses the evidential standard of reasonable suspicion that is used in relation to many other police powers. What constitutes reasonable grounds for suspicion will depend on the circumstances in each individual case. There must be an objective basis for the constable’s state of mind, based on facts. Such information must be specific to the conduct of the person. It can include observation of the person’s behaviour, information obtained from any other source or a combination of these. Reasonable suspicion cannot be formed on the basis of assumptions about the attitudes, beliefs or behaviour of persons who belong to particular groups or categories of people. To do that under Schedule 1 on this basis would be discriminatory.
The noble Baroness also asked whether the Home Secretary will make a TEO application only on the basis of an application from MI5. It will be for the Secretary of State to decide whether the tests are met. In practice, she would base her judgment on advice from the security services. The final decision will of course be hers, even though, in practice, she will generally require input from the security services to establish reasonable suspicion.
Perhaps I might press the noble Lord further on that point. The other purpose of my question was to ask whether the Secretary of State or any other Minister, including the Prime Minister, would be able to initiate the process. Would they ever be able to act against or without the advice of the security services in imposing a TEO?
I think it would be better if I clarified that and came back to the noble Baroness. I do not want to say something that is incorrect on the precise details of this. I could make a guess, but I would rather not.
The noble Baroness’s amendment would mean that the Home Secretary would be required to have evidence that an individual has engaged in terrorism-related activity abroad rather than having a reasonable suspicion. The reasonable suspicion may well be based on intelligence, which is clearly not always the same as evidence. This change would greatly reduce the number of individuals against whom the Home Secretary could use this power. The result of this would be that the Government would not be able to control the return of individuals suspected of fighting alongside terrorist groups and would have fewer tools available to manage the threat these individuals posed to the British public.
Furthermore, where there is clear evidence that an individual is engaged in terrorism-related activity, it is likely that we would be in a position to seek their prosecution, which would be preferable to placing them under the conditions of a temporary exclusion order. Such a high test would also bring them within scope of the much stronger TPIM regime. Given the less stringent obligations of a TEO compared with the other measures, the Government’s view is that such a test would be disproportionate. On that basis, I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I am glad that my noble friend made those concluding remarks, referring particularly to prosecution where it is possible.
Should we be comforted by the distinction between the words in Condition A, “reasonably suspects”, with an emphasis on “suspects”—the noble Lord referred to “reasonable grounds for suspicion”, which we covered earlier today—as against, in Conditions B and C,
“the Secretary of State reasonably considers”?
That seems to require more of the Secretary of State. Conditions A to D must all be met, so we can look at them together and see an escalation of the seriousness of the Secretary of State’s views, if I may put it like that. I could understand the concerns of the noble Baroness if we were to look only at Condition A, but I do not think that we can look at it in isolation.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness for trying to help the Minister but the purpose of the amendment was merely to probe the issues around the evidence base for “suspects”. She was taking me very literally on that.
I am grateful to the Minister for his response and glad that he will write to me on the point that I raised with him. Could he also write to me on the second point, which he did not address? This was about somebody who might have dual nationality and was fighting against terrorism, for instance. I gave the example of a British Iraqi Kurd who was fighting against ISIS. It would be helpful if he could clarify that.
The purpose of this amendment and my next, Amendment 56, is to tease out how this will work. The Government need to answer some of these complex questions. It is a big and important power, but we need to understand how it will work. I am grateful for the Minister’s help and his offer to write to me, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 49 withdrawn.
50: Clause 2, page 2, line 15, at end insert—
“(6A) Condition E is that—
(a) the court gives the Secretary of State permission under section (Temporary exclusion orders: prior permission of the court), or(b) the Secretary of State reasonably considers that the urgency of the case requires a temporary exclusion order to be imposed without obtaining such permission.”
Amendment 50 agreed.
Amendments 50A and 51 not moved.
Clause 2, as amended, agreed.
52: After Clause 2, insert the following new Clause—
“Temporary exclusion orders: prior permission of the court
‘(1) This section applies if the Secretary of State—
(a) makes the relevant decisions in relation to an individual, and(b) makes an application to the court for permission to impose a temporary exclusion order on the individual.(2) The function of the court on the application is to determine whether the relevant decisions of the Secretary of State are obviously flawed.
(3) The court may consider the application—
(a) in the absence of the individual,(b) without the individual having been notified of the application, and(c) without the individual having been given an opportunity (if the individual was aware of the application) of making any representations to the court.(4) But that does not limit the matters about which rules of court may be made.
(5) In determining the application, the court must apply the principles applicable on an application for judicial review.
(6) In a case where the court determines that any of the relevant decisions of the Secretary of State is obviously flawed, the court may not give permission under this section.
(7) In any other case, the court must give permission under this section.
(8) Schedule (Urgent temporary exclusion orders: reference to the court etc) makes provision for references to the court etc where temporary exclusion orders are imposed in cases of urgency.
(9) Only the Secretary of State may appeal against a determination of the court under—
(a) this section, or (b) Schedule (Urgent temporary exclusion orders: reference to the court etc);and such an appeal may only be made on a question of law.(10) In this section “the relevant decisions” means the decisions that the following conditions are met—
(a) condition A;(b) condition B;(c) condition C;(d) condition D.”
Amendment 52 agreed.
Amendments 53 to 55A not moved.
Clause 3: Temporary exclusion orders: supplementary provision
56: Clause 3, page 2, line 22, at end insert after “include” insert “the Secretary of State’s reasons,”
I think we are all being as co-operative as we can be on this: we are aiming at the same thing.
Briefly, Amendment 56 amends Clause 3, which provides that notice of the imposition of an order must include an explanation of the procedure for making an application under Clause 5. My amendment would provide that it should also include,
“the Secretary of State’s reasons”.
This is simply for the reasons that we discussed earlier: an individual affected needs to have an understanding, not necessarily—almost inevitably not—of the fine detail, but of the gist of the reasons why. This might not be the right term in this context, but in normal terminology it covers what I mean. Having knowledge of the procedure is not a great deal of use unless one knows the reasons for the Secretary of State’s decision. I did not quite keep that to under a minute but I beg to move.
My Lords, I appreciate that this is the last group of amendments before we seek the permission of the House to break. I am grateful to my noble friend for raising this point, which relates to the information provided to the subject of a temporary exclusion order.
It is, of course, important that the individual is informed that they are subject to a temporary exclusion order—after all, that is the point of it—and that they are given some indication of why this is the case. However, I trust your Lordships will understand that it is not appropriate for the individual to be provided with detailed reasoning behind the Secretary of State’s decision, which is likely to include sensitive information, the disclosure of which could damage national security and put lives at risk.
Any notice given to the individual would state that the Secretary of State has reasonable suspicion that they have been involved in terrorism-related activity abroad. We believe that this is sufficient disclosure, which informs the individual of the basis for the decision while protecting sensitive information.
My noble friend was brief in moving her amendment. I have been fairly brief in responding to it but I hope I have answered the point she was making. I therefore ask her to withdraw her amendment.
Amendment 56 withdrawn.
House resumed. Committee to begin again not before 8.31 pm.