Wednesday 5 September 2018
My Lords, I remind the Committee that if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting, the Committee will adjourn for 10 minutes from the moment when the Division Bells are rung.
Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL]
Committee (1st Day)
Clause 1: Making of overseas production order on application
1: Clause 1, page 1, line 10, at end insert—
“( ) A judge may order that notice of an application for an overseas production order be served on a controller or a data subject.”
My Lords, I am speaking for these well-populated Benches. It would be right to start by saying that the number of amendments that we have tabled does not indicate outright opposition to the Bill—the Minister is grinning. There are serious issues to be considered, particularly the human rights aspects of the proposals in the Bill, and we welcome in particular the judicial element which it provides. I anticipate that the response to many of our amendments will be that we are saying rather inelegantly what the Government in fact propose, or something very like it, and that we do not need to worry. We feel it important to have on the record, at the very least, how the Government will operate the Bill. Some things are not clear; I am not suggesting that what is in the Government’s mind is in any way malign, but things should be on the record at least and—better—in clear terms in legislation, whether primary or secondary. I wanted to make those points before speaking to the first of the amendments, which is Amendment 1, grouped with Amendments 2 and 40.
This grouping is about transparency. There is somebody else in the Grand Committee who can speak to this matter with far more experience than me, but I think it unusual for a court to be asked to make an order without hearing both sides of a case. We want to hear the reason for this procedure. I do not believe it can just be speed, because we can have procedures for urgent situations as an exception, as we have in other legislation; I do not believe that the requirements will be urgent in every case—we cannot know that, but it is unlikely. Amendment 1 therefore provides for a notice of application to be given to those affected: the data controller or the data subject.
Amendment 40 would import definitions from the Data Protection Act. I want to get my defence in first: the Data Protection Act cross-references other parts of the Bill, so the amendment is technically flawed, but we are only probing and it was the summer and I bottled out of substantial drafting. A data controller or subject can apply to vary or revoke an order, but that would be after the event. It is important that they be able to defend their interests initially. There is a discretion in respect of Clause 3. We will come to confidential personal records later in the Committee, which might add to the arguments for providing for a notice in Clause 1. We think that significant protections are required. We will come later to the issue of balance and how the court will weigh the interests.
We also propose in Amendment 2 the appointment—or the possibility of an appointment; it is discretionary—of an independent adviser in connection with assessing whether the requirements for the order have been met. I use this opportunity to ask the Minister to explain how this not very usual procedure will operate. I beg to move.
I thank the noble Baroness for her introduction and I am very glad that the number of amendments does not reflect the level of controversy of the Bill. To address her first point, I say that the Bill does not preclude a judge from being able to require that notice be given to anyone affected by an order pursuant to court rules. Court rules will provide the judge with the ability to require that notice be served on anyone affected by the order, which is the case at the moment under court rules dealing with domestic production orders. This means that a data controller or a data subject may be given notice of an application, but while in principle any person affected by an order should be given notice, there will be cases where it is not appropriate because the giving of a notice to a particular person could prejudice the investigation to which the order pertains: for example, where a notice to a data subject might tip off a suspect where law enforcement agencies are seeking data for the prosecution or investigation of a serious crime.
I thank the noble Baroness for giving me the opportunity to set this out in greater detail. However, given that court rules provide a judge with the power to consider notice being given, I suggest that the amendment is unnecessary. She knew that I was going to say that.
With respect to Amendment 2, the court already has the applicant, who has a duty to assist the court, so it is an established principle that an applicant seeking an order without giving prior notice to the person on whom the order is to be served or to whom it relates is obliged to provide full and frank disclosure to the court. This includes disclosure of relevant legal principles and facts, even if they are not in the applicant’s favour. The principle therefore already ensures that the information put before the court must be balanced.
I stress that the Bill reflects the existing position in relation to production orders that can be served on a company based in the UK, and the court will be dealing with the same considerations where an existing production order is sought. Such domestic orders apply the same legal considerations without the need for an independent adviser, and I do not see why we should deviate from that existing practice simply because an order can be served on an entity based elsewhere.
The third amendment aims to define the terms “data controller” and “data subject” referenced in the amendments to Clause 1. Given that we do not believe that the Bill should be amended in the way suggested by the noble Baroness, it follows that there is no need to include definitions of data controller and data subject in Clause 17. I hope that in the light of those clarifications, the noble Baroness will feel free to withdraw her amendment.
I do not challenge the applicant’s duty to assist the court, but there is no opportunity for challenge at the initial stage, which is what I am concerned about. That feeds into my question: if a no-notice procedure will, as the Minister suggested, not be the norm and may be the exception, why does the Bill not provide that a judge may, in exceptional circumstances, make the order on a no-notice application? It seems to me that that would reflect what the Minister has said in explaining how this would operate. I do not imagine she will have a direct answer to that at this moment, but it might be helpful if we could discuss it further. The Minister has already invited us to discuss the Bill between today and the next day in Committee, so perhaps we can talk further about this issue. The Bill launches us straight into the no-notice procedure and, whatever the court rules may say, I suggest that people will look at the Act first. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 1.
Amendment 1 withdrawn.
Amendment 2 not moved.
3: Clause 1, page 1, line 19, at end insert—
“( ) The Secretary of State may not make regulations designating an international co-operation arrangement with a state which is a party to or participates in it which has not abolished the death penalty unless the agreement provides that it will apply only if the other party or participant has given assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed in any case in which or in whose preparation electronic data obtained under this Act has been used.”
My Lords, in moving Amendment 3 in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Hamwee, I will speak to Amendments 4 and 7 in our names. I will also mention very briefly Amendment 8 in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Kennedy of Southwark.
Before I launch into the meat of the amendment, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, does not mind me mentioning that, on the way into the Moses Room, he said that he enjoyed reading my amendments. I am extremely grateful for the extensive work carried out by my noble friend Lady Hamwee with regard to these amendments—if you know what I mean.
As we have heard, the purpose of the Bill is to allow UK law enforcement agencies to more easily obtain electronic evidence when it is sought outside the UK. Of course, evidence so secured would be subject to safeguards in the UK, but presumably the countries that enter into international co-operation agreements with the UK—a prerequisite for the operation of overseas production orders—will expect their own law enforcement agencies to be able to apply through their own domestic courts for equivalent orders that would allow them to seek stored electronic data directly from service providers based in the UK; the reciprocal agreement. Amendments 3 and 4 seek to probe how legal and human rights concerns over privacy and the security of personal data will be addressed and the issue of such evidence potentially resulting in the death penalty being passed on a subject. Amendment 3 requires that the Secretary of State may not make regulations entering into an international co-operation agreement in relation to states where the death penalty can be imposed unless the agreement restricts access to UK-held data to cases where an assurance has been given that the death penalty will not be imposed.
Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights—together with Protocol 13, of which the UK is a signatory—provides for the total abolition of the death penalty. My recollection of a meeting with the Minister on this very issue is that the UK would not hand over evidence in the knowledge that it would result in the possibility of the suspect being executed. However, since that meeting, noble Lords will recall the case of two former British citizens accused of being members of an ISIS cell. In a leaked letter, the Home Secretary apparently agreed to co-operate with the United States by sharing evidence but said that he would not seek a death penalty assurance. In an apparently totally inconsistent statement, he went on to say that,
“it is the long-held position of the UK to seek death penalty assurances, and our decision in this case does not reflect a change in our policy on assistance in US death penalty cases generally, nor the UK government’s stance on the global abolition of the death penalty”.
We now appear to be in a situation where government policy is to ensure that evidence does not lead to the suspect potentially facing the death penalty and to encourage the global abolition of the death penalty, except when the Home Secretary decides otherwise. How can the Government advocate the abolition of the death penalty globally on a case-by-case basis? Amendment 3 seeks to put into the Bill that an international co-operation agreement cannot be entered into with a state unless there is an agreement that the sharing of evidence would not lead to the imposition of the death penalty.
In relation to the United States of America, the imposition of the death penalty is legal in 31 states and illegal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Can the Minister confirm whether separate international co-operation agreements will be entered into with individual states, with different wording dependent on whether that state allows the death penalty? Would it be possible for noble Lords to see an example of what an international co-operation agreement might look like? Would such an agreement be legally binding on both parties or would it simply be a non-legally binding memorandum of understanding? I appreciate that the Bill is about giving UK law enforcement agencies easy access to evidence held overseas but, as I mentioned before, surely foreign Governments will insist that these agreements work both ways.
Amendment 4 probes these issues of reciprocity, compliance with human rights principles and what happens in cases where UK law and the law of the other state are at odds, and is intended to ensure transparency. It uses the term “relevant UK law” and Amendment 7 therefore defines what is meant by relevant UK law. We believe that Amendment 8 seeks to achieve the same ends as our amendments but rather less elegantly—but we would say that, wouldn’t we? I beg to move Amendment 3.
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has said, we have tabled Amendment 8 and its objectives are obviously similar to those of the amendments that he has moved and spoken to. At Second Reading, we expressed our concerns over potential difficulties with the implications of the Bill and our amendment seeks to probe this point further.
The Explanatory Notes state that the electronic data in question may include the “content of private communications” being made “available to the state”, and that:
“These intrusions into ECHR rights can be justified as necessary in a democratic society for the prevention of disorder and crime and in the interests of national security and public safety, and are proportionate in light of the requirements that must be met before a judge can make an overseas production order, and the other safeguards set out in the Bill. To the extent that the electronic data made available may include journalistic material, the requirement that an order is made by a judge provides prior judicial oversight for the exercise of the power, and accordingly an Article 10 compliant safeguard”.
We said at Second Reading that those words might not be accepted without question by everyone.
Our amendment is intended to seek further detail and clarification from the Government about the extent of the safeguards on international human rights obligations, the similarity of interpretation of subjective wording in the Bill and the position in respect of the death penalty—not least in the light of the Home Secretary’s recent apparent change, which the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, referred to, in this Government’s previous position of principle on this issue.
Bilateral agreements with another country or countries will need to be concluded for the provisions of the Bill to be implemented. Presumably, we shall be required to provide the same access arrangements to electronic data in this country as we are seeking from those countries: namely, that an order made in their courts will be capable if necessary of being enforced or implemented here with apparently little or no judicial oversight in this country. What then will be the position if the overseas production order for the electronic data in question was being sought in respect of a case or investigation where the outcome for a defendant—if found guilty—could be the death penalty, as might apply for example in a number of states in the United States, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has said? Will we allow the electronic data to be handed over or accessed in such circumstances, as we would apparently be required to under the terms of the Bill in any bilateral agreement?
At Second Reading, the Government said:
“The agreements will recognise a shared acceptance of the laws in another country with which we are entering into an agreement. It will recognise the other’s rule of law, due process and judicial oversight for obtaining and dealing with information and evidence with regard to serious crime”.—[Official Report, 11/7/18; col. 929.]
What exactly do those words mean in relation to handing over electronic data to another country with which we have a bilateral agreement which could lead to a defendant being found guilty of a crime which carries the death penalty in that other country? Some clarification of those Government words at Second Reading will help.
The Minister wrote in a letter dated 20 July that:
“With regards to death penalty implications, it is the long-standing policy of the UK to oppose the death penalty as a matter of principle. We will ensure that the operation of any agreement, including with the US, is consistent with this position”.
One could argue that those two sentences are open to more than one interpretation. One might argue that you could oppose the death penalty in principle—tell the world that that was your position—but nevertheless still allow electronic data to be handed over under the terms of the bilateral agreement with the other country concerned, even though the crime being prosecuted or investigated was one that, in that other country, carried, or could carry, the death penalty.
Will the Government give an unequivocal statement that under no circumstances under the bilateral or other agreements enabled under the Bill will electronic data be handed over to another country or access given to it to another country if it could contribute to a defendant being found guilty for a crime which carried the death penalty? No such unequivocal assurances appear to have been given at Second Reading and no such unequivocal assurance appears to have been given in the Government’s letter following it.
Amendment 8 also states that:
“The Secretary of State may not make regulations designating an international co-operation agreement unless they have laid before both Houses of Parliament a statement certifying that—
(a) all parties to the agreement adhere to international human rights obligations”.
What is the difficulty in the Government agreeing to this amendment—or to its spirit—unless they envisage circumstances in which all parties to the agreement will not be able to signify their adherence to international human rights obligations?
The amendment refers to,
“freedom of opinion, expression and association”,
but how far does the Bill protect that in relation, for example, to journalistic data, about which certain representations have been made? A later clause provides that an application for an order must be made on notice if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the electronic data consists of or includes confidential journalistic data. However, who will draw the distinction when making the application between confidential journalistic data and other journalistic data? How will they know what is confidential and what is not? Why did not the Government decide that any journalistic material should require an order to be made on notice and illuminate this problem?
Clause 12, which concerns this, also excludes material as being created or acquired for the purposes of journalism. If it was created or acquired with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose, that must mean that if at any point in its history information was intended to be used for a criminal purpose, it will not be protected under the Bill as journalistic material. That appears to apply, even if the criminal purpose never transpired and had nothing to do with the material being held by the journalist or how the journalist acquired it. Could not the issue of criminal intent be taken into account by the judge when deciding whether to make an order rather than an issue which loses the material to journalistic classification and with it its procedural protection? Amendment 8 raises that issue.
Amendment 8 also refers to the terms “public interest”, “substantial value” and “terrorist investigation” being interpreted in substantially the same way in the courts in each of the parties to an international co-operation agreement. Once again, we raised the issue at Second Reading when we asked if any arrangement or agreement with another country would incorporate the same standards and criteria and interpretation of those criteria that would apply in our country before making an order when a court in that other country makes an overseas production order for a British national or company based here to produce stored electronic data or give access to it. If that will be the case—and surely there is a strong possibility of different interpretations of the wording concerned in different countries, or perhaps even within states of America, for example, where we know we have advanced some way towards reaching an agreement—we also asked how we will be able to satisfy ourselves that the other country making such an order was interpreting the criteria in the same way as we would anticipate our courts would do. If we were not so satisfied, what means are available, and to whom, to step in and stop the order being enforced against the named person or company in this country? I do not intend to go into the issue of enforcement or rights of appeal, since this is addressed in later amendments.
The issues I have referred to are those on which we seek some clarification and further explanation from the Government as to exactly what is meant by the wording in the Bill: that is the purpose of Amendment 8, to which I have just referred.
Both noble Lords rightly raised the point of the death penalty in relation to any designated international agreement, through Amendments 3 and 8. It may be useful if I make it clear at the outset that the Bill is about outgoing requests from the UK: it puts into legislation the ability for our law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities to request access to electronic data stored by companies based outside the UK. The Bill is a framework within which international agreements can operate but any such agreement will, of course, be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the usual way, as both noble Lords alluded to, following the procedure set down in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010—otherwise known as CRaG. It usually involves laying the agreement in Parliament for 21 sitting days before it can be ratified by the Government.
The negotiation and operation of any international agreement must be compliant with the Government’s guidance on overseas security and justice assistance, which deals with the death penalty and human rights considerations. As part of that rigorous process, a detailed assessment of any human rights risks associated with a particular international agreement must be carried out. As part of reaching an agreement with any country, we can impose restrictions on how the other country can use information sought from a UK service provider. This would be considered as part of the process of developing and entering into a potential agreement and will depend on the risks that are identified during the OSJA assessment process. As I have said, these amendments focus on the extremely important issue of human rights and the OSJA guidance and assessment process already exists to ensure that human rights considerations are taken into account.
In relation to the death penalty in particular, the Government do not believe that these amendments are the appropriate way to address concerns about it but I recognise the strength of these concerns. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, we are going to discuss this issue in more detail on Report.
The additional subsection proposed in Amendment 4 aims to put in the Bill requirements that must be contained in an international co-operation arrangement. In respect of the first of these requirements, arrangements that the UK enters into will be based on trust and mutual respect for each country’s adherence to principles including the rule of law, due process and judicial oversight for obtaining and dealing with information and evidence with regard to serious crime. I made that point at Second Reading but it is worth repeating here. The negotiation and operation of any agreement must be compliant with HMG’s guidance on overseas security and justice assistance, and that guidance has at its heart human rights considerations.
The proposed new definition in Amendment 7 raises the issue of enforcement. It suggests an agreed means of enforcement where there is inconsistency between UK law and the law of the other participating country. These agreements are expected to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. However, it is reasonable to expect that some form of dispute resolution mechanism would be in place to help determine any differences in the event that there is a dispute over compliance with an order. These international co-operation arrangements are intended to be created and used in an environment where they are readily complied with. Any agreement is intended to create a permissive regime, by removing in domestic law barriers to compliance with a request for evidence from a country with which an agreement has been entered into. The agreement would allow entities storing data in one country to comply with lawful orders for electronic communications from the other country without risk of breaching the host country’s domestic laws.
However, if there was any doubt about the ability of a person on whom an order was to be served to comply with that order, appropriate officers could opt to obtain the evidence required via mutual legal assistance, which will remain as an effective judicial co-operation tool to ensure that compliance can be effected through another country’s domestic powers. The Bill does not directly deal with reciprocity, however, as it merely provides the power for relevant law enforcement officers and prosecutors to apply for an overseas production order and sets out a way in which those orders are intended to operate.
As noble Lords may be aware, each agreement negotiated with another country will be designated under Section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. This would allow another country to serve its equivalent of an overseas production order on a UK telecommunications operator. Under this provision, the Secretary of State has the power to impose additional conditions which must be met before any agreement can come into force and before a company in either country can give effect to an order from the other participating country.
The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked to see an example of what an agreement might look like and mentioned a state in America. However, we would not make an agreement with a state; it would be with the United States, not on a state-by-state basis. Any agreement reached with another jurisdiction—in this example, the United States—would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the usual way. Therefore, those agreements would be published in full and, of course, the OSJA process would be applied in each case. An international agreement reached with another jurisdiction and requiring ratification could not be ratified unless the scrutiny process under Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 had been complied with. This entails publishing a copy as a Command Paper, laid before Parliament in the usual way. I should also stress that regulations designating an international agreement under Section 52 of the IP Act will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny via the negative procedure and regulations imposing additional conditions will be subject to the affirmative procedure.
I have just received notes from the Box on various points that noble Lords have made. The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked: if another country has a lower threshold for what is regarded as reasonable belief, what would we do about the arrangement as it is all about mutual recognition of legal systems? I hope it comforts him if I say that the UK would not agree to any arrangement where the threshold did not provide similarly protective standards to those in the UK, so the agreements will actually recognise that shared acceptance of the laws of another country when we enter into them. Any agreement that the UK enters into will be based on trust and mutual respect for each other’s adherence to principles including the rule of law, due process and judicial oversight for obtaining and dealing with information and evidence with regard to serious crime. Under any proposed agreement, the UK would require the other country to set out the powers that it intended to use in the pursuance of requests made under the agreement. The UK would also ask the other country to commit that it would not rely on another power unless agreed by both parties. In addition, it will specify the evidential standard required before requests are made and ensure that the UK is satisfied with those standards before designating an agreement for incoming requests.
The noble Lord also asked the important question about why the Bill differentiates between journalistic material and journalistic material held in confidence. The Bill develops the on-notice safeguards that already exist under the PACE Act 1984 while recognising that this Bill is about the investigation of serious crime, including terrorism. In categorising material for additional protections, the Bill takes a similar approach to the IP Act 2016 by identifying confidential journalistic material for those on-notice protections. Other explicit and implicit protections under the Bill will apply to all types of journalistic material, such as: judicial control of access; the requirement for it to be in the public interest for such material to be obtained; and the requirement for all decisions to grant access to be compatible with our human rights obligations, including those that protect freedom of expression and privacy.
I end on the point about the death penalty, which of course is at the heart of these amendments and first and foremost in this discussion. I am looking forward to further discussions on Report and the meetings that we will have ahead of it. I invite the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.
Before the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, gives his answer, as I understand it this matter has been under formal discussion with the United States since at least 2016; I think that was indicated previously in Parliament. We seem to be dancing around a bit on the issue of the death penalty. If this matter has been in discussion with the United States since 2016, why has it not been ironed out in that period of two years? I do not think a clear answer has necessarily been given on the question—or at least if it has, I have not understood it—of what our approach will be. Under an overseas production order, are we going to ensure that the information would not be used against a defendant in a case where, if they were found guilty, the death penalty could apply?
Maybe I misinterpreted or misunderstood the wording but, since the Minister talked about enforcement on this, at Second Reading she said on behalf of the Government:
“The Bill is about requests from the UK rather than to the UK, but UK-based providers will not be compelled to comply with overseas orders”.—[Official Report, 11/7/18; col. 929.]
If that is the case—and perhaps the Minister could confirm that they will not be required to comply with overseas orders—presumably there is no issue over enforcement because they will just decide not to comply. Have I misunderstood the significance of what the Minister said at Second Reading in her response?
To deal with the first point on the death penalty, I thought I had made it clear but clearly I have not. We have meetings scheduled and I would like to discuss it further before Report. I hoped that I had explained that the OSJA process was effectively a risk assessment process that sought protections and risk assessment on such things as the death penalty and other human rights issues, but I would be very grateful if we could discuss that before Report. On the other issue, that of compliance, UK companies are not compelled by UK law but they may be compelled by the other jurisdiction—that is the point that I made at Second Reading—depending on the country in question.
It is not only my noble friend Lord Rosser who is confused about the death penalty, as I am confused as well. It is not just that the Minister has not been clear with us; it also involves some of her right honourable friends in the department and the comments they have made. We need to address the problem there. Comments are made but then if we look at the policy on paper, they do not add up. That is the problem we have.
I understand the point that the noble Lord is making. I, not least, look forward to the discussion that we are going to have.
My Lords, I am very grateful for the comments of all noble Lords on this group of amendments. I do not want to prolong the agony; I accept that the Bill is about outgoing requests but in order for outgoing requests to be complied with, there would be an expectation by the foreign state that a similar application to the UK would be met. We are potentially talking about UK service providers providing evidence to a foreign state that would enable that state to carry out the death penalty on a suspect. Having agreements based on trust and mutual respect, rather than a legally binding agreement, where if there are differences of opinion about what particular terms mean there would be some form of dispute resolution—no more reassurance than that—while the IP Act 2016 could impose restrictions, but might not, all seems rather vague and general. When we are talking about someone’s life potentially being ended, we would seek more concrete reassurances that evidence provided by the UK is not going to lead to that.
I understand that the intention is to have an agreement with the United States of America as a whole. However, bearing in mind that the death penalty is an issue in some states but not others, and that other agreements would be on a case-by-case basis—presumably on the basis of the human rights record of the states that the agreement was entered into with—it seems odd that a blanket agreement could be entered into with the USA when there is that crucial difference between states as to whether the death penalty could be carried out. Obviously, we are in Committee, which is about understanding concerns and the Government’s position. We need to further develop that in meetings and on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 3 withdrawn.
Amendment 4 not moved.
5: Clause 1, page 1, line 22, after “arrangement” insert “in the form of a treaty (as defined by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010) and”
My Lords, our exchange on the previous group of amendments, when the Minister gave a lot of assurances, makes me even keener on Amendment 5, which would require writing into the Bill that a designated international co-operation agreement must be in the form of a treaty. I understand that that is what was intended, so I think it would be more than appropriate to say so. Taking only the discussion about the death penalty, it argues for the amendment, given that the procedures for dealing with the treaty under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 include safeguards to be met before a treaty can be ratified which include transparency, debate in public, and so on.
The Minister gave a list of matters—I failed to write down all of them—to which the Government would have regard. I got down trust, mutual respect, judicial oversight and “must be compliant with HMG guidance”. The reference to guidance has my antennae twitching in this context. We do not want to rely on guidance; we want to rely on legislative certainty and the involvement of Parliament.
The Minister said either at Second Reading or in a meeting before Second Reading—we are always grateful for such discussion—that the Government would not enter into an agreement with North Korea. I could add to that nightmare not a treaty but a memorandum of understanding with North Korea, which would come nowhere near Parliament. Our laws have protection against a mad Executive and we should commit to using them.
We have had a long but inconclusive discussion about how human rights would be protected. A statement to Parliament under the 2010 Act procedure would deal with this. It might also set out standard clauses. I am unclear whether we should expect standard clauses in different co-operation agreements. They should be relatively straightforward in most cases.
For similar reasons, Amendment 38 would apply the affirmative procedure to regulations designating the co-operation arrangement. We all know about the problems with scrutinising secondary legislation.
Amendment 6 is to ask what is meant by participation in this context. Clause 1(5) refers to an arrangement,
“to which the United Kingdom is a party or in which the United Kingdom participates”.
What is participation in this context? I beg to move.
My Lords, the noble Baroness has done her usual forensic job of going through the Bill and done a service to the Grand Committee. It is important that we are clear about what we are agreeing. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response. It is right that Amendment 5 makes it clear that we are talking about the treaties which are subject to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. It is a sensible move.
Amendment 6 is a probing amendment at this stage. What is meant by participation? If you are a party to something, then there is what you are participating in, so clearly the Government think that there are two different things. It will be good to hear the Minister’s view on the difference between those two things and why they both need to be in the Bill. I am sure that “form of a treaty” needs to be in the Bill.
Finally, Amendment 8 ensures that whatever regulation is agreed will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure in the House. Again, I think that is important. Will the Minister confirm that the Government would do that anyway and, if so, say why it is not in the Bill?
I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, for their points. I turn first to Amendment 5. Clause 1 outlines the circumstances in which an overseas production order can be made. This includes that an application must specify a designated international co-operation arrangement. This is defined in Clause 1(5), to which the noble Baroness has proposed her amendment. The amendment would ensure that only treaties as defined by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 would be capable of designation as an international co-operation arrangement under the Bill.
The definition of “designated international co-operation arrangement” in Clause 1(5) has been drafted to take into account that there may be circumstances in which a relationship with another country is established which would not attract the procedures set out in Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act. Those procedures require that, prior to ratification, a treaty is to be laid by a Minister of the Crown before Parliament for 21 sitting days without either House having resolved that it should not be ratified. The process does not apply to certain types of treaties including those covered by Section 5 of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008, which include treaties that amend the founding EU treaties.
Also, some treaties can come into force on signature and do not require formal ratification and are therefore not subject to the Part 2 procedure. The definition of “treaty” in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act also excludes instruments made under a treaty, so EU instruments would not be capable of being designated. Without necessarily knowing which countries the UK may choose to operate this arrangement with, the clause had been intentionally drafted to be wider than the definition of “treaty” under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act to ensure that the UK can enter into arrangements with international partners where both have committed to remove any barriers to compliance for an overseas production order. In reality, it is unlikely for either the UK or another country to commit to complying with orders that have extraterritorial scope without acknowledging this through a formalised agreement or arrangement.
The noble Baroness also mentioned the point about standard clauses in all international agreements. This is a new approach to cross-border data access for law enforcement purposes. Actually, there are no templates to follow. If she means something different by “standard clauses”, perhaps we could have a further discussion. We are working with the US to develop an agreement as a matter of priority and we hope that this will act as the template for future arrangements with other appropriate countries.
On Amendment 6, the definition of an international co-operation arrangement is expansive to account for a situation where the UK itself is a contracting party to an arrangement, in the form of a bilateral treaty or multilateral convention, as well as a situation where the UK is a member of a supranational body and that body is a contracting party to such an arrangement in its own right, or has created its own internal rules which apply to its members. In the latter case, those rules would be the international arrangement in which the UK participates. Current membership of the EU is a good example whereby, in many cases, the EU—not the individual member states—is the party to an arrangement between it and a non-EU country. Further, the EU creates internal rules in the form of regulations and directives in which the UK participates as a member state. In both these scenarios, the UK participates by virtue of its membership of the EU. I hope that is as clear as mud to everyone.
I accept that with the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, a scenario in which the UK participates indirectly in an arrangement through its membership of a supranational organisation is less likely to happen. However, until that time and as long as the UK remains an EU member state, legislating along these lines recognises the status quo as now, which is that the UK can be a participant to an arrangement without necessarily being a party to it.
On Amendment 38, I refer noble Lords to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee memorandum, which sets out our justification for the approach that we have taken. In the memorandum, the Government state that:
“The Bill specifies in full what the implications of a designation are, and does not permit the implementation into UK law of any international arrangement in relation to the investigation or prosecution of offences, but only one that reflects the terms of the Bill. The provisions of the Bill will ensure that an order is only served where it meets the requirements of the designated international co-operation arrangement … Further, most international arrangements entered into will be subject to the procedure in Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, so Parliament will have had an opportunity to scrutinise the arrangement before it is ratified by the Government … Accordingly, since any exercise of the power is subject to the safeguards set out in the Bill and Parliament will already have had an opportunity to scrutinise the arrangements, the negative procedure is proposed”.
For the purposes of outgoing requests which the Bill is to be used for, any international co-operation arrangement would set out the terms of our UK law enforcement being able to make requests from another country. Although the terms will set out the reciprocal process, the arrangement will also be designated under regulations made under Section 52 of the IP Act 2016, which is how the UK will recognise any international arrangement for an incoming request. Regulations under Section 52 are also subject to the negative procedure, so the approach taken here is consistent. With those words, I hope that the noble Lord and the noble Baroness might feel happy to withdraw or not press their amendments.
I thank the Minister very much as I have learned something today about participants, which is useful and very good. I think the Minister was saying that Amendment 5, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, was too restrictive—that it would remove other treaties and arrangements. Can she maybe say a bit about what would then be the parameters if the Bill stays as it is? If I accept her point about it being too narrow, what parameters are the Government actually asking for? It is important that we are clear what we are passing.
Put simply, I think the parameters we are discussing are that there might be circumstances in which a relationship with another country is established, which would not attract the procedures set out in Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act. In my view, that would therefore appear to be the scope of this. The noble Lord does not look entirely convinced.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, may be thinking, as I am, that that begs another question. Clearly, the Minister’s reply will require and deserve reading. As she started, I thought that I should thank her for giving me some material for an amendment on Report; that may still apply. She talked about circumstances which depend on the relationship with international partners. It is the interface between politics and the law that needs resolving here. I am not sure that I can suggest anything now, but we will certainly think about it.
On standard clauses, a question was asked by the chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am a member—although the term there was “model clauses”. During the recess, she wrote to the Home Secretary raising a number of questions about the Bill and the Minister for Security responded, but I cannot immediately find a direct answer to that. This is linked with our earlier discussions about human rights. If there are model clauses which deal particularly with human rights, the reassurance given would be considerable.
The amendment regarding the affirmative procedure for regulations was to my mind an alternative to dealing with the arrangements by way of a treaty.
I do not usually intervene, but the noble Baroness’s words are worthy of reflection before Report. Let us have another discussion. It sounds like we can have Committee stage in the form of a meeting shortly.
Of course, I am grateful for that. I was going to say that we have the delegated powers memorandum, but we do not yet have the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which may or may not have something to say on this. We will have another discussion when we have had an opportunity to digest the Minister’s comments on these amendments. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 5.
Amendment 5 withdrawn.
Amendments 6 and 7 not moved.
Clause 1 agreed.
Amendment 8 not moved.
Clause 2: Appropriate officers
9: Clause 2, page 2, line 25, after “person” insert “exercising law enforcement functions”
My Lords, the amendment is in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Hamwee. I shall speak also to Amendment 10.
Clause 2 lists appropriate officers who can make an application for an overseas production order. The list clearly indicates what this legislation is about: securing evidence to present before a court. It is not, for example, a search for intelligence; intelligence officers are not listed. Clause 2 is a list of law enforcement officers and, as such, subsection (1)(a)(vii) and (b)(v), which allow the Secretary of State by regulation to specify others as appropriate officers, should be restricted to specified law enforcement officers and not simply be left open to any person of a description specified in regulations. Our amendments would place such a restriction on the regulating powers of the Secretary of State. I beg to move.
My Lords, the noble Lord raises an important point. In response, I am sure that the noble Baroness will explain to us why the Government deem it necessary to take this wider power and not restrict it, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has sought to do, to officers from wherever who are actually enforcing law enforcement functions. On the face of it this seems a very sensible amendment, and I look forward to hearing why the Government think they need this wider power in this context.
My Lords, I hope that this amendment will not require any further meetings or probing on Report. The Bill provides that an appropriate officer is able to apply for an overseas production order where an indictable offence has been committed, where proceedings in relation to that indictable offence have been instituted or investigated, or where the order is sought for the purpose of terrorist investigations. Therefore, the clause is already limited to officers who are exercising law enforcement functions. In fact, the clause already makes clear that where a listed appropriate officer has functions other than for law enforcement purposes, it is only where the appropriate officer is exercising functions in relation to the investigation or prosecution of criminal conduct that they may apply for an overseas production order. For example, a person appointed by the FCA can conduct both civil and criminal investigations and the clause ensures that they can apply for an overseas production order only in connection with criminal investigations or prosecutions. I hope that that provides reassurance.
My Lords, I am very grateful for that explanation provided by the Minister. The meeting of 20 minutes we have scheduled before Report will not be further extended as a result of this amendment and I beg leave to withdraw it.
Amendment 9 withdrawn.
Amendment 10 not moved.
Clause 2 agreed.
Clause 3: Meaning of “electronic data” and “excepted electronic data”
11: Clause 3, page 3, line 32, at end insert “but not bulk data”
My Lords, Amendment 11 is in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Hamwee. We debated long and hard in this House about when and how law enforcement agencies and the security services can secure authority to access bulk data. The Investigatory Powers Act 2016—not to be confused with the investigatory powers Act 2018, which exists only on BBC1 on Sunday evenings—contains some safeguards against state access to bulk data and it is essential that those safeguards are not circumvented by the Bill. The Government will no doubt say that accessing bulk data held overseas is not the purpose of the Bill, but what other reassurances can the Minister give that the powers under the Bill will not be used inappropriately by law enforcement agencies? Amendment 11 seeks to achieve this by amending Clause 3(2), changing the definition of “electronic data” to exclude bulk data. I beg to move.
Again, I hope that I can provide clarity on the noble Lord’s amendment. When applying for an overseas production order an officer must specify or describe the electronic data sought under an order. In addition, the judge must be satisfied that a number of requirements are met before making an order under Clause 4. These include that the judge must be satisfied that the person against whom the order is sought has possession or control of all or part of the data specified in the application; that the data requested is likely to be of substantial value; and that it is in the public interest for all or part of the data to be produced. It is very difficult to see how a judge could be satisfied that these requirements are met if they were considering an application for an order seeking bulk data.
The reason is that bulk data requests are for sets of information, often about a large number of individuals who may or may not be known to law enforcement agencies. The Bill has been drafted to require appropriate officers to consider carefully what data they are targeting—which, of course, is not the case with bulk data—and where the information is stored, in order to help with the investigation and prosecution of serious crime, in addition to demonstrating that the data will be of substantial value to the investigation and in the public interest. It feels to me that there are sufficient safeguards in place, because of the processes I have outlined, and I hope that the noble Lord will feel happy to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister’s explanation. I am not sure that it entirely satisfies us about the potential for misuse of the legislation, but we will reflect on what she said and perhaps discuss it with her before Report.
If there is any doubt in this matter, as I understand it from the briefing that we had from the House of Lords Library, the UK’s Deputy National Security Adviser, giving testimony to the US House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee in June 2017, said that the UK Government were “in full agreement” with the US Department of Justice that a UK-US bilateral data sharing agreement should limit access to targeted orders for data and not bulk access to data.
I thank the noble Lord because that underlines my point.
If that is the case, there is no reason why it should not be stated in the Bill.
I am sorry, but I think I need to intervene. All sorts of things could be stated in the Bill, but given its purpose, I do not think it is necessary. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, pointed that out.
With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, he is talking about a bilateral agreement with United States of America and not a global reassurance given by every country with which we might enter into an agreement. Therefore, my concerns remain but, at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 11 withdrawn.
12: Clause 3, page 3, line 39, leave out subsection (5)
This amendment is in my name, that of my noble friend Lord Kennedy, the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. It would delete Clause 3(5), which states:
“Where an application for an overseas production order is made for the purposes of a terrorist investigation other than a terrorist financing investigation, this Act applies as if references to excepted electronic data did not include electronic data that is a personal record which is a confidential personal record”.
Confidential personal records are generally included as excepted data in the Bill, but this subsection provides an exception so that in terrorism cases, confidential personal records can be requested in an order.
A confidential personal record is defined in Clause 3 as a personal record,
“created in circumstances giving rise to an obligation of confidence owed to,”
an individual, whether living or dead,
“and the obligation continues to be owed”,
or the personal record,
“is held subject to a restriction on disclosure, or an obligation of secrecy, contained in an enactment (whenever passed or made)”.
I seek to find out why this subsection is in the Bill, why the Government seek to make this exception or distinction in respect of terrorism investigation and what substantial electronic data information the Government think could be secured in terrorist investigations through Clause 3(5) which would otherwise be impossible to secure.
I and indeed others have already raised the question in an earlier debate of how consistently the parties to a bilateral agreement will interpret the term “terrorist investigation”. If more electronic data can be obtained through determining that an investigation was a terrorism one, and that would be the case for other serious crimes, there could be a temptation to define an investigation as a terrorism one under an overseas production order, purely or largely for that objective. What safeguards will there be to prevent that happening? If the view is taken that the term “terrorist investigation” is being rather loosely interpreted by a party to an international agreement on overseas production orders, how can that decision be challenged? I beg to move.
My Lords, my noble friend and I put our names to the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Rosser—strictly speaking, we put down the same amendment, but the noble Lord got there first. I shall add just this question to his comments: would it not be a different way of dealing with this to allow for specific application in the case of terrorism investigations? That might be more satisfactory from every angle.
Our Amendment 13 deals with Clause 3(7)(c), on the counselling or assistance, or a record of it, that is excepted. It is only when the counselling is given by the entities listed that it is excepted. Why does counselling given by someone who is not within paragraphs (i) to (iii) not come within the clause? To put it another way, who is the Home Office seeking to exclude? If the individual was “counselled” by a friend who was a person of interest to the security services, one could understand that just claiming that the record was of counselling would not be sufficient. However, Clause 3(8) defines a confidential personal record by reference to obligations of confidence and restrictions on disclosure, and I would have thought that adequate.
Amendment 20, to Clause 5, is about the contents of the order. Clause 5(2) provides that:
“The judge must not specify … data that the judge has reasonable grounds for believing … includes excepted electronic data”.
I wondered whether this meant that there would not be entirely objective approach to this issue—in other words, an objective approach to the order not specifying excepted data. How do you appeal against or apply to vary or revoke an order, given the wording of this clause? Would you not be appealing against the judge’s reasonableness when actually you should be addressing the character of the data? I do not know, but I am worried. Similar points would apply to Amendment 27 to Clause 7, which is about variation or revocation. There is a lot more to get our teeth into and, as my noble friend said, that half-hour meeting is not going to be adequate.
It sounds as if the meeting could last more than a day. Amendment 12 would amend Clause 3(5) by excluding from scope any confidential personal records that may be in electronic form from terrorist investigations.
Police are currently able to apply for a domestic production order for confidential personal records for the purposes of a terrorist investigation under Schedule 5 to the Terrorism Act 2000. Paragraph 4 of the schedule provides that a production order can be made for material consisting of special procedure material or excluded material. These terms are defined in paragraph 3 of the schedule to have the same meaning as in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Sections 11 and 12 of the 1984 Act define “excluded material” to include confidential personal records. The definition is essentially the same as that used in the Bill at Clause 3 (7) and (8).
The noble Lord asked about the value of confidential personal records for terrorist investigations. The value of such information is determined at operational level and obviously depends on the circumstances of each case. There may be clear operational value in having access to confidential records in the investigation, pursuit or prosecution of an offender accused of terrorist offences. However, in any event, the judge will grant such an order only if the conditions listed in Clause 4 are met. These include that the information is of substantial value to the proceedings or investigation and that it is in the public interest to seek this data.
The intention behind the provision was to ensure parity with production orders made at home and new production orders capable of being served overseas. The drafting is therefore intended to reflect the powers that currently exist for domestic production orders made under the Terrorism Act 2000. Our law enforcement in the UK should be able to access the same information from overseas as they would in the UK, and Clause 3(5) reflects this.
Parliament has long recognised that a power to require the production of confidential and personal records, subject to the important safeguard of judicial authorisation, is both necessary and proportionate in order to protect the public in the exceptional circumstances of terrorism investigations. The power in the 2000 Act replaced an equivalent one in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1989. Given the high level of threat to public safety that can arise in a terrorism investigation and the need to be able to investigate quickly and to disrupt such threats, this is an important power in the police investigative toolkit and it is right that it should be available for international production orders. In the context of the current heightened terrorist threat, its omission would be irresponsible.
The Government resist Amendment 12 on the grounds that it causes disparity when gathering evidence here or abroad and would erode a well-established and operationally important power which is routinely used by the police in counter-terrorism investigations.
Amendment 13 relates to Clause 3(7) which defines “personal record” when providing counselling or assistance to an individual for their personal welfare. I reiterate the Government’s position in respect of the Bill: it has been drafted to ensure parity with domestic production orders. The intention is to avoid disparity between gathering evidence in this country compared with gaining evidence abroad. The same powers for law enforcement should exist for overseas production orders as for those in the UK.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked why—I cannot read the writing. Shall I send it back?
Shall I ask the question again?
She asked: why only professional counselling? The Government believe this to be an expansive definition drawing on professional counselling services rather than conversations between friends or family who can be deemed to be giving counselling advice or assistance. The definition leaves little doubt as to what is considered as counselling or support to a person’s welfare. Broadening the definition does not provide the certainty required when deciding whether or not to grant an order based on whether the material sought is excepted data.
My Lords, we have two definitions: “personal records” and “confidential personal records”. It is the latter that is important. Clause 3(8) makes it quite clear that there has to be some restriction or obligation of confidence, which you would certainly find in connection with professional “counselling”—and I am grateful for that way of describing it in one word. That criterion would be applied in the context of this clause overall. It may be unlikely that a non-professional counsellor would be able to meet the criteria in Clause 3(8), but it is not impossible. It seems to me that, as long as Clause 3(8) can be relied on, we should not attempt to narrow what is meant by “counselling” in Clause 3(7).
The noble Baroness may now have confused me. Both Clauses 3(7) and (8) have been drafted to reflect existing protections in domestic production orders, which are intended to afford protection to legally enforceable relationships of trust and confidence, as well as to relationships between an individual and someone who holds a position of trust in a professional capacity—for example, a doctor—where such relationships may generate confidential information from an individual. This is different from a person who voluntarily shares information in confidence with a friend or family member who does not formally or professionally hold a position of trust and is not under a duty of confidentiality in respect of the person sharing the information.
My Lords, I think that was my argument. Might it be possible, between now and Report, for us to be given the references to the other legislation that this reflects?
We can certainly do that—in fact, magically, we have it here. It reflects the definition in the PACE Act 1984, Section 12 of which defines “personal records”. As such, this material is excluded from the scope of a PACE production order.
The noble Baroness asked about safeguards. The Bill has been drafted to include multiple safeguards so that a person is not required to produce excepted electronic data. Clause 5(2) includes one of these safeguards: that a judge must not specify or describe data in an overseas production order where he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that the data sought includes or consists of excepted data. The wording “reasonable grounds for believing” is used in other parts of the Bill—for example, in Clauses 1 and 7, where further safeguards place a similar restriction on the applicant applying for an overseas production order and where an applicant is applying to vary an order.
At the time of considering an application for an order, there will be cases where neither the judge nor the applicant can be certain whether the data sought does in fact include excepted data. This is simply because the contents of the data cannot be known by the judge or the applicant until they are produced. In my view, it is therefore appropriate for the term “reasonable grounds for believing” to remain in the Bill to make clear that the judge has the ability to consider whether excepted data might be obtained, taking into account the other factors that might help them reach such a conclusion. With that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord feels happy to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I should just say that I accept that the terminology is used elsewhere: one of my amendments objects to its use elsewhere. I am still troubled by how it applies here, as I am not sure how one would apply for the revocation, but I will of course go back to look at it.
I thank the Minister for her response. I will reflect on what she said about Amendment 12. I was not entirely clear about her response to my question: if a view was taken that the term “terrorism investigation” was being rather loosely interpreted by a party to an international agreement on an overseas production order, how could that decision be challenged? I may have missed her response but, if so, could she repeat it?
I am not sure that I answered that point, other than to say that we would not want to narrow the scope so that omission would lead to a terrorism investigation being curtailed. Perhaps I could come back to the noble Lord on the other point.
Yes, I am sure that we can discuss that on another occasion or at the intended meeting. However, I hope that the Minister will take my point that some countries may have a rather looser definition of who or what is a terrorist than we would in this country. Although I appreciate that the Bill is about orders made in this country, nevertheless, before we have that arrangement there has been an agreement the other way, so it is relevant to talk about what other countries might demand or seek from us.
I am sorry to intervene on the noble Lord, but at the heart of the Bill lies the principle that we would not be dealing with countries with hugely differing levels of legal thresholds or judicial considerations, and all the other things that we have talked about. But yes, perhaps we can talk about that further.
I understand the point that the noble Baroness has made more than once: that we are unlikely to be signing a deal with North Korea. I fully accept and understand that, but I think that there may be one or two other countries with whom we might sign a deal who may have a slightly different definition of who or what is a terrorist than we might choose to apply. That is important under this, because it gives you access to information that you would not otherwise have.
Again thanking the Minister for her response, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 12 withdrawn.
Amendment 13 not moved.
Clause 3 agreed.
Clause 4: Requirements for making of order
14: Clause 4, page 4, line 34, after “requirements” insert “which must be consistent with the provisions of this section”
My Lords, I have been consulting my noble friend as to whether I should be moving an adjournment so that we can all get a cup of tea or possibly soup, but he thinks that that is a matter for the Government Whip. So I will instead move Amendment 14—I do not think it will be exciting enough to warm us up.
Clause 4(1) applies requirements for seeking an overseas production order set out in subsections (2) to (6), and such additional requirements as the Secretary of State adds through regulations. I acknowledge that the regulations will be subject to the affirmative procedure but, as I said earlier this afternoon, we all know the problems of scrutinising secondary legislation and the almost insurmountable problem of amending or stopping it. We also know about the importance of protecting against an overweening or out-of-control Executive.
My amendment refers to the characteristics of the additional requirements as being consistent with the provisions of what will be Section 4, because the very fact that no limiting factor is expressed raises the issue. I accept, before the Minister says it, that these are additional requirements, so, in any event, they should comply with subsections (2) to (6).
Amendment 15 would leave out “(so far as applicable)”, because I for one do not understand what,
“additional requirements … specified in regulations … (so far as applicable)”,
means. The words must mean something. If the additional requirements are not applicable, they will not apply, so what are we worried about? I beg to move.
I tend to sympathise with the noble Baroness. I was warned to bring my coat in before I came.
My Lords, if I was a Whip, I would allow a short break if for no reason other than to go and get a hot water bottle. I am still in summer clothes.
Subsections (2) to (6) of Clause 4 set out the substantive requirements for a judge to consider when making an overseas production order. These include the judge being satisfied that there are: reasonable grounds for believing that a person on whom an order is served operates or is based in a country outside the UK with which the UK has a designated international co-operation agreement; reasonable grounds for believing that an indictable offence has been committed and is being investigated—or proceedings have been instituted—or that the application relates to a terrorism investigation; reasonable grounds for believing that the data sought is likely to have substantial value to the proceedings or investigation; and reasonable grounds for believing that it is in the public interest for the electronic data to be produced.
The amendment would ensure that any additional requirements made by way of regulations under Clause 4(1)(b) are consistent with the requirements under Clause 4(2) to (6). Any further requirements made by way of regulations will be in addition to existing requirements already set out in Clause 4. It follows therefore that any additional requirements cannot contradict the provisions already set out, as these will have to be complied with. There will not be a scenario where only additional requirements as set out in regulations are complied with. In every case, the requirements under Clause 4 must be satisfied before granting an order.
In addition, unless there is express provision in the enabling Act, delegated legislation cannot amend or vary it. Therefore, an additional requirement as set out in regulations under this clause could not have the effect of contradicting or undermining the requirements of the Bill. For example, a regulation which sought to change the type of offence as already set out in Clause 4(3) from an indictable offence to a summary offence could not be adopted under the provisions of the Bill.
Furthermore, the scope of secondary legislation is limited by the scope of the enabling legislation. As the power is to provide for “additional” requirements, it follows that those requirements will be compatible with those already in Bill. The power to provide additional requirements and regulations is subject to the affirmative procedure. Should additional regulations be required, the House will have an opportunity to scrutinise the proposed requirements before they come into law.
The language in Clause 4(1), which the noble Baroness is seeking to amend, clarifies that the additional requirements set out in the regulations may not apply in all cases or in every application for an order. There may be international agreements the terms of which do not warrant additional requirements to be specified in regulations to be made by the Secretary of State. This could be because both the UK and the other country participating or party to the arrangement may choose a wide-ranging agreement that does not place any further restrictions on that which is already proposed in the Bill. The clause therefore reflects the reality that in some cases a judge need only be satisfied of the requirements met in Clause 4(2) to (6) without necessarily having regard to all additional requirements that may have been specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State. With those words, I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.
Before the noble Baroness responds, I have a question for the Minister. I have listened hard to what the Minister said. Is the clause in there because the Government think it would be helpful as there might be a need to make additional requirements, or do they actually have a view at this stage on what kind of additional requirements those might be?
In a sense, this is the same issue that the noble Lord referred to before. Because this is a framework Bill, as I said, a judge may be satisfied that the Bill itself provides enough but the additional requirements—as yet unknown—may be applicable in another agreement, as yet unspecified. It gives that scope where it might be required in future.
My Lords, I would like to think about the response to Amendment 15. I think I made clear that I anticipated the Minister’s response to Amendment 14 but she said it much more nicely and fully, and I am glad to have it on the record. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 14 withdrawn.
Amendment 15 not moved.
16: Clause 4, page 5, line 8, leave out “substantial” and insert “significant”
My Lords, this is another amendment in my name and that of my noble friend. Under Clause 4(5) the data must be of “substantial value”. I read that as meaning that it must not be trivial. I wonder whether it should be “significant value”, which I think would make a difference to the proceedings or the investigation. I may be told that this repeats language in other legislation, and if that is the case then again I would be grateful for the reference. However, I wonder whether there is a distinction between something that adds weight to what you already know and something that, if it is not a game-changer, you would not get from elsewhere.
We are told that this legislation is likely to be used to enable access to data held by American companies so, as well as wondering whether the terminology reflects other legislation in this country, it occurred to me that maybe it reflects something in American legislation in the cloud. This is of course a probing amendment. I beg to move.
I am very happy to tell the noble Baroness that this is purely British. “Substantial” is a well-established test laid out in PACE 1984. Under Section 8 of that Act a justice of the peace must be satisfied that the material on the premises is likely to be of substantial value before authorising a production order application. “Substantial” is a familiar term to appropriate officers, who will be making applications. They will have many powers at their disposal, and creating a consistent regime is clearly beneficial to quickly understand what will be required to apply for an overseas production order. Given that the term “substantial” is well-established, it is obvious that there exists a body of case law that helps further define and interpret the term, both for appropriate officers and, of course, for the judiciary.
The case law establishes that “substantial” is to be given its plain and ordinary meaning, which will please the noble Baroness, who likes the plain and ordinary in linguistic terms. For example, in the case of Malik v Manchester Crown Court, the High Court found that “substantial” was an ordinary English word and that “substantial value” was a value which is more than minimal: it must be significant. I hope that that provides great clarity to the noble Baroness and that she will feel happy to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I think I ought, after today, to consult my noble friend, who will know all about PACE, as I do not. Yes, of course, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 16 withdrawn.
17: Clause 4, page 5, line 11, leave out from second “that” to “having” in line 14 and insert “the public interest in all or part of the electronic data specified or described in the application for the order being produced or, as the case may be, accessed outweighs the public interest in privacy,”
My Lords, these amendments are about public interest and the balance between public interests. Clause 4(6) requires the judge to consider the public interest and whether it is in the public interest for the data to be produced or accessed, having regard to the matters set out in Clause 4(6). There is a public interest as well in access to data and privacy and it seems to me that the various interests here cannot be judged in isolation. I should like to insert a reference to the public interest in privacy, but in any event to understand at this stage how that balance is dealt with, since the judge is required to have regard to one public interest only. There is a public as well as an individual interest in privacy rights, and I beg to move.
My Lords, Amendments 17 and 18 do not add any protections for privacy rights to those already contained in the Bill and under the Human Rights Act 1998. Without these amendments, the judge would still be required to take into account the impact on an individual’s right to privacy when determining whether the public interest requires production of the data sought.
We understand the need to balance a citizen’s rights and interests against the public interest in law enforcement officers’ ability to investigate crimes and use powers to obtain evidence. This is why the existing requirements in Clause 4 consider not only whether data sought would be in the public interest but whether it would be of substantial value to the investigation or proceedings. A judge is under an obligation to balance the rights of an individual against the state’s need to investigate a crime and to reach a decision which is compliant with the individual’s rights under the ECHR.
I hope that, with those reassurances, the noble Baroness feels happy to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I am grateful for those helpful remarks. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 17 withdrawn.
Amendment 18 not moved.
19: Clause 4, page 5, line 19, at end insert—
“( ) The judge must be satisfied that the electronic data specified or described in the application is not confidential journalistic data.”
My Lords, in moving Amendment 19 in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Hamwee, I will speak to our Amendments 33 and 34 in this group.
Journalistic data of any kind is not excepted electronic data as set out in Clause 3, despite representations made by media organisations that it should be. Instead, under Clause 12 the application for an overseas production order, if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the electronic data specified or described in the application consists of or includes journalistic data that is confidential journalistic data, must be made on notice. Confidential journalistic data consists of data created or acquired for the purposes of journalism and in circumstances that give rise to an obligation of confidence that continues or is held subject to a restriction on disclosure or an obligation of secrecy.
This begs the question: how does the judge make a judgment about whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that confidential journalistic material is involved? Does the judge take the word of the applicant? If the judge determines that confidential journalistic material is involved, how will notice be served on the parties concerned and how will those parties make representations? To probe these issues, Amendment 19 seeks to insert the requirement that:
“The judge must be satisfied that the electronic data specified or described in the application is not confidential journalistic data”.
Clause 13 prohibits the overseas parties from concealing, destroying, altering or disposing of the data, or disclosing the application to anyone else, once they are given notice of the application. What sanction can be imposed for failing to comply? Can it be contempt of court, bearing in mind that at that stage the judge has made no order, only given notice that an application for an order has been made?
Amendment 33 seeks that Clause 12(1) should specify that the notice should be served on the data controller and the data subject specifically, as well as anyone else the judge considers necessary. Amendment 34 amends Clause 12(4) to specify that notices should be served on a person R, referred to in Clause 12(3): that is, the person who receives electronic data from another person who intended it to be used for journalistic purposes. I beg to move Amendment 19.
I referred to the general issue that is the subject of the amendments spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, when I spoke to Amendment 8. We share the concerns expressed by the noble Lord, subject to what the Minister may have to say in response, about the possible difficulties or issues that might arise.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for his points and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, for his intervention. The effect of Amendment 19 would be to exclude confidential journalistic material from the scope of an application and order. I should first point out that Clause 4 reflects the position in the PACE Act 1984. Journalistic material can already be sought under Schedule 1 to PACE through special procedure, and under Schedule 5 to the Terrorism Act 2000, when it is held by a company or person based in the UK. The Bill extends this to circumstances where the data is held by an entity based outside the UK and where a relevant international arrangement is in place.
I do not think that we should introduce in the Bill a difference between material that can be obtained—subject of course to appropriate requirements and safeguards—when it is held in the UK, as opposed to being held by an entity based on the country with which we have entered into an agreement. I should also stress that similar standards are set out in the Bill as already exist in domestic legislation, and that the term “reasonable grounds for believing” is readily used by our court system. Reasonable belief requires more than just a guess or a hunch. It will require the judge, marshalling all the facts before them, to come to an assessment on whether the information sought does or does not contain this type of data. It is not the first time that that standard has been used in legislation, and of course it will not be the last. Where confidential journalistic material is sought, the Bill requires that such applications can only be made on notice. That means that anyone put on notice, which can and may include the journalist whose data might be sought, has the opportunity to make representations to the court as to whether it is appropriate for the data to be obtained.
The effect of Amendment 33 as drafted would be that an application for an overseas production order that included confidential journalistic material had to be made on notice to a data controller and the data subject. I understand the sentiment behind the amendment but I do not agree that it is required, for two reasons. First, the rules of court will set out the process by which a judge can ensure that anyone affected by the order is notified of any given case. Consideration of notice by the judge relating to such a request is left to his or her discretion to allow for the circumstances where notice to a data controller, data subject or anyone else is deemed appropriate by the judge when granting an overseas production order. I think giving the judge discretion to determine which is appropriate in any given case is the right approach.
Secondly—this is a point that I have made before and will make again—we are providing in the Bill the means to serve an order on a company based outside the UK in a country with which we have a relevant agreement, in the same way as is currently the case with a company based in the UK. In those cases the respondent and any other person affected by the order would ordinarily be given notice and therefore the opportunity to make representations, unless under rules of court the judge is satisfied that there are good reasons for not doing so—for example, because of the risk of prejudice to the investigation. We are proposing that the same should apply to overseas production orders.
The intention of Clause 12 is to require an application for an overseas production order to be made on notice where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the electronic data sought consists of, or includes, confidential journalistic data. The effect of the clause as drafted is that notice should be served on the respondent—that is, the person who would be required to produce the data if the order is made. In most cases, this would be a service provider rather than the customer on whose behalf the data is stored. However, a requirement to give notice to the respondent under Clause 12(1) does not preclude the judge considering the application from exercising his or her own discretion under rules of court. Under rules of court they may require notice to be given to other persons who may be affected by an order requiring the production of confidential journalistic material, including a person who in his or her professional capacity has acquired that data. It will be a matter for the judge’s discretion, but he or she is likely to insist on notice being given unless the applicant can demonstrate that doing so would prejudice the investigation—for example, where the journalist himself or herself is the subject of the investigation or prosecution.
An example of where it might not be appropriate is where there is a hacking investigation and the journalist might actually be the subject of an inquiry. The judge may decide that putting someone on notice could potentially harm the investigation or risk the dissipation of the material. It is the Government’s intention, however, to ensure that where an application relates to confidential journalistic data, notice can and should be served on journalists and on whoever the judge deems appropriate given the circumstances of the application. The PACE Act 1984, for example, requires service to be made on the respondent only, otherwise notice requirements are set out in court rules.
The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, made an important point about sanctions to comply. It is difficult to construct a proportionate regime to ensure nondisclosure prior to an order being made and, in practice, law enforcement would not apply for an order where there was an unacceptable risk of damaging disclosure. I ask noble Lords not to press their amendments and I shall consider their comments before Report, if that is amenable to them.
I am very grateful to the Minister for her explanation and her offer to consider further the issues that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and I have raised in connection with these issues. Obviously, Amendment 19 is a probing amendment, a mechanism by which to debate these issues, but with the promise of further discussions to come before Report—perhaps the Minister could also establish whether the Government have consulted the National Union of Journalists on these issues—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 19 withdrawn.
Clause 4 agreed.
Committee adjourned at 5.47 pm.