Report (1st Day) (Continued)
Clause 5: Encouragement of terrorism and dissemination of terrorist publications
22: Clause 5, page 4, line 40, leave out “and (4)” and insert “, (4) and (4A)”
My Lords, my noble friends Lord Paddick, Lady Hamwee and I have put down this amendment not so much for the purpose of tweaking the detailed wording of the Bill, but to raise a wider question about how much preparedness there is on the part of government and the authorities to seriously consider the rationale on which this Bill and counterterrorist policy as a whole is based. There is often a lack of welcome in general terms when people ask questions of a serious order about the whole direction of government policy, but in the area of terrorism it has been in my own experience quite regularly the case that when questions on it are raised, people are accused of being fellow travellers with terrorists. I frequently had that experience myself in Northern Ireland when I raised questions about the Government’s approach. I would be accused, not particularly by government Ministers but by leading political figures in the unionist community, of being sympathetic to the IRA.
There are positive things about this Bill. There has been progress and developments in technology which mean that elements of it are necessary, and I do not argue about that. But in some other ways the Bill is regressive because it is sliding away from the traditional commitment in this country, as distinct from other parts of Europe, that things are legal unless there is a very good reason for them to be illegal. Particularly when it comes to freedom of expression and people being able to look at the other side of the question, it is absolutely critical that we should be able to do that with freedom. That is why I was so supportive of and glad to see that we have passed Amendment 15. There is huge concern on the part of the many NGOs that are working not only on humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts but on trying to understand why it is that people commit themselves to terrorist activities.
We had to do that in Northern Ireland. For many years the received wisdom in this House and the other place and indeed in government generally was that the only way to deal with terrorism was through suppression—to put it down. That is all very well if it works, but it did not work. When the noble Earl the Minister responded in an earlier debate on this Bill by saying, “We are going with the grain of the Terrorism Act 2000”, the question for me was: yes, and has the 2000 Act worked? I do not mean has it worked in terms of the courts and there not being any adverse decisions, but has it worked in terms of terrorism being less of a threat to us now than it was when that Bill was passed in 2000? Terrorism has changed enormously over the period since 2000. At the time many things were happening that we are familiar with in this part of the world, but since then there have been two major developments in terrorism. Most terrorism in the world now is either Islamist of various kinds in its background or it is right-wing white terrorism, which is getting worse and is much less reported. The concern we are trying to express in this amendment is that we should be able to ask the difficult questions without being accused or in danger of questions being asked about our commitment to deal with the problem of terrorism.
When I listened to the noble Earl talking about “going with the grain of the Act”, I could not help but think of the phrase for which I am afraid Lord Denning will always be remembered in Ireland. He said that if it was the case that the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four were not guilty, then it was because the West Midlands police had been lying, and that was too appalling a vista to contemplate. It may have been a vista too appalling to contemplate, but eventually it had to be contemplated because the truth is that they had lied. Eventually Lord Denning himself accepted that.
The problem is this: there is a real danger that the whole direction of policy, which is about the suppression of terrorism, is based on a complete misunderstanding. The misunderstanding is that people behave in an extreme way because they think in an extreme way. That is not the case. People act in an extreme way because they have extreme feelings, not extreme thoughts. I know lots of people with all sorts of extreme thoughts who would not dream of acting on them. I often say that many people believe in heaven but if you say to them, “Would you like to go there this afternoon?” they say, “Actually, I’m not in any great hurry”. People can have a lot of thoughts, but the question is whether they have the emotional motivation to act on them. I do not believe for a minute that the beliefs of people such as Gerry Adams and the late, lamented Martin McGuinness about a united Ireland, or even the strategy that they followed, changed but their feelings changed because they no longer felt that they, their people and their culture were being humiliated, disrespected and kept from making changes through democratic politics. The feelings about things changed. If we do not understand and address that, we will head into terrible trouble.
Some time ago, I had a long conversation with an old friend who ran the CIA for years. I asked him why America is making the same mistakes over and over again. It made the same mistakes in Afghanistan as it did in Vietnam. It made the same mistakes in Iraq as we did. When we went into Libya, we did not have to deal with things in the way we did. We made a right mess of it. The question of Syria has been spoken about. None of these things are getting better. They are all getting worse. At what point do we start asking serious questions about a rationale that says that stronger security measures are the way to deal with this issue? My friend said, “We no longer engage with people in the Middle East and listen to what they have to say so we don’t really know what’s going on with them. What’s being done is completely counterproductive. Years ago, I used to spend my time going to meet the leadership of Hamas, Hezbollah, Israeli settlers and others”. By the way, No. 10 was very happy to hear the results of those conversations at that time. Why did he have those meetings? It gave an insight into what is going on.
The Bill’s approach says, “Don’t engage with people. Ban everything they’re saying. Stop everything that anybody is doing to engage with them. Isolate them more”. There is no evidence that this works. In fact, I fear that the approach that has been taken is the kind that would be taken by a bad doctor who says, “If the medication is not working, double the dose”. What usually happens there is that you end up poisoning the patient. There is a real danger in the Bill, which my colleagues and I felt it necessary to mark out—not because we expect the Government suddenly to say that they got it all wrong and should stop the Bill. That is not the purpose of the amendment. We are trying to see whether there is an understanding that we need to question the rationale for the approach to terrorism in the Bill and in other ways. Otherwise, we will find ourselves locked into a kind of groupthink, which will produce a negative outcome that none of us in this Chamber wants.
There is also a danger of not just illegality but a chill factor for people speaking and thinking about these things. For example, phrases such as “giving reasonable excuse” for some of the work done by NGOs and others are used. What kind of language is that? Should we tell people that they need to give reasonable excuse to the authorities or should we encourage them to go into dangerous situations and risk their lives because it benefits us and the global community? We should not expect them to provide that excuse. The chill factor is quite clear. What do I do with students who ask, “Should we go and do some research in the Middle East to try to find out what’s going on?” After not just a Bill such as this one but recent events there, it is clear that this will be very discouraging, even for people at a post-doctoral level. That will mean that our approach will not be based on real evidence, understanding or appreciation of the problems.
We tabled the amendment to say, not just in the context of the Bill, that we can change some of the approaches, such as those in Amendment 15. We are also asking whether we can think more seriously about an alternative way of understanding what is going on when people engage in terrorism, rather than simply believing in suppression. Suppression did not work out in my part of the United Kingdom. Eventually, the Government had to do all sorts of things that they said they would never do because it was the only way to deal with what was ultimately a political problem, not merely one of law and order. I beg to move.
My Lords, I support my noble friend’s comments. We on these Benches have for some time had a concern about the so-called conveyor belt theory that radical, non-violent, extreme views necessarily lead to radicalisation and violence. Many groups in this country hold what most of us would consider to be extreme views, such as fundamentalist Christian groups and ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups, where we have no concerns at all that their extreme views will lead to radicalisation and violence.
There are other factors at play that receive no consideration as far as the Bill’s measures are concerned. We also express our concern that the Bill would tend to put people off debating extreme views, during which the counternarrative can be expressed, peoples’ dangerous views can be openly debated and their ideas shown to be false. The Bill and other measures like it are likely to close down that debate. Ultimately, a battle of ideas is the way to address the underlying issues rather than the approach the Bill takes.
I thank both noble Lords for their explanation of these amendments. One of the things that the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, challenged the Government on was the rationale behind our counter- terrorism work. Perhaps it would be useful to set out some of that for him.
As stated in Contest, government and academic research has consistently indicated that there is no single sociodemographic profile of a terrorist in the UK, and no single pathway or, indeed, “conveyor belt” leading to involvement in terrorism. Terrorists come from a broad range of backgrounds and appear to become involved in different ways and for differing reasons. Few of those who are drawn into Islamist terrorism, for example, have a deep knowledge of the faith.
While no single factor will cause someone to become involved in terrorism, several factors can converge to create certain conditions under which radicalisation can flourish. These include background factors such as aspects of someone’s personal circumstances that might make them vulnerable to radicalisers, such as being involved in criminal activity; initial influences such as people, ideas or experiences that influence an individual towards supporting a terrorist movement; and an ideological opening or receptiveness to extremist ideology.
Most individuals who experience this combination of factors will not go on to become involved in terrorism because there are protective factors that safeguard against their doing so. These range from having no opportunity to develop extremist contacts to having other, more important priorities in their lives, such as their family, career or community. A small number of people who lack these protective factors may become radicalised. In these circumstances, a range of social and ideological influences can combine to intensify commitment to a terrorist cause and provide opportunities for them to act.
The process of radicalisation is driven by universal psychological needs for identity and belonging—those words are very important in this context—meaning and purpose, and, of course, self-esteem. Where these are met by constructive sources radicalisation will not flourish, but we also know that as a person deepens their involvement in terrorism this process will typically include voracious consumption of online propaganda. When in a group, further engagement in terrorism is also likely to include the individual isolating themselves from non-extremists and participating in low-level activity such as the radicalisation of others, or facilitation, fundraising, et cetera. There is some research to indicate that lone-actor terrorists have a higher incidence of certain mental and developmental health conditions than the general population, but I must stress that no one should assume that a terrorist suffers from a mental health condition or that a person with a mental health condition is a terrorist.
This model of radicalisation draws on research from within government but also on academic studies. In our experience, it holds true for radicalisation within both Islamist and extreme right-wing terrorism.
It should be clear from what I have said that ideology is an important, but absolutely not the sole, factor in radicalisation. The effect of terrorist ideology, spread through its propaganda and especially online, spans both those involved in groups and lone actors and across all forms of terrorism.
Daesh and al-Qaeda have a common ideological lineage. Their shared ideological anchor is Salafi jihadism, a violent hybrid ideology, cherry picking from a broad range of religious and political influences. Both groups hold in common an absolute rejection of democracy, personal liberty and human rights, as well as a commitment to restoring a self-proclaimed “caliphate” and establishing a brutal and literalist interpretation of sharia law. They hold the West and its allies responsible for the suppression of Islam and oppression of Sunni Muslims around the world.
Daesh’s media and propaganda capability has been significantly degraded, but its shift to a narrative of victimhood and seeking to weaponise people in their communities, rather than encouraging them to travel to the so-called caliphate, have led to a self-sustaining network of Daesh supporters who create and share unofficial motivational and instructional material online, and celebrate and encourage lone-actor attacks. This has increased the reach and potential threat that such groups pose.
We must not forget the extreme right wing. In the UK and Europe, those groups, including neo-Nazis, seek to exploit any anxieties that people might hold about globalisation, conflict and migration—including any that they are able to link to the Syria conflict—in an attempt to broaden their appeal. Such groups may vary considerably in their rhetoric, but they share the racist view that minority communities harm the interests of a “native” population. The ideologies and narratives perpetuated by Islamist and extreme right-wing groups have at times reinforced and even mutually benefited one other.
I could go on, but this is the basic background and rationale behind much of the Government’s efforts to counter terrorism. It should be clear from it that no conveyer-belt theory of radicalisation is in use in government. It should also be clear why our counter- terrorism efforts need to cover such a broad range of activity on top of the work of the intelligence agencies and police to investigate and disrupt terrorists and terrorist plots. It is vital that we do all we can to stifle the online propaganda which fuels engagement in terrorism, that we work to break the “social cocoons” which terrorists form to continue their radicalisation, and that our Prevent work and programmes such as Channel continue to identify vulnerable people and provide them with the support that they need to address the background vulnerabilities and lack of protective factors that can make them prey to terrorist recruiters. With that explanation of the Government’s rationale, I hope that the noble Lord will be content to withdraw his amendment.
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for explaining the Government’s rationale, none of which is particularly new to me. The disappointing thing about it is the limited perspective, on two or three fronts. First, terrorism is described almost exclusively as an individual phenomenon—individual people, this, that and the other thing. I started off in that position 30 or more years ago. What became clear to me in working with these situations was that it was a group phenomenon and not simply one of individuals.
The second thing is that the Minister emphasised again that a great deal of the Government’s approach is towards effectively suppressing or limiting terrorism, rather than trying to understand why communities feel—for genuine reasons, on occasion—a disenchantment that leads them to respond in such a way. I make the appeal again for the Government to be prepared to engage in an exploration of the questions, because it is clear that the approach we have taken for the last 20 years has not worked. We are not safer, globally, than we were 20 years ago—on the contrary. However, I am grateful to her because, by making the explanation, she is in a way continuing a process of conversation and exploration. That was the purpose of the amendment and of the general appeal that we do not simply depend on something we do not believe is working well, as there are alternative ways. I regard her explanation as a positive thing and I hope that it is part of an ongoing conversation that will take us to a better understanding and a better way of dealing with the problem with which we are all struggling. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 22 withdrawn.
Amendment 23 not moved.
Clause 6: Extra-territorial jurisdiction
24: Clause 6, page 5, line 17, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
“(1) Section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2006 (commission of offences abroad) is amended as follows.(1A) Subsection (2) is amended in accordance with subsections (2) to (4) below.”
My Lords, I shall also speak to Amendment 25. Clause 6 will add a number of further terrorism offences to the list at Section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2006, to which extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, applies. This means that individuals can be prosecuted in UK courts for conduct that took place outside the UK which would have been unlawful under an offence listed at Section 17 had it taken place here. This will ensure that UK courts are able to prosecute terrorist fighters who travel to or return to the UK having joined terrorist groups and become involved in conflicts or other terrorist activity overseas. It will also ensure that we are able to prosecute people who base themselves overseas and seek to radicalise people in the UK.
In relation to this latter category of radicalisers, Section 13(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000 contains the offence of displaying in a public place an item of clothing or other article, such as a flag, in circumstances which arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation. As a result of Clause 2 it will also contain, at new subsection (1A), the offence of publishing an image of such an article in the same circumstances. As currently drafted, the effect of Clause 6 is that a person could potentially be prosecuted under Section 13 in the UK, having displayed while in another country the flag of a terrorist organisation that is proscribed in the UK but not in that country. This is something about which the Joint Committee on Human Rights has raised concerns, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, tabled amendments on behalf of the JCHR in Committee which would have removed the Section 13 offence from the ETJ provisions entirely, or alternatively would have limited ETJ in relation to Section 13 to UK nationals and residents only.
These amendments return to issues on which we have had extensive and helpful debates. I have set out very clearly and at some length the Government’s position on why this power is needed, but it is worth reminding ourselves of two key points. First, we have seen modern terrorist groups, such as Daesh, use slick and effective online propaganda, including activity covered by the Section 12 and 13 offences, which has been aimed at radicalising people in the UK, building support for terrorist organisations and ideology, and encouraging terrorist attacks in the name of such organisations. This activity is not currently within the jurisdiction of the UK courts where it occurs in another country, but as we have seen in the Syrian context, it can give rise to a very real and immediate threat within the UK. For this reason it is imperative that we extend ETJ to these offences, and that we do so in an effective and workable way which does not unduly limit the ability of UK courts to deal with serious terrorist activity. This is the effect of Clause 6.
However, I have considered and reflected carefully on the points raised previously by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, on behalf of the JCHR, and by other noble Lords, about the breadth of Clause 6 as currently drafted, and I have recognised the strength of feeling on this issue. While I remain of the view that the safeguards I outlined in Committee will ensure that the power is used in a proportionate way, I accept that this has not provided sufficient assurance to your Lordships. I have therefore concluded that the extension of ETJ to the Section 12 and 13 proscription offences should be limited to cases where the individual is a UK national or resident, in line with the amendment proposed in Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.
Amendments 24 and 25 in my noble friend’s name deliver this. Although the noble Baroness’s earlier amendment focused on Section 13, the same principle arises in relation to Section 12 of the 2000 Act, which criminalises invitations of support for a proscribed organisation, and as a result of Clause 2 will also cover reckless statements of support. The government amendments therefore extend this limitation to both Sections 12 and 13. This will ensure that it will still be possible to prosecute in the UK courts a person who has travelled from the UK to join a terrorist organisation, and who has become involved in propaganda on behalf of the organisation while they are overseas. But it will exclude the type of case about which the noble Baroness has raised concerns, where a foreign national acts in support of an organisation which is not proscribed in his or her country—for example, if a Lebanese national living in Lebanon displays a flag associated with the military wing of Hezbollah or invites support for that wing of the organisation. These amendments will put beyond doubt that such a person will not be liable to be arrested or prosecuted should they subsequently travel to the UK.
I hope that these are welcome amendments and will answer the concerns that have been raised by a number of your Lordships. I beg to move.
My Lords, I am indeed very grateful for the Government’s amendments and their consideration of the points that have been made in Committee as well as by the committee, and at previous stages. They are very significant indeed. Amendment 26 is attributed to the Government on the groupings list but I will put that right. It would provide that, in connection with what we dealt with earlier today, the offences under paragraphs (ca) and (cb) will be relevant only where the actions are an offence in the country where they took place.
In Committee the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, who was very careful to be neutral about this, cautioned the Committee to take care:
“The Bill risks criminalising a citizen of another country for doing something that is not unlawful in that country … there may be minor matters, in relative terms, which we criminalise here but are not unlawful by the laws of a different country. We need to be careful not to extend the criminal law further than it should go”.—[Official Report, 31/10/18; col. 1368.]
The government amendments have indeed dealt with one aspect—the “who”, if I can put it that way—but not with the “what”.
The Government may say that dealing with the “who”—who may be guilty of an offence—is enough. I urge them to make a further change to the Bill to make it complete. Of course, I am aware of the safeguards referred to by the Minister in Committee. He has alluded to them today, and I do not discount them, but whether these new offences should be brought within extraterritorial jurisdiction if they are not an offence in the country where they took place deserves further consideration. The offences in Section 17, as it stands, are all high-level offences. I do not want to spend too long on this at this time of night, but following my noble friend Lord Alderdice I pose the question: do we want to deter UK nationals who have done offensive—I say that in a rather wide sense—and possibly pretty stupid things abroad from coming back to this country? There is a view that they should be allowed to stay out there and fester. I do not take that view. I think we would want to see them come back and become part of British society. That is why I tabled this amendment.
Amendment 26 seeks to place a different limitation on the ETJ power in relation to the proscription offences at Sections 12 and 13 of the 2000 Act which would limit it to cases where the offending activity would also constitute an offence in the country where it occurred. I mentioned earlier one key rationale for the new powers we are seeking, which is that terrorist groups use propaganda as a means of radicalising people in this country while basing themselves abroad.
Additionally, it is a fact that terrorist groups are by their nature most likely to be based in areas of conflict and instability where there may not be functioning systems of government or criminal justice, or clearly defined and well-developed terrorism laws equivalent to those in the UK. This means that it is entirely possible for a person to act in support of a potentially very serious terrorist organisation outside the UK and for the laws in that part of the world to criminalise that activity in a different way from the UK, or potentially not at all. This is not a reason to take no action against that person if they travel or return to the UK, if prosecution would otherwise be possible and appropriate. We must engage with the world and the terrorist threat as it is, rather than as we would ideally like it to be, and it would simply not be responsible to tie the hands of the police and the courts in this way. I share the noble Baroness’s wish that those who return to this country should repent, be reformed and form part of the society in which we all live and which we enjoy, but I say that without prejudice to the point I have just made that if they have acted in a way that profoundly harmed the people of this country, they should be brought to book.
I am afraid Amendment 26 would run a coach and horses through the idea that I have put forward, and it would most likely mean that it would not be possible to prosecute at all people who have engaged in such activity in places such as Syria. We might as well simply strike this provision from the Bill in its entirety if we are going to go down that road. For this reason I am unable to support the noble Baroness’s Amendment 26.
Amendment 24 agreed.
25: Clause 6, page 5, line 31, at end insert—
“( ) In subsection (3), after “citizen” insert “(subject to subsection (3A))”.( ) After subsection (3) insert— “(3A) Subsection (1) applies in the case of an offence falling within subsection (2)(ca) or (cb) only if at the time of committing the offence the person is a United Kingdom national or a United Kingdom resident.(3B) In subsection (3A)—“United Kingdom national” means an individual who is—(a) a British citizen, a British overseas territories citizen, a British National (Overseas) or a British Overseas citizen,(b) a person who under the British Nationality Act 1981 is a British subject, or(c) a British protected person within the meaning of that Act;“United Kingdom resident” means an individual who is resident in the United Kingdom.””
Amendment 25 agreed.
Amendment 26 not moved.
Schedule 1: Notification requirements: financial information and information about identification documents
27: Schedule 1, page 28, line 8, at end insert—
“(ca) the cases in which a person “holds” an account include those where the person is entitled to operate the account;”
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, helpfully proposed an amendment in Committee to close a gap he had identified on accounts which a terrorist offender is entitled to operate but does not hold in their own name—for example, because they are an authorised signatory to the account of the relative or employer. I recognised then that there might well be merit in the amendment and committed to take it away to consider it further. I have just done that and find myself in agreement with the noble Lord that this is indeed a gap in the current Bill and that his suggestion will close it and improve the Bill.
Amendment 27 therefore implements his suggestion, for which I am very grateful, and I commend the amendment to the House.
My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister, but I cannot possibly claim credit for the amendment: it is actually the work of my noble friend Lady Hamwee. That having been said, we are very grateful that she listened to our arguments. We hope that noble Lords will realise that we on these Benches look to be hopeful, not necessarily negative about legislation. We hope that closing this loophole shows that we are working together to try to improve legislation.
Amendment 27 agreed.
Clause 13: Power to enter and search home
28: Clause 13, page 15, line 27, leave out from “assessing” to “and” in line 28 and insert “whether the person to whom the warrant relates is in breach of notification requirements”
My Lords, Amendment 28 repeats an amendment I proposed in Committee on behalf of the JCHR, which gathered considerable support from the noble Lords, Lord Anderson, Lord Judd and Lord Pannick, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, as well as my Front Bench and the Labour Front Bench. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile said that he was,
“not convinced that the Government have got the proportionality of this right”.— [Official Report, 31/10/18, col. 1409.]
That has encouraged me to raise the issue again.
This amendment is in connection with the search and entry provisions. It would provide that, rather than allowing search and entry to assess risk, it would be far more specifically to assess whether the subject of a warrant was in breach of the notification requirements applying to him.
The Minister said that the provision was proportional. The terminology used in Committee included “home visits” and the police “keeping in touch”, which sounds much gentler than a power to enter and search under a warrant. I talked about what the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, called the human element—the impact on an individual’s family—but, as other noble Lords pointed out, the impact is often much wider in such a situation.
We will consider the Prevent policy on the next day of report and no doubt noble Lords will raise the importance of how a policy is perceived by the community affected. The infringement of the privacy of the individual and of the individual’s family, who I think are at risk of considerable distress, which is part of the Government’s proposals is not just a matter of a lack of proportion. It also carries a significant risk of damaging, if not destroying, the trust of the community, which in turn impacts on everyone’s security.
I acknowledge that there has to be a warrant. I am sorry if this sounds cynical, but can we be confident that a magistrate will always ask for details of compliance or otherwise with the notification requirements on the part of the subject of a requested warrant? Will a magistrate ignore the police’s wish to go on a fishing expedition, if you like?
The Minister drew a comparison with registered sex offenders. As the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, is here, perhaps I should let him speak for himself if he wishes and intends to do so, having pursued this with Professor Clive Walker. I am looking to see whether he is going to because if not then I am going to quote Professor Walker—I am being told to go ahead. I am grateful to him for pursuing this matter. Professor Walker looked at the comparison with people on the sex offender register and distinguishes this situation from that one because of the additional ways of mitigating the risk where terrorist offenders are concerned. He also made the point that if he had realised what the provisions applying to sex offenders were, he would have been critical then. As he says,
“a bad precedent should not be used as a basis for more bad law … I still argue that it is unwarranted to treat terrorism offenders in this way in comparison to sex offenders because of the different designs now being applied to terrorism offenders … in terms of their periods of endurance and also possibilities of review”.
He refers particularly to the extent of the respective orders—currently scrutiny over identity, residence, travel— and to the fact that the Bill imposes requirements as to mobile phone details, email addresses, vehicles, banks and identification documents. He says:
“If such information is provided, all of which can be checked against external records, should this not reduce the residual risk and so reduce the need for entry in order to check ‘risk’? … If these extra demands do not adequately reduce risk, what is their value?”
That is another way of asking the question that I asked in Committee on whether the notification requirements in themselves were insufficient. If the answer is no, they are sufficient—and I would expect the Government to say that—then what is the justification for this, as I say, potentially damaging provision? I beg to move.
My Lords, I support the amendment for the reasons that the noble Baroness has given. The only additional point that I would make, and I made it in Committee as well, is whether the person to whom the warrant relates being in breach of notification requirements constitutes a sufficient ground for the entry and search of the home of a TPIM subject—among, one must assume, the most dangerous of terrorists or suspected terrorists in this country. It is a little hard, at least for me, to see why it should not be sufficient in relation to the prisoners and those remanded in custody who are dealt with under this part of the Bill.
My Lords, as the noble Baroness pointed out, Clause 13 confers on police the power to enter and search the home address of a registered terrorist offender, under the authority of a warrant issued by a justice, for the purpose of assessing the risk the offender poses. Amendment 28 would narrow the purpose for which the power of entry and search may be operated, limiting it to assessing whether the offender is in breach of the notification requirements. There was a good debate on this in Committee, so I will not detain the House by setting out again the underlying purpose of the terrorism notification requirements, and their importance in helping the police to manage the risk posed by those convicted of serious terrorism offences. However, it may assist your Lordships if I briefly rehearse the purpose of this power, and why it is needed in its current form.
The purpose of the power of entry and search, as currently drafted and as intended by the Government, is to allow the police to assess the risk posed by a convicted terrorist who is subject to the notification requirements. The police consider that home visits are an important tool in managing and risk-assessing registered terrorist offenders during the time they are subject to the notification regime. Such visits allow them to ascertain whether the offender does in fact reside at the address they have notified to the police, and to check their compliance with other aspects of the notification regime. Home visits are also helpful, as they allow a broader assessment of risk to be made. They allow the police to identify any other factors that might contribute to the overall risk an offender poses to themselves or their community, and their risk of reoffending. This might include their general living conditions, as well as any signs of mental health decline, or of drug or alcohol misuse.
It seems an entirely appropriate purpose for the police to wish to keep in touch with a registered terrorist offender. Indeed, given that the police are charged with protecting us all from such serious offenders, it would surely be irresponsible to do otherwise. However, Amendment 28 would mean that the new power could not be used for that purpose. The police will, of course, always seek to conduct such visits on a voluntary basis and the clause requires that this approach must be attempted at least twice before a warrant is sought. A positive and co-operative relationship is always preferable, and leads to more effective management of risk. However, a power of entry and search is needed because this is not always the reality, and registered terrorist offenders will often not comply with such home visits voluntarily. They will often be generally unco-operative and refuse to engage constructively with the police in conducting necessary checks.
In previous debates, I have highlighted that an identical power exists in relation to registered sex offenders. It was introduced by the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, by the then Labour Government. Indeed, the then Home Office Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, said at the time in reference to sex offenders that,
“we are now of the view that further powers are required to enable the police to gather all the information they need about a small but, it has to be said, determined group of offenders who, while in apparent compliance with the notification requirements, do all they can to frustrate the risk assessment process”.—[Official Report, Commons, 22/5/06; col. 678.)
I can only echo the noble Lord’s words.
The police report that their experience with registered sex offenders, as a result of this power being available, is that the offenders will normally comply voluntarily and that they are able to build a far more constructive relationship with them. This is simply because those offenders know that if they refuse to engage on a voluntary basis the police will be able to return with a warrant. We anticipate this power bringing similar benefits in the management of registered terrorist offenders, who are equally in a particular category of risk, such that monitoring of this kind is appropriate following a conviction. I cannot see that there is a rational argument for why the police should have less effective powers to monitor the risk posed by registered terrorist offenders than they do for registered sex offenders. I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment in light of this explanation.
Before the Minister sits down, perhaps she can explain whether she is saying that, if there is no rational basis for providing this power in a different way from the way it was done in the case of sex offenders, the TPIM Act 2011 was not rational in how it approached the issue, and what does she say about that parallel with the TPIM Act?
I would not like to say that the TPIM Act was not rational. I can write to the noble Lord to outline the significant differences here, but I think that the parallel with sex offenders that I posed is pertinent.
My Lords, as I said, two bad laws are twice as bad as one. The Minister said that the experience is that terrorist offenders are likely to be unco-operative when they are asked to host a home visit—and I wonder why they are unco-operative. This seems a very intrusive power. We are talking not only about entering a person’s home but, to take just one of the purposes mentioned by the Minister, assessing their mental health. What is done when that visit, or entry, is made, to undertake that assessment? The power is much broader and deeper than it may appear on the surface. I will not repeat the debate that we had last time but I do not feel that I am any more enlightened or, I have to say, any more persuaded. However, I accept that we are where we are for tonight, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 28 withdrawn.
29: After Clause 16, insert the following new Clause—
“Persons detained under port and border control powers
(1) Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000 (detention) is amended as follows.(2) In paragraph 6, after sub-paragraph (3) insert—“(4) A detained person must be informed of the right under this paragraph on first being detained.”(3) In paragraph 7, after sub-paragraph (2) insert—“(3) A detained person must be informed of the right under this paragraph on first being detained.”(4) In paragraph 9—(a) for sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) substitute—“(1) This paragraph applies where a detained person exercises the right under paragraph 7 to consult a solicitor.(2) A police officer of at least the rank of superintendent may direct that the right—(a) may not be exercised (or further exercised) by consulting the solicitor who attends for the purpose of the consultation or who would so attend but for the giving of the direction, but(b) may instead be exercised by consulting a different solicitor of the detained person’s choosing.(2A) A direction under this paragraph may be given before or after a detained person’s consultation with a solicitor has started (and if given after it has started the right to further consult that solicitor ceases on the giving of the direction).”, and(b) omit sub-paragraphs (4) and (5).(5) In paragraph 16—(a) in sub-paragraph (8), omit “Subject to paragraph 17,”, and(b) after sub-paragraph (9) insert—“(10) A detained person must be informed of the rights under sub-paragraphs (1) and (6) on first being detained.”(6) In paragraph 17—(a) for sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) substitute—“(1) This paragraph applies where a detained person exercises the right under paragraph 16(6) to consult a solicitor.(2) A police officer not below the rank of superintendent may, if it appears to the officer to be necessary on one of the grounds mentioned in sub-paragraph (3), direct that the right— (a) may not be exercised (or further exercised) by consulting the solicitor who attends for the purpose of the consultation or who would so attend but for the giving of the direction, but(b) may instead be exercised by consulting a different solicitor of the detained person’s choosing.(2A) A direction under this paragraph may be given before or after a detained person’s consultation with a solicitor has started (and if given after it has started the right to further consult that solicitor ceases on the giving of the direction).”, and(b) in sub-paragraph (3), in the opening words for “(1)” substitute “(2)”.”
My Lords, the government amendments in this group make a number of changes in response to the debates in both Houses regarding the ports powers under Schedule 3 to the Bill and Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000. They also respond to the reports of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Constitution Committee and the Delegated Powers Committee, and to representations from the Law Society and others.
During the course of the previous debates, there has been much focus on the important topic of a detainee’s right to consult a solicitor in private, and on the exceptional power that would allow an officer to overhear that consultation to mitigate concerns that the detainee might pass on a message to a third party. While this power was not without safeguards—for example, it could only be authorised by an assistant chief constable where the officer had reasonable grounds for believing that allowing the detainee to exercise his or her right to consult a solicitor privately will have certain serious consequences—the Government have heard the concerns raised and are prepared to take a different approach.
Amendments 37 to 39, 41 and 42, would replace that power and instead allow an officer, in the situation that I have just described, to require the detainee to choose a different solicitor. The detainee will then be reminded of the right to free legal counsel from an approved duty solicitor who has met the standards and competence of the Law Society’s criminal litigation accreditation scheme. This approach, which will apply to both Schedule 7 and Schedule 3 ports powers, will mitigate the concerns regarding the detainee’s first-choice solicitor but will still allow the detainee to receive private legal counsel—in all likelihood, with a trusted solicitor from the duty solicitor scheme. It mirrors the provisions in PACE Code H with regard to the detention of terrorist suspects as proposed by the Law Society in its evidence to the Public Bill Committee in the House of Commons, and aligns with the proposals of the shadow Security Minister and noble Lords in this House.
The new power will also be subject to important safeguards. For example, it can only be directed by a superintendent and only where the officer has reasonable grounds for believing that allowing the detainee to exercise his or her right to consult a solicitor privately will have certain serious consequences: for example, interference with evidence or gathering of information; injury to another person; alerting others that they are suspected of an indictable offence; or hindering the recovery of a property obtained by an indictable offence.
Amendments 35, 36 and 40 concern the points raised in Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, regarding the information provided to a detainee about their right to access a solicitor. During that debate, I drew the House’s attention to the draft Schedule 3 code of practice which, like its equivalent for Schedule 7, is clear that a person who has been detained under either power must be provided with a “notice of detention” that clarifies their rights and obligations. The examining officer must also explain these rights and obligations to the detainee before continuing with the examination. Furthermore, at each periodic review of the detention, the examining officer must remind the detainee of any rights that they have not yet exercised.
While the Government are satisfied that all the safeguards that the noble Baroness asked for are already in place through the codes of practice, Amendments 35, 36 and 40 will make it explicit in the primary legislation that a detainee has to be made aware of his or her right to access a lawyer at the moment of detention. We are in complete agreement that any person who is detained under these ports powers should be informed of their rights before any further questioning takes place.
Amendments 43 and 44 will address concerns raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee with respect to the scope of the regulation-making power in what is now paragraph 60 of Schedule 3. This power would allow the Secretary of State to specify additional persons who may be supplied with information acquired by an examining officer. The power mirrors an equivalent in Schedule 14 to the Terrorism Act 2000 relating to information acquired through a Schedule 7 examination. These regulation-making powers are an important means of future-proofing the mechanisms to share information with government bodies and operational partners. Currently this information can be shared, if needed, with the Secretary of State, HMRC, a constable or the National Crime Agency.
We recognise the concerns raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that the powers as drafted could allow sensitive information to be passed to any organisations, including those in the private sector. That is not our intention. The Government are clear that such information should be held and managed responsibly and should not be made available to any person or organisation. Amendments 43 and 44 would ensure that the Secretary of State, in relation to either power, could specify a person to be supplied with this information only if the person exercised a public function, whether or not in the United Kingdom.
I hope that noble Lords are reassured that the Government have listened to a number of concerns raised during the debates and have acted to improve this legislation. I beg to move.
The shadow Security Minister in the Commons, it has been said, proposed that a list should be drawn up of lawyers properly regulated through the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, who would be available to give legal advice and thus overcome the Government’s concern that a person detained under the hostile activity ports powers might seek the service of a rogue solicitor to give legal advice but, in reality, use that person to pass on information to a third party with potentially damaging consequences.
The Government in the Commons said they would consider this proposition and, as the Minister has just said, they have now tabled an amendment that takes out the reference in the Bill to consulting a solicitor,
“in the sight and hearing of a qualified officer”,
and instead provides for a senior officer to be able to require a detainee to consult a different solicitor of the detainee’s choosing. In her letter of 27 November setting out the Government’s amendment, the Minister has said that in practice a different solicitor of the detainee’s choosing is likely to be the duty solicitor. Can she say what will happen if the further different solicitor of the detainee’s choosing is also deemed unacceptable? Will, in effect, the detainee be told either that they choose the duty solicitor or they will not have a solicitor to consult? It would be helpful if this point could be clarified in respect of persons detained under the port and border control powers.
We support the amendments and recognise that the Government have endeavoured to address the concerns expressed in the Commons by the shadow Minister, as well as the similar concerns expressed by noble Lords in this House.
My Lords, we too support these amendments and recognise the steps that the Government have taken. Perhaps I may put on the record a couple of comments made by the Law Society on this general area. Unfortunately, its briefing arrived too late for us to build on it by way of amendment, but it comments on legally privileged material being retained for use as evidence or for deportation proceedings. It gives the view that:
“Legally privileged material should not be retained for any purpose other than a potentially urgent need to prevent death, injury or a hostile act”.
It also comments on:
“The process by which material can be identified as constituting legally privileged material”,
and asks who is responsible for making the determination, as that is not,
“explicitly clear in the Bill as drafted”.
“It is important that this determination is made by a legally qualified person who is capable of accurately assessing whether a given article is subject to legal professional privilege”.
As I said, I thought that it was worth putting those comments on the record.
My noble friend Lord Marks is sorry not to be able to be here this evening and asks that his thanks to the Minister for building on the indication given at the last stage is recorded. He too asks about what he calls an “unacceptable dodgy solicitor”. I think that any dodgy solicitor is unacceptable—you do not have to fill two criteria. If an unacceptable dodgy solicitor is selected for a second time, he and I assume that the senior officer might give a further objection. My noble friend also asks whether the Government intend to issue a further draft code of practice relating to the considerations that senior officers should take into account when considering making these directions.
I thank the noble Baroness for those questions. The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked what happens if the detainee chooses another solicitor, who is then of concern. I am trying to read the writing here. If concerns still exist, the superintendent is within his or her right to direct that the detainee should choose a different solicitor, and that applies not just to the first-choice solicitor. The point about confidential material—
I appreciate the difficulty with reading writing. I cannot read my own, let alone somebody else’s. Does it mean that if the detainee chooses an unacceptable second solicitor, they will then be told, “It’s the duty solicitor or you don’t have a solicitor at all”?
From what I understand, a panel of approved solicitors is available to detainees—I am sure that the Box will fly over with a piece of paper if I am wrong about that. However, if, for whatever reason, the first solicitor from the panel is given to the detainee—
May I make an effort to help out the noble Baroness? There was a time in my professional life when I used to be instructed by duty solicitors at London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport. The fact is that the duty solicitors at ports of entry are accustomed to dealing with all kinds of issues that arise there. Indeed, the quality of work that emanates from being a duty solicitor in significant ports of entry is high. Therefore, one can reasonably assume that one is getting not any old solicitor but a solicitor who has some understanding of the kind of work that can arise in that setting. There is also some training available, and it is usually done very co-operatively. Has that given the Minister enough time to be able to read the writing—or she may wish to just agree with me?
I do agree with the noble Lord; that is absolutely brilliant. But I have just received another piece of information: if the detainee is still not satisfied, they can consult a solicitor by phone, so that is a third arm of the options for detainees. Between us, we have got there.
As for who approves the access to confidential material, it would be the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.
The reason for my asking the question is that, as I understand it, sub-paragraph (2)(b) of Amendment 41 states that the right of the detainee,
“may instead be exercised by consulting a different solicitor of the detainee’s choosing”.
I have nothing at all against duty solicitors and hold them in high regard. However, if the detainee then chooses another solicitor who is unacceptable—presumably not one of the duty solicitors—we are fairly clear that the detainee will then be told to use the duty solicitor or have no solicitor at all.
He or she will be perfectly entitled to consult a solicitor by phone.
Amendment 29 agreed.
Schedule 2: Retention of biometric data for counter-terrorism purposes etc
30: Schedule 2, page 29, line 16, at end insert “, and
(c) the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material has consented under section 63G to the retention of the material.”
My Lords, the JCHR proposed a number of amendments on the subject of biometrics for the last stage. The Minister gave a long reply, quoting the Biometrics Commissioner’s support for bringing the periods for retention of data for arrest on suspicion of terrorism offences into line with arrests under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. At that stage, it seemed to me that this did not go to the question of oversight by the commissioner, and I still do not think that has really been dealt with.
I confess that I had to go by way of Beachy Head and along the byways of PACE to arrive at Amendment 30, so I am well prepared for criticisms of the drafting. However, it is intended to ensure that the retention of biometric data for a terrorism offence has consent from the commissioner. I am entirely open to a different way of achieving that end, but I am certain in my own mind that, whatever the basis of arrest, the retention of data should require this consent. I beg to move.
My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has made clear, this amendment returns to one of the issues raised in the reports on the Bill by the Joint Committee on Human Rights: the rules governing the retention of biometric data in national security cases. I am sorry that the noble Baroness remains unpersuaded by my previous response. I will do my best to be more persuasive today.
Without going over too much ground, it may be helpful if I briefly reiterate that Schedule 2 amends the laws that govern the retention, review and deletion of fingerprints and DNA profiles by the police for national security purposes. The intention of these provisions is to strike a better balance between on the one hand enabling the police to use fingerprints and DNA in an agile and effective way to support terrorism investigations and protect the public, and on the other ensuring that the retention of DNA and fingerprints continues to be proportionate and subject to appropriate safeguards. Schedule 2 delivers this and, importantly, it retains proportionate safeguards, including regular case-by-case review and the robust independent oversight provided by the Biometrics Commissioner.
The noble Baroness’s amendment would amend paragraph 2 of Schedule 2, which harmonises the retention periods for biometric data obtained when an individual is arrested on suspicion of terrorism, but not subsequently charged, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the Terrorism Act 2000. Paragraph 2 does so by providing for biometric data to be retained for an automatic period of three years when an individual is arrested under PACE for a qualifying terrorist offence.
As the noble Baroness is aware, currently an individual arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 may have their biometric data automatically retained for three years. But the same automatic retention would not be available if the same individual were arrested in relation to the exact same activity under PACE. Rather, in that case, ongoing retention for national security purposes would require the police to make a national security determination with the approval of the Biometrics Commissioner, or would otherwise require the consent of the Biometrics Commissioner under Section 63G of PACE if retention were solely for the prevention or detection of crime generally.
Our position on this is that having two different retention regimes in such cases is quite simply anomalous. The Bill will provide for a more consistent approach to the retention of biometric data for all those arrested on suspicion of terrorism by providing for the same retention period in otherwise identical terrorism cases regardless of the power of arrest used. This is a proportionate and logical change.
The noble Baroness’s amendment would mean that this inconsistency between the two retention regimes would persist. Particularly against the backdrop of the heightened threat picture we face today, I am clear that it is important that the police are not deprived of information that could prove vital to keeping the public safe. That is what underlies a lot of what we seek without removing, as I emphasised earlier, the safeguards that are in place.
As noble Lords would expect, we consulted the Biometrics Commissioner on this provision. He is clear that he supports the measure, and I quoted his words last time. The noble Baroness’s amendment would have the effect not of modifying or improving this aspect of Schedule 2 but of effectively nullifying the provision and preserving the current anomaly. That disparity is not sustainable and I see no good reason for continuing it.
I sense that I have not persuaded the noble Baroness in what I have said, but I hope that she can at least see the logic of the Government’s position and perhaps, on reflection, will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I think we want the same thing, but I confess that I do not understand how the Government have got here. The noble Earl did indeed quote the commissioner last time, but it seemed to me that that was on a different point. Perhaps I may check this. I think he is saying that the oversight through an NSD is equivalent to the oversight applied by PACE. I do not know whether he is able to answer that, but I am finding it difficult to understand how they are in fact exactly equivalent in the way that he is telling the House.
The strict answer to the question put by the noble Baroness is that the two Acts provide for different kinds of retention regimes, one where it is automatic for three years under certain conditions and the other where the Biometrics Commissioner has to give his permission; namely, under PACE. The point I was making was that that applies in cases which are otherwise identical and that it is simply anomalous to have that difference. The Biometrics Commissioner has actually said that it would be,
“a sensible approach to bring the retention periods for arrest on suspicion of terrorism offences in line”.
If he is relaxed about it, I cannot see that we should not be either.
I have the Official Report of when the noble Earl quoted that last time, and it seemed to me then that that was about the retention period, not quite about the role of the commissioner. I do not think that we are going to make further progress and at this time of night it would be inappropriate for me to labour the point. It may be my fault for failing to follow the details. As I say, I have had to go by way of Beachy Head to get to the amendment that I put down. I beg leave to withdraw it.
Amendment 30 withdrawn.
Consideration on Report adjourned.
House adjourned at 9.47 pm.