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Lords Chamber

Volume 828: debated on Tuesday 7 March 2023

House of Lords

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of London.

Green Investment

Question

Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the environmental provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act 2022 in the United States of America, and (2) the Green Deal Industrial Plan announced by the European Union in January; and what plans they have to prevent any resulting leakage of future green investment from the United Kingdom.

I think that the noble Lord wants to ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper; I hope so, anyway. The Government welcome international action on climate change, and work closely with allies and partners to ensure that we can collectively drive global decarbonisation. We continue to assess the impact of international policies on UK investment to ensure that we meet our net-zero and economic growth ambitions. The UK has made significant progress in decarbonising and growing our economy, and we will continue to back our ambitious targets with impactful domestic policy and targeted funding.

My Lords, I will try to be a little more fluent in my follow-up question. This is very serious. Industry and many people see the Inflation Reduction Act and the EU response as a real threat to us—piggy in the middle—as an economy and on where we need to go on green investment. I do not get the impression that the Government have a plan here. It looks like we are a rabbit frozen in the headlamps of trucks coming in both directions. Is there really a plan coming for how we will survive this onslaught from our economic neighbours?

The short answer to the noble Lord’s question is yes, in essence. He is right to point to both these actions as potential threats, significantly so in the case of the US. The protectionist measures are the problem; we have no problem with it finally coming to the decarbonisation table. We are still waiting to see the details from the EU and will know more next week, but it does not look as though there will be much protectionism there: certainly, from the outline that I saw, none of the items listed is a particular threat. We are looking at this very closely across the Government and will be responding in due course.

My Lords, is this so-called Inflation Reduction Act not in fact an outright protectionist measure, very much pointing the wrong way for those of us who want freer trade worldwide? The Secretary of State says that she has been talking with like-minded countries about what to deal with and how to face the problems that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, has raised. Can the Minister assure us that, in the United States, we are talking to a like-minded country—we thought that it was—and explaining to it the collateral damage, which could be considerable, from this ill-considered measure?

I assure my noble friend that we are talking to the US about the provisions, but the legislation is the legislation. We all know the history of why it ended up as it did in the US Congress. Nevertheless, we will continue to engage the US, make our points and argue for open, free and fair competition.

My Lords, yesterday, Platform and Friends of the Earth Scotland published a report which showed how oil and gas workers could lead a just energy transition, with a training scheme that was standardised between offshore oil and gas and the new offshore industries, including wind, tidal and wave, to allow workers to take their skills to the new sectors. Will the Government act on those recommendations?

The noble Baroness has an advantage on me as I have not seen that report, but we have the North Sea transition plan, which does many of the same things that she talked about. As I have said before, we still have a need for oil and gas in the medium term during the transition, but the essential skills that many of those workers bring will be very useful in the new economy.

My Lords, the Government have adopted a state-level strategy, signing memoranda of understanding with various states: Indiana, South Carolina and North Carolina. Their focus is on clean tech and green trade. What other states are the Government currently in negotiations with, what are the expected benefits, and why should we be negotiating with individual states rather than the United States on this front?

The noble Earl raises important points with regard to trade negotiations. I am not familiar with the details so I will have to write to him.

My Lords, there is a grotesque misnomer here. The Inflation Reduction Act will in fact raise trade barriers, push up prices and thus increase inflation. Worst of all, like the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, it is likely to set off a series of beggar-my-neighbour retaliatory measures, not least from the European Union. Will my noble friend the Minister confirm that this country remains wedded to the principles of free trade and that, if others put rocks in their harbours, we will not retaliate by putting rocks in our harbours?

My noble friend makes an important point. I know how committed he is to and how hard he works for the principle of international free trade, which we totally support. We want to engage with the US on these matters but we need to convince it and, of course, the EU that free, fair and open trade benefits everyone. That is the key point that we need to put across to them.

My Lords, the scale of potential investment in both the US Inflation Reduction Act and the EU green deal shows a key recognition of just how much opportunity there is in investing in net-zero projects. The European Commission cites 35% to 40% of all jobs as potentially affected by the green transition, while analysis by Princeton University’s REPEAT project suggests that the policies in the US Act will create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Any leakage of investment away from the UK will also leak jobs, as the Question from the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, suggests. I ask the Minister to be specific about what steps the Government have taken to protect these opportunities for our communities to level up. For example, can we expect to see reference to this in next week’s Budget?

The noble Baroness would not expect me to go into detail but we will set out our plans shortly. However, it is important to recognise that the UK has made excellent progress in attracting private investment into low-carbon sectors. PwC’s 2023 annual global CEO survey found that the UK is now in the top three in the global investment market, second only to the US and China. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated that, in 2021 and 2022, the UK saw £48 billion of net-zero investment coming into the UK.

My Lords, while I recognise the concerns about the anti-competitiveness issues with the Inflation Reduction Act, I wonder whether the Minister has looked at the specific provisions in it in relation to onshore wind. There is support for investment and production, whereas in this country we make the infrastructure of onshore wind subject to far more difficult provisions than any other sort of infrastructure and we have kept it out of investment incentives. When are we going to change those policies?

The noble Baroness is dogged in her support for onshore wind and makes an important point. She will know that it is now eligible for CfDs and we are looking at how we can ensure more onshore wind investment with the support of local communities.

My Lords, given the Minister’s positive reply to his noble friend Lord Hannan, do the Government retain an open mind with regard to Tata, or other organisations not based in the UK, seeking up to half a trillion pounds of taxpayers’ subsidy money?

The noble Lord would not expect me to comment on detailed negotiations with particular companies. We have long had a policy of open and free trade, but we have some relatively limited and targeted investments, including in the automotive sector, which have proved very successful. We are not going to follow the lead of the US and close our borders to foreign competition.

I congratulate the Government on the investment in National Savings bonds. Will my noble friend tell us what the level of investment has been and what type of projects have benefited from them?

My Lords, is it not the case that the American policy is being driven by the fact that living standards in America—and in Europe and here—have been dropping? The gap between rich and poor is getting wider, and Governments have so far failed to address that problem.

I do not agree with the noble Lord. There are reasons why the US adopted its policy —investment, which we welcome, into green renewable energy, et cetera. Of course, the US is starting from an awfully long way behind the UK. One of the reasons it has to put in such large subsidies is that it has not provided the long-term legislative certainty that we have.

My Lords, mention of rocks dropping into harbours by the noble Lord, Lord Hannan, brings to mind ships. On protectionism, what is our view of the latest legislation being passed by the EU, which seems to indicate that defence procurement will be from countries remaining in the EU and not go more widely?

The noble Lord is always ingenious at getting defence and ships into every Question. I would need to speak to my Ministry of Defence colleagues for their response to that.

Creative and Cultural Sector: Social Mobility

Question

Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of social mobility in the creative and cultural sector, and what steps they are taking to improve it.

My Lords, culture and creativity are for everyone and are enriched when everyone is able to play their full part in them. As part of our work to promote social mobility in the creative and cultural sectors, we commissioned research from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre to inform our approach. We have launched the new Discover Creative Careers programme to improve access to creative careers and will set out our approach further in the forthcoming cultural education plan and creative industries sector vision.

I thank the Minister for his reply. A recent report looking into social mobility in the creative sector since the 1970s found that there has been shockingly little progress. Last week, in her first speech in the role, the DCMS Secretary of State said about the creative industries that

“we need to work together to give people the right skills and awareness from a young age”.

Does the Minister agree? Does he agree with Minister Julia Lopez that the problem is a disconnect between education provision and the jobs being created? We need no more labelling of creative courses as “low value” and more emphasis and support for creative subjects and career information. Will the Minister get his own Government, and most importantly the Department for Education, to listen to fellow Ministers and act on this as a key part of encouraging social mobility in this sector?

The noble Baroness is right to point to recent research, which shows that this is a long-standing problem afflicting more than just our nation. That is why DCMS commissioned the report I mentioned from the policy and evidence centre in 2021. It pointed to a number of levers, particularly ensuring fair and equal access to cultural activities in early life and using education as a leveller. We are taking those forward through our work on the cultural education plan with the Department for Education. I am seeing the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, about it tomorrow, and am delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, has agreed to chair the panel informing it. We are also supporting the take-up and provision of a broad range of post-16 vocational routes, such as T-levels and boot camps, and support the free schools led by industry, such as the BRIT School and the London Screen Academy, which are doing excellent work in this area.

My Lords, I declare an interest as a freelance television producer. One of the biggest problems facing freelancers, who make up a third of the creative industries, is late payment. The Communications Committee, in its inquiry into the future of journalism, called for the Small Business Commissioner to be given powers to sort out unfair payment practices for freelancers. Unfortunately, at the moment she cannot deal with complaints to companies that employ fewer than 50 people, which includes the vast majority of creative industry companies. Can the Minister tell the House whether the Government intend to extend her powers in this area?

I shall take that issue up with colleagues at the Department for Business and Trade, but the noble Viscount is right to point to the large number of freelancers and small and medium-sized enterprises that make up our creative industries and cultural sector, and to the need to ensure that they are paid in a timely way for the important work they do.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that, if we were to look at who is performing on our stage and screen at the moment, we might think there was not a problem? There is an enormous and very encouraging degree of diversity across the whole range of performing arts, but there is no such equal diversity in the necessary supporting skills and trades. Does he further agree that this is partly because schools themselves—he touched on this in his earlier reply—are insufficiently encouraged to understand the range of options open to people with all kinds of skills to work in the creative industries, including technical, digital and craft skills?

The noble Baroness is absolutely right: many exciting job opportunities are open to people in the creative industries and the cultural sector, backstage and off-screen. Because film and television were supported to open up more quickly than live performing arts, a lot of people have switched between those parts of the sector. I mentioned the Discover Creative Careers programme, which Julia Lopez launched last month. That will provide £1 million over three years to give young people in 77 targeted areas across England better career provision, letting them know about the exciting job opportunities on offer so that we can fill those skills gaps and get people into the sector.

My Lords, my noble friend’s department gives many grants to the sector. Can he outline what conditions are put on those grants, particularly for work experience and internships, so that those who maybe do not live in London or near a major city, or who do not have parents who can support them, can access work experience and internships?

As my noble friend knows, we have ensured that the Arts Council, which distributes a lot of taxpayer subsidy to arts and culture, does so more fairly across the whole country, bringing opportunities and high-quality cultural provision close to people’s doorsteps. Since 2018, the Arts Council has asked national portfolio organisations, as it calls them, to provide data on the socioeconomic background of their permanent staff. We have asked them to take the socioeconomic background of the people involved into account so that we can make sure that everybody is able to enjoy the opportunities that that affords.

My Lords, returning to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, there is a crisis here. According to ONS data from researchers at the universities of Manchester, Edinburgh and Sheffield, the number of creative workers from working-class backgrounds has halved since the 1970s—my generation, if you like—and the chances of children from middle-class backgrounds getting a job in the cultural sector are four times greater than for those from working-class backgrounds. Does the Minister share my concern that this affects not only who portrays the characters but the stories and narratives seen by the wider public? What work is the department doing with the Social Mobility Commission in this area, and what additional resources can it give the commission to help it change the class basis of our arts?

The noble Lord is right: culture and creativity are enriched when as broad a range of people as possible are part of telling stories and sharing perspectives. That is why we commissioned the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre to do the report that I mentioned. We have also commissioned an external evidence review to identify interventions that can help. I have mentioned the work we are taking forward through the cultural education plan and the creative industries sector vision, so there is work for us to do. The point he makes about the Social Mobility Commission is a good one, and I will follow it up with colleagues.

My Lords, opportunities begin with education but as headteachers and educationalists point out, the reality is that arts subjects are now woefully underfunded, certainly compared to private schools, as well as being actively discouraged by the EBacc. What plans do the Government have to address this? Otherwise, the arts and creative industries will become accessible only to the privileged few—and yes, this is something that DCMS and the DfE need to bang their heads together about.

Absolutely, and I am very happy to bang those heads. One of the key aims of the cultural education plan is to tackle disparities in opportunity and outcome, and to identify schools across the state and private sectors that are doing good work, while ensuring that everybody, wherever they live, has the life-changing opportunity to take part in arts and culture.

My Lords, while the Minister is banging heads and meeting his right honourable friend the Schools Minister tomorrow, will he please raise the issue of musical education in schools? It is harder now for schoolchildren in inner-city schools and state schools to access musical instruments than it was 50 years ago when I was at a grammar school on a council estate in Hertfordshire. That really is a scandal.

I will, but my right honourable friend the Schools Minister and I would both point to the £25 million of capital investment that accompanied the national plan for music education, informed by my noble friend Lady Fleet and others, and that ensured greater provision of musical instruments, particularly adaptable instruments for pupils with special educational needs. We wanted to make sure that every barrier to participation in arts, music and culture was removed.

My Lords, it must warm the Minister’s heart to hear his Secretary of State say that we should use the creative industries to drive growth in every corner of the UK. However, we have seen a 30% decline in the last 10 years in revenue funding coming from local authorities. How can we make up this shortfall? Furthermore, does he not think that the dreadful EBacc is stifling advancement in the creative industries?

I am indeed keen to see growth in every part of the country. The creative industries have been growing more than twice as quickly as the rest of the economy in terms of GVA, and since 2011 employment in the sector has increased more than five times faster than the rest of the economy. There are therefore huge opportunities for people in every part of the country, and we want to see more of these jobs, which are enriching in every sense. The noble Lord is right to point to the important role played by local government. We work closely with the Local Government Association, which recently produced an excellent report on cultural provision, highlighting the important role it plays. Of course, the Government, through things like the levelling up fund, the towns fund and the UK shared prosperity fund, are ensuring that investment is there to encourage it.

Myanmar: Health Workers

Question

Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what support they are providing for health workers in Myanmar who are caring for patients outside the areas controlled by the military government of that country.

I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and, in doing so, I declare an interest as patron of THET, the Tropical Health and Education Trust.

My Lords, Myanmar’s public healthcare system has been in crisis since the coup. We are concerned about Myanmar’s level of basic healthcare services and childhood immunisation rates. The UK is a leading donor on supporting healthcare needs in that country. This financial year, the UK has provided £13.95 million for healthcare in Myanmar, which is being delivered by the UN, by civil society and by ethnic healthcare organisations. This support is saving the lives of vulnerable women and children.

I thank the Minister for that response. I agree that the situation in Myanmar two years after the coup is truly appalling. I pay tribute to the UK Government’s efforts, including their efforts at the Security Council to keep up pressure on the country. There are many courageous health workers in the parts of the country that are not controlled by the military who are providing health services where and how they can from makeshift facilities, and they are being targeted by the military as a result. They are being excellently supported by UK and UK-based Burmese clinicians with education, training, advice, some supplies and more, largely over the internet. However, this is problematic because it is very largely controlled by the Government.

I have two immediate questions. I understand that Professor Zaw Wai Soe, the Health Minister of the National Unity Government, has asked the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, if the UK can help by providing access to satellites. Can the Minister tell the House what progress is being made with this and when a response can be expected? Would he be willing to meet representatives of the UK and the UK-based Burmese clinicians in this country to discuss the situation, and what further practical action can be taken?

My Lords, for obvious reasons, humanitarian access is extremely challenging, with many areas cut off completely to the UN and international NGOs. That is why our approach has been targeted at using and working with domestic organisations of the sort that the noble Lord has cited. The problem with that, as he knows, is that healthcare workers affiliated in any way with the civil disobedience movement are targeted. According to the World Health Organization, at least 51 healthcare workers have been killed and 352 attacked since the coup, and the Tropical Health and Education Trust, which the noble Lord is part of, reports that 624 healthcare workers remain in arbitrary detention. I am afraid I do not know the answer about progress on satellites, but I will ask my noble friend Lord Ahmad, in whose portfolio this sits, and if he is not able to meet representatives then I will certainly happily do so.

My Lords, since Security Council Resolution 2669, we have seen 2 million children in need of a targeted immunisation catch-up programme and 3,000 people having died at the hands of the military coup. Does the Minister agree with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, that the crisis will not end until those responsible are held to account? Will the Minister ensure that we pursue that strongly at the United Nations?

I absolutely agree with the noble Lord and with the UN. He will know that in December last year the UN Security Council passed the first ever resolution on the situation in Myanmar, and that was led by the UK. The resolution demands an end to violence and urges immediate action by the military regime to fully implement the ASEAN five-point consensus and release everyone who has been arbitrarily detained. However, we are not going to see change until we see change at the very top. The noble Lord is right to make that point, and it is of course a priority for the UK.

My Lords, I declare my interests as vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary groups on Burma and the Rohingya. I want to take the Minister back to what he has just said about levels of access and the request from my noble friend Lord Crisp about meeting some of those who are involved in these issues, specifically in this case Burma Campaign UK, in order to address their concerns about the level of reporting that is required for the receipt of international humanitarian aid, which they say is wholly unrealistic and simply not feasible in a conflict zone. They say that people are dying because of the red tape. Can we look again at how to utilise local civil society organisations, as referred to by the Minister a moment ago, which are indeed best placed to get aid to those who need it? They say that, among Burma’s ethnic minorities and the 2 million displaced since the military coup, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding.

My Lords, it is without doubt a humanitarian catastrophe. Myanmar is the Indo-Pacific’s most desperate humanitarian crisis. Some 17.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and over 1.6 million have been displaced, including over 500,000 children. Some 15 million people are considered moderately or severely food insecure, and 7.8 million children remain out of school. So the noble Lord is right. The difficulty, as I mentioned earlier, is access. When dealing with a regime of the sort that runs that country, access to the grass roots is very difficult. So we have a twin approach: first, we work through channels such as the UN and ASEAN to push for greater humanitarian access and, secondly, we increasingly support local civil society networks with access to vulnerable communities to be the first responders to the crisis. That has ensured that UK aid is reaching the most remote and hard-to-reach areas, but it is difficult.

My Lords, the Burmese diaspora are working closely with NHS colleagues in delivering clinical education and training. Their time and expertise are gifted free of charge and supported by modest FCDO funds, which allow organisations such as the Tropical Health and Education Trust to organise and structure this support in a professional way. Could the Minister comment on whether he sees any scope for increasing those funds for UK health communities in their response to Myanmar?

I will reiterate the point I made. We applaud the Myanmar health professionals who are risking their lives to continue treating patients. We commend the NHS volunteers who are sharing their skills and knowledge with colleagues and friends in Myanmar, taking huge risks in doing so. I absolutely pay tribute to them. Since the coup, we have provided around £100 million to support those in need of humanitarian assistance, to deliver healthcare and education for the most vulnerable and to protect civic space. In 2021-22, we provided nearly £50 million in aid to Myanmar, including £24 million of life-saving assistance for 600,000 people. I am not in a position to comment on future expenditure, but I think it is very clear from our recent track record that this remains a priority focus for the FCDO.

My Lords, as I started to say earlier, the attack on health workers and health support workers is deeply reprehensible and I support the Government’s actions, including the sanctions. The operation of a parallel health system by health workers to provide much-needed support for children could be a model in other countries, such as Syria and Afghanistan, where we do not recognise the regimes. When the Minister is considering the right reverend Prelate’s question regarding UK government support, can that support include those seeking to offer vital health support in Syria and Afghanistan, where we do not recognise the regime?

The noble Lord makes an important point, and I will make sure that that suggestion is conveyed to relevant Ministers and officials. I will add that, according to the World Health Organization, one-third of all attacks on health workers around the world have occurred in Myanmar. This is a real problem. I think the approach adopted in that country by the international community has worked and, like the noble Lord, I do not see any reason why it would not in other areas where we do not recognise the regime.

My Lords, I declare an interest as a trustee of Burma Campaign UK. The Minister will know that, since the coup in 2021, the military has brutally suppressed its critics and unlawfully attacked civilians on the ground and from the air, including many health workers working in the ethnic areas. While the UK and EU-imposed sanctions on aviation fuel are welcome, will the Minister give assurances that he will keep those sanctions under urgent review as companies change names to avoid sanctions, and look into whether British companies are involved in the provision of third-party services to vessels involved in the shipment of aviation fuel to Myanmar, such as insurance, shipping or financial services? Stopping the military’s relentless bombing campaign on innocent civilians will help those providing humanitarian aid.

The Government always keep their sanctions policy under review. We are considering a range of further targets and other measures to hold the suppressive, brutal regime to account. It is vital that any sanctions imposed have the desired effect of denying the regime credibility and reducing its access to finance, arms and equipment. Part of that is to tackle the problem identified by the noble Baroness—the use of aviation fuel to facilitate bombing campaigns. That is a focus of the FCDO when it comes to looking at the appropriate sanctions.

Windsor Framework

Question

Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government which EU laws will be disapplied as a result of the Windsor Framework.

My Lords, the Windsor Framework disapplies swathes of EU law in Northern Ireland—too much to list here in full. We have published a full range of legal texts that underpin this new agreement. It completely carves out whole areas of EU law on issues such as VAT, medicines and food, in a way that the EU has never done before. It means that it is UK laws and standards that apply, and the UK Parliament that decides what those rules should be.

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister for that reply, I think, although he has not answered the Question. I would be grateful if he could commit to writing to me with, or putting in the Library, a list of the actual laws and regulations that have been disapplied, and not generalities. If they know that it is 1,700 pages, and swathes, they must have the list of laws and regulations. In not publishing them, I fear that they are running into the danger of allowing people to think that the reason that they are not publishing the list is that the vast bulk of the laws in annexe 2 of the protocol, which apply the single market and customs union rules of the EU to Northern Ireland without consent, will remain, and that the Stormont brake—such as it is, with all of its defects—does not apply to them.

I am very grateful to my noble friend for his supplementary. I do apologise that I cannot give him a definitive number at this stage. He will appreciate that I am not an expert in EU law, and I have no intention of becoming one, but my understanding is that the situation is somewhat more complex than just adding together a list. There will of course be some directives that are in part still applied, in respect, for example, of the red channel, and disapplied in respect of the green channel. But I can assure him that, for example, with annexe 1 of the EU regulations covering SPS rules to accommodate Northern Ireland—I have it here—67 EU rules are now disapplied. I will take back what he said about trying to publish a definitive list, but, as I say, the situation is slightly more complicated than just adding together one list.

My Lords, how much of the legislation attached to the Windsor Framework has been written? What is the process for its drafting. Will the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland parties be consulted? Have any of them already been consulted regarding the drafting?

I thank the noble Baroness for her question. She will be aware that the legislation is still being drafted. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State spoke to Northern Ireland parties over the weekend, officials engaged with Northern Ireland parties yesterday and there will be more such engagement from my right honourable friend and officials later this week. That process is ongoing and we do wish to bring forward the required legislation as soon as necessary. The noble Baroness mentioned the role of the Irish Government; of course, we keep in close contact with the Irish Government, but I think it is very important that we observe the constitutional proprieties on this matter, given that these are strand 1 issues and internal to the United Kingdom Parliament.

My Lords, in welcoming the framework agreement, may I say to my noble friend that this shows what can be achieved when the principal negotiators are masters of detail, are willing to compromise and have a reputation for honesty and straight dealing—and that is a lesson that should be learned by previous negotiators?

I am grateful to my noble friend; I cannot imagine what possible point he is trying to make with his question, but I can assure him that the attributes he set out are all ones that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has in spades.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that what businesses in Northern Ireland need now is stability and the ability to plan? Does he further agree that, while it is reasonable to allow all parties, including the DUP, time to examine the Windsor deal in detail, it is not reasonable to allow one party to continue to block progress indefinitely?

I am very grateful to the noble Baroness. She is absolutely right that Northern Ireland needs stability and certainty. As I said in response to a Question last week, for those of us who passionately believe in the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom, restoring the institutions and having political stability in Northern Ireland, and building a Northern Ireland that works for all parts of the community, is the surest foundation for strengthening the United Kingdom.

My Lords, I welcome the fact that the DUP has set up a panel to look at the issues around the framework. I hope it will be looking at what it can deliver for Northern Ireland. I hope the Minister can confirm that the Government will fully co-operate with that process, working with the panel. I also say to your Lordships—this is a point that the Minister himself just made—that there is not really a perfect solution to the position we are in. What we want to do is get the best outcomes for Northern Ireland and for the UK. I have to say that I hope that the DUP will conclude that it can go back into the Assembly and Executive, because the only way to truly address the democratic deficit in Northern Ireland is to have a fully functioning Executive and Assembly. So I look forward to the outcome of the panel’s responses and I hope it will recognise the effort that has gone into achieving this agreement.

Well, I appreciate very much the comments of the noble Baroness and the tone with which she expressed them. Of course, we all hugely desire the restoration of the political institutions at the earliest opportunity, not least as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Belfast agreement, which the party opposite negotiated in government. On the panel, that is of course a matter for the Democratic Unionist Party. The Government are committed to working with all parties to take this process forward. Where there is a need for official technical briefings, we are quite prepared to provide those and, as I say, we will work with all parties to take this forward.

My Lords, last week Maroš Šefčovič told his MEPs that the European Court still reigns supreme over Northern Ireland, despite what the British Prime Minister said. He also said that the framework was designed in a way to avoid hostile headlines in the British press, and that the Stormont brake is very much limited in scope and under very strict conditions. Does the Minister accept that the truth about the framework agreement is now out, and it shows that the Prime Minister has hugely oversold it as a triumph, when in fact it is a small tinkering with the methods of delivering the very same protocol that has done so much damage to Northern Ireland?

I thank the noble Baroness. I am afraid that I have to disagree rather fundamentally with her characterisation of the agreement negotiated by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and others, which I regard as a very considerable improvement in all respects on the existing protocol. In respect of a number of issues that she raised, the Windsor Framework will allow for the free flow of trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it will underpin Northern Ireland’s position within our United Kingdom, and the Stormont brake will give the United Kingdom Government a sovereign veto over new legislation within the scope of the protocol.

My Lords, it is quite clear that this brilliant achievement by the Prime Minister deserves widespread support. Would my noble friend not agree that those who wish to serve the people of Northern Ireland would do far better to recognise that this is the best that they will ever get and to make it work?

My Lords, does the Minister agree that the Windsor Framework is not merely about Northern Ireland? It has potentially profound implications for the rest of the United Kingdom as well. Paragraph 52 of the Command Paper reads that

“the Office of the Internal Market (OIM) will specifically monitor any impacts for Northern Ireland arising from relevant future regulatory changes”.

Could my noble friend say what the purpose of that is, and what weight the Government are going to give to the results of such monitoring?

The purpose, as I understand it, is to ensure that any proposals for divergence can be managed in a way that is consistent with the integrity of the United Kingdom internal market, which is incredibly important for Northern Ireland and for the rest of the United Kingdom. My noble friend refers to Great Britain, and of course the deal is not just good for Northern Ireland; it is good for businesses in Great Britain that have had trouble supplying the Northern Ireland market, including friends of mine and Members of this House, such as my noble friend Lord Taylor, who I think is not in his place. There have been a number of problems with trade from GB to NI, which this agreement, a brilliant achievement by the Prime Minister, will help to remedy.

Social Security (Additional Payments) (No. 2) Bill

First Reading

The Bill was brought from the Commons, endorsed as a money Bill, and read a first time.

Horticultural Sector Committee

Liaison Committee

Statutory Instruments Committee

Membership Motions

Moved by

Horticultural Sector Committee

That Lord Watson of Wyre Forest be appointed a member of the Select Committee.

Liaison Committee

That Lord Bach be appointed a member of the Select Committee.

Statutory Instruments Committee

That Baroness Sater be appointed a member of the Select Committee.

Motions agreed.

Civil Service Impartiality

Commons Urgent Question

The following Answer to an Urgent Question was given in the House of Commons on Monday 6 March.

“I can confirm that, following a media report the previous day, Sue Gray, formerly second Permanent Secretary to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and to the Cabinet Office, resigned from the Civil Service on Thursday 2 March. This resignation was accepted with immediate effect. On Friday 3 March, a statement from the Opposition announced that the Labour Party had offered Sue Gray the role of chief of staff to the leader of the Opposition.

The House will recognise that this is an exceptional situation. It is unprecedented for a serving Permanent Secretary to resign to seek to take up a senior position working for the leader of the Opposition. As honourable Members will expect, the Cabinet Office is looking into the circumstances leading up to Sue Gray’s resignation in order to update the relevant Civil Service leadership and Ministers of the facts. Subsequent to that, I will update the House appropriately.

By way of background, to inform honourable Members, there are four pertinent sets of rules and guidance for civil servants relating to this issue. First, under the Civil Service Code, every civil servant is expected to uphold the Civil Service’s core values, which include impartiality. The code states that civil servants must

‘act in a way which deserves and retains the confidence of ministers’.

Secondly, rules apply when very senior civil servants wish to leave the service. Permanent Secretaries are subject to the business appointments process that, for most senior leavers, is administered by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. ACOBA provides advice to the Prime Minister, who is the ultimate decision-maker in cases involving the most senior civil servants. Once the Prime Minister agrees the conditions and the appointment is taken up, ACOBA publishes its letter to the applicant on its website.

The business appointment rules form part of a civil servant’s contract of employment. The rules state that approval must be obtained prior to a job offer being announced. The Cabinet Office has not, as yet, been informed that the relevant notification to ACOBA has been made.

Thirdly, civil servants must follow guidance on the declaration and management of outside interests. They are required, on an ongoing basis, to declare and manage any outside interests that may give rise to an actual or perceived conflict of interest. Finally, the directory of civil service guidance states:

‘Contacts between senior civil servants and leading members of the Opposition parties … should … be cleared with … Ministers.’

Having set out the relevant rules, I finish by saying that, regardless of the details of this specific situation, I understand why Members of this House and eminent outside commentators have raised concerns. The impartiality and perceived impartiality of the Civil Service is constitutionally vital to the conduct of government. I am certain that all senior civil servants are acutely aware of the importance of maintaining impartiality. Ministers must be able to speak to their officials from a position of absolute trust, so it is the responsibility of everyone in this House to preserve and support the impartiality of the Civil Service.”

My Lords, we have heard a lot of nonsense on this over the past few days. Over many years, Sue Gray has been praised by Ministers from all parties for her abilities and her impartiality. She is not unique in being offered a political role on leaving the Civil Service. For example, noble Lords will recall that the noble Lord, Lord Frost, left the diplomatic service to be a political advisor to the then Foreign Secretary before becoming a Minister in your Lordship’s House.

We have had a lot of heckling—I think we are getting a bit bad-tempered in the Chamber these days. I am happy to repeat what I said, in case anyone missed it.

It is not without precedent that a senior civil servant is offered a political role on leaving the Civil Service, but Sue Gray is certainly the first to be attacked in this way. She has had such a distinguished career, and I am appalled that some now impugn her integrity for the time that she served successive Governments. Surely we should welcome that the leader of His Majesty’s Official Opposition, in preparing for government, wants to employ someone with such impeccable credentials and integrity—or perhaps those kicking up a fuss just fear the appointment.

I will set out the facts from a slightly different perspective. Sue Gray, formerly Second Permanent Secretary at DLUHC and at the Cabinet Office, resigned from the Civil Service on Thursday. This resignation was accepted with immediate effect. Because it was unique—and I would say unprecedented—for a serving Permanent Secretary to resign to seek to take up a very senior position, that of Chief of Staff working for the leader of the Opposition, we are looking into the circumstances leading up to her resignation. However, it is incumbent on the office of the leader of the Opposition to be much more forthcoming about the details of what discussions were involved and the timing of those discussions so that we are able to complete our fact-finding exercise.

Ministers must be able to speak to their officials from a position of absolute trust. It is the responsibility of everyone in this House to preserve and support the impartiality of the Civil Service, and this step does the opposite.

My Lords, the Minister sometimes refers to the fact that at one time she used to work for me when she was a professional civil servant in the Cabinet Office. Does she agree that the appointment of Sue Gray to give professional assistance to the Opposition in preparing for the possibility of government throws no more doubt on the impartiality of the Civil Service than the noble Baroness’s very welcome presence on the Conservative Front Bench?

But, in my own case, I left to go to Tesco, where I served for 15 years. I then took a different path. I served as a civil servant with due impartiality and indeed confidentiality of everything that I did and learned there, and that will be a requirement for Ms Gray.

My Lords, I declare an interest as the husband of a former civil servant and the father of a civil servant. To repeat what William Wragg, the chairman of PACAC, said in the debate yesterday in the Commons:

“It is important to ask”

the Minister

“whether he shares my concern that it is wrong to impugn an entire civil service for political bias, and that it is important that he asserts that from the Dispatch Box”.—[Official Report, Commons, 2/3/23; col. 26]

Is that not the most important thing for a Minister to do? As for the current concern, this was a leak by Sky News. I would have thought that we were all interested in ensuring that, if there is a change of Government after the next election, it is competently prepared and served. After the relative chaos we have had over the past five years, of too many Ministers moving too quickly, with some members of the Government deeply suspicious of the Civil Service all the way through, should we not welcome this achievement?

It is for the Civil Service of the day to prepare for Governments, as I remember doing in 1997, with three lots of policies. It is very important that ACOBA looks at this appointment. The business appointment rules govern the process by which civil servants take up new employment—it is part of their contract. As my right honourable friend the Paymaster-General said in the other place, there are various sets of rules and guidance designed to make sure that impartiality is observed in the Civil Service, particularly with the movement of senior Ministers or civil servants into other jobs.

My Lords, it important to see impartiality in our Civil Service, which is judged throughout the world as the finest—arguably until Thursday—but precedents are just as important. The noble Baroness opposite said that one precedent was my noble friend Lord Frost. He was a special adviser—a political post—for five years and was also in the House of Lords before he took up a post as a Minister, so that is not a precedent. Last Thursday, a Second Permanent Secretary who was at the heart of this Government and of policy, and who advised government officials, turned over and took a political post without any break in contract. For me, that is completely different. Does my noble friend, who has Civil Service experience, agree that this move is simply without precedent?

I agree that it is both unusual and without precedent, and I agree that Ministers must be able to speak to their officials from a position of trust. As the Cabinet Office Minister, I have worked closely with Ms Gray two or three times a week. My noble friend is right and asks a legitimate question.

Does the Minister accept that people like me worked with Sue Gray in government, and that she knew a lot about our Government, but that did not stop her acting impartially when the election brought in a different Government? The Minister cannot continue to imply that, because people are prepared to work for the leader of the Opposition, they suddenly lose their integrity and are unable to act impartially. Will she now admit to the number of people who have left the Civil Service because their impartiality has been impugned, and particularly how a past Prime Minister behaved towards them and the House of Commons in particular?

That is a completely different scenario. Ms Gray will work for the leader of the Opposition, which is a political post that she is moving straight into from the very top of Whitehall. That is why we have rules and guidance. I am surprised by the response from the party opposite: I would have thought that it would want to get on and explain what she talked about with the leader of the Opposition and what else she was doing at the same time. This seems to me to be quite different from some of the other cases that have been mentioned.

My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Butler, I remember a number of examples of people moving from the Civil Service to political positions, in particular my old friend, the noble Lord, Lord Sassoon. He was a very successful director-general at the Treasury, who moved to become Gordon Brown’s ambassador to the City; he then resigned and turned up the next day as an adviser to George Osborne. Surely the issue is about the ACOBA rules, which are all too often not observed by members of the Government. Does the Minister agree that, so long as Ms Gray follows the recommendations for an adequate cooling-off period, which I would assume would be somewhere between three and six months, she is pursuing the right and honourable course?

Ms Gray does indeed need to apply to ACOBA, which she has not yet done. Her post is a very senior post of a political kind, and I am sure that ACOBA will look extremely carefully at the move and lay down appropriate rules and guidance for her departure from the Civil Service.

National Security Bill

Report (2nd Day)

Relevant documents: 20th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee, 5th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Clause 64: Requirement to register foreign activity arrangements

Amendment 87

Moved by

87: Clause 64, page 45, line 18, after “out” insert “relevant”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment, together with Lord Sharpe’s other amendments to Clause 64 relating to relevant activities, allow the Secretary of State to make regulations specifying which activities of a specified person are subject to the provisions about foreign activity arrangements.

My Lords, the amendments in this group clarify the intent of the enhanced tier of the foreign influence registration scheme —FIRS. They ensure the tier remains proportionate, while achieving its national security objectives. FIRS was recommended by the ISC in its 2020 Russia report, and the Government committed in their response to bring forward such a scheme.

The enhanced tier of FIRS is a targeted regime, allowing the Secretary of State to require the registration of arrangements with specified foreign Governments or entities subject to foreign power control where she believes it is necessary to protect the safety or interests of the United Kingdom. The scheme will play a significant role in the deterrence and disruption of state threats activities by those countries, and entities linked to them, which are of greatest concern.

We know that these states will make use of a whole-of-state approach to covert activities, not just relying on traditional routes of intelligence organisations and undeclared agents. FIRS will be essential to gaining a greater understanding of the scale and nature of activity being undertaken for countries and their proxies that pose the greatest risks to UK interests and national security. The penalties for non-compliance will increase the risk to those who seek to engage in covert activities for specified foreign powers, either directly or through specified entities. It forces them to choose between registering openly or facing prosecution should their activities be known to the intelligence community. Finally, it offers potential for earlier disruption of state threats activity, where there is evidence of a covert arrangement between a person and specified foreign power or entity, but it is not yet feasible to bring charges for a more serious state threats offence.

Government Amendments 89 and 100 make clearer that the Secretary of State can narrow the activities requiring registration under this tier. This will allow us to tailor the registration requirements to the threat posed by the country or entity being specified.

I turn now to government Amendments 95, 104, 125 and 133 and supporting amendments. These amendments make changes to ensure that a proper provision is made for offences committed by those in unregistered arrangements, and employees and subcontractors who are carrying out activities under those arrangements, in both tiers of the scheme. The Government do not wish to unfairly criminalise those who reasonably believe an arrangement is registered and have taken all reasonably practicable steps to check that it is. This is particularly the case with employees of an entity which has made an arrangement with a foreign power or specified person, or for subcontractors carrying out activities under arrangements.

These amendments seek to address this issue by enabling a person—for example, an employee—to avoid committing an offence where they can demonstrate that they took all steps reasonably practicable to determine whether the activities were registered, and they reasonably believed that the activities were registered. We consider that in practice this will mean checking the public register or receiving evidence of registration from their employer in the form of confirmation from the registration portal.

Finally, government Amendments 147 and 151 also modify the individuals to whom an information notice may be issued under both tiers of FIRS. There are circumstances where a person may be arranging for another individual to carry out the activity. In these circumstances, it is important for the Secretary of State to be able to issue an information notice to an individual whom they reasonably believe is carrying out an activity pursuant to a registerable arrangement, even if they are not the person who has made the arrangement.

I have considerable sympathy with the aims of Amendment 91, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. Wherever possible, Governments should strive to share what they know to reduce the regulatory burden on ordinary people and businesses. However, I believe that the schemes he has listed have different purposes and requirements, with relatively little overlap. Where there is a risk of unnecessary duplication, registration requirements can be targeted to avoid this.

Amendment 106, also tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, seeks to require the Secretary of State to produce an annual report on the impacts of the enhanced tier, including on international research collaborations. Again, I seek to reassure the noble Lord on this point, as the Government will keep the impacts of the scheme under review.

Amendments 166B and 203A, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Purvis of Tweed and Lord Wallace of Saltaire, seek to require the Secretary of State to produce guidance within six months of the Act passing, and to prevent regulations made under the scheme being brought into force until three months after the publication of the guidance. Again, I agree with the spirit in which this amendment has been made but, as I will seek to reassure noble Lords, the Government have already committed to producing guidance during the implementation period, prior to bringing the scheme into force.

I come to Amendment 154A in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Anderson and Lord Carlile. This contains reasonable points which would bring certainty to the provisions and the Government support it.

I hope noble Lords will support these amendments.

My Lords, I speak to Amendments 91 and 106, which the Minister has mentioned. In this case, I speak very much on behalf of the academic and policy research communities, with which I was professionally engaged for some 40 or more years.

We are concerned not to impose too great a burden on those who are engaged in international research. The Minister will be very well aware of the commitments that have already been made for researchers engaged in international co-operation to provide information to the Government, and the concerns that there have already been, particularly about collaboration with countries such as China and Russia. That information is provided to government, and I remind the Minister that, as a member of a Government who are strongly against adding to bureaucracy and red tape, it should be possible for government departments to share information, rather than require it to be given twice to different departments.

I am conscious that the Home Office has a poor record in this regard; indeed, the entire Windrush affair happened because the Home Office refused to ask other departments for information on whether or not the people concerned had been in this country. This was clearly available at the DVLA, the Department of Health, the national insurance scheme, et cetera. There is a real problem in government about asking for the same information twice. The information asked for indeed overlaps, and I ask the Minister to assure us that the Government will look at this matter again and do their best to make sure that it does not add to the burdens to which those of us who are concerned with international co-operation have to relate.

The Minister will be well aware that the Government are also negotiating to rejoin the Horizon European international collaboration scheme for science, probably the most impressive and important network for international co-operation in the world. All the members of the European Union and the various other countries associated with it are listed as foreign powers, with the exception of Ireland, so this is a live question. I declare an interest: my son, a scientist at the University of Edinburgh, is currently engaged in international co-operation with universities and research institutes—one or two of them government-sponsored and financed—in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. That is a small snapshot of the extent of that collaboration, if one were to go merely to the biology faculty at the University of Edinburgh. I suspect that there are some 30 or 40 other countries with which 100 scientists at the university are involved in various collaborative activities.

The purpose of Amendment 106 is to gain the strongest assurances from the Government that they will look at whether additional burdens are being imposed by the legislation on those who are unavoidably and actively—and desirably—engaged in international collaboration with institutes, universities and other bodies that are part of, or dependent on, foreign Governments in one way or another. We need active assurance on that. If the Minister is able to give that, we will not press these amendments further but I emphasise that it is important that this legislation does not over-add to the requirements to report normal activities. I remind the Minister that we are talking about a country that is determined to become a science international superpower, and that needs to be sure that it does not put obstacles in its own way that deter those in other counties from collaborating as it ensures its security.

My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister’s response to the amendments I tabled, supported by my noble friend, on the need for the publication of timely guidance on how the schemes will operate. He has been true to his word from the first day of Report and taken away many of the issues raised in Committee and come back with a number of amendments to address them. They relate mainly to the next group and the political tier but, given that my amendments fall within this group, I wish to put on record how grateful I am to him for the way in which he has engaged and responded.

The government amendments have addressed many of the significant concerns of those seeking legitimate activity—I see that the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, who raised the issue of economic activity, is in her place—and those concerned about human rights. The areas where some questions remain include those we raised on the first day of Report, such as the German Stiftungen and other organisations that will not fall within the scope of the FIR schemes but are nevertheless concerned that they may do so. Much of that will be resolved in the guidance provided to them and therefore, the timeliness of that is of utmost importance.

In Committee I quoted at length from the Government’s impact assessment of the Bill, which suggested that the initial scheme could cost up to £48 million and many thousands of people would have to be informed about the scheme’s operation. Given that it is to be welcomed that the Government have reduced the scope of that, I am not sure what status the impact assessment now has. I should therefore be grateful if the Minister told us whether the guidance to be provided will also be informed by some revision of the impact assessment.

There will be businesses wanting to carry out legitimate activity that have to operate under a set of rules in the current regulations on countries at risk of money laundering or financing terrorism—we have a list of over 30 such countries—and there may now be an enhanced tier under FIRS. There will also be others, making it quite a complex environment for businesses operating in the political sphere.

I am grateful to the Minister for stating that the regulations to establish the scheme will not be put in place until guidance has been issued. It would be helpful if he could state categorically that there will be enough time after the guidance has been released before the scheme becomes operational. There is no point in guidance being published a week before it is operational. Many people will need to familiarise themselves with it, and their knowing that they are not part of it is as important as knowing that they are. If the Minister could take the opportunity to be crystal clear about the Stiftungen, that would tidy up some loose ends. I am grateful for the way in which he has approached this.

My Lords, the enhanced tier of FIRS requires the registration of arrangements to carry out any activity in the UK, or for future activities to be carried out in the UK, at the direction of a specified foreign power or entity. It also requires activities carried out by specified entities to be registered. I too am grateful for how the Government have responded, following concerns that this tier could deter legitimate activities. The Minister has introduced a series of concessions, as he mentioned in opening, which we welcome. There are outstanding issues, which I would be grateful if he could amplify in his answers.

On his Amendment 106, the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, spoke about the need for regular reviews, which may highlight barriers to international collaboration. He gave examples from his family—particularly his son, who is no doubt doing important research work up at Edinburgh University. The purpose of this is to ensure that the enhanced scheme does not make the same mistakes as other schemes around the world. I draw the Australian scheme to the Minister’s attention, which I understand is currently being reviewed, given some high-profile concerns about how it is working. I look forward to his answer.

I thank noble Lords for their contributions to this short but constructive discussion. I will turn straight to the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire.

Amendment 91 seeks to ensure that registration under FIRS is not required when the arrangement is registered under other legislative requirements. However, somewhat contrary to the noble Lord’s assertion, I think there is a clear difference between FIRS and the National Security and Investment Act, the academic technology approval scheme and the export control regime. The Government are clear that FIRS fills a gap in our toolkit. It is worth highlighting that the focus of this enhanced tier is to provide scrutiny to UK activities directed by specified foreign powers—it is worth emphasising this; we are talking about the enhanced tier—and foreign power-controlled entities.

We consider that there will be limited circumstances where there is a risk of duplication, but we will work closely across government departments and potential registrants to keep the burden of registration to a minimum and inform our approach to using this tier of the scheme. The Government do not want to impose unnecessary burdens. We have committed to a consultation on the guidance ahead of bringing the scheme into force. If that process identifies risks of duplication, the power to target what arrangements and activities will need to be registered can be used to reduce unnecessary duplication. This will be considered on a case-by-case basis when specifying foreign powers and entities.

Can the Minister give us an assurance that he will consult with the academies, the Royal Society and Universities UK to make sure that the element of duplication is reduced to the absolute minimum? When I was in government, we talked about trying to introduce the principle of “Tell us once” when people were in touch with government. In some other areas, that has now been introduced. The principle is a very good one; we do not want universities having to fill in forms unnecessarily widely. If he can assure us that there will be active consultation with those affected, I will not pursue this further.

My Lords, I am happy with the reassurance that we are committed to consulting, but I cannot say at this precise moment who we consult with. As I say, if that process identifies a risk of duplication, the power to target what arrangements and activities need to be registered can be used to reduce unnecessary duplication. Again, I stress that we are talking about the enhanced tier of the FIR scheme in the National Security Bill so, if there is a little bit of duplication, I am sure he will understand that in the context of the overall Bill.

Amendment 106 tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, would require the Secretary of State to produce an annual report on the impacts of the enhanced tier; the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, also questioned me on this. I reassure both noble Lords that the Government recognise the importance of keeping the impacts of the scheme under consideration. Clause 82 already requires the Secretary of State to produce and lay before Parliament an annual report every 12 months after the scheme goes live. The legislation will also be subject to the usual post-legislative scrutiny process, which will consider how the scheme has worked in practice and how far its objectives have been met. I therefore ask that the noble Lord does not press this amendment.

Amendments 166B and 203A tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Purvis of Tweed and Lord Wallace of Saltaire, seek to require the Secretary of State to produce guidance within six months of the Bill passing, and to prevent regulations made under the scheme from being brought into force until three months after the publication of guidance. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, I say that the Government recognise the importance of ensuring guidance for the public to support the implementation of the scheme. However, it is important that there are not undue restrictions placed on the development of this guidance, to ensure that the guidance produced is clear and targeted to those complying. I can say to him that a revised impact assessment is required before Royal Assent, so that will be forthcoming. He also raised the point about the German Stiftungen. If he bears with me, we will address this directly in the next group. I will also go further: the Government have committed to establishing expert panels to produce sector-specific guidance on compliance with FIRS. With that, I think I have answered all the questions.

Amendment 87 agreed.

Amendments 88 to 90

Moved by

88: Clause 64, page 45, line 19, after “for” insert “relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment, together with Lord Sharpe’s other amendments to Clause 64 relating to relevant activities, allow the Secretary of State to make regulations specifying which activities of a specified person are subject to the provisions about foreign activity arrangements.

89: Clause 64, page 45, line 19, at end insert—

“(1A) In this section “relevant activities”—(a) if regulations under subsection (1B) apply in relation to the specified person, has the meaning given by the regulations, and(b) otherwise, means all activities.(1B) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about activities which are relevant activities for the purposes of this section, either in relation to all specified persons or in relation to such specified persons as the regulations may provide.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment, together with Lord Sharpe’s other amendments to Clause 64 relating to relevant activities, allow the Secretary of State to make regulations specifying which activities of a specified person are subject to the provisions about foreign activity arrangements.

90: Clause 64, page 45, line 23, leave out from beginning to “ought” in line 26 and insert “P commits an offence if P—

(a) fails to comply with subsection (2), and(b) knows, or having regard to other matters known to them” Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is to ensure consistency with subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 64, which refer to the person who makes the arrangement as “P”. It also clarifies the meaning of “ought reasonably to know”.

Amendments 88 to 90 agreed.

Amendment 91 not moved.

Clause 66: Offence of carrying out activities pursuant to unregistered foreign activity arrangement

Amendments 92 to 95

Moved by

92: Clause 66, page 46, line 13, leave out from beginning to end of line 16 and insert—

“(A1) This section applies where a person (“P”) makes a foreign activity arrangement required to be registered under section 64(2).(1) P commits an offence if—(a) P carries out a relevant activity, or arranges for a relevant activity to be carried out, in the United Kingdom pursuant to the arrangement,”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment confines the offence in Clause 66(1) to the person who makes a foreign activity arrangement with a specified person.

93: Clause 66, page 46, line 18, leave out “the person knows, or” and insert “P knows, or having regard to other matters known to them”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment to Clause 66, page 46, line 13, and clarifies the meaning of “ought reasonably to know”.

94: Clause 66, page 46, leave out line 19 and insert “pursuant to a foreign activity arrangement.”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the mens rea where P acts pursuant to a foreign activity arrangement.

95: Clause 66, page 46, line 20, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

“(2) A person other than P commits an offence if—(a) the person carries out a relevant activity, or arranges for a relevant activity to be carried out, in the United Kingdom pursuant to the arrangement,(b) the arrangement is not registered, and(c) the person knows, or having regard to other matters known to them ought reasonably to know, that they are acting pursuant to a foreign activity arrangement.(3) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (2) it is a defence to show that the person—(a) took all steps reasonably practicable to determine whether the arrangement was registered, and(b) reasonably believed that the arrangement was registered.(4) A person is taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (3) if—(a) sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with respect to it, and(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.(5) In this section “relevant activity” has the same meaning as in section 64.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the applicable mens rea where a person other than P carries out the activities in question, or arranges for them to be carried out.

Amendments 92 to 95 agreed.

Amendment 96 not moved.

Clause 67: Requirement to register activities of specified persons

Amendments 97 to 104

Moved by

97: Clause 67, page 46, line 22, after “out” insert “relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment, together with Lord Sharpe’s other amendments to clause 67 relating to relevant activities, allow the Secretary of State to make regulations specifying which activities of a specified person are subject to clause 67.

98: Clause 67, page 46, line 26, at end insert “relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment, together with Lord Sharpe’s other amendments to Clause 67 relating to relevant activities, allow the Secretary of State to make regulations specifying which activities of a specified person are subject to Clause 67.

99: Clause 67, page 46, line 30, at end insert “relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment, together with Lord Sharpe’s other amendments to Clause 67 relating to relevant activities, allow the Secretary of State to make regulations specifying which activities of a specified person are subject to Clause 67.

100: Clause 67, page 46, line 36, at end insert—

“(3A) In this section “relevant activities”—(a) if regulations under subsection (3B) apply in relation to the specified person, has the meaning given by the regulations, and(b) otherwise, means all activities.(3B) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about activities which are relevant activities for the purposes of this section, either in relation to all specified persons or in relation to such specified persons as the regulations may provide.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment, together with Lord Sharpe’s other amendments to Clause 67 relating to relevant activities, allow the Secretary of State to make regulations specifying which activities of a specified person are subject to Clause 67.

101: Clause 67, page 47, line 6, leave out from “offence” to end of line 7.

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment removes the requirement for knowledge that an activity is not registered from the offence in Clause 67(7). Knowledge of registration is now dealt with in the defence inserted by Lord Sharpe’s amendment to Clause 67, page 47, line 10.

102: Clause 67, page 47, line 9, after first “or” insert “having regard to other matters known to them”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the meaning of “ought reasonably to know”.

103: Clause 67, page 47, line 9, leave out “or (b)”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment adjusts the test for committing an offence under Clause 67.

104: Clause 67, page 47, line 10, at end insert—

“(9) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (7) or (8) it is a defence to show that the person—(a) took all steps reasonably practicable to determine whether the activities were registered, and(b) reasonably believed that the activities were registered. (10) A person is taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (9) if—(a) sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with respect to it, and(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment provides a defence to an offence under Clause 67(7) and (8).

Amendments 97 to 104 agreed.

Amendment 105 not moved.

Amendment 106 not moved.

Clause 68: Requirement to register foreign influence arrangements

Amendment 107

Moved by

107: Clause 68, page 47, line 14, leave out first “principal” and insert “power”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment and Lord Sharpe’s other amendment to Clause 68(1) restrict the definition of foreign influence arrangements to arrangements with foreign powers.

My Lords, I have listened carefully to the debate about the political tier of the foreign influence registration scheme. I am immensely grateful to the House and others for their expertise and the constructive nature of the debate.

In response to the strength of feeling, this group of amendments refocuses the political tier back on its original intention: the influence of foreign powers over UK democracy. In its revised form, this tier would require registration only where a person is carrying out political influence at the direction of a foreign Government. That bears repeating—only where a person is carrying out political influence at the direction of a foreign Government. To be clear, this will take those being directed by foreign companies, foreign charities or other foreign entities entirely out of scope of the scheme.

I know that there has also been some debate about what it means to be directed by a foreign power. That is a high bar. Its natural meaning is an order or instruction to act. It could be delivered in the language of a request, but only where there is a power relationship between the person and the foreign power which adds an element of control or expectation to the request—for example, through a contract, payment, coercion, or the promise of a future compensation or favourable treatment. It is not enough for a foreign power to fund an activity. Generic requests, joint collaboration, or simply an alignment of views, absent this power relationship, will not meet the test for direction.

As part of this package of amendments, we have made some other changes, which I hope will be welcomed by noble Lords. A person will now have up to 28 days to register an arrangement under the political tier and does not need to register the arrangement before the activity takes place. This will give greater flexibility and ensure that we do not impede spontaneous activity.

We have narrowed the definition of “political influence activity” so that attempts to influence a Member of Parliament or equivalents in the devolved Administrations will require registration only when it is intended to influence them in their capacity as a Member of Parliament. Activity which seeks to influence these individuals in their personal capacity will not be registerable. Amendment 120 makes this clear.

As outlined on the previous group, we have made some minor changes to the offences to ensure that they work properly for subcontractors and that a person will not fall foul of the offence where they have taken all reasonably practicable steps to determine that an arrangement is registered.

I am pleased to say that we have accepted the recommendation by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that regulations detailing the information to be published on the FIRS public register made under Clause 79 should be subject to the affirmative procedure. The public register is a vital element of the scheme. However, we recognise that there will be sensitivities in publishing some information and understand the call for an opportunity to debate this important matter.

I know that your Lordships have been anxious to scrutinise draft regulations under this part of the Bill. Last week, I published two sets of draft regulations setting out what information will be required from registrants and what information will be published. Importantly, these regulations confirm that we will not publish information where there is a risk that doing so would prejudice national security, put an individual’s safety at risk or involve the disclosure of commercially sensitive information. I have placed copies of these indicative regulations in the House Library.

This is accompanied by a government policy statement setting out how we envisage the other delegated powers being used. This includes an example registration form, which I hope noble Lords have found useful in thinking about how the scheme will work.

We are keen for the implementation of this scheme to be as collaborative as possible, which is why we will hold a further public consultation on the guidance required for the scheme prior to commencement. We will also continue to review the scheme and consider any further exemptions necessary to ensure that there is no negative impact on potential inward investment into the UK.

It is important to understand the wider context for FIRS. We are in an era of increased state-based competition. Foreign powers are seeking to influence British democracy to further their own interests, sometimes openly and sometimes covertly.

Foreign influence is not unwelcome. We recognise that Governments around the world seek to influence policies in the UK in a way that benefits their interests. Of course, the UK does the same. This type of influence, when conducted in an open and transparent way, contributes positively, and we recognise the critical role that this expertise plays in enhancing policy-making, employment and wealth creation. However, when foreign powers seek to influence in a way that is not transparent, this can have serious implications for the UK, posing risk to our open system of government and risking erosion of public confidence in political and government institutions.

We need to be more vigilant about this risk. Currently, foreign Governments can use others as proxies to attempt to influence British Ministers, MPs, officials, or indeed shape British public opinion, with only a limited requirement to disclose the hidden hand behind this influence, and no sanction if discovered. It is not unreasonable to aspire to a greater understanding of foreign influence; for the Government, parliamentarians and wider public to know where this influence is being brought to bear. FIRS seeks to address this gap, providing us all with more information about the scale and nature of foreign political influence in the UK. I look forward to the debate on the amended provisions and addressing the amendments that have been tabled.

Finally, I make noble Lords aware that we have identified an inconsistency in the treatment of ministerial decisions taken across the devolved Administrations that fall within the scope of this tier. I commit to tabling an amendment at Third Reading that will resolve that issue. For now, I beg to move.

My Lords, I have my name on a number of amendments in this group. I will start by saying, which I had not prepared to say, that when the Minister looks at the speech he has just made, I think he will find that there were some drafting errors—I hope there were—at the beginning. He said that FIRS would apply now only to a foreign Government. I think he said that twice and afterwards went on to talk about a foreign power. He knows very well why I pick up on the difference because one of my ongoing concerns is about the definition of a foreign power, which includes political parties. I hope that was just an oversight because I think that this captures political parties as well as foreign Governments.

There are two or three points I want to make very briefly but before I go on, I want to add my thanks for what the Minister has done, not only in the incredible change. The Minister has sent me the Keeling schedule that shows that we have ended up with a FIRS that is very different from what we started with. I should declare my interest, as I sit on the board of the ABI and it is very content with where we have got to. It did however make the point that this is no way to make a sausage—I have to say that they were not its words; it was far more polite. The way it started was not the best way to make legislation. The ABI and others are very content with where we have got to, and it is right to record that we have ended up with something very different, so I thank the Minister.

My name is on three amendments. I will not press Amendments 114 and 121 in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. But on Amendment 115 I am second to the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, and I think it is an indication of the approval of what he has done that one of the delete clause amendments is in his name—only because he got there first because I was about to do that. I think it is a symbol that we do it.

I have that one remaining query about a foreign political power that happens to be in government engaging with any of us or councillors or parliamentary candidates, even on internal, party-to-party issues, using an intermediary such as the conference arrangement. I have looked at the draft regulations again as the Minister helpfully said. There is no de minimis there, even if they pay £1,000 to a conference organiser to book the stall at a Labour Party conference or a Tory Party conference—I am sure they have stalls; I have been to their conference and they do in the same way as we do. There is no de minimis for a political party abroad seeking to engage with a political party or anyone else here using an intermediary which is simply a facilitator. Therefore, I wonder whether there is a possibility of looking at the guidelines or the forms. There will be a contract. It may be only for £1,000 but there are the implications of having all that to be declared. I am not saying that simply because we have stalls at our conference, it could happen to the Government as well. It captures things that I know the Minister never intended. I know that at the moment he will not give me an answer and a promise written in blood, but some acknowledgement that there is a small ongoing problem would be very helpful. For the moment, I think we have ended up in a much better place than we started.

My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 166A in my name. I also thank the Minister for the way in which the Bill has been discussed and amended between Second Reading, Committee and Report. It is a model of the way in which the Lords should operate, and we all appreciate the way in which the Minister and his team have responded to reasoned criticisms as we have moved forward.

Amendment 166A merely draws attention to some of the definition problems we have all struggled with, wanting to catch all the problems but not to overload the necessary and highly desirable international co-operation with other Governments and other countries, many of which are governed in ways we do not entirely approve of. As somebody who used to work for an international think tank, I am particularly concerned with the opacity of the funding of some of our political think tanks, which as charities do not have to declare their revenue.

In the United States there is much concern with the extent to which some foreign Governments, in particular the Gulf states, put enormous amounts of money into institutes operating as political think tanks, intending to influence and therefore reshape the American political debate. Although that is outside the scope of the current Bill, I and others are much concerned to insist that there should be much greater transparency about the funding of think tanks that set out to deliberately influence the way in which our politics take place.

That is an example, but we all know that there will be a substantial grey area between direction and influence, which we and the Minister have all grappled with. We are not entirely sure that we can draw the line clearly as we go. This amendment asks the Government actively to keep under review and to consult on where that line needs to be adjusted as we move forward in implementation. I hope the Minister will respond in that way.

My Lords, I got involved in Committee—my only appearance on the Bill—because of concerns brought to my attention about the impact of the registration scheme on huge swathes of ordinary, everyday business and commercial activity. I was much encouraged that at that stage my noble friend the Minister said that this was under review. I am more than pleased with the actual outcome. I know that once a Bill has been published it is very hard for the Government to do a radical overhaul, so we have to pay tribute to my noble friend the Minister and the Security Minister in the other place for having the courage to say that what we started with would not work well enough and to come back with such a significant set of revisions on Report. I thank him again for all he has done to achieve this.

My Lords, I think I failed to hear something the Minister said earlier relating to Amendment 110A. I raise it because the noble Lords, Lord Anderson of Ipswich and Lord Carlile of Berriew, are both unable to be in the House this afternoon for various compelling reasons. The amendment helpfully tidies up part of the provision by ensuring that the reference to arrangements entered into before the clause comes into force does not apply to arrangements that have ceased to have effect. I think the Minister indicated that he was going to accept it and therefore, I presume, move it at the appropriate stage.

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, raised valid areas with regard to the sometimes complex relationships between political parties and the Governments of states, which I hope the Minister, who referred to foreign Governments, can go a little further and point to. It is absolutely right that that is one of a number of criteria set down earlier in the Bill, in Clause 32, and that the meaning of a foreign power includes

“a political party which is a governing political party”.

There will still be issues when it comes to relationships such as demand and supply and other kinds of relations, but I hope that the Minister will provide clarity and proper consultations so that, when we come to the finalised guidance and regulations, those issues will be very clear. The Minister will not be surprised to hear that, as in the earlier group, we are still hoping for that bit of clarification on the German Stiftungen and others represented by the kinds of organisations that the Stiftungen are—those that operate within a public policy and political sphere but are not directly linked to the Government or governing political parties although they are, by definition, political in their nature. I am sure that the Minister will respond to that when he winds up.

Like the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, we have a number of scars on our back from legislation where we have tried to do heavy lifting in this Chamber to improve Bills. I tabled a number of amendments in Committee highlighting the concern that what had been brought forward was an unworkable scheme; I think we are now looking at a workable scheme. That is important for the security of our country.

I particularly welcome the draft registration forms, about which I had raised concerns in Committee. I am very pleased that the Minister will be having an active consultation. I am delighted that there will be an updated impact assessment. While the Minister said that that is required of the Government, in previous Bills some excuses have been made for impact assessments not to be updated, so I am very pleased about that. And on the draft regulations, as I said, I am delighted.

As I said on the earlier group, the Minister has been true to his word. I have just one final favour to ask of him. Given that I have been rather successful with colleagues in securing some concessions on this Bill, could he have a word with other Ministers, just to say that “Purvis is not always wrong”? Sometimes, we can do our job in this place; we can make the Government’s job a bit better and make unworkable schemes workable. I commend the Minister for how he has approached this so far.

My Lords, there seems to be a new approach to Ministers by buttering them up. I noticed my noble friend buttering up the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, the other day, which seemed to cause amusement in the House. Nevertheless, I too thank the Minister for his response to the earlier concerns raised. The primary tier of FIRS requires the registration of

“arrangements to carry out political influence activities within the UK”,

or to arrange for such activities to be carried out in the UK,

“at the direction of a foreign principal”.

Registration of political influence activity is also required

“where the activity is being carried out by the foreign principal itself. The foreign principal will be responsible for registering political influence activities”.

As I said, concerns were raised that this could impair international co-operation through political parties and similar organisations. It was previously reported that the Government might withdraw the primary tier entirely, but, instead, the Minister has removed the most controversial features of this and accepted Amendment 110A in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Anderson and Lord Carlile—and the name of the Minister himself is also on that amendment.

I also mention the contacts from the German embassy in relation to the same points raised by the noble Lords, Lord Purvis and Lord Balfe, at an earlier stage of Report: the concerns of political foundations such as the centre-left Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the centre-right Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and whether they would have a duty to register. If the Minister could repeat what he said earlier, I hope that the minds of the representatives of those organisations will be put at rest.

I welcome what has been said. I hope that this is indeed a workable scheme. I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, who described a “radical overhaul”, which it is not usual to get on such an important Bill as this. I think that everybody accepts that this is a very important Bill and I hope that it will emerge from your Lordships’ House a better Bill than when it arrived.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who participated in this debate. I am feeling a little overwhelmed. The Government have moved a long way, as has been noted, on the FIRS scheme, which now tackles what it was originally intended to address. I thank all noble Lords for their probing amendments. I would particularly like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, for paying special attention and noticing my deliberate error. I should have said—and I will repeat this because I repeated it the first time around—“foreign powers, including foreign Governments”.

With the leave of the House, and in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Beith, I will speak to Amendment 110A, standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, and signed by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson. The Government do not intend to require the registration of defunct foreign influence arrangements, so we urge the House to support the amendment.

Amendments 114 and 121, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, would remove the requirement to register foreign influence arrangements at Clause 68, and the meaning of “political influence activity” at Clause 70, from the scheme. These clauses are essential to the functioning of the revised political influence tier of the scheme, and for this reason I ask that the amendments be withdrawn. I will, however, go into a little more detail on the impact on the proceedings of a UK-registered party in Clause 70. It is not intended to cover every activity undertaken by a UK political party. The focus is on where foreign powers are seeking to influence formal matters of a UK political party, such as candidates’ selections and adoption of policy through third parties; but it will not, for example, cover decisions around venue changes for joint conferences. In this way, we believe that this scheme is appropriately targeted to focus on the arrangements and activities where transparency is most needed, while avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy. However, I have heard the noble Baroness on a number of occasions now and I will certainly be taking her points into account when we are developing the guidance.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, for his Amendment 166A. This would require the Government to consult, and lay a report in Parliament, on the merits of expanding the foreign influence registration scheme to those controlled by a foreign power seeking to influence public policy. Again, we have sympathy with this amendment and, indeed, one of the reasons why the Government originally sought a broader scheme was to fully capture the proxies of foreign powers. I share the noble Lord’s interest in ensuring we remain responsive to the risks posed by covert influence, but I reassure him that the Government will keep the impacts of the scheme, and any need to expand it, under careful review. The timings for this are important and I cannot accept an amendment that may tie the Government to evaluating the scheme before it has come into force and had a chance to bed in. So I ask him not to press this amendment but reassure him that the Government will be able to use the annual review requirements to assess areas where the scheme could be strengthened.

In addressing the point raised in both this group and the last by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, around the impact of the scheme on foreign political foundations, we did meet with representatives of the German embassy after the debate last week to discuss this scheme, and recognise the importance of the work carried out by political foundations such as the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung to promote political co-operation and the values of democracy and the rule of law. So I reassure the noble Lord that institutions such as these that operate independently of foreign powers will not have to register their activities. Receiving funding from a foreign power does not trigger a requirement to register under the scheme. Only where organisations are being directed by a foreign power through a power relationship to carry out political influence activities will that need to be registered. With that, I think that I have answered all the questions.

Amendment 107 agreed.

Amendments 108 to 110A

Moved by

108: Clause 68, page 47, line 14, leave out second “principal” and insert “power”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment and Lord Sharpe’s other amendment to Clause 68(1) restrict the definition of foreign influence arrangements to arrangements with foreign powers.

109: Clause 68, page 47, line 17, at end insert—

“(1A) Where the foreign power is a specified person, the arrangement is not a foreign influence arrangement to the extent that it relates to political influence activities that are relevant activities for the purposes of section 64.”Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment prevents overlap between foreign activity arrangements required to be registered under Clause 64 and foreign influence arrangements required to be registered under Clause 68.

110: Clause 68, page 47, line 19, leave out “10” and insert “28”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment increases the time limit for registering a foreign influence agreement after it has been made.

110A: Clause 68, page 47, line 21, leave out “made before” and insert “which is made before, and which continues to have effect on,”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies that the requirement to register foreign influence arrangements entered into before Clause 68 comes into force does not apply to arrangements which have ceased to have effect when the Clause comes into force.

Amendments 108 to 110A agreed.

Amendment 111 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Amendments 112 and 113

Moved by

112: Clause 68, page 47, line 23, leave out “10” and insert “28”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment to Clause 68, page 47, line 19.

113: Clause 68, page 47, line 25, leave out from beginning to “knows” in line 26 and insert “P commits an offence if P—

(a) fails to comply with subsection (2), and”Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is to ensure consistency with subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 68, which refer to the person who makes an arrangement as “P”.

Amendments 112 and 113 agreed.

Amendment 114 not moved.

Clause 69: Meaning of “foreign principal”

Amendment 115

Moved by

115: Leave out Clause 69

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to Clause 68(1).

Amendment 115 agreed.

Clause 70: Meaning of “political influence activity”

Amendments 116 to 120

Moved by

116: Clause 70, page 48, line 25, leave out “principal” and insert “power”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to Clause 68(1).

117: Clause 70, page 48, line 28, leave out “the conduct of”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment adjusts the matters within subsection (3)(a), for consistency with Clause 14(3).

118: Clause 70, page 48, line 29, leave out “the government of the United Kingdom” and insert “a Minister of the Crown (within the meaning of the Ministers of the Crown Act 1975), a United Kingdom government department”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies that the matters within Clause 70(3) include a decision of a Minister of the Crown or a government department.

119: Clause 70, page 48, line 32, leave out paragraph (c)

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment removes reference to the proceedings of Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and Senedd Cymru. Persons in these assemblies are caught by other paragraphs in subsection (3).

120: Clause 70, page 48, line 38, at end insert “(acting in that capacity)”.

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies that the conduct of Members of Parliament etc is relevant only where those persons are acting in that capacity.

Amendments 116 to 120 agreed.

Amendment 121 not moved.

Clause 71: Offence of carrying out political influence activities pursuant to unregistered foreign influence arrangement

Amendment 122 not moved.

Amendments 123 to 125

Moved by

123: Clause 71, page 49, line 16, leave out from first “to” to end of line 17 and insert “the arrangement”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment to Clause 71, page 49, line 13.

124: Clause 71, page 49, line 19, leave out paragraph (c) and insert—

“(c) P knows, or having regard to other matters known to them ought reasonably to know, that they are acting pursuant to a foreign influence arrangement.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment adjusts the test in Clause 71(1)(c).

125: Clause 71, page 49, line 20, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

“(2) A person other than P commits an offence if—(a) after the end of the registration period the person carries out a political influence activity, or arranges for a political influence activity to be carried out, in the United Kingdom pursuant to the arrangement,(b) the arrangement is not registered, and(c) the person knows, or having regard to other matters known to them ought reasonably to know, that they are acting pursuant to a foreign influence arrangement.(3) In this section the “registration period” means the period before the end of which P must register the arrangement (see section 68(2) and (3)).(4) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (2) it is a defence to show that the person—(a) took all steps reasonably practicable to determine whether the arrangement was registered, and(b) reasonably believed that the arrangement was registered.(5) A person is taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (4) if—(a) sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with respect to it, and(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the applicable mens rea where a person other than P carries out the political influence activities in question.

Amendments 123 to 125 agreed.

Clause 72: Requirement to register political influence activities of foreign principals

Amendments 126 to 133

Moved by

126: Clause 72, page 49, line 22, leave out subsections (1) and (2)

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to Clause 68(1).

127: Clause 72, page 49, line 30, leave out “a foreign principal who is”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to Clause 68(1).

128: Clause 72, page 49, line 37, leave out “principal” and insert “power”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to Clause 68(1).

129: Clause 72, page 49, line 37, at end insert—

“(3A) Where the foreign power is a specified person, the prohibition in subsection (3) does not apply to the extent that the political influence activities are relevant activities for the purposes of section 67.” Member's explanatory statement

This amendment prevents overlap between the offence in Clause 67 and the offence in Clause 72.

130: Clause 72, page 50, line 7, leave out subsection (7)

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment to leave out Clause 72(1) and (2).

131: Clause 72, page 50, line 11, after first “or” insert “having regard to other matters known to them”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the meaning of “ought reasonably to know”.

132: Clause 72, page 50, line 11, leave out “or (b)”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment adjusts the test in subsection (8).

133: Clause 72, page 50, line 12, at end insert—

“(9) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (8) it is a defence to show that the person—(a) took all steps reasonably practicable to determine whether the activities were registered, and(b) reasonably believed that the activities were registered.(10) A person is taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (9) if—(a) sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with respect to it, and(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment provides a defence to an offence under Clause 72(8).

Amendments 126 to 133 agreed.

Schedule 15: Exemptions

Amendments 134 to 144

Moved by

134: Schedule 15, page 184, line 7, leave out “(1) to”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to omit Clause 72(1) and (2).

135: Schedule 15, page 184, line 16, after “66(1)” insert “or (2)”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment to clause 66, page 46, line 20.

136: Schedule 15, page 184, line 19, after “71(1)” insert “or (2)”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment to Clause 71, page 49, line 20.

137: Schedule 15, page 185, line 31, after “71(1)” insert “or (2)”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment to Clause 71, page 49, line 20.

138: Schedule 15, page 185, line 33 leave out paragraph (c)

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to omit Clause 72(1) and (2).

139: Schedule 15, page 185, line 37, leave out sub-paragraph (2)

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to omit Clause 72(1) and (2).

140: Schedule 15, page 186, line 5, after “71(1)” insert “or (2)”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment to Clause 71, page 49, line 20.

141: Schedule 15, page 186, line 10, leave out “principal” and insert “power”.

Member's explanatory statement

The amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to Clause 68(1).

142: Schedule 15, page 186, leave out lines 14 to 18 and insert—

““news-related material” , “publish” , and “recognised news publisher” have the meaning given by paragraph 4A.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment and Lord Sharpe’s proposed new paragraph 4A of Schedule 15 incorporate the definitions of “news-related material”, “publish” and “recognised news publisher” in Schedule 15 rather than by cross-referring to the definitions in the Online Safety Bill.

143: Schedule 15, page 186, line 18, at end insert—

“(1) In paragraph 4, “recognised news publisher” means any of the following entities—(a) the British Broadcasting Corporation,(b) Sianel Pedwar Cymru,(c) the holder of a licence under the Broadcasting Act 1990 or 1996 who publishes news-related material in connection with the broadcasting activities authorised under the licence, and(d) any other entity which—(i) meets all of the conditions in sub-paragraph (2),(ii) is not an excluded entity (see sub-paragraph (3)), and(iii) is not a sanctioned entity (see sub-paragraph (4)).(2) The conditions referred to in sub-paragraph (1)(d)(i) are that the entity—(a) has as its principal purpose the publication of news-related material, and such material—(i) is created by different persons, and(ii) is subject to editorial control,(b) publishes such material in the course of a business (whether or not carried on with a view to profit),(c) is subject to a standards code,(d) has policies and procedures for handling and resolving complaints,(e) has a registered office or other business address,(f) is the person with legal responsibility for material published by it in the United Kingdom, and(g) publishes—(i) the entity’s name, the address mentioned in paragraph (e) and the entity’s registered number (if any), and(ii) the name and address of any person who controls the entity (including, where such a person is an entity, the address of that person’s registered or principal office and that person’s registered number (if any)).(3) An “excluded entity” is an entity—(a) which is a proscribed organisation under the Terrorism Act 2000 (see section 3 of that Act), or(b) the purpose of which is to support a proscribed organisation under that Act.(4) A “sanctioned entity” is an entity which—(a) is designated by name under a power contained in regulations under section 1 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 that authorises the Secretary of State or the Treasury to designate persons for the purposes of the regulations or of any provisions of the regulations, or (b) is a designated person under any provision included in such regulations by virtue of section 13 of that Act (persons named by or under UN Security Council Resolutions).(5) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (2)—(a) news-related material is “subject to editorial control” if there is a person (whether or not the publisher of the material) who has editorial or equivalent responsibility for the material, including responsibility for how it is presented and the decision to publish it;(b) “control” has the same meaning as it has in the Broadcasting Act 1990 by virtue of section 202 of that Act.(6) In this paragraph—“news-related material” means material consisting of—(a) news or information about current affairs,(b) opinion about matters relating to the news or current affairs, or(c) gossip about celebrities, other public figures or other persons in the news;“publish” means publish by any means (including by broadcasting), and references to a publisher and publication are to be construed accordingly;“standards code” means—(a) a code of standards that regulates the conduct of publishers, that is published by an independent regulator, or(b) a code of standards that regulates the conduct of the entity in question, that is published by the entity itself.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment and Lord Sharpe’s amendment to paragraph 4 of Schedule 15 incorporate the definitions of “news-related material”, “publish” and “recognised news publisher” in Schedule 15 rather than by cross-referring to the definitions in the Online Safety Bill.

144: Schedule 15, page 186, line 29, leave out “(1) to”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment leaving out Clause 72(1) and (2).

Amendments 134 to 144 agreed.

Clause 74: Registration information

Amendments 145 and 146

145: Clause 74, page 50, line 22, leave out “an” and insert “a relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on changes to the definition of foreign activity arrangement in Clause 64.

146: Clause 74, page 50, line 27, at end insert—

“(2A) Regulations under subsection (1)(c) may, in particular, require the person to provide information about any political influence activities carried out, or arranged to be carried out, during the registration period by any person pursuant to the arrangement which is required to be registered.(2B) In subsection (2A) “registration period” has the same meaning as in section 71.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the breadth of the regulation-making power in Clause 74(1), and is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment to Clause 71 allowing for political influence activities to be carried out during the registration period.

Amendments 145 and 146 agreed.

Clause 75: Information notices

Amendments 147 to 153

Moved by

147: Clause 75, page 51, line 13, at end insert—

“(ba) a person the Secretary of State reasonably believes to be carrying out relevant activities, or arranging for relevant activities to be carried out, in the United Kingdom pursuant to a foreign activity arrangement within paragraph (a) or (b);”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment allows the Secretary of State to give an information notice to persons carrying out relevant activities pursuant to a foreign activity arrangement who are not themselves a party to the arrangement.

148: Clause 75, page 51, line 14, after “registered” insert “relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on changes to the definition of foreign activity arrangement in Clause 64.

149: Clause 75, page 51, line 15, at end insert “relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on changes to the definition of foreign activity arrangement in Clause 64.

150: Clause 75, page 51, line 17, at end insert “relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on changes to the definition of foreign activity arrangement in Clause 64.

151: Clause 75, page 51, line 24, at end insert—

“(ba) a person the Secretary of State reasonably believes to be carrying out political influence activities, or arranging for political influence activities to be carried out, in the United Kingdom pursuant to a foreign influence arrangement within paragraph (a) or (b);”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment allows the Secretary of State to give an information notice to persons carrying out political influence activities pursuant to a foreign influence arrangement who are not themselves a party to the arrangement.

152: Clause 75, page 51, line 25, after “registered” insert “political influence”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is for consistency with subsection (2)(e).

153: Clause 75, page 51, line 26, at end insert “political influence”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is for consistency with subsection (3)(e).

Amendments 147 to 153 agreed.

Amendment 154 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Amendment 154A

Moved by

154A: Clause 75, page 51, line 31, at end insert—

“(3A) An information notice may only specify information which the Secretary of State considers may be relevant to an arrangement or activity within subsection (1) or (2).”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the information which may be specified in an information notice.

Amendment 154A agreed.

Clause 77: Offence of providing false information

Amendments 155 to 157

Moved by

155: Clause 77, page 52, line 24, leave out “an” and insert “a relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on changes to the definition of foreign activity arrangement in Clause 64.

156: Clause 77, page 52, line 32, after “or” insert “having regard to other matters known to them”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the meaning of “ought reasonably to know”.

157: Clause 77, page 53, line 1, after “or” insert “having regard to other matters known to them”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the meaning of “ought reasonably to know”.

Amendments 155 to 157 agreed.

Clause 78: Offence of carrying out activities under arrangements tainted by false information

Amendments 158 to 161

Moved by

158: Clause 78, page 53, line 6, leave out first “an” and insert “a relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on changes to the definition of foreign activity arrangement in Clause 64.

159: Clause 78, page 53, line 6, leave out second “an” and insert “a relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on changes to the definition of foreign activity arrangement in Clause 64.

160: Clause 78, page 53, line 13, after “or” insert “having regard to other matters known to them”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the meaning of “ought reasonably to know”.

161: Clause 78, page 53, line 24, after “or” insert “having regard to other matters known to them”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies the meaning of “ought reasonably to know”.

Amendments 158 to 161 agreed.

Clause 79: Publication and copying of information

Amendment 162

Moved by

162: Clause 79, page 53, line 32, after “(1)” insert “(a)”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies that Clause 79(2) only relates to the power in Clause 79(1)(a).

Amendment 162 agreed.

Clause 80: Offences: penalties

Amendments 163 and 164

Moved by

163: Clause 80, page 54, line 15, leave out “an” and insert “a relevant”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on changes to the definition of foreign activity arrangement in Clause 64.

164: Clause 80, page 54, line 36, leave out “(7) or”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendment omitting Clause 72(7).

Amendments 163 and 164 agreed.

Clause 82: Annual report

Amendments 165 and 166

Moved by

165: Clause 82, page 55, line 21, leave out “principals” and insert “powers”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to Clause 68(1).

166: Clause 82, page 55, line 23, leave out “principals” and insert “powers”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to Clause 68(1).

Amendments 165 and 166 agreed.

Amendments 166A and 166B not moved.

Clause 83: Interpretation

Amendment 167

Moved by

167: Clause 83, page 56, leave out line 3

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment omits the definition of “foreign principal” and is consequential on Lord Sharpe’s amendments to Clause 68(1).

Amendment 167 agreed.

Amendment 168

Moved by

168: Leave out Clause 84

My Lords, at the risk of being accused of buttering up the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, I should say at the outset that we are very grateful to him, his officials and the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, for their positive engagement with us on the Ministry of Justice aspects of the Bill. There has been significant movement by the Government on the MoJ provisions, and on this group in particular.

While that is the reality, there remain significant differences between us on these provisions. Our position on the damages reduction clauses in the Bill is that the power to reduce or extinguish damages in a case against the Crown on the basis that the claimant has been involved in some terrorist wrongdoing in the past should never have been in the Bill. After all, the clause does not require the conviction of a terrorist offence. Ground 1 in Clause 85(3)(a)(i) is the commission of such an offence, but the alternative ground in sub-paragraph (ii) is nebulously described as

“other involvement in terrorism-related activity”.

That could be serious or it could be limited. After all, even wearing clothing that might suggest support for a proscribed organisation is a terrorist offence. I therefore invite the Government to give the House an assurance that the provisions on reducing damages will not be invoked on unproven allegations emanating from a foreign state that a claimant has been involved in some terrorism-related activity under the alternative ground in Clause 85(3)(a)(ii).

We have serious concerns about Clauses 84 to 88 being part of the Bill. Those concerns are that they are restrictive of civil rights, effectively denying or restricting legitimate claimants’ access to the courts and their right to a remedy; that they could enable the Government to avoid liability for damages in the face of justified claims; and that they would reduce accountability and limit the publicity for genuine claims of government wrongdoing.

These clauses risk undermining two important democratic principles: first, that everyone is entitled to enforce their rights in court and, secondly, that, where a legal right is breached, there is a remedy. Our central question is, why should the Government be excused from paying damages in a case where their liability to a claimant is proved? I invite the noble and learned Lord to explain how the Government answer that central question. Why, also, have the Government not confined this power to cases within Clause 88, where there is a risk of damages being themselves used for the purposes of terrorism?

In Committee, I drew attention to the cases of Jagtar Singh Johal, Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, arising from the British Government’s complicity in torture and, in the latter case, detention in Thailand and rendition to Libya. Their cases and other cases of government wrongdoing might risk being threatened by this new power. However, since Committee, and in response to one of the main criticisms I and others levelled at this clause, the Government have laid Amendment 169. My reading of that amendment, which agrees with the Ministers explanatory statement, is that the court may consider reducing damages

“only if there was a connection between the terrorist wrongdoing and the conduct of the Crown complained of in the proceedings.”

Because it is complex, I invited the noble and learned Lord to write. Today, the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and I have received a letter from the Minister containing that assurance. I hope he will forgive me if I read from it the relevant paragraph. He says, “On damages I am pleased to confirm your understanding of the intention and effect of the Government’s amendments to the scope of the Bill. The Government consider that they will mean that applications by the UK security services to reduce damages in national security cases will be possible only where there is a connection between the Crown’s conduct and the terrorist conduct of the claimant.”

That assurance, embodied in Amendment 169 and its consequential amendments, is a significant concession and answers an important criticism. Although the central criticisms of principle that I have outlined remain, we will not be pressing the stand part objections we have laid. Important among our concerns, as pointed out in Committee, is that the clause fails to set out criteria as to when and on what basis the court should exercise powers to reduce or extinguish damages. This was a matter extensively canvassed in Committee, but the Minister could really only say that the provisions were intended “to convey a message” that Britain should not be seen as a “soft touch” for terrorism. There was no guidance as to how and on what basis judges should exercise this new power. With the benefit of several weeks to consider the way in which the power is to be exercised, can the Minister please give us such guidance now?

I turn to Amendments 174 and 175 in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Ludford. At present, Clause 85(4) requires the court to take into account whether

“there was a limitation on the ability of the Crown to prevent”

the wrongful conduct complained of, including on the basis that it occurred overseas or was carried out in conjunction with a third party. That formulation suggests that His Majesty’s Government are just too weak to control their own conduct, if wrongful, overseas, or in collaboration with a third party. That permitted excuse is inadequate. Our amendments would restrict permitting any such limitation on the Crown’s ability to prevent its own wrongful conduct to places where it was both carried out overseas and—not or—instigated by a third party.

In the noble Lord’s letter, to which I referred, he has indicated that the Government are not prepared to concede these amendments. I would nevertheless appreciate the Government’s further consideration of the present provisions as they stand, and of the effect of the amendments we propose. I look forward to his further consideration and his response, in the hope that we might get a little further if he comes back with something at Third Reading. I beg to move.

My Lords, I added my name to some of the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Marks. I echo his thanks to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, and the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, for their constructive engagement with us on the damages clauses. I too am satisfied that Amendment 169, in particular, and the assurance that the noble and learned Lord gave in writing—which I hope he will repeat on the Floor of the House—address the main concern. I am impressed also by the eloquent point he made in Committee, that these clauses simply confer a power, or discretion, on the court, and I am confident that the courts will exercise those powers fairly and sensibly.

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Marks, for his amendments, and to the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, for his comments. I hope the House will agree that the Government have been in listening mode throughout this Bill, and that we have in this particular instance moved quite considerably to deal with what the Government consider to be justified observations by your Lordships.

On the general point, the reforms are designed to protect the public, to deter those who seek to exploit our security services for compensation and to reduce the risk that court awards or damages may be used to fund terrorism—perhaps the most serious harm that can be perpetrated against society, going to its very fabric. The noble Lord, Lord Marks, asked me to restate the purpose of the clause and I think I have endeavoured to do so in those words.

On whether the Government can give any assurance that these provisions will not be invoked on the basis of

“unproven allegations … from a foreign state”,

I draw your Lordships’ attention to the fact that this is a power in the court; it is entirely in its discretion. No court is going to act on anything other than proper evidence, so in the Government’s view there is no risk of the danger to which the noble Lord, Lord Marks, referred, because this is a court process with rules of evidence and proper and fair procedures.

With those two preliminary observations, I come to the central point that was at issue when we discussed this clause in Committee. We have listened to the concerns expressed by noble Lords that the legislation needed to ensure that no national security case fell into scope where there was no connection between the Crown’s conduct and the terrorist conduct of the claimant. I can repeat before this House the assurance in the letter I sent noble Lords today, to which we have already been referred, saying that there needs to be a causal connection between the conduct of the terrorist and the reduction in damages.

As to what criteria the courts should apply when considering these issues, I know that noble Members felt the courts would require further guidance. In the Government’s view, the courts do not require further guidance; they are well able to interpret and apply this legislation, especially in light of the amendments we have proposed. The Government have every confidence in the court being able to discharge its functions under these provisions.

Our courts are well versed in taking a wide range of relevant factors into account in determining liability and assessing the level of damages. There are a number of common-law considerations to which noble Lords referred in Committee which may indeed provide some guidance. We do not seek to exonerate the Crown in respect of its own culpability; we aim simply to ensure that the terrorist conduct is properly taken into account when calculating quantum.

I turn to what I think are the only live amendments on this part, Amendments 174 and 175. Those amendments would apply to the Bill’s provisions whereby a court would consider the context in which the Crown had acted to reduce a risk of terrorism, but their underlying intention seems to the Government to be to markedly restrict those provisions. As I understand it, the amendments seek to limit the consideration of the court to where the Crown’s actions had been commenced —the provisions use the word “instigated”—and the conduct was required to have taken place overseas at the instigation of a foreign state.

While the Government accept that there are difficulties in preventing terrorism when the action concerned needs to be taken overseas, there are so many different facts and circumstances flowing from the claimant’s own actions that the proposed amendments would significantly limit the effect of these clauses. In the Government’s view, the courts ought to have complete discretion to apply the clauses as they stand; a very tight restriction both as to instigation and to the requirement that the instigated conduct took place overseas would limit them inappropriately and improperly restrict the discretion courts should have under the provisions.

The Government further feel that there is scope in these amendments for some confusion. The two aspects, an overseas element and instigation, seem to be couched in language reminiscent of an exclusive list, quite apart from the difficulty of deciding exactly what one means by “instigation”. In practice, the Government feel that the courts should be left to exercise their discretion, as they surely will, without the limitation proposed by these amendments. That is the Government’s position on the amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Marks, and I hope that in the light of what I have said, he will consider not pressing them.

There is one amendment by the Government—Amendment 181—which is proposed to ensure family proceedings in Scotland and Northern Ireland are excluded from the freezing and forfeiture provisions that are also part of this part, as with those in England and Wales. That simply corrects an oversight in the original drafting.

Having set out the Government’s amendments and why we are unable to accept the amendments proposed by the noble Lord, I commend Government’s amendments and ask the noble Lord to withdraw his.

My Lords, I have heard the Minister’s explanation. It is right that the amendments that were between us were Amendments 174 and 175. Having considered his point on the court’s discretion, I am not sure that the difference between us is so wide as to justify my testing the opinion of the House on this occasion. I shall not move those two amendments and beg leave to withdraw the stand part amendment.

Amendment 168 withdrawn.

Clause 85: Duty to consider reduction in damages payable by the Crown

Amendments 169 to 173

Moved by

169: Clause 85, page 57, line 18, leave out from “wrongdoing” to “and” on line 21 and insert “that—

(i) involves the commission of a terrorism offence or other involvement in terrorism-related activity, and (ii) has a connection with the conduct of the Crown complained of in the proceedings,”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment, together with the other Government amendments to this Clause, would mean that the court may consider the matters in Clause 85(3)(b) only if there was a connection between the terrorist wrongdoing and the conduct of the Crown complained of in the proceedings.

170: Clause 85, page 57, line 22, leave out “terrorist” and insert “such”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on the Government amendment to Clause 85(3)(a) removing the defined term “terrorist wrongdoing”.

171: Clause 85, page 57, line 23, after “wrongdoing” insert “and of its connection with the conduct of the Crown”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on the Government amendment to Clause 85(3)(a) requiring consideration of whether there was a connection between the wrongdoing and the conduct of the Crown before considering its extent.

172: Clause 85, page 57, line 26, leave out paragraph (a)

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on the matters referred to in this paragraph being referred to in Clause 85(3) as a result of the Government amendments to that subsection.

173: Clause 85, page 57, line 30, leave out “that conduct” and insert “the conduct complained of in the proceedings”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on the Government amendment leaving out Clause 85(4)(a).

Amendments 169 to 173 agreed.

Amendments 174 to 176 not moved.

Clause 86: Section 85: supplementary

Amendment 177

Moved by

177: Clause 86, page 58, line 19, leave out from “out” to “to” and insert “how the Crown considers the national security factors”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on the Government amendments to Clause 85.

Amendment 177 agreed.

Amendment 178 not moved.

Clause 87: Sections 84 to 86: interpretation

Amendment 179 not moved.

Clause 88: Damages at risk of being used for the purposes of terrorism

Amendment 180

Moved by

180: Leave out Clause 88

My Lords, we now move on to group four on legal aid. Again, I express our gratitude to the Minister, and to the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, for his engagement with us on these provisions. Nevertheless, in spite of one welcome concession, to which I will turn, we oppose in principle the Bill’s proposals to exclude access to legal aid for those previously convicted of terrorist offences, however minor, subject only to the time and age conditions set out in the Bill. Legal aid, restricted as it might already be, is a right that we enjoy as citizens, and it is wrong simply to exclude that right for anyone convicted of a terrorist offence, however minor, whether or not the legal aid sought has any connection with the previous conviction. At least in relation to damages in the last group, the Government made the concession in Amendment 169, as we have heard, that, for the power to reduce damages to be exercised, there would have to be some connection between the past terrorist activity and the Crown’s wrongful conduct complained of in the proceedings. Here, no such connection is necessary before the exclusion of legal aid kicks in.

All we have from the Government in this group is an exception in Amendment 186 and its associated amendments for cases where an applicant for legal aid is the victim of domestic abuse. That is, of course, important, and it is welcome, but it is based on no discernible principle at all. If the victims of domestic violence should be entitled to legal aid, why not the victims of human trafficking, which, we observe, may well have led them into terrorist activity in the first place? Why not the victims of sexual offences? These two examples are the genesis of Amendments 186A and 186B in my name and the name of my noble friend Lady Ludford.

There are many examples of other cases where legal aid ought to be available, regardless of past convictions: family cases involving children, housing cases, Equality Act cases, and eligible cases of applications for judicial review. It is simply no answer for the Government to say that exceptional case funding remains available. The criteria for exceptional case funding are very restrictive. Broadly, they apply where convention rights are said to be infringed—principally in family, housing or benefits cases. There are very difficult hurdles to surmount before exceptional case funding is given, and there is no promise by the Ministry of Justice to make that funding more widely available.

In any case, the Government are trying to make legal aid more difficult to obtain for past terrorist offenders. It is a nonsense for them now to claim, and then rely on that claim, that it is not all that bad because exceptional case funding will make it easier for the very people they are trying to exclude from the availability of legal aid. So we put down Amendments 185 and 187 based on principle, and it is exactly the principle the Government conceded in the last group in relation to damages reduction: that legal aid would not be excluded in cases where there was no link—which we have called “no relevant factual connection”—between the past terrorist offence of which the applicant had been convicted and the current application for legal aid. I have invited the Minister and the Government to accept that principle. Were it accepted, we would not press these amendments to a vote because, although these clauses would still be unacceptable, much of the sting would be removed from them. In the letter from the noble Lord to which I alluded earlier, those amendments have not yet been accepted. I invite the noble Lord to reconsider that.

We also support Amendment 188 in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Pannick and Lord Carlile of Berriew, and my noble friend Lady Ludford, restricting the exclusion of legal aid to cases where an offender has been sentenced to more than seven years for the relevant terrorist offence. At least those are serious terrorist offences—that is not a limitation in the Bill as currently drafted.

I regret that we cannot see the benefit of Amendment 188A, put down yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, on behalf of the Labour Party, after what must have been weeks of thought. It seeks a review of the impact of Clause 89 on offenders sentenced to a non-custodial sentence. The review sought is very limited and does not address the flawed principle of the proposal or its application. We will stick to our principled amendments, and I beg to move.

My Lords, I have added my name to amendments in this group. I declare my interest as a practising barrister, sometimes representing clients on legal aid. The harmony that has broken out in this afternoon’s debates does not apply to this group, although I do thank the Minister, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, for engaging with me and others on this subject and for tabling an amendment that mitigates, to a limited extent, the mischief of Clause 89.

I will first cite some history. At the legal aid Bill’s Second Reading on 15 December 1948, the Attorney-General, Sir Hartley Shawcross, told the House of Commons that civil legal aid was so important because it would

“open the doors of His Majesty’s courts and make British justice more readily accessible to the great mass of the population who hitherto have too frequently, I am afraid, had to regard these elementary rights—as they ought to be—as luxuries which were beyond their reach”.—[Official Report, Commons, 15/12/1948; col. 1223.]

Sadly, the scope of legal aid has been much reduced in recent years by Labour Governments, Conservative Governments and by the coalition Government. But, where civil legal aid is still available, it remains a vital legal protection for individuals and their families. It is a noble scheme that goes some way, although not far enough, towards ensuring that a lack of financial resources is not a bar to access to justice. So it is objectionable in principle for the Bill to propose to remove eligibility, even subject to exceptions, for a category of people who are defined simply by the nature of the criminal offence of which they have been convicted.

Clause 89 is simply indefensible for three main reasons. First, it will apply irrespective of the seriousness of the criminal offence of terrorism of which the individual is convicted, so long as that offence is capable of being punished by up to two years’ imprisonment. The noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, who cannot be in his place, pointed out in Committee that terrorism offences include such matters as

“inviting … support for a proscribed organisation”

and

“‘failure to disclose professional belief or suspicion about’ the commission of terrorist offences by others”.—[Official Report, 18/1/23; col. 1868.]

Now such criminal conduct is wrongful, but it may, and often does, lead to a short custodial sentence or even a community sentence. But, under Clause 89, any such conviction excludes a person from civil legal aid, subject to narrow exceptions, for 30 years, whatever sentence the court thinks is appropriate in the circumstances of the individual case. This is indefensible, and it is particularly so when, as the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, also pointed out, the recidivism rates for terrorist offenders are very low indeed: he gave the figure of 3%.

The second reason that Clause 89 is simply indefensible is that there is no exclusion from civil legal aid for those convicted of murder and rape, people who may receive life sentences and who normally receive very serious sentences for their offence. To single out terrorist offences, and to do so irrespective of the gravity of the individual offence, suggests to me, and I may not be the only one in this House, that the Government are more interested in political gestures than they are in pursuing any coherent principle.

The third reason that Clause 89 is simply indefensible is the one given by the noble Lord, Lord Marks: it will exclude persons from civil legal aid in cases which have no connection to the offence of terrorism of which they were convicted. A woman may be convicted of giving support to a proscribed organisation and receive a short custodial sentence or a community sentence, but 10 or 20 years later, she may be evicted, or face eviction, from her flat and face homelessness. The idea that she should be denied civil legal aid—and denied eligibility for civil legal aid—because of the terrorist conviction frustrates the very purpose of civil legal aid in a civilised society. Let us suppose the terrorist offender is beaten up in prison by prison officers—it does happen. Should he be excluded from eligibility for civil legal aid if he otherwise satisfies the relevant criteria? The idea that this proposal is brought forward by a Ministry of Justice defies credulity.

The only question in my mind is how best to remove or dilute the stain of Clause 89, and the Marshalled List contains a number of possible amendments, to some of which I have added my name: that Clause 89 should not stand part of the Bill, that it should be confined to those who are sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment or more, or that it should be confined to legal aid for a matter connected to the terrorism offence, which is the amendment preferred by the noble Lord, Lord Marks.

I am very sorry indeed that the Labour Front Bench is unwilling—as I understand it; I would welcome correction from the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby—to support any of these amendments, and has itself tabled what can only be described as a weak amendment, Amendment 188A, which would require a review within 60 days of Clause 89 coming into force. The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby spoke eloquently about Clause 89 in Committee; he is far too sensible and fair-minded to think personally that Clause 89 makes any sense. I assume, although I welcome correction, that the Opposition in the other place fear that they will be accused of being soft on terrorism if they support any of the substantive amendments. I think we all know what Sir Hartley Shawcross or the great Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, would have said about that.

If, as I hope, the noble Lord, Lord Marks decides to test the opinion of the House on one of these amendments, he will certainly have my support.

My Lords, I can speak briefly because my noble friend Lord Marks and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, have spoken forcefully on this matter. The amendments to remove Clauses 89 and 90 are in my name and signed by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. I spoke at some length on this in Committee, and I believe it is a matter of principle—a very flawed principle, as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said—to bar anybody with a terrorism offence, however minor, from being granted civil legal aid.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, admitted in Committee that this proposal was “symbolic”— I think he said it more than once. In other words, it is gesture politics. The hope must be, as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, just said, to paint those of us opposing it as somehow soft on terrorism, but I put it to the Government that they could be regarded as soft on murder, rape and sexual offences. They are apparently content that major offenders against women, of the likes of Wayne Couzens and David Carrick, variously guilty of abduction, rape and murder, could one day be eligible for civil legal aid, but not someone who is a minor offender under terrorism laws. If they try to throw at us in the Daily Mail that we are soft on terrorists, the Government ought to be prepared for a counter charge that they are soft on murderers and rapists. Given the huge public concern in recent weeks, months and years about the volume and the type of offences against women, I do not think that the Government are going to come out of this well.

My Lords, these clauses restrict access to civil legal aid for convicted terrorists, although there are exemptions to this, such as when the convicted terrorist is under 18. I welcome government Amendments 184 and 186, where the Minister has made a further concession regarding people who have been victims of domestic violence and domestic abuse.

While we support the principle that terrorists should not receive legal aid, we are concerned that application of these clauses could permanently impact those with minor offences such as vandalism. We have therefore tabled Amendment 188A in my name to create a practical mechanism to address these concerns. This would establish a statutory review of the impact on those who receive non-custodial sentences. We will not support Amendment 180 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Marks, which would allow terrorists to receive legal aid if their applications relate to a non-terrorism offence. We believe that these most serious offenders who commit attacks on the UK should not receive support, regardless of the nature of their later civil proceedings.

There is a point of principle here, which is that terrorism is a uniquely targeted offence against the British state, and we think that that needs to be recognised. However, there are the points of the low-level offences, which I brought to the attention of the Committee, and there is also the point that was acknowledged by the Minister about people who are victims of domestic abuse. So, there are principles here, but there is a clash of principles.

Will the noble Lord explain on behalf of the Official Opposition why, if terrorism is a unique crime against the state, he does not have a similar view of unique crimes against the integrity of the person, the integrity of women, that we have seen in the appalling crimes that have, thankfully and at last, led to convictions of the likes of Wayne Couzens and David Carrick? Those are offences against the integrity of the person, the integrity of women and the integrity of society. Why would they not be considered on a similar level to some terrorist offences, without giving any quarter to terrorism whatever, but on the lesser scale of terrorism? I think his “uniqueness” argument really demands justification.

I agree that it demands justification, which is that when terrorists carry out their activities, they are attacking in a random way the state itself. The attacks against women to which the noble Baroness referred are of course totally reprehensible, but do not attack the state in any way. They attack women for what they are and those offences are, of course, taken extremely seriously.

I accept that the Government’s amendments regarding civil legal aid on these offences send a message. I and the Labour Party accept and support that point. However, that needs to be ameliorated at the lower level and reviewed. That is why I will be testing the opinion of the House when we reach Amendment 188A.

That does not clear a path in the Bill at all. I am rather shocked by Clause 89. I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he accepts the position regarding someone who was convicted of terrorism some years before and brings a civil claim, particularly, for instance, for eviction from housing. Is he or she entitled to a lawyer in order to be able to come before the court and put his or her case? If so, there is an absence of fairness if that person cannot afford the lawyer that he or she would need, and would have to represent himself or herself. That seems to be contrary to access to justice.

My Lords, we in the Opposition are accepting the principle that terrorism is uniquely terrible and needs to be dealt with in that way. However, my amendment calls for a review of the impact of this on certain lower-level cases.

The noble Lord is being patient, but what is there to review? Why has he not put down an amendment that simply excludes from this objectionable clause those who are convicted only in circumstances that lead to a non-custodial sentence? That surely is the logic of what he is saying. Why do we need a review?

We need a review because we do not know what the impact is unless we have looked at the data. It seems to be as simple as that.

I am grateful and the noble Lord is being patient on these points. He referred to only the most serious cases and said that there was a separate issue with regard to cases that are less serious. In Committee, he used as an example a personal one: someone being convicted of the offence of graffiti. That woman—if indeed it was a woman—would no longer be able to get any legal aid support if she had been a victim of human trafficking or sexual attack. That cannot be right. Does the noble Lord agree that that is what he is supporting today?

As the noble Lord knows, the amendment is calling for a review to look at the practical impact of the proposed legislation. We have yet to hear from the Minister on whether the Government accept that a review is necessary.

It is perfectly within the rules of the Companion for noble Lords to seek points of clarification or elucidation from those who are speaking.

I am again extremely grateful to noble Lords for their interventions and, in particular, for the support for the principle behind Clause 89 expressed by the Official Opposition, subject to the point about minor offences, which I will come to in a moment.

As a quick reminder, Clause 89 narrows the range of circumstances in which individuals convicted of specific terrorism offences can automatically receive civil legal aid services. This includes individuals convicted of terrorism offences punishable with imprisonment for two years or more as well as other offences where a judge has found a terrorism connection. It is important to note that this clause modifies but does not exclude legal aid, because there is still the route of exceptional case funding, particularly if convention rights are in issue. One of the fundamental convention rights— I think this at least partially answers the point raised by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss—is the necessity for a fair trial, in Article 6. The exceptional case funding route is still available in that regard. Phrases such as “excludes”, “denies”, “debars” and “no legal aid support” are not an accurate summary of what this clause achieves.

I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for giving way, but is it not the case that no one gets exceptional case funding simply because they otherwise would not get legal aid? The point made by the noble and learned Baroness was that it is unfair, so you will not get a fair trial. However, that does not ground exceptional case funding —unless the noble and learned Lord has a different view of exceptional case funding from the rest of us.

My Lords, there might well be found applications for exceptional case funding; approximately 75% of such applications are successful each year. In any event, exceptional case funding is still available.

On the question of numbers and definition, what is the essential definition of exceptional case funding and how many cases have given rise to such a relief?

I do not have the exact definition in front of me. It is a matter for the director of the Legal Aid Agency to decide. There is guidance on this, which applies in particular to cases of inquest and other areas where convention rights are at issue. I can supply my noble friend with further details in due course.

I do not have that information with me, but about three-quarters of applications succeed.

At the risk of disturbing the atmosphere of good will that has, to an extent, prevailed this afternoon, your Lordships would have expected me to explore with the Government whether there can be any further movement on this clause and I am sorry to say that, subject to the important exception for victims of domestic abuse in relation to family and housing matters, they adhere to the clause and respectfully present it to the House.

The amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, seek to remove these clauses from the Bill altogether. The Government’s position is that the measures are necessary to ensure that our limited resources for legal aid funding are not directed towards individuals who attack society and democracy and, through their actions, commit acts of terrorism that seek to threaten and undermine the very democratic institutions which provide the benefit of legal aid. It is right that access to legal aid should therefore be subject to the provisions of this clause. Again, I understand that the Labour Party, in principle, accepts that approach.

It is certainly possible to argue, as the noble Baroness did, that if this applies to terrorism, why does it not apply to murder, the abuse of women, drug trafficking and other offences? Certainly, one can always advance an argument about where you draw the line. The line is drawn here at terrorism because of its particular threat to our society and democracy; that is the Government’s reasoning. As I have just said, it is not a blanket ban on civil legal aid because the exceptional case funding route ensures—in compliance with our obligations under the convention—that legal aid remains available when it is most needed to ensure access to justice.

Amendment 188, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, would limit the restriction to where an offender has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of seven years or more. I acknowledge of course the noble Lord’s concerns, but the Government oppose this amendment on the following grounds. The Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021, introduced following the Fishmongers’ Hall and Streatham Hill terrorist attacks, expanded the sentencing powers of courts in relation to terrorist offenders and created more restrictive provisions for terrorist offenders whose offences carry a maximum sentence of more than two years. So, the two-year benchmark is already baked into legislation, and the Government feel that it is the appropriate benchmark in this instance.

The noble Lord’s seven-year sentence proposal would mean that a number of quite serious terrorism offences would escape: for example, the breach of a TPIM notice. It would also—by reference to sentencing, as distinct from the statutory definition of an offence—create quite a subjective difference between offenders when one has got more than the other: one is a bit above and one is a bit below, perhaps because one has had more previous convictions than the other, or for whatever reason. So, the Government think that the two-year benchmark in existing legislation is logical, defendable and clear and that it should remain. So, with regret, the Government are unable to accept Amendment 188 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Pannick.

Amendment 187, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Marks, would make the restriction not apply if the terrorism offence of which the individual had been convicted had no relevant factual connection with their application for legal aid. We quite understand the noble Lord’s intention behind that amendment, but, again, the Government cannot accept it. As the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, said, this is a point of principle. The Government have considered with great care the proposal put forward and consider that the fact of a conviction for a terrorist offence carrying a sentence of more than two years is a ground for restricting the route by which legal aid is granted, so we are unable to accept this amendment.

However, we have tabled government Amendments 182, 183, 184 and 186 to create an exception so that the restriction will not apply where a terrorist offender is a victim of domestic abuse and is applying for legal aid related to family and housing matters within a relevant time period. That would include such matters as pursuing protective injunctions in child custody cases, as well as the loss of a home or homelessness. Again, the question arises: if you have extended it there, why do you not extend it somewhere else? The answer, I think, is that one has to draw a line somewhere. Those are particularly serious issues in society as it stands, and that seems to the Government to be a sound basis for making an exception. It is not our position that it is relevant or wise to create any further exceptions.

That takes me to the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, on the review, by way of an impact statement after a certain period, of the effect of this amendment on those who have been convicted of a terrorist offence but given a non-custodial sentence. The request is that there should be a statutory obligation for the Government to review the impact from that perspective. The Government find it somewhat difficult to imagine a non-custodial sentence for a terrorist offence carrying a sentence of more than two years. It is certainly quite difficult to collect the data or find exactly what happened in all sorts of different magistrates’ courts at different times—I assume that this relates to magistrates’ courts. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, is very concerned about the graffiti example that we discussed earlier, and the risk of a young person inadvertently falling into the net.

The Government do not feel that the correct approach is to have this kind of statutory obligation to look at the impact. We can see all sorts of serious practical difficulties in doing it. But, of course, in general, as with any legislation, if it were to appear that there were difficulties in this regard and that this was having an undue impact on persons sentenced to non-custodial but serious terrorist offences—that is, sentences of more than two years—any Government would, in the ordinary course, respond and investigate and review what was going on in a proper but non-statutory way, so as to consider whether further remedial action was required.

So our answer to this is that the Government—when I say this, I mean not the party in power but any British Government—would take seriously a problem of that sort and would undoubtedly conduct a proper review, even if it is not provided in statute that it should do so. That is the Government’s position on the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby.

I would be grateful if the Minister could clarify a point from his earlier comments on exceptional case funding. The guidance on this on GOV.UK says:

“You could get legal aid for cases that would not usually be eligible if your human rights are at risk. This is known as exceptional case funding”.

Can the Minister clarify: under the Bill, will anybody who receives any sentence for any terrorism offence now automatically be eligible for exceptional case funding?

No, that is not the Government’s position. There is a mechanism by way of exceptional case funding to ensure access to justice in an appropriate case.

Then the point that the Minister referred to about the Bill is irrelevant, because the eligibility for exceptional case funding is regardless of whether the Bill is in place.

It is not entirely irrelevant that exceptional case funding is always available for access to justice. That fact changes some of the comments that have been made about the restrictive nature of the Bill.

My Lords, there is a sharp division of opinion on the general principles here. I share the disappointment of the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, at the position taken by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, on behalf of the Labour Front Bench, particularly in view of the way the Labour Front Bench spoke in favour of the principles we enunciated in Committee. I do not propose to press Amendment 180, but when the time comes, I will seek to test the opinion of the House on Amendment 185.

Amendment 180 withdrawn.

Schedule 16: Damages at risk of being used for the purposes of terrorism

Amendment 181

Moved by

181: Schedule 16, page 188, line 21, leave out from “proceedings”” to end of line 26 and insert—

“(a) in relation to England and Wales, has the meaning given by section 75(3) of the Courts Act 2003; (b) in relation to Northern Ireland, has the meaning given by Article 12(5) of the Family Law (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 (S.I. 1993/1576 (N.I. 6));(c) in relation to Scotland, has the meaning given by section 135 of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 and includes proceedings under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (asp 1).”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment provides a definition of “family proceedings” in relation to Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as England and Wales.

Amendment 181 agreed.

Clause 89: Legal aid for individuals convicted of terrorism offences

Amendments 182 to 184

Moved by

182: Clause 89, page 60, line 11, after “Schedule 1” insert “other than those in paragraph 12 of Schedule 1”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment would remove the limitation on the availability of civil legal aid to an offender where the services are provided to them as victims of domestic violence in relation to a matter arising out of a family relationship in which there has been, or is a risk of, domestic violence.

183: Clause 89, page 60, line 17, at beginning insert “the Director determines that”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment would clarify that the Director has to determine that one or more of the additional conditions is met in order for civil legal services to be available to offenders.

184: Clause 89, page 60, line 17, leave out “F” and insert “G”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on the amendment to this Clause inserting a new Condition G.

Amendments 182 to 184 agreed.

Amendment 185

Moved by

185: Clause 89, page 60, line 17, leave out “F” and insert “G1”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Marks’ other amendment to this clause inserting a new Condition G1. Condition G1 will become Condition H if the amendment to be moved by Lord Sharpe of Epsom inserting a new Condition G is accepted.

Amendment 186

Moved by

186: Clause 89, page 60, line 35, at end insert—

“(7A) Condition G is met where—(a) the general case services are those described in paragraph 11, 33, 34 or 35 of Schedule 1 (services in relation to domestic violence and housing), and(b) the offender—(i) was or is a victim of domestic violence occurring after the relevant date, or(ii) is at risk of being a victim of domestic violence.(7B) In subsection (7A)—“domestic violence” has the meaning given in paragraph 12(9) of Schedule 1;“relevant date” means the date five years before the application date.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment would allow offenders to access civil legal aid in relation to services relating to domestic violence and housing where they were at any time in the five years preceding their application, or at any time after their application, victims of domestic violence, or are at risk of being victims of domestic violence.

Amendment 186A (to Amendment 186) not moved.

Amendment 186B (to Amendment 186) not moved.

Amendment 186 agreed.

Amendments 187 and 188 not moved.

Amendment 188A

Moved by

188A: Clause 89, page 61, line 33, at end insert—

“(10A) Within 60 days of this section coming into force, a Minister of the Crown must publish a review in to the impact of this section on offenders who have been sentenced to a non-custodial sentence.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment means that a Minister must review the impact of restrictions on legal aid on those who receive non-custodial sentences.

Amendment 189 not moved.

Clause 90: Legal aid for individuals convicted of terrorism offences: data sharing

Amendment 190 not moved.

Amendment 191

Moved by

191: After Clause 91, insert the following new Clause—

“Amendments of Terrorism Act 2000Schedule (Amendments of Terrorism Act 2000) contains amendments to the Terrorism Act 2000.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment introduces the new Schedule inserted by Lord Sharpe before Schedule 17.

My Lords, Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000—hereafter referred to as TACT —confers a power on a police officer to arrest a person whom they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist. Under Section 41, officers are able to detain someone before charging or releasing them. The Section 41 detention clock allows them to do so for a maximum period of up to 14 days. It is possible for a person to be arrested under Section 24 of PACE then subsequently rearrested under Section 41 of TACT. This might happen, for example, when information comes to light during the investigation indicating that the offence of which the individual is accused has a terrorist connection. Under the current position, the time spent in detention under Section 24 would, in theory, not be counted towards the initial 48-hour permissible period of detention under Section 41. Though counting this time is, in fact, current operational practice, the Government are clear of the need to codify this practice and ensure that the safeguard continues to apply in all future cases. This is what this amendment does, while aligning the power relating to foreign power threat activity contained in Part 1 of this Bill.

Schedule 5 to TACT contains a power under which an officer of at least the rank of superintendent may, by a written order, give to any constable the authority which may be given by a premises search warrant issued by the court for the purposes of a terrorist investigation. The authorising officer must have reasonable grounds for believing that the case is one of great national emergency and that immediate action is necessary. We are seeking to amend Schedule 5 to TACT to create an ex post factum judicial authorisation safeguard. This will require the police to apply to the court for a warrant in relation to any relevant confidential journalistic material seized during the search that they need to retain for the purposes of a terrorist investigation. In the interests of national security, it is right that confidential material should be accessible in cases where the police can show that the action is necessary, proportionate and satisfies the legal tests in these provisions, while pursuing a terrorist investigation.

However, the Government also recognise that press freedoms are extremely important. Therefore, when such material is seized during a search that has been authorised under this urgent procedure, it is right that a warrant must be sought from a judge for its continued retention, and that an application for retention can be ex post factum, after the search itself has taken place. This approach reflects recent case law and ensures that the provisions provide appropriate protection for journalists. This amendment will also align this aspect of Schedule 5 to TACT with the equivalent urgent premises search power found in Schedule 2 to this Bill.

I turn to Amendment 192, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. This amendment seeks to impose on the Secretary of State a duty to implement the recommendations of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report on Russia. As noble Lords will be aware, the Government published their response to the Russia report on the day the report itself was published, 21 July 2020. Although the report did not itself enumerate specific recommendations, all the recommendations that could be identified in the report were addressed in the government response. A majority of the ISC’s rec