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Expiry Of Sections 5 To 7 Etc

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 3 September 1998

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(". The following provisions of this Act shall cease to have effect on 30th November 1999—.

  • (a) sections 5 to 7;
  • (b) section 9(3);
  • (c) Part II of Schedule 1; and
  • (d) Part II of Schedule 2.")
  • The noble Lord said: I hope that in speaking to Amendments Nos. 50 and 51 I can be equally brief. I have noticed a considerable number of members of the Government Front Bench coming into the Chamber and I do not wish to keep them from their beds any longer than desirable.

    Again, the amendments offer two alternatives to the Government. I dare say that they will not accept them, but it is a brief point that ought to be made. As I made clear in my opening remarks at Second Reading, Amendment No. 50 offers what is normally referred to in common parlance as a sunset clause. In other words, Clauses 5 to 7 will cease to have effect in roughly a year's time. We have been given an assurance that that will be the case with other parts of the Bill because they are linked with other legislation and therefore have to come up for renewal in due course. It is not that there is a sunset clause but rather that they have to be renewed along with other prevention of terrorism legislation.

    If Amendment No. 50 is too extreme in that it merely kills off those parts of the Bill, there is the alternative of Amendment No. 51 which allows the Government to renew the provisions by means of the affirmative resolution procedure. We made it clear both in another place and in my opening remarks that we had no strong objection to Clauses 5 to 7. In fact we supported similar provisions in Private Members' Bills when we were in government. But we, together with many other noble Lords from all sides of the House, behind noble Lords opposite and behind myself, made it clear that we were unhappy with the idea that Clauses 5 to 7 should be tacked on to the emergency legislation to which we generally gave support. Therefore, it was undesirable that they should be brought into effect in this way. If they were to be brought into effect, we think it right that they should cease to have effect at some stage. If not, the Government should justify their continuing use.

    I doubt whether I shall receive a positive response from the Government at this hour on the amendments. In advance I should say that I shall probably accept that not very helpful response. That will no doubt please the noble Lord the Chief Whip.

    In closing my remarks on the amendments, I stress that we will wish to come back to the clauses, and will do so, if and when the Government bring forward appropriate legislation of the kind that will allow us to discuss them. I imagine that will be the case with the criminal justice Bill and it is likely that that Bill will come before the House in due course. At that stage we shall return to these clauses and give them the appropriate scrutiny that we believe they deserve, as I believe most Members of the House who have spoken at considerable length on other aspects of them feel they deserve. I beg to move.

    The noble Lord referred to the clause as a sunset clause on more than one occasion. I hope he was not casting aspersions on your Lordships' Chamber as a sunset home by using that phrase.

    I do not think I am being unhelpful in responding. It was a perfectly fair point to raise and the best I can do is to reiterate specifically what I said in answer to the question which the noble Lord, Lord Holme of Cheltenham, put to me. The proposed measures in relation to conspiracy in the Bill are to be included in the wider review of counter-terrorist legislation which is being conducted. I repeat that there will be a consultation paper on the subject in the autumn.

    Furthermore, the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has sufficiently misguided my noble friend Lord Dubs as to promise an independent review. For the moment, I believe those safeguards ought to be reasonably sufficient.

    I am grateful to the noble Lord for his response. He is right, I did refer to it as the sunset clause. Perhaps at this hour of the morning we should be looking to a sunrise clause. I certainly look forward to the sun rising in due course and I am grateful that we shall probably all be abed before the sun does rise. I am grateful for what the noble Lord said. I repeat what I said and to the noble Lord's noble friend, the Government Chief Whip, I say that we will wish to come back to this in the future. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendment No. 51 not moved.]

    Clause 10 agreed to.

    Clause 11 [ Short title]:

    [ Amendment No. 52 not moved.]

    Clause 11 agreed to.

    [ Amendment No. 53 not moved.]

    Schedule 1 [ Consequential Amendments]:

    [ Amendments Nos. 54 to 58 not moved.]

    Schedule 1 agreed to.

    Schedule 2 [ Repeals and Revocations]:

    [ Amendment No. 59 not moved.]

    Schedule 2 agreed to.

    In the Title:

    [ Amendment No. 60 not moved.]

    House resumed: Bill reported without amendment.

    Then, Standing Order 44 having been dispensed with (pursuant to Resolution of this day), Bill read a third time and passed.

    My Lords, before I move that the House adjourns to await Royal Assent, on behalf of all your Lordships I would like to express our very sincere thanks to the staff of the House for the marvellous way in which they have looked after us today and yesterday. The recall produces many practical problems for the staff, which they have solved magnificently. I will not single out any particular group—it would be invidious to do so. They have all responded marvellously and I am extremely glad to have this opportunity to thank them all on behalf of the whole House.

    My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 1.30 a.m.

    Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

    [ The Sitting was suspended from 1.19 to 1.30 a.m.]