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Terrorism Act 2000 (Code Of Practice For Authorised Officers) Order 2001

Volume 621: debated on Wednesday 7 February 2001

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Terrorism Act 2000 (Code Of Practice For Examining Officers) Order 2001

Terrorism (Interviews) (Scotland) Order 2001

Terrorism Act 2000 (Carding) Order 2001

8.31 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton rose to move, That the draft orders laid before the House on 15th, 16th and 29th January be approved [4th and 5th Reports from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in order to expedite matters, I shall discuss simultaneously the four orders; namely, the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Authorised Officers) Order 2001, the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers) Order 2001, the draft Terrorism (Interviews) (Scotland) Order 2001 and the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Carding) Order 2001.

These four draft orders represent a package of business that is relevant to the implementation of the Terrorism Act 2000, which, as noble Lords will be aware, is currently scheduled for 19th February.

The purpose of the Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Authorised Officers) Order 2001 and the Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers) Order 2001 is to bring into force the draft codes of practice that were laid before the House on Monday, 15th January. Under paragraph 5 of Schedule 14 to the Terrorism Act, "officers", which by virtue of paragraph 1 of that schedule includes an authorised officer and an examining officer within the meanings of Section 24 of and Schedule 7 to the Act, are required to perform functions in accordance with any relevant code of practice. Under paragraph 6 of Schedule 14, the Secretary of State is required to issue the aforementioned codes of practice.

The code of practice for authorised officers, who by definition include a constable and immigration or customs officer, covers the exercise by such officers of functions relating to the seizure of terrorist cash. I recall that noble Lords were particularly interested in that subject during the passage of the Terrorism Act 2000. In particular, I was asked why those powers were restricted to border seizures only; that is, to the UK's external borders and the border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In answer, noble Lords will recall that I made reference to on-going work flowing from a report by the Performance and Innovation Unit which appeared in June last year on the proceeds of crime, resulting in a proceeds of crime Bill, which will be published in due course. The detail of that Bill is still under consideration and discussion, and I therefore regret that I am unable to give any assessment today of the way in which that Bill might impact upon the seizure provisions contained in the Terrorism Act, or, more pertinently, on whether those proposals will in any way supersede the provisions of that Act. However, I am sure that there will be ample opportunity to reflect on that once the detail of the Bill is clear.

Returning to the draft code of practice, authorised officers are reminded of the scope of the power to seize cash, which is defined as: coins and notes in any currency; postal orders; travellers cheques; and bankers drafts. It also covers the use of immigration and customs officers, who would be expected to act only rarely in the capacity of an authorised officer. The code stipulates also that prior authorisation to seize cash should be obtained from a senior officer—in the case of the police, that means an inspector. That, we believe, is a sensible precaution, particularly in view of the potential for interference with the ECHR right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions.

There is no minimum or maximum amount of cash that can be seized under the Act. That fact is reflected in the draft code. Noble Lords will doubtless acknowledge the fact that terrorists do not necessarily need large amounts of money to pursue their objectives.

Otherwise, the code sets out the procedures to be followed during seizure and includes important stipulations, such as counting cash in the presence of the individual concerned and not removing cash from the individual's presence until the cash has been physically seized. The code also has in its annexe a written notification to be handed to the individual; it gives important information about the seizure process and about what next will happen to the cash. Procedures for making applications to a court for the detention, further detention, forfeiture and release of such cash are provided for in Rules of Court under Section 31 of the Act; the Magistrates' Court (Detention and Forfeiture of Terrorist Cash) Rules 2001 and the Crown Court (Amendment) Rules 2001 provide for appeals. Both sets of rules were made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and I can confirm that they were laid before the House on 29th January.

I turn to the code of practice for examining officers, which is also made under Schedule 14 to the Act. By virtue of paragraph 1 to that schedule, an examining officer is defined as a constable, an immigration officer and a customs officer designated for the purpose by the Secretary of State and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise. As far as that is concerned, I can confirm that it is our intention that customs officers at ports in Great Britain will be designated for that purpose.

As with authorised officers, the draft code of practice envisages that officers who are not constables would act only rarely as examining officers. That proposed supporting role should not in any way be seen, however, as undermining the value placed on those agencies to assist in the fight against terrorism—it is more a recognition of the front-line role taken by the police in combating terrorism.

The code of practice for examining officers is designed to provide officers with key information about the scope of their powers, such as who they are entitled to examine and for what purpose—that is, for determining whether someone is, or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The draft code then seeks to remind examining officers of the kind of considerations that should accompany the application of those powers; that is, an appropriate degree of care and sensitivity, the intention being to cause minimum embarrassment or offence to the individual in question.

Otherwise, noble Lords will see that the draft code covers issues such as the records of examinations; detention; searches; the production of information; and the treatment of juveniles and other vulnerable people. I hope that your Lordships agree that that last issue is of particular importance and that the code should acknowledge that. It would be naive to assume that juveniles would never find themselves caught up in terrorism. That regrettably means that examining officers may need to pay attention to such people. It is right, therefore, that the code should look to give examining officers guidance on how to proceed in those matters.

As is currently the case, a notice will be handed to those who are examined beyond the one-hour point and it will give key information to the examinee. Your Lordships can find a copy of that notice in the annexe to the code. Paragraph 35 of the code in fact requires that that notice be displayed in a prominent position to try to ensure that nobody is left in any doubt about what is happening to them.

In conclusion, I hope that your Lordships will agree that the code represents a useful and helpful document that should go some way to achieving a degree of harmonisation in the way in which examining officers perform their functions under the Act.

I shall now briefly discuss the next of the four draft orders before us; namely, the Terrorism (Interviews) (Scotland) Order. That order is made under paragraph 19 of Schedule 8 to the Act. Under that paragraph, the Secretary of State is required to make provision to require that in Scotland, except in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as may be specified in the order, where a person detained at a police station under Section 41 of the Act, or Schedule 7 to it, has been permitted to consult a solicitor, the solicitor shall be allowed to be present at any interview that is carried out in connection with a terrorist investigation or for the purposes of Schedule 7, which relates to port and border controls.

Your Lordships may be wondering what the purpose of the order might be. It is essentially to enable provision to be made for a person arrested or detained in Scotland to have rights of access to a solicitor which are broadly equivalent to the rights which a person detained in the remainder of the UK would have. More specifically, it seeks to ensure that, within the distinctive and separate system of Scottish law and procedures, there is available for Scotland the facility to change the circumstances relative to a solicitor being excluded from interview broadly comparable to the flexibility achieved in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by, respectively, PACE code of practice C and the draft code of practice for the RUC under the Terrorism Act.

If that enabling paragraph were not in the Act, the arrangements relating to access to a solicitor in Scotland would apply to terrorist cases also and the person detained would have no right to the presence of a solicitor during an interview.

The order therefore seeks to mirror, so far as it can, whatever circumstances or conditions will apply in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The position in those jurisdictions, under PACE and the draft Northern Ireland code of practice for the police, is that a solicitor may be required to leave the interview only if his conduct is such that the investigating officer is unable properly to put questions to the subject. Article 4 of the draft Scotland order therefore introduces only a specified condition that the solicitor's behaviour should not interfere with or obstruct the conduct of the interview. We cannot see any justification for introducing any other circumstances or conditions for Scotland that would not apply elsewhere. The intention must be to harmonise procedures across the United Kingdom as far as is possible. I am advised that Scottish police fully support that aim.

Before moving on from this draft order, it should, however, be recognised that the PACE codes and draft Northern Ireland code substantially qualify the action taken to remove a solicitor from interview in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Those codes remind the police, for example, that this is a serious step to take and that an officer of the rank of superintendent or above who took the decision should consider whether the matter should be reported to the Law Society. Unfortunately, it is neither appropriate nor possible for such a provision to be included in paragraph 19 of the statutory instrument.

Therefore, we propose in the circular on the Terrorism Act which the Government have in mind to issue to inform the chief officers for Scotland what the position is under PACE Code C for England and Wales and under the draft code of practice for Northern Ireland. Further, we shall suggest that if a police superintendent was of the view that a solicitor's conduct was such to cause him to require the solicitor to leave the interview, then the superintendent should also seriously consider whether there was need to inform the Law Society of Scotland of the solicitor's conduct. In that way, we hope that there would be a sufficient degree of consistency in the way that that issue was handled in the various United Kingdom jurisdictions. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that that is highly desirable.

The last of the four orders concerns carding, which was also the subject of considerable interest in this House during the passage of the Terrorism Bill. Before turning to the order in detail, I should like to take this opportunity to remind noble Lords just what the power means.

Under paragraph 16(1) of Schedule 7 to the Act, the Secretary of State may, by order, make provision requiring a person to whom paragraph 16 applies, if required to do so, to complete and produce to an examining officer a card containing such information as the order may specify. In accordance with paragraph 16(2), the order may also require the owners or agents of ships or aircraft to supply the cards. But I can confirm that this order will not impose that requirement and its supply will be left to the police.

It is perhaps worth reminding your Lordships to whom paragraph 16, and therefore the carding requirement, applies. It applies to those who disembark or embark at a sea or airport in Great Britain or Northern Ireland from or, as the case may be, on a ship or aircraft travelling between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the islands.

I recall in discussion of this provision in Committee on the Terrorism Bill reminding noble Lords of how mindful we were, and are, about the sensitivities attached to implementing the carding provision and that we therefore believed it right to introduce a switch-on, switch-off mechanism to enable the provision to be taken out of use if the situation allowed. And that is the key, for we have said also that the prevailing security situation was likely to be one of the main factors, if not the main factor, in bringing forward a draft order. That being so, the regrettable fact is that there are still those, at present, opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process and determined to pursue their aims by violent means. This has been demonstrated, sadly, all too starkly in recent weeks and months by attacks both in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain generally.

Unfortunately, therefore, the security advice is that the provision should remain in force for the time being. And it is worth remembering that this order represents a continuation of the current position rather than the introduction of a new counter-terrorism measure. I regret the necessity for that but I regret more that there are those who refuse to put violence behind them.

The information obtained via the cards will be the same as that obtained via cards issued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; that is, full name, nationality/citizenship, date and place of birth, home address, address visiting, purpose of visit, occupation and employer. The police have been consulted about the form of those cards and agree with the draft as set out in the schedule to the order.

Finally, it is right to acknowledge some of the concerns expressed by noble Lords in Committee proceedings on the Terrorism Bill about this provision. If I recall correctly, there was discussion about the effect on operators of carding, not least if it is applied inconsiderately.

In leaving it to the police to supply the cards, I hope that your Lordships will agree that at least one potential source of irritation to operators has been removed. And, from the application point of view, I should stress that police are aware of the need to implement the provision carefully and sensitively. Indeed, the draft code of practice for examining officers makes specific reference to that. Therefore, I hope and believe that that will result in proportionate use of the provision. Of course, there will always be concerns about the potential for such a measure to infringe on individual rights. But the Government are satisfied that, on balance, any interference is slight and represents a proportionate response to the very real threat of terrorism.

I am sorry that I have had to go through the orders at length but it is important to place this on record and to put the matters fully before your Lordships' House. I commend the orders to the House.

Moved, That the draft orders laid before the House on 15th, 16th and 29th January be approved [4th and 5th Reports from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

My Lords, the noble Lord need give no apologies for going into such detail. The need to respond to various acts of terrorism over the years has produced various pieces of anti-terrorist legislation which has given concern that the ratchet on the civil liberties of us all has turned in the wrong direction.

The object of us all is to try to reach a time when such special powers are not needed and the various activities can be covered by the normal criminal law. Alas, as the Minister pointed out, we have not yet reached that stage and reluctantly we must continue to give special powers to our authorities.

There is also the fact that, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, will confirm, many terrorist organisations seem to have slipped very easily into organised crime so that the overlap between any politically-motivated activities and purely criminal activities has long since become blurred.

Therefore, we welcome the time that the Minister took to explain the Government's attitude and also the points he made that, where possible, the powers would lapse if circumstances changed. In that spirit, we give a warm welcome to the measures.

My Lords, I too welcome the draft orders in so far as they apply to Northern Ireland. It does not take much reading of the affairs of Northern Ireland to recognise the totally different atmosphere which prevails there at present. In the past month, there have been 40 pipe bombs, which are very easily made and can be extremely destructive, thrown into the homes of innocent people because of their religion. That has happened particularly in Larne and Lurgan.

There is a very real fear in Northern Ireland that the pipe bombs may get out of hand and innocent people will be killed. That could start a whole spiral of terrorist and political consequences.

It is right that the Government should retain the powers that they have at the moment to try to combat that outburst of terrorism. In doing so, I recognise that, as the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said, there are some regulations which will never be acceptable to some people in Northern Ireland because they are engaged in a Mafia-type activity. That has been going on now for many years. The Minister should recognise that it will take a long time before we can eradicate that scourge of activity from the political face of Northern Ireland.

I welcome the proposals in a very personal sense. When I was Member of Parliament for West Belfast, there was a great deal of terrorist activity going on. There were many people, innocent people, who lived in what could be classified as nationalist areas; in other words, Catholic areas. From my everyday work as a Member of Parliament in my advice centre, I know that many innocent people were taken to the interrogation centres and badly treated. Time and time again I made representations to various Ministers to prevent such things happening.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, mentioned this matter a few days ago. If one gives way to such things, it simply helps the terrorists. The terrorists were able to exploit the situation in which young innocent people were ill treated in the interrogation centres. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, may remember that in February 1979, when the previous Labour government were in power, the then Chief Constable of Northern Ireland was an Englishman, Kenneth Newman. Allegations were made and there was such fear and hysteria in nationalist areas about young people in particular being ill treated in interrogation centres that the then Labour government set up what became known as the Bennett inquiry. A report was issued in February 1979 and although it said that there was no evidence on which to lay the blame on any particular policeman, one had only to read the conclusions of that report to realise that serious malpractice had been perpetrated by the police in those interrogation centres.

In many ways the issues raised following the publication of that report, having regard to the way in which it highlighted the malpractice, led to the defeat of that Labour government two months after the report was published. In 1979 in my constituency in West Belfast, there was absolute hysteria about what was happening in those interrogation centres—I speak with knowledge of West Belfast, but it was happening elsewhere in Northern Ireland—so I found it impossible to vote with the government in a vote of confidence.

For those reasons I welcome the codes of practice. I believe that they will do a great deal to instil confidence into those who will have to accept the continuation of interrogation centres, because they may not disappear overnight. One hopes that they will not last long and that the codes of practice may be unnecessary.

I welcome these orders. However, the paramilitaries will be opposed to them. They do not find any police activity acceptable. They do not want a police force. That is clear, as they refuse to accept the new police force. In this situation, the orders are to be welcomed. The Government are to be congratulated on bringing these matters forward. We now have a Chief Constable in Northern Ireland who is from Belfast. He understands the sensitivities in relation to the interrogation centres and the allegations that are made. I believe that the codes of practice will make it impossible for such allegations to be made against the police in the months ahead.

My Lords, following the fine contributions from the noble Lords, Lord McNally and Lord Fitt, I have little to add. The noble Lord, Lord Fitt, has mentioned the increasing move into organised crime by the terrorists. With the ever-increasing sophistication of terrorism and, sadly, given the terrorist situation in various parts of the UK, we on these Benches are satisfied that these orders strike the correct balance between making the Act effective and respect for the individual. We support them.

My Lords, on the Code of Practice for Examining Officers who will work at ports, an interview of nearly an hour may, in certain circumstances, cause a completely innocent person to miss their flight or boat or connection at the far end of their journey. Therefore, I believe that it would be helpful if the Minister made it clear that the powers will be used only where there is real suspicion against a particular individual. In the past, as I am sure he knows, there have been many complaints about officers taking people in on the off-chance because they do not like a person's face. That is unhelpful and counter-productive. I hope that that does not happen now or in the future.

My Lords, I welcome the warm words of support from all sides of the House for these four orders. Any government are greatly helped when there is a broad range of support as that establishes two points: first, that we have achieved political consensus; and, secondly, it provides real confidence in government policy in these difficult areas.

On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, of course we appreciate that the powers need to be used with the utmost sensitivity. The intention is not to irritate passengers or to inconvenience them unnecessarily. Of course, the code reminds officers who deal with such sensitive matters of those important points. We need to secure public support for the measures, and the way in which they are operated will encourage that support. We entirely respect the point made by the noble Lord and we shall maintain that spirit.

I spoke of the orders as they relate to Scotland and the circumstances in which solicitors would have access to their clients. I believe that that is a testament of the careful way in which we have approached this legislation, not least because I believe that it strengthens the position of the person being detained in a way that was not present before and because it modernises—a word that is not always popular in your Lordships' House—the way in which the anti-terrorism legislation works in the United Kingdom.

We have tried to reflect on past practice, to improve procedure, to aid and abet transparency, and to improve the quality of primary and secondary legislation. That has been our objective. I believe that the orders give good effect to that. I am grateful for the encouragement and support of the House and for the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. I trust that the orders will have the full confidence of everyone.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Terrorism Act 2000 (Code Of Practice On The Exercise Of Police Powers) (Northern Ireland) Order 2001

8.58 p.m.

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint committed

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to this order I shall speak also to the Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice on Video Recording of Interviews) (Northern Ireland) Order 2001. On the code of practice on video recording of interviews, we have already considered various UK-wide codes of practice to be made under the Terrorism Act 2000 and which are due to take effect on 19th February when the Act is commenced. No doubt your Lordships will recall from the excellent debates during the consideration of the Act that two further codes, specific to Northern Ireland, are to be made. The first is for police interviews with terrorist suspects to be video recorded with sound and for the video recording arrangements to be governed by a code of practice. The sound and vision code, if I may refer to it as such, will replace the existing system of silent video recording in Northern Ireland. The purpose of this order is to bring into force the code of practice under the Act governing the video recording, with sound, of interviews with terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland. Debates have already taken place in both Houses on a separate order, which will require the police in Northern Ireland to conduct interviews in accordance with the code.

As I have said, this code replaces an existing code of practice governing the silent video recording of interviews with terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland. The difference is that the new code requires video recording with sound. I hope that your Lordships will welcome this significant and positive development, which improves upon the existing silent video recording arrangements. Sound and vision provides additional protection for the detainee, guards against unrecorded interviews or verbal abuse, intimidation and harassment and helps to guard the police against unfounded allegations and complaints.

The introduction of sound and vision recording of interviews with terrorist suspects has long been advocated by the current and previous Independent Commissioners for the Holding Centres. The Chief Constable of the RUC also fully supports this measure. Through this order and its related code, the Government are pleased to facilitate the system of sound and vision video recording.

The draft code covers a range of issues that must apply when interviews with terrorist suspects are video recorded. The code also contains guidance for police officers and others on the application and interpretation of the code. Briefly, the code is in nine sections: general; obligation to video record interviews; objections by the detained person; requirements relating to video recording; the interview; after the interview; master tape security and access; copying of master tapes; and master tape destruction.

I deal briefly with the consultation process that took place before the publication of the code. The publication of the draft code was announced on Monday, 6th November. The code was sent to a wide range of interested organisations and was made available on the Northern Ireland Office website. There followed an eight-week consultation period, ending on 29th December.

Useful comments were received from a range of organisations. I am pleased to announce that the code has been modified to incorporate those. At paragraph 1.1, the code will be made available in Braille, in large print format and on audio cassette. Paragraph 3.4 advises that, where a person wishes to discuss matters unconnected with the investigation, the police should, where practicable, seek a medical opinion if they have concerns about an individual's capacity to elect for that discussion to be unrecorded. Paragraph 9.2 has been redrafted to make it clear that all tapes must be kept for at least six years. Some tapes will be kept for longer periods—for example, in the case of a prison sentence that exceeds six years. In addition, the language of the code has been made gender neutral.

As required under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, I can also confirm that an assessment of the impact of this code has been carried out. The Secretary of State is satisfied that the new code contains sufficient safeguard provisions to avoid an adverse impact on any of the nine equality groups in the Northern Ireland Office's equality scheme.

I turn to the order dealing with the code of practice on the exercise of police powers. Section 99 of the Terrorism Act 2000 makes provision for the exercise of police powers to be covered by a code. The purpose of the code of practice on the exercise of police powers order is to bring into force the code of practice under the Terrorism Act governing the detention, treatment and questioning of detained persons and the identification of persons by police officers in relation to terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland. The order to give effect to the code is made under paragraph 101(4) of the Terrorism Act and was, as I have said, laid on 16th January.

I should outline some of the detail. The code runs to 85 pages. I hope that I shall be forgiven if I give only the flavour of the content. The police code will apply only to the police in Northern Ireland. On 19th February it will replace the code currently in force under Section 61 of the Emergency Provisions Act 1996. The new code is modelled as closely as possible on the PACE codes of practice. In the light of helpful responses from the public consultation exercise, we have made improvements to the original draft. I should also say that the Home Office plans to review the PACE code. As a result of that review, additional changes to this code may be needed in due course.

The code is in two parts. Part I covers the detention, treatment and questioning of detained persons. That part of the code applies to an interview, or any part of an interview, carried out by a police officer of a person detained under Section 41 or Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act after midnight on 18th February 2001, where the interview takes place in a police station. Part II covers the identification of persons by police officers. This part of the code applies to any identification carried out by a police officer, at a police station, of a person detained under Section 41 or Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act after midnight on 18th February 2001.

Like the PACE codes, the police code is extremely detailed and comprehensive and contains thorough guidance for police officers and others on its application and interpretation. It features significant safeguards throughout. It should be welcomed as a continuation of, and improvement to, the existing safeguards that are in place via the EPA code. To mention three key features, the code provides, first, for the detainee's rights to be explained to him or her by the custody officer; secondly, it sets out the arrangements for access to medical attention; and, thirdly, it ensures that the need for detention is subject to regular review.

Featured in the code is an important new safeguard which I know was of significant interest to your Lordships during the passage of the Act. Section 6 of Part I of the new code sets out provisions dealing with the right to legal advice. The Act intended to ensure that access arrangements were consistent across the UK. In paragraph 6.7, the new code specifically provides that solicitors shall be permitted to be present during police interviews of terrorist suspects at police stations in Northern Ireland. I am pleased to announce to your Lordships that the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary has already introduced this measure with effect from 29th September 2000. That is a welcome development which I am sure your Lordships will strongly endorse.

The code was published in draft on Monday, 30th October. It was sent to a wide range of interested organisations and was made available on the Northern Ireland Office website. There was an eight-week consultation period, which ended on 22nd December. We received eight substantive responses, which covered a wide range of issues. A total of 96 distinct groups of issues were identified, and 36 substantive amendments were made to the code. In addition, the code will be made available in Braille, in large print format and on audio cassette. The language of the code has been made gender neutral.

Further amendments may be made in due course. Some submissions raised issues which essentially read across to PACE. As I have already said, the PACE codes are due to be reviewed. To give just one example, some comments were made about the appropriate adult arrangements in this code and it is planned to revisit this in the light of the PACE review. Your Lordships will also want to note that a new caution to reflect the European Court of Human Rights judgments in the cases of Murray, Averill and Magee will need to be added, as will a caution in respect of Section 109 of the Act. The new caution to reflect the Murray, Averill and Magee judgments is likely to be a key feature of the PACE codes review.

As required under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, I can also confirm that an assessment of the impact of the code has been carried out. Again, the Secretary of State was satisfied that the new code contained sufficient safeguard provisions to avoid an adverse impact on any of the nine equality groups.

In conclusion, the Government's aim is to ensure that the treatment of persons detained in police custody in connection with terrorist crime is fair, professional, transparent and accountable. We also want to see proper safeguards in place to protect the police from unjustified complaints. These new codes of practice are key to that aim.

The range of safeguards contained in these codes of practice demonstrates that the Government continue to attach the greatest importance to the protection of the rights of all, including those in police custody. I endorse the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, in relation to the previous orders: it is essential that the process of detention is properly governed. I believe that the measures make a substantial contribution to that. I commend the order to the House.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committed].—(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)

My Lords, we welcome both orders. I endorse the Minister's observation that it is most helpful to all parties concerned, not least the police, that there will be both sound recordings and video recordings of interviews. We strongly support the orders.

My Lords, discussions took place in Northern Ireland prior to the promulgation of the code of practice and I am sure that the Government interviewed as many responsible people as possible. Were all the political parties in Northern Ireland invited to take part in those discussions? Some political parties in Northern Ireland are allegedly associated with paramilitary activities, and I do not believe that they would be at all interested in a code of practice.

Will the Minister state whether all the political parties took part in the discussions? Did it seem to him or to those involved in the discussions that the political parties were anxious to see the code brought into practice? If the Minister could tell us that some of the political parties did not want the code of practice, that would say something about Northern Ireland. It would be a serious indication of the ability of those parties still to comfort those who are engaged in paramilitary activities.

My Lords, I welcome the two codes of practice because they contain a large number of useful safeguards. It has been a long and sometimes uphill struggle to achieve both video and sound recording of interviews. That makes it all the more important that there should be no questioning of suspects and arrested persons outside the police station; for example, between the point of arrest and the police station in, say, a police or army vehicle. I would welcome reassurance on that issue.

My Lords, I am grateful for the support which the codes of practice have received from around the House. They represent a significant step forward. As regards the consultation process, I stated that both codes were sent to a wide range of interested organisations. They included every single political party. I am told that the only political party which responded was Sinn Fein and, as I understand it, Sinn Fein did not object to the content of either of the codes. Finally, perhaps I may write to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, about the point which he raised.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Terrorism Act 2000 (Code Of Practice On Video Recording Of Interviews) (Northern Ireland) Order 2001

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Falconer of Thoroton)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at fourteen minutes past nine o'clock.