Criminal Justice and Police Bill

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Mr. Blunt: On the question of national identity, referred to by the Minister as a spasm, I profoundly disagree with him. I see no reason why the legislation should not be clear to someone reading it for the first time. Why is there no reference or footnote in the Bill to make it clear what ``British Islands'' means? The Government's refusal to accept the amendment is simply beyond me. I do not accept the Minister's arguments. When reference to the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man was intended, legislation over the past 18 years referred to those terms? Can the Minister provide examples where the term ``British Islands'' has been used? If not, Conservative Back Benchers, for whom clarity in these matters is important, would regard it as unacceptable.

Mr. Hawkins: I can be brief. We do not accept some of the Minister's arguments and I shall urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote on amendments Nos. 269, 271, 272 and 274. We recognise that the Minister has moved some way in our direction and agreed to reflect further on amendment No. 275, but we remain concerned about it. I agree with the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey that some issues remain outstanding. We would prefer them to be built into the Bill, but the Minister has undertaken to examine the matter further and he may table amendments on Report. In those circumstances, we shall not press amendment No. 275, but we may—in common with the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey—want to return to the matter on Report. If the Government fail to respond to our concerns, we shall raise the matter again.

Similarly, on amendment No. 273, the Minister explained the reason for adopting ``places'' instead of the more usual ``countries''. I understand his explanation, but it reinforces the argument about consistency of meaning, which partly supports my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate. Let us not go back over that argument. I shall not press amendments Nos. 273 and 275 only.

Mr. Hughes: I understand the hon. Gentleman's argument about amendment No. 275, although I still believe that it would be better if the matter were built into the Bill. I also accept the Minister's explanation of amendment No. 273, and understand that ``places'' that are less than countries, territories and protectorates can still be governed.

I approach amendment No. 269 from a different perspective than the hon. Member for Reigate, but I share his view. The issue is not about the Interpretation Act 1978, which clarifies the meaning of ``British Islands'' in statute. That is fine, but ``British Islands'' is not a correct term and people do not usually use it. The phrase is not used to explain the complicated alternatives between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and all the islands on the north-west of mainland Europe. It is not a phrase that immediately suggests the meaning in the Interpretation Act.

For the avoidance of doubt and clarity of interpretation, is it not better for everyone to say what they mean rather than something that will be interpreted differently? I join the hon. Gentleman in asking the Minister to reflect further and I encourage Government Members not to vote on the amendment. Ministers may be obliged to vote in support of the Bill, but Labour Back Benchers could decide not to vote on the amendment. It is ridiculous that we have spent so much time on something that should not be an issue between us. Amendment No. 269 is perfectly proper and, of the two amendments—Nos. 269 and 270—it is the one that should be accepted.

Amendment No. 274 is an appendage to amendments Nos. 271 and 272. I am still unhappy that the system does not provide the ability to know which person—``person'' does not mean person but relevant law enforcement authority—might, in another country, be an agency whose records our authorities can search against. We should have that information, especially in our modern age of information flow and transparency and, allegedly, freedom of information.

The information about those organisations abroad should be open to any member of the public. It should not be difficult to provide it: each country would submit its list of organisations, and that list would be published. The information should automatically be available to our Government, as well as to Interpol and NCIS. For example, I could wake up one morning and learn that the Iranian Special Defence Force is such an agency. I might have been arrested on my holiday in Iran—had I been on holiday in Iran—and had no choice about having my fingerprints taken. I make my point seriously. The provision is extraordinary: it allows our police, who seek to do their jobs properly, to search information from organisations that have been designated by an undemocratic, unelected or authoritarian Government. That could mean all sorts of strange and undesirable law enforcement authorities, such as those in Pakistan until democratic government is restored, in Zimbabwe under President Mugabe or in China. That is not acceptable, if we have no means of knowing what those organisations are and we give carte blanche under the proposal. Therefore, although it might not be a perfect way of identifying such persons, should the Conservatives press the amendments that require that they are specified by the Secretary of State and approved by us, we would be happy to support them.

That leaves our amendment No. 244. Again, the Minister's answer confirmed that we will greatly widen the area of uncertainty if the clause is not amended. Collaboration is perfectly reasonable in a modern age when crime is committed by more and more people in countries other than their own and on an international basis. We completely support such collaboration. We also support the democratic accountability of collaboration across the European Union. None the less, the difficulty is that the proposal includes not just all those persons who might be working for undemocratic Governments around the world, but public authorities, such as local councils, that do not follow the same security regulations for held information. They do not act in the same way as the police, although they are all prosecuting authorities. District councils, borough councils, London boroughs and the City of London are certainly prosecuting authorities, as I think are county councils, but I do not know about local government in Scotland. They are all prosecuting authorities, except for the lowest tier of local government.

Mr. Clarke: I wish to clarify exactly what the hon. Gentleman is saying. If I have it right, he wants to leave out paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) under the new subsection (1A) in clause 80. Does he think that there should not be an international exchange of data in relation to international crimes? Does he think that organisations other than the police force, NCIS and the National Crime Squad should not keep fingerprints and DNA samples?

Mr. Hughes: No, I do not think that there should not be such collaboration, but I would rather that we removed the over-widely drawn paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) and replaced them with more narrowly drawn and accurate provisions. If we remove them today, I have no doubt that an attempt will be made to put back something more acceptable. That would improve the clause and the Bill. I shall therefore press the amendment to a Division, and I hope that others will join me. I anticipate that other Divisions will follow, which I shall be happy to support.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 2, Noes 8.

Division No. 37]

AYES
Ballard, Jackie
Hughes, Mr. Simon

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
McCabe, Mr. Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Thomas, Mr. Gareth R.

Question accordingly negatived.

The Chairman: If I understand the hon. Member for Surrey Heath, he now wishes to move amendment No. 269. Before he does so, it might help if I explain the process once again. Only the lead amendment is moved initially. The amendments that are grouped with it are debated but not moved. Hon. Members may say that they have moved them, but they have not; and the Minister may ask them to withdraw their amendments, but they cannot be withdrawn because they have not been moved. Amendments are moved in the order in which they would affect the Bill. Others may be grouped with them for ease of discussion, but they are moved in the order in which they would occur within the legislation.

Amendment proposed, No. 269, in page 66, line 33, leave out `British Islands' and insert

    `United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man'.—[Mr. Hawkins.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 8.

Division No. 38]

AYES
Ballard, Jackie
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hughes, Mr. Simon

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
McCabe, Mr. Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Thomas, Mr. Gareth R.

Question accordingly negatived.

The Chairman: If I understand the hon. Member for Surrey Heath correctly, we now come to amendment No. 271—[Interruption.] I know that time is short, but the Committee will have to wait a moment before voting. Amendments Nos. 274 and 272 are linked to amendment No. 271. If either of amendments Nos. 271 and 272 falls, amendment No. 274 must fall because it is dependent upon one or other of those previous amendments. Amendment No. 271 would establish the principle that would be reflected were we to agree to amendment No. 272. I therefore propose to treat the Question as being on all three amendments together.

Amendment proposed, No. 271, in page 66, line 36, after `person', insert

    `specified in an order made by the Secretary of State'.—[Mr. Hawkins.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 8.

Division No. 39]

AYES
Ballard, Jackie
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hughes, Mr. Simon

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
McCabe, Mr. Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Thomas, Mr. Gareth R.

Question accordingly negatived.

The Chairman, being of the opinion that the principle of the clause and any matters arising thereon had been adequately discussed in the course of the debate on the amendments proposed thereto, forthwith put the Question, pursuant to Standing Orders Nos. 68 and 89, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 80 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 81

Restriction on use and destruction of fingerprints and samples

Mr. Hawkins

: I beg to move amendment No. 276, in page 68, line 2, after `retained', insert—

    `with the consent in writing of the person from whom they were taken'.

 
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