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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
The Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I must ask Members who do not wish to stay for this debate not to engage in conversations, but to leave quickly and quietly.
I have noted the effects of clauses 43 and 44particularly those of clause 44, which extends United Kingdom jurisdiction over certain offences to acts committed overseas by a UK person. Opposition Members understand the need for the clauses, but we have a brief query.
We note the extent to which clauses 43 and 44 cover activities of any person within the UK, and of UK persons outside the UK. Can the Minister confirm that clause 44 covers either or both of the following persons? The first is a UK-based foreign nationalpossibly an EU citizenwith rights to work and live here who, while abroad, commits an act that, if committed by a UK person, would be an offence. The second is someone who, although not a British subject, has exceptional leave to remain in this country, and who commits such an act while on a foreign trip.
We know the position of a UK person outside the UK, and his or her liability. Other people, however, could have rights of abode of one kind or another in this country, and might while abroad commit an offence and then seek to return here. I merely seek clarification of whether such persons will be covered. I shall be grateful if the Minister can clarify that now, but I shall entirely understand if he cannot.
The Parliamentary UnderSecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): I assure the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) that he will not have to wait for answers. My officials have been very quick off the mark, and have assured me that the answer to both his questions is no.
Mr. Malins: I understand the Minister to have said that the clause would not apply to the people whom I cited. Given that its purpose is to cover a UK person based in the UK but committing an offence abroad, would it not be wise to consider, at some stage between now and when the Bill goes to another place, whether the Government have covered every person whom they feel should be covered? I leave that message with the Minister.
(a) the development or production outside the United Kingdom of any thing mentioned in section 1(1)(a) or (b) above;
(b) the movement of any such thing into or out of any country or territory;
(c) any proposal or attempt to do anything falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above'.
Mr. Bradshaw: The amendments fall into three groups. Amendments Nos. 23, 25 and 28 are required to enable Customs and Excise officers to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute offences concerning the development or production of the relevant weapon overseas. Such offences are likely to involve the transfer into or out of a country of technology relating to the development of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, or the provision of services overseas. These technical amendments will allow customs officers to investigate all
While cases in Scotland are prosecuted by the relevant procurator fiscal, Customs and Excise officers are responsible for investigation of customs matters throughout the United Kingdom. Amendments Nos. 24, 26 and 29 will make it clear that customs' investigation role in respect of such cases will apply in Scotland, as it does in England and Wales and Northern Ireland.
Amendment No. 27 makes it clear that application of clause 47 is not restricted to acts done outside the United Kingdom. The amendment brings the structure of the clause into line with similar clauses elsewhere.
Amendments made: No. 25, in page 23, line 4, leave out from "involved" to end of line 8 and insert "
(a) the development or production outside the United Kingdom of a chemical weapon;
(b) the movement of a chemical weapon into or out of any country or territory;
(c) any proposal or attempt to do anything falling within paragraph (a) or (b).'
No. 26, in page 23, line 28, after "to", insert "the institution of".[Mr. Bradshaw.]
Clause 46, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Amendment made: No. 27, in page 24, line 16, at end insert
'( ) Nothing in subsection (7) affects any criminal liability arising otherwise than under that subsection.'[Mr. Bradshaw.]
Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
Denzil Davies: As I was a shadow defence spokesman many years ago, I sit up when I see the words "use of nuclear weapons". Clause 47 seems to make it a prima facie offencea term that I use advisedly, as there are
(a) to an act which is authorised under subsection (2)".
There must be some type of authorisation for the development, possession and participation in the transfer of nuclear weapons. If there were not, the Government presumably would have to prosecute themselves. Perhaps the Attorney-General will be wheeled in for that purposehe seems to be wheeled in for the purposes of most other parts of the legislationand will exercise his discretion. I note the matter simply because I find it bizarre.
Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent): I have a question on tactics and the definition of nuclear weapons used in clauses 47 to 49. Do the Government intend that the Bill should include as nuclear weapons radiological weapons that are made from nuclear waste, spent nuclear fuel or other radioactive-source contaminants that are detonated with conventional explosives?
The exceptions in clause 48 to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Denzil Davies) referred are required, as he suggested, to prevent essential operational and maintenance activities of authorised persons connected to the UK's independent nuclear deterrent from being an offence. In the course of an armed conflict, it may not be practical for the Secretary of State to issue all the authorisations required to operate the deterrent without imposing unacceptable delay. For that reason, it is necessary to have a more general exception.