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Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I am sorry to intervene and I thank the Minister for giving way. What she said about the searches of women is extremely worrying. Can she say whether in all circumstances such searches will be conducted by uniformed officers and not by plain clothes officers? What on earth will women

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say if they are asked to remove an outer garment which may be revealing in a way that a man will not be revealed if he removes an outer garment? What the Minister has said is extremely worrying.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the context of the Bill must be considered. It is an anti-terrorist measure. The record shows that women are as capable of terrorist acts as are men and sometimes young people. It is in that context that the searches are carried out. I have been subject to rub-down searches by both men and women and I have always judged that the reason it is being done is to protect my freedom and that of other people. I am reassured to know that such searches take place.

As regards the measure in this Bill, only outer garments can be removed. It is a rub-down, frisk-type search of the body. If the police become suspicious that something is concealed in those garments and this Bill is not applicable, other powers apply. An arrest would be made and there would be reasonable grounds for a more thorough, intimate search. That would be enacted under different legislation and no doubt it would be carried out by a policewoman. However, under the circumstances of this Bill there may be no time to think about the matter and the searches must be done quickly. It would be wrong to allow a dangerous situation to become even more dangerous, perhaps even fatal for someone, because there was not a police woman on sight to carry out a rub-down search of a woman. But it must be said that clearly if it were possible to use a policewoman, that would no doubt be covered in the guidance. However, if that were not possible, the search would go ahead in any event.

I believe that the noble Earl, Lord Russell, referred to disabled persons and asked why they are not exempt from the parking restrictions. It would be impossible to allow an exemption from the provisions for those holding a current disabled person's badge. If we made such an exemption, the IRA could easily evade the provisions by stealing the badges which are fixed to a car. They could place a bomb in such a car and park it in a vulnerable site. That cannot be right, but I do not believe that, just because they are disabled, the disabled would wish to be allowed to park in a vulnerable area which the police have already declared to be a security risk.

Referring to Clause 2, the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, asked whether a search warrant would be issued by a circuit judge. The present search warrant procedure in Schedule 7 to the Prevention of Terrorism Act applies on application to a JP. There is no reason to impose a stricter requirement for the type of searches provided for in Clause 2. There is certainly no evidence that the present procedures in Schedule 7 are inappropriate.

The noble Earl, Lord Russell, commented that people resent being stopped and searched. We have no evidence yet to suggest that that is so in any great measure in relation to those who have been stopped under the existing Section 13A of the Prevention of Terrorism Act; that is, the stop and search of vehicles, drivers, passengers and bags carried by a pedestrian. There is every sign that the public welcomes the reassurance which such searches provide.

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The noble Earl, Lord Russell, said that the stop and search powers could be used against minorities, and that is an important point. The noble Earl knows that much has been done to provide safeguards. The safeguards in place are that authorisation must be from a senior officer; there is a limited duration for the measures; geographical extent must be defined; the Home Secretary's endorsement must be sought; there is an annual review of the PTA; and the Home Secretary has agreed that the use of this power should be covered by PACE Code A which applies to existing stop and search powers. Therefore, a number of safeguards are in place and we shall make sure that the new guidance also covers those points.

The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, asked about the territorial coverage of the Bill and whether it covered Scotland, Wales and other parts of the United Kingdom. The definition referred to in Clause 4 applies already in the Prevention of Terrorism Act. That Act addresses the exceptional problems we face. Existing criminal law and public order legislation provide substantial powers to deal with, for example, arson in Wales or violent campaigns for Scottish independence. Of course, a prevention Act is in operation in Northern Ireland which goes further than the powers provided in England.

The noble Earl, Lord Russell, referred to information obtained in the course of a search. We have no evidence that information obtained by the police in the course of a search of premises or persons has been passed to the press. PACE Code B specifies the purposes for which information seized may be used. It covers the use of evidence at trial and forensic investigation. The police would be acting inconsistently with PACE if they disclosed information to the press. Of course, there may also be a defamation consideration, a subject which was discussed in this House yesterday.

The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, mentioned headgear and the particular sensitivity when dealing with Sikhs who wear a particular form of headgear. First, I agree with him that the police would have to act with discretion and great sensitivity. But it is just as easy to conceal a device under Sikh headgear as it is under any hat. Therefore, again, it would be quite wrong to exempt those people simply because they wear a different form of headgear. Terrorism is terrorism and wherever it is, it must be countered.

The noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, asked whether there was any justification for additional scrutiny of the Act's powers. There is considerable monitoring of the use of the stop and search powers and that will continue. The provisions of the Act are reviewed annually by a wholly independent reviewer who has access to officials, Ministers and to the files. He can talk to whomsoever he chooses. His visits and consultations are listed in his report each year and that will continue. We believe that that provides extremely extensive safeguards and the kind of scrutiny which the noble Baroness believes to be important.

The noble Lord, Lord Stallard, said that the priority must be to restore the peace in Northern Ireland. I agree absolutely with that. That must be a priority. No effort is spared in pursuing the restoration of that peace. We

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should take note of what my noble friend Lady Park and the noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy, said. While the restoration of that peace is being pursued, the protection of the peoples of the United Kingdom is absolutely paramount. Sadly, no powers can provide complete protection against the evil intent of those who seek to kill, maim and undermine our democratic way of life. The powers before your Lordships will be of practical operational benefit to the police. If, as a result, just one life is saved, those powers will be welcomed by every law-abiding citizen in this country.

Lord Monkswell: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, perhaps I may seek some clarification. I thank the noble Baroness for answering the questions I put to her. However, I asked about those who would have lawful authority to be in a cordoned area and what a reasonable excuse might be. Those are defences available for persons prosecuted under the Act. I believe that it would be useful for the House and for the public at large to know what "lawful authority" would mean in that context and what is a reasonable excuse.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, we have provided that defence but it would be a matter for the courts to determine whether the reason given was reasonable. It is for the courts to decide whether someone has good reason to be there. I noticed that the noble Lord said in his speech that it is for the Government to guide the courts; but that is not so. The courts must make their own judgments about those matters. I commend the Bill to the House.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure until 2.40 p.m.

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

[The Sitting was suspended from 2.19 to 2.40 p.m.]

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Elliott of Morpeth) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Power to stop and search pedestrians]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 1:


Page 1, line 6, at beginning insert ("Subject to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State under subsection (11) or otherwise,").

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment I shall, with the leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendment No. 5. I apologise if there is any confusion in the wording of the amendment. It refers to "subsection (11)" which would follow subsection (10)

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of Clause 1 which is the new Clause 13B to be inserted in the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989. The purpose of the amendment is solely to pave the way for Amendment No. 5 which refers to the necessity, as we see it, for,


    "consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers and such other persons or bodies as he deems appropriate, [to] issue guidance on the sensitivity with which the powers contained in section 13A and this section should be exercised and the circumstances in which the powers should be used".
In the brief time available to us on Second Reading, a number of concerns arose about the wording of this clause in the Bill. Those concerns were about the nature of the search which would be allowed; about the place in which the search would be allowed; about the circumstances; about the period of the order which might be made; and, indeed, about who might make that order. All of them mean that, as is inevitable with legislation which is being produced at high speed and being legislated at an even higher speed, there will be possibilities for confusion. Where there are possibilities for such confusion, there are possibilities for misapplication of the law and either or both injustice and a failure of the law to achieve its effects in countering terrorism effectively.

After we tabled the amendments we were glad to hear from the Home Secretary that guidance should be issued by him and that the chief officers of police in England and Wales, in Scotland, and wherever the Act applies, should be consulted about the practical details of the clause. It may seem that the legislation is relatively straightforward. It may well be--indeed, I believe that it is the case--that the legislation follows the format of Section 13A of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. Nevertheless, the opportunity for misunderstanding and for misuse is still great. It seems to us desirable that that sort of consultation should not only be in place but that it should also be on the face of the Bill if the Government find it possible to agree to it.

We are not suggesting that there should be any delay in the implementation of the Bill. Clearly, guidance could only take place when the Secretary of State has had the opportunity to consult. But we understood from the Home Secretary's response in another place yesterday that he was prepared to act very speedily to introduce the guidance which is necessary. We also understood--and perhaps this is the most important aspect in the short term--that the police were prepared to use the guidance which already exists under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act as their rule book, so to speak, for the implementation of this part of the Act.

I emphasise the need for guidance because there is confusion between the stop and search powers which exist under Section 13A introduced in the Criminal Justice Public Order Act 1994 and such powers as still survive under common law and under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Those of my friends who have been involved more closely than I have with the old sus law and who are aware of the extent to which that law was abused will know that where there is confusion in the law or where there is reliance on

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common law, there is the possibility, which should be avoided wherever possible, that the police will misuse the powers they have to stop people.

Over the years the police have used their powers to stop and search people in the street in a discriminatory way. It is an admitted fact. Indeed, the Metropolitan Police admitted that 60 per cent. of the people stopped and searched in the street are black. That is despite the fact that the proportion of black people in the population as a whole does not represent one-tenth of that figure. That is an unfortunate fact. It is also the case that the power to stop and search people is excessively applied to young people. Again, that is way out of proportion as regards their numbers in the population. It is possible--indeed, I do not doubt it--that young people, especially young men, are more likely to be involved in crime than other people. But anyone who knows about the way in which the existing law has been implemented knows that those powers are used in a discriminatory way.

Members of the Committee may ask, "Well, what's the harm in being stopped and searched?" People may say that, for example, anyone who goes on an aeroplane journey knows that he will be stopped and searched before he is allowed to board the plane. Of course, that is true: but, in that case, the person is undertaking a positive initiative by going onto a plane and is doing so in the knowledge that he will be stopped and searched. What young people object to--especially young black people--is the knowledge that by going about their ordinary business on the street they are likely to be stopped and searched. Indeed, they are likely to be stopped and searched over and over again.

The evidence from the City of London police cordon which, we were told, was set up almost entirely to deal with IRA and international terrorism shows that a high proportion of people who were stopped going into and out of the City were black people and black motorists. I am not aware that there is a significant number of black people in the IRA.

There is cause for concern as regards the previous legislation. There is concern about the way it is implemented. There will inevitably be cause for concern about this legislation and, inevitably, there will be a need for both guidance from the Secretary of State and scrutiny and sensitivity in the application of this legislation by the police if justice is to be done, and indeed if anti-terrorist legislation is to work. I beg to move.


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