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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not find that argument very convincing. After all, in subsection (9)(c) the confirmation which enables the authorisation to continue can be not only:


but also:


    "(ii) for such shorter period as the Secretary of State may direct".
Therefore, it may be perfectly possible for the Secretary of State at the end of 36 hours to say, "I am not yet satisfied because some information hasn't come in. I shall confirm it for another 36 hours"--or 48 hours or whatever.

The difficulty that the Minister raised does not seem to me to be a real one, whereas the difficulty that I raise of the police being left on their own potentially for 48 hours does seem to me a real difficulty. I do not find the response at all convincing.

However, in line with my self-denying ordinance--this will not be the last time--I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 6:


Page 2, line 35, at end insert--
("( ) If, following the exercise of the powers contained in section 13A above or this section a person is arrested and charged with an offence other than an offence under this Act or otherwise connected with terrorism, the fact and nature of the initial exercise of stop and search powers shall be made known to the court.").

The noble Lord said: It has been pointed out to me by my noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn that this amendment is defective. In the fourth line the word "shall" forces the nature of the initial exercise of stop

3 Apr 1996 : Column 330

and search powers to be reported to the court, whereas it may well be--I think my noble friend is right--that the person before the court, the accused, does not want the nature of the exercise of powers to be reported.

My noble friend kindly said that if he were representing me, he would wish to report it, but there might be circumstances in which somebody has something to hide, as I patently do not--or rather I do not necessarily accept that additional piece of exemplification. Nevertheless, he has a point. Therefore, on this occasion I shall in the end seek to withdraw the amendment, not only because of my self-denying ordinance but because the amendment does not represent what I want to say.

However, the fundamental point behind the amendment remains. The fundamental point is that it makes a difference whether an offence arises--the noble Earl, Lord Russell, used the word "sprang"--out of a random search or a search which, so far as the accused is concerned, is a random search because in those circumstances he is not involved in terrorism. It does matter if I am going about my business and for some reason which is entirely irrelevant the police use powers which they would not otherwise have in order to discover something which might be to my disadvantage and might bring me before the courts. This very modest amendment does not say that those who are stopped and searched should not be accused of minor offences not connected with terrorism but that the fact that the person has been apprehended in this way should be recorded.

A Conservative Back-Bencher in another place, Mr. Peter Bottomley, yesterday went so far as to say that if a person was found to have committed other irrelevant minor offences, he should not be charged. That is going a bit far. Perhaps the Conservative Party has its own divisions on this matter. I do not think my modest amendment raises that problem. Properly worded, it would have served to preserve a proper balance between the apprehension of crime and what we all wish to avoid, which is a general use of stop and search powers under wider circumstances than is necessary. I beg to move.

Earl Russell: One very useful purpose that the amendment, or a redrafted version of it, would serve would be to make it possible to compile statistics on how many of the charges arising out of searches under this clause related to terrorist offences and how many to other offences. That would enable what is becoming a running argument between me and the noble Baroness ultimately to be resolved. When, in whatever form, this legislation comes to be reviewed, that would be material evidence by which I should abide. I should be very interested to see it.

Baroness Blatch: If the question is how many searches subsequently turned out to be in relation to terrorism and how many to other offences, the whole rationale for these measures in this Bill is that they should be used as a prevention against terrorism. Therefore, any searches carried out under these powers are done because the policeman concerned believes that it is part of counter-terrorism activity.

3 Apr 1996 : Column 331

On the other hand, if the question were rather differently phrased--how many crimes are discovered subsequently as a result of searches which were carried out under these powers--that is a very different matter. But the noble Earl did not put the question that way round when he first spoke

Earl Russell: The second was the way I put it. What I want to know is how many charges result from these searches relating to terrorism and how many to other things. I should like that to be discoverable.

Baroness Blatch: I do not know whether that can be discovered or whether it is part of the monitoring process. As long as the powers under the Bill are used properly--that is, there is proper justification for carrying out the searches--it is almost irrelevant that other crimes are uncovered. If the powers are being properly used, and other crimes are uncovered, that has to be a consequence of searching people, but under these circumstances.

We feel it is very hard to see how a person could be dealt with in court without the nature of the original stop and search being made clear in the prosecution evidence. It would be for the court to decide whether such evidence was admissible in any particular case. As the effect of the amendment is therefore already met by existing arrangements, I do not feel it is necessary. But the noble Lord has already said that he is not entirely happy with the words.

It has to be said that, in the circumstances in which a person was suspected of having committed a crime as a result of a search which led to a case being brought in court, it would be very important for the circumstances in which that crime was discovered to be part of the case brought in court. Therefore, I believe it would be a matter for information to the court and for the court to determine how to use that information.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I think that is helpful. I draw from the answer that the desirability of monitoring and the desirability of giving extra help to the court will mean that in as many cases as possible the nature of the arrest will be brought before the court. For that reason, and for the reason I have already given, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Police cordons]:

[Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Short title, interpretation and extent etc.]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 8:


Page 8, line 35, at end insert--
("( ) The Secretary of State may, having regard to any evidence leading him to judge that there is no longer any serious and continuing threat of terrorism emanating from within the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, make an order suspending the operation of sections 13A and 13B of the 1989 Act.").

3 Apr 1996 : Column 332

The noble Lord said: It occurs to me, although I was not able to influence the matter, that this amendment is on the same subject as Amendment No. 9 in the name of my noble friend Lord Stoddart of Swindon. All of us are concerned that the Bill should not survive for longer than is absolutely necessary and that its powers should be limited not only geographically and in terms of the powers given by the Bill but also in terms of time. One solution is along the lines proposed by my noble friend Lord Stoddart; another is along the lines proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, in the debate on the Business Motion. A third, and a rather different, one is the approach in Amendment No. 8. We are saying that, whether or not the Bill continues until the necessity for a continuation order, Sections 13A and 13B--both of the stop and search additions to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act--should be capable of being suspended if, in the judgment of the Secretary of State, having examined the evidence, there is no longer any serious and continuing threat of terrorism emanating from within the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland.

I am conscious that I am trespassing on the terms of reference of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and I am conscious that his charge will almost certainly make it impossible for him to comment on my amendment. If he did he would in a sense be pre-judging the report he will make this summer. But it is worth airing the matter at the very least for debate. Surely one of the options that he must be considering, and the Government must be considering, is the option that if the ceasefire is re-established and we receive satisfactory assurances from the IRA and other terrorist organisations that they do not intend to resume terrorism and that therefore, presumably, they fulfil the conditions for taking part in the talks which are due to start on 10th June, there really is not much point in retaining the onerous provisions of Sections 13A and 13B of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act.

Of course, it is a matter of trust, and trust is a very difficult thing to establish or rely on when one is dealing with people who have already declared a ceasefire and have reneged on it. Nevertheless, surely it might be-- I put it no higher than that--a weapon in the armoury of the Secretary of State if he were able to say, "Yes, you have abandoned terrorism; yes, you have told us in the terms that we required that your abandonment is an act of permanent policy and you are prepared to take part in good faith in the talks which are due to take place. In return for that we will suspend for the time being the operation of Sections 13A and 13B of the Act." That might be a rather useful bargaining counter in the negotiations which would lead up to full participation in the all-party talks.

I also think that it would be a considerable benefit for those who have to operate these sections--the police and the security services--because they would have the assurance that they were only operating the sections at a time when it was shown to be necessary that the sections should be operating. In other words, there would be no temptation and no pressure on them to operate the sections under conditions of ceasefire.

3 Apr 1996 : Column 333

The amendment is by no means prescriptive. It says "The Secretary of State may". It refers to evidence before the Secretary of State. It allows him to make his judgment and it allows him to suspend the operation rather than to cancel it. Every protection is given for the continued effective prevention of terrorism. But there are real advantages which the Government should seriously consider. I beg to move.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Skelmersdale: In this amendment the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has given me the opportunity to reinforce the point I made at Second Reading earlier today; namely, that the Bill when enacted will be part and parcel of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989. It is clear in Section 27(6)(b) that the Secretary of State may, by order made by statutory instrument, provide that all or any of those provisions which are for the time being in force shall cease to be in force. In other words, the powers that the noble Lord is seeking in his amendment already exist under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. I hope I am right, and I am sure that my noble friend on the Front Bench will correct me if I am wrong. Perhaps I may point out gently that she did not give me an answer at Second Reading.


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