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Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, the Minister will appreciate that, when a solicitor is advising a person who has been arrested, he is entitled to be told the nature of the case up to that point which the police have against his client so that the solicitor can advise him. What does the Minister suppose would be the situation if the solicitor were told that the only evidence against his client was the opinion of the police officer? Does the noble Lord think that the defendant is liable to fail to reply to any questions in those circumstances?

Lord Dubs: My Lords, with respect, it cannot be only the opinion of the police officer. The solicitor would simply need to point to the legislation, as soon as we have passed it. It would not be enough; there would have to be further corroboration than simply that one piece of evidence.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, the Minister fails to answer the question. In those circumstances there could not be corroboration because all the defendant has to say is: "I do not admit that I am a member of the proscribed organisation", and he has answered the question.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, that is not a matter for me. It is a matter for the courts as to how the courts would proceed. The problem for the courts is clear, the judge would have to decide accordingly how to handle the matter. I do not think the problem is that complicated, anyway not in this instance.

Earl Russell: My Lords, have I understood the Minister correctly when he was talking about corroboration? Was he saying that two bad pieces of evidence add up to one good piece of evidence?

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I am not saying that at all. If they were bad pieces of evidence, the judge should decide accordingly. I am saying that we have the procedure and there has to be more than one piece of evidence before the provisions in the Bill apply.

The noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, asked whether PIRA is a specified organisation. It is not. It is still a proscribed organisation, but the legislation is aimed specifically at those organisations that are not observing a full and unequivocal cease-fire--groups like the Real IRA responsible for the tragic bombing in Omagh. Were PIRA to end its cease-fire, it could be added to the list of specified organisations by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.

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The noble Lord, Lord Bridges, asked how proscription was applied. Organisations can be proscribed by an order of the Secretary of State if they are involved in monitoring or encouraging terrorism. The statutory basis for proscription is Section 2 of the PTA in Great Britain and Section 30 of the EPA in Northern Ireland. That order must be laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament. It is an offence to be a member of a proscribed organisation. The legislation, however, targets organisations which are specified. That is, as I have just said, organisations that are not observing a full and unequivocal cease-fire.

The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, raised the issue of prisoner releases. The people of Northern Ireland emphatically endorsed the agreement which contained proposals for the early release of prisoners in the referendum on 22nd May. However, there continue to be safeguards for prisoner release. These include the release of prisoners on licence. Prisoners are liable to be recalled if they support an organisation engaged in terrorist activity or if they re-engage in terrorist activity. Prisoners affiliated to groups continuing to engage in violence will not be given early release. There are a number of other safeguards.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked about public interest immunity claims. If the police were questioned about the basis of an opinion given under the Bill, they could refuse to disclose an informant source, if such existed, by invoking public interest. Nothing in the Bill affects the possibility of a claim for public interest immunity where this can be justified on normal and accepted principles.

I apologise to noble Lords whose points I have not covered in detail. I have done my best to deal with all the specific and key points. Let us be clear why we are here today to debate this Bill. Since the Good Friday agreement was signed on 10th April dissident republican groups have been responsible for a number of bomb attacks, culminating of course in the horror of Omagh. Dissident republicans have also exploded bombs in Newtownhamilton and Banbridge. Other attacks were thwarted in Lisburn, Belleek, Kinawley, Armagh and of course in the centre of London. Close security co-operation between police forces throughout the United Kingdom and the Garda Siochana have played a central role in that. Never has security co-operation been so good.

It is therefore fitting that we are also moving together politically and legislatively. The measures before the House today are complementary with those being proposed in the Republic of Ireland as we speak. The level of co-operation epitomised by the work of the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach in reaching the Belfast agreement on 10th April, and their subsequent continuing close co-operation, has naturally led the two jurisdictions to bring their counter-terrorism law closer together. We believe that close co-operation will pay dividends. This is an important piece of legislation which will further the aims of the peace process.

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On Question, Bill read a second time.

Lord Carter: My Lords, in moving that the House do now adjourn briefly, I congratulate noble Lords on hitting almost exactly the target of six hours for Second Reading. A Marshalled List of amendments is now available, as is the suggested grouping. I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 9.20 p.m.

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

[The Sitting was suspended from 9.2 to 9.20 p.m.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: 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.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Ampthill) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Evidence and inferences: Great Britain]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: I call Amendment No. 1.

Lord Carter: Before the noble Lord, Lord Cope, moves Amendment No. 1, perhaps I may point out that the suggested groupings have been revised. A revised list is being produced as I speak but it has been agreed that the first group of amendments should be Amendments No. 1, 4 and 8. I hope that is convenient for the noble Lord. If so, I suggest that we deal with a group comprising Amendments Nos. 1, 4 and 8. By the time that debate is concluded, or indeed well before it, the revised list of groupings will be available.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: That is a sensible decision. I therefore move Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 9, after ("2(1)(a)") insert ("or (b)").

The noble Lord said: This amendment and Amendments Nos. 4 and 8 are all directed to Clause 1 of the Bill and particularly to proscribed organisations and the evidence of a police superintendent, which we discussed during the Second Reading debate. To my mind it is slightly curious that the offence to be dealt with is only an offence under Section 2(1)(a) of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989. That is actual membership of a proscribed organisation. It is then further limited later in the clause to specified organisations, which is the limitation from the Crime (Sentences) Act. What we propose in Amendment No. 1 is partly in the nature of a query rather than an actual proposal. We ask, "Why not include Section 2(1)(b) of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989?" That would include not only someone who belongs to an organisation but someone who had solicited or invited support for a proscribed organisation.

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In our discussions on earlier legislation, it was made clear that actual membership of a particular terrorist body is extremely difficult to detect. Therefore, the words "support for" a terrorist body were included instead of "membership". We have not gone quite as far as that, because we have picked up the wording from the PTA, but we have gone in that direction by suggesting that the limitation of soliciting or inviting support for a proscribed organisation should also be covered by this legislation. All this is on the assumption, which has been somewhat battered by the Second Reading, that this clause is effective at all. Assuming it is, it may be that it should also apply to individuals who solicited or invited support.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: Perhaps I may mention my interests in this grouping. It lies in Amendment No. 12.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I am not sure that the noble Lord was in the Chamber when the Government Chief Whip suggested just now that the first grouping should be directed solely to Amendments Nos. 1, 4 and 8. The amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, will be dealt with in a subsequent grouping.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: As always, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cope. In fact, I believe that there has been a fairly recent regrouping so we may all have to regroup our papers. Certainly as regards the amendments to which the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, wishes to contribute, they are Amendments Nos. 12, 13, 14, 15, 21, 22 and 23. They have been degrouped. I believe that the noble Lord knew of it a few seconds after I knew of the degrouping as well.

If it is convenient to the Committee, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 1, 4 and 8. As I understand it, the amendments are aimed at extending the provisions of Clause 1 to include supporting a proscribed organisation on the same basis as being a member of a specified organisation. I am not sure whether that is the deliberate intent of the noble Lord, Lord Cope. As I believe we have explained, we have sub-divided the category of proscribed organisations by specifically limiting it to the four organisations, which I mentioned on a number of occasions at Second Reading. They are specified in the context of the sentences Act. We believe that that is a rational division. We have done it on a particular basis, which has already been specified. We do not ourselves believe that one ought to widen it to proscribed organisations as opposed to specified organisations of which there are only four at the moment. That is the first point.

The second point is the wider one which the noble Lord made, if I understood him correctly, that one ought not simply to limit the offence to membership of the specified organisation, if the Bill goes through in its present structure, but that there should be an offence of soliciting or inviting support for a proscribed organisation. But curiously to my mind--it is my lack of perception and understanding--that would not criminalise supporting a proscribed organisation with money or other property. I am not quite sure of the

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reason behind this. We say that the offence ought to be membership. In answer to the noble Lord's specific point about the difficulties of proof, if there were solicitation or invitation of support for a proscribed organisation which was within the category of a specified organisation, and if there were evidence of that, there is no reason at all, in principle or practice, why such evidence could not be part of the inferential material which could be taken to support the sworn assertion of the senior police officer.

If there is someone carrying out these activities which fall short of apparent membership, we say that that can be taken in evidence, where appropriate, by the court to prove the full offence. Therefore, the answers are these: first, we are aiming at membership and, secondly, it is membership of the four proscribed organisations. I hope that that explanation is of assistance.

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