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Lord Glentoran: I thank the Minister for that explanation. Despite the international world of terrorism that exists, I, too, was somewhat surprised to find that the only organisations on the proscribed list were Irish. In fact, I attempted to put together an amendment that would include some other organisations that might well be put on the proscribed list. I pursued my inquiries through routes that I have trodden before in a different life. However, the people concerned were rather loath to let me have a list of suggested terrorist organisations that might be included on that proscribed list to be used in this context; but there is a list. I am sure that the Minister has access to whatever professional expertise that he needs in that field. Our intelligence forces have considerable expertise. I accept that any government with access to such expertise should be able, with that advice, to make a decision to remove, or not to remove, an organisation from the list. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 17 not moved.]

Clause 3 agreed to.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Deproscription: application]:

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 18:

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 18 I wish to speak also to the amendments with which it is grouped. They all concern the question of Scottish law and their purpose is to ensure that when decisions are taken by the Secretary of State, in the case of Amendments Nos. 18 and 177, and by the Lord Chancellor, in the case of Amendments Nos. 27, 28, 29 and 30, account is taken of the differences between Scottish law and English law.

As regards Amendments Nos. 18 and 177, I suppose that I could have included the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General in the consultations to ensure that the Secretary of State took account of English law as well as Scottish law. Fortunately, the noble and learned Lord is not present to be offended at that omission. In any case, I believe that, as Attorney-General for Northern Ireland, his relationship with the Secretary of State is close enough to ensure that his view is taken into account.

However, I am less sure that the differences with regard to Scottish law will be adequately taken into account. As regards Amendments Nos. 27 to 30, consultation between the Lord Chancellor and the Lord President of the Court of Session is important. Scottish law and its rules and practices vary from those of English law. It is important that we do not appear to determine through the Lord Chancellor for England matters that concern Scotland, given that the

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Government have done their best to devolve matters to Scotland, and given that Scottish law has always been different from English law in important respects. I beg to move.

Lord Bach: These amendments would build in statutory requirements for the Secretary of State and the Lord Chancellor to consult with certain Scottish office-bearers before exercising powers under the Bill. As the noble Lord knows, terrorist matters are reserved matters. However, he is correct to say that the Scottish dimension will always be important. It is obviously the intention of noble Lords to ensure that that dimension is properly reflected in the exercise of these powers. The Government are aware that the Law Society of Scotland has proposed that the Bill be amended along these lines.

Strictly speaking, all these amendments are unnecessary. The Secretary of State and the Lord Chancellor will, in any event, take account of any distinctive Scottish dimensions in exercising these powers. The positions of the two Scottish offices in question are, however, slightly different. The Advocate General for Scotland is a United Kingdom Government law officer. She is the legal adviser to the Cabinet on Scottish law--the equivalent of the Attorney-General as regards other matters. As such, any Secretary of State would consult her and, no doubt, the Attorney-General, as a matter of course on the making of regulations such as those in Clauses 4 and 118. This procedure is internal to the Government and we see no need whatsoever to spell it out on the face of the legislation. There is also a technical deficiency with Amendments Nos. 18 and 177 in that the reference should be to the "Advocate General for Scotland".

The case of the Lord President of the Court of Session is slightly different. He is the most senior judge in Scotland, and so he is not, of course, part of the Government. The Lord Chancellor would normally consult him on matters of the kind set out in Schedule 3. But we are prepared to consider further whether there would be any advantage in requiring this on the face of the Bill.

We wish to take away Amendments Nos. 27 to 30 and consider them further. We hope that the noble Lord will consider withdrawing Amendments Nos. 18 and 177 on the basis of the arguments that I have deployed.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I am encouraged by the Government's response to Amendments Nos. 27 to 30 and by their explanation of the other amendments in the group. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 19:

    Page 2, line 37, at end insert--

("(c) require the Secretary of State to publicise the application, and
(d) provide for representations by other interested parties to be made in favour of, or against, the application within a reasonable time.").

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The noble Lord said: Clause 4 concerns an application to the Secretary of State for an organisation to be removed from the list of proscribed organisations. An organisation itself, or any person affected by its proscription, can apply for it to be removed from the list if it has renounced terrorism. Amendment No. 19 asserts that the application should be considered in the light not only of representations from the proscribed organisation itself but also from anyone else who wishes to comment on it. Therefore, it seems to me that the Secretary of State ought to publicise the fact that he has received an application to remove an organisation from the list and provide for representations to be made--within an appropriate timescale--by other people who are either in favour of, or against, the application.

Although the Secretary of State is usually extremely well informed in these matters, he may not necessarily know everything. Furthermore, those who have suffered as a result of the activities of a proscribed organisation might be deeply offended to discover that that organisation is struck off the list without their even knowing that an application had been made to do so. I therefore believe that the amendment should be carefully considered in the interests of the proper treatment of those who have suffered at the hands of these proscribed organisations--some of which, as we know, have committed the most dastardly crimes. I beg to move.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: A little later we shall consider possible rights of appeal against the proscription, as distinct from the deproscription, of political organisations. However, this seems to me to be the right point at which to raise a particular matter with the Minister. I do not expect him to respond to it this evening.

As I understand it, the Government committed themselves--I commend them on this--as regards statements of compatibility under Section 19 of the Human Rights Act, to the proposition that the Minister in charge of the Bill will explain in the course of debates on the Bill the reasons for his views on the compatibility of the Bill.

In relation to proscribing and deproscribing terrorist organisations, the matter that concerns me is the way in which the appeal rights are so circumscribed. The curious abridgement of the rights of appeal is the other side of the coin to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cope. How can this be compatible with the right to a fair trial and the determination of one's civil rights and obligations under Article 6, and perhaps under Article 14, of the European Convention on Human Rights?

If one looks at Clause 5(3), the right of appeal is to be,

    "in the light of the principles applicable on an application for judicial review".

That is fine. I take it that when the Human Rights Act comes into force that will include an application for judicial review using the convention rights that are to be directly effective in our courts.

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But when one comes to Schedule 3, which deals with the procedure for appeals, one notes that, under paragraph 5,

    "The Lord Chancellor may make rules...regulating the exercise of the right of appeal to the Commission"--

including making provision about the burden of proof and the admissibility of evidence.

Then, under paragraph 5(4)(a),

    "provide for full particulars of the reasons for proscription or refusal to deproscribe to be withheld from the organisation or applicant concerned and from any person representing it or him".

I do not understand how there can be a fair hearing of the issue of whether to proscribe or deproscribe if the victim--this is the victim on the wrong side of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cope--cannot know the reasons.

As I said, it is a detailed and important question. I would rather that the Minister had the opportunity to consider the answer and, perhaps at Report stage, explain the reasons for considering the Bill to be compatible in respect of the right to a fair hearing. I particularly have in mind not only Article 6, but the right to freedom of association under Article 11 of the convention.

One does not start with huge sympathy for these organisations, but, nevertheless, it is often the most unpopular people whose procedural and fairness rights we need to be vigilant about, even if they would be contemptuous of our rights. It is for that reason that I raise the issue now.

8 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Perhaps I may deal first with the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lester. I am grateful to him for the way in which he has raised this matter. I do not promise to give him a full response today-- he is desirous that I do so perhaps at Report stage--but, having followed through his logic, it is obvious that he has raised a fair point.

We will of course write to the noble Lord but the important issue in this whole exercise--as I think he understands from some of his concluding comments about not having great sympathy for the organisations concerned--is to design a system which can protect sensitive intelligence. I suspect that that is part of the thinking behind the way in which the current schedule is drafted. However, I undertake to fully explore the issue that the noble Lord has quite properly raised.

Turning to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, I recognise that the intention of these amendments is, as he plainly said, to open up the deproscription application and appeal processes to others who may claim an interest--in short, to make this a more public process. But there are limits to how public this can properly be. The Secretary of State's decisions will often take account of sensitive intelligence matters, to which I have referred, that cannot be published. I am sure that Members of the Committee will understand that. The Secretary of State must weigh all the available information and decide where, overall, the national interest lies. We

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believe that the processes are already as open as they can be and that it would be wrong to amend the Bill in the manner proposed.

Let me deal first with the proposal that third-party representations should be able to be made for or against proscription at both the application and appeal stages. In short, we believe this to be unnecessary.

So far as concerns representations against proscription, any person who is affected by the organisation's proscription can, in any case, apply for deproscription in his own right under Clause 4(2)(b). Organisations will doubtless seek to put together the best case that they can and to draw together such support as they can muster, both at the application and appeal stages.

On the other hand, there may be third parties who feel strongly that the organisation should remain proscribed for some of the reasons referred to by the noble Lord. There is of course nothing to stop them making their views known, whether publicly or privately, to the Secretary of State. He will have already a very clear sense of the strength of feeling that the victims of a terrorist organisation, or their families and those close to them, may well have in support of continuing proscription.

The Secretary of State will make his decision on the basis of all relevant information--but the decision cannot be reached through a process of public debate, with all the relevant material available to all concerned. For those reasons we think it would be wrong to formalise a system which might suggest otherwise. We do not agree that there should be a statutory right for third parties to be heard.

With that in mind, perhaps I may now deal with the proposal that the Secretary of State should publicise applications. This would, of course, provide a trigger for third party representations. We do not see it as appropriate for the Secretary of State to be required to publicise applications in any case. If an organisation or affected person wants to make their application known, they will doubtless be able to do so. We believe that it should be for the applicant to do this. There may well be particular sensitivities in the case of some individuals.

In many instances an organisation will publicise its application anyway. It will be representing itself as a legitimate group and might well try to seek support from the press, from the public and from others to that end. But, as I said, this is not a matter that can be settled by public debate. There therefore seems little advantage in seeking to prompt such debate.

We are persuaded neither of the benefit of a statutory right for third parties to make representations at either stage, nor of the need for applications to be publicised. I therefore hope that, having heard the points that I have made, which focus very much on the hard facts of the issue, the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

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