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Lord McNally: My Lords, to enable the noble Lord to give a commercial, he has invited Members of your Lordships' House to the Moses Room for a briefing on the Bill shortly after the Recess. Does the Minister hope to win over support, or what is the intention of that briefing?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am always encouraged to brief by the Chief Whip. (Perhaps I should not say that.) We try to provide an opportunity for detailed briefing, and that is precisely what we seek to do in this exercise. We are happy that any Member of your Lordships' House should attend to put useful and valuable questions.

I have spent a long time trying to summarise the main points of concern. There are a number of other questions to which I am happy to try to respond.

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However, I am aware that noble Lords will want to make progress. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, asked whether I regard Clause 1 as satisfactory. He questioned whether it would catch international actions. I am satisfied with the construction of the clause which follows a detailed consideration of technical and legal issues. I shall be happy to consider specific scenarios in Committee, but nothing that the noble Lord said today causes me particular concern. The noble Lord asked whether there was a definition of "in the UK". The answer to that question may well be found in Clause 2(4). Perhaps some close textual analysis will serve the noble Lord well.

The Earl of Northesk: My Lords, I gain the impression that the noble Lord is beginning to wind things down. The noble Lord will have noted from my speech that I am particularly concerned about the interaction of this Bill with the Data Protection Act. Is the Minister prepared to comment further on that?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for the prompt. In constructing the legislation we have had to pay particular regard to other legislation in the same field, and there has been close liaison on that. No doubt in Committee the noble Earl will want to raise particular points about those areas in which he believes matters have not been joined up. I look forward to his further and more detailed questions on that point.

The Earl of Northesk: My Lords, I simply refer the Minister to what I actually said.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I shall pay particularly close attention to Hansard in due course. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, asked whether the Security Service could be authorised to plant a virus that would cause a computer to send back information. It has been a long-standing policy of successive governments not to comment on the kinds of operation undertaken by the Security Service. I can assure the House that the service operates entirely within the legislative framework which governs its actions. I do not believe that anyone would wish us to depart from that.

The noble Baroness, Lady Harris, asked about the meaning of "prevention and detection of crime". That issue was raised in Morgan v. DPP. We are giving careful consideration to the implications of that case, and I am grateful to the noble Baroness for reminding us of it. The noble Baroness also asked about adding purposes to the Bill. The Secretary of State cannot add any purposes that he sees fit. The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful for him to make an order which is incompatible with the ECHR. However, we shall look at possible amendments to restrict the order-making powers.

This has been a long debate in which I have enjoyed the contributions of noble Lords. We shall be very much in listening mode. I have tried to answer as many points as possible this afternoon, and I hope that I have provided your Lordships' House with careful

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reassurance. Doubtless when we return to these matters at a later stage I shall be able to explain the position of the Government more fully and listen closely to detailed concerns. In the mean time, I commend the Bill to the House.

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

Budget Assessment 2000-01

1.47 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That this House approves, for the purposes of Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993, Her Majesty's Government's assessment as set out in the Financial Statement and Budget Report 2000-01 and the Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report 2000-01.--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Lord Carter: My Lords, your Lordships will understand that the House must now adjourn to await Royal Assent to a number of Bills. I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure until 2.30.

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

[The Sitting was suspended from 1.47 to 2.30 p.m.]

Royal Assent

The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Nicol): My Lords, I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Acts:

Armed Forces Discipline Act,

Nuclear Safeguards Act,

Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act,

Electronic Communications Act.

Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Bill [H.L.]

Returned earlier from the Commons agreed to.

Electronic Communications Bill

Returned earlier from the Commons with the amendments agreed to.

        House adjourned for the Spring Bank Holiday Recess at twenty-nine minutes before three o'clock.


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