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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): I must point out to the Committee that if Amendment No. 81 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 82.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 81:

The noble Lord said: I sincerely hope that this amendment will not be agreed to. Its purpose is merely to elicit further detail from the Government as to what information they see as falling within this clause.

As far as I understand it, this is name and address information. But of course, by this time, dear old British Telecom has a great deal more information about me, about my usage patterns, my credit worthiness, my payment history and all sorts of matters which may provide quite a reasonable picture of what a decent citizen I have been and over what periods of my life, for example, I have suffered financial difficulty and become a bad payer and during which periods of my life I have paid telephone bills on receipt. That information goes beyond the intention of communications data as expressed by the Minister. I hope that when we see the revised definition, such information will be out. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We have covered this matter already in our earlier discussions. The noble Lord has made a fair point. If the communications data did not fit into the first two categories, then it should not be made available at all. After all, information about the use will cover itemised billing and information relating to the provision of communication services covering subscriber checks and so on.

It is important to remember that those who break the law actively take measures to avoid detection; for example, where they are not required to leave subscriber details for a telephone or an Internet account, they will not do so. Where they can pay cash, they will do so rather than leaving payment details. So sometimes it comes down to any data which the communications service provider holds relating to that account being the vital piece of information which identifies the user of that particular service.

The provisions of the Bill would allow, where it was considered necessary and for one of the designated purposes, interception of a telephone call to take place where the subscriber's real identity was unknown. Yet

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if this amendment were passed, it would restrict the ability of the law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies to find out who owned it. I am sure that that is not the noble Lord's intention.

I hope and believe that in clarifying the definition of "communications data" we can precisely address the noble Lord's concerns in seeking to strike out the third limb of the definition as it currently stands.

Lord Lucas: I am content to await developments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11.15 p.m.

Lord McNally moved Amendment No. 82:

    Page 23, line 21, after ("service") insert ("and which serves to identify those persons").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 82 is a probing amendment which is covered within the context of the new definition. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I confess that I am somewhat at a loss with this amendment.

Lord McNally: Perhaps it would be better to wait until we see the Minister's "comeback" on this. After that full and adequate reply, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Northesk moved Amendment No. 82A:

    Page 23, line 22, at end insert--

("but shall not be taken to mean any information or data that cannot be logically associated with information falling within paragraphs (a), (b) and (c)").

The noble Earl said: Once again, the amendment is no doubt covered in terms of the recasting of the definition of "communications data". None the less, it would be helpful if the Minister could explain to the Committee how he believes the concept of logical association should be interpreted, even if it no longer appears in the Bill. More specifically, perhaps he could tell us whether the concept will be carried forward into the redraft of the definition. I simply ask those two questions for clarification. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Perhaps I may refer the noble Earl to our earlier discussions and seek to clarify the points he raised when we come back with a renewed definition. I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful but that is probably the best way to proceed at this stage.

The Earl of Northesk : I am grateful for that and happy with it. No doubt we shall return to this at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 83:

    Page 23, line 22, at end insert--

("( ) In subsection (4)(a) the reference to data comprised in or attached to a communication for the purposes of a telecommunication system by means of which it is being or may be transmitted includes a reference to any communication or part of a communication consisting of signals for the actuation of apparatus comprised in a telecommunication system by which they will be or may be received.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 83A and 83B not moved.]

Clause 20, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 21 [Obtaining and disclosing communications data]:

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 84:

    Page 23, line 32, leave out ("designated for the purposes of this Chapter") and insert ("specified in section 6(2)").

The noble Lord said: This amendment, too, has a slightly provisional quality in the light of what was said by the noble Lord on the rewriting of Clause 21. The amendment seeks to alter or at least probe the designated people who will be allowed to authorise the access to communications data. The Bill refers to,

    "the people designated for the purposes.

Subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 24 explain who those people are; that is, officials of the police force, and so on. However, under Clause 24(2) the ranks concerned have to be prescribed by the Secretary of State by order. At present we are not clear on the question of rank.

The amendment suggests that we should draw on Clause 6(2), which we discussed earlier, which sets out those who can apply for interception warrants. Essentially, those are the director-general of the security service and the top man in each case. If there are the sort of changes in communications data at which the Minister was hinting, it may be right to come down from what is prescribed in Clause 6(2). It is all rather provisional at present until we are sure what comprise "communications data". Clearly, this could be extremely important lifestyle information and suitable seniority needs to be attached to it. However, precisely what that should be will depend on what "communications data" comprise. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: In addressing Amendment No. 84, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 98, 98A, 99 and 208.

Amendment No. 84 would restrict the agencies which may require communications data to just the intercepting agencies. Amendment No. 98 is a government amendment which will remove unnecessary wording from the Bill. It has no other effect. Amendment No. 98A is a government amendment which will make any order made under Clause 24(1)(f)--that is, public authorities--which may access communications data subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Amendment No. 84 would restrict the agencies which could apply for communications data. The main effect would be to channel the requests from all the

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police forces in England and Wales through NCIS. The reason why NCIS handles all the interception warrants on behalf of the England and Wales police forces is simply because each force makes only a small amount of use of interception and because recording centres are hugely expensive and require specialist staff (technical and linguists) to operate them.

Communications data is a completely different means of gathering intelligence. First, its use is far more widespread. While its use still needs to be carefully controlled, it is a tool which is used every day by each police force, meaning that every police force has a unit set up to process requests. The standards to which each of those units operates is laid down at a national level, backed up by a national training course.

The communications industry also has an input to that through the ACPO Telecoms group. The group holds regular meetings and has agreed a detailed framework of voluntary co-operation, which includes the standards which each party can expect of the other. Each police force has a single point of contact from where all requests for communications data must come, and the system has the confidence of the communications industry.

To pass all police communication data requirements through NCIS would create an extra level of bureaucracy, with NCIS being unable to add much value to any process since it would have no knowledge of each of the requests. It would also slow down urgent applications just because they would have to pass through another layer. And it would undermine all the work which has been done up until now by the ACPO Telecoms group.

The framework introduced in this Bill reinforces all the useful work which has already taken place and places it on a firm statutory footing. It removes the liability which suppliers of communications data had under the Data Protection Act and places it on the agency requiring the data instead. It provides a clear independent oversight mechanism which never existed previously. And people will be able to complain to the regulation of investigatory powers tribunal if they believe that their communications data has been accessed improperly. For those reasons the Bill will improve current arrangements.

As I explained earlier, Amendment No. 98 is a technical amendment designed to remove unnecessary wording. Section 8 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 clearly explains the meaning of the term, "Commissioners of Customs and Excise", and there is no need to add the words, "and their department", as persons within the department are already covered by that section.

Amendment No. 98A will have the same effect as that tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, to make subject to the affirmative resolution procedure any order which would add to the list of persons who may access communications data under the Bill. I trust that those explanations help. I am grateful to the noble

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Lord, Lord Cope, for his assistance in helping us frame a better form of wording to achieve the objective we set out.

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