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Lord Lucas: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, will he answer the last point that I put to him? Am I right in thinking that, under the current wording of the Bill, if, for what everybody considers perfectly good reasons, a person is not provided with the protected information and is in effect required to

19 Jul 2000 : Column 1040

hand over keys, he does not enjoy the protection of Clause 51, as he would if there was simply a direct request for the keys? If the police say, "We have some protected information and we require you to provide the plain text, so give us your keys", he has no protection, whereas if they just say, "We want your keys", he has protection. If that is the case, it is very undesirable, because the police will take the easy route. Rather than going to the chief of police to get permission to have the keys, they will just not produce the protected information, so that they can get the keys with a much lower level of authorisation.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I understand the noble Lord's concern. He is probably correct that there is no statutory power. We shall need to examine the issues on a case-by-case basis. The law enforcement agencies will have to approach the issue carefully. We shall take careful note of the noble Lord's comments and give careful consideration to the phraseology in the code of practice, because we can offer more comfort there than we can on the face of the Bill.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply. I am happy with what he said about the code of practice, and that being the right place to do things, for the first part of this amendment. He is obviously of the opinion that in principle the Bill covers everything which needs to be covered, and that issues can be fleshed out and dealt with in detail in the code of practice.

But, as we come to this part of the Bill, we are placing a great deal of reliance on the amendments which the Government made on Report, in what is now Clause 51, and on the amendments which are to be made to it today. If the amendments are accepted, people can have confidence that their keys will not be divulged on a whim. A very high level of authorisation will be required. Reference must be made to the commissioner, who is an independent member of the judiciary, and that will be done promptly. That is an environment in which people can feel relatively safe and can be sure that things are done well.

There is then apparently a great hole in the Bill where there are no safeguards or authorisations. All that has to happen is that the police have a piece of protected information that the "noticee" no longer has and they can open up his key box with hardly a "by your leave".

The amendment as it is now is not perfect, but unless this amendment is passed now the Government will not have the opportunity to set this matter right in another place. I am sure the Government do not intend that there should be this great hole in the Bill as it stands.

No discourtesy is intended to the noble Lord in pressing this amendment. He has done a great deal to improve this Bill as it is, but it has been done in a great rush. It seems to me that here is a major hole in the reassurances which the noble Lord has been providing, and which we have all been seeking. In respect of everything else that they have done, I seek to give the Government a little more time to consider whether

19 Jul 2000 : Column 1041

something should be done to ensure that all of us, in particular major businesses, can feel entirely comfortable that our keys are safe in practice. I commend the amendment to the House.

4.43 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 15) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 118; Not-Contents, 132.

Division No. 1


Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chalfont, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Coe, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Crickhowell, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elles, B.
Elton, L.
Ezra, L.
Geddes, L.
Geraint, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greaves, L.
Hanham, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haslam, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Higgins, L.
Hooper, B.
Hooson, L.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hylton, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Montrose, D.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peel, E.
Phillips of Sudbury, L. [Teller]
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Razzall, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rees, L.
Rees-Mogg, L.
Rennard, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Russell, E.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Selborne, E.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sheppard of Didgemere, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tordoff, L.
Vivian, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wigoder, L.
Wilcox, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Windlesham, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fitt, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hayman, B.
Healey, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Peston, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Slim, V.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

19 Jul 2000 : Column 1043

4.53 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 16:

    Page 55, line 18, at end insert-

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