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Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, we must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, on not allowing his thunder to be stolen entirely by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer. I wish to point out that the procedure for objecting to registration and appeals depends very much on the skill of the election officials. I am sure that our confidence in that respect will not be misplaced, and we support the order.
I want to mention two issues in order to reassure the noble Lord, Lord McNally. With regard to the presidential elections, I suppose that, on reflection, the Florida election was marred by the counting process and procedure. In the United Kingdom we have sought to introduce new technology in compiling the register and increasing its accuracy and timeliness.
I believe that preparation is important. If the register is well prepared, I am sure that it will be accurate and that there will be far fewer disputes. I consider that we are using new technology sensibly. However, I believe that we are probably stuck with the Thursday version of the stubby pencil in the cubicle for some while yet, but that may be overtaken in due course.
The noble Lord also raised the issue of the Section 9 orders. I can only reaffirm the reassurance which I believe I gave in my initial comments. Of course, it is an important matter. If the noble Lord is genuinely concerned, as I am sure he is, and if he wishes to rehearse his concerns, I shall be more than happy to set up meetings between now and when the orders are brought forward. I make that offer more generally to other noble Lords of both Opposition parties who may also have concerns.
I say to the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman that I think that we have got some of the best election administrators in the world. They are highly trained and specialised, and they are very proud of their
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in order to expedite matters, I shall discuss simultaneously the four orders; namely, the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Authorised Officers) Order 2001, the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers) Order 2001, the draft Terrorism (Interviews) (Scotland) Order 2001 and the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Carding) Order 2001.
These four draft orders represent a package of business that is relevant to the implementation of the Terrorism Act 2000, which, as noble Lords will be aware, is currently scheduled for 19th February.
The purpose of the Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Authorised Officers) Order 2001 and the Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers) Order 2001 is to bring into force the draft codes of practice that were laid before the House on Monday, 15th January. Under paragraph 5 of
The code of practice for authorised officers, who by definition include a constable and immigration or customs officer, covers the exercise by such officers of functions relating to the seizure of terrorist cash. I recall that noble Lords were particularly interested in that subject during the passage of the Terrorism Act 2000. In particular, I was asked why those powers were restricted to border seizures only; that is, to the UK's external borders and the border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In answer, noble Lords will recall that I made reference to on-going work flowing from a report by the Performance and Innovation Unit which appeared in June last year on the proceeds of crime, resulting in a proceeds of crime Bill, which will be published in due course. The detail of that Bill is still under consideration and discussion, and I therefore regret that I am unable to give any assessment today of the way in which that Bill might impact upon the seizure provisions contained in the Terrorism Act, or, more pertinently, on whether those proposals will in any way supersede the provisions of that Act. However, I am sure that there will be ample opportunity to reflect on that once the detail of the Bill is clear.
Returning to the draft code of practice, authorised officers are reminded of the scope of the power to seize cash, which is defined as: coins and notes in any currency; postal orders; travellers cheques; and bankers drafts. It also covers the use of immigration and customs officers, who would be expected to act only rarely in the capacity of an authorised officer. The code stipulates also that prior authorisation to seize cash should be obtained from a senior officer--in the case of the police, that means an inspector. That, we believe, is a sensible precaution, particularly in view of the potential for interference with the ECHR right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions.
There is no minimum or maximum amount of cash that can be seized under the Act. That fact is reflected in the draft code. Noble Lords will doubtless acknowledge the fact that terrorists do not necessarily need large amounts of money to pursue their objectives.
Otherwise, the code sets out the procedures to be followed during seizure and includes important stipulations, such as counting cash in the presence of the individual concerned and not removing cash from the individual's presence until the cash has been physically seized. The code also has in its annexe a written notification to be handed to the individual; it gives important information about the seizure process and about what next will happen to the cash. Procedures for making applications to a court for the detention, further detention, forfeiture and release of such cash are provided for in Rules of Court under
I turn to the code of practice for examining officers, which is also made under Schedule 14 to the Act. By virtue of paragraph 1 to that schedule, an examining officer is defined as a constable, an immigration officer and a customs officer designated for the purpose by the Secretary of State and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise. As far as that is concerned, I can confirm that it is our intention that customs officers at ports in Great Britain will be designated for that purpose.
As with authorised officers, the draft code of practice envisages that officers who are not constables would act only rarely as examining officers. That proposed supporting role should not in any way be seen, however, as undermining the value placed on those agencies to assist in the fight against terrorism--it is more a recognition of the front-line role taken by the police in combating terrorism.
The code of practice for examining officers is designed to provide officers with key information about the scope of their powers, such as who they are entitled to examine and for what purpose--that is, for determining whether someone is, or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The draft code then seeks to remind examining officers of the kind of considerations that should accompany the application of those powers; that is, an appropriate degree of care and sensitivity, the intention being to cause minimum embarrassment or offence to the individual in question.
Otherwise, noble Lords will see that the draft code covers issues such as the records of examinations; detention; searches; the production of information; and the treatment of juveniles and other vulnerable people. I hope that your Lordships agree that that last issue is of particular importance and that the code should acknowledge that. It would be naive to assume that juveniles would never find themselves caught up in terrorism. That regrettably means that examining officers may need to pay attention to such people. It is right, therefore, that the code should look to give examining officers guidance on how to proceed in those matters.
As is currently the case, a notice will he handed to those who are examined beyond the one-hour point and it will give key information to the examinee. Your Lordships can find a copy of that notice in the annexe to the code. Paragraph 35 of the code in fact requires that that notice be displayed in a prominent position to try to ensure that nobody is left in any doubt about what is happening to them.
In conclusion, I hope that your Lordships will agree that the code represents a useful and helpful document that should go some way to achieving a degree of harmonisation in the way in which examining officers perform their functions under the Act.
I shall now briefly discuss the next of the four draft orders before us; namely, the Terrorism (Interviews) (Scotland) Order. That order is made under paragraph 19 of Schedule 8 to the Act. Under that paragraph, the Secretary of State is required to make provision to require that in Scotland, except in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as may be specified in the order, where a person detained at a police station under Section 41 of the Act, or Schedule 7 to it, has been permitted to consult a solicitor, the solicitor shall be allowed to be present at any interview that is carried out in connection with a terrorist investigation or for the purposes of Schedule 7, which relates to port and border controls.
Your Lordships may be wondering what the purpose of the order might be. It is essentially to enable provision to be made for a person arrested or detained in Scotland to have rights of access to a solicitor which are broadly equivalent to the rights which a person detained in the remainder of the UK would have. More specifically, it seeks to ensure that, within the distinctive and separate system of Scottish law and procedures, there is available for Scotland the facility to change the circumstances relative to a solicitor being excluded from interview broadly comparable to the flexibility achieved in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by, respectively, PACE code of practice C and the draft code of practice for the RUC under the Terrorism Act.
If that enabling paragraph were not in the Act, the arrangements relating to access to a solicitor in Scotland would apply to terrorist cases also and the person detained would have no right to the presence of a solicitor during an interview.
The order therefore seeks to mirror, so far as it can, whatever circumstances or conditions will apply in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The position in those jurisdictions, under PACE and the draft Northern Ireland code of practice for the police, is that a solicitor may be required to leave the interview only if his conduct is such that the investigating officer is unable properly to put questions to the subject. Article 4 of the draft Scotland order therefore introduces only a specified condition that the solicitor's behaviour should not interfere with or obstruct the conduct of the interview. We cannot see any justification for introducing any other circumstances or conditions for Scotland that would not apply elsewhere. The intention must be to harmonise procedures across the United Kingdom as far as is possible. I am advised that Scottish police fully support that aim.
Before moving on from this draft order, it should, however, be recognised that the PACE codes and draft Northern Ireland code substantially qualify the action taken to remove a solicitor from interview in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Those codes remind the police, for example, that this is a serious step to take and that an officer of the rank of superintendent or above who took the decision should consider whether the matter should be reported to the Law Society. Unfortunately, it is neither appropriate nor possible for such a provision to be included in paragraph 19 of the statutory instrument.
Therefore, we propose in the circular on the Terrorism Act which the Government have in mind to issue to inform the chief officers for Scotland what the position is under PACE Code C for England and Wales and under the draft code of practice for Northern Ireland. Further, we shall suggest that if a police superintendent was of the view that a solicitor's conduct was such to cause him to require the solicitor to leave the interview, then the superintendent should also seriously consider whether there was need to inform the Law Society of Scotland of the solicitor's conduct. In that way, we hope that there would be a sufficient degree of consistency in the way that that issue was handled in the various United Kingdom jurisdictions. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that that is highly desirable.
The last of the four orders concerns carding, which was also the subject of considerable interest in this House during the passage of the Terrorism Bill. Before turning to the order in detail, I should like to take this opportunity to remind noble Lords just what the power means.
Under paragraph 16(1) of Schedule 7 to the Act, the Secretary of State may, by order, make provision requiring a person to whom paragraph 16 applies, if required to do so, to complete and produce to an examining officer a card containing such information as the order may specify. In accordance with paragraph 16(2), the order may also require the owners or agents of ships or aircraft to supply the cards. But I can confirm that this order will not impose that requirement and its supply will be left to the police.
It is perhaps worth reminding your Lordships to whom paragraph 16, and therefore the carding requirement, applies. It applies to those who disembark or embark at a sea or airport in Great Britain or Northern Ireland from or, as the case may be, on a ship or aircraft travelling between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the islands.
I recall in discussion of this provision in Committee on the Terrorism Bill reminding noble Lords of how mindful we were, and are, about the sensitivities attached to implementing the carding provision and that we therefore believed it right to introduce a switch-on, switch-off mechanism to enable the provision to be taken out of use if the situation allowed. And that is the key, for we have said also that the prevailing security situation was likely to be one of the main factors, if not the main factor, in bringing forward a draft order. That being so, the regrettable fact is that there are still those, at present, opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process and determined to pursue their aims by violent means. This has been demonstrated, sadly, all too starkly in recent weeks and months by attacks both in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain generally.
Unfortunately, therefore, the security advice is that the provision should remain in force for the time being. And it is worth remembering that this order represents a continuation of the current position rather than the
The information obtained via the cards will be the same as that obtained via cards issued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; that is, full name, nationality/citizenship, date and place of birth, home address, address visiting, purpose of visit, occupation and employer. The police have been consulted about the form of those cards and agree with the draft as set out in the schedule to the order.
Finally, it is right to acknowledge some of the concerns expressed by noble Lords in Committee proceedings on the Terrorism Bill about this provision. If I recall correctly, there was discussion about the effect on operators of carding, not least if it is applied inconsiderately.
In leaving it to the police to supply the cards, I hope that your Lordships will agree that at least one potential source of irritation to operators has been removed. And, from the application point of view, I should stress that police are aware of the need to implement the provision carefully and sensitively. Indeed, the draft code of practice for examining officers makes specific reference to that. Therefore, I hope and believe that that will result in proportionate use of the provision. Of course, there will always be concerns about the potential for such a measure to infringe on individual rights. But the Government are satisfied that, on balance, any interference is slight and represents a proportionate response to the very real threat of terrorism.
Moved, That the draft orders laid before the House on 15th, 16th and 29th January be approved [4th and 5th Reports from the Joint Committee].--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)
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