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Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that reply. I must be frank and say that we are still concerned about this issue. It is an area of great concern to the outside bodies that have been in touch with us. I take her point that the EOs will be properly trained. I also take her point that they will be supervised, although, of course, they can still make decisions themselves. I disagree with one point made by the noble Baroness. She said that this is not traffic data but communications data. I hope that these points can be tightened up in the revised code of conduct. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 4:

("( ) For subsection (5) of that section (protection from self incrimination) there shall be substituted--
"(5) No one shall be required under this section to provide--
(a) any information that tends to incriminate either himself or, in the case of a person who is married, his spouse; or
(b) any information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege or, in Scotland, confidentiality as between client and professional legal adviser, would be successful in any proceedings;
and for the purposes of this subsection it is immaterial whether the information is in documentary form or not."").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 4, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 5, which is consequential to it. I hope that the House will welcome the amendments.

On Report, I agreed to bring forward an amendment to exempt information subject to legal professional privilege from that which could be obtained under these powers. That was in response to concerns raised from both Opposition Benches about the information to which authorised officers could gain access, particularly in the context of organisations that might be added to the list of persons that could be required to provide information.

This amendment amends the current Section 109B(5), which exempts self incriminating information from that which can be required by an authorised officer. It restates the exemption that no one shall be required to provide information whereby he might incriminate himself or, in the case of a person who is married, his spouse, and includes a new exemption that no one shall be required to provide information which is subject to legal professional privilege or its equivalent in Scotland. The wording is closely aligned to that used to exempt information subject to legal professional privilege in the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The term "legal professional privilege" is well understood. It has been ruled upon over many years by the courts, and is thus well defined in case law. The

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amendment will prevent authorised officers from requiring any confidential communications between a legal adviser and his client for the purposes of giving or receiving legal advice, or any information obtained or documentation prepared for the purposes of legal proceedings. So we would be able to require details of financial information provided to a building society in the application for a loan to buy a property. But we would not be able to obtain any information which, for example, related to advice that the building society's lawyer may have given about the ownership of the property in question for the purpose of settling a property dispute.

The exemption would not extend to any information provided by a person to his solicitor for the purpose of furthering an offence. I am sure the House will understand that. For example, if a person cashed stolen giro cheques and used a "bent" lawyer to transfer the money overseas, the communication that led to the transfer would not be protected. That would depend on whether the lawyer knew where the money had come form; I suspect that in some cases the lawyer might. It would also not enable a person to hide from these provisions merely by using a bank's lawyer instead of another officer in the bank. The privilege applies only to communications arising in the context of the relationship between a professional legal adviser and client.

Thus, I think that we have protected a person's ability to communicate frankly with his lawyer for the purposes of legal advice and legal representation while ensuring that he cannot use this protection to continue committing benefit fraud by laundering information and evade punishment for doing so. I hope that noble Lords will welcome the amendments. I have done my best to meet the legitimate and proper concerns of the House and I am very glad to be bringing the amendments forward today. I beg to move.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for coming back to the House with these amendments. They meet our concerns precisely. We are grateful to her.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I thank the Minister warmly for these amendments. She has developed a habit on this Bill of producing more than she promised. That is a good habit. I was telling the Minister only, but my remarks are addressed as properly to the House.

There is a larger problem here. I did not think that the Minister would succeed in addressing the whole of the problem, and the noble Baroness knows that. She has addressed a rather larger problem even than I hoped when we left the matter on Report. There remains the problem of the confidentiality of financial advice from, for example, one's bank. I do not see an immediate way around that, but I did say that I thought that the Minister had promised all she possibly could deliver.

I like in particular paragraph (b) of the amendment, which privileges,

    "any information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege ... would be successful in any proceedings".

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That meets the fact that the common law has a capacity for growth, which it continues to exercise. That is something not always appreciated by legislators quite as clearly as it might be. In the future, it will save us a great deal of trouble. For that, too, I thank the Minister.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 5:

    Page 3, line 19, leave out ("subsection (5) of that section") and insert ("that subsection").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 3 [Code of practice about use of information powers]:

Lord Higgins moved Amendment No. 6:

    Page 7, line 13, after ("practice") insert ("covering--

(a) benefits administered by the Department of Social Security, and
(b) benefits administered by local authorities.
( ) The codes of conduct shall relate").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment relates to the code of practice, a draft of which the noble Baroness kindly provided at an earlier stage in our proceedings. If this amendment is agreed, the beginning of Clause 3 would read,

    "The Secretary of State shall issue a code of practice covering

    (a) benefits administered by the Department of Social Security, and

    (b) benefits administered by local authorities.

    The codes of conduct shall relate",

to the exercise of the various powers enumerated in remainder of the clause.

We thought it might be helpful, in the context of our discussions on Report as regards the code of practice, to bring to the attention of the Minister one or two points which might be of interest to her at this stage. The amendment as drafted reflects to some extent a misapprehension on my part. I had thought that we were to have two separate codes of practice but I now understand that there is to be a single code. The reason for the misunderstanding is that we already have a draft of the code to cover the position on inquiries made by the department. However, it appears that the Government are not yet in a position to add to it those parts relating to local authorities. Eventually, it is intended that all the elements will be brought together in a single document, which will then be authorised under this clause and thus put on to a statutory footing. The noble Baroness knows that we welcome that process.

We also understand that the remaining elements of the code covering local authorities will be made available to another place when it comes to consider the matter. It would be helpful if the noble Baroness could give an indication of whether that is likely to be around the time of the Commons Second Reading or by the beginning of the Committee stage, given that, in due course, we may be under the restraints imposed by an impending general election. It would be helpful to

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know the timetable covering when we shall have an opportunity to review the remaining parts of the draft code which she has already promised will be made available to us.

A further point which remains a little confusing in the draft is the proliferation of officials, or perhaps it is merely a proliferation of the descriptions of a relatively small number of officials. On reading through the draft code, this appears to be something of a problem. I have established that reference is made not only to "authorised officers" and "fraud investigators" but also, for example, at paragraph 3.5, to "fraud specialists". I am not in the least clear about the distinction, if any, between a fraud investigator and a fraud specialist. If all these titles refer to the same official, then that will not help matters.

Reference is also made to "managers of intelligence units". I am not clear about their functions. Furthermore, the code mentions "officers dealing with inquiries". Are those officers the same people as either fraud investigators or fraud specialists, or neither? Even more surprisingly, certain people are described as "decision makers". Are such decision makers the same people as authorised officers--

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