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Lord Dubs: My Lords, I can only say to my noble friend that we want to make progress as quickly as possible. I cannot tell him here and now what are the technical or other reasons why we cannot achieve the end that he wants more quickly than we are now doing. Notwithstanding the fact that we want to make progress on the Bill, I am happy to look into the matter and write to my noble friend if he will accept that letter after the
The noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, made an important contribution giving us the benefit of his long experience of Northern Ireland. I note his view that the new measures in Clauses 5 onwards should be considered in the next Session. The consultation exercise which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is leading will provide an opportunity to influence government thinking. That gives the noble Lord and others an opportunity.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford also made an important contribution. I can confirm the Government's view that this legislation is consistent with our international human rights commitments. Indeed, we were careful in drafting the Bill to make sure that we did not breach any of our obligations.
My noble friend Lord Mishcon also asked about when the legislation could be reviewed. I can give him a specific answer. The commitments or statutory requirements already in place will deliver no fewer than four relevant reviews in the next 12 months: first, the consultation paper on future legislation in the autumn; secondly, the renewal of the PTA in March; thirdly, the renewal of the EPA in June; and, finally, the report indicated by Clause 8 within the next 12 months. So there are a series of benchmarks against which the working of the legislation can be judged--not all at the same time, for reasons that are fairly clear, because they are linked to other pieces of legislation which are also being reviewed. But two of the reviews will take place during the next six months. I hope that that gives some assurance to my noble friend.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, raised the question of the cross-examination of senior police officers. Yes, both counsel and the trial judge will be able to question the police officer. Clearly, the basis for the police officer's statement will be critical to the weight that is placed on it. But that is the same with any other evidence in court. It will be for the police to determine what, if any, source of information they are prepared to reveal in the circumstances of the case at issue. The Government believe that the measures will be both valuable and in keeping with the general principles of the criminal law.
Perhaps I may return briefly to the question of audio recording. There is no problem with starting administratively as soon as possible. But if we write a new legal requirement into the Bill it can be met only when the proper codes of practice are in place. That is one of the reasons why there will inevitably be some delay.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, raised a question about membership. I am grateful for the noble and learned Lord's experience in the difficulties of tackling terrorism. Indeed, I should like as modestly as I can to congratulate him on a very significant speech. He highlighted the balance between firm and effective legislation and the need to safeguard human rights. That is the path that this Bill seeks to follow.
The noble Lord, Lord Patten, raised questions about hot pursuit, co-operation with the Garda and joint training. We are considering jointly with the police the advantages and disadvantages of introducing further measures, and others may have been raised by noble Lords during the debate. They will be considered as part of the exercise which is nearing completion to produce this autumn's consultation paper on the new counter-terrorism legislation.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, asked why Clause 1 regarding inferences from silence does not allow inferences to be drawn in the Scottish judicial examination procedure. Without going into it at length, there is a clear mention of the Scottish position in Clause 1(10). I know it is not quite as simple as that, but probably that will go some way towards satisfying the noble and learned Lord.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, asked about the position of Crown civil servants. I can assure him that the purpose is not to give minor civil servants carte blanche to pursue criminal careers. It applies to actions which might have to be taken in the course of official duty where there is no exemption. There is a range of circumstances in which technical breaches of the new provisions might otherwise arise. For example, if the police or Customs were planning an undercover operation involving infiltration of an organised crime group, a consignment of drugs or weapons might be tracked to a number of different transit countries, each with a different legal system. There would obviously be no question of prosecution here in those circumstances. We believe it is right to provide specific protection on the face of the Bill.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Bridge of Harwich, asked whether I would make it clear that no weight should be placed on the evidence of a superintendent which was founded on intelligence sources not produced in court. I simply cannot give that assurance, nor should I. The weight of evidence is properly a matter for the court or the jury. However, the evidence of a superintendent is in no circumstances sufficient in itself. That is an important safeguard.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, if public interest immunity is claimed by a police superintendent for his sources of information, will he be obliged, as is currently the case on claims of public interest immunity, to disclose his sources to the judge and not in open court?
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I am not sure that I am able to answer the question in the detail in which it has been put. The police officer or police superintendent would have to make his own decision about the way in which he puts his evidence forward. The judge would then have to take a view accordingly. It would be up to the judge and the jury, if appropriate, to make a decision. That may not be as helpful as I would wish, but I do not have the detailed knowledge at hand to give the
Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws: My Lords, that is precisely the point that I raised in my speech. In the ordinary way, in such cases that is exactly what the officer would do. He would say to the court: "These are matters which are in the public interest. They are matters which should not be disclosed openly before the defendant or the defendant's lawyers. May I approach the court, in the absence of the jury and those who represent the defendant and the defendant himself?". Then, ex parte, an application is made that this material be considered by the judge. Then the judge would make a decision. Of course, the judge must give consideration to the fairness of the defendant's trial. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, said that any judge cognisant of the fairness of the trial would have to say: "Given that in those circumstances the officer is dependent upon information received from other quarters--whether it is the security services or someone else--there cannot be cross-examination. In those circumstances, the fairness of the trial of the defendant is impugned. He cannot cross-examine through his lawyer and therefore I have to abandon this area of evidence. I cannot proceed further".
That is the problem with this kind of evidence in such cases. It is why I concur with what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, said. This will not be effective as legislation if the judiciary fails to reach those high standards, and we know they are unlikely to do that.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I understand the argument. However, surely in the circumstances described by my noble friend, it would be up to the judge to decide whether the procedure was fair enough to the accused or whether the evidence should be disregarded. It seems to me that the safeguard is there, in terms of the judge's responsibility for the conduct of the trial and having fair procedures. I should have thought that the safeguard would give my noble friend some assurance in terms of the procedures that we are now talking about.
I turn to the question of forfeiture raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath. He asked whether forfeiture was restricted to assets gained criminally. Clause 4 does not seek forfeiture in that way. However, it makes it clear that the property must be in the convicted person's possession or under his control and have been used in connection with the activities of a specified organisation. If those conditions do not apply, then clearly forfeiture would not apply. It is quite possible that money or income earned quite properly and legally could still be used for criminal purposes. So it is not as clear-cut as the noble Lord's suggestion implied.
The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked about the presence of a solicitor during interviewing. There is currently no legal requirement for the police to allow a solicitor to be present during interviewing. However, practice differs within the three jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. This legislation ensures that no inference is drawn until after the accused has consulted with a solicitor. To go further in trying to standardise
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