Lords amendment: No. 11, in page 20, line 24, after ("in") insert ("or on").
Lords amendment: No. 16, in page 48, line 31, at end insert
("if they take place in a police station (within the meaning of Schedule 8)")
Mr. Clarke: Amendments Nos. 16 and 77 make it clear that interviews need only be audio or video recorded if they take place at a police station. During the Commons Committee stage, the Government undertook to re-examine the drafting of the beginning of schedule 8, which we have done. Amendment No. 73 is designed to make the intention clearer; amendment No. 74 provides that references to a police station include references to places that the Secretary of State has designated; and amendment No. 76 provides that, where a requirement is in place for video recording with sound, the Secretary of State need not also require audio recording.
Mr. Hogg: I have a question. I am not at all sure why the requirement is limited to police stations; after all, interviews can take place elsewhere--for example, on the alleged offender's property, or in a car, or in many other circumstances. Given that, as I understand it, video recording is designed to ensure that there can be no suggestion of improper treatment by the police of the alleged offender, and audio recording to ensure that there is a proper record of that which is said, I should have thought that, in respect of serious offences, it would be best to ensure that all interviews, wherever conducted,
Mr. Simon Hughes: I, too, have a question. Do the amendments provide that the clause will relate only to police stations, or will its provisions apply to the three--prospectively one--detention centres in Northern Ireland. In Committee, we debated the Government's welcome plans to reduce the number of such centres, but such centres are currently in use. I cannot remember whether we are down to one yet--[Interruption.] I thank the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, for indicating that there are currently two detention centres.
Will the Minister of State, Home Office, tell us whether it is intended that, as well as police stations, the rules should apply to detention centres and to every other premises which the police in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the United Kingdom might use. It is possible that, in addition to the private premises mentioned by the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), more public premises might be used--for example, military police conducting an investigation might use Ministry of Defence property. I do not necessarily have a problem, but I want to ensure that places that would normally be used for those purposes will be covered by the provisions relating to audio and video recording.
Finally, I do not know whether the Minister of State is in a position to provide an answer, but the Committee agreed that we should extend the availability of audio and video recording facilities as broadly as possible. The police want such facilities, as do the authorities, defendants and lawyers--no one does not want them; the issue is one of time and resources. Therefore, I should be grateful for any information regarding the time scale envisaged for the implementation of common good practice.
Mr. Lidington: My understanding is that one of the amendments' effects is to require the Secretary of State to designate specific places that could serve as alternatives to police stations for the purposes of questioning suspects and that the Bill would not, as we had thought, give the Secretary of State a broad power to say that people could be interrogated wherever he deemed appropriate. If that interpretation is correct and the Secretary of State will be under a duty to draw up a specific list of places that are not police stations where people can be questioned once detained under clause 41 powers, I, like my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) and the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), simply ask why the locations thus listed should not have the same audio and video recording facilities as would normally be required in police stations.
Mr. Clarke: To answer the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), the reason for the change is purely practical. The vast majority will, as now, be detained at police stations, the main exception being those who will be examined for a relatively short time under the ports powers in schedule 7. It is sensible for those people to be detained at the port, rather than having to be taken to a police station, but it is
On the point raised by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), the silent video recording provision covers interviews at holding centres in Northern Ireland. A holding centre is not a police station, but the Bill enables the Secretary of State to direct places where terrorist suspects may be detained. I hope that I can reassure the hon. Gentleman by saying that holding centres will be designated under the power, and so will
The code of practice under the EPA makes it clear that the current provision applies to interviews at holding centres. That is where those detained under the PTA or EPA are currently held in Northern Ireland. The equivalent under the Bill is the silent videoing of interviews at police stations. It is envisaged that the holding centres will be designated, as I said. That should cover the situation entirely.
The rules will apply to all places designated as places of detention under the Act. In answer to the timetable point, we expect audio recording to be in place when the Act is brought into force early next year.
Mr. Clarke: The short answer is that I cannot do so off the cuff, but I will write to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. As he may know, we debated that extensively in Committee, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, addressed the matter at length. There are substantive safeguards in place, which would meet the reasonable concern expressed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. [Interruption.] It may help him to know that I am advised that the code of practice to be approved by Parliament will set out the procedures that provide the necessary protections. I will write to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, nevertheless.
Lords amendment: No. 18, to leave out clause 117 and insert the following new clause--Consent to prosecution--
(" .--(1) This section applies to an offence under any provision of this Act other than an offence under--
(a) section 36,
(b) section 51,
(c) paragraph 18 of Schedule 7,
(d) paragraph 12 of Schedule 12, or
(e) Schedule 13.