|Draft Terrorism Act 2000
Jackie Ballard: Is the Minister saying that the exact results or a report of the examination would not be used if the examination were followed by a prosecution?
Mr. Clarke: No, I am not saying that. Under the ``Your rights'' section of the document, the right to have a solicitor present is made clear. The interview's status needs to be absolutely clear. It would not be acceptable to say that the interview contains the presumption that the interviewee is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, because the point of having an interview in the first place is precisely to establish whether the individual being questioned appears to be such a person. The wording sets that out extremely clearly. For example, if you were stopped as you came into the building, Mr. Cunningham, you would want to know the purpose of the interview. It is important to make it clear that the simple fact of someone's being interviewed does not of itself presume that he or she is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The purpose of the interview is to clarify whether someone is such a person, but that cannot be done, by definition, before the interview takes place.
Jackie Ballard: I am not trying to be awkward. I am genuinely puzzled and confused. The guidance states that people should not be discriminated against on the grounds of race, country of origin and so on. The power is non-discriminatory and should be exercised only when there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that someone is involved or is about to be involved in acts of terrorism. The Minister referred to presumption, but that is different from suspicion.
Mr. Clarke: I am not trying to be difficult, but I think that we are having a conversation about nothing. I know that the hon. Lady is not trying to be difficult.
There must be a process between the point at which an individual passes by and the conclusion being drawn that he or she has a connection with terrorism. That process requires someone to be interviewed. The code sets out the way in which the examining officers must operate in that context, but interviewing someone is not the same as suspecting them of being connected with terrorism. That is precisely what the interview process is about. We may be talking at cross purposes and, if so, I apologise, Mr. Cunningham.
I should make it clear that under paragraph 2(4) of schedule 7 of the Act, seeking an interview for the reasons described did not require reasonable suspicion. We discussed that in Committee when we considered the legislation.
The point about paragraph 26 concerns security issues and paragraph 27 provides an effective means for redress.
We debated paragraph 22 at length in Committee and it is important, particularly with the extension of the Bill to international terrorist organisations because the situation becomes more complicated. The approach is to use an interpreter if possible. When we discussed the matter in Committee, the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) referred to the need to ensure that interpretation or translation arrangements are readily accessible at places where such interviews might take place. The reasonable efforts that we are discussing concern the use of interpretation and translation facilities and we are trying to ensure that they are provided.
The hon. Lady is right to say that if communication is impossible, there can be no interview, so it is in the interests of interviewers as well of interviewees that proper interpretation and communication facilities are available.
The hon. Lady is also right about paragraph 18. Paragraph 16 says that
Paragraph 6 covers rare cases in which a police officer is not readily available. Even in smaller courts it is likely that the police would be present, and that is why we believe that the measure would be required only in exceptional circumstances. It is right to indicate that the normal routine will be for police officers to deal with the matter and that is why we state that only exceptionally and
I assure the hon. Lady that our intention is that police officers should deal with such circumstances in the overwhelming majority of cases. We simply believe that it is necessary to set out in the code what will happen in such circumstances.
Question accordingly agreed to.
|©Parliamentary copyright 2001||Prepared 7 February 2001|