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The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Sylvia Heal): I remind all hon. Members that under the programme agreed by the House, the Bill's Report stage will follow immediately after the conclusion of the Committee stage at 11 o'clock this evening. Arrangements have been made for an amendment paper to be prepared in advance of the commencement of the Report stage. The Public Bill Office will issue an unofficial amendment paper at 9.30 pm incorporating all amendments tabled by 9 pm. A final paper for Report stage will be issued shortly before 11 pm incorporating amendments received up to 10 pm.

Simon Hughes: On a point of order, Mrs. Heal. Following your helpful announcement, it may assist the Committee and, later, the House to know that, on Report, it is expected that between 11 and 12 o'clock, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members will wish to debate and vote on at least one amendment on the elusive clause 17 of last Wednesday. I hope that that will help colleagues to make arrangements later.

The First Deputy Chairman: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order which, of course, will be noted.

Mr. Letwin: Further to that point of order, Mrs. Heal. I wish to put on the record the fact that it is an astonishing state of affairs for us to spend 15 minutes discussing that subject, which will eat into Third Reading. However, that is the best that we can do.

Norman Baker: On a point of order, Mrs. Heal. I wish to put it on record that, in relation to part 9, which has been debated, Liberal Democrat Members opposed clause 79, but not the whole group of clauses. Perforce, we had to vote as we did.

The First Deputy Chairman: We understand that that is precisely why the hon. Members were voting.

Clause 88

Fingerprinting of terrorist suspects

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Beverley Hughes: Clause 88 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 to allow fingerprints to be taken from a person detained under the Act to ascertain their identity. At present, fingerprints can be taken from a person detained under that Act only to establish whether he or she has been involved in certain offences under it or in acts of terrorism. Clearly, circumstances can arise in which the police know that the person that they are holding has

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committed an act of terrorism, but do not know their true identity. For example, a detained person may deliberately withhold their identity from the police or assume a false identity. Although the police have up to seven days to interview a suspect under the Act, valuable time could be wasted. Finding out someone's true identity could prevent acts from taking place.

8.15 pm

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, an officer of the rank of at least superintendent will be able to authorise taking fingerprints from a person detained at a police station without his or her consent if they are satisfied that the fingerprints will allow him or her to be identified. In Scotland, a constable will be able to take or require fingerprints from a person if he is satisfied that they will be able to identify him or her. The clause also allows the police in Scotland to examine fingerprints or DNA samples retained under Terrorism Act powers when investigating a crime that, at that stage, is apparently non-terrorist. At the moment, those records can be searched only if the police are investigating a suspected terrorist offence. There is therefore a risk that they will miss connections between ordinary criminal offences, which may be committed as precursors to terrorist activity, and terrorist suspects. That change was introduced for England and Wales under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.

The clause is in the Bill to enhance police counter-terrorist operations by allowing police to use fingerprints to confirm the identity of terrorist suspects, and I believe that it should stand part.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): I understand why fingerprints should be taken, but can the Minister explain how long fingerprint records will be held in the event of the person under suspicion not being charged or imprisoned, and being released as an innocent person instead?

Beverley Hughes: Certainly, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, fingerprints can be kept indefinitely by the police. The provisions are outside the PACE framework, but I think that the same applies. However, I will get a definitive answer on that point for my hon. Friend.

Mr. James Paice (South–East Cambridgeshire): In her introduction, the Minister said that the clause deals with crime committed as a precursor to terrorist crime. How does one know in advance that a crime is a precursor to terrorist crime and would an individual be told that fingerprints were being taken because it is believed that the crime is such a precursor?

Beverley Hughes: Clearly, the police do not know; that is the point. That theme may be rehearsed during this debate and, indeed, a later one. However, the line between terrorist offences and ordinary criminal offences is not one that can be easily drawn. Certainly, when the police have someone in the police station who is under investigation and whom they are trying to identify in relation to criminal offences, they will not know whether those offences are connected to terrorist activity.

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I pointed out that the clause would give the powers that I described to the police in Scotland. Similar changes were introduced for England and Wales under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, so the Bill brings Scotland into line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 88 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 89

Searches, examinations and fingerprinting: England and Wales

Mr. Paice: I beg to move amendment No. 143, in page 47, line 17, after "station", insert—

'in connection with a terrorist investigation'.

The First Deputy Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 144, in clause 90, page 49, line 12, after "station", insert—

'in connection with a terrorist investigation'.

No. 145, in clause 91, page 51, line 6, after "station", insert—

'in connection with a terrorist investigation'.

No. 146, in clause 92, page 52, line 11, after "station", insert—

'in connection with a terrorist investigation'.

No. 149, in clause 93, page 53, line 32, after "of", insert "terrorist".

No. 150, in clause 94, page 55, line 17, after "of", insert "terrorist".

Mr. Paice: As the Minister, unsurprisingly, foresaw in her last comments, we come to a major issue which runs throughout part 10. The first group of amendments deals with clauses 89 to 94. It seeks to insert the words "in connection with a terrorist investigation" to narrow the scope of these significant clauses to deal purely with terrorism.

The Bill, of course, arises from the atrocities of 11 September. The general feeling across the country and the House was that we needed to ensure that our legislation was adequate for the authorities in this country to combat terrorism from whichever direction it may come and in whatever form it may be practised. We must be able to deal with all those who may be involved, or may try to be involved, in terrorism.

On that basis, the Opposition gave the Government their assurance that we would co-operate in getting such anti-terrorist legislation through the House as soon as possible. However, we did not, and I would not wish it to be believed that we did, give the Government a Blunkett undertaking—a Freudian slip—a blanket undertaking that any measure that they sought to introduce in the guise of anti-terrorist legislation would automatically get our agreement. I can tell the Committee that that is not the case. That is what lies behind this group of amendments.

The Minister rightly said on clause 88 that it is not always easy to know in advance what is terrorism and what is not. That is the nub of most of the amendments to part 10. In that case, why are the Government bothering to change the anti-terrorist legislation in clauses 89

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onwards, given that these clauses represent a significant extension of what is known as the PACE Act? That is not a narcissistic statement.

I was struck by the fact that earlier this evening, the Government moved amendments to clauses 58 and 75, which deal with pathogens and toxins, to restrict those clauses to issues relating to terrorism. Thus in one part of the Bill the Government recognise the need to narrow the context to deal purely with terrorist issues, but the clauses in part 10 go well beyond that. Clause 89 covers searches, examinations and fingerprinting in England and Wales, and the provisions are repeated in clause 90 with reference to Northern Ireland.

Those clauses create huge new powers for police forces to search for any form of identifying mark. They are not specified, but we can all imagine that they include birthmarks, tattoos and various other marks or blemishes that could be used to identify a person. If that were done solely for the purpose of linking the person to a terrorist act or a suspected or imminent terrorist act, that would be fine, but as these and subsequent clauses are currently drafted, they could be applied to any aspect of crime, however minor.

The provisions allow the police—albeit with the authorisation of an officer of the rank of inspector—to search or examine someone detained in a police station. The police can search or examine him for identifying marks, and, under subsequent clauses, photograph him and require the removal of disguises. Provided that an offence has been committed serious enough to warrant the person's detention at a police station, the Government are giving the police those powers.

We accept that there is an argument for the police to have such powers. There are also strong arguments against, particularly on the grounds of civil liberties and overweening police powers. However, we do not accept that the Bill is the appropriate vehicle for the granting of those powers. The Bill is about terrorism and its prevention and detection. It is not about extending police powers and extending PACE to cover all manner of other issues.

As the Minister well knows, we expect a police reform Bill later in the Session. It was announced in the Queen's Speech, we believe that it is still on its way, and we expect a White Paper on the subject even before Christmas. It is not unreasonable to suggest that the Government accept our amendments so that the clauses would apply only if the person were detained in a police station in connection with a terrorist investigation, which is a fairly broad statement of purpose.

If the Government wish to introduce the powers more widely, they should advance the arguments for that in the White Paper and include the powers in the police reform Bill, which we hope will have considerably more time for debate. We are concerned that the Government have cast this Bill much more widely than many of us expected when we vouchsafed our support for the principle of anti-terrorist legislation.

Because of the inevitable constraints on time—I shall not rehearse those arguments now—it behoves the Government to ensure that the Bill addresses only those matters that rightly should be addressed in it. It is not the appropriate vehicle for the huge extension of police

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powers so dramatically evidenced by clauses 89 to 94. Such an extension should be considered on another occasion, when more time is available.

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