|Draft Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 (Information) Order 2002
The Chairman: Doubtless the Minister heard the hon. Gentleman's point.
Beverley Hughes: I did. You are to inquire into why the Vote Office did not have the schedule, Mr. Cran, and I accept that it is important that the hon. Member for Surrey Heath has not obtained a copy of the regulatory impact assessment. Hon. Members need documents in order to participate in debates, and I shall make my own inquiries after our sitting.
Several hon. Members asked whether there was a misunderstanding on several points made in the meeting of 11 July on procedures adopted by some airlines. I accept that data collection or observation, which takes place at the moment, is not the same as data retention, and there might be related issues for some of the carriers. There is no misunderstanding about that; it is one issue that we will have to discuss.
The hon. Members for Surrey Heath and for Southwark, North and Bermondsey asked about data protection. When we come to a point at which information can be requested, the way in which the carriers collect and retain it must conform to the Data Protection Act 1998. There is no disputing that. Some hon. Members questioned whether the Government could collect the information and obviate the need for the industry to do so, for example at immigration control. Our border agencies can examine and collect data only for their own statutory purposes, not for the police to use for purposes such as those defined in the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.
The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey raised the question of scope and the geographical area that is covered. The Terrorism Act included a power to request data in respect of passenger and crew arrivals in and departures from the common travel area, and that power needed to be switched on. The subsequent Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act amended the 2000 power to include entry into and departure from the UK more generally. In a sense, the schedule will switch on a composite power arising from both pieces of legislation. It will cover both the common travel area and the wider international area.
The hon. Member for Argyll and Bute asked specifically about shipping. Representatives of Caledonian MacBrayne—the company to which he referred—attended the meeting on 11 July and heard the police's commitment that, subject to exceptional circumstances on a par with a major incident, carriers on domestic ferry routes will not be included or have information requested from them.
Mr. Reid: Will the Minister give way?
Beverley Hughes: I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I have been as generous as possible and want to conclude in the final few minutes.
Several hon. Members mentioned the authority to carry provision, and I know that the Liberal Democrats are opposed to that provision in current legislation. It is important to understand the
Column Number: 025relationship between the power in the order and the authority to carry. The authority to carry provision will enable law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom to give a yes/no answer to carriers that provide a list of passengers about whether an individual passenger is likely to gain entry to the UK. The information that is used by the agencies to reach that yes/no answer will be based on the intelligence that will in part come from the exercising of this power. Unless we give our police and agencies the ability to collect information and build up a picture of operations taking place in overseas countries—such as those relating to people-trafficking or smuggling, illegal immigration, organised crime or an act of terrorism such as we saw last year—we will not enable them to translate the power into practice.
Hon. Members must consider where the balance lies between the needs of national security and the impact on the industry. I know that the industry has concerns, and we want to address them, but both the general and travelling public have every right to expect the
Column Number: 026Government and industry to take every possible measure to enhance their protection. As I have said, the order, which will be implemented with consideration for and the involvement of the industry, is essential. I commend it to the Committee.
The Committee divided: Ayes 7, Noes 2.
Division No. 1]
Committee rose at Six o'clock.
The following Members attended the Committee:
The following also attended, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118:
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