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Orders of the Day

Terrorism Bill

As amended in the Committee, considered.

Clause 23

      Extension of period of detention by judicial Authority

1.39 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr.   Charles Clarke): I beg to move amendment No. 51, in page 22, line 7, leave out 'special'.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Government amendments Nos. 52 to 55.

Amendment No. 1, in page 22, line 19, leave out 'three months' and insert '28 days'.

Amendment No. 33, in page 22, line 19, leave out 'three months' and insert '60 days'.

Government amendments Nos. 56 to 58.

Amendment No. 29, in page 22, line 36, at end insert—

'(3AB)   Where the new specified period will end more than 14 days after the relevant time—

(a)   the specified period may only be extended—

(i)   pending the result of an examination or analysis which is to be or is being carried out with a view to obtaining relevant evidence, or

(ii)   for the purpose of obtaining relevant evidence from outside the United Kingdom or from records within the United Kingdom which cannot reasonably be obtained without such an extension of the specified period;

(b)   the specified period may only be extended if the judicial authority is satisfied that there is no reasonable possibility of the detainee being charged immediately with another offence relating to terrorism or a terrorist act;

(c)   the judicial authority must approve the nature of any further questioning of the detainee during the new specified period.'.

Government amendments Nos. 59 to 61.

Amendment No. 63, in page 23, line 6, at end insert—

'(6A)   After paragraph 37 insert—

"37A   (1)   Any detained person who has been released—

(a)   in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 37 having been detained for not less than 14 days, or

(b)   owing to the effluxion of time

("the ex-detainee"), shall be entitled to claim full compensation for his financial losses resulting from his detention.

(2)   The Secretary of State shall, within 3 months of the coming into force of section 23 of the Terrorism Act 2005, make regulations establishing a compensation scheme for ex-detainees.

(3)   Regulations under sub-paragraph (2) shall be made by statutory instrument and shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.".'.

New clause 1—Extension of period of detention by judicial authority: duration—

(2)   The Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument provide—

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(a)   that all or any of those provisions which are in force shall continue in force for a period not exceeding twelve months from the coming into opertion of the order; or

(b)   that all or any of those provisions which are for the time being in force shall cease to be in force.

(3)   No order shall be made under subsection (2) above unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.'.

New clause 4—Disapplication of Human Rights Act 1998—

New clause 7—Duration of Section 23—

Government amendment No. 62.

Mr. Clarke: All the amendments in this group relate to the complex and contentious question of pre-charge detention in terrorist cases. Government amendments Nos. 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60 and 62 provide that extensions of detention beyond 14 days must be approved by a High Court judge or, in Scotland, a judge of the Court of Session. That responds directly to concerns raised in the Chamber at Committee stage. Any application that would extend detention beyond 14 days will need to be made to the senior judge. If, for example, on day nine, the police thought that they needed only another couple of days before they would be in a position to release a suspect or suspects, they could still apply to a district judge. If, however, the police were clear at that point that they wanted a further seven days, the application would need to be made to the senior judge.

Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): I am grateful to the Home Secretary for giving way at this early juncture. Why is application in Scotland to be made to a court of civil jurisdiction—namely, the Court of Session—for what is essentially a criminal matter?

Mr. Clarke: Following our exchanges in Committee, I   set out clearly to all Scottish Members—I think that the hon. Gentleman will have received my correspondence—the range of issues relating to that particular set of questions. I believe that that addresses the question that he has raised. If not, and he is indicating that it does not, I shall come back to him on the point later in the debate.

In Committee, it was suggested that it was not only the level of judge that was important, but his experience of handling terrorist cases. It was suggested that there should be a cadre of judges designated for that purpose. We have explored that suggestion with the Department for Constitutional Affairs, but it and the judiciary rejected that approach, so it has not been pursued.

Another option raised in Committee, following Lord   Carlile's recommendation, was for decisions to be taken by senior circuit judges, with an avenue of appeal to a High Court judge. In our view, that would lead to   an appeal in virtually every case with the cases eventually being decided by a High Court judge, so we have achieved the same result with fewer hearings. I can easily explain the effect of the amendments and I have also dealt explicitly with the proposals made by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash).
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It was also suggested that judges should give reasons for their decisions to extend detention. The clear advice we have is that that would open up an avenue of appeal. There is also the risk that the judge might have decided to grant the extension on the basis of sensitive material, so we have decided not to proceed with that suggestion.

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): Can the Home Secretary amplify the exact procedure before the   High Court judge? Will it be possible for submissions to be made by the person under detention pending charge? Will he be represented? How will the procedure operate and will the Government publish further material on that point, if necessary?

Mr. Clarke: The answer is yes. On the procedure, I   shall come shortly to the codes of practice that will apply—a point that the hon. Gentleman pressed in Committee and to which I am keen to respond.

I turn to Government amendments Nos. 51 and 58. As the Bill is currently drafted, extensions of pre-charge detention are for seven days unless there are "special circumstances" that warrant a lesser period. The amendments remove the word "special" so that a shorter extension period would be granted if the judge felt that circumstances warranted it. The amendments are identical to ones tabled by the Opposition in Committee, so we are responding to the debate on that issue.

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