Session 2010-11
Publications on the internet

To be published as HC 675-iii




Home Affairs Committee

The Government's Review of Counter-Terrorism

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Baroness Neville-Jones

Evidence heard in Public Questions 156 - 211



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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 1 February 2011

Members present:

Keith Vaz (Chair)

Nicola Blackwood

Mr Aidan Burley

Mr James Clappison

Lorraine Fullbrook

Dr Julian Huppert

Steve McCabe

Alun Michael

Bridget Phillipson

Mark Reckless

Mr David Winnick


Examination of Witness

Witness: Baroness Neville-Jones, Minister for Security, gave evidence.

Q156 Chair: Minister, thank you very much for coming to give evidence. You were before us on 21 December and you gave this Committee an assurance that in the spring the new proposals would come forward. I do not know whether January counts as the spring but we accept the new proposals in good faith on that basis. I and others are very concerned about the process that has been adopted. It appears a bit shambolic with so many of the proposals appearing in newspapers and on the BBC, principally in interviews with the Deputy Prime Minister. Were you concerned at the way in which aspects of this policy have leaked out before the announcement to the House or, indeed, a statement to this Committee?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Committee again. On your question about process, perhaps I could make one personal observation and I will directly answer your question. As you know, I spent time in Government before I had my present role and I do know a good process when I see one. I would say that the way in which the work that was done on the whole package of control of counter-terrorism measures was orderly, thorough, penetrating, iterative. It was, I think, an honest piece of work with a great deal of integrity.

Now, this is a Coalition Government and it is right and proper, I think, that we are able to stand together as a Coalition behind proposals. It certainly is the case that there was extensive discussion. I doubt it is right to say, Chairman, that proposals themselves were leaked. It is certainly the case that the press were following very closely and I would not argue with you that reports appeared in the press. But there was not a process, I think, of constantly leaking.

Q157 Chair: Minister, you did say to the Committee that there was a process and we were very keen to be involved in that process. I accept that you are not in control of leaks, but is it wise for the Deputy Prime Minister to have given an interview the weekend before the Home Secretary was able to give a statement to the House on this?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I think perhaps that is something that the Committee would like to talk to those concerned about. But I do think that the process itself of consideration and arriving at the conclusions of the review really was a thoroughgoing and honest process.

Q158 Chair: Right. Because what concerned me was actually the integrity of the Home Secretary. I felt rather sorry for her. She made a very good statement to the House on policy and then half an hour later Lord Macdonald was on Sky Television telling Sky Television that he disagreed with the proposals on control orders. Now, that was not particularly well ordered, was it?

Baroness Neville-Jones: We as a Government, in inviting somebody to review the honesty and the integrity and the thoroughness of the process, quite consciously and quite deliberately chose someone whom we knew would bring his own independent mind to bear on it. We did not choose somebody who was simply going to do a rubber stamp.

Q159 Chair: But he disagreed with the Home Secretary moments after she made a statement to the House.

Baroness Neville-Jones: I think it is fair to say, but he will obviously speak for himself, that he thought that the process was good. There are matters, but they are essentially I think ones of detail, where there is undoubtedly difference between the reviewer and the positions taken by the Government.

Q160 Chair: So have those differences been resolved now, because he seems to think they have not been?

Baroness Neville-Jones: No. There are differences, and in the end it is for the Government, I think, and for the Home Secretary in particular to decide what the outcome of that review will be. I am sure Lord Macdonald accepts that.

Q161 Chair: Minister, you accept that Lord Macdonald still has disagreements over control orders with the Home Secretary?

Baroness Neville-Jones: There are differences. Yes, there are differences. He has made some comments on where he thinks that the process could have either come out differently or gone a bit further and that is, I think, in the end a matter of judgement between himself and the Government.

Q162 Steve McCabe: I just wondered if it was possible to tell us exactly what the Deputy Prime Minister’s role has been in the review, exactly what part he has played. Because although he has been quite public it has not been terribly clear exactly where he fits into the process.

Baroness Neville-Jones: The Deputy Prime Minister is obviously an extraordinarily important member of the Cabinet. The Cabinet has to be behind this. It is also obviously a Coalition Government and so I think it is quite-

Q163 Steve McCabe: I am asking if he had a specific role in determining the review or the conclusions of it, because I have not quite understood where he fits in. The Home Secretary is kind of obvious; you are kind of obvious; other people. I am not quite sure where he fits in.

Baroness Neville-Jones: Let me say that the Deputy Prime Minister was obviously very important in the discussions. He was not the only Minister who had a hand in it. The Attorney-General was in there and a number of others, so this was something that the Government as a whole needed to feel that it was agreed on. I think it is wrong to pick out the Deputy Prime Minister as somehow having some singular role in all of this, but he clearly is the leader of the Coalition Party.

Chair: This comes of the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister announced the proposals on the BBC the Sunday before the Home Secretary was able to do so. I will allow quick questions on process and then we must move on to substance.

Q164 Dr Huppert: Minister, the Home Secretary’s statement when she announced this review highlighted that Liberty would be very involved as well with the process. How involved were Liberty in the end? Were there a number of meetings between them and the Home Secretary and the Director conducting the review, or was it just announced and then very little happened?

Baroness Neville-Jones: No. Liberty I think put in papers and they also had live consultations, too, with officials. I cannot confirm to you that they did see the Home Secretary; I do not know. I would have to verify that. But I would hope that Liberty would agree that they did have full opportunity to air their views, and since we came out with our outcome they have since aired their views again.

Q165 Dr Huppert: Could you write to us, perhaps, and say how often they did meet with the Director running the review and the Home Secretary?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Yes, I certainly can.

Q166 Alun Michael: You yourself prayed in aid your previous experience in knowing how Government works. You would know with a single party in Government there is great care to be clear about what is political and what is ministerial responsibility. So I would like to return to this question. As a Coalition Government, separating those two out is extremely important. So please would you tell us what the role of the Deputy Prime Minister is, in his ministerial role, not in sticking the bits of the Coalition together?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I think he is Deputy Prime Minister. Being Deputy Prime Minister, he has a brief that clearly goes across Government. So I do not think it is illegitimate for him to be very interested in and closely concerned with and have a role in and views on a primordial issue.

Q167 Mr Clappison: The process has taken a little bit longer I think than was originally envisaged. Are you satisfied that the proposals that you are bringing forward are going to stand the test of time? I hear what has been said about distinctions between political and ministerial decisions, but in the past we certainly have had very long processes. This Committee will remember the saga of its inquiries into different periods of detention and being told different things about what was absolutely essential in each case. Is this process going to produce proposals that stand the test of time?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Well, I suppose time will tell us. One of the reasons why we did take longer than I think we had originally thought would be necessary-obviously we made an estimate before we started that turned out to be falsified by the work we did-was that in the process of going into the issues we realised that we needed to go well behind the surface of them in order to satisfy ourselves that we were coming out with something that was both sustainable and balanced.

Q168 Chair: Let us move on to substance. Is there much difference between a curfew and an order that somebody remains in their home for a certain given period?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I suppose we could logic chop on this subject, Chairman, and I would not wish to do that. I think the point I would like to make is that the process or the proposals that we put in place for overnight stay are sufficiently different that they do need to be distinguished from the curfew regime that was previously in place.

Q169 Chair: Do tell us the differences?

Baroness Neville-Jones: The differences are as follows. First of all, a curfew, as you know-and this was something that we had to deal with in the light of court judgments-was for quite extended periods, cut back gradually. We do not envisage that an overnight stay would be any longer than eight to 10 hours. Now, that is significantly shorter than the sort of periods that were indeed in play.

Q170 Chair: What was the last period that was in play?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I think the very longest there ever was was 18 hours.

Chair: No, the recent. It was reduced, wasn’t it?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I think it is now down to 14.

Chair: 12 hours?

Baroness Neville-Jones: It is either 12 or 14; I will have to check that. Certainly, it has come down, but what I would say is that we envisage a period that is shorter than some of the curfews in place at the moment.

Q171 Chair: Of course. So, actually, it is a reduction of two hours, from 12 hours to 10?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Chairman, I think we will find that the average is probably greater than that, but I think this is-

Q172 Chair: Minister, you are the Counter-Terrorism Minister. Are you not able to tell us exactly what the position was?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Chairman, I said eight to 10 hours. We do not have curfews at the moment that are of that order. They are longer than that.

Q173 Chair: So what is the reduction in time now?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I should think it is more like four hours.

Q174 Chair: Four hours?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Yes. But I think it is unfair to pin me down in this way when we have curfews of different lengths and we are talking about the future.

Mr Winnick: But you are here to be pinned down, Minister.

Q175 Chair: Mr Winnick, order. Minister, the purpose of a Minister coming before a Select Committee and the arrangement I made with the Home Secretary last week is that you would come to this Committee and give us detail of a very serious and important process.

Baroness Neville-Jones: Absolutely. You are quite right, Chairman.

Chair: What is the answer, then?

Baroness Neville-Jones: The answer, Chairman, is that we have curfews of various lengths at the moment.

Q176 Chair: What is the reduction?

Baroness Neville-Jones: We envisage that in the future the maximum likely curfew will be less than the curfews that we have in place at the moment-

Q177 Chair: Minister, that is not good enough to this Committee. I am sorry, you must be able to be more precise. You had a week’s notice to come here. You have had months to look at this procedure. I made an arrangement with the Home Secretary that you would come here and the Committee would ask you about detail. I do not mind adjourning the Committee if you wish to come back on another occasion and give us statistics on this. I have no problem if you wish to do that.

Baroness Neville-Jones: I think I am being put in a very difficult position, Chairman, because there is not a single-

Q178 Chair: What is the reduction in time?

Baroness Neville-Jones: There is not a single figure for the curfews and there is not yet a decision in a concrete case for a curfew in the future. I have given you what I regard as being my best effort at the likely difference. I would say between-

Q179 Lorraine Fullbrook: Just for clarification, is it not the case you cannot give a number of hours because any person held on a detention order currently may be on different hours held?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Yes.

Q180 Lorraine Fullbrook: Therefore, the reduction, you cannot give us a number because it will be different for each person. Is that correct?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Yes. This is on a case by case basis.

Q181 Chair: So give us a figure on one case. There are only eight, aren’t there?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Yes.

Chair: Give us one example of somebody who is now going to spend less hours under house arrest than before.

Baroness Neville-Jones: Clearly, what we cannot have in the future is two regimes. So there will have to be a transition from the present regime, and the eight who are controlled under the present regime, to the new measures under the TPIMs. That will have-sorry, excuse me?

Q182 Chair: Give me an example of one of the eight cases and what the reduction in figure would be, taking Mrs Fullbrook’s point.

Baroness Neville-Jones: Chairman, I cannot do that because the decision on the reduction or, indeed, any change in the period of curfew will have to depend upon the circumstances of that individual case and a review of the threat that that individual represented.

Chair: I think you can give us those figures. I just do not think you have them.

Mr Clappison: Mr Chairman, with respect I think that is not a fair comment to make to a witness, to be quite honest. You can make that comment if you want to, but not on behalf of the Committee.

Q183 Steve McCabe: Minister, I just wanted to understand, would I be right to conclude that it is your expectation that a night restriction order is for less hours than a current curfew, but in actual fact we have not yet got an example to show if that is accurate or not?

Baroness Neville-Jones: That is correct.

Q184 Mark Reckless: Minister, you said "reduction" and then I thought corrected yourself to "any change". Does that imply that for some individuals the hours of restriction might increase?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I think that is unlikely but I could not rule it out. We have two separate things here, do we not? We have how the new regime will work. We also have the question of how those individuals under the present regime are transitioned into a new regime. That detail has yet to be worked out. It will have to be done clearly over the time period of the nine months that we have while the present control order regime is in place and before the new legislation comes into operation. What I am hesitant to do and I think I am right to be hesitant to do is to make a forecast about what will happen to any given individual under the current regime. My expectation would be, but I cannot guarantee that, that there would not be an increase, because the whole object of the exercise-

Q185 Chair: Is to decrease it?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Well, it is and also to make it more targeted. There are many other changes in the regime we are making other than curfew.

Chair: Maybe you could write to us.

Baroness Neville-Jones: I will certainly do that, Chairman.

Q186 Mark Reckless: I very much welcomed the Home Secretary’s announcement. I thought a good new balance had been struck in this area and I have been very supportive in my public comments on it. But I am concerned in light of your evidence that the change does not seem to be to the qualitatively different system, at least in this aspect of curfews or overnight stays, that I had previously interpreted, if it is possible that some may go up or the change is going to be very small, if it is down.

Baroness Neville-Jones: No, I am quite clear, Mr Reckless, that there will be qualitative change. I suppose what I am saying to you, and I think I have to be cautious in this respect, is that I cannot make a forecast in any given instance. But the general expectation must be that the combination of measures that we are now putting in place and the kind of mitigations that go with that-for instance, the increased surveillance that will accompany this change in measures-will enable us to bring these curfews down. What I do not want to do is to make a forecast in any given case.

Q187 Bridget Phillipson: If increased surveillance is the answer, why do you not think that was employed previously? How much additional funding is going to go into surveillance?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I am not able to give you a figure on increased surveillance, which comes inside the secret vote. I can assure you that it will be sufficient actually for that surveillance to be effective. I would like to say that one of the reasons why we have decided that this balance can be struck in this way is that we have heeded what has been said by Lord Macdonald and others that it is important to try and increase the possibilities of prosecution, and one of the ways in which you can do that obviously is to change the nature of the control order. So it is a different balance.

Q188 Alun Michael: As a Minister, I am sure that you want to be clear and precise with us, but the impression that one is left with is, I have to say, rather chaotic. When you write to us, as you have just suggested, could we have precision about different things? For instance, you referred to forecast and I do not think anybody would want Ministers to forecast, but we would like to know about intention. You have also referred to targeting and you have also referred to reduction. Is reduction in itself a purpose? What is the intention and the target of the targeting and what is it that you are trying to achieve? I think that might help us and it might help you to come out of this rather muddled situation that I think you are presenting us with.

Chair: You do not have to answer that in detail. Please write to us with that information. That would be very helpful.

Q189 Dr Huppert: Minister, I think next week I am seeing you in the Joint Committee on Human Rights where I suspect we will go through this in detail again, so you might want to be prepared for some of the questions.

Lord Macdonald highlights in his report lots of omissions about details and I think that is the vagueness that concerns me. I think we have just explored it with the issue of the timeliness of curfews. There are also issues about what the association bans would look like, what the telephone bans would look like, how much emphasis there would actually be on moving towards prosecution. I have a concern that there is a lack of clarity there. When will you be able to respond to the issues where, for example, he highlights that there is a lack of clarity so that we know what is actually being suggested? In particular, will this happen before the current control order regime lapses in March?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I have to say I do not think there is a lack of clarity, for instance, on the subject of the kind of regime we might put in place on the right to communicate, where we said very clearly that there will be the right to the use of a mobile phone without access to the internet but with a SIM card. There will be the right to the use of a computer-and there can be a computer at home or at work or possibly even both-provided we are able to have access to the passwords, and that will give access, however, to the internet. There will be other restrictions. I would think that we would not permit somebody, for instance, to use cryptography. I think I would say there is a pretty clear outline there of the nature of the measures and they are clearly more helpful, more liberal, and enable the individual to lead a more normal life than has hitherto been the case. So there is material difference in the kind of regime we are trying to put in place so that it is not as isolating and I think some have said psychologically damaging to the individual as the current regime. So we have had attention to that.

Q190 Dr Huppert: Will we get full details of what is proposed, complete details, before the current control order regime ends?

Baroness Neville-Jones: If there is more detail to be put out I do not see any problem about elaborating on the nature of the regime. I think, however, I have to say that the main points are actually already in the public domain.

Q191 Mr Winnick: I would simply say I would not like to be asked to write a 2,000word essay on the difference between control orders, Minister, and what is being proposed, because like so many I cannot see any difference.

But be that as it may, as regards the 14 days, that is quite clear. When it comes to the 14 days plus, the Home Secretary was asked last week during the exchanges what would be the position if the House was in recess, and she replied, as you probably must know, "The House can be recalled". Would the position be that if an individual is considered to be such that further questioning is required beyond the 14 days, that case would come in one form or another, probably statutory instrument, before the House for debate?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I think the sort of situation that is envisaged when it might be necessary to go from 14 to 28 days would not be one involving a single individual. Those circumstances would involve, for instance, a particularly complex conspiracy or series of conspiracies of a kind that almost certainly would mean that we had a heightened period of tension in any case. So we do envisage that the need to move from the 14 days that we want to establish as the norm would only be in exceptional circumstances, and those exceptional circumstances would be ones in which I think the Home Secretary would take the view the House would feel it was justified to be recalled if it was in recess.

Q192 Mr Winnick: I can understand that and Government in all fairness has made clear that this would be in exceptional circumstances. I certainly welcome the 14 days, but I do have some queries, certainly, and hesitations over the 14 days plus. Even in the scenario that you have outlined to us, wouldn’t it be necessary for the names of the individuals or some identity to be given, and if not the identity, for reasons of prejudicing a case if it goes to court, some details? Otherwise what is the purpose of the House debating the issue?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Clearly, Chairman, any debate would take place against the background of a certain amount of reporting. I think perhaps the point that I am being questioned on relates to how the House would actually manage a discussion of that kind. There are already, I think, rules and guidance on the question of the way in which the House would treat matters that were sub judice. I think what I would say is, and the Home Secretary said this herself, that this is clearly-

Q193 Mr Winnick: But it is not sub judice, Minister, is it? If no charge has been made it does not really come in the category of sub judice.

Baroness Neville-Jones: No, but it clearly would be a very sensitive matter and the House, I have no doubt, would be sensitive to the need in its debate not to prejudice the rights of the defendants to a fair trial.

Q194 Mr Winnick: You have put the issue very clearly and this is the concern, because if the House does not debate it what is the purpose of it coming before the House? If the House goes into detail, or at least if the Minister does, is not the danger that if the people involved are charged at some stage, the defence counsel when the case is heard in court will say it has been prejudiced because of what has been said in the House of Commons?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Perhaps I can take one step back from your immediate question, which is that we did very strongly feel that it was right to go to 14 days given the track record of the need for longer than that and that it has not been used since 2007. At the same time, given the security situation we are in, we really cannot rule out, sadly, a deterioration. We did not feel that it was right or safe in the national interest not to be able to invoke some kind of contingency. We felt that in a sense we were damned if we do and damned if we don’t. We could have put something on the statute but we did not want to do that. So we have gone for something that we recognise will involve careful conduct on the part of those involved, including Parliament.

Q195 Mr Winnick: Careful conduct on the part of whom?

Baroness Neville-Jones: It will require careful debate, obviously, of the circumstances of an extension of this kind in the sort of situation in which the need for it might arise. We are confident that the House will be able to manage this and will be able to assess the justification for the extension and the nature of the threat without getting into a position of prejudicing the rights of defendants.

Chair: Maybe you can write to us, Minister, on the issue of whether this will affect one particular individual or a group of individuals.

Baroness Neville-Jones: Certainly.

Chair: I think it is a very important point Mr Winnick made, because obviously if we have to debate in the House every single time somebody is going to be kept beyond 14 days it might take up a lot of House business.

Q196 Dr Huppert: There are some interesting practical problems. I think there is also an interesting issue of principle in this. I had understood this power might be used in the event that we thought something would happen where we would want 28-day detention. I find it hard to see what that would be. There is a difference between doing that and doing something after an event has happened, when we are effectively creating laws and a judicial system for particular individuals, whether named or not, retrospectively. It strikes me that is a very dangerous ground ahead, if we are asking Parliament, however carefully it can discuss it, to set retrospective rules on people. Does that concern you?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Clearly, you are correct to say that. You cannot rule out that it might be in advance. I think equally one cannot rule out that it might be after the event. We do recognise that this is delicate. All I can say is that I think we felt that, in what is a very invidious set of choices, this was the least bad way of going about it. But we do recognise that this would have to be delicately handled.

Q197 Mark Reckless: My predecessor in my constituency had a concern about turning Parliament into a court in some ways, the particular processes, and I just really want to press you on this issue. Are we talking about a general power of 28 days for anyone subject to certain conditions, or are we talking about Parliament meeting to specifically extend the time an individual already in detention, one or more individuals, can be kept in that detention from 14 days to up to 28 days?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I think we are talking about Parliament extending the power of the police to question an individual for more than 14 days.

Q198 Dr Huppert: If I can move on to the slightly different subject of stop and search powers in section 44, I think there is general agreement that some greater constraints on that would be quite helpful. Perhaps you could firstly outline how it will actually change what the police do compared to-I was going to say what the police currently do, but shall we say what the police will do assuming that tomorrow’s order on changing PACE codes A, B and D actually goes through? What will the effect be?

Baroness Neville-Jones: The effect of the changes we are proposing? I did not quite understand your question.

Dr Huppert: There are changes on the use of section 44 stop and search powers in a draft code to change PACE, which are going through the House tomorrow, I believe, in the Statutory Instruments Committee. Other than that, what extra is coming out as a result of this review?

Baroness Neville-Jones: What is coming out as a result of this review is an amended, altered section 44 power. At the moment we do not have a section 44 power that has no validity in respect of individuals, so what we are envisaging is the following. We feel that it is very important to keep the section 44 power circumscribed so we are not open to the sort of widespread use that I think is widely regarded as having been far too widely used. But we also feel that not to have any capacity or any power on the part of the police to stop and search individuals on the basis of no suspicion would equally be dangerous from the point of view of maintaining public security.

Now, let me explain myself. We believe that, and this is why this power will be targeted and it will be specific and it will only last a maximum of 14 days, in a situation in which-which is one you really can envisage in real life-authorities had reason to believe that an event or a geography was potentially a target of terrorist attack but they did not know enough to know precisely where that attack was going to come from or how it would eventuate, those are the circumstances in which in the context of having to protect against a suspected event, one that the security services had reason to believe could happen, this was a proper power to put in the hands of the police.

Q199 Mr Clappison: Are efforts being made to return some of the terrorist suspects back to countries that it has been difficult to return them to in the past?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Yes.

Q200 Mr Clappison: What about terrorist suspects who come from countries where there aren’t human rights problems? Are they all being reviewed to ensure that they could be deported if possible?

Baroness Neville-Jones: We see no reason in principle why somebody who is guilty or has been accused-

Mr Clappison: Or suspected.

Baroness Neville-Jones: -or suspected. If there is no human rights obstacle in the way we would expect to be able to deport them.

Q201 Mr Clappison: I do not know if you are able to say this or not, but we are talking here about eight people, I think it is, who are subject to control orders. We have been given the figure of 2,000 in the past from the head of the Security Service as the number of people who are suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. Is it within your knowledge that quite a few of those are non-British citizens?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Some of them are non-British citizens, undoubtedly, yes. We want to be able to increase the rate of deportation and the circumstances in which we can deport. We have to-

Q202 Chair: Do you know how many are not British citizens, Minister?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I would have to check that figure. It is known, but I am afraid I cannot remember it offhand.

Mr Clappison: Of the 2,000 or the eight?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Many of the up to 2,000 people, yes.

Chair: No, Mr Clappison is saying of the 2,000 could you write to us and tell us how many?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I will.

Mr Clappison: Some are. I have no idea, but some certainly are.

Chair: That would be very helpful.

Baroness Neville-Jones: Certainly, yes.

Q203 Mark Reckless: I had just one follow-up on that. I think when there were the restrictions and people were held in Belmarsh, I understood it was around 13 people who were all overseas nationals at that point. Now under the control order regime it is eight, all of whom are UK nationals. How did we get from one to the other? What has happened to those 13 foreign nationals?

Baroness Neville-Jones: A number of those individuals have either left or been deported, and I can write to the Committee on that, too. In a sense, there has been an attrition of the people.

Mark Reckless: If you are able to write to us to update on those 13 and where they have all gone in various categories that would be much appreciated.

Baroness Neville-Jones: Certainly, I will do.

Q204 Mark Reckless: On the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, the Government is now proposing that surveillance should only be used for offences imprisonable for over six months. Within that context, for what type of offences is the Government expecting local authorities, for instance, to go on using these powers for proper surveillance and to investigate people?

Baroness Neville-Jones: The local authorities do, in fact, have a significant number, an important number of law enforcement functions, as I am sure the Committee is aware. It would include such things as some of the offences against weights and measures, fraudulent trading, benefit fraud. Although sales to under-age individuals of alcohol does not carry at the moment a six-month offence, that is something I think we would wish to pursue and allow, because it is such a social problem, the local authorities to continue to use RIPA for that effect, and trading offences generally.

So it is in the range of those activities where the main burden of law enforcement actually falls on the local authorities that we do not want to hamper their ability to carry out things that I think are very distinctly in the public interest. The safeguards we put in place, of course, are the permission of the magistrate and a sufficiently senior individual in the local administration to make the initial proposal. So we have tried to tighten up. I think it is all right also to say that it has to be a reasonable belief. So we have tried to tighten the safeguards while continuing to make that power effective, but putting certain limits so that it cannot be used for trivial things like dog fouling.

Q205 Lorraine Fullbrook: I would like to ask about the timing of the changes. The different measures outlined in the review require amendments to several pieces of legislation. Will these be brought forward as a package or separately and what would be the timetable?

Baroness Neville-Jones: We will bring forward the legislation on control orders.

Chair: Do you know when?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Before Easter I think we will have the legislation out.

Chair: Excellent.

Baroness Neville-Jones: The other measures will go into the socalled Freedom Bill, which will, we hope obviously, have legislative assent as soon as possible.

Chair: Before the summer recess?

Baroness Neville-Jones: The summer recess this year?

Chair: Yes.

Baroness Neville-Jones: No, I do not think that is-

Chair: So summer recess next year?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Certainly, I think we would hope to have it by the summer of next year.

Chair: Summer 2012?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Yes. I think that is the envisaged timetable. Clearly, the replacement of control orders has to be in place before that.

Chair: By when?

Baroness Neville-Jones: By the end of the year, because the existing regime will be extended until the end of the year.

Q206 Chair: So we cannot necessarily wait until 2012 if we have to have legislation in place by the end of this year?

Baroness Neville-Jones: For control orders?

Chair: Yes.

Baroness Neville-Jones: That is why there will be separate legislation brought forward.

Chair: Is that clear, Mrs Fullbrook?

Lorraine Fullbrook: I would really like a written statement on exactly what changes are going to be made and when they are going to be made.

Chair: Or maybe I will table a parliamentary question today.

Q207 Dr Huppert: Just to clarify, because I am slightly confused about the timetable for the legislation on control orders. You are saying that Parliament will be asked to extend the current regime until December, presumably. Will the legislation to replace it have been published, or have made any progress even, but will it have been published before Parliament is asked to do that? Because otherwise there is an issue that Parliament may not like what it sees. The two are quite closely related. It is the only item here with a clear timetable. The control orders as they currently stand lapse in March unless they are renewed.

Baroness Neville-Jones: That is right. An order for renewal will come forward in March for extension until the end of the year.

Q208 Chair: Until December 2011?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Yes, during which time-

Q209 Chair: The replacing legislation will be published, Dr Huppert wishes to know, when?

Baroness Neville-Jones: I cannot say that I think that it will necessarily come forward before the order for continuation of control orders will be made.

Q210 Chair: But will it come forward before December 2011?

Baroness Neville-Jones: Of course, yes.

Dr Huppert: I and I suspect other colleagues would be concerned if we could not at least have sight of the proposals in detail before we are asked to vote on an extension.

Chair: Indeed.

Mark Reckless: I just wanted to add to the record my support for what Dr Huppert is requesting.

Q211 Chair: I think what would be extremely helpful, and we are most grateful to you for coming here today, Minister, is if we could have a written note that we will publish on our website of the timetable and the factual information. Perhaps in terms of the reduction in time for control orders you can pick any example of one of the eight; in respect of Mr Clappison’s request, how many of the 2,000 are non-British citizens and how many of the eight are non-British citizens.

Baroness Neville-Jones: I can certainly do that.

Chair: We would love to have it before the Joint Human Rights Committee meets. Minister, we are most grateful. Thank you very much.