People in this age group who approach their local authorities for help with housing as a result of homelessness are usually given housing support, rather than being taken into care. According to the Children’s Society, at least 12,000 16 and 17-year-olds seek such help with homelessness every year. At present, the authorities cannot protect them with a child abduction warning notice. As I have said, 42,260 16 and 17-year-olds became children in need last year. Under the current

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provisions, the police are unable to use a child abduction warning notice to protect them by taking them away from an exploitative adult who could abduct them from their parents.

New clause 27 would extend the protections that are afforded to those who are under 16 to the 2,330 16 and 17-year-olds who are registered as in need in Wales, the 1,000 16 and 17-year-olds who are looked after by local authorities in Wales and many more young people who are housed by their local authority under homelessness legislation.

In 2012, the all-party parliamentary groups for runaway and missing children and adults and for looked-after children and care leavers held an important inquiry on children who go missing from care. The report drew attention to how frequently children’s homes are targeted by exploitative individuals, yet the law protects only a tiny minority of the 16 and 17-year-olds who are vulnerable to such exploitation and abduction.

I urge the House, if there is a Division, to vote for new clause 27, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon.

Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): The Sexual Offences Act 2003 greatly strengthened the legislation that deals with paedophiles. Year by year, some of us have used various Home Office Bills to put little baubles and bangles on it and there has been a huge number of changes. One result has been that persistent predatory paedophiles in this country have often moved overseas. Many of them moved to south-east Asia until the south-east Asian nations tightened up and now many of them are moving to Brazil. I have a particular interest in the situation in Brazil.

Some of the ammunition has come from the fact that much of our paedophile legislation is extraterritorial, so when individuals from this country go to other countries, do their dastardly deeds and come back, we are able to deal with them under our legislation when we have the evidence, perhaps provided directly by the security or police forces in the other countries. The effect of that has been a move away from south-east Asia, mainly to places such as Brazil. People are picking on Brazil because of the big sports events. We saw that recently with the World cup. A group in my constituency has been fighting for street children and it had a big campaign called “It’s a penalty”. It explained to people from this country who were flying to Brazil that if they had sex with children out there, they could be prosecuted here.

In Committee, Members on both sides were congratulating ourselves on getting two new offences on contact with a child and on predatory paedophile manuals. In the middle of all that, one of us suddenly noticed that we were taking away the extraterritorial aspect of both offences. Not too surprisingly, there was a faint squawk.

We have had a decent response on one issue. Amendment 10 will bring back the extraterritorial aspect for contact with a child, but not for predatory paedophile manuals, as I brought to the attention of Front Benchers. If we are going to prosecute individuals in this country because they have predatory paedophile manuals, why should we not penetrate overseas to catch them doing exactly the same thing? Logic tells me that if it is good enough to do it here, it is good enough to apply it to predatory

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paedophiles in other countries. That has been very successful with other bits of legislation. However, it was indicated clearly in the opening speech that it will not apply to this provision.

It is probably pointless to push the Solicitor-General on that issue at this point. [Interruption.] He is nodding with a smile on his face, which is not particularly helpful. I would love to push the issue, but I will not. However, I will reflect on where I have made mistakes between Committee stage and this stage, gather my ammunition and knock on his door as I move on to ten-minute rule Bills and the next Home Office Bill to try to add it. For tonight, I am sitting tight, but the warning is there: I will be back.

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): I will concentrate on new clause 17. I assume that the Solicitor-General will not accept the proposal, but I hope he will tell the House where he is with the 12-week consultation. I join the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) in asking that we try to hammer out a sensible agreement on the issue—preferably between all parties and before the election—so that we get something done in the interests of children.

I assume that most of us here want children to be protected and that the vast majority of decent people who choose to work with children want to protect them. However, I do not want people to be driven into some kind of defensive posture whereby they are more concerned about protecting themselves than using their professional judgment because of a badly framed mandatory reporting rule. No one who has looked at Rotherham or at any of the other scandals can fail to have a sense of revulsion at those senior staff who turned a blind eye, those who did not want to know when they should have been asking serious questions of the more junior staff, and those who blamed the victims whom they should have been protecting.

We need a measure of mandatory reporting that prevents people from evading their responsibilities, and ensures that there is no, “I didn’t know; they didn’t tell me” get-out clause, and no opportunity for institutions or individuals to view reputational damage as an excuse to sweep things under the carpet. That kind of mandatory reporting could be useful in helping the rest of us to protect children. I therefore hope that the Minister will tell the House what his intentions are and where he is with the consultation and that, in the spirit of cross-party support, he will consider the offer from me and the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham.

Mr Speaker: The hon. Gentleman finished just before I expected him to and the Minister will now wind up this group of amendments. There has been considerable demand to contribute to the separate groupings, so perhaps I can say publicly what I would otherwise have said privately, namely that if the Minister is able to wind up on behalf of the Government so that it is possible for us to move on by 7 o’clock—perhaps even earlier—we will dance round the mulberry bush in joyous appreciation of his efforts.

The Solicitor-General: Best endeavours, Mr Speaker, best endeavours.

I thank all right hon. and hon. Members for taking part in this wide-ranging debate. I am grateful to the

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hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe) for a thoughtful contribution. The Government have committed to a full 12-week consultation within 18 months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent. We are coming to the end of this Parliament and into purdah, and practical issues arise, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) said. However, the Government are committed to moving on a consultation as soon as practical obstacles are removed—we cannot be clearer than that. I am somewhat puzzled about Labour Members’ undue haste to move their new clause. My right hon. Friend has already mentioned some deficiencies that she has found in the provision, and I will not reiterate her points. I say simply that we need a proper consultation on the issue and for all voices to be heard. For FGM and mandatory reporting provisions we held a consultation that gave us clear evidence to act, and to create and change the law on mandatory reporting. We must do exactly the same for child abuse.

We all agree that these issues are sensitive, important, and involve new obligations on professionals who work in this difficult field, and we must approach them carefully and with evidence. I therefore strongly urge Opposition Members to consider the matter carefully before dividing the House or supporting the new clause. With great respect the provision is premature, bearing in mind that a consultation will occur as soon as possible.

Mrs Gillan: Will my hon. and learned Friend comment on my suggestion that those on the two Front Benches should work together on drawing up the terms of reference for the consultation, because I am sure that would help speed up the procedure? It may not be possible to bring something out before the election, but at least working together would show that it is a cross-party effort and give great comfort to those watching this debate.

6.45 pm

The Solicitor-General: I am interested in suggestions from any quarter about the terms of reference for a consultation. I want it to be meaningful and comprehensive, which is why there will be a full 12 weeks to allow many people to make submissions. I am open to all constructive suggestions, wherever they come from. As my right hon. Friend said, this issue is about much more than mere party politics, and I hope that that gives her the assurance she seeks.

Diana Johnson: I am listening carefully to the Minister, and of course we all want to get this issue right. I am struck by the fact that the Government managed to have a consultation on the reporting of FGM, and the Bill now contains amendments to take that forward. It seems to me a missed opportunity that we are not able to do that with mandatory reporting at the same time.

The Solicitor-General: I hear what the hon. Lady says and take her remarks in the spirit that I know she intends. We are moving on these issues, and much has been achieved in the past few years in acknowledging that we are dealing with children and can no longer have a sort of double standard when it comes to their protection. In Committee we debated so-called “ostensible consent”, which at one time was in sentencing guidelines. That has gone from the law—indeed, a case I conducted in the Court of Appeal last week made it absolutely clear that for young children the concept of consent in

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sexual activity has no place in the law of England and Wales. Let me reiterate my point: we are making progress and there will be a consultation as soon as possible. I therefore urge the hon. Lady and Opposition Members not to divide the House on the new clause.

On new clause 2, I listened carefully to the impassioned speech of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann). It was the sort of speech that we need to hear in this House because it reiterated not only his determination to uncover child abuse—whether historical or current—but the determination that we should all have to follow evidence wherever it may lead without fear or favour.

As we know, the Official Secrets Act is intended to protect certain classes of particularly sensitive information such as security and intelligence matters, and it provides for a number of offences that prevent current or former Crown servants or Government contractors from disclosing certain information without lawful authority. It does not prevent protected information from being disclosed to an officer of an official investigation or inquiry into historical child abuse. In particular, information may be disclosed where the disclosure is made in accordance with that person’s official duty or is otherwise authorised. Departments and Ministers can permit current and former civil servants and Government contractors to share knowledge and documentation with an inquiry. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made clear in her statement to this House on 4 February, official authorisation would be given for the Goddard inquiry.

On the historical institutional abuse inquiry in Northern Island, the Attorney-General has already made a public undertaking that no evidence given by a person to the inquiry will be used as evidence against them in any criminal proceeding, including any offence under the Official Secrets Act. Indeed, the Attorney-General would be ready to consider any similar request from Justice Goddard if one were made. I assure the hon. Member for Bassetlaw that the Government are committed to assisting Justice Goddard’s inquiry and all other inquiries into child abuse. We are satisfied that the Official Secrets Act is not, will not, and should not be a bar to evidence being provided, but I am grateful to him for raising that important issue.

Let me turn to new clause 11, in the name of the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Mr Llwyd). As he said, this has been covered in Committee. I reiterate that anomalies will inevitably exist when it comes to how we classify children and young people in law. I am afraid there is no one age division to fit all circumstances. Despite the fact that, with his usual cunning, he has come up with a slightly different way of dealing with some of the mischiefs I mentioned in Committee, I am still concerned that, in genuinely attempting to correct one anomaly, we might end up creating another. We still believe that in this area of the law we need to focus on the protection of children and young persons under the age of 16.

In that spirit, I will come on to new clause 27, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood). Her tenacity knows no bounds. She has done a lot of work to expose the scourge of child sexual exploitation in both her local area and nationally. I am grateful to her for once again raising this issue. We need to have the correct balance between additional protection, and recognition

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of the relevant rights and responsibilities of young people in this age group. We have given much thought to this matter. The key question for the Government is whether we think the police have sufficient powers to replace restrictions and prohibitions on people who pose a risk to vulnerable young adults aged 16 and 17. We think that the new sexual risk orders—I will come on to them in a moment—will provide the police with the powers to tackle predators. Breach of such an order will carry a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment. We think the right balance is being struck with the combination of child abduction warning notices and sexual risk orders. We therefore do not think that we need to change the law on child abduction at this stage. That allows me neatly, I hope, to deal with new clause 19, tabled by the hon. Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion).

Nicola Blackwood: Will the Minister give way?

The Solicitor-General: I will give way very briefly.

Nicola Blackwood: The Solicitor-General is aware that the combination of child abduction warning notices and risk of sexual harm orders leaves a gap for 16 to 17-year-olds where it is impossible to prove sexual risk and where there is a need for immediate action without going to court.

The Solicitor-General: I remind my hon. Friend that other mechanisms and other types of order exist, and ask her to bear it in mind that the law was reformed by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which is just coming into force. There are other tools available to the police and enforcement authorities. We have to be careful not to seek to be over-reliant on one particular type of order. Reading carefully the recommendations and observations made by Louise Casey in the Rotherham report published only two weeks ago, there are certain concerns about an over-reliance on child abduction warning notices, as opposed to taking more direct action that has the force of statutory breach and criminal sanction on breach.

New clause 19 was tabled by the hon. Member for Rotherham. I am grateful to her for providing information she wished me to consider. I confirm that we plan to implement the new sexual risk orders before the end of this Parliament. As we all know, that is a very short space of time indeed. I reassure her that we will publish guidance on their use and we will work with the police to review their effectiveness, including in the context of how child abduction warning notices are used. As a result of our productive meeting, Barnardo’s will be consulted as a part of that process.

The hon. Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey) made a point about references to the phrase “child prostitution” in a number of other Acts and regulations. The Government’s amendments to schedule 4 pick up the references to child prostitution in primary legislation, and we have a power in clause 79(2) to amend secondary legislation. That should help to clean up and clear up references to child prostitution in a number of regulations.

Ann Coffey indicated assent.

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The Solicitor-General: I will put on the record the assent of the hon. Lady. I am grateful to her for all her work on this matter.

I will move on briefly to the proposals in new clauses 15 and 16 to tackle the encouragement or promotion of FGM. In Committee, the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra) rightly said:

“encouragement to commit an offence is not an issue of free speech.”––[Official Report, Serious Crime [Lords] Public Bill Committee, 20 January 2015; c. 157.]

However, we need to distinguish between actual active encouragement and the expression of a distasteful opinion. As the law stands, there must be some direct connection between the encouragement or assistance and the principal offence. We believe that that is the right approach. It is settled law that applies to a whole range of criminal offences. We are not convinced of the need to go beyond that and create an offence or introduce civil measures that prohibit any or all encouragement, regardless of the intention behind it. It is too general, in our view, and there will be evidential difficulties. Members of this House and practitioners in the field are familiar with the term FGM, but it is not, of course, a term that would necessarily or colloquially be used by those who support, or have sympathy with, that form of abuse. We therefore need to think about the practicalities and the realities of seeking to prove such a general offence in the field. I am not convinced, with respect to those who moved the new clauses, that they would achieve their aim.

Amendment 20 was tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Stone (Sir William Cash) and for Mid Derbyshire (Pauline Latham). We heard a characteristically impassioned speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Stone. I remind him that it is a passion we all share. A large number of Members—including the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison), who will be speaking to a later group of amendments, myself and others—all share his passion to see an end to FGM. With respect, the test that would be applied in his amendment would not help. The phrasing and terminology of FGM protection orders replicates provisions we already have in law in relation to forced marriage protection orders. It is clear that we are talking about prevention and the protection of young women and girls from FGM. Therefore, and with respect to him, references to risk are wholly otiose.

Sir William Cash: Will the Minister give way?

The Solicitor-General: I would like to give way, but I am afraid I am going to stick to the Speaker’s exhortation and stick to time.

It is not only the proposed legislation, but as a result of a significant public awareness programme being—

Sir William Cash: Will the Minister give way?

The Solicitor-General: I am afraid I cannot give way to my hon. Friend.

Coupled with a widespread public awareness programme, the provision will deal with the mischief my hon. Friend rightly talks about without unnecessarily complicating the Bill by otiose references to risk. It is simply not necessary.

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The Opposition spokesperson, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), tabled amendment (a) to Government new clause 8. I entirely understand the spirit with which she wishes to move her amendment. The Government’s aim is to replicate the offence in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 in a way that removes the offending phrase “child prostitution”. What we do not seek to do is widen or create a new offence. The danger of her amendment is that it would involve a substantive change in the law. For that reason, we do not support it.

Briefly, on new clause 22 with regard to child exploitation, the Modern Slavery Bill will deal in large measure with the abuse identified by all corners of the House. We do not think—this is supported by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the National Crime Agency, the National Policing Lead for Modern Slavery and the independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner—that the new offence would add anything other than confusion to the existing legislative position.

I hope I have already answered my hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) with regard to amendment 33. I listened to him carefully. We have made progress. We think the most likely scenario involving paedophilic manuals and individuals who travel abroad is that they will come into possession of such a manual either in this country by downloading it or by bringing it in to this country. We therefore think that some of the problems he rightly talks about will be covered.

7 pm

In the light of the explanations I have given, I hope Members will not press their amendments and new clauses. I commend the Government’s amendments to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 8 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 9

Duty to notify police of female genital mutilation

‘After section 5A of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (inserted by section 72 above) insert—

“5B Duty to notify police of female genital mutilation

(1) A person who works in a regulated profession in England and Wales must make a notification under this section (an “FGM notification”) if, in the course of his or her work in the profession, the person discovers that an act of female genital mutilation appears to have been carried out on a girl who is aged under 18.

(2) For the purposes of this section—

(a) a person works in a “regulated profession” if the person is—

(i) a healthcare professional,

(ii) a teacher, or

(iii) a social care worker in Wales;

(b) a person “discovers” that an act of female genital mutilation appears to have been carried out on a girl in either of the following two cases.

(3) The first case is where the girl informs the person that an act of female genital mutilation (however described) has been carried out on her.

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(4) The second case is where—

(a) the person observes physical signs on the girl appearing to show that an act of female genital mutilation has been carried out on her, and

(b) the person has no reason to believe that the act was, or was part of, a surgical operation within section 1(2)(a) or (b).

(5) An FGM notification—

(a) is to be made to the chief officer of police for the area in which the girl resides;

(b) must identify the girl and explain why the notification is made;

(c) must be made before the end of one month from the time when the person making the notification first discovers that an act of female genital mutilation appears to have been carried out on the girl;

(d) may be made orally or in writing.

(6) The duty of a person working in a particular regulated profession to make an FGM notification does not apply if the person has reason to believe that another person working in that profession has previously made an FGM notification in connection with the same act of female genital mutilation.

For this purpose, all persons falling within subsection (2)(a)(i) are to be treated as working in the same regulated profession.

(7) A disclosure made in an FGM notification does not breach—

(a) any obligation of confidence owed by the person making the disclosure, or

(b) any other restriction on the disclosure of information.

(8) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section for the purpose of adding, removing or otherwise altering the descriptions of persons regarded as working in a “regulated profession” for the purposes of this section.

(9) The power to make regulations under this section—

(a) is exercisable by statutory instrument;

(b) includes power to make consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(10) A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section is not to be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(11) In this section—

“act of female genital mutilation” means an act of a kind mentioned in section 1(1);

“healthcare professional” means a person registered with any of the regulatory bodies mentioned in section 25(3) of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002 (bodies within remit of the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care);

“registered”, in relation to a regulatory body, means registered in a register that the body maintains by virtue of any enactment;

“social care worker” means a person registered in a register maintained by the Care Council for Wales under section 56 of the Care Standards Act 2000;

“teacher” means—

(a) in relation to England, a person within section 141A(1) of the Education Act 2002 (persons employed or engaged to carry out teaching work at schools and other institutions in England);(b) in relation to Wales, a person who falls within a category listed in the table in paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 to the Education (Wales) Act 2014 (anaw 5) (categories of registration for purposes of Part 2 of that Act) or any other person employed or engaged as a teacher at a school (within the meaning of the Education Act 1996) in Wales.

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(12) For the purposes of the definition of “healthcare professional”, the following provisions of section 25 of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002 are to be ignored—

(a) paragraph (g) of subsection (3);

(b) subsection (3A).”’ —(The Solicitor-General.)

This New Clause requires persons working in a “regulated profession” (healthcare professionals, teachers and social care workers) to notify the police if they discover in the course of their work that an act of female genital mutilation appears to have been carried out on a girl under 18.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 10

Guidance about female genital mutilation

‘(1) After section 5B of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (inserted by section (Duty to notify police of female genital mutilation) above) insert—

“5C Guidance

(1) The Secretary of State may issue guidance to whatever persons in England and Wales the Secretary of State considers appropriate about—

(a) the effect of any provision of this Act, or

(b) other matters relating to female genital mutilation.

(2) A person exercising public functions to whom guidance is given under this section must have regard to it in the exercise of those functions.

(3) Nothing in this section permits the Secretary of State to give guidance to any court or tribunal.

(4) Before issuing guidance under this section the Secretary of State must consult—

(a) the Welsh Ministers so far as the guidance is to a body exercising devolved Welsh functions;

(b) any person whom the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(5) A body is exercising “devolved Welsh functions” if its functions are exercisable only in or as regards Wales and are wholly or mainly functions relating to—

(a) a matter in respect of which functions are exercisable by the Welsh Ministers, the First Minister for Wales or the Counsel General to the Welsh Government, or

(b) a matter within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales.

(6) The Secretary of State may from time to time revise any guidance issued under this section.

(7) Subsections (2) and (3) have effect in relation to any revised guidance.

(8) Subsection (4) has effect in relation to any revised guidance unless the Secretary of State considers the proposed revisions of the guidance are insubstantial.

(9) The Secretary of State must publish the current version of any guidance issued under this section.”

(2) Consultation for the purposes of subsection (4) of section 5C of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (inserted by subsection (1) above) may be, or include, consultation before the coming into force of this section.’—(The Solicitor-General.)

This New Clause confers a power on the Secretary of State to issue guidance about the effect of any provision of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 or about other matters relating to female genital mutilation.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Mr Speaker: Before we move to the second group, it might be for the convenience of the House to know my response to the point of order raised earlier by the

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hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes), upon which I undertook to reflect. In seeking to ensure an opportunity to speak and possibly vote on matters appertaining to abortion, he asked whether I would consider conflating groups 2 and 3, or eliding group 3 into group 2, for that purpose. As I hope he will understand, it would be a very unusual thing to do, so rather than elide one group into the other, as he suggested, I think there might be good will across the House to ensure that both groups are spoken to and, as appropriate, voted upon. I am hoping, therefore, that we can keep the groupings as they are and that the debate on the second group will run for no more than approximately an hour—preferably not later than 8 o’clock—so that there is an opportunity to address the third group. It is what is ordinarily known as an old-fashioned British compromise. However, it is not in my hands—it is my will, but it is not in my hands—and it depends upon the co-operation of the House. I hope the hon. Gentleman is satisfied. I am afraid it is all I can offer him tonight.

Sir William Cash: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wish to confirm that my amendment 20 will be pressed to a vote.

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. Given that the point has been raised, I should say that separate Divisions on any non-Government new clauses will come at 9 pm. I have shortly to leave the Chair, but I shall return at, or shortly after, 9 o’clock, and it is my very strong wish that the many discrete issues should be tested through the division of the House. If Members want to test the will of the House, within reason there should be that opportunity. He can therefore rest content for the next couple of hours that the opportunity of a Division upon his important matter will come erelong. I hope he is now happy.

New Clause 23

Throwing articles into prisons

After section 40CA of the Prison Act 1952 (inserted by section 75 above) insert—

“40CB Throwing articles into prison

(1) A person who, without authorisation, throws any article or substance into a prison is guilty of an offence.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)—

(a) the reference to an article or substance does not include a reference to a List A article, a List B article or a List C article (as defined by section 40A);

(b) the reference to “throwing” an article or substance into a prison includes a reference to doing anything from outside the prison that results in the article or substance being projected or conveyed over or through a boundary of the prison so as to land inside the prison.

(3) In proceedings for an offence under this section it is a defence for the accused to show that—

(a) he reasonably believed that he had authorisation to do the act in respect of which the proceedings are brought, or

(b) in all the circumstances there was an overriding public interest which justified the doing of that act.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine (or both);

(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine (or both).

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(5) In this section “authorisation” means authorisation given for the purposes of this section; and subsections (1) to (3) of section 40E apply in relation to authorisations so given as they apply to authorisations given for the purposes of section 40D.”” —(Karen Bradley.)

This New Clause creates a new offence of throwing any article or substance into a prison without authorisation (so far as not already prohibited under the Prison Act 1952). The offence would be triable either way with a maximum penalty (on conviction on indictment) of two years’ imprisonment.

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Karen Bradley): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 24—Codes of practice about investigatory powers: journalistic sources.

New clause 4—Investigation of crime: journalistic and privileged material

‘(1) After section 22(5B) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (obtaining and disclosing communications data) insert—

“(5C) An authorisation granted or notice given under subsection (3), (3B) or (4) for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime may not authorise or require any activity which is likely to result in journalistic source information or privileged information being obtained or disclosed, unless a judge has permitted the grant of the authorisation or the giving of the notice in accordance with section 22A.

(5D) For the purposes of this section “journalistic source information” means information which identifies, or might reasonably be expected to lead to the identification of, the source of confidential journalistic material, within the meaning given by section 100 of the Police Act 1997.

(5E) For the purposes of this section “privileged information” means—

(a) information amounting to or contained in matters subject to legal privilege within the meaning given by section 98 of the Police Act 1997; and

(b) confidential personal information, within the meaning given by section 99 of that Act, acquired or created in the course of, or otherwise obtained in connection with, a person‘s acting as a minister of religion, as a healthcare professional or as a Member of the House of Commons.”

(2) After section 22 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 insert—

“22A Judicial protection of journalistic and privileged material

(1) This section applies where—

(a) a person wishes to grant an authorisation or give a notice under section 22(3), (3B) or (4) for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime; and

(b) the authorisation or notice is likely to result in journalistic source information or privileged information (as defined in section 22(5D) and (5E)) being obtained or disclosed.

(2) The person may apply to a Circuit Judge for permission to grant the authorisation or to give the notice.

(3) The application must—

(a) be in writing;

(b) set out the grounds on which it is made;

(c) be made on notice to any person to whom the authorisation or notice would be granted or given or who might reasonably be expected to be required to comply with it, unless the applicant certifies that

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there is reason to believe that giving notice under this paragraph might seriously prejudice a criminal investigation; and

(d) comply with any other provision, including as to timing, made by rules of court.

(4) A judge may give permission under this section only if satisfied that—

(a) the grant of the authorisation or the giving of the notice is necessary for the purposes of the prevention or detection of serious crime;

(b) obtaining the data in question by the conduct authorised or required by the authorisation or notice is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by so obtaining the data; and

(c) it is right to give permission, having regard to the importance of the public interest in—

(i) protecting the confidentiality of journalists’ sources;

(ii) maintaining legal professional privilege; or

(iii) protecting the confidentiality of personal information in the circumstances specified in section 22(5E)(b).

(5) It is an offence for a person who is given notice of an application under this section to conceal, destroy, alter or dispose of the material to which the application relates except with the permission of a Circuit Judge; and

(a) this subsection ceases to apply if the application is dismissed or withdrawn or if an authorisation or notice granted or given in reliance on this section has been complied with; and

(b) a person who is guilty of an offence under this subsection is liable—

(i) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, to a fine or both; or

(ii) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.”’

This Clause would provide for judicial oversight for police and other authorities’ access to communications data which might involve the identification of journalist sources, as recommended by the Interception of Communications Commissioner. It provides the same level of protection for legally privileged and medically privileged communications and for communications between people and their ministers of religion or their MP.

New clause 5—Code of practice on investigatory powers: journalistic and privileged material

‘(1) The Secretary of State must ensure that any code of practice under section 71 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 that deals (expressly or otherwise) with the use of powers under that Act in relation to the prevention or detection of serious crime, includes provisions designed to protect the public interest in—

(a) the confidentiality of journalists’ sources;

(b) legal professional privilege; and

(c) the confidentiality of personal information obtained in connection with a person’s acting as a minister of religion, as a healthcare professional or as a Member of the House of Commons.

(2) In complying with subsection (1) the Secretary of State must—

(a) consult the Interception of Communications Commissioner appointed under section 57(1) of that Act; and

(b) have regard to any relevant report of an inquiry submitted by that Commissioner to the Prime Minister.’

This new Clause provides that the RIPA Code of Practice includes provisions which protect the public interest in the confidentiality of journalists’ sources and the other privileged communications.

New clause 18—Excluded persons (involvement in serious crime): publication of names

‘(1) Where the Secretary of State has exercised prerogative powers to exclude from, or deny entry into, the United Kingdom any foreign national on grounds of a reasonable belief that the

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named person has benefited from, or has a material connection to or involvement in, one or more serious crimes, including but not limited, to the commission of—

(a) an act or acts deliberately undertaken to foster extremism or hatred;

(b) an act or acts deliberately undertaken to facilitate, contribute to, support, encourage or promote terrorism;

(c) an act or acts of torture or any other international crime or serious violation of international human rights law; or

(d) a money-laundering offence or any other offence relating to serious or organised crime or more than one such offence,

the Secretary of State shall, subject to subsection (2), publish the name of each such person, and the ground or grounds for exclusion, within one month of the exclusion coming into effect.

(2) The publication of the name of an excluded person under subsection (1) may be deferred by the Secretary of State, where there are reasonable grounds for believing that such publication would present a risk to—

(a) national security or public safety;

(b) enable suspects in a United Kingdom criminal investigation to avoid arrest, or

(c) materially reduce the prospects of a conviction in an existing criminal prosecution in the United Kingdom,

for no longer than is required to materially mitigate the risk or risks identified in this subsection and, in any case for no longer than up to a maximum of six months.

(3) In the case of a deferred publication of the name of an excluded person, the Secretary of State shall, on publication of such a deferred name, also publish a statement identifying which risk, or which of the risks, identified in subsection (2) applied in making the decision to defer publication.

(4) This section shall apply to persons already excluded from, or denied entry into, the United Kingdom, on grounds included in subsection (1), from the date on which it comes into force.’

New clause 20—Prevention of firearms offences

‘In the Firearms Act 1968 insert—

“28B Assessing public safety

(1) When assessing the threat to public safety under sections 27, 28, 30A, 30B or 30C the Chief Police Officer must ensure that a range of background checks are performed.

(2) Where these checks uncover substantiated evidence of violent conduct or domestic violence, the Chief Police Officer should refuse the licence application unless exceptional evidence can be brought forward by the applicant as to their suitability to possess a weapon.

(3) When assessing public safety within this section the Chief Police Officer must follow any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

(4) The Secretary of State must ensure adequate resourcing of licence applications and consult with Chief Police Officers to ensure the level of fees collected by the Police under sections 32 and 35 are sufficient for the Police to recoup the costs they incur through the administration and assessment of firearms licences issued or applied for under this Act.”’

New clause 21—New psychoactive substances

‘(1) It is an offence for a person to supply, or offer to supply, a synthetic psychoactive substance, including but not restricted to—

(a) a powder;

(b) a pill;

(c) a liquid; or

(d) a herbal substance with the appearance of cannabis,

which he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, to be so acting, that the substance is likely to be consumed by a person for the purpose of causing intoxication.

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(2) This section does not apply to alcohol, tobacco, or any drug currently scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or the Medicines Act 1968 or any substance, product or foodstuff specified by the Secretary of State following consultation with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this Part of this Act shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both such imprisonment and fine;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.’

New clause 28—Proceeds of Crime: detection and prevention of money-laundering measures

‘The Proceeds of Crime Act is amended as follows—

“(6A) Where the National Crime Agency has reasonable grounds to believe that—

(a) activity that gave rise to a Suspicious Activity Report is related to money-laundering; and

(b) there is a realistic prospect of investigating the case effectively,

the Agency may seek an order from the court for an extension, for a period of up to a further 31 days, of the moratorium period under section (6).

(6B) An order under subsection (6A) may be granted where the court is satisfied that that criteria in that subsection have been met.”’

Government amendments 1 and 23 to 31.

Karen Bradley: In the interests of brevity, I will concentrate on new clause 24 and the related amendments, and I will look forward to hearing from right hon. and hon. Members during the debate.

New clause 24 relates to the use of powers under part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000—RIPA—to identify journalists’ sources. New clauses 4 and 5, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), cover the same ground. I do not believe there is any issue of substance between him and his supporters and the Government on this topic. Indeed, I venture to suggest that the whole House is united on the underlying issue: a free press is fundamental to our democracy, and nothing should be done that might endanger that.

For that reason, when the independent interception of communications commissioner issued a report earlier this month recommending judicial authorisation of requests for communications data intended to establish the source of journalistic material, the Government immediately accepted the recommendation in full. In conducting his inquiry into access to journalistic material, the commissioner did not find widespread or systemic abuse. In fact, the inquiry found very few cases in which police forces had sought to obtain communications data for the purposes of determining journalists’ sources. The commissioner stated that

“police forces are not randomly trawling communications data relating to journalists in order to identify their sources”.

Nevertheless, the commissioner found some cases where insufficient care and attention had been given in applications and where there was not due consideration of the implications for freedom of expression.

Primary legislation is required to give effect to the commissioner’s recommendation relating to judicial authorisation. The issue for the House is how best to

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give effect to that recommendation. It is an issue that many right hon. and hon. Members feel strongly about, and I welcome this opportunity to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), who has been tenacious on behalf of the parliamentary branch of the National Union of Journalists.

We have to accept, however, that we are coming to the end of this Parliament and that the legislative options are limited. The Bill is concerned with serious crime, and amendments are therefore necessarily restricted to that subject. For that reason, I cannot accept new clause 4. Under RIPA, the police and others can acquire communications data in relation to the prevention and detection of all crime, as well as for other purposes, such as in the interests of public safety. Were we to accept the new clause, the police would be permitted to identify a journalist’s source only in a serious crime case. As such, it would not be possible to provide in the Bill for judicial authorisation of the acquisition of communications data for the purposes of determining the source of journalistic information in a non-serious crime case.

Under RIPA, a serious crime is one for which an adult with no previous convictions could expect to receive a custodial sentence of three years or more. This rules out legislating in the Bill on applications for communications data to identify a journalist’s source relating to investigations for relevant offences under, for example, the Official Secrets Act 1989, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Computer Misuse Act 1990. The commissioner referred specifically to investigations under the Computer Misuse Act in paragraph 7.3. It would not be satisfactory to create such a situation, and nor would we be acting on the commissioner’s recommendation were we to do so.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): Will the Minister give way?

Karen Bradley: I hope my hon. Friend will understand if I do not, given the limited time frame and because I know he will make a contribution later. I hope I will cover his concerns in my remarks, and I look forward to hearing his comments.

Our solution is new clause 24, which I freely confess is modelled on my hon. Friend’s new clause 5. It provides that any code of practice issued under RIPA dealing with the use of RIPA investigatory powers in relation to the prevention or detection of serious crime should include provisions protecting the public interest and the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. It also requires the Secretary of State to consult the commissioner and to have regard to any relevant reports that he has made.

As hon. Members might know, we launched a consultation last November on a draft RIPA acquisition of communications data code. We received more than 300 responses, and I am grateful to everyone who took the trouble to submit a response. The draft code included new wording about the requirement for extra consideration to be given in cases involving the communications data of journalists and those in other sensitive professions. However, we were clear that we would not finalise the code until we had had time to consider the consultation responses fully and, equally importantly, had been able to consider the commissioner’s recommendation. I can assure the House that we are keen to finalise and bring

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forward the revised code as soon as possible. It will require the approval of both Houses of Parliament before it comes into effect.

I recognise, however, that we should do more to give rapid effect to the commissioner’s recommendation. Accordingly, we will require law enforcement agencies to use production orders, which are judicially authorised under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984—or the equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland—for applications for communications data to determine journalistic sources. I hope that this will provide welcome reassurance.

Nevertheless, this is not a long-term solution. PACE applies only to indictable offences, is for evidential, rather than intelligence purposes, and has specific access considerations. The ultimate solution, therefore, is legislation that will give full effect to the commissioner’s recommendation. Regrettably, that will have to wait until after the election, but the Government have today published a draft clause for that purpose so that there can be no doubt about how we intend to proceed as soon as the opportunity arises. I hope that the combination of the requirements imposed by new clause 24, the interim use of production orders and a firm commitment to future legislation will reassure those who are concerned, and that on the basis of what I have said my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) will not press new clauses 4 and 5.

Dr Huppert: Will the Minister say something about the time scale? As of when will production orders be required, and will the secondary legislation on the code of practice be in place before the election, so that we can pass it in time?

Karen Bradley: If my hon. Friend does not mind, I will come back to those points when I have heard all his comments. I will respond to all his concerns together, if that is acceptable to him.

New clause 23 would create a new offence of throwing an article or substance into a prison without authorisation. It is designed to address the significant and increasing problem of the presence of new psychoactive substances in our prisons. In applying to any article or substance, the new offence will also capture wider threats to prison security and good order. It will add to the existing criminal offences in the Prison Act 1952, which make it an offence for a person to convey into a prison certain specified items, including controlled drugs, alcohol or mobile phones without authorisation. The maximum penalty for the new offence will be two years’ imprisonment, sending a clear message to would-be traffickers.

Sir Edward Garnier: What will the new clause add to what is already in law?

Karen Bradley: We feel that it is important to have the ability to deal with the problem in criminal law. We have identified it as a problem, and we want to ensure that we can deal with it.

Government amendment 1 does not require much explanation. It is a technical amendment to the provisions in part 4 of the Bill relating to the seizure and forfeiture of substances used as drug-cutting agents. It simply provides that in Scotland, applications to a sheriff under

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clauses 60, 61, 63 and 64 must be made by summary application, as distinct from other forms of application such as an initial writ or small claim.

I commend the Government amendments and new clauses to the House. I look forward to hearing what right hon. and hon. Members throughout the House have to say about their new clauses, and to responding to them.

Diana Johnson: The Opposition support Government new clause 23. I want to make some brief comments about Government new clause 24 and new clauses 4 and 5, which, as the Minister said, all relate to how the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is being used to access journalists’ source material or materials subject to legal privilege.

The issue has been around for a while, and Labour called for, and got agreement from the Government on, a broader review of RIPA by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. In the meantime, the interception of communications commissioner has published a report containing two recommendations: first, that access to journalistic source material should require prior approval from a court, and, secondly, that when communications data are sought, they should not relate to an investigation to determine a source of journalistic information when, for example, the journalist is a victim of crime or is suspected of committing a crime unrelated to their occupation. It was recommended that chapter II of part I of RIPA may be used, so long as the designated person gives adequate consideration to necessity, proportionality and collateral intrusion, including the possible unintended consequences of the conduct. The revised code contains very little guidance about what those considerations should be, and that absence needs to be addressed. As I said, Labour called for the fundamental review of RIPA by David Anderson QC, and it has consistently called for the intelligence commissioners to be given a more prominent role. We therefore welcome the interception of communications commissioner’s report and accept his recommendations. That is an example of the role that the commissioners should be playing.

New clauses 4 and 5 are intended to implement the commissioner’s recommendations. New clause 5 demands that a new code of conduct be written, in consultation with the interception of communications commissioner. The Government have essentially accepted that point in tabling new clause 24. New clause 4 would amend RIPA to introduce judicial oversight. However, as I understand it, and as the Minister indicated, it has been limited by what can be included under the scope of the Bill. It would therefore apply only when data were sought for the purposes of preventing or detecting a crime, which is only one of eight justifications for accessing data. Essentially, the limitations of the Bill mean that we cannot fully implement the commissioner’s recommendations. I would be grateful if the Minister explained why the Government did not seek the leave of the House to extend the scope of the Bill—as I understand it, they could have done so by tabling a motion of instruction.

New clause 21 is about new psychoactive substances. We have tabled it to enable effective action to be taken against the sellers of legal highs. It would mean that

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legal highs could be controlled in the same way as solvents, making it much easier to prosecute and close down sellers and prevent them from using the excuse that a substance is not for human consumption. A similar approach has been adopted in Ireland, and the number of head shops there has fallen from 100 to six. The new clause was drafted in conjunction with the Angelus Foundation, and we also took advice from the UK Drug Policy Commission.

7.15 pm

I know that there have been some attempts to close down sellers through trading standards legislation, but most attempted prosecutions have failed because sellers use a loophole in the law to avoid prosecution by labelling their products as plant food or bath salts, or by saying that they are not fit for human consumption. We believe that new clause 21 could deal with that.

New clause 20 deals with firearms and would strengthen police decision making about the issuing of a firearms licence. The Government have said that they are committed to the general principle of full cost recovery across the public sector, including for passports and driving licences. However, a fishing licence application, which involves no background check at all and is required by nearly half a million anglers each year, costs at least £27, whereas a shotgun licence costs £50 for five years. The Government’s attempt to introduce full cost recovery should be extended to gun licences, which should not be subsidised by funds allocated to policing.

Finally, I wish to comment on new clauses 18 and 28. New clause 18 is intended to facilitate the publication of the names of those who have been excluded from the UK, and is motivated by the legitimate concerns that the hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) holds about what we are doing to ensure that those connected to torture and undesirable regimes are kept out of the country. New clause 28 would introduce new powers to tackle illegal money flows connected to a range of crimes and terrorism. We know only too well that ISIL is estimated to be making £3 million a day through flows of money.

As the time available is limited, and because I do not want to pre-empt the hon. Gentleman’s comments about the new clauses, I will be brief. We have concerns that there may be unintended consequences of how they are drafted. We will want to listen to what he has to say about them.

Mr Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) (Con): It was widely trailed in the media, when the leader of the Labour party had dinner with the Clooneys, that the Labour party would get behind a UK Magnitsky Act. New clause 18 is the most modest step in that direction. Is it the Labour party’s position to say one thing after a glitzy Hollywood dinner, and then do something entirely different when it comes to having the courage of its convictions?

Diana Johnson: I will be interested to hear what the hon. Gentleman has to say about new clause 18, because it will be helpful to have the details. What I am saying to him is that we have concerns about the drafting of it. We support the principle of it.

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Stephen Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire) (Con): I find the shadow Minister’s response to my hon. Friend quite staggering. She made the same point about new clause 28, which I have tabled. Is it seriously the Opposition’s case that 31 days is sufficient time to investigate multimillion-pound suspicious activity reports such as that in the case of OPL 245?

Diana Johnson: I want to hear the comments that the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Esher and Walton will make about their new clauses. Time is limited, and on the instructions of Mr Speaker I am trying to keep my comments short. I am pointing out that there may be unintended consequences of how the clauses are currently drafted.

Dr Huppert: It is a pleasure to speak in the debate. I shall confine my comments to the proposal for journalists to be protected under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, because I think that is very important.

I know that we have to proceed fairly quickly, but it is worth my setting out the facts. There was a great deal of public concern when it became clear that Met police had been using RIPA to look into journalists’ sources during Operation Alice. For instance, they examined the phone records of Tom Newton Dunn, political editor of The Sun. Kent police also obtained records during Operation Solar. According to a report by the interception of communications commissioner, 19 forces made more than 600 requests for information about journalists’ phone records to try to identify their sources., and that has had a very large-scale and worrying effect.

I pay tribute to, in particular, the Press Gazette and the National Union of Journalists, which launched the Save Our Sources campaign. They were right to do so, because this is a fundamental issue. If police and other authorities can gain access to journalists’ records, how can anyone feel safe when contacting a journalist to blow the whistle, in the knowledge that their information may simply be passed on? People would have to feel an immense amount of trust to do that.

I am pleased that we are making some progress on this important matter, but the extent of the progress that has been necessary has been frustrating. My party has had policies to ensure that we get this right since last year, when my Liberal Democrat colleague Lord Strasburger tabled amendments that were rejected by the Conservative Minister Baroness Williams—not Shirley, but Susan. We made a number of other attempts, and Conservative Ministers said that they wanted to act, but unfortunately it was not until we tabled new clause 5 that we forced something to happen. Not until the Deputy Prime Minister spoke out in favour of the new clause and we managed to persuade three Select Committee Chairs to support it—the Chairs of the Home Affairs, Justice and Culture, Media and Sport Committees—did we secure some partial agreement. Nevertheless, I am pleased that the Government have given way on the new clause, although, as is their wont, they have slightly rewritten it.

I welcome what the Minister said about the code of practice, but will she tell us when it will be introduced? Can she give a clear assurance—I did not hear her give one earlier, although there is such an assurance in the letter that has just been passed around—that it will definitely be in place before the end of this Parliament, having been approved by both Houses? I should be

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grateful if she made it absolutely clear that the code of practice will not be delayed, because we need to act.

Karen Bradley: We hope that the code will be in place before the general election, but that will obviously be subject to parliamentary approval.

Dr Huppert: I thank the Minister, and I will hold her to at least seeking parliamentary approval in time. I accept that she cannot guarantee that both Houses will vote for the code, but I should be very alarmed if Parliament were not keen to ensure that journalists were included.

The Minister also spoke about the requirement for production orders to be used in the meantime. That is welcome, because the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 currently protects journalists so that their sources cannot be sought without judicial authorisation, but may I ask the Minister whether the use of such orders is a policy requirement as of today, whether it will require legislative change, and what time scale will be involved? I hope she will confirm that she has made a policy announcement that will take immediate effect. She does not seem to wish to intervene at the moment, but I hope that she will give answers to those questions by the end of the debate, so that I can decide whether any amendments or new clauses need to be put to a vote.

The Minister said that legislation would not be possible until the next Parliament. She was right to identify a technical drafting issue. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) was also right to say that the Government could have fixed that had they really wanted to, but we are where we are, and I accept that, as things are, we will be leaving serious crime to be treated differently from other issues. I hope that the Minister will confirm that the draft clause—of which I have been handed a copy—will be published so that the whole House has a chance to look at it. It is a welcome step, but it does not seem to be clear about article 10 rights, and I think that it will need to be improved in that regard.

I hope that the Minister will make the time scale clear, so that the House can make the right decision. It is important for us to protect journalists, and I pay tribute to those who worked so hard to ensure that that could happen. I hope that we can take a full step now, rather than a slightly small, grudging step.

Mr Raab: New clause 18 was tabled by me and by 21 other members of the three main parties, including—I am not sure whether this is a first—seven Select Committee Chairmen. It would inject some transparency into the Government’s exercise of powers to impose visa bans or deny entry, all of which are non-statutory, in relation to people involved in serious international crimes such as torture, terrorism and other kinds of organised crime. It would give the public the right to know whom we are banning from setting foot on British soil, and, by implication, whom we are not.

The new clause was inspired by the House’s unanimous resolution in March 2012—nearly three years ago—following a debate that I sponsored, along with the former right hon. Member for South Shields. We called on the Government to introduce a British Sergei Magnitsky

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law. There is one in the United States, and other models are being touted around the world. Such a law would impose mandatory visa bans and asset freezes on any individual linked to the torture and murder of Sergei Magnitsky, or similar such international crimes, in Russia and beyond.

As the House will recall, Sergei Magnitsky was the lawyer for a British businessman, Bill Browder, and was brutally killed on orders from the Kremlin for disclosing the $230 million tax fraud—the biggest in Russian history—that had been committed by President Putin and his associates. To my regret, the Government have not produced legislation, but I should add, in fairness, that they did affirm a policy of refusing visas to individuals who were suspected of such links. Unfortunately, owing to a long-standing policy in successive Administrations, we are not told who is banned from coming to the United Kingdom when such decisions are made, so we have no way of confirming the extent to which those important powers, and the new policy that was announced by the Government in about 2012, have been exercised in practice. There are legitimate fears—which I have raised with Ministers, and with different arms of Government, on a number of occasions—that such heinous people may be making visits to Britain.

What has been the aftermath of the House’s call for a UK Magnitsky Act in 2012? Sergei Magnitsky was posthumously prosecuted by the Putin regime, and Bill Browder himself has been the subject of various legal attacks by the Russian Government. There are reports, which were documented in the BBC’s “Panorama” in 2013, that UK companies are being used to launder money related to the Magnitsky murder and other mafia-related crimes. Meanwhile, Putin has annexed a slice of Crimea and established himself as a regional menace, and is now directing his gaze to the Baltic states.

Here in the UK, we have seen the mysterious and unexplained deaths of two Russian businessmen, Alexander Perepilichny and Boris Berezovsky, who had fallen out of favour with Putin—not to mention the public inquiry into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, which Ben Emmerson QC told the inquiry was an “act of nuclear terrorism” on British soil.

I do not know for sure, but I fear that some of those linked to President Putin's nefarious activities—the persecution of Sergei Magnitsky and other dissidents, or his wider bankrolling by the mafia—may be slipping through the net and using London as a comfortable haven, a place free of the perils of living in Russia where they can enjoy their illicit profits in quiet, in peace and in secret. I also believe that, in the 21st century, the British public have a right to know whether the henchmen of despots like Putin—or, indeed, any other international dictator or outlaw—are being granted a free pass to come to this country. The Home Office has stuck to its long-standing line that it does not routinely disclose who is denied entry, but I do not think that that line withstands the slightest scrutiny. Why should the public not be told, as a matter of basic principle, how such important powers are being exercised? During the three years for which I have campaigned on the issue, no one has given me a serious, substantive explanation. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson)

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talked about drafting. It seems to me that Home Office officials are burying their heads in a comfortable secrecy and lack of transparency. Why should the public not be told?

In any case, the policy is routinely flouted by those in the Home Office itself. When they want to make a show of banning characters who have been deemed offensive—for instance, the American radio host Michael Savage, and rappers such as Snoop Dogg—it is trailed liberally in the media. Incidentally, both those cases occurred under the last Home Secretary. At the moment the public may be told if someone who is offensive gets banned from coming here, but not those linked to crimes such as torture or terrorism. There is absolutely no explanation or justification for that double-standard. Equally there is evidently no legal or principled reason not to introduce transparency for those linked to such serious crimes. That would explain why the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs has recommended that the identity of those denied entry on human rights grounds should be made public.

7.30 pm

I understand the shadow Minister made some points about drafting. This amendment has been checked by external counsel. It has also been cleared with the Public Bill Office and the Clerks to make sure it is in shape and that it is workable. So if the shadow Minister wants to fall back on the easy and, frankly, if I may say so, slightly lazy “We agree with you in principle but not in practice” position, I urge her to explain precisely what is wrong with it, because we looked at this drafting very carefully. Again, I would make the point to her that the leader of her party has made a big song and dance in the media about being behind a UK Sergei Magnitsky Act, and yet when it comes to this very small piece of the jigsaw puzzle, and when push comes to shove, the Labour party is hiding behind drafting technicalities without giving any detail on it.

Diana Johnson rose

Mr Raab: I will gladly take an intervention from the shadow Minister.

Diana Johnson: I am very flattered to be the focus of such attention from the hon. Gentleman, but perhaps it would be wiser at this stage if he were to direct his comments more to his own Front-Bench colleagues as they are in government and can bring forward legislation, which clearly we as shadow Ministers in the Opposition cannot.

Mr Raab: I welcome the shadow Minister’s intervention and she has got half a point, but the thing is that I have been nailing those on my Front Bench on this for three years and the difference is that they have stuck to their line fairly consistently whereas literally in the last month the leader of the Labour party has gone on record—his advisers have been trailing it liberally after the glitzy Hollywood dinner with the Clooneys—saying that actually he would go for a UK Magnitsky Act, but when push comes to shove it is nowhere to be seen. This raises a whole question about the Labour party having the courage of its convictions. So I have made this point to Members on my own Front Bench, but I also think the shadow Minister needs to be responsible for her own

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position and her own party’s position—and, indeed, answer for what the leader of the Labour party has trailed widely in the media.

Coming back to the substance of this, it is also worth remembering that in cases of extradition or deportation there is already a huge amount of transparency over both the policy and who is being removed. As a result, there is intense and legitimate scrutiny of Government policy. So if the public have the right to know whether the Government intend to remove the likes of Abu Qatada, why should they not equally be told whether we are banning such people from coming here in the first place? If we are serious about trying to alter Putin’s behaviour, should we not start by making sure that those who bankroll him cannot enjoy the fruits of their labour here, clandestinely in luxurious comfort? Those individuals who bankroll Putin and his like should know that when they cross the line and engage in serious international crimes, their association with him and support for him will bar their ability to enjoy the luxurious Knightsbridge lifestyle that so many of them crave. To ensure that message hits home consistently and publicly, we need transparency over such visa bans.

This new clause does not single out Russia. It would apply to any individuals linked to terrorism, violent extremism, gross violations of human rights law, money laundering and other serious organised crime, whatever their nationality and wherever they take place.

Stephen Barclay: Is a further reason why we need transparency that there is very little transparency around the beneficial ownership of multimillion pound property in London? For example, a respected non-governmental organisation estimates that 45% of London property valued at above £2 million is owned offshore where the beneficial owner is opaque. If those who have profited through torture and corruption are able to own London property, it is even more important to be transparent about whether they are travelling here.

Mr Raab: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We need to shine a light on the murky mafia-related activities that are infecting our country through the acquisition of property and also by the physical entry of individuals into this country.

This amendment would also make an important statement about British foreign policy, particularly as inevitably in the 21st century we have to rub along with, deal with and engage with Governments who do not respect the same standards of liberal democracy as we do here in Britain. I am a realist and I recognise that we will have to engage with regimes with a dubious commitment to human rights or the rule of law, but there ought to be some moral red lines here. People carrying dirty money and individuals with blood on their hands should not be welcome on the streets of Britain. This is not just a question of moral principle. Sooner or later, if we keep allowing such unsavoury characters into the UK, bringing all their baggage and vendettas with them, we risk finding that it is British citizens who are caught in the crossfire or worse. After all, the Litvinenko inquiry has already heard that Putin’s thugs were willing to engage in nuclear terrorism here in public, so the threat to the British public is real and serious.

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I remain convinced that Britain should enact a Sergei Magnitsky law, like the Americans, with mandatory visa bans and asset freezes imposed on people linked to the worst international crimes. In the meantime, at the very least we need to shine a light on the exercise of existing UK powers to deny entry or visas to the shady characters who prop up Putin, or indeed any other despot around the world.

This new clause does that. It would allow a temporary delay in disclosure of the identity of anyone banned if necessary for national security or law enforcement, and it would not alter the substantive scope of any existing powers, but it would ensure that they are exercised consistently, and it would ensure that the public are told whom we ban from Britain. I commend new clause 18 to the House.

Stephen Barclay: I rise to speak to new clause 28, tabled in my name, which is much more modest than the new clause tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab). It is simply about giving law enforcement more time in respect of multimillion pound money laundering cases.

At present around 316,000 suspicious activity reports are filed each year with law enforcement agencies. Those are cases where the banks, the lawyers or the accountants have serious concerns around money laundering. According to the Home Office’s own figures, between £23 billion and £57 billion are being channelled through the UK economy each year, so we know the scale of money laundering is significant. At present, when a suspicious activity report is filed the law enforcement agencies—the National Crime Agency has now taken on this responsibility —have just seven days to say whether they give consent to those multimillion pound transfers going ahead. That is just seven days on a case that might well have been built over many years, often involving jurisdictions where information is difficult to obtain, and if law enforcement decides it does not wish to give consent to these transactions, which the financial institutions themselves have said look suspicious, they have just 31 days to build the case to the satisfaction of the courts. If they fail to do so, they risk the penalty of costs against them, which sets a strong disincentive to law enforcement to take those cases forward. To put that in context, the proceeds of crime unit investigated only 110 cases from the 316,000 suspicious activity reports filed with it, so clearly the system is not working.

I thought I would give just one case to bring this to life. The Nigerian case OPL 245 has a bit of a jargony name, but it involves $1 billion paid by a British oil company for some offshore land in Nigeria with oil assets. To put this in context, $1 billion was paid for this land for drilling—they do drill offshore, I should point out for the benefit of any Members who might be confused as to how they obtain the oil—yet 14 years earlier this land was granted to a company owned by the then Nigerian oil Minister. In essence the land was granted by the Nigerian oil Minister to a company that he owned and for which $1 billion was then paid 14 years later. In investigating that case that had developed over many years involving complex financial arrangements over different jurisdictions, law enforcement has just 31 days to build a case that would block the transfer of $1 billion that is going to a corrupt official and his henchmen.

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New clause 28 simply seeks to give law enforcement agencies more time to build their case. I shall not press it to a vote, but I hope that the Minister will tell us whether the Government believe that the current arrangements provide sufficient time, or whether they accept the substance of the new clause, which is that the current arrangements are insufficient and that they load the dice against law enforcement, meaning that corrupt assets can be transferred from the UK to criminals. If the Government accept my proposal, I hope that they will change the law at the earliest opportunity to create a more level playing field by giving more time for these complex, multi-jurisdictional cases to be investigated.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I am in a state of confusion, so am here as a humble searcher for the truth on these matters. I know that the programme motion was not moved, but I am interested in discussing Government new clause 24 and new clauses 4 and 5. As secretary of the National Union of Journalists group in Parliament, I have been trying for the past year to get some clarity on the protection of journalistic sources. We have dealt with this matter under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, and now we are dealing with it under this Bill. I apologise for having bored the House on the matter at times. Sometimes I have been in the Chamber talking about it almost all on my own. We are now coming to the conclusion of this legislation, at least before the general election. I appreciate that the Government have said they will return to the matter after the election.

I am unhappy with all the amendments that have been tabled, from all sides. There are three principles on which the NUJ has been campaigning—in relation to RIPA, DRIPA and this Bill—in regard to applications for access to information on journalistic sources by the police, the intelligence services or anybody else. We have discovered that a large proportion of applications have come from people in that last category—“anybody else”—in recent years, including even local authorities. The first of the three principles that the NUJ has been trying to establish is that there should be an independent process with judicial authorisation to protect professional communications. The second is that there should be automatic and mandatory prior notification of requests. The third is that there should be mechanisms in place to challenge an application, along with the right of appeal.

As I said, I am here as an honest searcher for the truth. As far as I can see, none of the amendments tabled by the Government and others satisfies all three conditions. The first is satisfied, in that there will be at least a form of the judicial authorisation for which we have been arguing for at least 12 months. However, I can see no mention in the amendments of automatic and mandatory prior notification of the requests to the parties involved. With regard to data communication and collection, I see that there has been mention of notifying the company that has collected or retained the data, but there does not seem to be a proposal for a process by which the individual journalist would be notified. Journalists do not seem to be party to these proposals at all. As a result, there seems to be no mechanism for their views to be represented when the

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judicial authorisation is being sought, or for them to challenge the proposal or the court’s decision on the protection of their sources.

At the moment, none of the amendments satisfies those three criteria. I would welcome the Government’s response, because I know that they are proposing to introduce detailed amendments in future legislation. I would welcome information on whether such amendments would deal with the two other criteria. I can see that judicial authorisation is being addressed, but would the questions of prior notification and the right of appeal also be covered?

The Government have argued that amendments tabled by others related solely to serious crime and not to other matters, and that they do not encapsulate all the recommendations in the recent report. I understand that argument, but the Government are still not putting forward any proposals about the use of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984—PACE—in relation to the way in which production orders are applied for. This was how the whole argument started. At the moment, if a production order is applied for under PACE, the journalist is informed in advance about the order. They are then able to put their case in court and, if necessary, appeal it and have it judicially reviewed. That does not seem to be the process that is being suggested here.

7.45 pm

The reason that there has been controversy, in relation to Metropolitan police actions in particular, is that the police sought to avoid abiding by PACE by using RIPA, thus avoiding openness, transparency and the ability of an individual journalist to contest a decision. Unless the Government introduce amendments that enable prior notification and a mechanism by which an application can be challenged, they will certainly not satisfy the journalists of the NUJ who have been working on this issue for so long, and neither will they satisfy European legislation. I would welcome information on the process from here on in, and on whether and how those issues will be addressed.

Sir Edward Garnier: It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell). I am sorry that he has been misdescribed as my hon. Friend the Member for North East Cambridgeshire (Stephen Barclay) on the Annunciator. I do not think that either he or my hon. Friend has any doubt about who they are, and, having listened to the hon. Gentleman speak in the House for the past 20 or so years, I certainly have no doubt as to who he is. Had he been able to be here on time today, his ears would have been burning as the Minister and others praised him for his campaign on this matter. However, it is a pleasure to see him here now, even if he has been described as Stephen Barclay on the Annunciator.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. Members do not need to get excited. One of the Annunciators is correct; the other is not working. However, I know what is going on, so we can proceed.

Sir Edward Garnier: As my father used to say, Madam Deputy Speaker, “There is no point in having two clocks if they both tell the same time.”

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I want briefly to respond to what my hon. Friend the Member for North East Cambridgeshire said about his new clause 28. Having spent quite a lot of my time as a Government Law Officer and having subsequently taken an interest in financial crime, I was much taken by what he had to say. My only suggestion would be that, rather than limiting himself to a further 31 days, he should propose—

Stephen Barclay: It was proposed more to make a point.

Sir Edward Garnier: My hon. Friend is unnecessarily modest in his ambitions. Instead of proposing 31 days, he might have proposed any such other period as the court might think just in all the circumstances. The thrust of his argument is, however, unassailable and I wish him well with his discussions with the Government. New clause 28 makes a good deal of sense.

I am honoured to be a co-signatory to new clause 18, particularly having just heard the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab). He has experience not only as an international lawyer but as someone who has prosecuted in some pretty terrible cases dealing with crimes in the former Yugoslavia. When he speaks, we should listen, pay attention and follow what he has to say, and what he had to say tonight was unimpeachable. I stress, as he did, that if we are to exclude people—be they foreign nationals or, under the current legislation, our own nationals—we should know who they are. Secret justice is not justice.

The new clause contains a proposed new subsection that would allow the Secretary of State to defer publication of the name of the excluded person on particular grounds. I suggest that that proposal would deal with any problems that anyone might suggest the new clause could create. The reason he has never received a cogent answer to his questions to Ministers and officials is that there is not one, and he has highlighted that. The Government should therefore have a little think about what he had to say and what is contained in his new clause.

I would say only one thing about new clause 24, and I am sorry that the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington probably will not agree with me on it, albeit that we are both pretty keen on the freedom of the press. The code of practice would be an altogether more attractive concept if I could actually read it and see what it said before this thing came into legislation. The Minister properly spoke about the time limits surrounding us as we move towards the general election in May, but I used to complain in opposition, I complained in government and I complain now that secondary legislation, statutory instruments and codes of practice are subsidiary rules that hang in locked boxes from legislative trees and are not a good thing. If we are to persuade people that this measure is a good thing, we should have sight of the code of practice as soon as possible. I know that Ministers never want to commit themselves to time schedules, but this is an example of where, before the general election and before this Bill becomes an Act, we should see the fruits of the consultation process and what the code of practice should look like.

Finally, and with a degree of diffidence, I wish to discuss new clause 23. When I intervened on the Minister to ask what offences the new clause would add to, I was not given an answer—well, I was given an answer, but

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not to the question I asked. I was not surprised by that, because I, like my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton, suspect that there is not an answer. This is what I call an early-day motion new clause. It is what is called, “Government sending out a message.” Governments can send out messages, but they do that on television, on the radio and in the newspapers, and they get their spin doctors to do it; legislation is supposed to be clear, non-repetitive and able to be clearly understood by the prosecuting authorities, the police, the courts and those who might be tempted to commit the offence that the clause hopes to describe.

I assume that an offence of “Throwing articles into prisons” is intended to prevent or persuade people not to throw caches of drugs, razor blades, mobile telephones and other contraband over prison walls or into prison property—so far, so good. We all know that that is already a crime, not just under the Prison Act 1952, but under various other pieces of criminal legislation. To take a ludicrous example, if I were to throw a copy of the Prison Act 1952, as amended, over the walls of Gartree prison in my constituency, would I be caught by this? On the face of it I would and I would be liable, on indictment, to a term of imprisonment

“not exceeding two years or to a fine (or both)”.

Sadly, the magistrates court does not exist in Market Harborough any more and I would have to be carted all the way to Leicester to be, on summary conviction, imprisoned for up to 12 months or given a fine.

It appears from the new clause that if I were to throw not “The complete works of William Shakespeare”, because that is a heavy volume, but a Shakespeare play over the prison wall, I would be committing an offence. I went to 65 of the prisons in England and Wales when I was a shadow spokesman responsible for prisons in the period leading up to the 2010 election, but I never went into or came out of a prison, young offenders institution or secure training unit without being wholly aware of the notices on the gates setting out what it was unlawful to bring into those places. Even though it might be suggested that lobbing a benign article such as “The complete works of William Shakespeare” over the prison wall was something done with an overriding public interest or with some other legitimate excuse, I do wish we could stop passing legislation that already exists just because it feels like a good thing to do. If we are going to take up the time of Ministers and officials in drafting this sort of stuff, why do we not draft something useful like new clause 18, proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton, and get that into legislation, rather than this sort of guff?

Karen Bradley: Given the time and the debates that I know are to follow, I shall endeavour to answer as many points as I can, but it is highly likely that I will be brief in my comments. I will, however, commit to write to right hon. and hon. Members should I fail to address specific points in this quick winding-up speech.

I did refer to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) and I hope he will have a look at that. He talked about the notification of journalists whose communications data are sought. It has never been the practice in this country for those whose communications data are sought to be notified, and we do not intend to depart from that. However, as he recognised, this matter will need to be dealt with in the

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next Parliament. We have today published a draft clause which provides for judicial authorisation in cases where communications data are sought for the purpose of determining a journalistic source. No doubt he will take the opportunity that future legislation will present to press his point again. I think we all agree that the solution we have before us today is not the perfect one, but we want to legislate in some way before the election and this is the most appropriate and perhaps only way we have of doing so.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), the shadow Minister, asked why the Government did not seek to extend the scope of the Bill. We took advice from the Public Bill Office on whether it would be possible to extend the scope through an instruction and thereby enable a Government new clause to be brought forward to give fullest effect to the interception of communications commissioner recommendation. The Public Bill Office advised that the scope of the Bill could not be extended in that way. We tried, but, unfortunately, that was not possible.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) asked about the timing of the production orders. The code will put in place the requirement to use production orders in cases where communications data are sought for the purposes of determining a journalistic source. The shadow Minister, also asked about the detail of the code of practice. We will shortly publish a revised code of practice that takes account of both the consultation responses and the recommendations of the IOCC. It will contain more detail on the factors to be considered in cases involving journalistic sources.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Sir Edward Garnier) talked about the throwing of packages over the wall. I have to tell him that in 2014 approximately 250 cases of new psychoactive substances being thrown into prison were recorded, compared with just 36 cases the previous year. There has been a significant increase in that number and in minor disorder and assaults in prison over the past year, and increased NPS use has been linked to some of those incidents. New psychoactive substances are not currently controlled drugs, which is why they do not fall within the legislation we would normally use.

Sir Edward Garnier rose

Karen Bradley: I hope my hon. and learned Friend will not mind if I do not take an intervention from him at this stage, just so that I can ensure we get on to the next group.

New clause 18 was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) and we have discussed this point in Westminster Hall. He will be familiar with the tribunal decision to uphold the Home Office and Information Commissioner’s decision on the neither confirm nor deny response to a freedom of information request on information held by the Department. It is a long-standing policy of this Government not to disclose the details of individual immigration cases, including in respect of those excluded from the UK. New clause 18 would have serious implications for the security of our borders and therefore to the national security of the country.

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Mr Raab: Will my hon. Friend give way on that point?

Karen Bradley: If my hon. Friend does not mind, I will not give way, because I need to finish by 8 o’clock, and I know that there are other hon. Members who wish to speak.

Mr Raab: Will my hon. Friend give us an illustration of the security problem?

8 pm

Karen Bradley: Let me give my hon. Friend this example. There is a further risk that publication of individuals excluded from the UK may undermine international relations and foreign policy objectives. That risk is intensified if the excluded individual has connections with a foreign Government or well known organisation that may be working in partnership with the UK to broaden our interests abroad. That is one example. Also, ongoing investigations into the activities of an individual could be jeopardised if they became aware of the fact that they were on the list. While I appreciate the objective of the new clause and the commitment to transparency, the Home Secretary’s primary objective in the use of her exclusion powers is to protect the UK from those individuals who wish to damage our national security or undermine our values. The new clause would weaken her ability to do so and could put the British public at risk.

Turning to new clause 20 on firearms licensing, I put it to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North that the amendment is unnecessary. The police already have the ability to take into account evidence of violence and domestic violence when considering firearms applications, and rigorous new guidance was issued in July 2013 providing greater detail on how police should handle such cases.

The Government welcome the principle behind new clause 21, but the expert review panel made it clear in its report last October that the ban on the supply of new psychoactive substances needs careful consideration. Our priority is to frame correctly any new offence and ensure that it is robust yet proportionate and embedded in a comprehensive legislative package. The Government are moving swiftly so that the necessary primary legislation is ready to be introduced at the earliest opportunity in the new Parliament.

Finally, let me turn now to new clause 28 on money laundering, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for North East Cambridgeshire (Stephen Barclay). The two of us have had many conversations about this. He knows that we are consulting on the suspicious activity reporting regime, and I urge him to respond to that consultation, as I am very keen to include all of those points.

In the light of my explanations, I ask my hon. Friends the Members for Esher and Walton, for North East Cambridgeshire and for Cambridge and the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North not to press their amendments, and I commend the Government amendments to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 23 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

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New Clause 24

Codes of practice about investigatory powers: journalistic sources

In section 71 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (issue and revision of codes of practice), after subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) A code of practice under subsection (1) that relates (expressly or otherwise) to the exercise and performance, in connection with the prevention or detection of serious crime, of powers and duties conferred or imposed by or under Part 1 of this Act—

(a) shall include provision designed to protect the public interest in the confidentiality of journalistic sources;

(b) shall not be issued unless the Secretary of State has first consulted the Interception of Communications Commissioner and considered any relevant report made to the Prime Minister under section 58.””


(Karen Bradley.)

This New Clause requires a code of practice made under section 71 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 relating to the exercise of powers in Part 1 of that Act in relation to the prevention or detection of serious crime to include provision to protect the public interest in the confidentiality of journalistic sources.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 1

Termination of pregnancy on the grounds of the sex of the unborn child

‘Nothing in section 1 of the Abortion Act 1967 is to be interpreted as allowing a pregnancy to be terminated on the grounds of the sex of the unborn child.’—(Fiona Bruce.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): With this it will be convenient to discuss New clause 25 —Termination of pregnancy on grounds of sex of foetus

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall arrange for an assessment to be made of the evidence of termination of pregnancy on the grounds of the sex of the foetus in England, Wales and Scotland.

(2) The arrangements made under subsection (1) shall be such as to enable publication of the assessment by the Secretary of State within 6 months of the date of Royal Assent to this Act.

(3) The Secretary of State shall consider the assessment made under subsection (1) and—

(a) determine and publish a strategic plan to tackle substantiated concerns identified in the assessment made under subsection (1); or

(b) publish a statement and explanation in relation to why a plan under subsection (3)(a) is not required.

(4) Any strategic plan under subsection (3)(a) must include, but need not be limited to, steps—

(a) to promote change in the social and cultural patterns of behaviour with a view to eradicating prejudices, customs, traditions and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority of women and which may amount to pressure to seek a termination on the grounds of the sex of the foetus;

(b) to ensure best practice exists in identifying women being coerced or pressured into seeking a termination on the grounds of the sex of the foetus, or at risk of being so, and in the provision of protection and support to potential victims; and

(c) to promote guidance to service providers, health professionals and other stakeholders.

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(5) The Secretary of State must lay a copy of the plan, determined under subsection (3)(a), before each House of Parliament within 6 months of the publication date of the assessment under subsection (2).’

Fiona Bruce: New clause 1, which I wish to be put to a vote, is supported by more than 100 MPs. The arguments for it are straightforward. First, it is to clarify beyond doubt, in statute, that sex-selective abortion is illegal in UK law. This new clause is not seeking to change the law on abortion, as some have said, but to confirm and clarify it. It also provides the Government with an opportunity to address the problem by bringing forward best practice regulations and guidance to support and protect women at risk.

New clause 1 is necessary because there is no explicit statement about gender selective abortion in UK law. The law is being interpreted in different ways because when the Abortion Act 1967 was passed, scans to determine the sex of the foetus were not available. That has led to a huge amount of confusion and mixed messages. That is despite the fact that the Government have repeatedly said that abortion on the grounds of gender alone is illegal. Health Ministers have said so; the Prime Minister has said so; the Department of Health has published guidance to that effect; and the chief medical officer has written to doctors about it. Despite all of that, abortion providers and others, staggeringly, are still refusing to accept the Government’s interpretation of the law.

Only last week, the country’s largest abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, republished its controversial guidance in a booklet entitled, “Britain’s abortion law: what it says and why”. The following question is posed: is abortion for reasons of foetal sex illegal under the Abortion Act? To this, it answers, “No, the law is silent on the matter.” The former Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has said:

“The law does not in terms expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions.”

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): All we are trying to do is simply clarify what everyone in the House of Commons wants to be the law: we should not have abortion on the basis of gender. That is the reply to the DPP. We just want the law to be made absolutely clear.

Fiona Bruce: Absolutely right. That is the purpose of new clause 1. I will come on to explain why it is so important to many of the women who are suffering as a result of the lack of clarity in the law.

This House must make the matter clear. If we cannot get a consistent line from abortion providers on whether or not it is illegal to abort a girl—it is usually girls but not always—for the sole reason that she is a girl, then the law is not fit for purpose. To do so constitutes a gross form of sex discrimination. Indeed it is the first and most fundamental form of violence against women and girls. Surely no one can object to a clause that simply states that that is wrong.

New clause 1 will do more than that, because if it is passed, by virtue of clause 79 (2) the Government will be able to issue guidance to help address this abuse and support affected women. That is why new clause 25 is inadequate when taken alone. What it is proposing is a

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Department of Health assessment or review of the issue. The Department can already do that. Without new clause 1, it is inadequate, because it fails to go to the heart of the issue and to clear up the very real confusion that exists. It fails to clarify the law, as new clause 1 does, that sex election abortion is illegal in this country.

Let me turn now to some of the objections to new clause 1. Much of them have misrepresented its impact and some have been plain scaremongering. First, it is said that it will criminalise women. That is flatly untrue. The clause applies only to authorising doctors; it does not affect an expectant mother’s standing in law. We have also heard that it will stop abortion for disability where there is a sex-linked condition. That is also totally incorrect. I can reassure colleagues that there is nothing in this new clause to prevent a doctor from diagnosing substantial risk of serious handicap via the sex of the baby. In such cases, the ground for the abortion is the risk of the disability, not the sex of the baby. New clause 1 will not change that, and I have been careful to obtain expert legal opinion to that effect.

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): The hon. Lady spoke rightly a few moments ago about the importance of clarity in law. Does she not agree that there would be reluctance and confusion when the grounds for a termination were the genetic disorder, but the only way in which that genetic order could arise is in relation to the gender of the foetus?

Fiona Bruce: Not at all. We can trust our medical practitioners to be professional in that respect. It is quite clear that the ground for the abortion in such cases would be the genetic condition and not the sex of the child.

Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Kilburn) (Lab): Will the hon. Lady give way on that point?

Fiona Bruce: I will, but then I need to make progress.

Glenda Jackson: There are certain genetic diseases that are transmitted by the mother to a male foetus. They are not passed on to a female foetus. So the hon. Lady’s argument is invalid.

Fiona Bruce: That is exactly the point that I am making. If the handicap, or the condition, is diagnosed via the sex of the baby, in such cases the grounds for the abortion, through that diagnosis, is the risk of serious handicap, and on that ground the abortion can be legitimately carried out.

Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): Perhaps I can help my hon. Friend, although I do not think that she needs assistance. Of all the arguments that have been put forward on this matter, the one that has no traction at all is the suggestion that enacting this new clause would lead to the confusion that the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Glenda Jackson) fears. It plainly would not. There might be other arguments that can be advanced and of course there will be different views across the House, but that could not possibly happen if the new clause were enacted.

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Fiona Bruce rose

Glenda Jackson: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Fiona Bruce: No, I am going to continue. I thank the former Attorney-General for making that point so lucidly.

We have also heard that the new clause could introduce racial profiling of expectant mothers, but has anyone argued that for female genital mutilation? The term “family balancing” goes wider than any one particular community.

Then there is the argument that the new clause will do nothing to help abused women. It will indeed. It will clarify the law and as Polly Harrar of Jeena International powerfully told me:

“What we’ve found with the Forced Marriage Act 2007 was that we were able to use that piece of legislation as a bargaining tool to negotiate with parents, so a young woman could say, ‘You do realise this is a criminal offence?’”

In the same way, Polly says,

“with sex-selective abortion: having clarity in the law means that women could use this clarification to protect themselves against pressure to have a sex-selection abortion.”

She continues that

“as with FGM having a higher profile, legislation does effect a step change in cultural attitudes. So while legislation alone is not enough, it has real power to change behaviour, and that’s what is needed.”

That addresses clearly the Royal College of Midwives’ objection that new clause 1 will do little to alleviate the external pressures or coercion that these women face. As Mandy Sanghera said:

“We also we hope this will act as a deterrent—it will enable women to have more control over their own decisions.”

Is that not what many objecting to the clause want?

What does not help women under pressure to have an abortion simply because they are carrying a girl or a boy, whether that pressure comes from violence or coercion or is more subtle, is allowing that abortion to take place and sending the woman back to an abusive situation. To do so is to condone the very culture behind the pressure for such abortions and to exacerbate such abuse. The new clause does nothing to diminish services for those suffering abuse. Indeed, if it is followed by sensitively crafted regulations it should certainly improve them.

Then the quite offensive point is made that there is no evidence for sex-selective abortions in the UK. That is offensive as it is insulting to women such as those I have mentioned who have been campaigning for many years to stop this practice. Yes, the numbers are small compared with those in China or India, but they are real. Should we have to wait until those numbers grow before we take action? Rani Bilkhu, who, incidentally, is pro-choice, says:

“I have been supporting women dealing with sex-selective abortions…for almost a decade. Saying that there is no evidence is tantamount to saying that the women we work with are lying and that my organisation”—

Jeena International—

“is making things up.”

Interestingly, Rani also says that “nobody is collecting data”, so it is no wonder that opponents of the new clause say that there is none.

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I know of many examples of women who have suffered. One had one daughter, conceived a second girl, had an abortion and then could not conceive again. Another had three abortions on the basis of gender, including of twins. Another’s husband punched and kicked her in the stomach when he discovered she was having a girl. Yet another says that

“women suffer depression after these abortions. What is not always considered is the emotional and psychological impact.”

These women deserve our support in the manner that they say will really help—through legislation and by clarifying the law. That does not stop a review, but it is essential that we clear up the confusion, support these women and pass new clause 1. In doing so, we would reflect the overwhelming public mood. A recent ComRes poll showed that 84% of the public agree that aborting babies because of their gender should be explicitly banned by law. More than that, we should support new clause 1 because it is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

Ann Coffey: I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in support of new clause 25, tabled by me, the right hon. Member for Cardiff Central (Jenny Willott), my right hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Dame Tessa Jowell), my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) and the hon. Members for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton) and for Totnes (Dr Wollaston). I will seek to test the opinion of the House on the new clause.

The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 makes it a criminal offence intentionally to unlawfully procure a miscarriage, including for a woman to procure her own miscarriage. The Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 makes it a criminal offence intentionally to kill a child capable of being born alive before it has a life independent of its mother. The Abortion Act 1967 creates exceptions to those offences in limited circumstances and abortion on the grounds of gender is not one of those exceptions. It is therefore illegal and subject to criminal prosecution. Indeed, guidance was reissued as recently as May 2014 by the Department of Health that said again categorically that abortion on the grounds of sex was illegal. I am therefore not quite sure why the new clause proposed by the hon. Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) is needed or how inserting it into the 1967 Act would address her concerns.

8.15 pm

Sir Edward Leigh: If the hon. Lady thinks that such abortions are illegal under the 1967 Act, what possible objection could there be to making that explicit in law?

Ann Coffey: If the hon. Gentleman will wait, I am coming to that point.

The statement the hon. Member for Congleton proposes would sit alongside the existing seven grounds for termination in the 1967 Act, but of course the sex of the foetus can be a factor in causing so much distress for the woman that she meets the existing medical criteria for a termination. The British Medical Association supplied two case studies that demonstrated how that can occur. In both cases, gender was a key factor in affecting the state of mind of the pregnant woman and her wish not to continue the pregnancy. It is not clear how new clause 1, if added to the Bill, would affect the decision

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of doctors on the legal grounds on which they might agree a termination, if at all. It would inevitably be subject to legal challenges that would, I believe, dilute the clarity of the 1967 Act. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence that doctors are granting terminations to women who do not meet the medical grounds laid down in the Abortion Act 1967.

Mr Burrowes: Does the hon. Lady agree with the TUC interpretation of the law, which is that it would be right in some circumstances for a doctor to approve an abortion if, for example, a woman did not want to have a girl for cultural reasons?

Ann Coffey: I repeat that as far as I am aware there is no evidence that doctors are granting terminations to women who do not meet the medical grounds laid down in the Abortion Act 1967. That would be a criminal offence.

Duncan Hames (Chippenham) (LD): I am sure that the hon. Lady is right about there not being evidence for that. Is she aware of whether there is evidence of doctors refusing permission for a termination on the grounds of none of those criteria? Are there statistics to demonstrate that that happens?

Ann Coffey: As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, part of the new clause proposes a proper assessment of some of the issues surrounding this question. I hope that during the assessment we would get much better facts about what is and what is not happening.

Women are pregnant in very different circumstances, subject to different pressures—economic, familial and community—that can all influence a pregnant woman’s state of mind and her attitude to continuing her pregnancy. If there is no substantiated evidence that doctors are granting abortions on the grounds of gender alone, we might be dealing with a more complex issue, which is how wider community and cultural attitudes to girls and women affect the physical and mental health of the pregnant woman.

Therefore, before legislating we should examine the facts relating to this complex issue, because I am concerned that the insertion of the proposed statement might have the unwanted consequence of women who might otherwise have access to an abortion on the grounds of physical and mental welfare being denied a termination. New clause 25 would arrange for an assessment of the evidence of termination of pregnancy on the grounds of the sex of the foetus in England, Wales and Scotland to be published within six months of Royal Assent. Of course, included in that assessment should be the experiences of women who feel that they have been pressured to have their pregnancies terminated.

Like other hon. Members, I have received briefings from many organisations and groups on the issue, and they demonstrate its complexity. One group that is in favour of new clause 1 talked about a growing body of research comprising the experiences of women who have talked about having sex-selective abortions in the UK as well as abroad. It states:

“We know from experience that women are having sex-selective abortions in the UK, and we feel their experiences—which reflect a much wider problem—should be taken seriously before the situation worsens.”

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Another group that is opposed to new clause 1 has said that it would

“have far reaching and unintended consequences for the very women it purports to protect.”

It talked about the need to locate the protection of women from sex-selective abortion within a safeguarding framework. It states:

“There is a need to examine the issue alongside other forms of gender discrimination that impact on the practice, including the practice of dowry, domestic violence and honour based violence.”

It therefore calls for a wide-ranging inquiry, including on available support services.

Sir Edward Garnier: The arguments that the hon. Lady is making are those that I have read and that have persuaded me against supporting new clause 1, which I had originally intended to do when it was first mooted. I am persuaded that the real difficulty we face is getting evidence to court, and nothing that my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) has said will improve the quality of the evidence. I horribly disapprove—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. This is not an opportunity for the hon. and learned Gentleman to make a speech. This debate must end at 9 o’clock and many Members wish to speak, so interventions must be brief. I think that we have the gist of what he was saying—

Sir Edward Garnier rose—

Madam Deputy Speaker: No, I think that we have the gist. Thank you.

Ann Coffey: I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman has made his point.

I agree that the connection between cultural preferences for one sex and the factors that might then lead to a state of inconsolable distress for the pregnant woman needs to be better understood to enable us to protect women from coercion and to support them in their pregnancies. We should certainly look at the facts before agreeing to any change in the wording of the 1967 Act, because we must be careful not to worsen the situation for already vulnerable women.

New clause 1 assumes that restating that sex-selective abortion is illegal will offer women protection from pressure to terminate their pregnancies, but women subject to intolerable pressure to abort will continue to be subject to coercion. My concern is about how women would interpret the inclusion of the new clause. They might feel that Parliament has legislated that if the sex of the child is at all an issue, irrespective of their mental distress, they will not have access to a termination. Sometimes it is not what legislation says that has a powerful effect on behaviour, but what people believe it says. That might lead them to pursue alternative routes as a first resort, rather than a last one. We do not want to go back to the days of the botched backstreet abortions that took place prior to the 1967 Act, which throughout the ages have been the resort of desperate women. I remember the lengths to which women would go to terminate their pregnancies prior to that Act, in spite of the risks to their own health.

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If the assessment that we propose uncovers substantiated concerns that there is pressure to seek terminations on the grounds of gender, we need to put in place a plan to deal with what is giving rise to those pressures and how we can better support women who might be being coerced. That is the proposal in the second part of new clause 25. I hope that in bringing forward those proposals there would be extensive consultation with women from all cultural backgrounds.

Finally, I would like to share a story with Members. On a recent train journey I started talking with an Asian woman who was originally from Bangladesh. In the course of the conversation she showed me a photo of her three daughters, who are now grown up. I said that they were beautiful and how lucky she was to have three daughters, at which point she looked very distressed. She then told me that she had never enjoyed any of her pregnancies because she knew that she was carrying a girl and that her then husband saw girls as being of no value and, in turn, viewed her as having no value as a wife because she had not produced a son. He eventually abandoned her. However, I am happy to report that my travelling companion went on to have her own career and that her girls are confident young women who are finding their own ways in life.

When I asked her what she thought could be done about those attitudes to girls, she said that the answer was education, education, education. She of course is right. We understand that from our own history of fighting for women’s equality—a fight that many of us still feel is a work in progress. I hope that this cross-party amendment will be supported by the House and that it will mean that when the Secretary of State reports back in six months’ time on her assessment, with accompanying proposals, we will be better informed about a way forward in addressing concerns that I agree we should not ignore. No woman should feel pressured into seeking a termination for any reason, including gender.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jane Ellison): I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate, and I will try to do so relatively briefly in order to allow more Back-Bench contributions. New clause 1, which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce), and new clause 25, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey), both relate to the very important matter of addressing the abhorrent practice of sex-selective abortion.

The Government have been consistently clear that abortion on the grounds of gender alone is already illegal. The Department of Health repeated that in guidance issued in May 2014, and it is important to stress that all independent sector providers have agreed to comply with, and operate on the basis of, the Department’s guidance and that they must do so as part of their licensing conditions. The Care Quality Commission monitors compliance with that, including through its inspection visits.

Mr Burrowes: On the welcome guidance that was published, I understand from freedom of information requests, and from an e-mail sent on 21 January, that there was a request for joint badging of that guidance to ensure that all the stakeholders signed up to it. Why did that not happen? Why was it left only to the Department to publish it?

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Jane Ellison: It was the Department’s own guidance, which is why the Department published it. In the course of forming the guidance, we spoke with all the people we would be expected to speak to.

The chief medical officer for England has written twice to all doctors—in February 2012 and November 2013—reminding them of their responsibilities under the 1967 Act and reiterating the Government’s position on gender-selective abortion, and that was reiterated by professional bodies.

The Department has also undertaken detailed analysis to investigate whether the gender birth ratio in the UK varies by the mother’s country of birth beyond the range that might be expected to occur naturally. The analysis, first published in May 2013 and updated in 2014, concluded that, when broken down by the mother’s country of birth, no group was statistically different from the range we would expect to see naturally occurring. The Department has quite rightly committed to repeat that analysis annually when new birth data become available. However, I stress that the Government will remain vigilant, will continue to monitor data and will be fully open to any other evidence that comes to light.

My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton cited poignant anecdotal reports of sex-selective abortion, as she did on her ten-minute rule Bill. As I said to her at the end of that debate, I urge her and anyone with evidence of individual cases to report this to the police to investigate. I invite her once again to come to the Department with such evidence.

8.30 pm

Considerable concern has been expressed about the impact of new clause 1 and it is right that we touch on that. The Government consider that the new clause would restate our long-standing position on the issue—that abortion on the ground of gender alone is illegal. However, hon. Members will have heard the concerns expressed by a number of groups about the practical implications of new clause 1. Although the Government do not consider on balance that ground E would be affected by the new clause, it is naturally worrying for me as a Health Minister to hear from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives about the concerns that new clause 1 has caused among health professionals providing termination of pregnancy services to women.

Mr Grieve: I am very grateful to hear from my hon. Friend that ground E would not be jeopardised. The Government have access to good legal advice—[Interruption.] I trust that they have access to good legal advice, and it must be the case that the Government have a position on the matter. I am grateful to hear from my hon. Friend that that particular anxiety is completely misplaced.

Jane Ellison: I am concerned about the fears that some people have about the practical implications of the new clause, and I think others share that concern. I hope to come on to that

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists highlighted the potential impact on abortions for foetal abnormality—I hear the point that was made on that in two interventions—where an inherited gender-related condition may be indicated, and the possibility that the new clause, if passed, may result in further concerns. The RCOG says:

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“Parents with a family history of such a condition may not have the option of Ground E.”

The RCOG also says, in relation to how doctors might feel about the practical implications, that