Joint Committee On Human Rights Fifth Report


The Joint Committee on Human Rights has agreed to the following Report:—



1. The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 12 November 2001 and published the following day. We took oral evidence on it from the Home Secretary on 14 November. In our report on its human rights implications, published on 16 November 2001 (alongside which this report should be read), we noted that we might report again on the Bill before it passed into law.[5] Since then, there have been several developments. These include the publication of the reports of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee,[6] the House of Lords Constitution Committee,[7] and the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.[8] The Defence Committee of the House of Commons has taken evidence on the provisions relating to the Ministry of Defence Police[9] and is, we understand, to report shortly. There have also been debates in both Houses on the Order in Council to give effect to a designated derogation from Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR),[10] and the Bill itself has been taken through all its stages in the House of Commons at great speed.[11] The Second Reading debate in the House of Lords took place on 27 November and the Committee Stage in that House is still continuing as we agree this report.[12] We have also received additional written evidence from the Information Commissioner, Amnesty International, Liberty, and Justice, which is published with this report. It is clear that the Bill has attracted considerable controversy and much attention both within and outside Parliament.

2. We welcome the Government's (and particularly the Home Secretary's) willingness to listen to the concerns expressed in our Second Report and elsewhere, and to engage in constructive dialogue in order to seek ways of minimizing the risks to human rights we and others have identified in the Bill. It remains a matter of concern that Parliament is being given insufficient time to examine such an important piece of legislation. Indeed, many important elements of the Bill were not considered at all in the House of Commons, which had only 16 hours to deal with 126 clauses and eight Schedules. We share the view of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution that the inclusion of many non-emergency measures was inappropriate in emergency legislation which was required to be considered at such speed.[13] Even with the best efforts of the committees of the two Houses to subject the Bill to some degree of scrutiny, this is not a proper or sensible way to make legislation.

3. As a contribution to the continuing debate, this further report on the Bill by us has two purposes: first, to draw attention to those concerns expressed in our Second Report which the Government has addressed subsequently, by way of amendments to the Bill or otherwise; and, secondly, to draw attention to matters, not raised in our earlier Report, which give us great concern in the light of further reflection on the Bill.[14]

5   Second Report, Session 2001-02, Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill, HL Paper 37/ HC 372 Back

6   Home Affairs Committee, First Report, Session 2001-02, The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill 2001, HC 351 Back

7   Constitution Committee, Second Report, Session 2001-02, The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill ,HL Paper 41 Back

8   Delegated Powers and Regulatory Review Committee, Seventh Report, Session 2001-02, Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill, Office of Communications Bill, and Request for Evidence for the Proposal for the Draft Regulatory Reform (Voluntary Aided Schools Liabilities and Funding) Order 2002,HL Paper 45, pp 3-9 and 11-22 Back

9   HC 382-i, 22 November 2001 Back

10   HC Deb., 19 November 2001, cc 122-147; HL Deb., 19 November 2001, cc 876-906 Back

11   HC Deb., 19 November 2001, cc 21-118 (Second Reading); 21 November 2001, cc 342-432, and 26 November 2001, cc. 673-790 (Committee Stage); cc 790-800 (Report Stage); and cc 800-804 (Third Reading) Back

12   Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th November, and Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th December 2001 Back

13   op cit p 4 Back

14  All references in this report are to the Bill as first printed by the Lords, HL Bill 29 Back

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Prepared 5 December 2001