Date introduced to first House 28 May 2012
Date introduced to second House 28 November 2012
Current Bill Number HC Bill 134
Previous Reports 24th Report
of Session 2010-12
4th Report of Session 2012-13
1. The Justice and Security Bill received its
Second Reading in the House of Commons on 18 December 2012, completed
its Committee Stage on 7 February and is currently awaiting a
date for its Report Stage.
2. We held an inquiry into the Green Paper which
preceded the Bill and published our Report on it in April 2012.
On 13 November 2012 we reported on the Bill as introduced in the
House of Lords. In that
Report we recommended a number of amendments in order to address
concerns we had about the Bill's compatibility with the UK's constitutional
tradition of open justice and fairness. Some of those recommended
amendments were made to the Bill by the House of Lords at Report
3. At the Bill's Second Reading in the Commons,
on 18 December 2012, the Minister without Portfolio, the Rt. Hon.
Kenneth Clarke QC MP (who leads for the Government on the Bill),
explained that the Government was still considering carefully
the recommendations in our Report as well as the significant changes
made to the Bill in the Lords. On 11 January 2013, the Minister
wrote to us regretting that he was still not in a position to
respond in full to our Report but stating that he intended to
do so very shortly and before the Bill's Committee Stage.
4. The Government published its response to our
Report on the Bill on 29 January.
On the same date it also tabled a number of amendments to the
Bill to be considered in Public Bill Committee. These included
amendments which proposed to remove amendments made by the House
of Lords to give effect to some of our recommendations, and replace
them with the Government's own amendments.
5. The Government amendments removing the Lords
amendments were agreed to by 10 votes to 9 in Public Bill Committee.
Two further amendments proposed by members of the Public Bill
Committee, which would have given effect to recommendations in
our earlier Report, were negatived on the casting vote of the
Chair following a tied vote.
6. We then wrote to the Minister on 5 February
asking a number of detailed questions about certain aspects of
the Government's amendments.
The Minister replied by letter dated 11 February,
offering to make himself available at short notice to give oral
evidence. He appeared before us on 12 February when we were able
to discuss some of our questions directly with him. A transcript
of his evidence is available on the Committee's website.
We are grateful to the Minister for volunteering to give oral
evidence to us and for doing so in time to inform our scrutiny
of the Government's amendments.
7. On 18 February we also received a detailed
written response from the Minister to the questions raised in
our letter of 5 February.
The opportunity for proper scrutiny
8. We are grateful to the Government for its
engagement with us and we welcome some aspects of the Government's
amendments. We regret, however, that the Government's response
to our Report and amendments to the Bill were not published until
29 January, on the eve of the Bill's Committee Stage. Our Report
on the Bill was published on 13 November 2012 and the House of
Lords amendments to the Bill were made at Report stage in that
House on 21 November. Publication of the Government's amendments
to coincide with the Public Bill Committee's consideration of
the Bill did not provide a proper opportunity for us to scrutinise
the Government's amendments and report our views to the House
before the next stage of its consideration by Parliament.
9. This is particularly regrettable when the
purpose of the Government's amendments is to remove from the Bill
some of the significant amendments made by the House of Lords
on our recommendation and to substitute different amendments which
the Government says are intended to reflect our recommendations.
It is in the interests of proper scrutiny that the House of Commons
should have the benefit of our views as to whether the Government's
amendments do in fact give effect to our recommendations as the
10. We asked the Government for its assurance
that the Bill's Report stage would not be scheduled until we had
had a reasonable opportunity to report to Parliament our views
about the Government's amendments, but this assurance was not
forthcoming. In the
event, we hope that our Report will be able to inform the Bill's
Report Stage nevertheless. We
find it unsatisfactory that there may not be an opportunity for
this Committee to be able to inform proper parliamentary scrutiny
of Government amendments that are asserted to give effect to recommendations
that we have made. We recommend that where the Government amends
a Bill in response to specific recommendations from a parliamentary
committee, that committee be given a reasonable opportunity to
scrutinise the Government's amendments and report their views
to Parliament before the amendments are debated.
Information considered in our
scrutiny of the Government's amendments
11. We have continued to receive submissions
about the Bill and we have taken these into account. We were
sent a copy of Neither Just Nor Secure, a publication for
the Centre for Policy Studies by Andrew Tyrie MP and Tony Peto
QC. We have also received a Supplementary Memorandum dated 18
February 2013 from 19 Special Advocates, comprising "almost
all currently active Special Advocates".
We refer to this supplementary evidence where relevant in this
Report. We are grateful to those who have continued to assist
us in our ongoing scrutiny of the Bill.
12. We have also taken into account the debates
which took place on the Bill in Public Bill Committee.
The purpose of this Report
13. In his foreword to the Government response,
the Minister stated his belief that the Government response and
its amendments to the Bill "demonstrate that there is nothing
between the Committee and the Government on the major principles
at issue. The approach we are taking reflects their recommendations
on these principles of justice very closely." He reiterated
that view in his oral evidence, saying that there is no division
of principle between the Government and this Committee, and that,
with its amendments, the Government has moved entirely in line
with our recommendations.
14. The main purpose of this Report is to subject
to careful scrutiny the claim that the Government's amendments
reflect our recommendations in our first Report on the Bill.
To the extent that we are not satisfied that they do so, we recommend
further amendments to the Bill for consideration at Report stage.
This is a controversial Bill which has raised concerns across
party-political boundaries and across both Houses of Parliament.
There were therefore some reasonable differences of opinion expressed
during our consideration of the Bill which echoed those concerns.
1 Twenty-fourth Report of Session 2010-12, The Justice
and Security Green Paper, HL Paper 286/HC 1777 (hereafter
"JCHRReport on the Green Paper").See for the Government's
Response, Response to the Twenty-Fourth Report from the Joint
Committee on Human Rights 2010-12: The Justice and Security Green
Paper, CM 8365 (May 2012). Back
Fourth Report of Session 2012-13, Legislative Scrutiny: Justice
and Security Bill, HL Paper 59/HC 370 (hereafter "First
JCHR Report on the Bill"). Back
Ev 1 Back
HM Government Response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights
Fourth Report of Session 2012-13: Legislative Scrutiny: Justice
and Security Bill (Cm 8533) (hereafter "Government Response"). Back
PBC 5 February 2013 col 197. Back
PBC 5 February 2013 col 228-9. Back
Ev 3 Back
Ev 4. Back
Ev 5 Back