On 4 July 2018, we published our Legislative Scrutiny report on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill. We recognised the need for the Government to have strong powers to defend our national security. However, we emphasised that when such powers interfere with human rights, they must be clearly prescribed, necessary in pursuit of a legitimate aim, and proportionate to that aim. We expressed concern that some of the provisions of the Bill, as originally introduced, appeared not to meet these requirements and recommended that various provisions either be removed, clarified or narrowed in order to remedy these defects.
On 4 September 2018, the Home Office sent their response to our report. We are grateful to the Government for giving consideration to our concerns, and in some cases giving fuller explanations of its position. Nonetheless, this legislation proposes significant restrictions on important rights, and we consider that at the very least further probing is necessary so that Parliament can be assured the measures are necessary and proportionate.
We are particularly concerned by the introduction of the new clause establishing a ‘designated area offence’, which criminalises entering or remaining in an area even if this is done without any associated harm or intent to cause harm. Given the introduction of this new offence at Report stage and the consequent limited opportunity for scrutiny in the Commons, we urge the Lords to give particular consideration to the necessity and proportionality of this new clause.
In this brief report, we reiterate our remaining concerns with various provisions of the Bill and put forward a number of amendments which seek to ensure the Bill restricts rights only to the extent that it is necessary and proportionate to do so. In doing so, we hope this will assist the debate in the Lords. We reiterate our concern that this Bill is legislating close to the line on rights compliance by taking the criminal law further into private spaces - and, in our view, is likely to cross that line in places. We urge all those involved in scrutiny to consider carefully whether the Bill strikes the right balance between liberty and security. To that end, we have put forward a range of possible amendments, each striking a different balance.
Published: 12 October 2018