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The Government attach great importance to the efficient use of energy and to the use of combined heat and power schemes to help to carry forward their energy efficiency policies. CHP is very efficient and cost effective, as the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, indicated. It helps us to carry forward our sustainable development policy, changing people's culture by promoting realistic ways of achieving development at lower cost to the environment. Hence we share my noble friend's concern that CHP should be encouraged wherever possible. It should not suffer from unnecessary disadvantages in comparison to other methods of generating electricity and heat.
We fully understand the intentions behind my noble friend's amendment. I am concerned whether, in this technical and complex area, the amendment as drafted achieves precisely the effect my noble friend is looking for. It might be helpful if his advisers and mine were to have some discussion about the thinking behind the amendment, although my noble friend will understand that I can give no assurances about the way forward. I hope that on that basis my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Wade of Chorlton: My Lords, I am most grateful for those very helpful comments from my noble friend. I am also grateful for the support of the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol. With my noble friend's assurance that we can meet to discuss this matter, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned. In moving this Motion, may I suggest that the Report stage begins again no earlier than five minutes past eight o'clock.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is the first order of its kind to be made under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It marks a small but important improvement in our ability to co-operate internationally against terrorism. The order is the final piece of
In compliance with our obligations under the agreement, the order designates India under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. In doing so, it enables the courts in the United Kingdom to enforce orders made by the Indian courts for the restraint or forfeiture of terrorist funds. In a moment I shall elaborate on the form that the order takes and on how it will work in practice. First, I should like to say a few words about the circumstances in which the order is brought before the House.
None of us would disagree that terrorism is a uniquely grave form of criminal activity. It is one of the most serious threats to public security with which we have been faced in modern times. The police, the security services and indeed the Government have, for many years, been investing great effort into defeating terrorism within the rule of the law. In recent months we have seen an enormous improvement in the overall terrorist situation within the United Kingdom. That does not mean we can afford to be complacent about the terrorist threat. Last July we sadly saw the return of Middle Eastern terrorism to the streets of London. Foreign-based terrorist groups are still active. They have proved themselves willing and able to operate across national boundaries. And many of them are keen to exploit differences in national laws to evade justice in their own countries.
International co-operation remains an essential part of the strategy against such terrorist groups. We have attached great importance to the work which has been done within government and by the police and other agencies to forge links with other countries which are also committed to eliminating terrorism. The links which this country has with India are long standing. Our respective enforcement agencies are already working together to tackle common problems. The bilateral agreement, which we have concluded with India, is a welcome opportunity to extend that co-operation into new areas. It demonstrates clearly our willingness to help the Indian authorities in their efforts to stem the flow of tainted money or property in and out of their country. It also gives a clear message to criminal organisations in India and around the world that we are not willing to see our financial systems abused for their unsavoury purposes.
We have already, with your Lordships' permission and approval, implemented another 23 similar bilateral agreements. This is the first to extend to terrorist funds. The order before the House is therefore somewhat novel in character. I shall explain briefly what it aims to do.
The Prevention of Terrorism Act, as your Lordships will know, created in UK law a system of offences, penalties and investigative powers aimed at tackling those who provide financial support for terrorist activity. It included a scheme enabling the courts to order the restraint or forfeiture of money or property belonging to those convicted of financial offences under the Act which the courts believe is destined to finance further
The types of restraint and forfeiture orders which may be enforced under this Order in Council are defined in Article 2 at the top of page 2. This makes it clear, for example, that forfeiture orders must fit a description given in the Prevention of Terrorism Act itself. Essentially this means for present purposes that they must be in respect of funds destined for acts which we would recognise as serious terrorist offences or the proceeds of such acts or activities engaged in the furtherance of them.
Article 4 of the order makes the necessary provision to enable our courts to accept documentary evidence from overseas. Among other things it provides for the admissibility here of a certificate issued by the Indian courts giving certain information about the proceedings in that country which have led, or may lead, to the making of a forfeiture order.
Parts II, III, and IV of the order contain the schemes which enable our courts to register and enforce external restraint and confiscation orders. Your Lordships will have seen that there are separate arrangements in respect of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These are all virtually identical.
In order for an external restraint or forfeiture order to be enforced here, it must first be registered in the High Court or, in Scotland, the Court of Session. That court must be satisfied that the correct procedures have been followed in making the order.
The order incorporates a number of safeguards to ensure that the powers it creates are not used unfairly. A forfeiture order will be registered and enforced only if the High Court is satisfied that it is in force and not subject to appeal, that the subject of the order appeared in the proceedings in which it was made or was given the opportunity to contest it, and that its enforcement would not be contrary to the interests of justice. Similar safeguards apply in respect of restraint orders.
Before an order reaches the courts it will receive careful scrutiny. Requests from India for the restraint or forfeiture of funds will be sent, in the first instance, to the United Kingdom central authority, which is in the Home Office. The central authority is experienced in dealing with requests under our existing confiscation and forfeiture agreements, which I mentioned earlier. The central authority will check whether the request falls within the terms of our agreement with India. It will then pass the request to the National Criminal Intelligence Service, which will take any necessary action in conjunction with the police and prosecutors here. If there are any doubts about a request, further information may be obtained from the Indian authorities before an application is put to the High Court or Court of Session.
Once an order has been registered in the High Court or Court of Session it may be enforced as if it were a domestic order. These procedures ensure that anyone affected by an order has an opportunity to be heard before any property is taken from them permanently.
The investigation and prosecution of illegal fund-raising activity is a singularly complex and lengthy process. It is important therefore to ensure that the right powers are put in place so that the police can take action when they need to do so. Such powers are also valuable as a deterrent. They send a clear signal that the illicit assets of terrorist organisations are not beyond the reach of the law. This will make a modest but useful contribution to countering international terrorism. I commend the order to your Lordships.
Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th February be approved [10th Report from the Joint Committee]. (Baroness Blatch.)
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