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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, we have no plans to set up any such Royal Commission. There is always the temptation to believe--although experiences shows it to be an unbased belief--that a Royal

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Commission will provide the answer to such problems. The problems regarding publication relate to privacy, confidentiality and the matter with which the noble Lord is especially concerned; namely, criminal memoirs. I suggest that we need to bear in mind the fact that the press covers a very broad spectrum ranging from those publications which are virtually comics to those which are serious broadsheets. I am not sure that a Royal Commission would be able to deal with those matters.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, is it not deeply offensive to the general public that convicted criminals should publish their memoirs, especially for profit, whether they are published during their sentences or afterwards? Moreover, is it not also deeply hurtful to the victims of such crimes and their families? Can the Minister tell the House whether convicted criminals being released in Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act will be covered by any restrictions which will come out of this review?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I agree that the publication of criminal memoirs by people in some circumstances is deeply hurtful. Indeed, I believe that the noble Lord and I have agreed across these Dispatch Boxes in the past that the resurrection of old memories and old hurts is very difficult.

We cannot categorise every person who comes out of prison in the same way. Recently, the Daily Telegraph was censured by the Press Complaints Commission for the Victoria Aitken interview. When Mr Aitken comes out of prison, is it to be suggested that he is not entitled to write a book of any sort? I simply raise that question to indicate to the House that it is not always as simple as people assume.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, can the noble Lord tell the House what protection we have against further so-called "poetry" from Mr Aitken?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the usual sanctions that the law imposes. In this case, 18 months' imprisonment for a first offence!

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, as a former chairman of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission I ask whether the Government have given thought to the fact that when privacy is invaded we all hide behind the answers that the Minister gave. I think, for example, of films on the situation in Northern Ireland where the press and the media get away with an awful lot. Should not the Government give some thought to the distress that is caused to people?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, in answer to the question from the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, I have already indicated that of course we give thought to this matter. However, I repeat that it is not an easy problem to resolve. A considerable number of works of literature have been produced in prison. I think, for instance, of the works produced in Bedford gaol by John Bunyan or those written by Mr Mandela while in prison on Robben Island. That is one end of

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the spectrum. At the other end of the spectrum is the grossly offensive material that the noble Lord has mentioned. However, I simply suggest to your Lordships--I think rightly and fairly--that this is by no means a simple matter to deal with by a single instrument of policy.

Lord McNally: My Lords, I think the House will welcome the fact that the Minister has given a definite timetable for the conclusion of this review; namely, September, when, of course, the House will not be sitting. Would he be surprised to find that I had tabled a Question in October on the Government's reaction to the review? If the review proposes legislation, will the Home Office be prepared to legislate in the next Session?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Lord lays a trap for me which I shall not leap into. I said that the body hoped to complete its work in September-- I imagine, subject to what the noble Lord, Lord Carter, tells me, that we shall not be sitting at that time--and that publication of the report would follow. As the noble Lord knows much better than I, I could not possibly anticipate the contents of the Queen's Speech.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I must first declare an interest as a director of a small local newspaper company. The noble Lord rightly said that these matters are difficult, but is he generally satisfied with the present legal regime?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, there is no legal regime that relates to the Press Complaints Commission. As the noble Lord knows from his own experience, it is a voluntary, self-regulatory body. I think that it is fair to say, objectively speaking, that recently both the local and the national press have been much more alive to their responsibilities and to public concern. Although the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, is not present, I am bound to say that I believe that he has taken the regime forward, although not as far as everyone would like. However, one has to give credit where it rightly falls due.

Business of the House: Summer Recess

Lord Carter: My Lords, subject to the progress of business--and with the weight of business we have in front of us, that sentiment is particularly relevant at the moment--the House will rise for the Summer Recess on Friday 30th July and return on Monday 11th October. The House will sit at 11 a.m. on 30th July. It may also be for the convenience of the House to know that it is expected that the new Session of Parliament will be opened by Her Majesty the Queen in person on Wednesday 17th November.

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Immigration and Asylum Bill

3.3 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 31 [Assisting illegal entry and harbouring]:

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) moved Amendment No. 54:

Page 21, line 30, after ("acquitted") insert (" , the charge against him is dismissed or the proceedings are discontinued").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 55:

Page 22, line 6, at end insert--
("( ) In the application to Scotland of subsection (1)--

(a) in paragraph (a), for "charge the arrested person with" substitute "institute criminal proceedings against the arrested person for";

(b) in paragraph (b), for "if the arrested person has been charged" substitute "if criminal proceedings have been instituted against the arrested person"; and

(c) at the end insert "and for the purposes of this subsection, criminal proceedings are instituted against a person at whichever is the earliest of his first appearance before the sheriff on petition, or the service of an indictment or complaint on him".").

The noble and learned Lord said: This is a minor amendment to adapt subsection (1) of the new Section 25A for Scotland to take account of the differences in Scottish criminal procedure and proceedings. The amendment makes clear that the ship, aircraft or vehicle may be detained until the first appearance of the arrested person before the sheriff on petition or until the indictment or complaint is served on him.

There may be a need to bring forward a further, tidying amendment at Report stage, but this amendment is necessary to make proper provision for Scottish procedures. I commend the amendment to the House. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 31, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 56:

After Clause 31, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations applying (with or without modification) any provision of this Part for the purpose of enabling penalties to be imposed in respect of a person ("a clandestine entrant") who--
(a) arrives in the United Kingdom concealed in a rail freight wagon; and
(b) claims, or indicates that he intends to seek, asylum in the United Kingdom or evades, or attempts to evade, immigration control.

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(2) The regulations may, in particular, make provision--
(a) enabling additional penalties to be imposed in respect of persons concealed with the clandestine entrant;
(b) as to which person is (or which persons are together) liable to penalties in respect of the clandestine entrant;
(c) for conferring on a senior officer a power to detain any relevant rail freight wagon in prescribed circumstances;
(d) for conferring on the Secretary of State a power to sell in prescribed circumstances a rail freight wagon which has been detained.
(3) Before making any regulations under this section, the Secretary of State must consult, in the way he considers appropriate, persons appearing to him to be likely to be affected by the imposition of penalties under the regulations.").

The noble Lord said: In this group are to be found Amendments Nos. 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61 and 66. I hope that it is convenient if I address them at this stage. I shall speak first to Amendments Nos. 56 and 66. During Second Reading the question of the applicability of the civil penalty to freight trains was raised. I said then that we had been considering the matter but that currently the Bill did not extend the civil penalty to such trains. We have completed our consideration and we are sure that it is necessary to provide for the extension of the civil penalty to freight trains. Amendments Nos. 56 and 66 make the necessary provisions.

There is a serious problem of clandestine illegal immigration into this country. The effect of the carriers' liability provisions in respect of fare-paying passengers has reduced the possibilities for entry. One consequence has been to displace the effort to clandestine entry, particularly in lorries but also in other forms of transport. Our experience is that freight train services from continental Europe are being targeted systematically by organised criminal gangs as well as by individuals.

The civil penalty is a new penalty designed to tackle this problem and to complement the carriers' liability legislation. The aim of the civil penalty is to ensure that those responsible for lorries, vans, yachts and other forms of transport take adequate security precautions to ensure that they do not give scope for clandestine illegal entry to the United Kingdom. In addition to the civil penalty, the existing criminal offence of facilitation is applied in respect of persons who knowingly take part in the transport of illegal immigrants. We believe that the problem has been growing rapidly. There is no sense in leaving a loophole in the coverage of the civil penalty: that would just be a recipe for diversion of illegal immigrants to freight trains and away from other forms of transport already covered. We have therefore concluded that the Bill must provide for this extension.

During Second Reading my noble friend Lord Berkeley gave an expert description of the difficult issues. The trains which reach the United Kingdom are made up of railway wagons which may have travelled individually or as part of other trains across a variety of areas of Europe. A single train may contain wagons owned by a number of different railway companies. As the noble Lord said, the wagons themselves may be hired out. Therefore a number of different organisations may be involved.

This is a different situation from the rather clearer chain of responsibility involved in respect of a lorry, trailer or other form of transport. Nonetheless we believe that it will

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be possible to apply the civil penalty. By ensuring that the coverage of "responsible persons" includes the train operator, the freight operator and the owner or hirer of the rail freight wagons, we will be able to apply the civil penalty in a realistic fashion and so provide a significant incentive to all those with relevant responsibility to ensure the security of the wagons and the trains at all stages.

We propose that the extension should be capable of being implemented by regulation and separately from the provisions relating to other types of carrier. Amendment No. 56 makes it a requirement for the Secretary of State to consult the rail freight industry before bringing before Parliament any proposal for regulations. I believe that this is a carefully considered proposal. It takes account of the consultations we have already had and provides safeguards in recognition of the exceptional circumstances of the industry. The civil penalty is a vital addition to our immigration control.

I turn now to Amendments Nos. 57 to 61 inclusive. Amendment No. 57 concerns subsection (2) of the new clause inserted by Amendment No. 56 and sets out particular issues which may be covered in the regulations. Items (c) and (d) concern, respectively, the power to detain a rail freight wagon which has been used for carriage of clandestine illegal immigrants and a power to sell such a wagon. Amendment No. 57 seeks to delete those references. The powers to detain and, if necessary, sell transporters are a vital part of the civil penalty mechanism. We hope that they will be rarely used but they are necessary given the great flow of traffic in and out of the United Kingdom. Without these powers a deliberately recalcitrant owner or operator may successfully seek to evade the civil penalty.

It is equally necessary to have these powers in relation to railfreight wagons: indeed, the circumstances of ownership and the responsibility for such wagons are particularly complex matters, which is the reason for our not proceeding directly to extend the civil penalty to such trains. So detention and sale powers are particularly necessary.

Amendment No. 58 concerns the requirement for consultation in subsection (3). I have already indicated that we have inserted this requirement to recognise the special circumstances of the railfreight industry. However, Amendment No. 58 would require not only consultation but that we "reach agreement with". That would give an unlimited veto and is obviously not acceptable.

Amendment No. 59 concerns the provisions on consultation in subsection (3) and seeks to change the wording so that the Secretary of State would have to consult all those likely to be affected "directly or indirectly". The Secretary of State will certainly judge carefully who it would be appropriate to consult and would of course consult others--for instance, the Secretary of State for Transport-- on this point. But some limit must be drawn. This amendment, explicitly requiring him to consult those indirectly affected, would widen the requirement impracticably.

Amendment No. 60 seeks to impose a new two-part requirement. It would prevent any regulations made under the new clause coming into effect if they impose

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"additional cost or significant delay" or if authorities in the countries from which freight comes here have implemented,

    "suitable systems for preventing and detecting clandestine entrants".

I recognise that it is unavoidable that the civil penalty will impose a burden on transport industries. The burden will be less, and may be nil, for those who already have in place proper systems to prevent the inadvertent carriage of clandestines. The whole point of the civil penalty is to make sure that all operators take the proper precautions. For some, this will mean additional cost. It may also mean, for some operators, some delay, although use of best practice and technology should minimise this. On those requirements alone, Amendment No. 60 would effectively block extension of the civil penalty to railfreight traffic.

The second limb concerns security systems. In practice, it would mean that extension of the civil penalty would not be possible as it is unlikely that every single country could meet the requirement. I have made it plain that our aim is to extend the penalty to those involved in railfreight services and to impose a responsibility on them to ensure that suitable security arrangements are in place. I ask the Committee to reject the amendment.

Finally, Amendment No. 61 seeks to make provision for regulations under the new clause to be subject to the affirmative resolution. In this House and elsewhere there has been considerable discussion of the general issue of the order-making powers. I understand the concerns. I do not believe that the particular circumstance of the civil penalty and its application to railfreight services warrants or requires the affirmative resolution procedure. I beg to move.

3.15 p.m.

Lord Berkeley moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 56, Amendment No. 57:

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