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Lord Williams of Mostyn: One finds the answer to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, in the side rubric to Clause 144. Detainee custody officers relate to those who are applicants

So the definition is to be found in Clause 144.

In respect of the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, I repeat that the detention centre rules under Clause 143 will set out detailed provisions about accommodation facilities. I repeat: separate living accommodation will be required.

The Earl of Sandwich: The Minister was so helpful on Amendment No. 188A that I was far too enthusiastic on Amendment No. 198A. I understand that he could not meet all the points raised in the speech moving the amendment. It was intended to be a probing amendment. The noble Lord has been reassuring about the role of the inspector of prisons. I shall consider the matter carefully. We may have to return to the issue. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

10.45 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I wish to be as helpful as I can to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. I gave a general answer. I can now be more specific. The noble Lord is entitled to the answer, as is the Committee. There will not be any provision for family and children accommodation in Lindholme, so his question does not arise. Three or four family rooms will be planned for Aldington and the new centre at Heathrow. I hope that that is of further assistance to the noble Lord.

Lord Avebury: What happens if families with children have to be detained in the north? That is what Lindholme is being specifically converted to deal with.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I should never attempt to be more helpful than exigency demands. I thought that I was being as generous as I possibly could be by reassuring the Committee. One of these days I shall learn the lesson.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Clause 142 agreed to.

Clause 143 [Detention centre rules]:

Baroness Williams of Crosby moved Amendment No. 199:

Page 95, line 32, leave out ("safety, care").

The noble Baroness said: If Amendments Nos. 196 and 197 had been moved, I may not have had to move this amendment. However, since those amendments were not moved, and we have to consider the possibility that people with a history of persecution or torture, or those with a history of rape or other sexual violence, may find themselves detained, it is important that I move the amendment. It is intended to be a probing amendment about the provision for medical care within detention centres.

We seek to find out the provision for the safety and care of detainees. We are concerned about procedures to be followed for detainees with a history of torture. That means counselling facilities and facilities to deal with psychological problems. We are concerned about access to independent medical advice. That fits directly with the kind concession by the Government at an earlier stage when they agreed that people could travel for independent medical advice if, for example, they sought to prove allegations of torture. In the case of a detainee, that might not be practicable. Therefore, we are asking whether such access can be provided in detention centres.

Finally, in paragraph (d) we deal with the issue of access to independent medical opinions. That relates in particular to support for applications for asylum or protection under the Human Rights Act. I shall not waste the Committee's time. We should like to receive another helpful answer from the Government about the provision of medical advice when available in the detention centre or the means to obtain that advice from outside. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I have some sympathy with the two amendments spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, but I wish to refer to Amendment No. 207 standing in my name. It takes up the recommendation of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee that it would be more appropriate for these rules to be subject to the affirmative procedure. That is right.

The Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee has usually received your Lordships' acquiescence in its recommendations and I believe that it should do so in this case.

Earl Russell: The noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, will remember the case about which my noble friend Lord Avebury and I corresponded with him and on which he was, as usual, extremely helpful. It was of a Nigerian asylum seeker who, after his normal appeal process had been exhausted, was found and demonstrated conclusively to have been a victim of torture.

The late diagnosis of cases of torture and the late revealing of evidence of torture are perennial problems and are particularly relevant to this amendment. The

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most important part is that which provides for the obtaining of medical opinions in cases of torture. We entirely agree with Ministers that we cannot simply rely on every asylum seeker claiming torture and saying that they are all victims. We need evidence.

There could be advantages to all parties in doctors being available within the official context who can provide evidence that is officially recognised as competent and normally reliable. It would save us all a great deal of trouble. That is one of many reasons why I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I entirely appreciate the reasoning behind Amendments Nos. 199 and 200. I say straightaway that the detention centre rules will contain arrangements for the provision of medical care and specialist counselling services for victims of torture. I also make it clear that they will make provision about access to detention centres for those who have been unable to provide independent medical advice or opinions. It is the Government's policy, as set out in the White Paper, to exercise particular care when deciding whether to detain those who may exhibit physical or mental health problems. In particular, any evidence of a history of torture would weigh strongly in favour of temporary admission to this country while an individual's asylum claim was being considered.

Therefore, we must recognise that some of the protection offered by Amendment No. 200 will be necessary only in exceptional cases where it is inappropriate to release those with medical or mental problems, at least in the short term which would be the preferred course.

The object of Clause 143 is to provide a statutory framework covering all aspects of the management and administration of detention. The aim of the rules would be to ensure that detainees are held in a safe, secure and humane environment. That is what the Chief Inspector of Prisons recommended and that is what we intend to deliver. I agree that the rules should set out many of the issues highlighted by Amendment No. 200 and I have indicated specifically those which have caused particular concern to noble Lords.

It must be said that the same can be said of a whole host of other issues not raised either in the amendment or in the clause as it stands. That is why Clause 143 provides only an illustration of the areas which may be provided for in detention centre rules. It would be inappropriate to seek to list in the clause every specific area in which provision will be made. I hope that that explains why we have drafted the provision in such a way and that it reassures the noble Baroness. It follows that I cannot accept Amendment No. 200, and, as a consequence, Amendment No. 199.

To return to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, which concerns a different point, Clause 143 requires the Secretary of State to make the rules for the regulation of management of detention centres. The aim of the rules will be to ensure a safe, secure and humane environment. This imposition of statutory rules will give effect to one of the key recommendations of the Chief Inspector of Prisons. It is

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proposed to follow identical parliamentary procedures for detention centre rules to those used for the prison rules made under the Prison Act 1952. Since an amendment made under the Criminal Justice Act 1967, these rules have been subject to the negative procedure.

I am aware that the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee recommended that consideration should be given to subjecting detention centre rules to the affirmative procedure in keeping with Amendment No. 207. However, for the reasons I have given I am satisfied that the negative resolution procedure provides an appropriate level of parliamentary scrutiny and provides a necessary symmetry to the existing procedure for making prison rules. I hope therefore that the noble Lord will not feel obliged to press his amendment.

11 p.m.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: I thank the Minister for what he has said about Amendments Nos. 199 and 200. He has given us the information we wanted and we are grateful for that. Before I withdraw the amendment, perhaps I may put one question to him. In his remarks he said that special concern would be shown towards those found to be the subjects of torture and that as far as possible they would not be detained. We are worried by what appears to be some incompatibility with a letter dated 26th July received by my noble friend Lord Avebury and signed by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn. The letter states:

    "those requiring health care or medical treatment available only in prison, in circumstances where it is not appropriate for the person to be released or placed under long-term hospital watch in an NHS hospital".

We are a little concerned that could be read as saying that where someone needed certain healthcare or medical treatment, as many victims of torture would, it might be more likely that they would be sent to a prison. We hope that that is not the right interpretation because that would be somewhat incompatible with the welcome reassurance that the Minister has just given us.

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