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Lord Molyneaux of Killead: It gives me great pleasure to support both the amendment and the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley. In a previous incarnation I had the privilege of appearing before many of these distinguished persons. Although their conclusions were sometimes a little inconvenient to some of us--and even more inconvenient for some governments--their reports instilled confidence in the community in general. They disarmed critics of the legislation from abroad--usually people with very little real knowledge of the situation with which we were dealing. We have benefited greatly from the views and services of those distinguished persons. I warmly support the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Cope, for his explanation of the amendments and especially for drawing attention to their probing nature. This is both a necessary and an important discussion.

It has long been the case that annual reporting on the operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Provisions Act has greatly assisted both this and another place in our respective consideration of the annual renewals. The Government accepted at an early stage of the Bill that an annual report to both Houses of Parliament would be welcomed, and brought forward an amendment to that effect which now appears in Clause 125.

I shall work through each amendment in turn, and begin with Amendment No. 205C. It is our intention here that the report will continue to be prepared by someone entirely independent of government; in other words, someone with an independent mind and an independent view. I am happy to place that on record. With that clear commitment, I see no need for the matter to be placed on the face of the Bill.

However, I should not be so happy to accept the other proposition in Amendment No. 205C; namely, that the reviewer must have a legal qualification. I see no reason for the proposition, although a legal background could undoubtedly be beneficial. I yield to no one in my admiration for the legal profession--I dare not, I live with a lawyer. But, having said that, such an absolute requirement might rule out other individuals equally suited to the post who may bring to bear different but equally valuable experience--experience, indeed, which in a sense guarantees their independence. To use a well-worn phrase, we want to find the right person for the job.

Amendment No. 206 would require all orders and regulations made under the Act to be covered by the annual report. I see the aim behind the amendment, but I do not believe that such a provision is entirely necessary. After all, the report is intended to cover the operation of the Act. In our view, this will catch the operation of powers exercisable under secondary

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legislation. The term "working of this Act" is deliberately wide to enable the report to cover the operation of the powers to whatever extent the reviewer wishes. For example, in his annual reports on the counter-terrorist legislation that is currently in force, Mr John Rowe QC goes to the trouble of looking at letters of complaint to central government on the operation of the Acts.

I ask the noble Lord to bear in mind a further point. In Northern Ireland, the holding centres are subject to a separate review mechanism; and, under this Bill, there is a mechanism for the independent review of the military complaints procedures. So it would not be necessary for these matters to be covered in the annual report, though the reviewer could, as I explained, look at them if he or she wished to do so. I believe that it is far better for us to leave it to the discretion of the independent reviewer to decide what specific ground should apply. As drafted, Clause 125 gives him or her the latitude to cover the noble Lord's point.

I turn finally to Amendment No. 207, which would require an annual debate on the report, with a move to quarterly reporting if Parliament does not approve the most recent report. Clause 125 will ensure that the Secretary of State should lay a report before "both Houses of Parliament" about the working of the Act as a whole. But we believe that the question of whether to hold a debate on that report should be left to the proper procedures of this and, indeed, another place, where this clause was added to the Bill.

Many reports are laid before Parliament each year and, clearly, it would not be possible for them all to be debated. It is for this Chamber and another place to decide which reports should be the subject of a specific debate. We do not want to bind Parliament or fetter its discretion, as this amendment would do, to have to debate this report every year; or, as the amendment suggests, more frequently if there were concerns about the content of the report. In the final analysis, we believe that the decision would be best taken year on year in respect of each report, through the usual procedures of the House. With that explanation, I trust that the noble Lord will not press his amendment.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: There was a crumb or two in the Minister's response. First, so far as concerns Amendment No. 205C, we now know that the report will be prepared by an independent adviser. However, the Minister also said that it would not necessarily be prepared by a lawyer. At that point, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor came into the Chamber. I was not quite sure whether he had done so in order to intervene on behalf of his profession, but perhaps his entry relates to later business.

I must admit that I was surprised by what the Minister said in that respect. It seems to me that it is essentially a legal job to report on this legislation. I cannot recollect off the top of my head all those who previously prepared reports, but I believe that I am right in saying that all of them have been distinguished lawyers--

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I shall be brief. My only

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connection with the legal profession was when I served for many years as a justice of the peace, but I was then "holding the ring", so to speak, and not necessarily on anyone's side.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, made a valid point earlier. We need to reassure the public. The public perception is that a person who is learned in the law, for example, can be trusted to act impartially and to give an impartial view.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I agree with those comments. It is important that a distinguished lawyer should prepare the report. Perhaps the Minister can tell me whether under the previous legislation the report was prepared by someone who was not a leading lawyer. However, as far as I can recall, a leading lawyer has always prepared it.

I received more than a crumb, as it were, on Amendment No. 206 as the Minister assured me that all orders and regulations were covered by the provision. As regards Amendment No. 207, I received, if more than a crumb, only half a loaf. The Minister said that it was for Parliament to decide whether to discuss the report. Strictly speaking, that is correct. However, I hoped that the Minister would say that it was the Government's intention to suggest that both Houses of Parliament should discuss the report. We all know that the Government have a great deal of influence over what is discussed in both Houses of Parliament. The Government have extensive, although not complete, control over the time allocated to business in both Houses of Parliament. I thought that I would be given an undertaking that it was the Government's intention that the report should be discussed in both Houses of Parliament. I certainly think that it should be.

However, I shall not press the matter at this stage. We shall consider it further. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 206 and 207 not moved.]

Clause 125 agreed to.

Clause 126 agreed to.

Clause 127 [Commencement]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 207A and 208:

    Page 59, line 10, leave out ("section 2(2)") and insert ("sections 2(2) and (Defences)").

    Page 59, line 13, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendments Nos. 207A and 208 en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 127, as amended, agreed to.

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Clause 128 [Transitional provisions]:

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 209:

    Page 59, line 15, leave out subsections (1) and (2) and insert--

("( ) Where, immediately before the coming into force of section 2(1)(a), a person is being detained by virtue of a provision of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989--
(a) the provisions of that Act shall continue to apply to him, in place of the corresponding provisions of this Act, until his detention comes to an end, and
(b) nothing in paragraph 4 or 7 of Schedule 15 shall have effect in relation to him during his detention.").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 209, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 210 and 211. These are technical amendments to do with the transitional provisions in the Bill.

As the Committee knows, the Bill replaces the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1989, (the PTA). Subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 128 deal with what happens to people who are being detained under the PTA at the moment when the Bill takes over.

The effect of the Bill as currently drafted is that, if someone is arrested under the arrest power in Section 14 of the PTA, the police will have to apply the Bill regime to their detention as soon as the Bill comes into force. But if someone is arrested under the ports powers in Schedule 5 to the PTA, the PTA regime continues for them up to the end of their detention. We believe that this position is anomalous in that it could lead to different regimes applying to people who were detained at the same time. We are also concerned that the idea of switching to the "Bill" detention regime half-way through someone's detention, as contemplated by Clause 128(1), could be difficult in practice.

We have therefore decided that it will be simpler and just as effective to allow for the PTA detention regimes to continue to the end of the detention period for anyone arrested under the PTA, whether under the arrest power or the ports powers. This is achieved by Amendment No. 209. I remind the Committee that the maximum period any detention could last under this transitional regime is one minute short of seven days.

I should stress that this is very much a belt and braces provision for use in the circumstances where someone is being detained when the Bill comes into effect. We do not envisage that it will be used much--and, of course, it has an extremely limited shelf life.

Amendment No. 210 is a general transitional proposition. It is immediately intended to deal with any problems which might arise in Schedule 15 where the Bill substitutes references to detention under provisions of the Bill for references to detention under provisions of the PTA, but where the policy intention is that references to the former should include references to the latter.

Amendment No. 211 clarifies transitional arrangements for the specific case of Section 14 of the EPA. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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