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Lord Cope of Berkeley: I want to return briefly to the Scottish matter. We discussed it a little on an earlier amendment and my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish intervened on the matter again during debate on this amendment. Is it the case that under a devolution order which, according to the phraseology used by the Minister, is to be signed, Scottish Ministers—in practice, the First Minister—will be involved? That is an interesting contrast with the position in England where signing is carried out either by the Home Secretary or by an official. In Scotland, it would appear to be done by the First Minister or a more junior Minister.

Lord Bach: Perhaps the noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting. It will be done either by the First Minister or by the Deputy First Minister, neither of whom, I believe, can be called "junior".

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I accept that. However, it seems to me that if that is the case and it is the established case, it would be much better if the Bill said so. The Bill is specific. It states that it is under the hand of the Secretary of State. That is not simply a generalised reference. It is a specific reference to a warrant being issued under the hand of the Secretary of State. I suggest that it would be advantageous if there were a reference on the face of the Bill to the fact that in Scotland the regime is to be different and is to be restricted, as the noble Lord said, to the First Minister or the Deputy First Minister.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Before the noble Lord replies, we are well into devolution; the Scotland Act is well on the statute book and the Scottish Parliament is up and running. Why are we still writing new legislation which is couched in terms as though it were still to come about? Should not the new legislation state quite clearly that the reference is to the First Minister or the Deputy First Minister of the Scottish Executive? We are going through the pretence that reference is to the Secretary of State and we are then depending on a piece of secondary legislation, which is still to be signed, to say that in the case of Scotland it should be the First Minister.

We are experiencing this problem with a raft of government Bills. It just so happens that this evening this one has come to my attention. However, some of the noble Lord's colleagues are in exactly the same position. They appear to be writing legislation as though devolution has yet to happen, when in fact it has already happened. They should be writing new legislation to take account of the fact that the reference should be to the Scottish First Minister.

I have no difficulty with the fact that the Scottish First Minister signs the warrants. I am not entirely sure that the Liberal Democrats, who may not be happy with the warrants, will be happy with the idea that the

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Deputy First Minister, who is a Liberal Democrat, will be asked to sign the warrants in the absence of the First Minister. The First Minister, who is a friend of mine, although not in political terms, is recovering from a serious heart operation at the moment, so I have little doubt that it is the Liberal Member who is going to have to sign them.

Why do we go on and on writing UK legislation, ignoring the fact that the Scottish Parliament and the Executive are now up and running? Should we not be doing that now and not depending on secondary legislation?

Viscount Astor: From an English point of view, is there not an extraordinary difference here? In Scotland it would be the First Minister or the Deputy First Minister, but in England it would be the Secretary of State or a senior official. What is wrong with the senior officials in Scotland? What is wrong with the Ministers of State in the Home Office?

Lord Bach: The same point has been made in very different ways by the noble Lords, Lord Cope and Lord Mackay. It is a good point. It is one we will take away and consider carefully.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: No one can exceed my respect for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, whom I have known and admired for over 30 years. I am very affected by any argument he produces on this matter, particularly in view of his experience. However, occasionally it is forgotten that it is not always right or best to ask those who have fulfilled a particular role (or even still fulfil it) as to what is the best way forward in a new era. He mentioned closeness to the police and other agencies as being a virtue of the Secretary of State's procedure. I view it as a defect, and I believe the public does.

The noble and learned Lord also mentioned a review of the Secretary of State's decision. I view that as a defect compared with an independent judicial decision, and the review in any event, as I attempted to draw from him, will be a general review and will be unlikely to cover a particular case. Later in this debate we will come back to haunt the noble Lords, Lord Bach and Lord Bassam, on the inadequacy, as we see it, of these new arrangements, but that is for another evening.

The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, suggested to us that judges are often out of step with Parliament. This is a Bill we are passing. It is an Act which will need to be construed judicially or quasi-judicially. If the judge or even the Secretary of State is out of step with Parliament that will be because they have been trying to apply this measure.

The noble Lord, Lord Bach, talked about the sensitivity of the decision which would be reached by the Secretary of State; maybe too sensitive, too sensitive to the pressing consideration which will surround the Secretary of State when he reaches those decisions, particularly as there is immense power of regulation under this Bill.

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The noble Lord, Lord Bach, then suggested that there are highly experienced staff to carry out these measures, and that is true. But no one is as experienced nor as competent as judges in the consideration and interpretation of complex legislation such as this. Indeed, in opening, the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, was so honest as to say that the amazingly complex web of law that is this Bill is perhaps beyond all but an experienced lawyer really to understand in all its dimensions.

These Benches are not at all satisfied with the outcome of this part of the debate. It has been acknowledged in the amendment that urgency would still be dealt with by the Secretary of State. It is accepted that national security measures are better dealt with by the Secretary of State. But, ultimately, public confidence is the judge of all that. Public confidence is not increasing as regards government, Parliament and administrations. Rather, I am sad to say, the reverse is true.

In the age of the Human Rights Act when, on 1st October, we are about to launch into an era undreamt of even 10 years ago, we should be much better, bolder and more right were we to accept the purport of the amendments. But this is not an occasion on which to attempt to take the matter further and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 33 not moved.]

10.30 p.m.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 34:

    Page 8, line 6, at end insert ("and

( ) that any information obtained will only be used for the purposes for which the warrant is granted").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 34 speaks for itself. I beg to move.

Lord Bach: I believe that the answer speaks for itself but I had better say a little about it. The intention behind this amendment is to limit strictly the use to which information gained by means of an interception warrant can be used. I sympathise with the noble Lord's intention but the result of accepting this amendment would be, in certain circumstances, unintentionally to hamper our fight against serious crime.

For example, it is certainly possible that an interception warrant that has been granted for the purpose of national security might pick up information that would prevent or detect serious crime which falls under one of the other purposes. I stress that the information used in such a circumstance would still have to be for one of the few warranted purposes, and could not be used for a purpose that could not achieve that level of seriousness. But it would seriously hamper our fight against serious crime if the unintended result of this amendment were to prohibit any action being taken in such an instance.

However, I understand the reasoning behind the noble Lord's amendment. He wishes to ensure that the information received by means of warranted

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interception is not abused in any way. We have introduced into Clauses 14 and 15 of the Bill a large number of safeguards to protect warranted information and to restrict the uses to which it may be put. Those include the requirement to ensure that the distribution and disclosure of intercepted material is kept to a minimum; and that all intercepted material is destroyed as soon as it is no longer necessary to retain it for any of the authorised purposes.

So, although we sympathise with the intentions of the noble Lord, we believe that the unintended consequences of his amendment—restriction of the ability of the intelligence and security agencies to act on information, even if only because the information received would fall under the grounds of a different warranted purpose—are not ones that he would wish to see in place.

Viscount Goschen: In terms of the restrictions on the warranted information, perhaps the noble Lord will go a little further. Will he explain to the Committee what would happen, for example, in a case where the intelligence services found that they had been pursuing the wrong man but, by accident, they stumbled upon a relatively minor crime or misdemeanour?

The noble Lord said that the information would be destroyed as soon as it was no longer necessary to pursue the cause of the original warrant. But what would happen in the case that I have just described?

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