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The point raised by the noble and learned Lord--"affecting natural justice"--was raised initially at the meeting with the Home Secretary to consider the draft Bill. The Government responded to that in the Bill. It was again raised by the noble and learned Lord in the debate on Second Reading held only last Thursday, although for some of us that already seems like a long time ago. It came up again in Committee--at 4.30 on Tuesday morning, but still in Monday's sitting. It was then discussed in the understandable absence of the noble and learned Lord. A response of a sort was given. We returned to the matter again on Report--at half past 10 last night. It was at that point that the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, made his remark about amendments to be tabled tomorrow.
Those noble Lords who have been present for all the stages of this Bill can well accept that the noble Lord might easily have made a slip. It was 10.30 at night; all noble Lords had been up until gone five o'clock that morning; what is more, we had been debating the Bill since directly after Questions yesterday, on top of the previous day's sitting. So we can all accept that the noble Lord made a mistake at that point. But the fact remains that we have got into this difficulty.
My noble friend Lord Lucas made a good suggestion which should be considered by the Procedure Committee; namely, that should these circumstances be repeated in the future and Standing Order No. 48 is suspended so that two stages, in this case Report and Third Reading, can be taken on the same day, the standing order preventing manuscript amendments being taken at Third Reading should also be suspended. I believe that the Procedure Committee should look into that.
There is a point worth making about the usual intervals between stages of legislation. There are two types of interval in our procedures. There is the standing order which it was proposed yesterday should be suspended, but was not, stating that we cannot take two stages of a Bill in the same day. But in the Companion there is also a less binding requirement that there should be two weekends between this, a fortnight between that, and so on--the conventional longer intervals. These, of course, have been drastically suspended for this Bill, and we have been considering the Bill day by day without suspending the standing order, merely breaking the convention laid down in the Companion. But it was also proposed that we should go further and suspend the standing order as well, and the House rejected that yesterday. The question is what we should do now, having arrived at this position.
It seems to me that the first thing that should happen is that in this debate the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, should do his best to answer the points raised by the noble and learned Lord and attempt to reassure him about the way in which they will be dealt with more fully than he was able to do at half past ten last night. Then we can decide whether to proceed with the Third Reading and the government amendments that have been tabled.
One of the fortunate consequences of the House carrying the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Marlesford yesterday is that the Government have had some further thoughts and, being more understanding of the procedures than some of us, have managed to get their amendments under the wire for consideration today, which they would otherwise have been prevented from doing. So if the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, will now do his best to reassure the noble and learned Lord, we may be able to make progress.
Lord Carter: My Lords, before my noble friend does so, perhaps I may correct the noble Lord, Lord Cope. We did suspend standing orders yesterday to take all stages of the Finance Bill in one day. It is not uncommon for the intervals between stages to be collapsed. We have dealt with emergency and other important legislation. I shall not go into all the arguments as to why the Government feel that this legislation must be on the statute book before we rise for the Summer Recess. As noble Lords know, there is a game in Germany next week which could be affected. We can bring this matter before the Procedure Committee, and I undertake to make sure that, on any future occasion when it is proposed that we should take the Report stage and Third Reading on successive days, everyone is made aware of what is happening.
The noble Lord rather gave the game away. He said that some of us were a bit forgetful of procedures or were not too sure about the procedures. I think that that is what has happened. I am afraid that your Lordships have slightly overlooked the procedures of the House in this case. I undertake to make sure that arrangements are made so that when Report and Third Reading are taken on successive days everyone knows the arrangements for tabling amendments for Third Reading.
Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Cope, just said. At its next meeting the Procedure Committee should examine all the issues involved over the past few days. The noble Lord, Lord Richard, said that we were all aware of the standing order. I have been in the House 25 years and I must confess that I had not known of its existence. No doubt that represents gross negligence on my part; nevertheless, until this morning I was not aware of it.
The sensible idea proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, was that we should now hear from the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, who owes an explanation to the House for the words that he used last night when he inadvertently misled the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner. However, I very much hope, if it is at all possible--I have discussed this with my noble friend Lord McNally--that the issues raised in the amendment might be included in an amendment to Lords amendments tabled in the Commons. It is not right that the issues repeatedly drawn to our attention
Lord Lucas: My Lords, so that we understand the procedures that we now face, perhaps I may ask the Government Chief Whip whether my understanding is correct. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, will now speak in answer to the all the points made; the Question will then be put, without any further opportunity for any other noble Lord to speak; and if the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, feels that he has not received the response that he wishes, and wishes therefore that the Third Reading should be postponed until tomorrow, he should at that point shout, "Not Content", and then we can all follow, or not follow, as the case may be. Is my understanding of the procedure correct?
Lord Richard: My Lords, before my noble friend rises to reply, I am not prepared to accept that deal. If we are going to have Third Reading starting now, in the course of which the Minister will give his explanation, I entirely accept that. It is sensible. But if the idea is that the Minister gives his explanation and we then have this wrangle again, that does not seem sensible at all.
Lord Carter: My Lords, I should certainly have been prepared, if advised that it was possible, for the amendment that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, wants to be tabled in the Commons, and would have suggested that. Unfortunately, it cannot be done because amendments relating to reasons for detention and grounds for notice could not be taken in the Commons. Only amendments which are consequential on amendments made in this place can be taken, and none has been made.
My noble friend Lord Bassam has a very full reply to all the points made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and has discussed them. Before I sit down--I hope for the last time in this discussion--I would express the hope that this House is not going to get into the habit, after all its years of agreement and co-operation, of every other day deciding itself, rather than through the usual channels, whether we should take a Third Reading. We must make this House work.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, perhaps I may make one point. I telephoned the Public Bill Office and asked it to repeat my amendments, with an amendment. The amendments suggested that the police should give full particulars of the facts and matters relied upon. That had been objected to by the Minister on the grounds that it involved too big an obligation. So I amended my proposal and dictated the amendment to the Public Bill Office, which rang back later to say that it was not able to be tabled because I was out of time. So what the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, should be dealing with is the amendment, which merely deletes the word "full" before "particulars" and inserts, in lieu of "full", "essential".
I said that I would offer an explanation to the noble and learned Lord when he raised these matters yesterday. The noble and learned Lord now advises me that one of his amendments adopts a slightly different position. I have not had the opportunity fully to think it through, but I shall certainly provide the information that I promised yesterday. The noble and learned Lord asked why the Government had not accepted Amendment No. 39 in his name tabled last night. That amendment would have added a reference to "the grounds set out in section 21A" in new Section 21B.
I am extremely reluctant to disagree with the noble and learned Lord on a point of statutory interpretation. However, I am advised that the amendment is not necessary and that to make it would be repetitive and confusing. New Section 21A(1) already provides that the powers in both new Sections 21A and 21B are exercisable only if a constable has the grounds set out in paragraphs (a) and (b) of new Section 21A. It follows that the powers in new Section 21B can be exercised only where those grounds exist. I hope that the noble and learned Lord accepts that explanation.
I also explained to the House last night why, reluctantly, I was unable to accept the noble and learned Lord's suggestion that "full particulars" should be given in the reasons for detention under new Section 21A or the grounds in new Section 21B. The noble and learned Lord asked what I envisaged would be contained in the reasons and grounds to be given. In relation to the power of detention under new Section 21A, I have explained that the section already goes beyond what the common law, required under the doctrine of Christie v. Leachinsky, and what PACE requires on arrest under Section 28; namely, that the person arrested must be told the grounds for his arrest.
New Section 21A goes further and requires that the person be given the grounds in writing. This is a short-term power of detention to make enquiries to decide whether or not to issue a notice under new Section 21B. I do not envisage that the grounds will go further than to explain the provision under which the detention
As to the grounds to be stated in the notice under new Section 21B, I fully accept that more detail is required to enable adequate preparation for the forthcoming court appearance. It may not be practical in every case to give full particulars of all the evidence to be relied on at the hearing. But I certainly expect, and will ensure that guidance to the police reflects, that the notice will contain details of any previous convictions on which it is sought to rely and the reasons for believing that the person is likely to be involved in football-related violence. I shall certainly encourage the police to include as much information as they can at the time the notice is issued. Obviously, further evidence may come to light between the issue of the notice and the court hearing.
The speed with which we hope to bring these matters to court may not allow for the full advance disclosure which is normal in civil proceedings. I hope noble Lords agree that it is of the utmost importance to bring these cases before a court as quickly as possible. That may mean that full details will not be available at the time of the issue of the notice. But it would not be right to delay issue of the notice or delay a court hearing, and potentially increase the period of detention, simply so that a comprehensive document can be prepared.
I can assure the House that guidance will emphasise the importance of giving the individual concerned as much advance notice as possible of the evidence against him. The availability of legal advice and assistance will help in this respect. The respondents in these cases will have access to legal advice. If they need more time to prepare for the hearing the court will be able to adjourn for that reason. I hope that the noble and learned Lord accepts that we shall do as much as we can to meet the spirit of his amendments.
I turn to the noble and learned Lord's further amendment relating to the provision of essential rather than full particulars. I am afraid that the same range of objections applies to providing on the face of the Bill that the police must provide essential as opposed to full particulars. As much information as possible should be given in the notice under new Section 21B, but it would not be right to prevent reliance on new information which came to light after the issue of the notice and before the hearing.
I assure the House that guidance to the police will ensure that as many particulars as possible are included in the notice. We intend to consider carefully and consult upon the range of guidance that we give the police in dealing with these matters. I said that I would attempt to share that information with the noble and learned Lord. Clearly, the publication of that guidance and consultation upon it should be as full as possible. I believe that we are approaching this matter in the right order.
We have been over these matters on two previous occasions. I hope that my explanation satisfies your Lordships. I again apologise for inadvertently provoking what has turned out to be a rather lengthy but interesting procedural debate.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, my particulars are criticised because they require the information to be given in writing. If one looks at page 9, line 21, of the Bill one sees that the obligation inserted by the Government is that reasons for detaining the individual must be given in writing. Therefore, we are ad idem on that particular matter. A new criticism has emerged which is not supported by the Bill now before your Lordships. The Minister says in effect that one must not oblige those concerned to give the essential grounds; they may find it difficult to do so. Further, the Government will provide unpublished guidance to safeguard the defendant. People must rely on the Government to get the guidance right and the police to comply with that guidance. All of that is meant to protect a person who is at risk of losing his liberty, not on the basis of evidence or hard facts but suspicion--that is the word used in the Bill--and belief. I suggest to noble Lords that that is quite inadequate.