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Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, in effect these amendments give effect to the recommendations made unanimously by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am very proud to be a member. In our first report, we dealt in paragraphs 53 to 55 with our concerns and our objections in principle. We returned to the matter in paragraph 24 of our most recent report. We explained what we had said previously and then expressed our view that there remains a significant risk that disclosures will violate the right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European convention. We consider that to be the case because of the range of offences covered, the lack of statutory criteria to guide decisions and the lack of procedural safeguards to be followed when deciding whether it is necessary and proportionate to make a disclosure of personal information. We published as an appendix to our report the important written evidence of the Information Commissioner to the committee in that regard. We explained that we endorse that evidence and commend it to the attention of each House.

I had the benefit of listening to the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, on the XToday" programme this morning. It seemed to me that he was evincing open-mindedness on behalf of his department and the Government. I believe that I can speak for the whole Joint Committee in saying that we hope very much that these amendments, or something very similar to them, will commend themselves to remedy what would otherwise be a serious blemish in this legislation.

The Earl of Northesk: My Lords, it should come as no surprise to your Lordships that I support the thrust of all these amendments, particularly those relating to Parts 3 and 11. It may be helpful if, at the invitation of my noble friend Lady Buscombe, I add a few words about Amendments Nos. 10, 11, 12, 15 and 19, which are concerned with limiting the scope of Part 11.

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I need not detain your Lordships long. After all, it was only two days ago that we were in Committee on this part. None the less, I believe that it is worth repeating a question that I have asked consistently since we began scrutinising the Bill. The Minister has been studious in advising us that thus far communications data have been central to the investigation into the events of September 11th and that the assistance afforded by CSPs has been Xexcellent". All of us are delighted to hear that. However, if investigations have proceeded and are proceeding so successfully and without compromise under the existing law, what need do the Government have of such a broad scope of data retention powers on the face of the Bill?

None of us disputes that law enforcement should have adequate powers to counter the threat of global terrorism. We all share that aspiration. But those powers should not overreach themselves unnecessarily. As our debates on this issue have demonstrated so visibly, there is widespread concern that that is precisely what the Bill does.

Moreover, as I have argued consistently, there is a very real risk that the vast accumulations of data that the Bill currently envisages could prove counter-productive in terms of providing the type of focused intelligence that is required to combat terrorism. By making the powers too broad, the Bill could have the perverse effect of hampering our law enforcement agencies and intelligence services in their admirable work; nor should we underestimate how great a problem that would present in terms of data subjects' right of access to information about them under the Data Protection Act.

I turn briefly to the amendments. I hope that your Lordships will understand that there has been something of a rush to convert from Committee to Report stages in less than two days. Therefore, I apologise for any confusion that may have arisen on the Marshalled List. Noble Lords will have observed that Amendments Nos. 10 and 12, taken together, are, as it were, sub-sets of Amendment No. 11. Be that as it may, their purpose is clear. For avoidance of doubt, I merely state that Amendment No. 11 is our preferred choice. Through it, we have sought to move towards the Government's position by retaining the generality of crime purpose on the face of the Bill but constraining it by referring it back for national security purposes.

I turn to Amendment No. 15, which seeks to plug what appears to be a gap in the Bill. It seeks to ensure that, if it becomes necessary for the Secretary of State to impose a mandatory data retention scheme, that, too, will be subject to the same purposes as the voluntary scheme.

Finally, I turn to Amendment No. 19, which seeks to ensure parity and consistency of the Bill's aims and purposes with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. In sum, what is proposed for Part 11 is a package of linked amendments—Amendments Nos. 11, 15 and 19—as the means of properly limiting the scope of the proposed data retention provision without in any way

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undermining the capacity of law enforcement authorities and intelligence agencies to counter the threat from global terrorism.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, perhaps I may be permitted to make an intervention. I have not done so yet in relation to this Bill; perhaps I may be permitted to do so now. As I understand the position, under the Bill the Government are permitting the police, investigating authorities and even courts to investigate people's financial affairs—that is, their bank balances, VAT records and all such other information. That may well be fine for the purposes of terrorism.

I believe that we are all agreed that, where prospective terrorists are at large, such information should be made available to those who are investigating them. But, as my noble friend Lady Buscombe said, it is quite a different thing to permit that type of investigation to be carried out for civil offences, such as, as she suggested, motoring offences. I cannot believe that any government would want that to happen.

I wonder whether, in his reply, the Minister could let us know whether it is the Government's intention that such investigations should take place into minor criminal matters or whether they are simply to be kept for terrorist occasions. If the latter, everyone will be with the Government. If the measures are allowed to extend to criminal matters of a minor nature, most people would be against.

Supposing information is gathered and persons are found to be innocent of the offence they were thought to have committed, what will happen to that information? Will it remain on file to be used on other occasions?

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, made an interesting speech. I have not been close to this part of the Bill so far but now I understand the amendments better. The noble Lord said that the idea that one can best preserve civil liberties by suspending them was rather strange. Does the Minister agree?

4 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, a common theme runs through this debate, and Part 10, which deals with the extension of police powers, follows precisely the same principles that we have been arguing against since the Bill came before the House.

Whatever the logic, it is offensive that a Bill the House has been invited to argue in relation to a particular set of circumstances, as part of a specific emergency process, should seek to extend functions that are proper to that purpose to criminality at large. As I have said so often, crime is always with us.

Clause 90(4) states that,

    XSubsections (3) to (5) shall not apply, but any relevant physical data or sample taken in pursuance of section 18 as applied by this paragraph may be retained but shall not be used by any person except for the purposes of a terrorist investigation"—

which is absolutely fine—

    Xor for purposes related to the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence or the conduct of a prosecution".

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We find it difficult to accept that extension, which goes beyond that required for the purposes of the legislation. We have tabled one amendment to Part 10, the effect of which is to confine use of the additional powers—which refer also to Northern Ireland and to Ministry of Defence and transport police where they are called in to aid normal police forces—to matters related to terrorism. That is a proper distinction to make. I hope that Amendment No. 1 and the amendments grouped with it will in due course be supported.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, remarked, this is not only an anti-terrorism Bill but a convenient vehicle for putting through a number of other measures. As to specialised forces, we would have much preferred separate legislation and now know that there is to be a police reform Bill. When it emerges, I trust that the relationship between specialised forces and Home Office police forces will be carefully examined. I increasingly sense that some historical anomalies need to be revisited.

I thank the Ministry of Defence for arranging for a senior member of the MoD Police to brief several of us on changes in that force. He was highly persuasive and told us a great deal about recent improvements in training, links with civilian forces and accountability. We were advised that three members of the MoD Police Committee are not either members of the Armed Forces or civilian members of the Ministry of Defence. That is still a small minority. They represent the customers of the MoD police and such representation on a force that has extensive contact with the public in a delicate area of policing will also need revisiting. The main purpose of many specialised forces is the security of sensitive property but they also have a relationship with the public in areas that go well beyond terrorism.

The first key limitation we seek in Part 10 is a restriction on its application to matters that are clearly concerned with terrorism, which is the purpose of Amendment No. 9. The second is a limitation on time—a sunset clause, to which I hope we will return later. The Bill's purpose ought to be seen—as the MoD police representative was arguing—as bridging a limited gap until a police reform Bill is introduced, not to provide general powers. Amendment No. 9 is a necessary part of the restrictions that should be built into the Bill.

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