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The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, the measures to which the extended powers will apply are listed in Schedule 4 and include Section 24(1) of the Agriculture Act 1967—which lies behind the agricultural census that is undertaken twice a year and discloses details of all farming businesses. That information is collected for general statistical purposes but details of individual businesses have until now been kept confidential. It is a major worry to me and, I should think, to many other

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farmers that Clause 17 might permit the disclosure of such information generally. If it does, I shall certainly support my noble friend's amendment.

Lord Elton: My Lords, I know that the House is concerned to preserve those elements of public and individual security that do not have to be diluted in the face of the present emergency. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, accepts that the term Xpublic authority" embraces a public authority outside the United Kingdom, including outside Europe. That term is defined in Clause 20(1)(a), which states that it has,

    Xthe same meaning as in section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (c. 42)".

Section 6(3) of the 1998 Act states that Xpublic authority" includes,

    Xa court or tribunal, and . . . any person certain of whose functions are of a public nature".

Your Lordships will be pleased to hear that the term,

    Xdoes not include either House of Parliament or a person exercising functions in connections with proceedings in Parliament".

We have here machinery that can result in confidential information being released to a foreign public authority. That could be the police or another body, certainly anywhere in Europe and arguably anywhere in the world. The proposal goes much further than the matter with which we are concerned. A public authority is also defined as any public authority, not merely the police. The ramifications of that are enormous and quite unnecessary. They would be curtailed by this group of amendments and I hope that noble Lords will support them.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, I take that argument further by pointing out that accepting that Xelsewhere" means Xoutside the United Kingdom" requires us to reconsider Clause 18. It will allow the Secretary of State to give a direction controlling what will or will not be sent to Xoverseas proceedings". Subsection (4)states:

    XA direction under this section shall not have the effect of prohibiting . . . the making of any disclosure in pursuance of a Community obligation".

That also leads us straight into Community obligations that are likely to be taken on soon, for instance, with regard to Europol.

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, during the Bill's passage through this House, there has been widespread—almost total—support for the Government's intention of combating terrorism. There has been an acceptance that they need additional powers and that those powers are valid. However, they are valid solely for the specific purpose of preserving national security and combating terrorism.

As we have heard, the Bill is drawn much more widely than that. The argument that the Government deployed in Committee was that their intention was to focus the use of the Bill's powers on combating

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threats to national security and on countering terrorism, but that they needed wider, broader powers because terrorists are involved in many other crimes—which is, of course, true. As we have heard, terrorists can be involved in drug running, people trafficking, money laundering and a broad spread of other crimes. That is why the amendments, which were drafted by my noble friends and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, sought to preserve the Government's ability to tackle terrorists who are involved in other crimes by ensuring that whatever crime the Bill's powers are focused on, such powers must be related to combating terrorism.

I draw your Lordships' attention to Part 11, which is on page 62 of the Bill, and to Amendment No. 11. We spent much time in Committee discussing the vitally important subject of the retention of communications data. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which recently passed through your Lordships' House, is highly relevant to these provisions.

The Government's arguments about whether or not the Bill's powers should be limited to combating terrorism and the preservation of national security are, I suggest, polarised in Clause 103(6). That subsection states: XA code of practice"—relating to the retention of communications data—

    Xor agreement under this section may contain any such provision as appears to the Secretary of State to be necessary—

    (a) for the purpose of safeguarding national security; or

    (b) for the purposes of the prevention or detection of crime or the prosecution of offenders".

Noble Lords on the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Benches—and, indeed, occasionally on the Cross Benches—argued that that is an extremely broad power.

Amendment No. 11 seeks to restrict that broad power in paragraph (b) and would insert:

    Xfor the purposes of prevention or detection of crime or the prosecution of offenders which may relate directly or indirectly to national security".

In terms of drafting the code of practice, that paragraph would surely give the Government every possible power that they might require to address the issue about which we are all concerned—national security. The Government's argument that terrorists are involved in other crimes, such as drug running, is not relevant. If the Government seek to retain paragraph (b) as it is currently drafted, that is surely a tacit admission that they wish to use the Bill for all sorts of purposes that are wholly unconnected with counter-terrorism.

This House and another place recognised the Government's need to take additional powers, but we have not said that they should be issued with a blank cheque under the cover of threats to our national security. I support the amendments.

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4.15 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): My Lords, I shall do my best to respond to the amendment and those grouped with it; if those amendments were agreed to as a group, they could be described as wrecking amendments. That is our view.

Lord McNally: My Lords—

Lord Rooker: No, my Lords, I have only just started. I hope that the noble Lord will permit me to continue. I am not seeking to wind anyone up.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord McNally: My Lords, I told the Minister not to start trouble at the end of the evening. I should explain to noble Lords that the noble Lord and I had a conversation in which I said, XDon't make provocative statements right at the end of the evening, because that winds everyone up". He obviously misunderstood my advice and decided to do that right at the beginning instead.

I seek to be constructive. Does the Minister think that the second report—actually, I believe that it is the fifth report—from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which is on the Bill and which makes some pertinent recommendations, is a wrecking document? Many of its recommendations are very similar to the amendments.

Lord Rooker: No, my Lords, I do not accept that my description applies to any of the Select Committee reports that have come jointly from this House or from the other place. I shall in due course refer to a new report—it was published today—by the Defence Committee of the other House. There are positive suggestions in many of the reports that we are still—I stress that I speak in the present tense—doing our best to respond to. As I speak, they are being worked on.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, rightly told the House about what he said to me this morning. I obviously misunderstood him. However, I still maintain that, taken together, if this group of amendments were pressed as a group, they would wreck the Bill. I shall explain why. I shall be brief because we had an extensive debate in Committee—I make no complaint about that. In Committee, noble Lords did a good job of scrutinising a complicated Bill that will affect many government departments.

In Clause 17, limiting disclosure of information to cases in which the public authority suspects or believes that information is related to a terrorist threat or a threat to national security raises a central issue that undermines many of the contributions of noble Lords. On the face of it, the proposition is attractive, but it would render the clause ineffective and would not lead to the result that noble Lords had in mind when they tabled the amendments.

It is important to point out that it is frequently impossible for a public authority, which often does not have all the facts of a case, to determine whether a

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particular piece of information is relevant to a case of terrorism or a threat to national security. That is rather like noble Lords and their children or grandchildren trying to put a jigsaw together. You tip all the pieces out. You may have an idea of the picture but half-way through you realise that the picture is not quite right and ask yourself, XHave we put the wrong pieces in the jigsaw?" You have to examine every single piece to ensure that you have got the picture right. You might start by saying, XThe sky's the wrong colour. That piece doesn't fit here". It is only when pieces on the other side of the picture are put together that you see the connection. I use that analogy, for example, when we consider the activities of the investigating authorities. That thread has to run through the Bill and these clauses. In the original drafting of the Bill, and since, we sought to define in legislative terms. Noble Lords pushed us to rewrite the clause so that the definition would refer to terrorism only.

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