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(1) No funding shall be permissible from outside the United Kingdom for any political party or organisation which the Secretary of State reasonably believes to be, or to be closely connected with, a terrorist organisation, or any of whose members are also members of a terrorist organisation.
(2) Section 70 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (c. 41) (special provision for Northern Ireland parties) shall cease to have effect.
(3) Any order in force which has been made by the Secretary of State under section 70(1) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 prior to the coming into force of this Act and which has the effect of—
(a) extending in relation to a Northern Ireland party the categories of permissible donors specified in section 54(2) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (permissible donors), or
(b) disapplying, in relation to a Northern Ireland party, any specified provisions of Part IV of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (control of donations to registered parties and their members etc.),
shall cease to have effect on the commencement of this Act."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I wish to speak to this amendment very briefly. I realise that the House is very short of time. Hence I will be brief. We on these benches have stood unequivocally behind the Prime Minister in the weeks since September 11th in his fight against terrorism, and we continue to do so. We also agree with him that one of the key weapons in the fight against terrorism is to choke off the international flow of funds to organisations which are terrorist organisations or which support such terrorist organisations.

Once more the House voted last week to remove from the Bill the artificial distinction between two types of terrorism, which we welcome. As the House well knows, terrorist organisations like the Real IRA and the Provisional IRA are closely linked to overseas terrorist organisations.

These amendments aim to end the exemption under the political parties Act and render impermissible any funding from outside the UK to terrorist or terrorist-related organisations. Surely the logic of this must be absolutely clear: that is the right course of action. There is no normality if Sinn Fein and Northern Ireland parties alone of all those in the United Kingdom are allowed to receive foreign funds.

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As time is short, I make this statement. The arguments are very well understood. I sincerely hope that the Government will not reject this amendment. As I am sure that noble Lords on the Government Benches will know, I am pretty passionate about it and I believe, and those of us who take an interest in Northern Ireland believe, that this is a right, sensible and, in fact, the only road to go unless we are to follow the Mandelson road. I beg to move.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I shall be brief. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, does not criticise me for this but, to be honest, this Bill is not a suitable vehicle for changing our electoral law. That is the reality. We have been criticised throughout for what—

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt but it is nothing to do with electoral law. It is to do with political parties' funding.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, that is electoral law. It has got to be. Sometimes I have had a hard time in the last six days making the connection between crime, the funding of crime, the funding of terrorism and linking them all together. I cannot do it. I cannot link electoral law and electoral practices in the funding of political parties to this Bill. That just does not fit in this Bill. I have got nothing else to say about it.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, I am sorry to hear the Minister's response and I apologise if I was a bit abrupt in my hurry to get the deal done. I beg leave to withdraw this amendment and reserve the right to bring it back at Third Reading.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 2 [Terrorist property: amendments]:

Lord Kingsland moved Amendment No. 54:

    Page 85, line 19, after Xthat" insert Xeach of the requirements for the making of the order is fulfilled"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 60, 62 and 64 in this group, which reflect my greatest concerns.

Amendment No. 60 deals with the matters that must be satisfied before a judge can make an account monitoring order. As I said in Committee, we believe that the judge should be satisfied not only that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person specified in the application has committed a terrorist offence, but also that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accounts information will be of substantial value to the investigators. The Minister replied that the grounds would not be unreasonable. In those circumstances, what possible objection could there be to accepting the amendment?

On Amendment No. 62, in Committee the Minister was reassuring on the appropriate level of protection for legal professional privilege. However, if I recall correctly, I asked him to reflect before Report on whether he felt that the Bill's silence on the point was sufficient protection in the context of the legislation, when many other rights normally accorded to litigants were being suspended or abandoned.

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Amendment No. 64 concerns the offence of failing to disclose information relating to certain criminal activities under the Act. It would impose a duty on a person to disclose information that led him to suspect that another individual had committed a terrorist offence. We are perfectly content with the new offence; but, again, as I said in Committee, we see no point in imposing a duty to disclose certain information if it is already in the public domain. Moreover, I question whether the circumstances are appropriate for reversing the burden of proof. I beg to move.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I shall do my best to separate out the amendments that the noble Lord has referred to specifically, because I do not want to digress. I hope that I get the information right on Amendment No. 60—if I do not, I shall take advice—because it is mixed up in my notes on the whole group.

Amendment No. 60 takes the wording from the production orders in paragraph 6 of Schedule 5 to the Terrorism Act 2000. It would introduce a higher threshold in that the account information must be likely to be of substantial value to the investigation. The difference in the threshold is justified on two bases. First, account monitoring orders are more closely connected with the financial orders, the provision for which is in the model for the requirements in the Bill. We think that it is right that the two orders should be available on a similar basis. Secondly, an account monitoring order will necessarily be more speculative than a production order. The aim of an account monitoring order is to find evidence of a transaction that has not yet happened, whereas a production order is focused on material that already exists or will soon exist. Therefore it is possible to be more specific about the value of the investigation material sought by way of a production order. We see great value to the police, the courts and financial institutions in framing the two powers in similar terms.

The difference between the Government's approach and that adopted by the noble Lord is essentially twofold. First, the court would not be able to make an order unless it was satisfied that there were reasonable grounds for suspecting the person specified of a terrorist offence. Secondly, the police would have to demonstrate that the information to be obtained would be of substantial value to the terrorist.

In the first case, there is an assumption that the person specified will be suspected of an offence. That may be true in the majority of cases, but it will not necessarily be so. The police may wish to obtain information relating to transactions on an account when the account holder—that is, the person specified—may well be innocent and may be being used by others. The amendment would preclude the use of the order in such cases. Even in those cases where the person specified is the suspect, the requirement to have reasonable grounds would preclude the use of this investigatory tool at an early stage in the investigation when it might not be possible at that point to establish such reasonable grounds.

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Regarding the other two amendments which we debated in Committee, I had hoped that I had offered comfort to people who thought they might be in such a position. The amendments seek to provide that a person does not commit an offence by failing to disclose information which is already in the public domain. The Bill already provides that a person does not commit the offence if he has a reasonable excuse for failing to disclose. As I indicated in Committee, that would be capable of covering the case where a person believed the information to be so widely known it did not need to be passed to the police. The provision provides a way to assess whether that person would be relieved from his criminal liability; that is, was it reasonable of him to act as he did? That is the proper way to deal with what the amendment refers to as information Xin the public domain".

The noble Lord talked in Committee about the reverse burden of proof and discussed the normal circumstances in which the courts are prepared to tolerate reverse burdens of proof. For the reasons stated, we do not believe that that argument is valid. There is a good defence set out in the legislation for people who genuinely believe that the relevant information is in the public domain. It would be very easy to make that defence in whatever circumstances anyone can think of. If someone is accused of withholding information, and he or she says they believed it to be in the public domain, they will be able to point to it, whether it is in the form of a transcript, press cutting, media monitoring or whatever. They will have evidence that it is in the public domain. Therefore, there will be a perfectly honourable defence to put before the courts in those circumstances.

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