Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Howell of Guildford: The phrase, Xcombating terrorism" at the end of proposed new subsection (1A)(c) continues to create a little unease. Can the Minister assure us that the enabling powers brought forward during this limited period will be confined to terrorism, or are the Government still mired in the difficulty that they cannot define where terrorism ends and other forms of crime begin, so that they cannot give undertakings on the matter?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: To some extent the noble Lord is right. We are talking about freezing property, evidence and other matters closely related to terrorism. That brings us back to the discussion we have been having in the past few days. Her Majesty's Government thought that it was right to have a broader definition so that we would not get into legalistic arguments. Your Lordships said that that was not satisfactory and would prefer something that was related to terrorism. So the Government sought to meet that point. The reference is to the Council framework declaration; that is all that the amendment is intended to be. The measure has been more narrowly drawn, as your Lordships wanted, but I freely acknowledge that there are a number of ways in which it could be interpreted. That is the crux of the argument we have been having in our debates.

The noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who is now in his place, raised another point. All the measures listed in Amendment No. 78A will be decided under Article 34, so they are subject to unanimity. I hope that that is a satisfactory answer.

I appreciated the remarks of the noble Lords, Lord Peyton of Yeovil and Lord Stoddart of Swindon. We have tried to enter into the genuine spirit of what a Report stage should be, listening carefully to what is said and trying to answer the points raised rationally and sensibly. We aim to meet the genuine concerns

10 Dec 2001 : Column 1160

that have been expressed by your Lordships. In that spirit I hope that we can proceed in agreement on these amendments and clauses.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 77A and 77B not moved.]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean moved Amendment No. 77BA:

    Page 66, line 7, leave out from Xunder" to Xor" in line 8 and insert Xany third pillar measure"

[Amendment No. 77BB, as an amendment to Amendment No. 77BA, not moved.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 77C not moved.]

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 77CA:

    Page 66, line 11, leave out Xthe third pillar" and insert Xany third pillar measure"

[Amendment No. 77CB, as an amendment to Amendment No. 77CA, not moved.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 78 not moved.]

Lord Rooker moved Amendments Nos. 78A and 78B:

    Page 66, line 15, leave out subsections (2) and (3) and insert—

X(1A) For the purposes of subsection (1), the following are third pillar measures—
(a) the 1995 Convention drawn up on the basis of Article 31 of the Treaty on European Union on Simplified Extradition Procedure between the Member States of the European Union,
(b) the 1996 Convention drawn up on the basis of Article 31 of the Treaty on European Union relating to Extradition between the Member States of the European Union, and
(c) any framework decision adopted under Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union on the execution in the European Union of orders freezing property or evidence, on joint investigation teams, or on combating terrorism."
Page 67, line 14, leave out Xthe third pillar" and insert Xany third pillar measure"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 79 not moved.]

Clause 112 [Third pillar: supplemental]:

[Amendment No. 80 not moved.]

Clause 113 [Use of noxious substances to cause harm and intimidate]:

The Duke of Montrose moved Amendment No. 81:

    Page 68, line 25, at beginning insert XIn England and Wales or Northern Ireland,"

The noble Duke said: This subject was touched on at Second Reading by my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour on the suggestion of the Law Society of Scotland. I have the feeling from what the Minister said at col. 719 on the fourth day of Committee that he is also aware of the issue of the common law of Scotland.

This group of amendments seeks to disapply Clauses 113 and 114 from Scotland. Clause 113 creates a new statutory offence in relation to the use of, and

10 Dec 2001 : Column 1161

threats involving dangerous substances. It offers as a penalty a maximum prison sentence of six months, a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or both on a summary conviction, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, a fine, or both, on conviction on indictment. Clause 114 creates a new statutory offence in relation to hoaxes involving noxious substances, with equal penalties.

These are suitable subjects to be included within the framework of legislation when dealing with modern terrorism. Presumably they are seen as providing strength to the statutory law of the United Kingdom. The problem for Scotland is that these activities are all capable of being regulated under the common law, and in this case under a charge of fraud or breach of the peace. The penalty for being found guilty under this offence is a maximum of life imprisonment or an unlimited fine.

The common law is a far greater deterrent, and unless the Government feel that terrorists in Scotland should be dealt with more leniently than at present, I submit that these amendments are required. The other irony of the situation may be that statistically one might find a larger number of people angling to be charged as terrorists after a rowdy night out in Scotland because they feel assured that there is a fairly low penalty if they are found guilty. I beg to move.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: The Law Society of Scotland is probably right. I imagine that the drafting needs some attention as I think that there needs to be a consequential amendment to Clause 126. I hope that the Government will accept the amendments.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: During the devolution debates, I stressed the value of devolution in giving Scots law, and Scots criminal law in particular, its own Parliament. I am therefore inclined to support the amendments proposed by the noble Duke, as this type of legislation would be better dealt with by the Scottish Parliament. Both offences can be classed as breaches of the peace and the almost unrestricted punishments would be more effective.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, the Scottish Parliament debated and agreed the way forward proposed in the Bill on 15th November. To remove Scotland from the Bill in the way proposed would cause problems. The whole of the United Kingdom will be affected by those who use noxious substances to cause serious harm. The effects would be felt in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff as equally as they would be in London. Bearing in mind that the Scottish Executive has agreed the policy, which was agreed by the Scottish Parliament after the debate on 15th November, I hope that noble Lords will think twice about pressing the amendments.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, the debate was as to whether or not a Sewell Motion should be passed rather than a full debate on the contents of the Bill.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister—the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh is

10 Dec 2001 : Column 1162

looking very cross with me—whether it is the case that the Scottish Parliament had asked Scottish Members of the House of Commons and noble Lords—particularly on the advice of noble Lords based in Scotland—to do what they think is best? It is a perfectly legitimate request. I thought perhaps the Government might accept it.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, the Government are not accepting it. The policy has been agreed by the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament. Whichever way one looks at it, they have agreed the way forward proposed in the Bill.

The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, as I understand it, the Scottish Parliament has asked us to debate what should be in the Bill. We have the power to put in and take out whatever we want. The amendments do not remove Scotland from anything other than Clauses 113 and 114. However, if this is not clear, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 82:

    Page 68, line 27, after Xhas" insert Xor is likely to have"

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 82, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 83, 84 and 89. I shall be extremely brief.

As drafted, it is not precisely clear in the Bill that Clause 113 would cover the circumstances where an action set out in subsection (2)(a), (b) and (c) has been disrupted before it has had chance to take effect—for example, where the police intercept a package of anthrax spores designed to kill the recipient before it reaches its target. It is obvious that such cases must and should be caught by the offence. Amendment No. 82 seeks to clarify this by providing that the action need be only Xlikely" to have the effect. Amendment No. 84 is a consequential amendment; Amendment No. 83 is necessary to ensure consistency; and Amendment No. 89 is necessary to ensure consistency with Clause 114. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page