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Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I support the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. We believe, in principle, that emergency legislationunless it is very simple indeedshould have a sunset clause. That is why, for example, the Football Disorder Bill, which was enacted a couple of years ago, is coming back next week in a new form of primary legislation. We believe that is the right course for that legislation, and even more the right course for this Bill.
The more contentious a provision, the sooner the sun should set on itand aspects of this Bill are very contentious. We have had lengthy debates on such aspects at Second Reading, in Committee and now at Report stage. While the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, has analysed the problem correctly, he has come up with not the most attractive solution. Unfortunately, when it comes to the issue of consultation, the Home Secretary can, of course, choose the people with whom he consults. No doubt he can find helpful people, both in your Lordships' House and elsewhere, with whom he can consult and who can say, XAll is well". I shall not suggest the names of those whom he may choose for that purpose.
We believe that it will be much better to take the simple and direct course and to have proper reconsideration of this legislation in Parliament, where we will have a proper opportunity to consider the parts that are contentious and the parts that turn out not to have worked well. We should do that in due course and in proper time. If provisions turn out to be unobjectionable, it will not take any time to put them back on the statute book. If any are contentious or remain objectionable, they need proper considerationparticularly in the other place. We strongly support Amendment No. 106 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, which is more or less identical in its effect to an amendment jointly tabled by our parties in the other place. I echo the noble Lord in hoping that the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, will not press Amendment No. 105 but will allow the House to go straight to a vote on Amendment No. 106.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, what would happen if the Opposition did not like another Bill and chose this measure as a pretext for attacking it? That is possible in either House.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I am not sure that I follow the problem that the noble Lord sees. If the Bill or parts of it come back in new legislation, it will be debated. I do not see how it would be relevant to consider other Bills when dealing with further consideration of the Bill before us.
Lord Renton: My Lords, it has been customary for years, when emergency legislation has been in the national interest, to ensure that such a measure does not become a permanent part of our lawmore especially so, if it had to be rushed through. That is true of most emergency legislation to my recollection, which goes back rather a long way. As I said in Committee, it would normally be highly desirable for members of all Front Benches to agree something. If that has not and cannot be done, it will be necessary to accept a suggestion of the kind proposed by my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith, which seems ideal in the circumstances. I hope that Members of all parties will be glad to accept it.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, this is the first time since I entered the House that I have witnessed a Cross-Bencher being so squeezed by the two Opposition parties. It is for the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, to decide what to do with his amendment, which should not be for the convenience of the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats. Not that I am encouraging the noble Viscount to press his amendment.
Amendment No. 105 may not fit parliamentary niceties but it is more intelligent than Amendment No. 106. That is not to disparage the Conservative Oppositionfar from it. However, Amendment No. 105 is more practicable because implicit in it is that a good part of the Bill should remain permanently in force.
The amendments would virtually time limit the whole Bill. As the measure has progressed through both Houses, we have introduced two major sunset clauses that time limit the detention and justice and home affairs powers. The amendments would commit Home Secretaries to keep returning to Parliament with new legislation. The big pressure in future will be for more than one Bill. The complaint has been made that the measure's content should extend to two, three or maybe even four Billsexactly as was said by my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis. The Act would be used as a proxy to fight other legislation. That tactic is well known in the other place but I imagine that does not happen here.
I am sure that we would want to retain the power in Part 9, which deals with aviation security, to remove intruders from airfields. It beggars belief that towards the end of the sunset, persons should be able to say, XSoon we will be able to get on to airfields because the authorities will not have the power to remove us". We are making sure that civil nuclear sites will be secure from terrorist attack. But will we lift that protection in 2007?
The Bill also outlaws aiding and abetting persons to make nuclear weapons. It is inconceivable that we would want to remove that measure in three, five or 10 years. Is it being suggested that while technicians who work with the Ebola virus will be checked out between now and 2007, we should flag up in advance that we shall not be bothered after then but may try to find some parliamentary time? I shall give way if the noble Lord, Lord Elton, insists.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I do not think that that is a serious suggestion. All Bills are amended from time to time. I have said that we took stock across Whitehall to make precautionary moves to close gaps in legislation in the light of terrorists rewriting the rule book on September 11th. Before that, there had been many little niggles in various legislation but there had been no massive push for parliamentary time.
We acknowledge that the Bill introduces powers that must strike a fine balance between individual liberty and the security of the state. No one would say that the Bill is perfectly drawn, so we have introduced safeguards. There will also be a review of the mandatory powers in Part 11, if they are ever used. We want to go the voluntary route on data retention but if we go the statutory route that has its own built-in review.
We have included a review of the asylum and detention powers after 15 months, then annually thereafter. Any part of the Bill that amends the Terrorism Act 2000 will therefore be reviewed annually as part of that legislation's requirements where a report on the Act's operation must be laid before Parliament at least once every 12 months. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, has been appointed to undertake those reviews.
We are not convinced of the need for more sunset clauses covering parts of the Bill or the whole measure. However, the speed with which this legislation is being passed must be recognised by the Government.
As I have said before, eight days would probably have been par for the course, plus or minus two days. I accept that the root cause of the problem is the gap between the stages of the Bill. As far as Ministers are concerned, the Bill is bad enough without the Opposition getting at it in terms of keeping track of the process between stages where there is no such gap.
Therefore, having the whole Act reviewed is a matter which we wish to take forward and I hope that it will meet with approval. I would not like to be tied to what I say next, but the words are the best I have at the moment. Between 9.30 a.m. and 12 noon tomorrow, noble Lords on all sides of the House will be able to table amendments for Third Reading, which I now discover is a very useful lifeboat in legislation, although it is not available in the other place.
I am proposing a new clause which will sit somewhere in the latter part of the Bill, probably Part 14. but before Clause 122, as it is now. There will be a statutory review of the Act in addition to all the other Xsunset" clauses and reviews which already appear on the face of the Bill. It is a small, new clause. The Secretary of State shall appoint a committee to conduct a review of the Act. He will seek to secure that at any time there will be no fewer than seven members of the committee. It may be more, but seven is the minimum. Every person on that committee will be there only if they are a member of the Privy Council.
The committee will complete a review of the operation of the Act with full access to all the information including that from the security services and so forth. A report will be sent to the Secretary of State not later than two years after the Act is passed. The Secretary of State will be bound on the face of the Act to lay a copy of that report before Parliament as soon as reasonably practical. We shall then say from the Dispatch Box in this House and the other place that we shall guarantee that the business managers will arrange dates and days in both Houses when the report will be debated. It will be detailed.
It will be no use anyone saying, XWill you accept the recommendations?" That cannot be said at this point. If such a report is laid with suggestions for amendments to the Act, if they are not accepted the Ministers concerned will need to have very good reasons for not doing so, bearing in mind that people will have had access to all the relevant information and had a good review of the operation of the Act over the period of two years. It will then be for both Houses to make a judgment on the content of the recommendations.
Subject to any drafting changes, tomorrow we will introduce a new clause to that effect. I hope that will meet your Lordships' desire. We are rushing the legislation and there are no gaps between the stages allowing for mature consideration of the issues raised. However, in the small gaps, such as over the weekend and not sitting on Friday, we have managed to meet some of the issues raised in debate. We hope to have further proposals to meet some of the conclusions reached last Thursday by your Lordships as regards the defeats that the Bill suffered. On some aspects we are seeking a reversal, but we also hope to bring forward what we believe to be a positive modification of some of the key proposals. We have not completed our conclusions; I do not know whether we shall be able to lay amendments tomorrow in this House or later in the other place. We have not completed our discussions and review.
Therefore, I hope that I have said enough to enable noble Lords not to press either of the amendments and to accept our best endeavours to make sure that the Act receives a thorough review and that both Houses have adequate time to debate the conclusions reached by the review in a reasonable period of time.
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