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Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 5, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12. These grouped amendments are technical, drafting amendments that are needed in order to make the appropriate distinctions between the powers in the Bill in respect of areas within national competence, and those in respect of the implementation of directly applicable Community controls in areas of Community competence.
Amendments Nos. 2, 5, 8 and 11 introduce a series of similar amendments to Clauses l, 2, 3 and 4. These make it clear that an order made under the Bill introducing export, transfer, trade or technical assistance controls is different from an order under Clause 1(5), 2(5), 3(6) or 4(5) giving effect to directly applicable controls imposed by Community regulation. In the case of the latter, not all of the subsidiary provisions in the clauses should apply. Amendments Nos. 7 and 9 to Clause 3 similarly make clear that subsections (5) and (7) do not apply to the clause as a whole as they do not apply in respect of orders under Clause 3(6) but apply only in respect of controls introduced under the Bill within areas of national competence.
Amendment No. 12 is a consequential of Amendment No. 11. Amendment No. 11, as I have explained, makes clear that an order introducing trade controls will not be made under the clause as a whole, but will either be made under Clause 4(1) that allows for controls to be introduced under national law, or under Clause 4(5), which provides for the introduction of provisions in connection with controls introduced by a directly applicable
As noble Lords are probably aware, the amendments before the House are very technical in nature. However, they are needed to ensure an appropriate distinction is made between our national powers and those that derive from Community obligations. I therefore invite noble Lords to support them. I beg to move.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 4, 6 and 10. Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 6 are simply paving amendments, although one of them is of slightly more substance and I shall deal with it later. The purpose of these paving amendments is to make way for Amendment No. 10, which I have no hesitation in describing as major and of the utmost importance both for academic freedom and for scientific research; and, indeed, for constitutional freedom.
The content of the main amendment has been altered from what was discussed in Committee. We have sought to take into account the words and advice of the Minister. I have also taken account of numerous further briefings. The amendment incorporates the suggestions made by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp of Guildford, in her Committee stage amendments and I am very pleased to see the noble Baroness's name attached to the current amendments.
I am not just speaking for the two of us; I am speaking on behalf of Universities UK, formerly known as the Council of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, and for the Association of University Teachers, which represents 45,000 academic and academic-related staff; and, indeed, for the Foundation for Information Policy Research. Therefore, I can say that these amendments speak for a wide branch of academia, who feel most strongly about the issue. It is a subject of the gravest concern and of the highest anxiety to the whole of scientific academia.
Despite the credentials of this important amendment, it was arbitrarilyI hope that the Minister will forgive me for saying sodismissed by the Government. There was not even an offer to find a way to meet the justifiable fears of those who, through this amendment, seek the protection of Parliament.
As noble Lords are aware, the Bill deals with controls on the export of goods and equipmentfrom weapons to items of cultural importance. It also deals with the export of technology. Moreover, under Clauses 2 and 3, it ventures into the fields of intangibles, such as information, and, as it stands, into the field of thoughts and ideas.
The amendments and my proposed new clause revolve around the principles of freedom of expression, freedom of teaching, and freedom of research. Those freedoms are fundamental human rights to which the political objectives of the state should normally be subservient. Unless my amendments, or others incorporating the same principles, are included in the legislation, then, despite the certificate given by the Secretary of State in the preamble to the Bill, I have no doubt at all that it would not stand up to the light of a challenge under the convention on human rights.
The extension of the control of export of goods to the control of intangiblesthe control of thoughts and ideasis a radical step, unheard of in a democracy. It has serious constitutional implications. Goods are exported if they are physically moved out of the country. It is physically impossible to control ideas. But that is what the Government are trying to do. By virtue of Clause 2(2)(c), they are even attempting to control the exchange of ideas within the United Kingdom. It is for that reason that a solid body of academia is totally opposed to some of the Government's proposed provisions, which are inappropriate in a country where universities have been centres of learning, research and discovery for over 900 years. As drawn, the Bill will at the least inhibit the latter; at the worst, it will reduce the ability of our universities to teach future generations. Moreover, it will drive undergraduates to study elsewhere in the world. By preventing the export of ideas, I suggest that it will also result in graduates and researchers exporting themselves elsewhere to carry out their work.
Perhaps I may now explain the main provisions of my amendments. Amendment No. 4 proposes the deletion of Clause 2(2)(c) and (d). Together, those paragraphs give the Government power to control what the Bill calls "the transfer of technology", which
It is undesirable, I accept, that the citizens of some countries should be taught certain subjectsatomic science, or aspects of biology or chemistrythat could be translated into the manufacture of chemical or biological weapons, or that they should receive instruction enabling them to fly aircraft into skyscrapers. Of current vital and commercial importance is the science of cryptology and authentication codes. They were first devised in 1964 to prevent the misuse of atomic weapons by potential Dr Strangeloves. But today we all use them on the remote controls in our cars.
That is a minor but telling example of how small businesses exporting common-place goods and services in the public domain may unwittingly fall foul of wide-sweeping regulations and their owners may be exposed to possible criminal sanctions. The encryption of electronic documents will play a vital part in international commerce in the future and perhaps, together with other wide-ranging categories of scientific knowledge, the Government are right to insist that care is taken about with and to whom sensitive information is shared or taught.
If as a matter of policy the Government want to prohibit students from this or that country from coming here to study this or that subject, the onus of exercising that control must rest with the Government and not with the teaching institutions which have neither the skills nor the resources to screen their potential students. They have no means of controlling what students will do with their knowledge once they have completed their courses. Indeed, the whole concept that once you have imparted knowledge or information to someone, you can control what he does with it is such manifest nonsense that the whole of the two subsections to which I refer are completely unenforceable absurdities. Do we seriously expect our universities to ask their chemistry students whether they intend to make poison gas?
The provision is complete control-freakery, raised to the umpteenth degree and totally impractical to enforce to boot. If the Government want to control who is taught by whom, as they control who comes into the country, except perhaps via the Sangatte Camp and Eurotunnel, the instrument that they must use is visasthe issuance of visas.
Before the Minister in his response tries to suggest that I have got it all wrong, I invite him to look at the minutes of a meeting which took place on 21st September last between two of his officials, a representative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and another from the Department for Education and Skills on the one side and four representatives of Universities UK on the other. I shall not trouble the Minister or your Lordships with the five pages of the minutes, but I shall gladly make them available to anyone who wants to see them.
The representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry also said that the need for a licence would apply only to particular end users. It is abundantly clear that contrary to what the Minister told Dr Anderson in his letter of 28th February, the Bill will introduce a system of compulsory vetting of some students and I hope that in the light of the contents of the meeting to which I have referred, the Minister will not try to persuade your Lordships to the contrary.
It is also clear that there is nothing in the Bill as it stands which shifts the onus of vetting and licensing away from the universities
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