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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, who better understands the situation than many of your Lordships, and who speaks with the experience of his own period in office. It is particularly true to say that now there can be no total knowledge and, therefore, no total safety as regards what is going on in the world. I stress to the House that it is up to citizens themselves to check with the Foreign Office over travel advisories, which do change on a daily basis. One cannot always rely on all parts of the travel industry to pass on such information. However, many in the industry do so, and are extremely conscientious in that respect. It is also the responsibility of the travelling citizen to acquaint himself with those travel advisories.

The Foreign Secretary has the unenviable task of distinguishing between what may, on the one hand, be pure gossip, and, on the other, a hoax, as pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Howell; or, indeed, what may be a substantial threat. He approaches that task on the advice of the intelligence community. I agree with what the noble Lord said about the thousands of British citizens living overseas, who have intimate knowledge of the countries within which they live. Where we believe that specific warnings are credible, they should be delivered to those citizens through the Foreign Office travel advisories. But if everyone tried to leave a country all at one time that might pose very particular problems, especially if we are talking about difficult outlying regions.

However, I say this with a certain caution. Although none of us wish to do the terrorists' work for them, it is also very important that we do deliver as speedily and as accurately as we can what we genuinely believe are real matters of concern for those either in a certain country or travelling to such a country.

The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating that excellent Statement. Does the noble Baroness agree that terrorism now is miles easier to

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accomplish than it was in the days when the Viceroy was assassinated in Phoenix Park, when the Tsar was murdered, or when Gabriel Princip killed Franz Ferdinand? Moreover, the damage that it can do now is far worse to human life and to our surroundings. One of the consequences of the Bali bomb to the people of that island has been the ruination of their economy. They will suffer far worse because the damage will last for much longer.

I do not intend, or mean, to sound callous, because my words could be interpreted in that way. Australians, or English people, can go clubbing elsewhere. But the people in Bali will suffer. If they continue to suffer economically, they will become a further feeding ground for terrorism. However, that is an observation, not a question. In view of the increase in international terrorism and the fact that it looks as if Ireland might be going mildly pear-shaped yet again, is the Minister satisfied that the intelligence services have the money, the intellectual resources, and the intelligence people behind them to do the best that we shall undoubtedly demand of them?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, of course, with the explosion in international travel and the ease of communications, the ability to obtain the means to cause terrible physical damage is far greater now than some years ago. However, we also have electronic communications on the side of law and order. We are able to trace a great deal of what is happening in the world. In his Statement my right honourable friend spoke of the ways in which we are able to gather intelligence, in a very general way. Those, too, are very much more sophisticated than they used to be. In addition, we now have the ability to look at DNA that may be left at the scene of some of these apalling crimes in an attempt to track down who is responsible. The noble Earl is right, but our ability to track down these people has also improved and our determination to do so is absolute.

The noble Earl said that the consequences for Bali are far worse. As a parent, I cannot imagine anything worse than losing a child in such an atrocity. It is about the worst human tragedy that could befall any of us. I am sure that the noble Earl will agree. However, I take his point about the consequences for Bali in terms of its economic future and security. It is enormously important that that is addressed. I hope that we will be able to discuss that further with my noble friend Lady Amos when she returns.

The noble Earl asked whether I am satisfied that the security and intelligence services are properly resourced. They are resourced as well as Her Majesty's Government can currently provide. These issues are under constant review. I know from my period of close association with the intelligence services that there is always more that one can do with additional resources; that is axiomatic. I am confident that the Government's emphasis on obtaining the best possible service is also constant.

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Enterprise Bill

4.40 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Clause 238 [Overseas disclosures]:

[Amendment No. 189 not moved.]

Lord Sharman moved Amendment No. 190:

    Page 172, line 13, at end insert—

"( ) whether disclosure would include commercial information whose disclosure might significantly harm the legitimate business interests of the undertaking to which it relates"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 189 to 191 deal with the disclosure of confidential commercial information to an overseas authority. As matters stand, where a UK agency is able to obtain commercial information that is subjective in terms of its competitive relevance, that information remains confidential. If such information were disclosed to an overseas authority under the Bill's provisions, the purpose of making the disclosure would by its very nature enable that information to enter the public domain in that foreign territory.

Amendment No. 190 seeks to require that in making a decision on whether such information is to be disclosed, the Secretary of State should have regard to,

    "whether disclosure would include commercial information whose disclosure might significantly harm the legitimate business interests of the undertaking to which it relates".

I cannot believe that it is the Government's intention that such a situation should prevail and that such information should find its way overseas into the public domain. I beg to move.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, we raised this matter in Committee, where the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, said,

    "As the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, said, the Joint Committee on Human Rights made some important recommendations to ensure that the overseas disclosure provisions were subject to even tighter safeguards. The committee recommended that the considerations that will be used by UK public authorities when making decisions on disclosure to overseas authorities should not be left to be drafted by the OFT, as currently required, but should be placed on the face of the Bill.

    The committee also recommended that the criteria should include a consideration on whether the disclosure being contemplated would be proportionate to a pressing social need that the disclosure would address, and whether the matter for which disclosure is sought is sufficiently serious to justify disclosure . . . The Government have listened carefully to these recommendations and agree to them".—[Official Report, 29/7/02; cols. 743-744.]

The amendment that we tabled then addressed the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. It is encouraging to see that the Government are thinking about the needs raised in relation to disclosure by public authorities. We are not entirely satisfied that the Secretary of State is meeting our concerns. While we accept that he should be able to modify and add to the list of considerations, the protections under Clause 238(6) would be eroded if at a later stage any of the considerations were removed.

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We would not wish to see them added now for the purpose of enabling the Bill to obtain Royal Assent; and then removed at the earliest opportunity.

4.45 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I had better speak to Amendment No. 189 even though it was not moved, as the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, has spoken to it. The argument hangs together for all three amendments. I shall speak first to government Amendment No. 191, which is designed to ensure that we have the desired read-across between Parts 8 and 9 of the Bill. Clause 238 permits a public authority to disclose information to an overseas authority for the purpose of facilitating investigations or the bringing of civil proceedings by that authority to enforce "relevant legislation".

Relevant legislation is defined as the legislation to be covered by Part 9, and foreign legislation which is equivalent. The amendment will ensure that the legislation which is to be specified for the purposes of Community or domestic infringements in Part 8 will fall within the definition of "relevant legislation".

Amendment No. 189 would add a set of considerations to Clause 238 to which the Secretary of State must have regard when considering whether to make a direction that a disclosure to an overseas public authority must not be made. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, that we must ensure that the overseas disclosure provisions are subject to adequate safeguards. That is why in Committee we added to the Bill a number of considerations to which a public authority must have regard before disclosing information to an overseas authority. Those considerations mirror in content those set out in this amendment. In addition to the considerations set out in Clause 238 a public authority must also have regard to the considerations set out in Clause 239.

These considerations will ensure that information is disclosed only when public authorities are satisfied that the matter for which the information is requested is sufficiently serious rather than speculative and little more than a fishing expedition. Clause 238 also allows the Secretary of State to direct that a disclosure otherwise permitted by this clause must not be made if he considers that it is more appropriate for any investigation to be carried out or proceedings brought in the United Kingdom or in another specified country or territory. This power, which mirrors provisions in Section 18 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, reserves the right of the Secretary of State to decide that disclosure may not be in the interest of the United Kingdom; for example, in circumstances where an overseas authority requests information that may be more appropriately restricted to an investigation by UK authorities. We anticipate that this power will be invoked sparingly.

The role of the Secretary of State is therefore confined solely to protecting the legitimate jurisdictional interests of the UK and is quite distinct from the general duty that Part 9 places on public

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authorities that hold information to which Clause 232 applies to assess requests for disclosure against the considerations laid out in this clause and in Clause 239 before deciding whether to disclose information under this clause. It would not be consistent with the granting of such discretionary powers for the Secretary of State to have the ability to second guess how public authorities exercise their statutory duties.

I turn to Amendment No. 190. I have every sympathy with the objective, but it is unnecessary. Clause 239 contains considerations which public authorities must have regard to before disclosing any specified information covered by Part 9, regardless of to whom it is being disclosed. Clause 239(3) requires consideration of the need to exclude from disclosure so far as practicable,

    "commercial information whose disclosure the authority thinks might significantly harm the legitimate business interests of the undertaking to which it relates".

There is an equivalent consideration in respect of information relating to the private affairs of an individual. That subsection therefore has the same effect as the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Sharman, but with the benefit of covering all disclosures of specified information, not just those to overseas authorities.

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