Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 194:

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 195 and 196.

Clause 21 deals with the conditions that may be attached to a premises licence which authorises the performance of plays. The clause states that no condition may be attached to the licence in respect of the nature of the play to be performed. It is only on the grounds of public safety that conditions may be added to the licence.

My amendment seeks to make the point that plays and performances in a licensed venue may well include what I have described as "adult entertainments"—that is, lap dancing and other sexually explicit shows. When we discussed the issue of unrestricted access for children, it became clear that many of us shared the fear that children might have access to licensed venues that put on such performances. These amendments seek to provoke a response from the Minister. Subsection (1) does not allow any conditions as to the nature of the play in licensed premises to be added to the licence. Perhaps that should be rethought. One would suppose that strip joints might merit a different set of conditions from a community hall that might like to stage a play. If adult entertainment is to be

13 Jan 2003 : Column 122

provided in a licensed venue, surely the licensing authority should be able to impose conditions on the licence. I beg to move.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I accept the fact that the clause does not address every form of entertainment that we may think is in questionable taste, but it is clear what we are seeking to achieve. The clause carries forward a provision that appears in Section 1(2) of the Theatres Act 1968. The aim is straightforward—to prevent licensing authorities from attaching conditions that relate to the nature of the play to be performed or the manner of its performance, except when that is justified as a matter of public safety.

The issue that we emphasise is that the Bill does not seek to interfere or intervene in all manner of activities that are better left to other regimes of regulation or left unregulated altogether. The more mature Members of the House recall the situation before 1968 and the attempts at censorship of plays. We remember the extreme difficulties that that created in so many ways, by bringing the law into great disrepute. We would not want to go back to that situation in a licensing measure, or to recreate censorship that has long since ceased.

I recognise the intent behind the noble Baroness's amendment, but emphasise the fact that strip joints, lap dancing and other activities are covered by other restrictions on licensing. We are not prepared to accept a restriction in this measure that would reintroduce censorship of plays in this country. That is why the clause is drafted as it is.

Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for his response. I am not sure whether I succeeded in provoking him. However, as long as the issue of unrestricted access for children remains in the Bill, I shall continue to attempt to provoke the Minister during the Bill's passage through your Lordships' House. On that basis, for now I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 195 and 196 not moved.]

Clause 21 agreed to.

Lord Grocott: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

        House adjourned at fourteen minutes past ten o'clock.

13 Jan 2003 : Column GC1

Official Report of the Grand Committee on the

Crime (International Co-operation) Bill [HL]

(First Day) Monday, 13th January 2003.

The Committee met at half-past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brougham and Vaux) in the Chair.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brougham and Vaux): Before I put the Question that the Title be postponed, it may be helpful to remind your Lordships of the procedure for today's Committee stage. Except in one important respect, our proceedings will be exactly as in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We shall go through the Bill clause by clause; noble Lords will speak standing; all noble Lords are free to attend and participate; and the proceedings will be recorded in Hansard. The one difference is that the House has agreed that there shall be no Divisions in the Grand Committee. Any issue on which agreement cannot be reached should be considered again at Report stage when, if necessary, a Division may be called. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn.

I should explain what will happen if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting. The Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division Bells are rung—if any noble Lord is speaking then, he should stop as soon as soon as possible—and it will resume after 10 minutes.

Title postponed.

Clause 1 [Service of overseas process]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 1:

    Page 1, line 9, leave out "country outside the United Kingdom" and insert "participating country"

The noble Baroness said: In rising to move Amendment No. 1, I want to check with my colleagues that the sound is on. They were having difficulty. It sounds as though my microphone is operational, but there may be problems which the officers could sort out for us.

There can be no doubt about the importance of international co-operation on exchanging information on criminal matters, especially on terrorism. We all know that. The proof has been cruelly thrust into the public domain over the past week with the discovery of people from overseas who are alleged to have been making ricin in North London. I understand that some have appeared in court today and that other related arrests have been made overnight.

13 Jan 2003 : Column GC2

With that background, I want to comment briefly on our general approach to the Bill. It will colour not only our approach in Committee but, more importantly, on Report. As the Deputy Chairman reminded us, in Grand Committee we may not vote, but on Report we shall bring back matters that will not only be further examined but they may be subject to a matter of contest.

Our approach is to probe the intent of the Government and to ensure that the Bill achieves its objectives and does not cause loop-holes or contravene the ECHR. Both of those matters could fatally damage the potential of the Bill to assist the tracking of criminals for the protection of the public without limiting personal freedoms to an unacceptable degree. It is our intention to ensure that the Bill is as effective as possible in achieving the Government's objectives.

The Government have said that many of the provisions of the Bill have to be adopted as they are part of international agreements already reached and they have been subject to parliamentary scrutiny via the EU Select Committees of both Houses.

As I and other Members of the Committee have recognised, for anyone to track down the various comments on the various parts of the Bill in the mountain of paperwork that those Select Committees have so assiduously produced to date will be a nightmare. The problem was highlighted four days ago when the Government produced 44 amendments, including one new clause. I do not complain about those amendments, most of which appear to be technical. Those which are not technical appear properly to respond to the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.

Today, the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, was kind enough to write to me to let me know that the Government will introduce further amendments to the Bill with regard to the mutual recognition of orders freezing terrorist property. I can understand the Government's keenness to introduce aspects of the framework decision relating to the freezing of terrorist property which does, as they say, form a key part of the post-11th September EU anti-terrorism road map. They say that the amendments will further demonstrate the Government's commitment to combating terrorism at all possible levels. We shall certainly support that commitment and it puts into context the way in which the legislation is becoming more complex as we deal with it, not less.

It is therefore important that we obtain clarity from the Government about the application of the provisions of the Bill in order to assist Parliament and those who in the real world will be affected by the implementation of the proposals. That is not an excuse but I hope it is an explanation for some of the amendments we have tabled to the first part of the Bill.

Clauses 1 and 2 are, for the most part, a re-enactment of provisions already contained in Section 1 of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990. However, I have tabled some amendments to seek clarification from the Government about the way that these powers have been used in the past and,

13 Jan 2003 : Column GC3

more importantly, will be used in the future in relation to countries other than what are called in the Bill "participating countries"; namely, countries other than the member states of the European Union and other countries specified by order of the Secretary of State. As we have a senior Law Officer with us in the Committee today, I anticipate that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, may have some practical examples of how effective the 1990 Act has been and where it needs to be strengthened.

Clause 1 allows the authorities in the United Kingdom to serve process or other documentation that has originated in various categories of proceedings taking place in another country. As paragraphs 20 and 21 of the Explanatory Notes state, because of the existence of procedures for direct service by post in the Schengen Convention and the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, in practice, the provisions of Clause 1 will regulate only cases where such,

    "direct service is not appropriate",

or where,

    "documents are issued in countries which are not 'participating countries'".

I find this part of the Bill a nightmare and would therefore welcome clarification from the Minister as to the way in which the Secretary of State intends that the powers in Clause 1 should be exercised in these two situations. In particular, when do the Government envisage that direct service under the convention provisions will, in the words of the Explanatory Notes, not be "appropriate"?

In respect of countries which are not "participating countries", does the Secretary of State intend to make distinctions between different types of country in exercising the discretion conferred on him by subsection (3) on whether or not to serve proceedings? Does the Secretary of State at present have such a policy in respect of requests for the service of process from countries where the rule of law is not properly enforced? What would happen—this is a wild speculation but these are wild times—if the Secretary of State received a request from the Governments of Iraq or North Korea—or perhaps slightly more realistically, the Government of Zimbabwe—to serve process in relation to criminal proceedings taking place in those countries? I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page