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The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I now find myself in a very interesting position. On the basis that I can still move this amendment, bearing in mind the last vote, I would obviously ask for this provision to be added to the obligations relating to the conditions for the control order. I outlined the reasons in the last group. I beg to move.
(1) If, as a consequence of the obligations imposed by a control order, a person becomes unemployed, arrangements shall be made for that person to receive any social security benefits or unemployment benefits to which he may be entitled.
(2) If a control order is made in respect of a person already in receipt of social security benefits or unemployment benefits, arrangements shall be made to ensure that the person shall continue to receive those benefits.
(3) In any case where a control order is made, appropriate arrangements shall be made to ensure that the person in respect of whom the order is made, and his household, shall have access to, or shall continue to have access to, supplies of food, household and personal necessities.
(4) In any case where a control order is made, appropriate arrangements shall be made to ensure that the person in respect of whom the order is made shall have access to such health care as may be necessary."
There is no history of putting people under house arrest in this country, and so no mechanism for looking after them and managing the house arrest. Possibly the Government intend to remedy this. I imagine that they intend to do something, on account of their dear friend the European Convention on Human Rights, to which they made this country sign up and in which I have no faith at all. In fact, if I were to say what I thought of it, I should probably find myself using thoroughly unparliamentary language.
I want to be sure that these suspects, whether innocent or guiltythey have not been tried in a court of law and therefore cannot be said with any certainty to be guiltyare treated in a manner compatible with traditional British decency and not in the kind of way in which some countries, such as Burma and the United States, which have house arrest, may or may not choose to treat people. House arrest should not just be a cheap alternative to imprisonment.
It is very important not only that we treat suspects subject to derogating orders with humanity, but that we are seen to be doing so. We are not degraded by what is done to us; we are degraded by how we ourselves behave and how we ourselves treat others. That is why this provision should be on the face of the Bill. I beg to move.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, I promise your Lordships that this is the only time that I shall speak this afternoon. I have put my name to the amendment because the case made yesterday by the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, was overwhelming and received no proper answer from the Government. As she said, to ask people to pay for their own imprisonment and starvation, which is a logical conclusion of the
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possibility, is totally wrong and completely abhorrent to our traditions. It is therefore with pleasure that I support the amendment of the noble Lady.
As my noble friend said, we have no tradition of house of arrest in this country and we therefore have the right to know how it will operate. I assume that "house" includes a flat or apartment. What happens if someone has no house, flat or apartment? If the person has an apartment, how does he get exercise? If it belongs to the person and he is put out of work by not being able to go to work, and if no one is paying the mortgage, who will pay the mortgage? If the mortgage is not paid, what will happen when the person is turned out of the house?
There is the possibility that the person may be a parentafter all, some 27 per cent of the nation's children are now looked after by a single parent. It is not impossible that the person who is a suspectpossibly wrongly a suspectmay be a parent; what will happen to the children? There is provision for children when the parent is condemned by the courts, but there is no provision in this case, as I understand it. Can the Minister help the House?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I hope I can satisfy the noble Lady that her concerns are unfounded. I understand the support for the sentiment of both the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, and the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne.
One of the main features of a control order is that it can be adapted in a flexible way to the circumstances of the individual subject to it. Clause 1(8) allows for an obligation to be varied with the consent of a specified person and the controlled person so that the order can reflect the changing circumstances of a particular case. For the conditions described in the amendment, available options include, of course, home delivery of goods and services direct from suppliers, and arrangements for the individual to leave his premises at specified times for specified purposes, subject to necessary restrictions, safeguards and monitoring.
Nothing in the Bill alters the opportunity for a person in this country to receive benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled. So control orders will not interfere with the receipt by a controlled person of state benefits as long as that person is so entitled. If a controlled person is entitled to such benefits he will continue to be entitled to them. If the controlled person becomes entitled to state benefits, we will make such arrangements as will enable him to receive them.
I hope I have made it clear in yesterday's debates and today that control orders are designed to prevent terrorist-related activity. They are not designed to prevent access to the assistance the state offers to those who have a legal right of entitlement.
If we go with the construct that the House has favoured, it is proposed that these conditions will be imposed by a judge, who will be seized of the circumstances in each individual case. The provisions
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in relation to the ECHR will still prevail and the conditions would have to be proportionate to the risk posed by the individual and would have to be predicated on an understanding that they were necessary to better control the threat the person may pose.
Lord Elton: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, perhaps she will elucidate on what she said in one regard. If there are children of a single parent who are normally taken to school by that parent, what is the provision in the Bill, or outwith the Bill, to ensure that those children are still escorted by a reliable individual when the parent is housebound by an order?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, it is impossible to deal with a case-by-case situation, save to say that I am sure all those factors will be prayed in aid by those representing the individual. There will be a discussion about whether the conditions are necessary and proportionate. They are matters that the person who has to determine the nature of the conditions will take into account, whether it be in relation to the Government's position on non-derogating orders or in relation to a construct which requires that all such orders are to be made by the court.
Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, I have listened carefully to what the noble Baroness has said. I am very sorry, but I do not find it particularly satisfactory. I should like to have matters much more cut and dried. I am getting a strong impression of, "Don't worry, it will be all right on the night". Under these circumstances, I should like to have something on the face of the Bill. I beg leave to seek the opinion of the House.
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