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Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I shall not be in the least hurt if the answer to my question is extremely simple. If it is extremely simple, it may make it easier for the Minister to reply. Why do vehicles appear in Clause 33, but not in Clause 32?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I apologise; I also have the answer to the noble Lord's question. The aim is to allow information about freight or lorries. There is no need to include vehicles in Clause 32 because people come into the UK by ships or planes, or by trains through the Channel Tunnel. The provisions will be extended to Channel Tunnel trains under secondary legislation under the Channel Tunnel Act 1987.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: Does the Irish border not apply?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I presume that it does, but I cannot answer that specific point. I shall write to the noble Lord to deal with it.

Lord Hylton: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, for his support. He has an extraordinary fund of experience on these matters. The Minister's reply seemed very similar to that given in another place. I can see that freight matters could be affected by trafficking or smuggling of people, but I am not entirely happy with what she tried to say about the Terrorism Bill not being the right place to deal with that matter. However, I will study carefully what she said.

Clause 33 agreed to.

Clause 34 [Offence]:

[Amendment No. 59 not moved.]

Clause 34 agreed to.

Clauses 35, 36 and 37 agreed to.

Clause 38 [Disclosure of information for security purposes]:

Amendments Nos. 60 and 61 not moved.

Clause 38 agreed to.

Clause 39 [Disclosure to law enforcement agencies]:

[Amendment No. 62 not moved.]

Lord Hylton moved Amendment No. 63:

The noble Lord said: I shall speak also to Amendment No. 64, for which Amendment No. 63 is a paving amendment. I can explain the amendments briefly. They point out that subsection (1) (d) is far too widely drawn when it refers to,

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Imagine the position of a crew member who may already have refugee status in this country or may be a protected person under the UN convention having his or her personal details disclosed to the authorities in, shall we say, Burma, Zimbabwe, Iran, Chechnya, Kazakhstan or other arbitrary and despotic regimes. I therefore propose words to limit the range of states to which chief officers of police can disclose very sensitive personal information.

Of course I accept that the Foreign Office has to deal and negotiate with many quite unsavoury regimes. It may need to disclose personal information about suspects whom we are already holding. However, that kind of disclosure should not be left to the discretion of chief officers of police wanting bilateral relations with their opposite numbers in police states. I beg to move.

Lord Avebury: It is strange that the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, picked the two states that I mentioned: Burma and Zimbabwe. As the Minister acknowledged when she replied to the previous amendment, there are many other states that may not be quite as bad as Burma and Zimbabwe to which we would not want to disclose information. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, made a very good point. There are other ways in which one could define a law-based and democratic state. For example, one might say that it was any state in compliance with its obligations to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. That such a formulation is necessary to restrict the power of the Secretary of State to transfer such information to foreign law enforcement agencies has been confirmed by both debates. It would not be satisfactory for the Committee simply to leave it that the Minister has given us an assurance that the information would not be transferred in a way we would not like. We need something more precise than that. I hope the noble Baroness will acknowledge that even if the wording proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, is not correct, we need some limitation on this power.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I do not think I meant to use the words, "that we did not like". The question that I sought to address was on what basis we would not supply information. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, has approached the matter by trying to define states in a particular way. The difficulty with the wording is that it does not mean anything, and I say that not in any disparaging sense. However, in law the wording does not have meaning.

We have sought to approach this in another way. Responsibilities are put on those who seek to share information under the Human Rights Act. Our obligations are internal and the information must be disclosed within the context of the Human Rights Act. We do not try to define those states to which we would wish to disclose information. My personal view is that in considering disclosure and taking the two states identified by both noble Lords, Burma and Zimbabwe, we would have to be very careful to observe our human rights obligations for reasons that I do not need to spell out. Both noble Lords probably know far more about those regimes than I. But the critical factor is that in
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disclosing information, the chief police officer must take seriously our responsibilities under the Human Rights Act.

On the previous amendments we considered the particular nature of Article 8, and of course we will expect chief police officers to fulfil their obligations properly. Personally, I think that that is a much better way of tackling the question than trying to define in legislation all the states noble Lords feel comfortable with while avoiding those states with which they would not wish us to exchange information. That would be difficult. Not only would it raise questions about the rule of law and democracy, but also the security of the systems prevailing in different states in terms of the information being shared. As I have said, even within the European Union that is a very live debate. States with excellent democracies and very good track records are still asked, in considering the question of sharing information, whether their systems can be relied on to ensure that the information is used appropriately and stored effectively.

My response is that we have looked at this from the other end of the argument. Furthermore, in our definition, foreign law enforcement agencies must perform similar functions to a UK police force or the Serious Organised Crime Agency. In that way, we have defined the kind of organisations we will be dealing with. The obligation should be put on us, rather than to seek a definition of the nature of other states. We want to be in the same place, but in my view our approach is the better one.

Lord Hylton: I accept that Her Majesty's Government are bound by a number of precedents; they are guided by how these matters have been dealt with in the past. Of course there are norms of international law and conventions which are binding on us. Nevertheless, I still feel that Clause 39 is far too widely drafted because it empowers a chief officer of police, of whom there are 42 or 43 in England and Wales alone, to disclose very sensitive information to any other foreign law enforcement agency.

I ask the Minister to take this away and think about it at all levels of government, both centrally and at the policing level. If she can do that, it would be very helpful.

5.30 pm

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I take all our discussions away and think very carefully about them because Members of the Committee make very important points even in discussions where we agree to agree, so of course I will do that. However, I am reluctant to suggest to colleagues that we should change our approach. Having said that, I am happy to look at whether we have captured everything properly within the legislation. The approach is to put the obligation on ourselves. Personally, whether there are 42 or 43 chief police officers, I have enormous faith in their understanding and ability to recognise their obligations under the Human Rights Act. I am absolutely confident that they are among the best in the world in sharing of information, because they are
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very clear about the purposes for which they are doing it, the importance and value of it and about ensuring that those with whom they share it adopt a correct and proper approach.

Lord Hylton: I am grateful to the Minister for whatever further assurance she has been able to give me. However, I would like her to bear in mind that a chief constable may be dealing with such a foreign matter for the very first time. He may not be as well and fully informed as he ought to be. Could that also be considered? Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 64 not moved.]

Clause 39 agreed to.

Clause 40 [Searches: contracting out]:

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