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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I am grateful for the support of the noble Lords, Lord Dholakia and Lord Avebury, and my noble and learned friend Lord Lyell of Markyate. The noble Baroness is right; we are trying to elicit assurances from her, and I am very satisfied with what she has said today.
In particular, she referred to the fact that the draft code is under revision. It certainly would be very useful for the House to be able to consider that latest draft before Third Reading, now that we know that the Government are minded to ensure that other consultation matters will be before us by that stage. I am also grateful to her for spelling out so clearly that the public consultation will follow the proper rules and will be full and detailed. I am grateful for her offer to talk to her colleagues in the Home Office about the way in which they carry out consultation in the future.
I make a commitment that in discussing such matters with organisations such as the North London Chinese Association I will discuss how they might be able to approach other departments in an effective way. One of the matters that has been highlighted here is that it is often very difficult for small organisations to respond to government initiatives and Bills because they do not have their focus on the department concerned. If I am a Chinese restaurateur, I might well expect that my focus is on DCMS, because that is the department that has control over the tourism industry. If I am a member of the British Hospitality Association, all my focus is on what the association is talking about to DCMS, and I might then miss what is being done by the Home Office. I might more easily have my focus on DTI; certainly the Home Office is not a natural focus of my attention as a businessperson. I am grateful to the Minister. I am sure that we will all try to ensure that we better carry out our duties in consultation; although we do not have the resources of the Government to do it as effectivelyyet. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 26 deals with Clause 32 on passenger and crew information and police powers. We define this very much as a rendition amendment. Much of the discussion has taken place in the other place. One of the difficulties that we have faced in recent times is the words that repeatedly cropped up there: extraordinary rendition, which is the covert, involuntary transfer of individualscommonly terrorist suspectsbetween one country and another. In particular, extraordinary rendition refers to the alleged US practice of rendering terrorist suspects to countriesusually Middle Eastern or Asian states such as Egypt, Morocco or Jordanwhere they are subjected to torture or other mistreatment to obtain information.
The Minister looks puzzled about why I am talking about that. I am simply setting the background of the purpose of the amendment. Since we have not been able to get any further with this matter, particularly in relation to questions being put to the Foreign Secretary, it is right and proper that we have a system in this country when we give police powers to be able to seek such information that it is systematically collected. Will the e-borders system being set up by the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill monitor as a matter of course all flights in and out of the United Kingdom, both civil and commercial?
A specific reason for collecting routine data from private jets as well as commercial airlines is that private aircraft are alleged to have been used by the CIA to transfer prisoners illegally and for the purposes of subjecting them to interrogation methods including torture and/or inhuman and degrading treatment. British police forces have a positive duty to investigate allegations that such flights have touched down in the United Kingdom, because if that is proved to be the case there would be an obligation on them to intervene and make arrests to prevent an illegal act taking place. We would welcome assurances that passenger details will be required from all flights, including those that touch down only for refuelling, so that investigations can take place where appropriate.
It is currently not clear what information is required from private aircraft landing in the United Kingdom. It may be that no record exists for non-fee-paying passengers on those flights, or that records are not kept when the plane is simply landing for the purpose of refuelling. Will the Minister clarify the way in which the current rules operate? What information is currently required from non-commercial charter flights, including those where the aircraft is carrying neither fee-paying passengers nor cargo, and where the aircraft is simply landing briefly for the purposes of refuelling? Where is that information held, and for
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how long is it held? That would go a long way in terms of giving some information on some of the practices that we all condemn. I beg to move.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, there are comments in the recent report by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, on the operation of the Terrorism Act 2000, about lax security at small ports and airports and poor management of passenger manifests. I will not go through the quotes from the report, as I am sure that the noble Baroness is familiar with them. The report expresses anxiety that manifest information may be inaccurate, inadequate and given a low level of importance by transport operators, and that vital clues to terrorism may therefore be missed. Conversely, good manifest information can save lives. Why the selectivity? What is the purpose of allowing only the collection of information on certain limited flights or routes when, according to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, we should be collecting all that information if we want to be safe from terrorism?
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I have read the report from the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, who could not be with us today. My interpretation was slightly different. We recognise that there is more to be done in terms of small ports and airports but there is a big question about the resource implications of collecting all information at all times in all cases. The Bill seeks to enable the police to have the power to make sure that we are able to get information when there is a reason to get it.
The obvious examples that noble Lords will be aware of historically are when we have a concern about a piece of intelligence that suggests that there could be a problem with a flight between, for example, London and Washington, but we do not know which airline or what time of day may be affected. It may be that one would collect information for a specific length of time on a specific route. It may also be that we get information that we should worry about a threat to a particular airline, so we might collect information from the airline across Europe or across the United States destinations and so on. The specific purpose behind all of that is to enable us to target and get information appropriately that will help us to deal with potential threats of any kind or potential need to get information that would help us in a variety of ways, not least on terrorism.
The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, took me by surprise, because he has transformed an amendment on that subject to, if I may say, a different issue. I am not going to try to second guess the comments of my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, who has made a number of statements about this issue. I listened carefully to the points that the noble Lord made. The purpose is to deal with the potential difficulties and threats that we face; it is not to collect information in a general sense for a different purpose. I volunteer to look back on the comments and either write to the noble Lord or arrange an appropriate meeting on it. I am sure that the officials will be happy
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to do that too. I should simply say that the matter he raised does not relate to this part of the Bill and it would be wrong of me to try to deal with it, because I would not do it well. I would rather do that separately and appropriately.
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