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In the borders, immigration and citizenship Bill we get a similar picture: of the Government aggravating problems or allowing them to develop. My noble friend Lord Kingsland will speak on the Bills proposals on nationality and citizenship law. I shall look at the Governments policy on immigration and at the UK Border Agency.
This is no less than the seventh immigration Bill that the Government have presented. They have taken a long time to develop their policy. During that time, their open-door policy has led to a fivefold increase in immigration, which has strained public services and carried with it the risk of aggravating community tensions. The Governments own Immigration Minister has said that a points-based system is no substitute for an annual limit on economic migrationa view he now shares with us. We have said for some time that an annual limit should be set, taking into account the countrys economic need, the ability of public services
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Closely related to the issue of immigration is that of border security and control. The borders, immigration and citizenship Bill will bring revenue and customs functions into the UK Border Agency, which was created only in April this year. The need to give it additional powers is indicative of what we have said: we need a fully integrated border police force with the full powers necessary to protect our borders.
Even after the new powers are given to the agency, we will still rely on several different organisations reporting to different Cabinet Ministers, and we will still not have a national border security agency. As the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, has said, this means that key duties are not being carried out and that organisations do not work together as they should.
Closely related to this issue is the Home Secretarys recent announcement of tough new measures to exclude those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages from entering the United Kingdom. But the Government have always had the power to deny entry to those whose presence is not conducive to the public good. Can the Minister explain why those powers have not been used and why the Government need new powers? Can he explain why, after announcing these tough new measures, it emerged that Ibrahim Mousawi was allowed to enter the country? And how can he explain reports that Mousawi has been granted a six-month visa without conditions? It would be extremely good to know the real situation.
The Government have a key role to play in helping to tackle extremism and build up the resilience of local communities to the extremist message. I am sure that we agree on that basic propositionbut if they are to implement it, they must deny entry to extremists. They must also facilitate the work of those on the front line of tackling radicalisation. A recent report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Audit Commission found that local authorities and local police commanders do not receive the information they need to understand and address local vulnerability. It said that,
Council chief executives and local police commanders agree that effective information-sharing between partner agencies is fundamental to the development of a shared understanding of the vulnerability of individuals and the community to violent extremism. They said that, without this understanding, it would be difficult for partners to determine and implement effective and co-ordinated strategies. This is a very important issue, and I hope that we can have a constructive discussion of those points. How do the Government intend to address this basic issue, which seems to be a flaw in the policy?
I shall address four things that emerged from our consideration of the Counter-Terrorism Bill. The first relates to the provisions on inquests. We on these Benches objected to the suitability of the Counter-Terrorism Bill as a vehicle for those provisions. Can the Minister confirm whether these will now be contained in the coroners and justice Bill? We, of course, objected to the substance of the provisions. It is vital that the independence and transparency of the coroners system is maintained and not undermined, so we will continue to oppose moves that would allow the Home Secretary to replace coroners with their own appointees or remove juries, relatives and the public from hearings.
Secondly, when we considered the Counter-Terrorism Bill, the Government accepted the argument for an independent commissioner for terrorism suspects. How are the Government going to take this proposal forward? We hope to hear about that very good idea.
Thirdly, we have seen the Government place in the Library of the House a draft Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill. The measures contained in that draft Bill might very well be counterproductive; they also lack safeguards. We have had a discussion of that before. I cannot be clearer when I say that your Lordships' House needs to be able to scrutinise legislation in detail and in good time. We on these Benches are very concerned at the Government's attempt to bypass the usual legislative process by having a draft Bill that will be pushed through in an emergency. Do the Government intend to submit it to pre-legislative scrutiny, as we think they should? If not, can they explain why?
That links to a wider point. We have seen widespread misuse of legislation that was initially introduced for the purposes of counterterrorism and national security. I am thinking in particular of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. In the light of recent comments by the Minister of State for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing, how will the Government limit the use of surveillance powers by local authorities? Every day in the newspapers there is a story about local authorities using such powers for purposes for which they were clearly never intended. It is important that we bring a halt to that kind of thing. Therefore, we would like to look at the related topic of data, privacy and the notion of a surveillance society.
As we discussed earlier today, this country has one of the largest DNA databases in the world, on which the samples of an estimated 1 million people are held indefinitely1 million people who have no particular reason to be on the database because they have not been found guilty of any particular offence. When we considered the Counter-Terrorism Bill, my noble friend Lady Hanham made it clear that we on this side of the House would like to see a proper public debate leading to statutory national guidelines on the use and retention of DNA samples. More widely, it would be highly desirable to see a discussion on the whole question of the information held on DNA databases.
There is widespread support in this House for guidelines on who should legitimately have their information held, such as convicted criminals, and how others can have their data removed from the database. That issue has now come to a head with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which brings the
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We recognise that the state needs data for the efficient running of society and the economy, and we accept that data sharing has come, in many respects, to replace the old principle of need to know, which, on the whole, restricted access to data. But that being the case, it is worrying that the Government's persistent refusal to understand and accept the need to build in safeguards against the abuse and misuse of the information, and to protect the rights of the citizen, does not result in greater confidence but in declining trust in the integrity of the state.
I was glad to hear from the Minister that the audit and inspection powers of the Information Commissioner will be increased. That is a good move. But that is not the whole story. Increasing data collection and concentration of data in very large systems obliges the Government to attain higher standards of management of the data that they already have. We on these Benches continue to oppose the creation of mammoth national identity registers, which will not contribute to data securityrather the reverse. The distributed system seems to us to assure much greater security.
We will also continue to oppose the related national ID card scheme as, frankly, a waste of money in current circumstances, when the Government should be spending public money on real priorities. There must also be better regulation and oversight of the data. Access to and transfer of data must be based on clear and legitimate business need. The information should be stored and supplied on a limited basis. It should meet legitimate business requirements and nothing more. There should also be greater accountability.
On a related but separate issue, we are told that there will be a consultation on communications data starting in January. I would be grateful if the Minister could confirm this. I would also be grateful if the Minister could elucidate a sentence in the explanation of the legislation. We are told that an aspect of the coroners and justice Bill will,
It would be helpful to know how this fits in with the consultation on communications data. Will there, indeed, be a separate communications data Bill, as we assume? If not, can the Minister enlighten the House as to the meaning of the phrase about the coroners Bill? Does it refer to provisions that might more appropriately find their place in data communication legislation? If so, how does putting down such provisions in a Bill on coroners fit with the promised consultation process on communications data? Can the Minister confirm whether
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A lot of this comes down to having a sensible and proportionate legislative programme. As the Government take forward the programme for this Session, I am confident that your Lordships' House will help them to achieve both of these objectives: sensible and proportionate legislation.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, a good starting point for this part of the Governments legislative programme would have been TheNational Security Strategy of the United KingdomSecurity in an Interdependent World,published by the Cabinet Office in March this year. As the Minister will know, that document identified threats and problems that are not reflected at all in the legislative programme before us today.
Of course, many threats are not things on which legislation will have an influence, but the energy, resources and emphasis that the Government devote to particular threats to our security should be defined by the seriousness of the threat. This legislative programme does not reflect those. In the national security strategy, the Home Office should have put the real identified technological threats at the top of its list of things to deal with. Later in my speech I shall concentrate on just how worrying that omission and the fact that there is no action at all on this vital area are.
However, I will first address what is in the programme. The borders, immigration and citizenship Bill will be the eighth immigration Bill since 1997. We on these Benches welcome the consolidation of immigration laws. The provisions include a welcome recognition of children's welfare. However, the failure to address many serious matters is something that our long-time campaigner, my noble friend Lord Roberts of Llandudno, will be taking up today. My noble friend Lady Falkner of Margravine will expand on the citizenship element. We will particularly welcome her informed contribution to the debate, as she worked closely with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, in producing his report.
We will also want to consider practical issues. In that Bill, the requirement for speaking English is constructive and fair, but not when funding for lessons in English for speakers of other languages has been capped and is being cut. Enrolment is falling. If we offer earned citizenship, we must ensure that the means to reach citizenship are available.
On the coroners and justice Bill, my colleagues will spell out just what constructive modernisation could take place. However, the Bill must not be a reintroduction of the sort of secrecy provisions that we in this House rejected during the passage of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act. I tell the Government now that if that Bill is a vehicle for such a reintroduction, we on these Benches will strenuously resist it.
The Policing and Crime Bill is a large Bill of many parts. The policing element implements many sections of the modernisation review, which my noble friend
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The Bill continues the tradition of the Home Office of applying very negative attitudes to young people. It talks about helping young people but introduces new powers to target and disaffect children. We on these Benches share the concern of Barnardos, whose recent YouGov poll underlined just how much society is becoming alienated from its own young people. That survey showed that 43 per cent of adults believed that,
The latest official crime survey found that adults think that young people commit up to half of all crimes, when in fact they are responsible for only 12 per cent. These findings suggest a society totally disconnected from its positive, imaginative, energetic and promising young generation. I am afraid that the Home Office is reinforcing the image of young people as difficult as it treats children and young people as a problem to be dispersed, like insects. The Government allow the use of mosquito devices to disperse young people and the new Bill proposes extending local child curfew orders to children under 16. I have heard views in favour of curfews and we will debate the measure vigorously but we think that the move to brand young people generally as criminals who must not congregate together is another move in the wrong direction. The Government need to build on positive experiences of young people taking part in sports, scouts, choirs and after-school clubs. Those are in danger of being ignored as silent successes. Of course, I accept that a small but disruptive number of children can be a highly anti-social category. However, when young people tip over into the criminal behaviour, the Government's approach is still failing them.
Ministry of Justice figures show that 77 per cent of youths released from prison in the first quarter of 2006 were convicted of a further offence inside 12 months. We certainly accept that the Government made a good start in introducing youth offending teams but much of the work is still under-resourced. Much more time and resource must be allocated to restorative justice if we are to stop the downward spiral of reoffending. As I am sure the Minister accepts, a much more proactive approach can pay dividends.
Youth panels working with youth offending teams need far more recognition of the excellent work they do in turning young lives back on to a positive law-abiding track and involving members of the community on the panel, making a link between the difficult children and the community that builds a strong base for the future.
The Bills talk about protecting women is very hollow. We believe that the proposals will drive prostitution further underground, which is more dangerous for the women but better for the criminals. The real focus should be on identifying and prosecuting traffickers of women. Eliminating, prohibiting and criminalising prostitution has been tried by various regimes for more than 3,000 years and it has never worked. So I wonder why the Government have considered only the criminalisation route. Why have they not looked at the evidence from the New Zealand Prostitution Reform Act which has now been in place for five years, has been evaluated and confirms all the positive impacts of decriminalisation?
At the beginning of my speech, I referred to the threats identified by the Cabinet Office. As serious organised crime becomes ever more international and fluid, criminals move easily between people trafficking, narco-trafficking, illegal arms and e-crime to whatever seems the most lucrative and the least policed; and it is all massive business. E-crime, or cybercrime, is a growth area. It is much stealthier in its application, but it can have a devastating effect on individuals, companies and, potentially, whole economies. Entire crime syndicates are now targeting hundreds of thousands of computers and, in effect, our computers can become a thief in our own home and in our own office. The Government should promote far more strenuously the Get Safe Online scheme. Public authorities and industry should be encouraged to have effective policies in place to tackle cybercrime. Are the Government still on track to ratify the European convention on cybercrime, which is supposed to be ratified at the end of this year?
The requested information is not collected centrally ... recorded crime data does not differentiate whether a crime has been committed in an e-crime environment.[Official Report, 29/9/08; col. WA394.]
That suggests to me an absolute failure to keep up with the fastest growing part of the criminal world and one that is ever more lucrative to criminals. As I mentioned, that can then feed back into people trafficking, narco-trafficking and all the other things that we accept as very serious. It is a fight that needs our brightest human resources and a proper focus.
Resources, especially in the lean times ahead, should not be diverted into ID card schemes or databases. Both the national ID card scheme and national DNA databases would suck vast resources out of fighting the sort of crime that I have just been talking about and into keeping tabs on millions of innocents. I welcome the Ministers pronouncement on the increased resources and powers for the Information Commissioner. I am not surprised that the Government have brought that forward, given that the past year or so has seen a cascade of losses of government data on British citizens. The Information Commissioner has some positive suggestions on how to stem that flow. People are now terrified that their details will be on the next Whitehall loss list. The Governments record of data lost last year was truly terrible. Apart from the costs, that is why British people will not stand for the state demanding to hold more and more of their personal data, not in
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Over this year, we shall be watching the use of the counterterrorism laws. I know that the noble Lord, Lord West, does not agree that too often counterterrorism laws have been inappropriately used, but he will accept that they are draconian laws and every misuse is dangerous. Even keeping them permanently in place is something that we must review constantly and that must be balanced with the dangers of not doing so. In the previous Session of Parliament, this place rejected 42 days on the grounds that reaction to the terrorist threat must remain proportionate. I agreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, when she said that we need proper pre-parliamentary scrutiny of the Bill that the Government hope to introduce in a hurry, should it be needed. That need not be done in a hurry; we need to scrutinise it properly.
Issues of citizenship and community would have been helped by the constitutional renewal Bill, which is now on the Governments delayed list. My noble friends Lord Tyler and Lord Maclennan of Rogart will talk more about this; but the need for parliamentary approval for treaties and, crucially, for declaring war would help to restore faith in the Executive and in democracy, which was so damaged in 2001 by the huge anti-Iraq war demonstration, to which Tony Blair paid no attention, except to make protest harder.
The delay to the constitutional renewal Bill means that Gordon Brown will be failing in his promise to reform the ludicrous discredited law which provides that protest in Parliament Square is by police permission only. At the very least it wastes precious police time processing paperwork. At worst it means that someone standing in a striped T-shirt which says Smith sucks, because he is making a fashion statement about Paul Smith clothes, stands a good chance of being arrested and charged with demonstrating against the Home Secretary. I know that the Minister, when he winds up, with his impeccable pedigree dating back to the Pankhursts, will have a lot of sympathy with my disappointment that the chance to get rid of this iniquitous law has been lost for the mean time.
In conclusion, with all the time that the Government spend on introducing offences, proposing Titan prisons and publishing shocking figures on reoffending rates, the importance of my noble friend Lord Dholakias contribution is immense. His views on how rehabilitation saves society pain and all of us resources are views that encompass the difference of approach between the Government and these Benches. The problems that society faces are plain. The solutions are very different.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, I shall start by saying something about the Damian Green affair. I do so from a narrow legal point of viewthat is to say, whether the police needed a warrant to search Mr Greens office in the House of Commons. It now appears that the police had already obtained three warrants to search Mr Greens home addresses. It is, therefore, perhaps all the more surprising that they did not seek a warrant to search his office in the House of Commons.
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