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In addition to publishing extensive guidance for social care providers, people will be encouraged to build up networks of flu friends from among their family, friends and neighbours who may be willing to support them should they become ill and need not only someone to collect their antiviral medication from the nearest collection point and deliver it back to them but other support: namely, food shopping and getting in basic supplies. Everyone may be vulnerable during a widespread outbreak, although people with pre-existing conditions or a lifestyle that leads to their being vulnerable may be in much worse circumstances. That is why churches and third-sector organisations have a key role to play in identifying needs and supporting people, particularly those who are socially isolated.
Third-sector groups, charities and churches could be flu friends to vulnerable and hard-to-reach people and contact them through their local strategic co-ordination group. Many of them are already involved in their local resilience planning, so I expect that many of them are already gearing up to help with this. It is very important that they do so. We recognise that they have an important role to play.
Lord Desai: My Lords, I, too, join my noble friend in thanking all those in the NHS and the Health Protection Agency who have helped. The way in which the WHO has maintained vigilance and has been able to call each stage before the pandemic has also been remarkable. I found that very reassuring compared with the reaction to the financial crisis, in which economists have said different things and not all people agree; some people have protectionist views about what to do. At least here we are operating together as a global community and helping each other. That ought to be mentioned and noted.
I have always felt that the term "swine flu" is unfortunate, but no one has taken H1N1 and made it into a nice little name. I call it "Hen-one flu". If that is helpful, I give it free to the Government. I know it sounds a bit like "Henman", which is unfortunate, but I think "Hen-one" would be better.
I have one question. I may have got it wrong, but did my noble friend say that the number of people who are reported as having swine flu will cease to be made public at some stage? That would be very unfortunate, because we really must have total transparency, even if the situation becomes very serious.
Baroness Thornton: My Lords, I reassure my noble friend that I said that the daily reporting of HPA figures will not continue because we are no longer testing for this. That does not mean that the surveillance systems that we have in place will not periodically produce figures on the progress of the disease and what we are doing about it.
I absolutely agree with my noble friend about the role of the WHO and the importance of us continuing to work very closely with it and support it. The UK has been in the lead in supporting the WHO in its work to ensure that we support those countries that need it, that we do not duplicate each other's efforts and that we ensure that information flows across the world that will help us to take the right decisions for our own country, for the rest of the world, and indeed for people who, as the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, reminded us-I include my own family in this-travel the world all the time.
Lord Brett: My Lords, under Part 7 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, violent offender orders will come into force on 3 August 2009. These are civil preventive orders that are designed to protect the public from the most dangerous violent offenders: those offenders who continue to pose a high risk of serious harm to the public at the end of their licence or term of imprisonment.
On application from the police, a magistrates' court may impose a violent offender order containing prohibitions and restrictions on an individual. These restrictions may prevent the individual from going to any specified premises or place, attending any specified event or having any contact with a specified individual.
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The breaching of a violent offender order or its notification requirements is a criminal offence that is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment. We are also strengthening the notification requirements for offenders who are subject to a violent offender order who intend to travel overseas or who identify themselves to the police as having no sole or main residence in the UK.
The police currently have a limited ability to monitor these offenders. It could clearly pose a public protection risk if police officers could not track the location of these individuals because they may be out of the country or have no sole or main UK residence. We want to close down the possibility that those subject to a violent offender order could exploit the notification requirements deliberately to mislead or exacerbate the police management of their risk.
The proposed amendment to Section 110(5) therefore makes it a requirement for a person subject to the violent offender order notification requirements who has no sole or main residence in the UK to provide his notification weekly rather than annually. More frequent reporting will allow better monitoring of their location and will help to close the loop for individuals who may claim to be homeless to evade the police.
The proposed amendment to Section 111(1) makes it a requirement for a person subject to a violent offender order and who intends to travel outside the United Kingdom to notify the police of their plan to leave the UK, the method of their travel, the countries they intend to visit and when they plan to return. This will ensure that, should it be necessary, the police can liaise with the authorities in the destination country as appropriate. Importantly, the offender will also be required to notify the police of all their personal details again on their return, which will ensure the consistency of data.
Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing the regulations, which are not very contentious but give rise to a couple of questions that will probably be relevant to the next regulations, too.
As I understand it, people who are of no fixed abode or who have no address are one category of people who will have to give notification every week of their current whereabouts. That is presumably if they intend to travel at some stage. I do not quite understand
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Arising from that, who is going to keep track of this? One of the conditions in court that one can put on people who are on bail is that they should report to the police on a regular basis. However, the police do not always know whether they have reported or not, and it is not a very reliable handcuff, as it were. I just want to be sure where that information is going, who is going to deal with it and who is going to be running around keeping track of it if the information is not given.
Secondly, why three days' travel? You can leave the country for one day or 30 days or whatever. I do not understand why this is limited to kick in for somebody who wants to go away for three days and over. You can say you are going away for any length of time. My own view is that it would be better if it kicked in at any time they wanted to go abroad for any length of time. That would make this a much tighter system.
Is the assumption that the intention of these people is to return? Or is there an assumption that they may intend to come back but it does not matter if they do not come back because the information will still be passed on? I ask that only because under the heading, "Additional information to be disclosed", it says firmly:
One bit of information does not seem to be there. They are asked to give their national insurance number but there is no mention of passports. Presumably at the moment you still cannot leave the country or get back in without some indication of identity or a passport. I would have thought that one of the most valuable bits of information for the police to have would be the passport number, but that is not mentioned. I have no objection to the regulations but I think it might be helpful if we could have an explanation.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, we debated at length violent offender orders when the matter came before Parliament in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill and we made it quite clear that we oppose the whole concept of civil orders made under civil procedures for evidence and giving power to the magistrates to impose conditions covering a wide variety of circumstances which could impinge very considerably on the life of the individual who is made subject to that order. It must be borne in mind that that person will, by definition, have served his period of imprisonment and will have served also the period that may be necessary for supervision after that period of imprisonment has expired. When we made these objections, they were fully supported by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, on behalf of the Conservative Party, and by noble Lords around the House. Nothing that I
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It is not surprising that these regulations have not been brought into force yet. However, before they are brought into force, the legislation is being altered because the legislation did not, for some reason that perhaps the Minister can explain, stipulate how frequently a person must report if he does not have a home address, as defined in Section 108, which is his sole or main residence in the United Kingdom and he has to give,
We did not know when the Bill was passed how often you would have to report. Suddenly, just before the regulations are brought into effect, we are told in one sentence in paragraph 11 of the regulations that someone has to report every week. What has happened? Why could the Government not make up their mind when the Bill went through as to what the appropriate period was for the homeless person or the person without any particularly fixed abode to have to report to the police? Why now, before the regulations are brought into effect, is it stipulated to be one week?
The rest of the regulations deal with very ordinary administrative matters that I do not propose to comment on, but changing the legislation so as to reduce the period to one week is something for which I would request an explanation from the Minister.
Lord Brett: My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their contributions and support, with some questions. I recognise the principled position of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, and his party in respect of these orders. A number of points were raised which I will seek to address. The noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, pointed out that there have been, on other occasions, perhaps not the best of monitoring systems. For violent offender orders, it is intended that the information will be provided by the police and the police will undertake the monitoring of violent offenders. It is an annual monitoring in terms of the information required of someone with a static home, if I can put it that way. For homeless people, I do not think we have changed the legislation. As we said we would do, we have provided in secondary legislation, after consultation with the police and others, that a weekly notification is an appropriate monitoring period for people who are peripatetic or homeless. If people are moving around, they can no doubt inform the police where they will be in a week's time and report to a police station in that location. If they are static for any period of time, it should not be too onerous an obligation to pop into the police station and say, "I am still here".
Why three days? Much of what the regulations seek to do in terms of notification for those travelling abroad-for homeless people it is automatic and applies whether they are travelling or not-is based on best
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The legislation enables the making of regulations to require more frequent reporting of a person of no fixed address. Thus, flexibility was always envisaged. It is preferable to set this at a period which is not too onerous on the individual concerned and yet gives the police the required monitoring information that they need. I hope I have answered the questions of the noble Baroness and the noble Lord. I commend the regulations to the House.
Lord Brett: My Lords, I beg to move that the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (Foreign Travel Notification Requirements) Regulations 2009, which were laid in draft before this House on 23 June, be approved. Under Part 4 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, certain convicted terrorists are required to comply with a notification scheme. This includes persons aged 16 or over who have been convicted in the United Kingdom of specified terrorism offences or offences with a terrorist connection and sentenced to 12 months' or more imprisonment or detention, and persons convicted of similar offences overseas who are made subject to a notification order when they come to the UK. The majority of the notification requirements are set out in the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, but Section 52 allows the Secretary of State to make regulations requiring a person who is subject to the notification requirements to notify details of travel outside the United Kingdom.
Public safety is paramount and it is the responsibility of the Government and the security and law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to protect our citizens from the threats posed by terrorism. The notification requirements are an important part of our preventive measures and, as part of that, I believe that the people subject to those requirements should be obliged to notify details of their intended foreign travel plans to the police.
The information required by these regulations will mean that convicted terrorists cannot get around the notification requirements by claiming that they were overseas. It will also enable the police to share appropriate information with overseas authorities or to make a decision on whether to apply to the court for a foreign travel restriction order to stop the person travelling overseas or to particular countries.
In essence, these regulations impose notification requirements for convicted terrorists in relation to foreign travel which are very similar to those that already exist in respect of sex offenders. They require the person who is intending to travel abroad for three days or more, which we discussed on the previous order, to notify the police before they leave the United Kingdom of their intended date of departure, the country they will be travelling to, their point of arrival in that country and, where they hold the information, the points of arrival in any other country they are travelling to, the carriers they intend to use, the place they intend staying on their first night abroad and the date and place of their intended return to the UK. On return, the person will also be obliged to notify the police of the date and place they re-entered the UK, if they have not notified these details already.
The information required by these regulations will supplement the other information obligatory under Part 4 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 in helping the police to manage the risks posed by convicted terrorists once they have been released from custody or detention. The information will, for example, enable the police to know if a convicted terrorist is intending to travel to a country where terrorist training is available. However, I should like to make it clear that, while individuals will have to disclose their travel information, the requirements will not stop the person doing anything. The requirements are not intended as a punishment and the foreign travel notification requirements do not prevent an individual from travelling overseas, nor is notification onerous on the individual. Its purpose is to provide information about the whereabouts of individuals who have been convicted for terrorist crimes that will help the police in managing the risks that they may pose to public safety.
Due to the serious consequences of a terrorist attack, the police and security service need to be given all proportionate tools to help them become and remain aware of any potential threat or compromise to our safety. Critically, we know that many countries are able to facilitate terrorism and, due to the complexity and increasing international nature of terrorist plots, it is vital to be made aware whether convicted terrorists are to travel to a country where they could prove a threat to public safety.
I believe that these measures are justified and will help in the monitoring of potentially dangerous individuals, and the security services have recently stated that they believe these regulations will be of benefit to counterterrorist policy. It is vital to strike the balance between protecting the rights of the individual subject to the requirements and mitigating any potential threat, thus ensuring the safety of the community at
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Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes: My Lords, the Minister has said that these people are not being punished. Surely, whether they are being punished or not, the order rightly makes it clear that they are highly undesirable people in many countries. The only countries which probably would welcome them would be those countries which want to train them further in terrorist activity. Therefore, this seems to be a necessary but very longwinded and effuse way of making that point in the order.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, my only question is why is there a maximum five years' imprisonment imposed for failing to do any of those things? For example, if a person comes back into this country and fails within three days to notify the police, he is subject to a potential sentence of imprisonment of up to five years. Is that the same for sex offenders when they travel abroad or is this just a figure that has been plucked from the air by the Government?
Lord Brett: My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their contributions. On the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Oppenheim-Barnes, the truth is that we are responsible only for our citizens who live the country. They will be subject to the immigration status and visa requirements of any country to which they want to go. They will be a matter for the sovereign country that they are in. In that sense, it fits in, but I do not think that it is a longwinded way of achieving that. We want not to punish individuals who may have turned their back on any form of terrorism, but to ensure that we have the information to enable us to monitor and to protect our citizens.
The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, asked about the penalty. The penalty for breach of these regulations is up to five years, as is the case in the previous order and in the regulations for sex offenders.
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