“(1) It is an objective of the Government, in negotiating the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, to seek continued United Kingdom participation in the European Arrest Warrant in relation to persons suspected of specified terrorism offences.
(2) In this section, “specified terrorism offences” has the same meaning as Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.” —(Nick Thomas-Symonds.)
This new clause would require the Government to adopt the continued participation of the UK in the European Arrest Warrant in relation to people suspected of terrorist offences as a negotiating objective in the withdrawal negotiations with the European Union.
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
New clause 3—Access to a solicitor—
(2) In paragraph 7 leave out “Subject to paragraphs 8 and 9”.
(3) In paragraph 7A—
(a) leave out sub-paragraph (3),
(b) leave out sub-paragraph (6) and insert—
(c) in sub-paragraph (7) at end insert—
(d) leave out sub-paragraph (8).
(4) leave out paragraph 9.”
This new clause would delete provisions in the Terrorism Act 2000 which restrict access to a lawyer for those detained under Schedule 7.
Government amendments 6, 7, 19, 8 and 9.
Amendment 26, page 36, line 7, schedule 3, at end insert—
“(6A) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner (“the Commissioner”) must be informed when a person is stopped under the provisions of this paragraph.
(6B) The Commissioner must make an annual report on the use of powers under this paragraph.”
Government amendment 10.
Amendment 27, page 46, line 17, leave out “and 26”.
Amendment 28, page 46, line 26, leave out sub-paragraph (3).
Amendment 29, page 46, line 33, leave out sub-paragraph (6) and insert—
Amendment 30, page 46, line 37, at end insert—
“provided that the person is at all times able to consult with a solicitor in private.”
Amendment 31, page 47, line 29, leave out paragraph 26.
This amendment would delete provisions in the Bill which restrict access to a lawyer for those detained under Schedule 3 for the purpose of assessing whether they are or have been engaged in hostile activity.
Amendment 14, page 47, line 31, leave out “and hearing” and insert “but not hearing”.
Government amendments 11, 12 and 20 to 25.
New clause 1 would make our continued participation in the European arrest warrant a negotiating objective of the Brexit negotiations. There can be little doubt about the value of the EAW to this country. The Security Minister will be aware, for example, that it was vital to apprehending the man who helped to organise and co-ordinate the London bombings of 7/7. According to the National Crime Agency, between 2010 and 2016, the UK issued 1,773 requests to member states for extradition under the EAW and received 78,776 from member states. Of those the UK issued, 11 related to terror offences, 71 to human trafficking, 206 to child sex offences and 255 to drug trafficking.
According to the Government’s own White Paper, more than 12,000 individuals have been arrested, and for every person arrested on an EAW issued by the UK, the UK arrests eight on EAWs issued by other states. Without the EAW, extraditions can cost four times as much and take three times as long. The Security Minister will of course be aware that in counter-terror investigations speed really is of the essence, and it is therefore vital that we set the objective of continuing to play a key role on the European security scene.
I completely agree with what my hon. Friend has said, and I support the new clause. Does he share my concern that the current Brexit Secretary has a track record of voting against home affairs and justice co-operation before taking up his current post, and does he believe that that is reconcilable with the Government’s stated objective of close security co-operation? This is no-brainer stuff. We should be co-operating to deal with terrorist suspects and serious organised crime.
I entirely agree. The Brexit Secretary’s previous record is of real concern, and it is certainly inconsistent with the Government’s stated objective. Tonight the Security Minister has an opportunity to support the new clause, and to put to bed any doubts that Members may have on this matter.
“with respect to the two individuals, as the Crown Prosecution Service and police announced earlier today, we have obtained a European arrest warrant and will shortly issue an Interpol red notice.”—[Official Report,
That only goes to show that the European arrest warrant is a critical tool in our security toolkit. It is vital to ensure that should those suspects set foot in the EU, they will be remanded to the UK to face justice.
Having heard what the Security Minister himself has said in the past, I think that he actually agrees with me. On
“As we have said and will continue to say, we seek tools similar to the European arrest warrant, which we find incredibly useful. It helps us and our law enforcement agencies.”—[Official Report,
That is his view, and I hope that it will be reflected in his approach to the new clause this evening.
“cannot take part in the European Arrest Warrant” in the way that it does now,
“This does not mean that we”
—the EU and the UK—
“cannot work together on extradition.”
The Government’s own White Paper stressed the difficulty in which the Government now find themselves, stating:
“Existing extradition arrangements between the EU and third countries do not provide the same level of capability as the EAW.”
Continued participation in the European arrest warrant really should be an objective of our negotiations. As we all know, organised crime knows no borders. To keep our country safe, we must co-operate with the EU27 and, indeed, other countries around the world.
My new clause does not bind the hands of negotiators. It simply says clearly that continued participation in the European arrest warrant is a negotiating objective. If it were passed tonight, it would send a signal to Brussels, reassuring those who are concerned about the Government’s approach to security in the negotiations—my hon. Friend Stephen Doughty picked up that point in his intervention—and would also send a signal to the Security Minister’s colleagues.
We are not seeking to send signals this evening; we are seeking to create an Act, and inserting the new clause would create a part of that Act that would become irrelevant within months. Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that it would merely litter the legislation? While I accept some of his points, the Government have already made continued co-operation an objective. Why should we litter a permanent piece of legislation with a clause that would be defunct within months?
With great respect to the hon. Gentleman, his argument seems to be circular. He will not vote for the new clause because he agrees with it: that appears to be his position. The idea that any piece of legislation is immune from becoming out of date, given time, is simply not credible.
I have a great deal of respect for the hon. Gentleman, and I understand the substance of where he is trying to get to, but in fairness to my hon. Friend Kevin Foster, will the hon. Gentleman accept that there is a difference between what might be termed Brexit-facing legislation, such as the Trade Bill—and I myself have sometimes not been afraid to push a point because I thought it relevant—and a Bill that does not face in that direction? Given that the Government have made very clear their desire to replicate as closely as possible our arrangements under the European arrest warrant, I cannot, in this instance, agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is the right route for the Bill, although I accept his objective.
As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have a great deal of respect for the work he does as Chair of the Justice Committee, but I simply say to him that security, which is what this Bill is about, is very much engaged in the issue of the European arrest warrant. As we look in the round at our security position, which we must do and are doing in the context of this Bill, I believe the EAW and the tools it gives us cannot be excluded from our consideration of security. That is why in my view this new clause belongs in this Bill, and why I hope that still, even at this late stage, the Security Minister might support it, because I think that deep down he agrees with it and I would like to see that reflected in the Division lobby.
I think the Security Minister and I do agree on the original clause 14. Gavin Newlands and I both tabled amendments to it in Committee. This is the part of the Bill that gives the power to impose charges on the organisers of an event for the purpose of protecting a relevant event or site from danger or damage connected to terrorism. The concern I and many others had in relation to that clause was to do with article 10 of the European convention on human rights, on freedom of expression, and arguably article 11 and the right to peaceful assembly. We did not wish to get to a position where somehow people were priced out of the right to peaceful protest. I am glad that the Government listened on that and have amended this clause so as not to impose any potential charges on those organisations that wish to gather and protest peacefully. I understand of course that the priority must be to keep citizens safe when people gather together, and that that sometimes requires infrastructure in terms of policing events, but we must strike a balance between these charges and the right to assemble. On that basis, I am pleased that the Minister has made the concession and can support that amendment.
Amendment 26 in my name addresses a specific concern that I have flagged previously with the Security Minister. It relates to border stops where there is no reasonable suspicion in relation to the individual. I previously suggested that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner be informed whenever a person is stopped under the provisions of the relevant paragraph and that there be an annual report. I have suggested this amendment again on Report because of a concern about the position in Northern Ireland, which I will come back to shortly. However, the Minister justified the power in Committee by referring to an example. An aeroplane may land at one of our airports and we may have general intelligence that someone on it poses a threat, but we do not know which person it is. That is the justification for the power and the context in which the Security Minister and I had a discussion in Committee.
This evening, however, I am seeking some reassurances about how this applies to the situation in Northern Ireland, and the Security Minister will be aware that proportionately the number of border stops is high in Northern Ireland. In 2017, that border represented 3% of the passenger numbers for the whole of the UK but 18% of the stops. In other words, people are six times more likely to be stopped there than in another part of the UK. The figures show that nobody who was stopped was detained for more than an hour, and in the rest of the UK the figure for that is 9%. But this power applies to the first place a train from the Republic stops in Northern Ireland to let passengers off, and I refer the Minister specifically to paragraph 2 of schedule 3, which states that an examining officer may question a person who is in the border area for the purpose of determining whether their presence in the area is connected with the person’s entry into or departure from Northern Ireland. This applies on the border strip and at the Newry and Portadown train stations. Under the provision as it stands, people could be stopped, questioned and detained without reasonable suspicion.
As I have said, I understand the need for that power in relation to the perpetrators of hostile activity outside the United Kingdom coming in, but we do not want through this provision to somehow create a hard border for people on the island of Ireland, between the north and south. I really hope that, even if the Minister does not respond to this at the Dispatch Box tonight, he will at least go away and look at this issue before the Bill appears in the other place, and indicate what protections he envisages in relation to that power being exercised in Northern Ireland.
I know that the Security Minister needs no reminding of the sensitivity of this matter. Does my hon. Friend agree that there could not be an area of greater sensitivity than the area around Newry and Portadown? Does he also agree that we need a full, robust and transparent reporting mechanism? Otherwise, rumours will spread, and there are some people who will seek to make the situation appear worse than it is. We must have this out in the open, because this is an area of such sensitivity. I cannot stress overmuch how delicate and dangerous this situation is.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. He always speaks eloquently when he speaks from the Front Bench on these matters. I do not want to divide the House on this issue. My amendment proposes a robust reporting mechanism. The Minister has stated that there are other ways of doing this, and I am perfectly happy to consider them, but I hope that he will go away and look at this proposal before the Bill appears in the other place, so that we can avoid the kind of suspicion that my hon. Friend Stephen Pound has just described.
Amendment 14 relates to legal professional privilege, and to a person’s ability to consult a lawyer in private. That is an important principle. In recent weeks, following the case in the UK Supreme Court of the Serious Fraud Office v. Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, it has been stated that
“the rule of law depends on all parties being able to seek confidential legal advice without fear of disclosure”.
I do not believe that we have to balance liberty against security in these circumstances, as we have to do in so many other areas. There is a simple, practical solution to this, and I hope that the Minister will be able to go away and look at it so that I do not need to divide the House on this amendment.
This relates to stops at the border. There is a power in the Bill for an officer not only to watch someone receiving legal advice but to hear that legal advice being given. The power to watch has pertained for some time. Lawyers often give advice with an officer standing behind a glass frontage, for example. That has been a feature of our criminal justice system for many years. The Chair of the Justice Committee is nodding, and he will know that that practice can be used to protect the person being questioned, or indeed to protect the lawyer in certain circumstances. I have no issue with that. The power to overhear the advice gives rise to a major issue, however.
I heard the concerns that the Minister expressed in Committee. His first argument was that, rather than contacting a lawyer, a person might contact someone they wanted to notify of the fact that they had been stopped. He also argued that they might notify a lawyer who would not adhere to the professional standards that we would expect, and who might pass some information on. The third scenario that he mentioned was that of a lawyer inadvertently passing on a piece of information. The solution that I have suggested to the Minister, which I hope would deal with all three points, would be to have a panel of lawyers, properly regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Law Society, just as we currently have a duty solicitor scheme in police stations. In that situation, lawyers would both have the expertise and be properly regulated, meaning that the Minister might not have the same concerns about people’s ability simply to contact who they wished.
I am interested in the shadow Minister’s suggestion. Would he have any concerns about whether sufficient lawyers could be accredited to guarantee appropriate availability? Does he propose that they undergo some sort of security vetting in addition to their accreditation through the Law Society or whichever other organisation is deemed appropriate?
I am not aware of an area of law where there is currently a shortage of lawyers, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be able to tell me of one—I say that based on many years’ experience of practising as a lawyer. As for the second question, I have no issue with vetting people before they can join a panel. Indeed, it is the case now that people are considered for their expertise in professional matters before they join a legal panel. I am just making a perfectly practical suggestion that would deal with the Minister’s worries while preserving that highly important principle of legal professional privilege which, as I said in my opening remarks, the Supreme Court has said in recent weeks is vital to the rule of law in this country. We should not abrogate that as we seek to tackle the real terror threat before us. I hope that the Minister will at least undertake to go away and consider whether that could realistically be looked at in the other place. It is an important principle, and I do not want to divide the House on it, but whether there is to be a concession is a matter for the Minister.
I do not want to detain the House for long, but having served as a member of the Bill Committee I wanted to put on the record some of my concerns about the new clauses and amendments in this group.
I wholeheartedly support new clause 1, tabled in the name of my hon. Friend Nick Thomas-Symonds. I cannot see any reason why the Government would want to reject it given that the Chequers agreement and the White Paper—I have read both carefully—point out the 40 different areas of justice and policing co-operation that are so essential to our security and our counter-terror efforts across European borders. The White Paper suggests that some of that co-operation could even be strengthened and deepened, so I cannot see any reason why setting out on the face of the Bill the importance of seeking participation in the European arrest warrant, one of the most crucial of those 40 instruments, would be a problem.
Given the transnational nature of some of the terror plots and serious organised crime that we have seen not only in my constituency, but in some tragic events over the past year at a UK level, I cannot see why we would want to diminish our security co-operation through, for example, Europol and Eurojust. As we approach the Brexit deadline that was set when the Government triggered article 50, we are potentially leaving a great deal of uncertainty around such issues. We do not want criminal or counter-terror investigations that are ongoing at the end of March next year to be jeopardised by the failure to secure participation in the European arrest warrant going forward.
As for my hon. Friend’s amendment 26, the Minister is aware of my concerns because we have discussed them both in person and in Committee. I fully support appropriate strengthening mechanisms to ensure that individuals can be detained at border points and that the police and security services have the appropriate powers to interdict those who might be trying to commit terror acts, serious organised crime or, indeed, espionage or other serious matters. However, it is important that that is balanced against ensuring that such powers are used carefully and effectively. Where problems exist, there should be appropriate appeal and oversight mechanisms to ensure that citizens feel that such matters are being used appropriately and securely and that individuals who are wrongly interdicted have appropriate restitution, which is important for confidence in the system as a whole.
My last point is an important one for the Bill as a whole. This part of the Bill includes many new powers and schedules, and there is cross-party agreement that our security services and the police need them to keep this country and other countries safe and to prevent us from experiencing terror attacks or the consequences of serious organised crime, but they can be applied only with appropriate resourcing.
We have seen what the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has had to say today about the 2% pay rise for police being a “punch on the nose.” We have seen the National Audit Office’s reports on the concerns about cuts in policing, and we on the Home Affairs Committee have been conducting an inquiry into police funding. The frontline policing community policing and specialist counter-terrorism policing that will be required to apply the provisions of the Bill, on which there is cross-party agreement, cannot happen out of thin air or by magic; it only happens if it is properly resourced.
I urge the Minister to make a strong case in the Home Office in the coming months that the police need more resources. We cannot continue cutting in this area, otherwise we put our national security at risk.
I promise to keep my remarks short. Two important matters have been raised, and I take on board the force of the shadow Minister’s arguments in favour of the value of the European arrest warrant. My right hon. Friend the Security Minister will know that, in the last Parliament, the Justice Committee produced a report on the legal implications of Brexit, which included a strong case for retaining access to the European arrest warrant and its arrangements.
It is important that we stress the value of the European arrest warrant to our crime-fighting arrangements. It is particularly significant, of course, that the National Crime Agency, giving evidence to our Select Committee at the time of the report, stressed the value of the European arrest warrant. All the legal practitioners stressed its importance, and the Minister recognises that the European arrest warrant arrangements are infinitely superior to those that were available under the Extradition Act 1989.
It has sometimes erroneously been said by one or two Members of this House that the European arrest warrant can be used disproportionately, and my right hon. Friend the Minister will know that, since the reforms to the operation of the European arrest warrant back in 2013, that disproportionality has been removed and the UK is actually an overwhelming beneficiary of the proper use of the European arrest warrant.
The Prime Minister made it clear at the beginning of this negotiation process that it is her objective to achieve this, and I am sure my right hon. Friend the Minister will be able to say that whatever the mechanism, whether in the Bill or not, the Government are committed to maintaining access to the EAW and to the rest of the supporting mechanism of criminal justice arrangements, such as data sharing, information sharing and intelligence sharing, the European criminal records information system and other schemes. All those will necessarily be a crucial part of the Government’s negotiating strategy. Whether or not it is mentioned in the Bill is not the point—the Government are reaffirming their commitment.
Legal professional privilege is an important issue to be considered. Unless I am wrong, there are sometimes arrangements for counsel, such as in relation to some of the specialist tribunals dealing with these matters, to be specially cleared and vetted. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Minister will take that away and consider whether further application of that scheme might offer a sensible and proportionate way forward.
It is a great pleasure to follow the irrepressible Chair of the Justice Committee, of which I am a member.
Before I discuss access to lawyers under legal professional privilege, it would be churlish of me not to thank the Minister for tabling amendments 6 and 7, versions of which both the shadow Minister and I tabled in Committee. The amendments will essentially ensure that public demonstrations cannot be subject to any financial charge under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. It is vital for our democracy, now more than ever, that the right to assemble, and to do so without charge, is protected.
Without going over the ground covered fairly extensively from the Labour Front Bench, I put it on the record that I share the concerns voiced by Nick Thomas-Symonds about the Northern Ireland border stops and the huge sensitivity of this issue. I genuinely hope that the Minister will look at that, take it away and come back having addressed it.
The Bill as it stands restricts access to a lawyer for those detained under schedule 7. Specifically, it would restrict the right of an individual to consult their legal representative in private, away from a relevant officer. Being able to speak with a legal representative in private is a fundamental right, which should not be infringed. Indeed, in oral evidence, a whole cast of people backed us up. Michael Clancy of the Law Society of Scotland spoke about the fundamental importance when he said:
“If we want people to be in a position where they can freely discuss matters with their legal representatives, we have to preserve this value. It is key to the rule of law that people can discuss matters openly with a legal representatives so that the solicitor, advocate or barrister is in a position to advise properly on what avenues are open to the person. Clearly one would want to ensure that that was adequately protected.”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Public Bill Committee,
“The cornerstone is legal professional privilege. That is not access to a lawyer;
it is the confidential nature of discussions between a lawyer and their client. That is the cornerstone that has been in existence for hundreds of years and that is held out internationally as a gold standard that we have in this country. That is what is being undermined by this Bill saying that a police officer can stand and listen to the consultation that is going on between the client and the lawyer.”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Public Bill Committee,
Access to a lawyer—fundamental access to justice—is something we should not compromise on. This is not about constraining the powers of the hard-working men and women who work at our borders; it is acting on the concerns that were expressed to us, to ensure that correct and proper due process is followed.
I suspect that the schedule has been drafted as a result of concerns that lawyers and legal advisers could be exploited and manipulated in some way, as has been outlined. However, as was pointed out, it is not unknown to our criminal justice system; we already have powers in place to deal with such occasions. For example, in code H of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which deals with counter-terrorism cases, if there is a concern about an individual lawyer, there is provision for the suspect to have the consultation with that lawyer delayed, but to be offered the services of another lawyer in the meantime, so the suspect is not devoid of legal advice. We should protect that access at all costs. I accept that the Government propose the changes with the best of intentions, but we have pointed out that there are ways for it to be done without eliminating or infringing on the basic principle under the rule of law.
I express my support for the Liberal Democrats’ new clause 1, to which I have added my name. One of the greatest threats to our national security currently is, of course, Brexit and the fact that we face losing our seamless access to multilateral information-sharing tools. As we have heard, organised crime and terrorism do not respect borders and it is essential that Police Scotland—in fact, all the police services in the United Kingdom—can access the information systems, support and technical expertise available through Europol, not only to make Scotland safe, but to contribute to making Europe safer. As the hon. Member for Torfaen said, the recent naming of two suspects in the Salisbury incident and the issuing of a European arrest warrant showed just how vital this tool is to protecting the UK from threats, and why it must, must be maintained.
Following our exit from the EU, there is a major risk that any new arrangements that are put in place will be suboptimal to those at present. Further to that, there is also an issue with data sharing between the UK and the EU, as the EU will most likely require the UK to maintain data protection and privacy laws that can be deemed equivalent to those in force in the EU. We must ensure that our law enforcement agencies can continue to have the same level of access to Europol as they currently enjoy.
There is also a need to preserve stability in the law. Repealing legislation and preparing new legislation to fill in gaps arising from leaving the EU will compromise a significant part of domestic legislation that is passed at, or following, a withdrawal. Any future arrangements must take into account the autonomy of Scottish criminal justice institutions and provide a continuing basis for the direct co-operation that currently exists between law enforcement agencies in Scotland and their counterparts.
As a matter of security, we cannot afford an operational break in our access to EU cross-border tools, because they are part of the day-to-day work of the police force. Just today, the Lord Advocate of Scotland, giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee, said:
“I don’t think it controversial to observe that leaving that regime without replacing that regime would significantly and adversely affect our capabilities. From a professional criminal justice point of view, the realistic issue is the extent to which this can be mitigated.”
The Government’s dangerous Brexit plans, such as they are, may well leave us outside the European arrest warrant and key agencies such as Europol. I cannot insist enough that that would be incredibly dangerous to the future security of Scotland, the United Kingdom and, potentially, the EU. We must be able to share vital information to keep people safe from terrorism, human trafficking and organised crime. Leaving the European arrest warrant is yet another potentially disastrous Brexit bonus that we could all do without. I wholeheartedly support new clause 1.
I rise partly because I have been encouraged by the speech made by the Chair of the Select Committee, Robert Neill. He made the point that this issue is central to the Brexit negotiations, so the House is grateful to the Labour Front Benchers for tabling new clause 1. I also rise because although the Government wish to sign up to some new security deal and the Minister understands the importance of the European arrest warrant, there can be no doubt that these tools are at risk. Given how significant they are, not only for the fight against terrorism, but for the fight against some of the most serious criminals in our world, many people are deeply worried.
The Government have continually made the argument—I have some sympathy with it—that the other members of the European Union will want to work with us because we have some of the best security services in the world. That is undoubtedly the case. I visited Europol and Eurojust in the Hague. When I talked with the then executive director of Europol, Rob Wainwright—he has now left and been replaced by Catherine de Bolle—he made it clear that the UK was at the heart of this crime-catching set of tools and instruments. It was clear from that and the work of the Select Committee and others who have delved into the issue that co-operation has become central to our activities to tackle criminals, whether that is organised crime, terrorists or others. If that is put at risk at any level, it should worry the House greatly.
It may be—I suspect it will be—that there is a deal on some of the most serious crimes. I would imagine that our European friends will want to co-operate with us against terrorists and other people who seek to commit mass murder. Of course they will want that co-operation, and I wish the Government well in achieving that goal. That is why it is good to see new clause 1, but I say to the Minister that there is a whole range of other serious offences that Europol, Eurojust, the European arrest warrant and the various data-sharing systems enable our forces to use. I am not yet convinced that Europeans are going to gladly throw all those open to us. There is certainly an incentive when it comes to terrorism and mass murder, but what about financial fraud? When I was at Europol, it was pretty clear that a lot of its resources were going after financial fraud in the capitals of the European Union and beyond—in Switzerland and elsewhere. I am not so sure we will be let in on that major issue, which is of crucial importance to the British economy.
If we go down the list of activities that Europol does on a day-to-day basis, it is not clear that the incentives for the Europeans to co-operate with us are as great as they are on terrorism. I am deeply troubled, because we need to deepen co-operation in tackling these organised criminals. The Government do not quite understand how these European organisations work. When Rob Wainwright, an ex-MI6 agent, was there, Britain was leading the operation at Europol. We will no longer be leading that operation, and that means a big loss of influence. We will not be in the room.
I went to Eurojust, and I saw the one floor of this office block in the Hague where they have one delegate from each country. They sit and work together to help each other deal with the different issues with criminals crossing jurisdictions, whether they are warrants for tracking mobile phones or other legal necessities required to conduct an investigation and, in some cases, a chase. They were clear that they had to be in that room, in that building. Where will the UK delegate to Eurojust be? I think that they will be outside. Furthermore, given the Government’s red line on the European Court of Justice, one really feels that the Europeans will be slightly less flexible on many aspects of these crime- fighting tools. I know that we are rightly focusing on terrorism today, but these other aspects of security link into that. The Government need to work much harder than I have seen so far to make sure that we are fully signed up members of absolutely everything and that the Europeans have an incentive to include us in on everything.
Finally, other Members have mentioned Northern Ireland. It is absolutely clear that the use of the European arrest warrant to tackle terrorists who go across the borders there is an essential tool, and it is right at the top of the concerns of the PSNI and the Garda. Whatever the scenario in the future—whether it is a no deal and a crash-out, or some other cobbled-together deal—the real concern is the European arrest warrant and whether it will operate on all these issues. I am talking about not just on suspected terrorism, but on suspected fraud and smuggling from where the terrorist organisations get their money.
Ensuring that we get the European arrest warrant sorted out in these negotiations on terrorism and on other offences could not be more important for the security of the British people. I wish the Minister and his colleagues well on this, but the Opposition are absolutely right to press this point. This could not be more central to the security of our country.
I will start if I may by addressing the amendments in this group. First, let me turn to the Anti-Terrorism Traffic Regulation Order. Amendments 6 and 7 respond to the debate in Committee about the provisions of clause 14, which, among other things, will enable a traffic authority to impose reasonable charges in connection with the making of an Anti-Terrorism Traffic Regulation Order or Notice.
In Committee, I indicated that I would consider amendments tabled by the hon. Members for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) and for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) designed to prohibit charges from being imposed on the organisers of public processions and assemblies. They were quite properly concerned about protecting the right to peaceful protest. Having considered the matter further, I agree that it should not be possible to impose those charges as they have suggested, and amendments 6 and 7 ensure that that is the case.
Throughout the Bill, I have made it my business to make sure that we make changes with as much consensus as possible. I have made the point that, in my time as an Opposition Back Bencher, I rarely, if ever, saw my party or the Opposition get any concession—small or big—from the Government. I do not take that attitude in legislation, and I am delighted that we could make concessions. The Opposition and the SNP were correct in making their points, and it is right that we have put them on the statute book in the right place.
The other Government amendments in this group concern the new power in schedule 3 to stop, search, question and detain persons at a port for the purpose of determining whether they are, or have been, engaged in hostile state activity. It is important to note that this is an exact mirror of schedule 7 concerning counter-terrorism as was introduced by the previous Labour Government in 2000. Therefore, all of the questions raised by hon. and hon. and learned Members from all parts of the House should be put in context that some of those issues have been in existence for 18 years—the point on the Irish border, for example. The power was specifically introduced into the Bill to deal with the aftermath of the attack in Salisbury in March. The point is that, in an open trading liberal democracy, we are vulnerable to hostile states abusing that ability to travel and that openness to come and do harm to our society and our citizens. It is a very real threat.
This was in fact considered before last March because the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson—who has often been quoted by the Opposition— highlighted the fact that we were stopping people we suspected of hostile state activity under schedule 7 counter-terrorism stops, and said that hostile state activity needed its own separate stop power. We agreed with his observations and have acted on them. It was a tragic coincidence that the attack happened in March, reminding us just how hostile some states can be.
Amendment 10 is about oversight and representations to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, as we seek to allow those representations also to be made in writing. It is incredibly important that we have these powers. We face a real challenge if a state—as opposed to an amateur or a terrorist—seeks to penetrate our border supported by the logistics of that state. An example is the recent case of GRU officers entering this country with genuine passports, logistically supported by the wider state. This type of activity is better disguised. It is not as easy as it is to stop someone with a rather dodgy back story who is coming here for the purposes of terrorism. This is serious, which is why it is important to take this power.
I know that there is concern about having no requirement for suspicion. That goes to the heart of the ability for us sometimes to action intelligence that is broad. For example, we might know about a certain route that is used or about certain flights in a period of a week, but known no more beyond that. We need to be able to act on that intelligence effectively on the spot.
I accept that point. Indeed, I set it out in my speech. Our concern is specifically in relation to Northern Ireland. How best are we going to secure accountability for how the power is used?
I agree. We have had the power regarding the Northern Ireland border, or any other border, since 2000. In theory, we able to deal with matters using a counter-terrorism stop. Over the years, I have never seen so much nonsense written about the border of Northern Ireland. I have patrolled the border. I have lived on the border. I have been on the border of Northern Ireland as the Minister for Northern Ireland. I have known the varying powers—the smugglers and the people involved—on that thing for decades.
There have always checks and stops on the border. There has been a different customs regime on the border of Northern Ireland since the 1920s. Famous smugglers have taken advantages of duty differences. There have been different tax ratios, duties and powers to make immigration stops, and we have carried these out even since the Good Friday agreement. In fact, one of the last things I did before the reshuffle that made me the Security Minister was to stand on the road near Newry doing a traffic stop of cars coming across from Ireland; they were squeezing the money out of me during my time there. These checks have always happened. This has happened for counter-terrorism for the last 18 years and we feel that should be mirrored in the case of hostile state activity.
May I take the Minister back to the point about spies from other countries and people from other security forces, whether from Russia or elsewhere? In my time in Government when I was occasionally asked, as a member of the National Security Council, to sign off warrants so that the security services could search bags, tap phones and so on—even at very short notice—it was clear to me that we had powers, if we had suspicions, to do everything required to track, trace and examine the people coming into this country with hostile intent from foreign powers, and we did that on a regular basis. Will he just explain to me why the new powers are needed, given that we already had a panoply of powers?
I can clarify briefly. If we had a line of reporting that said, in a certain week, that there was intelligence that a hostile state was seeking to come in via Heathrow airport, but we only had a certain time period, or if we had some intelligence that someone from a hostile state was coming in on a plane on a Monday through there, and we were therefore choosing to focus on those planes, that would be too broad to issue a specific warrant, and too broad for us to seek a warrant to search everybody’s bags covertly on the whole aeroplane. Everyone would be standing around worrying how long it was going to take. This is a power that reflects the operational pressure. On the Front Bench spokesman’s question about oversight, when someone is stopped under this power, a report will be taken and made to the judicial commissioner, who has the power of oversight. I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that it will be recorded, and if materials are retained—journalistic or legal—that, again, will involve a permission needing to be given in order to examine it.
There is another addition that is different from other detentions. Because we recognise the issue about the potential overhearing of consultation between a lawyer and the person detained, whatever is said in that detained stop, whether it is over the four hours or whatever, is not admissible in court, so it cannot be used against the person. That is different from a normal PACE arrest in a police station. That is the sort of balance that we have tried to strike. It is also the exact mirror of what we have had for the past 18 years in that space.
I know that the hon. Gentleman absolutely means the best in making his recommendation. I certainly give him the assurance that I will take it away and look at it before the Bill’s introduction in the other place. Many of his points about giving reassurance to people are certainly valid. He accepts, I think, that there is a risk that a state that has deliberately planned to enter this country will sometimes be making sure—if they do a proper operation—that the so-called lawyer they would consult would be in a position to be tipped off. That is why his suggestion is a good one, and I promise to take a look at it.
There is really no fundamental disagreement on the objective that the Minister is trying to achieve. The idea that the Irish border could be used as a way for foreign powers, or those who would do us harm, to come into Great Britain and Northern Ireland is simply unconscionable, so we are in the same place. However, he knows Northern Ireland well and knows the border well, and he also understands the necessity of having a regime of trust. Given that background, he has gone quite a long way in what he has said about the reporting requirements. Between now and when the Bill moves to another place, will he think very long and hard to make sure that there is enough reassurance to those involved that, in the context of Northern Ireland, this could not be used in a way that leads to misunderstanding or—I do not want to use the word “frivolous”—would allow those who want to trash what lies behind his intent to so do? We are in the same place; we simply want a mechanism of accountability.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the tone of his comments. I am happy to give him as much assurance as he would like. I am very conscious as to the issue around the Irish border and its sensitivities. I will certainly seek to give him that reassurance in writing. If there is any further assurance that we can seek to give in relation to the PSNI, I will definitely do that.
SNP Members have made a similar point about their concern about the border. With all due respect to them, they make a strong point—and also with regard to the European arrest warrant—about the value of seamless sharing and the value of the Union, but there is an issue whereby they seek on a daily basis to erect barriers between our Union. It is no good their saying that they like the seamless tool of the European arrest warrant while at the same time seeking to split our great nation and erect barriers between a political and economic union. They should just remind themselves that they cannot have it both ways.
My hon. Friend Robert Neill made a clear point on the European arrest warrant. It is very clear that the Government’s offer on security to the European Commission is unconditional. We wish to have the European arrest warrant or something as identical as possible. Some Opposition Members made a point about the current Brexit Secretary’s position. I assure them that if that was not our negotiating position, I would not be standing here as the Security Minister. The key to good security is partnership, and not just on the European arrest warrant. One fault of the new clause is, why not say the Schengen Information System II? Why not say Prüm? Why not say all the other sharing mechanisms that are really important to our security?
I do not believe that placing this in primary legislation makes sense, first because this is a counter-terrorism and hostile state Bill, and secondly because it is what we are asking for. If it was not what we were asking for, I might understand the pressing need for the new clause, to try to change the Government’s position, but it is what we are asking for. The message I urge all Members to give to the European Commission is, “How far do you want to cut off your nose to spite your face?” It is not a position of the members of the European Union. When I meet their intelligence services, police forces and Government Ministers, they all agree that they want to give us a security agreement.
It is not because we have better capabilities, which we do. It is because the sum of the parts is greater than the individual parts when it comes to security partnership, and this will benefit us both. It does not matter who has equity of capability. It benefits us both when we work together in a security partnership.
If what the Government seek to achieve is no different from new clause 1, the Minister should just vote for it. I ask him in all seriousness, what message does he have for the 80 Members on his own Back Benches who threaten to vote down the Chequers deal because of their concerns about European Court of Justice oversight of those security arrangements? I see
I would say to them and to anyone else that the first duty of a Government is security, and it is absolutely important that we maintain that. The message to Michel Barnier is that security is not a competition; it is a partnership. I hope he will reflect that in his negotiations with this country, but I do not believe that putting it on the face of primary legislation is the best way to go about it, especially as it is our Government’s ask to the European Union on that issue. I therefore urge Nick Thomas-Symonds to withdraw his new clause.
I would be interested to know whether the hon. Gentleman could name a single Labour Minister who, during the passage of any European treaty or any other treaty, put the negotiating position—not the results of the negotiation, but the negotiating position—in primary legislation. I do not think he will find one. We do not intend to put it in primary legislation, especially because it is what we are asking for and we do not need to. I therefore urge hon. Members to reject the new clause.
I do not find that explanation convincing in any sense.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.
The House divided:
Ayes 255, Noes 293.