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Queen's Speech — Debate (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 27th May 2010.

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Photo of Baroness Neville-Jones Baroness Neville-Jones Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 6:30 pm, 27th May 2010

Excuse me, they are. They are the details that surround the general principle and we need to formulate them. The House is absolutely right to wish to know these answers and we will bring them forward as soon as we can.

I want to refer to two other points of constitutional significance that were raised during the debate. The first concerned Scotland. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Boyd of Duncansby, who served on the Calman commission, asked about the timing of a Bill to implement the commission's recommendations. It is hoped that a Bill will be introduced in the autumn. Obviously, given its importance both Houses will want to give it careful consideration and it would be premature at this stage to anticipate when it will reach the statute book. However, the noble and learned Lord can be reassured that we want the Bill to make steady progress through Parliament. That is one of the things that we want to get through. I also confirm that on this issue the respect agenda goes across the political spectrum. Already this week, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, met the leader of Labour MSPs, at Mr Iain Gray's request, so the matter is under way.

My second point is the question of the Bill of Rights, which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart. He asked whether the Bill would be UK-wide. The remit of the commission, which will consider many of the issues that he raised, is UK-wide but we will ensure-another point that he underlined-that the commitments made in the Good Friday agreement are respected.

I shall now turn to the Home Office side of the Government's programme. We have set out a clear shift in the Government's approach to a number of areas, such as ID cards. Your Lordships' House will not be surprised by that. As an indication of our determination to get on with this part of the agenda, legislation has already been introduced in the other place. Our commitment to civil liberties is nowhere more apparent than in the decision to wish to do this-to abolish not just identity cards but the national identity register, which would have contained up to 50 items of personal information for each individual and to which the cards would have been connected. We want to remove the notion that the state has the right or the need to collect and amass huge volumes of personal data of people and lodge them all in one place. I must also say that much can be done. A noble Lord said that we still have too much legislation; that is a sentiment with which I personally sympathise. In my view, much can be done without legislation.

I turn for a moment to counterterrorism policy, where that is certainly the case. We will maintain the framework of the CONTEST strategy, which we have always supported as conceptually sound-I pay tribute to those who formulated and pioneered it. It is a model that many other countries have looked to and imitated. It has proved its worth and we will build on it. As noble Lords may also be aware, we are reviewing one part of it: the operation of Prevent, which is not at present attaining its objective of preventing people becoming terrorists.

We believe that effective intervention with individuals needs to occur upstream of the prevention of violence and that that policy should be about more than the enforcement of the boundary between lawful and unlawful activity. We see cohesion as a separate issue.

We will also review control orders. Consistent with the security situation, our aim is to cease to have resort to them. They have big implications, so I hope that the House will allow us time to achieve that. We have also undertaken to consider detention before charge. That will come up quite soon. We will also look at the operation of stop-and-search powers in relation to terrorism. An especially difficult area is our ability to deport foreign nationals whose presence is not conducive to the public good. We will pursue that issue, despite the difficulty of getting assurances abroad.

Finally, on the more general security front, as the House knows, we have instituted the operation of the National Security Council. As the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said, we want in certain areas to roll back the powers of the state, reduce the weight of government on our citizens and the surveilling of law-abiding people. We will adopt the protections of the Scottish model of the DNA database, which, we believe, will provide us with the necessary instruments for good policing and crime detection. We will regulate with due note for balance CCTV cameras and we will restore rights to non-violent protest and historic freedoms such as the right to trial by jury.