Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 29th October 2018.

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Photo of Lord Garnier Lord Garnier Conservative 6:45 pm, 29th October 2018

My Lords, I briefly return to our discussion to Amendment 17, moved so well by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich. He made no claims of infallibility. When we are discussing this sort of subject, he probably comes the closest in this Chamber to infallibility, at least for the moment. I understand his reasons for moving the amendment; I can see that the reasonable excuse provision in the Bill he seeks to amend is somewhat vague. None the less, I want to ask one or two questions relating to the amendment.

I can accept that the genesis of at least some of the new provision comes from other countries’ and jurisdictions’ legislation; the noble Lord mentioned Australia in particular. A few things about the amendment trouble me slightly. I can see that proposed new paragraphs (a) to (e) provide a reason for making a visit to the designated area, but I am a little troubled by the fact that proposed new paragraph (f) states simply that,

“visiting a dependent family member”,

may provide a reasonable excuse. The reason for the visit to the dependent family member needs to be explored fully. The amendment could lead us into difficulty. The purpose of the visit may be to see a bed-ridden grandparent, but it may be to see a rather ill-motivated teenager with terrorist sympathies. As long as that is not made clear, the problem I see in proposed new paragraph (f) remains.

To some extent, although not as greatly, I am troubled by proposed new paragraph (c), which gives the reason of,

“satisfying an obligation to appear before a court or other body exercising judicial power”.

I can see that in an organised state with an organised court system, complying with an obligation to appear in court to give evidence, or whatever it may be, provides one with a reasonable excuse. However, going to a designated area suggests that there may not be such an organised system there. Although one may be under some obligation to appear before it, I hesitate to suggest that in all circumstances one is likely to find in a designated area a recognisable court or other body exercising judicial power in a way that we would find acceptable in this country and this jurisdiction.

Perhaps these are quibbles. The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, expressly stated that he did not claim his amendment to be perfect. I understand where the amendment comes from and where it intends to go. I simply ask my noble friend on the Front Bench not to dismiss the amendment out of hand but perhaps to go away and rewrite it in such a way that it would be acceptable as a government amendment that would pass muster in both this House and the other place.