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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 29th October 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Immigration) 7:00 pm, 29th October 2018

My Lords, I tabled Amendments 21 and 22 in this group. I was not surprised, given the authors, to be more attracted to Amendment 17 than to my own amendment, but I have a couple of questions related to points already raised. I too wonder about the word “solely”. If, for one or more of the reasons listed, someone went for a reason authorised by the legislation or in regulations but did something outside them, might that cause a problem? Perhaps more importantly, I also have a question about the registered charity, regarding the jurisdiction in which it would have to be registered. It is important to address the position of charities, not just for charity workers but because the trustees will have a duty of care towards their staff. They will have an important interest in ensuring that what their staff are doing is appropriate within what the law allows.

I turn to the phrase,

“visiting a dependent family member”.

I wonder about the word “dependent”. A sick mother would be unlikely to be dependent if the son or daughter is not there supporting the family member. Perhaps one might look at extending that. However, I like the approach. I do not think it is an alternative to what is set out in Amendment 22. That would provide for regulations for authorisation—not just the grounds for applying for authorisation but also the “procedure for applying”, the “timescales for determining” it, which might be important in particular circumstances, and “rights of appeal”, which should be dealt with by some means or other. As I say, this is not an alternative; rather, there are procedural points in this that should be addressed.

I am grateful to the organisation Bond for briefing me about the position in Australia and Denmark, to which the noble Lord referred. It has put a note at the end of its briefing to remind me that the proposal for the restrictions was promoted at the exact time that nine people were arrested for travelling to Syria to become foreign fighters—proving that the existing legal provisions are “rather effective”, to use its words.

I am aware that in Australia there is an overarching exemption for the International Committee of the Red Cross, but I understand that it can be extended to other humanitarian organisations. I do not know whether any noble Lord taking part in this Committee knows how far that has been extended. I take the points about monitoring and, while putting forward these provisions, I am aware that we must balance that against the administrative burden, to which I suspect the Minister may refer. There will be an administrative burden but the benefits that could be achieved by amendments such as the ones we have been debating outweigh that. I simply wanted to anticipate that argument.