Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 14th November 2018.

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Photo of Lord Paddick Lord Paddick Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 4:30 pm, 14th November 2018

My Lords, I support the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, in opposing the additional powers conferred by Schedule 3, for some of the reasons she has just mentioned. We have already debated whether the powers in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act are used appropriately in every case. From complaints made to me, I believe that there is increasing concern that Schedule 7 powers may be being used arbitrarily—particularly against black and other ethnic minority passengers—resulting in missed flights with no compensation.

As the briefing provided by Liberty suggests, Schedule 3 covers a potentially vast and uncertain range of behaviours. Paragraph 1(1) refers to,

“a person who is, or has been, engaged in hostile activity”.

As the noble Baroness said, the Bill defines hostile activity as any act which threatens national security, the economic well-being of the UK or which constitutes a serious crime, where the act is,

“carried out for, or on behalf of, a State other than the United Kingdom or … otherwise in the interests of a State other than the United Kingdom.

However, the person need not be aware that they are engaged in hostile activity, and the state for which the hostile act is being carried out need not even be aware that the hostile act is being carried out. As the Bill is worded, someone from Paris or Frankfurt travelling to the UK to encourage UK businesses to relocate to their city in the face of Brexit will be caught by these provisions, because his mission would threaten the economic well-being of the UK and would be in the interests of another state—France or Germany. In a later group, the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, has an amendment in relation to what the definition of hostile act should be, and we will return to this subject then.

This schedule and the powers it contains, according to the Home Office briefing we were provided with, is supposed to be a response to the attempted assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, yet almost all commentators agree that this was an act of terrorism already adequately covered by Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act. Perhaps the Minister can give an example of a hostile act that has been committed against the UK that was not an act of terrorism.

The fact sheet provided by the Home Office suggests that these provisions are needed because:

The UK faces a sustained threat from hostile actors seeking to undermine our national security in a wide variety of ways”.

Can the Minister explain how every and all acts that threaten the economic well-being of the UK are a threat to national security, and why the wording used in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 is not used here—for example, with regard to the issuing of bulk interception warrants under Section 138(2) of the 2016 Act, where the issue of a warrant has to be,

“in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom”,

but only so far as those interests are relevant also to the interests of national security?