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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 14th November 2018.

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Photo of Lord Rosser Lord Rosser Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 6:00 pm, 14th November 2018

My Lords, as has been said, the Bill provides for a person to be questioned and detained under Schedule 3 powers and makes it an offence to refuse to answer questions in examinations. The draft code of guidance, which we have now seen, recognises that there may be a preliminary stage of questioning during which people may be screened before an officer chooses to officially question them under the schedule. During screening, a person is not required to answer a question they do not want to and the code of practice states that a person must be told when the screening ends and an official examination begins. The purpose of this amendment is simply to put the screening process, the right of a person not to answer questions and, equally importantly, the right of a person to be told when screening ends and questioning begins on to the face of the Bill.

The screening does not appear to be an insignificant process. The draft code of practice, which we have sought to enshrine in the amendment, sets out the kinds of questions that can be asked and the issues that can be raised during the screening process. It states that there is no requirement for officers to keep a record of a screening interaction unless the person is subsequently selected for a Schedule 3 examination. There will be circumstances in which there is a requirement to make a record of a screening interaction. Indeed, it also says that while the screening of persons should take only a few minutes—I do not know what “a few minutes” is in this context—it states:

“If it appears that this period will take significantly longer, the examining officer must conclude the screening process and either commence a Schedule 3 examination or notify the person that they have no further questions”.

Again, in a situation where they run out of time and decide to commence a Schedule 3 examination, a record of the screening interaction must be made.

It is not clear to us at the moment why no reference to this process has appeared in the Bill. One purpose of the amendment is to get an answer to that question since it would appear to be a part of the process under Schedule 3, which we have been discussing. I beg to move.