Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 17th December 2018.

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Photo of Lord Anderson of Ipswich Lord Anderson of Ipswich Crossbench 6:45 pm, 17th December 2018

I am grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Paddick, Lord Carlile, and Lord Kennedy of Southwark, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier, for their interventions, and to the Minister for her response, although its content was disappointing. I will respond briefly to the principal points that she made.

The Minister undertook or indicated that, if it came to light through fresh information that a proscription was inappropriate, then it would be reviewed. She said a lot about balance, discretion and appropriateness, but this really is not the area we are in. We are in the area of a hard legal requirement only if an organisation is concerned in terrorism. Is there even any question of getting into that area of discretion, balance and appropriateness? What these amendments seek to address is the mismatch between what the law requires and what the Government do.

The Minister raised the prospect of organisations that might engage, disengage and then re-engage, and I am sympathetic to that. It is precisely the difficulty I was seeking to address with Amendment 32A. That is the one which, by making it a condition to be concerned or to have been concerned in terrorism, elides and removes that difficulty. I would think it was helpful in addressing the problem to which the Minister referred.

The Minister said that annual review is not needed to ensure justice. I say with great respect to her that the evidence during the past 15 years is that nothing else has a hope of ensuring justice. It is not enough to rely just on the ability to apply for deproscription, because, as we have all heard, very few organisations over those years have applied to be deproscribed and one can understand why. It is very expensive. The PMOI case to which the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, referred cost some £300,000—perhaps that is lawyers for you. Someone has to put their head above the parapet and say that they want to apply. Some organisations for their own reasons might not want to apply. In any event, what comfort is that to the individual who is disrupted or investigated by police for possibly being connected with a terrorist organisation and who would never have been the person who would have applied for deproscription?

The Minister insisted particularly on Northern Ireland, where, like my noble friend Lord Carlile, I have had the privilege of spending a good deal of time over recent years with the security services. Surely at the root of the Northern Ireland settlement is respect for the rule of law. Continuing to ignore the law, which is what the Government are doing and propose to continue to do, is no substitute for enforcing and, if necessary, changing it, as the amendments propose.

The injustice about the law as it applies is that it exposes people in Northern Ireland, Great Britain and, after Clause 6 becomes law, in other countries as well to a range of police and prosecutorial powers in relation to activities that Parliament never intended should be criminal. The names of the groups that do not meet the statutory condition for proscription are not known to me, and I very much doubt that a secret list of them has been provided to police or prosecutors in the United Kingdom or that such a list would be provided to police or prosecutors in other countries. In those circumstances, there can be no reassurance that the law will be properly applied in practice.

I would have liked to divide the House on these amendments, not least because they concern the whole insecure basis on which much of the Bill is constructed—I am thinking particularly of Clauses 1, 2 and 6—but having heard from the respective Front Benches, I suspect that that could be a futile exercise. I shall not press my amendments and hope that, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier, have constructively suggested, they may find favour in another form or on another day.

Amendment 32A withdrawn.

Amendment 32B not moved.