Clause 41

Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 18th January 2007.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon UUP, North Down

You are, as ever, Sir Nicholas, very gracious in allowing hon. Members to participate in stand part debates. Regarding the interpretation section in clause 41, and picking up on the Minister’s point about records, I am unhappy that this is a limited clause. Earlier on in our discussion on clauses 26 and 27, it was brought to the Committee’s attention that members of Her Majesty’s forces could seize  documents or records during a search. However, the definition and interpretation in clause 41 are unclear as to whether a record includes computer documents. That was alluded to by the Minister in response to an intervention.

It would be helpful if “record” were defined in the interpretation, particularly in light of clause 27, which we did not discuss. If Committee members turn to that clause, they will see that multiple use of the word “record” creates confusion. Not only does clause 27(1) state that there is a document or record, but clause 27(1)(b) states that whoever examines it also has to make a written record of the document or record.

Clause 27(2) requires that the record describe all sorts of things. We have no idea, apart from the sense of the clause, which record we are talking about. Therefore, it is constructive to suggest to the Minister and his valiant assistants—who do listen to helpful suggestions in Committee—that, rather than clause 41 standing part unamended, it would be beneficial to include “record” as defined.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office

In order not to sound like a broken record, I hope it will be helpful to the hon. Lady if I take that suggestion away further to examine it. I noticed that “hovercraft” is included in the definition of “vehicle”, but not in the provisions on stop and question. I will also take that away and think about it, and I am sure that the hon. Member for East Antrim will be happy if I do so.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

There also seems to be an error in the definition of “vehicle” not including car.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office

The hon. Gentleman has once again been persistent and constructive in his interventions. We will look at that. I think that we are getting another “vehicle” coming any time soon.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office

My hon. Friends were suggesting that, in fact, we might have a bandwagon heading our way. I hope that it is sufficient assurance for the hon. Member for North Down that we will look at the word “record” and whether its definition needs to be set out.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 41 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 42 ordered to stand part of the Bill.