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Clause 1

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 29th April 2008.

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Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office 11:00 am, 29th April 2008

As I understand it, that is entirely the case. As I said earlier, all that clause 1 affords the constable is the power to remove the document—rather than lawfully seizing it—to another place for 48 hours, up to 96 hours, to translate it or do whatever else he needs to do with it to ascertain whether there is reasonable suspicion to seize it. Without that subsection, there is no second phase to that process. Having removed the document and established that there might be reasonable grounds for seizure, subsection (4) is necessary to allow the legal process to continue so that the seizure is lawful, as the honourable and learned Gentleman suggested. It is worth reading out, because the obscure relativism of  the English is wonderful, although there are other examples in the Bill that are real peaches. It states:

“Where a document is removed under this section a constable has the same powers of seizure as if it had not been removed and any matters discovered on examination after removal had been discovered before its removal.”

That is wonderful English legalese at it best, but its import is precisely as the hon. Gentleman suggests. The 48 or 96 hours is a temporary step out from the due process, to establish whether there are reasonable grounds, etc. The seizure process needs to be ongoing, and all that subsection (4) does is to confirm that the seizure is lawful or that reasonable suspicion was not grounded and therefore the documents are to be returned. It is as simple—in its language—as that.