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Clause 4

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm 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 12:00 pm, 29th April 2008

I beg to move amendment No. 73, in clause 4, page 3, line 41, leave out subsection (3) and insert—

‘( ) If, in a case where the document was found in the course of a search of a person, the constable does not know the person’s name, the record must include a description of the person.

( ) If, in a case where the document was found in the course of a search of any premises, the constable does not know the name of a person mentioned in subsection (2)(e) but is able to provide a description of that person, the record must include such a description.’.

Clause 4 requires a record to be made of the removal of a document, specifies the contents of the record and allows specified persons to request a copy of it. This is one of the safeguards attached to the power conferred by clause 1, which introduces a new power for the police to remove a document for examination during the course of a specified terrorism-related search to ascertain whether it is one that can be seized.

This minor Government amendment—I know that there are shivers and bristles all round when a Minister says, “This is a minor amendment, a technicality. Don’t worry about it.”—has the effect of requiring the officer to describe the owner or occupier of the premises searched, or the person searched, if he is able to do so. As currently drafted, the clause says that a description must be given irrespective of the officer’s ability to do so, and that the record of removal of a document must state the name of the person, if known, who is or appears to be the owner or occupier of the premises  searched, and the name of any person who appears to have custody of the document. If the constable does not know the name, subsection (3) requires him to include a description of the person. The amendment means that if the constable cannot give a description of a person, he does not have to give one. It would cover, for example, the search of premises where the owner or occupier is not present.

In this case, at least, the amendment really is a minor matter. It simply tidies up the clause rather than otherwise, and I commend it wholeheartedly to the Committee.