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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 would interpret “reasonably practicable” as meaning as practicable a time as is reasonable.

I knew that, if I remained emollient all day, hon. Members would soften me up in the end. I agree broadly with what the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield says. If I thought that the amendment was seeking to restrict, in any fashion, the time that the police had, rather than at least give us a benchmark to the effect that any reasonable person would determine “reasonably practicable” to mean “within 24 hours”—that is a fair point—I would be a feeble Minister captured by the lawyers and officials, obliged to ask that we stay within the notion of

“as soon as is reasonably practicable”.

I would do so if it made sense, but it does not. So we will have that one—we will accept amendment No. 81 because it is perfectly reasonable: one-nil to the hon. and learned Gentleman.

I must resist the second amendment, however, because I think there is confusion. It is not about a copy of the document, but about a copy of the record of the seizure of the document. The hon. and learned Gentleman’s points on the import of the document to the individual and on the notion that, in the first instance at least, there is no criminal dimension afforded to it at all—we are talking about 48 or 96 hours, during which it can be established whether it  is reasonable to take things on the ground of reasonable suspicion, and so on—are covered by clause 6. That clause allows access to the taken documents—I use “taken” specifically to avoid confusion with seized documents—if they are as important as he suggests.