Clause 7

Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 29th April 2008.

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Photographing and copying of documents

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

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office

The clause is very straightforward and provides that documents removed under the clause should not be photographed or copied unless they are in electronic form and a copy is needed to make them visible and legible, which I think is an entirely appropriate further safeguard against the improper use of the power. I do not know whether the provision will now have to be amended, in the light of my earlier emollience, to say that we could—notwithstanding the safeguards for the police under subsection 6(3)—probably afford a copy of the document to the individual. I am not sure what the interplay is between the two things, given that the provision prohibits the photocopying and photographing of the documentation. I shall have to look at that. However, in my limited knowledge at the moment, I commend the clause to the Committee.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General 12:45 pm, 29th April 2008

I had not intended to intervene, but I want to clarify something that the Minister said that perhaps I misunderstood. I assumed that the provision was designed essentially to ensure that, if documents were returned, the police had no power to retain copies. I assumed that that was what the Minister intended and what the provision achieved. The only power to produce copies seemed to me to be in the investigative process of downloading what appears to be on computers. As long as that is so, I have nothing more to worry about.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office

That is so. Perhaps I over-egg the pudding in saying that I do not know how that relates to what I conceded on. If the seized document is retained but an individual is afforded a copy of it, clearly, if it is an electronic document, it will be given in paper form. The provision also makes it clear that every copy held in that form, purely for legibility, is to be destroyed subsequent to the return. I was concerned only with the interplay between that and my earlier concession. It is as the hon. and learned Gentleman describes it.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General

I am grateful to the Minister. As far as I was concerned, the interplay was that a copy of the document would be produced during the 96-hour period, at the end of which the original must still be returned to the individual concerned.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.