Clause 43

Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 13 May 2008.

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Power to Amend Specified Terms or Periods of Imprisonment or Detention

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General

I beg to move amendment No. 175, in clause 43, page 32, line 4, leave out paragraph (a).

Photo of Edward O'Hara Edward O'Hara Labour, Knowsley South

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 176, in clause 43, page 32, line 5, leave out from ‘force’ to end of line 9.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General

This is a simple matter—just to have it on the record. As I understand the purpose of clause 43, it is to ensure that there will be no retrospectivity applying to any decision to reduce a specified term or period requiring notification but, at the same time, will give individuals the benefit of any retrospectivity in cases of extending the period and thereby taking people out of the regime altogether. In those circumstances somebody who has been made subject to a notification process but finds subsequently that the Government change the rules so that they would not have been subject to that process at the outset of notification would thereby no longer have to register.

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

I am grateful that the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests that these are probing amendments.

Clause 42 specifies that sentences or orders of 12 months or more for relevant offences would lead to the notification requirements applying, as we have discussed. We believe that this threshold will lead to notification requirements for convicted terrorists who pose a significant risk to the community on their release from custody.

It may be found in future that the threshold captures serious offences not deemed to present sufficient risk to justify the application of the requirements because the threshold is too low. Alternatively, the threshold may be found to be too high. The clause provides the Secretary of State with an order-making power to vary the sentence or order thresholds to ensure that they remain effective, proportionate and justified. This will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny as the order is subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. If the order reduces the thresholds for notification requirements, they will only apply to those dealt with after the order comes into force. However, if the order increases the thresholds, for example, from 12 months to two years, individuals who were subject to notification requirements because of a sentence of up to two years, would no longer be required to notify as from the date the order comes into force.

It is as the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests. With that explanation, I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General

I have no difficulty with that explanation and will ask to withdraw the amendment.

That somebody has clearly seen the necessity of making the provision highlights the fact that although notification in itself may not be viewed as a punishment it is nevertheless an onerous requirement that has to be dealt with fairly. If it were not for that, there would have been no requirement to put in clause 42 at all. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.