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

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Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office 11:30, 13 May 2008

On the point made by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome, if he had committed the Bill to memory—as no doubt he has, but has forgotten it, rather as I have—he would have rushed to clause 52, where it says very clearly under “Offences relating to notification” that a person commits an offence who

“fails without reasonable excuse to comply with...section 44”.

It would be a reasonable excuse that a person had tried and been unable to get his national insurance number from the Department for Work and Pensions or whomever, but told the police that he would try to get it as quickly as possible. That would be a reasonable excuse, so I think the interplay between the two is perfectly fair. As the hon. Gentleman says, giving a false name would be a different matter.

An individual’s being at large does not obviate the need for them to comply with the notification order. If they are unlawfully at large and have a duty to notify and fail to do so, that is an offence with a penalty of up to five years in prison, so it is proper that the words “unlawfully at large” are included. I suspect that the meaning of those words is not covered by “reasonable excuse” in terms of clause 52.

The wording of the clause makes sense, but I take the point made by the hon. Member for Reigate. The legalese says:

“A person to whom the notification requirements apply must notify the required information to the police within three  days...If the person was dealt with...before the commencement of this Part and... has been released on licence or...is unlawfully at large” on commencement, and so on. As the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome implied, the notification elements do not disappear simply because a person is unlawfully at large; they are still germane and relevant, which is why they are mentioned in the clause. However, clause 52 answers the hon. Gentleman’s broader point.