Clause 70

Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 15 May 2008.

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Terrorist property: disclosure of information about possible offences

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

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General 9:45, 15 May 2008

I would be immensely grateful if the Minister would explain why the amendment in clause 70 is being sought. It looks completely innocuous—indeed in many ways it probably is—but equally I find it difficult to see how it makes any difference at all.

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

Clause 70 is innocuous. It clarifies part 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which deals with terrorist property. Section 19 of the 2000 Act makes it an offence for an individual to fail to inform the police if they believe or suspect during the course of their work that a person has committed a terrorist finance offence—the offences in sections 15 to 18 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Our proposal makes it clear that the offence in section 19 applies to all people in any form of employment in its widest sense, including unpaid employment. The duty to inform the police will therefore apply to contractors, office holders such as trustees of a charity, individuals on a full work experience programme or training and people carrying out voluntary work. In so far as this amendment extends the definition of employment, clause 70(4) ensures that it will have no retrospective effect. There may be a concern about the inclusion of those undertaking voluntary work. However, the Committee will want to note that the Charity Commission considers that its members are already subject to section 19, and the measure simply puts that beyond doubt.

Other provisions in part 3 of the 2000 Act refer to the terms “employment” and “employer” and the new definition applies to all those. For example, section 20 allows for disclosure of a suspicion of a terrorist finance offence to be made to a constable or to an  employer regardless of any restriction of the disclosure of information, such as the duty of confidentiality. “Employer” will now have the wider meaning given by new section 22A. The provision is fairly innocuous, and I commend it to the Committee.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

My recent reading of the Terrorism Act 2000 made it plain that the measure is subject to an overriding provision that the offences were not committed by lawyers where the information was received in their confidential communication with their clients. It would be helpful if the Minister were to restate that, because he failed to mention that in his general statement of policy.

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

I think that that is certainly the case, and I am happy to confirm it. I detected the same import in my reading of the provision.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Liberal Democrat, Somerton and Frome

I have a small point that I hope the Minister can help me with. Will this now apply to ministers of religion, whether employed or not employed?

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

That is an interesting point. I think that it does in the sense that they remain employees. The amendment provides full clarity on that point.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 70 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 71 ordered to stand part of the Bill.