Clause 3 - Conditions A to E

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 28 June 2011.

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

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

Briefly, we acknowledge the change in powers relating to reasonable belief and reasonable suspicion. I put it on record that we support the change, given Lord Carlile’s evidence about investigations under previous orders.

Photo of Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Labour, Salford and Eccles

I have a question for the Minister about subsection (2), which sets out that condition B requires that

“some or all of the relevant activity is new terrorism-related activity.”

We have yet to come to my amendment 127 to clause 5. If the Committee were to agree to my amendment—which is fairly unlikely in view of previous discussions—that would have a consequential effect on the paragraph relating to condition B.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:00, 28 June 2011

I am grateful for that clarification from the right hon. Lady; I appreciate that she is “rolling a pitch” that seems to relate to her forthcoming amendment. I will not stray into that territory yet.  I thank the hon. Member for Bradford South for welcoming the provisions on the burden of proof and the conditions that would need to be satisfied:

Condition A is that the Secretary of State reasonably believes that the individual is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity”.

That is a higher test than that required for a control order, which requires “reasonable grounds” for suspecting involvement in terrorism-related activity. We consider that the replacement for control orders should have a higher legal test as an additional safeguard, and that the test I have mentioned is appropriate. It is now also applied to the freezing of terrorist assets.

Photo of Julian Huppert Julian Huppert Liberal Democrat, Cambridge

The Minister will recall discussions that we had on asset freezing and the standard of the test. On that occasion, I argued that we should have a test on the balance of probability, and act if we believed at least 50:50 that somebody was actually doing what we suspected. That was similar to the words used earlier by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East, and we have accepted that it would be an acceptable test to use in terms of legal parlance. Will the Minister comment on the suggestion that we change the words “reasonably believes” to “is satisfied on the balance of probabilities”?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

We believe that the test under discussion is appropriate for standard TPIM provisions. It obviously reflects an enhancement in the requirements on the Secretary of State, but as I have already indicated and as the counter-terrorism review makes clear, if enhanced TPIM measures are required, the Secretary of State would need to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities. Again, that requires the higher test that the person

“is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity.”

Although I am unable to offer my hon. Friend comfort in the context of the TPIM measures, I can offer assurance in relation to the enhanced regime that is proposed, where the test applicable under those circumstances would reflect the balance of probabilities.

Paul Goggins rose—

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I give way to the right hon. Gentleman, who came to the same point in his previous amendment.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Labour, Wythenshawe and Sale East

I just want to clarify a point. I could not intervene on the hon. Member for Cambridge because he was intervening on the Minister. I concur with the Minister that the higher test clearly applies in the enhanced TPIM regime under exceptional circumstances. The increase to reasonable belief is a sensible proposal, with which I have no problem whatsoever.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman’s support and the approach that has been taken on this issue. With those brief comments, I support the clause to stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.