Clause 19 - Reports on exercise of powers under Act

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 30 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) 2:15, 30 June 2011

The clause places a duty on the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament each quarter a report on the exercise of particular powers under the Bill. The Minister knows that we were concerned that control orders had to be renewed each year. What format will the report be in, and what opportunities will there be to discuss it?

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

Clause 19 will place a duty on the Secretary of State to report to Parliament quarterly on the exercise of her powers under the Bill to impose a measure on a person by a TPIM notice, to extend a notice, to vary the measures specified in a notice, and to revoke or revive a notice. Although the details of the operation of the system and of particular cases will be sensitive and therefore could not be disclosed publically, the clause will ensure that key information about the operation of the system will be in the public domain and regularly updated. Crucially, the report will include information about the extent of the Secretary of State’s use of her powers and the number of cases in which measures are imposed. It will also include details of court judgments relating to the use of such powers handed down in the relevant reporting period.

We understand that there is interest in making available as much information as possible about the operation of the system and the cases of individuals subject to the measures. That has certainly been the case with control orders and it is likely to continue in relation to TPIMs. Having the information available will help to ensure that any debate about the powers is as informed as possible.

We have had to balance those considerations against the need to avoid disclosing sensitive information in a way that could be damaging. I hope that the Committee will appreciate that such considerations are important in the quarterly reports. The Government are committed to making public as much information as they can, but we need to be cognisant of issues that might damage national security, the effective operational management of the TPIM system or an individual’s right to a private life, should they be identified. There are therefore understandable and reasonable limits. However, as I have indicated, disclosure is important to inform the debate, subject to those clear limitations.

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

I would like some detail about the practicalities. The Minister says that the numbers will be reported, rather than any further detail. He also says that there might be a debate, but if the annual accountability to Parliament is removed, how will a debate be facilitated?

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

I was talking about a debate in a generic sense rather than about a specific parliamentary debate. I know that the Opposition have tabled an amendment about annual review, so it would be appropriate for us to discuss the issue in that context. The Government intend to lay a written ministerial statement, as is the case under the control orders regime. I hope that that helps to inform the hon. Gentleman of our intentions for the application of clause 19. On that basis, I trust that the clause will stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 19 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.