Lords amendment: No. 33, in page 27, line 11, leave out ("For the purposes of this Part surveillance is directed") and insert
("Subject to subsection (5A), surveillance is directed for the purposes of this Part")
Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 34 to 37 and 50.
§ Mr. Clarke
Amendments Nos. 33, 34, 37 and 50 remove from the intrusive surveillance provisions covert surveillance carried out by television licence evasion detector equipment. One of the benefits of the legislation is that, as we have gradually sought to apply the human rights requirements to every act of surveillance undertaken by public authorities in Britain, we have established more clarity about what has been happening and about what, therefore, needs to be reported and regulated in a proper way. That is reflected in the Lords amendments that we will come to later when we consider the schedule that we have published in response to the suasions of the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean). One such activity is the BBC's television licence evasion detector equipment, and we have thought it right to amend the Bill to deal with that.
A police officer carrying out covert surveillance from an observation post sited on residential premises of a third party of a target outside those premises would be caught by the intrusive surveillance provision. That was not intended, so amendments Nos. 35 and 36 limit the category of intrusive surveillance to where a surveillance device is on residential premises or in a private vehicle and is providing information on what is taking place in those premises or in that vehicle, or, where a device is not on the premises, but is providing, in relation to anything taking place on the premises or in the vehicle, information of the same quality 1198 or detail as might be expected from a device on the premises or in the vehicle, or where an individual is present on the premises or in the vehicle under surveillance. That is the meaning of and reason for the amendments and I hope that the House will support them.
§ Mr. Heald
We support the amendments. I pay tribute to my noble Friend Lord Lucas, who brought to the attention of the Minister in the other place the unintended consequence of the Bill as it relates to intrusive surveillance, where a police officer using residential premises as an observation post to carry out covert surveillance would have been caught by the definition of intrusive surveillance. The fact that amendments Nos. 35 and 36 deal with that is welcome.
§ Mr. Maclean
It makes sense to have the amendments and remove the BBC detector vans from the provisions for the time being. So long as we have, in the new millennium, a grubby system whereby people crawl around the countryside in vans trying to find out whether criminals are using a television without a licence, it is probably sensible that we should have these amendments to remove that unnecessary work from this important Bill. I look forward to the time when a Minister from whatever party will be able to come to the Dispatch Box and say that we no longer need the provision because we have a different way in which to fund media organisations, other than requiring people to crawl around in detector vans to see if we are misbehaving by illegally watching a television.
§ Mr. Clarke
Out of interest, what is the right hon. Gentleman's proposal? Does it involve a spending commitment for the Opposition?
§ Mr. Maclean
I could not go down that route without incurring your wrath, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The proposal would not cost the Government money; it would save them money. However, that is another debate for another time. I would trust the free market to provide all the television services that we need.
§ Lords amendment agreed to.
§ Lords amendments 34 to 39 agreed to.