§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Second Reading debate resumed.
§ Lord Lloyd of Berwick
My Lords, at first sight the Bill seems to be something of a ragbag but it contains some important provisions of which I shall mention only three.
Part 1, Chapter 2 covers the obtaining of evidence abroad. In the old days that was done by means of letters of request in which, many years ago, I became almost by inadvertence something of an expert. But it was always an inconvenient way of obtaining evidence abroad and was often protracted. Clause 7 seems to me to be a great improvement. Our courts will be able to apply direct to the foreign court which will take the evidence in question. It will no longer be necessary to go through the Foreign Office for that purpose as was necessary hitherto. That must be a good thing.
Clauses 13 to 15 contain the reciprocal measures to those in Clauses 7 to 9, but for some reason inward requests for evidence seem still to have to go through the Secretary of State. I am not sure why that should be. I am not sure that I altogether understand the explanation that has been provided in the Explanatory Notes. Perhaps when the Minister replies to the debate he will enlighten us a little further on that point.
I hope that the Minister will deal with another query. Presumably our courts will continue to be able to request evidence of telephone intercepts obtained 996 abroad for the purposes of trials which take place in England. Such evidence was obtained not long ago and held to be admissible by the House in the recent decision of R v P. But, that being so, will the measure work the other way? Can foreign courts request evidence of telephone intercepts which have been obtained here for the purposes of their trials abroad and, if not, why not? Such evidence is not, of course, admissible in English courts for reasons which I have long found hard to understand and which I continue to deplore. But there is nothing in Section 17 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 which would prevent such evidence being used in a foreign court. I hope that the Minister will enlighten us on that point. It seems to me that it might be a point of some importance if we are to obtain convictions in foreign countries to the extent that we should. Meanwhile, I certainly support Part 1, Chapter 2.
I turn to the question of foreign surveillance operations under Clause 83. For some it may seem objectionable that foreign police officers should be able to conduct intrusive surveillance operations in the United Kingdom unaccompanied by a United Kingdom police officer or Customs officer. I well understand that, but there are two factors to remember: first, that the arrangement is reciprocal and we shall be able to do the same abroad; and, secondly, perhaps even more importantly, that Clause 83 is far from being open-ended. It allows surveillance in the United Kingdom only where the surveillance operation has already started abroad and then only for a short period of five hours while the foreign police officer is, in the language, in hot pursuit of the target. I agree with the Minister that those are proper safeguards. When one has regard to the appalling problems of international drug smuggling which are getting worse all the time, it seems to me that Clause 83 is a small price to pay if we are at least to hold our own against international criminals, let alone defeat them. Therefore, I support Clause 83.
Finally, I turn to the anti-terrorist provisions in Clauses 53 and 54. These clauses implement Article 9 of the Framework Decision of 13th June of this year so the Government have acted with commendable speed. What is to my mind far less commendable is the way in which these new provisions have been incorporated into existing legislation. The purpose of the new sections is to confer jurisdiction on our courts in the case of terrorist offences committed by or against British subjects overseas. The Framework Decision refers repeatedly to what it calls "terrorist offences". The problem is that the Terrorism Act 2000 contains no definition of "terrorist offences". That can now be seen to be a grave defect. Instead we now have the two long lists of offences set out in new Sections 63B and 63C and lists that are nearly but not quite the same tacked on to a provision about terrorist finance. I do not find that drafting satisfactory.
Chapter 6 of my report sets out the reasons why I thought that it would be desirable to have a definition of "terrorist offences" that could be included in the Terrorism Act. Soon after the Terrorism Bill was published I spent an hour with the then Home 997 Secretary trying to persuade him of my view on that matter but I did not succeed. The Terrorism Act instead specifies comparatively minor matters such as weapons training, fundraising, the wearing of uniforms and so on as terrorist offences. But nowhere does it state that murders such as those that were committed on September 11th or in Bali or in Mombassa are terrorist offences within the meaning of the Act. That seems to me to be very strange indeed. Nowhere is the word "murder" even mentioned in the Terrorism Act. Now it is to be mentioned for the first time. I am glad of that. I confess that I have an almost overwhelming desire to say to the Minister, "I told you so", but I shall try not to do so in too offensive a way.
If we are to have murder included among terrorist offences, surely it should not be tucked away, as it is, in new Sections 63A to E. It should be set out in resounding terms at the very outset, probably in new Section 2 immediately following the definitions of terrorist offences in new Section 1. The measure would then no doubt refer to a new schedule which could be brought up to date as new terrorist offences are proposed, as no doubt they will be as the years go by. That format is what I suggested in Chapter 6 and Appendix E of my report.
I beg the Minister to think again about the drafting of the new clauses. That would be quite easy to do and if it were proper to offer to do so, I should be very willing to offer my help. We have already missed a golden opportunity to include in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act a comprehensive definition of what we mean by "terrorist offences". I hope that we will not miss that opportunity for a second time.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Lord Clinton-Davis
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble and learned Lord, who raised some very pertinent points, particularly about the definition of "terrorism". I wait with some interest my noble friend's response to the rather important aspect that we are considering.
Like the noble and learned Lord, I share the view that it is desirable, not only from the point of view of the law but also from the point of view of restricting terrorist activities, that we should be much more emphatic than we are in dealing with this matter. The noble Baroness sought to say—I in no way impugn her motives—that civil liberties should not be eroded. As my intervention suggested and notwithstanding her response, there is some doubt about the practices of our predecessors in that regard. We should do well to consider the bona fides of the previous government with regard to the establishment of civil liberties. I agree with her that the issue of civil liberties is very precious and that a balance has to be struck between civil liberties and the effective enforcement of the law. When there are doubts, I should err on the side of civil liberties.
It is wrong for us to entertain the view that somehow or other we have a monopoly in this country so far as that aspect of civil liberties is concerned. There are plenty of countries within the EU that are 998 deeply concerned about civil liberties. We should be concerned about the erosion of civil liberties; I entirely agree with the noble Baroness.
Another important point is that there should be near certainty of apprehension so far as miscreants are concerned. On the whole, they are very inventive and we should be concerned about that. That point was effectively dealt with by my noble friend the Minister and that is underlined by Parts 1 and 2 and reinforced by Parts 3 and 4. It does not avail us at all to hope that all miscreants will be arrested. I believe that we have no alternative but to strengthen the current law. In an age of international crime, the response also has to be international. The EU is a very good starting point.
The House owes special plaudits to the scrutiny committee of both Houses which considered this legislation. That committee made it possible to enact amendments to the law.
Police and judicial co-operation, as well as other relevant provisions of the Schengen agreement, are absolutely essential if the system is to work. That makes the Treaty of Amsterdam so important. However, we should be prepared to act with speed if holes in the law are discovered and flouted by the unscrupulous. I have my doubts about the speed of the changes that may be required from time to time. I should like to hear what my noble friend has to say about that. We currently have to wait for some two years before any changes in an enactment can be provided. That is not adequate when we consider the way in which international terrorists and others behave.
It should also be emphasised that national authorities should choose how and by which methods the enforcement of European Union law should be utilised. I am currently not totally convinced that they do that. I wait to hear from my noble friend on that issue.
All of this illustrates in a practical way the importance of the European dimension. We hope that this will be only a beginning and that an ever-wider reaction will be fashioned. Mutual assistance in criminal matters is of the utmost significance. For example, it is supported by the evidence-freezing provisions of the framework decision on the execution in the European Union of orders freezing property and evidence. In that regard, the way in 'which the relevant authorities deal with locating bank accounts and give necessary information concerning criminal investigations, which can be provided by banking information, are of the utmost importance. The missing links in the current law are filled in by this proposed legislation so far as we can see.
The improvement of judicial co-operation is also absolutely vital in the fight against international crime. Judges are trained differently and behave differently in continental countries from our own and we do not take sufficient cognisance of that fact. I have never been a judge, unlike my noble and learned friend, but he recognises that that is in reality only a superficial difference.
999 We are dealing with all kinds of sophisticated criminals for whom frontiers are essentially irrelevant. Prosecuting authorities have to be at least one step ahead as I have already said. It may well be necessary to extend these provisions in the light of experience. At the moment, whether the threat comes from Al'Qaeda, or from any other source, many innocent people the world over feel threatened. I have no wish to be alarmist, as that plays into the hands of the terrorists, but we have to be prepared. In part this Bill answers that particular problem. We can never be wholly satisfied. We also have to be prepared to say that we were wrong, or that we have to alter the provisions of the law or that the law is inadequate.
In my view the Schengen convention and the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters 2000 are essential provisions for combating international crime, as revealed by my noble friend. The provisions that this House is now considering include hearing witnesses abroad through television links. Although that is partially covered at the moment, the Secretary of State is able to extend that to other types of criminal proceedings. What is of equal importance is that for the first time the courts can hear witnesses who may be abroad or here via television links. The same can be done by telephone.
This Bill is very wide. It covers all those issue that I have addressed and many others: banking transactions; accounts, in particular banking accounts; the transfer of prisoners to enable investigations to be assisted; terrorism, which is to be tackled much more effectively than at the moment; driving offences that are subject to disqualification orders and which are to be dealt with more vigorously on an international basis; and many other issues.
In my view it is right that prosecuting authorities should be more prepared than ever, on an international stage, to respond to the stratagems of criminals. This Bill goes a long way towards achieving that.
§ 4.54 p.m.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, and to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, as each of them has enabled me to shorten my speech. They have both mentioned terrorism. I hope that the noble and learned Lord will not mind my referring to his comment that there is no definition of terrorism in our statute law. I suggest that terrorism covers a wide range of criminal offences that do not need to be redefined. If I understand the matter properly, terrorism is simply the motive behind the commission of criminal offences. There is such a wide variety of terrible motives that I believe it will be difficult to achieve a definition. I may be wrong, but we shall consider the matter in later proceedings on the Bill.
It seems to me that this Bill is obviously necessary, although it is unavoidably complicated. It is necessary for two main reasons: first, for dealing firmly with terrorism, as has been mentioned, and secondly, since the end of the Second World War, there has been a vast 1000 increase in the easy movement of people, lawfully and unlawfully, around the world. In relation to people who live on islands, as we do, that increased ease of travel is mainly due to air travel. Across the mainlands of Europe and Asia travel has increased enormously due to easy movement by road and rail. Also the effect of border controls has diminished and border control has become much more difficult.
The changes in the world, as mentioned by some noble Lords, are phenomenal and have occurred rapidly. Although I was born only 94 years ago, I have witnessed remarkable changes. Perhaps I may give an illustration. In 1913, when I was five years old, and had already come to love the seaside, my father drove my mother and me from north Kent to north Cornwall for a seaside holiday. There were few other cars on the road and once one got away from the towns and suburbs the roads were very rough. In that dry summer they threw up a lot of dust and when my father saw a cloud of dust ahead, my mother would say to him, "Hold back". At any event, he had promised my mother not to exceed 40 miles per hour! I am only blurting out the truth! That journey from north Kent to north Cornwall took us three days, but now we can fly around the world in three days thanks to the splendid passenger aircraft at our disposal. The movement of people has increased phenomenally.
My recollection is quite good. A week after the First World War started I was six years old and reasonably observant. I scarcely ever saw a foreigner or a coloured person in Kent, where I was brought up, nor in London. When my mother took me to London. there were hardly any taxis so we had to take cabs.
However, we have seen a vast change in the population, especially in the past 50 years. In January 1958, when all who were British subjects in what was formerly the British Empire and became the Commonwealth had a right to come and live here permanently, I became Under-Secretary at the Home Office with Mr R A Butler as the Home Secretary. He made me responsible for immigration control and for licensing asylum seekers, of whom there were very few. They caused no trouble. There were about 15 or 20 per year. But Commonwealth immigrants became so numerous that we had to diminish their right to come and stay here indefinitely.
In 1959, 21,000 immigrants came from the Commonwealth. In 1961, 136,000 came. So in 1962 we had to have the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, which deprived them of their right to live here but enabled many to come here for employment.
It is interesting to note in passing that—I hope this will amuse the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, for whom we have a high regard—when we piloted that Bill, I was of course in another place, the Labour opposition opposed it strenuously and threatened to repeal it when they came to power. But when they did come to power they did not repeal it, I am glad to say—they strengthened it
. Therefore, I feel that the motives of the present government are right in trying to deal with the matters that this complicated Bill attempts to deal with. It is 1001 necessarily complicated, detailed and technical. But its provisions are of great importance. We shall have to pay close attention to them in the later stages of the Bill, especially in the six days in the Grand Committee. I think that the Government are quite justified in sending the Bill to a Grand Committee.
I return to the subject of terrorism. To my mind, the most urgent and important part of the Bill is Part 2, which, in Clauses 53 and 54, deals with terrorism and extends the definitions of terrorism and the offences created by it mentioned last year in the previous legislation. Clauses 53 and 54 will make the method of dealing with terrorism more effective.
Although the Government broadly deserve support on this Bill, I agree with those noble Lords and the noble and learned Lord who pointed out detailed matters which we must attempt to improve. My noble friend Lady Anelay was particularly justified in referring to the inadequacy of the order-making power. That must be dealt with; it is too loose. But we must also amend the Bill to ensure that, if police or other people from another country come here chasing criminals, they must inform our authorities, especially our police. That surely would not be difficult. Modern telephones, radio and so on will make it quite easy for foreign countries, for whom these people are acting, to give even advance notice if necessary. That must be done and the Bill should be amended, as my noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns said.
Perhaps I may presume to say in conclusion that the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, has earned our confidence on several occasions. I wish him success in the piloting of this complicated, difficult and necessary Bill.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ Lord Dixon-Smith
My Lords, I have never been able to decide whether it is my eyes or my brain that causes me to read things with a slightly perverse view. When I picked up the Bill from the Printed Paper Office, I looked at the title page and thought" "Oh, heavens". I did not realise that the Government were in the business of promoting international crime.
That may be perverse, but it is a perfectly valid interpretation of the heading on the title page of the Bill. I do not think that the British Parliament should progress a Bill that has an ambiguous title on its face. I ask the Minister most sincerely to consider that. If it were a criminal investigation (international cooperation) Bill or even a crime prevention (international co-operation) Bill, that would be perfectly satisfactory. But, as written, this short title is in my view improper. I do not know what the procedure is for altering the short title of a Bill. There may riot even be one. I am glad to assure the noble Lord that I am in fact reassured by the long title of the Bill, which is perfectly plain. But the long title of the Bill is not on the face page, and it is the face page that I am concerned about.
In the aftermath of the Mombassa disaster, preceded of course as it was by Bali, it is all too easy to think that we must go completely overboard in dealing with international crime. "Overboard" is a matter of 1002 definition, but it is necessary to remember and to remind ourselves that the battle against international terrorism is the same as the battle that we have against crime. While criminal procedures, the law and justice are a part of that process, we need also to think that it is part of a political process. One cannot win the battle against terrorism without winning hearts and minds. The same applies with regard to criminals. Somehow we have to persuade people that there is more to gain for society generally from ordered, rational and developing communities. It is an aspect of both those problems to which we often do not pay sufficient attention. It is easy to lose sight of when we are considering a specific Bill that deals wish the investigation and, hopefully, apprehension of criminals.
I have no difficulty with the definition of terrorism. I have always thought that the definition of terrorism was "any criminal act committed with a view to coercion". I wondered whether one should restrict that definition to political or religious coercion but, on the whole, I concluded that one should not. It is my view—and this is where the distinctions become blurred—that the actions of some small groups of young people which give rise to anti-social behaviour orders are a form of terrorism. In a sense, that is a diversion from the Bill, but it is an important part of the background.
If the purpose of the Bill were simply to apply the relevant parts of the Schengen agreement to British law, it would be very straightforward and much easier to deal with. But the Bill goes wider than that. It deals also with the Commonwealth and, indeed, in appropriate cases where appropriate treaties exist, with the rest of the world. In the definitions in Clause 52, the Minister is to be given powers to add countries. I assume that that power is restricted so that in fact it means countries that gain access to the Schengen agreement by joining the European Union. If it means anything wider than that, to give a Minister power to include countries in such a procedure is too radical for us to accept. I hope that, when he replies, the Minister can give me the assurance that I seek.
The other aspect of the Bill that interests me is the mutual provision of information. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, made the point that that is a two-way process; I must say that it is highly desirable. But I am not sure from reading the Bill at what point that mutual transfer of information may take place. My concern is whether it is when a criminal has been identified and charged with a crime and the international authorities are looking for corroborating evidence. Is it when a crime has been committed and we know what the crime is but do not have the remotest idea who has committed it, and so we are looking for evidence that may lead to the identification of a criminal? Or—this has caused concern with respect to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000—will foreign groups working in the field of criminal justice be able to come on a fishing trip?
I have no difficulty with what I read in the Bill about banking, exchange of criminals, and so on. But the European Union is now considering increasing the 1003 data retained by telephone companies, Internet providers and, especially, mobile telephone providers. Where today we have records only for billing purposes, in future we will have records of which Internet sites have been called up. Mobile phone companies can also be required to keep a record of where people are whenever their mobile phones are switched on. I would be quite satisfied for many countries to have that information but, even within the European Union, I should be concerned if some countries had access to it.
So the question of when the Bill kicks in is important. If it is when we are dealing with an identified criminal, there is no question but that that is appropriate. It may also be appropriate in the case of an identified crime, but that is more doubtful. Fishing trips should be completely ruled out. That point is not sufficiently clearly defined in the Bill.
I support the Bill's general principles. Obviously, we shall have to see it through Grand Committee, which will be an interesting procedure—although I have observed it before. It has always seemed to me that when a Bill is committed to a Grand Committee, the Committee should have the right to ask for a day on the Floor of the House if parts of the Bill are shown to be controversial so that we do not have only Report and Third Reading to deal with controversial parts of a Bill. Unfortunately, I could not make that point when the Procedure Committee's report was dealt with by the House in July as I was then flat on my back in hospital. I wonder whether that is possible. Again, perhaps the Minister can tell me about that when he replies.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord Beaumont of Whitley
My Lords, I think that I am next. The Speakers' List appears to have been thoroughly messed up. I do not at all understand what is happening, but I think that I am to speak next.
§ Lord Inglewood
My Lords, in that case, perhaps I may start for a second time.
First, I want to say something so commonplace that if it were all that I was to say, I should not be justified in rising. It is that, according to our traditions, the Second Reading of a Bill is an important set-piece political occasion. To use an analogy from the First World War, it is the heavy artillery barrage that precedes the infantry going over the top, during which the various interests involved prepare to engage each other in trench warfare over the Bill's various clauses. In due course, those clauses are likely to become part of the law of the land.
1004 At first blush, the Bill looks no different from many others. But is that so? As the Minister pointed out in his opening remarks and as is made clear in the summary section of the Explanatory Notes, the Bill implements political deals that have already been closed in either the European Union or an intergovernmental forum. So we are in truth discussing not legislation, as we traditionally know it, but the transposition of deals done elsewhere into United Kingdom law.
I do not want anyone to get me wrong; I do not complain about that. In an increasingly interdependent world, described so vividly by my noble friend Lord Renton, decisions must now be taken in such fora. The wilder reaches of Euroscepticism, which suggest that the United Kingdom Parliament should specifically mandate our Government in such circumstances and then have some form of veto over what is to be agreed, are a fantasy. That kind of approach is a recipe for doing nothing, which will inevitably lead to criminal anarchy.
A couple of weeks ago, I was involved in the selection of my successors as Conservative candidates for the European Parliament for the North West of England. During that somewhat unedifying experience, I was struck by one particular hopeful, who had an essentially Eurosceptic disposition. However, when asked about his views on a European arrest warrant, he responded firmly in favour of the principle. He had been a policeman in the Mersey Docks, so he knew at first hand how crime and criminals do not respect national borders. He realised that the only response to the threats that they pose was to deal with them on a multilateral, transnational basis.
The real question for Parliament—and especially for the House of Lords since the publication of the report of the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham—is: how should we deal with the politics of that? I am certain that the Minister will confirm that the Government cannot tolerate any deviation from what has already been agreed elsewhere. I suppose that it may be said that in this House, constrained as we are by the Parliament Acts and the Salisbury Convention, that is nothing especially new. However, I am sure that the Minister can also confirm that exactly the same criteria apply to the other place. That is something more radical.
I recall with pleasure my spell on Sub-Committee F of the Committee on the European Union, when we discussed some of those things. I remember one particularly robust exchange with one of the Ministers of the day about her having gone beyond the scrutiny reserve. By no stretch of the imagination could it be said that the agreements are given the line-by-line scrutiny that a Bill is given in Committee or on Report. Given that there is one meeting a week, which includes the calling of witnesses, that is hardly surprising. It could hardly be otherwise.
The current position is that Parliament gives relatively cursory scrutiny to proposals before they become law. It is only in the case of matters that are not 1005 transposed by secondary legislation that any detailed attention is given thereafter. Anyway, when that happens—as in circumstances such as this—there is remarkably little that can be done. In one sense, it is rather like a world that Lewis Carroll would recognise.
As the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, said, it is often the case that the only detailed public scrutiny of such things is in the European Parliament. Depending on the legal framework within which the matter is set, that work may be consultative and not legislative. I shall make my position clear: I am not one of those who advocate the general application of the Community method to all European Union business. However, if, as in this case, the governments of Europe and elsewhere are to commit themselves internationally to legislating in detail, we must ask whether there is proper scrutiny of what is going on. I ask the Minister and, through him, the Government whether, committed as they are to parliamentary government and the democratic exercise of political power, they consider that the scrutiny of such areas of their responsibility meets the general standards of openness, transparency and accountability appropriate to the wider exercise of public business in general.
I turn away from the de facto accountability deficit that such legislation throws up and focus my final remarks on transposition. As we all know, transposition can be done in various ways. In any event. it is both an art and a science. In addition, it is the fig leaf behind which all kinds of additional gold-plating are carried out, to the invariable detriment of the wider public. I would like the Minister to tell the House whether the Bill faithfully and exclusively transposes the international agreements and European legislation from which it is derived. Is there, in fact, a certain amount of rococo embellishment added, in the public interest and on our behalf, by the man from Whitehall, who knows best?
For me and, I dare say, for other noble Lords, the difficulty is not that it is not possible to do it for oneself; it is that, especially for part-time politicians—I cannot claim to be one at present—it is incredibly difficult and time-consuming to compare the original source texts with the Bill that we are considering. I ask the Minister to ensure that an analysis is deposited in the Library of each House, showing how the source texts are being transposed into UK law in the legislation. It should also indicate the embellishments, if any, that may be added in order to improve it on our behalf.
In 2002, the world in which we live may not be a Brave New World, but it is certainly very different from what it was even a few years ago. The problems that such legislation poses relate not merely to the suitability or otherwise of the effects of its provisions. As I said, they may already have become de facto immutable. They also lie in identifying the limits of what Parliament can and cannot do with the UK legislation that it is discussing. Until we are clear about both t hose aspects, we cannot give the detailed clauses the attention that they deserve.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, I suppose that I am one of the Eurosceptics to whom the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, just referred. One of the reasons why I am sceptical about the whole business of the European Union is that we are told one thing one day and something else another day.
I well remember taking part extensively in the debates on the Amsterdam Treaty, when we discussed the Schengen agreement. Then, of course. we were told that the British Government had opted out and that there was no reason why we should opt into the agreement, because we were an island and, therefore, completely different. Now, here we are, going into it step by step, although we were told that we would not go into it. No wonder I am sceptical.
We were also assured that corpus juris was only an insane idea in the brain of Eurofanatics. Yet, step by step and bit by bit, we adopt some of the matters put forward by those so-called Eurofanatics. No wonder I am sceptical. Mind you, I have always been sceptical about the whole arrangement. It is not good and has not been good for this country. I have declared my interest.
Apart from the foreign surveillance operations, which I shall come to, the Bill will, as I read it, make details of the bank account of every citizen of the United Kingdom available to and subject to surveillance by existing EU member states and, after 2004—the way things are going—the 10 extra members. Is it not a fact that, if details of a hank account are requested by a participating state, they can be provided to a foreign state without getting permission from or even informing the account holder? Is that what it is all about? We know that that can be done in the domestic situation, but I am not sure that people in this country understand that those details will be made available to 24—perhaps, more—other countries. That is an alarming matter and an invasion of individual privacy. I am not sure that people in this country will like it much.
I come now to search warrants for crimes committed outside the United Kingdom. I am not sure whether such warrants can be used, if the alleged offence is not a criminal offence in the United Kingdom. That is not clear to me, even though it may be clear to others, and I hope that the Minister will make it clear in his winding-up speech.
Nobody could quarrel with the application of driving disqualifications in other countries. However, we must ensure that United Kingdom citizens driving abroad and foreign citizens driving in the United Kingdom are made fully aware that disqualification applies in all the participating countries, wherever that disqualification is imposed. I do not know how that will work. It is difficult to enforce driving disqualifications in this country. There are. I believe, hundreds of thousands of people driving around disqualified, and nothing can be done about it. I do not know what we will do when it applies to 350 million people—perhaps, 500 million—in Europe. I shall be interested to know what new enforcement arrangements there will be.
1007 I turn to the foreign surveillance operations in Clause 83. It is totally unacceptable to allow police and customs officials from other countries to operate unaccompanied and unsupervised in the United Kingdom for any period of time; whether it is five hours, one hour, five days or for ever. That is entirely wrong. The five hour period is simply the beginning; it is the thin end of the wedge. There is no doubt in my mind, because I am a sceptic, that the intention is to extend progressively the period as a prelude to the establishment of a European federal bureau of investigation.
That was foreshadowed at the Seville summit. Indeed, Herr Schroder only recently said that there should be a European police force, and as I said, it has been envisaged by the European Council. The French and the Germans are putting forward this proposition to the Convention on the Future of Europe. It is a live issue. No wonder I and so many others are sceptical. The Government must be aware of those developments. What is their opinion of the establishment of a federal bureau of investigation under the control of Europol?
I shall focus on the Bill's proposals. When these foreign police and officials operate in the United Kingdom, they will apparently not be liable for damage they may cause or for legal action to which they may be subject. They will be indemnified under Clauses 84 and 85 by the Government, and the bill will be picked up by the British taxpayer. But what is the position concerning criminal acts? Are those people to be immune from arrest? Even royalty has no such immunity, as we have seen recently.
It seems that these foreign policemen and officials will not be subject to the police complaints procedure, which is the final protection of the British citizen against the British police. Will they be allowed to carry arms? That would be outrageous, because British police are not allowed to carry firearms except under special circumstances and strict control. How can it then be right to allow foreign police and officials to carry arms?
Suppose they are carrying arms when they get on the ferry—what are they to do with them; throw them overboard? Or where will they deposit them? We need to know the answers to those questions. Will those people be wearing uniforms bearing means of identification? Our own police have to do so. Will these foreign officials and police be identifiable by uniform—jackboots or whatever they might wear? Or, if in civilian clothes, how will they be identified?
How will the local police know when foreign police and officials are operating in their area? Surely we are not going to allow foreign police to enter a police area and operate on police work without the knowledge of the chief constable or his senior officers? There is nothing in the Bill about that. We want to know the answers to those questions.
How will the foreign police arrive and, more importantly, when will they depart? We want to know that after five hours they are out. A law is to be passed, 1008 but how will the five-hour limit be enforced? What happens if it is exceeded? Will they then be breaking the law and arrested, or what will happen to them?
Many more questions will arise during the Bill's passage, which brings me to ask, as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay did, what is the status of parliamentary scrutiny? I understand that an intergovernmental agreement has already been reached. What happens if Parliament rejects the Bill or amends its provisions? Can the matter then go to the European Court of Justice, or will there be political or other consequences? If so, what are those consequences? I shall be listening carefully to the answers to those questions.
Finally, I am not at all sure that this Bill should be sent to the relative obscurity of Grand Committee. Individual rights of our citizens are at stake. This Bill should be discussed on the Floor of the House. I am sorry that it has been agreed that it should go to Grand Committee. I was thinking of dividing the House, but perhaps that would be taking matters a little far. Therefore I shall not do so, but I hope that we will have a good, clear and sufficient discussion in Grand Committee. It may be necessary to table further amendments on the Floor of the House when we can vote on them to improve the Bill, although it is difficult to see how.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Lord Beaumont of Whitley
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, for having interrupted the beginning of his speech. At the same time, I hope that it will be accepted by the officials of the House that it would be a good idea to see that when the order of speakers is changed, every speaker taking part is served with a changed order list. I was out of the Chamber for only about five minutes during the debate when making a couple of quick telephone calls. It would not have been difficult to let me know that there had been a change of order.
I thank the Minister for explaining the Bill, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, for his extremely good speech and the points he raised. That is only to be expected as he is probably the authority on the subject, not excluding the Ministers. I agree with almost everything the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, said. I must say on behalf of the Green Party that when we look at the Bill, which on the whole we support, we shall look at it carefully in detail.
However, as a number of noble Lords have said, some parts of the Bill are not acceptable. We are very concerned about making it a criminal offence to commit an act abroad or outside the jurisdiction even if it is not illegal in the country in which it takes place. We believe that that is contrary to traditional British jurisprudence.
Our main objection to the Bill stems from the wide definition of "terrorism"—or, rather, the non-definition of "terrorism"—and, in particular, the failure to make a distinction between damage to property and harm to people. Thus we object to the inclusion of criminal damage offences, which could 1009 be used against those caught up in demonstrations of the kind seen in Genoa where attempts were made to pull down security fences. That may have been a criminal act, but it was not in any sense a terrorist act.
The Bill fails to recognise that there are corrupt or illegal regimes against which armed resistance is justified. For example, most of the Iraqi opposition groups in this country could technically be prosecuted under this legislation. Already there have been misconceived prosecutions of people coming to this country who are accused of financing terrorism when all they have been doing is managing funds for opposition political or community organisations. It is thought in some quarters that it is because the governments they oppose are important customers of the British arms industry that they have been prosecuted.
Equally, Members of your Lordships' House who buy or are given leaflets while on a human rights fact-finding mission abroad could be liable to prosecution if those leaflets were produced by one of the more vigorous opposition groups.
There are many issues in the Bill, particularly in the second half of it, which need detailed examination. I agree that it is most inappropriate that the Bill should go to Grand Committee. I hope that we shall examine it in detail and amend it.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Lord Hunt of Wirral
My Lords, the Minister will be well aware that although there has been general agreement in principle for the Bill—and in particular for his wish to combat crime on a truly international basis—some serious misgivings have been expressed by a number of noble Lords about the detail of what is proposed.
Perhaps I may start by following up the speech of my noble friend Lord Inglewood. He asked the Minister whether it would be possible to provide an analysis to put alongside the Schengen proposals together with the proposals which follow Framework Decisions and other Conventions—so that noble Lords will be able to judge for themselves the extent to which the House is being asked to follow the detail of those provisions or whether, as is the suspicion of a number of noble Lords, we are being asked to go further than has been requested in other jurisdictions.
My noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns outlined considerable misgivings about the extent to which it will be possible for this House—or, indeed, the other place—to amend to any degree the provisions of the Bill. In reaching a conclusion as to what action is necessary, it would be of great assistance if the Minister could arrange for such an analysis to be available in the Library.
Would it be possible also to have a direct comparison with the source texts? It would be of assistance to the House if an analysis could also be made of the timetable during which other countries have either already implemented these provisions or are in the process of implementing them.
1010 Thirdly, if the Minister is as good humoured at the conclusion of the debate as he undoubtedly was at the start, he might also look with favour on a suggestion, which arises out of a number of contributions, that we should also have an analysis of the conclusions reached by the Select Committee on the European Union and its sub-committees in this House and the European Scrutiny Committee in the other place in regard to corpus juris, the European arrest warrant etc., and the extent to which these matters are directly related to the provisions of the Bill and what account the Government have taken of them.
I ask for those three provisions in the belief that they will be of great assistance in enabling noble Lords to follow this legislation. The Bill has not been published in full in draft form. I know that the Minister and several of his colleagues in government have identified draft legislation as the most appropriate way forward, but as that was not pursued in this case it would be helpful—particularly as the Bill is to go to Grand Committee—if those kind of analyses could be provided. They probably already have been provided to the Minister and it perhaps would be only a matter of his ticking the box to allow them to be distributed on a much wider basis. If they have not been presented to the Minister already, they should have been.
The Minister opened the debate by identifying a number of obstacles to the effective pursuit of criminals across boundaries. This found a resonance with noble Lords and he was right to identify those obstacles. But, as my noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns pointed out, some elements in the Bill raise concerns. In particular my noble friend identified the provisions to allow Customs officers and police officers from abroad to conduct surveillance in the UK without first having obtained the permission of UK authorities. A number of noble Lords have identified these provisions as causing concern and it may well be that the Minister should be pressed to give further details of the safeguards it is proposed to introduce.
My noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith highlighted the danger of fishing expeditions. That must he a cause for concern, in particular as Customs officers as Will as police officers will be able to conduct surveillance operations without the UK authorities giving their permission. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, spent nearly three minutes identifying his interest as a Eurosceptic, but that in no way undermines the strength of his point, in agreements with many other noble Lords, that we do not like the idea of unlimited surveillance by officers from outside the United Kingdom. These officers will not be liable for whatever damage they may do during the course of these operations, may perhaps be allowed to carry firearms and may not be in uniform, so what protection is there for UK citizens against some degree of foreign surveillance in those circumstances? I believe that the whole idea of there being unrestricted, open. order-making powers leaves a lot to be desired. My noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns identified a number of areas that cause her and many of us considerable concern.
1011 The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, also identified a range of issues on which the Minister should concentrate in seeking to reassure us. I refer, in particular, to the absence of sufficient safeguards with regard to data protection and identity checks. Those are just two examples set out by the noble Lord on which we seek reassurance.
It was a great privilege for us all to hear the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. He has the reputation of being one of this country's foremost authorities on many of the issues in the Bill. The noble and learned Lord reassured us about Clause 83. No doubt we shall take time to consider his reassurance, just as I hope he will also consider whether there are sufficient safeguards around Clause 83.
I was particularly struck by his wish to see a detailed definition of "terrorist offences". My noble friend Lord Renton did a little to reassure us by saying that perhaps it was the motive behind the criminal act that was the element that sets terrorism apart. Even though that may be the case, we are entitled to see a more adequate definition of terrorism, other than by analogy through the additional clauses, which raise issues such as murder and other serious offences.
There is unanimity in seeking to press the Minister for some definition. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, suggested that he might draft a schedule. I do not know whether that was a rash offer, but it was one about which I believe I speak for the whole House when I say that we welcome and accept it. We look forward to seeing that draft. It is important to have unanimity and clarity on what constitutes terrorism.
When the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, suddenly realised that he was not in the other place and did not have to make party political points, or question the bona fides of the Opposition Benches, he echoed the serious concern about civil liberties. That concern is shared on all sides of the Chamber. After criticising my noble friend Lady Anelay, he said that he agreed entirely with her. If that is criticism, I understand that she is willing to accept it.
§ Lord Clinton-Davis
My Lords, I entirely agreed with her, but I did not entirely agree with her predecessors in the Conservative Government.
§ Lord Hunt of Wirral
My Lords, we have to deal with Ministers as they are today, not as we might wish them to be—on whichever side of the argument we fall.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, who has a distinguished record on civil liberties, that frontiers are irrelevant in international crime. At the same time, human rights must be increasingly safeguarded when frontiers are no longer relevant. The noble Lord said that the Bill was only a beginning. That is right in some ways, and I am sure that there is much more to come down this road. The road down which my noble friend Lord Renton travelled in 1913 was a very different one indeed, as was the demeanour 1012 of his mother when she was concerned about the speed of a vehicle travelling at 40 mph. She uttered the sort of words that I should love my wife to use, which were in no way oppressive. She merely said, "hold back". That is an example to all those back-seat drivers who usually resort to greater criticism than that. My noble friend Lord Renton gave us a good reminder that travel has changed for ever. With air travel and the ability to travel such long distances, we need to improve the method of combating crime.
My noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith said that the title of the Bill should be changed. I can reveal that the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Amendment) Bill was changed at my instigation and became the Minibus Act. It is perfectly possible for the name of a Bill to be changed, and I can well see my noble friend's point.
The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, also wants a narrowing of the definition of terrorism, although I did not agree that we should go as far down the road as he suggested in differentiating between injury to property and injury to the person. On the other speeches that we heard, I remind the Minister that there is a degree of unanimity that the road that we are being asked to go down is, in principle, the right one. Equally, the Minister owes it to the House to introduce the safeguards that are so surely necessary if we are to convince the population about this measure involving international co-operation, which will include not only the 15 but perhaps 25 nations of the EU, or even wider more than that. To convince people that this is the right way forward, we need to respect human rights and to be more sensitive to the need to introduce safeguards.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Lord Filkin
My Lords, I thank noble Lords for the many contributions in this Second Reading debate. In many ways, such debates provide a flavour of the things that lighten our legislative burdens. I am thinking of the pleasure that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, gave us, regarding the increasing speed of international travel. Such debates also act as a gypsy's warning to Ministers. Part of the process is to give fair warning of the issues to which we shall return in more detail. That is how it should be. As the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said, we must scrutinise legislation properly and we must not undermine liberty. I shall return to the point about liberty and civil liberties later.
A number of references were made to the fact that Parliament is being asked via primary legislation to implement a framework agreement made between European Union member states. I shall not go into the fine detail as to what extent we are at liberty to go wider or narrower, although I shall refer later to when we can add other things. I shall give a fuller explanation of the extent to which one can have some flexing on a framework agreement, but the House is right that the basic principle is that one is expected to fulfil the measures as agreed, while having flexibility in the mechanism by which one achieves the end. That is an essential characteristic of such measures.
1013 Wily are we doing it? Essentially, the House decided that that was how it should be. We had previous discussions as to whether framework agreements should be undertaken by secondary legislation and the House was clear that it wanted such matters dealt with as primary legislation. I therefore feel slightly aggrieved that we are being taken to task for doing something that the House said it wanted done in this way. I understand the reasoning, as it gives more opportunity for testing and scrutiny, about which there is nothing wrong in principle.
I turn to the meat, or at least to some of it. The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has made it clear both earlier and today that the focus will not be about attacking the principles of many of the measures but whether there are necessary safeguards so that the ends, which have often been agreed in the debate, are balanced by proportionate protections against abuse or misguided application. Again, that seems to be a fair challenge, to which we shall happily respond in detailed debate in Committee.
I confirm that there is no intention to go into the immigration provision of Schengen. I can confirm that the UK will not be supplying to other member states or indeed receiving from them any immigration information as part of the SIS procedure.
As to how much room for manoeuvre there is on the Bill, framework agreements are binding as to the effect to be achieved. We believe that we have struck the right balance in the Bill. But, again, we shall listen—as I hope we do—to comments. We do not believe that we have usurped Parliament's powers to amend. As to what other member states are doing, they are under the same obligations as the UK and we expect them to take the same steps to meet their obligations. For the interest and information of the House, I shall do some checking to see whether they are ahead of us or behind us.
Overseas freedom orders will be issued only by judicial authorities. This is right; although authorities which are recognised as having judicial powers will also be able to issue orders.
I turn to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. I thank him for the welcome that he gave to the Bill and to the scrutiny opportunities that arise as a consequence. He remarked on whether the UK Parliament had an adequate level of scrutiny as regards framework agreements. Scrutiny of a framework agreement operates at two levels: through the European Parliament and through the scrutiny provisions of this House and another place at each stage of an agreement through negotiation. That is an important and often challenging part of scrutiny. In effect, it means that to some extent the scrutiny takes place beforehand, while the legislation or the negotiations are under way, rather than solely on the Bill itself when it is before Parliament. Now is not the time to discuss the matter, but at some point in the future it will be good to have discussions in this House about the future of Europe; significant debates will be engaged in, as a member state, as to what that 1014 might imply for the evolution of the European Union, including how legislation is made and how scrutiny is applied to that legislation.
The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, was concerned about data protection as regards the SIS. We believe that the provisions are fully satisfactory. The Schengen Convention sets very tight controls on the use to which the data can be put. It also limits the type of information that can be entered.
In the UK, the processing of data within the national section of the SIS will be under the independent supervision of the Information Commissioner. Clause 82 will give the Infonnation Commissioner new powers to inspect personal data held on the SIS without needing the permission of the data controller. Exactly how the commissioner's inspection will work will be subject to further discussion and agreement between all those involved, but this power will ensure that the rights of the individual in respect of the SIS, and also of the European information system and the future customs information system, are properly protected. That is in addition to the protection already provided by the Data Protection Act. It will make it easier for the commissioner to ensure that these systems are compliant with the Data Protection Act. The Information Commissioner has a responsibility to ensure the accuracy of data. That is the fourth data protection principle. This responsibility would extend to the SIS and to the other systems mentioned.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd—as we should expect—made a thoughtful and interesting contribution at start of our processes. He asked about MLA. We are keeping the central route for incoming MLA requests open because we consider it to be more efficient. It is very difficult for overseas courts, which are usually territorial, to know where they should direct their requests—because our judicial system is not based on a territorial distinct jurisdiction, as the noble and learned Lord knows better than I do.
The Bill makes no change to existing provisions on the admissibility of telephone intercept evidence. I shall reply separately to the noble and learned Lord's queries on terrorism and send copies to noble Lords on the Front Benches opposite.
Yes, foreign surveillance is reciprocal. The noble and learned Lord is right. It is limited. It must be authorised in the country of origin. Officers must make contact with UK officers on crossing the border. Both of those tests have to be met for any surveillance to be lawful. I shall return to the point about the speed of application at a later date.
I turn to the definition of "terrorism". We heard interesting contributions from several noble Lords. The Terrorism Act 2000 defines terrorism as both a serious criminal act and one that is designed to influence government or to intimidate the public, and made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause. In essence, it carries the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Renton: it relates not merely to a criminal act but to the intent behind such an act. In other words, the context defines 1015 whether murder, as it were, moves from being simple murder to being terrorist murder. As the House knows, under UK law in general there are no specific terrorist offences. Suspected terrorists are prosecuted under criminal legislation.
On the point about listing murder as a terrorist offence, it is not terrorist specific. We are taking extraterritorial jurisdiction for murder and new Section 63B(2) lists the offences that are acts of terrorism or for purposes of terrorism as defined by Section 1 of the Terrorist Act 2000.
§ Lord Lloyd of Berwick
My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will give way for a moment. What is needed is not a new definition of terrorism. We have a perfectly adequate definition in Section 1 of the Act. What is needed is a list of terrorist offences, which we do not presently have. They are dotted around here and there in the existing Terrorism Act. It would be of the greatest convenience to have them all brought together—including murder, manslaughter and all the rest, where the necessary terrorist element is involved.
§ Lord Filkin
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for his intervention, given who has made it. I shall reflect on his point against a test of utility—as to whether it would add anything that would be beneficial to the Government in relation to these issues. No doubt I shall respond to the noble Lord on that point.
The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, is right. Many of these issues are about a balance between civil liberties and law enforcement. However, I invite the House to reflect that civil liberties do not align themselves merely around the defence of the innocent who might be charged with an offence. They are relevant to the defence of "quiet enjoyment" by a person—in other words, being able to live without harassment, fear or apprehension of crime in one's community, in one's society. That seems to me to be just as important as civil liberty. That is why legislators make measures of this type—to try to ensure that a person can have that form of civil liberty too; namely, his or her own quiet enjoyment. We shall no doubt return to these points on many other occasions.
Turning to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, about foreign officers informing, we anticipate that the vast majority of joint surveillance operations across international boundaries will be arranged in advance. The Bill provides for exceptional circumstances where this may not be possible. However, as I indicated, to take advantage of this facility, the convention requires that foreign officers must contact the UK police as soon as the border is crossed.
On the title of the Bill, I am pleased to say that, until the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, guided me otherwise, I did not know what the answer was for changing the title—and I am not sure that I would have told him even if I had known; but we now hear that this is possible. In short, the title is devised by parliamentary counsel, considering the overall scope of the Bill; and the Long 1016 Title, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, acknowledges, fully amplifies the short title, so there is no risk of misunderstanding, which I think goes to the heart of his query.
On the question about "fishing trips" in terms of data protection, the Bill will not allow fishing trips of the kind mentioned by the noble Lord. You can access the SIS only when you find, stop and arrest a person whom you think might be of interest and therefore want to check on a specific individual in specific circumstances.
The order-making power in Clause 52 is needed to cover new states joining the European Union should this occur, as we expect it to, and also countries such as Norway and Iceland which are part of Schengen but are not in the European Union.
The speech by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, was extremely interesting. It probably touches on my earlier point about a discussion at some stage on the future of Europe and how some of these issues are dealt with. The noble Lord is right that it should not be a mandate for doing nothing by having everything signed and sealed by a legislature before one can move. On the other hand, it is important that there is effective scrutiny at crucial points.
I will not go into more detail now, because time is tight, but I mark those points and the question of whether the process of transposition fails to implement faithfully the framework agreement. We have placed in the Library a note that effectively compares the framework agreement and the clauses of the Bill. I will double-check with officials whether that goes to the completeness of what was raised today in discussion. I am unapologetic that the Bill will include things that were not in the framework agreement. If we have a useful Bill before the House, we should use it as a vehicle for carrying out things that we need to do. There is no difficulty in our making clear to the House and to the Opposition Front Benches where that applies.
I will have a later opportunity to engage with the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, about his views on Europe, and it will be a pleasure to do so. He commented that we were in danger of changing our position. I am reminded of what John Maynard Keynes said:When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?The noble Lord made the central point that we do not participate fully in Schengen. As noble Lords will have gathered from our debate, we are clear that it is important for us to maintain border controls. We will exercise the freedom that the Treaty of Amsterdam gave us to participate fully in other parts of Schengen when it seems to us to suit the interests of United Kingdom citizens. We will use that test for almost all European legislation, asking whether it benefits British citizens rather than being some unclear process of Euro-harmonisation. The measures must deliver benefits to British citizens. We will apply that test in negotiations and legislation.
1017 Bank account requests can be made only in response to specific lists of criminal offences. Requests will not be disclosed as for domestic cases, and overseas requests will be subject to judicial discretion. Search warrants will be subject to PACE 1984, and the crime has to be an arrestable offence in the United Kingdom.
The five-hour limitation is not a thin end of the wedge. I made clear that it is highly circumscribed and we do not expect that it will be frequently used. I invite the House to think about the alternative. If we did not allow it, as perhaps only one Member implied should happen, that would imply clearly that we prefer criminals or suspected criminals to enter this country, rather than police who are pursuing them to try to apprehend them. That is an Alice-in-Wonderland world, which is why there is a five-hour limitation to try to ensure that pursuit mechanisms are tied up domestically and to increase the likelihood of apprehending suspected criminals or terrorists.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for giving way. When I used the term "thin end of the wedge", I was referring to the propositions by French and Germans to establish a European federal bureau of investigation. I asked what the Government's view of that position was.
§ Lord Filkin
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his correction and I accept it. We are against the EU FBI idea or proposal, as I am sure he will be relieved to understand.
Complaint procedures to the tribunal under RIPA 2000 will be available. Uniform will not be worn for obvious reasons: it is impossible to track someone effectively under cover while in uniform.
The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, asked about innocent protesters. All the offences listed under Section 53B(2) must satisfy the definition of terrorism under Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000. In response to the concern about extra-territorial jurisdictions for countries where an act is not a criminal offences, it is aimed solely at terrorism. We already have ETJ for terrorist bombing and terrorist finances to satisfy commitments under UN Conventions. These clauses take ETJ where offences are committed abroad by or against UK nationals for a terrorist purpose. The Government feel that is right in principle.
The sequence of markers by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, about where we will be returning in Committee was helpful. We know what we must come back to. As I signalled, we will seek to satisfy as far as is reasonably practicable some of the points about origin and application. It is not a draft Bill, for reasons noble Lords would understand. The draft agreements have 1018 been right through the EU scrutiny process of this House and another place. It is therefore hard to see how the form of draft that we recognise for other legislation could apply. I take the noble Lord's point that we will be looking to widen the application if membership of the European Union increases to 25 as we expect it to in two or three years' time. We must reflect on that.
In conclusion, I do not pretend that I have answered every question. It has been a thought-provoking debate. It raised issues for me to reflect on in terms of principle, high policy and what we will need to do to satisfy the House on the detail of this important legislation. Having said that, I am warmly grateful for the very good reception the Bill has had in principle from all parts of the House. I thank noble Lords for that.
§ Lord Pearson of Rannoch
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I have listened very carefully to his summing up. He has not answered two important points. He talks about the scrutiny process through which this Bill and other European legislation have gone. Is he in effect saying that the United Kingdom Parliament is not free to alter substantially the framework decision? To what extent is the United Kingdom free to vote on it, to change it or, if it wants, to get rid of it?
Secondly, the Minister acquiesced in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart., who envisages Europol eventually carrying out some of the powers under this Bill. Why has Europol been given immunity for its actions in Statutory Instrument No. 2973 as long ago as 17th December 1997? That cannot possibly have anything to do with the events of 11th September. To sum up, to what extent is the United Kingdom free to change the Bill, and does Europol have immunity?
§ Lord Filkin
My Lords, I am clear that it is convention that someone who speaks during a debate, but who is not in his place when the Minister responds, does not have a right of response. I am less clear on the position of a Member who is not present during the debate and arrives when the Minister is summing up.
I addressed the first point and signalled quite clearly that I shall clarify it later. However, I spoke about the scope of the limitation in some detail in my summing up. No doubt, I will go the further mile on that. I shall not respond to the second question on the basis of principle and practice. Given my usual style, I will no doubt write to the noble Lord.
§ On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Grand Committee.
§ House adjourned at twenty minutes past six o'clock.