Lord Anderson of Ipswich debates involving the Ministry of Justice during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 18th Jan 2023
National Security Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage: Part 1
Mon 21st Feb 2022
Judicial Review and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage
Tue 8th Feb 2022
Mon 7th Feb 2022
Tue 9th Feb 2021
Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 26th Jan 2021
Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage

European Court of Human Rights: Rule 39

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Excerpts
Tuesday 6th June 2023

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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My Lords, I have already agreed on Russia. I emphasise that the Government’s approach to this is to engage very closely, respectfully and constructively with the Strasbourg authorities and the court’s working party, which is considering this very question.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that interpretation of a treaty is informed not just by the court that is set up to adjudicate on it, but by state practice? The member Governments of the Council of Europe, including our own, have repeatedly confirmed the binding nature of interim measures under Rule 39—in the Committee of Ministers, and in the Izmir and Brighton declarations. Is the Minister proud of the United Kingdom’s record of compliance with interim measures, particularly in comparison to some founding members of the European Union?

Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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On the latter point, I do not presume to cast any kind of judgment on or make any comparison between the United Kingdom and other contracting states. On the general point about acceptance in practice of the position of interim measures under the convention, there are two legal views.

National Security Bill

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Excerpts
Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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I will further reflect on the question, but it seems to the Government that that specific example is unlikely to bite, as it were, on the duty of the court in the particular circumstances that we are considering, because ultimately it is up to the court to consider whether a reduction of damages is appropriate. If it were the case that, technically speaking, you could argue that national security proceedings on the face of the statute were in some way involved because there had been an earlier discovery application but it had no material impact on the remainder of the case, one could reasonably assume, and the Government do assume, that the court would not proceed to reduce damages on the basis of something that had nothing to do with the real issues.

We will always reflect and consider further, because it is very important to get the drafting right, but at the moment the Government are unconvinced that this amendment is necessary and believe that the protections, and in particular the role of the court, are sufficient to deal with the concern that the noble Lord, Lord Marks, has raised. That, I think, is the answer to Amendment 105A.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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The Minister rightly emphasises the very high degree of discretion that is given to judges under Clause 83. The core of it is Clause 83(5), which allows a judge to take a view on whether it is “appropriate” for the amount of damages to be reduced. I wonder what the Minister thinks of the point that to give judges such a wide discretion is perhaps to give them a poisoned chalice. Judges did not, so far as I know, ask for this power. Does the Minister agree that they could be strongly criticised were they to fail to exercise the power to reduce damages, even in cases where it would be consistent with normal legal principles, including the principle of fairness, not to reduce them?

Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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The question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, highlights the tension I referred to a moment ago. It is very difficult to say on the one hand, as is being said, that the courts have this power already and that they are perfectly capable of exercising it, whether under the 1945 Act or ex turpi causa, et cetera, and on the other hand to say that it puts them in a difficult position and that they will be criticised if they do not exercise it. I think I can say this: the overall intention of this legislation is not to alter or downgrade a principle of law that is already inherent in the common law and in our various jurisdictions; the purpose is to spell out that principle in this legislation so that no one has any doubt that it applies in terrorist cases. That is the main purpose of this clause. We are, to an extent, simply reflecting where we are, but clarifying where we are.

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Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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My Lords, I have very little to add to the powerful speeches the Committee has already heard, but, as a supplement to what the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, has just said, I will remind the Minister of two other facts.

First, terrorist offences are by no means all at the top end of seriousness. Schedule A1 to the Sentencing Code includes offences such as

“inviting … support for a proscribed organisation”

which may no longer be concerned with violence, as a number are not, and

“failure to disclose professional belief or suspicion about”

the commission of terrorist offences by others. Those are offences on which the clauses bite.

Secondly, even for those offences which are serious enough to merit a period of imprisonment, recidivism rates for released prisoners are—I think in most developed countries, and certainly in this one—very much lower than the recidivism rates for ordinary crime. Professor Andrew Silke calculated in 2020 that the recidivism rate was around 3% for those who had committed terrorist offences and been released between 2013 and 2019.

I hope that the question the Minister will address is why that particular category of offence merits the removal of a right enjoyed by everybody else, including people convicted of murder, rape and the other most serious crimes that our law knows.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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My Lords, there is one simple principle that everybody has referred to in the debate: access to justice. I will be brief.

If the principle still stands that cases that are still in scope of legal aid with sufficient merit ought not to be restricted by lack of means to bring them—that principle underlies the availability of legal aid—it should not be undermined by the removal of legal aid from cases that have merit and ought to be brought. What is particularly invidious about these clauses is that the restrictions on the grant of legal aid apply to all cases that might be brought by an individual to whom the clauses apply. As has been pointed out, that is entirely irrespective of whether the cases have any connection with any past terrorist activity or whether they are good or bad, and irrespective of who might be affected by them; for example, members of an individual’s family might lose their rights in a housing case brought against a defaulting landlord where housing conditions were making that tenant’s children ill. These are blanket restrictions that are entirely inappropriate.

As the Committee will know, eligibility for legal aid is governed by a merits test in every case. If a case does not stand a reasonable chance of success, legal aid is not available. There is a financial eligibility test, which means that legal aid will be available only if an applicant is unable to fund litigation. These provisions are positively designed to deprive of legal aid a claimant who might otherwise secure it. A claimant who, by definition, has a good case, would otherwise be eligible on the basis of the merits test, and who cannot afford a lawyer would be deprived, under these provisions, of any legal representation before the courts, even though, as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said, the claimant’s case may be utterly irrelevant to any present or past wrongdoing and vice versa. As the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, pointed out, the gravity of the terrorist offence relied on may be low. That is a denial of access to justice which we simply should not countenance, and I suggest that the Minister should not countenance it either. It is, quite simply, wrong.

Judicial Review and Courts Bill

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Excerpts
Lord Pannick Portrait Lord Pannick (CB)
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My Lords, the reaction of most of your Lordships to Part 1 of this Bill at Second Reading was summed up in the memorable words of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, whom I am very pleased to see in her place:

“It is not as bad as I expected”.—[Official Report, 7/2/22; col. 1371.]


Part 1 could certainly have been worse, but that of course is no answer to the amendments that we are now debating.

I declare my interest as a barrister practising in the field of judicial review. My Amendments 1, 4 and 5 in this group are concerned with decisions of the court to quash a public law decision, whether in the form of a statutory instrument, a decision of a Minister or a decision of a local authority or any other public authority.

As your Lordships and the Committee know, when a public body is found to have acted unlawfully, the decision is usually—not always—quashed; that is, overturned. This is an important protection of the rights of the citizen and an important deterrent to unlawful action by public bodies.

Clause 1 gives the court a power to decide that the quashing order should not take effect until a date specified in the order—some later date—and a power to remove or limit any retrospective effect of the quashing. I am not troubled by the court being given a power to decide that the quashing order should take effect at a later date. That power was recommended by the noble Lord, Lord Faulks—who is in his place—and his team in their well-informed and wise conclusions in March 2021 after their independent review of administrative law which the former Lord Chancellor, Sir Robert Buckland, had asked the noble Lord to conduct. The noble Lord, Lord Faulks, explained in particular that there may be cases where the court considers it appropriate to suspend a quashing order to enable Parliament to decide whether it wishes to amend the law. That seems entirely acceptable, because it recognises the supremacy of Parliament in our constitution, so there is no difficulty about that.

What the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, and his committee did not recommend and what my Amendment 1 seeks to remove from this Bill is the power in new Section 29A(1)(b), set out in Clause 1, for the court to remove or limit “any retrospective effect” of a quashing order. New Sections 29A(4) and 29A(5) make clear that this would mean that the decision or policy which the court has found to be unlawful is nevertheless to be “upheld” and

“treated for all purposes as if its validity and force were, and always had been, unimpaired by the relevant defect.”

My Amendments 4 and 5 would remove those provisions.

What the Government are proposing would confer a remarkable power on our courts: a power for the court to say that what has been found to be unlawful shall be treated, and treated for all purposes, as having been lawful. Those adversely affected by the unlawful decision, including the claimant in the judicial review, would receive no remedy. If such a remarkable power is to be exercised, it should not be exercised by judges but by Parliament. Your Lordships will recall that one of the causes of the Civil War was Charles I’s use of a dispensing power. The monarch’s claim to such a power was abolished by the Bill of Rights 1689. I do not think it is wise to re-establish such a power in the hands of Her Majesty’s judiciary.

The decision on whether to validate what a court has found to be unlawful raises all sorts of policy considerations which are not for the judiciary to weigh up and determine. Indeed, to confer such an extraordinary power on our judges is, I suggest, inconsistent with this Government’s repeated expressions of concern that judges have or are exercising too much power. As my colleague at Blackstone Chambers, Tom Hickman QC, has pointed out, for the court to have this power to deny retrospective effect for its ruling and to do so permanently, not even only where the defect is technical, would be for the court to exercise a quasi-legislative power, including a power to override primary legislation —that is, the statutory provision which makes the impugned decision or policy unlawful.

Such a judicial power would undermine one of the key functions of judicial review, which is to encourage government to do its best to ensure that it behaves lawfully because it knows that illegality has consequences. It would deter judicial review applications: why bother to complain that the public body has acted unlawfully if the court may say that what was unlawful shall be treated as lawful? New Section 29A(1)(b) would have the effect—indeed, I suspect it has the intention—of seeking to protect government and other public authorities from the basic consequences of their own unlawful actions. I think that is a matter for Parliament and Parliament alone. I beg to move.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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My Lords, I am slightly more relaxed than my noble friend Lord Pannick about the prospective-only quashing power in the new Section 29A(1)(b)—it is, in its essentials, already acknowledged in our law—but only so long as the courts are free to use it without constraint or presumption. In the Spectrum case of 2005, Lord Nicholls thought a prospective-only quashing order might be appropriate in some cases where a decision on an issue of law was unavoidable but a retrospective decision would have gravely unfair and disruptive consequences for past transactions. Each of his six colleagues agreed that it would be unwise to rule out the existence of such exceptional cases, even though Spectrum itself was not one of them.

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Lord Pannick Portrait Lord Pannick (CB)
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I am very grateful to the Minister and to all those who have spoken in this interesting debate. It is important to emphasise that this is not a technical legal issue. We are concerned here about the integrity of judicial review—a vital safeguard of the rights of all citizens.

I agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, that what is objectionable about Clause 1 is the power of judges to wave a judicial wand and to say that what they have found to be unlawful shall be treated—the word emphasised by the Minister—as if it were lawful.

If there are cases of concern—the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, said that there are or may be—a suspended order is quite sufficient to give Parliament time to act. Those in Parliament, not judges, are the appropriate people to validate that which the court has found to be unlawful. New Section 29A(1)(a) meets that need. Indeed, that was the issue in the Ahmed case, where the noble and learned Lords, Lord Hope and Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, had, as judges say, the misfortune to disagree with each other. It was what the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, recommended in his review.

My noble friend Lord Anderson mentioned the comments of Lord Nicholls for the Appellate Committee in the Spectrum case that prospective overruling might—I emphasise “might”—be appropriate, although not in that case. That was in June 2005. Such a power has never been exercised or come close to being exercised in any case since.

There is an important difference between the common law not ruling out the possibility of prospective overruling and Parliament including such a power in this Bill. I cannot understand why this provision is in the Bill. As I said, it was not recommended by the noble Lord, Lord Faulks. What has provoked the need for new Section 29A(1)(b)? The Minister said that the Government want to put new tools in the judicial toolbox—but why this tool? What case has provoked the need for this provision? When have judges ever lamented the absence of such a power?

My noble and learned friend Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood emphasised the need for flexibility, but Clause 1 is not flexible in an important respect. If this power in new Section 29A(1)(b) is exercised, then under new Section 29A(5), as the Committee has heard, the impugned act

“is to be treated for all purposes as if its validity and force were, and always had been, unimpaired by the relevant defect.”

There is nothing flexible about that. With all due respect, the Minister’s reliance on “treated” is a matter of pure semantics; “for all purposes” means always and for all persons, whatever their circumstances, and even though they have not been represented before the court.

Therefore, I say to the Committee that there is no need for this power in new Section 29A(1)(b). It is inappropriate in principle. But for today, of course I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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My noble friend just said that no case has come close to applying a prospective-only quashing order since a unanimous House of Lords said in the Spectrum case that they could imagine such cases. How does he explain the British Academy of Songwriters case, which he has heard both the Minister and I develop, and in which Mr Justice Green, as I read his judgment, gave precisely such an order? I should say that that is not the only case.

Lord Pannick Portrait Lord Pannick (CB)
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If he gave such an order, why is there a need for Parliament to step in and deal with the matter? In any event, such an order is more appropriately dealt with by a suspended quashing order so that Parliament, the appropriate authority, can deal with the matter if it sees fit to do so.

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Moved by
13: Clause 1, page 2, leave out lines 24 to 32
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would remove the presumption that where a suspended or retrospective-only quashing order would offer adequate redress, such a quashing order should be made in preference to an ordinary quashing order.
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Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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My Lords, I rise to speak to my Amendment 13. Two of the greatest joys of practice at the Bar are finding oneself on the same side as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and feeling that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, might possibly be with you. On this amendment, I am experiencing both those joys, because both noble Lords, along with the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, have signed it.

Amendment 13 would remove the proposed new subsections (9) and (10), by which the Government seek to enlist our aid in watering down the remedies judges might grant in the unfettered exercise of their discretion. Such interference is unjustified as a matter of principle. Judges are skilled technicians who know that every case turns on its particular facts. The Clause 1 remedies are specialised tools, the uses of which are best judged not by remote control but by those dealing on the ground with the infinite variety of cases that human ingenuity throws at them.

Two factors should incline us to particular caution. The first factor is that the Government are themselves a party to most judicial review cases. Subsections (9) and (10) look very like an attempt to tilt the playing field against those who seek to hold public authorities to account for their unlawful actions. The judges can and should be trusted to serve the interests of justice without presumptions designed to serve the interest of their promoters.

The second factor is that the remedies in respect of which the presumption applies have always been treated by the courts themselves as suitable for exceptional cases only, not just in this jurisdiction but in other jurisdictions where they are used; in other words, the Government are attempting to reverse a presumption that the judges have themselves developed in the interests of justice.

Even apparently benign fetters on judicial discretion may have unanticipated consequences. So, despite the good intentions behind it, I am a little wary of the words that would be substituted by Amendment 14 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti. Had this been the law, it would no doubt have been argued that the rights-holders must have their pound of flesh from the innocent copiers of CDs, since to restrict the scope of the quashing order could have denied them an effective remedy. I am not sure that would have been a just result.

The Minister, as the consummate advocate he is, knows that his best chance of defending this presumption is to minimise its significance. Indeed, the first time he mentioned it this evening, he described it as a so-called presumption, although the adjective was later dropped, and his Second Reading speech scarcely acknowledged its existence. He preferred to emphasise that it is

“ultimately up to the judge to decide”

whether to take out the tools provided by Clause 1, that

“this does not limit the flexibility of the court”,

and that subsections (8) and (9) are simply

“there to ensure a consistent but rigorous approach to identify the appropriate remedy in each case.”—[Official Report, 7/2/22; col. 1380.]

Yet subsection (9) is not as benign as that. It creates a rebuttable presumption in favour of the Clause 1 remedies in any case where they would offer adequate redress—a phrase whose meaning, as we discussed at Second Reading, is highly uncertain and obscure.

Yes, a robust interpretation by the highest courts might confine it to very limited circumstances. However, such an interpretation would take time to achieve and, in the meantime, the steer inherent in this proposed new subsection will, I am afraid, be picked up and will retain its power to influence and even intimidate the less experienced judge.

Proposed new subsection (10) makes it worse by singling out for a special weight the factor identified in proposed new subsection (8)(e)—a factor that is itself uncertain and problematic, for reasons we have already heard. Particularly troublesome, going back to Amendment 11, is the weight that would have to be placed on action proposed to be taken by a public authority in respect of which no binding undertaking is, however, offered to the court.

However, my point is wider ranging. The particular weight given to one set of factors is in itself objectionable in principle, as a further limitation of the court’s discretion. I sum it up in this way: if proposed new subsections (9) and (10) constrain the free exercise of judicial discretion, they should be resisted on that ground alone; if they do not constrain it, they are pointless clutter and, for that reason, should be removed from the Bill. The underlying point is that there should be nothing in the Bill to discourage judges from holding the Government accountable, where the interests of justice require, for the past consequences of their unlawful acts. I hope that by the time we have finished with it, that is what we shall have.

Lord Beith Portrait Lord Beith (LD)
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My Lords, if I were to give my apprentice joiner grandson a tool for his toolbox, I would not say, “In all circumstances, other than quite limited circumstances, this is the tool you must use and ignore the ones you already have”. The Government’s toolbox analogy does not seem to work. I am glad to have the opportunity to raise a question before the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, contributes to the debate—as I hope he will—because perhaps he can throw further light on the clarity of the recommendations of the Independent Review of Administrative Law on the issue we are debating. Paragraph 3.69 considered what would happen if the committee’s recommendation for a non-presumed format for these circumstances were followed and stated that, if Section 31 were amended in this way,

“it would be left up to the courts to develop principles to guide them in determining in what circumstances a suspended quashing order would be awarded, as opposed to awarding either a quashing order with immediate effect or a declaration of nullity.”

It was a very clear recommendation, and the Government should have taken that advice, as they took much other advice from the excellent document produced by the Independent Review of Administrative Law.

I will enter one other point into the debate. It was referred to by the former Lord Chancellor, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton: the issue of adequate redress. The way the phrase appears in proposed new subsection (9)(b)—

“offer adequate redress in relation to the relevant defect”—

worries me. It may not have been drafted with this intention, but there is a very great danger if “adequate redress” is seen as a matter which concerns only the person pursuing the action. It is perhaps too rash to say “most”, but many judicial review cases, by their very nature, have a far wider effect than simply on the individuals involved in the case. That is, indeed, recognised in the Government’s own formulation of proposed new subsection (8). It refers both to those

“who would benefit from the quashing of the impugned act”

and those who had expectations and

“relied on the impugned act”.

There will be large numbers of people in many judicial review cases who will be affected by the outcome, either because an action they have already taken will be deemed to have been unlawful at the time it was taken or, indeed, because the law on which they have relied to enforce a regulation has now been found not to have been good or effective law at the time. The breadth and implications of judicial review cases—which is why the subject arouses such widespread interest—is potentially threatened if the concentration becomes on “We’ve fixed it for the unfortunate person who appears before us in this case” without having proper regard to the very large number of people who will be affected. Now, courts do have regard to it and that is a feature of many of the cases referred to in the debate. I am suspicious that the Government wording appears to discourage them from doing so.

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Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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I would not say that it is “just” about remedies; as this debate shows, remedies are very important. But I do not think that Mr Justice Green, in the music copyright case, felt that he was legislating in any way. As we heard in the first debate, this issue goes back to Lord Reid and indeed further.

There are two separate issues here. First, should we have prospective-only quashing orders as a matter of principle? We dealt with that in the first group, and I set out the reasons why. Secondly, in this group, should there be any sort of presumption? That is the point that I am seeking to address. But I hope that what I have said on third parties assuages the noble Baroness on both the presumption and prospective quashing orders generally.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, asked me whether this will become a standard approach for future legislation. There, I really would be going well beyond my remit. However, going back to what I said earlier, there is nothing conceptually unusual here in either a presumption or a list of factors. There is certainly nothing sinister—a word that was used by someone in that context.

I hope that what I have said goes at least some way to clarifying the concerns that have been raised on the presumption. Of course, I have listened very carefully to what has been said, and I shall reflect on it further. For the moment, I invite the proposers of the amendments not to press them.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to this notable debate—notable not just for its quality but for the rare and even forceful unanimity that it evoked among nearly all lawyers who spoke. I exempt, of course, the Minister, who was paid, or possibly not paid, for taking the opposing view.

I thought that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, put it most pithily when he said that the presumption was unnecessary, wrong in principle and potentially dangerous in practice. He was swiftly outdone by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, who, if I may say so, correctly described it as a presumption on favour of the wrongdoer—the person against whom a quashing order is to be made. Even the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, who attempted a characteristically fair-minded defence of the presumption, confessed that he was not persuaded that it was necessary.

Of its necessity, I was not persuaded by the Minister in his speech. He still seemed unsure whether it is a presumption at all—but if it is not a presumption, what on earth is it, save for a sort of fertiliser for, as he put it, encouraging the growth of jurisprudence, which I think we are all agreed it would be? I hope that the Minister is right that “adequate redress” is broader than “effective remedy”, but, sadly, neither his words, or still less mine, are any substitute for the authoritative judicial ruling that would no doubt take great time and effort to achieve. These subsections are not something that we should have in this Bill, and they would be a damaging precedent for other Bills.

Finally, we are in the extraordinarily privileged position in this Committee to hear from very senior judges whose lives have been devoted to the interpretation of such laws what the practical defects of proposed laws would be. I hope that we will not only hear them but act accordingly when, as we surely will, we come back to this on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 13 withdrawn.

Nationality and Borders Bill

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Excerpts
Lord Alton of Liverpool Portrait Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
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Yes; not for the first time I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. It was British lawyers who crafted these things. Look, for instance, at the Nuremberg trials and the role of people such as Hartley Shawcross, who was the Labour Member of Parliament for St Helens, and the law officers from the United Kingdom in the establishment and creation of these things. They were a gift to many other nations. That is why we should be holding and enhancing them, not doing anything to diminish them.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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My Lords, I struggle with some of the dilemmas presented by Clauses 29 to 37, for very much the reasons given by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Clarke of Nottingham, in his frank and powerful speech of 1 February on Clause 11. There are, after all, circumstances in which Parliament may legitimately set out its interpretation of treaty provisions and overrule decisions of our courts. There is also a desire, which others on these Benches may share, to give the Government the benefit of the doubt if they can show us why their proposals are not in breach of international law.

The problem I have in that regard is that we have seen impressive formulations of the case against these clauses: for example, from the UNHCR, in the opinion of Raza Husain QC, and in the briefing from the Bingham Centre to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, has referred. What we—or at any rate I—have not seen is how the Government seek to justify these clauses against the requirements of the refugee convention, as interpreted by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

For example, under Article 31.3 of the Vienna convention the interpretation of a treaty can legitimately be influenced by state practice. Do the Government rely on the statute or case law of other states as support for the interpretations that they ask us to enact? If so, which states and in relation to which clauses of the Bill? Do they say, in relation to each relevant provision of the refugee convention, that those practices establish

“the agreement of the parties regarding its interpretation”

within the meaning of Article 31.3(b) of the Vienna convention?

As a second example, the United Kingdom made various reservations and declarations at the time it ratified the refugee convention. Do the Government contend that these clauses, or some of them, constitute de facto reservations in so far as they purport to constrain, as a matter of law, the interpretation or application of the refugee convention? In that case, what are their arguments for their timeliness and permissibility and, if they are permissible, their compatibility with the object and purpose of the convention?

I appreciate, of course, that there are conventions regarding the publication of law officers’ legal advice, but surely a way can be found of conveying to your Lordships, and to the public, a detailed and authoritative explanation of the Government’s legal position in more detail than can be explained, however lucidly, by a very lucid Minister in this Chamber. Whether such advice will be enough to allay the concerns of those of your Lordships who take seriously our obligations under international law I cannot say, but at least these clauses will not be lost by default, which I suspect may be the alternative if we are left in the dark.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts Portrait Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Con)
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My Lords, if I may intervene briefly, I am not an expert in this field but once the lawyers start quoting clauses, sub-clauses and those sorts of things, one has to be careful. This is obviously an important point, and I was really taken by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alton. He has spent a lot of time on this and one has to respect the work he has done. He talked about us unscrambling. When my noble friend comes to wind up, can he say whether we are unscrambling or simplifying?

Some of the way this seems to read is that we are making a thing clear for everybody. Therefore, far from undermining what we stand for, we are making it clearer for everybody, and as such for the people of this country, to understand what the Government are trying to do, and thereby increase the degree of informed consent—a concept about which I am very keen. I understand the complications of the legal interpretations put forward by many noble and noble and learned Lords, but I would like my noble friend to tell me: are we simplifying or unscrambling? If we are simplifying, that seems a desirable thing to do.

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Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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As a matter of policy, I am afraid I am not going to get into the discussions I have with government law officers and parliamentary counsel. The Government’s legislative programme has been set out. The Lord Chancellor, the Deputy Prime Minister and I have given evidence on this. We have made it clear that we will be staying in the European Convention on Human Rights. In so far as the burden of the noble Baroness’s challenge was that we have to be careful, because the Government are watering down rights, we are staying in the European Convention on Human Rights. Therefore—

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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I was going to wait until the Minister had finished his sentence but, before he sits down, I revert to the question of the Government’s legal case. The Minister is reticent to disclose government legal advice, which I entirely understand but, before the Committee and others can reach a fully formed opinion on this, they need a worked version of the Government’s legal position. It may be that that takes the form of a position paper or submission, rather than the replication of advice already given. But, until we see in detail what Raza Husain and the UNHCR got wrong, and why these interpretations are fully consistent with the Vienna and refugee conventions, the evidence is all one way. I am sure that I speak for many other noble Lords when I say that I would be very much assisted by seeing something of that nature.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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I hope the noble Lord does not take it amiss if I say, with respect, that he makes the same point as he made earlier. and I understood it. I need to be very careful that I do not get inadvertently drawn into disclosing legal advice, but I hear the point from the noble Lord that he and others would like to see a greater fleshing out of the Government’s legal position. I have said that I will see what I can do to assist in that.

Judicial Review and Courts Bill

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Excerpts
Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB)
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My Lords, there is quite a bit to welcome, and quite a bit to debate, in the Bill. I am going to speak at this stage only on Clause 1. A court in which I used to appear regularly—the European Court of Justice—has, for many years, had the habit of occasionally granting each of the remedies envisaged by Clause 1: what have been called the suspended quashing order and the prospective-only quashing order. I understand that the same is true of courts in some other countries, both in Europe and further afield. Perhaps because I have become used to these remedies in practice, I believe that each has its place, if not at the top of the judicial toolbox, then certainly somewhere within it.

I will give a couple of illustrations to add to those provided earlier by the Minister, starting with the suspended quashing order. In the well-known case of Kadi v Council, the sanctions imposed without due process on Mr Kadi—suspected at the time, although no longer, of having funded al-Qaeda—were quashed in 2008 with effect from three months in the future. This gave the Council a strictly time-limited chance to correct its error if it had the wherewithal to do so. As Mr Kadi’s advocate, I wondered whether the court would have had the courage to issue a quashing order at all, given the possible security consequences, if the option of a suspension had not existed. The chosen remedy seemed an effective compromise.

Prospective-only rulings have their origins in the Defrenne case of 1976, in which the court declared the treaty principle of equal pay for equal work to have direct effect. Having taken into account many of the factors now set out in new subsection (8), the court declared its ruling to be prospective only, except for those who had already brought legal proceedings or made an equivalent claim. In the relatively few cases that have followed of prospective-only quashing orders, a similar exception has been applied. Perhaps that exception will find favour with our courts too: it would seem to qualify as a condition within new Section 29A(2) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 and as a factor to which the court must have regard under new subsection (8)(c).

Not so welcome, at least to me, is the presumption in new subsection (9), particularly as glossed by new subsection (10), with its vague reference to action “proposed to be taken”. The institutions of the EU do not seek to dictate to its independent court the circumstances in which these remedies should be used, and I am not so far persuaded that this attempt at long-range micromanagement is appropriate here either.

The saving grace of the presumption, if it has one, is its limited scope. No presumption applies when, to suspend a quashing order, or to make it prospective only, would, in the opinion of the court, not offer “adequate redress”. That phrase will, no doubt, be much debated. I take it to include the concept of an effective remedy, not only for the claimant in the case but for other existing or potential claimants. Yet redress is a broader concept than that of remedy: Mr Justice Sedley, as he then was, said in the Kirkstall Valley case that

“Public law is concerned not only with the vindication of positive rights, but with the redress of public wrongs wherever the court’s attention is called to them by a person or body with sufficient interest.”


Where the redress of public wrongs requires a decision to be quashed, in other words, the courts should not be hamstrung by any presumption in favour of the specialist remedies provided for by Clause 1.

Current Supreme Court guidance does not encourage the judges, when construing Acts of Parliament, to have regard to our debates. None the less, I should be glad to know if the Minister agrees with what I said about the scope of the presumption. If I am right, new subsections (9) and (10) are a good deal less toxic than Section 38(8) to (10) of the Environment Act 2021, which despite the best efforts of your Lordships inhibits the High Court on environmental review from granting any useful remedy at all. However, we should have better reasons for waving through new subsections (9) and (10) than their only limited toxicity.

The Minister, James Cartlidge, said in Committee in another place that

“removing the presumption from the Bill would not necessarily prevent the new modifications to quashing orders from operating effectively”.—[Official Report, Commons, Judicial Review and Courts Bill Committee, 4/11/21; col. 127.]

Who knows? Perhaps, after proper debate, we will need to put that proposition to the test.

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 9th February 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill 2019-21 View all Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill 2019-21 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 129-II Second marshalled list for Committee - (4 Feb 2021)
Moved by
27: Clause 37, page 34, line 35, leave out from “subsection (1)” to end of line 37 and insert “after “Secretary of State” leave out “is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities,” and insert—
“(a) for the first year of the TPIM, has reasonable grounds for suspecting; and(b) for any further years of the TPIM, is satisfied on the balance of probabilities,””Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would leave in place the existing standard of proof for the second and subsequent years of any TPIM notice.
Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, TPIMs, or terrorism prevention and investigation measures, are the successors to, and relatives of, control orders. They may be imposed at the discretion of the Secretary of State, unless a court, on a preliminary look, considers them “obviously flawed”, if specified criteria are satisfied. They are summarised like this in the March 2020 annual report of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation:

“There are up to 14 measures that can be imposed including overnight residence requirements; relocation to another part of the United Kingdom; police reporting; an electronic monitoring tag; exclusion from specific places; limits on association; limits on the use of financial services and use of telephones and computers; and a ban on holding travel documents. Breach of any measure is a criminal offence.”


It is common for all or substantially all of those measures to be imposed, severely limiting the basic freedoms of the subjects and impinging heavily on their families. Relocation—removed by the coalition in 2012—was reinstated in 2015. Additional measures are, of course, contained in the Bill.

The issue raised by Clause 37 and by these amendments, including Amendment 27 in my name and that of my noble and learned friend Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, is: how strongly must the Secretary of State suspect a person of involvement in terrorism before choosing to impose a TPIM on them? Since TPIMs succeeded control orders in 2012, the Secretary of State has been required to have a reasonable belief that the intended subject is or has been involved in terrorism-related activity—a belief, in other words, that the person has been involved in some capacity in the wide range of activity spelled out in Section 4 of the TPIM Act 2011. That range is not limited to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism; it extends also to those who encourage, support and assist such behaviour. Nor need any specific act of terrorism be in prospect.

The “reasonable belief” formulation was amended in 2015 to one of satisfaction on the balance of probabilities, but the meaning is to all intents and purposes the same. The bottom line is that, before imposing this most extreme of all executive measures, the Home Secretary needs to have formed the view only that someone is, or was, probably involved in terrorism. That is already an easy standard to satisfy in the case of anyone who is likely to be a candidate for a TPIM—resource-intensive measures, as they are, that are not lightly applied for.

It is not a court that has to apply the balance of probabilities, on the basis only of admissible evidence. The judgment is entrusted to the Secretary of State, and she makes it, crucially, on the basis not just of admissible evidence but of the intelligence assessments with which she is provided by the Security Service and others. Such intelligence far exceeds what could be placed before a civil or criminal court. It is likely to include intercept material, or material supplied by foreign liaison partners who are unwilling to see it deployed in a public setting, or reports from a covert human intelligence source, whose existence could never be publicly disclosed. The Secretary of State sees all that in the form of documents, which, when I reviewed these things, I repeatedly described as thorough and conscientious. Everything is available to her, and she is required to conclude only that it probably demonstrates some involvement, past or present, in terrorism-related activity.

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, there were a number of questions in the noble Lord’s intervention there. I certainly encourage him to reread the evidence given by ACC Jacques on 25 June 2020. Asked specifically about the proposal to change the burden of proof, he said:

“The Security Service points to three instances where it thinks this would have utility from an operational perspective.”—[Official Report, Commons, Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill Public Bill Committee, 25/6/20; col. 20]


He then outlined the three scenarios that I have just repeated—but it is certainly worth looking at his evidence in full.

We are not ignoring the views of Parliament; that is why we are here in Committee, rightly scrutinising this Bill. But I repeat that we are talking about a burden of proof that has previously existed and been enacted by your Lordships’ House and the other place; it was repeatedly tested in the courts and found to be compatible with the ECHR, so I am not sure that I agree with the characterisation that the noble Lord gives.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB) [V]
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I am grateful to the Minister for his courteous response. I do not think I ever had the pleasure of meeting him in Marsham Street, although I had a good deal of respect for his boss. I am also grateful to noble Lords from all three main parties, the Cross Benches and the Bench of Bishops, who made such interesting and supportive contributions to this debate.

Those speeches will repay careful study and, after my long opening speech, noble Lords would not thank me for revisiting their many highlights. I will say simply that it was striking to hear the observation of a former Lord Chief Justice that the change now proposed, described by the Minister as “marginal”, is “completely unacceptable in a civilised society”. I defer to the right reverend Prelate on the theological distinction between belief and suspicion, while making a mental note to ask him some time where faith fits into the spectrum.

The central question, to which, with respect to the Minister, I received no satisfactory answer, is this: if, as Chris Philp said in the Commons, the current standard of proof has, in almost 10 years, not stopped a desired TPIM from being granted, why do we need to change it? The Minister spoke of “hypothetical” cases of, for example, a returning Syrian fighter. Well, we have had 15 years-worth of real cases under control orders and TPIMS, including several hundred returned Syrian fighters who were screened and considered for these measures, and it remains the case that this issue has not posed any problem in practice.

The Minister spoke of “flexibility”. Well, most of us are flexible enough to countenance some compromise, even of basic freedoms, if there is a pressing reason for it, whether that be public health or public safety. However, until I have seen that pressing reason—or at least fully understood what it is supposed to be—I cannot support Clause 37.

The point was well made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, that the hypothetical cases put forward in support of 90-day police detention were without foundation. We have managed perfectly well in practice for 10 years with the 14-day limit introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

No doubt we will come back to these issues at a later stage. Before that, I shall reflect on the fair challenge from both the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, that, in formulating Amendment 27, I may, in the absence of evidence for its position from the Government, have been too ready to compromise in respect of the first year. As to that first year, the Minister said nothing very specific—unless I missed it. However, for now, as is usual at this stage of the proceedings, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 27 withdrawn.
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Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I will speak in this group to Amendment 30, which I have signed, together with my noble and learned friend Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd. Clause 38, to which all these amendments relate, seeks to return in another respect to the days of control orders by removing the maximum time limit on TPIMs. Though I oppose Clause 38, as I did Clause 37 in the previous group, I would accept that the issues in this group are less clear-cut and the right solution less obvious.

In a report on the control order regime published in March 2012, shortly after that regime came to an end, I described control orders as an effective means of protecting the public from a small number of suspected terrorists who presented a substantial risk to national security but whom it was not feasible to prosecute. I observed a conscientious administrative procedure, coupled with close judicial scrutiny, which ensured a substantial degree of fairness to the subject. However, I added that those individuals were placed under extraordinary and intrusive restrictions; that this could go on indefinitely; that legal review was far from immediate; and that when the hearing did come around, controlled persons spent crucial parts of it excluded from the court, oblivious both of the detailed accusations made against them and of the submissions made by special advocates, who were able neither to communicate fully with them nor to call evidence on their behalf. I concluded that only in the face of strong necessity could it ever be justifiable for the individual to be placed in such a position by the state.

As will be the case if Clause 38 is enacted, there was no limit on the number of times a 12-month control order could be extended, so long as the statutory test continued to be met. During the currency of the control order regime, from 2005 to 2011, 15 persons were subject to control orders for more than two years—three of them for periods exceeding four years. Each of the four who had been subject to control orders for more than two years at the end of 2011 were transferred to TPIMs, where, as I recall, they served an additional two years, which was the maximum under that regime unless fresh evidence came to light—it rarely does.

Experience shows, therefore, that where the law has permitted it, Home Secretaries have considered it appropriate to keep British citizens who have never been convicted of a terrorist offence under these kinds of extreme constraints for periods in excess of five years. Indeed, had it not been for the introduction of the two-year limit, as originally recommended for all save exceptional cases by my noble friend Lord Carlile —my predecessor as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation—it is fair to assume that some subjects could have been detained in this way for far longer periods. That has been the experience with other, less all-encompassing executive orders, such as terrorist asset freezes. After all, who wants to be the civil servant or the special adviser to recommend the discharge of a control order, and who wants to be the Secretary of State to agree to it?

At the monthly TPIM review group meetings, at which all subjects were discussed, it became evident to me that the new two-year maximum limit was bringing some benefits. Since it was no longer possible for a TPIM to be used to warehouse a subject indefinitely, more serious and connected thought started to be given to an exit strategy: a suitable job, a suitable course of study, and the forging of new relationships away from the subject’s previous associates. However, as will be equally obvious, there could still be subjects who use their two years to lie low and who might still be adjudged to pose a threat when their TPIM comes to an end. That was the reasoning of those who had requested, agreed to and endorsed control orders for much longer periods than two years. I reported myself in 2013, echoing my noble friend Lord Carlile, that it was tempting to wish for longer than two years in the most serious cases.

If the goal is to minimise the potential threat regardless of the cost to civil liberties, the Government are justified in imposing indefinite executive detention. Yet that goal could also be used to justify warrantless searches of the home and general, suspicionless stop and search. All of us, surely, would instinctively recoil at such measures. I also note that, although they are notionally available in Northern Ireland, no control order or TPIM has, for whatever reason, ever been imposed there. I accept that TPIMs, although so far imposed predominantly, if not exclusively, on Muslims, have so far been only a minor rallying point for grievance: the numbers of TPIMs have been small, and the vast majority of British Muslims are only too glad to see dangerous extremists firmly dealt with. But the echo of internment can still be heard in Northern Ireland, nearly half a century on—a reminder that excess of zeal in this sensitive area can quickly become counterproductive.

There is wisdom in the words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Clarke of Nottingham, who wrote, when Justice Secretary, in 2011:

“The primary role of any government is to keep its citizens safe and free. That means both protecting them from harm and protecting their hard-won liberties.”


Where is the correct balance to be struck? We no longer live in times when a Conservative Government could come into power promising in relation to counterterrorism law, as they did in 2010,

“a correction in favour of liberty”.

So my amendment does not seek a perpetuation of the status quo. Indeed, it would double the current maximum limit, in the absence of additional evidence, to four years, allowing plenty of time to work on TPIM subjects, while still requiring the authorities to focus on an exit strategy. Coupled with the amendment that I have already moved on standard of proof, or one of the other amendments in the previous group, it would represent a toughening of the present regime, while still at least attempting to combine the two imperatives that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Clarke, identified.

Terrorism in this country has cost us almost 100 lives since 9/11, and the threat level, although reduced only yesterday, is still “substantial”. However, as this pandemic reminds us, the existence of a threat cannot by itself dictate where the balance should be struck. The balance is for Parliament, and I suggest that a maximum of four years for these unpalatable measures—tough as it undoubtedly is—gets it about right.

Lord Russell of Liverpool Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Russell of Liverpool) (CB)
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The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, has withdrawn from this group, so I call the next speaker on the list, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd.

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Portrait Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, rather like the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, I am not sure that our two amendments have any connection whatever. None the less, it is a pleasure to be able to make this short intervention on the Bill and to probe just a little more than I did at Second Reading the role of police and crime commissioners.

I do support the strengthening of the TPIM provisions. That the Government would have to do so was entirely foreseeable in 2011, when the coalition Government insisted on the abolition of control orders, despite the warnings that I and other noble Lords gave at the time.

My amendment was drafted after discussions with the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, David Jamieson. Clearly, the provisions are potentially extremely resource-intensive and need to be used proportionately and only when absolutely necessary. I would like to make two specific comments.

As the thresholds for a TPIM are lowered and the range of measures extended, it is important that greater scrutiny and oversight are implemented to give reassurance to individuals and communities that the legislation is being used fairly. These are of course issues of grave national security concern. The oversight offered by a police and crime commissioner could help to give the Home Secretary reassurance that full consideration had been given ahead of any decision regarding a TPIM. Local oversight could also enhance the ability of the Home Secretary to make an informed decision when considering a TPIM application, variation or extension. It would enable PCCs to submit any additional information or make recommendations to the Home Secretary in respect of the community impact and the impact on local police force resources—which, as has already been discussed, can be intensive for a TPIM.

It is not entirely clear how police and crime commissioners are currently made aware of TPIMs within their local area. Certainly, the chief constable should advise the police and crime commissioner when a TPIM is being considered, but there are no clear guidelines on how this should take place. My amendment would formalise this process. We know that the number of TPIMs in place nationally is small, and therefore it should not be envisaged that this additional step in the process would present a burden for police and crime commissioners or forces. As part of this process, the information would of course have to be shared within the most appropriate, secure environment.

At Second Reading, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, responded to that point by saying that the Home Office already works very closely with the police before a TPIM is imposed and during its lifetime. She went on to say:

“The process ensures that TPIMs are imposed only following engagement with the relevant local police force and that community impact assessments are kept up to date.”


She then said:

“The Bill already contains a clause that will allow a TPIM subject’s relocation measure to be varied where necessary on operational resource grounds.”


On those grounds, she considered that my

“proposed amendment for an additional role for PCCs … in TPIM processes is … not necessary.”—[Official Report, 21/9/20; col. 1653.]

That was disappointing. The key issue here is that TPIMs are an intervention that places significant restrictions on a person’s life, based on the balance of probabilities. Given that, PCCs could add value in the process by seeking reassurance that due process had been followed. I remind the Minister that they do this for other policing powers that might be regarded as controversial, including stop and search and the use of covert services, and it would be appropriate if it were extended to TPIMs. I commend the amendment and hope that the Minister will be sympathetic.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I have just a little to add to what has already been said about Clause 40.

The current requirement that a residence condition be “overnight” has acted as a limitation on the maximum length of the nightly period of house arrest that may be imposed under a TPIM; the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, referred to some of the case law on this subject. Confinement to the home during substantial parts of the day may sound almost familiar in times of Covid but it would represent a major reversal of past practice. I see that my own 2012 report, to which the Minister was kind enough to refer, confirms that even control orders featured curfews of only up to 16 hours.

In that context, I have three questions. First, if Clause 40 is passed into law, for how many hours a day will it be permissible to confine TPIM subjects to their designated residences if that is considered, in the Minister’s words, “necessary and proportionate”? Is there any reason why it should not be for 23 or, indeed, 24 hours?

Secondly, what are the specific circumstances that make it necessary for public safety to extend these already formidable powers in this way? If they are to be credible after 15 years of real-world experience, please may we have actual examples, even if they must be anonymised, rather than hypothetical ones?

Thirdly, and more generally, my sense from the last few debates is that the Government will have to work quite hard if they are to persuade noble Lords of the operational case for some of these changes—particularly as they appear not to have persuaded their own independent reviewer, with all his privileged access to classified material. What proposals does the Minister have in that regard?

Lord Bach Portrait Lord Bach (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I declare my interest as the elected and serving police and crime commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. I have been in that post for nearly five years now but in three months’ time, if the 6 May elections take place as the Government propose, I will no longer have this interest to declare. I look forward to once again playing a greater role in your Lordships’ House.

However, when, as in this Bill, issues of delicate constitutional importance arise—issues that affect the relationship between the state, in the guise of the Home Secretary and the police, and the individual, in the guise here of the reasonably suspected person—surely it is important to examine with great care, as this House always does and clearly has done today, the implications for the rule of law and individual liberty. That is why I put my name to my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath’s Amendment 31, which, strangely, is in this group.

Amendment 31 suggests a practical and sensible way forward—one that balances the interests of all involved, I would argue. It suggests a role for police and crime commissioners that seems entirely appropriate and consistent with the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. When the coalition Government proposed the setting up of what I will call PCCs, they deliberately gave them considerable responsibilities and powers. Not only were they described as the “local policing body”; the Policing Protocol Order 2011 insisted that police and crime commissioners had a role in the “totality of policing”. Sometimes, it seems as though the then Government’s intentions, as contained in the Act passed by Parliament, have not always been fulfilled by succeeding Governments, who, although keen to support the legislation, seem to draw back from some of its consequences. I very much hope that the way in which the Minister deals with this amendment will show that I am wrong.

Of course, we all agree that strong powers are needed to protect society from those who would use, aid or support terrorism to get their own way. In this Bill, there is an obvious intention to strengthen the power of the state against the individual, pointed out repeatedly by noble Lords from all sides. This involves the removal of basic safeguards, as we have heard today: first, the need for there merely to be reasonable suspicion, rather than proof of a balance of probabilities, and, secondly, the open-ended nature of a TPIM. The dangers of that last approach were referred to by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, in the context of recent public prevention legislation. Immense executive power attaches to the Home Secretary and the police, who are tasked with TPIM powers.

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 26th January 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill 2019-21 View all Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill 2019-21 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 129-I Marshalled list for Committee - (21 Jan 2021)
Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB) [V]
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My Lords, it was an honour to put my name to this amendment, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, with her experience as a former executive chair of the Parole Board for England and Wales. As she said, Clause 27, which this amendment would replace, aims to remove the role of the Parole Board in the case of certain dangerous terrorist offenders who have been given a determinate sentence. Clause 27 would do this by amending Section 247A of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, itself dating from only last year, which currently requires the Secretary of State to refer terrorist offenders serving any determinate sentence to the Parole Board at the two-thirds point of the custodial term.

There are instinctive attractions—including, no doubt, electoral attractions—in providing for all dangerous terrorist offenders to serve their entire sentences in prison. But the notion that such offenders are uniquely incorrigible is not supported by the facts. I remind the Minister of a Written Answer that I received from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen, last February, revealing that, of the 196 terrorist offenders released from prison in England and Wales in the seven years from January 2013, only six—barely 3%—had committed another terrorist offence by the end of that period. This illustrates a pattern of surprisingly low terrorist recidivism rates around the world, expertly analysed by Andrew Silke and John Morrison in an ICCT policy brief of September 2020 aptly entitled Re-offending by Released Terrorist Prisoners: Separating Hype from Reality.

This is not an argument for complacency. It most certainly does not mean that all is well in our prisons, but it is something to consider before we dispense with the Parole Board in the circumstances that Clause 27 would effect.

My successor but one as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Jonathan Hall QC, has been referred to today with wholly justified approval by at least two Ministers and numerous other noble Lords, so we should listen to the three reservations that he has voiced on Clause 27. First, it would remove the possibility of early release

“as a spur to good behaviour and reform for offenders who are going to spend the longest time in custody”.

At the same time, it would deprive the prison authorities of an important tool for prisoner management. Secondly, it would remove the opportunity to explore current and future risk at Parole Board hearings. Thirdly, it would remove the opportunity for early release of

“child terrorist offenders, whose risk may be considered most susceptible to change as they mature into adults”.

I endorse what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, said about that and the public safety implications in the last group.

Those reservations are addressed by this amendment and by the following group. I look forward to hearing what the Minister, whom I welcome warmly to his place, has to say about them.

Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord McNicol of West Kilbride) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have been unable to reach the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, so we now move to the noble Lord, Lord Faulks.

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Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord McNicol of West Kilbride) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the next speaker, the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar. No? We will come back to her. Let us try the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich Portrait Lord Anderson of Ipswich (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I have once again signed up to the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar. I do not want to repeat what I said on the last grouping, so I will raise just two additional points. The first is the risk of inconsistency that Clause 27 and its companions could bring into the law. They of course apply only to determinate sentences, so does this not raise what the independent reviewer has described in a recent series of tweets as the

“uncomfortable possibility that offenders may be ‘better off’ if sentenced to life imprisonment than extended sentences”?

He illustrated that observation with the case of the Anzac Day plotter—recently released on the recommendation of the Parole Board, having been convicted at the age of 15—and the decision last week of the Court of Appeal in the case of the St Paul’s suicide bomb plotter. The Minister and others might want to reflect on those cases, and on the observations of the independent reviewer before Report, when I suspect that we may need to come back to this.

Secondly, since the Minister accepts that the prisoners who would be affected by Clause 27 are not always incorrigibly violent, and since he does not take issue with what I said about the very low terrorist recidivism rates, is he not tempted to accept that there might be cases—perhaps rare—in which the Parole Board would feel able to recommend their release?

Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord McNicol of West Kilbride) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We still cannot reach the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Naseby.