8 Lord Faulks debates involving the Department for International Development

Facial Recognition Surveillance

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Monday 27th January 2020

(4 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I agree with the noble Lord that the ICO criticised some areas. However, last Friday it acknowledged a number of improvements. LFR is used for a policing purpose; it is used to detect serious criminals and might be used to find missing people. The framework in which it operates includes common-law powers, data protection, human rights legislation and the surveillance camera code.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, is it not important to make a distinction between the use of modern technology to assist in the possible identification of an offender and its evidential status? That distinction is very important.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My noble friend is of course absolutely right.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee (LD)
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My Lords, I have various amendments in this group, but I start with a general point: all the amendments in the Marshalled List where mine is the first name were proposed by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am a member, and I have been tasked by the committee to raise them with your Lordships. I take this opportunity to thank not only the committee but its officials, who have done a huge amount of work on the Bill, particularly Samantha Godec. Having said that, I have no doubt that my noble friends will agree with much that I have to say, but I leave that to them. I suspect that I will not be able to refrain from commenting on some other amendments.

The committee has put forward amendments that seek to ensure that the Bill restricts rights only to the extent necessary and proportionate—terms with which noble Lords will be very familiar. I make it clear, though I hope it does not need saying, that this is by no means wholesale opposition to the Bill. We recognise that the Government need powers to defend national security, but when powers engage human rights or interfere with them, they must be clearly prescribed, necessary in pursuit of a legitimate aim and proportionate to that aim. The committee was concerned that the Bill legislates close to the line and sometimes crosses it, taking the criminal law further into private spaces. It looked, as noble Lords would expect, for the right balance between liberty and security.

Among the evidence that we received was a long paper from Professor Clive Walker, adviser to successive Independent Reviewers of Terrorism Legislation, who commented:

“It can readily be demonstrated that the United Kingdom already has the most extensive counter terrorism code in Europe if not the world”.


That was a point made by Max Hill before he became the independent reviewer; he has said several times that we have sufficient offences, we do not need any more. The obligation on us is obviously to identify whether there are gaps that need to be filled, and whether we agree with the Government about that. Professor Walker also made the point, which I think is worth repeating at this point—I am not seeking to make a Second Reading speech—that,

“criticism should be made of the failure on the part of Home Office to issue any consultation paper prior to the CT&BS Bill”.

He wrote about the value of a pre-legislation phase, allowing not only for public scrutiny but for other independent proposals, and said how well that worked in the case of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

My name is attached to Amendments 3 and 5 in this group and I have also given notice that I oppose Clause 1 standing part of the Bill.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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The noble Baroness has indicated to the House that she speaks, in effect, on behalf of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and we are all grateful for its report. Can she help the House in that context with one thing? The Joint Committee on Human Rights, of course, has particular reference to the provisions of the Human Rights Act and the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. Does she and her committee consider it important also to consider the rights of citizens affected by, or potentially affected by, acts of terrorism or encouragement to terrorism, whether it be their rights under Article 2 or Article 8 of the convention? These are, of course, also human rights.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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Indeed they are, my Lords, and that was why I very deliberately mentioned security as well as liberty in my opening words. It would be wrong to give the noble Lord an assurance that we specifically discussed those rights in the same way or at the same length as other rights, but I have been in enough meetings of the committee to know that that is a backdrop to the other rights we address. I hope that reassures him. It may not, but I did say that we were not opposing this Bill in any wholesale way.

Amendment 3 would leave out paragraph (b) and instead insert a reference to intention,

“to encourage support for a proscribed organisation”.

Other noble Lords have referred to that at some length. I agree with the point about context made by the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza—whether this is the point at which to agree with her or not, I do not know. But I do think context assists one to understand what is in the mind of a person making a statement or undertaking an act.

Regarding Amendment 5, I am grateful for the support of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. His point about open discussion is an important one. I know that he balances the importance of transparency and free debate on these matters. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, about “support” and “supportive”. In debate and correspondence, the Government have relied on Section 4 of the 2000 Act as providing a route to apply to the Home Secretary for de-proscription. I do not challenge that, but do not think it is by any means a complete answer to this. The defence in the 2000 Act only protects statements of support related to a de-proscription application. It is not a defence for those taking part in debate outside those proceedings.

The clause creates a new offence, and the Minister in the Public Bill Committee in the Commons said:

“Dealing effectively with the power of inspiration or incitement is not new”.—[Official Report, Commons, Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill Committee, 28/6/18; col. 71.]


I do not read this clause as being about incitement or inspiration. Recklessness is lesser than that.

I have a specific question for the Minister about new subsection 1A(b), which refers to a person to whom a statement, or whatever, is directed. I would like to understand the term “directed”. Are you directing something if it is not addressed to a named person or an identifiable/identified group? If you tweet or post something on Facebook, accessible to the world, are you directing that? The Minister in the Commons made a point similar to the one made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. He gave the example of walking down a high street swinging a baseball bat. Are the people who might see a tweet equivalent to the pedestrians in the high street?

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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My Lords, I shall speak briefly to Amendments 3, 4, 5 and 6. I accept that there may well be a need to further criminalise the overt support of proscribed organisations; I do not dissent from that view. However, we have to accept that what we are proposing in the Bill is an infringement of human rights—the right to free speech. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is entirely right about that. We therefore need to apply the test of proportionality: to weigh up the evil in one hand and then look at the consequences of what is proposed in the other. It is in that context that I would be very much happier—I now speak directly to my noble friend on the Front Bench—if we were to look again at the concept of specific intent. I would be very much happier if what we were providing for was that the offence was establishable only on proof of specific intent. I find myself very much in support of Amendments 3 and 4 because they seem to satisfy the test of proportionality.

To comment briefly on Amendment 5, I find myself entirely in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. Anyone who advocates the de-proscription of a proscribed organisation seems to fall foul of the general language of this part of the Bill, and that should not be the case. It is perfectly proper as part of public debate to argue that a specific organisation should not be proscribed. I therefore hope—

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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My Lords—

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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May I just finish this point? Then of course I will give way to my noble friend. I hope the Government will look sympathetically at Amendment 5.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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I understand what my noble friend says about Amendment 5 but I am little puzzled by why suggesting that a proscribed organisation should cease to be proscribed is supportive of a proscribed organisation. It is one thing to say that proscription should cease; it is another to be supportive of it.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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I wondered that myself but came to the conclusion, having weighed up the language, that to argue that something should not be proscribed probably does constitute action supportive of the proscribed organisation. Even if I was wrong about that, though—in this context my views are shared by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile—it is certainly an arguable position, and I am in favour of clarity in law. That is why I would go with Amendment 5 in the name of my noble friend.

That brings me to Amendment 6, where I am afraid I part company with my noble friend.

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Lord Carlile of Berriew Portrait Lord Carlile of Berriew
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My Lords, I rise to support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Anderson of Ipswich. It highlights a number of extremely important points, not least that there should be clarity and definition for people who may wish to visit a designated area. I have some reservations, but in relation to proposed new paragraph (c), perhaps I may give an example of the crucial need to attend court or another body exercising judicial power. It may well be that a relative would wish to obtain the custody of a child who is in danger in the designated area and would not be able to do so without entering that designated area. I agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier, and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, that the definition of “journalist” will need attention because it can all too easily be both a benign and a malign term.

I want to raise one other issue not directly connected to this amendment, but to avoid the duplication of speeches I shall refer to it now. I have been approached by some Jewish groups that have expressed concern that designation orders might be made in relation, for example, to the Golan Heights where quite a number of young people go on the Aliyah to kibbutzim or to Sderot, the town that is regularly the recipient of missiles fired from the nearby Gaza Strip. I have been bold enough to reassure those who have raised these issues that it is most unlikely that the Government of the United Kingdom would designate areas such as this because of the international political and diplomatic implications of doing so. However, at some point in the debate I would invite the Minister to reassure the Committee and the people who have made representations that the normal flow of people, albeit to sometimes quite dangerous places such as Israel, will not be interrupted as a result of these provisions because that would cause tremendous difficulties, particularly for families divided between the cities of England and Wales and Israel.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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My Lords, I accept entirely that it is better, if at all possible, to clarify what constitutes not so much a defence but in which circumstances there will not be an offence, which I think is the way Amendment 17 is framed. If I understand it correctly, the answer to most of the objections lies in the word “solely” because, of course, if there is evidence of mixed reasons for someone being in an area, these provisions would not have a proper ambit at all. However, I share the reservations of my noble and learned friend Lord Garnier about visiting a dependent family member.

I want to raise a more general point about what Clause 4 intends to do. It is concerned with the designated area and the Government are not concerned primarily about protecting people visiting the area and ensuring their safety. Of course, journalists and those working for humanitarian purposes risk their own safety very considerably by going into such areas. The Government are concerned—perhaps my noble friend the Minister will confirm this—to prevent the risk of terrorism, as the Bill is headed. When looking at the risk of terrorism, the Explanatory Notes state:

“Such a risk may arise, in particular, if a conflict in a foreign country, potentially involving a proscribed terrorist organisation, acted as a draw to UK nationals or residents to travel to that country to take part in the conflict or otherwise support those engaged in the conflict”.


In other words, we want to stop people fighting against the United Kingdom. That, I suggest, is what this is really about, although my noble friend may disabuse me of that. If so, this is quite a convoluted way of achieving the aim of preventing an individual or individuals assisting or fighting against the United Kingdom. I shall raise this point again on Wednesday under my own amendment concerning the possible introduction of the offence of treason, because that is what it would be. Although this is a useful provision and I can see what it is driving at, I respectfully wonder whether it is really the answer to the evil it is aimed at in this case.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, I tabled Amendments 21 and 22 in this group. I was not surprised, given the authors, to be more attracted to Amendment 17 than to my own amendment, but I have a couple of questions related to points already raised. I too wonder about the word “solely”. If, for one or more of the reasons listed, someone went for a reason authorised by the legislation or in regulations but did something outside them, might that cause a problem? Perhaps more importantly, I also have a question about the registered charity, regarding the jurisdiction in which it would have to be registered. It is important to address the position of charities, not just for charity workers but because the trustees will have a duty of care towards their staff. They will have an important interest in ensuring that what their staff are doing is appropriate within what the law allows.

I turn to the phrase,

“visiting a dependent family member”.

I wonder about the word “dependent”. A sick mother would be unlikely to be dependent if the son or daughter is not there supporting the family member. Perhaps one might look at extending that. However, I like the approach. I do not think it is an alternative to what is set out in Amendment 22. That would provide for regulations for authorisation—not just the grounds for applying for authorisation but also the “procedure for applying”, the “timescales for determining” it, which might be important in particular circumstances, and “rights of appeal”, which should be dealt with by some means or other. As I say, this is not an alternative; rather, there are procedural points in this that should be addressed.

I am grateful to the organisation Bond for briefing me about the position in Australia and Denmark, to which the noble Lord referred. It has put a note at the end of its briefing to remind me that the proposal for the restrictions was promoted at the exact time that nine people were arrested for travelling to Syria to become foreign fighters—proving that the existing legal provisions are “rather effective”, to use its words.

I am aware that in Australia there is an overarching exemption for the International Committee of the Red Cross, but I understand that it can be extended to other humanitarian organisations. I do not know whether any noble Lord taking part in this Committee knows how far that has been extended. I take the points about monitoring and, while putting forward these provisions, I am aware that we must balance that against the administrative burden, to which I suspect the Minister may refer. There will be an administrative burden but the benefits that could be achieved by amendments such as the ones we have been debating outweigh that. I simply wanted to anticipate that argument.

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Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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My Lords, clearly all the amendments in this group have their merits, but we seem to be rallying to the flag of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, for very good reason. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, explained, this appears to be, at least in essence, the way forward. As the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, said, it is based on a tried-and-tested system that operates under Australian law and gives a degree of certainty that the reasonable excuse defence does not give. It covers journalism as well, which could arguably make Amendment 20 unnecessary. On the definition of what journalism means, the noble Lord’s expression,

“working in a professional capacity as a journalist”,

might be an indication of the way forward as far as that definition is concerned. I have added my name to Amendments 21 and 22 in my noble friend Lady Hamwee’s name, but, as I said, perhaps Amendment 17 is a better way forward.

The noble Lord, Lord Faulks, is obviously trailing his amendment on treason, but in addition to what the noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller, said, it is more than just fighting UK forces. It could be that people are going to engage in terrorist activity against allies of the UK, not necessarily against the UK itself. We would want to deter our nationals from travelling to areas for that purpose. People might travel to those areas for a legitimate purpose and then engage in terrorist activity, but there is no way that we could legislate for that. Clearly, they would then commit a substantive offence under different legislation.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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Can the noble Lord help the Committee by saying what legislation they would be committing an offence under?

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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My understanding is that it is an offence to travel to an area to engage as a foreign fighter. I cannot remember what exactly the legislation is, but reference has been made to it by other noble Lords this evening.

Lord Elystan-Morgan Portrait Lord Elystan-Morgan (CB)
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Is not the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 still extant? I think it is.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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I am not sure about that, and I am grateful to the noble Lord for assisting. There is, of course, a Treason Act of 1351, but that is not often relied on—or not at all relied upon. The noble Lord may be right, but I was genuinely inquiring what legislation the noble Lord was referring to.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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I am very grateful to noble Lords for their interventions. At the end of the day, the principle that the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, have put forward in this amendment needs to be very seriously considered—and potentially not just for this offence, but perhaps for the other new offences in the Bill that we have already debated.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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My Lords, my noble and learned friend Lord Garnier has given us a taste of things to come. I have had the privilege of knowing him since we were adolescents, so it is a particular pleasure for me to see him in his place today—yes, lawyers were children once.

It is a matter for celebration that so many of our current politicians are the sons and daughters of immigrants and that people come into politics from all sorts of backgrounds. My noble and learned friend, on the other hand, comes from a family with a long tradition of public service, and this country is richer for that tradition. He has managed to combine a quarter of a century as a Member of Parliament with a successful practice at the Bar, where he has been for some time one of the leaders in the field of defamation and media law. He was also instrumental in the introduction of deferred prosecution agreements to the prosecutorial armoury; a valuable weapon against corporate economic crime. Further, he has sat for some time as a recorder of the Crown Court.

Despite all these achievements, and a term as Solicitor-General, my noble and learned friend has a quality that is all too rare in barristers: modesty. I am confident that his contributions to debates in your Lordships’ House will be relevant and brief, and that, unlike some of us, he will not consider it necessary to give the House the benefit of his views on every subject. My noble and learned friend Lord Gamier is a most welcome addition to your Lordships’ House.

I now turn to the Bill. The scale of the terrorist threat to this country can hardly be overstated, whether from extremists claiming allegiance to the Muslim faith or from state-sponsored terrorism as we witnessed in Salisbury. We should pay tribute to the contribution that the police and the security services make to keep us as safe as they can in increasingly challenging circumstances.

One fact that I took away from the Home Secretary’s recent speech in Birmingham was that an estimated 800,000 people who currently live in this country do not speak English. I am not of course suggesting for a moment that if you do not speak English you are likely to be a terrorist. However, it is a considerable challenge for our security services simply to understand what is going on in communities where English is not spoken or not spoken much, and where there is little or no loyalty to British values or traditions.

In its report on the Bill, the Joint Committee on Human Rights was critical of it in a number of respects, identifying various potential violations of human rights. Of course, that is the remit of the committee, of which I was once a member, and I do not for a moment impugn the integrity of the process, as it was suggested the security Minister did in the other place. However, I wish us to bear in mind that, in this country, there was a long-established respect for free speech before Article 10 of the European Convention became part of our law through the medium of the Human Rights Act in 1996. If we must look at issues through the prism of the Human Rights Act, can we bear in mind Article 2, the right to life, and Article 8, the right to a family life, in the context of those affected by terrorism? The first duty of a Government is to keep their subjects safe. To do so, there must sometimes be restrictions on individual rights.

The primacy of individual rights is such that loyalty to one’s country seems in some quarters to be regarded as something of an option, coming below loyalty to one’s religion or even one’s football team. Many would agree with EM Forster, who wrote in 1938 that he hoped, given the choice, that he would have the guts to betray his country rather than his friends. But if you choose to live in this country, is it so unreasonable to expect you to show some loyalty to it and not to give assistance to our enemies?

The word “treason”, mentioned by my noble friend Lord King, has a dated feel about it, but may I also commend the recent Policy Exchange publication, Aiding the Enemy: How and Why to Restore the Law of Treason? Its authors include two Members of Parliament, one Labour and one Conservative, and it has a foreword by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. It provides a compelling case for the return to the statute book of a modern law of treason—the 1351 statute is plainly no longer fit for purpose.

The new offence of entering or remaining in a designated area may help but clearly needs further scrutiny. For British subjects who leave this country to serve with ISIS or the Taliban, for example, is a maximum sentence of 10 years really enough? What about Anjem Choudary, sentenced to five and a half years in prison and due out this month? Even though this Bill promises, rightly, to end in certain circumstances automatic release on serving half a sentence, that is too late for Choudary and others. Does the current statutory framework adequately capture the gravity of being a recruiting sergeant for ISIS at a time when it is engaged in combat with our forces and actively trying to attack the United Kingdom? The time may well have come to update the law on treason as Australia, Canada and New Zealand have done.

As the noble Lord, Lord Janvrin, pointed out, radicalisation in prison is a real threat. Government policy is to imprison those who pose a threat to national security in separate units to minimise the risk of other prisoners being radicalised. Very few have in fact been separated, apparently because of apprehension in the Prison Service about human rights litigation. Perhaps the Minister would care to comment on that.

This Bill deserves careful scrutiny, and it is clear that there is the expertise in this House to do just that. There are certainly improvements that can be made. For example, the Law Society has made some powerful points about the erosion of legal professional privilege at border interceptions, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. For my part, I need convincing that all those restrictions are currently justified. But, for the most part, I welcome the Bill and hope that it receives support across the House.

Police: Undercover Officers

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Wednesday 21st March 2018

(6 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Baroness makes a very helpful point, because the policing Code of Ethics makes it clear that police officers should not use their professional position to,

“establish or pursue an improper sexual or emotional relationship with a person with whom you come into contact in the course of your work”.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 provides the legal framework for the lawful deployment of undercover officers as covert human intelligence sources. We also have the 2014 CHIS codes of practice.

In relation to the length of time that the inquiry has taken, the slight extension to that is purely due to the sheer number of pieces of information it has to look at.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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My Lords, I understand that the walkout from the inquiry was because of a sense that it was important that the individual police officers were identified by name. Will the Minister confirm that, by definition, undercover police officers have a cover name, and that, whatever the importance of getting to the bottom of what went on in this inquiry, it is important that they retain anonymity, because that is a pre-eminent part of what they do?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My noble friend is absolutely right—of course, it protects the safety of those people as well.

Russia: Threats to Individuals in the UK

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Thursday 8th March 2018

(6 years, 4 months ago)

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Asked by
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Russian threats to individuals residing in the United Kingdom, following the suspected poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I hope the House will understand that I am reluctant to be drawn on specific threats to specific individuals, but I assure noble Lords that the Government take very seriously their responsibility to protect the UK, UK interests and citizens and those living in the UK. A Statement on the events in Salisbury will be delivered this morning in the other place by the Home Secretary and repeated in this House this afternoon.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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My Lords, the Minister will remember—because she took the Criminal Finances Bill through this House—the concern expressed around the House about the torrent of dirty money from Russia into this country. Beyond that, BuzzFeed estimates that there have been up to 14 suspected murders involving Russia. Now we have the incident of Sergei Skripal. These represent outrageous violations by Russia of the rule of law. Can the Minister tell the House what she thinks is the appropriate diplomatic response?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, my noble friend is slightly straying into Foreign Office territory in relation to the diplomatic response. He is also jumping several stages ahead, because this is an ongoing investigation to which conclusions have not yet been reached. My noble friend is absolutely right to raise the issue of the torrent of dirty money: he was very vocal on this during the Criminal Finances Bill, and that Bill—now an Act—was meant precisely to ensure that criminal assets could not be hidden in, for example, dwellings or property in this country.

Incident in Salisbury

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Thursday 8th March 2018

(6 years, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Obviously Porton Down is very close to where the incident took place. We co-operate in various areas but I do not know whether we are co-operating with the US on this particular issue. I can find out for the noble Lord.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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My Lords, I think the House will understand why the Minister has to be very circumspect when answering questions about the ongoing investigation, and will appreciate that she has told the House that it is a matter of the utmost priority that the perpetrators will be sought out and justice will be served. However, the incident involving the death of Litvinenko does not provide a happy precedent in terms of the time that elapsed between his poisoning and a High Court judge finally concluding that it was the result of deliberate Russian activity. Could the Minister reassure us that, quite apart from the criminal investigation, the Home Office will take responsibility to ensure that all matters surrounding the very serious injuries—we hope that they are just injuries—to these two will be investigated, and that all the lessons from Litvinenko and other questionable incidents will be learned so as to reduce the possibility of recurrence?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I can confirm to my noble friend that all matters surrounding this will be investigated thoroughly. I cannot stress that enough, actually. On the question of Litvinenko and lessons learned, the murder of Alexander Litvinenko was a blatant and unacceptable breach of the most fundamental tenets of international law and civilised behaviour. At the time, the Government responded robustly and, following the publication of the report, we made representations in the strongest possible terms to the Russian Government and put in place asset freezes against the main suspects. For my noble friend’s information, we have demanded and continue to demand that the Russian Government account for the role of the FSB in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

Ivory Trade

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Thursday 5th December 2013

(10 years, 7 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Asked by
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the worldwide trade of ivory and its impact on the elephant and rhinoceros populations in Africa.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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My Lords, a few years ago the subject of this debate might have been regarded as rather marginal in terms of importance; that is no longer the case. In introducing this debate I should declare an interest as a friend of the Whitley Fund for Nature, a charity concerned with conservation worldwide.

Illegal trade in wildlife has grown to become a massive global industry. It is said to be worth at least $90 billion per year and is ranked as the fourth largest global illegal activity after narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking, and ahead of oil, art, gold, human organs, small arms and diamonds. Illegal ivory trade activity worldwide has more than doubled since 2007, and is now more than three times larger than it was in 1998—its highest level in two decades—with ivory fetching up to $1,000 a pound, or $2,205 a kilogram, on the streets of Beijing.

The worst year on record for elephant ivory seizures was 2011, when almost 40 tonnes of smuggled ivory was seized. In the past decade, 11,000 forest elephants have been killed in one park alone—Gabon’s Minkebe National Park—with a total population of forest elephants down 62% in the past 10 years. The kill rate of elephants now exceeds the birth rate—a trend that, if not reversed, could lead to the extinction of the African elephant in some areas in the next few years.

In 2012, a record 668 rhinos were poached in South Africa—up by almost 50% from 2011 figures. In 2013, the toll continued to rise, with 201 rhinos killed in Kruger National Park alone. A subspecies of the black rhino was declared extinct in the wild in west Africa in 2011.

According to Interpol, the US Department of State, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and others, the same routes used to smuggle wildlife across countries and continents are often used to smuggle weapons, drugs and people, with the same culprits frequently involved. Indeed, wildlife crime often occurs hand in hand with other offences such as fraud, corruption, money laundering, theft and murder. At a global level, illegal wildlife trade undermines sustainable development through its effects on security and the rule of law. I could go on. The scale of the problem is difficult to exaggerate.

Who are the killers, and who is paying them? These are questions to which the answer is complex. War lords or militant groups committed to achieving ideological or political goals by armed insurrection are connected to large-scale poaching. Experts believe that ivory, like the blood diamonds of other African conflicts, is funding many rebel groups and militias in Africa. Poachers have direct access to military weapons and arms markets linked to organised criminal and terrorist groups. Elephant poachers in many parts of Africa use weapons that can be acquired only from military sources. These weapons have range, accuracy and fire power which enables poaching gangs to kill not only a large number of animals but also the rangers tasked with protecting them.

The illegal trafficking of wildlife appears to be one of the ways in which a number of al-Qaeda affiliates and other militants have chosen to raise money to fund their operations. Recent escapees from the Lord’s Resistance Army have reported witnessing rebels shoot elephants and remove their tusks at Joseph Kony’s behest. Somalia, controlled for the most part by al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group that pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, is thought to be training fighters to infiltrate neighbouring Kenya and kill elephants for ivory to raise money. Al-Shabaab was, of course, responsible for the shopping centre massacre in Nairobi in September.

As well as the threatened destruction of the elephant and rhino population, there is the human toll. It is thought by the International Fund for Animal Welfare—IFAW—which I gratefully acknowledge as a source for much of the material in my remarks—that the number of rangers killed in 35 different countries during the past decade is probably between 3,000 and 5,000.

Who are the consumers? For the most part, they are in China. I very much hope that at some stage during the current mission to China someone in the Prime Minister’s very large delegation has found time to draw attention to this really important issue. While more than half of the large shipments of illegal ivory are destined for China, the United States is also a prime market for ivory and ivory carvings. The European Union is widely considered to be the third largest destination for illegal wildlife. It accounts for a third of all ivory seizures worldwide.

What are the solutions? A widespread and many-faceted response is required. This includes tackling terrorists; training and supporting rangers; and providing quasi- military support for the rangers in particularly hard-hit areas. From this year, DNA testing is mandatory for large-scale ivory seizures. Other new technologies are being developed, including alarm systems, as well as an intelligence-led approach. This all requires an integrated enforcement strategy involving all relevant agencies and the sharing of information across boundaries.

More important than any efforts to combat poaching on the ground is probably the reduction in consumer demand. IFAW has utilised mass-media channels to educate the general public in consumer nations about the effect of the wildlife trade on the welfare of animals, including advertising campaigns used in China which specifically target sectors of the community most likely to buy products. The American organisation WildAid is already campaigning hard in China. It has recruited Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, David Beckham and assorted Chinese stars and business leaders using an advertisement on television, trains, planes, taxis and mobile telephones to drive home the message.

I am delighted that there is to be a government-sponsored summit in London in February next year, at which Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers of 50 countries will be urged to fight back against those destroying Africa’s natural heritage to feed the avarice of Asia. Both Prince William and Prince Charles have been raising awareness worldwide. Recently in the Times, which has consistently given wide exposure to this issue, a report said that China had yet to commit to sending a senior Minister to the conference in Whitehall. I very much hope that proves to be wrong.

WildAid has made a powerful and widely distributed video with Yao Ming and Prince William. It is absolutely right to say that there is a risk that targeting only poachers could simply drive up the price of ivory and rhino horn and escalate the conflict, whereas reducing demand in the Far East is likely to be a far more effective long-term strategy.

I do not doubt the Government's determination to make a real contribution to stamping out this dreadful trade. What else can be done? The National Wildlife Crime Unit is at the moment funded year on year, which inevitably makes long-term planning and staff retention difficult. I suggest that the Government should guarantee the long-term funding of this unit, as recommended by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

The combating of trade in illegal ivory on the internet should be a high priority. The Government should commit to tackling online wildlife crime through improved monitoring of internet forums and platforms by enforcement agencies, by building partnerships and by establishing best-practice models with internet companies.

The penalties for wildlife crime are, even in this country, much too light. The Government should, both domestically and worldwide, help to elevate wildlife crime to a proper level of seriousness. It is a form of international crime that poses threats to global security and development. To do this will involve strengthening policies and legal frameworks at local, national and international levels.

It should be a matter of fundamental education that every piece of ivory represents a dead elephant or rhinoceros—something, it appears, that the consumer can all too often forget. This is not a problem that can be solved at leisure. It is one of increasing urgency. The destruction of the elephant and rhino population to gratify Chinese middle-class aspirations or fanciful notions of medical benefit is an obscenity. If the world does not act effectively, we will soon lose an irreplaceable asset and further degrade the legacy we, as human beings, leave behind.

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Tuesday 7th February 2012

(12 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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If I have one other reservation about the amendment it is that, paradoxically, it might push magistrates in the wrong direction from the point of view of the mover of the amendment. They might feel that rather than being obliged to give reasons for imposing short sentences, they could go the whole hog, as it were, and impose longer sentences. I am not sure whether the noble Baroness or other noble Lords would welcome that, but it is a temptation that might present itself in certain circumstances. I have just that one reservation.
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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Although I accept the general points made by the noble Lord about the general undesirability of short sentences, does he accept that there are some cases where the clang of the prison door really is the only answer for repeated minor offences? Notwithstanding all the valuable points about how little can be achieved, something can sometimes be achieved in some circumstances by the very fact of incarceration.

Lord Beecham Portrait Lord Beecham
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I think that that is right, and indeed the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, said very much the same. It is quite possible, within the ambit of the amendment, to achieve that objective. There may well be cases where what some call the “short sharp shock” may work. I think it will work in probably only a relatively small number of cases, but the option should certainly be open.

As I say, I have some reservations about the second amendment, but I wholly endorse the first one. This is a matter that we need to continue to evaluate, but above all we need to ensure that the probation service in particular is given the resources that it needs to work with offenders so as to avoid not only the social and individual harm that is done but also the enormous cost to the public purse of reoffending, where the rates remain unduly high.