Debates between Lord Faulks and Lord Hacking during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 18th Jan 2023
National Security Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage: Part 1

National Security Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Hacking
Lord Hacking Portrait Lord Hacking (Lab)
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My Lords, I am also in receipt of an excellent briefing from Reprieve, which was covered excellently by the noble Lord, Lord Marks—so much so that I am left with nothing further to say on that issue.

However, as I am currently the only Member on the Labour Back Benches, I want to put on the record that I wholly oppose the concepts contained in Clauses 82 to 86. They would allow Ministers and officials to avoid paying damages to survivors of torture and other abuses overseas; they would also give Ministers certain rights to reduce those damages under Clause 83. I just want to put a stake in the ground, as it were, behind the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. I hope that I speak for my colleagues on these Back Benches in saying that I wholly support what the noble Lord, Lord Marks, described to your Lordships so excellently. That is my stake in the ground.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I add a couple of queries which I hope that the Minister can help with.

Clause 83(5) provides that:

“Where the court would award damages … of a particular amount, the court must decide whether, in light of its consideration of the national security factors, it is appropriate for it to reduce the amount of damages (including to nil).”

How is a judge supposed to decide whether it is appropriate? The national security factors are listed but perhaps, by way of an example, some illustration can be given to the Committee to help us understand what this legislation has in mind. Incidentally, I note at Clause 83(7)(b) the various other defences in common law to which the noble Lord, Lord Marks, referred—that is, ex turpi, volenti and contributory negligence—are reserved anyway. The question is whether anything further is needed. An explanation of why these provisions are needed would certainly help the Committee.