All 6 Baroness Williams of Trafford contributions to the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019

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Wed 11th Jul 2018
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Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Department for International Development

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 11th July 2018

(6 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Moved by
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, the aim of this Bill is to provide the framework to address the problem of obtaining electronic evidence when it is stored outside the UK. Too often, criminals—including terrorists—are using global communications services to facilitate their criminal activities, and in many cases the companies providing the services being used are located outside the UK. UK law enforcement officers consider this information as a vital source of evidence in the investigation and prosecution of serious crime and we need to make sure that they have timely access to it.

Our existing powers for obtaining stored electronic data are effective when the company or person holding the data is located in the UK. In those circumstances, a law enforcement officer or a prosecutor can apply to a court for a production order to obtain the data. If the judge agrees that the material is required to support the investigation or prosecution, he or she will issue the production order, and the UK-based target will be required to comply.

However, as Members of this House will know, advances in technology, and the increasing globalisation of communications services, mean that it is not always the case that it is a UK-based entity that holds this data, which can be vital evidence. Where evidence is held outside the UK, we must rely on our international partners to help. We must use mutual legal assistance channels—a form of judicial co-operation between states that allows law enforcement officers and prosecutors to obtain evidence from a foreign jurisdiction via the authorities in that jurisdiction. However, the mutual legal assistance process can be slow, and in some cases it may not be timely enough to support an investigation or a prosecution. It requires a formal request to be made to another country, which then assesses it to consider whether it can comply. That country may require a court order or warrant from its own courts to obtain the evidence. This is usually the case for stored electronic data. It would then serve that order or warrant on the service provider in its territory. This process takes time and in some cases might result in delayed or abandoned investigations or prosecutions. It can also delay people being eliminated from a criminal investigation.

The Bill will create an overseas production order. It will provide law enforcement officers and prosecutors with the power to apply here in the UK for an overseas production order, which would allow them to seek stored electronic data directly from service providers based outside the UK in certain circumstances. They would be able to apply for an overseas production order for the purposes of investigating and prosecuting serious crime, including terrorist offences. They would be able to apply for an overseas production order only where a relevant international co-operation agreement is in place between the UK and the territory in which the overseas data holder is based.

This will mean that UK law enforcement officers and prosecutors will need to deal only with domestic UK courts and will have much quicker access to this data to support investigations and prosecutions of serious crime. The Bill will put on an equal footing the way in which a UK law enforcement officer or prosecutor can apply to the court for access to electronic evidence when the data is held by an entity based in the UK with circumstances when they are based in another territory with which the UK has a relevant international co-operation agreement.

The process of applying for an overseas production order will be similar to the existing domestic process for applying for a production order. The Bill’s provisions reflect our existing high levels of privacy protection, respect for freedom of speech and international human rights law. An overseas production order can be sought only for serious criminal offences. The court will, as it does currently, apply robust scrutiny to any application, and stringent tests will need to be satisfied before an order can be granted. These include that the information is reasonably believed to be of substantial value to the investigation or proceedings and that it is in the public interest for the electronic data to be provided.

The Bill also makes it clear what data cannot be sought, such as that which is legally privileged, or the circumstances in which additional protections might apply, such as when confidential journalistic material is sought. Critically, the Bill makes it clear that an overseas production order can be approved by a court only where it is clear that a relevant international arrangement exists. UK law enforcement officers and prosecutors will be obliged to deal with any data they receive under an overseas production order in accordance with existing protections under the Data Protection Act 2018, as is the case with material received under an existing production order or through mutual legal assistance.

I am sure that noble Lords will agree that the increasingly global nature of crime means that we need a global solution to tackle this problem. This means working with international partners to find ways to maximise our efforts in evidence gathering for the safe and effective investigation and prosecution of serious crime. This Bill will provide another avenue—an expedient means for law enforcement officers to seek stored electronic data. Mutual legal assistance will still exist and will remain critical for other types of evidence that are not within the scope of the Bill, and for electronic evidence outside the scope of relevant international arrangements. This Bill seeks to give those agencies that we rely on to investigate and prosecute serious crimes an additional tool to allow them to get timely access to electronic evidence in tightly defined circumstances.

This is a short and straightforward Bill. The safeguards it contains and the tests that must be satisfied before an overseas production order can be granted will be familiar to many who have law enforcement experience. It will help provide more timely access to vital evidence for our operational partners. I beg to move.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, there have been so few speakers this afternoon that anyone would think there might be a football match on tonight. However, I thank both noble Lords for their very constructive comments and questions. I have been furiously writing everything down and I hope I also have the answers but if I have not, I will follow them up in writing.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked whether this could allow for an agreement with the EU. Obviously, we are going through negotiations with the EU on Brexit, but it is absolutely possible that we could eventually make an agreement either with specific countries or with multiple states in the EU. That is almost certainly a possibility. He also quite sensibly asked whether this will affect the adequacy judgment in the context of Brexit. It is about getting data from outside the UK into the UK, but UK providers responding to requests under any agreement would need to comply with data protection law, which is of course aligned with EU standards, as we saw when we were going through the Data Protection Bill recently.

The noble Lord also asked how the Bill affects the evidence proposal published by the Commission. EU member states and wider international partners are considering this very question of cross-border access to electronic data. The European Commission has published proposals on this issue which we are currently considering. The UK’s opt-in applies to the regulation and the Government are committed to taking all opt-in decisions on a case-by-case basis, putting the national interest at the heart of the decision-making process. We are currently scrutinising the regulation, and we will make a decision on whether to participate in due course. The proposed evidence directive could be implemented before the end of the envisaged implementation period.

The noble Lord also asked whether contempt of court is enough if the CSP has no assets in the UK, which slightly goes to the point the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, made about seizing assets. Both are a possibility, but we anticipate working closely with overseas providers to create a high compliance environment. Given the general support for this, we hope that is the case. It is possible that some providers may have no UK assets, but those firms are unlikely to be within reach of any enforcement mechanism. We can always resort to MLA in the case of non-compliance.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked about what happens if you get more evidence than you asked for. The data received will be subject to the usual data protection laws and existing laws on data handling and retention. Law enforcement will be provided with guidance on how to handle data when using an overseas production order. I think he also asked about what happens if you need multiple different requests.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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The question was: if you identify further offences from the information that you have requested, would you then need to go back to a judge to enable that evidence to be used?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My view would be that, yes, you would because it would be a new request, but I will confirm that in writing. I would not wish to give the noble Lord misinformation at the Dispatch Box.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked how the US or other countries will be able to get information from the UK. The proposed agreement will be reciprocal and we would expect any country with which we have an international co-operation arrangement also to benefit from this more streamlined process for data and evidence gathering. The condition for any international arrangement or future arrangement is that each country recognises the other’s rule of law—that is an important concept for the Bill—due process and judicial oversight for obtaining and dealing with information and evidence with regard to serious crime. Each agreement will be specific in scope in respect of the circumstances in which it can be used. Section 52 of the IP Act 2016 will be used to designate international agreements, and that will be the basis for another country to request information from UK service providers. The Secretary of State has the power to impose additional conditions when designating an agreement under that section.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked what would happen if the other country had a lower threshold for what is regarded as reasonable belief. What do we do if this arrangement is all about the mutual recognition of legal systems? The UK would not agree to any arrangement where the threshold for obtaining data did not provide similarly protective standards to those in the UK. The agreements will recognise a shared acceptance of the laws in another country with which we are entering into an agreement. It will recognise the other’s rule of law, due process and judicial oversight for obtaining and dealing with information and evidence with regard to serious crime.

Under any proposed agreement the UK would require the other country to set out the powers it intended to use in pursuance of requests made under the agreement. The UK would also ask the other country to commit that it would not rely on another power unless agreed by both parties. In addition, it would specify the evidential standard required before requests were made and ensure that the UK was satisfied with those standards before designating an agreement for incoming requests.

The noble Lord asked which countries we are negotiating agreements with. We expect the first relevant international arrangement to be with the US, unlocking the potential for streamlined access by UK law enforcement, but any future international arrangements would, like the agreement with the US that we have been discussing, be based on the recognition that robust protections for privacy are present in each country. Of course, not every country would meet those high standards, and any agreement that we reached with another jurisdiction would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the usual way. As discussed, that usually involves laying the agreement in Parliament for 21 sitting days without either House having resolved that it should not be ratified.

The noble Lord asked what powers exist to nullify incoming requests. The Bill is about requests from the UK rather than to the UK, but UK-based providers will not be compelled to comply with overseas orders and, if they do, must comply with data protection law. The agreement itself will be subject to the usual scrutiny by Parliament, as I have said.

The noble Lord also asked about the timescales for production orders versus MLA. Under an overseas production order, the standard time for compliance is seven days. However, the judge may shorten or extend this time depending on the circumstances of the case. Therefore we expect this to be a much quicker process compared with MLA, which can take up to 10 months unless there is a particular urgency. The noble Lord asked how many we were anticipating. We anticipate approximately 40 to 50 outgoing requests for electronic data. I will write on the other point regarding MLA numbers. I am guessing that there are more because it has a broader scope, but I will write to the noble Lord.

I have tried to cover every point; I am not sure that I have but I will of course follow up in writing any that I have not. In the meantime, I beg to move.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Grand Committee.

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Department for International Development

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 5th September 2018

(5 years, 10 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee (LD)
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My Lords, I am speaking for these well-populated Benches. It would be right to start by saying that the number of amendments that we have tabled does not indicate outright opposition to the Bill—the Minister is grinning. There are serious issues to be considered, particularly the human rights aspects of the proposals in the Bill, and we welcome in particular the judicial element which it provides. I anticipate that the response to many of our amendments will be that we are saying rather inelegantly what the Government in fact propose, or something very like it, and that we do not need to worry. We feel it important to have on the record, at the very least, how the Government will operate the Bill. Some things are not clear; I am not suggesting that what is in the Government’s mind is in any way malign, but things should be on the record at least and—better—in clear terms in legislation, whether primary or secondary. I wanted to make those points before speaking to the first of the amendments, which is Amendment 1, grouped with Amendments 2 and 40.

This grouping is about transparency. There is somebody else in the Grand Committee who can speak to this matter with far more experience than me, but I think it unusual for a court to be asked to make an order without hearing both sides of a case. We want to hear the reason for this procedure. I do not believe it can just be speed, because we can have procedures for urgent situations as an exception, as we have in other legislation; I do not believe that the requirements will be urgent in every case—we cannot know that, but it is unlikely. Amendment 1 therefore provides for a notice of application to be given to those affected: the data controller or the data subject.

Amendment 40 would import definitions from the Data Protection Act. I want to get my defence in first: the Data Protection Act cross-references other parts of the Bill, so the amendment is technically flawed, but we are only probing and it was the summer and I bottled out of substantial drafting. A data controller or subject can apply to vary or revoke an order, but that would be after the event. It is important that they be able to defend their interests initially. There is a discretion in respect of Clause 3. We will come to confidential personal records later in the Committee, which might add to the arguments for providing for a notice in Clause 1. We think that significant protections are required. We will come later to the issue of balance and how the court will weigh the interests.

We also propose in Amendment 2 the appointment—or the possibility of an appointment; it is discretionary—of an independent adviser in connection with assessing whether the requirements for the order have been met. I use this opportunity to ask the Minister to explain how this not very usual procedure will operate. I beg to move.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness for her introduction and I am very glad that the number of amendments does not reflect the level of controversy of the Bill. To address her first point, I say that the Bill does not preclude a judge from being able to require that notice be given to anyone affected by an order pursuant to court rules. Court rules will provide the judge with the ability to require that notice be served on anyone affected by the order, which is the case at the moment under court rules dealing with domestic production orders. This means that a data controller or a data subject may be given notice of an application, but while in principle any person affected by an order should be given notice, there will be cases where it is not appropriate because the giving of a notice to a particular person could prejudice the investigation to which the order pertains: for example, where a notice to a data subject might tip off a suspect where law enforcement agencies are seeking data for the prosecution or investigation of a serious crime.

I thank the noble Baroness for giving me the opportunity to set this out in greater detail. However, given that court rules provide a judge with the power to consider notice being given, I suggest that the amendment is unnecessary. She knew that I was going to say that.

With respect to Amendment 2, the court already has the applicant, who has a duty to assist the court, so it is an established principle that an applicant seeking an order without giving prior notice to the person on whom the order is to be served or to whom it relates is obliged to provide full and frank disclosure to the court. This includes disclosure of relevant legal principles and facts, even if they are not in the applicant’s favour. The principle therefore already ensures that the information put before the court must be balanced.

I stress that the Bill reflects the existing position in relation to production orders that can be served on a company based in the UK, and the court will be dealing with the same considerations where an existing production order is sought. Such domestic orders apply the same legal considerations without the need for an independent adviser, and I do not see why we should deviate from that existing practice simply because an order can be served on an entity based elsewhere.

The third amendment aims to define the terms “data controller” and “data subject” referenced in the amendments to Clause 1. Given that we do not believe that the Bill should be amended in the way suggested by the noble Baroness, it follows that there is no need to include definitions of data controller and data subject in Clause 17. I hope that in the light of those clarifications, the noble Baroness will feel free to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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I do not challenge the applicant’s duty to assist the court, but there is no opportunity for challenge at the initial stage, which is what I am concerned about. That feeds into my question: if a no-notice procedure will, as the Minister suggested, not be the norm and may be the exception, why does the Bill not provide that a judge may, in exceptional circumstances, make the order on a no-notice application? It seems to me that that would reflect what the Minister has said in explaining how this would operate. I do not imagine she will have a direct answer to that at this moment, but it might be helpful if we could discuss it further. The Minister has already invited us to discuss the Bill between today and the next day in Committee, so perhaps we can talk further about this issue. The Bill launches us straight into the no-notice procedure and, whatever the court rules may say, I suggest that people will look at the Act first. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 1.

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has said, we have tabled Amendment 8 and its objectives are obviously similar to those of the amendments that he has moved and spoken to. At Second Reading, we expressed our concerns over potential difficulties with the implications of the Bill and our amendment seeks to probe this point further.

The Explanatory Notes state that the electronic data in question may include the “content of private communications” being made “available to the state”, and that:

“These intrusions into ECHR rights can be justified as necessary in a democratic society for the prevention of disorder and crime and in the interests of national security and public safety, and are proportionate in light of the requirements that must be met before a judge can make an overseas production order, and the other safeguards set out in the Bill. To the extent that the electronic data made available may include journalistic material, the requirement that an order is made by a judge provides prior judicial oversight for the exercise of the power, and accordingly an Article 10 compliant safeguard”.


We said at Second Reading that those words might not be accepted without question by everyone.

Our amendment is intended to seek further detail and clarification from the Government about the extent of the safeguards on international human rights obligations, the similarity of interpretation of subjective wording in the Bill and the position in respect of the death penalty—not least in the light of the Home Secretary’s recent apparent change, which the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, referred to, in this Government’s previous position of principle on this issue.

Bilateral agreements with another country or countries will need to be concluded for the provisions of the Bill to be implemented. Presumably, we shall be required to provide the same access arrangements to electronic data in this country as we are seeking from those countries: namely, that an order made in their courts will be capable if necessary of being enforced or implemented here with apparently little or no judicial oversight in this country. What then will be the position if the overseas production order for the electronic data in question was being sought in respect of a case or investigation where the outcome for a defendant—if found guilty—could be the death penalty, as might apply for example in a number of states in the United States, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has said? Will we allow the electronic data to be handed over or accessed in such circumstances, as we would apparently be required to do under the terms of the Bill in any bilateral agreement?

At Second Reading, the Government said:

“The agreements will recognise a shared acceptance of the laws in another country with which we are entering into an agreement. It will recognise the other’s rule of law, due process and judicial oversight for obtaining and dealing with information and evidence with regard to serious crime”.—[Official Report, 11/7/18; col. 929.]


What exactly do those words mean in relation to handing over electronic data to another country with which we have a bilateral agreement which could lead to a defendant being found guilty of a crime which carries the death penalty in that other country? Some clarification of those Government words at Second Reading will help.

The Minister wrote in a letter dated 20 July that:

“With regards to death penalty implications, it is the long-standing policy of the UK to oppose the death penalty as a matter of principle. We will ensure that the operation of any agreement, including with the US, is consistent with this position”.


One could argue that those two sentences are open to more than one interpretation. One might argue that you could oppose the death penalty in principle—tell the world that that was your position—but nevertheless still allow electronic data to be handed over under the terms of the bilateral agreement with the other country concerned, even though the crime being prosecuted or investigated was one that, in that other country, carried, or could carry, the death penalty.

Will the Government give an unequivocal statement that under no circumstances under the bilateral or other agreements enabled under the Bill will electronic data be handed over to another country or access to it given to another country if it could contribute to a defendant being found guilty for a crime which carried the death penalty? No such unequivocal assurances appear to have been given at Second Reading and no such unequivocal assurance appears to have been given in the Government’s letter following it.

Amendment 8 also states that:

“The Secretary of State may not make regulations designating an international co-operation agreement unless they have laid before both Houses of Parliament a statement certifying that—


(a) all parties to the agreement adhere to international human rights obligations”.

What is the difficulty in the Government agreeing to this amendment—or to its spirit—unless they envisage circumstances in which all parties to the agreement will not be able to signify their adherence to international human rights obligations?

The amendment refers to,

“freedom of opinion, expression and association”,

but how far does the Bill protect that in relation, for example, to journalistic data, about which certain representations have been made? A later clause provides that an application for an order must be made on notice if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the electronic data consists of or includes confidential journalistic data. However, who will draw the distinction when making the application between confidential journalistic data and other journalistic data? How will they know what is confidential and what is not? Why did not the Government decide that any journalistic material should require an order to be made on notice and illuminate this problem?

Clause 12, which concerns this, also excludes material as being created or acquired for the purposes of journalism. If it was created or acquired with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose, that must mean that if at any point in its history information was intended to be used for a criminal purpose, it will not be protected under the Bill as journalistic material. That appears to apply, even if the criminal purpose never transpired and had nothing to do with the material being held by the journalist or how the journalist acquired it. Could not the issue of criminal intent be taken into account by the judge when deciding whether to make an order rather than an issue which loses the material to journalistic classification and with it its procedural protection? Amendment 8 raises that issue.

Amendment 8 also refers to the terms “public interest”, “substantial value” and “terrorist investigation” being interpreted in substantially the same way in the courts in each of the parties to an international co-operation agreement. Once again, we raised the issue at Second Reading when we asked whether any arrangement or agreement with another country would incorporate the same standards and criteria and interpretation of those criteria that would apply in our country before making an order when a court in that other country makes an overseas production order for a British national or company based here to produce stored electronic data or give access to it. If that will be the case—and surely there is a strong possibility of different interpretations of the wording concerned in different countries, or perhaps even within states of America, for example, where we know we have advanced some way towards reaching an agreement—we also asked how we will be able to satisfy ourselves that the other country making such an order was interpreting the criteria in the same way as we would anticipate our courts would do. If we were not so satisfied, what means are available, and to whom, to step in and stop the order being enforced against the named person or company in this country? I do not intend to go into the issue of enforcement or rights of appeal, since this is addressed in later amendments.

The issues I have referred to are those on which we seek some clarification and further explanation from the Government as to exactly what is meant by the wording in the Bill: that is the purpose of Amendment 8, to which I have just referred.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Both noble Lords rightly raised the point of the death penalty in relation to any designated international agreement, through Amendments 3 and 8. It may be useful if I make it clear at the outset that the Bill is about outgoing requests from the UK: it puts into legislation the ability for our law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities to request access to electronic data stored by companies based outside the UK. The Bill is a framework within which international agreements can operate but any such agreement will, of course, be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the usual way, as both noble Lords alluded to, following the procedure set down in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010—otherwise known as CRaG. It usually involves laying the agreement in Parliament for 21 sitting days before it can be ratified by the Government.

The negotiation and operation of any international agreement must be compliant with the Government’s guidance on overseas security and justice assistance, which deals with the death penalty and human rights considerations. As part of that rigorous process, a detailed assessment of any human rights risks associated with a particular international agreement must be carried out. As part of reaching an agreement with any country, we can impose restrictions on how the other country can use information sought from a UK service provider. This would be considered as part of the process of developing and entering into a potential agreement and will depend on the risks that are identified during the OSJA assessment process. As I have said, these amendments focus on the extremely important issue of human rights, and the OSJA guidance and assessment process already exists to ensure that human rights considerations are taken into account.

In relation to the death penalty in particular, the Government do not believe that these amendments are the appropriate way to address concerns about it but I recognise the strength of these concerns. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, we are going to discuss this issue in more detail on Report.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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To deal with the first point on the death penalty, I thought I had made it clear but clearly I have not. We have meetings scheduled and I would like to discuss it further before Report. I hoped that I had explained that the OSJA process was effectively a risk assessment process that sought protections and risk assessment on such things as the death penalty and other human rights issues, but I would be very grateful if we could discuss that before Report. On the other issue, that of compliance, UK companies are not compelled by UK law but they may be compelled by the other jurisdiction—that is the point that I made at Second Reading—depending on the country in question.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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It is not only my noble friend Lord Rosser who is confused about the death penalty, as I am confused as well. It is not just that the Minister has not been clear with us; it also involves some of her right honourable friends in the department and the comments they have made. We need to address the problem there. Comments are made but then if we look at the policy on paper, they do not add up. That is the problem we have.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I understand the point that the noble Lord is making. I, not least, look forward to the discussion that we are going to have.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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My Lords, I am very grateful for the comments of all noble Lords on this group of amendments. I do not want to prolong the agony; I accept that the Bill is about outgoing requests but in order for outgoing requests to be complied with, there would be an expectation by the foreign state that a similar application to the UK would be met. We are potentially talking about UK service providers providing evidence to a foreign state that would enable that state to carry out the death penalty on a suspect. Having agreements based on trust and mutual respect, rather than a legally binding agreement, where if there are differences of opinion about what particular terms mean there would be some form of dispute resolution—no more reassurance than that—while the IP Act 2016 could impose restrictions, but might not, all seems rather vague and general. When we are talking about someone’s life potentially being ended, we would seek more concrete reassurances that evidence provided by the UK is not going to lead to that.

I understand that the intention is to have an agreement with the United States of America as a whole. However, bearing in mind that the death penalty is an issue in some states but not others, and that other agreements would be on a case-by-case basis—presumably on the basis of the human rights record of the states that the agreement was entered into with—it seems odd that a blanket agreement could be entered into with the USA when there is that crucial difference between states as to whether the death penalty could be carried out. Obviously, we are in Committee, which is about understanding concerns and the Government’s position. We need to further develop that in meetings and on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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My Lords, the noble Baroness has done her usual forensic job of going through the Bill and done a service to the Grand Committee. It is important that we are clear about what we are agreeing. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response. It is right that Amendment 5 makes it clear that we are talking about the treaties which are subject to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. It is a sensible move.

Amendment 6 is a probing amendment at this stage. What is meant by participation? If you are a party to something, then there is what you are participating in, so clearly the Government think that there are two different things. It will be good to hear the Minister’s view on the difference between those two things and why they both need to be in the Bill. I am sure that “form of a treaty” needs to be in the Bill.

Finally, Amendment 8 ensures that whatever regulation is agreed will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure in the House. Again, I think that is important. Will the Minister confirm that the Government would do that anyway and, if so, say why it is not in the Bill?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, for their points. I turn first to Amendment 5. Clause 1 outlines the circumstances in which an overseas production order can be made. This includes that an application must specify a designated international co-operation arrangement. This is defined in Clause 1(5), to which the noble Baroness has proposed her amendment. The amendment would ensure that only treaties as defined by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 would be capable of designation as an international co-operation arrangement under the Bill.

The definition of “designated international co-operation arrangement” in Clause 1(5) has been drafted to take into account that there may be circumstances in which a relationship with another country is established which would not attract the procedures set out in Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act. Those procedures require that, prior to ratification, a treaty is to be laid by a Minister of the Crown before Parliament for 21 sitting days without either House having resolved that it should not be ratified. The process does not apply to certain types of treaties including those covered by Section 5 of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008, which include treaties that amend the founding EU treaties.

Also, some treaties can come into force on signature and do not require formal ratification and are therefore not subject to the Part 2 procedure. The definition of “treaty” in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act also excludes instruments made under a treaty, so EU instruments would not be capable of being designated. Without necessarily knowing which countries the UK may choose to operate this arrangement with, the clause had been intentionally drafted to be wider than the definition of “treaty” under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act to ensure that the UK can enter into arrangements with international partners where both have committed to remove any barriers to compliance for an overseas production order. In reality, it is unlikely for either the UK or another country to commit to complying with orders that have extraterritorial scope without acknowledging this through a formalised agreement or arrangement.

The noble Baroness also mentioned the point about standard clauses in all international agreements. This is a new approach to cross-border data access for law enforcement purposes. Actually, there are no templates to follow. If she means something different by “standard clauses”, perhaps we could have a further discussion. We are working with the US to develop an agreement as a matter of priority and we hope that this will act as the template for future arrangements with other appropriate countries.

On Amendment 6, the definition of an international co-operation arrangement is expansive to account for a situation where the UK itself is a contracting party to an arrangement, in the form of a bilateral treaty or multilateral convention, as well as a situation where the UK is a member of a supranational body and that body is a contracting party to such an arrangement in its own right, or has created its own internal rules which apply to its members. In the latter case, those rules would be the international arrangement in which the UK participates. Current membership of the EU is a good example whereby, in many cases, the EU—not the individual member states—is the party to an arrangement between it and a non-EU country. Further, the EU creates internal rules in the form of regulations and directives in which the UK participates as a member state. In both these scenarios, the UK participates by virtue of its membership of the EU. I hope that is as clear as mud to everyone.

I accept that with the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, a scenario in which the UK participates indirectly in an arrangement through its membership of a supranational organisation is less likely to happen. However, until that time and as long as the UK remains an EU member state, legislating along these lines recognises the status quo as now, which is that the UK can be a participant to an arrangement without necessarily being a party to it.

On Amendment 38, I refer noble Lords to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee memorandum, which sets out our justification for the approach that we have taken. In the memorandum, the Government state that:

“The Bill specifies in full what the implications of a designation are, and does not permit the implementation into UK law of any international arrangement in relation to the investigation or prosecution of offences, but only one that reflects the terms of the Bill. The provisions of the Bill will ensure that an order is only served where it meets the requirements of the designated international co-operation arrangement … Further, most international arrangements entered into will be subject to the procedure in Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, so Parliament will have had an opportunity to scrutinise the arrangement before it is ratified by the Government … Accordingly, since any exercise of the power is subject to the safeguards set out in the Bill and Parliament will already have had an opportunity to scrutinise the arrangements, the negative procedure is proposed”.


For the purposes of outgoing requests which the Bill is to be used for, any international co-operation arrangement would set out the terms of our UK law enforcement being able to make requests from another country. Although the terms will set out the reciprocal process, the arrangement will also be designated under regulations made under Section 52 of the IP Act 2016, which is how the UK will recognise any international arrangement for an incoming request. Regulations under Section 52 are also subject to the negative procedure, so the approach taken here is consistent. With those words, I hope that the noble Lord and the noble Baroness might feel happy to withdraw or not press their amendments.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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I thank the Minister very much as I have learned something today about participants, which is useful and very good. I think the Minister was saying that Amendment 5, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, was too restrictive—that it would remove other treaties and arrangements. Can she maybe say a bit about what would then be the parameters if the Bill stays as it is? If I accept her point about it being too narrow, what parameters are the Government actually asking for? It is important that we are clear what we are passing.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Put simply, I think the parameters we are discussing are that there might be circumstances in which a relationship with another country is established, which would not attract the procedures set out in Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act. In my view, that would therefore appear to be the scope of this. The noble Lord does not look entirely convinced.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, may be thinking, as I am, that that begs another question. Clearly, the Minister’s reply will require and deserve reading. As she started, I thought that I should thank her for giving me some material for an amendment on Report; that may still apply. She talked about circumstances which depend on the relationship with international partners. It is the interface between politics and the law that needs resolving here. I am not sure that I can suggest anything now, but we will certainly think about it.

On standard clauses, a question was asked by the chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am a member—although the term there was “model clauses”. During the recess, she wrote to the Home Secretary raising a number of questions about the Bill and the Minister for Security responded, but I cannot immediately find a direct answer to that. This is linked with our earlier discussions about human rights. If there are model clauses which deal particularly with human rights, the reassurance given would be considerable.

The amendment regarding the affirmative procedure for regulations was to my mind an alternative to dealing with the arrangements by way of a treaty.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I do not usually intervene, but the noble Baroness’s words are worthy of reflection before Report. Let us have another discussion. It sounds like we can have Committee stage in the form of a meeting shortly.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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Of course, I am grateful for that. I was going to say that we have the delegated powers memorandum, but we do not yet have the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which may or may not have something to say on this. We will have another discussion when we have had an opportunity to digest the Minister’s comments on these amendments. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 5.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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My Lords, the noble Lord raises an important point. In response, I am sure that the noble Baroness will explain to us why the Government deem it necessary to take this wider power and not restrict it, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has sought to do, to officers from wherever who are actually enforcing law enforcement functions. On the face of it this seems a very sensible amendment, and I look forward to hearing why the Government think they need this wider power in this context.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I hope that this amendment will not require any further meetings or probing on Report. The Bill provides that an appropriate officer is able to apply for an overseas production order where an indictable offence has been committed, where proceedings in relation to that indictable offence have been instituted or investigated, or where the order is sought for the purpose of terrorist investigations. Therefore, the clause is already limited to officers who are exercising law enforcement functions. In fact, the clause already makes clear that where a listed appropriate officer has functions other than for law enforcement purposes, it is only where the appropriate officer is exercising functions in relation to the investigation or prosecution of criminal conduct that they may apply for an overseas production order. For example, a person appointed by the FCA can conduct both civil and criminal investigations and the clause ensures that they can apply for an overseas production order only in connection with criminal investigations or prosecutions. I hope that that provides reassurance.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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My Lords, I am very grateful for that explanation provided by the Minister. The meeting of 20 minutes we have scheduled before Report will not be further extended as a result of this amendment and I beg leave to withdraw it.

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Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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My Lords, Amendment 11 is in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Hamwee. We debated long and hard in this House about when and how law enforcement agencies and the security services can secure authority to access bulk data. The Investigatory Powers Act 2016—not to be confused with the investigatory powers Act 2018, which exists only on BBC1 on Sunday evenings—contains some safeguards against state access to bulk data and it is essential that those safeguards are not circumvented by the Bill. The Government will no doubt say that accessing bulk data held overseas is not the purpose of the Bill, but what other reassurances can the Minister give that the powers under the Bill will not be used inappropriately by law enforcement agencies? Amendment 11 seeks to achieve this by amending Clause 3(2), changing the definition of “electronic data” to exclude bulk data. I beg to move.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Again, I hope that I can provide clarity on the noble Lord’s amendment. When applying for an overseas production order an officer must specify or describe the electronic data sought under an order. In addition, the judge must be satisfied that a number of requirements are met before making an order under Clause 4. These include that the judge must be satisfied that the person against whom the order is sought has possession or control of all or part of the data specified in the application; that the data requested is likely to be of substantial value; and that it is in the public interest for all or part of the data to be produced. It is very difficult to see how a judge could be satisfied that these requirements are met if they were considering an application for an order seeking bulk data.

The reason is that bulk data requests are for sets of information, often about a large number of individuals who may or may not be known to law enforcement agencies. The Bill has been drafted to require appropriate officers to consider carefully what data they are targeting—which, of course, is not the case with bulk data—and where the information is stored, in order to help with the investigation and prosecution of serious crime, in addition to demonstrating that the data will be of substantial value to the investigation and in the public interest. It feels to me that there are sufficient safeguards in place, because of the processes I have outlined, and I hope that the noble Lord will feel happy to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister’s explanation. I am not sure that it entirely satisfies us about the potential for misuse of the legislation, but we will reflect on what she said and perhaps discuss it with her before Report.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
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If there is any doubt in this matter, as I understand it from the briefing that we had from the House of Lords Library, the UK’s Deputy National Security Adviser, giving testimony to the US House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee in June 2017, said that the UK Government were “in full agreement” with the US Department of Justice that a UK-US bilateral data sharing agreement should limit access to targeted orders for data and not bulk access to data.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Lord because that underlines my point.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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If that is the case, there is no reason why it should not be stated in the Bill.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I am sorry, but I think I need to intervene. All sorts of things could be stated in the Bill, but given its purpose, I do not think it is necessary. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, pointed that out.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, he is talking about a bilateral agreement with United States of America and not a global reassurance given by every country with which we might enter into an agreement. Therefore, my concerns remain but, at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, my noble friend and I put our names to the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Rosser—strictly speaking, we put down the same amendment, but the noble Lord got there first. I shall add just this question to his comments: would it not be a different way of dealing with this to allow for specific application in the case of terrorism investigations? That might be more satisfactory from every angle.

Our Amendment 13 deals with Clause 3(7)(c), on the counselling or assistance, or a record of it, that is excepted. It is only when the counselling is given by the entities listed that it is excepted. Why does counselling given by someone who is not within paragraphs (i) to (iii) not come within the clause? To put it another way, who is the Home Office seeking to exclude? If the individual was “counselled” by a friend who was a person of interest to the security services, one could understand that just claiming that the record was of counselling would not be sufficient. However, Clause 3(8) defines a confidential personal record by reference to obligations of confidence and restrictions on disclosure, and I would have thought that adequate.

Amendment 20, to Clause 5, is about the contents of the order. Clause 5(2) provides that:

“The judge must not specify … data that the judge has reasonable grounds for believing … includes excepted electronic data”.


I wondered whether this meant that there would not be entirely objective approach to this issue—in other words, an objective approach to the order not specifying excepted data. How do you appeal against or apply to vary or revoke an order, given the wording of this clause? Would you not be appealing against the judge’s reasonableness when actually you should be addressing the character of the data? I do not know, but I am worried. Similar points would apply to Amendment 27 to Clause 7, which is about variation or revocation. There is a lot more to get our teeth into and, as my noble friend said, that half-hour meeting is not going to be adequate.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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It sounds as if the meeting could last more than a day. Amendment 12 would amend Clause 3(5) by excluding from scope any confidential personal records that may be in electronic form from terrorist investigations.

Police are currently able to apply for a domestic production order for confidential personal records for the purposes of a terrorist investigation under Schedule 5 to the Terrorism Act 2000. Paragraph 4 of the schedule provides that a production order can be made for material consisting of special procedure material or excluded material. These terms are defined in paragraph 3 of the schedule to have the same meaning as in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Sections 11 and 12 of the 1984 Act define “excluded material” to include confidential personal records. The definition is essentially the same as that used in the Bill at Clause 3 (7) and (8).

The noble Lord asked about the value of confidential personal records for terrorist investigations. The value of such information is determined at operational level and obviously depends on the circumstances of each case. There may be clear operational value in having access to confidential records in the investigation, pursuit or prosecution of an offender accused of terrorist offences. However, in any event, the judge will grant such an order only if the conditions listed in Clause 4 are met. These include that the information is of substantial value to the proceedings or investigation and that it is in the public interest to seek this data.

The intention behind the provision was to ensure parity with production orders made at home and new production orders capable of being served overseas. The drafting is therefore intended to reflect the powers that currently exist for domestic production orders made under the Terrorism Act 2000. Our law enforcement in the UK should be able to access the same information from overseas as they would in the UK, and Clause 3(5) reflects this.

Parliament has long recognised that a power to require the production of confidential and personal records, subject to the important safeguard of judicial authorisation, is both necessary and proportionate in order to protect the public in the exceptional circumstances of terrorism investigations. The power in the 2000 Act replaced an equivalent one in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1989. Given the high level of threat to public safety that can arise in a terrorism investigation and the need to be able to investigate quickly and to disrupt such threats, this is an important power in the police investigative toolkit and it is right that it should be available for international production orders. In the context of the current heightened terrorist threat, its omission would be irresponsible.

The Government resist Amendment 12 on the grounds that it causes disparity when gathering evidence here or abroad and would erode a well-established and operationally important power which is routinely used by the police in counter-terrorism investigations.

Amendment 13 relates to Clause 3(7) which defines “personal record” when providing counselling or assistance to an individual for their personal welfare. I reiterate the Government’s position in respect of the Bill: it has been drafted to ensure parity with domestic production orders. The intention is to avoid disparity between gathering evidence in this country compared with gaining evidence abroad. The same powers for law enforcement should exist for overseas production orders as for those in the UK.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked why—I cannot read the writing. Shall I send it back?

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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Shall I ask the question again?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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She asked: why only professional counselling? The Government believe this to be an expansive definition drawing on professional counselling services rather than conversations between friends or family who can be deemed to be giving counselling advice or assistance. The definition leaves little doubt as to what is considered as counselling or support to a person’s welfare. Broadening the definition does not provide the certainty required when deciding whether or not to grant an order based on whether the material sought is excepted data.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, we have two definitions: “personal records” and “confidential personal records”. It is the latter that is important. Clause 3(8) makes it quite clear that there has to be some restriction or obligation of confidence, which you would certainly find in connection with professional “counselling”—and I am grateful for that way of describing it in one word. That criterion would be applied in the context of this clause overall. It may be unlikely that a non-professional counsellor would be able to meet the criteria in Clause 3(8), but it is not impossible. It seems to me that, as long as Clause 3(8) can be relied on, we should not attempt to narrow what is meant by “counselling” in Clause 3(7).

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Baroness may now have confused me. Both Clauses 3(7) and (8) have been drafted to reflect existing protections in domestic production orders, which are intended to afford protection to legally enforceable relationships of trust and confidence, as well as to relationships between an individual and someone who holds a position of trust in a professional capacity—for example, a doctor—where such relationships may generate confidential information from an individual. This is different from a person who voluntarily shares information in confidence with a friend or family member who does not formally or professionally hold a position of trust and is not under a duty of confidentiality in respect of the person sharing the information.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, I think that was my argument. Might it be possible, between now and Report, for us to be given the references to the other legislation that this reflects?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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We can certainly do that—in fact, magically, we have it here. It reflects the definition in the PACE Act 1984, Section 12 of which defines “personal records”. As such, this material is excluded from the scope of a PACE production order.

The noble Baroness asked about safeguards. The Bill has been drafted to include multiple safeguards so that a person is not required to produce excepted electronic data. Clause 5(2) includes one of these safeguards: that a judge must not specify or describe data in an overseas production order where he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that the data sought includes or consists of excepted data. The wording “reasonable grounds for believing” is used in other parts of the Bill—for example, in Clauses 1 and 7, where further safeguards place a similar restriction on the applicant applying for an overseas production order and where an applicant is applying to vary an order.

At the time of considering an application for an order, there will be cases where neither the judge nor the applicant can be certain whether the data sought does in fact include excepted data. This is simply because the contents of the data cannot be known by the judge or the applicant until they are produced. In my view, it is therefore appropriate for the term “reasonable grounds for believing” to remain in the Bill to make clear that the judge has the ability to consider whether excepted data might be obtained, taking into account the other factors that might help them reach such a conclusion. With that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord feels happy to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I am not sure that I answered that point, other than to say that we would not want to narrow the scope so that omission would lead to a terrorism investigation being curtailed. Perhaps I could come back to the noble Lord on the other point.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
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Yes, I am sure that we can discuss that on another occasion or at the intended meeting. However, I hope that the Minister will take my point that some countries may have a rather looser definition of who or what is a terrorist than we would in this country. Although I appreciate that the Bill is about orders made in this country, nevertheless, before we have that arrangement there has been an agreement the other way, so it is relevant to talk about what other countries might demand or seek from us.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I am sorry to intervene on the noble Lord, but at the heart of the Bill lies the principle that we would not be dealing with countries with hugely differing levels of legal thresholds or judicial considerations, and all the other things that we have talked about. But yes, perhaps we can talk about that further.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I understand the point that the noble Baroness has made more than once: that we are unlikely to be signing a deal with North Korea. I fully accept and understand that, but I think that there may be one or two other countries with whom we might sign a deal who may have a slightly different definition of who or what is a terrorist than we might choose to apply. That is important under this, because it gives you access to information that you would not otherwise have.

Again thanking the Minister for her response, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Countess of Mar Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (The Countess of Mar) (CB)
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I tend to sympathise with the noble Baroness. I was warned to bring my coat in before I came.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, if I were Whip, I would allow a short break if for no reason other than to go and get a hot water bottle. I am still in summer clothes.

Subsections (2) to (6) of Clause 4 set out the substantive requirements for a judge to consider when making an overseas production order. These include the judge being satisfied that there are: reasonable grounds for believing that a person on whom an order is served operates or is based in a country outside the UK with which the UK has a designated international co-operation agreement; reasonable grounds for believing that an indictable offence has been committed and is being investigated—or proceedings have been instituted—or that the application relates to a terrorism investigation; reasonable grounds for believing that the data sought is likely to have substantial value to the proceedings or investigation; and reasonable grounds for believing that it is in the public interest for the electronic data to be produced.

The amendment would ensure that any additional requirements made by way of regulations under Clause 4(1)(b) are consistent with the requirements under Clause 4(2) to (6). Any further requirements made by way of regulations will be in addition to existing requirements already set out in Clause 4. It follows therefore that any additional requirements cannot contradict the provisions already set out, as these will have to be complied with. There will not be a scenario where only additional requirements as set out in regulations are complied with. In every case, the requirements under Clause 4 must be satisfied before granting an order.

In addition, unless there is express provision in the enabling Act, delegated legislation cannot amend or vary it. Therefore, an additional requirement as set out in regulations under this clause could not have the effect of contradicting or undermining the requirements of the Bill. For example, a regulation which sought to change the type of offence as already set out in Clause 4(3) from an indictable offence to a summary offence could not be adopted under the provisions of the Bill.

Furthermore, the scope of secondary legislation is limited by the scope of the enabling legislation. As the power is to provide for “additional” requirements, it follows that those requirements will be compatible with those already in Bill. The power to provide additional requirements and regulations is subject to the affirmative procedure. Should additional regulations be required, the House will have an opportunity to scrutinise the proposed requirements before they come into law.

The language in Clause 4(1), which the noble Baroness is seeking to amend, clarifies that the additional requirements set out in the regulations may not apply in all cases or in every application for an order. There may be international agreements the terms of which do not warrant additional requirements to be specified in regulations to be made by the Secretary of State. This could be because both the UK and the other country participating or party to the arrangement may choose a wide-ranging agreement that does not place any further restrictions on that which is already proposed in the Bill. The clause therefore reflects the reality that in some cases a judge need only be satisfied of the requirements met in Clause 4(2) to (6) without necessarily having regard to all additional requirements that may have been specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State. With those words, I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before the noble Baroness responds, I have a question for the Minister. I have listened hard to what the Minister said. Is the clause in there because the Government think it would be helpful as there might be a need to make additional requirements, or do they actually have a view at this stage on what kind of additional requirements those might be?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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In a sense, this is the same issue that the noble Lord referred to before. Because this is a framework Bill, as I said, a judge may be satisfied that the Bill itself provides enough but the additional requirements—as yet unknown—may be applicable in another agreement, as yet unspecified. It gives that scope where it might be required in future.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, I would like to think about the response to Amendment 15. I think I made clear that I anticipated the Minister’s response to Amendment 14 but she said it much more nicely and fully, and I am glad to have it on the record. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, this is another amendment in my name and that of my noble friend. Under Clause 4(5) the data must be of “substantial value”. I read that as meaning that it must not be trivial. I wonder whether it should be “significant value”, which I think would make a difference to the proceedings or the investigation. I may be told that this repeats language in other legislation, and if that is the case then again I would be grateful for the reference. However, I wonder whether there is a distinction between something that adds weight to what you already know and something that, if it is not a game-changer, you would not get from elsewhere.

We are told that this legislation is likely to be used to enable access to data held by American companies so, as well as wondering whether the terminology reflects other legislation in this country, it occurred to me that maybe it reflects something in American legislation in the cloud. This is of course a probing amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I am very happy to tell the noble Baroness that this is purely British. “Substantial” is a well-established test laid out in PACE 1984. Under Section 8 of that Act a justice of the peace must be satisfied that the material on the premises is likely to be of substantial value before authorising a production order application. “Substantial” is a familiar term to appropriate officers, who will be making applications. They will have many powers at their disposal, and creating a consistent regime is clearly beneficial to quickly understand what will be required to apply for an overseas production order. Given that the term “substantial” is well-established, it is obvious that there exists a body of case law that helps further define and interpret the term, both for appropriate officers and, of course, for the judiciary.

The case law establishes that “substantial” is to be given its plain and ordinary meaning, which will please the noble Baroness, who likes the plain and ordinary in linguistic terms. For example, in the case of Malik v Manchester Crown Court, the High Court found that “substantial” was an ordinary English word and that “substantial value” was a value which is more than minimal: it must be significant. I hope that that provides great clarity to the noble Baroness and that she will feel happy to withdraw her amendment.

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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, these amendments are about public interest and the balance between public interests. Clause 4(6) requires the judge to consider the public interest and whether it is in the public interest for the data to be produced or accessed, having regard to the matters set out in Clause 4(6). There is a public interest as well in access to data and privacy and it seems to me that the various interests here cannot be judged in isolation. I should like to insert a reference to the public interest in privacy, but in any event to understand at this stage how that balance is dealt with, since the judge is required to have regard to one public interest only. There is a public as well as an individual interest in privacy rights, and I beg to move.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, Amendments 17 and 18 do not add any protections for privacy rights to those already contained in the Bill and under the Human Rights Act 1998. Without these amendments, the judge would still be required to take into account the impact on an individual’s right to privacy when determining whether the public interest requires production of the data sought.

We understand the need to balance a citizen’s rights and interests against the public interest in law enforcement officers’ ability to investigate crimes and use powers to obtain evidence. This is why the existing requirements in Clause 4 consider not only whether data sought would be in the public interest but whether it would be of substantial value to the investigation or proceedings. A judge is under an obligation to balance the rights of an individual against the state’s need to investigate a crime and to reach a decision which is compliant with the individual’s rights under the ECHR.

I hope that, with those reassurances, the noble Baroness feels happy to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, I am grateful for those helpful remarks. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
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I referred to the general issue that is the subject of the amendments spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, when I spoke to Amendment 8. We share the concerns expressed by the noble Lord, subject to what the Minister may have to say in response, about the possible difficulties or issues that might arise.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for his points and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, for his intervention. The effect of Amendment 19 would be to exclude confidential journalistic material from the scope of an application and order. I should first point out that Clause 4 reflects the position in the PACE Act 1984. Journalistic material can already be sought under Schedule 1 to PACE through special procedure, and under Schedule 5 to the Terrorism Act 2000, when it is held by a company or person based in the UK. The Bill extends this to circumstances where the data is held by an entity based outside the UK and where a relevant international arrangement is in place.

I do not think that we should introduce in the Bill a difference between material that can be obtained—subject of course to appropriate requirements and safeguards—when it is held in the UK, as opposed to being held by an entity based on the country with which we have entered into an agreement. I should also stress that similar standards are set out in the Bill as already exist in domestic legislation, and that the term “reasonable grounds for believing” is readily used by our court system. Reasonable belief requires more than just a guess or a hunch. It will require the judge, marshalling all the facts before them, to come to an assessment on whether the information sought does or does not contain this type of data. It is not the first time that that standard has been used in legislation, and of course it will not be the last. Where confidential journalistic material is sought, the Bill requires that such applications can only be made on notice. That means that anyone put on notice, which can and may include the journalist whose data might be sought, has the opportunity to make representations to the court as to whether it is appropriate for the data to be obtained.

The effect of Amendment 33 as drafted would be that an application for an overseas production order that included confidential journalistic material had to be made on notice to a data controller and the data subject. I understand the sentiment behind the amendment but I do not agree that it is required, for two reasons. First, the rules of court will set out the process by which a judge can ensure that anyone affected by the order is notified of any given case. Consideration of notice by the judge relating to such a request is left to his or her discretion to allow for the circumstances where notice to a data controller, data subject or anyone else is deemed appropriate by the judge when granting an overseas production order. I think giving the judge discretion to determine which is appropriate in any given case is the right approach.

Secondly—this is a point that I have made before and will make again—we are providing in the Bill the means to serve an order on a company based outside the UK in a country with which we have a relevant agreement, in the same way as is currently the case with a company based in the UK. In those cases the respondent and any other person affected by the order would ordinarily be given notice and therefore the opportunity to make representations, unless under rules of court the judge is satisfied that there are good reasons for not doing so—for example, because of the risk of prejudice to the investigation. We are proposing that the same should apply to overseas production orders.

The intention of Clause 12 is to require an application for an overseas production order to be made on notice where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the electronic data sought consists of, or includes, confidential journalistic data. The effect of the clause as drafted is that notice should be served on the respondent—that is, the person who would be required to produce the data if the order is made. In most cases, this would be a service provider rather than the customer on whose behalf the data is stored. However, a requirement to give notice to the respondent under Clause 12(1) does not preclude the judge considering the application from exercising his or her own discretion under rules of court. Under rules of court they may require notice to be given to other persons who may be affected by an order requiring the production of confidential journalistic material, including a person who in his or her professional capacity has acquired that data. It will be a matter for the judge’s discretion, but he or she is likely to insist on notice being given unless the applicant can demonstrate that doing so would prejudice the investigation—for example, where the journalist himself or herself is the subject of the investigation or prosecution.

An example of where it might not be appropriate is where there is a hacking investigation and the journalist might actually be the subject of an inquiry. The judge may decide that putting someone on notice could potentially harm the investigation or risk the dissipation of the material. It is the Government’s intention, however, to ensure that where an application relates to confidential journalistic data, notice can and should be served on journalists and on whoever the judge deems appropriate given the circumstances of the application. The PACE Act 1984, for example, requires service to be made on the respondent only, otherwise notice requirements are set out in court rules.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, made an important point about sanctions to comply. It is difficult to construct a proportionate regime to ensure nondisclosure prior to an order being made and, in practice, law enforcement would not apply for an order where there was an unacceptable risk of damaging disclosure. I ask noble Lords not to press their amendments and I shall consider their comments before Report, if that is amenable to them.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
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I am very grateful to the Minister for her explanation and her offer to consider further the issues that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and I have raised in connection with these issues. Obviously, Amendment 19 is a probing amendment, a mechanism by which to debate these issues, but with the promise of further discussions to come before Report—perhaps the Minister could also establish whether the Government have consulted the National Union of Journalists on these issues—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Department for International Development

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 10th September 2018

(5 years, 10 months ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 113-II Second marshalled list for Grand Committee (PDF) - (6 Sep 2018)
Lord Lexden Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Lexden) (Con)
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My Lords, if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting, the Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division Bells are rung and will resume again after 10 minutes.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, before we start today’s proceedings I will take the opportunity to correct something that I said last Wednesday in response to Amendment 16. I said that Section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 requires a justice of the peace to be satisfied that material on the premises is likely to be of substantial value before authorising a production order. In fact, Section 8 concerns the authorisation of a search warrant, not a production order. A production order is made under Schedule 1 to the Act. None the less, there is still reference to a judge needing to be satisfied that the material is likely to be of substantial value to the investigation, whether by itself or with other material, before issuing a production order. I apologise for that.

Clause 5: Contents of order

Amendment 20 not moved.
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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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I shall speak to the amendment in my name, which, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, has in effect the same objective as the amendment which she has just spoken to and moved. The purpose of our amendment is likewise to find out to what extent and by what means overseas production orders can and will be enforced where there is a bilateral or wider international agreement for an overseas production order made by a court in this country and one made in another country and served on a provider in the UK.

In Committee last Wednesday the Government stated that the reference at Second Reading that,

“UK-based providers will not be compelled to comply with overseas orders”,—[Official Report, 11/7/18; col. 929.]

meant that while,

“UK companies are not compelled by UK law”,

to comply with a production order,

“they may be compelled by the other jurisdiction … depending on the country in question”.—[Official Report, 5/9/18; col. GC 143.]

Bearing in mind that considerable progress appears to have already been made towards concluding a bilateral agreement on overseas production orders with the United States in line with the Bill, will an overseas production order made by our courts in respect of an American-based service provider be enforceable—and, if so, how, by whom and with what sanctions available if there is non-compliance?

Likewise, in the light of the Minister’s comment last Wednesday that UK companies might be compelled by the other jurisdiction to comply with their production order, how will such an order made by an American court in respect of a British-based service provider be enforceable, by whom and with what sanctions available if there is non-compliance? In addition, what do the Government consider would be the basis of appropriate and acceptable enforcement arrangements in both directions for any other countries with whom we might conclude bilateral arrangements in respect of production orders under the Bill?

Last Wednesday in Committee, the Government said that,

“it is reasonable to expect that some form of dispute resolution mechanism would be in place to help determine any differences in the event that there is a dispute over compliance with an order”.—[Official Report, 5/9/18; col. GC 141.]

That statement was, of course, in line with what the Government had said in the Minister’s letter of 20 July following Second Reading. That letter referred to the Government expecting any bilateral agreement to include a mechanism for escalating any dispute over compliance.

But should the letter not have said that the Government “will” require a bilateral agreement to include such processes and procedures, rather than just that they expect that it will? Would the decision of such a dispute resolution mechanism be legally binding? If so, on whom? If not, what would happen if the dispute resolution mechanism failed to resolve the dispute? As I understand it, some service providers have welcomed the Bill because it will provide them with cover when making available electronic data, if done under the Bill’s provisions, from other potential legal proceedings. If that is the case, would that legal protection be provided by the Bill if it was not capable of being legally enforced in one or both directions?

What kind of issues in dispute could be addressed through the suggested dispute resolution procedure mechanism? Who would mediate or arbitrate if such a mechanism was in place? Would there be legal representation? How would the mechanism be activated and by whom? Who would pay the costs? Would the dispute procedure have to reach a conclusion or decision within a fixed maximum timescale? Would the dispute resolution mechanism for any bilateral agreement on production orders with the United States be the same in the United States and the UK, working to the same standard and principles and applying or not applying the same sanctions? If there is to be any enforcement by the courts, through which court would an overseas production order made in this country be enforceable, and through which court would an overseas production order made in the US or another country in respect of a British service provider be enforceable? After at least two years of discussion with the United States on the proposed agreement, the Government must have some specific answers to these questions.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank both noble Lords for their points. As they said, overseas production orders will be used where an international co-operation arrangement exists and, as such, orders will be used in an environment where they are readily complied with or where there is confidence that such orders will be complied with.

As I explained when the Bill was read for a second time, the Bill provides an alternative route to accessing evidence to the existing mutual legal assistance channels. However, those channels will still be available. As such, if there is any doubt about compliance, appropriate officers may well opt to seek the evidence required via that existing route to ensure that compliance can be effected through another country’s own domestic sanctions.

Amending this provision to include the means by which an order could be enforced would be a departure from legislation in relation to existing production orders. It goes without saying that non-compliance of an order is a breach of such an order. To answer one of the noble Lord’s questions, the very nature of this being a Crown Court order is that it attracts contempt of court proceedings if there is non-compliance—which will be dealt with by way of court rules.

Failure to comply with an overseas production order made by an English judge will carry the same consequences as failure to comply with a domestic production order—namely, the person will become liable to punishment for contempt of court in the same way as if an order of the Crown Court had been breached. Specifying on the face of the order the means by which contempt proceedings will be brought will not change the legal position.

On the point made by noble Lords about enforcement. I accept that the Bill does not provide an enforcement mechanism in respect of Clause 13(1), which prohibits a person from concealing, destroying, altering or disposing of the data, or disclosing the application to anyone else once they are given notice of the application. This is currently the case with domestic orders made under Schedule 1 to PACE. As I mentioned, these orders can be made only where the relevant international arrangement exists. Orders will be applied for and used in an environment where they are readily complied with and where there is confidence that such orders will be complied with.

In reality, enforcement mechanisms for such requirements are unlikely to be needed—again, this reflects the domestic position. I say this because, where there is a risk that a person on whom an order is served might tip off a subject of interest or destroy evidence, a search warrant is likely to be used or the evidence would not be sought at all. Therefore, where there is a risk of concealing, destroying, disposing of or altering the data, an overseas production order will not be an appropriate method of obtaining that information. As I said, MLA will still be available and, where there is doubt about compliance with an overseas production order, appropriate officers may well opt to seek the evidence required via the MLA route to ensure that the information can be obtained by other means.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked whether the enforcement mechanism would be in the co-operation agreement. We envisage that the co-operation arrangements will require obstacles to compliance to be removed, but the requirement to comply with an order will be a matter for the law of the jurisdiction in which it is made. We have provided for enforcement orders in the Bill via the contempt of court mechanism.

The noble Lord also asked about dispute resolution. Any mechanism for dispute resolution will be subject to negotiation with any country with which we wish to enter into an agreement. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to speculate on the terms of such dispute resolution mechanisms—although I can of course discuss this further with noble Lords ahead of Report. With those explanations, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
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Perhaps I may ask for clarification. As I understand from what the noble Baroness said— I may well have misunderstood it—if an overseas production order made in this country had to be enforced, it would be on the basis of contempt of court. That would be enforced against a provider in America if we were talking about the agreement with the States. How would contempt of court proceedings against a court decision in this country work in practice in relation to a provider in the United States who did not comply?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I think it would be made under Schedule 1 of PACE—no, I am wrong. The answer is winging its way to me. While I am waiting, clearly if there was any doubt about that—

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Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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While we are waiting, am I right in thinking that in the recent Facebook case it was not that the service provider did not want to provide the information that would be of use to UK law enforcement but that domestic law in America did not allow it to provide that information, and that in the overwhelming majority of cases to which this legislation would apply we anticipate that the service provider would be more than keen to provide the data, provided it can be done lawfully, and that this mechanism provides the lawful means of doing that?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I think the noble Lord is probably quite right. It goes back to what I was saying at the beginning of my response. If there were doubts about compliance, or that began to become apparent, MLA would be the process that we would revert to if this was not forthcoming. Ditto, the American side would probably institute the MLA process to ensure compliance.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
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On the point the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, made, does it stand up that the service provider—he spoke about the situation in America, I think—would be protected from any other legal action if it provided the data under a law that it did not have to comply with?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The current Facebook case is a good case in point. There is no requirement for it to provide the information because of its terms, conditions and processes. I am sure that this would ensure that it had to comply with the process, because we are introducing this agreement with the US which places an obligation on CSPs to comply—whereas at this point in time they do not have to.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, perhaps when I read all this I will understand it a little better than I have while listening to it. It is not how I had approached the Bill. As it has been described, there is an element of optionality which I had not expected.

We will want to ask our colleagues who practise in this area to comment on how contempt of court is dealt with. I have just turned up the notes made by my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford, who had a look at the Bill before Second Reading. He wrote—I assume this is rhetorical—“Is contempt of court a realistic and effective sanction in respect of international bodies?” Of course we will discuss this, as the Minister said, before Report. This is certainly going to be a matter on which we will want to put down another amendment for Report in order to tidy up, as far as we can, in the Bill, or to get on the record in Hansard, the quite unusual situation which we are discussing.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I do not usually intervene on noble Lords but, if I may, the noble Baroness is absolutely correct when she talks about optionality. There is now optionality. There is MLA, which by its very nature is a longer process—and this is the option for a much speedier access to data requirement.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Indeed it is optional, but one expects there to be an effective sanction. In this context, contempt of court really amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist, with probably nothing much to follow.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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But of course—I am sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness again—there is also reputational damage, as for example with Facebook.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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Yes, I take that point. I had wondered whether I should have apologised at the beginning of this debate that I had so little to say, in comparison with the stacks of paper which officials behind the Minister have in front of them. However, perhaps we have given this more of an airing than I expected. I look forward to discussing it further and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, Clause 6(4)(c) provides that the requirements in the Bill have effect,

“in spite of any restriction on the disclosure of information (however imposed)”.

This amendment seeks to understand what the impact is of that. I am not of course impugning what the Minister said about compliance with human rights and so on, but can we be sure, given that exception, about how that will fit in with legal and human rights protections? What if there is a clash with the local laws or the terms of the co-operation agreement? Given our previous discussion, I wonder whether, if there were to be such a restriction, this route would be not taken at all. Specifically, does this subsection allow for Clause 3, which is about excepted data, to be overridden? That would be concerning. I beg to move.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Baroness for her amendment, which gives me the opportunity to set out to the Committee the intention of Clause 6(4)(c). First, let me stress that the aim of an overseas production order is to provide law enforcement officers and prosecutors with the ability to apply to the court to acquire electronic data that can be used in proceedings or an investigation into serious crime. The effects of such an order are outlined in Clause 6.

The Government accept that a company may have obligations to the customers who use its services. The effect of subsection (4)(c) is to make it clear that, in spite of those obligations or any that a company may owe to its shareholders, for example, it is obliged to comply with the requirement to give effect to an overseas production order. Of course, there will be duties on those who are served an order to adhere to data protection obligations, but the Government are satisfied that the rights and duties that would be imposed by the provisions of the Bill are compliant with data protection legislation. On receipt of any evidence, for example, the appropriate officer would be required to handle such data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018—as they would any other data, including that sought under an existing production order issued under PACE for data held in the UK for the purpose of investigating or prosecuting serious crime.

Any international arrangement that is concluded will be premised on a requirement that the two contracting countries will make compliance possible. The purpose of this clause is therefore to ensure that the recipients of a disclosure can comply with it even where there is conflict in the law of the UK. For example, where the recipient owes a duty of confidence in respect of a third party, Clause 6(4)(c) will allow the recipient to produce the data without breeching that duty. This approach reflects the domestic framework used for making and granting production orders under Schedule 5 to the Terrorism Act 2000 and Section 348(4) of the Proceeds of Crime Act. A judge cannot issue an overseas production order unless it meets the criteria set out in the Bill. The provision in Clause 6(4) of the Bill is only about ensuring that a lawful order has absolute effect. It does not provide that the courts can sidestep other statutory provisions such as the Data Protection Act 2018 when making an overseas production order.

The noble Baroness asked about safeguards. The Bill contains robust safeguards governing the application and issuing of an overseas production order. The judge must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the data sought is likely to be of substantial value to the investigation, and that it would be in the public interest for this data to be produced before an order is granted. The judge is also required to exercise the power to consider and grant orders compatible with human rights obligations, including privacy.

These orders are intended to be used where law enforcement officers and prosecutors are investigating terrorism or have reasonable grounds to believe that an indictable offence has been committed, or proceedings in respect of an offence have been instituted. The Bill does not provide access to any data that is not already available through mutual legal assistance. It simply ensures that the data can be obtained more quickly.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, talked about clashes with local laws. The point of an agreement is that an international arrangement removes those barriers to compliance, as I have already said, so it will be a prerequisite for a country to ensure that compliance is possible. The noble Baroness also asked whether this paragraph allows for Clause 3 on “excepted data” to be set aside. Clause 6(4)(c) does provide that an overseas production order made by the court has effect in spite of any restrictions. A court will not make an order in respect of excepted data as the Bill provides that it cannot—so Clause 6(4)(c) does not allow for orders to be made in respect of excepted data.

The noble Baroness looks quite confused, but I hope that I have satisfied her and persuaded her that her amendment can be withdrawn.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, this is another occasion when I shall have to read the reply carefully. But, with regard to the relationship between Clause 6(4)(c) and Clause 3, can I be clear that the Minister said that it does not allow for Clause 3 provisions to be set aside? I see the Minister is nodding. I thank her for that and, as I said, I will read the response. I beg leave, for the moment, to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for their points. I will give them a very long answer because a full explanation is being sought. I shall speak first to Clause 7 standing part of the Bill and then cover the individual amendments.

The purpose of Clause 7 is to allow an appropriate officer who applied for the order, or an equivalent officer, any person affected by the order, the Secretary of State or the Lord Advocate the ability to apply to a judge to vary or revoke an overseas production order. The clause broadly reflects the existing domestic framework; for example, a production order made under the PACE Act 1984 does not contain provision about applications that can be made to vary or revoke a production order. However, court rules allow for the respondent of an order, or any person affected by it, to apply for the order to be varied or discharged. In addition, a judge’s decision to make a domestic production order may be challenged by way of judicial review.

Inclusion of this clause is an important safeguard to ensure that anyone affected by an order has an opportunity to challenge it and its contents, especially because appeal rights as such do not exist in respect of production orders. The intention behind Clause 7 was to make clear the existence of the power to vary or revoke an overseas production order and the circumstances under which that power might be used, and to set out the categories of persons who might apply for such variations or revocations. These persons include the person subject to the order, who is therefore required to produce the data sought, the person who applied for the order and anybody else who might be affected by it; for example, the person to whom any personal data sought relates. For example, where notice is given, an innocent third party who was communicating with the suspect over email may not want certain data to be disclosed or may challenge the existence of the order to protect information of a private nature disclosed to the suspect. Ultimately, a judge, when considering whether such an order should be varied, will need to be satisfied that the requirements in Clause 4 continue to be fulfilled.

Clause 7 also recognises that in some cases an appropriate officer may wish to apply to vary or revoke an order; for example, the electronic data sought may not be valuable to the investigation any more or the data may have been sourced elsewhere. In addition, the power to apply to vary or revoke an order exists for the Secretary of State and the Lord Advocate. Given that they are responsible for serving an order on a person, they will need to ensure that the order reflects the international co-operation arrangement terms.

It is right that any application to vary an order should satisfy the same requirements as those that should be satisfied when an application for such an order is made in the first instance. This will include specifying the international co-operation arrangement and specifying or describing the electronic data for which the varied order is sought. Similarly, an application may not be made to vary an order to include data which the applicant reasonably believes consists of or includes excepted electronic data. When considering a varied order, the judge will need to take into account the same factors as when the order was originally granted. This will ensure that the data sought still serves a purpose to the investigation.

Amendment 24, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, seeks to clarify that the power to vary or revoke an overseas production order given to a judge under Clause 7(1) can be used to revoke part of an order. I reassure her that the amendment is not needed. Subsection (1)(a) already gives a power to vary an overseas production order, which would include revoking it in part—for example, by narrowing the scope of electronic data to be produced—and I therefore hope that she will withdraw the amendment.

The noble Baroness asked whether a provider can say that it will refer this to the judge. The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked a similar question. The provider must refer to the judge but cannot actively say it is doing so because of a potential non-disclosure requirement. It is up to the judge whether an order can be disclosed, including the fact of it.

On Amendment 25, when making an overseas production order, a judge may also include a non-disclosure requirement as part of that order, in line with my previous comment. It is not mandatory and whether a non-disclosure requirement is necessary will depend on the facts of each case. Clause 7(1) already includes a provision for revoking or varying an overseas production order. Where a non-disclosure requirement is part of that production order, Clause 7(1) will also apply, allowing the judge to consider an application to vary the order so that it no longer includes such a requirement. There are further provisions in subsections (4) and (5) of Clause 8 that provide a discretion for the judge, when revoking an overseas production order, to order that an unexpired non-disclosure requirement continues to operate. The judge can specify a time when the non-disclosure requirement is to expire that is different from that specified in the revoked overseas production order.

It is the Government’s intention that such orders—that is, an order which maintains a non-disclosure requirement even when the overseas production order has been revoked to ensure that an ongoing or future investigation is not prejudiced—should be capable of being varied or revoked on application. We intend to use court rules to provide for this. The Government will review whether these provisions can be made in court rules and will come back to this issue on Report.

On Amendment 26, the Bill makes it clear that a non-disclosure requirement can be imposed as part of an overseas production order. With the leave of the judge under Clause 8(2)(a), or with the written permission of the appropriate officer who applied for the order or an equivalent officer under Clause 8(2)(b), a person who is subject to a non-disclosure requirement could disclose the making of an order or its contents to any person.

Therefore, a mechanism exists by which a person against whom the order is made has a route to challenge and disapply the provisions of the non-disclosure order under Clause 8. Furthermore, when a non-disclosure requirement is included as part of an overseas production order, that order is capable of being varied under Clause 7 in its entirety as it currently stands. No further clarification is needed for non-disclosure requirements separately, as is proposed by Amendment 25.

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Could I ask for some clarification? Do the seven days apply at present for domestic orders? In other words, has a view been taken that if seven days is sufficient for a domestic order, it is presumably also sufficient for an order made in this country affecting somebody in the States to apply within seven days? Will it not be a rather more complicated process to apply within a seven-day period, if it is an order made in this country applying to somebody in the States? Does this clause work in the situations of an overseas production order made in this country and orders made in the country with which we have a bilateral agreement applying to British service providers, or does it apply in only one direction?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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As I understand it, seven days is a standard timeframe. I totally take what the noble Lord says in the sense that we are talking about overseas production orders, but the whole purpose of the Bill is that it is a simpler process in the governing of electronic data. It is a standard period of time that we feel to be proportionate.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Would the Minister not agree that somebody in the United States must have a pretty good working knowledge of our legal system to know where to apply if they want to revoke or vary an order within seven days?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I take the noble Lord’s point. I imagine that all of that would be laid out in the agreement, given that it would be set out, but I can certainly have a think about that. Perhaps we can talk about it when we meet.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am grateful for the long explanation. I had correctly anticipated what the Minister would say about non-disclosure and the impact it might have on an operation. Perhaps I may pursue what happens if a customer asks, “Is there a non-disclosure order in force?” When receiving that inquiry should the answer be, “No comment”, which implies yes? What should it be and how is this dealt with in the real world?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - -

My guess—I am sure that the Box will correct me if I am wrong—is that if a non-disclosure order is in train then nobody can comment on it, so whether one was in train or not it would be a “no comment” procedure anyway because there would otherwise be a breach.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for their comments. The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, made a valid point about consistency. The aim of the Bill is to strike a balance between the operational need to have flexibility for serving such an order and the legal certainty of the obligations that are placed on those who are subject to an order. There is a similarity with PACE, which also provides a three-month time limit from the date an order is issued for an entry and search to be completed. The Government do resist the amendment—but, given what the noble Lord pointed out, I would be open to discussing this ahead of Report.

On Amendment 36, the notice provisions under Clause 14 have been drafted to allow for flexibility, and reflect the complexity surrounding the service of notices on those based overseas. A “person” is taken to mean an individual or a body corporate. In addition, the Government have been careful to construct the clauses in such a way as to avoid persons hiding behind corporate identities and structures, where they may be based or registered elsewhere in one place but operate out of another country. If a person is located outside the UK and the other conditions for granting a production order are fulfilled, a production order can be served. Adding terminology such as “resident” will confuse what is otherwise a straightforward matter of being able to serve on those persons, legal or otherwise, based outside the UK.

On Amendment 37, Clause 14(3)(a) seeks to reflect the model in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 where the availability of a method of service is not based solely on the establishment of a business pursuant to any domestic or foreign law but instead should depend on where a person actually conducts their business activities. Amendment 37 would narrow the availability of the method of service described in Clause 14(3)(a) in cases where the person is outside the UK but has no principal office here. The Bill currently provides that that service could be effected by delivering the notice,

“to any place in the United Kingdom where the person carries on business or conducts activities”.

The amendment would restrict this to places where the person carries on business. I hope that that is not too complicated. I think that the restriction would be unhelpful. Perhaps it would help if I explained what is intended by “conducts activities”—which is the very question the noble Baroness asked.

The Government intend that “activities” in this sense would mean the corporate activities or business activities according to a common interpretation of the provision. The Government have been careful to construct the clauses in such a way as to avoid persons hiding behind corporate entities and structures, where they may be based or registered elsewhere in one place but operate out of another country. If a person is located outside the UK and the other conditions for granting a production order are made, a production order can be served. Limiting the service to places where business is conducted will introduce complexity where it is not required. However, if there is more we can do to make clear what is intended by “conducts activities”, I am happy to consider whether it is possible to clarify these terms further in the Explanatory Notes.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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I am grateful for that. Reading the clause, it occurs to me that one could avoid being served by moving around from place to place, whether “carrying on business” or “conducting activities”, because at the point of service you might no longer be conducting activities in that place. The terminology is in the present tense. Has thought been given—I am sure it has, because officials are always way ahead of me—to whether that is an issue?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - -

As I said, if the noble Baroness is confused, that is an indication to me to look at what the Explanatory Notes say—because if she is confused by it, others will be, too.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am a bit confused, but that last point is not something to answer now. It is about whether we are talking about the present or whether, having been at an address in, say, Newcastle at one point, and you have moved to Liverpool, there can be service in Newcastle.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, raises three important amendments here and I look forward to the Minister’s response. She is right that, as written, the provision appears to be very wide in scope, and it would be better to have more clarification. The terms “in all the circumstances” and “an offence” are very wide, and it would be good to hear what they are. As the noble Baroness said, it would appear that there could be a never-ending fishing expedition, which in itself would not serve justice. I look forward to hearing the response to the very valid points raised.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for their points. I turn to the first point that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, made—I am sorry, he did not speak, so it must have been the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee; they do not look anything like each other. Where material is provided in compliance with a PACE production order, police are in principle able to use that material where it is relevant and necessary for another policing purpose, including a separate criminal investigation. The intention behind the overseas production order is basically to replicate the powers available to law enforcement under current domestic production powers. Under the Bill, the same will apply to electronic data obtained under overseas production orders. This ensures that law enforcement officials can use their independent discretion to consider what is appropriate to help with the conduct of their duties.

The effect of Amendment 32 would be to restrict the retention of the evidence produced in respect of an overseas production order to the offence for which the order was made. The Bill’s provisions do not dictate when an officer should apply for a new production order in respect of data received that is to be used for a different purpose. Again, this is consistent with existing practice. The Bill simply makes the same provisions in relation to orders which can be served on an entity outside the UK, where a relevant agreement is in place, as in relation to orders which can be served on a company based here.

It will always be appropriate for law enforcement officers and prosecutors to consider what can be used in an investigation and for evidential purposes. They will assess the likelihood of challenge in court where evidence produced in relation to a production order is adduced for a separate criminal offence. That is already their bread and butter. In all likelihood in those situations an appropriate officer may well decide that it would be more appropriate for a new production order to be obtained for the material produced that points to a separate offence.

A question was asked about guidance. The Government will consider whether it is necessary to produce policy guidance to assist an appropriate officer in these circumstances but, given that the Bill reflects existing practice in relation to production, I do not see that it brings about a new challenge for our law enforcement or prosecution professionals and I do not think it is necessary to mandate it in the Bill. For these reasons, I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That was a very long explanation of why the clause is as it is and I thank the Minister for it. She referred to how this in effect mirrors what we have in PACE. Is guidance provided on PACE?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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There is a code of practice for PACE. We will look at whether some guidance is necessary for this replicated process.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for saying she will look at those points. If we are mirroring PACE then we can mirror the guidance as well.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
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My Lords, I fully support the amendment moved by the noble Lord. I recall our debates in the Chamber on the GDPR and how important it is to get the adequacy certificate to make sure that we are compliant with all these regulations, and we cannot put that at risk in subsequent legislation. I am looking for the Minister to address that point. The noble Lord has raised a very valid point. We need to get this right before this legislation reaches the statute book.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for the point that he has made, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, for backing it up. I smiled when the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked about countries that fall short of our data protection laws. We are probably at the top of the EU league table in terms of the rigour of our data protection legislation—I can think of some countries that might fall into the category that the noble Lord talks about—but the Bill will put on an equal footing the means by which UK law enforcement officers or prosecutors can apply to the court for access to electronic evidence, irrespective of whether the data is held by an entity based in the UK or based elsewhere in the world. UK law enforcement will be bound by the very robust Data Protection Act 2018 when processing personal data obtained pursuant to an overseas production order or where access has been given to data pursuant to such an order.

The noble Lord asked what discussions have been taking place. Those discussions are above my pay grade. I have not been involved in them personally but I know that they will have been going on, certainly in the background. However, the noble Lord makes a very good point about the adequacy decision. He also asked how we will ensure that data is used for the correct purposes. That is all part and parcel of what our Data Protection Act provides for. I am absolutely convinced that we in the UK have the right data protection safeguards in place and, when it comes to data protection and other countries, we will ensure that the same rigour is in place in the country with which we have made an agreement.

Clause 6(4)(c) states that an overseas production order,

“has effect in spite of any restriction”.

The noble Lord asked whether that means that UK CSPs do not need to comply with data protection. Having effect “in spite of any restriction” relates only to the effect of an order served on a CSP outside the UK, so the restrictions can only be in UK law, as we obviously cannot seek to override laws in other countries.

It might be helpful to reiterate that, when making a production order, a judge must consider the requirements set out in Clause 4. In doing so, he or she will need to consider whether the evidence is of substantial value to the investigation or proceedings and whether it is in the public interest to produce the information, balancing these factors with the right to privacy. It stands to reason that the more sensitive the data, the harder it will be for the applicant to justify the public interest test. I hope that the noble Lord will be happy to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Lord’s amendment seeks to put it into the Bill that, in cases of dispute, the GDPR shall prevail. Is the noble Baroness saying that this is implied anyway, or not necessary? If we end up with this on the statute book as it is now, and the matter of which Act applies were to become a matter of dispute in the courts, that is not where we would want to be.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I agree with the noble Lord, but I am saying there would be an underlying basis for data protection, which is the Data Protection Act. Therefore, while there are many things we could put on the faces of many Bills, it is not necessary in this case—we already have laws governing the protection of data.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With that comment, is the Minister saying that, actually, GDPR will prevail?

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, as the Minister is responding, it seems that this falls into a similar category to a point we raised last week about how one balances the different public interests involved. I think the Minister is saying that there is a public interest in the application of the Data Protection Act and the GDPR, which takes us back to the clause about assessing public interest. The Minister is nodding at that. Perhaps, before Report, we should go back and look at how that might apply in this context as well.

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Department for International Development

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 22nd October 2018

(5 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 113-R-I Marshalled list for Report (PDF) - (18 Oct 2018)
Moved by
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That the Report be now received.

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Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, unusually, I shall be supporting Amendment 1 but I shall also speak to Amendments 2 and 3 in this group. My noble friend Lady Hamwee and I have added our names to Amendment 1 in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Kennedy, but we feel that the amendment to Clause 1 as drafted does not go far enough.

Before I come to that, however, I wish to say that I wholeheartedly support what the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, has said about the provisions of the Bill. Bearing in mind that they are likely to be mutual, in that similar provisions would be in a Bill in a country with which we are going to enter into a treaty, it is very important to have a death penalty assurance in that treaty, which is what the amendment seeks to do. In addition to what the noble Lord has said about UK Ministers saying that we in the UK are opposed to the death penalty, Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, together with Protocol 13 to which the UK is a signatory, provides for the total abolition of the death penalty. In early meetings with the Minister, we were led to believe that that death penalty assurance would be part of any treaty. However, we feel we need that reassurance in the Bill.

As I say, we took the unusual step of both supporting and amending the Labour amendment on the basis that we both agree on the principle of Amendment 1— that the Government should not enter into a treaty that would require UK companies to provide electronic data to law enforcement in a country that had the death penalty unless the treaty contained assurances that the death penalty would not be implemented if data provided by UK companies was used. We believe that the prohibition on entering into a treaty with a country that has the death penalty should be broader than just the data covered by Section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which is what Amendment 1 covers, because that provision covers only the interception of communications in the course of transmission—wiretaps, listening in to telephone conversations and that type of electronic data. A British company could hold personal information about an individual that could be crucial in an investigation for an offence that carries the death penalty in the country making the request. Such electronic data would not necessarily be in the course of transmission but held on servers in the UK.

Our Amendment 2 would therefore include,

“any other enactment which provides for the collection of electronic data”.

Amendment 3 makes it clear that the prohibition on entering into a treaty would not apply if an assurance had been given that the death penalty would not be imposed whether either intercepted communication or any other kind of electronic data had been provided under the Act. That amendment is consequential on Amendment 2.

We want to ensure that no UK company is complicit in providing electronic data of any kind that could lead to someone being executed. I beg to move.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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I thank both noble Lords for speaking to their amendments today and express my gratitude to all Members of the House for their contributions both in Committee and today on Report—I think it is the same two noble Lords, but perhaps there are one or two more.

I stress to the House the importance of the UK-US data access agreement. The agreement will allow the UK authorities access to valuable evidence and intelligence directly from US communication service providers. The House should be made aware that the vast majority of CSPs and their data reside in the US, not the UK. The Bill gives our law enforcement a strategic advantage in the fight against the threat we face.

Indeed, in almost every serious criminal investigation, we expect those we investigate to be using services provided by CSPs based in the US. The agreement will make a significant contribution to the detection, investigation, prevention and prosecution of serious crime and terrorism. The Government have been working towards the agreement with the help of US CSPs and the US Government for several years following the recommendation from the then Prime Minister’s data envoy Sir Nigel Sheinwald.

All Governments and any future Governments have the duty to put the security of their people first. It will always be in the public interest to ensure that our police and agencies have access to the necessary intelligence and evidence in order to fulfil that duty. Just as it was under the previous Labour Government and as it is today, Ministers must always be mindful of the current threat environment they find themselves in. That is why we believe that better scrutiny of these agreements and accountability for future treaties is the best way to ensure that the Government’s principles are tested, rather than prescribing a rigid format for treaties that have not yet even been mooted, let alone being currently under negotiation.

Of course, the Government’s objective is to obtain a satisfactory death penalty assurance, but negotiations are ongoing and not yet concluded. Playing the discussions out in public may make it much harder to conclude them effectively.

Let me be clear to the House: there will be an assurance in the agreement. We can expect it to rule out the direct use of information obtained under the agreement as evidence in a prosecution where the death penalty might apply. Parliament will scrutinise the final detail of any agreement and the assurance it contains. We have already tabled an amendment today clarifying that the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 process will always apply to relevant international agreements, ensuring that Members have two opportunities to scrutinise a treaty.

But I am willing to go further. Noting the concerns that noble Lords have expressed, the Government will commit to bringing forward an amendment in the Commons. Such an amendment would not pre-empt negotiations with the US, or any future agreement with another country, but would instead absolutely guarantee that Parliament has the chance to conduct proper, thorough scrutiny of relevant agreements and death penalty assurances.

The amendment I envisage would ensure that Ministers cannot make regulations to designate any agreement with a country which retains the death penalty for incoming requests without first laying before Parliament the agreement and details of any assurances obtained. There would then be a defined period during which Parliament would have a chance to examine those details, and this could include scrutiny by any relevant committees.

Finally, the Secretary of State would be obliged to consider any recommendations made by a committee in relation to the assurances before laying regulations to designate the agreement. Of course, the regulations themselves would then be subject to the usual process of parliamentary scrutiny, during which time Members of both Houses could consider any recommendations and respond to them.

Ultimately, it is right that Parliament has a say on the difficult decision between not concluding negotiations on agreements and securing the death penalty assurances we would like. Both the amendments tabled by Labour and Liberal Democrat Peers could lead to our being unable to conclude a data access agreement with the US. If we find ourselves in that situation, law enforcement agencies and the UK intelligence community will continue to be denied timely access to valuable evidence and intelligence.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said that Section 52 of the IPA covers only material intercepted in the course of transmission. That is not entirely correct. It can authorise obtaining stored communications as well as intercept. As I said, there is a balance to be struck here. That is why I ask Members not to tie the Government’s hands in negotiations. Instead I will commit to amending the Bill in the Commons to ensure that Parliament has ample opportunity to scrutinise any future treaty and, if relevant, its death penalty assurance.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. Unless she wishes to contradict me, I think she just said that these treaties are very important to the extent that the British Government are prepared to allow people to be executed on the basis of data provided by British companies to overseas law enforcement. The essence of these amendments is that that should not be allowed and we want that reassurance on the face of the Bill.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I do contradict the noble Lord. I am asking noble Lords not to tie the Government’s hands in negotiation.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Forgive me, but I do not see the difference between what I said and what the Minister has just said, unless she wants to clarify further.

We are concerned about this because of the recent case of Kotey and Elsheikh, in which the American authorities asked for information from the British on two people who were part of an ISIS cell. The Home Secretary decided that the information would be provided without a death penalty assurance. We are concerned that what might considered a one-off case which contradicts the British Government’s usual global opposition to the death penalty is now going to be enshrined in treaties. I understand what the Minister said about Section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act, but that is not our understanding and I therefore wish to test the opinion of the House on Amendment 2.

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Moved by
4: Clause 1, page 1, line 21, leave out from “means” to end of line 3 on page 2 and insert “a relevant treaty which—
(a) relates (in whole or in part) to the provision of mutual assistance in connection with the investigation or prosecution of offences, and (b) is designated by the Secretary of State by regulations.(5A) For the purposes of subsection (5) a treaty is a relevant treaty if a Minister of the Crown has laid before Parliament a copy of the treaty under section 20(1)(a) of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.(“Treaty” and “Minister of the Crown” have the same meaning for the purposes of this section as they have for the purposes of Part 2 of that Act.)”
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, the Government recognise that, when it comes to agreements for direct access to data, it is unlikely that either the UK or another country would commit to complying with orders that have extraterritorial scope without acknowledging this through a formalised agreement or arrangement. Therefore, in reality, any arrangement we choose to enter into for direct access to data will likely be in the form of a treaty requiring formal ratification before entry into force. It is not the Government’s intention to conclude such international arrangements by memoranda of understanding, for example. We do not think that such informal arrangements would afford the appropriate level of certainty that such international arrangements require.

As noble Lords know, treaties that require ratification are subject to formal parliamentary scrutiny in the form of a procedure under Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010—CRaG—which must be followed before the Government can complete the ratification process necessary to bring the agreement into force. The text contained in the Bill introduced to this House was intended to allow the UK to consider other measures, such as EU instruments that do not fulfil the definition of “treaty” under CRaG. However, we have since concluded that it is highly unlikely that the UK, or any other country we enter into agreements with, would accept anything less than a formal treaty. I therefore propose to make an amendment to Clause 1 to make this clear.

The amendment provides that a designated international co-operation arrangement must be a “relevant treaty”. It would further provide that a “relevant treaty” is one that has been laid before Parliament under Section 20(1)(a) of CRaG. The effect of the amendment would be to ensure that where the Secretary of State, by way of regulations, wishes to designate an arrangement under the Bill, they can do so only if that arrangement is a treaty that has been laid before Parliament for scrutiny under CRaG. Only treaties that have been laid before Parliament under CRaG can be designated. However, it is still possible for an agreement to be designated before ratification. There may be operational reasons why one would want to designate an agreement before ratification has been finalised. For example, an agreement may come into force on ratification—depending on the terms of the agreement—in which case designating after ratification may be too late and there may be a risk of breach of obligations under the agreement.

The effect of Amendment 5 in the names of the noble Baroness and the noble Lord would preclude any designation of an international co-operation agreement until it has been ratified. Ratification is a process which requires an act—for example, the exchange of diplomatic notes between the parties—which signals in international law the parties’ consent to be bound by the agreement. However, the amendment could cause a detrimental effect, as I have explained, where the terms of an agreement require that it comes into force on the day of ratification. The amendment would make it impossible to designate until after the ratification process, which may put the UK in breach of any obligations under the agreement. I should also make clear that even where an agreement is designated after having be laid under CRaG but before it is ratified, an agreement could not come into force until the process of ratification is complete and therefore any requests could not be made until the agreement is entered into force, following ratification. I hope that the noble Baroness will be happy to withdraw Amendment 5. I beg to move.

Amendment 5 (to Amendment 4)

Moved by
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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee (LD)
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My Lords, we welcome the Government’s significant movement towards the use of the treaty procedure, which we and, I believe, the Labour Benches argued for at the previous stage. I was concerned that the amendment was incomplete, and the Minister has explained why her amendment refers to “laying” the treaty, but not the other provisions of Section 20 and several subsequent sections of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.

As the Minister has told the House, it is quite a complicated and potentially long drawn-out procedure. I accept that, but it is long drawn-out because it is designed to give Parliament a proper opportunity to have input into the final product of the treaty, with various stages for its consideration, ending up in ratification. The Minister, in arguing on the first group of amendments, stressed the importance of the procedure. She has just said that the Government might want to make a designation before ratification. It seems to me that this nullifies the impact of the procedure process, and assumes that Parliament will ratify—in other words, will vote as the Government tell it to, which is precisely the arrangement we do not want in place.

The Minister has, however, just talked about the treaty not coming into force until ratification—she is nodding at that, for which I am grateful. I wonder whether she would be prepared to have a discussion—she has been prepared for lots of discussions on the Bill already, for which we are grateful—about an amendment we might table at Third Reading to tidy this up, encapsulating what she has just said to the House about delaying the process until the parliamentary process has been completed. I had better move this amendment, and then we can debate it.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I am sorry that I have not been very clear. I am very happy, should the noble Baroness wish to withdraw Amendment 5 and accept Amendment 4, to have a discussion before Third Reading—we have discussed our way through this Bill—but in the meantime I ask her to withdraw Amendment 5.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Of course I am happy to do that. I am sorry, I thought that was implied. I do not wish any more exercise on noble Lords than we need to have during the course of this afternoon. I look forward to that discussion and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, the Bill provides that journalistic material which is non-confidential can be obtained through an overseas production order without having to give notice. This type of material may, for example, be the manuscript or copy that the journalist is working on. A judge must be satisfied that the material is relevant to a UK investigation and in the UK public interest before he can approve an order to obtain it. The Bill implicitly recognises that a person named in an order may merely store data on behalf of a person, including those who create or acquire it for journalistic purposes. Journalistic material that is already published is unlikely to form part of an application for an overseas production order. That is because this material can already be freely accessed by law enforcement agencies, and there would be no need to compel production of information that was already in the public domain.

However, where information relates to confidential journalistic material—that is, it is created subject to an obligation that it would be held in confidence and that obligation continues to be held, or it is held subject to a restriction on disclosure or obligation of secrecy contained in legislation—that material will be subject to the notice provisions under Clauses 12 and 13. Therefore, if a journalist stores information—whether in their manuscript, copy or otherwise—that relates to or contains such confidential material, that can be sought but only if an application is made “on notice”. We expect court rules to set out that such an application cannot be determined by the court in the absence of a respondent unless they have waived the opportunity to attend. That already exists in court rules in relation to domestic production orders if, for example, the police wish to obtain access to a journalist’s notebook.

Our objective is to protect legitimate journalism, ensuring that those who may wish to harm us cannot hide behind claims of the data being journalistic to evade investigation or prosecution. Coupled with that, we have been clear that material acquired or created by the journalist to further a criminal purpose is not considered journalistic material. That terminology is borrowed from the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which sought to ensure that safeguards and protections were targeted at legitimate forms of journalism.

The reason that the Government have carved out material,

“created or acquired with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose”,

is to follow the direction that the Investigatory Powers Act identified, which is that safeguards should not exist for those who intend, through media channels, to do us harm, but then seek to hide behind spurious claims of journalism. One example is the media wing of Daesh, which may use an internet blog designed to disseminate harmful information and claim that it was journalistic material and therefore not caught by the provisions. Conversely, if a journalist acquires a leaked document from a source which alludes to criminal conduct, the journalist acquires it for journalistic purposes, not with the intention of themselves furthering a criminal purpose.

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Lord Harris of Haringey Portrait Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab)
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I may have misheard the Minister and therefore misunderstood her argument, but she seemed to be saying at one point that my noble friend’s amendments were not necessary because this is already covered under the PACE regulations. Is that the reason for resisting it—it is not necessary because it goes no further—or is she suggesting that there are elements of it which do go further that the Government are resisting? If the latter is the case, perhaps she could indicate to us what has gone further that she does not like. If it is simply that it is not necessary, can she explain why the Government are resisting it?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I think I have already explained at length why it is not necessary. If Clause 12 were to be amended, a court would not be able to make an overseas production order in relation to confidential journalistic material unless the requirements set out there were satisfied.

Lord Harris of Haringey Portrait Lord Harris of Haringey
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So there is no objection to what my noble friend has tabled; the Minister is saying simply that it is not necessary?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That is what I am saying, yes.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
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The protection of sources in relation to confidential journalistic data is very important to the free press in our country. I pointed out—and, as far as I understand it, this is not being contested by the Government—that there is no requirement in the Bill for the journalist or media organisation which acquired the confidential material to be informed. That seems to be a significant hole in the legislation. Surely in that situation the journalist or media organisation concerned should be able to make representations and to oppose the granting of an order; in other words, their voice should be heard—perhaps, from their point of view, to seek to protect their confidential sources.

I note the Government’s argument that this is already provided for in other legislation. I say only that we are dealing with something here which can relate also—under reciprocal arrangements, presumably—to orders made by a court in another country and not only in relation to orders made by a court in this country. In that situation it is absolutely vital, even if the Government believe that the safeguards are already there, that the ability of a journalist or media organisation to be informed of an application for an order, and the chance to appear and make representations in connection with that order, should be repeated in the Bill. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, Amendment 7 is an amendment to Clause 5, which deals with the contents of an order. If my amendment were agreed to, subsection (2) would read:

“The judge must not specify or describe in the order electronic data that … consists of or includes excepted electronic data”.


The clause would not include the phrase,

“the judge has reasonable grounds for believing”,

includes excepted data. That may sound as if I am dancing on the head of a pin but I think it is quite an important issue. In Committee I explained that I was seeking a formula that was objective. The Minister responded by referring to the phrase “reasonable grounds” being used elsewhere in the Bill. Indeed, the clauses that she mentioned, Clauses 1 and 7, include that phrase but they are not about an order; they are about the basis for making an application, which I suggest is a rather different matter.

I accept that, as she said, the contents of data may not be known until they are produced, but without our amendment, or some such amendment, the judge could make an order that it later turned out did include excepted data. I was looking for an objectively based exception because how otherwise do you appeal? Would you be appealing against the judge’s reasonableness? That would not be the same as appealing on the basis that the data was excepted. I would find it very uncomfortable to have to appeal against whether or not a judge was reasonable. What really should be at issue is the character of the data, and we are not satisfied that the Bill really addresses that. I beg to move.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - -

I thank the noble Baroness for moving her amendment and for raising this point again. Perhaps my response in Committee was not persuasive enough for her.

The Bill has been drafted to include multiple safeguards so that a person is not required to produce excepted electronic data. “Excepted electronic data” means electronic data that is either an item subject to legal privilege or a confidential personal record. The Government do not want to see overseas production orders being used to obtain such information, nor do we expect our officers to target it.

First, Clause 1(3) sets out that an appropriate officer must not apply for an overseas production order in respect of electronic data where that officer has reasonable grounds for believing that it consists of excepted electronic data. Clause 5(2) includes another one of these safeguards: a judge must not specify or describe data in an overseas production order where he or she has reasonable grounds for believing the data sought includes or consists of excepted data. The wording “reasonable grounds for believing” is important given that there is no guarantee, at the time of considering an application, that either the judge or the applicant can be certain if the data sought will, in fact, contain excepted data.

Let me put it in this context: say the email records of criminal X were requested from June in a certain year because law enforcement agencies believed they had been communicating for criminal purposes with someone else. It would be impossible for either the law enforcement agency or the judge to know for certain that within those emails, there also happened to be correspondence between criminal X and their doctor.

I understand that the noble Baroness’s concerns in Committee were about the objectivity of the judge in allowing an order including potentially excepted data. The Government believe that the term “reasonable grounds for believing” gets us as close to objectivity as practicable. If a judge has “reasonable grounds for believing” that excepted data is included in the data sought in an application, they will not specify that excepted data when making the order. But if they do not have “reasonable grounds for believing”, as long as the other criteria are satisfied, the judge can make the order.

Indeed, should the respondent in receipt of an order know that it includes excepted data, Clause 6(4)(b) ensures that, despite the terms of the order, they are not required to produce that data. The noble Baroness asked in Committee how, if electronic data was within an order, it could be varied or revoked. The fact that the respondent is under no obligation to produce the excepted data removes any need for the respondent to apply to vary or revoke the order. To the extent that the order includes excepted data, it has no effect.

If we return briefly to criminal X, if a judge has allowed an order to be served on a communication service provider where the judge did not know that the emails requested included medical records, but the CSP did, that CSP would not be required to produce those emails. If the CSP provided the emails, knowingly or by accident, the data would then be sifted out by the appropriate body during the sifting exercise. It is therefore reasonable and proportionate for the Bill to retain the term “reasonable grounds for believing”, and it is a sensible reflection of what would happen in practice with overseas production orders.

I hope that, with that explanation, the noble Baroness will feel happy to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. Much of what we said was what we rehearsed in Committee. I have been looking to see whether Clause 6, which deals with the effect of the order, would meet my point. It takes us straight to the provision about the order having effect despite any restriction on the disclosure of information, which we found a difficult provision when we discussed it in Committee.

I will not tax the House by continuing with this at this stage, but I hope that the Minister will understand that I was not simply playing with words; there is real concern that the way that the Bill has been framed raises questions which people may have to grapple with in practice. I hope that they do not have too hard a time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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She said something similar today in the discussion on the journalism group. However, given that the Bill starts with a provision for an order to be made on application of which notice need not be given, which will affect third parties, the data subject and journalists in particular, it would be more comfortable and appropriate to have an explicit provision on the face of the Bill. That is what Amendments 9 and 10 would provide. I beg to move.
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, the noble Baroness has suggested amendments stipulating that court rules must make specific provision for certain things. Amendment 10 prescribes that court rules must be made relating to service of notice on a data controller, a data subject or where the application relates to journalistic data. I hope that I have already set out how we intend rules to include notice provisions in respect of the respondent and anyone else affected by an order. The rules already made by the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee in England and Wales for applications for production orders under Schedule 1 to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and under other legislation, already include provision for the service of notice of applications, and additional special requirements where what is sought is the product of journalism. I refer the House to Part 47 of the Criminal Procedure Rules. The Criminal Procedure Rule Committee has already settled draft rules that, if this Bill passes, would be in terms corresponding with those existing rules.

We expect the court rules to include the same provisions as are currently in place for domestic orders. They would provide that a court must not determine any application for an overseas production order in the absence of the respondent, or other person affected, except in the following circumstances. First, the person has at least two days in which to make representations. Secondly, the court is satisfied that the applicant cannot identify or contact the person. Thirdly, the court is satisfied that it would prejudice the investigation if that person were to be present. Fourthly, the court is satisfied that it would prejudice the investigation to adjourn or postpone the application so as to allow the person to attend. Fifthly, the person has waived the opportunity to attend. In the case of an application which would require the production of confidential journalistic material, the court must not determine the application in the absence of the respondent until they have waived the opportunity to attend. I hope that that satisfies the noble Baroness on Amendments 9 and 10.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, we have learned about the draft of the new rules and I am grateful for that. It is obviously difficult to take them in simply by listening and not reading them, although I noted the wording that one of the exceptions was that the court was satisfied that the person concerned—I am not sure what the technical term would be—“cannot” contact somebody. That is not the same as “will not” contact: anybody “can” contact someone, so I suspect that there might be a little more reflection on that.

Throughout the Bill’s progress, we have been told that the Government “intend” something or “expect” something. There comes a point when one hears that rather too often not to want to see something on the face of the Bill when it is material to the Bill. However, I am glad to have heard that progress has been made with regard to the rules and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, raised an issue about which Act would take precedence in the event of a conflict between this Bill—when it becomes an Act—and the Data Protection Act 2018. His amendment makes it clear that, in the case of a conflict, the DPA, along with the GDPR, would take precedence. That seems quite sensible: it gives us certainty on the matter, for the reasons outlined by the noble Lord. I support his amendment.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank both noble Lords for their points. There has been nothing in our own domestic law that requires a UK provider to comply with an overseas order. There will therefore be no conflict with domestic law if a CSP decides that complying with a foreign order would put it in breach of its obligations under the GDPR.

The existence of any conflict with UK data protection law does not have the effect of making the order from the other country invalid. Equally, the existence of the order does not compel the UK CSP to ignore its data protection obligations under UK law. It will be for the CSP on which an order is served to reconcile and comply with all legal obligations it is under. It could apply for the variation or revocation of the order, or use the dispute resolution mechanism that we expect all specific international agreements to include. That said, we do not think that this is likely to be necessary in practice. The GDPR contains several “gateways” which permit the cross-border transfer of personal data, including in response to a request or order from overseas law enforcement.

I know the noble Lord’s concerns about data protection, and I absolutely sympathise with him. We have discussed this before, and I think that ultimately we all want the same thing: adequate protection for the privacy rights of individuals. I hope that my explanation will satisfy the noble Lord that the Bill does not in any way threaten data protection rights, which are robustly protected by existing legislation. UK CSPs will continue to be bound by the GDPR and the Data Protection Act. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord will feel happy to withdraw Amendment 12.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister. I understand that she has just said that a communications service provider could refuse to comply with an order coming from overseas if the CSP believes that that would bring it into conflict with the GDPR and the Data Protection Act, so I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Moved by
13: Clause 17, page 14, line 15, at end insert—
“( ) References in this Act to proceedings relating to an overseas production order include proceedings for the making, variation or revocation of an order under section 8(4) or 13(3) or (4)(b).”
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I explained in Committee that Clause 7(1) creates a power for the judge to vary or revoke an overseas production order. Where a non-disclosure requirement is included in an overseas production order—by virtue of Clause 8— Clause 7 will apply so that the non-disclosure requirement can also be varied or revoked by a judge.

However, as I said to the Grand Committee, it is the Government’s intention that judges should be able to vary or revoke all orders made under the Bill. As well as overseas production orders, this includes other orders made under provisions in the Bill; for example, an order made under Clause 8(4) which maintains an unexpired non-disclosure requirement when an overseas production order has been revoked. It has also been the intention of government that the procedure and process for varying and revoking an order would be governed by court rules, mirroring current legislation for production orders under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 or the Terrorism Act 2000.

We gave a commitment in Grand Committee to review whether provisions that can be made in court rules relating to non-disclosure requirements when an overseas production order has been revoked should themselves be capable of being varied or revoked on application. Clause 11 provides that court rules may make provisions in relation to the practice and procedure to be followed when making an overseas production order. But the Government accept that this could give rise to doubt as to whether court rules could make provision in respect of other orders made under the Bill. I have therefore proposed an amendment to Clause 17 that puts beyond doubt that court rules can be made not only in relation to overseas production orders but in respect of the types of orders made under Clause 8(4) and Clause 13(3) and (4)(b). This will include making provision for the practice and procedure to be followed when applying to vary or revoke such orders.

Noble Lords raised questions in Committee about the process concerning how someone could vary or revoke an order. The future appeals process also arose in the context of notices that could be served on UK companies by another country party to an agreement. While the Bill deals only with outgoing orders—that is, ones issued by a UK court—we have ensured that the remedies available to someone served with a domestic production order are available to a person served with an overseas production order, and we would expect the other country to do the same.

In addition, we envisage a dispute resolution mechanism as part of any agreement we might designate under the Bill, which would allow a service provider concerned about whether the order that was sought complied with the terms of the agreement to raise objections with the authorities of the country concerned. This would allow a UK service provider to raise objections if it believed that a particular order should not have been served under the agreement. At first instance, these objections would be raised with the issuing country. If the service provider was still not satisfied, it could then go to the relevant UK authority. There may be ongoing discussions between the two parties to the agreement, but ultimately it would be a decision for the relevant UK authority to say whether or not the request from the other authority could safely be given effect to. I hope this addresses the concerns raised in Committee.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I think it must be lucky 13 for the Minister. However, I have a question. It may be that I did not properly follow the latter part of her explanation but I come back to “normal speak”. The amendment says that the references,

“include proceedings for the making, variation or revocation of an order”.

Is “include” here a synonym for “mean”? Do we read it as “references mean”? I am sorry to throw that at her at this point. Perhaps I should talk inconsequentially for a moment or two until she receives information via semaphore. The term does suggest that something else might be within the references. I think the Minister is about to get a response to that question.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The answer is yes.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With the leave of the House, I suggest that the Government return to this tiny thing before the next stage.

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Department for International Development

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 20th November 2018

(5 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 134(a) Amendment for Third Reading (PDF) - (15 Nov 2018)
Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I want to raise two areas of questioning of which, I hope, the Minister has had notice. We have had correspondence and I am grateful to her and her officials, but I am keen to get the explanation in Hansard. Clause 1 provides for the making of overseas production orders, and Clause 1(8) provides for a treaty to be laid before Parliament under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. I tabled an amendment covering this question on Report and I regret that I am still not entirely clear about the answer. Can we not provide for a reference to ratification on the face of the Bill? It would deal with Parliament’s involvement in the process and I think it is important that legislation is as clear as possible to the reader.

The Act provides for a two-stage process. One is the laying of a treaty; the other is Parliament’s role in ratifying it—or perhaps not ratifying it. I have asked the Home Office what the problem would be. I understand from the Minister that there may be operational timing reasons why one would want to designate an agreement after it had been laid before Parliament but before it has been ratified, and the Minister has also told me in correspondence that an agreement that came into force on ratification would impose that obligation immediately, which would be a problem. I am a little puzzled as to why one cannot provide, in the parliamentary process, either that a designated agreement comes into force at a future date linked to the designation, or that the designation is linked to ratification. I would be grateful if she could help me and the House as to the need not to include a reference to the second stage of the process.

The importance of this is that Clause 1 deals with designation of an agreement under Section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act. That section relates to the interception of a communication in the course of transmission, as I understand it, not to other data. My noble friend Lord Paddick raised this in the debate and we would be grateful if the Minister would explain how all data is covered, not just data intercepted in the course of transmission. That phrase implies data intercepted before or at the same time as it reaches the recipient, so would it not include itemised phone bills, geolocation data and internet connection records?

Communication, the word used in the relevant section, is defined in the Investigatory Powers Act and the term “communications data” is also defined: they are different. The great importance of this is that at the previous stage your Lordships inserted a requirement for death penalty assurances—or to put it the other way around and more accurately, that an agreement should not be designated without death penalty assurances in the case of an agreement where it is possible that a person may receive a death penalty as a result of, or in connection with, the provision of data under that agreement. I hope that those two separate but closely linked areas of questioning are clear and I beg to move.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her explanation of her amendment. The powers in the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill will work only if a relevant international agreement is in place. The effect of the amendment would be that an international treaty could not be designated under the Bill until it had been fully ratified. Ratification is the process by which relevant parties signal their consent to be bound by a treaty, contract or agreement. I hope I will be able to reassure the noble Baroness as to why it is not needed, and that she might be persuaded to withdraw it.

There may be operational reasons why a Government would want to designate an agreement under the Bill before the process to ratify a relevant treaty is finalised. If we had to wait until the agreement had been ratified before making the regulations that designate the agreement under the Bill, and the agreement came into force on ratification, there would be a delay, as the noble Baroness said, in respect of our use of the agreement. We may want the regulations to be in place when the agreement comes into force so that officers in the UK can immediately start applying for overseas production orders. I am concerned that we should not unnecessarily delay their access to vital evidence. I make it clear that designating the agreement under the Bill prior to ratification will not permit applications to be made until such time as the agreement has been ratified and is in force.

I will give a practical example of this. An example of an operational reason to designate an agreement under the Investigatory Powers Act prior to ratification arises in the context of the development of an agreement with the US. One of the core obligations of the agreement with the US will be the removal of any legal barriers that would prevent a UK company complying with a request from the US. The IP Act itself contains one of those barriers, in that it criminalises the interception of communications, save for where a person has lawful authority.

However, Section 52 of that Act provides lawful authority to carry out interception where it is at the request of,

“the competent authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom”,

and the request has been made pursuant to an agreement which has been designated by regulations under that section. In effect, the designation of the agreement under Section 52 will be the removal of the legal barrier, thereby fulfilling our obligation. As the US agreement will come into force immediately upon ratification, regulations under Section 52 must have been made and laid before that point so that we can fulfil our obligations from the moment the agreement enters into force.

I stress that making regulations designating an agreement prior to it being ratified would not permit UK communications service providers to intercept communications in response to requests by foreign law enforcement authorities. Such activity would be permitted only once those regulations and the agreement came into force, which would happen on or immediately after ratification. This in no way changes or undermines the process of ratification or the scrutiny that Parliament is afforded of a treaty. Indeed, if Parliament resolved that the treaty should not be ratified, what is provided for in any agreement and the powers in the Bill could not be used. I hope that the noble Baroness is reassured on that point.

The noble Baroness’s second point was about how Section 52 of the IP Act covers all data, not just data intercepted in the course of transmission. As I said on Report, Section 52 can authorise obtaining stored as well as intercepted communications. Section 52 should be read alongside Section 4 of the IP Act, which outlines the definition of “interception” and related terms. According to that section, “interception” refers to the interception of a communication,

“in the course of its transmission by means of a public telecommunication system or a public postal service”.

A person intercepts a communication in the course of its transmission if the effect is to access any content of the communication “at a relevant time”. It is the meaning of “relevant time” that is significant. It can mean a time when the communication is transmitted but it can also mean, as Section 4(4) of the IP Act says,

“any time when the communication is stored in or by the system (whether before or after its transmission)”.

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Moved by
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That the Bill do now pass.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, in moving this Motion I thank all noble Lords who have participated in debate on the Bill, in particular the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Kennedy, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick. Of course we can never do anything without our fabulous Bill team, who have been on hand to explain some quite complex and technical matters. I always think that your Lordships’ House improves a Bill as it passes to the other place, and I hope that it will agree when it has time to consider it. Thank you.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I too take this opportunity to add to what the Minister has said. Despite the reality that the Bill has not exactly held this House in rapt attention, judging by the number of people who decided to participate in our debates, I thank the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, and the Bill team for their help and their willingness to meet to discuss the important issues that have been raised during the passage of the Bill. I also thank the members of our team who have provided such invaluable and vital support to me and to my noble friend Lord Kennedy of Southwark.

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Department for International Development

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL]

Baroness Williams of Trafford Excerpts
Moved by
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment 1.

1: Clause 1. page 1, line 20, leave out subsections (5) and (6)
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, as noble Lords will know, the purpose of the Bill is to sidestep the bureaucratic barriers that we currently face in investigating and prosecuting serious crime. The Bill allows law enforcement agencies to access content data directly from communication providers based overseas using an overseas production order.

Briefly, before turning to the amendments to the Bill made in the Commons, I know from conversations with the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Kennedy, that there were some concerns surrounding extradition. I put on the record and reassure noble Lords that this Bill has nothing to do with extradition. Overseas production orders are about seeking stored communications content data from overseas providers for the investigation and prosecution of UK criminal matters; it does not provide any new avenues for extradition, which is entirely out of scope of this Bill.

I turn to the amendments made in the other place. Orders under the Bill can work only when a relevant international agreement is in place between the UK and another country. As the majority of the CSPs are based in North America, we expect the first such agreement to be with the United States. Amendments 1, 13 and 15 relate to death penalty assurances in any such international agreement.

Amendment 13A, proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, would amend the Bill to oblige the Secretary of State to seek and secure a death penalty assurance in any future international treaty. I make it absolutely clear: if noble Lords vote in favour of this amendment, they will be tying this and all future Governments’ hands in negotiations that are never entirely under our control, whether they be with the US or any other country with which we wish to enter into an agreement. Live international negotiations do not work in this way. If we are unable to secure a relevant international treaty, this Bill and its powers will be rendered entirely pointless.

As I have stated throughout the passage of the Bill, it is our duty to give our law enforcement agencies the tools that they need to fight and prevent serious crime, and our prosecution authorities the tools that they need to bring offenders to justice. Current delays in accessing content data held and stored by companies based outside the UK make their job much harder. Delays prevent criminals being brought to justice. If we do not successfully conclude this Bill and the US agreement, child abusers will be able to continue their heinous crimes while the police wait for up to two years for the relevant evidence to be transferred from abroad, or worse still, drop investigations because they simply cannot afford to sit through long delays.

The reality is that the majority of communication service providers are in the US. It is a fact that we need access to data held in the US a lot more than the US needs access to data held in the UK. The UK holds only 1% of the data that we need to prevent and catch sexual abusers of children, meaning that 99% of it is stored abroad. The level of child sexual abuse reported by US service providers has increased, and continues to increase, in horrific quantities—by 700% since 2012. There is a clear inequality of arms from the outset, and to restrict Ministers’ discretion in negotiations could jeopardise the US agreement and result in serious criminals being able to continue their abuse.

Of course the US treaty will have some form of death penalty assurance associated with it, but the exact details and practicalities of this assurance have not yet been negotiated. That is why Parliament will, rightly, have its say on any treaty put before the Houses during designation and prior to ratification. Members can then decide whether the contents of the treaty and its death penalty assurances are acceptable to the House.

In recognition of the concerns raised by noble Lords, the Government have amended the Bill so as to mandate the Secretary of State to seek death penalty assurances in connection with all relevant international agreements. For the first time, this puts into primary legislation policy that reflects the overseas security and justice assistance brought in under the coalition Government in 2010. The outcome of such negotiations will be implicit in the international treaty necessary to give effect to this Bill. The Government will commit to make a Statement, in both Houses, when the relevant treaty is put before Parliament in the usual way. Indeed, this Government and previous Governments are familiar with the need to obtain death penalty assurances when providing evidence to other countries. We do this in line with OSJA, a fundamental piece of long-standing policy that recognises that negotiating with another country is complex and does not attempt to dictate the outcome of any particular negotiation. Governments of all colours have agreed with and used the approach set out in OSJA.

The Government’s amendment, in line with OSJA, is therefore a sensible compromise that does not jeopardise law enforcement agencies’ capabilities. I ask noble Lords to support Amendments 1, 13 and 15, to let the Government continue our negotiations with our international partners as we have done for so many years, and to exercise powers of scrutiny—both prior to ratification of the agreement under CRaG and when secondary legislation comes to be laid—to assess whether the terms of any death penalty assurances are acceptable.

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Lord Pannick Portrait Lord Pannick (CB)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am far less clear than the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, that it would be a breach of our obligations under the European Convention for us to supply information abroad in circumstances where it may be used in a prosecution that may lead to a death penalty. As he well knows, all the cases concern extradition. They concern circumstances in which this country is removing a person to face possible trial abroad where that person may be executed. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly made it clear that that is a breach of our obligations. I am far less clear on whether the same would apply where all we do is provide information, which is under the control of the authorities in this jurisdiction, to assist a prosecution abroad.

A particular reason why I am far less clear is that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, mentioned the one example where there was a challenge to the decision of the Secretary of State to do precisely this: to provide information abroad to the United States in circumstances where it was said, accurately, “These people may face prosecution which may lead to the death penalty”. My recollection, which I would be grateful if the noble Lord or the Minister could confirm, is that the Home Secretary’s decision was the subject of a legal challenge and—again, please confirm whether I am right or wrong—the High Court rejected that challenge. It held that it was lawful for the Home Secretary to act in that way.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Lord is correct.

Lord Pannick Portrait Lord Pannick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very grateful. I do not have immediate access to that judgment, but perhaps the Minister can provide the House with some assistance in relation to it. Can the Minister also confirm what I understood her to say: no information will be provided abroad under the Bill, unless and until there is an agreement with the relevant state—here the United States? My understanding—again, I think the noble Baroness said this, but I should like her to confirm—is that before any such agreement has practical effect, it must be put before this House and the other place for approval. Ratification cannot take place unless and until, under CRaG 2010, Parliament has had that opportunity. It seems that is the time at which both Houses of Parliament can consider whether they wish to approve such an agreement, if it does not contain the sort of assurance that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, is seeking.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, the central point here is whether or not we are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. My view is that we are not. Article 1 of the 13th protocol does not prevent member states providing assistance to a third country, where that assistance contributes to the use of the death penalty by that country. Even if the amendment related to the use of the designation power, under Section 52 of the 2016 Act—which would be the gateway for the flow of information from the UK—it would still not prevent designation in the absence of assurances about the use of our material. That is not to say that we will be sharing information for the pursuit of the death penalty. Noble Lords have heard, on many occasions, that I am not going to pre-empt our negotiations with the US, but this shows that not only is the amendment unnecessary but it may not do what its sponsors hope.

The case of the foreign fighter, which the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, talked about, shows that we are compatible with the ECHR, for the reasons outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said that any agreement would have to be put before Parliament. That is absolutely the case. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, talked about this being the negotiation stage. I would put it further back than that: it is the pre-negotiation stage. It is a framework Bill, on the basis of which treaties would be negotiated and made.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, will the Minister confirm that, when a treaty is put to Parliament, if the House of Commons approves it, then it does not matter what the opinion of this House is; the treaty is ratified even if this House votes against it? I obviously agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, that whether this is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights has yet to be tested in court—certainly not at the European level. Will the Minister explain why the then Foreign Secretary had to say that seeking death-penalty assurances in the ISIS case was unique and exceptional, if the Government were not concerned about people executed on the back of evidence provided by the United Kingdom?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right. The treaty would be put to the Commons; the Lords could certainly have a view but that might not be taken into account by the Commons. That is nothing unusual. The Commons quite often exerts its supremacy.

Motion agreed.
Moved by
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 2 to 12.

2: Clause 4, page 5, line 25, at end insert—
“(5A) The judge must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that all or part of the electronic data specified or described in the application for the order is likely to be relevant evidence in respect of the offence mentioned in subsection (3)(a).
This requirement does not apply where the order is sought for the purposes of a terrorist investigation.”
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Moved by
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment 13.

13: After Clause 15, insert the following new Clause—
“Designation of international agreements for purposes of section 52 of Investigatory Powers Act 2016
(1) Section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (interception of communications in accordance with overseas requests) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (3), at the end insert “(see further subsections (6) and (7))”. (3) After subsection (5) insert—
“(6) Subsection (7) applies where an international agreement provides for requests for the interception of a communication to be made by the competent authorities of a country or territory, or of more than one country or territory, in which a person found guilty of a criminal offence may be sentenced to death for the offence under the general criminal law of the country or territory concerned. Such an offence is referred to in subsection (7) as a “death penalty offence”.
(7) Where this subsection applies, the Secretary of State may not designate the agreement as a relevant international agreement unless the Secretary of State has sought, in respect of each country or territory referred to in subsection (6), a written assurance, or written assurances, relating to the non-use of information obtained by virtue of the agreement in connection with proceedings for a death penalty offence in the country or territory.””
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 14 and 15.

14: Clause 17, page 14, line 20, at end insert—
““the data protection legislation” has the same meaning as in the Data Protection Act 2018 (see section 3 of that Act);”