Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 1, line 5, at beginning insert
Subject to the following provisions of this section,
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§ The Minister of State, Home Office, (Mr. David Waddington)
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
With this it will be convenient to take the following Lords amendments: No. 2, in page 1, line 7, leave out from "offence" to end of line 15 and insert "and"
No. 3 in page 1, line 20, at end insert—
(2) A person shall not be guilty of an offence under this section if—
(2A) A person shall not be guilty of an offence under this section if—
§ Mr. Waddington
The amendments implement an undertaking that I gave in Committee to narrow the exception to the new offence which dealt with giving consent to an interception. The amendments make a drafting change to the exception for interception for purposes connected with the provision of postal or telecommunications services. We are making it clear that the exception covers Post Office powers to open letters believed to contain inflammable material or to monitor obscene telephone calls, which is an offence under the Telecommunications Act.
Finally, the amendents incorporate a further but limited exception for those acting under Wireless Telegraphy Act powers who monitor radio transmissions for purposes connected with the issuing of licences or for the protection or prevention of radio interference. Certain forms of telecommunications on the public system are nowadays conveyed by radio for part of their journey. In certain circumstances, those acting to prevent interference might have to monitor across a band that is used by such a system and this exception is introduced against that possibility.
I hope that I shall be excused for mentioning one other matter and setting the scene for our consideration of the eight groups of amendments that we shall be discussing. This group of amendments, and Lords amendment No. 5, fulfil undertakings. The others respond to submissions 754 made in another place, which in some instances followed on from what was said in this place a few months ago. In the course of the earlier proceedings in this place the Government demonstrated their readiness to meet submissions made to them by making a number of significant changes. The nature of the amendments now before us is further evidence of the Government's willingness throughout to accept constructive suggestions from whichever side of the House they have come and to deal with these important issues in the non-partisan spirit which I am sure the House would wish.
§ Mr. John Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
I speak for the union which sponsors me, the Union of Communication Workers (Engineering Group). There is still some disappointment that unofficial telephone tapping has not been tackled further. All the amendments made in another place have improved what we consider to be a fundamentally unsatisfactory position. I welcome the slightly greater protection that will be given to employees by Lords amendment No. 3 in subsection (2A)(a). It widens the definition to coverthe enforcement of any enactment relating to the use ofpublic telecommunication services.
We shall have to consider the operation of this measure extremely carefully. It will be important for the Government to give thorough consideration to the detailed working of the measure within a few months, or perhaps within a year, to ensure that it is operating satisfactorily and fairly.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 2 and 3 agreed to.