HL Deb 14 June 1994 vol 555 cc1665-88

House again in Committee.

Clause 94 [Arrangements for the provision of prisoner escorts]:

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 144M: Page 79, line 36, at end insert: ("( ) All escorts of prisoners where the prisoner is either—

  1. (a) a category 'A' prisoner;
  2. (b) a category 'B' prisoner; or
  3. (c) a remand prisoner who is likely to be a category 'A' prisoner
or category 'B' prisoner on conviction; shall be carried out in a secure cellular vehicle.").

The noble Lord said: Perhaps I may formally move the amendment. It is a probing amendment which seeks the view of the Government. It is an amendment to ensure that there is proper security in the prison service. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

My understanding of the matter was that, although Amendment No. 144M required to be formally moved, it was indeed part of the grouping with Amendment No. 144E. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that some consideration was given to the matter. On reading Hansard, I hope that it will be appreciated that the Government have prepared an answer.

While I recognise the thinking underlying the amendment, I hope the noble Lord will be assured that the proposal, far from bringing about a proper security for those moved in cellular vehicles, would in certain circumstances be possibly disadvantageous. For example, for Category B prisoners to be moved in the fashion proposed might be seriously damaging. If a Category B prisoner were unwell the proposal would mean that he had to be moved in a cellular vehicle rather than in an ambulance. I am sure that while the noble Lord wishes to be reassured on the issues of security, there may be exceptional circumstances. It would be clearly undesirable if, say, a prisoner who suffered a heart attack were taken to hospital in a cellular vehicle rather than an ambulance.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer which I am sure will be looked at closely by those concerned with the transport of prisoners. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 144N: Page 79, line 36, at end insert: ("( ) All escorts of prisoners shall include at least one officer who has first aid training to the level of St. John Ambulance 'First aid at work', or equivalent.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment may have been discussed before. I apologise to the Minister for not having been here earlier; I have just arrived from the north. There is an obvious reason behind the amendment, and I am sure the Minister will take it in the spirit in which it is put before the Committee. I look forward with interest to hearing what he has to say about it. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

Again, I understand that the issue was discussed in a previous group of amendments. I doubt whether it is helpful to include this kind of requirement in primary legislation. Should different types of first aid training be thought to be more appropriate in future, it would be impossible to make changes without amendment to the legislation.

The point that the noble Lord wishes to make is perfectly well understood. The desirability of individuals involved in this work having a clear understanding of first aid is obvious. However, to be as prescriptive as the amendment suggests is, in the longer term, undesirable. I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

Once again, I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. No doubt the matter will be considered by those responsible for the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 94 agreed to.

Clause 95 agreed to.

Clause 96 [Powers and duties of prisoner custody officers performing escort functions]:

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 144P: Page 80, line 32, at end insert: ("( ) Nothing in this section shall entitle a prison custody officer to read any file or papers obtained under a search which are protected by legal privilege.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment is quite important because it raises constitutional questions. Difficulties have arisen about access to prison by solicitors and legal advisers to prisoners, sometimes for perfectly justifiable security reasons. I am sure that the Minister will be aware of the various instances which have caused great anxiety. Sometimes there is right on both sides and wrong on both sides and it is to be hoped that the amendment will do something to focus attention on the problem where a solicitor or counsel or both arrive at a prison to consult their client or arrive at a court in Scotland. Where there is a security problem, it often happens that access either to the court or to the prison may be limited for security reasons and a search is necessary.

The amendment raises the question of confidentiality between the client and the solicitor and counsel acting on his behalf. It is meant sharply to focus on the problem, as I hope it does, where the legal adviser or advisers have in their possession papers which are, to say the least, sensitive, relating perhaps to a murder trial or a prevention of terrorism trial. It is necessary for the legal advisers to carry those papers with them for the purpose of consultation. On the other hand, it is necessary for the protection of society that the search should take place to ensure that nothing is taken into the prison by the advocate or the solicitor.

In my view, no one is immune from that type of search. But the amendment is meant to focus on the issue that there is a question of confidentiality. It is meant to focus on the point that a prison officer carrying out a search of a solicitor's or an advocate's case is not allowed to read the papers nor to examine documents. The officer's position should be no different from that of a person searching Members of your Lordships' House going through an airport. In other words, you hand the people at the desk your newspapers, whatever they may be, and your brief case. They flick through them and if there is nothing in the papers that is detrimental to safety, you are allowed to go through.

The difficulty is that if the rule is not laid down firmly to the prison authorities, a prison officer is not bound by confidentiality between the client and his advisers. The hypothetical situation is that a prison officer may search the papers, read them and find sensitive documents which may reveal a crime—whether or not it is the one under investigation is by the way—but the officer has no duty of confidentiality. He may well report it to his senior officer and up the line to the higher echelons in the Crown Office, leading to further charges against the individual concerned.

The amendment is put down to focus the issue and to evoke a response from the Government. We would not expect a reply immediately, but it is a matter for consideration and instruction to the prison authorities that they must not interfere with the due process of law and the confidentiality which exists between a client and his legal advisers in any crime, no matter how heinous it may be. I beg to move.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

Perhaps I may add to what my noble friend said on the reading of correspondence. I do not think the noble and learned Lord was in the Government at the time but many years ago I had a problem with Glenochil. Who has not? I checked the matter very carefully. One or two officers were reading out letters from prison inmates at the morning breakfast break. The case which I raised is all in the files of the Scottish Office. It was of a highly intelligent, well educated girl who wrote to her brother. He was in Glenochil. It was not just one letter: several were read out at breakfast to the whole table.

We want that cleared up, but it is vitally important that we reinforce the point. An intimate letter was sent from a girl to her brother. They were separated by only two years in age and were very close. That intimate letter was read out by a prison officer. That was cruel. I mention the matter now to enable the Government and the Minister to make clear that such things are not allowed to happen in any prison, and particularly in regard to younger people in Glenochil.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

What the noble Lord describes as "cruel" is not only cruel but disgraceful. I would consider that disciplinary action was appropriate for any prison officer who engaged in such activity.

I appreciate the anxiety of the Opposition to range wider than the clause but it may be helpful to say that it relates to searches by prisoner custody officers on escorting duties. In the clause we are not dealing with the broader issue of the examination of correspondence within a prison. Nevertheless, having said that, I understand the anxieties that where there is correspondence between a prisoner and his legal advisers, safeguards should be in place.

The noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, is a distinguished lawyer and will understand that in terms of his amendment those matters which are protected—to adopt his terminology—by "legal privilege" embrace quite a wide range of communications. They may have nothing to do with the criminal charges that the prisoner faces but may relate to communications not only between the prisoner as a client in consistorial matters but also to communications between the prisoner and his wife or spouse who would enjoy certain privileges in those circumstances.

I am sure that the noble Lord, will appreciate that it is essential for security purposes that the prisoner custody officers and prison officers presently undertaking escort duties should have the power to search all items for prohibited articles such as knives or drugs. It is clearly not impossible that such items may be concealed in papers or in correspondence.

However, subsection (6) of the clause includes provision to the effect that prison rules may be made in relation to the power of search. The 1952 rules were amended last year to include new provisions relating to correspondence between a prisoner and his legal adviser —and not only his legal adviser, but also in relation to any court. That, as we all know, includes European courts. All such correspondence may be opened only where there is cause to believe that it contains a prohibited article. Correspondence with a legal adviser may be read only in those exceptional circumstances where the governor has reasonable cause to believe that the contents of the letter endanger the security of the prison or the safety of any person, or relate to a criminal activity. Correspondence between a prisoner and a court may not be read even if it has been opened.

It would be our intention to apply these rules to the escorting of prisoners by prisoner custody officers, although clearly it is unlikely that there will be much need of that compared to the situation in any prison. On the basis of the explanation that I have offered to the Committee I hope that it will be accepted that the thrust of their concern is indeed met, but the blanket provision of the amendment that they have suggested could in very limited and exceptional circumstances prejudice security. On that basis, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. I know from our long association that he is a man of great humanity and that he understands the problems that exist between prisoners and advisers, the courts, and so on.

There is one matter on which I have some concern. The Minister accepted the terrible situation which my noble friend Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove spoke about. For that to happen is quite unconscionable. It is a terrible event to happen to anybody in the Prison Service. I am glad that he has taken note of what happened, as I would expect him to do, and I hope that he will make sure that instructions go out in relation to that matter. If that horrific practice still exists, none of us would condone it on either side of this Committee.

I am anxious to emphasise the difference between correspondence and confidentiality between the solicitor, or the legal adviser, and the client. What a prisoner cares to write to his wife or his partner is a matter for the prisoner. What the European courts may make of prison officers opening correspondence, and so on, and censoring it, so to speak, is another matter. A warning shot has been fired across the Government's bows that that must not be done and that people must be free to correspond with each other, subject to questions of security.

What this amendment is really concerned with—I go back to focus it—is that legal advisers to prisoners in prison should have free access to the prison, subject to the normal searching routine, and nothing that is in the papers should be read by anyone in any official position in the prison who is under no obligation of confidentiality and who might be in a position to reveal the content of the papers to higher authorities. That is the purpose behind the amendment. But having heard what the noble and learned Lord said—

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

I cannot give the noble Lord that undertaking. There may be circumstances which are exceptional when that correspondence would be read. I do not think that it is desirable or is a practice that should happen on regular occasions, but it has to be reserved if the governor should have reasonable ground to believe that the security of the prison might be prejudiced in some way.

I certainly accept the point that the noble Lord makes that where such an intervention is made it is not to be undertaken for the purposes of revealing a defence to the prosecutor.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for that explanation. What he has said is in keeping with what I hope is the friendly nature of this discussion. I hope that what we have said will be taken note of in the appropriate places and that, if it is necessary, instructions will be sent out from the Scottish Office to the Prisons Department to emphasise what has been said in the course of this debate. That would be so much the better. I leave it to the Minister to formulate any instructions or advice that might be. sent out to the prison authorities. With that reservation I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 96 agreed to.

Clause 97 agreed to.

Clause 98 [Contracting out of prisons]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 145: Page 81, line 26, after ("him") insert (", or (if the contract so provides) by sub-contractors of his,").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 145 I shall speak also to a large additional number of amendments: Amendments Nos. 146 to 153. I am more than happy to go through these amendments with Members of the Committee if that is desired, but it is my view that these amendments are of a technical nature. They relate to the restriction in the clauses which would not allow for any sub-contracting within the type of arrangement that might be contemplated. We would like to allow for that; hence the amendment.

If there were to be any such arrangements, including sub-contracting, they would be spelt out in detail in the contract between the Secretary of State and the main contractor, and they would be allowed only with the approval of the Secretary of State. Amendments Nos. 146 to 153 are consequential amendments. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 146 and 147: Page 81, line 40, leave out ("and"). Page 81, line 42, leave out ("to run it") and insert: ("with the Secretary of State for the running of it; and "sub-contractor", in relation to a contracted out prison, means a person who has contracted with the contractor for the running of it or any part of it.").

9 p.m.

Clause 99 [Officers of contracted out prisons]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 148 and 149: Page 82, line 32, leave out ("shall") and insert ("and any sub-contractor of his shall each"). Page 82, line 37, after ("contractor") insert ("or, if the contract provides for the running of the prison by a sub-contractor, by the sub-contractor").

Clause 99, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 100 to 102 agreed to.

Clause 103 [Intervention by the Secretary of State]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 150 and 151: Page 84, line 27, leave out ("shall") and insert ("and any sub-contractor of his shall each"). Page 84, line 40, after ("contractor,") insert ("any sub-contractor of his,").

Clause 103, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 104 to 106 agreed to.

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Clauses 107 and 108 agreed to.

Clause 109 [Interpretation of Chapter II]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 152 and 153: Page 87, line 45, leave out ("and"). Page 88, line 2, at end insert ("; and "sub-contractor" has the meaning given by section 98(2) above.").

Clause 109, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 110 [Arrangements for the provision of prisoner escorts]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 153A: Page 88, line 37, at end insert ("other than in the case where a prisoner is a terrorist or suspected terrorist").

The noble Lord said: This is a short but important amendment. The rubric for Chapter III, the first clause of which is Clause 110, is "Northern Ireland". The amendment therefore relates only to the affairs of Northern Ireland. Its purpose is to remove the possibility in Northern Ireland of privatised prisoner escort companies carrying prisoners who are terrorists or suspected terrorists. We adopt the position that it would be grossly irresponsible to allow the carriage of prisoners who are terrorists or suspected terrorists by privatised companies in Northern Ireland.

The whole experience of Northern Ireland over the past 25 years at least points very powerfully to the opposite conclusion. In another place the Home Office Minister, Mr. Maclean, said: I do not want to rule out the idea altogether and say no to the proposition that terrorist prisoners may be thus conveyed".

That is to say, conveyed by privatised security companies. The purpose of this amendment is to rule that out entirely. The circumstances are quite plain. First, the lesson of history is there to be learnt. Secondly, many Group 4 staff or staff in other similar companies are recruited on the basis of no previous experience whatsoever. That is in very strong contrast to the enormous experience and expertise of those who labour in the prison service in Northern Ireland and in particular members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. They have the expertise and the knowledge, and they know how to deal with transporting terrorists or suspected terrorists who, by absolute definition, are likely to be high risk prisoners.

One should not forget that since 1979 no fewer than 29 prison officers in Northern Ireland have lost their lives; and in this Chamber we know all too well how many RUC officers have been murdered. Our objections therefore are those of principle, of practice and of recent history. That is the purpose of the amendment. It needs no further commendation. I beg to move.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

I should like to support the amendment fully. I have some knowledge of Northern Ireland behind me.

Lord Monson

I hope that the Government have not decided in advance automatically to oppose all amendments moved from the Opposition Benches. This amendment seems to be eminently commonsensical and wholly devoid of any party political connotations. Therefore I think it worthy of support by the Committee as a whole, irrespective of party affiliations.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

There is no attitude of automaticity in that any amendment proposed from the Opposition Front Benches should be rejected. Indeed, with regard to the type of case referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Williams, I doubt that there is a cigarette paper between us in terms of its importance. It may be politically incorrect these days to say that; but I am sure that the noble Lord understands what I mean.

In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, clearly it is highly unlikely that in the foreseeable future there would ever be any circumstances in which high risk terrorists would be escorted in that way. The basis of my resistance to the amendment is not that the Government do not understand the very grave risks attached to the escort of such terrorist prisoners; it is that the amendment wrongly assumes that all terrorist prisoners within Northern Ireland are the same and that they all pose an equal threat to good order. There have been several occasions on which the police and the courts have accepted that a person charged with a scheduled or terrorist offence—the way to appreciate the matter in Northern Ireland is to understand that rather than terrorism being defined there are a number of scheduled offences—has been on the periphery of the terrorist organisation or that his role in the offence has been very minor. That is probably best demonstrated by the fact that in some circumstances such people may even be granted bail. But at the other end of the scale a person may be accused of pulling the trigger in a shooting incident and being a committed terrorist. Under the legislation, in both cases the person would be, in a sense, classified as a terrorist; but they hardly pose the same risk or threat.

Similarly, those prisoners who are already serving a sentence for terrorist offences pose different risks and threats. For example—it is not a hypothetical one—a prisoner who has shown remorse and renounced violence or is coming to the end of his sentence is clearly less of a risk than a prisoner who seeks to justify his outrageous actions, shows no remorse and still has a substantial part of his sentence to serve.

I would suggest to your Lordships, therefore, that it would be wrong to rule out the possibility of some lower—risk terrorist prisoners being escorted by the private sector at some time in the future. I hope that, given a clear understanding on the part of the Government that there are high—risk terrorists who need to be regarded in a clear and separate category, the noble Lord will appreciate that this amendment can be withdrawn.

Lord Williams of Mostyn

I am sorry to say so, but this simply is not good enough. I have the honour and privilege to speak for our party on Northern Ireland affairs, and it is something that one approaches, I hope, with a decent respect and humility. We are talking about terrorists. I recognise that some terrorists may be more dangerous than others, but, for my part, I would find it impossible to speak to a prison officer in Northern Ireland or a member of the RUC or of the security forces and to say to him in respect of someone who had been apprehended, very often as a result of inquiries which involve the police and the security forces in danger and which put prison officers in certain danger—not only when they are at work but in their own domestic circumstances, as we know too well—"Ah, these were minor terrorists we have contracted out". I could not find it in my heart to stand there and look at them.

The support that I have received has been extremely moderate in its tone and content. This is not a party political matter: it is much too important. Perhaps I may trespass on your Lordships' patience for a moment. The Minister rightly describes a terrorist as someone who may be the object of a scheduled offence. That means that he is a particular creature in our criminal law. He is the object of special legislation. He is the object of special trials without a jury. He is the subject of confiscation orders, which are not applicable in ordinary criminal cases except perhaps in drug trafficking. He is capable of being the subject of adverse inferences from his silence. There are gradations, but I put no terrorist or suspected terrorist in any category other than that of a potential grave risk to the people who have to deal with them.

Let us look at one or two further points which have been brought to my attention by those who do public service in Northern Ireland in circumstances that we can hardly begin to understand. The Minister speaks of a prisoner who may have repented of terrorism—true, some do but very few, as it happens. However, those who do so are likely to be the object of their former terrorist colleagues wanting to kill them, wanting to free them from custody, to torture them, to do them harm, to abuse them and to find out what information they may have conveyed. These are not alarmist scenarios: they are the common currency of daily life for prison officers and RUC members in Northern Ireland. If there is danger to prisoners in those circumstances, self—evidently there is danger to staff. The staff must be properly trained. They must be part of an ordered, disciplined service: namely, the RUC or the Prison Service.

I am very sorry to say this. The Minister said that there was hardly a cigarette paper between him and me, and I am always attracted by that Rizla school of jurisprudence and legislation. But I have to say that I doubt whether the Minister convinced himself. I equally deeply doubt whether he convinced anyone else in your Lordships' Chamber. I shall withdraw this amendment with your Lordships' leave on this occasion, but I intend to return to it because this is much too serious a matter to be dealt with by such a thinly—attended Committee at this time of night.

I point out, I hope without undue pomposity, that we have duties which we must discharge in this Chamber to those who are in the front line. I do not think that we do them justice or decency by allowing these things to go through at this time of night in this way. With your Lordships' leave, I shall withdraw my amendment tonight, but I shall return to it.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

Before the noble Lord sits down, I am sorry if he does not like my cigarette paper metaphor—I will try to think of another one before we return to this matter in the future. However, given his great knowledge of these matters, I hope he will reflect on this before we return to it. As he will appreciate, those offences which fall within the schedule, if they happen to be unrelated to terrorism, require to be de—scheduled. It may be that in certain circumstances we could make unnecessary difficulties for those who are not terrorists, and it may be that some months may occur before such a de—scheduling decision is taken. I do not ask the noble Lord to respond to me at this time. It may be something that we can return to at a later stage.

Lord Williams of Mostyn

I am happy to respond. As a devoted life—time non—smoker, I have no particular objection to any particular cigarette paper. I want to avoid pomposity, but we have a duty not only to this House but to people who are at the frontline. If the Minister is suggesting that a form of words may be available or that a distinct indication of government policy may be available, I would be more than happy to go along that path with him, as I am sure the noble Lords, Lord Monson and Lord Donaldson, would be as well. However, this seems to be a classic illustration of what we should be doing in this House; namely, assisting the passage of fruitful legislation. As I said earlier, I shall withdraw the amendment on this occasion but intend to return to the matter. I very much hope that before the next stage I will receive a letter from the Minister indicating a sensible, appropriate and workable arrangement. Since I am not only a lifelong non—smoker but a lifelong optimist, I shall sit down.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 153B and 153C not moved.]

9.15 p.m.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 153D: Page 89, line 7, leave out ("for committal, a warrant for") and insert ("of commitment, a warrant of).

The noble and learned Lord said: This is a technical amendment to correct a drafting error in the definition of a warrant. I beg to move.

Clause 110, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 111 to 114 agreed to.

Schedule 7 agreed to.

Clauses 115 to 117 agreed to.

Clause 118 [Service in England and Wales and Northern Ireland]:

[Amendment No. 153E had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Turner of Caniden moved Amendment No. 153EA: Page 92, line 23, leave out from beginning to ("subsection") in line 24.

The noble Baroness said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord McIntosh, I rise to move this amendment and to speak to Amendment No. 153F. Both amendments are concerned with industrial relations in the Prison Service. They are slightly different, but they have been grouped.

The objective of the first amendment is to ensure that prison officers who took industrial action before the enactment of the Bill cannot be taken to court on the grounds that at the time the prison officers did not have the right to take such action. As I understand it, Clause 118 gives the Prison Officers' Association trade union status retrospectively, although the wording is in my view rather obscure.

The Government have argued that the clause gives prison officers new rights. The Home Secretary apparently contends that he is giving prison officers back the rights that were brought into question following a recent court hearing. Your Lordships may perhaps be aware of a recent court decision that prison officers are constables and therefore were not covered by the relevant employment legislation. But this trade union status does not extend to ever having had the right to take any form of industrial action; in other words, to breach Clause 119(1) of the Bill.

The net effect of the wording that we are seeking to delete with the amendment would be to render prison officers liable in respect of past industrial action and that opens up the prospect that they could find themselves facing action in court for something that was taken in good faith at the time and some years ago. It was assumed by everyone in those days, including the Government, that the action was not illegal. It would be ludicrous to insist that someone could be open to prosecution in respect of action taken perhaps 10 years ago when everyone thought it was quite legal.

If the Government are serious about statements made —for example, by Ministers in another place where I understand it was indicated that it was not the Government's intention to rake over old coals—why do we have this clause in the Bill? How is anyone meant to obey the law retrospectively? There seems to be no logical argument for the clause in the Bill and our amendment seeks to delete it. I trust therefore that the Minister will clarify the situation.

I pass on to Amendment No. 153F, which has been grouped with Amendment No. 153EA. The intention of this amendment is to protect the right of prison officers to protest—by dispute action if necessary—in instances where their health and safety could be at risk. The Government have taken away one part of the industrial relations machinery and, as I understand it, nothing has replaced it. Prison officers will have no bargaining power and no way in which they can force prison managers to recognise a serious problem in a prison. The only way a prison officer could register an effective protest would be to resign. I believe that no one would regard that as a satisfactory solution either for the officer himself or for the prison service generally.

In my view this section of the Bill is in breach of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, which expressly provides for the right to take industrial action. It is also in breach of ILO conventions. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association has held on a number of occasions that the right to take industrial action is implied and is a fundamental provision of the Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.

The right to take industrial action is also implicit in Articles 20 and 23 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I understand that the Government regard themselves as bound by those conventions, to which they are signatories.

However, the Government contend that this Bill puts industrial relations in the prison service on a proper footing. But what the Government regard as a proper footing is a removal of the basic right of industrial action and its replacement with absolutely nothing that I can see in the Bill. Prison officers are therefore left with no means of effectively making management take note of the serious anxieties of officers who are themselves at the sharp end and have a responsibility for the safety not only of themselves and their colleagues but also of the prisoners in their charge.

Prison officers and staff have real anxieties and fears, particularly since the recent rise in the prison population caused, I believe, at least in part by the Government's penal policies. Taking away the right to voice those fears effectively will not reduce the problems, but simply mask them for the time being with possibly greater problems later on. There should be a mechanism for the protection of staff and to ensure that there is a means of making their voices heard.

The Home Office Minister said in Standing Committee in another place that it is no part of the Government's policy to deny members of the prison service the right to be represented by independent, effective and responsible unions, yet this clause in the Bill takes away that right, as the final sanction of industrial action is removed.

The amendment is designed to allow prison officers the right to withdraw labour or commit a breach of discipline where their health or safety is threatened. For example, it would allow a prison officer to withdraw his labour if a governor ordered him to manage an entire wing of a prison, unlocked, on his own. That is not hypothetical. My information is that that is precisely what some prison officers are now facing. The clause in the Bill is drafted in very strong terms and leaves no room even for the narrow liberty of industrial action normally available to most trade unions under existing labour law.

The removal of the right to take industrial action and of the right to negotiate on pay and conditions will lead to a breakdown of morale and discipline within the prison service, as the only safety valve for prison officers to highlight dangerous and degrading conditions would disappear. It would appear that the health and safety of prison officers and of the prisoners themselves is under threat. We have heard in the debate this evening about the prison population explosion. There has been a large increase in the number of prisoners and also in the number of violent prisoners. That has made prisons even more dangerous places to work in than they used to be.

During the past five years the prison system within the United Kingdom has experienced approximately 30,000 assaults by prisoners on staff and on other prisoners. Assaults on staff rose by 33 per cent. in the past year and they are expected to continue to rise at alarming levels. The past five years have also seen 13,000 drug finds. Again, evidence shows that the level of drug abuse is continuing to rise and, as everybody knows, over the past five years there have been riots and acts of vandalism in prisons which have resulted in the taxpayer having to foot a £1 billion bill for the damage done.

The Bill does not address the situation at prison landing level of how a prison officer, or a group of prison officers, will react in a volatile environment particularly when confronted by violent prisoners. Many disputes between governors and prison officers arise out of a sense of grievance about the way in which management decisions have impacted on the safety and security of prison officers at landing level.

I am sure that I am not the only Member of your Lordships' House who has felt it necessary to visit prisons in an attempt to find out exactly how the prison service runs. Whenever I have paid such visits, I have come away with a feeling of deep sadness. As a society, we are locking away our problems. Prison officers are doing work that is vitally necessary because violent and dangerous people cannot be permitted to threaten the lives and security of ordinary citizens. Prison officers therefore act for us, doing work which many of us would not want to do. We have an obligation to ensure that they have good conditions; that their views, since they are closer to the problems than anyone else, are taken into account; and, in particular, that they are not exposed to health and safety hazards that could be avoided. They must be afforded the right to protest and to employ the ultimate sanction if they feel that their welfare is being ignored. I beg to move.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: The noble Baroness, Lady Turner of Camden, has spoken to two amendments which are rather different in nature, but which have been grouped together. In the group of clauses, Clauses 118 to 120, I should be surprised if the Opposition opposed Clause 118 because of the case last year which highlighted the fact that prison officers in England and Wales have the privileges and powers of constables, from which the conclusion was drawn that they were not "workers" within the terms of the trade union legislation. Clause 118 gives prison officers and their unions the rights that they would have expected to have if they had not had the status of constable. That is always subject to the provisions of Clause 119 which is, I think, the clause to which the noble Baroness objects. That clause makes it quite clear that it will be a contravention of the provisions if somebody induces a prison officer to withhold his services as an officer or to commit a breach of discipline. The purpose of that provision is to prevent the disruption of the prison service.

In that connection, the noble Baroness refers to a number of conventions. Under the European Convention on Human Rights, it is clear that the right to take industrial action can be restricted in the case of the police or of those who are involved, in the administration of the State", which includes those of the status of prison officer. There is no question here of any breach of the European Convention on Human Rights; nor is there any question of a breach of the International Labour Convention which contains an exception in the case of essential workers, such as prison officers. Therefore, there is no question of us being in breach of our international obligations. The purpose of Clause 119 is to make it clear that prison officers are not entitled to take industrial action. Clause 120 contains powers, by regulation, in appropriate situations, to make provisions. in connection with the rates of pay and terms and conditions of employment of prison officers. Obviously, that is the other side of the question.

The first amendment to which the noble Baroness spoke would have the effect of seeking to validate retrospectively something which was unlawful at the time that it occurred, unlawful as the law existed then and unlawful as the law will exist if and when this Bill becomes an Act. It would give extraordinary and completely anomalous status to these actions, which is neither justified by the former law nor by the law as it will be.

I agree that the Government have indicated that they have no intention of raking over old sores and so forth. Nonetheless, it would be wrong in principle to enact something retrospectively which would correspond neither to the legal position as it was then nor to the legal position as it will be in the future. For that reason, we cannot accept the proposed amendment.

The other proposed amendment is a little difficult to parse or to fit into the particular provision to which it is attached. Nonetheless, it deals with matters of health and safety and, without going into its detail, I am happy to take it on that basis. As I have said, the provisions of Clause 119(1) are precisely drafted and are intended to prevent industrial action by prison officers. I understand that somehow or other the amendment would introduce an exception in connection with, in broad terms, matters of health and safety. Into that wide maw, and on various occasions in the past, representatives of the Prison Officers Association have tried to sweep various matters such as manning levels and so forth. In connection with genuine and proper health and safety issues, the responsibility lies on the governor of the prison establishment concerned. That obligation is clearly settled in Standing Order No. 14 of the prison service. Nothing which is contained in Clause 119 in any way impacts upon or affects adversely the responsibility of the prison governor.

As Members of the Committee will know, health and safety in prisons is covered by the Health and Safety Act 1974 and other legislation in so far as it applies to the Crown. For example, it imposes obligations on the Home Office as employer and accordingly requires the governor to produce a local health and safety statement, to appoint local health and safety representatives, to conduct health and safety audits, to set up health and safety committees and to grant full access to inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive. Your Lordships will find that in the context of Standing Order No. 14, to which I have referred.

Therefore, there is a whole area of provisions which deals with the matter of health and safety in prisons. For that reason, we reject any idea that it would be in any way sensible—far less necessary—to include an exception of the kind which the noble Baroness would seek to introduce in her amendment.

There is nothing to prevent any prison officer drawing the attention of those in a position of authority or responsibility to any health and safety issue. But that cannot be used as a pretext to disrupt the running of prisons. There is a different regime for health and safety and prison officers must not be allowed to bring those issues into the context of industrial relations in order to disrupt the running of the prisons. The Bill proceeds on the basis that it is important that prisons should be run without interruption. In that context, the amendment is not acceptable. I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw it.

Baroness Turner of Camden

I am somewhat disappointed but not entirely surprised by the Minister's response. With regard to the first amendment, as I understand the situation, for many years it was taken for granted by the Government, by the Prison Officers' Association and indeed by everyone that prison officers had the same rights as any other trade unionists to take industrial action subject, of course, to the requirements of the legislation then in force. There was then a court decision which held that prison officers had always been constables and because of that automatically were not workers within the purview of employment legislation and therefore not entitled to the coverage provided by the appropriate employment legislation.

The Prison Officers' Association is now saying that it is all very well to say, as has been said in the other place, that the Government do not intend to rake over old coals. But the fact remains that people who took action some time ago are nevertheless vulnerable because it has now been said —indeed, the Minister said it this afternoon—that it was never lawful for them to take the action, although everybody at the time thought that it was lawful. I am sure that they would not have taken the action if they had thought it unlawful. Such people feel vulnerable and feel that action may be taken against them as a result of industrial action which they took some time ago.

I should have thought that it would be very much to the Government's advantage to assure prison officers in some way or other, if not through this amendment, that bygones are bygones and that there is no possibility that those cases will ever be reopened. After all, all those who took action in those circumstances thought that they were doing so quite lawfully.

At this time of the evening, I do not intend to press the issue to a Division. However, I earnestly ask the Government to think about the matter and to see whether there is not some way, either through this Bill or by putting something into Hansard, whereby assurance can be given that there will be no follow—up of cases in which people were involved some years ago.

As to the second amendment, again, as I understand it, the Prison Officers' Association—and I have a note from it here—seems to have accepted that with regard to the general right to industrial action its members are in a special and separate position. That is why the amendment it has asked me to put before the Committee this evening is concerned only with health and safety. Health and safety in prisons is a very dodgy and difficult issue, as I am sure your Lordships will understand following the submissions made on all sides of the Committee.

Prison officers are dealing with violent and unpredictable people. I recall when I was visiting prisons, going to Holloway where I was extremely anxious to see how women in prison were being dealt with. I was told by prison officers there that you could be very friendly with a prisoner on one day but the next day, and quite out of the blue—prisoners are entirely unpredictable—there could be an attack upon the prison officer with whom the prisoner had been very friendly the previous day. It is a very volatile, difficult and special situation.

In my view, it is not sufficient simply to say that the health and safety legislation which applies everywhere else will apply within the prison service; that that should be sufficient and that the governor has obligations under the health and safety legislation, and so on. As I said, it is a very volatile, difficult and special situation with which the staff are constantly faced. Sometimes it may be necessary to protest sharply and strongly, perhaps even involving a breach of discipline—in other words, a breach of the provisions in Clause 119. If that were to happen we want to ensure that the individuals concerned have some form of protection.

As I said earlier, it is not my intention this evening to press the amendments to a vote because we have a very thin presence in the Chamber. However, they involve very important and significant matters to which I believe we may have to return on Report when, perhaps, there will be more noble Lords present. At that time, we shall be able to mount our arguments in a different way and return with slightly different wording to the amendment. These are important and serious issues. Quite frankly, I do not think that the Government's response this evening adequately covers or deals with the concerns that have been voiced by prison staff, both to me and to others on this side of the Committee who have decided to take the briefing that such staff offered to us. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 118 agreed to.

Clause 119 [Inducements to withhold services or to indiscipline]:

[Amendment No. 153F not moved.]

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendment No. 154: Page 93, line 12, leave out from beginning to ("which") in line 14 and insert: ("(3) Without prejudice to the right of the Secretary of State, by virtue of the preceding provisions of this section, to bring civil proceedings in respect of any apprehended contravention of subsection (1) above, any breach of the duty mentioned in subsection (2) above").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall, with the leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendment No. 154ZA. The two amendments are essentially put forward to clarify the position. Amendment No. 154 ensures that there can be no doubt as to the Secretary of State's ability in whatever jurisdiction—be it England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland—to apply for an injunction (or, in Scotland, an interdict) to prevent an apprehended breach of the duty created by Clause 119 not to induce prison officers to take industrial action. It was thought that the clause as originally drafted achieved that aim, but some doubt has arisen as to whether it might be interpreted as requiring the Secretary of State to demonstrate that he would suffer loss or damage from the planned industrial action before he could obtain an injunction or interdict to restrain it. The purpose of the amendment is to remove any doubt and to show that the Secretary of State is entitled to that, even though he cannot demonstrate any potential loss or damage.

Amendment No. 154ZA relates to a very technical matter. Clause 120 is designed to deal with the remuneration of prison officers who are prison officers in the strict sense of the word. It is not intended to cover the remuneration of prison custody officers who would be employed by private operators. The amendment would ensure that prison custody officers and custody officers employed by the private sector —whether, in one case, in prisons and, in the other, in secure training centres—are excluded from the pay determination procedures which are provided, or may be provided, in regulations made by the Secretary of State under Clause 120.

For reasons—the details of which I shall spare Members of the Committee—regarding the precise drafting of certain sections of the Prison Act 1952 and the Criminal Justice Act 1991, there was thought to be a possible doubt about the matter. That doubt has been cured by the amendment. I beg to move.

Clause 120 [Pay and related conditions]:

9.45 p.m.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry moved Amendment No. 154ZA: Page 94, line 24, leave out from ("comprises") to end of line 32 and insert ("all the individuals who are prison officers within the meaning of section 119 above, apart from those who are custody officers within the meaning of Part I of this Act or prisoner custody officers within the meaning of Part IV of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 or Chapter II or III of this Part.").

Clause 120, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 121 to 127 agreed to.

Clause 128 [Execution of warrants]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 154ZB: Page 100, line 28, at beginning insert ("Subject to subsection (4A) of this section,").

The noble and learned Lord said: After that spectacular progress in the Bill which must be unprecedented I have some reluctance in intervening with an amendment on behalf of the Government. In moving Amendment No. 154ZB I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 154ZC. The purpose of these amendments is to ensure the smooth operation of the provisions in this clause. As things stand, a person arrested in pursuance of a warrant under the terms of the present provisions could be taken only to a police station within the jurisdiction of the judicial authority who issued that warrant. However, there will be circumstances where, under normal circumstances, a warrant will direct that a person should be taken elsewhere, and the best example that I can give is directly to a prison. Clearly the clause should also expressly cater for such a case and by virtue of these amendments it will do so. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 154ZC: Page 100, line 30, at end insert:

  1. ("(4A) In the application of subsection (4) of this section to a person arrested in pursuance of—
    1. (a) a warrant of commitment issued by a judicial authority in England, Wales or Northern Ireland; or
    2. (b) a warrant for committal, or of detention and return of sentence, issued by a judicial authority in Scotland, the reference to a police station within the jurisdiction of that authority shall be construed as including a reference to any other place to which he is committed by, or is to be conveyed under, the warrant.").

Clause 128, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 129 [Cross-border powers of arrest etc.]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 154ZD: Page 101, line 46, leave out ("the") and insert ("a").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 154ZD I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 154ZF, ZH and ZJ. These are technical amendments simply clarifying our intention that if an offence is being investigated in more than one police area, or a sheriffdom in Scotland, the person arrested or detained in connection with the offence can be taken to a police station in any of the police areas or the sheriffdoms where the offence is being investigated. I beg to move.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 154ZE: Page 102, line 2, leave out ("to the nearest convenient Police Station in Scotland or").

The noble Lord said: I believe this amendment has been briefly touched upon by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, as regards what is to happen to people who are being taken into custody in cross-Border activity.

The purpose of the amendment is to take out the phrase: to the nearest convenient police station in Scotland or in order to ensure that the person who has been arrested by a warrant, no doubt issued by a sheriff or magistrate in the area where the offence is to be tried, is taken to that locality.

There are real difficulties here. The Bill as it stands indicates that the person will be taken: to the nearest convenient police station in Scotland or to a police station within the sheriffdom in which the offence is being investigated".

That creates difficulties in the sparsely populated areas of Scotland. Does: the nearest convenient police station in Scotland mean that if someone has committed an offence in Inverness and is taken over the Border he can be dumped in Dumfries? I note that the noble and learned Lord is nodding his head. I hope that he is not agreeing with that, because what happens to the prisoner who is arrested in England or Wales under this cross-Border transference, to which no objection is made? Does it really mean that the person is to be taken over the Border and dumped in the nearest police station? So far as I can see there is nothing in the clause which makes provision for the receiving office to receive the prisoner.

Let us exaggerate the position and take the case of someone who is suspected of committing a murder in Inverness. He can be dumped at the police office in Dumfries. There is nothing in the Bill to require the police office in Dumfries to accept that person who has been arrested for a murder in Inverness. What happens if the officer who has arrested the prisoner in, say, Bermondsey, and having been with him for three or four days escorting him from Bermondsey to Inverness on reaching Dumfries, becomes a little fed up and says, "Under the Act I can just dump this chap here. I am off home, to play golf"—or whatever people do in the time off that they have earned as a result of having done escort duty?

I believe that the provision is rather slack in terms of the practicalities. It should be tightened up to make sure that where a warrant has been issued for the arrest of a person in England and Wales for an offence committed within a sheriffdom in Scotland there are clear and defined lines to make sure that the person is taken back to the place where he is likely to be tried. He should not be left in the custody of police officers in a station in Scotland who probably do not want to have the prisoner in the first place and under the Bill have no obligation to receive him. It is one thing to take and another to receive.

I should like to know from the Minister what obligation there is on the officers in whatever is meant by a "convenient police station" to receive the person. Can the arresting officer in England or Wales really hand over the prisoner with the warrant and say "All right, mate. I have arrested him in Bermondsey. He is wanted in Inverness. You are in Dumfries. This is the nearest convenient police station in Scotland. You can have him. Goodbye", and leave him there?

I can see that considerable difficulties will be created, unless I am completely misreading the clause. Of course, with his usual courtesy the Minister will tell me if that is the case. It may not be the first time. I hope that I am not misreading the situation. With those observations, I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

It is my understanding that it is the Committee's wish that the amendment should be grouped with Amendment No. 154A and Amendment No. 154B.

The noble Lord moved the amendment with a proper regard to the best interests of someone who has been arrested or is a suspect. I hope to persuade him that what he seeks to introduce into the Bill, far from being helpful to that individual, may be detrimental to a person arrested in England and Wales who is taken over the Border into Scotland.

As matters stand, the arrested person may be taken to the nearest convenient police station in Scotland or to one within a sheriffdom, in which the offence is being investigated. By denying access to the nearest convenient police station, as the noble Lord's amendment seeks to do, the rights of an arrested person are not necessarily best served. We seek to get the person taken to the appropriate jurisdiction and to set the wheels of justice in motion without delay while observing the rights of the suspect. What is proposed would seem to have no benefits for the suspect. We share a view with the noble Lord that we should be safeguarding the rights of the suspect. Therefore we have proposed alternatives.

What we have proposed is not entirely novel, because at present a person arrested in one area of Scotland for a crime committed elsewhere in Scotland may be taken to the nearest police station. I see no good reason for changing that. The noble Lord will well appreciate that with regard to detention under the terms of Section 2 of the 1980 Act, rather than going all the way to, say, Grampian, it might be in the best interest of a suspect that the six hours should run from the time that he is taken to the nearest convenient police station over the Border rather than being taken many hours later to a police station in Aberdeen or elsewhere.

Similarly, the noble Lord's second amendment would defeat the existing requirements of the clause by creating the false impression that the arresting or detaining officers had up to 72 hours to take the suspect back to the appropriate jurisdiction.

As it stands, the clause clearly stipulates that the suspect must be returned to the appropriate jurisdiction as soon as reasonably practicable. We have no intention of allowing a suspect who has been arrested or detained in one part of the United Kingdom on suspicion of having committed an offence within another part of the United Kingdom to remain outwith the jurisdiction where he may eventually face trial for any longer than is reasonably necessary and certainly not in any circumstances of which I can at present conceive for up to 72 hours.

While I understand the noble Lord's intention that the period should not be unreasonably protracted, I suggest that the present test and requirement within the clause is a far greater safeguard than the provision that he proposes.

I turn to his third amendment. It is right that the police should be able to account for how a person was dealt with, and I am pleased to be able to give my assurances that the existing legislation and police practices already amply cover that requirement.

In relation to detention by Scottish constables, the provisions attract the requirement of Section 2(4) of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 to record the place and time of detention. Clause 121 enables the movement of a person under detention but also requires that fact to be recorded. That requirement will also apply when detention is across the Border.

It is a matter of practice for Scottish police officers to record in their notebook the fact and time of arrest. That practice will of course be equally applied when the person has been arrested outwith Scotland. Similarly, the location of arrest and associated information may be important features of a case, in particular in these circumstances. At present such information is likely to be covered in the report to the procurator fiscal, as the noble Lord will doubtless appreciate.

An officer from England or Wales who crosses the Border to make an arrest will keep the same records as he would when making an arrest in England or Wales. The arresting officer is already required, normally by force standing orders, to record in his notebook the circumstances of the arrest as soon as practicable after the arrest. The officer is required to take the arrested person to an appropriate police station as soon as practicable after the arrest. So his prime concern, after informing the person that he has been arrested and the reasons for that arrest, is to take the person to the police station. For practical reasons the record of arrest may be recorded in the officer's notebook after he has taken the person to the police station. I understand that similar arrangements are applied in Northern Ireland.

These amendments imply that some appreciable time will pass before the detained or arrested person is returned across the Border. With respect to the noble Lord, that is a mistaken assumption because where an arrest is involved the intention is to arrest and return the person as soon as practicable to the appropriate jurisdiction.

As regards detention, I have explained the provisions that enable this to be carried out sensibly with the minimum inconvenience to the person detained. With that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will appreciate that while his amendments are well intentioned, they are unnecessary.

10 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I always hope that I act with the best intentions for the administration of justice within Scotland. I am obliged to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, for the explanation he has given. The amendments do not seek to restrict the investigation of crime or of bringing criminals to justice. They are meant to focus on the rights of the individual who has been arrested and to bear in mind the presumption of innocence which applies.

What worries a few people is that the phrase, as soon as reasonably practicable". when a person is in the custody of the police, particularly on a serious charge, is a matter for consideration by the police. To exaggerate the issue, if a policeman arrests someone in Bermondsey, he could take him back to Dumfries via Liverpool or Manchester and just keep motoring the chap around the place. A policeman with perhaps evil intent, waiting for a confession, might just motor the chap around the country. When it comes to a trial he may say: "Well, that was the only reasonably practicable way of bringing this fellow from Bermondsey to Inverness. In the course of the journey from Bermondsey to Inverness, he said X, Y, Z.".

The difficulty perceived is the operation of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 with its detention provisions on cross-Border transference, of which we are all in favour. Perhaps we and the Government can get together to see whether we can work out a practical framework which safeguards the individual. After all, the person in the custody of the police, after being arrested, has very few rights. He cannot tell the policeman halfway up the M.6: "Would you mind stopping at the Little Chef? I'd like a cup of tea". That is perhaps a silly analogy, but that person is completely in the control of the police from that point on. The prisoner has no control over what is judged to be reasonably practicable.

The amendments are put down to focus the issue so that we may consider the detailed replies which the noble and learned Lord has given to the Committee. The keeping of a record is important as is the conduct of a case particularly given the existing climate. Perhaps in Scotland we have a certain smugness about wrongful conviction. We look at what has happened south of the Border and say, "That could never happen in Scotland". I am perhaps one of the few people in Scotland who says that some of those things could have happened in Scotland. Any Bill dealing with the rights of the citizen is concerned with those rights, the maintenance of the presumption of innocence and ensuring that the rights of the citizen are not undermined merely because he is in the custody of the police and a court has issued a warrant for his arrest.

If I understand the flavour of what the Minister said, he has accepted the amendments in the spirit in which they were put down, and I hope that we can get together with interested parties. Then perhaps we may have a discussion about the issues which the amendments raise and come up with a provision which is more tightly constructed than the present clause.

I apologise to the Minister and to the Committee for not having dealt with the other amendments. I arrived in very great haste from the North just before the House resumed, and I had not caught up with the grouping of the amendments. I hope that I have now dealt with the matters that are before the Committee.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

Before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may say to him that I appreciate that the issue of what is reasonably practicable is always open to a degree of interpretation. But I am sure that the noble Lord will contemplate this point: whenever someone is arrested or detained as a suspect within England and Wales, it would clearly be reasonably practicable to get that individual across the Scottish Border, even on a day like tomorrow when there might be a rail strike, in less than 72 hours. While I understand the noble Lord's clear best intention to put a limit on this, I hope that he will appreciate that the test that is set in the clause is indeed a tighter one than the absolute limit that he has suggested.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I take the point that the noble and learned Lord makes. I can see that the period of 72 hours might be too tightly drawn. I can see the reasonable practicability of not having such a tight timescale. The 72 hours was chosen as a timescale within which to consider the operation of proposed cross-Border activity, taking into account the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1980. Having heard what the Minister has said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 154ZF: Page 102, line 3, leave out first ("the") and insert ("a").

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 154ZG: Page 102, line 11, leave out ("and Wales or in Northern Ireland") and insert ("or Wales").

The noble and learned Lord said: This is a technical amendment which removes an unnecessary and confusing reference to Northern Ireland. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 154ZH: Page 102, line 16, leave out first ("the") and insert ("a").

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 154ZJ: Page 102, line 18, leave out ("the") and insert ("a").

The noble and learned Lord said: This amendment has already been spoken to. I beg to move.

[Amendments Nos. 154A and 154B not moved.]

Clause 129, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 130 agreed to.

Clause 131 [Search powers available on arrests under sections 128 and 129]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 154BA: Page 104, line 12, leave out ("(2) or (3) or 129(1)") and insert ("(2) (b) or (3) (a) or 129(1) or (3)").

Clause 133 [Aid of one police force by another]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 154BB: Page 107, line 6, at end insert: ("(2A) The chief constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland may, on the application of the chief officer of police of a police force in England and Wales or the chief officer of a police force in Scotland, provide constables or other assistance for the purpose of enabling the English or Welsh force or the Scottish force to meet any special demand on its resources.").

The noble and learned Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No. 154BB, perhaps I might also speak to Amendments Nos. 154BC to 154BF, 172A and 175FA.

This group of amendments is, again, technical and introduces no new policy. The amendments consolidate existing legislation on the aid of one police force to another by including provisions affecting Northern Ireland in Clause 133. This is a sensible amalgamation which makes the aid provisions consistent across the whole of the United Kingdom. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 154BC to 154BF: Page 107, line 11, leave out ("or (2)") and insert (", (2) or (2A)"). Page 107, line 13, leave out ("or, as the case may be"). Page 107, line 14, after ("Scotland") insert ("or the chief constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, as the case may be,"). Page 107, line 36, at end insert: ("( ) In this section "constable of a police force", in relation to Northern Ireland, means a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve.").

The noble and learned Lord said: I beg to move these amendments en bloc.

Clause 133, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Annaly

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

House adjourned at ten minutes past ten o'clock.