Justice and Security Bill committee stage day three

16 July 2012

The Justice and Security Bill continues committee stage, line by line scrutiny of the bill, in the House of Lords today (Tuesday 17 July)

Lords will suggest inserting new clauses about the disclosure of material during closed material proceedings and appointing independent judicial commissioners to sit with judges.

Changes to Clause Seven will look at situations in court hearings where information may be disclosed and court applications.

The appointment of a special advocate, a security cleared lawyer to represent the interests of an excluded party in closed material proceedings, will be discussed under Clause Eight of the bill.

Committee stage: Wednesday 11 July

Members of the Lords began by examining the reports created by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). Lord Butler of Brockwell (Crossbench) opened the debate and presented his amendment to the reports produced by the ISC.

Responding on behalf of the government, Lord Henley (Conservative) explained the ISC currently presents an annual  report to the prime minister, who then removes any sensitive information and presents it to each of the Houses with a statement detailing the exclusions. He said: 'Under the bill, the ISC will for the most part report to Parliament but will still be able to report to the prime minister on matters that would be excluded from any report'. Lord Butler of Brockwell later withdrew his amendment after receiving assurances that the government would address the points made.

Members of the Lords also debated a new clause to address statutory public interest immunity (PII) for national security sensitive material. Lord Faulks (Conservative) moved Amendments 39 and 40, both supported by some other members of the House including a member of the Joint Committee of Human Rights and another from the Constitution Committee.

The amendments to Clause Six covered the restrictions on the disclosure of sensitive material and the use of PII before closed material proceedings (CMP). Members discussed applications of PII before CMPs. Lord Faulks withdrew his amendment after assurances of modifications to the bill that going through the PII process before going to CMPs 'represents a positive safeguard on what I hope will be a rarely resorted to but undoubtedly necessary procedure,' he said.

Members ended the bill's debate by examining Clause Six which covers court procedure for closed material applications.

About the Justice and Security bill

The first reading of the Justice and Security Bill took place in the House of Lords on 28 May 2012. The bill proposes:

  • Strengthened oversight by Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service, the Government Communications Headquarters and other activities relating to intelligence or security matters.
  • To expand the statutory remit of the ISC and allow Parliament to have a more substantial role in ISC appointments.
  • For closed material procedure in relation to certain civil proceedings in the High Court, the Court of Session or the Court of Appeal. Also to extend closed material procedure for cases containing sensitive information and connected purposes.

Background information on the bill

What is committee stage?

Detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of the bill takes place during committee stage. Any member of the Lords can take part.

It usually starts no fewer than two weeks after the second reading and can last for one to eight days or more.

Members can put forward their suggested amendments (changes) to the bill. These amendments are published in a marshalled list. In the marshalled list the amendments on related subjects are grouped together.

During committee stage everything in the bill has to be agreed to. All proposed amendments can be discussed and there is no time limit, or guillotine, on discussion of amendments. Members can vote on the amendments if no clear agreement on an amendment is made.

Previous Justice and Security news stories

Further information

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