Protection of Freedoms: Report stage day three update

16 February 2012

Lords continued their detailed scrutiny of the Protection of Freedoms Bill yesterday (Wednesday 15 February) in the last day of report stage. The bill will now move on to third reading for final amendments and scrutiny before being sent to the House of Commons

During the last day of report stage the House of Lords made further amendments to the Protection of Freedoms Bill.

Safeguarding criminal records

Baroness Stowell of Beeston (Conservative) moved Amendment 54W and 55 to Clause 79, which cover the restriction on information provided to certain persons in terms of safeguarding criminal records, the first was agreed and the latter not moved.

Baroness Stowell argued: 'that a copy of the criminal record certificate should be sent to the registered body as well as the applicant after a specified period has elapsed... For example, if the registered body informs the Secretary of State that the individual has not sent it a copy of the certificate within a prescribed period which we envisage to be 21 days, it would have to wait 21 days before making a representation to the relevant body.'

Freedom of Information Act

Members of the house explored the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the 'release and publication of datasets held by public authorities'. Amendment 56  to exempt university researchers from publishing work in progress from freedom of information requests was not moved. The government minister was questioned further about the time period this may cover and whether 'the decision to publish may not be made until a late stage of that study' in order that universities might successfully negotiate contracts with commercial companies or companies investing in UK research.

Human trafficking

Lords also discussed legal representation for all children 'who might have been the victim of a human trafficking offence' in Amendment 57A to be added as a new clause after Clause 110. After much debate Lord McColl of Dulwich (Conservative) withdrew the amendment after assurances and concessions from the minister. 

Protection of Freedom: Key areas

  • Brings in a new framework for police retention of fingerprints and DNA data, and requires schools to get parents’ consent before processing children’s biometric information.
  • Introduces a code of practice for surveillance camera systems and provides for judicial approval of certain surveillance activities by local authorities.
  • Provides for a code of practice to cover officials’ powers of entry, with these powers being subject to review and repeal.
  • Outlaws wheel-clamping on private land.
  • Introduces a new regime for police stops and searches under the Terrorism Act 2000 and reduces the maximum pre-charge detention period under that Act from 28 to 14 days.
  • Restricts the scope of the 'vetting and barring' scheme for protecting vulnerable groups and makes changes to the system of criminal records checks.
  • Enables those with convictions for consensual sexual relations between men aged 16 or over (which have since been decriminalised) to apply to have them disregarded.
  • Extends Freedom of Information rights by requiring datasets to be available in a re-usable format.
  • Repeals provisions (never brought into force) which would have allowed trial without a jury in complex fraud cases.
  • Removes time restrictions on when marriage or civil partnership ceremonies may take place.

Catch up on the Protection of Freedom Bill

What is the report stage?

Report stage in the chamber gives all members of the Lords further opportunity to consider all amendments (proposals for change) to a bill. It usually starts at least 14 days after committee stage. It can be spread over several days (but usually fewer days than at committee stage).

Detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of a bill takes place during report stage.

Before report stage takes place

  • The day before report stage starts, amendments are published in a Marshalled List – in which all the amendments are placed in order.
  • On the day, amendments on related subjects are grouped together and a list (“groupings of amendments”) is published.

What happens at report stage?

  • Detailed line by line examination of the bill continues.
  • Votes can take place and any member can take part.

After report stage - third reading

  • If the bill is amended it is reprinted to include all the agreed amendments.
  • The bill moves to third reading for the final chance for the Lords to debate and amend the bill.
  • More about third reading.

Further information

Find out more about watching House of Lords debates.

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