Justice and Security Bill: Lords committee day three

18 July 2012

The Justice and Security Bill continued its committee stage, line by line scrutiny of the bill, in the House of Lords yesterday (Tuesday 17 July).

Lords started the debate by completing discussions on Clause Six. In Amendment 53 (later withdrawn), Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Conservative) put foward a definition for 'national security', meaning 'an operation of the intelligence or military services'.

Members then went on to debate the insertion of a new clause after Clause Six about the disclosure of material during civil proceedings in Amendment 54.

Lord Thomas of Gresford (Liberal Democrat) said the clause was needed after 'an anomaly' in the Evans vs Ministry of Defence case.

He explained: 'The case concerned the handing over of Taliban suspects by British forces to Afghan security police, with the distinct likelihood that they would be tortured. The security services argued that they were not required to disclose documents in their possession for the purposes of the case because they were not themselves being sued - they were not the party concerned.'

He withdrew the amendment after reassurance that the minister would look into the case.

Lord Dubs (Labour) also suggested that a new clause be inserted after Clause Six that allows 'independent judicial commissioners to sit with judges in closed material proceedings'. He withdrew Amendment 54A and will revisit the issue at report stage.

Changes to Clause Seven looked at situations in court hearings where information may be disclosed and court applications. A special advocate, a security cleared lawyer to represent the interests of an excluded party in closed material proceedings, was discussed under Clause Eight of the bill.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts moved a group of seven amendments spanning Clauses Seven and Eight. He said: 'Their underlying purpose is to improve the relationship between the special advocate and his client - if that is the right word - and the special advocate's ability to carry out his duties effectively.' He withdrew amendment 55. Amendments 56 and 63 through to 67 were not moved. 

Further line by line scrutiny will take place on committee stage day four on Monday 23 July.

Justice and Security Bill so far

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.  

Further information

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