Justice and Security Bill Lords committee day four

24 July 2012

The Justice and Security Bill completed committee stage, line by line scrutiny of the bill, in the House of Lords yesterday (Monday 23 July)

Members of the Lords examined Part Two of the bill covering closed material procedure and the provision of sensitive materials in immigration cases.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Conservative) opened the debate with Amendment 69 which removes 'enabling or requiring the proceedings to be determined without a hearing' from Clause 10 of the bill. He argued: 'Carried to an extreme, this would deprive the special advocate and/or the claimant of any opportunity to engage to any extent in this part of the procedure. We are talking here about closed material proceedings-secret hearings-about which there may be public concern.'

Responding on behalf of the government, Lord Wallace of Tankerness (Liberal Democrat), explained: 'The intention of the bill is that civil proceedings in which closed material proceedings are required will continue as regular civil proceedings as best they can, save only for the sensitive material elements that will be considered in closed session.' He added: '...it is important that the bill does not interfere in any way with the court's ability to exercise its normal case management powers; for example, where decisions can be made on the papers without a hearing, particularly if the parties have agreed such a course. 'Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts withdrew his amendment for further consideration.

Clauses 10, 11 and 12 were agreed without amendments.

Members then considered the Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction and cases where an innocent third party has information relating to another party's unlawful conduct.

Baroness Manningham-Buller (Crossbench) commented on Clause 13 on the disclosure of proceedings. She said: '... this is obviously one of the trickiest bits of the bill'. She added: 'If we can reach a solution to the difficulties of Norwich Pharmacal that protects other people's intelligence from this sort of exposure, we will still be in business. If we cannot protect it, it will not just be the Americans who reduce the flow of intelligence, as David Anderson described in his evidence, but many other people as well.'

Lord Tankerness responded: 'The aim of a Norwich Pharmacal application is to force a third party who is mixed up in the suspected wrongdoing of another to disclose information that the claimant needs.' He explained exposing real and serious secrets can damage the national interest. He said: 'It could leave the UK vulnerable to an attack because it has lost access to the information, simply because of the information being disclosed in a court case or court application.'

The bill completed committee stage in the House of Lords without further amendments to bill. The bill will next move to report stage in the autumn as the house pauses for recess.

Progress of the Justice and Security Bill

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. 

What is report stage?

Report stage gives all members of the Lords further opportunity to examine and make changes, known as amendments, to a bill.
Report stage usually starts 14 days after committee stage. It can be spread over several days (but usually fewer days than at committee stage).
Before report stage starts, all member's amendments are recorded and published. The day before a report stage debate the amendments are grouped into related subjects and placed in order - a marshalled list.

During report stage detailed line by line examination of the bill continues. Any member of the Lords can take part and votes can take place.
After report stage the bill is reprinted to include all the agreed amendments. The bill then moves to third reading for the final chance for the Lords to debate and amend the bill. 

Further information

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