Clause 44

Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 1:00 pm ar 22 Tachwedd 2007.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Disclosure of information etc.

Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

I beg to move amendment No. 300, in clause 44, page 31, line 41, leave out subsection (8).

Photo of Edward O'Hara Edward O'Hara Llafur, Knowsley South

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment No. 301.

Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

This is an extremely minor drafting change to remove the provision in subsection (8), on notification to the police and other authorities, from its incorrect location in clause 44, which is really about the disclosure of protected information—it is as simple as that. The subsection properly belongs in clause 46 and amendments Nos. 300 and 301 would put it there.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Shadow Minister (Justice)

I am happy that what I am about to say will conclude our deliberations on clauses 44 to 46. I would like to ask the Minister, using the excuse of these amendments, about the power in clause 45(1) for the Secretary of State to

“give a notice to the Commissioner” regarding

“the disclosure of—

(a) any document or information specified in the notice, or

(b) any description of document or information so specified”.

Is that decision by the Secretary of State challengeable, or does the Secretary of State’s view that the disclosure of the document would

“prejudice national security or would otherwise be contrary to the public interest” mean that the decision cannot be challenged, and that that would be it? I have not expressed my question very lucidly, but I hope that the Minister understands what I am trying to ask. Is the Secretary of State’s opinion unchallengeable, or can the courts review that decision?

Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

As far as I am aware, the normal rules would apply. A Secretary of State’s judgment is always challengeable in the courts, on the basis of judicial review, unless we were looking at something like certified public interests. My understanding is that such a decision is not intended to be out of the normal run of challengeable decisions; it ought to be challengeable in all the normal ways. I hope that that reassures the hon. and learned Gentleman. There is certainly no intention in this clause to have any special rules or to suggest that the Secretary of State’s decision is final and cannot be challenged.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Shadow Minister (Justice)

I do not want to hold up the Committee’s deliberations. I therefore wonder whether the Minister could write to me about that matter and circulate the letter to the Chairman and to other members of the Committee, so that there is clarity about the intention behind the measure.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 44, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 45 ordered to stand part of the Bill.