Clause 55 - Legal aid in relation to Part 2 notices

National Security Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 8 Medi 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I thank the hon. Member for Halifax; she can be assured that my commitment to protecting our security through electronic means, as through every other means, will endure.

Clause 55 will extend the scope of legal aid so that it will be available for state threats prevention and investigation measures. It will allow individuals to access legally aided advice and representation in relation to a part 2 notice, subject to means and merits tests. That replicates the position in the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011.

The measures are a civil order designed to protect and mitigate the risk to the public from individuals who pose a threat but cannot be prosecuted or, in the case of foreign nationals, deported. Legal aid will be made available in those cases due to the restrictive nature of the measures that an individual may be subject to. It is right that we balance robust investigation and prevention measures with the access to justice and judicial oversight that this House would demand.

Photo of Holly Lynch Holly Lynch Shadow Minister (Home Office)

As we have already heard, clause 55 inserts a new paragraph in schedule 1 to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2021, to enable individuals subject to part 2 notices to receive civil legal services in relation to those notices.

Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Llafur, Bethnal Green and Bow

Order. Will the shadow Minister speak up, for the benefit of colleagues at the back?

Photo of Holly Lynch Holly Lynch Shadow Minister (Home Office)

Thank you for that helpful observation, Chair; I will certainly will.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley will discuss part 3 of the Bill shortly. However, clause 55, which is in part 2, and clauses 62, 63 and 64, which are in part 3, pull in completely opposite directions in principle. Dare I say that it is almost as if they were produced by two different Government Departments that have not been speaking to each other?

Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Llafur, Garston and Halewood 2:15, 8 Medi 2022

My hon. Friend is making an important point. Does she agree that the reasoning appears to be that this is such an intrusive and important provision, affecting people’s rights in such a potentially serious manner, that legal aid, subject to merit and means, ought to be available? Would that not also be an argument for getting rid of the whole of part 3 of the Bill?

Photo of Holly Lynch Holly Lynch Shadow Minister (Home Office)

My hon. Friend makes a really powerful point: there are very different principles evident in this element of part 2 compared to those in part 3. We will get into the details of part 3 shortly, but my hon. Friend is exactly right. Part 3 prevents civil legal aid from being available even to British children with any spent terror convictions, yet we are providing legal aid to those who we suspect of engaging in espionage on behalf of hostile foreign states. There is absolutely a powerful case for that, but my hon. Friend is right that that powerful case extends beyond the provisions in part 2 and should also be considered in relation to part 3.

There is a distinct lack of rationale and consistency in the proposals. When we continue into the debate on part 3, I would be grateful if the Minister could provide us with a greater understanding of why those differences occur in the Bill.

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I will restrict myself to discussing clause 55 now rather than considering part 3, because clause 55 covers a particular use of legal aid, which is the use of legal aid in relation to the subject who may be under an STPIM notice. It is therefore a very particular application of legal aid. The question to which the hon. Lady refers, which I understand, is one that, as she knows, we have already discussed, and I look forward to having further discussions with her on it because it does raise questions.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 55 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.