Terrorism Act 2000 – Statement

Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I note that the Government will introduce interim guidelines and that a review of counterterrorism legislation will be undertaken. I have spoken in your Lordships’ House about the use of Section 44 powers and the fact that a very high number of people from ethnic minority communities have been stopped and searched. Can the Minister assure me that under the interim powers, people from ethnic minority backgrounds will not be targeted? Can this point be looked into when the review of counterterrorism legislation is undertaken? Can the Minister also clarify why it is necessary for Section 44 powers to continue to be applied to searches of vehicles?

Baroness Neville-Jones (Minister of State, Home Office): Let me take my noble friend’s second point first. Section 43 does not contain any powers to stop vehicles. I think that the House will understand that it would not be very sensible not to have any powers at all to stop vehicles. In many respects, the greater danger may lie in someone, or persons, trying to do something in a vehicle. So it is necessary to be able to stop vehicles. Therefore, Section 44, as a matter of law, has to remain available for vehicles. In practice, however, it will be interpreted by using reasonable suspicion, as if it were a Section 43 power. I very much take the noble Lord’s point about the need for there not to be discrimination and disproportionality in the stopping of different groups in society. I think that that is a concern to the whole House, and it is being watched very carefully.

Updated: 12/07/2010 — 11:53 AM