Although the Commons rose last week for the summer recess, the House of Lords is sitting until Wednesday. The work the House is doing this week is well adumbrated by the BBC’s Mark D’Arcy in his blog.
Today, the House is in committee on the Justice and Security Bill. The deliberations are notable for the peers who are present. They include a batch of leading QCs, including Lord Pannick, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, Lord Marks of Henley and Lord Thomas of Gresford. They include members who have served as head of MI5 (Baroness Manningham-Buller), Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC, Lord Mackay of Clashfern QC), Attorney General (Lord Goldsmith QC), law lord (Lord Lloyd of Berwick QC, who also headed an inquiry into terrorist legislation), Lord Chief Justice (Lord Woolf QC), Cabinet Secretary (Lord Butler of Brockwell) and as Defence ministers (Lord Reid and Lord Gilbert, though in speaking earlier Lord Reid drew on his experience as Home Secretary in dealing with national security). There are other peers also participating, drawing on different experiences and expertise, but listening to the deliberations on amendments one could not fail to be struck by the high level of debate and the recognition of the need to achieve a balance between justice and security. As the minister, Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, observed, the Bill is not a justice or security Bill but a justice and security Bill.