The Commons have introduced the following major amendments to the Bill, in so far as CMPs are concerned, which they received from the Lords:
1. CMP declarations, in the Bill received from the Lords, could be made where there would be harm to national security caused by disclosure. The Commons have added to that an alternative condition that disclosure of the material cannot be made because of PII grounds (which are wider than national security - most particularly harm to diplomatic relations) or because the party chose not to rely on the material or because section 17 RIPA prevents disclosure (intercept evidence) or because any other enactment prevents disclosure. Hence the circumstances in which a CMP declaration may be made have been widened.
2.The Lords Bill required the Secretary of State to consider claiming PII as an alternative to seeking a CMP declaration but the Commons Bill has beefed this up such that the Court must be satisfied that the Secretary of State has carried out that consideration.
3.The Commons have added a new clause (after number 6) to require the Court to keep the CMP declaration under review, particularly after disclosure. There is a power to revoke on the application of any party or on the Court's own motion. Clearly this is designed to keep the Secretary of State on her toes, to make such that a CMP is still required after a review of the documents which have been disclosed.
4.The Commons have added new clauses (after 10) requiring reports on the use of the CMPs every 12 months and a review every 5 years.
Otherwise, the Bill remains, as far as CMPs are concerned, as was delivered from the Lords to the Commons.
Interestingly, a Labour MP, Paul Coggins tried to insert an amendment to permit CMPs to be available to inquests held by the Chief Coroner or a High Court Judge. This would have been a good development, as several high profile inquests have suffered from the lack of CMPs (7/7 and most latterly Litvinenko, where Owen J is to consider a PII application, which if granted will keep evidence out of the inquest - unlike a CMP which would permit it to be examined in controlled and safe conditions). The debate (set out below) on this amendment is interesting - as clearly HMG wished to include Coroners but have bowed to pressure.....
On inquests, I am sorry that the Minister did not take an intervention from me earlier. I would be delighted to take an intervention from him at any stage in the next couple of minutes. I am grateful to Members who supported my amendment 70, which would make closed material proceedings available for inquests as well as civil proceedings. We just need an explanation from the Minister on why the Bill proposes CMPs for civil cases, but does not propose them for inquests. That was in the original plan. He knows that senior members of the Government and senior judges think it is nonsense and inconsistent to have one and not the other. Mr Kenneth Clarke: I think we have had this exchange before. The explanation is simple. The Government were faced, in Parliament and from all the lobbies, with overwhelming opposition to extending CMPs to inquests. We have said throughout today’s proceedings that we have been trying to concede as far as possible, and that if people did not want to trust coroners with these powers and the ability to take into account this information,