Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Prevention of Terrorism

– in the House of Commons at 10:16 pm on 10th February 1987.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney 10:16 pm, 10th February 1987

I beg to move, That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 (Continuance) Order 1987, which was laid before this House on 27th January, be approved.

The effect of this order will be to renew the 1984 Act for a further 12 months from 22 March.

Since the House debated the similar order a year ago, there have been no major terrorist incidents on the mainland of Great Britain, and for that we should all be thankful—and grateful in particular to those who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe. The danger continues to hang over us—we should make no mistake about that. In Northern Ireland, terrorism continues to haunt the life of the Province, although the terrorist is no nearer reaching his objective, and fails to prevent the great majority of the people of Northern Ireland from going about their lives in peace.

The main change which has occurred in the past 12 months is the growing international understanding of the nature of terrorism, and co-operation in dealing with it. No longer, when European Ministers meet, is terrorism considered as something peculiar to the Irish problem or perhaps to the Basque problem in Spain. Regrettably, our partners, whether it be in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, all now experience within their own frontiers the particular horrors of terrorism and accept fully the need to co-operate in tackling it. Of course that co-operation is still imperfect. The change which has taken place shows how sensible the House was to accept Lord Jellicoe's recommendation and extend to international terrorism as a whole some of the powers which in the original Act were reserved for terrorism originating in the problems of Northern Ireland.

No one in this House disagrees about the distinctive evil of terrorism—the attempt to influence political thinking not by argument or persuasion but by killing, maiming or frightening innocent people. The argument in the House begins when we consider whether special powers are needed by the police and the Government in dealing with terrorism. I hope to persuade the House that this new order under the Prevention of Terrorism Act is a necessary part, although only part, of the armoury against acts of terrorism which can threaten a free society.

However, I shall not be satisfied simply to win the vote at the end of this debate. I would regard it as very serious if Her Majesty's Opposition were once again to oppose the measure. I hope the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) will have the wisdom and stoutheartedness to abandon the irresponsible precedent set since 1981 and go back to the much healthier situation which prevailed before that date, when Government and Opposition were able to agree on the basic elements of our response to terrorism.

The powers in the Act are exceptional, but as a counterbalance, the Act is subject to unusually close scrutiny and frequent review. Once a year, Parliament has the opportunity to decide whether the Act should continue in force. Moreover, the operation of the Act is closely monitored by an independent person appointed specially for the task. There cannot be many other powers under which decisions made by a Secretary of State are so rigorously brought to the attention of a person appointed by the Secretary of State, but independent of him.

I accept the wisdom which led Parliament to press three years ago for this independent review of the operation of the Act. The House was, I know, grateful to Sir Cyril Philips for his thorough study of the way the Act worked in 1984 and 1985. I know the House will be grateful to my noble and learned Friend, the Viscount Colville of Culross, for having carried out his task as Sir Cyril's successor so quickly and for making himself available to receive representations both in London and in Belfast.

I hope the House will welcome the publication of Lord Colville's report in plenty of time for this debate. He has visited a number of air and sea ports during his work, some of which have not been covered in previous reviews, to see the legislation in operation. As his report shows, he examined individual files on extensions of detention under section 12 of the Act and on article 9 of the order and exclusion orders and discussed the cases with officials and police, here and in Northern Ireland. His approach has been notably thorough. Those who are worried that the exceptional powers under the Act can lead to harassment and unfairness should find much to reassure them in the report of my noble and learned Friend.

I turn now to the two important and to some extent controversial powers under the Act, those of detention and exclusion. Lord Colville's report shows that in Great Britain 202 people were detained under the provisions of the Act in 1986, and 1,309 in Northern Ireland. This represents a decrease of 64 in Great Britain and an increase of 371 in Northern Ireland compared to 1985. On the mainland, as last year, about one quarter of the detentions related to suspected involvement in international, not Irish terrorism.

In Great Britain, just under a quarter of those detained were detained for more than 48 hours. In Northern Ireland, there were more detentions for a longer period; three quarters of the 483 detentions were for five days or more. But this year there has been less use of the whole period of detention permitted by the Act; whereas, in 1985, 54 people were detained in Great Britain for the whole seven days, in 1986 that figure was 25.

But of course numbers do not tell the whole story. I cannot give details of many of the cases which occurred during the year, because some are still sub judice, but I would like to point out one particular example of the use of these powers in respect of international terrorism. I choose this example because it illustrates a point strongly made by Lord Colville, although it is not an example he quoted—a point which I urge the Opposition to take on board.

The justification of these powers, as opposed to the ordinary powers of the criminal law, is that they enable the police to prevent horrors before they happen. In September and October of last year, six people were detained under the Act on suspicion of membership of the Abu Nidhal group, an international terrorist organisation. Five of the six have now left the United Kingdom. Three were deported and I agreed that a further two should be allowed to make a supervised departure. The sixth is still detained awaiting the outcome of a review by the three advisers. It is clear that, without the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the police would have had no power to detain these people.

It is certainly possible that after a time there would have been evidence which would have enabled the police to detain, interview and perhaps charge the people. But I do not think the Opposition would seriously argue that the police should in such cases be content to wait until evidence became available. That evidence might well have taken the form of corpses, maimed bodies and devastated property. It is because of the Act, and because of the vigilance of the authorities, that we were able to be rid of this group before they did us any harm. I believe that must be right.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the extension of the Prevention of Terrorism Act to include international terrorism is new? Secondly, will he explain exactly on what grounds those people were detained, so that we may judge whether they could have been detained under other powers in the criminal law or in immigration legislation? My belief is that the Government have extended the Act to international terrorism to justify legislation that does not stand up in its own right.

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

The hon. Lady knows better than that. She knows that the extension of the powers to international terrorism was approved by the House in the 1984 Act as a result of Lord Jellicoe's review. It corresponds to something that is clearly a reality—that the threat of terrorism in this country is not now exclusively something which comes to us across the Irish sea. It involves a considerable range of threats of international terrorism. Mention of the immigration legislation in this context is frivolous. It is only under the Prevention of Terrorism Act that the police have the powers which are necessary to detain people of the kind that I have mentioned for the period which is necessary for questioning. I stand wholly by that point.

Photo of Mr Gerry Bermingham Mr Gerry Bermingham , St Helens South

Does not the Home Secretary agree that, where a person travels on a non-European passport, and where a person is known to be associated with an international group which has terrorist connections, at the normal port of entry there is the right of refusal of entry?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

It is possible, and indeed it often happens, that the information which links particular people to a terrorist group becomes available after they have entered the country. That is the reality of the situation. The Opposition are beginning to wriggle uncomfortably under the fact that it is actually the powers of the Prevention of Terrorism Act—

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

No; I am not giving way to the hon. Lady again.

It is the powers which are available under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and only those powers, which enable the police to detain and question people of this kind to the extent necessary to be rid of them, as in the case I quoted, and to prevent them from committing the horrors which otherwise they might commit.

I have made my point and I hold firmly to it. May I reinforce it by saying that Lord Colville made the same point in a different way in paragraph 2.27 of his report when he wrote: The powers criticised are pre-emptive. This is exactly the point. If they did not exist the police would have to wait until the terrorists had gone far enough in the preparation of their plot to bomb or shoot for sustainable evidence of conspiracy or an attempt to be at hand. Presumably it is not suggested that they should be allowed actually to explode the bomb or fire the gun. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is suggested by those who oppose the powers. That might well be the exact result of failure to renew the powers.

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

I shall not give way to the hon. Lady again. The hon. Lady showed a remarkable lack of knowledge of the sequence of events which led to the extension of the Act to cover international terrorism.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

Will the Home Secretary confirm that immigration officers, if they have reason to believe that a person seeking to enter the country is not genuine, have powers to detain him for a period sufficient to carry out inquiries and any interviews that may be necessary? In what regard are the powers which he has advocated to the House dissimilar from the powers available to immigration officers?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

We are talking about the powers of the police to detain and question in connection with information about terrorism.

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

Because the information frequently becomes available after they are in. Hon. Members who are constantly urging that immigration officers should be more lax in the way in which they deal with these matters are in a poor position if they then say that they should be more strict. It often happens—or it occasionally happens—that foreigners are admitted on grounds which appear to be legitimate, and later it becomes apparent, from information which then becomes available, partly as a result of the increased international co-operation of which I am talking, that they are or may be engaged in terrorist activity, and that is where the powers of the PTA come in.

Lord Colville also sets out persuasively the kinds of circumstances which can justify the police applying for extra time to hold a detainee under the Act. The need to keep terrorist suspects separate, the need often to interview through an interpreter, the need to seek information from foreign police and security services are all requirements set out in his report, which Lord Colville found to be persuasive, and which I hope the House will agree are persuasive.

I come to the other controversial power under the Act—the power to exclude an individual from part of the United Kingdom. This power of exclusion is certainly extraordinary and severe. In his report last year, Sir Cyril Philips hoped that no new exclusion orders would be made, and this year Lord Colville—although his argument is somewhat different—also hopes that steps can be taken to improve port control so that the power to exclude need no longer be sought perhaps, he says, from 1988 onwards.

In operating this power case by case during 1986, I had Sir Cyril Philips' point very much in mind. Indeed, I hope that even without that I would have realised that the power of exclusion was of a kind which could only be used very sparingly in a free society. I will explain how it works. I personally consider all applications made by the police for exclusion from Great Britain and I apply strict tests. I need to be satisfied that the individual concerned is or has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.

I would not make an order unless there is a clear indication that the individual is actively involved in terrorism or has been so, in most cases within the past three years. By involvement in acts of terrorism I do not mean that he or she has been seen in the company of known terrorists or has certain political views. I look at each application for indications of active personal involvement.

Using this strict test, I made nine new orders during the year in respect of people whom I considered to be involved in acts of terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

Is not membership of a known terrorist organisation sufficient?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

In my view, it is not sufficient. I apply the test more strictly than that. I am talking about active personal involvement in terrorist activity, and I believe that is the right criterion for the use of this power of exclusion.

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

I will give way shortly to the hon. Gentleman, who has a deep personal knowledge of this problem.

Most of the exclusion papers which come across my desk do not deal with applications for new orders. Most of them are reviews of existing orders. As a result of these reviews, 103 existing orders were revoked and 54 orders renewed. Whereas on 31 December 1985 212 exclusion orders were made in Great Britain, that figure had dropped by almost half by 31 December 1986, to 114.

This reduction came about partly because of cases where the police did not apply for renewal of the order, but partly because, as Lord Colville reports, in about half the cases I turned down police applications for renewed orders. That is because I am clear that this power should be used sparingly.

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh

Could I ask the Secretary of State how many of the subjects of the nine new orders, when returned to Northern Ireland, were charged or interviewed by the police and how many of them were charged with specific acts of terrorism in Northern Ireland? If they were returned to the Republic of Ireland, how many were there charged with acts of terrorism?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

That is a different point, if I may say so. It is a legitimate question, but the hon. Member is assuming that the power of exclusion is only applicable in those cases. I have set out clearly the criteria which I apply. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) has shown in his intervention that he thinks the criteria that I apply are too strict. The implication of the question of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) is that they are not strict enough and that I should apply them only in cases where there is evidence capable of being produced in court. But I am freely saying that this is an exceptional and severe power, and I am saying and, I think, proving to the House that I use it very sparingly indeed.

As the House knows, there is provision for the individual concerned to make representations against an order, which is then considered by an independent adviser. During 1986, 13 cases were considered by the adviser and 10 people were interviewed in London or Belfast. I accepted the opinion of the adviser in all these cases and revoked three orders as a result.

As a result of this policy, exclusion orders now cover very many fewer people than before. I do not believe that this is a conclusive argument against continuing the power. It simply shows that the power has been used with increasing strictness. In plain terms, what we are mostly talking about, of course, is a power which could prevent or deter from travelling to the mainland people who intend to carry out terrorist attacks. That is different from saying that there is evidence which could be produced to charge them, either in the Republic or in the Province. It is one thing to say that this power ought to be used very sparingly. I accept that, and I think that I have shown the House that I do. It is another thing to be sure—I think that one has to be sure—that it can be done away with altogether. I do not at present accept that.

I am not at present conv:Lnced that, by enhancing port controls, we can provide an effective substitute for the power to exclude. What is at stake here, of course, is the safety of the whole community and I do not want to propose any change which would put that safety in greater jeopardy. I am prepared to accept Lord Colville's suggestion that we should look seriously and thoroughly at this possibility between now and the time when the order comes up again next year. I hope to discuss the problem with him very shortly and after that we will consider what, if any, changes can sensibly be made.

We shall in any case look sympathetically at some of the points about the detailed administration of the power which Lord Colville goes on to make—for example, the possibility of finding better ways of letting people know when their exclusion orders have been revoked or are being reviewed.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act is now over halfway through its five-year life. We shall have to consider before long what should take the place of the Act after it expires in 1989. Lord Colville may be right in suggesting that international terrorism is now so firmly rooted, contrary to the knowledge of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) who first interrupted me, that it is sensible to regard anti-terrorist legislation as a permanent part of our law, perhaps with special flexibility in measures affecting Northern Ireland, but the Government have not yet considered the long-term future of the Act, and we will, of course, keep the House informed of our thinking.

Meanwhile, it is essential in my judgment that the House passes this order and enables these powers to continue. It is essential not because these are attractive powers but because they are necessary for the protection of the community. The determination of the House to resist terrorism will be much strengthened if the Opposition this year could bring themselves to support the order; and I appeal to the right hon. Member for Gorton to do so. He was not, I think, in charge when his party first lurched into irresponsibility by refusing to support this order in 1981 and 1982. He could add to his reputation by rescuing it from that irresponsibility tonight.

I commend the order to the House.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 10:40 pm, 10th February 1987

This debate is about how we should fight terrorism. It is not about whether we should fight it. As the Home Secretary said, every hon. Member loathes terrorism and wishes to combat and destroy it. Every one of us detests the whole savage business of murder and explosions, hostages and ultimatums. All of us oppose trading with terrorists and making deals with them.

This debate does not take place each year so that one hon. Member or one party can prove that he, she or it is more anti-terrorist than another hon. Member of party. It takes place because the Government must prove to Parliament that there is a case for renewing a statute that will lapse unless Parliament agrees to renew it. In seeking renewal, the Government try to make the most of two contradictory arguments. Depending on the circumstances, they say that there is so much terrorism that they cannot do without the Act, or that at the moment there is so little terrorism that the Act has proved its worth. To put it another way, on the one hand they say that the Act is working so well that obviously we must keep it, and on the other hand they admit that the Act is working so badly that there is clearly an immense need for it.

The Home Secretary says darkly, and implied last year and this year, that if only we knew what he knows we would accept the need for the Act, but he never gives us conclusive, convincing information. He never proves that any of the much applauded successes by the police against terrorists could not have been achieved without this Act. When he says that the Act was used in such-and-such a circumstance, on so many occasions, he does not demonstrate or prove whether any other enactment could, in the absence of this Act, have been used just as successfully.

The right hon. Gentleman limply sought to provide an example relating to Abu Nidal, but his attempt to make that argument proved the point that I am seeking to establish, namely, that he cannot demonstrate that without this Act those persons would not have been dealt with.

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

May I just finish this argument? Let us look at the matter of dealing with people at the port of entry. I said many months ago in the House that it is easier for an international terrorist to gain entry to this House than it is for an Indian grandmother to come to Britain for a wedding. That means that Indian grandmothers are excluded and this Abu Nidal lot can get in. The Home Secretary says that he does not have the powers under the Immigration Act 1971 to deal with such people when they have entered. In that case, I suggest that he consults a Minister who has more intimate knowledge of the Immigration Act 1971.

If police or immigration officers can swoop on an innocent man, pick him up on the street without telling his wife where he is, take him away and put him in a remand centre and question him—as happened to a constituent of mine—and if I am able to get him released only after much effort; certainly those authorities ought to be able to deal with people who come from a land from which terrorists are known to come and ought to be able to deal with them in a far more stringent way.

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

The hon. Gentleman is being unreal and absurd. The idea that once people have been admitted to this country the Immigration Act 1971 or the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 enables the police to do what they have to do, which is to detain and question them, is simply unreal.—[AN HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because the powers do not exist to detain and question for seven days. [Interruption.] The more the Opposition barrack, the more they show their ignorance. These powers were necessary in this case and no other powers would have done the trick.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman takes a closer look at his powers in the Immigration Act 1971 and at the way in which those powers are exercised in an extremely rigorous way on innocent people, let alone people who wish to come here to blow up, maim and murder when they arrive.

We know two things. The first is that this is a temporary Act, and that even if it is renewed tonight and again next year it will fall two years from now. The second is that last year the Prime Minister said of the Act: The Government believe that this legislation will be necessary as long as a substantial terrorist threat remains."—[Official Report, 24 April 1986; Vol 96, c.208] That was an absolute statement, far more absolute than anything that any sensible Home Secretary had ever said, and far more absolute than anything contained in Viscount Colville's report. On that criterion of the Prime Minister, if the Government were returned at the next election the legislation would be enacted all over again in precisely its present form, without the Home Secretary volunteering the kind of potential re-examination of exclusion orders that he mentioned in his speech.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

My right hon. Friend may be aware that I worked in the Home Office from 1970 to 1975. During the latter part of that time Viscount Colville was a junior Tory Home Office Minister of not much standing. The House should be aware of that when he is quoted as some great authority on the impartiality of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

I shall always accept my hon. Friend's expertise on these matters. When it comes to matching her expertise against that of the Home Secretary, I shall place my money on her any day of the week. My hon. Friend studies the material and she knows about it; the Home Secretary reads a brief. However, I have to tell my hon. Friend that I intend to quote Viscount Colville in my own interest, and therefore I shall not dismiss him totally. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept that.

We know, because Minister after Minister in the Government has said it, that this is, in successive Conservative Home Secretaries' words, an "intensely undesirable Act" whose powers infringe our shared concept of civil liberties". They make a considerable inroad into the civil liberties of which we are justly proud". They make sad inroads into our cherished tradition of civil liberties.

Last year, the present Home Secretary, when he asked the House for renewal, said: The Act makes substantial inroads on ordinary civil liberties."—[Official Report, 19 February 1986; Vol. 92, c. 415] Clearly nobody likes the Act, so can its continuance be justified by its achievements? We should look at the record and see what it tells us about the Act's achievements. Government statistics published last month demonstrate that, starting from the introduction of the legislation to the end of last year, 92 per cent. of those detained in Britain under the Act have not been subject to any charge. Only 3 per cent. have been charged with offences under the legislation, and 38 per cent. of those have been charged only with failure to co-operate with examination at the port, which is an offence created by the Act, rather than solved by it.

Viscount Colville points out in his report that the powers are under challenge before the European Commission of Human Rights at Strasbourg, and in July 1986 the commissioners ruled that the applications were admissible. One of the issues is the length of time that a person may be detained without being charged or released.

In his report on the Act, Viscount Colville supports the continuation of the detention powers. He says that it is a "simplistic" approach to seek to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the legislation and to oppose its renewal on the basis of the small percentage of those detained who are charged with offences under it. I agree with that. Viscount Colville argues that the Act creates few offences and that they are not of a particularly serious nature. He cites other Acts as providing a fuller picture, and I agree with him about that—they do. Of those charged with offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Acts, only 2 per cent. of those detained were found guilty of any offence, and only 0·5 per cent. were found guilty of offences meriting more than one year's imprisonment.

Photo of Mr Robert Parry Mr Robert Parry , Liverpool, Riverside

My right hon. Friend has made a very relevant point. Does he agree that it is wrong that, under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984, people who are arrested or detained and then released without any evidence being produced that they have been involved in any criminal activities should have their fingerprints and photographs retained on the files?

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

I shall deal with that point and with the proportion of those detained who are charged with any kind of offence under any type of legislation, let alone under the prevention of terrorism legislation. This is the test that Viscount Colville uses. He says that it is "simplistic" to look at offences under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act with which people are charged and that we should look more widely.

Let us look more widely at those offences. Of those detained under the Act and charged with criminal offences under other Acts, only 4 per cent. were found guilty, and fewer than 2 per cent. received prison sentences of one year or more. All told, fewer than 2·5 per cent. of those detained were found to have committed offences of any seriousness.

Photo of Mr Gerry Bermingham Mr Gerry Bermingham , St Helens South

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if people are charged, there must have been evidence for that action? If there is evidence at the time of arrest, there are adequate powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and various other statutes, for the police to investigate and lay charges appropriately. Therefore, there is no need for this Act.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

I agree with my hon. Friend that the Police and Criminal Act powers would provide opportunities to detain the overwhelming majority of those who are detained, but even those powers are not required to detain the considerable majority of those who are detained. The Home Secretary cannot even use the existence of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act as an argument for the types of policies that he is pursuing.

It is up to the Government to prove that even these few persons—80 out of more than 6,400—would not have been caught, charged and convicted if this legislation had not been on the statute book. Of those detained under this legislation, 95 per cent. have been completely innocent of anything, however trivial.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

What about the other 5 per cent.?

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

The Home Secretary has failed to demonstrate that the other 5 per cent. would not have been caught without this legislation on the statute book. Indeed, one is sometimes led to believe from the Home Secretary's arguments that the only way in which we can stop, say, the Abu Nidal group from coming to this country is not by having this Act on the stature book but by having visa requirements for terrorists.

If the Home Secretary can still seek to quote Lord Colville's report in favour of the continuance of the detention power, he certainly cannot do so with regard to the power to make exclusion orders. Last year Sir Cyril Philips, in his report on the Act, came out strongly against exclusion orders. He argued that the power to make them should be one of the first powers in the Act to be repealed The Home Secretary curtly rejected that recommendation. In doing so, he stated on l9 February 1986 that the exclusion power has sometimes been described as a power of internal exile. He insisted firmly: that is misleading".—[Official Report, 19 February 1986, Vol. 92, c. 417.] Yet on page six of his report Viscount Colville describes the exclusion power as a form a form of internal exile".

The Colville report deals with exclusion powers at some length. It states: The issue is essentially one for Great Britain. In practice it relates to the amount of intelligence work which has to be carried out in England, Wales and Scotland by the police and security services. If exclusion orders disappeared it is possible that port procedures, such as carding and other examination under the Order might become marginally more intrusive. By comparison with Northern Ireland, the population of Great Britain and the flow of travellers into and out of it is vastly greater. Vigilance against terrorist inroads would have to be ensured as well from Northern Ireland as from the rest of the world.In my view this would be more acceptable than a system of internal exile; any resultant criticisms would have to be considered sympathetically but in the light of the abolition of a power which the public may have seen as necessary to restrict the movement of Northern Ireland terrorists arid contain their activities, but which now is not sufficiently used to stem the tide of protest. The deterrent effect is not to be underestimated, even if it cannot be quantified; but the police have other powers to prevent outbursts of Northern Irish terrorism in Great Britain. That is the noble Friend of the Home Secretary, whom he has quoted in his own aid.

Either after the Philips report last year, or after the Colville report this year, the Home Secretary could have prepared to remove the exclusion power in the renewal order this year. He could have used the powers that he has to discontinue only that part of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. He should have done so. He had been advised to do so twice by the persons whom he asked to review the Act. He ignored their advice. One wonders why he asks for it if he ignores it so consistently. If only because of the Home Secretary's failure to take seriously that considered advice two years running, from people whom he asked to advise him, we shall vote against this continuance order tonight.

Viscount Colville concludes his report with a carefully argued critique against the continuance of the Act as a whole. He makes the very point that the Home Secretary made, but he makes it in reverse. The Home Secretary said that we need the Act because it started as an Act to deal with terrorism in Northern Ireland, but has now been amplified to deal with other forms of terrorism and there are many other kinds of terrorism around.

Viscount Colville says that for that very reason the Act should not continue to exist any longer. He says quite simply: It does appear strange that the main measure which is designed to give powers against international terrorism should be annually renewable, subject to a life-span no longer than March 1989, and completely entangled with the Northern Irish problem, from which historically the legislation grew. That is why Viscount Colville says In the light of all this it seems to me that HMG might like to start again.

Very soon, whichever Government are in office, the Act will be extinguished. The Act creates, in some quarters, sympathy for those thousands of people wrongfully detained on inaccurate or unreliable suspicion of terrorism. That prevalent inaccuracy of suspicion, the 95 per cent. who are not found guilty of any offence whatsoever after being detained, militates against the acceptance of the existence of terrorism where it does exist. In eroding basic civil liberties this Act hands free of charge a victory to those whose objective it is to destroy our civil liberties.

The Act is a left-over from history. It is a left-over from a special time and a special circumstance, the same special time and the same special circumstance that led to the conviction of those now in prison for the Birmingham pub bombings. The Secretary of State has had the courage to say that there must be a new and searching look at those convictions. He should have the same courage to take a new and searching look at this legislation. To encourage him to do so, we shall vote against this renewal order tonight.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds 10:59 pm, 10th February 1987

The attractive feature of Lord Colville's report is that there are some light moments in what is otherwise an extremely serious matter. For example, I was fascinated to discover in his report that one of the oil platforms that he visited has three legs in Scotland and one in Norway. Lord Colville certainly did a pretty thorough job and wrote a most interesting report. The important thing—

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh

On the matter of the thorough job done by Lord Colville, I should inform the House that when he visited Northern Ireland he made no contact with the party to which I belong, he made no contact with me as spokesman on justice for that party, and he certainly seemed to ignore the views of that section of the community that suffers most from the legislation. That is the thorough job he did.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

No doubt Lord Colville will take account of what the hon. Gentleman has said.

The important thing about the report is that, consistent with the reports of Lord Jellicoe and Sir Cyril Philips before him, Lord Colville has come to the conclusion that basically the Act remains necessary. It is true that he has some criticisms and particularly in respect of exclusion orders, his criticisms are trenchant and will need to be dealt with. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has said that he will be minded to look at the recommendations on exclusion orders before the House again considers the Act. It cannot be gain said that Lord Jellicoe, Sir Cyril Philips and now Lord Colville, each of them very different men, have looked at the facts, interviewed the people concerned—

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

I do not think that Sir Cyril Philips would agree with that description.

In any event, all three of them, quite independently, have come to the conclusion that fundamentally the Act is necessary. They arrive at that conclusion for what I should have thought was the most obvious reason in the world. There is a terrorists threat to our country and its people. That threat is manifestly becoming greater in Europe, the middle east and elsewhere and it is almost certainly the fact that people in this country and elsewhere are alive today who would not be alive if the police had been unable to use the pre-emptive powers of the Act to arrest, detain and exclude them.

It is always difficult to prove a negative; I cannot dispute that. However, I have some access, as no doubt other hon. Members have, to the police service and to those involved in dealing with terrorism, particularly in Northern Ireland. It is the absolute conviction of those who have to deal with the terrorist problem and put their lives at risk on our behalf that if they were deprived of the Act they could not do the job. It is their conviction that there are, as I have said, people alive in our country today who, without the powers in the hands of the police, would be dead.

I hope that no hon. Member who does not have to deal with the terrorist problem will so lightly discard the judgment of those who risk their lives on our account. It is simply arrogance on the part of those—I exclude the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) from this—who live comfortable lives here to say that they know so much better than our police officers and other persons who risk their lives to protect us. The evidence is pretty clear—

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

What the hon. Gentleman says is serious and he has to give examples or it is worthless. Surely, throughout history, when one balances civil liberties against the need to prevent crime, those who advocate the prevention of crime will say, "If we could arrest everybody whenever we felt like it we could prevent crime." It is no good the hon. Gentleman simply saying that; he must tell us time and day, and who are the people whose lives have been saved because of the Prevention of Terrorism Act otherwise his point is worthless.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

The hon. Lady may feel that it is worthless, but she inhabits a peculiar role if she imagines that it is possible precisely to identify those things that have not happened on account of the pre-emptive action of the police. I shall give her some facts. In Northern Ireland in 1976, 297 of our fellow citizens were done to death by terrorists. In 1977, the figure was 112; in 1978 it was 81; in 1979 it was 113; in 1980 it was 75; in 1981 it was 101; in 1982 it was 97; in 1983 it was 77; in 1984 it was 64; in 1985 it was 54; and last year it was 61. That is an appalling toll of our fellow citizens.

As the hon. Lady challenged me, I ask whether she is prepared to say that she is certain that the figure of 97 killed in 1982 would have been fewer or more had the Act not existed? How can she possibly argue in that fashion?

Photo of Mr Ron Leighton Mr Ron Leighton , Newham North East

I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman. Is he attempting to prove that the Act does not prevent terrorism and, therefore, does not work?

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

Not at all. Indeed, I could argue from the statistics—but I shall not—that there has been a happy reduction in the numbers killed since the Act and the emergency powers relating to Northern Ireland that flow from it have been in operation. I would not make that claim, but nor can the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) make the contrary claim that, because I am unable to identify those who, as a result of the Act, are alive, the Act does not work. Her logic is not acceptable.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

I must get on; the hon. Lady will wish to speak in the debate, and no doubt there will be an opportunity for her to do so.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

The hon. Gentleman challenged me.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

I shall give way to the hon. Lady once more.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

I wish to put to the hon. Gentleman a serious proposition that I believe to be true. Successive legislation, this Act and the emergency powers cause such disgruntlement, especially within Northern Ireland, that they are a recruiting sergeant for people who engage in terrorism. That is my serious judgment, and it is the serious judgment of many people.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

Why does not the hon. Lady make that point if she is fortunate enough to catch Mr. Speaker's eye?

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

Because the hon. Gentleman challenged me.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

It is a general point, not an argument with me.

In addition to the deaths that have occurred in Northern Ireland, and they continue, during the past year or so there has been an enormous increase in terrorist actions throughout Europe, and some of them affect us deeply. The attempt to blow up the E1 A1 flight from London to Tel Aviv led to the conviction and imprisonment of Nezar Hindawi. Subsequently, because of the clear involvement of the Syrian embassy, including its ambassador, diplomatic relations between Britain and Syria were severed on 31 October.

Two men arrested under the Act are currently awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to murder two leading members of the Sikh community in Britain; no one is awaiting trial charged with the attempted murder of a Sikh in Derby. On 18 December" at Birmingham Crown court, two Sikhs were found guilty of conspiracy to murder Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister. So it goes on; terrorism remains an appalling threat to this country.

The question with which the House is being asked to deal is simply whether we should provide the powers that the police and the three independent examiners—Sir Cyril Philips, Lord Jellicoe and Lord Colville—have concluded, in the circumstances, to be necessary. I believe that it would be utterly derelict of us to remove from the police and security services the powers that they believe are needed to do the job.

I turn specifically to some of Lord Colville's recommendations. I should like to put two points to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. He will have noticed that Lord Colville suggests that in the case of the extension of intention orders three new criteria should be adopted. They are the checking of an alibi, the time that is needed for the evaluation of documents which are once translated and the investigations arising from them, and where time is needed for consultation with other security services, sometimes across time zones and requiring translation. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State or my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State, Home Office who is to reply to the debate will be able to say that Lord Colville's recommendations find favour with Ministers because, to my mind, they make good sense.

Lord Colville has discovered—I did not know this—that those of our ports that are not designated act, in effect, as a loophole which the Act does not cover. On page 31 of his report, Lord Colville states that two practical results should be noted from the absence of certain ports from designation. He states at 5.5.2.1: These powers … do not appear to have been extended to deal with international terrorism, so long at least as the terrorists choose to come through a non-designated port." Surely that is absurd. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will deal with that point.

Lord Colville further states at 5.5.2.2: Non-commercial shipping and small boats in Great Britain are not covered by the legislation at all.

Photo of Mr Ron Leighton Mr Ron Leighton , Newham North East

We all know that the hon. Gentleman has a special relationship with the police. However, is it right that he should monopolise the time for a very short debate when some of us would like to hear the speeches of other hon. Members who have something to say?

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

Order. It is a short debate which will end at 11.45. The Front Bench Members are anxious to speak. However, the hon. Gentleman is not out of order.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall conclude shortly. However, I was unfortunately detained on three occasions, twice by the hon. Member for Ladywood.

I ask my right hon. Friend if he will deal with Lord Colville's recommendations on the ports.

I should like to conclude with the point on which my right hon. Friend ended. The Labour party ought not again to vote against this extension of the legislation. The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) devises a new reason every year, and the one that he devised tonight was surely the weakest yet. He knows that there is a problem and that if he were in office—I do not think that he will be—he would need to deal with it. What he is doing tonight, as he has done before, is to lead the Labour party into a vote that he knows in his heart is wrong. I ask him to change his mind.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down 11:12 pm, 10th February 1987

I intervene briefly only to underline one of the points in the Colville report that has already been mentioned. Lord Colville's fortunes have been mixed in the debate. It is remarkable what can happen to a former Under-Secretary of State in his years out of office. He made a fair observation towards the end of his report, which has already been quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) and which I should like to read again to the House. He stated: It does appear strange that the main measure which is designed to give powers against international terrorism should be … completely entangled with the Northern Irish problem, from which the legislation grew. Consequently, he believed that Her Majesty's Government might like to start again.

Certain remarks that fell from the Home Secretary suggested that his mind, in looking forward to a possible enactment two years ahead, was malleable on that topic. It is because of the entanglement with the affairs of Northern Ireland and with the particular circumstances of 1974 that we have, in this Act, that most regrettable element described as "internal exile".

The provision for exclusion from Great Britain was always viewed askance by opinion in Northern Ireland, which regarded it as an affront that this artificial boundary should be drawn across the United Kingdom. That was only partially allayed by the introduction into the Act of a virtually meaningless reciprocity which prevented entry into Northern Ireland from Great Britain; but the offence remains.

The inherent objectionableness of a power to exclude from one part of the United Kingdom into another is undiminished, but the evidence for utility continues to diminish. I hope that we shall see the end of it, certainly no later than the new edition of this Act, and preferably when we come to consider renewal in a year's time. An indication of that indeed came from the Home Secretary. There is no reason why we should perpetuate this division of the United Kingdom into mutual exclusion zones. We probably should never have done this in 1974. It was probably based on misconception and the hysterical state of opinion that existed at the time. The power is no longer welcome, certainly not in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton 11:15 pm, 10th February 1987

I shall not follow the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) along the line that he has pursued with conviction and persuasiveness on many occasions.

The disgust of anybody in the House or the country for anything that even smacks of arbitrariness does not need to be stated. It is obvious on first blush that the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1984 does so smack. But in an age where the horror of international terrorism is everywhere so rife and the rule of law in its pure form is not always adequate to protect citizens, it is ridiculous to suppose that no further steps should be taken, beyond the pure form of the rule of law, to provide a defence. Yet Opposition Members do so pretend.

Opposition Members are in danger of being exposed as caring more for the civil liberties of someone who is a known associate of terrorists and most likely to be a foreigner—[HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."]—than for the safety of British people. They are not only soft about terrorism but uncaring about terrorism. That is the impression that Opposition Members make and since that will do the Conservative party no harm at the hustings I do not share the request of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) that Oppostion Members should change their tack.

It beggars belief that grown hon. Ladies and Gentlemen should come to the House and say, "If it becomes known after someone has gained entry to this country that he is a terrorist associate, if not a known terrorist, and there is some evidence, but not sufficient evidence to arraign him before a court of law, the police should have no power to detain or exclude him until and unless sufficient evidence becomes available." By the time the evidence becomes available it may well be too late.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

That is not conducive to the public good. Has not the hon. and learned Gentleman heard about that?

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

The hon. Lady, who has not stopped talking from the start of the debate, would he one of the first to come to the House if ever there were a terrorist act in her city again, such as we experienced in the 1970s, whoever was responsible for it. Terrorists must be laughing their heads off.

The only reasonable objection one can have to the legislation is that it is not sufficiently restrictive. It should apply to anyone who boasts an affiliation with a known terrorist organisation, whether or not they have hitherto been convicted and whether or not there is any evidence against them. It should apply to stop PLO representatives staying in Britain and establishing their offices in Kensington. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] But I suppose we would upset the United Nations if we took such a sensible step.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

I shall be brief and Opposition Members have asked for an opportunity to speak, so I hope that the hon. Gentlemen will forgive me if I continue.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) said, "Every hon. Member loathes terrorism." Yes, of course we do. However, it is easy just to mouth such a phrase. In this case, action is far more convincing than mere weasel words. The right hon. Member said in a sneering manner that only 5 per cent. of those who have been detained and excluded have been followed up with prosecutions or convictions elsewhere. Would even that 5 per cent. have been caught if they had not first been detained and excluded here and then arrested when they arrived back in Northern Ireland or wherever?

Not only are the Opposition not to be trusted with the nation's defences, not only can they not be trusted with the nation's secrets, but they are not to be trusted to protect this nation against terrorism. Their words are disgraceful.

Photo of Mr Alex Carlile Mr Alex Carlile , Montgomery 11:20 pm, 10th February 1987

On page 36 of his report, Viscount Colville comments that the provision with which we are concerned tonight creates martyrs and tends to cause misplaced sympathy for people who on any rational view have committed terrible crimes. Right though that comment is, I wish that I could regard the issues that we are discusing tonight in terms as black and white and clear as Labour Members purport to see them.

We have a terribly difficult balance to draw here between the civil liberties of people in this country—civil liberties that I noticed practically every Labour Member refused to support last Friday afternoon when we had a vote on whether the European convention on human rights should be incorporated into our domestic law—and, on the other hand, the very important consideration of the protection of the public.

Of course we are all revolted by terrorism and the fact that terrorists still abound. Most of us, at least, abhor too any intrusion on civil liberties which extends as deep as is summarised by Viscount Colville in the small section of his report from which I quoted a few moments ago.

On balance I am persuaded tonight to advise my hon. Friends to support the Government on this occassion. I am persuaded partly by the fact that Viscount Colville's very objective report appears to be based on the most extensive consultations yet in comparison with the other reports which have been considered by the House on this difficult subject. Although in the end this is not a matter for me, but for the Government, I want to dwell a moment on a comment made by the Opposition. They say that Viscount Colville's consultations were inadequate. In response to that, page 2 of the report shows that even though Viscount Colville may not have gone directly to certain interested people, they were given every opportunity through advertisements and other appeals to go to him.

I want to consider three substantive points very briefly. First, I want to look at the detention powers. We must be realistic and share with Viscount Colville the view that it is extremely difficult for the police to provide sustained evidence of conspiracy or attempt. Therefore, at present, the case against the detention powers has not been made.

Secondly, I turn to exclusion orders. We must recall the strong words of Sir Cyril Philips last year against the continuation of exclusion orders. This year Viscount Colville said in relation to the removal of exclusion orders: positive steps could perhaps be taken to prepare for this in 1988. Lord Colville recognised that the tide of protest now outweighs the usefulness of the exclusion orders.

I too hope that by next year or, at the very latest, by 1988, the Home Secretary of the day will come to the House and show that the Government regard the continuation of the exclusion orders as unnecessary.

At the end of his report, Viscount Colville dealt with what he called the broader considerations. Every year, as we approach and then hear this debate, we see that legislation is divisive philosophically, between the Irish and between the Northern Irish and the rest of the British community, creates martyrs, and unnecessarily alienates people. It is not helpful that we have to deal with the Northern Ireland situation and the international terrorist situation as though they were all one, both in quality and quantity. I urge the Home Secretary to take the point urged by Viscount Colville, and start again, soon.

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh 11:25 pm, 10th February 1987

Two years ago my party leader, my hon. Friend the Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume), said: The man who conducted We review did not consult. nor did he invite consultation, with the responsible organisations which represent the Irish community and which are at the receiving end of this legislation."—[Official Report, 21 February 1985; Vol. 73, c. 1316.] My hon. Friend was referring to Sir Cyril Philips. The same could be said of Viscount Colville this year, and references to consultation should be taken with a pinch of salt.

I am glad that this debate is taking place. One of my quarrels with the order is that it substitutes one year for the six months' debate. If here is a room with an odour, and there is concern about that odour, the proper thing to do is open the window as often as possible; to open it to scrutiny, examination and to whatever fresh thinking can come in.

The previous debates have had one repetitious factor, but that is essential when we are dealing with legislation that derogates so much from high standards of legal practice. The key point is that, somewhere along the line, somebody has to break the vicious circle between terrorism and repressive legislation. Who will break it? We can be sure that, in Irish terms, it will not be the Provisional IRA, the IRA, the UDA or the UDF. The onus rests on the House to ensure that the highest standards are adhered to and the derogations, whatever they be—I accept that they must happen in certain circumstances—are of the very slightest. The onus rests on the House and the Government to make an act of faith by at least trying to temper the provisions of the Act, especially those concerning exclusion orders. I am disappointed that there has been no such attempt.

At the moment there is a small effort—it is not enough, but at least it is a start— to deal w ith the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act with public order, with the police complaints procedure and with the use of the supergrass system, so why not the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act? I would have thought that if there had been movement on the exclusion orders, on the basis of the suggestion made by Sir Cyril Philips, there would be hope that there was a hint of a rethink and the beginning of an attempt to break out of this vicious circle. Unless that circle is broken by the Government and the House, it will not be broken by those involved in terrorism.

There are those who poured scorn on the view that the aim of the terrorist is not to create repressive legislation, but that is their aim, because that creates the climate in which they can recruit people and get active and covert support, and also resentment and alienation, which allows them to continue in their evil ways. I refer especially to the words of Mr. Daniel Morrison, of the Provisional Sinn Fein, after the atrocious attack in Brighton, when he said that it was the aim of the IRA to create repression. We remember the lengths to which they went after that atrocity to try to ensure that internment was reintroduced, because that is their most potent weapon. We play into the hands of the terrorists, be they of Northern Ireland or international, when we provide them with a means of creating a reaction towards law and the process of justice and towards those who are charged with enforcing the law.

Finally, I refer to exclusion orders and detention. The Secretary of State said that nine people had been excluded during the past year. How many of those nine people were questioned by the police in Northern Ireland before they came to England, Scotland or Wales? That question is crucial. Subsequently, after their exclusion, how many of them were questioned and charged? The Secretary of State said specifically that they were excluded because of their involvement in terrorism in relation to Northern Ireland. If there was sufficient proof of their involvement before they came here and after they were returned to Northern Ireland, surely there must be some record of charges having been brought.

I regard certain sections of the Act as an anachronism that is adding to the problems that have been created in the wake of terrorism. It could well follow the example shown with, and be a very small step in relation to, the Emergency Provisions Act and the other factors in relation to Northern Ireland. It would at least be a signpost of hope. Unfortunately, we have received a very defensive reply from the Government. We have to live with this for another year, during which we may be sure that the people who wish to promote terrorism and violence will use that defensiveness for their own purposes.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough 11:33 pm, 10th February 1987

I was alarmed by one sentence that the Home Secretary used. among many, in which he implied that the situation was of such a nature that the Act was possibly with us for ever more. I think that is what he said really. It is often said by those who defend the Prevention of Terrorism Act—and I am one of those who have been against it from its inception—that those who oppose the Act are giving support to the terrorists. I was sad to hear the implication in the speech of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths), which was delivered in rather more immoderate language than he normally uses. Usually people who use such language are typical of those who prevented the operation ot democracy in Ireland for hundreds of years, and especially during the last 50 years in Northern Ireland. Many of them wish to return to the old Stormont. They are acting as though nothing has changed, but things have changed and we can never go back.

Opposition to the emergency legislation is now massive and is growing. No matter what happens on the Conservative Benches, that is the reality. The British people are wishing more and more, and in bigger numbers, to be rid of the whole mess of Northern Ireland.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The Daily Express poll underlined that, because 61 per cent. were for immediate withdrawal. Many of us would never agree with that, but it is a guide and a backcloth to what is happening.

Some of us have opposed this legislation from the beginning because it was born of a desperation—which is alway a bad adviser—which swept the country after the Birmingham pub bombings. The last word has not been said about those bombings and who did them. The legislation demanded victims and the nearest were seized. It has corrupted our justice and our courts. It has curtailed civil liberties throughout the country and continues to do so. It has solved nothing. It has widened and deepened the problem. We should not once again be renewing this emergency legislation; we should be getting rid of it for good. It is not the right legislation to deal with the problems with which it fails to grapple, no matter what the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, who speaks for the police, constantly says.

Experience over the last decade has shown that the Prevention of Terrorism Act is not a necessary and acceptable response to political violence, but one of the chief causes of continued violence. Denial of civil liberties and rights and the implementation of emergency powers feed the conflict from which the terrorism emerges. The Acts of 1974 and 1976 brought to Great Britain the emergency legislation under which Northern Ireland has had to be governed for the last 50 years, when the real answer is democracy in Northern Ireland, which the Conservative party was never willing to give. That spawned the terrorism, and while Northern Ireland is in the grip of those people, terrorism will continue. The border has to go and the people of Ireland have to be united. As long as the border is there, so long will the struggle go on.

Photo of Mr Clive Soley Mr Clive Soley , Hammersmith 11:36 pm, 10th February 1987

The opening speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) should have convinced the Government that they should think again about this legislation. Even if they do not, I hope that the Home Secretary will note that, after I have been saying for some years that exclusion orders were a form of internal exile, Viscount Colville has confirmed that view. To some extent, the Home Secretary was right the argument is beginning to shift. But where he is wrong is that it is shifting in our direction.

Lord Colville makes the other important point that there is a need to start again. We need to understand the force of that argument. In paragraph 2.25 on page 6 he says that only about 3 per cent. detained are subsequently charged". The argument is then used to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the legislation. I have not argued that the Act is ineffective in that respect. What I have argued is the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short), that it is counter-productive.

One of the things that makes the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) so obnoxious in his interventions is that at best one can say that he does not understand the argument or, if he does understand it he is trying to take unto himself the ability to represent the brave people who stand out against terror. It is not like that. The argument is clearly whether the Act is not just offensive to civil liberties—nearly everybody agrees with that, although one or two Government Back Benchers were heckling on that a few moments ago, so perhaps they do not—but also counter-productive.

Photo of Mr Clive Soley Mr Clive Soley , Hammersmith

The Home Secretary keeps saying that it saves lives, but let me put this back to him. I accept that one cannot prove such a negative, but I ask him to accept the other side of the argument, that if many people related to and friends of the 95 per cent. who are wrongly detained feel so alienated from the system that they no longer co-operate by giving evidence to the security forces, we are undermining the work of the security forces. If a small percentage of them are even more alienated to the point that they give support to the paramilitary organisations, we are responsible for helping the recruitment of those organisations. That applies as much to the Unionists as to the Republicans, although the Prevention of Terrorism Act affects Republicans more.

What Conservative Members have to understand is that increasingly and for many years the recruitment ability of the paramilitaries in Northern Ireland has been very high. Things like the Prevention of Terrorism Act are part of the propaganda that is used in recruitment. I ask them at least to understand that argument even if they do not agree with it. Lord Colville does not address that part of the argument.

The other difficult part of the argument is that the Government and Lord Colville concede that this is not properly called a Prevention of Terrorism Act. It should be called a Collection of Information Act, because that is what it is. Indeed Lord Colville says in paragraph 7.3: There is no denying that a police officer who stops someone for examination has often little but instinct to prompt him. One senior officer told me that his force stops people to see if they are terrorists; if this is not clear and there is no direct evidence, they are content to collect information. To detain a person under section 12 merely in order to collect information would clearly be an abuse of the section, which requires reasonable grounds for suspicion of terrorist involvement. He concludes that paragraph by saying: Parliament may well wish to consider that line"— the line between collecting intelligence and identifying terrorism— and ensure that powers are carefully phrased. If we are to have a measure of this nature, let us be clear about it and call it a Collection of Information Act. Let us be clear about the use of that power because at least we shall then recognise, as Lord Colville has recognised, that the other part of the Act is a form of internal exile. Then we can debate the facts and not the fantasies.

Photo of Mr David Waddington Mr David Waddington , Ribble Valley 11:42 pm, 10th February 1987

It is a great pity that Labour Members intend to vote against the order. We should all be standing together against the threat of terrorism, and I begin my remarks by reminding the House that it was only in 1983 that Labour Members for the first time voted against the prevention of terrorism legislation. There was no sense at that time in their change of front, because the terrorist threat had in no way abated. Nothing had changed at that time except the Labour party. It was one of the first retreats by Labour Members into irresponsibility, the beginning of a decline that has taken them to one-sided disarmament and a completely frivolous approach to national security.

I shall deal first with the question of detention. Opposition Members usually argue that the detention powers are unnecessary because the vast majority of detainees are not charged with any offence, and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) was up to that tonight. Last year he said—and he said much the same tonight—that 95 per cent. of those detained under this legislation had been completely innocent of anything. My noble Friend Lord Colville was over-generous when he described that as a simplistic approach. I would describe it as sheer and utter nonsense.

The purpose of the powers is to prevent the commission of offences and to deprive people of the chance of letting off bombs. Information is sometimes obtained showing the commission of offences and in quite a high proportion of cases charges follow. But in other cases the information obtained may be too sensitive to be revealed in court or no evidence is obtained which would be admissible in court, but there is clear information to the effect that the person is bent on terrorist activities.

My right hon. Friend said he had taken careful note of Lord Colville's argument that it would be better to have more vigorous scrutiny at the ports than retain the power to exclude. But is vigorous scrutiny at the ports a substitute? It is a question not just of identifying known terrorists but of what to do with a known terrorist when he has been identified. Exclusion, again, is a preventive measure. It is a power used with great discretion, but it has still been found necessary to use it on seven occasions in 1985 and on nine occasions in 1986, and my right lion. Friend is not as yet convinced that it is a power which can be abandoned without subjecting the public to increased risk.

When dealing with the issue of international terrorists the right hon. Member for Gorton was completely up the pole, not for the first time, especially when dealing with the question of the Abu Nidal group. He did not seem to grasp the fact that they were admitted and information was then received which led to their detention. They could certainly not have been detained under Immigration Act powers except for the purpose of removing them from the country. They could not have been detained under Immigration Act powers in order to be questioned about the possibility of the commission of criminal offences.

Regarding the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths), there is an overlap between Immigration Act powers to designate ports and the powers under this Act, and we are not sure that there is an operational need for—

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business)

The House divided: Ayes 184, Noes 91.

Division No. 88][11.45 pm
AYES
Aitken, JonathanDouglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Alexander, RichardDover, Den
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelDurant, Tony
Ancram, MichaelFenner, Dame Peggy
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Baldry, TonyForth, Eric
Batiste, SpencerFowler, Rt Hon Norman
Beith, A. J.Franks, Cecil
Benyon, WilliamFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Bruce, MalcolmGale, Roger
Budgen, NickGalley, Roy
Burt, AlistairGarel-Jones, Tristan
Butcher, JohnGoodhart, Sir Philip
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)Gow, Ian
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Gregory, Conal
Cartwright, JohnGriffiths, Sir Eldon
Colvin, MichaelGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Cope, JohnGround, Patrick
Corrie, JohnHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Couchman, JamesHanley, Jeremy
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHargreaves, Kenneth
Harris, DavidPollock, Alexander
Harvey, RobertPorter, Barry
Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)Portillo, Michael
Hawksley, WarrenPowell, William (Corby)
Hayes, J.Powley, John
Hayward, RobertProctor, K. Harvey
Heddle, JohnRaffan, Keith
Hickmet, RichardRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hind, KennethRathbone, Tim
Hirst, MichaelRhodes James, Robert
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Holt, RichardRobinson, Mark (N'port W)
Hordern, Sir PeterRoe, Mrs Marion
Howard, MichaelRossi, Sir Hugh
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)Ryder, Richard
Hubbard-Miles, PeterSackville, Hon Thomas
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasSainsbury, Hon Timothy
Jackson, RobertSayeed, Jonathan
Jessel, TobyShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Shelton, William (Streatham)
Kennedy, CharlesShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
King, Roger (B'ham N'field)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Kirkwood, ArchySilvester, Fred
Knight, Greg (Derby N)Sims, Roger
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Skeet, Sir Trevor
Knowles, MichaelSoames, Hon Nicholas
Lang, IanSpeed, Keith
Lawler, GeoffreySpeller, Tony
Lawrence, IvanSpencer, Derek
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Squire, Robin
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkStanbrook, Ivor
Lester, JimSteel, Rt Hon David
Lightbown, DavidSteen, Anthony
Lilley, PeterStern, Michael
Livsey, RichardStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Lord, MichaelStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Lyell, NicholasStokes, John
McCurley, Mrs AnnaStradling Thomas, Sir John
Macfarlane, NeilTaylor, John (Solihull)
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnTemple-Morris, Peter
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Terlezki, Stefan
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
McLoughlin, PatrickThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Madel, DavidThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Major, JohnThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Malone, GeraldThornton, Malcolm
Maples, JohnTownend, John (Bridlington)
Marlow, AntonyTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Trotter, Neville
Mather, Sir CarolTwinn, Dr Ian
Maude, Hon FrancisWaddington, Rt Hon David
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinWakeham, Rt Hon John
Mayhew, Sir PatrickWall, Sir Patrick
Merchant, PiersWallace, James
Meyer, Sir AnthonyWaller, Gary
Mills, Iain (Meriden)Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Watts, John
Montgomery, Sir FergusWheeler, John
Moore, Rt Hon JohnWiggin, Jerry
Morris, M. (N'hampton S)Wilkinson, John
Murphy, ChristopherWinterton, Mrs Ann
Neale, GerrardWinterton, Nicholas
Needham, RichardWolfson, Mark
Nelson, AnthonyWood, Timothy
Neubert, MichaelWoodcock, Michael
Nicholls, PatrickWrigglesworth, Ian
Norris, StevenYeo, Tim
Oppenheim, Phillip
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidTellers for the Ayes:
Page, Sir John (Harrow W)Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Mr. Peter LLoyd.
NOES
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Home Robertson, John
Archer, Rt Hon PeterHowarth, George (Knowsley, N)
Ashton, JoeHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Barron, KevinLamond, James
Beckett, Mrs MargaretLeighton, Ronald
Benn, Rt Hon TonyLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Bermingham, GeraldLoyden, Edward
Blair, AnthonyMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Boyes, RolandMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Bray, Dr JeremyMcNamara, Kevin
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Madden, Max
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Mallon, Seamus
Caborn, RichardMarek, Dr John
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Campbell-Savours, DaleMartin, Michael
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Maxton, John
Clarke, ThomasMaynard, Miss Joan
Clay, RobertMichie, William
Clwyd, Mrs AnnNellist, David
Cohen, HarryO'Brien, William
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)O'Neill, Martin
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)Parry, Robert
Corbett, RobinPatchett, Terry
Corbyn, JeremyPike, Peter
Cunliffe, LawrencePowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Dalyell, TarnRedmond, Martin
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)Richardson, Ms Jo
Dixon, DonaldRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Dormand, JackRowlands, Ted
Dubs, AlfredSheerman, Barry
Duffy, A. E. P.Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Eadie, AlexSkinner, Dennis
Eastham, KenSoley, Clive
Fatchett, DerekSpearing, Nigel
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)Stott, Roger
Fisher, MarkStrang, Gavin
Flannery, MartinWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Foster, DerekWareing, Robert
Foulkes, GeorgeWelsh, Michael
Godman, Dr NormanWinnick, David
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gould, BryanTellers for the Noes:
Hamilton, James (M'well N)Mr. Chris Smith and
Haynes, FrankMr. John McWilliam.
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 (Continuance) Order 1987, which was laid before this House on 27th January, be approved.