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Prevention of Terrorism

– in the House of Commons at 10:24 pm on 16th February 1988.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr James Molyneaux Mr James Molyneaux , Lagan Valley 10:24 pm, 16th February 1988

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. First, I wonder whether it will be possible to save the time of the House. I understand that this matter has been referred to earlier in today's sitting and that Her Majesty's Government have already given an undertaking to another Government, namely the Irish Government, and disclosed to that Government the Home Secretary's intentions. I understand that that has been done during adjourned discussions, totalling about 10 hours. As I understand it, our debate tonight will last for one and a half hours. I do not know whether it will be possible to reveal to the House of Commons what was said in advance and the commitments that were given to the Government of another country.

My second point is brief. As the order is based on a Bill that extends mainly to Great Britain, which originated only in Great Britain and which now refers to international terrorism and not solely to Irish terrorism, I wonder whether someone in authority could tell us whether the Libyan or Iranian Government have had the same facility for consultation as the Irish Government.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Those are patently questions that I cannot answer, but perhaps the Home Secretary can.

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney 10:26 pm, 16th February 1988

I beg to move, That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 (Continuance) Order 1988, which was laid before this House on 25th January, be approved. The effect of the order will be to renew the 1984 Act for a further 12 months from 22 March. The House will want to discuss several aspects of the order, but the main message should be clear enough, and I am sure that the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) will not dissent from it. There is still a threat of terrorism hanging over the citizens of this country, including Northern Ireland. That arises not just out of the affairs of Northern Ireland but, as the right hon. Gentleman said, from the middle east and the sub-continent. Our defences against that threat must not be weakened.

In Northern Ireland in 1987, 83 people were killed by Republican or Protestant paramilitary groups. The bomb outrage at Enniskillen on Remembrance Sunday is still vivid in our minds. On the mainland in 1987, we thankfully had no successful attacks stemming from Irish republican extremism. However, I have no doubt that the Provisional IRA continues to wish and to plan further death and destruction among us. We must remain totally vigilant to defend ourselves against this threat.

We cannot ignore the threat which comes from international terrorist organisations. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the original Act did not cover international terrorism at all, but the world has changed for the worse since then. During 1987, there were six murders in Great Britain, which the police attributed to international terrorism. Those who died were three members of an Indian religious group at a service, two opponents of the Khomeini regime, and a Palestinian journalist.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act expires in March next year. Against the background that I have sketched, we need to consider what should take the place of that Act when it expires. It is right that I should say something about that this evening.

In April last year, I asked my noble and learned Friend Lord Colville of Culross, who conducted an independent review of the operation of the Act in 1986, to widen his net in 1987 and consider in greater depth the effectiveness of the legislation. His report was published in a White Paper in December. His scrutiny of the operation of the Act last year, which he concluded in January this year, was made available to Parliament on 8 February. I should like to express my gratitude, and, I believe, the gratitude of the House, for the effort and care that Lord Colville has devoted to these reports. He has taken a great deal of care to visit the ports and to consult many individuals and organisations who have an interest in the legislation.

I come immediately to what is undoubtedly Lord Colville's central recommendation. He says that he accepts the continuing need for legislation against terrorism. It would be foolish, he says, to pretend that terrorism in some form will not threaten lives and property in western countries for the foreseeable future, so he recommends that what he describes as the core controls enshrined in the legislation should no longer be subject to annual renewal, but should be enacted into fully permanent legislation, albeit with a continuation of the existing system of annual reviews.

We accept that the problem of terrorism in one form or another is not going to go away. We have to protect ourselves from terrorism from many sources. It is not just a matter of Irish terrorism, as the statistics show. None of the six deaths that occurred last year in Great Britain as a result of terrorist acts was the result of Irish terrorism.

We accept entirely the need for continuing legislation designed to prevent acts of terrorism in this country, but after careful reflection we do not believe that it would be right to interrupt the process by which Parliament is asked to take a positive decision each year to renew the provisions.

The BBC report today was inaccurate on one crucial point. In its hurry to get the story early the BBC got it wrong. We propose to return to the arrangement that existed when the Labour Government introduced the 1976 Act. The new Act that we shall propose will have no limit on its time span. It will not expire after five years, like the current 1984 Act under which this order is made. But the powers in the Act will have to be renewed each year. That is the arrangement that the Government of which the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) was a member introduced in 1976, and in the light of experience we intend to return to it, I am sure with the support of the Labour party. Moreover, the powers will be renewable in whole or in part, and there is a good reason for that. Lord Colville suggested that the powers that relate especially to Irish terrorism — proscription and exclusion—should remain on a temporary basis.

By retaining the requirement for annual renewal in whole or in part, we meet that point by making it possible to drop any provisions that no longer appear necessary. Because of the exceptional nature of the powers contained in the Act, it is right that its operation should be scrutinised by an independent person, as the 1984 Act has been, and that arrangement, too, will continue.

I would like to deal with two points that I have heard made in the past 24 hours but to which I have not been able to respond, for obvious reasons. There is nothing in the criticisms that have been voiced about timing. One cannot insist on annual debates and then complain about timing when the time for the annual debate comes round. The order had to be debated at this time, and obviously the House requires that the Minister sets out his future intentions in the debate.

There is a more fundamental point. The people of Northern Ireland suffer more from terrorism than any of the rest of us. It is overwhelmingly in their interest, in that of the citizens of the Republic, and in that of all Irish men and women living this side of the water, that terrorism should be checked and then crushed. It is inevitable that the powers needed for that purpose should occasionally hear on innocent people, causing delay, inconvenience and controversy. But the powers are not aimed at those innocent people; they are aimed at their oppressors—the terrorists.

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

I should like to get on. It is a short debate and I am afraid that I have a bit to say.

Lord Colville points out — and I remember vividly from my time as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland—the resentment that use of these powers can produce. I would be delighted if they could be safely removed, but safely is the key word. While they exist, they must be carefully and intelligently used; and we must take every opportunity to prove—as we can—that they are there for the protection and not the oppression of the citizen.

We intend, in replacing the current Act, to implement Lord Colville's recommendation that the principal port powers, which are now in the order and the comparable Northern Ireland order, should be incorporated into primary legislation. Powers given to the police at ports — notably on examination and detention — are important, and, as with similar ones in the Immigration Act 1971, we now think that they deserve full consideration by Parliament and a place on the face of the Act.

We have considered Lord Colville's recommendation that the police powers at ports should be extended to cover ports handling traffic outside the common travel area. Those ports are covered by controls provided by the Immigration Act 1971, and we are not at present convinced that there is a case for extending police powers at those ports.

The House will have noticed Lord Colville's endorsement of the value of the powers in the prevention of terrorism legislation for the arrest and detention, for up to seven days if necessary, of people suspected of involvement in terrorist acts. In England and Wales, detention in police custody is subject to procedures laid down in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the codes of practice issued under it. Some of the requirements apply, with modifications, to detentions under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; others are expressly disapplied.

I see force in the changes proposed by Lord Colville to bring procedures for those detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act closer to those for people detained under ordinary police powers, as long as the police investigation is not jeopardised, and we are examining the feasibility of that.

When Lord Colville's report was published before Christmas, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary announced straight away that we could not accept the recommendation that the power of exclusion should be abolished. We thought hard about that, but we did not believe it would be helpful to the House or anyone else for there to be any uncertainty on our views. Now is not the right time to give up that power. It is used sparingly. I look at every application with care and I refused, in the past year, three applications for orders from the police. I made 17 orders in respect of people who had previously been excluded, but 19 orders were not replaced when they expired. The total of exclusion orders in force at the end of 1987 was 111 in Great Britain and 23 in Northern Ireland, which is a slight rise on the previous year.

I dislike the idea of the use of Executive power to inhibit free movement of a person within his own country. I believe that other hon. Members, if confronted, case by case, with the information that is put in front of me as to the activities and intentions of these individuals would agree with me that the restrictions placed on their freedom of movement is justified to save lives, which is what the use of the power is about. Under section 10 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, it is an offence to make available, to invite others to do so, or to receive, funds to be used in connection with Northern Irish terrorism.

Photo of Mr Clive Soley Mr Clive Soley , Hammersmith

Understandably, the Home Secretary has praised Lord Colville. Will he bear in mind the fact that Lord Colville described exclusion orders as being similar to internal exile, which is a point that I have debated with the Home Secretary? Does he accept what Lord Colville recommended that it is undesirable for a politician, however senior, to have the power of exclusion which is not, in the first instance, overseen by a court of law?

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

It is undesirable, but I simply repeat the point that I made when I explained why I disagree with Lord Colville's recommendation on this point. If the hon. Gentleman—who is a sensible person—were confronted with the facts that are laid before me in these applications, he would not accept all of them, and I do not accept all of them. They need careful probing, and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, I have three completely independent advisers to advise me on these matters. Nevertheless, I believe that, for the time being, with the facts as they are today, it would be putting lives in jeopardy if we were to abandon that power of exclusion. Therefore, I believe that it should be used sparingly and carefully for the protection of citizens, as it is today.

Under section 10, as I was saying, it is an offence to make available or invite others to do so or to receive funds to be used in connection with Northern Irish terrorism. Lord Colville believes that the section could be useful in relation to international terrorism because there is evidence of fund raising by international terrorist groups in this country, to purchase arms and explosives. This is difficult. We agree with Lord Colville that it is wrong that contributions could be made in this country to international terrorist organisations and not be caught by our anti-terrorism legislation, and we are considering his proposals carefully.

We have some further work to do, but, in principle, the points I have outlined will be incorporated in the Bill which we shall introduce to replace the present Act when it expires in 1989. We mean to accept a number of other useful recommendations made by Lord Colville. They will be drawn to the attention of the police in a circular of guidance.

We are debating tonight the continuance for one more year of the powers in the present Act. It would be a great strength if the House could unite behind this proposal — and a great shame if it could not.

I know that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and his colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench would, if they were sitting on the Government Benches now, try to find a way—contrary to what they announced today—of keeping a Prevention of Terrorism Act alive. Of course they would: they would have to. The right hon. Gentleman has a particular difficulty because it was he, in 1982, who led the Opposition's drift away from reality into irresponsibility. He was a Minister when the Act was passed. He did not vote against it till 1982. If he now claims to be leading his party back towards responsibility, he cannot vote against the order tonight. It is a simple and straightforward test.

All the efforts that the right hon. Gentleman is making to get on better terms with the police and to try to repair the damage done by his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) will be futile if he fails this test. He must decide whether to stand up to the Left wing, which forced him to make that lamentable change in 1982. If he does not—if he cannot—do that, he will show again that the Opposition do not have the backbone to deal with these matters. Until they recover it, they will not be taken seriously as an alternative Government.

In the previous debates, the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook has tried to cover himself by two lines of argument. The Opposition argue — this is a serious argument — that the Act should be scrapped as ineffective because terrorist incidents still happen; but that argument could be used about the whole of the criminal law. Their second point is that by skilful use of other pieces of legislation — this is the right hon. Gentleman's particular point — such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 or the Immigration Act 1971, we could achieve the same ends. That is simply not true, as Lord Colville's report on the operation of the Act in 1987 amply showed.

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen , Nottingham North

We have heard a great deal of assertion tonight about the PTA—and a fair bit of divergence, too. When will the right hon. Gentleman give us some evidence about activity under the PTA, rather than diversionary tactics?

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

Exactly now. It was a mistake to give way to the hon. Gentleman. He asks whether the PTA helps to prevent acts of terrorism and bring terrorists to justice. Let us look at the figures in Lord Colville's report. Anyone who doubts that we need the Act should be convinced by 27 charges of murder in Northern Ireland last year alone, some connected with the deaths of members of the security forces. But I agree with the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) that figures, however convincing, do not convey the complete picture. I can give the House some details which are no longer subject to the restraint of prejudicing court procedures.

The conviction late last year of a leading member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, who had organised some shooting of prominent moderate Sikhs in Great Britain, shows the extent of the threat against the Sikh community in this country and the value of the prevention of terrorism legislation. That man—that murderer—had been detained under section 12 of the Act after his fingerprints had been found in a car thought to have been used in the attacks, on a plastic bag used to contain a shotgun used in one of the attacks. Without the length of detention possible under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and the opportunities that that gave for further inquiries, examination of his correspondence, and further questioning, it might well have not been possible to bring that man to justice.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

The Secretary of State's argument does not stand. He tells us that the man's fingerprints were found in the car. Therefore, he could have been incriminated under existing criminal law. The Secretary of State uses a case badly to make his argument. That man could have been arrested and charged under existing criminal law, and the PTA was not needed.

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

The hon. Lady is wrong. In that particular case I allowed detention, after careful examination, for up to six days under the powers of the PTA. Under ordinary law, I would have been unable to do so and, in all probability, that terrorist would not have been brought to justice. [Interruption.] I appreciate that right hon. and hon. Members do not like it when anecdotes are produced to demonstrate the crucial value of the powers of the PTA.

Lord Colville described in his report the long and complex investigation in Scotland regarding firearms and explosives apparently destined for use by a Loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland, which culminated in the conviction of six men on firearms charges. Those men were arrested under the PTA during 1986, but their trial took place in 1987. The simultaneous investigations required by the police in several other areas could not have not taken place successfully unless the powers in the PTA had been used. That is another example to demonstrate that those exceptional powers are necessary to bring would-be terrorists to justice.

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

No, I have given way sufficiently. I have been asked for evidence and I have given evidence.

It is impossible to test the value of the Act simply by the changes brought. Last year, I noted how the Act had been used in 1986 to forestall—that is the key word—terrorism by a group of the Abu Nidhal gang, whom I deported. This year, a man suspected of working for the Libyan Government as an intelligence officer was likewise deported. Without the powers in the Act, it would have been impossible to arrest and deport that man.

If Opposition Members are arguing that we should wait until a crime has been committed and there are corpses on the streets—[Interruption.] That is what is at issue. We are discussing a preventive measure, and what it does is prevent terrorism and save lives.

To save lives and protect our citizens, I ask the House to give its wholehearted support to the continuation of the powers in the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The reports by Lord Colville should be a reassurance that those powers are not abused or over-used. They are exercised carefully and conscientiously, with regard to the impact on the liberty and rights of the individual. We are clear that those powers must continue to remain throughout the United Kingdom if we are to conduct and succeed in a serious and sustained fight against terrorism.

I commend the draft order to the House.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook 10:48 pm, 16th February 1988

As a result of events yesterday and this morning, the debate is bound to be dominated by a discussion of the Home Secretary's proposals for permanent legislation.

In this 90 minutes we should be discussing the application of the PTA over the next year. Future plans should have been announced to the House at half past 3 one afternoon. They should not have been, first, incompetently leaked to the BBC yesterday and then described all morning to journalists by a spokesman from No. 10 Downing street. That task having been completed, the plans were actually reported to the House this evening.

The Home Secretary having reported to the House his intention to move to permanent legislation, it is worth our reminding him and the House about what he now proposes as a full-time, permanent feature of British law — a law which began, as Hansard will show, as a reaction to an immediate emergency, a crisis and a tragedy. It would not have been passed through the House if hon. Members had thought that it would ever become a permanent feature on the statute book.

The Home Secretary is recommending permanent legislation which would enable men and women to be held for up to seven days without charge, denied access to solicitors and to be subject to what Lord Colville, the Home Secretary's own choice of monitor of the Act, calls internal exile. It is worth noting from Lord Colville's report that the vast majority of men and women who were arrested without charge, held for seven days and denied the right of access to a solicitor were innocent under the law.

In 1987, a total of 113 men and women were detained on suspicion of what Lord Colville's report calls Northern Ireland terrorism. Only 10 of them were charged. We do not know how many of them were convicted, but let us assume that all 10 of them were convicted. The other 103 were arrested and imprisoned, but were guilty of no offence under the law.

If Conservative Members are no more able than the Home Secretary to recognise the enormity of the offence against those 103 people, I hope that at least they will be able to understand the bonus that such actions provides for terrorists who want to argue that the British Government in Westminster are callous about the way in which Irish people coming into Britain are treated, and are unconcerned about the real rule of law and the real protection of civil liberties.

Terrorism in Northern Ireland will be defeated only when the overwhelming law-abiding majority are convinced that they must repudiate, reject and expose the terrorists. The announcement today that the Act is to be permanent, the inept timing and the nature of the announcement and the extraordinary performance of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on television trying to suggest that there is to be no permanent legislation are bound to play into the hands of the IRA propaganda machine. It will also prejudice the resumption of the proper and necessary co-operation between London and Dublin.

This morning, Government spokesmen describing the Act, and correcting the errors of yesterday, have been saying that the changes are not as profound as they may appear to critics of the proposals. I am not surprised. Had the Government intended to prejudice Anglo-Irish relations during the past month, they would hardly have behaved differently.

It began with the Government's refusal to prosecute over the Stalker-Sampson inquiry. It continued with the Attorney-General's unwillingness or inability to provide the information necessary for extradition. Now there is the ineptitude of today's announcement, or yesterday's leak, about the PTA.

I shall make my position absolutely clear. As part of their briefing, Government spokesmen spoke about the Opposition being soft on terrorism. I am not prepared to take that from a Government who gave a safe passage out of this country to the murderers of WPC Fletcher rather than have a row with Libya.

The truth about the Opposition's attitude to terrorism was described with a good deal more grace by the Home Secretary last year in a similar debate. He said: No one in this House disagrees about the distinctive evil of terrorism That is indisputably true. He went on: The argument in the House begins when we consider whether special powers are needed by the police and the Government in dealing with terrorism."—[Official Report, 10 February 1987; Vol. 110, c. 263.] But it is only the beginning of the truth, for our contention is not merely that the powers of the PTA are unnecessary or even inappropriate to a free society, true though that contention is. We insist that the operation, perhaps even the existence, of the PTA is a hindrance and a handicap in the fight against terrorism, certainly in relation to Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I will give way on this one occasion because this is a 90-minute debate, the Home Secretary took 25 minutes and I want to be brief.

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash , Stafford

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, when Labour Members were in power, they managed to detain 4,524 people in five years under this Act whereas in the eight years during which we have been dealing with these matters the number has been only 1,947? That makes clear the reality of the situation and totally contradicts the right hon. Gentleman's position.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

That does not even touch on the effects that the PTA is having on everything the Home Secretary claims he want to do. The Act must be judged by its effects on terrorism in Northern Ireland and our success in combating it. The Home Secretary now wants to broaden its scope and tries to defend that action by saying that we live in an age of international terrorism. But everybody knows that this measure was introduced to deal explicity with the Northern Ireland situation as an immediate and temporary expedient and necessity. Without the tragedy of Northern Ireland—indeed, without the specific tragedy of the Birmingham pub bombings—the Act would never have been passed.

The PTA stands or falls by the success it provides in combating, or helping to combat, terrorism in Northern Ireland. It falls, in our view, because of the effect it has on Irish opinion, and the main area where Irish opinion is now being prejudiced are exclusion orders.

It is no good the Home Secretary offering his thanks to Lord Colville, saying how full of wisdom his report is and then, in some cavalier fashion — unsubstantiated and unjustified — dismissing what Lord Colville says about exclusion orders. And it is not only Lord Colville. Sir Cyril Philips, who did the monitoring operation the year before, also—both men working from different bases—came to the same conclusion that exclusion orders should be ended in one form or another.

Exclusion orders prejudice opinion in Northern Ireland and are clearly intended to deal with Northern Ireland alone. The idea that terrorists can be excluded from the mainland and required to live in the six counties is a view of Northern Ireland which is wholly inconsistent with the principle that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and must be treated in exactly the same way as the United Kingdom. We do not send terrorists on exclusion orders to Chelmsford, Cardiff, Glasgow or Guildford. If we are to treat Northern Ireland as the repository for terrorists, we must be encouraging terrorism there and the IRA propaganda machine.

Our main objection, in principle and in practice, is to what the Act provides by way of power of detention. The Home Secretary argued last year, and he argued again tonight, that it was necessary to have the power to prevent horrors before they happened — the pre-emption argument. The first example he gave to justify that seemed extraordinary. The crime had already been committed. I refer to the Sikh bombing and murder. The Home Secretary mentioned a motor car which the police had taken into their care, which they knew had been used when the murder had been committed, and on which were found fingerprints of the man who was eventually convicted.

Is the Home Secretary really saying that that man could not have been arrested and prosecuted without the existence of this Act? I will give way at once to the right hon. Gentleman if he wishes to answer my next question. What happens when cars are used in the commission of murders which are not associated with terrorism and when fingerprints are found on those cars? Do we never catch and convict the criminals in such cases? Of course, in that circumstance the normal law and the normal powers could be used. We must therefore ask the question that is constantly asked by Opposition Members but is never answered: what is the real purpose of, and what is the real evidence that warrants, this form of detention?

I ask the Home Secretary questions which are not intended to be rhetorical. Could not the men found in the garden of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland have been arrested under normal criminal law? Could not the retired doctor from my constituency who was held under the PTA and eventually charged and acquitted on suspicion of explosives offences have been held under criminal law? The police told me when I asked them that the PTA was more convenient. It does not seem to me that convenience justifies abandonment of the rules of arrest and detention which are expected in a free society.

The Home Secretary's excuse can hardly apply to the extension of detention orders, as he seemed to argue. Let me read to him a passage from Lord Colville's report. Paragraph 36 says: the reasons adduced by the police for an extension included a few alibi enquiries, some requests for an identity parade and a substantial number of forensic investigations. Broadly, however, the application was based on suspicion of involvement in a particular crime. All that is the stuff of which normal criminal charges and investigations are made, and all that should have been dealt with in the normal way, not least because 103 of the 110 men and women who were treated in this draconian fashion — the word used by the Home Secretary who introduced the Act when it first came on the statute book —were subsequently found to be innocent.

We are left with the irresistible suspicion that the purpose of detention is to hold for 48 hours or seven days men and women who have committed no offence, but are thought to possess information of value to the police. That suspicion is intensified by the Government's refusal to accept Lord Colville's proposal that extensions of detention should be determined not by the Home Secretary but by the courts, for were the extension of detention to be determined by the courts much better reasons would have to be brought forward. They would certainly have to be better than those that the Home Secretary has provided to the House.

Detention allows a man or woman to be held without the normal safeguards of full custody sheets and access to a solicitor within 36 hours. That may be a reason for detention, but it is a thoroughly bad reason to be brought forward in a free society — so bad that the Home Secretary does not even advance it when he attempts to defend his proposition.

The way in which the Home Secretary has advanced his proposition is not calculated to encourage all-party support for the campaign in Northern Ireland. Indeed, apart from the moments of cheap abuse, the Home Secretary defended his views simply by assertion—not by justification, not by evidence, but just by assertion. He announced that it was not the right time to end exclusion. He announced that he was not convinced that changes were necessary. He announced that we were nevertheless required to maintain these powers, just as if the Home Secretary's word on these matters was enough. It is indeed a docile, supine, craven House of Commons that is prepared to accept such a curtailment and reduction of civil liberties on the unsubstantiated word of a Minister alone.

I am not prepared to do it, and that is why I shall vote against the order.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds 11:04 pm, 16th February 1988

Because this is a brief debate, I intend to be extremely brief. I rise because last Sunday I had the privilege of being present in St. Anne's cathederal, Belfast, when the Royal Ulster Constabulary dedicated a window to the memory of some 252 police officers who had been murdered over the past 10 years in that part of the United Kingdom. At the end of the service, at which clergymen of all denominations spoke, I walked out in the company of more than 800 widows and children of those officers. No one who could mingle with the widows and children of those police officers could be in any doubt about the terrible carnage that is wreaked upon the innocent by terrorists in Northern Ireland. As I met those widows and children, I felt immensely humble.

It was quite clear, as I discussed the debate that would take place in the House tonight, that the overwhelming majority of those who suffer from the scourge of terrorism in Northern Ireland would not forgive us if we did not provide to the police service in Northern Ireland and in this country every means that we can to prevent such horrors from taking place. It is against that background that I make my judgment of whether the legislation introduced by a Labour Government and continued by successive Governments should or should not remain a part of our law.

Lord Colville, like many other independent persons, came to the conclusion—

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it right for the hon. Gentleman to imply that policemen always seem to be the victims rather than the perpetrators of crimes of terrorism? Should the hon. Gentleman not declare his interest before he starts, and declare himself as a paid servant of the police?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The hon. Member should declare his interest, but a breach of order has not been committed so far.

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

If it is necessary for me to declare my interest, I do so with pride, but there can be few hon. Members who have any doubt about it. The issue is very simple: does the House owe to the security services and the police the provision of legislation to help them to defend the innocent?

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen , Nottingham North

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. If the hon. Member wishes to talk about the police and the valuable role that they perform in Northern Ireland, would he not be better advised to book a Committee Room when we are talking about the Prevention of Terrorism Act?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

This is a very short debate and there is no point in wasting time by raising bogus points of order.

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

The police service is in no doubt that it could not effectively safeguard the people of the country against the very substantial increase in terrorism that may take place if the Act were not available to them. I believe that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) has some experience as a Home Office Minister

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

In that case, the right hon. Gentleman confirms what I was about to say which is that, lacking experience as a Home Office Minister, it is all the more egregious that he should regard his judgment as superior to that of those who have to risk their lives to undertake our protection. The Act has been crucial in the fight against terrorism. In June 1985 the Act enabled the police to prevent an IRA bombing campaign of British resorts and to bring charges in connection with the Brighton bombing of 1984. In June 1986 the leaders of the Provisional IRA murder gang involved in that atrocity were sent to prison for life, and that could not have happened without the legislation.

I believe that the Home Secretary is absolutely right to say that we need legislation that will assist the police and the security services, not simply in investigating terrorism, but in preventing it. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is entirely right to commend the order to the House, and it will be disgraceful if the Opposition divide against it.

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

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) has just misled the House. I say so in all seriousness—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman come to his point of order? Time is passing and this is an important debate.

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

If the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds wants to quote anything about the Brighton bombing case and the summer bombing campaign, the least he could do is to read the papers.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. That is a point of argument and not a point of order.

Photo of Mr Alex Carlile Mr Alex Carlile , Montgomery 11:12 pm, 16th February 1988

Having read the report of Lord Colville, I reluctantly conclude that we are justified in continuing the exceptional response to the grave problem of terrorism for another year, but I say that with great misgivings.

I hope that hon. Members will listen to those misgivings because they might well agree with them. First, as the Home Secretary will no doubt recognise, the legislation is contrary to the European convention on human rights. Secondly, the continuation of exclusion orders, in the face of the views of Lord Colville and Sir Cyril Philips, serves no useful purpose except to fuel the IRA propaganda machine in future. Thirdly, it is regretable that we should be considering the continuation of the Act against the continuing background of the Diplock courts, without any announcement from the Home Secretary of any modification of the arrangements in those courts. Press speculation, no doubt fuelled by the Government, led us to believe that we might hear something about that tonight.

Fourthly, it is regrettable that we have not yet heard fom the Government that some simple measures recommended by Lord Colville, which would further ensure the fair treatment of prisoners in police stations, have not yet been brought into effect.

The way in which the future of the Act has been dealt with tonight is astonishing. It is part of a chapter of lamentable clumsiness which had led to a total breakdown of understanding between the United Kingdom Government and the Government of the Republic of Ireland. The announcement of the introduction of permanent legislation next year has probably done more to worsen Anglo-Irish relations than any other declarations or activities of the past few weeks. It is piled upon what happened, or, rather, did not happen, to the Stalker-Sampson report; and upon a regrettable refusal so far by the Government to provide a proper opportunity to debate relations between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The Dail is to have that opportunity tomorrow, but we are to be deprived of such an opportunity, apparently for some time to come.

The announcement tonight of permanent legislation will have a regrettable effect on the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It will affect, within our own jurisdiction, law, justice and security. It will affect the operation of extradition and the security of the realm. The Government's proposal is a constitutional nightmare. It is politically foolish and, further to the decisions not to prosecute in the shoot-to-kill cases or to insist upon a change of chief officer in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and the smothering of the Stalker-Sampson affair, must sadden our friends in Ireland as much as it delights our common enemies—the gunmen and the terrorists.

We must not tolerate a permanent and exceptional removal of civil liberties. No democratic British Government should countenance that. It is the rights and freedoms of the citizen which should be permanent. Any derogation from them should be only temporary. The European convention on human rights, to which we are a signatory, makes it clear that suspension of civil rights for reasons of the state can be only by exception. The rule must be personal freedom.

Anti-terrorist legislation is, unfortunately, needed in the short term, but we believe that the time has come to develop it within the framework of the Anglo-Irish Agreement — not outside the framework of that agreement and in what appears to be a clumsy, though not deliberate, attempt to destroy it.

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Alex Carlile Mr Alex Carlile , Montgomery

I have nearly finished my speech, so I shall not give way. Many other hon. Members wish to speak.

We believe that there should be joint and simultaneous enactment by the Dail and this Parliament of new antiterrorist legislation. That is the constructive way forward, that is the way in which anti-terrorist legislation can be made to stick and that is the way in which terrorism can be defeated.

Photo of Mr David Ashby Mr David Ashby , North West Leicestershire 11:15 pm, 16th February 1988

When the principal Bill was first in Committee it was known as the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, but several Opposition Members, together with some of my hon. Friends and I, insisted that the words "(Temporary Provisions)" should be inserted in the title. I remember well the reasons for the inclusion of those words.

The Act provides the police with exceptional powers. No state should normally take the powers that have been amply set out in this debate. They include the power to detain for seven days. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 provides for detention for only four days. Many hon. Members were very concerned about that power to detain, but under this Act a person can be detained for a further three days.

The Act includes the power to hold and interrogate and to hold simply for the purpose of gathering information. The Act also includes the power to detain people in Northern Ireland, thereby preventing them from travelling to the mainland. They are exceptional powers. Therefore, it was necessary to include the words "(Temporary Provisions)" in the title of the Act.

I welcome an annual opportunity to debate such exceptional powers. It is necessary to examine every year the effect of the Act, what is happening in Northern Ireland and whether the Act ought to be renewed. Its renewal should never be automatic. As parliamentary time is limited, there cannot be a requirement to renew the Act every five years, but there must be an order every year, thus providing an opportunity for debate. Therefore, I welcome the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

For the reasons that were given by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile), I believe that it is right to renew the order. However, I say that only after a careful examination of the current situation. I give notice that next year I shall not automatically vote for the renewal of the Act. I shall consider its effect very carefully. Only after the most careful consideration shall I be prepared to vote for its renewal, because of the exceptional powers that it contains.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) has given figures that prove that the Act has been successful, but the fight against terrorism has much further to go. Nevertheless, I believe that the Act cannot remain on the statute book for ever and I look forward to the end of it.

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh 11:24 pm, 16th February 1988

It is tragic that the debate is taking place in the shadow of the events of the past three weeks. Ringing in all our ears must be those prophetic words of Sir John Hermon, at his first meeting with John Stalker, when he said, "You are in a jungle now." The jungle state has been contributed to, not just by the situation in Northern Ireland, but by the decision announced on the Floor of the House, which will allow those charged with enforcing the law to undermine the law and which has debased the integrity of the whole process of justice in Northern Ireland in the eyes of the people who have had to watch various incidents.

The Government have played by the ground rules which were laid down by Sir John Hermon or the intelligence services. Translated into graffiti, with all the legal niceties stripped away, the decision could be written on a wall as, "Jungle rule, OK." It is against that background that we must examine the two crucial issues. I shall not deal with the timing of the announcement, except to say that it was grossly insensitive, to put it mildly.

The proposed permanency is something that I find abhorrent, like most of what is in the legislation. To understand the context, we must consider the rake's progress in trying to get a solution to the Northern Irish problem. A security solution has been tried in all shapes and forms for 20 years. A new brigade has just been formed, and there is a new border zone. Some people have compared it to the Gaza strip. I live in it, so I will not make that comparison. In their thinking the Government seem to be moving inexorably towards a futile military solution, but there is no such solution.

The question must be asked: what is the objective? Is it to defeat terrorism, or is it to bring peace? The Government have to address that question. What is the priority? Is it to bring peace to Northern Ireland or to Ireland, or is it to try to gain a futile victory? Let there be no mistake about it. The present position can go on for another 20 years, with the military approach by the Government and by all the paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland.

The second fundamental question is: can amending or bending the law lead to a solution? Let us look at the rake's progress on that. We have had internment without trial, the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978, the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984, the Diplock courts, the brutal interrogation techniques verified by Lord Justice Bennett and supergrass trials. We have had all these abuses of the law, but, 20 years on, none of them has ended terrorism. This legislation, whether permanent or temporary, will not end violence.

Everything has been tried militarily and legally. The one solution that has not yet been tried is that of giving the people of Northern Ireland a proper system of justice that every person can identify with, have confidence in and defend if the need arises. That is the way to prevent terrorism and end violence. That is the way to create peace.

I refer hon. Members to the informed view expressed by the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Scott), when he was a Minister in the Northern Ireland Office. In a speech in Munich he said that oppressive policies, without regard to moderation, civilisation and restraint, could feed terrorism. That is what is happening because of the emergency provisions legislation. Paramilitarists can live with repression. Indeed, they promote and welcome it. They cannot live with the highest standards of justice, because that is what they fear most. Since 1974, they have never been faced with that prospect from a Government operating from this House.

Once the order becomes permanent, it will be a vote of no confidence in the prospect of obtaining stability, a proper system of justice or prospects for peace in Northern Ireland. It is saying that there is no chance of stability proper justice or peace.

When Lord Jenkins, as he now is, was Secretary of State for the Home Department and he introduced this legislation, he said that it was unprecedented in peacetime. It is draconian legislation. To have it as a temporary provision is bad enough, but to enshrine it permanently is a monstrous act for the people of Britain, and especially for the people in Northern Ireland.

Powers of detention could be rewritten. The legislation is already used as a trawl for intelligence information. The detention figures, not confining their application to Britain, and the application of sections 11 and 13 in Northern Ireland, are astounding. Is anyone telling me, or anyone who lives in Northern Ireland, that this legislation is not used to trawl for intelligence?

Let me give as an example an incident that occurred three weeks ago A lady in my constituency, who was six months pregnant, was taken from her home by helicopter at 6.30 in the morning to a holding centre and questioned for a day and a half. The questioning was not about herself and her involvement, but about people with whom she might have had contact.

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

My hon. Friend will be aware that over many years thousands of men and women have had their fingerprints taken, and although they are not found guilty of any terrorism, their fingerprints are still kept on file. Is that not disgraceful, and should not those fingerprints be destroyed?

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

That may cause considerable concern in Britain, but I can assure my hon. Friend that in my constituency it would be the least of people's worries.

I have two further points to make. Unless precautions are taken when people are held in detention, there will be a repeat of the situation where a Mr. Gillan from Belfast was released from custody on the direction of the court because of his maltreatment in detention. Video cameras and tape recorders were introduced to put a stop to that, but they have not done so. This matter must be considered most carefully.

There is no statutory provison to cover the use of force by members of the security forces in Northern Ireland, apart from a provision in the Criminal Law Act 1967. There is nothing that the public have a right to know about, apart from that provision. Is that important? I suggest that it is very important when we realise that, between 1969 and 1986, 166 people were killed by members of the security forces. None of those people was involved in violence or paramilitary groupings. That is a remarkable omission from any form of legislation.

Until a uniform code of conduct and a set of rules are enshrined in legislation for both the police and the Army, there will be more Stalker affairs, and more people will be killed in dubious circumstances. This kind of incident will poison relationships, not just between the parties in the House, but between people in Northern Ireland, between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and between the Republic and Britain.

It may seen strange to quote the words of Lord Denning after these past three weeks, but I shall risk it. I ask that the Government remember these words at all times. He said: "Be you ever so high, the law is above you."

Photo of Mr Kenneth Hind Mr Kenneth Hind , West Lancashire 11:29 pm, 16th February 1988

The fight against terrorism is an extraordinary business, and extraordinary solutions are required to deal with it. No Conservative Member would welcome the use of powers of this kind unless it was necessary, but necessary it is. Let me say to my right hon. Friend that one of the primary duties of a Government is to protect the citizens of this country. That is what he must do, and in doing so he takes on these necessary powers.

The lives of British people, not only in Northern Irleland but on the mainland, are in the hands of the police and the Home Office. It is their responsibility to ensure that our streets are safe and our people properly protected. We are dealing not only with international terrorism, or only with domestic terrorism, but with a mixture: the IRA, the Libyans, the Iranians—all kinds of terrorists who come to this country bearing its people no good will. Those are the people whom we must exclude, and this Bill will exclude them.

Let me say to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) that it is much better for 103 people to spend a week in custody than for hundreds of British people to die on our streets because we do not look into things properly. I am sure that many of my hon. Friends will agree with that. It does not do for the right hon. Gentleman to go on about the police in the way that he has done. That is at the root of it—the Opposition's paranoia about the powers granted to the police in this country. The police are the defenders of our society. I have sat in the House for four years and listened, and there is no doubt that the Opposition are paranoid about the powers of the police, and about giving them any further powers.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Hind Mr Kenneth Hind , West Lancashire

I will not give way.

No one who has been in the House for the last few years and who has seen the incident at Heathrow over the E1-A1 jet, the Brighton bombing, Enniskillen, the Eksund incident and the recent uncovering of arms caches in Northern Ireland could believe that this measure is inappropriate. It is an essential tool of preventive policing, and an essential tool in the fight against terrorism.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Hind Mr Kenneth Hind , West Lancashire

No, I shall not give way.

I say to the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook that I am surprised at him in particular. I say to the House that the public will not understand, if the Opposition vote against the order, their cavalier attitude towards the safety of the people of this country, of which they ought to be thoroughly ashamed.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough 11:32 pm, 16th February 1988

The melancholy annual renewal of this legislation suggests that the Conservative party has exactly the same attitude as it did when the Act was first made law. Some of us fought against it on that day, and have continued to do so. It caused us much personal misery and trouble, but we did it for two reasons: because we were convinced that it would not work, and because we were convinced that it was profoundly unjust and would not do what it was intended to do. We are renewing it now against the background of a series of events which have been enumerated during the debate, and which, tied together, almost look like a provocation of the Irish people and the Irish Government.

We know that Sir John Hermon and the Government together have prevented justice from being done to the people who carried out those shootings. It is no good the Government hiding behind the Director of Public Prosecutions: it is the Government who are intervening in the law. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) should shut up. He never came here for debates about Ireland until he was paid for it. He was not here when we were fighting the struggle a long time ago, and he would not be now—

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

The hon. Gentleman is normally called first on such matters and he usually takes about half an hour out of a one-and-a-half-hour debate. The fact that he was told off means that we have been subjected to less than usual.

In 1974 the Act was passed against a background of fear and terror among our people. Many went along with it. Enniskillen is at the back of the order. Fear is causing a kind of semi-lynch law approach. People know that the Act is not working. Thousands of innocent people who have been fingerprinted are on the list.[Interruption.] I am told that it is much viler than that over there. People here should realise what the people in Northern Ireland and in the Republic are going through.

The Act's main provisions are draconian in the extreme. They include proscription of organisations that appear to be involved in political violence relating to Northern Ireland; exclusion from Britain — what a terrible thing it is when the entire family is worried about people who have never been tried because there is no trial; arrest and detention for up to seven days without charge. The Home Secretary said that he needed that provision to keep somebody in for six days. He could keep somebody in for six days because some people are in gaol for six months, never mind six days. The right hon. Gentleman knows that as well as I do.

The Act also includes exclusion—people are not even told the evidence against them or who is giving the evidence. There is no right of silence—people are forced to answer questions about other individuals. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said, one reason for the Act is to collect knowledge and intelligence and to force people to answer. They do not have the right to silence or any opportunity to cross-examine their accusers and there is no form of trial or appeal.

It is a disgraceful Act and should be taken off the statute book altogether. It is impossible for anyone to make representations on behalf of the accused, as no form of charges has ever been laid. The Act is draconian and creates terrorism. It is a "production of terrorism" Act. If Conservative Members do not know that, they should ask themselves a simple question. When anybody is unjustly treated by the Act—the Irish people have millions of relatives in the United States—do those Conservative Members not realise that NorAid is immediately strengthened to get funds for the IRA? Among other things, that is one result of the Act.

The Act has not stopped the bombings and the shootings; they still go on. Therefore, the Act aggravates a difficult situation, produces misery, and violates the conscience of any honourable individual. The Conservative party should be ashamed of the sickening unanimity on the Government Benches. Conservative Members uphold the Act year after year when innocent people are being terrorised. People who have never bothered to go to Ireland in their lives go there with the cameras on them, as the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds did yesterday, as we all saw. What does he know about it? He only comes here to defend the police.

The Irish community in this country and in Northern Ireland are frightened of the Act. They all have relatives who have been affected by it. They know that something wrong is being done and have to explain why somebody has suddenly gone missing when they do not know why that person has gone missing.

Added to the Diplock courts, the Act is an outrage against the people in our country who are of Irish background. Tonight we should withdraw this vile Act instead of renewing it in this melancholy and sickening way as we do annually—and as, at one time, we did every six months. Those of us who have continually fought against it are happy and proud that we have done so, because it is a sickening wrong against innocent people, and it should go.

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash , Stafford 11:38 pm, 16th February 1988

The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) began his speech by saying that the order would not end violence. He knows that I am a strong supporter of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, but the reality is that it does and can prevent violence and terrorism.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) said that innocent people are being terrorised in this country as a result of the Act and the orders. In reality, we can help to prevent the people of this country from being terrorised only by provisions such as this. That is why I support the Act and the order.

It is always difficult to strike a balance when one is dealing with fundamental liberties. It is always difficult to determine on which side of the equation to come down in deciding whether to introduce or continue powers such as these. As I pointed out in an intervention in the speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), when the Labour Government were faced with having to deal with the problem, they detained many thousands more people than have been detained by this Government under the provisions of the same Act. As T. S. Eliot once said, humankind cannot bear very much in the way of reality, and the hon. Member for Hillsborough illustrates that point very clearly. The provisions are needed to protect the citizens of this country, of Northern Ireland, and, if I may say so, of southern Ireland. Terrorism breeds terrorism and terrorism breeds violence and unless one prevents it, it feeds like a canker upon itself. That is precisely why these powers are needed.

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

They have not prevented terrorism for 20 years.

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash , Stafford

The hon. Gentleman says that the provisions have not prevented the violence from escalating for 20 years. The hon. Gentleman and I have discussed Irish questions on many occasions. He knows that this position has pertained not for 20 or even for 40 years but for 400 years. I support the Anglo-Irish Agreement because its provisions are necessary, as are the powers in the Act. Only by these powers can we maintain the necessary degree of prevention.

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

The hon. Gentleman is a lawyer too. Does he not understand that the provisions of the Act apply only after arrest? The Act does nothing before a person has been arrested; it negates the normal criminal law powers after arrest. Will the hon. Gentleman please explain to the House how that helps to prevent terrorism?

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash , Stafford

As usual, the hon. Gentleman takes the nice legal point when we are dealing with something fundamental to the prevention of terrorism in this country. The fundamental reason why the Act and the orders are required is that they prevent terrorism.

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash , Stafford

The hon. Gentleman is making absolutely no impact on the argument. The Act and the orders made under it must be maintained at all costs.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook 11:43 pm, 16th February 1988

I have only two points to make before I leave to the Under-Secretary the time that remains in this brief debate. It seems to me that the error committed by the Government, which tonight is more intellectual than political, was most eloquently demonstrated by the hon. Members for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) and for Stafford (Mr. Cash). They seem to believe that by merely reiterating the fact that terrorism exists they can justify the existence of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. They do not seem to realise that to justify such draconian powers they have to relate the Act to terrorism and begin to show that it is in some way a deterrent.

My second point concerns the way in which the debate has been conducted. I think that the whole House will agree that to debate this matter of fundamental civil liberties for an hour and a half late at night is wholly unsatisfactory. It is not simply the continuation of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act: it is more the permanence of that Act in future, the underlying concern expressed on both sides of the House about the state of affairs in Northern Ireland, the Stalker-Sampson report and the necessity for an inquiry, and the state of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which we tried to support when the Prime Minister announced it in the first place. Those matters must be debated soon in the House. That is clearly the underlying feeling of almost every hon. Member who has spoken in the debate.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Bonsor Sir Nicholas Bonsor , Upminster

Before the right hon. Gentleman finishes his speech, will he give way?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I think that the right hon. Gentleman has already finished.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 11:44 pm, 16th February 1988

As one would expect, this has been a vigorous debate. When deciding what weight to give to the criticism that has been voiced by Labour Members, it is as well to keep in mind the fact that the powers that we are discussing were first introduced by the Labour party in 1974. They were reenacted in 1976 by the Labour party, which was two years after the Birmingham bombing. I assume that that was then its mature policy.

It is desirable to keep in mind the fact that the powers that we are describing were described by the then Labour Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees). He said: Unpleasant as are the powers contained in the Act, they are, in my view, necessary in order to prevent the far more serious consequences of terrorist violence." — [Official Report, 21 March 1979; Vol. 964, c. 1520.] That was the considered view of the then Labour Home Secretary.

Interestingly, there has been a debate in another place tonight and support for the renewal of this Act was voiced by two former Labour Ministers who have played an important part in these matters — the right hon. and noble Lord Mason, who is a former Secretary of State for Defence and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and the noble Lord Harris, who is a former Minister of State, Home Office.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the Minister to quote from a debate in another place?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The Minister is not quoting directly; no breach of order has been committed.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Almost every person who has had responsibility for dealing with these matters supports the implementation and renewal of these provisions. Essentially, it is only those who have never had personal responsibility for the implementation of these matters who have sought to criticise them.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not persist. The Minister has made it clear that at the moment he is not giving way.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The next question that we must ask is what these provisions are about and what kind of conduct the Labour party is proposing to make lawful. We should also ask what safeguards and defences the Labour party proposes that we should discard.

Let us first look at sections 1 and 2. They are designed to render unlawful — to make a criminal offence — membership of or active support for either the IRA or the INLA. One matter on which we can all agree is that the IRA and the INLA are organisations whose avowed policies necessarily involve and include the killing and wounding of countless individuals. Membership of those organisations should be an offence. Active support for those organisations should be an offence. What is the Labour party's position? The Opposition render lawful membership of the IRA and the INLA in this country. They also propose to render lawful the giving of money to those two organisations. That is the inevitable and, I expect, the intended consequence of their policy as enunciated today. We need to be plain about this, because the country will want to know that the Labour party proposes to make lawful activities that most people regard as wholly deplorable.

I come now to part II of the Act, which is concerned with exclusion orders.

Photo of Mr Allan Rogers Mr Allan Rogers , Rhondda

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Minister is saying that the Labour party is attempting and wants to make the IRA legal. I have never heard that uttered at any time or in any place. If the Minister—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. It is not a point of order; it is a point of debate. He must therefore seek to intervene to correct the position.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. Is the hon. Gentleman putting a new point of order?

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

Is it in order for comments to be made in the House that clearly have no basis in truth, and then for hon. Members to be ruled out of order—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. Hon. Gentlemen are raising points of debate, not points of order.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is emerging either that the Labour party is extremely uncomfortable with its policy, or that it does not understand it.

Let me make plain what all this is about. Sections 1 and 2 of the Act have the effect of making it unlawful to be a member of the IRA or the INLA. They also make it unlawful to subscribe to those organisations. The Labour party proposes to repeal the two sections. That means it is proposing to make lawful membership of, and financial subscriptions to, the IRA and INLA, whose policy is murder and treason. That is the Labour party's policy, and the Opposition are not in a position to deny it, although they may find it extremely uncomfortable.

Let us now examine the exclusion orders. I fancy that the Opposition will find the debate on them as uncomfortable as they found the debate on sections 1 and 2 of the Act. If the exclusion orders were right in principle between 1974 and 1979, it is extremely difficult to see why they can be wrong in principle today. Practical criticism is one thing; practical objection is another. But to denounce in principle the policies to which the Labour party committed itself for six or seven years is a bizarre proposition that appeals to no one but the Labour party. So the question is twofold—

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I do not propose to give way. The Labour party will have to face up to its policies and the right hon. Gentleman is not going to divert me by getting to his feet.

There are two questions. First, is the exclusion order—

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

No. I have two minutes more and I propose to proceed.

Is the exclusion order necessary and in the public interest? Secondly, is the exclusion order, if used, used in a fair and reasonable manner? On the latter point Lord Colville made it plain that he thought that the powers were being used in a fair and reasonable manner. He wanted to stop the use of those powers—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, he did, but he also explained the powerful arguments in favour of keeping them. Those arguments are to be found in his report. The first is that the police service strongly supports the continued existence of the powers. Secondly, Lord Colville expressly states that the police do not have the power to mount surveillance on terrorists who come into the country. Thirdly, he states that the powers are extremely useful in disrupting terrorist lines of communications and disrupting their supply of arms, ammunition and explosives. Those are the positive conclusions of the report.

Photo of Mr Roland Boyes Mr Roland Boyes , Houghton and Washington

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Does not "Erskine May" state that when someone goes mad at the Dispatch Box that person is out of order?

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

The House divided: Ayes 261, Noes 162.

Division No. 184][11.56 pm
AYES
Adley, RobertGreenway, John (Ryedale)
Aitken, JonathanGregory, Conal
Alexander, RichardGriffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Amess, DavidGrist, Ian
Amos, AlanGround, Patrick
Arbuthnot, JamesGummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Ashby, DavidHampson, Dr Keith
Ashdown, PaddyHanley, Jeremy
Aspinwall, JackHannam, John
Atkins, RobertHargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Atkinson, DavidHargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Harris, David
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Hawkins, Christopher
Baldry, TonyHayes, Jerry
Batiste, SpencerHayward, Robert
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyHeathcoat-Amory, David
Beith, A. J.Heddle, John
Bellingham, HenryHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Benyon, W.Hind, Kenneth
Bevan, David GilroyHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnHolt, Richard
Blackburn, Dr John G.Hordern, Sir Peter
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterHoward, Michael
Bonsor, Sir NicholasHowarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Boscawen, Hon RobertHowarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Boswell, TimHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Bottomley, PeterHowells, Geraint
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Bowis, JohnHunt, David (Wirral W)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Brazier, JulianIrvine, Michael
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonJack, Michael
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterJackson, Robert
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Janman, Tim
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Jessel, Toby
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon AlickJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Buck, Sir AntonyKey, Robert
Budgen, NicholasKilfedder, James
Burt, AlistairKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Butcher, JohnKirkhope, Timothy
Butler, ChrisKnapman, Roger
Butterfill, JohnKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Knox, David
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Lang, Ian
Carrington, MatthewLatham, Michael
Carttiss, MichaelLawrence, Ivan
Cartwright, JohnLee, John (Pendle)
Cash, WilliamLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Chope, ChristopherLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Lightbown, David
Colvin, MichaelLilley, Peter
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaLord, Michael
Devlin, TimMcCrindle, Robert
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Dover, DenMaclean, David
Durant, TonyMcLoughlin, Patrick
Dykes, HughMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Emery, Sir PeterMadel, David
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Malins, Humfrey
Fairbairn, NicholasMans, Keith
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyMarland, Paul
Fookes, Miss JanetMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Forth, EricMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Fox, Sir MarcusMates, Michael
Garel-Jones, TristanMaude, Hon Francis
Gill, ChristopherMawhinney, Dr Brian
Glyn, Dr AlanMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gow, IanMeyer, Sir Anthony
Gower, Sir RaymondMiller, Hal
Mills, IainSpeed, Keith
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Speller, Tony
Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Moate, RogerSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Monro, Sir HectorSteel, Rt Hon David
Morrison, Hon P (Chester)Steen, Anthony
Moss, MalcolmStern, Michael
Mudd, DavidStevens, Lewis
Neale, GerrardStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Nelson, AnthonyStradling Thomas, Sir John
Neubert, MichaelSumberg, David
Newton, Rt Hon TonySummerson, Hugo
Nicholls, PatrickTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Oppenheim, PhillipTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidTemple-Morris, Peter
Page, RichardThatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Paice, JamesThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Patnick, IrvineThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Patten, Chris (Bath)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Pawsey, JamesTracey, Richard
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethTrippier, David
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Trotter, Neville
Porter, David (Waveney)Twinn, Dr Ian
Portillo, MichaelWaddington, Rt Hon David
Price, Sir DavidWakeham, Rt Hon John
Raffan, KeithWaldegrave, Hon William
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyWalden, George
Redwood, JohnWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Renton, TimWaller, Gary
Rhodes James, RobertWard, John
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Riddick, GrahamWarren, Kenneth
Ridsdale, Sir JulianWatts, John
Rifkind, Rt Hon MalcolmWells, Bowen
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Wheeler, John
Roe, Mrs MarionWhitney, Ray
Rossi, Sir HughWiddecombe, Ann
Rost, PeterWiggin, Jerry
Rowe, AndrewWilkinson, John
Ryder, RichardWilshire, David
Sackville, Hon TomWinterton, Mrs Ann
Shaw, David (Dover)Winterton, Nicholas
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Wood, Timothy
Shelton, William (Streatham)Woodcock, Mike
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)Yeo, Tim
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Shersby, MichaelYounger, Rt Hon George
Sims, Roger
Skeet, Sir TrevorTellers for the Ayes:
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Mr. Kenneth Carlisle and
Soames, Hon NicholasMr. Stephen Dorrell
NOES
Abbott, Ms DianeCampbell-Savours, D. N.
Allen, GrahamCanavan, Dennis
Anderson, DonaldClarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterClay, Bob
Armstrong, HilaryClelland, David
Ashton, JoeClwyd, Mrs Ann
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Cohen, Harry
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Battle, JohnCorbyn, Jeremy
Beckett, MargaretCousins, Jim
Benn, Rt Hon TonyCox, Tom
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Cryer, Bob
Bermingham, GeraldCummings, John
Blair, TonyDalyell, Tam
Blunkett, DavidDarling, Alistair
Boyes, RolandDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Bradley, KeithDewar, Donald
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Dixon, Don
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Doran, Frank
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Duffy, A. E. P.
Buchan, NormanDunnachie, Jimmy
Buckley, George J.Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Caborn, RichardEastham, Ken
Callaghan, JimEvans, John (St Helens N)
Fatchett, DerekMeale, Alan
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Michael, Alun
Fisher, MarkMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Flannery, MartinMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Flynn, PaulMoonie, Dr Lewis
Foster, DerekMorgan, Rhodri
Foulkes, GeorgeMorley, Elliott
Fyfe, MariaMowlam, Marjorie
Galbraith, SamMullin, Chris
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)Murphy, Paul
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnNellist, Dave
Golding, Mrs LlinO'Neill, Martin
Gordon, MildredParry, Robert
Graham, ThomasPatchett, Terry
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Pendry, Tom
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Pike, Peter L.
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Grocott, BrucePrimarolo, Dawn
Harman, Ms HarrietQuin, Ms Joyce
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyRadice, Giles
Heffer, Eric S.Randall, Stuart
Henderson, DougReid, Dr John
Hinchliffe, DavidRichardson, Jo
Holland, StuartRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Home Robertson, JohnRogers, Allan
Hood, JimmyRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Ruddock, Joan
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Sheerman, Barry
Hume, JohnSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Ingram, AdamShort, Clare
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Skinner, Dennis
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Lamond, JamesSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Leadbitter, TedSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Leighton, RonSoley, Clive
Lewis, TerrySpearing, Nigel
Litherland, RobertSteinberg, Gerry
Livingstone, KenStott, Roger
Lofthouse, GeoffreyTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McAllion, JohnThomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
McAvoy, ThomasTurner, Dennis
McCartney, IanVaz, Keith
McFall, JohnWall, Pat
McGrady, EddieWalley, Joan
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McKelvey, WilliamWareing, Robert N.
McLeish, HenryWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
McNamara, KevinWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
McTaggart, BobWilson, Brian
McWilliam, JohnWinnick, David
Madden, MaxWise, Mrs Audrey
Mahon, Mrs AliceWorthington, Tony
Mallon, SeamusWray, Jimmy
Marek, Dr JohnYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Tellers for the Noes:
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)Mr. Frank Haynes and
Maxton, JohnMr. Allen Adams.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 (Continuance) Order 1988, which was laid before this House on 25th January, be approved.