Prevention of Terrorism

Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 10:15 pm on 6th March 1990.

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Photo of Mr David Waddington Mr David Waddington , Ribble Valley 10:15 pm, 6th March 1990

I beg to move, That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuance) Order 1990, which was laid before this House on 19th February, be approved. The House is being asked to continue in force the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, which was given Royal Assent less than one year ago. I have no hesitation today in asking the House to agree that all the powers that require renewal should continue in force for another year. I do so because of the continuing threat of terrorism to the lives and property of the people of this country. All right hon. and hon. Members can rest assured that the Government have no intention of weakening our resolve to meet that threat or of ceasing to provide the security forces with the powers that they need. [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Rutland and Melton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Surely a subject of this importance should he heard in silence.

Photo of Mr David Waddington Mr David Waddington , Ribble Valley

During 1989, the nation witnessed not only 62 further killings in Northern Ireland, including the murder of 23 members of the security forces, but the terrible incident at Deal in which 11 soldiers were brutally murdered, and the callous shooting of an RAF corporal and his baby daughter in West Germany. The Deal bombing caused the largest number of mainland deaths in a single Irish terrorist incident since 1974. In November, a car bomb in Colchester injured a soldier and his wife while another was placed in Kensington, but, by good fortune, did not explode. The bomb that exploded in Leicester last month could have caused many deaths and appalling injuries. There was also a bomb in Halifax.

No one can doubt that Irish republican terrorism continues to pose a deadly threat to the armed forces and to members of the public. The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 forms an essential part of our defences against that threat. I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge once again the invaluable work and ceaseless vigilance of the security forces in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The last year was marked by some notable successes, including the arrest of two men on the Dyfed coast just before Christmas, and of the arrest of several Iranians in Manchester and London at about the same time. Those cases are now sub judice and the House will not expect me to comment further. However, I can say that the Dyfed arrests were the culmination of a seven-week police operation in the most atrocious conditions, and our thanks should go to all the officers involved.

In December, we had the anniversary of Lockerbie and were reminded of the wickedness of international terrorism. It is right that I should say a word about co-operation with other countries, which now so often plays a part in counter-terrorist investigations.

In 1989 there was successful collaboration with the police in the United States of America, France and West Germany. Suspected IRA terrorists, and others who, it is thought, were seeking to supply them with weapons, were arrested in each of these countries. Co-operation in investigations is supported by regular exchanges of information and ideas among Governments and their agencies, and the Trevi group is proving to be an increasingly useful forum.

The House will be grateful to Lord Colville for his fourth annual report on the legislation, and I am grateful to him personally. I am glad to say that he makes no criticism of the use of the executive powers of extended detention and exclusion, and is satisfied that any complaints made against the police for their use of the Act have been properly dealt with. This year, Lord Colville has carried out an investigation of the arrangements for implementing the Act at ports, and has found the standards of port controls acceptable.

I should mention three specific points that he raised in his report. First, Lord Colville says that some police forces seem uncertain about how their functions are to be exercised after 1992. I am pleased to have this opportunity to put the record straight. The Government remain committed to maintaining the system of police checks for counter-terrorist purposes which are operated under the powers in schedule 5 to the Act, and this is wholly in keeping with the Single European Act and the treaty of Rome.

Secondly, Lord Colville draws attention to the problem of preventing small boats being used by terrorists to bring people and supplies into the country. The difficulty is one of enforcement rather than any inadequacy of law. The police already enjoy sufficient powers under the Act to examine people entering the country, even by small boat, but we have to rely in the main on the vigilance and co-operation of boat owners and the general public for the powers to be brought into play.

Thirdly, it is, as Lord Colville observes, still too early to evaluate the effectiveness of the new provisions of the 1989 Act which provide powers to investigate, restrain and forfeit terrorist funds. The police have begun to use the new investigative powers, and since the Act came into force on 1 September, they have successfully applied for a total of 45 production orders. It is likely, however, to be some time before we can report that the full procedure has been used to obtain the forfeiture of terrorist funds.

There has understandably been interest in recent months in the safeguards available to suspects held under the prevention of terrorism legislation while they are subject to police investigation. There is a balance to be struck between the importance of having powers to increase public protection against terrorist outrages and the need to safeguard the rights of suspects. The legislation provides powers of detention and investigation which go beyond the ordinary criminal law and are necessary because of the nature of the terrorist threat; but this is not something which we accept lightly.

We believe that, wherever possible, the procedures for investigating terrorist suspects should follow those for suspects arrested under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984PACE. Indeed, those arrested under the 1989 Act are defined as being in police detention for the purpose of PACE. Lord Colville welcomes the recent extension of PACE procedures to Northern Ireland, and so do I. I also welcome the system of review of detention within the first 48 hours which is provided by schedule 3 to the 1989 Act, and it is helping to ensure that the reasons for detention are sound.

I am asking the House to renew the power to extend detention of terrorist suspects for up to a total of seven days because I believe that it is crucial to the operational effectiveness of the police in these difficult cases. Because I so believe, I confirmed last year our decision to make a limited derogation from the European convention on human rights in Northern Ireland cases. We took the decision reluctantly and after the most serious consideration, but it would have been quite wrong for us to shrink from making it.

I announced on 1 March that an experiment would begin in the Merseyside and Metropolitan police forces in taping summaries of interviews with terrorist suspects, together with suspects' comments on the summaries. These interviews are at present excluded from the provisions of PACE code (E) on tape recording. We have had to take account of the need to protect sources of intelligence and police operational methods, and that is why we have not introduced tape recording on the same basis as in other cases in which the whole interview is taped.

The experiment is planned to run for two years. It will be monitored by the Home Office research and planning unit, and evaluated by a steering committee on which the Law Society and the Criminal Bar Association, as well as the police and the Crown prosecution service, are represented.

Last year saw the 20th anniversary of the deployment of troops in Northern Ireland. The prevention of terrorism legislation has been in existence for 15 years. We are certain that, without it, the work of the security forces in countering terrorism would have been more difficult and less effective, and a it the appalling toll of casualties would have been greater still. As time goes on, we are more—not less—resolved to defeat terrorism. Any signs that the determination of the citizens of the United Kingdom who believe in the rule of law is weakening will serve only to encourage those who respect neither law nor democratic government.

For many years, the Opposition recognised this and voted each year to renew the legislation that they had introduced. Then suddenly, in 1982, they changed their mind. Why? Not because terrorist killing had ceased; not because the threat to our armed forces and civilians was over. It was not the terrorists who had changed; it was the Labour party, and in so doing it lost any claim to be considered a responsible Opposition.

Photo of Mr Jonathan Sayeed Mr Jonathan Sayeed , Bristol East

Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way?

Photo of Mr David Waddington Mr David Waddington , Ribble Valley

Not just now.

Tonight the Opposition could change their mind again and show that they are made of something and are fit to govern. But I am pretty sure that they will not, and I shall certainly do my level best to keep the public aware that when it comes to the most fundamental issues—the country's defence against attack from without and from within—the Opposition cannot be trusted.

I commend the order to the House.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook 10:28 pm, 6th March 1990

The Home Secretary began by reminding the House—very properly, in my view—of the terrorist outrages that have been perpetrated during the year since we last debated this subject. He went on—again very properly, in my view—to reassert the Government's determination to defeat terrorism. In that resolve the Government are certainly supported by the Opposition.

There was, however, an omission from the speech of the Home Secretary. At no time did he relate the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act to the battle against terrorism. At no time did he tell us how the Act was helping in that campaign. He asserted it—he announced that it was his belief—but I think that he will come to realise, as the days and months go on, that the fact that it is his belief neither makes it necessarily true nor convinces the House that what he has to say is accurate. He made no attempt whatsoever to indicate a rational relationship between what the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act does and the defeat of terrorism.

Photo of Mr David Waddington Mr David Waddington , Ribble Valley

It was necessary to the fight against terrorism for the same powers to exist before 1982.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I shall come to that point. As the Home Secretary may well remember, when the powers passed into law they were called temporary powers—as they are now, but perhaps the title was rather more appropriate in 1972—and, as public statements confirm, they were intended to meet the immediate emotions and circumstances surrounding the Birmingham pub bombing. Hardly any Opposition Member who voted for them then—and I was one—contemplated for a second that 15 years later we should put the same legislation on to the statute book year after year. Whether or not the Home Secretary understands it, there is a substantial difference between emergency powers taken at a time of real crisis and emotion and their passage into permanent law.

The Home Secretary reminded us that this was our first opportunity to debate the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act since the Government announced their response to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Terence Brogan. The court's judgment was that to detain suspects for up to seven days without charge and without judicial review was in breach of the European convention on human rights, but, notwithstanding that clear breach, the Government have chosen to go ahead with their policy.

It is no good the Home Secretary saying that there are safeguards for suspects because Ministers carry out reviews; the only safeguard for a suspect against arbitrary arrest is a review by some authority outside the Government who arrested him or her. If the Government are wrong in the first instance, they may be wrong in the second: that was the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

The fact that the Government have chosen to ignore or defy that judgment—let hon. Members describe the derogation as they will—is in itself cause for us to vote against the order. A second cause is the renewal of the powers that, in the words of a previous Attorney-General, amount to "internal exile"—the exclusion orders. Both grounds—detention without charge and without judicial review, and internal exile to parts of the United Kingdom—involve the principle of civil rights.

Let me emphasise, however, that we also have pragmatic arguments against the continuation of the order for a further year. The defeat of terrorism in Northern Ireland, to which I believe every hon. Member is committed, certainly requires strong action by the Government——

Photo of Mr Jonathan Sayeed Mr Jonathan Sayeed , Bristol East

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a specific question, so that the Labour party can establish its credentials as an anti-terrorist party? Is he aware of the existence of a Mr. Kuomba Balogun? Mr. Balogun lives in Bristol, and is the chairman of the Bristol, West Labour party. He has been convicted of causing grievous bodily harm, firebombing police stations and assaulting police officers. In September 1987, he was a guest of Gerry Adams in Belfast.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Balogun has just called on the IRA to assist the ANC in the same way in which Libya helped the IRA? Is it not essential for Labour to repudiate Mr. Balogun's actions, and to kick him out of the party?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

First, I do not believe that we need to establish our credentials as an anti-terrorist party: our record speaks for itself. Secondly, I think that it is a misuse of the procedures of the House to ask me or any of my right hon. Friends a question about a gentleman of whom I have never heard in my life.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

The right hon. Gentleman is the deputy leader of the Labour party.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

The Minister of State, who is known for his gregariousness, reminds me that I am the deputy leader of the Labour party. Ours is a mass movement; I cannot know every member of the party, and the idea that I should be required to comment on facts launched at me in such a way and at such a time of night about an individual of whom I have not heard until this moment really is a misuse of our procedures. I am sure that it will get the hon. Gentleman's name into his local newspapers tomorrow, but it is not how a responsible Member of Parliament behaves——

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

The right hon. Gentleman has said that, in his position as deputy leader of the Labour party, he cannot know what is going on in every part of the country. I agree that it must be difficult to know what is going on in every part of any political party, but I am sure that, in his normal assiduous way, the right hon. Gentleman reads the Order Paper on which there has been an early-day motion about Mr. Balogun for the past fortnight. The right hon. Gentleman should pay attention to what is going on.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

The idea that I should spend my time reading early-day motions tabled by Conservative Back Benchers is simply preposterous. The Minister of State recognises pomposity when he sees it, and I am sure that he would be well advised as would the House—to allow us to proceed to consider these enormously serious matters in a serious way——

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Not for a moment. I do not believe that anybody can seriously argue that an appropriate way in which to discuss the order is that suggested by the hon. Member for Bristol, East (Mr. Sayeed).

I return to my point which, despite the interruptions, I gladly reiterate—that the defeat of terrorism requires strong action by the Government and that we are prepared to and will support such strong action by the Government. However, the defeat of terrorism also requires the whole-hearted co-operation of the vast majority of law-abiding Irish men and women. To achieve that co-operation, the Government must convince them that the Government are themselves operating in and about Northern Ireland with proper respect for the law. They must convince the men and women of Northern Ireland——

Hon. Members:

Sit down.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

They must convince the men and women of Northern Ireland that their Province is treated like any other part of the United Kingdom and that the normal processes of equality before the law apply in Northern Ireland just as in the rest of Great Britain.

I believe—and I think that many men and women who reside in the Six Counties also believe—that exclusion orders are inconsistent with the view that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, because the exclusion orders, which the House is being asked to endorse, allow the Government to say that a man or a woman is not fit to live in Scotland, Wales or England, but can be required to live in Northern Ireland. Anyone who ever talks to the law-abiding majority in Northern Ireland knows the resentment that is built up by that sort of policy.

I re-emphasise that, as well as the issues of principle that the Home Secretary raised, such as the denial of civil rights, the objections to many of the powers of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act also relate to the arguments that they provide to those people who wish to argue that this Parliament will impose policies on Northern Ireland, that it would not contemplate on this side of the Irish sea—

Photo of Dr Alan Glyn Dr Alan Glyn , Windsor and Maidenhead

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that circumstances are entirely different on this side of the Irish sea from those in Northern Ireland and that the dangers are much greater in Northern Ireland, which means that the provisions must therefore be slightly different?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will reconsider the point that I was attempting to make—that it is necessary to defeat terrorism by convincing the law-abiding majority in Northern Ireland that the Government here in Westminster operate according to the normal canons of the law. Measures such as this do not give that impression and do not create that confidence in the British legal system.

I believe that the Government understand that. I have heard the Home Secretary's predecessor say that one reason why the Government reject the idea of internment is that it would alienate many men and women in Northern Ireland who must be on the side of the forces of law and order. However, in a number of particulars—such as the exclusion orders and detention without charge—the Government are prepared to risk that alienation. They do it in such a way—as in the Home Secretary's speech—that it makes their policy a liability in the real political battle against terrorism—

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

When the Home Secretary intervenes, I hope that he will not say that we do not have to win the political battle against the terrorists as well as the legal battle. I subscribe to the view expressed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he talked about the need to win the political arguments as well as the military arguments. Those two things must be borne in mind tonight.

Photo of Mr David Waddington Mr David Waddington , Ribble Valley

I have listened carefully to the right hon. Gentleman's arguments, but he has not began to explain why they are valid now but apparently were not valid until 1982. What has changed which makes the right hon. Gentleman say that certain arguments are now valid which were rubbish before 1982?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I shall give the Home Secretary the answer that I gave him when he asked the question 10 minutes ago. If he asks me again, I shall give him the same answer the next time. These emergency powers, which are called temporary and were intended as temporary, were, as Hansard shows, meant to meet the special emotions as well as the circumstances of the Birmingham pub bombing. I well remember the then Home Secretary saying that it was necessary to demonstrate at that moment the strength of our feeling. He said that it was necessary to do so to protect the Irish community in Britain. The circumstances of the year of the Birmingham pub bombing no longer exist. That is the difference.

Before I develop—if the Home Secretary will allow me—our arguments against the two major powers, detention without charge and the exclusion orders, I make it clear that we welcome and support parts of the Act and parts of the renewal of the Act. We support part III, which provides for the confiscation of terrorist funds. We made that clear when the Act was passed, and we support it again tonight.

I also welcome the Home Secretary's statement last week about the central provision of the Act—internment without charge. Last week the Home Secretary announced that what he described as "suspected terrorists"—I presume that by that he meant people detained under the Act—would in future have limited tape recording of their interviews in police stations. They would be limited in scope and in the area where the experiment was held. That provision is very much to be welcomed.

In previous debates, we have called for the protections provided under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act to be extended to men and women detained under the PTA. When we did so two years ago, we were told that that was an example of how we were soft on terrorism. The Home Secretary has moved a step in our direction and I welcome that. I hope that we shall continue to examine more ways in which men and women detained under the Act can have the proper protection that a civilised country provides.

I am particularly glad that the tape recording, although limited, will end the intolerable practice that Sir Leon Brittan, then Home Secretary, described to the House. I asked him: Is he saying that it is right … to detain innocent people without charge for the purpose of obtaining information He replied: It has been made clear … that that is a legitimate … use of the power."—[Official Report, 24 October 1983; Vol. 47, c. 56.] Both on the Government Front Bench and on Opposition Benches, there is now wide agreement that it is intolerable to detain innocent men and women without charge as part of an intelligence-gathering operation. The tape recording of interviews, although limited, will not make that practice impossible, but it will certainly make it more difficult.

It is enormously important to remember when we discuss the principle of detention—which means detention without charge for as long as seven days—that we are talking about the detention of innocent men and women. In their statement to the European Court of Human Rights, the Government said that it would be impossible to reveal the evidence on which charges are made without prejudicing security by revealing the sources from which the evidence emanated. In most cases of detention under the PTA, there is no information leading to a charge. In most cases of detention, no charge is ever made. Last year, 163 men and women were detained under the powers that the Government now wish to renew. Only 19 were even prosecuted. Of the 19, eight were prosecuted for offences that were not involved with Northern Ireland terrorism.

The Home Secretary said that, in his annual review of the workings of the Act, Lord Colville had found no criticism to make of the executive action in applying the Act. That is true but it is a little disingenous of the Home Secretary to put it in those terms, for last year, when considering the principles on which the Act was based—not the way in which the principles have been applied since the Act became law—Lord Colville referred to the worrying indications in the level of charges brought as a proportion of detentions made under the Act. What Lord Colville said about detentions and prosecutions was that men and women detained outnumber intolerably the number of men and women who are actually charged and against whom a case is made.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

The right hon. Gentleman has based his case on principle. Will he say on what principle he assesses the European Court of Human Rights' implied judgment that four days' detention before charge is all right, but seven days is wrong in principle?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Four days happens to be three days shorter than seven days. We all accept that detention occurs under normal criminal procedure. We all accept that there may be a brief period before the charge is made. What is intolerable is when that period is prolonged. I could ask the Attorney-General exactly the same question: what is the difference between two days and seven days? At the end of two days, the powers have to be renewed. The implication of the provision, which provides for two days to be renewed to seven, is that the longer the period, the greater the offence.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

The right hon. and learned Gentleman can try again if he wants, with the greatest of pleasure.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

With great respect, the right hon. Gentleman may have forgotten that, under PACE, the time limit is 96 hours, subject to the safeguards of the approval of Her Majesty's court, obtained first at 56 hours and then at the ultimate period. The safeguards are slightly different in detention in Northern Ireland, but they are stringent and require the personal approval of the Secretary of State. I am not sure where the point of principle lies.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I repeat that the point of principle is that, the longer a man or woman is detained without charge, the worse the offence. The longer a man or woman is detained without judicial review, the greater the offence. We all accepted, in PACE, that an initial period may be necessary. It is the extension of that period which is wrong in principle.

I hope that the Attorney-General will struggle to remember that he is not simply a member of the Government but a Law Officer. It is unacceptable to say that there are safeguards when the Minister who approves the detention in the first place also approves an extension of that detention. The safeguard must be an independent authority, not the Minister who took the original decision.

One of the differences between detention under this Act and normal procedures of arrest and charge, is the discrepancy, to which I referred, between the number of people detained and the number who get into court and have a charge made against them. Of the 163 cases of men and women detained without charge last year, in 144 cases there was not even sufficient evidence to bring a case into court. I suspect that that disturbs the Attorney-General. If it does not, he does not hold the views on the judical system that I have suspected him to hold for a long time.

Photo of Mr Ken Maginnis Mr Ken Maginnis , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Does not the right hon. Gentleman acknowledge that the differential between those taken into custody for questioning and those charged has more to do with the inadequacies of the law in dealing with terrorism? Does not he acknowledge that such things as intimidation and the reluctance of witnesses to come forward to give evidence have much to do with the differential that he mentioned? I can illustrate that by reminding him that, of 183 murders in my constituency by the IRA only 15—less than 8 per cent—have been resolved through the courts. Is the right hon. Gentleman trying to tell me that the other 169 murders did not really take place or that no one was responsible for them?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

During a series of debates on this subject, I have always been reluctant to take issue with the hon. Gentleman, because I know of the suffering in his constituency and I understand the strength of his feeling about it. I do not regard it as a giggling matter but as a matter of great seriousness, and I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that those are my feelings.

But the point that the hon. Gentleman made, with force and with feeling, is dangerously near to the position that I was about to offer some criticism of—the feeling that we cannot convict such people within the rule of law but we know they are guilty so we must do something about them. It is enormously dangerous in a free society to talk or think in that way.

I understand the penalties of there being men and women who we have strong reason to believe are guilty but whom we cannot convict through the normal processes. But during the past 20 years, so many crimes have been committed in the judicial system by people who knew somebody was guilty, but could not provide the appropriate evidence at the time, that that is a principle which we must avoid at all costs. One of my complaints about the Act is that it works on the principle: there are men and women whom we cannot convict under the normal process of law, so let us invent abnormal processes of law to make sure that they are convicted.

Let me deal briefly with what I regard as the second denial of justice involved in the Act—the continuation of exclusion orders. The Home Secretary—he will forgive me a second time for calling him disingenuous—told us that Lord Colville has no objection to the way in which exclusion orders are being administered. The Home Secretary will recall that, in his basic report last year, Lord Colville objected to the existence of exclusion orders, so he is a rather strange witness to call in defence of what the Home Secretary has done during the past year. Both Lord Colville and Sir Cyril Philips, who were asked to examine the principles of the Act, came down against exclusion orders. Will the Minister of State, who I believe is to reply, give us a cogent explanation of why exclusion orders, with all the offence that they cause to Northern Ireland, are still necessary?

Only nine exclusion orders were made last year, but that did little or nothing to reduce resentment, because every traveller from Ireland to England is required to answer questions on the basis that they may be subject to exclusion orders. I know from experience that anyone who has been subjected to that experience finds it difficult to believe that Irishmen are treated in Britain in the same way as citizens in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Opinions against exclusion orders are so strong and the use of them is so rare that I ask again why the Government persist in causing deep offence by maintaining the power. The answer, I fear, is the same as the answer to the general question about the Government's support for the Act. The Act is intended to create the illusion of tough action. It is exemplary and declaratory rather than necessary. It is intended to allow the Home Secretary and people of his ilk to make the sort of perorations that he made this evening, with all their lack of justification, logic or intellectual content.

If the Home Secretary contests that point, I hope that he will answer a single question about the need for the powers, based on the way in which the powers are used. Two years ago in my constituency, an elderly consultant psychologist was detained under the powers of the Act. She was eventually charged with an offence concerning explosives and was acquitted. Why was it necessary, when it was suspected that explosives, or those who might use them, were being hidden or harboured in the suburbs of an English town, to arrest under the powers of the Act rather than under the normal powers of the criminal law?

When I asked the previous Home Secretary exactly that question, he answered with an example of his own—a policeman who had been shot in cold blood in his constituency. Tragically, several policemen are murdered every year in Britain and the criminals responsible are pursued with proper determination and they are usually caught and convicted. We do not need the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act to do it. The Act i now often used for purposes that could be wholly met by the common and criminal law.

The only possible justification for continuing with the Act is the declaratory purpose that I have described, or something that I regard as much more sinister. It was the revelation of a Home Office Minister, not the right hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten), who defended the special powers by saying: under PACE the powers of arrest can be exercised only where a constable has reasonable grounds to suspect that a particular offence has been committed or is about to be committed. He could not then have gone on to be clearer about his view of why the Act is necessary. He said that it made possible the arrest of a suspect where one cannot prove, or does not have reasonable grounds to suspect, the commission of a specific … offence."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B 10 January 1989; c. 295.] In a democracy, men and women are not detained for seven days without charge when the police cannot demonstrate reasonable grounds for suspicion that they have committed or are about to commit a specific offence. The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act is intended to provide that unacceptable power. For that reason, it is unacceptable, and I shall vote against the order.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Wirral South 10:55 pm, 6th March 1990

I agree with the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) about what happened in 1974 and 1976, when the Acts were passed. Nobody thought that we would be debating them again in 1990, and it is regrettable that we have to do that. He also made the point that it is not possible to prove that the Prevention of Terrorism Act deals with the problem of terrorism. That is true, but it is also not possible to prove the contrary.

Common sense dictates that the Act restrains terrorists and potential terrorists. It may or not be true, but it is my view that it does. I would not wish to be in the House in a year's time—when, or if, the number of murders or terrorist activities had doubled—and have to say that I was terribly sorry but I was wrong, and the Act should be reintroduced. I would not wish to have to face the families and the relatives of those people who had been killed.

This is a matter for caution, as was said in 1974 and 1976. Caution should also be expressed now, because the position has not got much better. I am sure that, if the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook examines his conscience, he may decide that that is not an unreasonable view. I hope that there will come a time when the Act is not necessary, but the only way it will become unecessary is if people in Ireland and in mainland Britain believe that terrorism has no result.

I ask hon. Members to consider the speech made by the Leader of the official OppositionFine Gael—in the Dail, advising the Taoiseach to say that there was no purpose in pursuing the ideal of a united Ireland. That is the most positive and sensible statement that a Republican politician has made in recent years, and I trust that the Taoiseach will take advantage of that advice.

I do not believe in negative Unionism—the wish that Northern Ireland should not be part of the Republic. I believe in positive Unionism—that the people of Northern Ireland wish to be citizens of the United Kingdom—and that is a very different thing. I use every possible opportunity and any available forum to advance that view, but it is not much good for an English Conservative and Unionist to advance that view almost by himself. It is important that those who represent the Unionists should use every forum available to them to advance that view, whether it be in the House or in the Anglo-Irish parliamentary tier. I know of the difficulties that my right hon. and hon. Friends have in that direction. Difficulties exist, but they should be overcome.

That tier was to some extent a success last week, but it had one weakness—the Unionist representatives were not present to advance the view which I tried to represent in my own poor way.

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

We are discussing the renewal of the Act. The hon. Gentleman made a fundamental point: that if the Act were repealed and the killing increased, we should have to legislate again. Does he attribute the reduction in the number of killings to the Act, and is he saying that, if it had to be reintroduced it would stop the killing?

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Wirral South

I cannot have made myself clear. I said that it cannot be proved either way, but that I should not want to have to prove it one way or the other by having an increase in murders and acts of terrorism.

The only way in which the Unionist cause can be advanced is in any forum that is available. It would be regrettable if the Unionist politicians in the House—again I repeat the phrase: those whom I treat as my right hon. and hon. Friends—did not take the opportunity to advance the cause that I hold dear, and that I know they hold dear, for domestic political reasons. There is a forum. There is a reason for Unionist Members of Parliament to overcome their local difficulties and to stand up and speak to that in which they believe. Only then will the cause of positive Unionism lead to the defeat of terrorism. Only then will the Act be unnecessary.

11 pm

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan , Caithness and Sutherland

The Home Secretary began the debate with a straightforward account of the events of the past year. From what he said, it is plain that the threat of terrorism has in no way diminished since we previously debated these matters. The bombing at Deal and the other car bombs on the mainland of Great Britain show that we are faced with a present threat, close to home. The outrages that have affected our troops in Germany show that they are at the forefront of the battle.

However, it is right to consider the legislation on its merits and with due regard to its effectiveness in dealing with the threat. It will not do simply to treat the legislation that we seek to renew tonight simply as a totem, as a test of whether one is opposed to terrorism. I thought that the Home Secretary's remarks at the end of his speech, in which he attacked the Labour party, came perilously close to suggesting that it was such a totem. There was some deficiency in the way in which he deployed the case for the continuance of these extensive powers. The deficiency was in his argument as to the effectiveness of these powers to combat terrorism.

Throughout the operation of these powers, my right hon. and hon. Friends have supported their renewal with consistency and in the belief that they play a significant part in dealing with the terrorist threat. We listen to the debate and participate in it with a strong sense that fundamental rights and freedoms are important. If we are to abridge them in the serious manner that is provided for, particularly with respect to the power of detention for up to seven days and the exclusion powers that provide for internal exile, we have to be satisfied that they are effective.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) failed to address the attitude of those who are responsible for policing and the attitude of Lord Colville, who was charged with the review of these powers and their effectiveness. It is quite clear that, according to the evidence in Lord Colville's report, the powers are effective and need to be renewed. He went so far as to say that he considered that they would probably have to be in place for some time to come.

Who are we, who are not privy to the difficulties of policing, to say that these powers are not effective? The mere fact that prosecutions do not inevitably follow from detention is no evidence that deterrence has not been at play. Who are we to say that the exclusion powers, which are so draconian and unwelcome, do not result in those who are organised for terrorism remaining within the Province, where their movements can be tracked and where the policing of them is much more straightforward than it could be if they were moving freely round the British Isles?

No one likes these powers. The question that the right hon. Gentleman must address is whether they are effective, and he did not even touch on that.

Lord Colville, in the context of detentions, drew some attention to what he thought was striking. He spoke in paragraph 4.3 of the power to detain beyond the first 48 hours and pointed out: All but nine extensions were for two days, one was two days and 10 hours, four for three days, two for two days plus one day and two for three days plus two days. I have seen nothing about these cases which requires comment, except for one case in Tayside. This case concerned six men who were held for a period under the Act and beyond the normal Scottish six-hour limit. Lord Colville went on to say: At a trial in the High Court in Perth all six were convicted and sentenced to between seven and 16 years in prison. That seems to be a pretty remarkable testimony to the effectiveness of these powers, and the fact that Lord Colville thought it appropriate to draw attention to that case shows that he thought it was of significance. Since we are not privy to the policing, the interrogations or the evidence in the cases that come before us, the evidence of Lord Colville as to the effectiveness of what is being done under this Act is bound to carry immense weight with the House.

Since we last debated this, the Brogan case denouement has occurred. The Government have derogated effectively and for the time being on the ground that it is not possible to meet the requirements of a judicial interposition within the seven days. I am bound to say that I deeply regret that, and am not wholly convinced that it would not be possible to meet the requirements of the European convention. I understand that the inquisitorial procedures of continental jurisdictions are very different, although there are some analogues in the Scottish system which, however, would not be regarded as acceptable within this legislation to bring it within the European convention. But I wonder whether it is possible for this matter at least to be reviewed during next year, for I cannot understand, and do not believe any good reason has been given for, the failure to meet this requirement of the European convention.

It must, however, be said that this derogation is not unique in the history of our emergency powers. The Labour Government derogated in 1978, at that time without the opposition of the House, and I do not think they had any other choice. There is not a particularly strong case for criticising the derogation on this matter.

The exclusion orders are undoubtedly the part of the legislation that give rise to the greatest anxiety and justifiable concern that they should be properly scrutinised and not used lightly. The evidence produced by Lord Colville on the process of appeal to the advisers of the Home Secretary, which was relied on successfully in a number of cases leading to the termination of exclusion, shows that that process of review is by no means a fig leaf. It is an effective control over the abuse of those powers.

I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook has availed himself of the opportunity to discuss with the police the use of exclusion powers or the practical difficulties for policing in Great Britain which would flow from the abandonment of those powers, but my discussions with the police leave me wholly persuaded that they are a practical necessity.

I do not believe that the threat to this country from terrorism has diminished since we last debated these provisions. The arguments that led us to support the powers in the past remain strong, but the argument for continuing an effective scrutiny and appeal procedure is also strong. We must regard the provisions as temporary powers to be renewed only following the most comprehensive and detailed review by Lord Colville or some other Government appointee and by Parliament. It is wholly correct that the Home Secretary should come to the House to seek such draconian powers and to seek the support of Parliament for their use again. He will enjoy that support from my right hon. and hon. Friends.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury 11:11 pm, 6th March 1990

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary said, there is a need to strike a balance between the rights of the individual and the need to protect innocent members of the public and the lives of our security forces.

When I visited Northern Ireland two years ago, I was struck by the fact that the UDR regiment which I visited—a unit of only 400 or 500 men—had lost 28 men, nearly all of them killed while off duty, since the troubles began. The House is not divided on intention. With only one or two exceptions, all right hon. and hon. Members want terrorism to be defeated. The division in the House concerns the willingness to do something about it.

The IRA does not believe that its members are common criminals. It uses the language of war, talking about "active service units", "staff officers" and "adjutants". Its members use the phraseology of war. I do not know a single example anywhere in the world of an organisation of the size and strength of the IRA that is organised and equipped to the same extent as the IRA having been defeated within the confines of the ordinary criminal law. But that seems to be what the Labour party is suggesting as the way to tackle the present problem. I do not know an example of such a threat even having been contained, let alone defeated, within the confines of the ordinary criminal law.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) repeatedly mentioned the principle of equality—the idea that we should treat people in Northern Ireland in exactly the same way as those on the mainland. I am sure that, in our hearts, we would all like to adhere to that principle, but surely, whichever of the provisions we are considering, the right that people in Northern Ireland must want most—I am glad that several right hon. and hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies are here—is the right to stay alive and live their lives in an ordinary fashion.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

How does the hon. Gentleman think that that right would be preserved by exclusion orders which send terrorists back from Britain to live among the people of Northern Ireland?

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

The right hon. Gentleman said that such orders had been rarely used. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] To the extent that they have been used—[Interruption.] Do Opposition Members really want to hear my answer? The order gives the Secretary of State power in rare cases —such provisions have been used only rarely—to interfere with the movement of specific terrorists in the course of specific operations. On those rare occasions when they have been used, they have no doubt been used to good effect to prevent certain operations.

But the basic purpose of all these provisions is to try to contain and defeat terrorism. If they are not fully effective, it may be necessary to consider strengthening them. When, last year, we took steps to strengthen them, Labour Members did not support us. Those on the Opposition Front Bench decided to abstain, but 50 Labour Members voted against our proposal.

It has become too much of a charade that, year after year, since the Labour party changed its colours in 1982, it has been taken for granted that the Labour party would be against the renewal of these provisions. It is wrong that we should take that for granted. The country should appreciate that, while Labour Members say fine things about intentions, they are firmly against any action on terrorism.

I commend the order and urge the House to support it.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay 11:16 pm, 6th March 1990

I congratulate the Home Secretary on introducing the measure and in particular on introducing—[Interruption.]

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

Order. Only one hon. Member at a time may address the House.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay

I also congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on introducing an aspect of PACE—the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1983—into the prevention of terrorism legislation. The idea of recording—and, I hope, eventually video recording—will be of great assistance, not just in obtaining convictions but in protecting the rights of police officers who conduct investigations, particularly during interrogations at police stations. An advantage of PACE tape recordings is that we have been able to get away from suspects' claims of having been "verballed". I hope that it will be successful if it is extended to counter-terrorism measures.

I offer a word of caution to my right hon. and learned Friend. The key to beating the Provisionals or any other terrorist group is good intelligence. There have been several examples of poor intelligence. He mentioned in his summary of recent cases the suspects arrested at Dyfed. It would appear to many observers that that occurred not as a consequence of good intelligence work but because of the cock-up theory, as opposed to the conspiracy theory, of history. It was an example of people being vigilant and reporting the information to the police, with a surveillance operation then being mounted. In other words, it did not originate from good intelligence.

Similarly, more than a year ago, two photographs taken by Provisionals of themselves for false identity documents were found in a flat in south London. Those photographs were widely distributed, yet it seems that one of the suspects was on the loose in Nottinghamshire and the north of England. That, too, was an example of poor intelligence.

I urge the Home Secretary to consider undertaking a serious review of the performance, structure and role of the Security Service. I hope that a consequence of the changes that have taken place in eastern Europe will have been a change in the Security Service's targeting of eastern European embassies. If we can move some of the counter-intelligence surveillance experts who keep suspect intelligence officers from the eastern bloc under surveillance to counter-terrorist duties, it will be extremely useful.

I have one small plea. In the post-Lockerbie era, it is clear that not only intelligence, but co-operation between intelligence services of different countries, is vital in the fright against terrorism. I regard it as a disappointment that the European security group, which meets regularly in Brussels and elsewhere to discuss common security problems, includes Canada and Israel, but excludes the United States. I hope that its membership will be reconsidered as soon as possible. I commend the motion to the House.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North 11:20 pm, 6th March 1990

I oppose the order. I draw to the attention of the House the fact that the first person in this country to be arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act was Paul Hill, a constituent of mine, who was arrested after the Guildford arid Woolwich pub bombings. It later transpired not only that he was not in Guildford or Woolwich and, therefore, did not plant any of the bombs—he was not guilty and could not have been—but that the other three who were imprisoned as a result of confessions that were extracted from them under the Prevention of Terrorism Act could not have been guilty. They served 15 years in prison and an enormous campaign was mounted for their release. They were released because of that campaign, the widespread national and international support that they received arid the admission that was finally made by the Director of Public Prosecutions that he had no further evidence to offer against them. Lord Lane acquitted them and the Home Secretary appeared at the Dispatch Box to make a statement on the acquittal.

I remind the House that at the time that Paul Hill, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson were arrested and convicted, many hon. Members called for the restoration of the death penalty. Had the death penalty been restored, we should have been talking about a royal pardon for four people who had been wrongly executed.

I also remind the House that the use of confessional evidence, which is the basis of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, has led to the imprisonment of the Birmingham Six, who have now served almost 16 years in British prisons. I have visited them in prison several times. It is a humbling experience to go to a prison and to talk to people about all the things that we have done in the past 16 years of our lives when the only experience that those six men have had is being inside a series of British prisons—and being badly treated in them initially.

I am convinced that no one in the Home Office or in the Government believes that the Birmingham Six are guilty. We know that there is new evidence which the Home Secretary is considering. I hope that the Home Secretary will give us an idea tonight of when he will be able to reply to the new evidence that has been submitted on behalf of the Birmingham Six.

The House will commit a serious act if it passes this legislation. We shall be saying that it is all right to imprison people on the basis of confessional evidence, to hold people without recourse to legal assistance, to have the principle of internal banishment within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to fly in the face of a great deal of legal and judicial opinion and to set ourselves apart from what we consider to be civilised legislation anywhere else in the world.

My experience of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act is that it has nothing to do with the prevention of terrorism and everything to do with policing and patrolling the Irish community in this country. I have lost count of the number of occasions that I have had telephone calls late at night from Irish people who live in my constituency, who were expecting a son, a daughter, an uncle, an aunt or a father to come across to visit them from Dublin or from Belfast, but who find that they have not arrived. They ask me, "Do you know where they are?" I have no idea where they are. We then start an amazing series of telephone calls to find out whether someone is being held under the Act. A Kafka-like mystery surrounds it and it is not clear whether that person is being held until lawyers make contact and eventually application is made for a writ of habeas corpus.

If we are serious about a judicial legal system and about a system of real justice, we should not agree to the order. It flies in the face of everything that we understand about justice. Too many people are in British prisons because of confessional evidence and because of the Act. Many people have been stopped, searched, held, interrogated and subsequently released without any charge, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said. The Act gives the power to investigate, to hold without due process and to collect a great deal of evidence about the activities of the Irish community in England, Wales and Scotland and the views of those who may believe that Ireland should be united and not part of the United Kingdom. It is perfectly legitimate to hold such an opinion.

I hope that the order will not be passed, although I suspect that the payroll vote will ensure that it is. Instead, we should concentrate on the serious miscarriages of justice. I have mentioned the Guildford Four, who, thankfully, are now free. I also mentioned the Birmingham Six, who I hope will soon be free. There are many other people in British prisons because of the collection of confessional evidence, which is enshrined in the Act, such as those imprisoned after the Broadwater farm riots. Again, confessional evidence was used there. It is a serious step to enshrine that permanently in legislation and I hope that the House will not agree to that.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon 11:26 pm, 6th March 1990

I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), who is the only Labour Back-Bench Member to get up and debate the issue, which I think is one of great importance. As I have told him before, I am aware of how seriously he takes these issues and I respect the way in which he deals with them—even though, as he knows, there is quite a gulf between our attitudes.

The hon. Gentleman made something of the position of the Birmingham Six. It is not for me to say whether he was in order to do so. The Birmingham Six were not arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. However, I can tell him that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary and I are studying with great care papers put to the Home Office about that matter. My right hon. and learned Friend hopes to make an announcement as soon as he is in a position to do so.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) for his welcome for the order and for the congratulations that he extended to my right hon. and learned Friend. In many ways, however, the scene was set in the first speech by a Conservative Back Bencher, when my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Porter) clearly and precisely drove home the fact that we are talking about a preventive power. We are trying to prevent things from happening. It is all too easy to lose sight of the preventive element in the Act—a theme that I intend to develop.

It is often suggested that the exceptional powers provided by the Act are unnecessary because the ordinary criminal law should be adequate to deal with offences committed by terrorists. As I understand the Labour party's emerging new policy, its stance is that the ordinary criminal law is adequate to deal with terrorist offences. I do not think that it is. The Labour party's stance is not realistic. I agree with everyone, including the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), that terrorists are common criminals. We are firm in our belief that, once they are brought to justice, there should be no special treatment for common criminals and no special status for self-styled terrorists or freedom fighters—a point rightly made by my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier).

I am sure that the substantial number of Unionist Members here this evening, who have first-hand experience of these matters—which I shared with them for two and a half years—agree that terrorist organisations present a special problem for the security forces, requiring a response which, alas, goes beyond the powers available in the normal criminal investigation of alleged offences or the prevention of outbreaks of criminal activity. In the case of terrorist organisations such as the IRA, their systematic ruthlessness, destructiveness and organisation are far in excess of those of organised crime anywhere else in the United Kingdom.

Irish Republican terrorists have staged a campaign in the United Kingdom over the past 20 years which is unparalleled elsewhere in western Europe. No other country in western Europe has put up with the things that we and those in the Province have had to endure over the past two decades. I do not accept that the persistence of the terrorist threat is a sign of the failure of the prevention of terrorism legislation. Without it, there would be still more victims and still more destruction, and fewer of those responsible would be brought to court. On that point, I think that the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis)—I was about to call him my hon. Friend—and I are in complete agreement.

In our resistance to terrorism, we are rightly bound by the rule of law. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook alluded to that, but it was only subjected to close examination by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) in his thoughtful and thought-provoking speech. We are bound by the rule of law and the principle of democratic accountability, to which the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland referred. But terrorists could not give anything for democratic accountability or the rule of law. I guess that the Opposition have begun to forget that in their opposition to the prevention of terrorism legislation since 1982.

Terrorists have a disregard for the lives of others and for the democratically expressed wishes of the people in both communities in Northern Ireland and on this side of the water. It is a positive tragedy that we cannot rebuild bipartisan agreements between both sides of the House to attempt to defeat terrorism. There is obviously everything to be said for the official Opposition, ourselves and every party in the House seeking to rebuild the consensus which I guess exists tonight between the Conservative party and the Liberal Democratic party, and in many senses between us and the Ulster Unionists, my hon. Friend the Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder) and others.

Photo of Mr Roger Sims Mr Roger Sims , Chislehurst

Does my hon. Friend agree that a number of Members of the Labour party men of honour—could not see their way to opposing the measure and will be conspicuous by their absence from the Division Lobbies?

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

My hon. Friend draws our attention to the importance of reading the Division lists tomorrow to see which hon. Members were not here to vote against the order.

I was asked specific questions by the right hon. Member for Spark brook. He said that the Act did not seem to prevent anything and he wanted hard evidence of successes. Sometimes, as in all crime prevention, it is hard to judge when legislation has prevented something from happening. That is common ground on both sides of the Chamber.

Let me give a recent example which was close to home in the Chamber. I hope that hon. Members on the Labour Front Bench are listening. Three people arrested in Wiltshire were held for seven days under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Those three people were later convicted of conspiracy to murder my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence when he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. They were sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment.

Is that not good enough for everyone on both sides of the House as an indication of the need for the Prevention of Terrorism Act? I dread to think what would have happened on that occasion had we not had the provisions of that Act.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

The Minister of State may recall that the previous Home Secretary gave this example when we were debating these matters in a slightly calmer vein a year ago. Let me repeat a question that I put earlier tonight—not the one that he has not yet begun to answer. I shall put it to him in exactly the terms of his example. Last year the former Home Secretary told us that three men had been found in the grounds of the house belonging to the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The three men were carrying offensive weapons and had no legitimate reason to be in those grounds. Is the Minister of State really asking what would have happened had the Prevention of Terrorism Act not existed? We know what would have happened. The three men would have been arrested, just as three men carrying firearms in any other grounds would have been arrested. The Prevention of Terrorism Act was not needed for that.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

The right hon. Gentleman has just given an excellent example—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am trying to do so.

I have just been advised by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General that an appeal is outstanding and that, therefore, the case is sub judice—[Interruption.] No. That is a reference to the situation in the past. I am advised by my right hon. and learned Friend that I cannot go further, any more than I could, in detail—[Interruption.]

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Attorney-General, through the Minster of State, has just informed us that an appeal on this matter is outstanding. Obviously, then, it is not in order for Ministers to speculate. As the case is sub judice, should not the Minister withdraw——

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

Order. The sub judice rule does not apply to legislation, and this is delegated legislation.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

There are also other cases, to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary referred in his opening speech—such as the Dyfed case and the Iranian arrests.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Wirral South

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

I have very little time, but I shall give way.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Wirral South

If people had been convicted for carrying offensive weapons they would not, without the Prevention of Terrorism Act, have been given 25 years, even if I had been the judge.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

I had better be guided by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and refrain from discussing examples that might be seen as too close to home

Let me return to the second point of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. The fact that the police do not bring a charge does not invalidate the grounds on which a detention was made. The information may be too sensitive to bring before the court. This point was referred to by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland. The powers are preventive, and they may frustrate terrorism.

Let us consider the cases that have arisen since the Brogan judgment—the incidents that we have had in Great Britain which, alas, have escaped the attentions of the ordinary forces of law and order, and have escaped the attentions of provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I refer to incidents such as the bomb at Turnhill barracks on 20 February 1989; the bomb at the Royal Marines school of music on 22 February; and the car bomb discovered and defused outside the home of the commander of the United Kingdom field army on 15 November 1989. The Opposition do not seem to treat this very seriously.

Then there were the car bomb that exploded at the married quarters in Colchester on 18 November 1989; the car bomb that exploded outside the Combined Services recruitment centre in Leicester on 20 February 1990, on which one Leicester Member, by his comments immediately afterwards, covered himself with such glory; and, most recently, the bomb that exploded at the Army recruiting office in Halifax on 25 February 1990. What a litany that is. But, alas, the Labour party does not want powers to enable the forces of law and order to deal with a terrorist threat that is unique in western Europe.

Photo of Martin Smyth Martin Smyth , Belfast South

Surely the argument that the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be scrapped because it has not been successful in every case is fallacious. The same argument could be applied to the criminal law, and that would put us all out of business.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

I can add nothing to what the hon. Gentleman has said. He is entirely right but, for reasons that I cannot understand, that point is lost on Labour Front-Bench Members.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

Will the right hon. Gentleman forgive me if I do not give way? [Interruption.] I have three more questions to answer in five minutes.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the length of detention in this country under the PTA, as opposed to that in other countries. We have heard a good deal about seven days' detention without charge being draconian. In Belgium, detention by the police lasts for 24 hours, and is followed by indefinite detention without charges while investigations are carried out. In France, suspects can be detained for two years without charges. [Interruption.] I do not think that Labour Front-Bench Members like hearing the facts. In Italy the detention period is two years; in the Netherlands it is 106 days; in West Germany it is indefinite. Yet the Opposition insist on criticising our wish to allow detention for up to seven days to deal with the most serious terrorist threat in western Europe.

The right hon. Gentleman asked what was our justification for the exclusion order provision in the PTA. The power of exclusion is intended for those whom the Secretary of State is satisfied have been involved in some form of terrorist activity, but who cannot be prosecuted successfully—[Interruption.]Opposition—Members should listen before breaking out into uproar and outrage—because the evidence cannot be presented in court without endangering the sources of intelligence on which successful counter-intelligence depends. That point was made by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland—but I suppose I have already praised the hon. Gentleman too much this evening; three tributes are too many for any speech.

Exclusion is a preventive measure, and one that the police firmly believe to be very useful in the fight against terrorism. They do not consider that any of the suggested alternatives would be effective.

I think it wise to listen to people who are much more experienced in the prevention of terrorism than I am, and we have cited a number of Conservatives with such experience; but why does not the right hon. Gentleman listen to what has been said by his noble Friend Lord Mason? I shall not quote what Lord Mason said in another place, but in an interview with the Sunday Times——

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

On 13 February 1988. May I ask the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) to listen, rather than laughing and joking on the Front Bench? Lord Mason said of the Act: There is no telling how many lives it has saved. All that Lord Mason gets from Labour Front-Bench Members is derision. But he knows more about the prevention of terrorism than all the Labour Front-Bench Members put together. They understand nothing about it. Tonight they have shown themselves to be in total intellectual confusion about their position, unable to explain their change in 1982 and why they will not back the renewal order, which I commend to the House.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 227, Noes 136.

Division No. 106][11.44 pm
Adley, RobertDover, Den
Aitken, JonathanDurant, Tony
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelDykes, Hugh
Allason, RupertEggar, Tim
Alton, DavidEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Amess, DavidFallon, Michael
Arbuthnot, JamesField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Forman, Nigel
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Ashby, DavidFox, Sir Marcus
Atkins, RobertFreeman, Roger
Atkinson, DavidGarel-Jones, Tristan
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Goodhart, Sir Philip
Baldry, TonyGoodlad, Alastair
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Gregory, Conal
Batiste, SpencerHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Beggs, RoyHampson, Dr Keith
Bellingham, HenryHanley, Jeremy
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Hannam, John
Benyon, W.Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Bevan, David GilroyHargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnHarris, David
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterHaselhurst, Alan
Boscawen, Hon RobertHayes, Jerry
Boswell, TimHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaHayward, Robert
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Bowis, JohnHeathcoat-Amory, David
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesHind, Kenneth
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Brazier, JulianHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Bright, GrahamHunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Hunter, Andrew
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Irvine, Michael
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Jack, Michael
Buck, Sir AntonyJackson, Robert
Budgen, NicholasJanman, Tim
Butler, ChrisJessel, Toby
Butterfill, JohnJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Carrington, MatthewJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Cartwright, JohnKennedy, Charles
Channon, Rt Hon PaulKey, Robert
Chapman, SydneyKilfedder, James
Chope, ChristopherKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Kirkhope, Timothy
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Kirkwood, Archy
Cran, JamesKnapman, Roger
Currie, Mrs EdwinaKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Knowles, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry)Knox, David
Day, StephenLang, Ian
Devlin, TimLatham, Michael
Dicks, TerryLawrence, Ivan
Dorrell, StephenLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Lilley, PeterShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lord, MichaelShelton, Sir William
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Macfarlane, Sir NeilShersby, Michael
Maclean, DavidSims, Roger
Maclennan, RobertSkeet, Sir Trevor
McLoughlin, PatrickSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McNair-Wilson, Sir MichaelSmyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickSpeller, Tony
Maginnis, KenSpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Malins, HumtreySquire, Robin
Mans, KeithStanbrook, Ivor
Marland, PaulStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Marlow, TonySteel, Rt Hon Sir David
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Stevens, Lewis
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickStokes, Sir John
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Miller, Sir HalSummerson, Hugo
Mills, IainTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Mitchell, Sir DavidTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Moate, RogerTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesTemple-Morris, Peter
Monro, Sir HectorThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Morris, M (N'hampton S)Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Moss, MalcolmThurnham, Peter
Moynihan, Hon ColinTownend, John (Bridlington)
Neale, GerrardTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Nelson, AnthonyTredinnick, David
Neubert, MichaelTrippier, David
Newton, Rt Hon TonyTrotter, Neville
Nicholls, PatrickTwinn, Dr Ian
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Waddington, Rt Hon David
Norris, SteveWalden, George
Oppenheim, PhillipWalker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Paice, JamesWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilWaller, Gary
Patten, Rt Hon JohnWard, John
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Pawsey, JamesWarren, Kenneth
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethWatts, John
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Wells, Bowen
Porter, David (Waveney)Wheeler, Sir John
Portillo, MichaelWhitney, Ray
Powell, William (Corby)Widdecombe, Ann
Price, Sir DavidWilkinson, John
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyWinterton, Nicholas
Rathbone, TimWolfson, Mark
Redwood, JohnWood, Timothy
Renton, Rt Hon TimYeo, Tim
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Ross, William (Londonderry E)Tellers for the Ayes:
Rowe, AndrewMr. John M. Taylor and
Ryder, Richard Mr. Irvine Patnick.
Sackville, Hon Tom
Abbott, Ms DianeCallaghan, Jim
Allen, GrahamCanavan, Dennis
Anderson, DonaldClarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterClay, Bob
Armstrong, HilaryClelland, David
Ashton, JoeCohen, Harry
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Corbett, Robin
Barron, KevinCorbyn, Jeremy
Battle, JohnCousins, Jim
Beckett, MargaretCox, Tom
Benn, Rt Hon TonyCrowther, Stan
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Cryer, Bob
Bermingham, GeraldDalyell, Tam
Blair, TonyDarling, Alistair
Boyes, RolandDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Dixon, Don
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Dobson, Frank
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Duffy, A. E. P.
Buckley, George J.Dunnachie, Jimmy
Caborn, RichardEastham, Ken
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Fisher, MarkMaxton, John
Flannery, MartinMeale, Alan
Flynn, PaulMichael, Alun
Foster, DerekMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Foulkes, GeorgeMoonie, Dr Lewis
Fraser, JohnMorgan, Rhodri
Fyfe, MariaMorley, Elliot
Galloway, GeorgeMowlam, Marjorie
Godman, Dr Norman A.Mullin, Chris
Golding, Mrs LlinMurphy, Paul
Graham, ThomasNellist, Dave
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)O'Brien, William
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)O'Neill, Martin
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Patchett, Terry
Harman, Ms HarrietPike, Peter L.
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyPrescott, John
Heffer, Eric S.Primarolo, Dawn
Henderson, DougQuin, Ms Joyce
Hinchliffe, DavidRandall, Stuart
Hood, JimmyRobertson, George
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Rogers, Allan
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Sedgemore, Brian
Illsley, EricSheerman, Barry
Ingram, AdamShort, Clare
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Skinner, Dennis
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Lambie, DavidSmith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Lamond, JamesSoley, Clive
Leadbitter, TedSpearing, Nigel
Leighton, RonSteinberg, Gerry
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)Stott, Roger
Livingstone, KenTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Turner, Dennis
Lofthouse, GeoffreyWalley, Joan
Loyden, EddieWareing, Robert N.
McAllion, JohnWatson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
McAvoy, ThomasWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
McFall, JohnWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)Winnick, David
McLeish, HenryWise, Mrs Audrey
McNamara, KevinWorthington, Tony
McWilliam, JohnYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Madden, Max
Mahon, Mrs AliceTellers for the Noes:
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Mr. Frank Haynes and
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Mr. Ray Powell.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuance) Order 1990, which was laid before this House on 19th February, he approved.