I beg to move,
That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuance) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 14th February, be approved.
It is 20 years ago this year that the first prevention of terrorism legislation was laid before the House. The Home Secretary of the day was the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. Since then, it has been the hope of successive Home Secretaries that the day would come when the circumstances which made these exceptional powers necessary would cease to exist but, for most of the past 20 years, that has been very much a hope rather than an expectation.
This year's debate is held against a background of particular controversy. I deplore the fact that the meetings which took place last week between the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister, the hon Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) and me became public knowledge. That should not have happened. However, I equally deplore the observations which have been made by the hon. Member for Sedgefield, who implied more than once that the Government are insisting on the retention of all the powers currently in the Act for party political reasons. That is nonsense. The powers are necessary in the fight against terrorism. The police think so; I think so; and for every year it was in government from 1974, the Labour party thought so, too. The hon. Gentleman should stop pretending that anyone who disagrees with him does so only for party political reasons.
The Home Secretary will be aware that No. 10 has today let it be known that it is unable to locate the source of the leak to the Sunday Express but has said that the Home Office has no responsibility for it. For many of us, that is scarcely believable in view of the fact that not only did the original story cite a ministerial source offering a comment on the Home Secretary's views of the meeting but the Home Secretary himself is quoted in the article, thus by implication confirming the existence of the meeting. Will he give the House an unambiguous assurance that neither he nor his officials and neither of his two special advisers —Mr. David Cameron and Mr. Patrick Rock, who are regularly seen operating in the Press Gallery—had any responsibility for planting the story in the Sunday Express?
Yes, I certainly give that assurance to the hon. Gentleman and to the House. I hope that we can now cease to divert attention from the substantive issues that are of such great importance to our debate and instead concentrate on them.
I propose to continue with the central issues.
It is the Labour party that has to explain the change in its position. Why, if the Act was acceptable between 1974 and 1980, is it no longer acceptable today? While it is trying to answer that question, it must recognise the fact that, since those years, we have modified one of the powers to which it objects. The exclusion order which, in its original form in 1974, was unlimited in time was limited to three years in 1984. We have also instituted annual reviews of the workings of the Act by someone wholly independent of Government who has full access to all the papers.
I would certainly welcome a common approach to these matters from all parties, but I do not have to remind the House that it was the Labour party which moved away from that bipartisan consensus on how to tackle the terrorism that threatens our society. Therefore the Labour party needs to change its position if that consensus is to be re-established. It simply will not do for the Labour party to say that it is in favour of anti-terrorist legislation in principle and then to criticise its two key provisions, which make such a crucial contribution to the fight against terrorism.
I shall give way in a moment.
The way in which to achieve a common approach is not for the Government to give up those key powers, but for the Opposition to recognise once again, as they did consistently between 1974 and 1980, that those powers are essential and ought to be supported. It is especially disappointing that they seem unable to do that. I hope that they prove me wrong by the end of the afternoon, in the light of the support that they have given, which I warmly welcome, to the joint declaration that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland signed on 15 December. That declaration was a courageous and imaginative attempt by the two Governments to demonstrate to the men of violence that there can be no possible justification for continuing their campaign of terror.
Does the Home Secretary accept—I hope that he does—that the loathing of terrorism is universal in the House, bearing in mind the crimes and atrocities committed in Northern Ireland and remembering Warrington and the two small boys, among others, who were put to death as a result of the activities of the IRA? Does not the Home Secretary also recognise that there are genuine criticisms of the PTA, such as those in the piece written by Simon Jenkins in The Times today? The points that he makes should be appreciated by the Home Secretary.
It is precisely the terrorists—the enemies of democracy and of Britain—who, to a large extent, want our civil liberties to be undermined because they recognise that, in so doing, that discredits the democratic system. Why does not the Home Secretary use every opportunity to establish a common approach, which can be put forward by the Government and the Opposition?
It is one thing to loathe terrorism; it is another thing to translate that loathing into practical action. Those of us on the Conservative Benches are prepared to take the action which those who have the day-to-day responsibility on the streets of the country think is essential if terrorism is to be fought. The Labour party also thought that when it was in government. Of course, I accept that there are weighty matters to be considered. They were considered in every one of those years when the leader of the Opposition went into the Lobby in favour of those powers. When the Conservative party was in opposition, it was prepared to support the Government, who were putting those powers on the statute book. It is a great shame that the Opposition do not take a similar point of view.
The Home Secretary will know of the two objections that we have made. The first is in respect of exclusion orders. In 1987, Lord Colville, the former Home Office Minister and adviser at that time, recommended in his full review of the PTA that that policy be discontinued. Secondly, the judicial intervention in relation to detention is in accordance with the European Court ruling and with many other matters. We are asking the Home Secretary to respond by having a full and independent review by a senior—[Interruption.]—by a senior and respected figure, which could be agreed on both sides of the House, to try to reach agreement on that matter. Why can he not respond to what is a manifestly reasonable request?
The legislation before us is just about the most reviewed legislation on the statute book. It is reviewed independently every year. We know the points at issue between the Opposition and the Government, which have just been identified by the hon. Gentleman. They are not shrouded in mystery. They are in the open. However, not once since it changed its position on those matters in 1981 has the Labour party come forward with a specific series of proposals as to how the objectives of fighting terrorism can be achieved in a different way from the way in which we propose, which it originally supported.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will deal with the following point when he next gets to his feet. It is worth remembering just why the Labour party changed its position on this vital issue.
In 1980 when the shadow Home Secretary, the then Merlyn Rees, voted in favour of renewal of the Act, he was followed into the Aye Lobby by barely a handful of members of his own party. On that occasion more of them voted against him than in his favour. The vast majority of the Labour party abstained, and refused to accept his lead. Since then, in order to placate its left wing, it is the Labour party that has consistently played party politics on the issue.
No loyalist needs to take up arms to safeguard Northern Ireland's position within the United Kingdom, because both Governments solemnly accept that a united Ireland can come about only with the agreement and freely given consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland. No republican has any justification for the bomb or the bullet, because the British Government agree that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, north and south, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish.
Members on both sides of the House will, I know, share my profound disappointment that the hopes created by the joint declaration remain unfulfilled. Apologists for the IRA see fit to suggest that it has generously decided to make some reduction in the level of violence for the moment while it makes up its mind about the declaration.
That offers no comfort to the victims of terrorist outrages: the families of Guardsman Blinco of the 1st Battalion the Grenadier Guards, killed by a sniper at Crossmaglen on 30 December, and of Constable Beacom, the community constable who died after a rocket attack in Belfast on 17 February; the people of Londonderry, where a 450lb bomb aimed at an army patrol exploded four days after the declaration; the postal workers in London who had letter bombs explode in their sorting offices before Christmas; the shopkeepers in London's west end who have had their premises damaged by incendiaries in the past three weeks. They do not want to hear weasel words from Gerry Adams or from anyone else. They want—we all want—a permanent end to the violence.
Between 15 December and yesterday there have been some 130 terrorist incidents in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including a number of attacks on Catholics by so-called loyalists. Seven lives have been lost and many more might have been lost but for the merest chance. Fifty-one people have been injured, some seriously, and considerable damage has been caused to property. Terrorists of every colour have never been more isolated and publicly reviled.
Those bare statistics and the human suffering that they represent show how essential it is that we do not for one moment drop our guard. While the present threat remains, the prevention of terrorism Act will continue to be an indispensable means of protecting the public against lawless and murderous criminals, and do so under the rule of law.
No, not at the moment.
I can hardly improve on the way in which the matter was put on Second Reading of the original Bill 20 years ago:
I believe that we have a prime duty to defend the liberties of our constituents, but a Bill of Rights and a whole volume of liberties are of little value to someone who is 6 ft beneath the ground or someone whose body has been dismembered by a bomb."—[Official Report,28 November 1974; Vol. 882, c. 699.] Those words were not spoken by a Conservative Member in that debate. They were not even spoken by the Home Secretary. They were spoken by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). What the country wants to know is why he and his colleagues have abandoned the sensible view that they took of such matters 20 years ago.
We have brought the order before the House because we remain convinced that the job of the police and of the Security Service would be substantially more difficult, and the lives and property of people in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain at much greater risk, if the specific powers and offences created by the Act were not available. Indeed, our view is that in some respects they need strengthening. That is why new stop-and-search powers and new offence provisions appear in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill, which is now being considered in Committee.
I am sure that my hon. Friend is right. The people of this country appreciate the need for these measures.
The past 12 months have seen moments of particularly tragic despair. The tragedy at Warrington, with its unspeakable taking of two very young lives, touched the hearts of many people not only in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland but around the world. The explosion in Bishopsgate, which killed one person and injured 44 others, was the second major incident in a year to bring suffering and disruption to the City of London. The murderous attack on the Protestant community of the Shankill road and the appalling reprisal by so-called loyalists in the Greysteel massacre added grimly to the death toll.
Last year there were 730 terrorist incidents in Northern Ireland in which 84 people were killed and 826 injured, while in Great Britain there were 49 incidents, in which three people died and 124 were injured. The terrorists continued to hold the community to ransom by destroying jobs, livelihoods and homes.
I agree with every word that the Home Secretary has said. As he goes through the catalogue of deaths for this year, last year and the year before, does it never occur to him that in all that time this Act has been on the statute book and that it may not be working? Perhaps it is time to review it.
I should like to know what makes the hon. Gentleman think that his judgment about the effectiveness of these measures is to be preferred to that of the police. It is the police who have to deal with the terrorists day by day on our streets—[Interruption.]—not the hon. Gentleman, and not those on the Opposition Back Benches who are joining him in this cacophony. I prefer the judgment of the police to the judgment of the hon. Gentleman.
I certainly agree. We must not overlook the high degree of success achieved by the police, the Army and other agencies. In Northern Ireland, 368 people were arrested and charged with serious terrorist offences. One hundred and ninety-six firearms and 60 rocket or mortar launchers were recovered, more than 6,500 kg of explosives were neutralised, and nearly 4,000 kg of unprimed explosives were found.
In Great Britain, 22 people were charged with serious terrorist offences following detention under the prevention of terrorism Act in 1993. Thirteen people have been convicted of such offences in the past year and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment—10 of them to 20 years or more. Counter-terrorist operations on the mainland also led to the recovery of a large quantity of terrorist equipment. More has been discovered in the past month. In Northern Ireland, a majority of the 368 people charged in 1993 with scheduled—terrorist-related—offences were detained under the Act's powers.
For these successes against the terrorist menace we have to thank the police, the Security Service and, in Northern Ireland, the armed forces for their unstinting efforts on behalf of the public. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for their work and achievements. We are fortunate to have been able to rely on their courage and professionalism. I also acknowledge with gratitude the valuable and important contribution of the police in the Irish Republic.
The powers available under the Act have continued to play a crucial part in these successes. Without them, the prevention of attacks and the investigation of crimes would have been far more difficult. I am indebted to Mr. John Rowe QC, last year's chairman of the Bar Council, who has produced a report on the operation of the Act in 1993. The House will, I am sure, share my gratitude to him for the careful and thorough work contained in this, his first report.
Mr. Rowe's conclusion is that
the Act should indeed be continued in force".
He is satisfied from having had full access to all the records, including the intelligence material on which so many decisions must be based, that the powers have been exercised with great care and attention.
The two provisions which stand at the heart of the Act are, of course, those relating to arrest and detention and those conferring the power to make exclusion orders. I shall deal with them in turn.
As Mr. Rowe's report reveals, the total number of detentions under the Act in the United Kingdom in 1993 was 8 per cent. clown on the figure for 1992. Of these, 28 per cent. resulted in extensions beyond 48 hours on my authority or that of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. Of the 494 extensions in 1993, 455 extensions were granted in Northern Ireland and 39 in Great Britain.
Mr. Rowe notes that the police in Northern Ireland and Great Britain make a deliberate effort to relate the length of extension applied for in any case to the work outstanding in the investigation. My right hon. Friends and I thoroughly endorse that approach, ensuring as it does that each detention is kept to the minimum required.
The value of the period of extended detention is made clear by the statistics. In Great Britain, of the 39 people whose period of detention was extended beyond the initial 48 hours in 1993, 17 were charged with serious terrorist offences, including attempted murder and conspiracy to cause explosions. A further two were served with exclusion orders. In Northern Ireland, 25 per cent. of cases in which detention was extended resulted in charges.
I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the answer to that question now, but I hope to be able to give the answer at the end of the debate.
The most contentious issue is who should consider extension applications. As the House is aware, the power of the Secretary of State to extend the detention of terrorist suspects up to a total of seven days has required the United Kingdom to derogate from article 5(3) of the European convention on human rights, following a ruling in the Brogan case that detention beyond four days without judicial authority was contrary to the convention.
Let me make clear that the Government would very much prefer it if that derogation were no longer necessary. But it is, and since the House last considered this matter, the European Court of Human Rights has, in the case of Brannigan and McBride, upheld the derogation. In its ruling it held:
having regard to the nature of the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland, the limited scope of the derogation and the reasons advanced in support of it, as well as the existence of basic safeguards against abuse, the Court takes the view that the Government have not exceeded their margin of appreciation in considering that … the derogation was strictly required by the
exigencies of the situation".
After the Brogan case, the Government looked closely to see whether there was a judicial solution. But, for the reasons given to the House fully on 14 November 1989, we had to conclude that the dangers outweighed the advantages. Those who had previously carried out major reviews of the legislation—Lords Shackleton, Jellicoe and Colville—had all come to the same conclusions.
Let me quote from the report by Lord Shackleton—a Labour peer appointed to review the legislation by a Labour Government. He said:
On the question of who should authorise the extensions of detention, I see no alternative to the Secretary of State. It has been suggested that the courts could do this. But the information on which the police justify the need for an extension is usually sensitive and cannot be disclosed without the risk of endangering lives or impeding police inquiries. I doubt that these difficulties could be fully met even if the courts were to consider these matters in secrecy … I believe it is right that such a power be exercised by the Secretary of State, who can be called upon at short notice to account for his actions in Parliament.
Those who advocate transferring to the judiciary the power to authorise detention before charge need to ask themselves whether decisions based on intelligence material can really be considered appropriate for judicial consideration. The Government's view is that the course which the Opposition advocate would blur the clear division of roles between the Executive and the judiciary. We would be asking the judges to perform what is, in essence, an Executive function.
The intelligence material on which police applications are based cannot, by its very nature, be disclosed to the defence. Therefore, it would not be possible for the defence to prepare its case. Nor would it be possible for judges' decisions to state the reasons underlying them. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to construct a judicial appeal procedure.
I am absolutely sure that to attempt to involve the judiciary, but under such constraints that judges could not apply the procedures and principles under which they normally operate, is a far more unsatisfactory course than the limited derogation from the convention which the Government have made.
My hon. and learned Friend is right to make that distinction. There is a further distinction in that the decisions which they make are, for the most part, entirely different from the ones which are presently under consideration.
Therefore, so long as the need for the decisions continues, I believe that they will have to be left to the Secretary of State, who is accountable to Parliament for the exercise of his powers and whose decisions are scrutinised each year by an independent reviewer with extensive legal experience. It would be very convenient for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and me to shed those onerous responsibilities, but while the need remains we shall continue to discharge our duty.
Is not there another point, about which those who are concerned about the proper rights of an individual should be worried and to which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) has just referred? If the decision passes to perhaps a judicial authority, would not that, under the European convention on human rights, give judges the power to extend far more the time during which people could be confined without charge? Am I right in saying that those who were arrested by the French authorities for the Eksund shipment were kept two years without being charged, whereas the limitation under our legislation is extremely strict and, as my right hon. and learned Friend has said, not normally more than five days?
My right hon. Friend speaks with great experience in these matters. I believe that he is right in what he says. His point demonstrates that, as is so often the case, the Opposition completely miss the substance of the point in the attitude which they take and strive instead for some illusory shadow which would profit no one.
I turn now to exclusion orders. At the end of 1993, 71 persons remained subject to an exclusion order made by the Home Secretary—a reduction of eight since 31 December 1992 and the lowest figure at the end of any year since 1975. The number of orders in force on the strength of decisions made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland remained constant at nine. Each order remains in force for three years, unless revoked before then. At the end of the three-year period the case is looked at afresh in the light of all the circumstances, including an up-to-date intelligence assessment. In some instances, fresh orders are made; in others, they are allowed to lapse without replacement.
Mr. Rowe states that he is satisfied that all the participants in the procedure for exclusion orders have acted carefully. I thoroughly endorse his comments about the three independent advisers, to whom representations against exclusion orders are referred. The role which they play is an important safeguard for the individual and I thank them for their work during the past year. In his report Mr. Rowe rightly acknowledges that opinion on the value of exclusion orders is not unanimous, but he also notes that there are strong arguments in favour of their retention, and it is my clear view that those arguments are decisive.
The restrictions on the movement of the 80 people currently excluded are wholly justified by the contribution that the restrictions make to preventing acts of terrorism. As the number of people excluded is small, there are those who argue that it would make little difference if the restriction on their movements were lifted. I do not accept that for a moment. The powers are used very sparingly in recognition of their exceptional nature. Do those who oppose them seriously suggest that restrictions on the movement of those who have been involved in terrorism have no effect?
The police are clear that, as a preventive measure, exclusion is a useful weapon in their armoury. It disrupts the movement of terrorists in both directions across the Irish sea and it reduces the pool of personnel on whom the terrorists can safely draw.
The police do not believe that the alternative measures that have been suggested—such as mounting surveillance operations on all those who would at present be excluded —are remotely realistic. When the police and the Security Service have their work cut out to prevent attacks and track down those responsible for preparing them, how can Opposition Members justify making that task more difficult? How can they justify the extra risks that would be imposed on our constituents?
Ten years ago this year Patrick Magee tried to blow up the Cabinet at the Conservative party conference. The following year he returned from Ireland with others who planned to mount an unprecedented series of attacks at seaside resorts in the south of England, including Folkestone in my constituency. Magee and his associates were arrested and detained for several days before being charged because of the powers available in the prevention of terrorism Act. My constituents know that those are powers for which Conservatives have consistently voted for the past 20 years. Had the Labour party been in power in 1985, those powers would not have been available for the protection of the people of Folkestone. They would not be available now for the protection of the people of Belfast, Warrington, Tyneside or Haringey.
That is the truth of the matter, and for the hon. Gentleman, from a sedentary position, to describe those points as cheap is nothing short of disgraceful.
The powers were needed when the legislation was introduced by Lord Jenkins in 1974. From 1974 to 1980 they were supported by the Labour party. Since 1983 it has opposed them.
The chairman of the terrorism committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers has made it clear to me—perhaps Opposition Members will listen—that the
retention of the Act in its present form is an essential weapon in the armoury of counter terrorism.
No party that is prepared to deny that essential weapon to the brave police officers who have to confront the evil men at whom the powers are aimed is remotely fit to govern this country. Conservatives are committed to their maintenance for so long as the need for them continues. I commend the order to the House.
I shall begin by giving a brief resume of the history of the legislation. I shall then examine the changes that have, over time, been made to it. I shall then repeat the offer that has been made to the Government, which I believe will find much support in the House—to try to reach a consensus on the issue, take it out of the political divide and resolve it properly.
First, let us be clear what is not in dispute. It is not in dispute, and never has been, that we need anti-terrorist legislation. It is not in dispute that the powers of the prevention of terrorism Act in respect of detention on the grounds of involvement in terrorism should remain. We do not seek to review the powers of proscription and attachment of terrorist funds. We in the House share a total and complete abhorrence of terrorism and a desire to defeat it.
However, we say that the powers are exceptional, and we hope that the whole House can agree with that. We hope that the House can also agree that the powers breach the normal rules of law in our legal system, of which we are justifiably proud, and that we should countenance them only to the extent that they are genuinely necessary to defeat the threat of terrorism.
That is so for reasons of the rule of law, but also for practical reasons. The IRA, which is incapable of making a decent democratic case in defence of its position, uses aspects of the legislation ruthlessly as a stick with which to pillory Britain abroad. Speeches made in the United States of America recently have been littered with references to the legislation.
It is plainly sensible and in everyone's interests, quite apart from being right as a matter of constitutional law, to go as far, but no further, than we need in abrogating the normal processes of law. That is the issue between us, and if the Home Secretary were prepared to analyse it in a decent and sensible way, as opposed to ranting at us for the purpose of making the political divide greater, he would do a service to everyone concerned with such matters.
I will give way in a moment.
This used to be recognised throughout the House. The great distinction between the speech that we have just heard and earlier speeches on the prevention of terrorism from the Government side, whether a Labour or a Conservative Government, is that, until very recently, they have always repeated the distaste felt by everyone for these measures. They have been justified, but there has been some semblance of the thought that these are serious steps that are being taken.
That is why they are called "temporary provisions." It is why we debate them every year. As Lord Whitelaw said in 1982, they make
a considerable inroad into the civil liberties of which we are justly proud".—[Official Report, 15 March 1982; Vol. 20, c. 151.]
In 1978, because this was the only way of securing the renewal of the Act, Lord Shackleton was asked to conduct a full review. He did so, and among the other things that the Home Secretary did not quote from his report, he said this:
The longer the exclusion power continues, the stronger will be the case against it, and I believe the Government should reconsider this issue.
So, far from it being strange for Opposition Members to raise them, exclusion orders used to be raised by those on the Government Benches when they were in opposition, and as a result changes were made to them. Changes were made that, in particular, after three years they must be reconsidered. There was a further report by Lord Jellicoe in 1983. Sir Cyril Phillips, himself a distinguished High Court judge, was critical of exclusion orders in 1985, and suggested ways in which they might be circumvented, and that was repeated in the last full review of the legislation in 1987 by Lord Colville.
I say that in part to show that, throughout this period, it is not merely that changes have been made—in respect not just of exclusion orders but in the treatment of suspects, the procedures for detention and dealing with terrorist funds —but also to emphasise that it was never the case that the legislation was written in stone. It was always there to be reviewed, analysed and reassessed because of its importance.
When the hon. Gentleman proceeds to try to water down this order, and when he has thought of the thousand people killed or injured last year and of the two young soldiers killed on Lichfield railway station, will he remember that it is the police today—not Lord Jellicoe in 1983, but the police today—who want the order passed as it stands? Does he look forward to the total defeat of terrorism, or does he merely look behind him at the disloyalty of his own Back Benchers?
With respect, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Fabricant) asked a perfectly reasonable question, based on the view of the police now. The hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) said earlier that we should go as far as, but no further than, we need. The chairman of the terrorism committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers says:
The retention of the Act in its present form is an essential weapon in the armoury of counter terrorism.
Why does the hon. Gentleman think that his judgment of what we need is to be preferred to that of the chairman of the terrorism committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers?
It is not my judgment that is to be preferred to his. What we are debating, as I shall show, are views expressed not just by the Labour party but over a very broad range.
As I said at the beginning, we are not opposed to the principle of legislation in this area, or to the main powers that are in the legislation. If the Home Secretary would listen to the points we make and consider them, and accept that we are trying to reach agreement, I think that he would find them reasonable.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees that the views of the police, who are often in the front line in the fight against terrorism, are critical. What consultations has he had with police organisations on the subject of the renewal of this legislation, and what representations has he received from those organisations urging him to vote against it?
I shall deal in detail with some of the objections to the points that I am raising. What has to be determined is whether the points we make are reasonable. I remind the hon. Gentleman that, as I told the Home Secretary this morning, it is our case that there should be a full and independent review, agreed by the two sides of the House and conducted by a distinguished figure, to determine precisely whether these powers are necessary or whether there is another way of dealing with the situation.
The view of the police must be taken into account, but it is also important that there be a review of the extent to which what we seek could be achieved otherwise. That is what we are asking for, and it is hardly unreasonable.
Clearly, the hon. Gentleman is prepared to ignore, or fails to take fully into account, the views of the police. What about members of the Labour party? For example, Lord Mason, who held the office of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has said that nothing gives the IRA more joy and encouragement than to see a divided House, and especially the image created by some within Parliament of seeming to be too protective of the terrorists and their political allies, rather than wishing their destruction. [Interruption.]
Is it not important that we take full account of the views of the police, who are fighting the terrorists, and of members of the Labour party who have the experience of office? The hon. Gentleman has not had that experience; those who have believe that the legislation is vital. Why is the hon. Gentleman so arrogant as to ignore their advice?
We are not ignoring their advice. That is precisely why, as I shall explain later, we have said that there should be a full review, in which these matters can be taken into account. If the hon. Gentleman is confident of his position, he should agree to that. Why does he not agree? Because, as a Conservative, he prefers to treat this matter as an issue of party divide rather than of party agreement.
The hon. Gentleman confirms that he wishes to disregard the views of the police. Does he think that voting against this order will help or hinder terrorism? It is as simple as that.
Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman has not listened to my reply. I am not saying that my view should be preferred to that of the police. That is precisely my reason for saying that the objections received from a very broad range of opinion should be properly tested. That is what Conservative members are disagreeing with. The Home Secretary mentioned Lord Merlyn-Rees. Earlier today, Lord Merlyn-Rees confirmed that he would support a full and independent review. That is the answer to many of the points that have been made.
If the hon. Gentleman believes in abandoning exclusion orders, does not it follow naturally that he is opening up the floodgates to terrorists coming to the British mainland? Does not he accept the warning that was issued by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), in 1974? I refer to this very salutary comment:
It would be most sad, however, if we were to worry now too much about the curtailment of liberty and later to have upon our consciences the deaths of our fellow citizens."—[Official Report, 28 Nov 1974; Vol. 882, c. 700.]
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend's splendid speech, but I must ask whether it would not have saved a great deal of time if the Conservative office brief, from which Conservative members have been reading, had been placed in full in the Library?
Unfortunately, like so much else that the Conservative party does, the brief is incompetent and inaccurate.
The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 was never intended to be written in stone. On the contrary, because of its exceptional nature, it was to be kept under constant review for the very purpose of changing it when necessary and timely. That was especially so in respect of exclusion orders. We believe that it is now right to consider two aspects of change. I shall mention them in turn.
There are other issues. There is the question of the audio or video recording of suspects' interviews. Trials are apparently on foot on the mainland, but there is nothing as yet in Northern Ireland. Sir Louis Blom-Cooper was asked to report on the conduct of detention centres in Northern Ireland, and his report will be published next week. It is unfortunate that we do not have it today.
There are therefore other issues, but there are two main ones. They are not quibbles, as some people would say, and they do not destroy the 1989 Act, as the Home Secretary says. They are substantial and serious none the less.
The first issue is that of the means of extending detention. At present, under the normal law, if one is a child murderer, a rapist, an armed robber or involved in organised crime, one can be detained only on suspicion of a specific offence; one is detained for 36 hours but then must be brought before a court, and after some days must then be charged.
Under the 1989 Act, detention takes place if there is a reasonable suspicion that one has been involved in general acts of terrorism, not necessarily related to a specific act. One can be held for 48 hours and then the detention is extended for up to a further five days, making seven days in all. Those powers are self-evidently highly exceptional —all the more reason for them to be subject to proper judicial control if possible.
There is a need for the exceptional power to detain and the period of detention—I accept that. That is the exceptional nature of the power, because there can be occasions when the security services, for various reasons, have to obtain evidence or make forensic checks of one type or another. However, unless there is a good reason to the contrary, deprivation of liberty should take place through a court. That is what the European Court ruled under the European convention, and it may have ruled that the derogation was within the Government's possibility of power, but it did not resile from its earlier ruling.
One of the things that I find so extraordinary about the Home Secretary's attempt to present the proposal as destructive of the whole nature of the work of the security services is that when the matter was mentioned before, during the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill in January 1989, the then Home Secretary, now the Foreign Secretary, said:
Of course we would have preferred not to derogate, and the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West"—
now the noble Lord Archer—
was right when he said that this is not a subject to be taken lightly as a matter of convenience. We continue to look for a judicial mechanism."—[Official Report, 30 January 1989; Vol. 146, c. 65.]
I can understand the hon. Gentleman's reluctance to give way. [Interruption.] On that specific point, following my right hon. Friend's suggestion in 1988 that we seek a way of involving the judiciary in that power, a review was carried out, and the result of that review was announced to the House, as I said earlier, by the Foreign Secretary's successor as Home Secretary in November 1989. Therefore, we did carry out that review.
We have considered whether there might be a different way to achieve that objective, and we have come to the conclusion that there is not. We cannot be accused of not looking to see whether there are other ways of doing it.
My argument to the Home Secretary is that it was not that the present Foreign Secretary, when Home Secretary, was ruling that out on the grounds of security. He said that he would seek a judicial mechanism. He did not rule it out as inconsistent with the purposes of the 1989 Act.
I am sorry that the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence), the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has left his place. I thought it extraordinary when he intervened earlier, because this is what he said in respect of the power of detention in December 1988:
It would be more acceptable to many of us to require a judicial element—a judge, if there is no problem of availability, or a stipendiary magistrate … But what is needed is that the public should have confidence that injustice is not being done by the procedures. I think that a judicial element would meet that requirement."—[Official Report, 6 December 1988; Vol. 143, c. 232.]
We can agree or disagree on whether that is necessary, but it is patently absurd to suggest that, by advocating a judicial element, one is destroying the security basis of the legislation.
I will give way in a moment.
Not merely did they all say that, but I discovered last night that the Government's Standing Commission on Human Rights in 1988 said the same: it said that there should be a judicial element. The idea that that is something beyond the ken of any reasonable person to propose is patently absurd. Every time that Conservative Members make that type of argument, they simply underline the degree to which they are prepared to be unreasonable in making their case.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He must accept that it is quite an amusing spectacle watching him try to defend the indefensible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down."] If the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues vote against the measure tonight, what message does that send to terrorists?
As these are important topics, I want to do the hon. Gentleman the credit of taking his argument seriously.
It is true that my predecessor, now the Foreign Secretary, said that he would seek a way to involve the judiciary in the decision-making process. So did my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence). The nature of the investigation which was then carried out was to see whether we could find a way to involve the judiciary which would not undermine the exercise of the power and deprive it of its practical effect.
We came to the conclusion that there was no such way, as was announced by the noble Lord Waddington in November 1989. It is no good the hon. Gentleman ignoring that investigation and its outcome. We have considered it; there is no such way. The hon. Gentleman must face that.
As someone who was in the House when the original legislation was passed just after the Birmingham pub bombings, the perpetrators of which have not yet been put in prison even though the legislation has been in place for 20 years, may I say to my hon. Friend that the British public who are watching the debate are entitled to expect grown-up politics to operate in the House today?
I remind my hon. Friend that I have never yet voted against the renewal of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, because I have always been conscious, even with its defects, of the connection with the Birmingham pub bombings and carnage that day. However, I will vote against the measure tonight, simply on the grounds of the Home Secretary's performance in the past few days, including his speech today, because it does not constitute serious grown-up politics, which the people of this country are entitled to expect.
I do not think that any hon. Member will underestimate the strength of feeling of my hon. Friend or his determination to combat terrorism.
It is said that what is involved is not a judicial process: the argument—the only argument there is, in fact—is that the nature of the process of deciding an extension of detention is not truly a judicial one and is incapable of being dealt with other than by executive act. Precisely that argument was rejected in the European Court, but let me deal with it myself.
What is the purpose of having an element of judicial control? It is not simply to provide a process of legal reasoning or logic; it is that that judicial element is independent of executive action. The liberty of the subject should be taken away not by the act of a politician but by a court of law. That is the basic point. The debate is not simply an abstract debate about the nature of the process of reasoning: it is a fundamental debate about the nature of liberty, and those who have the right to deprive people of liberty. That is why it would be so much better to have that judicial element, as was accepted some years ago, even by Conservative Members.
In respect of exclusion orders, I must say to the Home Secretary that he is a man who cannot make a case without exaggerating it out of existence. The idea that, by opposing exclusion orders, one is making an outrageous attack on the entire nature of our fight against terrorism is patently absurd when considered against the historical background. First, nothing has been more contentious than exclusion orders, and nothing has ever been expressed to be more temporary—as was the case throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Exclusion orders have been strongly criticised by many. For example, Enoch Powell said in February 1987:
The inherent objectionableness of a power to exclude from one part of the United Kingdom into another is undiminished, but the evidence for utility continues to diminish. I hope that we shall see the end of it, certainly no later than the new edition of this Act."—[Official Report, 10 February 1987; Vol. 110, c. 277.]
I discovered last night that the then Home Secretary, now Foreign Secretary, sent Sir Cyril Phillips a letter—a public letter, although it does not appear to have received much publicity—when Sir Cyril conducted his review of the Act. The then Home Secretary wrote:
I entirely accept that the exclusion powers, especially those under sections 4 and 5 which permit the exclusion of a British citizen from part of the United Kingdom, very considerably infringe ordinary civil liberties. I think it very proper to remind Parliament that these powers are controversial and that it is possible to discontinue while still renewing other parts of the Act.
I fully understand that the Home Secretary came down in favour of retaining the powers. However, I put it to Conservative Members that it can hardly be said to be unreasonable to argue that the powers should be properly, fully and seriously reviewed independently to see whether they need to be maintained or not—indeed, the last full review, that of Lord Colville, suggested that they go. That is the answer to the paint made a moment ago.
It is worth spending a moment considering why the orders have aroused such controversy. First, they represent a form of internal exile. That cannot be disputed. They allow complete freedom of movement within Northern Ireland to people excluded from the mainland, and complete freedom of movement on the mainland to those excluded from Northern Ireland, so they are, by their nature, odd. Conservative Members may wish to consider that they are in one sense essentially anti-unionist.
Secondly, they involve someone being deemed or dubbed a terrorist not by a court of law but by an executive order. The Home Secretary can make an exclusion order only if he is satisfied—not merely if he has reasonable grounds for suspecting—that someone is a terrorist. There is no trial. There are no representations. There is no ability to know the evidence. There is no effective appeal.
s It is not that, as Mr. Rowe said, exclusion orders are simply an infringement of freedom of movement; it is that the person is then deemed to be a terrorist. He does not know the evidence and he cannot appeal against it. He then becomes a target for other terrorist activity. That is why the matter has now been referred to the European Court by our own Court of Appeal.
We in Northern Ireland look askance on the leper colony aspect at times. But there was a judicial review—there was a trial in London. Can the hon. Gentleman tell us what London people would say about the case of a person who was acquitted by a court in London; who said that he was not a terrorist and disagreed with terrorism; who was excluded under the Act; and who was buried in County Tyrone as second in command of the Tyrone battalion of the Provos, shot in a gunfight with the Army?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, many of those of the Ulster Unionist persuasion have been against exclusion orders. That is not because people do not condemn terrorism—they do. It is because they think that we must see whether, in attempting to use the security services to weed out terrorism, we do so in a way that is fully compatible with the ordinary rule of law.
I am sorry. I must get on.
I entirely accept that an argument can be advanced in favour of exclusion orders. I do not take the unreasonable position described by the Government: I do not say that no one can reasonably argue the case for them. What I say is that it is so clear that they are potentially open to abuse that it is right that they should be fully and independently reviewed—as happened seven years ago—to see whether they are still necessary.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. As he appealed earlier for cross-party support in this matter, he might have some interest in what I have to say.
I find his argument in favour of an independent review of some different kind from the report of Mr. John Rowe —an eminent former chairman of the Bar Council—extremely difficult to understand. We have before us a very thorough report, whose author has consulted all those closely involved in the day-to-day conduct of security matters and which does not stand on its own but is one of a series of annual reports.
The hon. Gentleman will acquit me of the charge of seeking to divide the House on this issue, because he knows that I have always favoured cross-party agreement where possible. It appears to me likely, however, that the lack of consensus on the issue is between those in his own party and not across the Floor of the House.
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong. First, the previous report—undertaken by Lord Colville in 1987—which was a full and independent review, recommended that exclusion orders should go. The hon. Gentleman's point is therefore particularly foolish.
Secondly, Mr. Rowe's report examines not whether the powers are necessary but whether they have been properly operated within the definition in the legislation. The hon. Gentleman has not understood the point that I am making.
Lest there be any doubt about it, I should point out that Mr. Rowe did not consult widely about this matter within Northern Ireland. He did not consult my party or, I understand, the Ulster Unionists, and many other organisations that should have been consulted were not. I therefore regard the report as deficient.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who is entirely right. I do not suppose that anyone would say that those from the Ulster Unionist side were not committed to the fight against terrorism, but Ulster Unionists, too, see the purpose of reviewing the necessity for exclusion orders.
No. I have been immensely generous in giving way.
It is because of those objections, and because we wanted to see whether there was not a different way—in accordance with the normal rule of law—of meeting the same objectives, that we attempted to secure serious discussions with the Government. We did so because we know that, when we strip away the political rhetoric, we share the same objectives of deterring and defeating terrorism—but also because we want to uphold our traditional rule of law and the principles that go with it. In attempting to balance those competing purposes, we should engage in discussions without rancour, or accusing each other of being soft on terrorism, and with a genuine desire to find agreement.
The Government say that they want such agreement. The Home Secretary said today that he wanted an all-party approach. They used to criticise us for seeking change in the way we did, and they asked us to do it differently. Indeed, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) first defined our objections to the Acts, the Government suggested how we should object. The then Home Office Minister, who is now the Secretary of State for Education, said:
that is, my right hon. Friend—
were really interested in serious discussions with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and had a list of things he wanted to discuss … surely he should have gone to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, perhaps on Privy Councillor terms, to talk to him about the sort of chances he wanted."—[Official Report, 4 March 1991; Vol. 187, c. 66.]
That is what we have done. How was that action met by the new Home Office regime? It was met not only with a refusal to consider our proposals, but with an out-of-hand rejection. The story was then planted in the press before we had even received the courtesy of a reply. That is not seeking agreement in the interests of peace and security; it is playing politics with the issue.
Moreover, we have not even asked the Government to agree immediately to our objections. We do not expect them to go "Snap," but have merely asked them seriously to consider the proposals, as the former Secretary of State for Education asked us to do. One way to achieve that would be to undertake a full and independent review of the judicial process under a senior respected figure, on whom we could agree with the Government, the Ulster Unionists, the Social Democratic and Labour party and other interested parties.
We could examine that and other aspects of the prevention of terrorism Act, to point the way towards its improvement. It has been seven years since the last full review, and that was conducted by a Government adviser. It is almost decade since Sir Cyril Phillips, a High Court judge, considered the matter. It is high time to consider the process again. As I said earlier, Lord Merlyn-Rees, a distinguished former Labour Home Secretary supports such a review.
Much has changed in the past year. There has been a joint declaration and a new search for peace. We have joined the Government in those initiatives. We have attempted to rise above party differences—whatever they may be—to search for peace. We refrained from exploiting the issue when it was revealed that the Government had been in talks with the IRA, although they publicly denied that fact.
One other major change has occurred. The IRA's last remaining argument has been removed. It has lost its last vestige of respectability because, as the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) said, it refuses even to support self-determination. It seeks unity by the bomb, not through the ballot box. We should shout that from the rooftops. By using that argument, there is a chance of uniting all democratic elements against the undemocratic terrorists to turn the tide, not only in security terms, but politically.
So much has changed and can be achieved; that is why it is important that we should try to bring the House together, and why I urge the Home Secretary even now to consider our requests in the spirit in which they were made, to unite the House, and to defeat the terrorism that we all detest.
The speech of the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) had been trailed as embarking on a new initiative. I assume that his speech included the views that the Leader of the Opposition voiced to the Prime Minister in the talks that took place. Having listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Sedgefield, I do not think that it marks a new beginning. It reminded me of speeches by his predecessors as shadow Home Secretaries, the right hon. Members for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), and for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). In 1990, the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook made five similar proposals, questioning the need for the extension of detention and for the exclusion orders. The only new item in the speech of the hon. Member for Sedgefield concerned the independent review. I am sceptical whether such a review would achieve anything.
There has been a bit of party banter, but I do not believe that any Opposition Member supports or condones terrorism. My experience as a Minister and Member of Parliament has assured me that that is the case. Opposition Members' protests against terrorism can be just as eloquent and strong as those from Conservative Members. It is not sufficient, however, only to condemn terrorism and its aims; one should be prepared to will the means to defeat terrorism. That is where one has to take difficult, executive decisions.
The history of the prevention of terrorism Acts has been well rehearsed by both Front-Bench spokesmen. It was put on the statute book by Roy Jenkins. Every Home Secretary, of any party, who has exercised the Act's powers has confirmed that they were necessary, as has each Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and there are many quotations to confirm that. As a Minister who had to exercise those powers, I have no doubt that they are necessary.
The hon. Member for Sedgefield reminded us that my noble Friend Lord Whitelaw said that the Act was an infringement of civil constitutional rights. The House has to examine the matter carefully when it decides about such rights, especially when it has to decide whether to curtail them. It has to be satisfied that there is a reason for curtailment and that there is a reasonable process to ensure that the exercise of executive power is done fairly and properly.
The decisions that I had to make were not taken lightly. One reviews each case carefully because one knows that one's signature on a piece of paper will either extend the period of investigation of a suspect or exclude someone from one part of the United Kingdom. I took those decisions carefully as, I am sure, did my predecessors and successors.
Under the powers of exclusion, there is a procedure for review.
When the right hon. Gentleman had to exercise those powers, how did he weigh in his mind the fact that the people whom he was excluding from the mainland of Great Britain were a danger and were involved in terrorism and that he was sending them back to a Province that had already borne the brunt of that terrorism? Did he not feel that there was a danger that he was concentrating all the killing and violence on those who had already borne the most pain?
I never felt that. The security and safety of the public in the whole country, not just on the mainland, is almost the prime consideration of any Home Secretary. Other Ministers have specific responsibilities for Northern Ireland.
The Opposition changed their view in 1983. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary sketched the history of that conversion, which was not sudden. After the Labour party lost office in 1979, it split on the first vote on the PTA. The noble Lord Merlyn-Rees voted for the extension of the Act. The Labour party abstained in the vote in the following two years. In 1983, it decided to vote against the Act.
Ever since, the shadow Home Secretary, the hon. Member for Sedgefield, and his two predecessors have been trying to get the Labour party off that awkward hook. It is impaled on it largely because of its left-wing and nationalist elements. The hon. Member for Sedgefield smiles, but he knows that what I am saying is true. He has advanced his arguments rather more elegantly than his predecessors, but his argument remains the same and the problem remains the same for the Labour party.
I now come to the exercise of the powers and the power of extension of investigation. Some 30 cases were brought to me. One must examines cases very carefully indeed. In several of those cases, the investigation led to a charge being laid. I believe that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary said that, of the 39 extensions for which he has been responsible, charges were laid in 17 cases—nearly half. That statistic proves the validity of the operation.
I do not think that the hon. Member for Sedgefield denies the operation, or the need of it, but he says that it should be subject to judicial process. That is an easy thing to say, but ultimately it is an executive decision. The House has given that power to a member of the Executive, principally the Home Secretary, but on occasions the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I believe that it should remain an executive decision.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary said in the arguments against that approach that it would be difficult to devise a judicial process that was justiciable. It would be impossible, for example, to reveal to the defence at that stage of the examination the security evidence that would lead the Home Secretary to make the decision for the extension. I do not believe that that is an appropriate solution. I believe that our derogation is correct.
I used the power of exclusion several times. I used it in the case to which the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) referred. The case involved someone who was accused of terrorism in this country. He went on trial and was found not guilty. On the same day, I excluded him. I was attacked for that. He was found not guilty by the British courts, but I excluded him because I believed that there was evidence that he was likely to engage in terrorist activities. He went back to Northern Ireland and was killed with three other terrorists engaged in an attack on the Coalisland police station. I believe, therefore, that these difficult decisions are sometimes necessary. That is why I hope that the House supports the order.
No. I shall sit down shortly.
I understand the difficulty that hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench are in. I have not tried to depict the hon. Member for Sedgefield, or indeed the Labour party, as soft on terrorism. Terrorist activities are not lessened in our country. Look at the number of arrests that have been made in the past few months—I warmly congratulate the police and security forces on effecting those arrests—after the Downing street declaration. Cells in this country are still operating, planning to maim, kill and destroy. Terrorists do not have debates such as this. They do not debate whether there should be a stay of execution when the bullets are passed out and when they are told to kill their victims. They do not decide whether there should be an extension of interrogation when torturing somebody for more than 48 hours, or less than that.
I would not say that any Government must put themselves to the level of terrorists, but Governments must make difficult decisions. In this area, those decisions are the most difficult. Because of the way in which I saw the powers operated by my colleagues and by me, I believe that the decisions were conducted fairly and properly. I do not believe that injustice was done. Indeed, I believe that the security of the country was greater because of them.
Before launching into what has obviously been the controversial point in the debate so far, I should restate the position of the Ulster Unionist party. We support the legislation. We believe that it is necessary, and that it is necessary this evening for the House to renew the legislation. The only issue that is before the House is whether the Act in its present form should be renewed. We support that. None the less, I wish to say a little on the two items that have been discussed so far.
To a certain extent, I agree with some of the views expressed by the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair). That is nothing new. If hon. Members look at our contribution to the debate last year, they will see that we have some concerns about the exclusion orders and the way in which the seven-day detention power is authorised. We feel that there are matters that can be looked at. I have no doubt that the seven-day power is needed. I do not wish hon. Members to misunderstand that. I am not suggesting in any way that there should be a reduction in the power to detain people for that period.
It is interesting to look at the statistics. Looking at the United Kingdom as a whole, of the 495 extensions, nearly half have exceeded the four-day period—the period that the European Court fastened on in the Brogan case—thus showing that there is a need to go beyond that period. Some 66 detentions went the full seven days. It is interesting that, in Northern Ireland, full seven-day detentions were only 12 per cent. of the total detentions, but the figure was much higher in Great Britain. Of the 29 extensions in England and Wales, nine went the full seven days; of the 10 extensions in Scotland, four went the full seven days. That underlines the need to retain the power to extend detentions for up to seven days in some cases.
We then come to the problem presented by the decision of the European Court on Brogan. Brogan is the problem. I do not think that the Brannigan case gets us out of the difficulty. It has been the policy of the Government over the years, rightly so, to try to frame anti-terrorist legislation to avoid the need to derogate and to restrict derogations to situations where they are absolutely essential, and not derogate as a matter of course. Although the European Court upheld derogation of the Brannigan case, I do not think that we can be satisfied with that. If we can find a way to meet the problem, we should seriously look at it.
Article 5(3) of the European convention refers to people being
brought promptly before a Judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial onwer.
We should focus on that phrase.
I am disappointed that, so far in the debate this afternoon, hon. Members are assuming that the alternative to the present procedure is one involving, say, a High Court judge and court proceedings as they are commonly understood in this jurisdiction. That is not the way to proceed. I quite agree with people who say that one cannot involve the judges in the normal way and that one cannot have a hearing in which the intelligence material on which the police desire to detain a person is disclosed to the defendant and the defence adviser, but what is wrong is that people are thinking of conventional court proceedings.
The hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) pointed in his brief intervention to the way out of that. He referred to the continent and France, where people are detained for much longer periods. Those detentions are entirely consistent with the European convention, because they are authorised by a judicial officer. They are not authorised as a result of normal court proceedings on the English common law model, with someone having his or her day in court and barristers and solicitors being briefed on either side; a French juge d' instruction operates on a dossier that contains material, some of which would be admissible in an English court and some of which would not. He considers the dossier and looks at the matters.
That is the sort of proceedings of which we should think. We should think in terms of creating a procedure whereby a judicial officer takes a decision on the basis of a file, which may contain intelligence material disclosed to him and to no one else. It is not the normal court proceedings. It may not strike hon. Members steeped in English common law tradition as court proceedings, but it would satisfy the European convention, because it would be a decision taken by a person who is independent of the judiciary and accustomed to analysing the material. That solution, which was hinted at by Lord Colville in earlier reports, should be considered. It is not that foreign to proceedings in at least one of the jurisdictions in the United Kingdom—Scotland, with its procurator fiscal—which bear so many similarities to the continental systems.
A problem arises because the European Court is staffed mainly by people who operate against the background of a civil law tradition; we are in difficulties with regard to that. There is no problem in adapting our procedures to fit in with my proposed solution.
Reference has been made to the statement by Lord Waddington, then Home Secretary, in 1989. I have examined that statement, and it seems to me that Lord Waddington was not willing to consider the radical new procedure that I have just outlined—that he, too, was thinking in terms of conventional court proceedings. In my view, such proceedings would be inappropriate in this context.
I hinted briefly at my proposed solution in a speech in our equivalent debate last year. I have spelt it out in a little more detail today, because I do not think that hon. Members have considered it sufficiently. I do not know whether the review conducted some years ago, to which the Home Secretary referred, considered such a procedure. Lord Waddington's 1989 statement does not hint at any consideration on his part. I shall be interested to hear whether any reference is made to it in the Home Secretary's winding-up speech.
There has also been some controversy about exclusion orders. I am happy to reiterate the stance that my hon. Friends and I have taken over the years. We consider exclusion orders to be objectionable in principle. I refer to exclusion orders that operate within the United Kingdom, banning people from one part of it and—as hon. Members have said—creating a form of internal exile. We do not object to orders that exclude people from the United Kingdom; we think those quite appropriate. Such action is possible under immigration law, and this legislation simply adds to and reinforces that power.
Exclusion within the United Kingdom—which, as I have said, we find inherently objectionable—is not new or unique, as some hon. Members seem to believe; it repeats legislation introduced in the 1930s. At the time of an IRA bomb campaign launched in 1938, the House responded by introducing legislation that provided for a form of exclusion order. In 1974, faced with another emergency, civil servants in the Home Office blew the dust off the 1939 files and whipped out the legislation again. Wartime controls on movement across the Irish sea were also fairly stringent, but those were slightly different circumstances.
I think that exclusion orders are the lazy way of proceeding: because a precedent was there, people reached for it. There is some merit in examining other possibilities. It occurs to me—although this thought may not be welcome to other hon. Members—that exclusion orders operate on exactly the same legal basis as the power to intern. In terms of the factors that must be considered and the nature of the decision involved, there is no difference between making an exclusion order and internment. It could be said that exclusion orders mean treating Northern Ireland as one huge internment camp. Some of my hon. Friends are asking, "If we are to take a decision of that nature, why not go the whole hog?"
Another suggested procedure is more detailed surveillance. That is worth looking into, although I do not think that it would be possible without compulsory identity cards, to which some hon. Members would object. We do not share that objection and think that the option should be seriously considered. In any event, however, the European Union may compel the Government to act, and some interesting proposals have been made in that context.
I noted with interest the hon. Member for Sedgefield's observation that no major review had been conducted for seven years. I endorse what was said by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) about the current review, although I do not wish to go into the details. In the past, I have complimented Lord Colville on his reviews, which I have found very helpful but, as the hon. Member for Sedgefield pointed out, those reviews operate within the framework of reference provided by the existing legislation, to determine simply whether powers have been exercised within the terms of the Act. There has been no fundamental reconsideration of the legislation as a whole since 1987, and I see some merit in remedying that.
I would not want such a review to be conducted purely in terms of the prevention of terrorism Act; I think that it should examine anti-terrorism legislation generally. It should take up a point made repeatedly by my party—that there is considerable merit in consolidating the PTA and the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. It is surely anomalous to retain two separate systems, given that they interlock and cannot be considered in isolation.
For example, the arrest power in the PTA is the primary arrest power used in Northern Ireland to deal with terrorism. The vast majority of detention extensions are made in Northern Ireland with regard to Northern Ireland terrorism. I hope that it is in order for me to refer to amendments that have been moved in the current Committee stage of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill. The Government have moved an amendment modifying both the PTA and the emergency provisions Act; they have moved new clauses that bring aspects of the latter into the former. That shows the extent to which the two codes overlap.
Never is a single, comprehensive code more necessary than when matters relating to terrorist financing are dealt with. I find it amazing—as did Lord Colville, who commented repeatedly on the fact—that we have two separate codes to deal with that. One relates only to Northern Ireland, the other to England and Wales—as if people thought that the terrorists had not learnt how to move money from London to Belfast, or from London or Belfast to the Isle of Man, the Channel islands or elsewhere. Of course they can do that, and we need more comprehensive legislation to deal with the position.
Page 18 of Mr.Rowe's report refers briefly to the channel tunnel, suggesting that it might enable terrorists to move in and out of the United Kingdom. Of course we should be concerned about that possibility, but we should also be concerned about the tunnel's being a potential target for terrorism. My right hon. Friend the Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor) mentioned that in a recent debate, referring to what I suppose could be called the Irish dimension. This, too, should be taken seriously.
The Home Secretary referred briefly to the Downing street declaration, describing it as imaginative. The word that comes to mind—particularly given our experience of the declaration—is "fantasy", rather than "imagination". At the time of the declaration, nearly three months ago, the comment was made—on behalf of both Governments—that if terrorists failed to accept the opportunity that the declaration gave them, there would have to be a governmental response and a security response. We have now been waiting nigh on three months; it is obvious that the terrorists will not accept the challenge of the Downing street declaration and abandon their campaign.
It is also obvious that the terrorists are engaged in stringing the Government along. I recall the Prime Minister visiting Belfast before Christmas, and saying very firmly that he would not be strung along by the terrorists. But he has been, and he still is. How much longer will Her Majesty's Government allow themselves to be suckered by the terrorists? How much longer will they allow themselves to be strung along? When will there be an appropriate response? When will the Government screw up their nerve to act? They must act; they cannot allow the present situation to continue.
Specific legislative measures are necessary. I am glad that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is present. He will recall that in May last year the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary took the unusual step of calling publicly for certain changes in the law. I was informed recently that the Secretary of State was still thinking about those matters. I respectfully suggest that he has had long enough to think and should now be able to make up his mind. He may wish to consider some of the measures requested by the Chief Constable as an appropriate response to the current position.
As well as changes in the law, however, we need a change of policy. We need a clear and effective security policy directed at terrorism. It is not a matter of giving the terrorists deadlines; it is simply a matter of acting. That action will have to be sustained by an appropriate political approach designed to disappoint the terrorists, not encourage them. I am sorry to say that far too many of the Government's action in the past year have, in fact, encouraged terrorism and been a disappointment to politics.
Finally, the Home Secretary referred to what is called "loyalist terrorism". It is something that we abhor and condemn. There has been an increase in loyalist terrorism in the past few years, which is something we regret and wish had not happened. I am not providing excuses or justifications for it, but it is important to note that, over the years, there has been inverse relationship between incidents of loyalist terrorism and the level of confidence in the Government.
I can think of nothing that the Government have done in the past year that has increased confidence in their intentions and policies, but I can think of many things that have reduced confidence. I do not regard the Downing street declaration as the biggest problem in this respect. The biggest problem, and what has caused most dismay among my constituents, was the revelation of what the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was pleased to call "contacts" between the Government and the Provisional IRA—I believe that another word would be a more accurate description. Such contacts have significantly reduced the level of confidence.
I fear that, by their actions in the past few months, the Government have been sowing the wind. I hope that there will be no whirlwind. I appeal to all those who might be contemplating terrorist activities not to engage in them. I do not wish anything that I have said to be regarded as giving comfort to anyone involved, because my party condemns and abhors such terrorism. The Government have to think seriously about their responsibility in these matters. We wish to see terrorism defeated. We shall support the legislation tonight, but we see no good reason why consideration should not also be given to the details of the legislation and to ways in which they could perhaps be modified and improved to increase support for the legislation in the House.
It is a privilege to follow the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble). I listened carefully to what he said and I agree with much of what he said. In a moment I shall briefly pick up on one or two of his observations.
Some repetitiveness inevitably characterises these debates. As has been said, this is the fifth time that we have debated the renewal order, and the ancestry of the debate goes back 20 years. More seasoned participants adopt a well entrenched position. I want to avoid repetitiveness as much as possible and develop primarily a matter that has today received little attention. However, in passing, I throw out a comment to the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair). I listened with great care to the thesis that he propounded and I assure him that I do not for one moment doubt the absolute sincerity of his opposition to terrorism. However, his argument fails to convince.
I share the conclusion offered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker), who has just left his seat, that the hon. Member for Sedgefield gives the impression that he is concerned primarily about watching his back and maintaining party unity. He does not convince us that the review of the type that he seeks is justified because the issues with which he is concerned are mainly those of the Executive, not the judiciary.
As for the Rowe report, I shall pass briefly over the emotive and controversial issues of exclusion orders, detention and the extension of detention except that I shall pick up on a theme raised by the hon. Member for Upper Bann. I do not share his negative assessment of exclusion orders. I noted with interest that on page 7 of the report Mr. Rowe writes:
The general view expressed to me … is that the exclusion order is a useful device in the prevention of terrorism.
I share that view because I believe that the value of exclusion orders lies largely in the fact that, when executed, they disrupt the command and communication structures of terrorist units. Without those command and communication structures being effective, the units cannot operate. In addition, the man or woman who is excluded becomes a marked person and it is then that much harder for a terrorist organisation to make use of him or her.
I wholeheartedly accept what the report has to say about detention orders and the extension of them. Page 14 of the report states:
My conclusion is that the power of extension of detention is necessary, and it should continue".
I am reassured by the argument that he summarises. He finds compatibility between the Act and article 15 of the European convention on human rights which refers to the exceptional circumstances of a
public emergency threatening the life of a nation".
Also in passing, I mention video/audio recording. Page 14 of the report states:
The RUC officers who have experience of investigation of terrorist offences express the view that their efforts would be impaired by a recording of interviews as suspects would be less ready to co-operate and give information.
I share that opinion. I acknowledge that it is a controversial issue and it is one to which Mr. Rowe said that he would return later.
It is important to realise the potential dangers of audio/video recording. One danger is that the identity of the interrogating officer might become known to terrorist organisations. Secondly, if a detainee co-operates and his co-operation becomes known to terrorist organisations, his family might be threatened. Of course, any public availability of interviews with detainees could well reveal intelligence sources and damage further security operations. One must tread very carefully indeed before embarking on compulsory video/audio recording.
The issue that I wish to emphasise is one that has received very little attention today. It is the chapter—if one can call it that—on how to attack terrorist funds. I regretted the fact that Mr. Rowe's comments on the matter were not more detailed. My main concern is that perhaps not enough has been achieved by the powers contained in the Act. On page 19 of his report Mr. Rowe states:
The first batch of sections, on contributions and forfeitures, have not as yet produced many prosecutions.
That puzzles me because I was not aware of any successful prosecutions. Unless I am misreading the appendix to the report, I can see no reference to statistics of that nature. It might be helpful next year if statistics and details of what is happening in terms of attacking terrorist funds were added to the report.
Mr. Rowe nevertheless concludes on page 19:
the powers of the Act relevant for attacking terrorist funds—
are not otiose; and they should be maintained as a significant part of the Act.
He identifies two reasons for that. The first is as follows:
Voluntary disclosures under section 12 are a regular event; there were 300 in 1993 … and the disclosures led to useful information.
On the following page, Mr. Rowe says that the machinery of section 17 and schedule 7
have uncovered racketeering schemes (which fund terrorism), and have disrupted the flow of money to terrorists.
Quality intelligence and the disruption of the flow of funds to terrorists are important achievements but they are not the primary purpose of the Act. The primary purpose of the powers is the confiscation of terrorist funds which, it seems, is not being achieved.
I am told that it is currently relatively easy to identify a commercial or financial enterprise in which terrorists may be involved. It is quite easy to identify that funds are going from such an enterprise to terrorists. The difficulty lies in producing the evidence which would convince a court that the funds that are being extracted from that operation are being used for terrorist purposes. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will take note that that issue should receive serious attention.
I should have thought it advisable either to assume that a known terrorist is using at least a portion of what he or she draws from commercial activity to promote terrorism, or to reverse the onus of proof so that commercial activities of known terrorists are assumed to be used to finance terrorism, unless he or she can prove otherwise. That point is worthy of further consideration.
Finally, perhaps the point most worthy of mention is that the renewal order should receive our full support. I regard it as an essential weapon in the armoury of the fight against terrorism.
The procedure which Parliament has in place for the annual review of this extraordinary legislation, which curbs normal liberties to which we adhere and regard as part of our civilisation, is necessary and important. It is important because it gives the House the opportunity to consider the justification for its continuance and to put forward any considerations that have arisen since it was last reviewed, which may lead to a change of view about its relevance and importance to the task to which it must contribute.
Since the past debate on the renewal of the PTA, the general picture of terrorism in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland must still give rise to deep concern. In Great Britain, there have been 49 terrorist incidents, three deaths and 124 persons injured. In Northern Ireland, there have been 730 incidents, 84 deaths and 826 people injured. In those circumstances, it must be said that terrorism remains a present threat, which we cannot in any way diminish.
The debate allows a further opportunity to pay tribute to all those in the armed services and in the security services who take enormous personal risks on behalf of us all and to whose judgment and advice we must pay especial attention.
Since we last considered the order, there have been two matters which merit consideration in the debate. The first is the Downing street declaration. It is with that and the Sinn Fein's response to it especially in mind, that I regard the initiative of the Labour party spokesman, the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair), as neither timely nor appropriate. His proposal that we should—
I heard him say, and perhaps the Official Report has recorded, that he said that I was out of step. My view, which is widely shared, is that the proposal that there should be an inquiry is untimely and would send precisely the wrong signals to Sinn Fein, which is plainly not taking steps to distance itself from its military wing, and which rejected as recently as at its conference of the past weekend, the opportunity to pick up the challenge to renounce terrorism, put to it by no one more honourable than the leader of the SDLP, the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume). When Sinn Fein is showing no willingness to do that, it seems inappropriate that the House should communicate any doubts about the necessity of continuing the battle against terrorism and of using those instrumentalities which the security forces in the country regard as appropriate for that task.
It is extremely unfortunate that we have not seen more progress towards the ending of terrorism in the past year, which may have made it appropriate to consider the effectiveness of especial aspects of the PTA. I am afraid that it is clear that those who are in charge of the security of our citizens have not in any way modified their view of the necessity of the Act in all its aspects.
That view is supported robustly and clearly by Mr. John Rowe in his report. It is playing with words to suggest that it is not any part of his job to consider the appropriateness or necessity of the measures contained in the Act. He quite explicitly states that the Act must be continued and makes no exception to his general view in the context of his consideration of its particular components.
On that point, does the hon. Gentleman accept that, in previous years, points have been put to Mr. Rowe's predecessors on the scope of powers and the need for them, as well as the way in which the powers work in a practical fashion, and that, in the parliamentary answer which I gave, observations were invited to be submitted to Mr. Rowe when I announced his appointment? Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the proper course for the Labour party to have taken, had it been serious about its intention of having the points which were raised by the hon. Member for Sedgefield considered by an independent person in the context of an independent review, was to put them to Mr. Rowe?
That is a perfectly reasonable assumption. It was open to the Labour party to raise the points if it had thought it appropriate. It would have been open for it to ask Mr. Rowe to consider whether a wider inquiry, involving more people, would have assisted him in the discharge of his task. I see no evidence that the Labour party chose to do that.
Whereas in previous years I may have been more sympathetic to the Labour party's proposals—on previous occasions I have also spoken of the desirability of an all-party approach to such matters—its current proposal is completely untimely and remarkably inapposite. It is not only inapposite in respect of the general operation of the Act, but in respect of the especial provisions to which the hon. Member for Sedgefield drew attention.
With regard to the extension of detention, I was among those who argued most strongly in the House with the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Foreign Secretary that steps should be taken to seek to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the Brogan case. I talked at length with the right hon. Gentleman about the practicality of so doing. I am certain that it is right that the extension of detention, under the terms of the Act, amounts to an executive decision and is not a purely judicial matter.
In order to try to bring the matter within the European convention, because I see how the fact that we have had to seek to abrogate our obligations under the convention could lead to our being put in the international dock of world opinion, I was prepared to go to great lengths to discover whether there were practical alternatives.
However, with the greatest respect to the hon. Member for Upper Bann, to whose views on such matters I always listen with great attention, I am not greatly attracted by the proposal that we should create a new executive role for judges—or at least, an executive role to be discharged in the name of a judge. It seems to me that either there is an executive procedure or there is a judicial procedure. The hybrid proposal made by the hon. Member for Upper Bann might satisfy certain civilian lawyers on the continent, but it would not alter one whit the reality of what happens.
The practical objections that have been raised are profound and important. Having heard the views of those charged with the ultimate responsibility, not least those of the Foreign Secretary, whom I believe gave the matter considerable attention, I believe that the Government have taken the correct course.
I hope that it will not be necessary for us to continue with the provisions much longer, but that must depend on the success of the war against terrorism. I feel fortified in holding that view by the Brannigan and McBride case, which the hon. Member for Upper Bann mentioned. That case makes it plain that the European Court of Human Rights has understood and accepted the case for derogation, and considers that our action is entirely in line with the European convention.
It is extremely unfortunate that—to use the words of the court—there is a
public emergency threatening the life of the nation".
However, in the year of the Bishopsgate bomb in the heart of the City and many other appalling episodes, not least the Warrington killing, it is hard to quarrel with the view expressed by the court. So, with great regret, I see no option but to accept that the powers to extend detention for five days beyond d the original 48 hours must be continued.
The hon. Member for Sedgefield rested part of his case for review on the exclusion orders, but I have discussed the practical effects with senior security officers in this country and I have been wholly persuaded by what they said about the practical necessity of retaining exclusion orders.
The hon. Member for Upper Bann spoke about detailed surveillance as a possible alternative to exclusion orders, but it appears to me that detailed surveillance is what exclusion orders may make possible, certainly in the Province. I doubt whether without exclusion orders detailed surveillance in Great Britain would be possible —whether it would be within the capacity of our security services to carry out effective surveillance of all the people currently subject to exclusion orders.
I hope that we shall be able to return to a consensual position on this matter as soon as may be. I hope that the Labour party will reconsider its position; it is only right that it should do so. The House and the country would be reassured if that party could accept that, notwithstanding the peculiarity and exceptional nature of the measures, it is necessary to give them our endorsement for another year —another year in which great political developments may alter the face of terrorism in our country.
Listening to the debate, I feel that we should spare a thought for the families of the victims—the widows, the mothers and the children—who have had to listen to the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) seemingly putting the terrorist before the civil liberties of their loved ones. [Interruption. ] It is all very well for Opposition Members to say, "For God's sake," but all I can say to them is: think of those whose lives we are still trying to save and of those who have already lost their lives.
I do not believe that in, his heart of hearts, the hon. Member for Sedgefield really wants to stop terrorism. If he really meant what he says, he would pull out all the stops and close all the loopholes to prevent terrorists from crossing the country to carry out their evil deeds. He gave us a series of crocodile tears.
I shiver slightly to think that the Labour party really imagines that it could one day be a party of government. Could it really be so irresponsible as to defy the advice of the police and the security forces and open the floodgates to seriously active terrorists? That is the body of people we are really discussing. The fact that the Labour party is carrying out that policy to satisfy its own extreme elements is sickening and appalling.
As John Rowe pointed out in his independent report on the PTA, the whole point of the prevention of terrorism Act is to prevent an attack before it happens. I find it spurious that we should be faced with a smokescreen dismissing that respected report, as if we could string out events and find another report better tailored to the interests of the Opposition. Mr. Rowe emphasised how important it was to deter terrorists:
to make it more difficult for them to put their plans into action".
He added that resulting intelligence had enabled the security forces to discover a bomb factory, and so to prevent bombing incidents.
The protection of law-abiding citizens should be put before arguments about the civil liberties of terrorists. What about the civil liberties of the victims? I have in my pocket something that I choose to keep with me all the time —a piece of shrapnel that I picked up in a Dungannon housing estate that had been blasted by an IRA mortar attack. What could be more significant and memorable than the sharpness of that nasty little item?
We need to remember the catalogue of incidents. I am grateful that the Home Secretary reminded us clearly of all the events in the past year. On the mainland of Great Britain alone three people have been killed and 124 injured. The police in Great Britain alone—this takes no account of incidents in Northern Ireland—engaged in anti-terrorist operations and recovered 2.5 tonnes of explosives and 400 weapons. We must think of the catalogue of disaster and tragedy that could have followed if the police had not been able to uncover those items and if they had been inhibited by the lack of a prevention of terrorism Act.
If the Labour party were serious about being tough on crime, it would stop whingeing and twisting to please its own side. Turning internal exile and exclusion orders for terrorists into injury to a person's liberty completely misses the point.
Mr. Rowe also said:
There are strong arguments in favour of retaining the exclusion order. Terrorist activity continues with as much ferocity as ever.
As he points out, a significant part of the Provisional IRA campaign takes place in Great Britain, and acts of terrorism perpetrated in Great Britain are regarded by the IRA as highly important. An exclusion order made against a terrorist who has expertise and experience makes it more difficult for the PIRA to use that man or woman over here.
Arguments in favour of civil rights and the liberty of the citizen must be balanced by the threat of terrorism, which is as great as ever. There is a high risk of death or injury from these people, and it is our duty to save lives whenever we can.
We should show our gratitude to the security forces —to the Army, the Metropolitan police, to special branch and to the national joint unit based in New Scotland Yard. We should be especially grateful to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which has to bear the brunt of this work. Indeed, I have seen the great dedication with which its members carry it out. I have seen the attention to detail given by the security forces: they check, check and check again. They maintain an enduring vigilance.
I have visited Castlereagh police station and discussed the work of the police officers who deal with terrorist suspects. I endorse the remarks in this respect of my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter), who referred to page 14 of the report, on the subject of closed circuit television monitoring of interviews. It would be well nigh impossible to record those interrogations, because that would seriously inhibit terrorists who might otherwise provide vital information.
In the fight against terrorism we depend on intelligence; very largely, that intelligence comes from the people who are interviewed.
It is. We should follow up every line of interrogation in order to save lives. Not unusually, after some days of silence suspects suddenly decide to talk. What they say is often most revealing—it can save many lives—but that would never happen if the suspect felt that his colleagues might discover the fact that he had talked about their activities—if he believed that he and his family might be dead within days. As my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke said, the lives of interrogation officers would also be seriously put at risk.
The police need skill and patience to deal with difficult suspects, who sit in silence for days on end. They sing tunes, they deliberately perform degrading acts in front of the interviewing officers as a way of insulting them and the law, yet we expect the highest professionalism from the RUC as its members continue to perform their difficult tasks.
I have nothing but praise for the security forces, who do so much at such great personal risk to save so many lives. I deplore the attitude of anyone who chooses to vote against renewal of the prevention of terrorism Act. Doing that, I fear, could send the wrong message to Sinn Fein and the IRA, whose members might believe that they could string us along again and attempt all sorts of devious machinations. They would hope that by continuing in that vein they might be given succour by the Labour party if that dreadful day ever came to pass when it became the party of government. I believe that this debate will ensure that the public will vote again and again for a party with a responsible attitude to terrorism.
I am one of those whose attitude, by definition, will be deplored by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland), because I am going to vote against renewal of the Act, just as I have always done.
I detected a remarkable contradiction in a point made by the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) and by two subsequent speakers. Enthusiastically they support this prevention of terrorism legislation, which has been on the statute book for 20 years; at the same time, they question the efficacy and wisdom of the joint declaration, which has been in existence for two and a half months. That is to ignore the central point about the joint declaration, which is that it was not written for Sinn Fein or the IRA, or for the loyalist paramilitary groupings. It was written for all the people on the island of Ireland. It embodies a set of principles that form a basis on which agreement can be sought. Hon. Members who question the declaration in this contradictory fashion clearly misunderstand its purpose.
I have listened to a number of these debates over the years. Today the old allegation has been repeated again —that those who oppose the legislation are at best misguided and at worst soft on terrorism. I find that objectionable, because that line of thought sees this type of emergency legislation not for what it is but as a litmus test for sound, anti-terrorist credentials. As the Evening Standard of 10 March observed, this legislation is used as a litmus test to establish who is soft on terrorism and who has sound anti-terrorist credentials.
I will take no lessons from anyone on the subject of terrorism and violence, or my opposition to them. I have lived in the midst of terrorism all my life, and I spent 25 years working in politics against those involved in violence —not from the cosiness of a television studio or a forum such as this House but on the streets and in the towns. I know what it is to have my name and face plastered on walls and to be described as an informer and a traitor—as someone worthy of execution. That is why I need no lectures about being strongly against terrorism. Nor do I need lectures on the rights of Members of this House to question any legislation.
I believe that this legislation must be questioned, first, because in three fundamental respects it deviates from normal law. It is therefore right and essential to criticise it. It has been effectively criticised by many speakers, not least the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) today. Such deviations from the norm must certainly be subjected to questioning.
The legislation should also be questioned on the ground that it involves a derogation from the European convention on human rights, in respect of the seven-day detention period—a provision supposed to be implemented only in time of war or other emergency. That in itself is reason enough to question the Act, and I intend to do just that.
I also question the Act because ours is the only country in Europe that allows for internal exile—a curious way for the Conservative and Unionist party to express its profound commitment to the Union. What does that tell us about attitudes to nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland, and about attitudes to unionism? The Conservatives' point of view seems to be, "We will have your votes, thank you, when we need them, but you can have the terrorists and all that that entails." It is an affront to all the people of the north of Ireland that this type of internal exile should be permitted. Irrespective of its merits or otherwise in legal terms, the sheer political implications to which it gives rise demand that we question it.
The third reason is that its application and implementation has created a context within which appalling miscarriages of justice can take place, and have taken place. We should not overlook the context created by emergency legislation. Since the implementation of the prevention of terrorism Act 20 years ago, at least 15 cases brought under its terms have been deemed appalling miscarriages of justice—not by me, or by nationalist opinion, but by the highest courts in this land. That must give rise to disquiet within every hon. Member who values the highest standards and integrity of the judicial and legal process.
I believe that the Act does something else. There has been an abject failure to bring to justice those responsible for the miscarriages of justice, because the attitude of mind that we have heard from the Floor of the House today does not allow those responsible to face and be subject to justice themselves.
I will give examples. In the Birmingham case, the powers given to the police under the legislation in effect corrupted the people who were charged with upholding the law. Hon. Members should not take my word for it—that has been established beyond doubt in terms of the decisions made within their own organisation. The same applies in the Guildford case. The most appalling part of it all in terms of the miscarriages of justice is the consequent impossibility of charging and convicting those who did carry out those crimes.
The imperative within the legislation and its urgency means that, in effect, the people who carried out the Birmingham and Guildford bombings and the other murders in the Judith Ward case are walking scot free. That is not as a result of the legislation, but because of the context in which the legislation placed the police and the process of justice, and the determination to get results.
I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument closely and with great interest. I am sure that he would not want to give a misleading impression. Will he accept that the powers which we are discussing were not used in either the Birmingham or the Guildford case?
I accept that readily, but I am talking about the context which it creates where there is an imperative on the police to get results. That, and the pressure of public opinion, was responsible for a lot of the reprehensible action. We must guard against that in all types of emergency legislation.
Perhaps one of the most pertinent insights into the retention of this legislation in its present form was given by the then Home Secretary, Sir Leon Brittan, in 1983. He gave two reasons for the retention of the powers of detention. The powers acted
first, as a deterrent to persons other than the people who have been detained".
The implication of that, and the enormity of that implication, is that detaining people and taking away their freedom without any judicial input for up to seven days should be a legitimate means of deterring other people from crime. The fact that that was said by the then Home Secretary seems to be an appalling statement for someone who was in charge of the implementation of the highest standards of law.
The second reason which Sir Leon Brittan gave, and which was reiterated by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam, was that it
enabled information to be obtained that was of direct value in the battle against terrorism, even though it did not lead to action against the people concerned."—[Official Report, 24 October 1983; Vol. 47, c. 55–56.]
Is it right to detain innocent people for the purpose of obtaining information from them?
The enormity of that can be seen in the figures for the north of Ireland. In 1993, 1,641 people were detained, and 379 people were charged. That means that 1,262 people were not charged and were released in the terms of the law of this country that they were innocent until proven guilty. I wonder how many of those 1,262 people were being used as a trawl for information and how many were being questioned while detained on reasonable suspicion that they may have been involved in and concerned with terrorist activity. That is the corrosive effect that such legislation can have on those who are charged with implementing and upholding the law.
Exclusion orders are perhaps the most odious powers accorded to the Home Secretary through the Act. Great play has been made of the fact that the number of exclusion orders currently in force is the lowest at the end of any year since 1975. Let me say that 71 exclusion orders is 71 too many.
Leaving aside the dubious legal ethics of such orders, do the Government believe that by imposing an exclusion order they are solving the problem? At most, they are shifting the problem to Northern Ireland, where they seem content to let it fester. In any event, where is the redress of an innocent person who is condemned to exclusion on the say-so of the Home Secretary? Where is the fundamental right of a person to present his or her side of the story? The Home Secretary does not need a burden of proof, and he does not even have to state his reason for excluding someone. There is no possibility that a person excluded can realistically challenge his exclusion. If ever there was a patent need for a review of this legislation, that surely must be it.
I have one simple question for all hon. Members: by and large, who are the people who are subject to this legislation in Britain? Lorry drivers, ordinary people going on their holidays, young people who just happen to wear jeans and have long hair and people going about their business normally, as any person would or should. Such people make up the vast majority of those who are detained for short periods under this legislation. They have the stigma of detention on them when they return home, and we know what that can mean in Northern Ireland terms.
Let me refer to the extension of detention. The power to extend a person's detention under the Act is one which I think is manifestly exercised in a rather automatic way by the Home Secretary. It causes traumatic experiences for the detainee, who may not have had an opportunity to speak to anyone other than the police for 48 hours, not to mention a lawyer.
In 1993, not a single application for extension submitted by the police in Britain to the Home Secretary was refused. There were 29 in all, and that is more than double the number in 1992. That strongly suggests the need at minimum for a more rigorous examination of the applications for extension. The review of Mr. Rowe states that, when the Royal Ulster Constabulary apply to the Northern Ireland Office for an extension of detention, the usual explanation offered for the request is "reliable intelligence".
The fact that 77 per cent. of detentions in Northern Ireland do not lead to criminal charges must cast some doubt on the "reliable intelligence" which is offered by the RUC. Although the reviewer of the Act states that he could find no correlation between the length of time specified in the request for extension or detention and the time needed, he explains that by referring to the uncertainty of forensic evidence. However, elsewhere in the review is the assertion that the police have built up considerable expertise in that very area. Which are we to believe?
I suggest that applications to extend a person's detention—as with the reviews of exclusion orders—are akin to a cosmetic exercise which has been designed to paper over the gross abuses of personal freedom which are allowed by the Act.
I shall not go into detail on the right to a solicitor, but I remind the Home Secretary of one case. It is the case of a constituent of mine, a middle-aged man called Patrick Murphy, coming up to Christmas in 1992. He was an alcoholic. He did not remember where he was. He was charged on the say-so of a cab driver. He was identified and charged with bombings in London. If it had not been for the generosity of spirit of people in the Alcoholics Anonymous organisation, who went to the police after he had been charged and said that he was at a meeting that they held, his charge would have proceeded and he would have been in no position whatever to make a defence. That is another example of how this type of legislation can go so badly wrong.
If I understood the hon. Gentleman correctly, he said that the procedures were a cosmetic exercise for covering up gross abuses of personal liberty. Will he accept from me that officials—I speak of the Northern Ireland jurisdiction—first subject applications to very careful scrutiny before they are referred to the Secretary of State or, in his absence, another Minister, and that it is certainly the practice to cut down on applications or even to refuse them completely? I do not have the statistics in my head, but I am well familiar with cases in which I have refused the full amount that has been requested. So to suggest, as the hon. Gentleman has done, that the procedure is a cosmetic exercise does great injustice to officials—I leave aside any concern for Ministers.
I take the point that the Secretary of State makes. I could have put my point better. I should like to withdraw the word "cosmetic". I do that with the same grace as the Secretary of State has made the point to me. May I ask him to read into the record the number of times that he has refused requests for an extension on grounds which were sustainable by him? That is the point that I am trying to get at. I regret that I have used words in a way which would cast aspersions on both the Secretary of State and the officials involved. I adjust the wording accordingly. Nevertheless, I should like to see the figures.
The rate of charging worries me greatly. Yet another element of the Act which causes concern not only to people in Northern Ireland but to members of the legal profession is the very low rate of charging. That may seem strange coming from someone who argues from the point of view from which I argue. Of the 145 people detained in Britain in 1993, only 30, or less than a quarter, were subsequently charged. Let us remember that those 145 had been detained, so that the police had ample time and opportunity to question them at length.
When one considers that a total of 309 people were examined for more than one hour under the Act, one gets a truer picture of how low the charging rate is. Only 30 out of the combined total of 354 means that fewer than 10 per cent. of those whom the police wanted to question were subsequently charged. I am trying to see what is the problem. Are detentions being made on a basis for which there is no reasonable suspicion that would lead to charges?
Neither I nor, I am sure, anyone in the House doubts the hon. Gentleman's courage in facing terrorists and all their works. However, he gives the impression that his main concern is civil liberties. As one who has been on the receiving end of an IRA bomb and has been hospitalised as a result, as was my wife, I perceive the greatest threat to civil liberties to be terrorism itself. I feel that the hon. Gentleman is getting the balance wrong. I accuse him of no more than that. It is an important point that I wish he would take on board.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for making it. It is a valid point. However, the real bulwark against terrorism and the means of defeating terrorism is not legislation such as this but the attitude that we can foster within the entire community. Of course I am concerned about civil liberties. They are the very basis of our society and the basis of that within our society which the IRA, the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force seek to undermine. We should not facilitate them in that.
The position in Northern Ireland in 1993 was even more worrying in terms of charging. Out of a total of 1,641 people detained, 379 were charged. The significant point is that 445 people had their detention extended. I shall leave that question with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I know that he will want to respond to it.
I pose the question whether the legislation, as it exists, can be properly accommodated within a civilised society without doing irreparable damage to the process of law, to the police and to those who are charged with enforcing the law. There must surely be a question over that. Will damage be done to the process of justice? Its highest standards and integrity have in the past been eroded by gross miscarriages of justice. Will it do damage to the body politic? Will it erode the proper conviction that the law, the courts, the police and legislators are there to protect people's rights, not diminish them; to defend the innocent, not to make him or her a potential subject of detention for the purpose of intelligence gathering? Lastly, will it do damage to society as a whole and the highest standards of civil liberties which are part and parcel of any decent society?
The hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) expressed some indignation that his meetings with my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary had been leaked. I do not condone the leaking of the details of that meeting, but I find it somewhat ironic and not a little amusing that the Labour party is now suffering some embarrassment as a result of those leaks. We have seen the Labour party only too happy to take advantage of other leaks and play party politics with them. The hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) is a pastmaster at using leaks from Government Departments to his party political advantage.
The history of the debate is clear enough. The Labour Government in 1974 introduced the prevention of terrorism Act. That followed some shocking a trocities, not least the Birmingham and Guildford pub bombings. The Act was supported by the Conservative Opposition. In 1976, the Conservative party's support was required by the then Labour Government because 35 Labour Members of Parliament voted against the renewal of the PTA. That was a foretaste of things to come.
Until 1980 the Labour party supported the annual renewal. That was important because it is necessary to have a united, all-party response to terrorism. So what changed thereafter? Sadly, the threat posed by the terrorists did not recede. What changed was the political outlook of the Labour party. As we all know, it was hijacked by the left wing. Today, 14 years later, there is a sufficient number of left-wing Labour Members of Parliament who believe in Irish republicanism and who have enough power within the Labour party to stop the so-called modernisers, of whom the hon. Member for Sedgefield is a prime example, from swinging today's Labour party behind support for the renewal of PTA.
There is a clear message here for the electorate. While the left wing of the Labour party may be keeping its head down, it is clearly still a force to be reckoned with in the Labour party. Last year we had the shocking spectacle of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) travelling to the United States of America, of his own volition, to give evidence on behalf of a convicted terrorist and against the British Government, who sought that terrorist's extradition to the United Kingdom. That was disgraceful behaviour. It sent completely the wrong message to the terrorists and to many Irish Americans who, sadly, do not understand the position in Northern Ireland and believe that there is majority support there for the republican movement. The hon. Member for Brent, East contributed to that lack of understanding in America.
The truth is that the prevention of terrorism Act plays a most important role in the battle against terrorism. It is both vital and necessary, as the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) has said. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has already given us some figures of the number of people who were detained under the Act in Northern Ireland last year: 450 were detained for longer than 48 hours, of whom 114 were later charged with serious offences. In Great Britain 13 people were given long custodial sentences for serious terrorist offences, following detention under the Act.
The hon. Member for Sedgefield mentioned the concern expressed by the Ulster Unionists about exclusion orders. He also referred to the concern expressed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) about the lack of a judicial element in the authorisation of detention orders. Despite their concerns, however, they vote for the renewal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and a failure to do so would send the wrong message.
Labour's failure to vote for renewal of the Act sends the wrong message. I will not claim that Labour is soft on terrorism, but if its members vote against the Act, on what I must say, having listened to the hon. Member for Sedgefield, are not very convincing grounds, it will suggest to the terrorists a certain lack of determination, will and unity on the part of the whole political establishment in the fight against terrorism.
I hope that the hon. Member will throw off the shackles of his own republican-leaning left wing and vote with us when we come to renew the Act this time next year. In the meantime, however, I am only too happy to vote for the renewal of the Act this evening.
Because of the shortage of time, and not because I want to be discourteous to the hon. Members who have already spoken, I hope that they will forgive me if I do not directly refer to their contributions, apart from the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) which I thought was pathetic and shoddy. But never mind, perhaps it is par for the course on this subject.
Very few people listening to the Home Secretary in the House today were present when the Labour Government introduced the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act in 1974 in response to the bombings in Birmingham and Guildford. In the aftermath of those terrible atrocities and in response to justifiable public outrage, we rushed this emergency legislation through the House—I think it took 36 hours non-stop. At the time, practically every member of the Labour party, myself included, believed that the Act was a necessary but temporary measure. I voted for it and continued to do so.
The prevention of terrorism Act, however, has now been in existence for 20 years and self-evidently can no longer be called temporary. Provisions that in 1974 were felt to be justified as emergency, short-term measures cannot be justified as permanent features of a parliamentary democracy. I speak, in particular, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield has done, of exclusion orders and of seven-day detention by executive order. Those powers threaten the very basis of a free and democratic society and this can only strengthen the paramilitaries.
We have opposed and continue to oppose the Act as presently constructed not only because of its corrosive effect on civil liberties but because it simply has not worked. After 20 years of the Act, Northern Ireland is internally the most politically violent unit in the European Union. The draconian powers that it contains have not prevented terrorism; if anything, they have created a vicious cycle of paramilitary violence and state repression which have become mutually reinforcing. That can only undermine the rule of law and the prospects for a political settlement in Northern Ireland.
It is for those reasons that the Labour party withdrew its support for the Act in 1983 and it is for those reasons that the Labour team thereafter has consistently articulated its objections to the use of seven-day detention without judicial review and the use of exclusion orders. It is a pity that it now becomes clear that the Government have rejected the offer by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield of bipartisanship on this important issue. The Government's decision to continue seven-day detention without judicial review means that Britain will have to derogate from its international obligations, which damages our reputation for integrity and the rule of law.
In the holding centres, detainees can be questioned without knowing what crime they are accused of and without the right to a solicitor for two days. To make matters worse, they are also denied the safeguard of audio-taping of interviews. When the Home Secretary replies to the debate, I should be grateful if he would inform the House if the taping experiment in England will cease at the end of 1994. If so, will he confirm that the experiment will be properly and independently evaluated? Now that the Royal Ulster Constabulary have had time to adjust to taping under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, there can be no excuse for further delay in the introduction of taping for suspects detained under emergency legislation.
Several hon. Members mentioned Sir Louis Blom-Cooper's report. It is a pity that it is not before us today.
I am conscious of the shortage of time, but there is one issue that I wish to draw to the attention of the Home Secretary. My hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield and other hon. Members have spoken about the appalling consequences of exclusion orders. The House may recall that last year a young man by the name of John Matthews was returning from London to his home in Derry when he was arrested by security forces at Heathrow. John Matthews is a young graduate who could not find work in Northern Ireland; he came over to this country to live with his aunt and became a hospital porter. He was arrested under the prevention of terrorism Act and was held in police custody for seven days.
John Matthews was brought before a magistrate and charged with causing an explosion in the City of London that was likely to endanger life. He was accused of hijacking a taxi in north London and ordering the driver to take a bomb to Downing street. The taxi was abandoned in Holborn where it exploded without causing injury. John Matthews was then sent to Belmarsh prison as a category A remand prisoner and he remained there for 10 weeks.
I became involved in his case when members of Mr. Matthews' family came to see me. After a long and detailed discussion, they convinced me that their son had never been involved in IRA terrorism and was not a member of any terrorist organisation. I decided to go and see him in Belmarsh prison. I arrived with his uncle, to be informed by the prison authorities that he was about to be released and would shortly appear in the magistrates court.
On hearing this, his uncle and I went to the court, where we were joined by John Matthews's mother and father. When he was brought before the stipendiary magistrate —by coincidence, it was the same magistrate who had sent him to Belmarsh originally—the solicitor representing the Crown Prosecution Service announced that all charges were being withdrawn since, having reviewed the evidence available, it could not offer a realistic prospect of a conviction.
At that point the magistrate cross-examined the prosecuting solicitor, pointing out that, at the previous hearing, it had been indicated to him that the prosecution had identity and forensic evidence. It now appeared that there was no evidence whatever against John Matthews. The stipendiary magistrate then turned to John Matthews, in my hearing and in that of the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley), and told John that he had received references of the utmost distinction about him and that he could leave the court without a stain on his character. Ten minutes later, he was rearrested and placed in a police cell and shortly afterwards the Home Secretary—the right hon. and learned Gentleman sitting across from me now—signed an exclusion order on him. It was made almost immediately after he had left the court a free man.
I have subsequently seen John Matthews in his home city of Derry. He is worried that the exclusion order placed on him and the subsequent comments by the Home Secretary could make him a target for loyalist paramilitaries. He has absolutely no chance of finding a job and his movements are restricted to Northern Ireland. John Matthews and his lawyers have not been, and will not be, told the reason why the Home Secretary signed the exclusion order.
John Matthews's case is the most disgraceful example of the effect of the power invested in the Home Secretary. If it was thought that evidence could be prejudicial on national security grounds, why was not evidence brought forward and submitted to a judge in camera? If the Home Secretary had evidence against John Matthews, why did not the security services and the Home Secretary produce it in a court of law, which was never done?
Individuals subjected to exclusion orders have not been found guilty of any specific offence in a court of law. They have not even had the opportunity to hear the charges against them. By the end of 1993, 71 people remained the subject of exclusion orders, none of whom had the right to be told why they faced internal exile. The only examples of similar powers in 20th century Europe were those exercised by those notable democrats, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini and General Franco—[Interruption.] They were the only such examples in contemporary 20th century history that I could find of such powers being used to place people in internal exile.
I profoundly regret the fact that the Government, particularly the Home Secretary, appear unable to accept the offer made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield—especially as the Ulster Unionist party and my hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) of the Social Democratic and Labour party have said that both those parties would be willing to participate in a review. Even at this eleventh hour, I hope that the Home Secretary will reconsider. If he does not, for the reasons so eloquently given by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield, we shall not vote to renew the order tonight.
I cannot remember a debate in the House in which there has been such a marked contrast between the tone and approach of the Opposition spokesman who opened the debate and that of the Opposition spokesman who wound up the debate.
The hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) was at pains to suggest that all he wanted was a review. He seemed to be saying, "Let us have a review and consider whether there is a different way of achieving the objectives that have been sustained by the exclusion order and the extension of detention." The implication of what the hon. Gentleman was saying—he did not go so far as to say it —was, "If we can be persuaded that there is no other way of achieving those objectives, perhaps we might think again."
From the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) we heard —to use his own words—a sustained, angry denunciation of the powers contained in the Act in terms that made it absolutely clear that he would not be persuaded by a review. He does not want the powers at any price. That dichotomy lies at the heart of the Opposition's attitude to such matters—and has done so from the word go.
I shall repeat the offer to the Home Secretary so that there is no doubt about it. It is particularly important to try to unite the House tonight. We have asked for an independent full judicial review—we can discuss the circumstances of it—of those two aspects of the legislation. We wish the House to unite tonight. That has been agreed by the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble), on behalf of the Ulster Unionists and by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) on behalf of the SDLP. I make the Home Secretary that offer tonight with sincerity and ask him to respond in the same way.
I was merely describing the contrast in the approach taken by the hon. Member for Sedgefield and that taken by the hon. Member for Wigan. I shall discuss the review in a moment.
It has been a heated debate, touching on fundamental issues. The consequences of our decisions are serious and it is not surprising that passions should run deep. A case can be made for putting civil liberties first. That case was put by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh. My hon. Friends and I reject it for precisely the reasons given by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara)—I quoted the language that he used in my opening speech—in the debates in the House in 1974. One can make a case—as did the hon. Member for Upper Bann —for querying some of the powers and reconsidering them while voting to support the powers in the order because they are necessary in the fight against terrorism.
I do not believe that one can make the sort of arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Sedgefield in his opening speech and then lead one's party in the Lobby against the renewal of the order. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) said—he speaks with the benefit of grew. experience in such matters—we have difficult decisions before us. But government is about difficult decisions. If we were not prepared to face up to difficult decisions, we would face accusations of dereliction of duty—the accusation that I level against the Labour party this evening.
The hon. Member for Sedgefield repeated his request for an independent review. We have had an annual independent review, which is not confined to the way in which the Act works. It is open to the person conducting the review to consider representations on the extent of the powers. Some of Mr. Rowe's predecessors have received representations to that effect, considered them and included them in their report.
When I announced in a parliamentary answer in December the appointment of Mr. Rowe, I invited representations to be made to him. It was open to the hon. Member for Sedgefield and the Labour party that he represents to make representations to Mr. Rowe at that time in the context of the review that he was undertaking so that they could be given full and proper consideration. The hon. Gentleman should have suggested a review and offered his specific proposals then if he intended them to be taken seriously. The hon. Gentleman failed totally to take advantage of that opportunity. At the appropriate time, the Labour party made no approaches to Mr. Rowe, who was in charge of that review. That was what it should have done.
As has been said by other hon. Members, Mr. Rowe is not the person to conduct such a review. If the Home Secretary is interested in achieving agreement on the matter—I cannot see what possible objection there can be —he should agree to the appointment of a senior, respected figure to undertake a review of the specific powers. It would make sense to appoint a judge. Such a review is long overdue and we could then come to an agreement. I cannot for the life of me see what is wrong with such an arrangement.
We have had a review of which the hon. Gentleman could have taken advantage, but he conspicuously failed to do so. The suggestion of a review is yet another of the smokescreens for which the hon. Gentleman is becoming famous.
We know the points that are at issue between the parties. There is no mystery about them; they are crystal clear. We know that the Labour party objects to the exclusion order. I have sought to explain to the House today why, in practice, there is no alternative to the exclusion order if we are to achieve the benefits in the fight against terrorism about which the Association of Chief Police Officers has told us.
We also know the issues between us on the subject of the extension of the detention order. I say to the hon. Members for Sedgefield and for Upper Bann that I do not think that there is any mileage in the suggestion of a sort of halfway house between judicial consideration of the matters and allowing the decision-taking process to rest in the hands of the Minister. That option was considered in the Hurd-Waddington review, to which reference has been made, but it was found not to be satisfactory.
In addition, it is extremely unlikely that such a course would find favour with the European Court of Human Rights. The hon. Gentleman placed great emphasis on that aspect of the matter. The European Court of Human Rights would look not at the label attached to the person carrying out the function but at the nature of the function. As, because of its nature, the evidence cannot be made available to the defendant—the defendant cannot be shown the intelligence material that is being relied on—it follows inevitably that the function is not a judicial one and that the benefit, in terms of the European Court of Human Rights, to which the hon. Gentleman referred would not be available.
The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) asked about detention extension applications turned down by my right hon. Friends and myself. I confirm that it is unusual for applications to be refused, but there are examples of refusal. In the United Kingdom there have been just two such occasions in the past two years. There have been other occasions when a period of detention shorter than that sought by the police was authorised. But, like my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, I counsel the hon. Gentleman against coming to a wrong conclusion about the very great care with which both officials and my right hon. Friends and I consider these applications. After 20 years of exercising these powers, the police, in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland, are well aware of the clear case that they are expected to make out under one of the 14 separate criteria that were codified by Lord Colville in his 1987 report.
I have a sad announcement to make to the House before we conclude this debate. It appears that in the past hour five mortars were fired from the back of a vehicle towards Heathrow airport. The House will be relieved to learn that, from initial reports, it appears that there are no casualties or serious damage. I do not know whether that incident is supposed to send some signal to the House as we conclude our debate on these matters. If it is, there is only one conclusion that the House can responsibly reach. We know that the Association of Chief Police Officers unequivocally considers this legislation in its present form to be essential in the fight against terrorism. Over the past few days and during the course of the debate we have had many appeals for unity across the House. There could be no more appropriate moment for displaying unity than in the aftermath of the attack that I have just announced.
I appeal to the Labour party to listen not to me but to the Association of Chief Police Officers and to go into the Aye Lobby in support of the order so that the police may continue to have available to them powers that they consider to be essential. This is the Labour party's opportunity to display unity and to show those who are responsible for the mortar attack that the House of Commons is united and is determined to face them down and to make available to the police the powers that they need to fight terrorism. It is not too late for the Opposition to respond to this appeal. Will they join us in the Aye Lobby in support of these powers? I commend the Order to the House.
(seated and covered): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I left my office in No. 7 Millbank immediately the bell went. I walked briskly all the way here but was unable to get through the door by a fraction of a second. I believe that we now do not have enough a time for Members to reach the Chamber walking at a legitimate pace.
I hear the hon. Lady. I took the normal time. The hon. Lady will have read today's Order Paper and she will have recognised that a Division was expected three hours after the commencement of the proceedings. She is an assiduous Member. She would doubtless have worked out when the debate started and when it was going to finish, and I suggest that in future she prepares herself just a few minutes beforehand.
|Division No. 157]||[6.50 pm|
|Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)||Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Baldry, Tony|
|Alexander, Richard||Banks, Matthew (Southport)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)||Banks, Robert (Harrogate)|
|Allason, Rupert (Torbay)||Bates, Michael|
|Alton, David||Batiste, Spencer|
|Amess, David||Beggs, Roy|
|Arbuthnot, James||Bellingham, Henry|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Bendall, Vivian|
|Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)||Beresford, Sir Paul|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Biffen, Rt Hon John|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Blackburn, Dr John G.|
|Atkins, Robert||Booth, Hartley|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)||Boswell, Tim|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)||Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia|
|Bowden, Andrew||Gorst, John|
|Bowis, John||Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW)|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Brandreth, Gyles||Greenway, John (Ryedale)|
|Brazier, Julian||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)|
|Bright, Graham||Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Hague, William|
|Browning, Mrs. Angela||Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Budgen, Nicholas||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Burns, Simon||Hannam, Sir John|
|Butler, Peter||Hargreaves, Andrew|
|Butterfill, John||Harris, David|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)||Harvey, Nick|
|Carlisle, John (Luton North)||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hawkins, Nick|
|Carrington, Matthew||Hawksley, Warren|
|Carttiss, Michael||Hayes, Jerry|
|Chapman, Sydney||Heald, Oliver|
|Churchill, Mr||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Clappison, James||Hendry, Charles|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)||Hill, James (Southampton Test)|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)|
|Coe, Sebastian||Horam, John|
|Colvin, Michael||Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter|
|Conway, Derek||Howard, Rt Hon Michael|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)||Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)|
|Cope, Rt Hon Sir John||Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)|
|Couchman, James||Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)|
|Cran, James||Hunter, Andrew|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)||Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)||Jack, Michael|
|Davies, Quentin (Stamford)||Jackson, Robert (Wantage)|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Jenkin, Bernard|
|Day, Stephen||Jessel, Toby|
|Deva, Nirj Joseph||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Devlin, Tim||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)|
|Dicks, Terry||Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine|
|Dover, Den||Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)|
|Duncan, Alan||Key, Robert|
|Duncan-Smith, Iain||Kilfedder, Sir James|
|Dunn, Bob||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Durant, Sir Anthony||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Dykes, Hugh||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Eggar, Tim||Knapman, Roger|
|Elletson, Harold||Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)|
|Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)||Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)|
|Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)||Knox, Sir David|
|Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)||Kynoch, George (Kincardine)|
|Evans, Roger (Monmouth)||Lait, Mrs Jacqui|
|Evennett, David||Lamont, Rt Hon Norman|
|Faber, David||Lang, Rt Hon Ian|
|Fabricant, Michael||Lawrence, Sir Ivan|
|Fenner, Dame Peggy||Legg, Barry|
|Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)||Leigh, Edward|
|Fishburn, Dudley||Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)|
|Forman, Nigel||Lidington, David|
|Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)||Lightbown, David|
|Forth, Eric||Lilley, Rt Hon Peter|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman||Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)|
|Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)||Lord, Michael|
|Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)||Luff, Peter|
|Freeman, Rt Hon Roger||Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Fry, Sir Peter||Lynne, Ms Liz|
|Gale, Roger||McCrea, Rev William|
|Gallie, Phil||MacKay, Andrew|
|Gardiner, Sir George||Maclean, David|
|Garnier, Edward||Maclennan, Robert|
|Gill, Christopher||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Gillan, Cheryl||McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick|
|Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair||Madel, Sir David|
|Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles||Maginnis, Ken|
|Maitland, Lady Olga||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Major, Rt Hon John||Soames, Nicholas|
|Malone, Gerald||Speed, Sir Keith|
|Mans, Keith||Spencer, Sir Derek|
|Marland, Paul||Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)|
|Marlow, Tony||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Spink, Dr Robert|
|Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)||Spring, Richard|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Sproat, Iain|
|Mates, Michael||Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)|
|Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick||Steen, Anthony|
|Merchant, Piers||Stephen, Michael|
|Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)||Stern, Michael|
|Mills, Iain||Stewart, Allan|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Streeter, Gary|
|Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)||Sumberg, David|
|Moate, Sir Roger||Sweeney, Walter|
|Molyneaux, Rt Hon James||Sykes, John|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Moss, Malcolm||Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd)|
|Needham, Richard||Taylor, John M. (Solihull)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Neubert, Sir Michael||Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)|
|Newton, Rt Hon Tony||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Thomason, Roy|
|Nicholson, David (Taunton)||Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)|
|Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Norris, Steve||Thornton, Sir Malcolm|
|O'Neill, Martin||Thurnham, Peter|
|Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th|
|Ottaway, Richard||Tracey, Richard|
|Page, Richard||Tredinnick, David|
|Paice, James||Trend, Michael|
|Patnick, Irvine||Trimble, David|
|Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Trotter, Neville|
|Pawsey, James||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Tyler, Paul|
|Porter, David (Waveney)||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Rathbone, Tim||Waldegrave, Rt Hon William|
|Redwood, Rt Hon John||Walden, George|
|Rendel, David||Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)|
|Renton, Rt Hon Tim||Walker, Bill (N Tayside)|
|Richards, Rod||Wallace, James|
|Riddick, Graham||Waller, Gary|
|Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm||Ward, John|
|Robathan, Andrew||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)||Waterson, Nigel|
|Robinson, Mark (Somerton)||Watts, John|
|Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)||Wells, Bowen|
|Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)||Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Ross, William (E Londonderry)||Whitney, Ray|
|Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)||Whittingdale, John|
|Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Ryder, Rt Hon Richard||Wiggin, Sir Jerry|
|Sackville, Tom||Wilkinson, John|
|Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim||Willetts, David|
|Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas||Wilshire, David|
|Shaw, David (Dover)||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)||Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)|
|Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian||Wolfson, Mark|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Yeo, Tim|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Sims, Roger||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor||Mr. Timothy Wood and Mr. Michael Brown.|
|Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Armstrong, Hilary|
|Adams, Mrs Irene||Austin-Walker, John|
|Ainger, Nick||Banks, Tony (Newham NW)|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Barnes, Harry|
|Allen, Graham||Barron, Kevin|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Battle, John|
|Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)||Bayley, Hugh|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret||Gordon, Mildred|
|Bell, Stuart||Gould, Bryan|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Graham, Thomas|
|Bennett, Andrew F.||Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)|
|Benton, Joe||Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Berry, Dr. Roger||Grocott, Bruce|
|Betts, Clive||Gunnell, John|
|Blair, Tony||Hain, Peter|
|Blunkett, David||Hall, Mike|
|Boateng, Paul||Hanson, David|
|Boyes, Roland||Hardy, Peter|
|Bradley, Keith||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)||Henderson, Doug|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)||Heppell, John|
|Burden, Richard||Hill, Keith (Streatham)|
|Byers, Stephen||Hinchliffe, David|
|Caborn, Richard||Home Robertson, John|
|Callaghan, Jim||Hood, Jimmy|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Hoon, Geoffrey|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Hoyle, Doug|
|Cann, Jamie||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Clapham, Michael||Hughes, Roy (Newport E)|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Hutton, John|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Ingram, Adam|
|Clelland, David||Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)|
|Coffey, Ann||Jamieson, David|
|Cohen, Harry||Janner, Greville|
|Connarty, Michael||Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)|
|Cook, Robin (Livingston)||Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)|
|Corbett, Robin||Jowell, Tessa|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Corston, Ms Jean||Keen, Alan|
|Cousins, Jim||Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)|
|Cox, Tom||Khabra, Piara S.|
|Cryer, Bob||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Lewis, Terry|
|Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)||Litherland, Robert|
|Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John||Livingstone, Ken|
|Dalyell, Tam||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Darling, Alistair||Loyden, Eddie|
|Davidson, Ian||McAllion, John|
|Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)||McCartney, Ian|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I)||McFall, John|
|Denham, John||McGrady, Eddie|
|Dewar, Donald||McKelvey, William|
|Dixon, Don||Mackinlay, Andrew|
|Dobson, Frank||McLeish, Henry|
|Donohoe, Brian H.||McMaster, Gordon|
|Dowd, Jim||McNamara, Kevin|
|Dunnachie, Jimmy||McWilliam, John|
|Eagle, Ms Angela||Madden, Max|
|Eastham, Ken||Mahon, Alice|
|Enright, Derek||Mallon, Seamus|
|Etherington, Bill||Mandelson, Peter|
|Evans, John (St Helens N)||Marek, Dr John|
|Fatchett, Derek||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)|
|Fisher, Mark||Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)|
|Flynn, Paul||Martlew, Eric|
|Foster, Rt Hon Derek||Maxton, John|
|Foulkes, George||Meacher, Michael|
|Fraser, John||Michael, Alun|
|Fyfe, Maria||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Galbraith, Sam||Milburn, Alan|
|Galloway, George||Miller, Andrew|
|Gapes, Mike||Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)|
|Garrett, John||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Gerrard, Neil||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Morley, Elliot|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)|
|Godsiff, Roger||Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Mowlam, Marjorie|
|Mudie, George||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Mullin, Chris||Short, Clare|
|Murphy, Paul||Simpson, Alan|
|O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)||Skinner, Dennis|
|O'Brien, William (Normanton)||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|O'Hara, Edward||Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)|
|Olner, William||Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)|
|O'Neill, Martin||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Parry, Robert||Soley, Clive|
|Patchett, Terry||Spearing, Nigel|
|Pickthall, Colin||Spellar, John|
|Pike, Peter L.||Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)|
|Pope, Greg||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Powell, Ray (Ogmore)||Stevenson, George|
|Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)||Stott, Roger|
|Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)||Strang, Dr. Gavin|
|Prescott, John||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Primarolo, Dawn||Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)|
|Purchase, Ken||Turner, Dennis|
|Quin, Ms Joyce||Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold|
|Radice, Giles||Walley, Joan|
|Randall, Stuart||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Raynsford, Nick||Wareing, Robert N|
|Redmond, Martin||Watson, Mike|
|Reid, Dr John||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)|
|Robertson, George (Hamilton)||Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)|
|Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)||Wilson, Brian|
|Roche, Mrs. Barbara||Winnick, David|
|Rogers, Allan||Worthington, Tony|
|Rooker, Jeff||Wray, Jimmy|
|Rooney, Terry||Wright, Dr Tony|
|Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Ruddock, Joan||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Mr. Alan Meale and Mr. John Cummings.|