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Prevention of Terrorism

– in the House of Commons at 4:14 pm on 5th March 1997.

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Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:14 pm, 5th March 1997

I beg to move, That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuance) Order 1997, which was laid before this House on 18th February, be approved. I wish to begin by thanking Mr. John Rowe QC for carrying out the annual review of the legislation. His report informs our debate today. His clear conclusion, following wide consultation, and an entirely independent scrutiny of the operation of the Act in 1996, is that the Act remains necessary, and that it should be renewed, in its entirety, for a further 12 months. The Government share his view, and accept his recommendation.

It is now 23 years since the prevention of terrorism legislation was first enacted. The present Act was passed in 1989, and, like its predecessors, it was intended to be a temporary measure made in response to an exceptional threat. Very regrettably, the threat we face from terrorism remains as great today. Within our midst, a callous, murderous minority remains determined to use violence to achieve its ends.

Last year, the House renewed the Act under the dark shadow of the bombing of South Quay, the deaths of two people caught in the blast, and the formal ending of the IRA's ceasefire. This year, we must consider the need for its provisions against the background of a continuing campaign by the Provisional IRA in Great Britain, and a return to violence in Northern Ireland. The past 12 months reveal an all too familiar legacy of the destruction of lives, families, homes, livelihoods and communities.

Following the South Quay bomb, there were further attacks on the mainland, and another death. Those culminated in the bombing of Manchester city centre on Saturday 15 June. More than 200 people were injured in that outrage. I saw the destruction for myself a few days later. It was a miracle that no one was killed, and a testament to the skills of all those who worked so quickly to move more than 80,000 people to safety.

In Northern Ireland, the IRA stepped up its targeting, and readied its resources for a full return to violence in the Province. That came, with tragic consequences, on 7 October 1996. Two car bombs were detonated, one shortly after the other, and without warning, inside Thiepval barracks in Lisburn. Thirty-eight people were injured and, as the House knows, Warrant Officer James Bradwell later died of his injuries. Hon. Members will remember that the second bomb had been placed outside the medical centre. It was deliberately timed to catch those trying to help those wounded in the first explosion. Such acts speak volumes about the kind of people with whom we have to contend.

That attack has been followed by numerous others, many of which have been either abandoned or successfully disrupted by the security forces. However, only last month, on 12 February, Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick was murdered by the IRA while checking a car at a vehicle checkpoint in Bessbrook. Stephen's parents hope that their son's tragic death will inspire renewed efforts on all sides to find a peaceful solution. I urge the IRA to listen to them, and to abandon violence for good. I urge the loyalists to listen to them, lest they fall into the trap of retaliation set for them by the IRA.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

Leaving aside any controversy about the effectiveness of the legislation, is the Home Secretary aware that, on Monday in Dublin, the Taoiseach went out of his way to condemn the foul and brutal murder of the soldier whom the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just mentioned—a view entirely endorsed by all the Irish Deputies, as well as by all hon. Members of this House who were present? In reply to questions, the Taoiseach went on to say that the Irish authorities will continue to co-operate as closely as possible with the British in every way in dealing with terrorism.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Yes, of course I welcome those words by the Taoiseach, and the co-operation that we receive from the security authorities in the Republic.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire , Spelthorne

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that, in the same speech, the Taoiseach said that he equated what happened at Drumcree with such an atrocity? He said that he felt that Drumcree was as bad as the Canary Wharf bomb. Although my right hon. and learned Friend may find what the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) said helpful, does he not agree that the sort of comment that I have described is outrageous?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I have not seen that part of the speech, and I prefer not to comment without having read it for myself. I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I hope that we are not about to turn the debate into a textual analysis of a speech made in another Parliament by the Head of another Government. We are here to renew the provisions of the prevention of terrorism Act.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

No, I shall not give way on that point. I intend to proceed with the matter before the House.

I can assure the House that the IRA's atrocities have not held up, and will not hold up, the search for a political settlement in Northern Ireland. The talks process remains the only democratic alternative to the futility of further violence.

The IRA and its supporters think that terrorism will achieve results that cannot be secured through negotiation and the ballot box. They could not be more wrong. The multi-party talks process began on 10 June—without Sinn Fein—and continues today. It will continue in the next Parliament. Delegates representing the opinions of the vast majority in Northern Ireland are engaged in a real effort to achieve an acceptable political settlement and a lasting peace. For that reason, we still wish to see Sinn Fein join the talks, but that is entirely in its hands.

The IRA knows what it must do: it must deliver an unequivocal ceasefire, and it must stop its paramilitary activities. It must abandon violence for good.

The fact that there have been no terrorist attacks on the mainland since the appalling attack—

Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty , Falkirk East

Does the Home Secretary see the irony in what he has just said? Originally it was the demand for decommissioning that stopped the progress on peace that we wanted, whereas now the Government appear to have abandoned that. Do they not realise the error of their ways in terms of what they previously demanded?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

There has been no change whatever in the Government's position. I have just said that, if Sinn Fein is to enter the talks, the IRA must abandon violence for good. In the face of that statement, the hon. Gentleman called upon the Government to see the error of their ways. Was he suggesting that to demand of the IRA that it abandon violence for good is an error? If not, let him stand up again and explain himself.

Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty , Falkirk East

That is an appalling misinterpretation. The error of the Government's ways that I was pointing out was the fact that it was the demand for decommissioning that stopped the progress. I hope that the Home Secretary accepts that. The Government have now moved their position, and I welcome that, but does the Home Secretary not accept that it was such errors in the past that led us to where we are now?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

No, I do not accept that for one moment. If any body is to abandon violence for good, it can have no objection to decommissioning—a fairly obvious point, which seems to have entirely escaped the hon. Gentleman, and, I fear, many of his hon. Friends.

The fact that there have been no terrorist attacks on the mainland since the appalling attack on Manchester is no thanks to the IRA. Credit must in large part go to the vigilance of the police and the Security Service. They have had several significant successes in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland over the past year.

For example, the police and security services believe that, in July last year, with the discovery and seizure of a large number of devices in London, they foiled a serious and imminent terrorist attack on the mainland. Another joint operation led to the seizure in September of a substantial amount of explosives, weapons and other terrorist equipment in London. The haul included more than 6 tonnes of home-made explosive—enough for several bombs the size of the one that exploded in Manchester.

Those achievements, and many others in Northern Ireland, did not come easily. They were hard won by the determination, skill and vigilance of police officers and of the Security Service. We owe them a deep debt of gratitude.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay

Will my right hon. and learned Friend pass on the congratulations of all hon. Members to the members of the Security Service, who never get any real thanks for the clandestine work that they undertake?

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree, however, that all law enforcement agencies are united on the need to allow telephone intercept transcript evidence in criminal trials in the United Kingdom? Is it not a curiosity, indeed an anachronism, that telephone intercept evidence recorded in the United States can be used in criminal trials here, but conversations recorded under his warrant in the United Kingdom cannot? Has he had any representations on the topic from the National Criminal Intelligence Service, Customs and Excise, the Security Service or the police?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the first part of his intervention; the second part raises difficult questions that were also considered by Lord Lloyd in his report on what we might need by way of anti-terrorist provisions in the event of a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. That is still under consideration. If I may say so, the matter is not quite as simple and straightforward as my hon. Friend's intervention might lead one to suppose.

We must not forget another key factor in the successes of the police and the Security Service: the powers contained in the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989. The Act gives the police the powers they need to prevent whenever possible, and otherwise to investigate, terrorist attacks, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. I am convinced that those powers are still necessary; that is why I ask the House to renew them.

As Mr. Rowe's report makes clear, the powers to arrest and to extend detention under the Act are vital weapons in the fight against terrorism. In Great Britain in 1996, there were 84 detentions under the Act; of the 23 suspects who were held for more than the initial 48-hour period, 13 were subsequently charged with serious terrorist-related offences.

In Northern Ireland, 569 people were detained under the Act, 48 of whom were held for more than the initial 48-hour period; of those, 20 were subsequently charged with serious terrorist-related offences; and 135 other detainees were charged with other offences.

In 1996, the powers of detention under the Act were used on two occasions in respect of suspected international terrorist activity, although neither detainee was subsequently charged. I remain convinced that the powers are needed in relation both to international terrorism and to terrorism in connection with the affairs of Northern Ireland.

The House will recall that two people, both of whom were originally arrested under the Act in 1995, were convicted last December of the car bombing in London of the Israeli Embassy and of a Jewish charity in 1994; each is now serving a 20-year sentence. An Algerian national, who was also originally arrested under the Act in 1995, remains in custody here, subject to an application by the French authorities to extradite him in connection with the bombing campaign in France in 1995.

Many Opposition Members believe that extensions of detention should be granted by judges rather than by a Secretary of State. Mr. Rowe re-examined the issue in his report. Drawing on his experience of the way in which the English and Welsh courts deal with public interest immunity hearings, he concludes that judicial involvement might be possible in principle in England and Wales, but not in the current circumstances in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Rowe thinks that it would be inappropriate for there to be different systems for granting extensions of detention in different parts of the United Kingdom, and concludes that judicial involvement in the process should not be introduced anywhere in the United Kingdom at the present time.

The Government do not believe that it would be right to involve the judiciary in the extension of the detention process. That is because decisions to authorise the detention of terrorist suspects for periods beyond 48 hours are often made on the basis of sensitive information that cannot be revealed to a suspect or his legal adviser without compromising the source of the intelligence. If such information were revealed, it might well give rise to a serious risk to persons assisting the police, or lead to the loss of valuable intelligence.

Any new procedure that allowed a court to make what amounts to an executive decision on information not presented to the detainee or his legal adviser, and without the giving of reasons or the possibility of an appeal, would represent a radical departure from the principles that govern judicial proceedings in an adversarial system. It would create a real risk of undermining judicial independence, as the judiciary would be perceived as part of the investigation and prosecution process.

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

The Home Secretary seems to be rejecting one of Lord Lloyd's recommendations. Will he tell us what other recommendations he is rejecting?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman's intervention. He follows these matters closely, and we have put it on record that, as Lord Lloyd was invited to review the position on the assumption that there was a lasting peace in Northern Ireland and as—most regrettably—that has not yet come to pass, we have not formed a view on Lord Lloyd's recommendations. We said as much in answer to a parliamentary question. It is not a question of our having rejected Lord Lloyd's recommendations; we have not reached a view on them.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Does the Home Secretary not think that his defence of the PTA system, under which he as Home Secretary can grant an extension of a detention order, is very perverse? He seems to be defending a judicial procedure that can keep people in custody for up to seven days without access to the courts. Does he not think that he should take account of the international condemnation of that system? After all, it is a denial of the liberty of the individuals involved.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I entirely reject every word of that intervention. Far from there being international condemnation, as the hon. Gentleman will no doubt be aware, the question of derogation from the European convention of human rights on that specific issue has been tested before the court, and the court did not uphold the challenge that was made in the Brannigan case.

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

I am sorry to delay the Home Secretary's speech, but may I pursue the point? I accept what he said about the premise on which Lord Lloyd made his recommendations, but Lord Lloyd also made specific recommendations for a raft of what he would regard as emergency powers after we have attained a particular status. That is what we were talking about.

Are the Government saying that, because the premise has not been accepted, they do not accept any of Lord Lloyd's recommendations; or is the Home Secretary merely saying that at present they are not accepting that particular recommendation because they have not reached a view on Lord Lloyd's recommendations, which were made on a premise that the Home Secretary does not accept in any event?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

We have made our position very clear. I shall say something about it in a moment. We accept some of Lord Lloyd's recommendations relating to extra-territorial jurisdiction; as for the generality of his recommendations, which were made on the assumption that there was a lasting peace in Northern Ireland and which indicate the legislative framework that he thinks would be appropriate in those circumstances, we have said that, as that assumption has not yet been fulfilled, we see no need to state our attitude to those recommendations at this stage. We shall continue to keep them under review. If and when—I hope that it will happen very soon—the assumption that Lord Lloyd was asked to make comes about, we will consider what decisions to make in the light of the circumstances at the time. We have made that clear.

The Act contains other provisions that play a vital part in disrupting and combating terrorism. Again, as Mr. Rowe's report makes clear, the powers to stop, examine, and search those coming into, or leaving, Great Britain or Northern Ireland form a vital part of our defences. Of great importance, too, are the powers of the police to investigate terrorist finances and to obtain production and explanation orders in relation to funds and other material found.

As the House knows, we added to the powers available to the police under the PTA last April. We gave the police additional powers to stop and search individuals for articles of use in carrying out terrorist acts; to seal off the streets to prevent or investigate a terrorist attack; and to search non-residential property and unaccompanied freight at ports. Those additional powers are already proving their worth, as Mr. Rowe's report makes clear.

The police have told me of the use they have made in recent investigations of the power to search, under warrant, non-residential premises without having to specify the one in which they believe the terrorist material for which they are looking may be found. The additional powers to stop and search have also had an impact: the police believe that they have had a significant deterrent effect, and have disrupted the ability of terrorists to move themselves and their equipment around at will. In those circumstances, it is quite extraordinary that 21 Labour Members saw fit to vote against the Prevention of Terrorism (Additional Powers) Act 1996 on Second Reading.

Perhaps the most sensitive power in the Act, and one which the Opposition have long opposed, is that of exclusion. I know that some hon. Members, while wholly supportive of other parts of the legislation, are concerned about denying British citizens access to part of their country. As one who remains proud to call himself a Unionist, I understand and sympathise with their concerns. However, when faced with people who will stop at nothing to achieve their ends, we have to accept exceptional measures—measures that in normal circumstances we would not be prepared even to contemplate.

I have no doubt of the value of these powers. Exclusion orders disrupt and deter those bent on carrying out terrorist attacks, and deprive the terrorist organisations to which they belong of some of their most experienced operators. That is also Mr. Rowe's clear conclusion. If the power can help us to combat the terrorist menace, we must keep it. It would be wholly irresponsible to discard it simply because it results in the restriction of the movements of certain individuals.

Some suggest that the process for making exclusion orders is arbitrary and unfair. Mr. Rowe's report makes it clear that it is not. He has looked at all files relating to the cases that were dealt with in 1996, and I am pleased to note that he found that all those involved in making the orders carried out their task carefully and fairly. The powers are used sparingly, not least in recognition of their exceptional nature. There are currently 23 exclusion orders in force. That is the lowest total ever. However, I do not rule out the possibility that further orders will be made. Each case will, as now, be considered very carefully on its merits.

There are those who argue that, as the number excluded is now relatively small, it would make little difference if all the orders were revoked. I do not accept that. We believe that they are needed, and that they are effective. The alternative—mounting surveillance operations on all those currently excluded—would have substantial resource implications. It is simply not realistic, particularly when the police and the Security Service are fully engaged in preventing further attacks and investigating those that have already taken place.

I have explained why we need to renew the prevention of terrorism Act for a further 12 months, but I should like to turn briefly to the future. In December 1995, the Government asked Lord Lloyd of Berwick to consider the future need for specific counter-terrorism legislation in the United Kingdom in the event of a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. His report was published in October 1996. Very regrettably, the conditions that he was asked to anticipate do not exist at present. That is why the Government believe, as I announced on 20 February, that it is too early to reach any firm conclusions on the more fundamental legislative changes that Lord Lloyd proposed. Our hope is that there will soon be an end to the violence, and that we shall then be able to look again at the possibility of providing a new legislative framework for combating terrorism.

However, I am determined that the police should have all the powers they need to combat effectively the current threat from terrorism. That is why I intend to introduce proposals in due course to strengthen the existing controls on terrorist finances. Those proposals will build on Lord Lloyd's very helpful ideas.

One area that Lord Lloyd looked at particularly closely was legislation to deal with the activities of United Kingdom supporters of foreign terrorism. He concluded: The most significant additional measure which the Government can take is to amend the law of conspiracy so as to facilitate the prosecution of those who conspire here to commit terrorist acts abroad. It may take a prosecution or two before the measure takes full effect but it should then serve as a demonstration, both to those involved and to the international community, of the Government's determination to make the UK as difficult and uncomfortable a place as possible for supporters of terrorism overseas". That is why I attach great importance to the private Member's Bill on conspiracy and incitement introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson).

I have to say that the behaviour of the Labour party towards the Jurisdiction (Conspiracy and Incitement) Bill has been disgraceful. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) previously promised the Opposition's support for the Bill. On 11 February, he said: I congratulate the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) on the fact that his Bill has gained the support of the Government and the Opposition."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 11 February 1997; c. 16.] Yet Labour Members blocked its Report proceedings on two separate occasions. Last Friday was the last chance for it to become law this Session. When it came to the crunch, Labour Front Benchers who were present last Friday, including the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson), sat on their hands, knowing that their hon. Friends' actions would torpedo the Bill. They preferred playing party games to supporting effective action against the threat from international terrorism.

Photo of Doug Henderson Doug Henderson , Newcastle upon Tyne North

Will the Home Secretary also tell the House that, despite his statement that the Bill is a matter of importance, the Conservative party could not muster 40 people so that the Bill could proceed?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

If the hon. Gentleman had wanted that Bill to proceed to the statute book in accordance with what was said by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, he could have gone into the Division Lobby last Friday and helped to get the numbers up to the 40 that was required. The hon. Gentleman sat on his hands, in full knowledge of the consequences of his action.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Preston

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for a member of the Government to incite Front Benchers—his own and others—to interfere in private Members' legislation? Some of us think that the Labour Front-Bench team behaved properly by being neutral on the matter.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

The hon. Lady's point is a matter of debate, not a point of order for the Chair.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am glad to see the hon. Member for Garscadden arrive in the Chamber at this point. The hon. Member for Preston (Mrs. Wise) may wish that her party was neutral. That is fine, but the Labour party Front-Bench spokesman said that the Bill had the support of that party. If it did, the least that could have happened last Friday was that the right hon. Member for Garscadden and the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North could have gone into the Division Lobby to help bring the numbers up to the quota that was required to make progress on the Bill.

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone , Brent East

Why is it that the party which claims to be the Government of Britain cannot get 20 of its own Members of Parliament out of bed in time to come to the House to help carry legislation that the Government want?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

If we are assured that a private Member's Bill has the support of the Opposition, we are entitled to expect that they will support it. I suppose that the hon. Gentleman would say that we ought to know better by now than to rely on assurances from the Labour Front-Bench spokesman that the party supports a Bill. In fact, the Bill was torpedoed by hon. Members sitting on the Labour Benches.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

Order. I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given that issue a fair run. We must return to what is immediately before us.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am happy to do that, Madam Deputy Speaker.

As for the attitude of the Opposition to the prevention of terrorism Act—

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. Such a measure should not be left to a private Member's Bill. May I ask him a question concerning the role of the Secretary of State for Scotland in the scheme of things? On Scottish police operations, will he confirm that such matters rest with the Secretary of State for Scotland and not with himself?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am not entirely clear to what matters the hon. Gentleman is referring. He referred to "such matters", but I am not entirely clear what he means. The responsibilities of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland are well known.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that the legislation we are discussing will not cover Algerian or Sikh separatists who are plotting terrorist activities in their own countries from this country? Will he confirm that, on the basis of what happened on Friday, they will have a free run for another year?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Broadly speaking, my hon. Friend is correct. If the activities of those to whom my hon. Friend referred specifically relate to plotting to carry out murder, and if that can be established, they are covered by the law. If they are plotting to commit acts of terrorism generally, my hon. Friend's analysis is entirely correct.

Every year from 1983 to 1995 the Labour party opposed the renewal of the prevention of terrorism Act. The right hon Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair), now the leader of the Labour party, continued that stance when he became Opposition spokesman on home affairs. Then, last year, there was an abrupt change. While mortars were raining down on Heathrow in 1994, the Labour party voted against the Act; last year, in the aftermath of South Quay, the Opposition abstained.

The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) gave a curious reason for the change of policy. He said: we do not want any message going out to them"— the IRA— that they could glean any idea from our position that there could be any kind of excuse for the renewal of bombing by them". The logic of the hon Gentleman's argument is that, for the previous 15 years, Labour had indeed been giving the bombers an excuse. The logic of his argument is that that is exactly what the Labour party was doing when his leader had responsibility for shadowing home affairs. But last year the Opposition abstained. On that most fundamental measure for the protection of the people of this country, they had no view. Could anything more clearly demonstrate the fact that they are wholly unfit to govern?

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

The implication of the Secretary of State's remarks is that anyone who votes against the legislation is somehow providing succour, help or assistance to the IRA. As someone who lives in south Armagh; who has fought against violence from the Provisional IRA for the past 27 years—not from the comfort of a debating chamber but out on the roads and streets of south Armagh—and will continue to do so; and who will vote against this legislation, may I ask: is the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggesting that I am giving any help, succour or assistance to the Provisional IRA?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I acknowledge the hon. Gentleman's record. The implication which I drew did not flow from my words, but flowed directly from the words of the hon. Member for Blackburn which I quoted. However, I will go further and say the following to the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon), while acknowledging his record. It is not good enough for him or for the Labour party to claim allegiance to the objective of defeating the IRA—to the end of defeating the IRA—if they are not prepared to support in the Division Lobbies of the House the means by which that objective can be attained. The two cannot be separated and divorced in the way I believe that the hon. Gentleman would seek to do; they go together.

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

I thank the Secretary of State for giving way again, because he has put his finger on the point that I hope to make, and which I have been making for the past 11 years in our annual debates. The ways and the means of doing it need not necessarily be those represented by the legislation that we are discussing. The empirical evidence is that the approach is not the right one, because for 27 years it has failed. Even at this late stage, I ask the Secretary of State, is it not time for the present Government to consider different ways and means? As I say to the IRA, one cannot separate the means from the objectives. If the methods are wrong, they hinder progress towards the objective.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, but, in discharging the responsibilities I have for the protection of the people of this country, I am more inclined to take advice on the necessity for these powers from the police, the Security Service and the independent reviewer who has been appointed to inquire into these matters than I am from the hon. Gentleman.

I have explained why the Government believe that it is essential that the prevention of terrorism Act should be renewed, in its entirety, for a further 12 months. We still face an exceptional threat from terrorism. The spate of recent attacks in Northern Ireland speaks for itself. No one in the House today should be under any illusion that the absence of an attack on the mainland since the Manchester bombing means that the threat here has disappeared. There is no complacency in the Government or in the security forces. There should certainly be no complacency among hon. Members.

The Act gives the police the powers they need to fight terrorism. It is our duty to ensure that those powers remain available to them—and for as long as they are needed. The Government are committed to keeping them. I urge Opposition Members to vote with us to renew the Act. A united House tonight will send the clearest possible message to the terrorists that their actions cannot, and will not, be tolerated; that they cannot win; that the bomb and the bullet will never triumph over the wishes of the vast majority who want peace and democracy.

I commend the order to the House.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 4:52 pm, 5th March 1997

In his report on legislation against terrorism, Lord Lloyd of Berwick devotes an important part of his introduction to a discussion about the nature of terrorism—what makes it different from, and so much worse than even other serious crimes. He suggests several possible reasons. The first, he suggests, is that a single incident of terrorism may cause many deaths, but, as he says, there is nothing special about terrorism in that respect—the same applies to any multiple killing.

The second possible reason that Lord Lloyd discusses is the "indiscriminate nature" of terrorist offences, but he then says that that, too, does not distinguish terrorist offences from other serious crimes as, on one hand, the victims of many crimes are unknown to the perpetrator, and on the other, many terrorist acts are directed at specific known individuals.

Lord Lloyd suggests, therefore, that neither of these reasons ‖ serve sufficiently to explain the singular sense of horror and revulsion created by terrorist crime". He concludes that the reason why terrorism produces that singular horror and revulsion is that terrorist crime is seen as an attack on society as a whole, and our democratic institutions. It is akin to an act of war. Those are powerful words, but they accurately define the nature of terrorism and the threat that it poses to our society.

Those scores of thousands who went into the city of Manchester on the beautiful Saturday morning of 15 June 1996, expected to be going about their business, shopping, serving in the shops or simply enjoying the sunshine in one of the most vibrant city centres in the United Kingdom. That expectation was suddenly shattered by the huge bomb placed there by the Provisional IRA, with no concern for the safety of the public or for the future of that city. It was thanks only to the professionalism and courage of the police, the other emergency services and the public that—astonishingly—no one was killed. Hundreds of people could have been murdered in that blast, and 200 were indeed injured.

For those caught up in the blast, and for the whole country, the planting of that bomb, like every other outrage perpetrated by the IRA, amounted to an act of war, not just against a democratically elected Government but against the whole of our society.

As I saw when I visited the area later, the scale of the destruction could not properly be conveyed by television or photographs: it had to be seen to be believed. The great city centre of Manchester looked like Beirut at the height of its civil war. Colleagues who represent the city may wish to say more about the impact of the bomb and its aftermath. I simply want to pay tribute to all who were there that day and to the extraordinary efforts made since by the city council, the chamber of commerce, businesses and community groups, and by the Deputy Prime Minister, who I know has been most helpful to the city.

As we have heard from the Secretary of State, terrorist acts have continued in Northern Ireland, and major devastation on the mainland has been averted only by the skill of the security forces and the police. I pay tribute to all of them.

I also endorse the Home Secretary's appeal to the IRA to end its violence, and his appeal to those on the Unionist side not to be provoked into violent retaliation.

Because of the particular and terrifying nature of terrorism, there must be, so long as a threat remains, specific anti-terrorist legislation in respect both of terrorist offences and of procedures for preventing and detecting the commission of those offences. It might be helpful at this juncture if I remind the House of the remarks by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when, as shadow Home Secretary, he spoke in the renewal debate in 1994: It is not in dispute, and never has been, that we need anti-terrorist legislation … We in the House share a total and complete abhorrence of terrorism and a desire to defeat it."—[Official Report, 9 March 1994; Vol. 239, c. 300.] It was of course the Labour Government who introduced the prevention of terrorism Act in 1974 and who ensured its renewal every year they were in government. Last year, we helped to ensure that the renewal order went through; we shall do so again this year. In government, so long as the terrorist threat remains and there is no lasting peace, we shall maintain and operate the powers in the PTA, with two changes with which I shall deal in a moment.

Last year, too, we showed our active support for anti-terrorist legislation when we ensured the rapid passage through this House and the other place of the Prevention of Terrorism (Additional Powers) Act. It gave the police additional powers, in clearly defined circumstances, of stop and search and of control of bomb threat areas. As it turned out, the legislation was more timely than might have been imagined by some. When I spoke to the police in Manchester after the bomb outrage, they told me that the additional powers had proved very useful.

The threat of terrorism comes not just from the Provisional IRA. Both the Rowe and Lloyd reviews spell out the much wider terrorist threat to which a great many countries, including the United Kingdom, are still subject. The Lloyd review contains a rather chilling statistic, at paragraph 1.8, to the effect that between 1990 and 1995 Europe's share of attacks by international terrorists rose from 18 per cent. of the world total to 62 per cent. of that total.

We have long been committed to two changes in the PTA. The first concerns the introduction of a judicial element in determining extensions of detention. At present, under section 14 of the PTA, a police officer may arrest and detain a suspect where there are reasonable grounds for believing that he may be concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

By contrast, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, arrest and detention in respect of a non-terrorist offence are possible only where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting the commission of a particular arrestable offence. Under section 14 of the PTA, reasonable suspicion goes much wider than the commission of a specific offence. Indeed, the phrase in section 14, as Lloyd pointed out, which refers to being concerned in the commission of an act of terrorism, is not in itself an offence.

Under PACE the initial detention may last for only 36 hours and may be extended only by decision of a magistrate for a further two and a half days, to make a total of four days. Under the PTA, however, the initial detention is for up to 48 hours. Thereafter, the detention may be extended for a further five days by decision of the Secretary of State, to make a total of seven days.

The case for a wider power of arrest and for potentially longer periods of detention than those laid down in PACE is a practical one connected with the particular nature of terrorist offences and their more complicated investigation. The argument is well aired by Lord Lloyd in chapter 8 of his review. He concludes that he has no doubt that [these powers] have been of great value to the police. I do not in the least argue with that conclusion, but like so many before me, I argue that it is inappropriate for a decision about an extension of detention in these circumstances to be made by a Secretary of State, however careful and fair he may be, rather than by someone of judicial standing who is clearly independent of the Executive.

The present position is, in our judgment, wrong in principle and has brought us into conflict, as Lord Lloyd points out, with our obligations under the European convention on human rights, as a decision of that European Court in the Brogan case clearly established.

The European convention on human rights is one of the proudest creations that we have achieved for the whole of Europe. Our continued adherence to it is, happily, not a matter of party dispute. The Home Secretary told the House on 20 February that the advantages of our continued adherence to the European convention on human rights and to the European Court outweigh the disadvantages. Therefore, I think that we should continue to adhere to that convention."—[Official Report, 20 February 1997; Vol. 290, c. 1034.] The need in principle for judicial involvement in PTA decisions has long been accepted by Ministers. In 1989 the then Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd), said: We continue to look for a judicial mechanism".—[Official Report, 30 January 1989; Vol. 146, c. 65.] Lord Colville used to carry out the annual reviews of the PTA. He was of the resolute opinion that there should be judicial involvement, and he said so in his 1989 and 1990 reviews. He was succeeded a few years ago by Mr. John Rowe QC.

In past years, Mr. Rowe has argued against judicial involvement, but this year he said at paragraph 84 that his view had changed, not least because judges are now much more involved in one-sided, ex parte and secret hearings in respect of applications for public interest immunity certificates.

I understand the argument that the Secretary of State advanced—it has a familiar ring for those of us involved in discussions on the Police Bill—about the need not to embroil the judiciary, where there is not a good reason for doing so, in decisions that must be decided ex parte and might involve intelligence.

Mr. Rowe points out, as the reason for his change of mind, that Judges are now accustomed to hearing public interest immunity applications, in which the prosecution make an application for a judicial decision as to whether documents should be disclosed to the defence; often the prosecution's contention is that it should not make disclosure, on the ground that to do so would reveal the existence and identity of an informer or other sensitive material. One could well describe such material as 'intelligence'. Often it occurs that the defendant and his lawyers are not aware of the fact that such an application is being made; sometimes they know but are not present at it. The judge hears only the prosecution; and he hears details of the 'intelligence'. Mr. Rowe was compelled by that argument to accept in principle that there should be judicial involvement in decisions on extensions of detention. Unfortunately, with reasoning that I frankly did not find convincing, he then concluded that, although a judicial element could be introduced in England and Wales, it could not be introduced in Northern Ireland.

Lord Lloyd also considered the issue and in his report he was firmly of the view that judicial decision should replace that of the Secretary of State in extensions of detention. Lord Lloyd makes practical proposals for achieving that. He said that, in England and Wales, it would be by the chief metropolitan stipendiary magistrate and that, in Scotland, by the sheriff principal of Lothian and the Borders. He added that, in Northern Ireland, there is at present no office which compares with these, and it might be necessary to create a new appointment". As we all know, the whole of Lord Lloyd's recommendations are based on the assumption, which is written into his terms of reference, of a "lasting peace", but, as the Secretary of State has acknowledged, although some of Lord Lloyd's recommendations could not safely be introduced until a lasting peace, some can be and, in our judgment, that one should be. It is worth noting that Lord Colville was of the same view when terrorist outrages were at their height.

In government, we shall take an early opportunity to introduce that judicial element. That will be part of an overall strategy by us to ensure that the judicial system in all parts of the United Kingdom commands the greater confidence of all law-abiding citizens, including those of all communities in the north of Ireland.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire , Spelthorne

I would be most grateful if the hon. Gentleman would confirm that I understand what he is saying. Is he saying that he is prepared to overrule the recommendation of a practising lawyer, who has read all the papers and who understands the judicial process, not to involve the judicial process, even though the hon. Gentleman is not a lawyer and has not read the papers? Is he also saying that, although Lord Lloyd clearly says in his report that there is no question of anything in it being brought into effect until there is a permanent peace, the hon. Gentleman is prepared to ignore what Lord Lloyd says?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

On the last point, the hon. Gentleman's attention may have wandered when the Secretary of State was speaking, but it is worth pointing out that he accepted that some of the recommendations by Lord Lloyd could perfectly safely be introduced in advance of any lasting peace. Ultimately, it is up to the House to decide, on the recommendation of Ministers, which parts should be accepted. There is no reason why the hon. Gentleman should know this fact, but I will correct him on one matter of personal detail and of some pride to me. I am legally qualified. Indeed, for a short and happy, although rather impecunious period, I practised at the Bar in chambers, which were headed by a then Conservative Member. I very much enjoyed that.

The hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) also asks whether I intend to overrule the recommendations of Mr. Rowe. I do not believe that the issue of overruling his views comes into it. He makes recommendations. Time and again, and rightly, Ministers come to the House to deliver a report by someone who is independent and they say, "We accept this particular recommendation; we do not accept that recommendation." The report by a distinguished judge of the Scottish High Court, Lord Cullen, contained recommendations that both sides of the House accepted and recommendations that both sides refused to accept. If the hon. Gentleman has read Mr. Rowe's report, he will find that Mr. Rowe accepts the principle that change is needed and I accept that too. It is a view that we have taken for a long time. Moreover, I accepted the argument because I think that it was well made.

I simply do not follow the arguments of the hon. Member for Spelthorne in distinguishing between Northern Ireland and the mainland. It is also worth bearing in mind that Viscount Colville not only conducted the overall review of the legislation in 1987 but subsequently conducted a series of reviews of the Acts' operation. He concluded that, despite the fact that terrorist outrages by the IRA and others were continuing, there should be a judicial element in decisions on extensions of detention in Northern Ireland as well as on the mainland.

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

Is my hon. Friend aware that the last time we debated this subject I welcomed his assurances on that specific point and on exclusion orders? I should be grateful if he will make it clear that we are not accepting Lord Lloyd's recommendations as infallible and that, under the next Labour Government, there will be a general examination of all civil liberties principles. Will he also tell us when he anticipates ending the current practice—in the first Queen's Speech? Presumably we will need amending legislation—unless the change is made by Order in Council under the Northern Ireland constitution, which might be possible. Where and when can we expect that change?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

I will deal with those points in reverse order. I cannot give my hon. Friend the commitment that he seeks about the contents of a first Queen's Speech, except to say that I think that it will be a rather full Queen's Speech. If I am the Secretary of State, I will make the strongest bids that I can for Home Office matters. The second matter that he mentioned was on the Lloyd review. It would be an abdication of the responsibility of Ministers and of every other hon. Member, no matter how distinguished, simply to rubber-stamp a report. I do not think that any hon. Member subscribes to that proposition. At the end of my remarks, I will say how we will deal with Lord Lloyd's recommendations.

Photo of Harry Cohen Harry Cohen , Leyton

I should like to reiterate the point on commitments to review the civil liberties aspect of the matter. My principal opposition to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 is that people can go missing for seven days. Not only is that an abuse of the criminal justice system but it results in miscarriages of justice. I welcome my hon. Friend's commitment to establish a judicial element in the matter, rather than requiring the Secretary of State's approval for holding people, but will he also undertake an examination of the periods that people can be held? Perhaps the period could again be set at four days, as provided in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which he mentioned. Will he also examine the possibility of notifying the families of those detained?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

In chapter 8 of his report, in which he discusses current operation, Lord Lloyd considers at great length the issue of the period. There is no reason why my hon. Friend should have read Lord Lloyd—or re-read it, as I did yesterday—but it is the best exposition on why the investigation of terrorist offences is typically so much more complicated than in other, albeit very serious, non-terrorist offences. The report presents the practical argument on why the periods need to be longer while the current type of terrorist threat exists. I have made it clear that I accept that argument. However, that is all the more reason why extensions of detention which are considered to be wider and in excess of the powers provided in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 should be subject to judicial decision. I now believe that there is no reason for that not to be the case.

The second matter mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) was on providing information to suspects' families. That point is dealt with in successive Rowe reviews and in the Lloyd review. I believe that the practice has greatly improved in recent years. Unless there are overwhelming reasons—to do with further potential terrorism or threats—I believe that families should be informed of the whereabouts of suspects.

Photo of Mr Stephen Day Mr Stephen Day , Cheadle

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the two previous interventions from Labour Back Benchers give the impression that they perceive the essential threat to civil liberties to be posed by the legislation—which exists to protect individuals from terrorism? Will he distance himself from that obvious nonsense? The manifest threat to civil liberties is from terrorism itself.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

I thought that my hon. Friends the Members for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) and for Leyton raised serious issues, which are matters of widespread concern. It is a matter of record that people who have taken the most strident attitude in opposing terrorism have expressed concerns about the absence of a judicial element in extending detention. One could hardly accuse Lord Lloyd of being soft on terrorism. He is a senior Law Lord and chairman of the Security Commission, and he resolutely holds the opinion that there is a need for a judicial element in such extensions. Another distinguished judge, Viscount Colville, held the same opinion. At the height of IRA terrorism, he said that there had to be a judicial element in extensions.

On the issue of civil liberties, I have always believed—I think that the belief is widely held on both sides of the House—that we should never stoop to the level of the terrorists, who deny civil rights to everyone. In the democratic Parliament of a democratic society, we must attempt to strike a balance. That was accepted by the then Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, now Lord Jenkins, when he introduced the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974. When one has a threat that amounts to a declaration of war on a society, stringent measures—which would not be acceptable in normal circumstances—must be introduced. There must still be a balance, however, which is perhaps why we have come to a different view from the Secretary of State on extensions of detention and, as I shall explain in a moment, on exclusion orders.

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

The hon. Gentleman quoted Lord Colville, who said: if we stoop to the level of terrorists and abandon altogether our fundamental liberties we have lost the battle against terrorism. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that, by its very nature, anti-terrorism legislation has been ad hoc legislation, to which further bits have been added as matters have changed? Elements were introduced separately from either the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) (Amendment) Acts or from the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Acts. Because of the nature of the past 25 years, perhaps that was the only way in which it could have been done.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, if we are talking about the procedures identified by Lord Lloyd and attempting to achieve a peaceful situation, the House will have to have the vision to set up a completely new system of justice—one which will be able to command everyone's respect and protect civil and human liberties for all parts of this jurisdiction? Does he also agree that we will need a system that will not allow the abuses and wrongful convictions that we are seeing today, and one that will remove callousness and cynicism not only from terrorism itself, which is awful and atrocious, but from the administration of justice, which does make mistakes that fundamentally damage people's lives?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

I accept a very great deal of what the hon. Gentleman says. As I said earlier, I think that it is crucial that we have the vision to build and strengthen institutions in all parts of the United Kingdom so that we can achieve a greater level of confidence in the judicial system among all communities. That is important, and I believe that that was what Viscount Colville was talking about when he spoke about the dangers of stooping to the level of the terrorists.

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

I also wish to pick up on the hon. Gentleman's point about stooping to the level of terrorists. Will he make it clear that when he talks about reform and repeal, he is not pandering to some of those on his Back Benches who support, endorse and encourage terrorists to the extent of bringing leading terrorists into this House? I refer, for example, to the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), who has never been slow to associate himself with the most outrageous members of the IRA. Will the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) confirm that reform and repeal must be about strengthening the law, not weakening it?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

I defer to no one in my detestation of terrorism and my hostility to the IRA. I believe that that feeling is shared across the House. Picking up also on a point made by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon), I shall deal in a moment with how, after 23 years of so-called temporary provisions, we must promptly establish some permanent arrangements that balance the need to deal with terrorism and the need to protect civil liberties.

The second change to which we have long been committed concerns exclusion orders. The orders apply only to Irish terrorism and amount to internal exile, which, I understand, was last practised in this country under Henry VIII. The effect of the orders is bizarre. We are one kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but a terrorist who is regarded as so dangerous that he may not be allowed anywhere on the mainland is allowed to walk freely in Northern Ireland. In reverse, a suspect may be banned from Belfast, but not from Canary Wharf or Manchester.

Lord Lloyd's unequivocal view was that exclusion orders should be removed from the statute book. His review, of course, was based on the assumption of a lasting peace. However, as I have already pointed out, the most recent full-scale review, by Lord Colville, was based on no such assumption. Terrorism then was at a continuing high level. Despite that, Lord Colville said that exclusion orders were the most draconian in the present Act". He continued: I am not convinced that the ends justify the means …Exclusion orders should not be renewed or replaced. He went on to say that removing exclusion orders from the statute book would be the correct decision both in terms of civil rights in the United Kingdom, and this country's reputation in that respect among the international community. Although Mr. Rowe has supported the use of the orders, he acknowledged in his review last year that there were in the security forces a fair number of officers, of all ranks, who held the opposite view". That is, they were against the orders. He went on to note that a known and experienced member of …terrorist organisations can be noticed at port and followed thereafter and kept under surveillance. One striking aspect of this year's Rowe review is the reduction in the use of the orders. In 1988, there were 122 exclusion orders against entry to the mainland. When Mr. Rowe wrote his report, there were just 24 in force. As we have heard from the Secretary of State this afternoon, there are now only 23. No order has been made since 1994, despite the cessation of the ceasefire. In Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State has abandoned their use. He revoked all the then current orders in 1995 and none has been made since.

Last year, I repeated our long-standing opposition to the use of the orders. Their utility is open to question in the security forces and outside. Whatever their use—it cannot be much—it is far outweighed by the breach of basic human rights that they entail. In government, we shall implement Lord Colville's recommendations and neither renew nor replace the orders. Existing orders will be revoked as soon as practicable. We shall then take an early legislative opportunity to remove the power from the statute book.

I have made frequent references to the review conducted by Lord Lloyd of Berwick into the future of anti-terrorist legislation. I should like to conclude with some general remarks about the review. First, the House should be indebted to Lord Lloyd and to Mr. Justice Kerr for the thoroughness and clarity of their report, as well as to Professor Paul Wilkinson of Aberdeen university for his encyclopedic second volume. We called for such a review for three years, on the assumption of a lasting peace, and we were delighted when at last it was established.

Some of Lord Lloyd's recommendations, such as those to narrow the scope and time of detentions, could come safely into force only when a lasting peace has been achieved. Others, such as his proposals on forfeiture in section 13 of the current PTA, could sensibly be brought into force before that, and would assist the fight against terrorism.

There are two wider points. The first concerns the interaction of the PTA and PACE. Lord Lloyd says that if PACE had been in force in 1974, many of the procedural provisions contained in the PTA and the EPA might not have been necessary, or might have taken a different form. He goes on to say that it is now possible to regard the PTA largely as a collection of modified PTA powers. There will always be a need for special provisions to deal with terrorist offences, but they should, as far as possible, be part of a single arrest and detention code.

My second point leads on from that. At the end of his report, Lord Lloyd says that there should be public discussion of possible new powers and offences in advance of any future emergency that could prompt the introduction of further powers. Taking those two points together, we should not shelve the Lloyd report until a lasting peace has been achieved, but should begin a process of consultation on it to consider whether legislation could be drafted that would be robust and flexible enough to deal with a lasting peace in Northern Ireland and conditions in which a further emergency may arise. In government, I intend to start that process. Twenty-three renewals in 23 years have mocked the notion that the legislation is temporary.

The House is united in its determination to fight terrorism with every means consistent with a democratic nation founded on the rule of law. The provisions of anti-terrorist legislation are tough and, in many ways, unpalatable, but they are necessary to deter and defeat those who, in Lord Lloyd's words, seek to wage war on society and they have our support.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

Before I call anyone else to speak, I remind the House that the debate must end at 7 o'clock. It would therefore be prudent if speeches were shorter rather than longer.

Photo of Mr Richard Needham Mr Richard Needham , North Wiltshire 5:27 pm, 5th March 1997

I shall try to assist you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am encouraged in some way that three more hon. Members are present for this, my last speech in the House, than there were for my maiden speech 18 years ago. On the other hand, perhaps that is one of the reasons why I have decided to leave.

This is the first debate on security in Northern Ireland in which I have participated, although I was the longest-serving Northern Ireland Minister. Having listened to the debate, I do not think that I would have noticed much difference as year followed year if I had participated in the earlier ones.

Many hon. Members are more knowledgeable than I am about security matters. That may say something about me. It may also say something about the esoteric nature of security issues in Northern Ireland. Many security issues are clouded in secrecy. Secrecy is clearly important in dealing with terrorism, but I do not believe that all of it is always necessary.

All hon. Members have accepted that no security solution will, on its own, halt the violence that leads to misery in the Province. If there is to be an end to violence, and if a solution is to be found—I hope that I shall be allowed to draw a little on my experiences at the Northern Ireland Office, although they did not include responsibility for security—it will be because of economic and social improvement for all the people of Northern Ireland, because of a political strategy that can lead over time to a political agreement and because of tough, fair and responsible Army and police pressure against violence.

I do not believe that a social and economic solution or a political strategy will work without the adoption of a successful and sensitive security policy by both the Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Social and economic, political and security matters are the three legs of the stool that I discussed with my colleagues and other Northern Ireland Members when I was a Northern Ireland Minister.

The 1980s saw a dramatic change in the social and economic opportunities for Northern Ireland. It was also a time of political change. I think that the social and economic changes were welcomed, and enjoyed broad cross-community support, but I cannot say the same of the political changes. On the social and economic side, the money that was spent to improve housing, and the establishment of the Housing Executive, transformed one of the core grievances of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. To its credit, the Housing Executive has effectively taken housing out of politics in Northern Ireland.

I accept that the Fair Employment Act and the Anglo-Irish Agreement left many scars on the Unionist community, but I continue to believe that those two measures will be the foundation stones if the Catholic community is to gain the trust required to make Northern Ireland work. I accept that others will not agree.

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

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I take this opportunity—I may not have another—to put on record the respect and affection with which he is regarded, as the longest-serving Northern Ireland Minister, in the north of Ireland. Does the right hon. Gentleman have any views about intercepted telephone conversations being used in evidence, especially in a political context?

Photo of Mr Richard Needham Mr Richard Needham , North Wiltshire

I have many views on that subject, but the hon. Gentleman will have to wait for the publication of my book to discover them.

I understand the Unionist opposition to political moves, but in the face of that opposition and problems with Sinn Fein in the council chamber, partnership and power sharing in Northern Ireland councils had increased from five to 17 councils by the early 1990s. The process was assisted by the efforts of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis). There was no question but that, by the early 1990s, social and economic progress and political partnerships were having an effect across the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.

It was my ambition to involve people—as much as possible under the political constraints within which we operated—in the decisions that mattered to them at every level and at every opportunity. Partnership is an overworked word, but it was the essence of all that we tried to do in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. We introduced initiatives such as Making Belfast Work, the Belfast festival, the Tall Ships, Making Derry Work, "There's Something in the Air", and the Carrickfergus initiative. There were developments at Coalisland and Belleek, which were supported by the International Fund for Ireland, and the redevelopment of Armagh. Marks and Spencer opened a store in Ballymena. We conserved and restored the centre of Downpatrick; twinned Newry and Pittsburgh; introduced the Tyrone initiative, with which the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone and I were involved; and there were the Deny-Boston ventures.

Those initiatives, and countless others, were put in place in an attempt to involve local people and, most important, councillors and Members of Parliament. We gave them the opportunity to do what they do best: promote their communities in Northern Ireland on the United Kingdom mainland and across the world. They were very good at that.

I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon). It is not a cosy tribute. I am not one of those who say that, in Northern Ireland, the best fail to go into politics. I think that those from Northern Ireland who go into politics—whatever community they represent—are immensely and enormously brave, when confronted on both sides by violence and potential terrorism. There are not too many Rev. Ian Paisleys in Hampshire, Seamus Mallons in Wiltshire or David Trimbles in Buckinghamshire. I hope that the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) will not mind my saying that he would do a little better in his new role if he did not occasionally look like a Christmas tree and jump around like a dervish in front of the television cameras. The people who represent Northern Ireland in this House are all remarkable in their own way, and it has been a pleasure to work with them. We enjoyed a degree of trust in our working relationship.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

Order. Although I am reluctant to intervene on the right hon. Gentleman, he must now relate his points—which I assumed to be background material—to the issue at hand.

Photo of Mr Richard Needham Mr Richard Needham , North Wiltshire

They were background points, Madam Deputy Speaker. My point is that, because we achieved those changes together, we were able to bring the men of violence towards our debate and away from their agenda of trying to secure change by revolutionary means. We discussed jobs and opportunities for Northern Ireland's long-term future.

The situation has not changed altogether, even after the traumas of the past year. Mr. Adams is promoting himself in the local newspapers as someone who delivers results for west Belfast. The advertisements claim: Gerry Adams is working for West Belfast on a full time basis". I hope that someone has told the Department of Health and Social Services about that. He claims that he is responsible for investments by F. G. Wilson and investments in Springvale. He even claims that he identified the Springvale investment site. Developments in west Belfast have occurred despite Mr. Adams. I do not know what he thinks he did for jobs in west Belfast by blowing up Mackies.

The Springvale project was my initiative and that of the Department of the Environment and the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron), who I am sorry is not in his place today. He has worked tirelessly to lobby, cajole and bully Northern Ireland Ministers, the United States and the European Union to provide assistance. Wherever the hon. Gentleman and I went, we found that the image of Mr. Adams deterred potential investors. The Industrial Development Board offered the highest grant to firms locating in west Belfast because the local Member of Parliament was an apologist for terrorists. The only jobs that Mr. Adams has brought to west Belfast are in the undertaking business. The only assurances that he can give to those who come to west Belfast are that his henchmen will not blow up those who come in, but they will kneecap those who try to break in.

If Mr. Adams had wanted to help the people of west Belfast, he would have taken his seat in this place when he was a Member of Parliament. I do not know how he thinks he can do anything in the United States when he does not have a visa, and he would not be welcome anywhere in Brussels. He has done nothing for the people of west Belfast—he certainly did nothing for them when I was in the Province. The people of west Belfast have a very good Member of Parliament at present, and they should hang on to him.

Perhaps one of the most disappointing and difficult aspects of the task that we undertook in the 1980s in bringing people together was our attempt to involve the Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in our activities. Of course, there were exceptions—General John Wilsey fully understood the strategy of the three-legged stool— but the security forces generally followed their own agenda, about which the rest of us knew little. We tried to involve them: I sent my officials to the RUC stations seeking to include them at every level. We were quite successful. For example, the local police were interested in what we were doing. Nevertheless, the consequences of that separateness were difficult. At best, we were confronted with the "safe" option when we went to the security forces for advice and help.

We were told that we could not have litter bins in Royal avenue, because bombs might be placed in them. On the face of it, that is perfectly reasonable—but the IRA placed bombs in shops, not litter bins. As a result, we had burnt-out shops and litter all over the streets. We were told that we could not plant trees because the iron railings around them could be used as stakes. We were told that we could not lay cobblestones, although Belfast is full of them, in case they were ripped up and used as bricks.

There were arguments for such a stance, but we were trying to achieve normalcy and to bring people from both communities back to the centre of the cities, where they could work, eat, drink and occasionally go to bed together, and that was not easy when we were constantly being constrained. It was worse than that, because there was no clear political leadership.

I spent an enormous amount of time trying to assist Coalisland, which was at the centre of IRA terrorism and had a Sinn Fein presence. When information about my trip there was leaked to the IRA, a remarkable RUC inspector said that he would carry me in on his shoulders if necessary to show the people of Coalisland that we were trying to help them. Having spent an immense amount of time, money and effort trying to achieve that objective, within three months of my leaving, the Parachute Regiment went through Coalisland and would have undone in one night everything that we had put together in two years. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone who, with Jim Canning and others locally, managed to maintain the community initiative that we had worked so hard to achieve.

I asked Lord Prior, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether during his time in office he had any involvement with the regiments that were chosen to go to Northern Ireland. He told me that he never had any involvement: it was always the decision of the Secretary of State for Defence. That was true in my time, too.

These matters are of major importance when we consider the continuance order and how security and policing should be undertaken in Northern Ireland. That brings me to what happened at Drumcree. Even if we allow for the fact that there was manipulation by bad men on both sides—and goodness me there was enough of it—we should recognise that the lack of political leadership led to a developing loss of confidence between the communities, and a lack of confidence in the RUC and the Government.

The Government seemed to say that policing was an operational matter and had nothing to do with them. The Chief Constable said that if the two communities wanted to fight each other, there was nothing he could do to stop them. As a result, we are debating this matter today. The consequences have been dire for the people of Ulster. They are paying for those mistakes, although they are not responsible for them. The people of Northern Ireland have no say in who governs them. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) was right to talk about Manchester: he said that one had to see it to believe it. That happened once in Manchester: it happened every month in Belfast, month after month, year after year. I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not take this as a rebuke, but I suggest that he would be wise to mention as well the destruction in Belfast, because people may think that he does not understand what happens in Northern Ireland.

The people of Northern Ireland are being held responsible and are being forced to pay for mistakes that are none of their making. The vast majority of people of Northern Ireland want nothing to do with terrorism: it terrorises them. The IRA's activities have resulted in more murders in the Catholic community than in the Protestant community, and the Protestant community has suffered enough. Their health budget is being cut to pay for things that have nothing to do with them.

When I was Minister responsible for the health service in Northern Ireland, the health budget was 25 per cent. more than that for England, and for good reason: because of the levels of morbidity, deprivation and unemployment. The health budget was the same as that for Scotland. Expenditure in Scotland is now 30 per cent. higher than in England, whereas expenditure in Northern Ireland is only 13 per cent. higher, so it is 17 per cent. lower than in Scotland.

It cannot be right that the old and the ill of Northern Ireland have to pay for the mistakes of the Government, who are responsible for security, when the people have no say in the political affairs of their Province. The effect of that will be to widen the divisions and to produce an even greater lack of confidence in the Government.

I have always maintained that, if terrorists strike in Northern Ireland to the detriment of the people, the Government should be determined to rebuild what has been destroyed better than it was before. That is how to galvanise people and bring communities together to fight terrorism.

Security is the responsibility of the British Government, supported by the Government of the Republic. It is up to the Government to co-ordinate the policies that make up the three legs of the stool that I described. They need the Republic's support to do that. The police and the Army must be engaged in the social and economic and political initiatives that the rest of us are trying to make a success in Northern Ireland. All three legs of that stool, while interdependent, are designed to help overcome violence. That means asking for the opinions and listening to the advice of those responsible and knowledgeable in the Northern Ireland civil service and in the community at large, and acting on that advice. I am delighted to say that the new Chief Constable seems to understand that, and he must be supported in his efforts to integrate the three policies more closely.

In the last few months of my time in Northern Ireland, we put in place institutional arrangements to achieve that integration, which have since been disbanded. Tough and difficult decisions will have to be made on both sides of the border in both communities if the present appalling levels of personal violence and intimidation are to be dealt with. That cannot happen unless both communities and their leaders understand the need for those measures.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland must be open with them, open with the Republic and in charge of what is going on.

Whatever my concerns about the difficulty of integrating the police and the Army into the Government machine and strategy, the breakdown of the ceasefire is the sole responsibility of Sinn Fein-IRA. No one has done more for peace than the Prime Minister. It is obscene to suggest that he is to blame for any breakdown, when he is the first Prime Minister in 25 years to show real determination to do something. We are here today because the IRA has us here. The IRA's return to violence is perverse.

If the ceasefire proved anything, it proved that, without violence, the economic border disappears. Londonderry becomes the hub of the north-west. Elderly people move there from Donegal or County Londonderry because of the facilities available in the city. Hospitals in the north-west start to rationalise their differing and overlapping services. Planning, power generation and tourism have no boundaries. When the economic border disappears—there is no police, no Army, no customs—social integration is bound to follow. After social and economic integration, political change is bound to come. I do not know what that political change will be, because it may take years. When that change comes, it will be built on mutual respect for the differing traditions and cultures of Ireland's communities, both north and south.

I know that violence enshrines hatred and division, but it also enshrines the border. It enshrines a border somewhere in the north of Ireland whether the loyalists constitute 60 per cent. of the population or 40 per cent. The IRA is primarily responsible for the violence. It is to blame for the divisions within Northern Ireland and within Ireland. If the IRA really wants to get rid of the border, all it has to do is get rid of violence. Until it does that, it will remain the implacable enemy of all of us who live in the British Isles.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Eastham Mr Kenneth Eastham , Manchester, Blackley 5:50 pm, 5th March 1997

I begin by correcting something said by the right hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Needham). He referred to the bombing incident in Manchester last year. For his information and for the information of the House, I should say that Manchester has been the subject of one or two previous acts of terrorism such as incendiary bombs and other incidents. Those incidents are on the record and I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not aware of them and thinks that such things occur only in Belfast. However, I do not want to labour that point.

It is a great tragedy that the House should have to debate the PTA. All hon. Members wish that we did not need such powers. The strength of the House is revealed when hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber defend personal liberties. The Home Secretary should not get too sensitive when Labour Members question certain aspects. I believe that when there are evil people carrying out evil deeds, there must be powers of some sort. I am not saying that these measures are perfect, but, whoever the Government, something would be necessary.

Acts of terrorism are carried out by organisations other than just the IRA. Terrorism now occurs on a massive scale internationally. Only today I received a letter from a constituent complaining bitterly about acts of terrorism in the middle east, where 10 Christians have been assassinated. The letter asked me to intervene with the Foreign Office and so on. We cannot allow terrorism to take over democracy, but, if we are not careful, it will happen. We need to take a grip on society.

Coming closer to home, it saddens me when I reflect on certain parts of Ireland where communities are being controlled by Mafia-type systems and where there is no democracy. It is bad for the community and I dread to think what it must be like for young children born into such a community. The secret Mafia-type control stymies any progress towards a better society.

I was pleased to note in the report on the PTA that the banks are increasingly playing their part by becoming more vigilant about money laundering. We all know that terrorists rely heavily on funding and the less money they have, the fewer dirty deeds they can carry out.

There is no use kidding ourselves about the fact that people are demanding better security, and we are here to reflect the views of those who elect us. There is a growing awareness and that is appreciated nowhere more than in my city of Manchester. Paragraph 18 on page nine of the report refers to major damage and explosions in cities, and a classic example of that is what occurred in Manchester on 15 June 1996.

We were shocked by the hatred poured on to the city. We have always prided ourselves on good relationships with north and south Ireland. We have exchanges with them and there are plenty of Irish people living in the city. We were shocked by what happened to us. It was a dastardly and cold-blooded act by evil people. It happened at about 11 o'clock on a Saturday morning in a busy part of central Manchester, which was peopled mostly by women and children doing their shopping. Do not let us kid ourselves and say that it was a rebellion against the system intended only to damage property. The bomb was placed right in the centre of the population—about 80,000 were going about their business and enjoying themselves. They were shattered by that dirty, evil and unforgivable act. What I saw in the aftermath—women and children pouring with blood and having to be evacuated—is engraved on my heart.

I have seen the site several times and it was a miracle that nobody was killed. A total of 200 people were seriously injured, hospitalised or traumatised. They were mainly women and children—innocent kids who did not know anything about it. A 3,300 lb bomb was placed in the centre of ordinary people. As a result, 100,000 sq m of retail and office space was immediately lost in my city and hundreds of innocent people lost their jobs. A total of 670 businesses were destroyed and a further consequence was the loss of £5 million in revenue from car parking.

Figures vary as to the total cost, but I made some inquiries today in Manchester town hall and was told that the estimated cost is £430 million. The private sector has provided £350 million towards that cost and the public sector has provided £80 million, which includes £43 million from the Government and £20 million from Europe.

I must tell the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister that we do not believe that this is a Manchester problem: it is the nation's problem. It is not on for the ratepayers of Manchester to have to pick up such a massive bill. We cannot contain it. We have not been treated in the best way.

Photo of Rt Hon David Trimble Rt Hon David Trimble Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

I intervene mainly to endorse the hon. Gentleman's point that there is an obligation on the state to ensure that when people suffer damage of such a nature, they receive compensation. It is particularly appropriate to consider those in private houses such as the hundreds of houses near the Canary Wharf site, some of which have not been fully repaired. Does the hon. Gentleman think that it would be better if the Government had simply extended to the whole of the United Kingdom the legislation that exists in Northern Ireland to provide compensation for criminal injuries and criminal damage, so that the cost, fell on the state rather than on private individuals or the local authority?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Eastham Mr Kenneth Eastham , Manchester, Blackley

I take the hon. Gentleman's point. When we met the Deputy Prime Minister after the bombing, I recall that we put those points to him. The bomb had a serious effect on small businesses, because many of them were not insured. Marks and Spencer and other large, wealthy companies can withstand such losses—although I do not say that they should have to—but small businesses cannot afford to pay high insurance premiums. Many of those small family businesses will never open again, and the city will be the poorer, because the variety of shopping in the centre was a big attraction.

It seems to me that there are two standards in the House. If we compare the compensation paid to farmers for the bovine spongiform encephalopathy problem—

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going very wide of the order before us tonight, which is primarily to consider the merits or otherwise of continuing the arrangements for suppressing terrorism.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Eastham Mr Kenneth Eastham , Manchester, Blackley

I appreciate that, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I am referring to the report, which mentions explosions. I am taking the opportunity to expand and elaborate on what the report does not tell the House and the rest of the country. I think it is reasonable to make one or two comments on that.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

Order. The hon. Gentleman has already made those one or two comments. I have tried to be generous.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Eastham Mr Kenneth Eastham , Manchester, Blackley

There seems to be some attempt to stop my speech. I say to the Home Secretary that if the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food can pay £3.5 billion to the farmers, it is not unreasonable for the Government to dig deeper to help with the costs of the bombing incidents in Manchester, London and Northern Ireland. We have two standards for compensation, and more assistance should be given to those who suffer from the effects of bombings.

I received a letter today from the Department of the Environment informing me that Manchester would share £2.5 million with Tower Hamlets to cover some of the costs of the bombings. I sincerely believe that that is only a drop in the bucket, given the devastation and problems that we faced.

It would be remiss of me if I did not mention the behaviour of the Manchester services in the crisis. I wish to put on record our admiration for the Greater Manchester police force. Chief Superintendent Peter Harris and his team did a marvellous job with great calmness. Their actions were an example to all police forces elsewhere in the country. I also wish to mention the ambulance service and the hospitals. Their response was of the highest order, and they have the greatest admiration of the people of my city.

I also wish to mention Manchester town hall which effectively provided resources during the crisis. The lord mayor, Councillor Derek Shaw, had taken office only about three weeks before and had to deal with the disaster and all the media people descending on him. He did his job with great dignity, and he has made his contribution to the funding by setting up a special fund.

There are lessons to be learnt from the bombing. The Home Secretary must take a fresh look at security. We need more security cameras with better image recognition. We must also reconsider the road systems in shopping areas. I recognise that some powers are needed and that we must have an Act. I do not know whether we have the right Act, but we need something. People are entitled to live without fear and that should be the purpose of the Act.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire , Spelthorne 6:04 pm, 5th March 1997

The case for renewal of the Act goes far wider than Northern Ireland, but I shall confine my remarks to the affairs of the Province. Most of us who speak on such occasions hope that every speech will be the last, but—as I have said in the past—I fear that that is not to be, for reasons that I will mention in a moment.

I have no doubt that renewal is unavoidable this year. Mr. Rowe's report makes that clear. He refers to 15 terrorist murders and several mortar attacks in the past year. I would add to the list the hundreds of acts of torture and punishment beatings that took place. I classify those as terrorism just as much as mortar attacks and murder.

Mr. Rowe's conclusion is simple: the Act's powers remain necessary. I regret that as, I am sure, does the House, but the powers remain necessary and must be kept on the statute book. Since we last debated the Act and renewed the powers, Lord Lloyd's report has been published. I hope that we can follow the recommendations in that report as quickly as possible. It is important to note that, when the time comes for us to follow the recommendations, we realise that the report confirms that some form of anti-terrorism legislation will remain necessary. I agree. So much for those Labour Members who claim that we do not need a prevention of terrorism Act. The report gives the lie to that assertion.

Whatever the future may hold, we clearly still have terrorism in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. It gives me no pleasure to say that I see little prospect of that terrorism ending in the near future. If that is so, it is essential that we do not drop our guard and it is vital that we do not abandon the Act. It is also important that we guard against being tricked into thinking that progress has been made in Northern Ireland, when it patently has not. I have in mind the woolly thinking that says that we can equate progress towards peace in Northern Ireland with the reinstatement of the so-called ceasefire declared by Sinn Fein-IRA.

The original Sinn Fein-IRA so-called ceasefire was not progress and was no reason to abandon the powers in the Act. It was nothing more than a tactical manoeuvre. It was never a real step towards the permanent peace that we need before the recommendations in Lord Lloyd's report can be implemented. If we look back over the past year, the reality of the so-called ceasefire becomes clear. The ceasefire that is being used as an argument for progress happened because Sinn Fein-IRA was facing oblivion. They needed time to regroup and re-equip, to recruit and train again, and to target again. They needed time to try to wrong-foot the Government.

During the whole period of the so-called ceasefire that we are now being asked to fall for again, Sinn Fein-IRA was planning and building the Canary Wharf bomb. During that period there were also seven terrorist murders. Some ceasefire. Some reason for thinking that the powers in the Act are not necessary.

We need look no further than that temporary so-called ceasefire for justification for the Act, and for making it crystal clear that reinstating it would not be enough to make the Act unnecessary. In connection with Northern Ireland, I judge that the Act will continue to be necessary until we make some real progress towards permanent peace. When we debate the Act and say that it must stay in place until there is progress, we must make it clear what we mean by progress. I believe that three things will have to happen before we no longer need to debate the renewal of the Act. First, there must be an end to all violence, not just some violence. Last time there was simply a reduction in the number of murders, and torture continued. Reinstating that position will not be sufficient to make the Act unnecessary.

Secondly, there must be a verifiable declaration that all violence has ended for ever. The weasel words that we heard last time simply will not be enough to make renewing the Act cease to be a fact of life.

The third thing that must happen before we can stop having the annual debates is a decommissioning of all arms and explosives. I must make it clear that I direct those remarks not at Sinn Fein-IRA alone; they apply equally to all terrorism. Terrorism is evil and there can be no compromise with it. I draw no distinction, and I do not believe that anybody in the House will wish to do so.

I realise that some hon. Members will simply say that I am being unrealistic. However, it is just as unrealistic to expect, if that is what their argument will be, that the ordinary, decent law-abiding people of Northern Ireland will take the reinstatement of a so-called ceasefire at face value. It is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect democratic politicians, either in Northern Ireland or here, to sit down with people who have guns in their pockets and Semtex in their briefcases.

It follows from all that that I am clear in my mind that the Act remains necessary, and will continue to be necessary until some progress is made. I am afraid that that will be the case for some time to come, so I urge the whole House to vote for the Act to continue.

Photo of Mr David Rendel Mr David Rendel , Newbury 6:13 pm, 5th March 1997

I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in the debate, although inevitably it is on a sad subject—perhaps the saddest that I have had the chance to debate in my four years in the House. Freedom of the individual is, of course, important to people in my party—but, as I am sure the whole House accepts, freedom of the individual must never override other people's individual freedoms. That is why, in current circumstances, my party believes that, sadly, the Act is still needed and should be renewed for a further year.

It is important to keep our ideas about the legislation in proportion. It should not be seen as the solution to the problems in Northern Ireland. That solution will come, if it ever does, not through the Act but through political developments—through talks and a new, widely acceptable settlement. Security legislation is not adequate to deal with anything other than purely security issues. To treat it as a panacea would be to elevate the terrorists to a status well above their due.

Since the Canary Wharf bombing on 9 February last year, the IRA has continued a series of outrages. There have been other villains in the case, too, but inevitably we shall all agree that the IRA and the atrocities that it has committed are the main problem. It is fair to give a note of tribute to the former loyalist terrorists who have resisted the temptation to reactivate their terrorism.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that the Provisional IRA is the main problem, is he not overlooking the other bombs in London? There was the Saudi bomb outside the newspaper office, and the most recent prosecution of Palestinian terrorists, for the bomb outside the Israeli embassy.

Photo of Mr David Rendel Mr David Rendel , Newbury

I certainly do not overlook other terrorism, and I shall refer to it briefly later.

I was sounding a note of praise for the former loyalist terrorists who have shown considerable restraint in the face of great provocation over the past year or two. They have avoided the trap set for them by the IRA, which has been trying to tempt them back into violence. Had they fallen into that trap, the only winners would have been the IRA.

A further note of praise is due to the security services, which have scored several notable successes over the past year, and which, according to the Rowe report, have been exercising their powers with considerable restraint.

I shall now talk about the individual aspects of the legislation, starting with one of the most crucial but also one of the most controversial—the exclusion orders. The Rowe report makes it clear that the power is wide. It is interesting that no new exclusion orders were applied during 1996—as a result of which, the number of those against whom exclusion orders are outstanding has fallen considerably.

The power to make an exclusion order is a strong power, consigning people to what may seem to some of them like internal exile, despite the fact that many of them have not been convicted of any offence. It could be said, and I have some sympathy with the view, that the existence of the exclusion order implies that it is okay to be a terrorist in Northern Ireland, but one cannot be a terrorist on the mainland. That is a worrying aspect of the power.

I would be interested to know why the Government felt that only half the exclusion orders needed to be reviewed last year. In the light of the number of orders that were not renewed, there is a strong case to be made for reviewing all the orders in place every year.

As for the detention legislation, the recent Bridgewater Four case has highlighted some of the dangers of keeping people in detention. Extended periods of detention can cause havoc, even to the most settled minds, and can lead some people into thinking that things are true when they are not, and sometimes even into confessing to crimes that they have not committed. We must therefore be careful in our use of detention. I am happy to say that considerable restraint seems to have been used, as is clear from the report. I am happy that there has been maximum restraint; indeed, that is the minimum that can be expected.

Closed circuit television has been mentioned already today, and it is mentioned in the Rowe report, too. It must be a powerful and effective way of improving security, especially at ports and airports. It is an impressive technological advance. The Home Secretary has recently visited the CCTV scheme in my constituency, and I know that he was impressed by it.

CCTV can be useful both in tracing terrorists and other criminals after the event, and as a deterrent, to stop people committing such offences, because they think that they are much more likely to be caught if they do.

It is true, as the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) said, that terrorism should not be seen in the context of Northern Ireland alone, although the balance of the debate and of the Rowe report confirms the fact that the legislation has been mainly concerned with, and of use in, Northern Ireland.

Professor Paul Wilkinson makes it clear in the second volume of Lord Lloyd's report that international terrorism is certainly not on the decline and that, if anything, it is increasing. There is therefore a good case to be made for having some legislation to deal with that aspect of the problem, but it is arguable that the legislation before us is not the best way of doing that, especially when we consider that 569 people were detained under the legislation for incidents in Northern Ireland, of whom 155 were subsequently charged, but only two were detained for terrorist activities not related to Northern Ireland, neither of whom was charged.

I am glad to see that for the first time the section of John Rowe's report that deals with human rights has been expanded into a whole chapter. A balance obviously needs to be struck between the measures needed to combat terrorism and the possible infringement of civil rights.

There is widespread support in Northern Ireland among all parties for a Bill of Rights. That constitutional innovation could stop the United Kingdom being dragged embarrassingly through the European Court of Human Rights and could kick-start further discussions at Stormont and provide a useful counterbalance to some of the powerful legislation before us. I urge the next Home Secretary, whoever it may be, to deal with that issue immediately on assuming office.

The legislation is a regrettable necessity. It is a powerful antibiotic to the bacteria of terrorism, but it must be administered only as long as is necessary. My party believes that it is still needed for a further year, even though we have never had much enthusiasm for it. Most hon. Members of all parties would agree that we pass this legislation without much enthusiasm, merely because we believe that it is needed for the time being, and most of us fervently hope that it will not be needed for much longer.

Photo of Mr Andrew Hunter Mr Andrew Hunter , Basingstoke 6:21 pm, 5th March 1997

I welcome Mr. Rowe's finding that those who use the Act do so with care and responsibility. I would like to quarrel—but I cannot—with his analysis that the present situation both as to Northern Ireland and the international field reveals a continuing threat of terrorism and I endorse his conclusion that there is a need of the provisions of the Act noting that he refers to all its provisions.

In passing, I welcome the strong emphasis on the threat of international terrorism. Mr. Rowe writes that the threat is as great as ever and acknowledges that even if Irish and Northern Ireland issues were resolved, there would be a continuing need for the Act. Like other hon. Members, I have felt some frustration in the past at the slow progress in getting at the funding of terrorism, so I take particular satisfaction in Mr. Rowe's reporting of movement on that front.

I shall be ultra-selective in dealing with the two main points in the speech of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw): judicial participation in extensions of detention, and exclusion orders.

I have an open mind on judicial participation. The hon. Gentleman has not yet convinced me that he is right, and I am more persuaded by the arguments of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary. I was surprised by Mr. Rowe's sudden Damascus road conversion in the course of the past 12 months. A year ago Mr. Rowe described judicial participation as unusual …a straining of the judicial function and argued that a judge acting in that capacity would be acting in name only…exercising a function which could be called judicial only because he happened to be a judge by his profession and occupation. That has all changed.

The hon. Member for Blackburn has not convinced me, but I find Mr. Rowe's reasoning even more confusing. He gives three reasons why judicial participation should not take place in Northern Ireland but could, by implication, take place in England and Wales.

The first reason is that judges in Northern Ireland could not be asked to hear the extension of detention applications, because if they took part in them they would be regarded as an arm of the Executive. The second reason is that there are many more such applications in Northern Ireland than in the remainder of the United Kingdom, and the third is that extensions of detention are an obvious part of the process of arrest …and detention in holding centres. The first point would apply wherever judges participate in the process, because the function is the same whether it is in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales, so it is a strange argument. The argument concerning numbers is irrelevant, as it is the principle and practice that matter, regardless of the number of occasions on which judicial participation might take place. The third argument refers to a situation that is precisely the same in all parts of the United Kingdom. I am confused by Mr. Rowe's arguments as the two valid reasons that he offers for non-participation in Northern Ireland apply equally to other parts of the United Kingdom.

I believe that the hon. Member for Blackburn is wrong about exclusion orders. He has failed to appreciate that their selective use is a key element in our anti-terrorist measures. He referred to paragraph 48 of the report, which says that some people have said that it is better to allow known terrorists to enter the country and to follow them and so discover their associates and equipment. That might be the case in some circumstances, but the best way in which to pursue matters at any time is an operational decision and the option of exclusion orders should be there.

The hon. Member for Blackburn has often claimed that the effects of exclusion orders are bizarre, but I do not believe that he appreciates the fact that the overwhelming majority of terrorist acts do not merely happen but are the outcome of weeks, months or even years of planning and preparation, and that restricting the movement of key individual players can play havoc with that process of planning and preparation.

By the use of exclusion orders, we can irreparably damage the terrorists' command and communications structures and practices, deter terrorist activity by letting terrorists know that our intelligence gathering is effective, prevent specific terrorist operations which involve movement from one part of the United Kingdom to another, and in many instances effectively remove individuals from front-line terrorist active service.

The hon. Member for Blackburn did not adequately address Mr. Rowe's support for exclusion orders: the report refers unequivocally to their effectiveness. Nor did the hon. Gentleman consider that, if the option of exclusion orders were no longer available, the security need that they seek to satisfy would not vanish and would have to be addressed by other means. If we did not have the orders, we could well have a considerable increase in detentions on intelligence and detentions for intelligence, which many would regard as undesirable, and the argument for the reintroduction of internment would be the stronger.

Last year, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State said: The need for the exclusion power is proven. It is effective. It is an essential weapon in the counter-terrorist armoury and it would be irresponsible to relinquish it."—[Official Report, 14 March 1996; Vol. 273, c. 1131.] I am convinced that he is right.

The fundamental point of this debate is to recall that the primary function and duty of the state is to protect persons and property. If the state does not do that, there is a grave danger that individuals will start doing it for themselves. There are two unacceptable extremes of policy: a wait-to-be-bombed policy and a shoot-to-kill policy. We must find the formula that balances civil liberties with civil defence. It is my belief that we have it right.

Photo of Mr Ken Maginnis Mr Ken Maginnis , Fermanagh and South Tyrone 6:28 pm, 5th March 1997

I have been asked to speak for no longer than five minutes. I shall comply with that request, but I feel somewhat miffed that we do not have adequate time to discuss the continuance order before us. I find no fault with those who have spoken before me; they have had important things to say on a very important issue.

I listened with interest to what was said by the right hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Needham), who was a very good Northern Ireland Minister, although I am not sure that I entirely agree with his philosophy as to the causes and effects of terrorism. I could not but be touched by the emotion with which the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Eastham) spoke of the devastation in his city.

On the basis of what I have heard—and, indeed, on the basis of some of what I have read in Mr. John Rowe's report—I believe that there is still a lack of understanding in the House of the nature of terrorism. Hon. Members tell me that the solution must be a mixture of security, economic and social measures. Economic and social measures are important in every part of the kingdom, but they are not part of the solution to the problem of terrorism, because terrorism is not spontaneous: it does not derive from the denial of a particular right to a particular person or, indeed, a particular group of people.

In the past 25 years, inequities that used to exist in Northern Ireland have been put right time and again and I believe that we now have more checks and balances in our system than any other country in the western world. Yet terrorism thrives, because it is not spontaneous: it is strategic, and the IRA in particular is determined to fulfil its political and sectarian aspirations. Let us make no mistake about this: the IRA is more sectarian than political. We need only consider the murders along the frontier of the only sons of Protestant farmers who are getting old. We need only consider the Kingsmills murders. A vanload of workers was stopped, the Catholic member was stood to one side and the eight Protestants were gunned down.

That is what we are dealing with in terms of IRA terrorism: we are dealing with sectarianism at its worst. If we want to overcome that, we must do so in two ways. First, we must devise a counter-strategy of which the prevention of terrorism Act is part—a counter-strategy that has never been developed fully. Secondly, we must look at the community as a whole. We must take account of the 85 per cent. or perhaps 90 per cent. of the population, decent people who eschew violence, and make them aware of their obligation to oppose the terrorists.

I must leave the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) time to speak. Let me say, however, that the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) spoke very sensibly about the Act. He apologised for it—I do not know why—saying that it was regrettable but necessary for another year. The IRA's strategy, however, is to maintain the present position for as long as it can withstand the resolve of the rest of us. I do not apologise for the Act; I believe that it must stay, and that it must be strengthened by whichever party comes to power after 1 May.

One of the important things that we must do is to reintroduce the broadcasting ban. I will tell the House one thing: Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and all those evil people will have more prime time this week on television and radio than I have had time to debate this important issue here at the heart of democracy.

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh 6:34 pm, 5th March 1997

Because of time constraints, I too will be very selective. I think that it was on 10 March 1993 that, through the generosity of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), I had two minutes in which to speak in a debate on this subject; I have five minutes tonight. There are points—some of them philosophical—that I would like to put to the Secretary of State, but I simply do not have time.

Let me address one point that was touched on earlier. It is possible to share people's objectives while disagreeing totally with their means of attaining those objectives. I share the Secretary of State's objective, and the objective of the House, which is to end terrorism, to oppose it and to ensure that it never succeeds; but I disagree with the means.

Let me make an analogy. I want Irish unity, and the IRA shares—or would claim to share—that objective, but I disagree absolutely and fundamentally with the means that the IRA espouses. I have made the point to the IRA—and I repeat it now—that the means often debases the objective. It damages, as the IRA has damaged, the whole concept of Irish republicanism in a way in which unionism could never damage it—in a way in which no British Government through the centuries could ever have damaged it. Singlehandedly, through its means, the IRA has diminished a legitimate political philosophy, and put it into the gutter.

I make that point because I believe that the validity of being able to separate means from ends is central to the debate, for two reasons. I am speaking personally now. The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) and I had to make a choice today: we could be at Castle buildings for the—I hope—temporary demise of the all-party talks, or we could be here debating the PTA. We knew that, whichever alternative we chose, or our party chose for us, would be depressing, and indeed this is depressing.

Let me tell the Government and the Secretary of State, however, that I must retain two things, as must the people I represent. One is faith in the political process—the belief that it can and will solve the problem. The other is my faith, and that of those I represent, in the integrity of the law and the system of justice. The system of justice in this country will outlast both the IRA and the PTA, but we must see that damage is not done to it while these events are taking place. I think that there is enough evidence in the courts, the prisons and elsewhere to reveal the potential for damage to the political process.

If I cannot retain faith in those two things, what have I left to believe in? That is why I will vote against the Act tonight. The only weapon at my disposal is my use of my vote. To attack the use of a vote on an issue as important as this is to go to the very heart of the political process. We should all remember that. There will always be differences of opinion in the House, among parties and even within them. That is the essence of politics. The only method, the only weapon, we have is the use of our votes, and I will use mine on this matter.

I spoke of the integrity of the system of justice. I have some broad points for the Home Secretary. One relates to Miss McAliskey, who is in prison in London. Respect for the dignity of the human being is at the heart of our system of justice. For a woman seven months pregnant to be strip-searched almost 60 times while on remand—not found guilty of anything—must be an affront to human dignity. I put it to him that respect for the dignity of the human being, especially for a woman who is carrying the precious gift of life in her body, should be the overriding factor in his consideration.

It was sad to see the Minister responsible for prisons on television in Northern Ireland showing not the slightest iota of compassion, respect for womanhood or respect for motherhood, given the position that the Minister takes on the issue. Those 90 seconds did untold damage, because respect for human dignity was forgotten.

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

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because I know that his time is short. However, he cannot have it two ways. He cannot say, "Respect me for how I cast my vote," and then say that we have to apply different criteria when we judge the case of someone whose extradition has been requested by another country in connection with a serious crime that had nothing to do with respect for life.

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

The hon. Gentleman misses my point. I am not asking for respect for me casting my vote. I care for only one respect: my self-respect. I am talking about respect for the dignity of a human being. That must be at the heart of the justice system of this country or of any other. I make a plea to the Home Secretary on that count to act, and act quickly, in this case.

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

Does my hon. Friend agree that the mental torture that this woman is undergoing in not knowing whether she will able to have and hold her child after her confinement is a form of torture that only a pregnant woman in prison can suffer? Instead of endless committees, we must have a precise and direct statement that, after her confinement, the mother will keep the child.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay

She should have thought of that before she started bombing people.

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

I thank the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North. His point stands on its own.

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone , Brent East

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I distinctly heard a Minister say, "She should have thought of that before she started bombing people." There has been a previous instance of a case having to be dropped because of statements by Ministers.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Hon. Members should not comment on such cases. I heard nothing. Perhaps the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) will continue.

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

I plead with the Home Secretary, on a purely humanitarian basis, to consider as a matter of urgency the transfer of prisoners back to Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. I know how it is, from my privileged position, to get from County Armagh to, for example, Full Sutton prison. I know the difficulties and how long the journey takes.

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

It is not 10 minutes: it is a whole day.

For prisoners to serve their time in the north of Ireland would not affect their sentences or the justice that is being done. It creates an humanitarian context within which they can serve their sentences. After all, it is a basic tenet that a loss of freedom is what people are sentenced to when they are sentenced to prison. That is sufficient, without adding to it.

The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone referred to an incident in my constituency, the murders at Kingsmills. I will never forget going to those funerals, or the sound of my feet walking through the streets in Bessbrook, because it was not easy for a Catholic nationalist representative to attend. A couple of weeks ago, but 21 years later, I heard the same sound of my own footsteps in the dark of night in Bessbrook, the night that the young soldier Stephen Restorick was killed.

In those 21 years, those who are committed to the view that we can solve our problems by violence and punitive means have learnt nothing. Surely it is the business of the political process, of which all hon. Members are part, to consider the problem without being tied ideologically to an approach that has not been very successful.

The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) said that such an approach was an antibiotic that can be used repeatedly until the problem is solved. If only it were as easy as that. The system becomes immune to antibiotics; after a while, they have to be replaced. The time is right to replace the present approach to solving the problem. That does not mean making any concessions to the IRA, the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Ulster Defence Association or anyone else.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. A few moments ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) alleged that a Minister had said of Roisin McAliskey, "She should have thought of that before she started bombing people." I distinctly heard the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) making that comment. At the outset of his brief remarks, he should have either the courage to confirm that that is his view, or the grace to withdraw the allegation.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

I heard no such comment. Perhaps the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) could make it clear whether he said that.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay

I certainly made that comment, Madam Speaker. If you want me to withdraw it, I am happy to be guided by you.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman is withdrawing the comment. He should understand that he should not comment on such cases.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay

Terrorism is murderous extortion for political purposes. It is as old as danegeld. Danegeld tells us that, if we start giving in to terrorism, we will be left with it for a long time. Terrorism, as we understand it in Britain, dates back in modern times to the Leila Khaled case, when a British Overseas Airways Corporation aeroplane was held hostage. Unfortunately, the British Government gave in to the terrorists, and Leila Khaled was released to safeguard British lives. As a direct consequence of the willingness of our European partners to do deals with terrorists, we and the west in general have had to endure terrorism.

The only weapon against terrorism is absolute resolution. That resolution was shown during the hunger strikes and at the Iranian embassy seige. The people responsible for fighting terrorism in Britain have three objectives. First, they are anxious to prevent and deter people from fighting their turf wars on this territory. That does not necessarily include the Provisional IRA. The Algerians have been using the United Kingdom as a base, and Sikh separatists have certainly been doing the same. There was a Saudi bomb a short time ago. The most recent terrorist convictions were of two Palestinian bombers.

The second objective of the people to whom we give the responsibility of fighting terrorism is to prosecute and bring good convictions of terrorists. I refer my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to my earlier intervention about the possible use in criminal trials in the United Kingdom of intercept evidence. Customs and Excise, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the police, the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service are now of the view that that would be a worthwhile weapon.

Of course one does not want to compromise the source, but, since the Interception of Communications Act 1986, most people have readily understood that particular weapon, which is a useful one. The people responsible for fighting terrorism are handicapped by not being able to use intercept evidence in court.

Thirdly, extradition is an essential part of the fight against terrorism. Fuller co-operation is required, not only from Britain—to make absolutely certain that Crown Prosecution Service papers are in order when they are served overseas—but from our European partners.

The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) made a characteristically dire speech, using the royal "we" throughout, although he was alone on the Liberal Democrat Benches. The proposition that he appeared to make, that false confessions were made as a consequence of prolonged detention, was nonsense. The Bridgewater case had nothing whatever to do with prolonged detention. In the Judith Ward case—the only one I can think of which involved a false confession—she volunteered the confession before she was taken into detention.

I suggest that the Houses should give one final message to the terrorist—that all hon. Members on both sides of the House went through the same Lobby tonight. That is a message that will be understood, particularly by people in the Clinton Administration, who got an unpleasant shock when the Canary Wharf bomb went off, and it became clear that the ceasefire period had been used by the Provisionals to regroup.

We must show resolution. That is the only thing that terrorists—whatever their origin, whatever their motives—understand. The House standing united this evening would send the best possible message to them.

Photo of Dr Mo Mowlam Dr Mo Mowlam , Redcar 6:53 pm, 5th March 1997

It would be best if the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) realised that he should say on his feet what he says from a sedentary position. I welcome his withdrawal of his earlier sedentary comment. I am sure that the whole House identifies with the closing comments of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon)—that, whatever people's views on this issue, it is one of the basic democratic rights in the country and in the House that individuals have the right to vote as they choose. There was general agreement in the Chamber this evening with that view.

Since the IRA abandoned its 18-month ceasefire in February last year, people in Britain and Northern Ireland have once again been subjected to a sustained campaign of violence and intimidation. The bombing at Canary Wharf shattered a thousand hopes and dreams, here, in Northern Ireland and in the Republic, and took the lives of two men. The appalling and sickening catalogue of atrocities committed by the IRA has continued throughout the United Kingdom, as my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Eastham) outlined so clearly.

The same point was emphasised by the right hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Needham), who, as he said, made his maiden speech in the House in the presence of fewer people than were present this evening. I read his maiden speech while other hon. Members were speaking this evening. It was rather humorous, and he used rather more words than his predecessors in his family used, five of whom have been Members of Parliament. Among many people I meet in Northern Ireland, there is a great deal of respect for the right hon. Gentleman and the work he did in Northern Ireland. I welcome the years of effort that he put in to try to bring peace and economic development to Northern Ireland.

Photo of Ken Livingstone Ken Livingstone , Brent East

While we condemn all acts of violence, does my hon. Friend agree that part of the problem that undermines the campaign against violence is the insensitive way in which the Government have used the powers they have? Literally thousands of people coming through our ports have been criminalised. They feel humiliated by the way in which they are treated. We have heard this evening the appalling account of the way in which Roisin McAliskey is being treated. She has been strip-searched 60 times in little more than six weeks.

Photo of Dr Mo Mowlam Dr Mo Mowlam , Redcar

I hear what my hon. Friend says. He, I and my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) have written to the Home Secretary and to the Prison Service about Roisin McAliskey. I agree with my hon. Friend that it is a difficult issue, but I am informed that the necessary medical services are being provided. In considering whether she and her baby should be allowed to be together, the health of the mother and child should be paramount. I am assured that my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), the shadow Home Secretary, agreed with me on that point.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Will my hon. Friend confirm that it is essential that Roisin McAliskey be told now exactly what the birth arrangements will be, who the birth partner can be, and where she will give birth?

Photo of Dr Mo Mowlam Dr Mo Mowlam , Redcar

I am told that all the information on the birth partner is available, and has been printed in answer to parliamentary questions. I have answered sufficiently the first part of my hon. Friend's question.

My time has run out, so I shall make two or three points, and leave it to the Home Secretary to conclude the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn clearly outlined the two problems with the prevention of terrorism Act—exclusion, and detention for seven days without judicial review. I was pleased that the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter), adopting his usual approach, tried to consider the arguments on either side, and reason through our position. I welcome his open-mindedness.

The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) wanted the broadcasting restrictions reinstated. That view is not shared by the Labour Front-Bench team, but an open discussion of the issue was most welcome.

The debate has moved on. We have explained why we believe that there are flaws in the legislation, as I did in the debate on the emergency provisions Act last year. We have reassured the House that we will not vote to leave the people of Britain and Northern Ireland without the protection of anti-terrorist legislation. We have reinforced that in the position that we have adopted this evening.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:57 pm, 5th March 1997

With leave of the House, I should like to say a few words to pick up on the main themes that have emerged from the debate, and to respond in the short time I have to some of the points that have been made.

Of course we have heard a good deal about human rights and civil liberties. Of course it is true, and I do not deny it, that the prevention of terrorism Act contains some exceptional measures. It does so because those measures are needed to protect the safety of the citizens of this country. That is why the Act is on the statute book. That is why we believe that it should be renewed year after year, and that is why I attack those who are not prepared to come into the Lobby to support its renewal.

I am not suggesting that hon. Members are not entitled to register their votes in the House in whichever way they choose—whether it is the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon), the hon. Member for Redcar (Ms Mowlam) or anyone else. They must accept, however, that the implication of their act should be pointed out to the people of the country. If it is the considered view of the police, the Security Service and the independent reviewer that the Act's measures are needed to protect the citizens of this country, we must have those measures in force.

I should like to be able to refer to all of those who contributed to the debate. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Needham) gave us his swan song—his last political testament—in a distinguished speech. I should like to add my tribute to his work in Northern Ireland, and as Minister for Trade. His contribution to the country will be remembered long after he has left this place.

The Act has saved countless lives, yet the right hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair), the Leader of the Opposition, has never voted for it, not once in his time in the House. What clearer example could there be of his total lack of judgment and his lack of understanding of the need of our people for strong protection from the bomber and the gunman? What clearer example could there be of his total unfitness to be Prime Minister of the country?

The Government have consistently shown that we can be trusted to carry out duty to protect our people. On that basis, I commend the order to the House.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 304, Noes 13.

Division No. 89][7 pm
AYES
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Cran, James
Alexander, RichardCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)Curry, Rt Hon David
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Davies, Quentin (Stamf'd)
Amess, DavidDavis, Rt Hon David (Boothferry)
Arbuthnot, JamesDay, Stephen
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Deva, Nirj Joseph
Ashby, DavidDorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyDouglas-Hamilton,
Atkins, Rt Hon RobertRt Hon Lord James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Dover, Den
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V)Duncan, Alan
Baldry, TonyDuncan Smith, Iain
Banks, Matthew (Southport)Dunn, Bob
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Durant, Sir Anthony
Bates, MichaelDykes, Hugh
Batiste, SpencerElletson, Harold
Beggs, RoyEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'ld)
Beith, Rt Hon A JEvans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bellingham, HenryEvans, Nigel (Ribble V)
Bendall, VivianEvans, Roger (Monmouth)
Beresford, Sir PaulFaber, David
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnFabricant, Michael
Bonsor, Sir NicholasFenner, Dame Peggy
Booth, HartleyField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)Fishbum, Dudley
Bowden, Sir AndrewForman, Nigel
Bowis, JohnForsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir RhodesForth, Rt Hon Eric
Brandreth, GylesFoster, Don (Bath)
Brazier, JulianFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bright, Sir GrahamFox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterFox, Rt Hon Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Brown, Michael (Brigg Cl'thorpes)Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Browning, Mrs AngelaFrench, Douglas
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Gale, Roger
Budgen, NicholasGallie, Phil
Burns, SimonGardiner, Sir George
Burt, AlistairGarnier, Edward
Butcher, JohnGill, Christopher
Butler, PeterGillan, Mrs Cheryl
Butterfill, JohnGoodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Carlile, Alex (Montgomery)Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Carlisle, John (Luton N)Gorst, Sir John
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n)Grant, Sir Anthony (SW Cambs)
Carrington, MatthewGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Carttiss, MichaelGreenway, John (Ryedale)
Cash, WilliamGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Channon, Rt Hon PaulGrylls, Sir Michael
Chapman, Sir SydneyGummer, Rt Hon John
Chidgey, DavidHague, Rt Hon William
Churchill, MrHamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald
Clappison, JamesHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochf'd)Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy
Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyHannam, Sir John
Coe, SebastianHampson, Dr. Keith
Colvin, MichaelHargreaves, Andrew
Congdon, DavidHarris, David
Conway, DerekHaselhurst, Sir Alan
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F)Hawkins, Nick
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Hawksley, Warren
Cope, Rt Hon Sir JohnHayes, Jerry
Cormack, Sir PatrickHeald, Oliver
Couchman, JamesHeathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, CharlesNeubert, Sir Michael
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Hicks, Sir RobertNicholson, David (Taunton)
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir TerenceNorris, Steve
Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (Grantham)Oppenheim, Phillip
Horam, JohnOttaway, Richard
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir PeterPage, Richard
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelPaice, James
Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildf'd)Patnick, Sir Irvine
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)Patten, Rt Hon John
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)Pawsey, James
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hunter, AndrewPickles, Eric
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasPorter, David
Jack, Rt Hon MichaelPortillo, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)Powell, William (Corby)
Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N)Rathbone, Tim
Jessel, TobyRedwood, Rt Hon John
Johnson Smith,Rendel, David
Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Richards, Rod
Jones, Robert B (W Herts)Riddick, Graham
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineRifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Kennedy, Charles (Ross C & S)Robertson, Raymond S (Ab'd'n S)
Key, RobertRobinson, Mark (Somerton)
King, Rt Hon TomRoe, Mrs Marion
Kirkhope, TimothyRoss, William (E Lond'y)
Kirkwood, ArchyRowe, Andrew
Knapman, RogerRumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)Sackville, Tom
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Knox, Sir DavidScott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Kynoch, GeorgeShaw, David (Dover)
Lait, Mrs JacquiShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lamont, Rt Hon NormanShephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Lawrence, Sir IvanShepherd, Sir Colin (Heref'd)
Legg, BarryShersby, Sir Michael
Leigh, EdwardSims, Sir Roger
Lennox-Boyd, Sir MarkSkeet, Sir Trevor
Lester, Sir Jim (Broxtowe)Smith, Tim (Beaconsf'ld)
Lidington, DavidSmyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterSpencer, Sir Derek
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)Spicer, Sir Jim (W Dorset)
Lord, MichaelSpicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Luff, PeterSpink, Dr Robert
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasSpring, Richard
Lynne, Ms LizSproat, Iain
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnSquire, Robin (Hornchurch)
MacKay, AndrewStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Maclean, Rt Hon DavidSteen, Anthony
Maclennan, RobertStephen, Michael
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickStern, Michael
Maddock, Mrs DianaStewart, Allan
Madel, Sir DavidStreeter, Gary
Maginnis, KenSumberg, David
Maitland, Lady OlgaSweeney, Walter
Malone, GeraldSykes, John
Mans, KeithTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Marland, PaulTaylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangf'd)
Marlow, TonyTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Marshall, John (Hendon S)Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)Taylor, Sir Teddy
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Temple-Morris, Peter
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr BrianThomason, Roy
Merchant, PiersThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Thurnham, Peter
Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon Sir JamesTownsend, Sir Cyril (Bexl'yh'th)
Monro, Rt Hon Sir HectorTracey, Richard
Montgomery, Sir FergusTredinnick, David
Moss, MalcolmTrend, Michael
Needham, Rt Hon RichardTrimble, David
Nelson, AnthonyTwinn, Dr Ian
Tyler, PaulWiddecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Vaughan, Sir GerardWiggin, Sir Jerry
Viggers, PeterWilkinson, John
Waldegrave, Rt Hon WilliamWilletts, David
Walden, GeorgeWilshire, David
Walker, Bill (N Tayside)Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Wallace, JamesWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesf'ld)
Waller, GaryWolfson, Mark
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)Yeo, Tim
Waterson, NigelYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Watts, John
Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir JohnTellers for the Ayes:
Whitney, Sir RaymondMr. Timothy Wood and
Whittingdale, JohnMr. Bowen Wells.
NOES
Benn, Rt Hon TonyMadden, Max
Bennett, Andrew FMallon, Seamus
Canavan, DennisMullin, Chris
Rooney, Terry
Corbyn, JeremySkinner, Dennis
Dalyell, Tam
Etherington, BillTellers for the Noes:
Loyden, EddieMr. Eddie McGrady and
McNamara, KevinMr. John McAllion.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuance) Order 1997, which was laid before this House on 18th February, be approved.

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

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will recall that in the course of the last debate—I apologise for interrupting the one that will take place now—the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) made a comment for which he later apologised, in which he indicated that he felt that a prisoner at present in Holloway, Miss Roisin McAliskey, was guilty of the crime for which it is sought that she be extradited to Germany.

We have already had situations in the House under the British legal system where a similar type of statement was made when we were introducing the question of the reduction of the right to silence, and that resulted in the acquittal of prisoners by the Court of Appeal. We are now in the difficult position that, this statement having been made in the House, it will be read in the newspapers and may possibly affect the attitude of the magistrates in deciding whether that lady should be taken back to Germany or whether she should be granted bail. That is a very serious matter but, in addition, if she should be extradited to Germany, what will be the effect of a statement made in the House, withdrawn rather halfheartedly by the hon. Gentleman on your instruction, Madam Speaker? Will that prejudice her trial in Germany?

I believe that this matter is something about which you, Madam Speaker, might like to think and return to the House with a statement, because it is very serious.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

As the House is aware, I did not hear the alleged comment made from a sedentary position, but I am of course aware that when the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) got to his feet to speak tonight, he did withdraw whatever comment he had made at that time. It seems to me to be the old issue of moderation in language in this House, which I caution all hon. Members to be careful about.

I take the point made by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) seriously, but I do not wish to come back to the House about it; I think enough has been said. I hope that all hon. Members will take heed of what I say, particularly the hon. Member for Torbay, who knows very well that he should not have made those comments from a sedentary position. He withdrew them later, but it is too late then. There should be moderation in speech in this House, especially on the serious issues that we are debating this evening.

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

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. Like you, I did not hear the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) make those comments, and they would not have appeared in Hansard or had any publicity if those who are most at folly in inviting members of the IRA into the House had not raised the issue in the way that they did. Am I not right in suggesting that it was quite improper for an hon. Member to raise such a sensitive matter in that manner when he could have gone to you privately and raised the issue?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

We must now move on to the next debate on Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. As I was the Member who raised this matter with you a few minutes ago, may I now ask the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) to withdraw the allegation that I at any time have invited the IRA to this place or to any other place? May I, while I am on my feet, say that I visited Holloway yesterday and met Roisin McAliskey

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. This is not a point of order for me to deal with at all, and I am not going to have the debate which has just come to a close extended in this way. We now have a motion on Northern Ireland before us, and I call Sir John Wheeler to move it.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. Are you not going to request the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone to withdraw the allegation clearly made against me that I at any time have invited the IRA anywhere?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. I have been in the Chair since half-past 6, I have had a number of points of order and I am going to leave it at that and ask Sir John Wheeler to move the motion.