Orders of the Day — Prevention of Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 23 February 2005.

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Photo of Mark Oaten Mark Oaten Shadow Secretary of State for Home Affairs, Home Affairs 3:38, 23 February 2005

I wish Mr. Sedgemore well in his retirement if that was indeed his last speech. Although I do not agree with all the points that he made, I admire his passion and commitment.

We are dealing with extraordinarily complex circumstances. It is easy for us to make the sort of speech that the hon. Gentleman delivered, draw on historical values and discuss the strong principles of justice that are changing. I do not intend to make such a speech. I shall leave that to others who are more eloquent and have a stronger sense of history than me. In the next 20 minutes or so, I shall treat the subject as a practical issue, ascertain whether we can find a way forward and bluntly analyse where there is agreement and disagreement.

Let me begin with agreement. There is probably cross-party agreement that none of us underestimates the issues that we are tackling in this post-9/11 era. None of us underestimates the serious terrorist problems. The Home Secretary's analysis of how matters have changed was spot on. The global implications that he outlined are especially important. They have made the world in which we live different—not only the type of terrorists but their ability to operate globally, with all the communications systems that exist, have changed enormously.

I think there is also agreement—cross-party agreement—on the fact that we have due respect for the intelligence services, and owe them a great debt of gratitude for what they have done over the past three or four years. We want, on a cross-party basis, to give them all the tools that they need in order to do their work. There is also agreement, I believe, that we must do something about the current situation. I am uneasy about what may happen in four or five weeks. If we have no legislation we will create a vacuum, and I do not think we want that. Something must be done to deal with the difficult circumstances.