New Clause 6 — Power to make control orders

Part of Orders of the Day — Prevention of Terrorism Bill – in the House of Commons at 11:26 pm on 28th February 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mark Fisher Mark Fisher Labour, Stoke-on-Trent Central 11:26 pm, 28th February 2005

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, because that is a very good point. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen made a similar point. That is a concern that is shared across the House, and it is a valuable contribution to the debate.

The issue of evidence, and the accused's right to hear it, is difficult, but we must be able to do better than the present Bill. The same applies to intercept evidence. It is a difficult issue, as the Home Secretary rightly pointed out to us, but we have not really attempted to grapple with it at this stage. We must do so.

Parliament has been bounced. We have had three years to think about this issue and we have failed to do so. That is not only the fault of the Government, because Members have not bombarded the Government with demands for debates or further legislation. Many of us, on both sides of the House, knew that this issue was simmering, but we, just as much as the Government, failed to do anything. However, we have undoubtedly been bounced in the past week. The Bill was published on 22 February, and only six days later we have had a rushed Second Reading and—to the huge discredit of this Chamber—a farce of a Committee stage, in which we have not properly considered the Bill. That is what we are sent here to do by our constituents. We are sent here to scrutinise legislation and to try to make our laws good, sensible and workable. We have failed tonight.

The Government did not help by bouncing the Bill through on a ridiculous programme motion, but we had the ability to throw that out. We could have said to the Government, "Don't be ridiculous. On a Bill of this enormous constitutional importance, we cannot accept a ridiculous timetable like that." We can certainly warm our hands at the indignity of the Government, who have imposed the measure on us, but we, too, are to blame because it was in our hands to throw out that thoroughly discreditable programme motion. We are as much to blame as the Government.