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Prevention of Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 10th March 2005.

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Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary 6:00 pm, 10th March 2005

I shall not give way.

The Government's motion states that the House insists on its disagreement with Lords amendments Nos. 27, 31 and 32 and proposes amendments in lieu in relation to the scope of the independent annual review. The effect of the two amendments tabled in my name is to extend the scope of the independent annual review of the Act so that the review covers the whole Act, rather than just sections 1 to 6 on operation of control orders, as now.

Under these amendments, the appeal provisions will come within the scope of the review, as will the arrangements for reviewing the Act once passed. I think this proposal goes towards dealing with some concerns that have been expressed on both sides of the House and also by my noble Friend Baroness Hayman in the other place, about the way in which these issues are to be considered when the legislation is taken forward.

As I said yesterday, the Bill already provides a number of provisions for substantial and considered review of this system of legislation. They are, first, the quarterly reports that I, as Secretary of State, make to Parliament on the use of the powers to make control orders and, secondly, an independent reviewer—now, I suggest, of the whole operation of the Act—making an annual report, which is laid before Parliament. I confirm what I have said before: I will ask the independent reviewer to look specifically at the continuing need for the provisions in this Bill in the light of any new counter-terrorist legislation.

I propose—I emphasise this new proposition now—to widen the remit to the whole Act, not simply the control order powers and the offence provisions.

My proposal of last night was for the annual renewal of the Act with a vote in both Houses of Parliament to look at that situation. The proposal in the Bill enables the House to vote annually on the need to continue the capacity to make derogating control orders, if at some future stage we decide to derogate. I gave a commitment to my hon. Friend Mr. Soley yesterday to have discussion across all parties after the election about the best way of taking this legislation forward. Of course, the opportunity for new legislation in the next Session gives us another opportunity to review these provisions.

I can confirm—again responding to Baroness Hayman—that we will ensure that the proposed legislation both has proper pre-legislative scrutiny and will be introduced as early as possible in the next Session.

I believe it is important, coming back to the attitude of the Conservative party, that the hon. Member for Beaconsfield state whether, in any post-election discussion of the type that we have discussed in the House, the Conservatives will accept control orders as a means of giving the security services the powers they need to deal with these threats. I also think that it is incumbent on him, on behalf of the official Opposition, to confirm that his election manifesto will include the pledge to repeal control orders, if that is indeed his position. The House deserves an answer to that question.

On the basis of these proposals, we do not feel that we need a further Privy Council review or an additional review committee, and it is total nonsense to remove the annual review of the Act. To be quite frank, the amendment passed in the other place is an offence against the excellent current reviewer, Lord Carlile of Berriew, and the work he is doing in carrying that through. To suggest he is not doing good work in this matter was a serious mistake by the Lords, in my opinion. I am determined that we insist on our disagreement with the amendments so as to maintain the existence of the independent reviewer. [Interruption.] I suggest that colleagues look at what he said in the debate in the House of Lords. He did not agree with himself being abolished in the way suggested by this particular proposal—not surprisingly, because he has done a pretty good independent, non-politically partisan job, to which we should all pay respect and tribute. That is why I am determined that we insist on our disagreement with the Lords amendments and thus maintain the existence of the independent reviewer.

I hope that the House will insist on its disagreement to Lords amendments Nos. 27, 31 and 32 and that it will accept the Government amendments in lieu. I also hope that the House will disagree with Lords amendment No. 33D and agree to amendments Nos. 33A to 33C.

When the hon. Member for Beaconsfield responds, I hope that he will set out what leads him to believe that a magic solution will be found by the end of March next year that will allow agreement to be reached on all these things. Even more, I hope that we will hear whether he accepts that his proposal to end control orders in November—or even at the end of March 2006—would encourage terrorists to locate in Britain, because I believe that that would be the effect of his actions. That is why I commend both our amendments and the statement of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to the House and hope that hon. Members will support our amendments this evening.