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Prevention of Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 10th March 2005.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 6:30 pm, 10th March 2005

It is a great misfortune that again we have such an abbreviated debate on this important Bill.

I should like to think that the Home Secretary and others in the Chamber recognise the high level of agreement between parties, between Benches and between Houses. We all agree that there is a serious threat of terrorism. We all agree that there is a need to take appropriate measures to combat it. Most of us agree that, regrettably, control orders are probably part of the apparatus that is required. We have been prepared to accept that there needs to be an emergency process that enables the Secretary of State to apply for those control orders, even on the grounds of reasonable suspicion. Those in another place who have considered the Bill have done an extremely good job of tabling amendments that work and make the Bill better.

The Home Secretary should have no doubts about whether he will have his Bill, because he has it already. The Bill is workable, and it is for him to take it. It is not good enough to suggest that either a recalcitrant upper House or an obstructive Opposition in this Chamber is stopping him having what he needs in order to combat terrorism effectively.

Which extraordinary suggestions from the other place does the Home Secretary propose to remove this evening? He proposes to remove the power of the Lord Chief Justice, rather than the Lord Chancellor, to make rules of court. A few weeks ago, we considered the abolition of the post of Lord Chancellor, and it is absurd to suggest that as a matter of principle the Lord Chancellor must make rules of court rather than the Lord Chief Justice.

The Home Secretary has asked us to reject the contention that article 6 of the European convention on human rights should be addressed on the face of the Bill. That is ridiculous, but he insists that he will not budge. He could help the House this evening by making it explicit that the process will not accept evidence gained by torture under other jurisdictions, but he has not made that expressly plain.