Orders of the Day — Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:38 pm on 26th October 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Davis David Davis Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 2:38 pm, 26th October 2005

This debate is part of a process that began before 7 July, but which took on a new urgency after that date. On that day, we met to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, and to those who rushed to save them. We do so again today.

That day was the worst of days, but it brought out the best in the British people. It highlighted an instinctive desire to pull together, an unwillingness to be cowed or bullied by the terrorists, and a stubborn determination to get on with our lives.

On 7 July, there were a few evil men, but many more good men and women. They responded to the horror with fortitude, self-sacrifice and great generosity. That is the way we defeat terrorism: by holding firm to our beliefs. Global terrorism is an attack on those very things—our way of life, our beliefs, our liberties, and our lives. So let me deal with one crucial argument right up front.

The Prime Minister said recently:

"I care about one basic . . . liberty which is the right to life of our citizens and freedom from terrorism"— fine words, but we should remember that literally millions of people have died to defend all the liberties that we enjoy today. They were secured through the sacrifices of previous generations. So let us not be the generation that casually gives them away.

The Conservative party has long stood for liberty under the law, but a belief in individual freedom, in freedom of speech, and in our rights to justice are not the monopoly of any one party. The whole House—every individual Member and party member—faces a difficult but vital challenge with the Bill. We must balance the security of the nation with the rights of ordinary citizens.

With that warning, let me turn to the substance of the Bill. Let me start by thanking the Home Secretary for the way he has conducted himself throughout the discussions we have had about the Bill over the entire summer. Despite the pressures from the public, the press, and even the Prime Minister, he has brought a welcome openness of mind to the negotiations. As a result, there are many aspects of the Bill that I am able to support unequivocally.

We welcome plans to create a new offence of acts preparatory to terrorism; indeed, my party has called for that for some time. We also welcome the powers to clamp down on those who take part in terrorist training, or who visit terrorist training camps. Also, within limits, we support powers to introduce a new offence of indirect incitement to terrorism. Although there are significant drafting problems, all of these, and a number of other detailed aspects of the Bill, are intelligent, proportionate and, arguably, long overdue. They are necessary, and they are necessary now. But there are serious issues with other parts, so we must all pause, draw breath and think through the implications very carefully indeed.