Orders of the Day — Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:18 pm on 26th October 2005.

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Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP, Belfast East 5:18 pm, 26th October 2005

That danger is certainly there, although I do not believe that the police act in that way. I believe that they will use the legislation sensibly. Perhaps I am far too innocent and trusting.

Steps can, of course, be taken to ensure that supervision takes place. We have already talked about that. A High Court judge, for instance, might be appointed, and some parliamentary activity might be possible at the same time. Such measures could reduce, if not remove, the likelihood of what the hon. Gentleman has described.

I do not doubt that if we give this power to the Home Secretary and, through him, the police, circumstances will arise in future in which it will be deemed to have been used improperly. Let us, however, return to the balance that the Home Secretary, and indeed the House, must determine. If the Home Secretary leans towards the side of protecting liberties rather than protecting lives, there will be no redress for the people who lose lives. If he leans towards the other side there will at least be redress, however unfortunate the circumstances may be. He has still to convince us of the length of time that is necessary, but he has made a good start by convincing us that a longer period is necessary.

Yesterday I spoke in the House about a Bill dealing with electoral law. On that occasion, it was the Conservatives who had tabled a reasoned amendment. They said that they would vote against the Bill, although they also said that that would not destroy it, that it contained good things, and that they wanted it to proceed. They were pilloried by the Liberal Democrats, who said "You cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater." Now the Liberal Democrats have turned their argument on its head. They have left me completely confused, and I presume that they have left others confused as well.