Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:17 pm on 15th February 2006.

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Photo of Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Security and Community Safety), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 5:17 pm, 15th February 2006

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will have noticed that I chose my words carefully. I used the phrase "in some quarters", and in doing so I was not including him. However, it is undeniable that some people were not seized of the real and serious nature of the terrorist threat.

Reference has been made to miscarriages of justice, and I refer Members to Lord Carlile's report, in which he points out that although he regards control orders as a last resort, he also considers them a proper, justifiable and proportionate way of proceeding. He had access to all the papers, cases and information on which the Secretary of State based his decisions. He says that he would have reached the same conclusions, but that that does not necessarily mean that those conclusions were correct. That is why it is important that judicial consideration be given to all such cases, and that there is a series of checks, balances and safeguards to ensure that we get the balance right between individual rights and the security of the nation. That is a very difficult balance to strike, but everything that I and the Government have done has been aimed at ensuring that we strike that balance in the right way and preserve the essential freedoms that are so precious to us, while at the same time ensuring that we bear down in the best way that we can on those who would commit terrorist atrocities against this country.

I make no apology for seeking to ensure that this legislation is renewed, so that we can continue to exercise these powers. As I have said, we will have a further opportunity to examine these issues. Broad agreement has been reached with the Opposition parties and the timetable has been set out. In the early part of 2007, we will introduce draft legislation, which will be subject to proper pre-legislative scrutiny. We will try to achieve as much consensus as we can in getting our counter-terrorism law right and making it as robust and fair as possible. Such legislation is in the interests of this nation, and I am sure that all parties will take a very active part in scrutinising it and making sure that the powers are properly framed and used.

I therefore commend the order to the House and ask that the legislation be renewed for a further 12 months.