Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:59 pm on 15th February 2006.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:59 pm, 15th February 2006

I do not think that I can add to my hon. Friend's good point.

We accept the need for a consolidating Bill to bring together the disparate elements of anti-terrorism legislation, and the debate has demonstrated that control orders must be dealt with soon. The Joint Committee on Human Rights report shows that they cannot be left in place for as long as the Government seem to propose. Although the renewal of the powers is deeply unsatisfactory, we shall not oppose the order, for the simple reason that we believe that there should be a credible alternative on the statute book before we take that step. However, if the Terrorism Bill is passed by Parliament, that will change. The new offences of acts preparatory to terrorism and encouragement to terrorism are designed to plug gaps in the law and should have a major impact in the area that we are discussing tonight, and by the end of the year we shall have a good idea of how those powers are working.

I ask the Minister to look again at the proposed timetable for legislation. It is surely possible to produce a Bill that will allow the House to consider the case for amending the control orders legislation by January next year, and to make time available to make those amendments to the law before the order before us tonight comes up for renewal again next March. As I said, we shall not oppose the renewal order tonight, but I put the Minister on notice: if the Government fail to honour the commitments that they made, our position cannot be guaranteed this time next year.

In conclusion, I cannot do better than quote the view of Liberty, set out in its briefing for tonight's debate. It says:

"Terrorism poses a threat to the rule of law, to our democratic values and to our human rights. By responding to terrorism with legislation which undermines these very values we also undermine the ultimate antidote to the threat from terrorism and the values that separate us from the terrorist."