Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 15th February 2006.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington 6:30 pm, 15th February 2006

I want to address the same point as Mr. Clarke. When the House debated the legislation, it agreed to enact this unusual process on the basis that the measures were proportionate to the threat that faced the country at the time. If hon. Members had been able to read the Joint Committee on Human Rights report on the impact of the measure on the individuals concerned and, more importantly, their wives, children and families, I wonder whether they would have accepted that it was proportionate. In the report, Lord Carlile states:

"The key to the obligations is proportionality. In each case they must be proportionate to the risk to national security presented by the controlee. I would urge that in each case the individual risks are examined closely, and the minimum obligations consistent with public safety are imposed."

Page 63 of the report includes evidence from Liberty about the impact of the operation of control orders on the individuals concerned. The evidence is not only distressing, but well beyond what hon. Members assumed would be the impact when they agreed to the process. One person was

"required to comply with his curfew between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am, was entirely isolated in the premises in which he was placed in March 2005 after being taken abruptly from Broadmoor Hospital and had no means of contacting the outside world. He . . . became an outpatient of concern to his local psychiatric hospital. On several occasions"

Liberty

"became aware he was attempting to take his life, on one occasion by attempting to throw himself out of a window. His life, after release under a Control Order, has been one beset by serious psychiatric, physical and emotional difficulty."

It behoves a Government who place an individual in such circumstances to ensure that support is available.

Page 72 of the report includes evidence from Gareth Peirce about

"The return home of men already mentally damaged by indefinite detention for three and a half years to homes where families had also been damaged, or had been unaccustomed to the presence of their father or husband for a number of years."

That

"created circumstances in which considerable flexibility and adjustment could be anticipated as being required, and where support for those in those homes including support on an easily accessible basis would clearly be needed. Instead, the Control Orders have ensured that in large part support is not available . . . The families believe themselves to be imprisoned in their own homes, to be stigmatised and isolated from society".

The evidence includes cases in which children have been affected by what has happened to their parents. When we enacted the legislation on control orders, no one appreciated the scale of the Government's lack of concern about individual cases, their failure to provide support and the impact on the children involved.

Today's debate is limited, and I concur with the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe that it was predictable that instead of its becoming a major debate each year, a derisory amount of time would be allocated and few hon. Members would be interested.