Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:36 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 6:36 pm, 15th February 2006

I have made the point that none of the orders has been subject to challenge. I take the hon. Gentleman's point about the totality of the restrictions, and I shall come to the length of the orders in a moment.

On the question of discrimination, we reject the possibility of the orders being applied disproportionately to foreign nationals. Control orders are made on the basis of risk, not of nationality. Indeed, there is a control order in place on a UK citizen at the moment. The orders last for only 12 months, and have to be reviewed and renewed after that period. All the circumstances have to be looked at afresh. It is possible that, after an order has been in place for a year, the danger that was posed by an individual might have decreased—in regard to their contact with other individuals, for example—but all those issues would have to be examined. Lord Carlile expressed a genuine concern that orders should not remain in place for years and years, but they can be reviewed after 12 months.

The hon. Member for Newark mentioned memorandums of understanding and asked what would happen if no memorandum were agreed. I can assure him that we detain people pending deportation only if we are satisfied that there is a reasonable prospect of their being deported. That is why we are so keen to work on getting the memorandums of understanding in place as quickly as possible. We have had some success, and we are continuing to work on that.

Mr. Carmichael mentioned the standard of proof. We have debated that issue at length, and the House decided on an appropriate standard. He asked whether the obligations passed the threshold. We sought the permission of the court in relation to the orders containing more stringent conditions, and the court did not think that they amounted to derogating orders. He also mentioned the pro forma that contained a prohibition on attending a mosque. I am informed that that is simply an example from an individual case, and that it is not a pro forma that applies to everyone. These obligations are tailored to the individual concerned. They do not pick out people from a particular faith or community.