Control Orders (Absconders)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Solicitor-General – in the House of Commons at 11:33 am on 24th May 2007.

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Photo of John Reid John Reid Home Secretary, The Secretary of State for the Home Department 11:33 am, 24th May 2007

I entirely accept that we should speak to a range of people, including retired members of the judiciary, but at the end of the day this is a matter for politicians. It is not a matter for judges or lawyers. They are a vital tool in interpreting existing laws, but it is for politicians to address the historical disjunctions that arise because of changes in the world. It is for them to address the law of conflict as it currently exists and its inadequacies in terms of the nature of today's conflict, the law of peace and the disjunction between it and the nature of today's peace—for we currently have something between war and peace—and the nature of the threat that we face.

In considering those issues in general, we must also consider measures in particular. My hon. Friend mentioned some of them. I will certainly consider measures such as post-charge questioning, and I will attempt to build a consensus, but let me briefly make two points. First, it is clear to me personally that, strategically and in the long run, the disbenefits to this country of using intercept evidence in court, with all its implications, outweigh the benefits. This country is not like any other country in terms of our intercept capabilities and its importance to us. Secondly, I say to the whole House that if we ever reach the stage of mass destruction—if a plane, or two planes, come down over the Atlantic, or something horrendous like that happens—the people of this country will not ask us why we introduced measures to strengthen the fight against terrorism; they will demand to know why, given all the signals and signs and indications that this was coming, the House did not act immediately and unanimously, with consensus, to strengthen all our laws against terrorism. That is the question that will be asked of us.