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In the context of DNA and the potential invasion of privacy, while allowing for the benefits of the system as a whole, length of retention time, public consent and the other parameters that have already been amply discussed by my hon. Friends, there remains a very serious question: what limits should we impose? I strongly believe that we should impose only limits that are consistent with what people in this country want. If they decided in a general election, or as a result of public consultation, that they would prefer to have Westminster deciding these issues and the time limits involved, that would indicate the degree of public consent that we have in making decisions here in this House. Much as I like the hon. Member for Eastleigh, with whom I have debated these issues many times over, God knows, 20 years or so, I strongly believe that in DNA matters, or any other matters of this extremely sensitive character, we should not employ abstract principles that are decided in European Courts but could just as well have been decided by our own courts on the basis of our own legislation. This comes down to the whole question of who governs Britain and what is our role as a Member of Parliament.
The new clauses tabled by my hon. Friend James Brokenshire are very important. I return to the question of the wash-up and the extent to which we stand firm on these questions in the interests of our constituents. Our job is to protect them and to ensure that they get a proper and a fair deal, not an unreasonable subjection to principles of proportionality, or other principles, and a whole series of decisions that come from the Strasbourg Court. Nor do we want to find, as the charter of fundamental rights-the Lisbon treaty-begins to work its way into our legislative arrangements, that we are having to accept those principles.
I repudiate the arguments of the hon. Member for Eastleigh because they are based on abstract principles that are, I am afraid, inherited from a period that has long since gone by. We helped to write and produce the European convention on human rights-and, indeed, the charter of the United Nations-because in those days we were repudiating fascism and the surveillance society that went with it. All that came from our tradition, and that is what we in this House should stick to rather than having a kneejerk reaction in going back to principles that were enunciated all those years ago.