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‘(1) Except so far as otherwise provided under this section, the Secretary of State’s TPIM powers expire at the end of 5 years beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.
(2) The Secretary of State may, by order made by statutory instrument—
(a) repeal the Secretary of State’s TPIM powers;
(b) at any time revive the Secretary of State’s TPIM powers for a period not exceeding 5 years;
(c) provide that the Secretary of State’s TPIM powers—
(i) are not to expire at the time when they would otherwise expire under subsection (1) or in accordance with an order under this subsection; but
(ii) are to continue in force after that time for a period not exceeding 5 years.
(3) Before making an order under this section the Secretary of State must consult—
(a) the independent reviewer appointed for the purposes of section 20;
(b) the Intelligence Services Commissioner; and
(c) the Director-General of the Security Service.
(4) An order under this section may not be made unless a draft of it has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.
(5) Subsection (4) does not apply to an order that contains a declaration by the Secretary of State that the order needs, by reason of urgency, to be made without the approval required by that subsection.
(6) An order that contains such a declaration—
(a) must be laid before Parliament after being made; and
(b) if not approved by a resolution of each House before the end of 40 days beginning with the day on which the order was made, ceases to have effect at the end of that period.
(7) Where an order ceases to have effect in accordance with subsection (6), that does not—
(a) affect anything previously done in reliance on the order; or
(b) prevent the making of a new order to the same or similar effect.
(8) In this section—
“40 days” means 40 days computed as provided for in section 7(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946;
“Secretary of State’s TPIM powers” means—
(a) the power to impose a TPIM notice under section2;(b) the power to extend a TPIM notice under section5(2);(c) the power to vary a TPIM notice under section12(1)(c); and(d) the power to revive a TPIM notice under section13(6) to (9).’.—
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Government new clause 4—Section (Expiry and repeal of TPIM powers): supplementary provision.
New clause 7—Annual renewal
‘(1) Except in so far as otherwise provided under this Clause, Clause 2 and all other consequential clauses in this Act will expire at the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which this Act comes into force.
(2) The Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument—
(a) repeal Clause 2 and all other consequential clauses in this Act; or
(b) provide that Clause 2 will not expire at the time when it would otherwise expire under subsection (1) of this Clause but will continue in force after that time for a period not exceeding one year.
(3) Before making an order under subsection (2)(b) of this Clause the Secretary of State must consult—
(a) the Independent Reviewer of Counter-Terrorism Legislation;
(b) the police; and
(c) the security services.
(4) No order may be made by the Secretary of State under this Clause unless a draft of it has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.
(5) Subsection (4) of this Clause does not apply to an order that contains a declaration by the Secretary of State that the order needs, by reason of urgency, to be made without the approval required by subsection (4).
(6) An order under this Clause that contains such a declaration—
(a) must be laid before Parliament after being made; and
(b) if not approved by a resolution of each House before the end of 40 days beginning with the day on which the order was made, ceases to have effect at the end of that period.
(7) Where an order ceases to have effect in accordance with subsection (6), that does not—
(a) affect anything previously done in reliance on the order; or
(b) prevent the making of a new order to the same or similar effect.’.
Government amendments 11 and 13.
Amendment 8, page 15, line 41, clause 27, leave out from ‘Act’ to end of line and insert ‘will come into force on
Amendment 20, page 15, line 41, clause 27, leave out from ‘Act’ to end of line and insert ‘will come into force the day after the Home Secretary reports to Parliament to confirm that paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) below have been complied with—
(a) no later than one month after the day on which this Act is passed, the Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter-terrorism will produce a report to the Home Secretary detailing the additional required resources (“required resources”) that will be needed to manage the increased risks arising from the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and the passing of this Act;
(b) no later than two months after the day on which this Act is passed the Home Secretary will agree with the
Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter-terrorism the required resources under paragraph (a) and the timetable for such required resources becoming deployable for use in implementing and managing measures relating to TPIM notices;
(c) this Act cannot come into force until the required resources as agreed under paragraph (b) above are made available and ready for deployment.’.
In starting our consideration of the Bill, we will be reflecting on a number of points and issues that were debated in Committee. I look forward to continuing some of the debates that we had with Members who were part of that Committee, and to other Members joining today’s consideration.
This group contains two related but distinct sets of amendments. The first deals with expiry and renewal of the legislation, and the second with its commencement. On expiry and renewal, the Government new clauses and amendments return to an important matter that was raised on Second Reading and in Committee: the duration of the Bill’s provisions and whether they should be subject to any form of sunset or renewal.
A number of arguments have been advanced. The Government previously set out their view that the Bill is the product of a lengthy and considered review, that it makes significant improvements to the control orders system, and that it establishes a framework that ought to be able to operate stably and effectively on a permanent basis. The point has been well made that we are legislators, and that we are fully competent to review the necessity of legislation, and to amend or repeal it if it is no longer necessary or if changes are needed. However, it has also been argued with some force that the nature of the powers in the Bill makes some form of regular review appropriate, both to reflect the weighty responsibility on Parliament when it accords the Government such powers, and to focus minds on the need to ensure that the legislation remains in force only as long as is necessary.
If this Bill is the product of a long and considered review, why did the Government think it necessary to publish an alternative Bill last Thursday night?
I will come to that point during consideration of further amendments, but I draw the right hon. Gentleman’s attention to the Government’s counter-terrorism review—which specifically contemplated the necessity of enhanced measures, should exceptional circumstances require them—and to the specific paragraphs and references in that review. That is why I have said that the product of this legislation has been subject to that careful consideration.
I believe that this is the hon. Gentleman’s first time at the Dispatch Box with his new responsibilities as counter-terrorism Minister, so may I congratulate him on his appointment and on taking on that portfolio?
I am concerned about Lord Macdonald’s role in the Government’s latest suggestions. He was their reviewer of counter-terrorism policy, he produced a report and there were differences between him and the Government on a number of important points. Has he had the opportunity to comment on the Bill? Has the Home Secretary spoken to him about the substance of what is before the House today?
The right hon. Gentleman is probably aware that Lord Macdonald produced a separate report alongside the counter-terrorism review document to which I have alluded. That analysis and ancillary documentation fitted alongside the review, which was published earlier this year. We will deal in further detail with the points I made about the Bill’s provisions and with the concept of the need for exceptional emergency measures when we discuss the second group of amendments.
As the right hon. Gentleman will know, the foreword to Lord Macdonald’s report said that he was invited
“to provide independent oversight of the Review”.
That is the role that he conducted. He was asked to
“ensure that it is properly conducted, that all the relevant options have been considered and the recommendations are balanced.”
That was the role he was required to carry out in the counter-terrorism review, which, obviously, led to the preparation of this Bill.
I am not comfortable with the draft Bill, but will the Minister accept my congratulations on moving the Government forward from the position set out in comments made by his former colleague, Baroness Neville-Jones? She said that this emergency power would be discussed only with the Opposition and would not be scrutinised by Parliament, so will he accept my congratulations on moving to a much more democratic process?
We have made it clear that the draft Bill will be subject to review and scrutiny by a Joint Committee of the House, and we believe that to be the right way forward.
Let me return to the new clauses in this group. We have carefully considered the various debates in Committee on the length and duration of the Bill. An amendment was tabled that would have introduced an annual renewal of the powers, equivalent to that currently contained in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 in relation to control orders. An amendment with the same effect is before us today as new clause 7. Members of the Committee will recall that we had a helpful debate and that I made a commitment to consider the matter further and return to it. I thank the hon. Member for
Cambridge (Dr Huppert) and other members of the Committee for the manner in which that discussion was held and for the points made. In line with that commitment, I reflected carefully on those points, noted the feelings and introduced new clauses 3 and 4. They specify that the operative powers under the Bill will expire after five years, unless they are renewed by the Secretary of State, by order, subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.
There would also be an order-making power to repeal the powers or to revive them when they had been allowed to expire without their having been renewed. We consider that that approach strikes the right balance. It ensures that there will be a statutory requirement regularly to review the need for the legislation and each new Parliament will have the opportunity to debate it in the context of the situation at the time and to take its own view. We do not believe, however, that such a review is necessary annually.
The requirement for a review every five years, rather than every single year, as with control orders, seems to us to strike the right balance. It will avoid what Paul Goggins referred to on Second Reading as
“the constant arguing and bickering on this issue year after year when we should be seeking consensus in the face of the terrible threats that terrorists bring”.—[Hansard, 7 June 2011; Vol. 529, c. 84-85.]
The Bill will be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny, according to the usual timetable, which will allow such a settled position to be reached. That is in contrast to the control orders legislation that it replaces, which was pushed through with little opportunity for debate, making annual renewal an appropriate safeguard—but one that we do not believe is necessary for this Bill.
Renewal every five years therefore provides an appropriately balanced approach. It reflects not only the seriousness with which we take these powers and the need to build in effective safeguards to ensure that they do not remain in force longer than necessary but the competence of this House and the other place to apply intense scrutiny to legislation and to arrive at a position that will not need to be reviewed annually. It also recognises the sustained nature of the threat and the fact that, sadly, these measures are likely to continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future.
I thank the Minister for giving way and for accepting the idea I floated in Committee. Will he give me some reassurance that if in five years’ time he and his party are part of the Government they will approach the question in the spirit of carrying out a full review, as this Government did? That would enable detailed analysis and preparation before any further votes were taken.
As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, one Parliament cannot bind another. It would not be appropriate for me to suggest or require that a future Government act in a particular way when addressing such points. It would be reasonable and appropriate, however, to consider these matters carefully and in a measured and appropriate way, examining the security issues at that point in time in the same way as this Government sought to do in our counter-terrorism review, which led to the creation of this Bill. We consider that a five-year renewal period, allowing each Parliament the opportunity to take a view on this important issue, strikes the right balance.
I join my hon. Friend Dr Huppert in welcoming this measure. May I probe the Minister a little further on the spirit of the renewal every five years? Will he give some guidance about whether, in his view, we should have a thorough and complete review of these measures every five years rather than sending them through on the nod for another five years, saying that they seem to be working? Many of us would have liked to have seen the Government go further to undo some of the damage done by the previous Government and it is important that we hear whether the Minister anticipates the review every five years to be more thorough than the annual on-the-nod review.
As I said to the hon. Member for Cambridge, I would certainly anticipate a considered review of counter-terrorism powers when the time arrived. That would be the appropriate way to proceed and to examine the renewal. The time period will also allow further and broader consideration of the security position at that point and of what measures might be required, necessary and appropriate to deal with the risks, challenges and issues that face our country.
I do not wish to detain the House, but I should explain briefly that amendments 11 and 13 make necessary technical changes to clauses 19 and 20 in consequence of Government new clauses 3 and 4. Amendment 11 ensures that the Secretary of State is not under a nugatory duty to report on the exercise of her powers under the Bill at a time when her powers have expired or been repealed. Similarly, amendment 13 ensures that the independent reviewer is not under a duty to report on the operation of the Act for periods when the operative powers are not in force.
Amendments 8 and 20, which were tabled by the Opposition, relate to when the Bill may come into force —currently, the day after it receives Royal Assent. It has been suggested, and I have consistently and strongly refuted such suggestions, that the police and the Security Service will not be ready to implement the new system when the Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent because the additional investigative resources that will complement the new system will not be in place. On that basis, and on the basis of wider suggestions that the powers under the new system will be insufficient to protect the public, it has also been suggested that the new system should not be introduced before the 2012 Olympics.
Does the Minister recall that when Deputy Assistant Commissioner Osborne gave evidence to the Committee, he said:
“To get the resources that we anticipate we need will take more than a year, in terms of being able to get people trained and to get the right equipment. Until we have got that, we will not be able to start to bed things in and see how it works and how it transpires”?—[Official Report, Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Public Bill Committee,
Clearly, the Minister is rejecting DAC Osborne’s evidence that it will take more than a year to get the agents trained to have the necessary skills and to get the electronic equipment that will be required to meet the increased risk that will inevitably be caused by the Bill. Does he believe that Mr Osborne is entirely incorrect?
I will certainly come to that point because it is at the crux of the amendments relating to this part of the Bill and to the points that the right hon. Lady and other right hon. and hon. Members made in Committee. The Metropolitan Police Service has confirmed that arrangements will be in place effectively to manage the transition from control orders to TPIM notices when they become effective. During the summer I had a number of conversations with the Metropolitan Police Service and I went to see the team that has responsibility for managing those who are subject to control orders and for managing terrorists who have been released from prison and are subsequently being managed. It has been very humbling to see the work that they do on a weekly basis to ensure that we are all properly protected. I have spoken personally to those who will be involved in managing the transition and the new regime. I cannot go into detail about the plans that are at hand, but I assure the House that I have been impressed by the range of excellent work that is under way. I reiterate that the Metropolitan Police Service has confirmed that arrangements will be in place effectively to manage the transition from control orders to TPIM notices when that change takes place.
I have no doubt that the Metropolitan Police Service is doing everything it can to try to ensure the risk to the public is properly managed—it would absolutely be committed to doing that. However, we have on record DAC Osborne’s evidence to the Committee that it would take more than a year to get these resources into place. If the Minister is now saying that the Metropolitan police have revised their view and that it will not take a year, may we have something similar in writing, as evidence, for all Members who are concerned about these matters, so that we can see that DAC Osborne’s original statement was incorrect?
The right hon. Lady has consistently made this point and we debated this issue at length in Committee, but I have been quite clear to the House about the statements that the Metropolitan Police Service has made to the Home Office. It has confirmed that arrangements will be in place effectively to manage the transition from control orders to TPIM notices. I am being quite specific and explicit in relation to that and the work that has been undertaken to prepare for that transition. Although I accept the points that the right hon. Lady has made, I have been quite clear about the assurances that we have gained in that regard and, similarly, the work that the Security Service has developed in its detailed plans for its additional allocation over the next four years, which it too is implementing.
The Minister will recall from Committee that one of the issues regarding additional resources was the fact that we are talking not just about money but about the extra surveillance officers who will be required to meet the increased risk under the TPIMs regime, which did not exist under control orders because we had relocation and longer curfews. DAC Osborne was clear that it takes about a year to train the extra surveillance officers. Will the Minister explain how that will be truncated and how the training will now take less than a year?
Let me make it clear that the additional resources are not simply about providing additional human surveillance capacity. The police and Security Service will use the additional money to enhance their use of a range of covert investigative techniques, including human and technical surveillance. It is not simply about that one point. Although I am unable to go into the detail of the preparations that are in hand, the police service and the Security Service have been engaged in work to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to provide us with the assurance that the TPIMs regime will work as we intend, so that we as a Government can fulfil our responsibilities and provide assurances on this important point.
This crucial point came up in Committee. I understand what the Minister is saying. He sought reassurances from the Met, as we would expect, but we had the evidence of DAC Osborne. If the process is to work, surely we should have before us a letter of confirmation from the Met stating what the Minister is telling us and assuring us that the Met have revised their position as set out in DAC Osborne’s evidence to the Committee, and that they are happy with that. I fully respect the Minister’s word and I understand what he is saying, but for the benefit of the process that should be put in writing from the Met to the Committee or to the House.
I have made clear the assurances that we have received. I know how the hon. Gentleman approaches these matters, and we have had numerous debates on numerous issues over the years. We have sought assurance. In preparing the Bill and the change to current practice, the Government have proceeded by seeking to assure ourselves that appropriate measures are in place to mitigate the risk posed by those who are suspected of being involved in terrorism but cannot be deported or prosecuted. As I have said consistently in relation to TPIMs, the legislation and the enhanced capabilities that the police and the Security Service will have ensure that there is a balanced package of measures that will operate as we intend. We are satisfied that the preparations in hand will lead to the changes envisaged by the Bill following Royal Assent.
I commend the Minister for the visit that he made to the Metropolitan police, but his assurances this afternoon go nowhere near far enough. Since his visit to the Metropolitan police, has he had a chance or has his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had a chance to talk to the Prime Minister about the matter? On
“I will certainly look very carefully and closely at what he says.”—[Hansard, 11 August 2011; Vol. 531, c. 1074.]
I have not had a chance to speak to the Prime Minister about that, but I am sure the Minister has. Will he update us?
I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman had that exchange with the Prime Minister and has subsequently written to him. He raised the point in a fair and balanced way and, from my reading of the record, the Prime Minister said that he would look carefully and closely at what he said. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that we have looked carefully and closely at what he said, but the approach that we are taking is as I have set out in relation to the Bill and as I set out this afternoon.
Right hon. and hon. Members will appreciate that we cannot provide detailed breakdowns of what money we provide for specific security activities. This could provide detailed information about our capabilities and techniques, which could undermine national security. But the Government continue to consider that the TPIMs regime and the additional resources for the police and Security Service for covert investigation provide an acceptable balance between the needs of national security and civil liberties, and that the overall package mitigates the risks that we face. Indeed, the additional resources for covert investigative techniques could increase the opportunities for the collection of evidence that may be used in a prosecution.
It would be irresponsible of the Government to introduce the new system when it was not safe to do so. I am sure that there is absolute consensus on that, and I appreciate that the proposed changes are intended to ensure that the Government are not able to take such a risk with public safety, but I have been clear in what I have said and about the assurances that we have obtained, and, on the introduction of the new regime, the Government would not take such a risk if they were not satisfied about the steps and approaches being taken by the Metropolitan Police Service and Security Service.
I have moved new clause 3, and I look forward to further debate about the other new clauses and amendments.
May I welcome the Minister formally to his place? It is a pleasure to continue on Report the debate that we had in Committee.
I shall speak to new clause 7 and amendment 20, which stand in my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation of the Government’s movement in relation to the introduction of new clause 3 and new clause 4, which, as he explained, envisages a five-year sunset clause and moves us somewhat further on than did our debate in Committee.
New clause 7 would replicate the position under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which brought in the control order regime, and the amendment would limit to 12 months the powers under the TPIMs regime and would, therefore, require their annual renewal by Parliament.
Our new clause began in Committee as an amendment, which I moved, and was based on oral evidence given in Committee by Liberty, Justice and others. It was introduced to reflect our concerns that the Government’s legislation will mean fewer checks and balances on what are exceptional measures. Many in the House agree that they are undesirable and in an ideal world we would not have to have them, but they have proved necessary, given the serious terrorist risks that we face.
I do not often agree with Liberty, particularly on control orders, because our starting points for the debate are different, but I was struck by its evidence in Committee, when the organisation made it clear that it would rather—to be fair to Shami Chakrabarti, she said that she would choke on these words—take existing control orders, with their annual renewal, meaning a 12-month limit on their power, over the new TPIMs regime. The reasons why—and why I agree with that position—primarily relate to the importance of bringing such exceptional measures back to the House for regular, annual review and, if Parliament deems it appropriate, for renewal.
I was not on the Committee, but in the evidence I noted Lord Carlile’s comments about the point of annual renewal. He said that
“annual renewal has been a bit of a fiction, to be frank,” and went on to issue a challenge, stating that
Parliament should have the courage of its convictions and decide whether it wants a regime like this or not.”—[Official Report, Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Public Bill Committee,
How does the hon. Lady square that with her view of annual reviews?
I am grateful for that intervention, and I will come to Lord Carlile’s evidence in Committee. He clearly did not think that annual renewal was needed, but recent developments, in particular the introduction of the Government’s draft Bill four days ago, make annual renewal even more necessary than before. I will turn shortly to the reasons why.
May I ask the hon. Lady the same question that I asked the Minister? If the measures before us are passed and there is a five-yearly cycle, and if the Government then include her and her party, will she commit to a full and proper review of the entire counter-terror strategy, as this Government have?
I am afraid that I have to give the hon. Gentleman exactly the same answer that the Minister gave, which is that obviously one Parliament cannot constrain another. I imagine that most new Governments would want to look carefully and responsibly at what are exceptional measures. We have all stated on many occasions that in an ideal world we would not need these powers. The risk is developing all the time and I would hope that any Government would keep these matters under continual review, rather than just saying that they will do it every five years. I think that that clearly sets out our position.
I am interested in my hon. Friend’s answer. Does she not think that we should move in the direction of using criminal law in all cases, rather than going down this endless route of special legislation? I have been in this House long enough to have voted against most of these pieces of legislation, starting with the renewal of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974. I did so because it departed from the criminal law and essentially involved the executive powers of Ministers, which I am sure she will agree is a dangerous thing.
Wherever possible, we should clearly proceed down the criminal justice system route. If that is available in the irreducible minimum number of cases that we have, it should be pursued. I expect the police and responsible prosecutors to ensure that prosecutions take place wherever possible. I think that all Members on both sides of the House share the view that it is far better that individuals involved in terrorism-related activity are prosecuted, convicted and banged up. However, there are cases where it is not possible to convert the evidence that we have, which is intelligence based, into evidence that would be admissible in a court of law. For those cases, it is necessary to have a different system to deal with the risk. If we could avoid being in that position, of course we would, but it is just not possible because of the nature of the evidence and the intelligence sources that it relies on. I am afraid to say that it will not always be possible to resort to the criminal justice system and that a different kind of system for dealing with this risk is therefore necessary.
I have immense sympathy with the views that have just been expressed by Jeremy Corbyn. Equally, I have some sympathy with the notion that we should look at this legislation on a more regular basis. However, the hon. Lady has not addressed the issue raised by my hon. Friend Richard Fuller a moment ago. The reality is that with Northern Ireland terrorism before 2005, the annual reviews were entirely a fiction and the powers went through on the nod. I have some sympathy with the Minister’s view that a five-yearly review allows for a proper review, provided that the safeguards are in place. Although an annual review might sound like better protection on the face of it, it becomes largely a fiction.
I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman would describe parliamentary debate and holding the Government to account as a fiction. I do not think that having an annual debate is a fiction. It is important that we give right hon. and hon. Members the chance to hold the Government to account, to review how the powers have been used throughout a particular year, and to take a view on whether the risk is such that we still need an exceptional system of rules outside the criminal justice system. I do not believe that those debates are a fiction.
Does the hon. Lady accept that using intelligence-based evidence, such as evidence obtained under torture, evidence from foreign countries or unchecked intercept evidence, leads to a greater chance of a miscarriage of justice? The reason I raise that point now is that we did not once, in the course of all the so-called reviews of the control order legislation, hear about any miscarriages of justice. Of course, there were several, as was demonstrated by the courts.
I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman’s intervention. In the end, we must accept that there is an irreducible minimum number of cases in which the intelligence tells us that a serious risk is posed by an individual and they have to be dealt with, but they cannot be brought within the criminal justice system.
We must accept that we need a system for mitigating that risk and for bringing those individuals under some form of control to prevent them from attack planning, which might lead to the loss of innocent lives.
“There are cases where police bail can, of course, be used”?—[Hansard, 7 July 2011; Vol. 530, c. 1688.]
Alternatively, does she prefer the line that she used in the Public Bill Committee that police bail is not the way to deal with such cases?
I note that the hon. Gentleman’s amendments on police bail did not make the selection list today, so we cannot continue the debate on it that was begun in Committee. I simply repeat to him the position as it was stated in Committee. There may well be some cases in which it is possible to consider whether police bail might be an answer, but I do not believe that that would be possible in the vast majority of cases. That is not the view of the experts, including the individuals who looked into the matter under the last Labour Government. That was why the control orders regime was deemed necessary.
I also say to the hon. Gentleman that when an individual is put on police bail, it is with a view to bringing a prosecution. If that process were started in the knowledge that the intelligence could never be converted into evidence, applying for police bail would be a sham. I am not sure that many judges would let an individual get away with that.
I am going to make some progress. I have been quite generous, and I will take some more interventions a little later.
On annual renewal, covered in new clause 7, there is a symbolic and practical importance to Parliament asking itself every year whether the powers that it has given the Home Secretary are still necessary and in holding the police and the Government to account for how those powers are used. That is an important measure of checks and balances. As we discussed in Committee, it also concentrates the mind. It requires the police and everybody else to consider regularly whether we truly need these powers, whether the risk is such that we cannot do without them and whether some mechanism might present itself that would enable more people to be brought within the criminal justice system rather than be kept outside it.
Our debate in Committee featured the idea of exceptionalism—the idea that these powers are an exceptional part of our legal framework and should not be permanent. Of course, the Bill did not originally have the provisions of new clauses 3 and 4 in it, and I am grateful that the Government have made some movement and taken on board some of the arguments made in Committee in support of more regular review and renewal of the powers. However, I do not believe that the new clauses go far enough, or that review every five years would meet our concerns about how the Bill and the new TPIMs regime will operate in practice.
There are a number of reasons for our concerns. The first, which the Minister touched on, is about resources. We have real concern about the additional resources that the police have said will be required under the new regime because there will be a higher risk under TPIMs. We are concerned about how they will be deployed and come on line ready for the police to use. Given that uncertainty, annual renewal and an early opportunity for Parliament to consider how the new TPIMs regime is getting on would be very welcome. It is necessary also because of the draft Bill that the Government printed only about four days ago as it would bring control order powers back into the system by way of emergency legislation. We have a number of questions about how that alternative regime may operate, which we will come to in the next group of amendments.
I am fascinated by what the hon. Lady says about her desire to review the legislation. It seems that we are perhaps talking at cross purposes about the role of a sunset clause. I would like one because I would like TPIMs to go the same way that I want control orders to go. It sounds like she wants a review so that she can bring the subject of TPIMs back up and make them more draconian. Is that why she would like a review?
A review is an opportunity for Parliament to take stock of how the regime has operated over the course of one year, and to decide whether it wants to give the Home Secretary those powers to use for another year. Obviously, Parliament is the right place to debate any new circumstances that bring about the need for more powers.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the way to approach such issues is to consider the balance of risk, rather than simply to adopt a fixed position, as Dr Huppert appears to have done? We should then consider how to get to a position in a series of steps. Clearly, the questions are these: what risk faces the nation from a terrorist threat, and what are the appropriate, proportionate powers to protect the public? That ought to be the analysis. We should not seek constantly to chip away at powers when that might expose us to a greater risk.
I agree with my hon. Friend on the starting point for debate. When Parliament considers such matters, it must consider the balance of risk and ask serious questions about how that risk is managed. That should always be the starting point of hon. Members as responsible parliamentarians when we consider exceptional powers that do not exist in other parts of our legal framework. We are also committed to saying that in an ideal world, we would not need such powers, but unfortunately, we are not in an ideal world—[ Interruption. ] Does Mr Davis want to intervene?
The right hon. Gentleman does not, so I shall press on.
I spoke of the draft Bill that the Government published a few days ago, which seeks to introduce control order powers by way of emergency legislation. That Bill, which we will discuss at length shortly, raises many questions, and an early opportunity for Parliament to take stock of the operation, implementation, practice and working of that regime will be welcome.
The hon. Lady is being extraordinarily generous in giving way. The question that I should like to ask is from the perspective of the people who are under control orders and similar restrictions. Such people have not been brought to trial and no evidence has been presented to them to substantiate the reasons why they are under such restrictions. She is advocating annual reviews, and increases as well as decreases in powers, but has she considered the commentary on the mental health implications for the people who are subject to control orders? In that regard, does she believe that some period of certainty for those people on how they will be treated will be welcome?
The first part of the hon. Gentleman’s intervention makes my point for me. This is about the balance of risk. It is in the interests of those who are under control orders for Parliament to look at such measures at regular intervals rather than once every five years. His intervention supports rather than goes against my point.
I shall make some progress, because I am about to wind-up on new clause 7.
The Minister spoke of the comments made by my right hon. Friend Paul Goggins on Second Reading. My right hon. Friend spoke powerfully on the merit of reaching a settled position on such measures, but I should tell the Minister that given what has happened in the past few days, we are clearly not at a settled position on the Bill. In fact, the Government unsettled matters further by introducing the draft Bill a few days ago. For that reason, the Opposition believe that an annual renewal measure is merited and needed now more than ever, and we shall later seek to press new clause 7 to a Division.
I am grateful for the Minister’s comments on amendment 20, which is in my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends. He updated the House and told us from the Dispatch Box that the police say that they will be able to meet the increased risks that we face under TPIMs with the additional resources, but I am afraid that I do not feel reassured by what he said, and we need to consider the matter in greater detail in the House this evening.
By way of background, I should add that amendment 20 began life in Committee, as the Minister noted, and was introduced following evidence given to the Committee by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Osborne, the national co-ordinator for counter-terrorist investigations. It is important to consider his evidence in detail. He was asked by my right hon. Friend Hazel Blears about the time scales that he was working to in relation to the TPIMs regime, given that we have the Olympics next year, which is a particular concern. He said:
“To get the resources that we anticipate we need will take more than a year, in terms of being able to get people trained and to get the right equipment. Until we have got that, we will not be able to start to bed things in and see how it works and how it transpires. It also depends on how many people actually go on to the TPIMs regime and how many people come off it. There are a lot of inter-dependents there. The control order put people in the protect and prepare part of the Contest strategy. TPIMs moves them back into the pursue element of the strategy, which is a slight paradox because it was only due to the failure to get sufficient evidence to prosecute them that we moved them into the control order in the first place
He was asked further questions about resources by Stephen Phillips. He asked why Mr Osborne was saying that it would take a year for the new regime to bed in, to which Mr Osborne replied:
“I think I said it would take a year to procure and train sufficient additional assets before it would be ready to do that. We have to order some of the assets so that they are made in advance. To train a surveillance officer and then have them fully able to operate in a challenging environment probably takes at least 12 months before they are deployable. Once they are deployable, they have to work within the environment under a new set of regimes that will need to bed in.”––[Official Report, Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Public Bill Committee,
That important evidence is the reason I moved the amendment in Committee and why I tabled amendment 20 for debate today. I was extremely concerned about the position on resources. The evidence from Mr Osborne was obviously stark, and it raised in my mind the spectre that if the Bill were passed by the end of this year, as we anticipate it will be, we would create a concerning situation: the additional resources required to meet the increased risk might not be deployable, and if they are, it seems they might be only partially ready. That is not, to my mind, a satisfactory state of affairs. The amendment therefore seeks to prevent the Bill from coming into force until the resources are online and would put in place a mechanism by which to get agreement between the national co-ordinator and the Home Secretary on the additional resources required and to get them ready and online.
My hon. Friend, who is making a forceful point, will remember Lord Carlile’s evidence to the Committee about the cost of surveillance. He said that the new TPIMs regime will increase the amount of human surveillance and that we could be talking about £18 million. We have not heard anything from the Minister about Lord Carlile’s evidence. Is that another area of concern for her?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. I entirely agree that the additional costs of the TPIMs regime are of concern, given the much lower cost of the control order regime, and I invite the Minister to explain how that correlates with the draft emergency legislation. Presumably, the additional resources might not be required in those circumstances. We need greater clarity about the costs that might arise in that situation.
When I asked the Minister, in relation to amendment 20, about the one year that it takes to train up a surveillance officer, he said, “We’re not just looking at human resources”,
but it is clear that Mr Osborne—this is why I read out his responses—was not just talking about human resources either. He was talking about hardware, software and money resources too, and it was his considered opinion, put on the record of the House, that all those resources would take more than one year to come online.
I have to say that the Minister’s explanation—that not only are we looking at surveillance officers, but somehow this process can be managed with technology as well as anything else—does not give us the reassurance that we need that all the resources will be available, a point that I put to the Minister in Committee as well. I am not a very technical person—I often describe myself as a “tech-know-nothing”. However, after we have worked out what hardware is required, it will then need to be designed, procured and made, a process that I imagine would also take some time and could not happen overnight. Again, we do not have any clarity that those assets will be ready by the time the Bill comes into force either.
We are in a position where Parliament is being asked to pass a Bill when there are real concerns about whether the increased risk that it poses can be met by the Government and the police. Our amendments do not seek to frustrate the purpose of the Bill, but to reassure the House and, perhaps more importantly, the public that we will be ready for the new regime when it comes online. They therefore offer a practical way to try to deal with some of the issues that have been raised in Committee and which will be of great concern to the public. I never thought that I would say this, but I can pray in aid Lord Howard, the former Home Secretary, in support of my case for amendment 20. He, too, gave evidence to the Committee, saying:
“If the police evidence is that it will take them a year to prepare, that evidence has to be respected. Obviously, it is important that arrangements remain in place until the moment arrives when the new regime can be effectively introduced.”––[Official Report, Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Public Bill Committee,
That is exactly the purpose of amendment 20.
I, too, think that my hon. Friend is making a powerful case on resources. This is a practical issue, irrespective of the principal differences that we might have on different sides of the House. Does she regard the assurances that the Minister has received from the Metropolitan police as sufficient in the circumstances? Would she welcome some written evidence from the Minister and the Metropolitan police about the time that it will take to procure those resources, both human and electronic, and the period in which they can be ready to meet the increased risk caused by the TPIM legislation?
I entirely endorse my right hon. Friend’s comments. The House needs much more detail, given that there now seems to be a big difference between what Deputy Assistant Commissioner Osborne told us in Committee and what the Minister is telling the House today. A written explanation needs to be put before the House when we are working out whether we buy this new line that the resources will, in fact, be ready. If that information is forthcoming, it is important that it should be about not just the human resources, but the hardware, software and other assets, as well as the money. I appreciate that some of that information might be constrained, but surely it would not be too difficult to allay any fears that the House might have about the time that it takes for such resources to be either trained up or procured and developed.
The hon. Lady is making a fair case, but in view of the fact that we are now 11 months in advance of the Olympic games, which is clearly the big cloud in the sky when it comes to these issues, is she really suggesting that we should keep to the control order regime until the Olympics are behind us and only then change, or does she think that there is any chance of the procurement that she is looking for taking place within that time frame, such that the process will be “online”, as she puts it, before July next year?
The short answer is yes. We have retained the control order regime until the end of this year, which was a decision that the coalition Government took to give themselves a chance to bring forward their legislation. I do not think that an amendment that seeks to make that legislation better—or at least allay concerns that the public might have about the dangers that it poses—should somehow mean that we dump control orders and just have a gap. We could quite easily carry on with control orders until the new resources were ready to be deployed, which is exactly what the amendment envisages.
I have been a watcher. It takes a heck of a long time to train someone to become proficient in watching an individual. I fully support what the hon. Lady is saying. We cannot just do this overnight; it is going to take a long time. I am really worried by what the Minister said about the Metropolitan police saying that they could do all this now, when Mr Osborne said that it would take a minimum of 12 months to establish.
Does not this go to the heart of the issue? It is risky enough to legislate, as the Government are proposing, to give terrorist suspects increased freedom of movement and increased access to mobile phones and the internet, and then to admit, as the Government do, that this will put increased pressure on the police and the security services, without also trying to implement the legislation before the police and security services are fully ready to cope with the increased risk. Does my hon. Friend agree that, if the Government do not produce better evidence of the capability of the police and security services to meet this increased risk, they will be adding irresponsibility to increased risk for the public?
I entirely endorse my right hon. Friend’s point, which reminds me that, under the Bill, access to electronic communications must be provided to suspects. One of the justifications for that is that the suspects will be monitored in that way, and the equipment will be provided by the Home Office. Presumably, some kind of software or hardware wiring will be needed to enable the suspects to be traced, and to listen in on conversations. Again, I do not believe that those technical assets could be procured overnight, especially given the different kinds of asset that might be needed to deal with different kinds of risk.
“I visited some of our prisons and I saw some of the terrorists who had been prosecuted, and they really are scary people. Next year, a large number of them will be released on licence, and they will be back in society, so the threat is always there.”––[Official Report, Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Public Bill Committee,
Does not that show that our police and security forces are constantly having to meet these threats? If the police feel comfortable managing people who have been convicted and are coming out of prison, this modification of control orders into TPIMs is a minor issue in comparison. The hon. Lady is building this issue up into something that it is not.
I entirely disagree with the hon. Gentleman. In fact, he almost makes my point for me. The police do an incredible job of trying to protect us from the serious risks that we face, not only from the individuals who are or have been subjected to a control order, but from the many hundreds, possibly thousands, more who are of interest to them in their investigations into potential terrorism offences. The risk is always there, which is why we had to bring in the control order regime and why we believe those powers are necessary. Elements of the Bill decrease those measures in such a way as to increase the risk. We are told that the risk can be mitigated by the additional resources, but it cannot be eliminated. We have a real fear that those additional resources will not be ready by the time the Bill comes into force. For that reason, amendment 20 would reassure the public; its purpose is really no more than that.
No, I am about to finish my speech.
I note that the Government have made some movement in the right direction in relation to the review and the sunset clause, but I do not believe that that goes far enough. We need the extra check and balance that would be provided by annual renewal, so I am minded to press new clause 7 to a vote, and unless the Minister gives us further reassurance about the resources, I shall also be minded to press amendment 20 to the vote.
It is tempting to spend a while talking about risk, as that is a theme that lies behind this debate. Opposition Members have not mentioned the risk we create by treating people who have not been convicted of an offence as though they have been so convicted. In some cases, people who have been found not guilty in a court of law have immediately had a control order slapped on them. There is a risk involved in such cases. We have also heard the slightly lazy assumption that all the people who are suspects in these circumstances are dangerous. We know that some people have been completely exonerated. For example, Cerrie Bullivant, to whom I spoke earlier today, was not a risk, yet he was punished as though he was, for a very long time. Instead, however, I will talk about the purpose of sunset clauses.
Before my hon. Friend leaves the issue of risk, may I suggest that we need to tackle this matter head-on? During the course of the control order regime, the number of people of interest to the security services started at 1,600 and grew by 25% per annum, until the numbers rose above 4,000 and the agencies got too embarrassed to announce them. Does my hon. Friend accept that the control order regime and everything that went with it were so heavy-handed that they actually increased radicalisation rather than reducing it?
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. That speaks volumes about how ineffective control orders and the whole panoply of tools used by the previous Government were. It also highlights why the points about the extra resources needed by the police do not really matter. If there are 1,600 or 2,000 or 3,000 people of great interest to the security services, I hope that the services are occasionally looking at them; otherwise, their interest cannot be very great. If those people are actually dangerous, resources should be available as the extra resources to deal with a relatively small handful of people are a drop in the ocean.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his excellent question. My short answer is yes; my longer answer is: by a bit. This is not the solution that I would most like to see, but it is a step in the right direction. I wish that we could go further, and perhaps the other place will be more able to achieve that than we are here. Perhaps the more enlightened Labour peers will take the hon. Gentleman’s perspective on this matter, rather than that taken by those on his Front Bench.
I move now to the subject of this group of amendments, which deal with sunset clauses. I argued in Committee that there were four reasons for having such clauses. One relates to debating the issue in question every year; another is about having a vote every year. As we have said, that method has not turned out to be very effective. It has been very much a token gesture. Although it is nice to see it in place, it has not really delivered. We still have the ability to debate this matter at any time, particularly in the light of the Government’s new approach to Back-Bench debates, if some other change takes place. Similarly, the Government could get rid of TPIMs at any time, as could any future Government. Five years is a maximum, not a minimum. The annual review has simply not been an effective tool, which is a great shame. It does not work very well, and Parliament should look at how effective it is at doing things like that.
The Government think that the review provisions are a really good thing. I would like to see them happening seriously and in detail, but the level of review that has happened under this Government cannot happen every year. It did not do so in the past, to that level. There was a quick look, and a quick renewal. That is not what we want. We want to look underneath what is happening, rather than simply taking the easy option.
I have asked the Minister and the shadow Minister whether, if either of them is in the next Government, they will ensure that a proper review is carried out. If I am in the next Government, I will do my very best to ensure that that happens—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] I am delighted to hear that that has support on both sides of the House; we will have to see what happens. I would do my best to ensure that there was a review that moved us closer to the position that I would like—namely, a lower-risk solution that was also better for civil liberties.
Does the hon. Gentleman not realise that this gets to the nub of the problem—that there is a distinction between would-be or former members of the Executive, whose view is almost “If only you knew what I know now”, and many other parliamentarians and indeed the public outside? That disconnect is one of the most dangerous elements of the entire debate.
The hon. Gentleman is right. I have always been uncomfortable when someone says, “I know better, so just do exactly what I say.” I am never comfortable with that as a form of argument, partly because it is very hard to rebut. In many ways, it is the central argument behind control orders—when the state tells someone, “I know what you’ve done, but I’m not going to tell you what it is or how I know; we’re just going to assume that you have done this.”
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for intervening a second time, but on this point of “We know better than you”, the real problem with reviews has not been the timing so much as the quality of the information provided. We know that there have been miscarriages of justice, as the hon. Gentleman has mentioned, but these are never mentioned in any reviews. We also know from the evidence of the last few days that the control orders were used in effect to immobilise Libyan dissidents to suit our foreign policy in dealing with Colonel Gaddafi. This is the sort of thing we in the House should know about; the failure is not about time, but about the quality of the information provided to us.
Indeed. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his comments. He pre-empts something I was planning to say later about the Libyan issue, which is a very serious one, as it seems that the Government might have acted perhaps using some of these tools on behalf of another power. I hope that the Minister will be able to assure that that has never happened, and also assure us later than none of the evidence under which people have been subject to control orders has come as a result of torture in Libya. We have heard some astonishing stories; I look forward to hearing the Minister’s comments about this either now or later, if he has time to check the facts.
The other purpose of a sunset clause is to flag up the fact that something is exceptional and should not be a regular part of our law. We do not have a sunset clause on theft and we do not have one on the vast majority of things because they are standard. This is an exceptional measure and we need to flag it up. That is why I am so pleased that the Government have accepted the argument. We should be very concerned when we step outside the normal bounds.
I disagree entirely with the comments made by Mr Sutcliffe, who I believed to be a shadow Minister but who appears to be sitting on the very Back Benches. I do not know what that says about his position and standing. [Interruption.] I hope he will move towards the front rather than withdraw to the back. I withdraw any aspersions I may have cast on the hon. Gentleman in what I said; I was merely surprised by his location. In Committee, he said:
“Unfortunately, there are times when people have to be outside the legal framework.”––[Official Report, Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Public Bill Committee,
I disagree with him completely and utterly on that. I think we have a legal framework for a reason, and once we start saying that people should be outside it, we are on very dangerous grounds.
Credit where it is due! I think the hon. Gentleman takes his own very principled position. He does not believe that Executive orders should be made in an administrative capacity but that we should use the criminal justice system for every eventuality. That is a principled viewpoint and a perfectly legitimate one to hold. I would, however, press the hon. Gentleman, because some of the language his party has used is redolent of a totalitarian regime. We have heard about internal exile, house arrest and goodness knows what. There is judicial oversight at every step of the process relating to control orders. There are judges of the High Court and the Court of Appeal, special advocates; and the people subject to the orders have to be given the gist of the case against them. We have had a series of legal judgments. We are not operating in a kind of totalitarian regime without intense judicial scrutiny. Surely the hon. Gentleman would agree that this legislation has been subject to more litigation, examination, test, test and test than any other legislation in our legal system. His principled position is perfectly arguable, but I hope that he is not saying that this country does not have intense, high-level judicial scrutiny of these very contentious and important matters.
I thank the right hon. Lady for her kind comments. It is clear that we come from very different principled positions; we disagree at the level of principle, not just at the level of detail. She is absolutely right to say that there is indeed a lot of judicial oversight and a number of checks and balances, not all agreed to entirely voluntarily by the previous Government. The judges sometimes had to take quite active steps about the gist of the case. I do not think special advocates provide the best way of doing this; I would like people to know what they are accused of. I will agree to the right hon. Lady’s request and try to remember to talk about “internal exile with judicial oversight”. I will try to remember to use that full phrase if it would please her.
These powers are exceptional. They are not what we want. We should strive harder to find ways that fit within the legal framework to make this case. I would have liked to talk later in great detail about police bail, but I am afraid I shall not be able to. I still think it is the right way forward. [Interruption.] It sounds as though there is some support from others. I hope that their Lordships will have a chance to look at that. I still think we could make that system work extremely well.
I am pleased to see the Government new clauses 3 and 4 and consequential Government amendments 11 and 13. I am delighted that the Government have accepted the need for a sunset clause. I thank the Minister for doing that. It is always a great pleasure when the Government take up something that a Back-Bench Member has argued for. I am very pleased indeed.
I deal now with new clause 7, proposed by Shabana Mahmood. She has tried to come up with this sort of amending provision on a number of occasions. It is good to see that there are no obvious flaws in this one, but I just disagree with it. I would love to have a proper, carefully thought-through review every single year, but I do not think it will happen. It has never happened in the past and I believe it is more valuable to have a serious piece of work, seriously looking at whether we could reduce the amount of extraordinary legislation, carried out every five years than it is to have a token review every year. I respect the hon. Lady’s position in wanting a review every year, but I disagree with her in that she wants to revise it upwards every year—
Indeed. I definitely disagree with the idea of it going up every year. I accept her principles, as I say, but I think that doing it properly every five years is better.
I disagree in principle, however, with amendment 8, which has not yet been spoken to, but may be later, and amendment 20. These are, I am afraid, a last-ditch attempt to keep control orders going for as long as possible. We do not want that to happen. We do not want control orders, and all the problems associated with them, lasting longer than they have to. They should be stopped as soon as possible.
I accept that these are delays; they are not about permanently keeping the orders. We will, of course, see how the vote works out. The amendments are nonetheless a last-ditch attempt to keep the orders going for a few more months or a couple more years or a little bit further. I do not want that.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Is he satisfied by the Minister’s response about the assurances from the Metropolitan police? The hon. Gentleman will accept that this was a key point that we all raised in Committee. Is he prepared to accept the Minister’s words as outlined? Would he not prefer to see some written evidence or some written response from the Met to confirm that it is or can be ready?
I thank the shadow Minister for his comments and apologise again for any criticism I might have made earlier about his seating. I do trust the Minister on this one. I am sure he would not have told the House something that the Metropolitan police had not told him was the case. I am sure he will be able to confirm that. I do have faith that the Metropolitan police have said this, if the Minister says it did.
I see amendments 8 and 20 as an attempt to keep control orders going for that last gasp. The gasp is not very long; it might not be a full five or 10-year gasp, but it is still a gasp and one gasp too many. I shall not support those amendments.
I believe we have made progress. The Government amendments take us a stage further. I am delighted to support them and look forward to hearing other contributions to the debate.
It is a real pleasure to follow Dr Huppert, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and to wish him well in his ministerial career. I know that Lorraine Fullbrook and I, who are with him every Tuesday, will want that to happen as soon as possible—but not before tomorrow, when, as he knows, we start our inquiry into the London riots.
In four days’ time, on its 10th anniversary, we shall remember the events of 9/11. The weekend newspapers were full of terrible accounts of what happened that day and of the stories of the survivors. The House discusses terrorism and its prevention in a measured, careful and sober manner, and I hope we shall do so today as we consider amendments and debate important issues.
I was not a member of the Committee that considered the Bill, and—mea culpa on behalf of the Home Affairs Committee—I am afraid that our agenda has been so full over the past two years that we have not had an opportunity to scrutinise this aspect of policy properly. We hope to make up for that next Tuesday, when we begin our inquiry into the roots of radicalism. Mr Davis talked of the need to understand why people become radicals. Next week our Committee will take evidence from the chairman of the United States committee on homeland security, Congressman Peter King. We hope to be able to present to the House in six months’ time—this will be a long and weighty inquiry—our views on what constitute the causes of terrorism, and on how we can deal with them.
I welcome the inquiry that is to be undertaken by my right hon. Friend’s Committee. May I ask him also to consider the fact that the country has had renewable emergency anti-terrorism legislation for 37 years, that the legislation has always been renewed six-monthly, annually or after whatever period has been specified, and that on each of those occasions we have moved further from the principles of absolute equality and transparency before the law and further towards a degree of Executive power? Does my right hon. Friend not think that it is time to turn the clock back in favour of openness and transparency, through the use of criminal law and criminal law alone?
I am sure that we shall touch on that subject. We are, of course, primarily concerned with the question of why people become radicals and what system makes them behave as they have behaved, but the way in which legislation is—in my hon. Friend's view—rushed through Parliament might well be one of our considerations.
I think it healthy for the House to have heard the comments of my hon. Friend, of Richard Fuller and of Mr Field, who observed that when Parliament discusses these matters the measures concerned go through on the nod. I believe that the role of the Opposition—my hon. Friend Shabana Mahmood did a very good job in this regard—is to scrutinise and probe the Government, and that is exactly what happened when this Minister was the shadow Minister. Perhaps we regret not being more robust on issues of this kind when we are in opposition, but I hope that that will happen now. The five-year period for the review is probably too long; we need to consider it earlier and much more objectively, and that might be one of the issues that we can examine as the debate progresses.
I have three points to make. The first concerns the process that the Government appear to have adopted. I hope that the Minister will reassure me about something about which he did not manage to reassure me when I probed him earlier, namely the role of Lord Macdonald. I understand that Lord Macdonald was appointed by the Government to review legislation. As a former Director of Public Prosecutions and a distinguished lawyer, he is someone whom I think we ought to consult as we present new proposals. Has he seen the Bill, and, if so, what were his comments on it and on the changes that have been made in the last few days?
The same applies to Lord Carlile, who gave evidence that was diametrically opposed to that of Lord Macdonald. He wants to keep control orders, but, as colleagues will recall, when he appeared before the Select Committee he proposed a three-tier structure that he felt could replace them. Will the Minister enlighten the House on the process that was adopted, and confirm that there has been widespread consultation with the very people—Lord Carlile and Lord Macdonald—who the Government believed could contribute to the discussion?
The second issue arises from what was said by my right hon. Friend Hazel Blears. I refer to the evidence given to the Committee about resources. I do not want to dance around the subject—I will be quite straightforward with the Minister—and I do not seek to make a party-political point, but I think that the Minister will feel much more able to defend the Government’s proposals if he has the comfort of knowing the Metropolitan police have revised their view.
We realise that there has been some change at the top. The former head of counter-terrorism, Mr Yates—who, of course, ought to have been writing the letters concerned—is no longer in his post. There is now a new head of counter-terrorism, Cressida Dick, whom we have not had the opportunity of bringing before the Committee, although we hope to do so during our inquiry into the roots of radicalism. However, I think that, to protect himself and to reassure Parliament, the Minister ought to receive a letter of comfort. If he does not write to ask whether what DAC Osborne said has been replaced by new assurances, I shall probably do so myself.
Like the hon. Member for Cambridge, I have a great deal of time for the Minister. I trust and value what he says, and I do not believe that he would come to the Dispatch Box and say that he had received assurances from the Metropolitan police if he had not. However, some of us need to be convinced. Mr Osborne is, after all, the deputy head of counter-terrorism in the Metropolitan police, which is quite a senior position. If he has given evidence that has subsequently had to be adapted because of whatever has happened in the last few weeks, let us have confirmation of that letter. If the Minister says that he is prepared to take such action, he will reassure me and, I believe, other Members.
My final point relates to the need for us to be able to scrutinise anti-terrorism legislation without feeling nervous about doing so. Let me give credit to my hon. Friend Jeremy Corbyn, who has been in the House for longer than I have. Even under a Labour Government, he and I went into opposite Division Lobbies to vote on anti-terrorism legislation, because he was prepared to scrutinise and to ask his questions. That is really important.
Only Bob Stewart, given his vast experience in the security services and the armed forces, will have the kind of practical experience that is necessary in cases such as this, and he will talk on the basis of that experience. I do not mean to insult anyone in the House, but the rest of us are mere politicians, and we do not have that kind of experience. It is obviously valuable to hear from people such as the hon. Gentleman. That is why it is important for there to be proper scrutiny and for evidence that is given to Select Committees or other Committees of the House to be accurate, so that when we decide on the legislation we can be above party politics in dealing with terrorism issues, as I hope we always can be.
We should be mindful of the fact that whatever resources we put into counter-terrorism, there are those outside who have the time, the space and, in some cases, the fanaticism to be able to challenge what we do, and we should always be extremely cautious in dealing with issues of this kind.
I do not intend to detain the House long. We have already had a good debate on the amendments. The Minister quoted remarks that I made on Second Reading; he quoted them accurately, and I stand by them. I believe that the terrorist threat that we face is one that we are likely to face for a considerable time, that the emphasis should be on trying to reach a consensus on what we should do about it, and that, if we can reach such a consensus, we should make provisions and make them permanent.
I do not think for a minute that making provisions permanent means that everyone will forget about them; far from it. There would still be an opportunity for Government reviews if Ministers felt that that was appropriate. My right hon. Friend would still have his Select Committee inquiries, and he might well pick counter-terrorism as one of the issues to be discussed. I venture to suggest that no one would silence my hon. Friend Jeremy Corbyn if there were not an annual debate on the renewal of counter-terrorism provisions. All those things would still happen—and, as Dr Huppert pointed out, legislation could be repealed at any time. That option is always open to the Government. Therefore, in saying that I believe that such provisions should be made permanent, I do not believe that we should take our eye off the ball or stop considering and scrutinising those things, although I tend to agree with Lord Carlile that the sense that annual renewal is part of the scrutiny process is a “bit of a fiction”.
It is evident, however, that we do not have consensus on the Bill. In fact, I venture to suggest that the gap between us is larger now than when we started to consider the Bill. We have seen the issues that are at stake, so the differences between us are quite substantial.
I welcome the steps that the Minister has taken to bring forward the opportunity for review and renewal by each Parliament. I also welcome the amendment proposed my hon. Friend Shabana Mahmood that calls for annual renewal. Even more important, I support her amendment 20, which would not allow any of the provisions to come into operation before the resources were clearly in place and the police and Security Service were signed up to that.
My amendment 8 is intended to be a practical amendment to give absolute clarity in relation to the implementation and commencement of the Bill. My concern throughout the passage of the Bill—on Second Reading, during the Committee stage, during the summer and still now—is that the Bill weakens protection. It is not as robust as what went before it. When we add that to the likely threat and risks that we will face next year, the year of the Olympics, which we celebrate and want to be a great success, we have a toxic mix that could put lives at risk.
Let us look at the facts. We know that 12 individuals are subject to control orders. We know from the Minister’s latest report to the House that three of those individuals already reside in the Metropolitan police area. We do not know where the other nine would call their home, but we suspect that a large number of them are from the London area, so that would be a huge move back to London by people who are very high risk individuals indeed, when terrorists who have been convicted of serious crimes are coming out of prison. I have had answers from Ministry of Justice Ministers showing that 45 convicted terrorists will have a release date in 2010-12, or at least that is the earliest release date. Add those potential 45 to the potential 12 and all their associates, and we have a substantial risk. To take that risk when we could delay the implementation of this Bill is a risk too far.
Surely anyone under a control order or under TPIMs is under surveillance. It would be very silly for someone under surveillance to do something related to terrorism because it might be found out. I would have thought that, once someone was under TPIMs or under control orders, their chances of being an active terrorist were hugely reduced. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree?
I commend the hon. Gentleman for his earlier comments on surveillance, the need to ensure that people are properly trained and the need not to pretend that we could introduce the level of skill that is required in a very short time. It takes time to train an individual. There is no perfect solution, because someone who is under surveillance can, if they are very skilled, slip that surveillance until such time as the people carrying out the surveillance catch up with them.
If the hon. Gentleman is referring to people who have absconded from their control order, I think he will remember from our discussions in Committee that that relates principally to the very early days of control orders. From recollection, I think that there has not been an abscondence for four years, and that related largely to foreign nationals who were the subject of control orders. However, he made a powerful point earlier on the need to ensure that people are properly trained to carry out surveillance.
Given the toxic mix that I described, on
I am happy to pay tribute to the principled position that the hon. Member for Cambridge holds and sticks to doggedly. It is different from the principled position that I hold but, because he is consistent it allows us to have a good debate. He accused me of using amendment 8 as a last-ditch attempt to keep control orders going. I humbly put it to him that that is not the case. I believe that the risks associated with the early introduction of this weakened legislation, in a year of great risk, is too much of a risk to take. I join hon. Members on both sides of the House when I put public safety above all else.
Listening to the debate and arguments about the comparative merits and demerits of TPIMs compared with control orders, and listening to the exchanges on whether a sunset clause for five years is better than annual review and renewal, I am reminded of what Talleyrand is meant to have said about Voltaire and Robespierre: when I think of either, I prefer the other. We are all caught in a situation where there are clearly problems with control orders, but we should be under no illusions: there will be serious problems with TPIMs too—problems of principle and of practice.
May I deal first with the sunset clause and the question of renewal? I have a lot of sympathy with the argument of Dr Huppert and others that the practice of Parliament in relation to annual renewal and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 has not exactly inspired huge confidence in the robustness of that challenge or the thoroughness of that review. But just because Parliament has perhaps had a habit of being derelict in its duty in relation to annual reviews, that does not give us the right to dismiss the case for subjecting measures as exceptional as these are to annual review.
We are always told that one Parliament should not bind another. When it comes to exceptional measures, one Parliament simply should not discharge itself from due consideration. It is not enough for us to say, “If we go for the five-year sunset clause in the absence of annual reviews, Members such as Jeremy Corbyn and other concerned Members will be diligent enough to create opportunities for themselves by way of Adjournment debates or use of the Backbench Business Committee to subject these things to review.” There are things that we as a Parliament should hold in common responsibility. The due protection of civil liberty, alongside the due protection of public safety, are among them.
I accept that these measures—whether control orders or TPIMs—will be put through, whether control orders or TPIMs. Where there are exceptional measures that depart from the normal criminal law and give executive power to use secret intelligence and to deploy strict controls on an individual’s freedom, this Parliament should not just say, “We are content to let that run for five years and see where we stand thereafter.” If Parliament is going to approve these measures, it should at least give itself the duty to look again in a year to see whether they are still needed in this form or whether there should be improvements.
Annual review is just a veneer; to see that, we need only consider the number of Members present to debate it, and I also believe that it is always whipped through by the Government party. The people under these control orders have never had the advantage of having been brought to a proper trial, and what they want is some certainty. They want certainty that this Parliament will handle its responsibilities thoughtfully and thoroughly, and that would require conducting a thorough review that could then be used to advise the Government and inform Parliament in having a real debate. Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that that would be a major difference?
I am sorry to disagree with the hon. Gentleman, but I do not believe that it will be a tonic to the mental health of people under these orders if they know that Parliament will not seriously discuss the matter for another five years. I do not see what relief or redress that offers them. I agree with the hon. Gentleman, however, about the issue of our pretending that annual review will somehow of itself offer comfort to people under these orders in that it might result in their being reprieved from their exigencies. I would not give that false comfort or promise, and nor should we.
Based on the experience that we have all had of the many previous annual renewals, the hon. Gentleman also makes a valid point in saying that the Chamber might take its responsibilities in this regard somewhat lightly, but let us therefore be exposed to condemnation for such dereliction of duty and for not turning up every year to consider renewals duly and properly, rather than pretend that it is sufficient to do that on a five-yearly basis. Considering the issues at stake under this Bill, the attendance for the current debate is not particularly unimpressive in comparison with the likely attendance, which the hon. Gentleman indicts, for an annual review debate.
We should not kid ourselves about the false merits of a five-year sunset clause as opposed to an annual review, and nor should those of us who might vote in a Division to keep a version of annual review delude ourselves about the extent of the impact of annual reviews. However, annual reviews might ensure that the various other parliamentary means of scrutiny that exist—whether through the Backbench Business Committee or Select Committees—are used to condition such reviews and, perhaps, explore more of the alternatives.
In the context of our deliberations today, I and others regret the fact that good amendments that were submitted on police bail and the conditions that could be attached to that are not available for us to discuss. Through discussing them, we would have been able to consider possible restrictions in cases where the police so far have only limited evidence that is not amenable to their taking the case to full prosecution. For such cases, there are means within the standard criminal law that can be deployed and developed, and amendments were tabled that offered that option. Through having annual reviews, some such alternatives might build up more of a head of steam. I am not saying we need annual reviews in the same style as in the past, but if we were to use annual reviews and the other parliamentary means now available to us, we could make more of this system.
Focusing now on the substance of the Bill, control orders are a poor tool and a crude weapon, but whereas TPIMs might appear to be softer, even when looked at through the bubblewrap of all the claims that the Government make for this Bill, they are also a poor tool and a crude weapon. Some of us have experience of how counter-terrorism measures can be deployed in counter-productive ways. They can act as grist to the mill of those who would radicalise others and try to spread subversion and dissident tendencies. They can also be used in ways that get in the way of good police work, and good police interface and engagement with communities whose sympathies and confidence are essential in holding the line against terrorist and subversive tendencies. We should therefore always tread lightly in relation to measures brought before us and offered as necessary and justified on the basis of countering terrorism.
Parliament should be particularly wary when we are given the assurance that these powers will not merely be activated on the basis of secret intelligence by mysterious Executive servants who may or may not appear before
Select Committees or anybody else in Parliament, because there will be a degree of judicial oversight through posts such as special advocates. We should be very wary about being casual about any provisions that involve constant reference to words such as “special” and features such as “secret,” but that is precisely what we have in the TPIMs cocktail that is before us, and it is the same cocktail that was before us in relation to control orders. We as a Parliament should at least be trying to provide some sort of antidote to that, or diluting it through putting in place the kind of scrutiny and challenge that an annual review might provide.
I have listened to the arguments for and against these amendments. I am not impressed by the Government’s arguments, including those of the Liberal Democrats, in favour of their proposed measures. I support the Opposition on annual renewal, while not being under any illusions that that will be any great shakes in itself, but I certainly do not support the Opposition in trying to insinuate that somehow this legislation is dangerous in itself and exposes us to new risks because it damages control orders. I do not believe control orders have been necessary or effective in the way that they have operated. In fact, that has been dangerous in some regards, because sometimes both the terms and conditions of control orders have been interpreted randomly and capriciously, so that not only have people’s movements been restricted, but people have been made amenable to prosecution, and the threat of it, for supposed breach of unreasonable conditions.
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Just today, I heard from somebody who used to be under a control order who said that there were a number of such instances. On one occasion he had to wait to sign in because there was a queue at the police station, which led to him signing in two minutes late. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is important that this Government also look at such details, because unreasonable conditions will make the whole system completely ridiculous?
Yes, I fully agree with that point about the ridiculously pedantic and capricious use of conditions to get something on these people, when they demonstrate no greater threat than the fact that they find it difficult to cope with increasingly bizarre conditions. Therefore, I do not hold the same brief as the Opposition for control orders and the existing legislation, which is why I do not support them on the amendments that suggest that control orders are somehow better, but neither do I fall for the Government’s false argument that TPIMs are substantially different, because they involve a large part of the same mix as control orders. I never bought the product “I can’t believe it’s not butter” and I am not going to buy “I can’t believe it’s not control orders.”
I want to speak briefly in favour of new clause 7 on annual reviews, but only because it is the least worst option on the table. It is deeply concerning that, despite pre-election promises and having voted in the past against the massively controversial and now, I would argue, totally discredited control order regime, the coalition Government are trying to push through a Bill that in so many respects simply rebrands the very worst aspects of that failed regime. Despite the spin that was put out when the Bill was presented, it contains the same fundamental mechanism of detention. Restrictions on a terrorist suspect while further investigations continue will in many circumstances be reasonable and in the public interest, but what is so offensive about control orders and their close relatives, TPIMs, is that both are imposed by the Executive, not by a court. The continuation of a system of Government detention entirely outside the rule of law is neither effective nor just, and that is why I hope that, as Mark Durkan said, we can make these annual reviews more rigorous. Perhaps we can use them in the way I imagine people on control orders hope they will be used: for proper, rigorous scrutiny.
Today, I was in the same room as Dr Huppert and I, too, heard from somebody on a control order. I heard some shocking stories, and not just about that person waiting to sign in at a police station and being deemed to be two minutes late and therefore, supposedly, in breach of a control order. There were even more ridiculous accounts. People are being written to because they have not kept properly clean the flat in which they are supposed to be in internal detention. All kinds of ridiculous methods are being used to misuse the kind of tools being put before us today. That is why, at the very least, we need the option of an annual review.
Everyone agrees that public safety requires that terrorists be held in prison, but let us not forget that this regime is about terrorist suspects, some of whom will be entirely innocent—as, indeed, was the gentleman we spoke to today. So, when considering these matters, which are central both to our security and to our core democratic values, it is critical to remember that the concern is not whether we would like to see terrorists subject to punitive restrictions, but whether we want a system that allows innocent people to be treated outside the rule of law. It is not the action of a democratic state to hold someone without telling them what they are charged with. That is the definition of a living hell: to hold someone without telling them what the evidence against them is, leaving them with no opportunity to defend themselves. The many past miscarriages of justice should weigh heavily on our consideration of these matters.
I am disappointed that the amendments I co-signed with the hon. Member for Cambridge, on police bail, were not selected for debate. I realise that I cannot now debate them, but I would simply say that public safety is best assured when suspects are charged with a crime and, if found guilty, imprisoned, rather than left in the community to abscond—as a number of controlees have done—or, crucially, to act as an advertisement for extremism because the regime is so unjust and impacts not just upon them but on their families and communities. Police bail would have enabled us to get away from that and properly to investigate people who are suspected of a crime, rather than leaving them in this no-man’s land, which discredits us enormously as a country.
I had not planned to speak in this section of the debate, but I was moved to do so by the eloquence of many of the contributions to it. We are debating TPIMs versus control orders, and the House will have heard in my intervention on the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) that I do not see a whole lot of difference between them in terms of the underlying principles. I do not welcome TPIMs any more than I welcome control orders. I voted against control orders in the last Parliament and will continue to do so in this Parliament—and against TPIMs—for much the same reasons as Caroline Lucas has eloquently explained to the House.
We are getting into a debate about sunset clauses versus a review. I would prefer a sunset clause on the Bill; indeed, any special legislation should automatically have a very short sunset clause attached to it as a matter of course. We are passing major legislation that has a huge effect on the civil liberties of everybody. However, if we cannot have that—I do support the Opposition Front Benchers in this respect—we should at least have a 12-month review.
One has to remember the atmosphere in this House in which we considered the question of special legislation. The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974 was passed after the Birmingham pub bombings. They were appalling, they were disgraceful, and in that fevered atmosphere the House passed that Act, which it renewed at six-monthly intervals for a very long time. The only time when anti-terrorism legislation was passed in an atmosphere of relative calm was in 2000. All other such Acts were passed in respect of some awful event somewhere. At those times, the House met in a fevered atmosphere and said that it was important that, because of the nature of what had happened—be it 9/11, 7/7, Canary Wharf or any of a host of appalling incidents around the world or in this country—we had to pass the legislation because it would deal with the problem.
Did the Prevention of Terrorism Act deal with the problem? No, it did not deal with it at all. It probably generated more support for those who wish to commit those acts than anything else, because it criminalised large numbers of people who had committed no criminal wrong. It criminalised large numbers of people who became very frightened, just as subsequent anti-terror legislation has done. We should therefore be very careful in what we are doing.
My right hon. Friend Hazel Blears pointed out in an intervention that there is judicial oversight over the 2005 legislation. That is true, and there are special judges, special courts and special advocates. However, all that is actually very dangerous, because it removes the relationship between the defendant and their representative, in that the latter is not allowed to reveal the full nature of the case against them. Only the judge knows the full nature of the case against them, along with, presumably, those promoting—for want of a better word—the prosecution against the individual. That is a denial of justice, because justice has to be done and be seen to be done. The person who is being judged against must be fully aware of all the evidence being used against them.
As the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion pointed out, we are allowing Executive control orders to be placed, with a limited degree of judicial oversight, over people against whom no criminal prosecution has been made. Let us consider the awful information that emerged from Libya concerning somebody who was deported there, and who suffered greatly as a result. That was a continuation of the idea that special laws require special purposes, and special events require special deals. Hence, the Government under Prime Minister Blair exchanged a series of letters with a number of north African and other countries that allowed people to be removed to those countries who had not necessarily committed any crime in this country—at least, it had not been proved by a court—on the basis that those regimes would be very nice and not torture people, despite their not having signed the UN convention against torture. We should be very careful when we start undermining the whole principle of our own law and international law, which is what we are doing with this legislation.
I support the Opposition’s new clause 7, which at least gives us a 12-month review. It is not what I want but it is better than nothing, and it does give an opportunity for a debate, although I should point out that I have sat through virtually every PTA review debate, some of which were fairly perfunctory, to put it at its politest. However, I am not prepared to vote for the other two provisions because they do not take account of the degree of concern and opposition that exists to control orders and the accompanying legislation, or of the nature of the underlying case. If there is a threat to our society—I am quite sanguine about this: there are threats, dangers and problems—there is criminal law to deal with it. The ability exists to bring out criminal evidence against the individuals who have perpetrated those acts. However, because we are so keen to protect the power of our security services and those who do not have to give evidence or come out into the open, but whose information is so devastating against the individuals concerned, we are taking a dangerous move.
I know that a small number of people are affected at present, but I see this as the slippery slope—away from what should be an open legal system in an open and liberal democracy. That is why I am not happy about the TPIMs process, any more than I was about control orders. The very least that we can do is to review the legislation every 12 months. I would rather we did not produce this legislation at all, and instead promoted open criminal law to deal with criminal acts that damage our society.
Let me begin by addressing the points made by Jeremy Corbyn, who cut to the heart of a number of arguments surrounding this Bill and the measures that we judge appropriate. We would all like to live in a world where the measures contemplated in the Bill were not needed. The sad reality is that they are, as a continuing threat will be posed to this country and its citizens by people it is not possible to prosecute, deport or take other action against so preventive measures are required. I wish that that were not the case but it is, which is why we are introducing the measures in this Bill. They follow on from the counter-terrorism review and are in recognition of this continuing risk to the citizens of this country. The Bill is certainly not about protecting the security services; it is about protecting the public. That is the driver behind these measures.
Let me deal with the duration of the legislation and the Government’s sunset clause. Our starting point was that this legislation was not being considered in a fevered state but in a measured way so, like other legislation, it did not require a sunset clause. However, we listened carefully, we reflected on the Bill’s measures and the impact they could have on individuals, and we judged it appropriate that each Parliament should be able to review the measures in the context of the security situation at the time and consider whether their continuation was appropriate. That is why we have introduced the five-year sunset clause in the way that we have.
It has been interesting to hear this evening’s debate about annual renewal. The hon. Member for Islington North has been a consistent participant in these debates—I respect the contributions that he has made year on year—and he implied that some of them have been “perfunctory”. That is not what we would wish in relation to legislation such as this, which is why the point made by my hon. Friend Dr Huppert about the need for a serious and considered review of legislation was well made and strongly put. We took that approach when we sought to conduct a counter-terrorism review in preparation for this Bill.
I understand the point that Caroline Lucas makes. In some ways, she sympathises with the line of argument taken by the hon. Member for Islington North. She makes a point about Executive action, but I repeat that circumstances and situations continue to arise that mean, sadly, that legislation of this type is necessary and continues to be required. She made a point about secret evidence, and the Government will shortly be introducing a Green Paper to consider further its use in court and to consider this matter in further detail, given a number of associated issues that have been raised.
In some ways, this relates to the package of the measures before us. This is about not only this Bill, but the capabilities and resources being made available to the police and security services to allow them to monitor people and seek to bring them to justice. I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady, and it is our preferred option, that people who commit acts related to terrorism should be prosecuted and brought to justice in the normal way. However, the Government need to assess risk and seek to protect the public, and we judge that, for a number of reasons, it is not possible to achieve that aim in all circumstances. That is why preventive measures of the type contemplated in this Bill are required and will continue to be needed for the foreseeable future. We therefore argue that it is for Parliament to consider, on a per-Parliament basis, the necessity of these types of measures. I am aware that the hon. Lady has raised the issue of bail in this context, and we considered it in the counter-terrorism review. However, we had clear guidance from the police who recommended against bail being available for terrorist suspects because of the risk to public safety that might be involved.
If I may, I will pursue the point raised by the hon. Lady. Will the Minister tell us why he thinks that the number of convictions in this country is so low? In the 10 years or so since 9/11 there have been about 230 convictions relating to terrorism offences, which is less than 10% of the number in the United States during the same period, and similar comparisons can be drawn with other countries. Why does this country have such a low conviction rate compared with everybody else?
My right hon. Friend has taken a very consistent line on ensuring that those suspected of terrorism offences are brought to justice and that the courts are used appropriately. We need to do all we can to ensure that that happens, which is why we are taking forward measures such as post-charge questioning, which he has advocated clearly, and why we are continuing to examine the way in which intercept evidence might be usable in the courts and how the Privy Council review continues in relation to that. I agree with him that we need to be looking at a package of measures, that this is not about one instrument in itself and that it might be appropriate to take a range of steps. I would not want to suggest in this evening’s debate that this is about one issue. The Government are taking forward a range of measures as part of their counter-terrorism review and this Bill is just one part of that.
Before the Minister moves on, may I ask about the point made by my right hon. Friend Mr Davis and Caroline Lucas? The hon. Lady mentioned that there had been no convictions of people on control orders. By supporting the Government today, we will be extending the TPIMs regime by five years. What comfort can the Minister give us that that record of no convictions will be improved by a more thorough prosecution of the evidence and by bringing to trial the people under control orders? Can he say anything to give us some assurance that that system of containment rather than prosecution will change to one of prosecution and bringing to justice rather than one of just containing a problem and leaving people on one side?
I would point my hon. Friend in the direction of the Bill’s provisions, which clearly underline our desire to prosecute people when the evidence is available. That is part and parcel of the additional investigative capabilities intended to be available to the police and the security services. I believe that this approach will contribute to our being able to achieve the sorts of steps that he is advocating in terms of seeking to prosecute where there is admissible evidence that could be brought before the courts.
I deal now with some of the other issues raised in this useful and constructive debate, which has been a symbol of some of the other consideration of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge raised the issue of Libya and he will doubtless have heard clearly the comments made by the Prime Minister during the statement preceding this debate. It is the Government’s long-standing policy not to comment on intelligence matters, but I can make it absolutely clear that the Government’s clear policy is not to participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment for any purpose.
May I just finish the point? We have published the consolidated guidance to intelligence personnel, including on the passing and receipt of intelligence relating to detainees. The Government took early and decisive action to set up the Gibson inquiry, precisely to examine whether Britain was implicated in the improper treatment of detainees so that we can better understand what happened and allow all involved closure.
I thank the Minister for giving way and I am grateful to him for allowing this point to be made. Is he concerned that the exchange of letters made by former Prime Minister Blair with a number of countries that allowed removal to those that had not signed the convention on torture should be ended? We should only ever remove people to a country that recognises the relevant sections of that convention and that would not carry out the death penalty against those people.
The hon. Gentleman will have heard what the Prime Minister said in his statement about the investigation being undertaken by the Gibson inquiry. These matters will be looked at closely, but I certainly do not intend to expand this debate to cover them in such a way because time is pressing and we have a number of other issues to do with this mini-debate to get through.
Keith Vaz asked me about a couple of issues. The first was to do with the role of Lord Macdonald, who was not appointed to review counter-terrorism legislation generally or on an ongoing basis but was asked to oversee the counter-terrorism review, which completed in January. It is obviously open to him to look at and comment on the draft Bill; we have published it with the purpose of allowing it to be considered.
Let me turn to the central issue raised by those on the Opposition Front Bench as well as other Opposition Members. I want to make it very clear that the TPIM system will provide appropriate, proportionate and effective powers for dealing with the risk posed by suspected terrorists whom we can neither prosecute nor deport. The new system introduced by the Bill will be accompanied by an increase in funding for the police and security services to enhance their investigative capabilities. As I have said, this will complement the new regime and, we believe, maintain public confidence. To repeat what I have said, the Metropolitan Police Service has confirmed that arrangements will be in place effectively to manage the transition from control orders to TPIMs. I have heard what Opposition Members and other Members have said and I can say to the right hon. Member for Leicester East—or I would have done, if he was in his place—that I will take the issue away and consider further with the police what further information may be provided.
As right hon. and hon. Members will recognise, there is a challenge here and we do not provide detailed breakdowns of what money we provide for specific security activities as that would provide detailed information about our capabilities and techniques that could undermine national security. There is a delicate balance to be struck, but I will certainly consider carefully the comments that have been made during this debate and consider with the Metropolitan police what further information might be appropriate.
I thank the Minister for giving way and for the indication that further written evidence will be available. I am still minded to press amendment 20 to a vote later this evening, but I have been advised by the Clerks that if new clause 3 is passed we cannot have a vote on new clause 7. May I clarify that although we would have liked to vote on annual renewal—we still believe it is an important measure—we will not oppose new clause 3? However, Labour Members will take the issue forward when the Bill reaches the other place.
I appreciate the hon. Lady’s clarification of the official Opposition’s stance. I have given the House clear assurances about the preparations for the transfer from control orders to TPIMs and we will reflect on the debate further, but we believe that the Government’s amendments for the review are appropriate, and, on the basis of the assurances we have received, we do not believe that the Opposition amendments are required. Even at this stage, I ask the hon. Lady to reflect on the debate and to consider withdrawing those amendments.
Question put and agreed to.
New clause 3 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.