Schedule 2 — Consequential provision

Part of Business without Debate — Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:49 pm on 7th March 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North 4:49 pm, 7th March 2013

Oh, you are asking me to do maths as well. I will be extremely brief.

I have no quarrel with Sir Menzies Campbell in respect of his sincerity, honesty or support for human rights or how he put his case today. I disagree with his final point, but I have no quarrel with the judgment he reached or why he reached it, because I have observed him and his general approach to human rights in the House for a long time. When I say that I do not agree with him, it is not out of anger; it is out of sorrow. I am sure that in the next five minutes he will change his mind and take a different approach, or perhaps he will not.

My hon. Friend Mr Winnick put it well when he said that the House has to make decisions on important issues of human rights, liberty, the rule of law and the role of Parliament. Successively over the past 30 years, and even before that, we have enshrined in law on many occasions various forms of secrecy, denials of justice and denials of evidence, and people have been wrongly prosecuted as a result. There is a litany of miscarriages of justice that many Members of this House have been involved in over many years, most of which have centred on withholding evidence, secrecy or, in some cases, confessional evidence.

Since 2001, there has been a significant game change. Draconian anti-terror laws have been introduced in this country and many others. As a result, the most grotesque miscarriages of justice have taken place, including Guantanamo Bay and extraordinary rendition. All the legislation has been enshrined on the basis that we have to protect the security services and prevent what they do from seeing the light of day.

As I understand it, the Government’s position is that they cannot defend cases where there has been British involvement with other security services in the abuse of human rights when the individuals involved seek restitution in the British courts because it would mean identifying where their evidence came from. They have therefore paid out millions of pounds. Instead of admitting that we have been a party to human rights abuses, we are passing legislation to bring a new process into law.

I understand the point made by Dr Huppert, when he said that the Bill is not as bad as when it started its journey. My hon. Friend Dr Francis, the Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, has done a lot of good work to improve the Bill, as he has for many other pieces of legislation.

However, I feel that the Bill sends out the wrong message. We should have had a debate and a vote on the removal of part 2 on Monday. It is regrettable that we did not. I am opposed to the Bill because I do not like the secrecy or the protection of those who commit human rights abuses, whether they be in the pay of this state, another state or somebody else. The use of open courts and criminal law where appropriate is far more satisfactory. I therefore register my dissent against the Bill.