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Eligibility for release on licence of terrorist prisoners: England and Wales

Part of Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 12th February 2020.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings 5:15 pm, 12th February 2020

There are well-established ways of differentiating people in those terms, different ways of dealing with them in law, different ways of dealing with them once convicted, and different ways of dealing with them in the community. The psychologists and psychiatrists associated with the probation service and the Prison Service are well-accustomed to that differentiation, but in the public debate we need to be bold and brave enough to say that there are some very wicked people who want to do wicked things, and it is our job not only to deal with those things by anticipating, deterring and punishing them, but to reinforce public faith in the rule of law by saying so. This is an opportunity to do so as the Bill gives that life.

The second amendment is the one proposed by the shadow Minister. Again, I have great sympathy with it. All legislation relating to such matters benefits from pre and post-legislative scrutiny, both because we need to get it right, for the obvious reasons we have debated—its salience, its significance, its importance—and because, in order to build the consensus necessary across the House to proceed in a way that maintains public faith, pre and post-legislative scrutiny is important. As recognised by all the contributors to this debate, the emergency we face is such that that has not been possible on this occasion. I would resist the shadow Minister’s amendment, not because I do not believe in the principle or the sentiments behind it but because there is a very good case for the Select Committees—notably the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee—to look at this matter once the Bill has become an Act. I would be surprised if they did not. I know the Minister in his winding-up speech will—I will not say “invite that kind of scrutiny”, as I am not sure it is appropriate for a Minister to ask a Select Committee to investigate or scrutinise the Government—want to say that he would be surprised if they did not. That kind of reassurance would give great comfort to the House in measuring the effect of this important legislation.