London: Terrorist Attacks

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:50 pm on 20th July 2005.

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Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 3:50 pm, 20th July 2005

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness and the noble Lord very warmly for their very generous words of support and for the compliments which they have rightly paid my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. I thank them equally for the wonderful, robust stance which has been adopted by leaders of both opposition parties. I endorse everything the noble Baroness and the noble Lord said. In a time of adversity, those who seek to terrorise us will never divide us. We stand resolute together to face them. I of course associate myself with the sympathy that has been expressed to those who have been so tragically bereaved and dreadfully injured by the terrorist acts.

On the issue of "acts preparatory", there are similarities, but the noble Baroness will know that we have tried very carefully together to craft something which will capture the essence of the difficulty with which we are faced. The noble Baroness will know that there are those who are in the act of preparing for terrorist activities, and we do not wish them to be able to escape.

In relation to definitions, I assure the House that as soon as drafts are ready it is our intention to share them, clause by clause if necessary, with noble Lords on both Opposition Benches so that the earliest possible access can be given for consideration. Priority will probably have to be given to that, but we will do all we can to share the thinking as early as appears to be appropriate.

The noble Baroness will know that we intend to extend the terrorism stop-and-search powers to cover bays and estuaries. Our current legislation does not allow us to do that and we are looking to strengthen those powers. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is due to meet the head of port security and will address what may be necessary for further support, working with port operations to improve the facilities that are being provided by Special Branch.

I join the noble Baroness in commending the work that has been done by the Muslim communities. I assure her that we will concentrate on the issues she has identified, particularly in relation to those who may be disaffected and young, and therefore impressionable, in our communities.

The noble Baroness knows that intercept issues continue to be subject to consideration. That will remain the position.

The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, asked about indirect incitement. I agree that definition will be of real importance. We have to get this right—it has to be capable of being intelligible to our courts and something we can use effectively to stop those who wish to terrorise us. I do not underestimate the difficulty we face, but I express again my gratitude that in looking at these complex and difficult issues we will seek, as much as possible, consensus on them.

The noble Lord also asked what we intend to do in relation to reporting on control orders, bearing in mind that we are due to have a report on, I think, 11 September, when we will not be sitting. We hope that we will be able to put down a Question, which I am advised could be answered in the vacation and will give us an opportunity to take the matter further as soon as we come back. We hope that that will meet the needs of the situation. We will put the Question down before we rise, and it can be answered while we are away. We understand from Hansard that that is an acceptable method to adopt.

I close by thanking the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for continuing what the leaders of both parties have done in expressing their solidarity with the Government but also with the people of this country.