Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (Continuance in force of sections 1 to 9) Order 2008

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:59 pm on 27th February 2008.

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Photo of Lord West of Spithead Lord West of Spithead Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Security and Counter-terrorism) 7:59 pm, 27th February 2008

My Lords, so far as I am aware, we have no information whatever about them.

As was made clear last year, the Government continue to consider the prospects of prosecuting individuals subject to control orders for terrorism-related offences on an ongoing basis and review it formally each quarter. Over the past year, we have put new procedures in place and the police provide more detail to the Home Secretary on the prospects of prosecution.

As well as greater use of exit strategies, the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, also notes the difficulties of enforcing so-called light-touch control orders. We agree that these can be problematic. Since the renewal debates last year, all current control orders and the monitoring procedures that they are subject to have been reviewed to ensure that they are as effective as possible. In a number of cases, where it was necessary and proportionate to do so, the control orders were strengthened. However, we are not convinced by the use of ASBOs or civil proceedings for an injunction against specified activities—alternatives that the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, suggested.

Legislative improvements to control orders have also been worked on over the past year. The Counter-Terrorism Bill was introduced on 24 January and includes measures to improve the policing of control orders. I note the amendment to the Motion tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller. I should emphasis that the Bill will also, of course, give noble Lords further opportunity to debate and to consider amendments to the control order system more generally, including the many detailed points raised in the JCHR report published last week.

In conclusion, we face a threat from terrorism which is determined, indiscriminate and brutal. We must protect the public, while ensuring that our fundamental rights and values are protected. Control orders are an important part of this delicate balancing act. They are one of a significant number of measures that can be deployed to protect the public from terrorism. The risk to the public would surely increase if we did not renew the Act. This is a prospect we cannot allow. I commend the order to the House.