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Motion to Approve

Part of Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (Continuance in Force of Sections 1 to 9) Order 2011 – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 8th March 2011.

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Photo of Baroness Neville-Jones Baroness Neville-Jones Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 8:45 pm, 8th March 2011

As I said, I am not going to make that promise. I was about to add a sentence when the noble Lord rose. We will take this under advisement and see whether we can give some kind of summary, but if the noble Lord does not mind, I do not want to give a totally definitive answer to that point this evening.

I was asked a number of detailed points and I shall try, without detaining the House for too long, to go through some of them. Right at the beginning, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, asked a number of questions which I think bear on points made subsequently in debate. The implication of his remarks was: would we honour seriously what we have said about the importance of continuing to seek prosecutions? I have three things to say about that. One is that the CORG which he mentioned will conduct serious work. I think that it has always been a serious body but the Government are going to make absolutely certain that the conduct of the CORG-the review body that keeps these cases under continuous and pretty close scrutiny-is serious. We have, I hope, created a situation in which there will be greater possibilities for prosecution. I stress to the House that I think it is only fair to say that the primary purpose of these measures is still protective. Nevertheless, within the scope that is offered, we will certainly be looking at the possibility of continuing and bringing prosecutions. Indeed, the operation of the TPIMs themselves may allow that to happen.

I was also asked why, if we believe that the control orders are imperfect-as, indeed, I said myself-we do not abolish them straight away. I was asked whether it would not be right to do just that. I remind the House of the condition which is very important to our ability to move to a looser regime, and that is the surveillance that needs to be put in place in order to provide the public with the necessary security. That surveillance does not exist at the moment. Individuals have to be recruited; people have to be trained; and we have to have extra capacity and capability in that area, which we do not have at the moment. I do not think it is reasonable to say that you should be able to abolish the existing regime for the individuals who are currently under control orders in the absence of the necessary conditions for a new regime. Having said that, clearly the current control orders come up for regular review. We shall be reviewing them and of course we will be looking at individuals' cases in the light of their situations. As I have said, there is clearly a transition to be undertaken. I do not think that I can go further than that at the moment. I understand perfectly well the point that has been made but I hope that noble Lords will also understand the constraints that we are under in moving quickly from one regime to another.