Clause 1 - Abolition of control orders

Part of Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:00 pm on 23rd June 2011.

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Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 1:00 pm, 23rd June 2011

With the greatest respect, the hon. Lady does not answer the simple point that the argument that she was making this morning was a bad one. She conflates two factors in her intervention. The first is the fact that, at present, the Bill does not say when the TPIM provisions will come into being. The point that she made this morning was different; she asked why, if control orders are so bad and strike the wrong balance, the Home Secretary continued to use them. She has been given an answer to that question by the Minister and Government Members. The Home Secretary has had to continue using them because the resources are not yet in place.

It is no answer to the fallacious nature of her argument for the hon. Lady to intervene on me and say, “Oh, but there is no clause in the Bill to say when TPIMs will come into being, which needs to be after the police have confirmed that sufficient resources are in place to mitigate the risk to those who will be operating under this regime.” The hon. Lady still has not answered the question. It may be that she still does not understand why the argument—I have no doubt that it was given to her by the Labour Whips—is such a bad one. We will continue to disagree on this, but it is a matter of debate, and people can read Hansard and form their own view. I suspect that the vast majority of those who are sufficiently unfortunate to have to read Hansard will take the same view as me, which is that the hon. Lady’s argument was badly planted by the Labour Whips. That was the first point that I wished to deal with, and I did so because it was unclear whether I had missed the point this morning. The answer is obviously that I did not.

I now turn to the rather more powerful contribution made by the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles; we share a considerable amount of common ground on this measure. Albeit that some of my hon. Friends might wish that it went further, it is unfortunately necessary given the security situation in which the country presently finds itself. The right hon. Lady saw fit to describe the Bill as dishonest legislation—I think that she used those words. This is one point where I disagree with what she said this morning. Indeed, that characterisation is somewhat regrettable.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich indicated this morning, the legislation interferes fundamentally with the liberties that we expect customarily in this  country by virtue of the fact that we are a civilized democracy and have had protections for our liberties under the common law since time immemorial. It is therefore right that, if the Government want to reshape existing legislation that deals with those whose liberty is under restriction, and if they are to carry out their first duty of protecting the public, that legislation should be debated in is entirety.

I come back to a point that I made during an intervention this morning: this Committee should, on a bipartisan basis, deal with the substance of what is necessary to protect the public by restricting people’s liberties, and not whether we call them control orders, TPIMs or anything else. That is a semantic question, which I think has been made obvious to every member of the Committee by the Opposition’s description of “mini control orders” or “control orders-lite”. They are seeking to make party political capital out of that point, which is not what should be taking place in this House or this Committee. I respectfully submit that we should focus on what the Bill is about, its measures to protect the public, and whether they need to go further—as Opposition Members seem to think—or whether, as I said on Second Reading, this Bill strikes the right balance between the necessity to protect the public on one hand and interference with the liberties of the citizen on the other.