§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. Speaker
I understand it has been agreed that the Bill and the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974 (Continuance) (No. 2) Order 1975 should be discussed together. Is that correct?
§ Mr. Max Madden (Sowerby)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is a very large lobby of Parliament today by people who are expressing anger at increasing unemployment. At this moment, there is a very large and growing queue of protesters around the Palace of Westminster finding great difficulty in meeting hon. Members, particularly in the Central Lobby. I would ask that you use your good offices to ensure that hostilities and bad feelings are not allowed to a rise through difficulties in gaining access. I ask that every effort should be made to facilitate these people who are legitimately protesting about unemployment.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-west)
Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. The officials of the House were most kind and helpful yesterday when we had another large lobby from the Disablement Income Group. They were helpful in many ways, particularly in bringing some of these unfortunate people in their wheelchairs into Westminster Hall.
When looking at this particular question, will you consider the difficulties which genuinely confront the police, security officials and officials of the House generally in trying to deal with these large lobbies? Is it not possible for some arrangement to be made for Westminster Hall to be provided with seats so that people can wait there for their Members of Parliament to go down and see them or while they wait for Committee rooms to become available? I have been waiting since three o'clock in anticipation of receiving a green card which has not yet arrived. Perhaps this whole question can be looked at in general and not only in respect of today's events.
§ Mr. Speaker
This is not a new difficulty. The last time it arose, there was a good deal of trouble in spite of precautions being taken. In the event, over 3,000 people from outside came into the precincts to see their Members. We are faced with a question of numbers and facilities. It has already been referred to the Services Committee. The Committee examined it carefully in the last Session and made certain recommendations. I accept that there is no system which cannot be improved. We will look at the matter, but meanwhile there are serious difficulties over the numbers involved
I have taken such anticipatory steps as I can in asking those who operate through the usual channels to see what they can do. We have also done what we can through the authorities of the House, but the matter can certainly be re-examined.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)
May I raise a point of order in connection with the Bill which we are about to discuss, Mr. Speaker? I do not challenge your ruling, but I wonder whether you realise that by refusing to select my amendment, which is the only amendment tabled, you are preventing hon. Members from voting tonight on the vital issue of capital punishment for acts of terrorism, a subject which is most pertinent to the Bill. Are you also aware that that the country will not understand it?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. If the hon. Member wishes to challenege a ruling, which, incidentally, I have not yet given, he must do so in another way. I am not selecting the amendment, which covers a question which can be argued during the Second Reading debate. In my view, it is not appropriate for me to select it for a Division. Arguments which could be advanced in support of the amendment can be put forward in the debate on both the Bill and the Order.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Roy Jenkins)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
It is with regret that I again ask the House to give a Second Reading to a Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill. Over a year has passed 877 since the tragic events which led to the passage of the Act which the Bill is designed to replace, but it would in my view be inconceivable within the House and incomprehensible outside, if, in present circumstances, we were to allow the Act to lapse without replacement.
It may be of some advantage if, without dwelling unduly on the past, I remind the House of the circumstances which led to the passage of that first Act. I also intend to give the House a brief report on the intervening 12 months before turning to the detailed provisions of the new Bill.
Those of us who sat through the long night of 28th–29th November last year will recall the circumstances of that time. Some seven days previously, the worst horror until then, or, indeed, since, of a campaign of vicious bombings by the IRA—the explosions in two public houses in Birmingham—caused the deaths of 21 people and injuries to over 170 more. Those appalling events convinced me, and convinced this House, that the time had come to supplement the existing powers available for containing and combating terrorism. I was in no doubt at that time that it was right for us not only to deal rapidly and decisively with the urgent questions of security, but also to direct our activities against terrorists so as to lessen the risk of a reaction against the general body of Irish people here.
I was also conscious of a depth of feeling that temporary powers of the kind we provided needed to be kept under continuous scrutiny because they necessarily involved a very real encroachment upon our traditional liberties. The operation of the Act was limited in the first place to six months, and I sought to secure the renewal of these powers last May. I said then that I had no intention of letting the renewal of these powers become a habit, but that I was satisfied, even in the trough of relative calm which then existed, that it would not be right to allow them to lapse as early as May.
I also gave an undertaking to the House, however, that, unless in this November I felt able to recommend the dropping of substantial parts of the Act, I would not ask the House to proceed by Order, and that if, regrettably, we had to continue with the full or main scope of the powers of the Act, I would think it right to intro- 878 duce fresh legislation I also recognised that if new measures were to be considered it was likely that the existing Act would have to be renewed by Order for an interim bridging period. That is the position we are now in.
The present Act would lapse on Friday of this week unless renewed. That is why I laid a draft Order on 28th October to continue the operation of the existing Act for a period of four months beyond 28th November, and we are today asking the House both to renew the existing Act by Order for four months and to give a Second Reading to a new Bill. The Order will cease to have effect as soon as the new Bill becomes law.
I think it is right to proceed by way of a new Bill. It provides the opportunity to propose some useful if minor changes in the legislation in the light of a year's experience. It enables the House to consider the provisions in more detail and at a little more leisure than was possible last year, when all stages were taken within 24 hours. It gives me the opportunity to account to the House for the way in which I have endeavoured to exercise the responsibilities which the Act placed upon me, and to seek the views and guidance of the House on the difficult decisions that I shall continue to have to bear if the Bill becomes law.
Let me first outline the pattern of terrorist activity during the year. In December 1974, two police officers were wounded and an IRA bomb factory was uncovered in Southampton. In January 1975, a number of bombing incidents occurred in London. On 26th February, a police officer, Police Constable Tibble, was shot dead in Hammersmith. Subsequent investigations revealed the existence there of an IRA bomb factory. In July, three police officers were attacked by shooting in Liverpool and Manchester, two of them being seriously wounded, and subsequent inquiries led to the discovery of another IRA base in a flat in Liverpool. Over 450 lbs. of commercial explosive, some 150 detonators and bomb-making materials, 11 firearms—including automatic weapons, rifles and pistols—were found in the flat. For several months over this period the IRA, while clearly preparing for terrorism, and responding with violence if the preparations were discovered, did not initiate terrorist attacks on the British public.
879 Then, in August, there recommenced a series of bomb incidents in London and the Home Counties. They have been concentrated in this area ever since. To date, there have been 17 incidents, which have resulted in the deaths of eight people and injuries to more than 170. The earlier practice of giving at least some warning has been abandoned. In several instances bombs have been so placed as to cause maximum loss of life, and have been specifically designed to cause the maximum casualties. Where they have been discovered in time, several of these explosive devices have been successfully defused, and I pay tribute to the outstanding courage and skill, in the face of mortal danger, of those who have carried out this dangerous work. We especially remember Captain Roger Goad, who tragically lost his life in an attempt to defuse the bomb in Kensington Church Street on 29th August.
Finally, if further reminder were needed of the dangers we are facing, the House will be only too well aware of the discovery in Southampton, on 15th November, of some 400 lb of commercial explosive. The temporary powers which we have taken represent a limited continued encroachment on the individual's freedom, but against this we must set the continued need to protect the public, as far as we can, from the callous brutality of the terrorists.
I should now like to report to the House the use I have made of the powers conferred on me in the 1974 Act. I have made 69 exclusion orders under the Act and, in addition, as was provided for, the Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey has made three, making a total of 72. Sixteen people against whom orders have been made have made representations against the order, and five of the orders have subsequently been revoked. Three orders have been revoked for other reasons—that is, without representations. Fifty-five people have been removed, 38 to Northern Ireland and 17 to the Republic. One other person has recently been served with an order. Eight orders have been made but not served. In five of these cases the person concerned was and is believed to be outside the United Kingdom. In two other cases the persons concerned were charged with murder, and I revoked the orders before they were served. In the remaining case, the 880 person was returned to Northern Ireland on a warrant, and I revoked the order before it was served.
The Act requires me to be satisfied before I make an exclusion order that the person involvedis concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorismor is attempting or may attempt to enter Great Britain with a view to being so concerned. I believe that the use of the exclusion order power has removed the most experienced leaders of both the Provisional and the Official IRA in England, has disrupted both these organisations, and has helped to protect—alas, it has not wholly protected—the people of Great Britain from people whose actions here might otherwise have had terrible consequences.
The other main bite of the Act is—
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)
Before my right hon. Friend leaves his explanation of the figures and his description of what has happened since the passing of the Act and its renewal, will he say how many people have been brought in for interrogation? Is it possible to give those figures?
§ Mr. Jenkins
It is possible to do so, and I shall come to that matter.
The other main bite of the Act is that it authorises me to make extensions of detention in respect of persons arrested under Section 7. The power of arrest extends to persons who are suspected of having committed offences under the Act, or of beingconcerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorismor of being subject to exclusion orders. The persons so arrested may be detained only for 48 hours, unless I, as Secretary of State, authorise an extension of detention for a further period of up to five days. This period of extended detention is particularly valuable to the police, because it can take several days to check the details of a suspect against the dossiers of information obtained from terrorist incidents, and there are also some forensic processes which take days to complete. I deliberately speak in rather guarded terms here, but I can assure the House that these forensic processes can be of great importance.
§ Mr. Brace Douglas-Mann (Mitcham and Morden)
I do not dispute the need 881 for such powers, but can my right hon. Friend tell us what provisions there are, and what arrangements are made, to enable people detained under the Act to have access to lawyers? Is it not correct that there is a wide divergence in the practice of police forces throughout the country—that in Birmingham, for example, access to solicitors is granted straight away, whereas in other parts of the country it is delayed for a long time?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I do not think that there is any rule about this matter, but I assure my hon. Friend that the Act does not in itself touch upon the right to access to lawyers. In other words, the rights of those held under the Act are the same as the rights of those held under normal criminal proceedings. But if my hon. Friend feels that there is an unjustifiable divergence in practice between different parts of the country, and lets me have details, I shall look into the question.
An extension of detention under Section 7 of the Act has been approved in 179 cases. In 31 cases I subsequently signed exclusion orders. A further 402 people have been held for less than 48 hours—in other words, the police have not applied for an extension of detention—and 61 of the total detained under Section 7 have subsequently been charged with a criminal offence.
At ports, examining officers have powers to detain people for up to seven days or, if the Secretary of State so directs, for another five days after the conclusion of the examination. The number of people who have been detained under the power is now 593, but only 77 of these were held for more than 48 hours.
The examining officers' powers at ports are of great importance. They enable us to maintain better surveillance on persons passing through ports than was possible before the Act was passed last year. The express powers of detention and examination which are provided enable tighter control to be exercised on travelling passengers, with a view to more detailed questioning of those who for any reason give grounds for doubt or suspicion as to whether they are coming here from Ireland otherwise than for an innocent purpose. Nor should we forget the 882 deterrent value of a greatly intensified port surveillance.
I want again to pay tribute to all the examining officers at ports for their continuous vigilance, often in trying circumstances and difficult surroundings. They have had many substantial successes as a result of their work, and I am sure that it is right, in present circumstances, that we should maintain port security at a high level.
These powers have certainly involved the questioning and detention for up to seven days of a number of people against whom no further action was found justified. I do not like authorising detentions because of suspicion, however short the period. The dilemma is that to require the police to hold back and let the suspect enter and move freely about Great Britain without detailed inquiries would involve, in my view, unacceptable additional risks.
The stakes are high. The charges which have been made as a result of arrest and detention under this part of the Act include eight of murder, three of attempted murder, seven of unlawful possession of explosives, six of conspiracy to possess or procure explosives with intent to endanger life, eight of conspiracy to cause an explosion, and one for a firearms offence.
We must recognise with appropriate concern the infringement of liberty which these powers represent, but the benefits must be set against that cost. A right balance must be struck, and the information available to me suggests very strongly that people have been convicted of major terrorist offences who, but for this part of the Act, would not have been convicted; that people have been excluded from Great Britain who, but for the Act, would be engaged in terrorism here; and that some people now alive would, but for the Act, be dead.
It might be helpful if I were now to explain to the House the detailed provisions of the new Bill. The advice that I have received from the police and from my two advisers on the exclusion order procedure, buttressed by my own experience in operating the existing Act, does not suggest the need for many or major changes. That Act, though introduced and carried in haste, was based on careful 883 contingency planning and has worked much as we intended.
In Part I of the Bill, which deals with proscribed organisations, Clauses 1 and 2 reintroduce unchanged the present Sections 1 and 2. Under Clause 1, it is an offence to belong to a proscribed organisation, to give or solicit support for such an organisation or to arrange or address a meeting held on behalf of such an organisation. The maximum penalty for an offence under Clause 1 will continue to be five years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine, on conviction or indictment. Once more, the prosecution for an offence under this clause will require the consent of the Attorney-General.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves Clause 1, may I point out that, although he has referred to certain provisions in it, he has not said anything about subsection (1)(b), which relates to the financial aspect and makes it an offence to solicit or invite financial or other support? Has the right hon. Gentleman any comment to make about that, particularly having regard to the general impression, at any rate, that a great deal of the financial support comes from areas outwith the jurisdiction of this country?
§ Mr. Jenkins
It will be obvious to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that this House cannot legislate for areas outwith the jurisdiction of this country. I believe that it has been the case, certainly in the past—for 200 years past—that a significant amount of financial support has come from territories outwith our jurisdiction. I believe that that degree of support has been declining, and I think that I and many other hon. Members and other people have done what we could to discourage possibly innocent, possibly less innocent, support from the United States. I also believe that the IRA, by their activities, may have done even more to discourage such support than any words which the right hon. and learned Gentleman or I, or anyone else, could command. I believe that this has been a declining source of support to the IRA. But what is clearly the case is that we cannot legislate on this.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Thanet, West)
On this very matter of the financial element, it is quite true, of course, that we 884 cannot do any more than seek to influence American or other alien countries, but surely the right hon. Gentleman could give very careful consideration to finding a method whereby it would be a criminal offence to solicit financial support of any kind by a British resident or by a British national. In so doing it could be pursued along the general lines of this being a treasonable activity.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I think the criminal offence aspect is covered by Clause 1(1)(b), to which the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) referred. I think that point is indeed covered.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North) rose—
§ Mr. Jenkins:
I think I ought to try to make a little progress. However, I wish to have no discrimination; therefore, I shall give way.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I would not accuse the Home Secretary of such an act. May I ask him whether anyone has been prosecuted under these terms in the old Act?
§ Mr. Jenkins
There have certainly been prosecutions under Section 1, which is identical to Clause 1 of the Bill. They have been limited—a very small number. It is always difficult to distinguish between post hoc and propter hoc, but I think the Bill has played its part in this, and there has been a marked diminution in overt activity in support of such organisations. The events of a year ago last June have, happily, certainly not been remotely repeated. As for soliciting—I am talking about internal money—very substantial and desirable restraints have been placed on people's activities. Therefore, I think that Section 1 of the Act has served its purpose, but I do not think that in considering any aspect of legislation it is right to consider only the extent to which this has led to prosecutions. It is an essential part of the fabric of our law that there should be a deterrent effect as well as a punishing effect. I have no doubt at all that Section 1 has served its purpose, and have no hesitation in recommending its renewal to the House.
Clause 2 prohibits the display of support in public for a proscribed organisation. The maximum penalty—the offence here is a summary one—is three months' imprisonment and a fine not exceeding £200.
885 I have considered whether I should add to the list of proscribed organisations in Schedule 1 to the Bill. As I said on a similar occasion a year ago, I would certainly add other organisations, of whatever complexion, if necessary. But I am satisfied that there are no other organisations, on either side of the sectarian divide in Ireland, which are currently engaged in violence directed against Great Britain of a kind comparable to that carried out by the IRA. Further proscriptions would therefore be window-dressing, and I do not propose to do that. However, should the position show any significant sign of beginning to change in this respect, I would not hesitate to make further proscriptions.
Although there have been few prosecutions under this part of the Act, the objective of preventing public displays of support for the IRA has been achieved. I have continued to believe that it would be an intolerable affront to the British people at present and in these conditions if these provisions were to be relaxed. The provisions of Clauses 1 and 2 are preventive in intention, and I believe it to be right that they should be continued.
Part II of the Bill is concerned with exclusion orders. Right hon. and hon. Members will notice that we have rearranged the present powers in Sections 3 and 6 of the Act in Clauses 3, 4 and 5 of the new Bill. This is to avoid a clumsiness—but not a gap in drafting—which arose because of a late change in the 1974 Bill. It is essentially an alteration of form rather than of sub-stance. It will make it possible to dispense with the subordinate legislation which was necessary under the 1974 Act to provide power for persons who are not United Kingdom citizens to be excluded from Northern Ireland.
Clause 3 of the Bill is now a general clause about exclusion orders, which applies whatever the citizenship of the person concerned. The powers conferred on the Secretary of State may be exercised so as to prevent acts of terrorism, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, designed to influence public opinion or Government policy with respect to affairs in Northern Ireland. Where I am satisfied that a person is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, or is attempting or may attempt to enter the 886 country with a view to being so concerned, I may make an exclusion order against that person. The requirement that the Secretary of State should be satisfied on these matters remains as stringent as it was in the 1974 Act.
Clause 4 follows Section 3 of the 1974 Act and enables persons to be excluded from Great Britain. As before, certain exemptions apply in the case of the United Kingdom citizens who have been ordinarily resident in Great Britain for 20 years or, if they were born here, have lived here throughout their lives. It will continue to be a requirement on the Secretary of State before making an exclusion order against the person who is ordinarily resident here to have regard to the question whether that person's connection with any territory outside Great Britain is such as to make it appropriate that an order should be made.
Clause 6 relates to the procedures for making representations against exclusion orders. I am well aware that some people are uneasy about these procedures. I have therefore given careful consideration, in the preparation of the new Bill, to whether it would be appropriate to make changes to the system by which representations may be made to the Secretary of State following the making of an exclusion order, and what should happen following those representations. I must tell the House that the experience of the past year in operating this part of the Act has reinforced my views that it would be wrong to attempt to disguise in quasi-judicial dress what is inevitably an executive procedure. The nature of the material involved in the preparation of an exclusion order case is not such that it can be divulged to the subject of the order in any way without a grave risk that sources of information will dry up and that we shall as a result be substantially more vulnerable to terrorist acts. For these reasons, the review of a particular case must in my view remain a closed procedure. The safeguard is the adviser. He is independent and impartial, and his task is to review decisions that I have taken where representations have been duly made and referred by me to him. I must make it clear, because there must be no confusion about it, that his job is not to conduct a secret judicial hearing; it is to advise me whether, within the terms of the Act, 887 and bearing in mind the nature of the threat, he thinks that I am acting reasonably. That is the essence of the adviser's job. I think that it is worth while. It is a safeguard. But there should be no misunderstanding about its nature. It is not a secret judicial procedure. Nor in my view, both a year ago and with the experience of the past year, could it be without greatly reducing the powers which I believe to be necessary in this respect.
§ Mr. Ron Thomas ( Bristol, North-West)
Is not it absolute nonsense, therefore, to talk about this in any shape or form as being an appeal procedure? Will my right hon. Friend also clear up another matter which is uppermost in my mind? How can the adviser review the decision of the Secretary of State when he, too, is given no indication of the evidence against the individual?
§ Mr. Jenkins
My hon. Friend is wrong. In the first place, I have never referred to it as an appeal procedure. It is an advisory procedure by which a second person entirely independent of me endeavours to advise upon whether I have acted reasonably. I can assure the House that the advice that I have received from the two advisers has not been without value and without effect.
§ Mr. Jenkins
No. I have not finished replying to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas). When I have, I shall consider the hon. Gentleman's point.
My hon. Friend also asked about the information. Again, he is misinformed. The adviser has available to him the information which is available to me.
In 16 cases, persons concerned have made representations objecting to the order, and I have referred all cases in which objections were made to an adviser. In five of the 16, I subsequently revoked the order. I also revoked three cases on other grounds.
I want at this point to express my gratitude to the advisers nominated under Section 4 of the existing Act. Lord Alport and Mr. Ronald Waterhouse, QC, have carried out their task—which is not a 888 very attractive or rewarding task but which is an essential and desirable one in the circumstances of the past year—with great devotion to public duty since the Act came into operation. My consultations with them have given me a valuable insight into their conception of the rôle of the adviser, and the new Bill therefore benefits from their wisdom and experience.
I propose to improve the provisions for the making and the consideration of representations in two ways. The time in which a person may make representations against an order will be increased from 48 hours to 96 hours from the time at which notice of the order was served upon him. In addition, I have provided that where a person includes in his representations a request for an interview with an adviser and has not at that stage been removed with his own consent, that right will be automatically granted, if I refer the matter to an adviser, as I am bound to do unless the representations are frivolous.
Clause 7 embodies the power contained in Section 5 of the present Act by which a person served with an exclusion order may be removed.
Clause 8 deals with certain offences connected with exclusion orders, and provides maximum penalties for these offences of five years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.
§ Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)
Will the Secretary of State say how many of the 72 exclusion orders made since the introduction of this legislation were against persons released from detention in Northern Ireland?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I cannot give a full answer without notice, but I think that the answer is "Very few indeed, if any". However, I should not wish it to be thought that by using the phrase "very few" I necessarily know of the existence of any. If the hon. Gentleman will table a Question for either myself or my right hon. Friend we shall, as we have throughout, gladly provide a running tally of such exclusion orders.
I now turn to Part III of the Bill. Clause 9 of the Bill, apart from minor amendments which are largely of a drafting character, is the same as Section 7 of the present Act. It provides that 889 a constable may arrest without warrant a person suspected of an offence under Clauses 1 or 8, or of being concerned in acts of terrorism, or of being a person subject to an exclusion order. A person arrested under this section may not be detained for more than 48 hours unless the Secretary of State extends this period for up to five more days. This is the power by which the police may detain people whom they suspect of being involved in acts of terrorism, but whom they cannot connect with a specific offence. It enables comprehensive inquiries to be made to establish whether there is evidence on which to base specific charges or grounds for an exclusion order being made by the Secretary of State.
I am conscious that this is an exceptional power, and one which causes disquiet to some people who are concerned that innocent people may suffer as a result of it. Nevertheless, I am satisfied that it is necessary, and that, without it, the task of obtaining the kind of information on which charges can be brought or exclusion orders made would be virtually impossible. It is therefore in present circumstances an essential power. It is also essential that it should be safeguarded by the referral to the Secretary of State of any request for an extension of detention beyond 48 hours.
Clause 10 is the same as Section 8 in the present Act, and enables the Secretary of State to make Orders providing for the examination of travellers entering or leaving Great Britain or Northern Ireland. The detailed powers in respect of the control of traffic at ports are contained in the Prevention of Terrorism (Supplemental Temporary Provisions) Order 1974. That Order was made under Section 8 of the present Act and, if the Bill becomes law, a similar Order will be made under Clause 10. Control of the ports is an essential element in the fight against terrorists. But it inevitably means some hindrance and delay to the travelling public. There has, however, been very good and widespread public acceptance of the need for this. Chief officers of police report that few complaints have been made about the restrictions and delays which sometimes inevitably occur.
Clauses 11 to 16 contain various supplemental provisions. Many of these merely re-enact essential but subsidiary 890 parts of the present Act, but there is an important change from the present Act in Clause 14. This provides that the main provisions of the Bill will be in force initially for 12 months, and that any of the Bill's provisions may subsequently be renewed, by Order, for periods of up to 12 months at a time. The corresponding period in the present Act, as the House is aware, is six months. I hope that the House will accept the reason for this change. This is a temporary provisions Bill, but, especially in the light of recent events, it would be rash of me to forecast when we might be able to let it lapse. The Bill gives us a chance to consider in detail what form temporary provisions legislation of this kind should take. This was not possible, for reasons which were well apparent at the time—last November. When this has been done and when the Bill completes, as I hope it will, its passage through this House and the other place, I hope that Parliament will feel that it is safe for these powers to be capable of renewal for up to 12 months at a time. Flexibility is retained to renew all or various parts of the operative provisions of the Bill for periods of less than 12 months, and also, if it were judged wise, to dispense with certain parts of the Act while retaining others—and, of course, I would not hesitate to bring these powers, as a whole, to an end if conditions allowed.
I believe that this Bill will make a useful contribution to preventing acts of terrorism. I do not claim that it can, by itself, do more. No legislation can eliminate terrorism. I have seen some arguments suggesting that because that is so—because terrorism has persisted with the Act—we should get rid of the 1974 Act. I think that would be rather as though on the morning after a bad raid during the war the Government of the day had responded by announcing that it was abolishing the anti-aircraft artillery because it had failed to do its job completely. For us to fail to renew this Act would be amazing to the public and gravely hampering to the work of those in the front line of our defence.
Nor, indeed, is there any other simple and speedy solution. I understand the strong feelings involved about "penal-ties" and the natural reactions to acts of bestial horribleness, but I remain convinced that it is my duty, putting aside in 891 present circumstances old prejudices and traditional attitudes, to recommend only measures which I believe, after due consideration, will reduce, not increase, violence. For the implementation of such measures we depend in the first place on the skill, determination and preserverance of the police. These qualities are being displayed in ample measure.
The police need the support that the Government and Parliament can provide through this Bill. Even more than this, they need—and I believe, broadly speaking, get—the support of the British people. The need is for vigilance of the highest order from members of the public. The number of police officers is still too few—even though it is 4,851 more than when we debated the 1974 Bill—to provide protection for all potential targets, particularly when any restaurant or any car or even any private house can be the next target. Indeed, the more police officers we take away for static protective duties, the greater the opportunity for the bombers, since resources for tracking down and arresting the culprits may be depleted.
Our security, therefore, is not just a matter for the police or the Government or the authorities generally, but for each one of us to make his own contribution. That contribution must be more than vigilance. In the coming months we shall need steadiness and judgment. The object of the bombers is to panic the British people, if not into a change of policy as regards Northern Ireland, at least into an ill-judged response which will provide further opportunities for violence. They would be delighted if we introduced security measures of such an elaborate character that the effect of them would be to tie up much of the life of the country and direct the resources of the security agencies into fruitless paper work. They would also, I believe, welcome a backlash against the Irish community here, the vast majority of whom condemn these outrages as strongly as do any of us in this House.
The terrorists' main present and increasing weakness in Great Britain is the lack of a community which is willing to give them aid and shelter. We must continue by our policies to deny them such succour or satisfaction.
892 Before introducing these measures I have examined a wide range of possibilities. I would not and will not hesitate to introduce any further measures that I believe will make a practical and significant contribution to defeating the terrorists. It is my considered judgment that these measures at present provide the best balance. I commend them to the House not as a panacea, not as a promise of bringing an immediate or speedy end to the outrages which we are now enduring, but as the right contribution which the Government and this House can make to the efforts of the police and of the public as a whole to resist and overcome the evil of terrorism.
§ Mr. Tom Litterick: (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I prevail upon you to use your good offices to alleviate the confusion, and worse, which seems to be going on outside this building? It seems that the authorities running this building are operating an unduly restrictionist policy towards the lobby which is taking place today. This is causing trouble, which is unfortunate for the reputation of this House and for ordinary people who are attempting to lobby their Members.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I do not know whether the hon. Member was present when Mr. Speaker responded to a similar point of order and assured the House that every possible arrangement was being made to ensure that constituents who wished to see their Members should do so. The authorities of this House are working under exceptional difficulties. The hon. Member's point will have been noted. I shall make inquiries.
§ Mr. Litterick
Further to that point of order. I have just returned from the steps of this building. Notwithstanding your remarks, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the position outside which is still extremely difficult and disturbed, would seem to require urgent action by the authorities controlling this building.
§ Mr. G. B. Drayson (Skipton)
Would it not be' easier for a message to be conveyed to some of these people to the effect that it would be easier for them to meet their Members in their constituencies?
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)
The Opposition fully support the Bill and the continuation of the Order until the Bill is on the statute book. We welcome the way in which the Secretary of State is proceeding, so that we may have the opportunity of possibly improving the Bill in Committee.
The Home Secretary recalled the background to this legislation. Many people were killed and maimed in Birmingham a year ago, and many have been killed and maimed since. It is all very well for those Irish prisoners to climb on to the roof of Wormwood Scrubs prison and demonstrate for more humane visits. I should have thought that the word "humane" would be one which terrorists would do well to keep out of their mouths. Certainly many of their victims would be only too glad if they were able to climb on to roofs or even to walk and lead a normal life. The relations of those who have been killed have even more reason to be envious of the health and well-being of the terrorists who are in Wormwood Scrubs and other prisons. It is, of course, in the nature of terrorists to be concerned with their own feelings and nobody else's.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)
Is it not also true that those prisoners were taking advantage of the relative peace and security of this country, in that, if they had done that in a Northern Ireland prison, they would probably have been shot off the roof by their opponents?
§ Mr. Gilmour
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman gives an accurate picture of what is likely to happen on the roofs of prisons in Northern Ireland. I agree that the prisoners concerned were taking advantage of the peace and security of an English prison.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Is it not a fact that at no time have firearms been used against any prisoners climbing on to prison roofs in Northern Ireland?
§ Mr. Gilmour
I think I indicated that in replying to the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham).
894 A year ago the Birmingham pub bombings shattered any illusions that there may have been on this side of the Channel that Northern Ireland was a comfortable distance away and that only British soldiers need be involved in it. The last 12 months have produced many nasty and tragic incidents in Britain, but they have been only a fraction of what British citizens in Ulster have had to face and live with for many years. Nevertheless, the reality of the war in Ireland has been brought to our doorstep.
Far be it from me to advise the IRA on its strategy, but it seems that its bombings over here demonstrate all too clearly to the British people that they cannot contract out of what is going on in Northern Ireland, even if they want to do so. I hope that in this House very few hon. Members want to leave Northern Ireland to its fate.
It is surely obvious from the statistics given by the Home Secretary that, to put it mildly, there has been no improvement in the situation since May which could possibly warrant us letting the Act lapse, thereby stripping the security forces of the powers they need and giving back to the IRA the freedom which it does not deserve.
Regrettably, there have been more killings in Ireland while the so-called cease-fire has been in force than in the comparable period before the cease-fire, and there have been 39 bombing incidents in this country since last December.
In the debate on the continuation of this legislation in May I said that the powers that it conferred were "a disagreeable necessity". That is still true, but I now lay more stress on the necessity and less on the disagreeable features of the legislation.
The threat to a free society comes from a collapse of authority and an inability to enforce law and order, not from the handing out of a few additional powers to the security forces. Of course, we must not over-react, but I see little danger of our over-reacting. Quite apart from anything else, the police are highly intelligent, level-headed men, and they have no wish to be given powers that they do not believe to be essential.
The growth of arbitrary power in our society and the contempt of some powerful groups in this country for the law and 895 for Parliament are deeply disturbing, but by no stretch of the imagination could the police be described as wielding arbitrary power, or as having contempt for the law, or for Parliament. They are the defenders of, not threats to, our free institutions. They are the defenders of the law and they act according to the law. It is right that they should be given the powers that they need to protect freedom and democracy against the killers and the wreckers and the enemies of humanity and freedom.
Of course, any infringement of individual liberty must be avoided when possible, especially since, as the right hon. Gentleman remarked, usually one of the objectives of terrorism is to drive Governments to unnecessary repression. But the infringements of liberty in this legislation are fully justified and in no way repressive, let alone unnecessarily repressive.
On this side of the Channel the task of defending society falls primarily but not exclusively on the police. Like the Home Secretary, I am sure that every hon. Member will wish to congratulate the police of all ranks on the way in which they have been dealing with an extremely difficult and dangerous situation. They have had many successes in arrests and convictions, in the defusing of bombs, in the discovery of explosives, and so on, and their courage, skill and courtesy have been beyond praise.
Every citizen of this country may now be in the front line of the terrorist attack. The IRA, as we have seen, is not choosing military or strategic targets; it is bombing restaurants, Underground stations, shops, clubs, cars, and so on. It is bombing indiscriminately. We cannot afford for a moment to relax our guard or take down our defences in this time of crisis.
One of our guards is the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. The banning of the IRA has had the beneficial effect, as the Home Secretary said, of reducing the public activity of various IRA groups. No longer is our patience stretched by seeing people with black berets and dark sunglasses strutting around the streets of London and elsewhere, supporting those who are murdering and maiming not only soldiers but civilians. I am sure that this part of the Act has avoided a very ugly 896 situation. Many people, incensed by the various bombing incidents, might have taken it into their heads to tackle these demonstrators in a violent way.
If we turn to the new Bill, we see that very few changes have been made, and I think it is generally agreed that the part of the legislation relating to exclusion orders is the least satisfactory, or the most vulnerable. The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) and others expressed disquiet about these orders last year, and the right hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Craig), myself and others were uneasy, to put it mildly, about them when we debated this subject in May.
The Home Secretary made assertions about the effectiveness of this part of the Bill. Nobody is in a position to challenge what he says on this, and I accept his view. Nevertheless, nobody can fail to be disturbed by the fact that under this legislation people who are thought to have committed, or to have been involved in or associated with, terrorist activities can be excluded from one part of the United Kingdom and dumped in another part of it.
Indeed, the Government's policy is even more disturbing today than it was last May or last December, because of the apparent paralysis of the Government in Northern Ireland. They seem paralysed in their security policy, and they seem paralysed in the rest of their policy. Their evident decision to do nothing about the Convention's report until the new year seems to be an incitement to make things even worse than they are now.
The phasing out of internment in Northern Ireland surely makes exclusion orders even more questionable than they were before. It may be that in Committee the Home Secretary will be able to convince us that despite all the objections there is no alternative to exclusion orders, but I hope that we shall, by some ingenious means, be able to devise something better.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear his position on the phasing out of internment, and how it relates to his argument?
§ Mr. Gilmour
While there is internment, if it is thought that there is a possibility of a terrorist, or someone thought 897 to be a terrorist, being sent from here to Northern Ireland and being interned, the public is that much safer. If there is no internment, it means that whatever happens the terrorist, or suspected or associated terrorist, goes to Northern Ireland and is fully at liberty there. I was not making a judgment on internment as such; I was merely saying that it seems to make exclusion orders more illogical than before, although I appreciate that few people who have been excluded and sent to Northern Ireland have been interned on arrival there.
On a fairly similar point, it has long been deeply regrettable that it has been impossible for anyone to be extradited from the Republic for terrorist crimes committed outside. When one recalls such appalling crimes as the murder of the four sergeants in Belfast, it is scarcely credible that anybody can seriously consider that such an act was political. The Opposition have rightly been prepared to allow the extradition of suspected criminals to the South, and plainly such an inequitable and totally indefensible situation could not be allowed to continue indefinitely. Therefor, we must all hope that the Criminal Jurisdiction Bill will soon have passed through the Dail.
Apart from this Bill and the Irish Bill, what more can be done in the fight against terrorists, and what more can be done to protect persons and property against them? We can legislate as much as we like, but our first line of defence is the police. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the police force is still too small, and the increase in the incidence of bombings has stretched the Metropolitan Police, particularly, to the limit. This force is already 5,000 men short, and if we are not careful that thin blue line will snap. As well as giving the police force the legislation to help it in its task of catching bombers, we must make sure that it has enough resources, and especially the manpower, to do the job.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
I should like to add to what my right hon. Friend said about stretching the police force. Not only is it low in numbers; those serving in the force are working extremely long hours for at least six and a half days a week.
§ Mr. Gilmour
I am sure that that is true, and that they are working long hours.
All of us—or perhaps nearly all of us—want to cut public expenditure, but surely everybody agrees that to minimise on the police force by keeping down its numbers would be inexcusable folly. I hope that when the hon. Lady replies to the debate she will assure us that the Government will do everything in their power to make sure that every police force in the country has its full numbers as soon as possible, because if they do not we are bound to find that the resources committed to fighting terrorism are taken away from the ordinary business of crime detection, and the crime rate will go up even higher than it is today.
I ask the Home Secretary to consider introducing the compulsory marking of detonators and fuse wire, so that they can be traced when used in bombs. There was a good letter by C. H. Rolph in The Times today. Independently, and much less expert though I am, I had come to a similar conclusion earlier. I believe that such markings would help the police in the detection of the material used by the bombers.
However, I think that we should go further and treat explosive material in the same way as we deal with dangerous drugs. All explosives should be registered and signed for on removal for use on a job. In that way, we should be able to achieve a tighter control over the use of explosives in Great Britain. I hope that the Irish Government will follow suit with similar legislation, because, after all, explosives are far more dangerous than drugs and we should do everything that we can to cut down their use. Such changes will not greatly help if the explosives come from America, as we have reason to believe quite a lot do, but I am sure that it would be useful, and would be worth trying, to control more rigidly the use of explosives and detonators in this country.
Can the Home Secretary assure us that the knowledge and experience of dealing with and minimising bomb damage that has been so painfully learned in Belfast will be passed on to people in this country? I know that there have 899 been meetings between shopkeepers, restaurant owners and the police, but it seems that there is more to be done in giving information to those who are likely to be the targets. This is particularly necessary and urgent now that the shops are becoming crowded with Christmas shoppers and are obvious likely targets for the bombers.
The Government accept no responsibility for loss of property or damage to property caused by terrorist action in Great Britain. If this were the result of a single-minded drive for economy on the part of the Government there might be something to be said for it, but since the Government are still shelling out money all over the place it seems odd that they should be reluctant to help innocent victims of terrorism. On the face of it, there seems to be scant reason for distinguishing Great Britain from the rest of the United Kingdom in this matter. I appreciate that this may not be of immediate relevance to the Bill, but it is something which the Government should consider.
A number of my hon. Friends have made suggestions for helping in the fight against terrorism, and no doubt if they get the opportunity to do so they will put forward their views in today's debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) has proposed that large sums of money should be set aside to reward those who give information that leads to the arrest of terrorists. My hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner) wish to introduce identity cards. Those and other suggestions will need to be considered carefully in Committee.
Many of my hon. Friends want to bring back capital punishment for terrorist murderers. You have ruled, Mr. Speaker, that you will not call the amendment, but that this subject may be discussed today. I do not propose to say much about it. Capital punishment has always been a matter of individual judgment in this House. For what it is worth, my judgment is still strongly that capital punishment would do more harm than good—an opinion which has certainly not been undermined by recent events in Spain. This is not the time for an extended speech on the subject, but perhaps 900 there will be time later to discuss it fully. In any case, on this subject no one can reasonably profess any great degree of certainty. Many of my hon. Friends take the opposite view very strongly and they are undoubtedly supported by a large body of public opinion.
Of two things I am certain, however. First, it would be wrong, for whatever reason, however sincere, to deprive the police of the powers given them in the Bill. Second, there is no quick or simple remedy to eliminate terrorism. Anyone who thinks that he has a panacea is being unrealistically optimistic. The elimination of terrorism will need a great deal of hard work and the exercise of great skill by the police, a great deal of courage by them, and much vigilance and steadfastness on the part of the British people. But we should delude the British people if we gave the impression that there is any easy way out of our present dangers.
As the Home Secretary said, the Bill will not prevent terrorism but it will make it less than it would otherwise be. I therefore support it and the powers that it gives the police, because those powers are necessary and because the police deserve our confidence.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)
The people of Northern Ireland are deeply concerned with this subject. Earlier this week, the shadow of what is happening in Northern Ireland fell across the whole House. Yesterday was a grim day in Northern Ireland, with the brutal and barbarous killing of one of the constituents whom the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) represented in the Convention. No words of mine are adequate either to describe the gruesomeness of that killing or to condemn it. Then, in the Fountain area in Londonderry, Mr. Bobby Stott, a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, was shot in the back with a 45 pistol. Last night, some policemen were ambushed, two of whom were killed and one of whom is still seriously injured. I am sure that the House realises exactly what terrorism is and what it can do to a community.
We in Northern Ireland realise the scourge and the devilry of terrorism, so today we are intimately concerned with this debate and wish to emphasise some 901 things that the House should know from the experience of Northern Ireland representatives. I regret that no Northern Ireland Minister is present—although I know that they were here earlier. The Bill concerns Northern Ireland as much as Great Britain, and Northern Ireland Ministers should be here throughout to hear the speeches of Northern Ireland representatives.
We look to the Government to take effective steps to show people that they have the will to win the war against terrorism in Northern Ireland. The Home Secretary emphasised the strength and the support that the police must have. The tragedy is that even Members of this House have lent their authority to discrediting the police and security forces in Northern Ireland. We, the people of Northern Ireland, are now reaping the sad harvest of the seeds sown at the beginning of the terrorist campaign by the Irish Republican Army.
We have all been to the homes of those who have suffered. The hon. Member for Belfast, West will no doubt have to visit the home of his constituent. We have seen the grief and the sorrow caused by these acts and we realise that the whole community must unite to eliminate this scourge. I trust that the Government will take effective steps.
The people of Northern Ireland will be alarmed to learn that the Home Secretary has excluded 38 people to Northern Ireland, among whom, he said, were some of the most experienced leaders of the IRA, who would no doubt have engaged in serious acts of terrorism if they had remained in Great Britain. Today, they are on the loose in Northern Ireland.
I must correct one thing that the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) said. He tried to tell the House that if detention were still in force in Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State would be able to detain these people. Under the present law he cannot detain anyone excluded from Great Britain. He can detain only people whom he suspects of being guilty of acts of violence in Northern Ireland. So detention would be no help in the case of these 38 people.
People in Northern Ireland feel that the Province has become a dumping 902 ground. Under this legislation, more people will be dumped there. Yet the Government there cannot take effective steps against such people. That is what most deeply concerns people about the Bill.
I hope that Ministers who are present will convey my next remarks to the absent Northern Ireland Ministers. Police in Northern Ireland are being lured into certain traps by means of false messages. The two policemen murdered last night received a message, allegedly from the Garda, in Eire, that a relation of someone in their area had died. They were going on a mercy mission to convey that information when they met their deaths. The information has since been proved to be bogus.
In the same area, a Mr. Clements, a schoolteacher and member of the police reserve, went out to help at what he was told was a fire on a farm in his area. On his way he was ambushed and murdered.
§ Mr. John Dunlop (Mid-Ulster)
I emphasise what my hon. Friend has said about Joe Clements, as we all knew him. He was an ordinary, humble principal teacher for 22 years in the little village of Beragh in County Tyrone, part of my constituency. He was a decent fellow, whom we knew very well. That the IRA can say that this man posed a threat or was guilty of acts of intimidation against members of the minority community in Northern Ireland is more than decent people can understand. Yet he was unfairly done to death trying to do his little bit in that community. It is a pity—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
The hon. Gentleman is entitled to intervene even on this sad topic, but he must not make a speech.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Hon. and right hon. Members may smile at what my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Mr. Dunlop) said, but it is no smiling matter. I was at that home with my hon. Friend and I know exactly how those in that area felt. This man was going on a mission of mercy.
We welcome the presence of the Minister of State for Northern Ireland. No doubt his hon. Friend the Undersecretary of State will tell him what we have been saying.
903 Mr. Clements was lured to his death. I ask the Minister of State for Northern Ireland to ensure that the police are no longer ordered to go out on these so-called missions. It is better that people hear of the deaths of their friends in the Republic 24 hours late than that two policemen lie murdered on the roadside. Practical steps must be taken to secure the safety of the police and members of the British Army, who are doing a difficult job and taking their lives in their hands.
As the Minister of State is present, perhaps he will ensure that when young policemen go to their depot they are properly protected. At present, trainees are not permitted to carry arms, yet they have to go to and from their homes and are not granted firearm certificates. They are a prey to these terrorist organisations. Those are the practical proposals that we ask the Minister to consider.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)
I hope that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) will excuse me if I do not follow his argument entirely. I appreciate that those in Northern Ireland who have experienced terrorism, whatever side they may take, have suffered considerably. Terrorism has now spread to this country.
In recent months Southampton has, unfortunately, been in the forefront of IRA activity. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said, last Christmas Eve a bomb factory was discovered and in the ensuing proceedings two policemen were shot. A fortnight ago there was the discovery of 400 lb. of explosives in a shed at the base of a multi-storey block of council flats. As a result of that discovery, approximately 45 people were detained under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. Many of them were my constituents. Last Monday, seven were charged with conspiracy to cause an explosion, one other has subsequently been charged with harbouring, and another is still in custody.
People who throw bombs indiscriminately and kill innocent people are not patriots; they are criminals of the lowest type. It is the duty of the House to do everything in its power to ensure 904 that these men and women are discovered and brought to justice. That is why I support the renewal of this Order, and the Bill.
Exceptional circumstances demand exceptional measures. It is right that in times such as this the police should have extra powers to deal with the situation. We must be watchful that these powers are not abused, but I have every confidence in my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's ensuring that that does not happen.
I want to repeat three statements that I made a week ago on television when the bomb store was discovered in Southampton. First, I said that I naturally regretted that a number of people who were detained under the Act and later released suffered considerable inconvenience. It is always a matter for regret when innocent people are detained. However, this is a relatively small price to pay in the war against terrorism and extremism.
Secondly, I appealed to the people of Southampton not to engage in any backlash against the considerable Irish community in that city, 99.9 per cent. of whom are ordinary, decent peace-loving citizens who deplore the activities of the small minority of IRA supporters. I am very pleased that the people of Southampton heeded my call and that there has been no backlash.
Thirdly, I congratulated the police on the discovery of the bomb store and appealed to everyone to co-operate fully with them.
I am getting just a little fed up with some hon. Members who continually criticise the police, on every conceivable occasion. Of course, the police sometimes make mistakes, and when they do it is right that attention should be drawn to those mistakes. I welcome the Bill which gives special procedures for dealing with complaints against the police. However, the people of Southampton, and, particularly, of that block of flats, will be eternally grateful that we have an efficient police force, and it is in our interests that that efficiency is maintained.
In last night's edition of the Southern Evening Echo, which is my local paper, I saw a headline:Police are back to war era".905 I naturally assumed that it referred to the events of the past few weeks in Southampton. I then read the article. It referred to a statement which the Chief Constable made to a meeting of the Hampshire Police Authority, which was considering the revised spending figures and the capital programme for the next 12 months. The Chief Constable for Hampshire, who was largely in charge of the police force that discovered the bomb store in Southampton, said:We have already made cut-backs in every field where it is humanly possible".The article went on:He said the force had already put into operation widespread cuts in expenditure.The Chief Constable continued:We are even re-using envelopes. We are back to the war days.Hence the headline.
I appeal to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to use all his influence with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ensure that whatever public expenditure reductions are made, nothing is done to endanger the efficiency of the police force in this country. It is faced with an increasingly difficult task. Violence is on the increase, and ranges from hooliganism at football matches, of which we have had our fair share, to IRA and other terrorist activities.
The police have a very difficult job to do. There are extremist forces at work in this country who want to overthrow our democratic society. I passionately believe in the parliamentary democratic system, and I believe that, if necessary, we must be prepared to pay a price to maintain it.
Finally, I ask any hon. Members who may be thinking of voting against either the Order or the Second Reading of the Bill to consider what would have happened had that 400 lbs. of explosive gone off underneath the multi-storey block of flats. Hundreds of my constituents, working-class people, would have died. I ask hon. Members who are thinking of voting against the Government to consider that fact.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
I echo the words of the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) in praise of the police forces. I should also 906 like to express sympathy with the speech made by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), who spoke about the problems which face the people of Northern Ireland. The problems that we face here in regard to terrorism are, at this stage, only minor when compared with the torture and torment through which Northern Ireland goes daily.
That is why those who listened to the Queen's Speech with bated breath and heard that there was to be a new Bill for the prevention of terrorism expected something rather more powerful than what has come from the empty volcanoes opposite. This is the second mouse. Really, it is difficult to distinguish, unlessone is an eminent expert, between what seems to be mus musculus and mus micromys minutus. One is the common mouse and the other is the field mouse. The difference between these two great Bills which have been put before Parliament is just about as small as that.
I believe that the problem of terrorism cannot be dealt with by one Act of Parliament. It can be dealt with only by a general approach and a decision and determination of Parliament to defeat terrorism. That, frankly, has been one of the problems. The absence of that will has been one of the facts which have disturbed the public and are increasingly disturbing the public today. This applies, above all else, to Northern Ireland. What is dangerously clear is the fear of many that there is neither the ability to make a military policy nor a political policy work, nor the determination to win. That, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said in a debate a few months ago, is the essence of the defeat of terrorism: that terrorism shall not prevail. However, beyond that is the growing fact, to which the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen referred, that we are seeing the authority of the State being daily diminished. And the authority of the State is what matters.
One of the problems has been that neither Front Bench has been prepared to consider not just a preventive Act in relation to terrorism but the question of punishment at the same time. I fear that the impression of the general public is that one of the reasons—if I may slightly expand on Belloc—is that pale Ebenezers on both Front Benches thought it wrong to fight, but roaring Bill 907 or Mick or Trot who killed them thought it right. That is one of the problems which face us today.
As I have said, I believe that an attack on terrorism must contain three large elements. First, the biggest and most important element is the will, and the expressed will, to defeat terrorism by every possible means. The second element is to see that the instruments are to hand for the defeat of terrorism. Thirdly, I believe that it is necessary to bring in certain punitive legislation which can be effective.
I shall not try to extend the parameters of the Home Secretary's conscience on this matter. I shall not refer to the death penalty except in the last stages of my speech. However, I want to come to the question of the instruments for the defeat of terrorism. In this Bill there are important instruments. The chief instrument, I think, is the extension of the power of the police to detain people, from 48 hours to 168 hours. That undoubtedly is of great importance, especially from the scientific point of view rather than the forensic point of view—if I may correct the Home Secertary. However, other parts of the Bill are really not of great importance. I agree with my right hon. and hon. Friends from Ulster. The business of merely taking people from this country and dumping them in Ulster or the South does not add at all to the general defeat of terrorism. Indeed, in the long term it could make matters rather worse. That provision needs to be examined extremely carefully.
The great instrument for the defeat of terrorism—on which the Bill is helpful and, therefore, should be welcomed—is the police and those support services which can help the police. At present, as we know, in London we are short of about 5,000 police on the establishment. As regards special constables in London, for an establishment of 10,000 only 2,000 can be found. However, the most important point to make, the point made to some extent by the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen, is that the Home Secretary should approach the Chancellor of the Exchequer now and tell him that the financial burden of extra police should not fall on local authorities. Till that is done throughout the country there will be, from people who feel that they are 908 not in danger, opposition to any increase in the size of the police force. Therefore, the totality of the police available will be diminished. That is, perhaps, the most important thing that can be done in that respect.
I come to the question of the re-establishment of the authority of the State in regard to terrorism. I believe that there are certain actions which could and should be taken. It is vital that the law of criminal conspiracy concerning terrorism should not only be reformed and made clear but should be seen to be used, and its use should be encouraged by the Home Office if that is necessary.
Secondly, I believe that there should be an announcement, in the course of this debate—I was glad to see the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office present in the Chamber earlier—that the Home Office and the Northern Ireland Office declare and swear that those persons taken in acts of terrorism shall not be released in any political amnesty whatsoever, and that the penalty is for life and that it means life.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)
Surely it is part of the duty of the Government Whip who is present—the hon. Lady the Member for Lincoln (Miss Jackson); I am addressing no personal criticism to her—to take account of what has been said repeatedly about the absence of representatives from the Northern Ireland Office and to take steps to secure that at least one of them be at the service of the House?
§ Mr. Fraser
I thank my right hon. Friend for his intervention.
I believe that it is of vital importance that this declaration should be made that these men will be in for life and that there will be no climbing on to roofs, with their girl friends shouting out "You are coming out next week." That is what is wrong, and that is why this declaration should be made this very day, when Northern Ireland Ministers can be dug up from somewhere and be brought into the House to attend to the business.
Further on the legal point, it is vital that the Lord Chancellor should bring home to the judges and to the magistracy the necessity for proper sentences to be imposed for these crimes.
Next, it is necessary that a keen and hard look should be taken at the question 909 of the harbouring of terrorists. Once the terrorist can no longer be harboured the whole system of terrorism tends to break down. The penalties for the harbouring of terrorists should be far more formidable than they are today. I believe, too, that we should even look—this is a delicate matter—at the question of those who harbour terrorists by culpable inadvertence and that those responsible for the running of hotels, and others, should be responsible for what they do.
To some these may sound Draconian provisions. I remind the House—I have no need to remind the Home Secretary—that Draco was one of the most popular of Greek administrators and indeed, was elected more times even than the present Prime Minister. Especially popular was his law that those who were idle should be executed. Therefore, I make no apology, as we live in difficult times, for saying that somewhat more Draconian measures should be introduced.
I will touch for only a few moments on the question of the death penalty for terrorism. I believe that terrorism, alas, far form being on the wane, is on the increase. It is not just the Irish Republican Army or the Red Hand of Ulster or whatever it be, but throughout the world there is undoubtedly a danger that terrorism is becoming the main military or paramilitary method of successful take-over. The weapons at hand are terrifying. We all know what could happen were these to grow in intensity here. A bomb in a Tube station or a bomb in a theatre are but two examples of acts of terrorism which could hold a whole people to ransom.
I therefore say that the terrible authority of the State can be restored only by the death penalty. I shall not go into this question at length. I shall say merely that I have had experience, both at the receiving end and during the war as a terrorist, and I can assure those on both Front Benches that the ultimate deterrent for a man who could be shot as a terrorist is not the arrest but the firing squad.
§ Mr. R. C. Mitchell
Does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that the terrorist who is prepared to carry bombs around and even to blow himself up, which has happened, and prepared to throw bombs on short fuses which could 910 accidentally go off will be deterred by the death penalty?
§ Mr. Fraser
I was very much deterred by the death penalty. That is why I usually used rather longer fuses. Apart from that, there is a special aspect in regard to the deterrence of terrorists. Every terrorist believes that he will eventually be liberated by the success of his movement. Once that is taken away by death the deterrence is even greater for terrorists than it is for the "private" murderer. I remain as regards "private" murder an abolitionist.
I apologise for having spoken for so long. Let the Members of both Front Benches remember that it is the authority here. A bomb in a Tube station or a by weak and inept government. The powers of the State have been seized on and expanded as never before by this Government and, indeed, in some part by the previous Government, yet not in a decade have we seen the proper authority of the State decline in more rapid fashion. Let them remember that, because this is something with which the people of the country will not go along, and soon will not abide.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Robin Corbett (Hemel Hempstead)
The prime concern of every Member of the House, whatever view he takes of this proposed legislation, surely must be, in this as in other matters, for the safety and security of every citizen of the realm. There is no argument between any of us that the forces which are employed on our behalf to ensure our security should have the men and the money and the resources which they need.
I believe that we are in process of trying to perpetrate a cruel deception on people who are legitimately worried about the murderous activities of terrorists. We are saying to them that a scrap of paper called "Prevention of Terrorism…Bill" will somehow automatically shield them from the ravages of the mindless and murderous militants. It is a cruel and wicked deception to pretend that with more repressive powers being put into the hands of the Home Secretary and those behind him, somehow, magically, those who engage in these activities will be done away with.
911 The Home Secretary and the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) both said—I hope that this point will be taken up by those who study the proceedings of the House via the newspapers—that no one Act of Parliament can be a guarantee of the safety and security of any citizen of this land.
We in the House must not do one act which makes it easier for these terrorists to achieve what they are about—which is the piece-by-piece dismantling of our democracy and, in the end, its very destruction. So it is pertinent then to ask: what price do we pay? Where do we draw the line?
We have at present the power of the Home Secretary—and, indeed, at ports of entry not only of the Home Secretary—for the first time in English law to arrest people for questioning. Let us not be mealy mouthed and talk about "detention". This is arrest for questioning. People can be, have been and are arrested for seven days. They disappear off the face of the earth. They have no rights.
My right hon. Friend suggested—I know that he did so inadvertently—that these people have rights, but there are no rights for those arrested to contact solicitors. They are protected merely by the Judges' Rules. That is not a right. The police, for good or bad reasons, can choose whether that facility will be granted. We have a situation in which any citizen of this country, by mere order of the Home Secretary, on the ground of suspicion, can be excluded from these shores without being made aware of the evidence on which that decision has been arived at. There are trials at the Old Bailey concerned with treason, in which information about security is given either in open court or, if it is sensitive, in camera.
Is it not a tradition of this House, on behalf of the people of these islands, that a man has the right to know the evidence on which he is charged? How far can we go in departing from that position? What would be the reaction of hon. Members opposite if in three years time a Minister were to rise and say "Because of the increase in terrorism we will do away with General Elections. There are too many terrorist explosions, and a General Election would be a massive security risk."? The question is not far-fetched. Once we 912 start down this slippery road, where does it end? Who will decide?
Let there be no misunderstanding; my sympathies are entirely with the victims of these senseless acts, but not one hon. Member who has spoken in this debate has mentioned that out of about 1,200 people detained under the Act only 26 have been charged with serious offences—charged, not found guilty—and 25 others have been charged with minor crimes, ranging from intent to defraud the taxman to wasting police time. That means that over 1,100 of our citizens have been picked up in the dragnet of this Act, have been held for periods ranging between 48 hours and seven days, have not been charged, have not been tried, and then have been released to go about their lawful business.
Some hon. Members will say that that is the price that has to be paid and that we must be concerned with the greatest good for the greater number. What total number of people do we want to be caught and treated like this before we worry about the situation? Has the number got to go up to 10,000, 100,000 or 500,000?
§ Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)
When the hon. Gentleman quotes that number of our citizens, is he sure that he is accurate? Are they our citizens, or are they citizens of the Irish Republic?
§ Mr. Corbett
Yes, both, but I hope the hon. and learned Member is not saying that we should have one law for our own residents and another law for those who come among us. That would be a very dangerous principle.
I make no heavy weather of this, but the fact is that since this screw was tightened in May there have been more terrorist acts in England. There have been more people killed and injured. Hon. Members may say "Give the screw another twist and make it more punitive." I am citing this fact to show that no Act that we pass here can guarantee the safety of the citizen. The question which I raise 913 particularly concerns the price which we are asking people to pay.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)
Can the hon. Gentleman cite the number of people arrested in England on suspicion of committing offences and then released to go about their lawful affairs during one year, without any charge being brought against them, regardless of this Act?
§ Mr. Corbett
I am sorry; I do not have those figures with me. If I were speaking at the Dispatch Box I would say "Give me notice of that question."
I am at one with other hon. Members who have paid tribute to the police—particularly those on the ground—who are doing their best to protect our security, but I have spoken to people who have been detained at courts under the provisions of this Act and I am told that they are questioned about their membership of a British political party, their membership of and activity in the trade union movement, their views on current affairs, some political and some economic, but that there is no mention of explosives or detonators, or matters of that sort.
Those hon. Members who support the Act should know this if they are going to say "We want to arm the police with powers to arrest people for questioning and we do not mind what they are questioned about." Let those hon. Members be clear that that is not my understanding of what this Act is about. That is one more example of the fact that these powers, from the point of view of those who operate them, go against what I hope most people will agree was the original intention of this House.
This is a bizarre situation. On the one hand, the Government are pursuing with success a policy of bringing people before the courts, having them tried and convicted, and are doing away with detention without trial. That is happening in Ulster. Yet in this country we seem to be moving in the opposite direction, of defending arrest without trial and of excluding people from this country without making them aware of the evidence on which it is desired to exclude them. The two things do not live together. Surely we have enough evidence from that unhappy Province across the water to show that repressive measures of this 914 sort do not solve the problem. They simply lead to more violence. My fear about this legislation is that it will up the anti. We shall lose freedom of which we are so proud and at the same time assist the terrorists to achieve their aims.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Thanet, West)
The difficulty of the speech which we have just heard is that it put forward no constructive measures which would in any way limit or reduce acts of terrorism in this country.
Last night the International Red Cross held its annual charity dance. It opened with a long statement by the manager of the hotel in which the dance was held on what was to happen in the event of a bomb disrupting the proceedings. That is the situation that we have reached in this metropolis. I think that fact expresses the situation particularly vividly when one remembers that it was the International Red Cross which was concerned.
I share the view expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) that we need to have firm measures to show that this House of Commons is determined to win the battle against terrorism. World opinion shares the view held in the United Kingdom that those who perpetrate acts of terrorism are traitors to this country. The pith of what I want to say is how we can deal with those traitors both here and in Ulster, because let us not forget that Ulster is part of the United Kingdom.
I also wish to speak briefly about compensation. When I was bombed just outside the Old Bailey, when the glass came crashing down and I fell down like a praying mantis, I was deeply upset—not that I was very much hurt, but my car was badly damaged and no compensation was available for that. I was also worried about the children from the Hartsdown School in Margate, who got down just in the nick of time, thanks to the bravery of one man, and were saved from injury; but had they been injured they would have received no compensation even had they been maimed for life.
I believe that persons and the property of individuals damaged by acts of terrorism should be fully covered. I do not believe that they are sufficiently covered 915 under the damages for criminal acts compensation procedure. I therefore ask that property and persons be fully covered in the future, for this is no longer an insurable risk. I ask that we use all our resources, and in particular that we give rewards and inducements even to those who are criminals and who are often able to provide the relevant information which is needed. Criminals are approached to engage in crime in this country and in Ulster, but they are not offered the inducements and rewards which should be given by the police for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of persons involved in terrorism.
We should consider the introduction of identity cards. They might provide a valuable safeguard in ensuring that a person's identity was fully known and assist the powers of detection. It is also necessary to prepare a suitable amendment to the law of treason. It may be properly contended that those who perpetrate acts of terrorism are guilty of high treason.
The Treason Act 1351 declares that it shall be treason for a man to levy war against the Queen in her realm or be adherent to the enemies of the Queen in her realm, giving to them aid or comfort in her realm or elsewhere. The cases of Casement and William Joyce were concerned with acts of war in relation to Germany. So that there shall be no ambiguity, the treason law should be brought up to date and should state that it shall be treason either to levy war or to perpetrate acts of terrorism against the Queen in her realm. That use of the law, with any further amendment that might be required to deal with people engaged in acts preparatory to terrorism, would put the matter in the right perspective.
I do not take the view that the death penalty by itself is the right way to deal with terrorism. If terrorism is dealt with along the lines of the new law of treason and people are properly found guilty of being traitors to their country, it is right that they should be executed, as they have always been executed for being traitors to their country. Most of the people concerned are British residents, residents of this country or Ulstermen, and all of them are subject to the ordinary law of treason.
916 Have the Government given consideration to the views expressed in another place some time ago by Lord Hailsham on how this law should be used? Although the original law of treason could technically be used as it stands, it probably would not be practical to do so. An amendment of the law should be carefully considered. It could play an effective part in providing the necessary weapon against terrorism.
§ Mr. George Cunningham
Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman think that there is an overwhelming objection to that course since it is not normally possible to charge with treason a person who is not a citizen of the country against which he is accused of being treasonable? On curious grounds an exception was made to that rule in the case of Joyce, but we would not normally be able to get an American citizen or a citizen of the Republic on that basis. Is it not better to deal with the matter as we are doing in the legislation before us rather than basing ourselves on the Treason Act?
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
I think not. Many of the people concerned would come within the law of treason along the lines I seek. I agree that it would not cover citizens of Eire or American citizens, save when they were residents of this country.
If we are to win this war—and war it is—we have to pursue the measures which are taken in war. The most successful war against terrorism was in Malaysia. I have come to the conclusion that it will not be long before the House of Commons recognises the need to introduce martial law in Ulster. We must, therefore, prepare for its introduction.
Why do I say that this action would achieve success in defeating the enemy in a way which no other action could achieve? The Government and the previous Government have been right up to now in not taking this drastic and final step, but it is the only step that will achieve success. The introduction of martial law into Ulster would ensure the complete closure of the media while the terrorist elements were being eradicated. There are certain infested spots such as the Bogside and Creggan. There is no chance of success until from those and similar areas are removed the people who are providing the background to terrorist acts.
917 To achieve the sort of success that was achieved in Malaysia, it will be necessary to eradicate terrorism from certain areas. The people in those areas who are often the subject of acts of terrorism will be delighted to move away and others will be able to play an effective part in capturing the terrorists. Unless concerted action is treated as a military operation, it will not succeed.
I welcome the small measure before us because it has a useful part to play. The terrorists are waging what they claim to be a perpetual war which will continue for many years. There will come a time—fairly soon—when we shall be driven to taking these stronger measures. I ask the Government to give an assurance that they have made the necessary preparations to ensure that martial law can be put into effect along the lines I have indicated if and when they feel that it is judicious so to do.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Alf Bates (Bebington and Elles-mere Port)
It is right that we should have the opportunity to review the 1974 Act so that hon. Members may express their feelings about the way it has worked. We should be grateful to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary for introducing new legislation rather than a continuation Order. As I have received no complaint from any of my constituents about the way the Act has worked, I want to examine the principles upon which it is based.
When we debated this subject last year, I spoke against the reintroduction of the death penalty for terrorists. I remain of that view. I care not whether the hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) wishes the death penalty to be reintroduced for treason or for murder. The dealth penalty is equally wrong and equally valueless for both crimes.
§ Mrs. Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the death penalty already exists for treason?
§ Mr. Bates
I am aware of that. I am suggesting that the death penalty is as valueless for treason as it is for murder. There is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty would be a deterrent in either case. The arguments of 918 those who wish to reintroduce the death penalty for treason are extremely weak. We are confronted by a group of determined murderers who are unlikely to be deterred. The House should seriously consider the possible consequences of the reintroduction of the death penalty. Such action could result in reprisals, the taking of hostages and so on.
When people see acts of terrorism, there are emotional demands for the reintroduction of the death penalty. We must understand this natural public mood, but hon. Members must stand back from that emotion and provide a judgment of the possible consequences of such action. It would be wrong to reintroduce the death penalty and I hope that the House will continue to stand firm against it.
However, unless we are seen to continue to take measures against terrorism, there may be a welling-up among the public and demands for the reintroduction of the death penalty. Unless we are very careful in our attempts to stamp out terrorism, there is a serious danger that members of the public will begin to take the law into their own hands, and in certain areas Irish communities could be in danger of massive reprisals. It was necessary for my right hon. Friend to introduce this measure in the first place and I regret that its continuance is necessary, but it must remain on the statute book in some form. The public would find it deeply offensive if the 1974 Act ceased to operate and if the powers which the police feel it necessary to have were removed together with the power of the Home Secretary to make exclusion orders.
I understand how my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) feels about the loss of civil liberties, but we must accept that people's civil liberties are in far greater danger at the moment from atrocious acts of terrorism than from the admitted inconvenience of having to spend 48 hours and five days in detention.
§ Mr. Crouch
The hon. Member has said that he wants to review the implications of the Bill, but his hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) got very worked up about Clause 9 and the power it gives the Home Secretary to detain people for 48 hours plus five days. The hon. Member claimed that was a real denial of human rights 919 and freedom and he played strongly on the emotions of the House. Would the hon. Member like to counter that argument? He has already said that we should not consider the return of the death penalty as a deterrent, but his hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead was very concerned at the increased powers given to the police to detain. He thought that they were more than simply inconvenient—
§ Mr. Bates
I am sure the hon. Member has made his point. We have to balance the possible gross inconvenience that some people may suffer and the loss of civil liberties against the consequences of terrorism.
Apart from the offence that would be caused to the public if this measure were dropped, there is also the danger that they might take the law into their own hands, and that could be serious. I urge the House to continue this legislation in the form suggested by the Home Secretary.
We are faced with a war with terrorists. Whenever we have a conspiracy of evil, it is not sufficient for this House simply to stand idly by. I shall be supporting the Home Secretary tonight, though at later stages of the Bill it may be necessary to suggest certain alterations, as I did when the 1974 Bill went through. I would not like this House to commit a great affront to the British people by not granting the Bill a Second Reading.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)
My colleagues from Northern Ireland and I, listening to the debates of the last few days, have been quietly encouraged by hearing the insistence from both Front Benches and from all quarters of the House upon the importance of maintaining the unity and integrity of the United Kingdom. We were encouraged because that, after all, is the supreme message with which we were entrusted by those who sent us to this place. This Bill is a grim but definite statement to the same effect. It arises out of the fact of the United Kingdom and the determination 920 of this House and this country that its unity should be maintained.
This is not, despite its title, a general Prevention of Terrorism Bill. It is concerned only with terrorism which is directed to altering, in a particular way, the policy of this House and this country in relation to a part of the United Kingdom. It is because the United Kingdom is a political unit that the citizens of London, Birmingham and other places have been put at personal risk. That fact is the proof that war levied against any part of this Kingdom and pressure brought to bear against the residents of any part of it is war levied against the whole and pressure brought against everybody.
It would be truest of all to say that the terrorism at which this Bill is aimed is directed against this House. Of course we shall debate here the future administration and government of all parts of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland. Of course we shall talk about power-sharing, devolution, Assemblies and all the alternatives we are entitled to consider for the better administration of the United Kingdom and its parts. But hon. Members and people outside delude themselves if they imagine that the terrorist in Northern Ireland or in the West End of London cares a fig for the difference between power-sharing in local government and power-sharing in a devolved Assembly, or that he is in the slightest degree interested in the improvement of opportunities for all sections of the community to take part in government. He is only interested in bringing the force of terror and fear to bear upon the public and, through them, upon this House in order to force us to legislate in one way only—to sever from the United Kingdom a part, the majority of whose inhabitants wish to remain in the United Kingdom. Thus we are, in a sense, defending the sovereignty of this House by the Bill: it is a Bill which not only touches Northern Ireland and the rest of the country, but most of all this House.
I am sure that the hon. Member for Bebington and Ellesmere Port (Mr. Bates) was right when he said that, whether we like it or not, it would have been unthinkable against the background of the last 12 months for any Home Secretary of any party to have allowed 921 the 1974 Act to lapse. The right hon. Gentleman was right to bring forward a new Bill instead of a renewal Order, and there are appreciable improvements and rationalisations in this Bill compared with the 1974 Act. It is certainly a clearer Bill, it is more logically constructed, and it is easier to follow its purpose and its working. It was also right and realistic to recognise that we have to live with this Act for at least another 12 months and that it would have been mere window-dressing to repeat the provision requiring renewal after six months.
I am sorry that the opportunity was not taken—but this can be remedied in Committee—to update some of the penal-ties in the light of the 25 per cent. inflation of the intervening 12 months. Other minor improvements too could be made to the Bill. There is, however, one major aspect which I hope will receive attention in Committee but which I must impress upon the Home Secretary now so that it can be considered between now and the Committee stage, which I assume will be on the Floor of the House—it certainly ought to be with a Bill of this kind.
I regret that the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) is not in the Chamber at the moment because I wanted to say in his presence that the House of Commons would not be what it ought to be unless in the course of this debate at least one speech was made such as was made by the hon. Member. It is right for us to be reminded that the Bill includes provisions which other than exceptionally—and what a tricky word "exceptional" is—are not tolerable in a free society. In particular it embodies powers for the executive to remove a citizen—not merely a resident—from one part of the realm to another. That power is not without precedent, but it is a surprising power which is most difficult to reconcile with any ordinary notion of civil liberties.
The provisions of Part II of the Bill have been, for obvious reasons, of special interest and anxiety to hon. Members representing Ulster constituencies. As is always liable to happen with legislation of this sort, the very enactment itself brings with it some of the dangers with which it attempts to cope. In enacting Part II of the original Act we did to some extent differentiate in a dangerous manner 922 between two parts of that very realm which we are attempting by the Bill to defend against an attack on its unity. The Bill in the form presented last year was felt to be dangerously misleading—offensive, even—by Ulster Members, in that it contained a power to remove per-sons from Great Britain into Northern Ireland but no corresponding power to remove them from Northern Ireland into Great Britain. That seemed to make even more acute the general objection to differentiating between two parts of the kingdom in the compulsory removal of a citizen from one part to the other.
In this respect there is already an improvement in the new Bill. I am not wasting the time of the House by making a mere Committee point when I draw attention to what I have in mind, because it is the basis of a suggestion I want to put to the Home Secretary for his consideration before the Committee stage. In Clause 5, which deals with aliens—and that includes citizens of the Republic of Ireland—one of the grounds on which an exclusion order from the United Kingdom can be made is that the person in questionis attempting or may attempt to enter,—and now come the important words—Great Britain or Northern Ireland with a view to being concerned"—in terrorist acts.On first reading one might feel that as Great Britain and Northern Ireland together constitute the United Kingdom the Bill should have saidattempting…to enter the United Kingdomto commit terrorist acts. But then one immediately realises that the effect of the clause is very different. It means that if a citizen of the Republic in Great Britain is attempting to go—I am sure that this is not unknown—to Northern Ireland with the object of committing a terrorist offence, that is a basis for excluding him from the United Kingdom. Whether that was implicit in the previous Act or not, it is of great importance that it now appears clearly upon the face of the Bill.
How can the Home Secretary possibly contend that a person who is a citizen of the Republic of Ireland and goes from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to commit a terrorist act should be liable to have an exclusion order made against him, but that this should not apply to a 923 citizen of the United Kingdom who goes from Great Britain to Northern Ireland with exactly the same object in mind—given, of course, that other conditions necessary for an exclusion order are fulfilled? After all, one-third of the exclusion orders have been from the United Kingdom and have therefore been orders made against persons who were not citizens of the United Kingdom. My proposition to the Home Secretary is that provision should be made to cover this point even though it might be little used. The circumstance that persons do go from Great Britain to commit terrorist offences in Northern Ireland is a reality which should be acknowledged not only in the case of citizens of the Republic and other aliens but in the case of United Kingdom subjects.
This is a serious matter, because if true reciprocity can be established one of the weaknesses and inherent dangers of the Act is lessened. I was encouraged that the Home Secretary wrote to my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) recalling that he, the Home Secretary, said during the Committee stage of the Act that hewas not opposed to the principle of reciprocity",that heneeded to be convinced that there was a practical case for itbut that hismind remained open."—[Official Report, 28th Nov., 1975, Vol. 882, col. 865.]I trust that the Home Secretary will consider what I have put to him with just that open mind.
I have referred to exclusion orders which exclude from the United Kingdom. That is a reminder that, temporary though we hope this Act will be, there are problems which will continue and steps which will be necessary even when the Act has ceased to be necessary. For there is no meaning in excluding from the United Kingdom unless one can prevent re-entry into the United Kingdom. To purport to exclude from the United Kingdom is to assert that one controls entry into the United Kingdom; otherwise, the thing is humbug and obfuscation and deception of the public. Now, I have no doubt that for the most part our control over entry into the United 924 Kingdom is fairly efficient, certainly efficient enough to justify provisions of this kind. But there is a land frontier of the United Kingdom over which it is at present a mockery to suggest that the United Kingdom exercises the control which every country has a natural right to exercise over its own frontiers.
I must say—and all of us who represent Northern Ireland constituencies know this—that I believe insufficient steps have been taken by successive British Governments to give a reality to what is an international frontier. The continuing refusal to do so, with its implication, so easily read by the ill-intentioned, that the status of Northern Ireland is a transitional, temporary, provisional status, is itself one of those causes of uncertainty which underlie the basic problem without which we should not be debating the Bill.
How that land frontier should properly be controlled is a large subject; but land frontiers are controlled all over Europe, and they are controlled effectively enough without trenches, barbed wire or Berlin Walls. They are controlled in part by identification within the countries concerned—in this case it would be identification within Northern Ireland. They are also controlled by the acceptance on both sides of the frontier that it is for practical purposes a permanent frontier which divides independent States and which both States have an equal interest in controlling and policing. Without going into the details of the agony of South Armagh, one would be justified in saying that that agony is an extreme instance of the ills entailed upon Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as a whole by the fact that Government after Government have deliberately failed to regularise that international frontier as what it is, the dividing line between two independent States. I defy anyone to say that to put forward that argument is to express hostility or even the least unfriendliness towards the independent nation that lies on the other side of the frontier.
I should like the indulgence of the House for another two or three minutes to refer simply to a certain subject which has been brought into the debate and which the Chair has indicated is germane to it. This subject being one on which Members otherwise closely associated and closely allied, in politics and in opinions, 925 often differ, I think it is peculiarly right that we should each offer our own counsel upon it to the House. I refer, of course, to the relevance of the death penalty to terrorism—something which I believe can be sharply distinguished, if necessary, from the question of the death penalty as the punishment for murder in general.
My own view—I will put it more strongly: my conviction—is that the death penalty would not only not be a deterrent to terrorism but would be a stimulus to terrorism.
It would not be a deterrent, first, because, as has already been pointed out, we are dealing with men the very nature of whose activity is that they are prepared to risk their lives. When my right hon. Friend—may I for this purpose call him my right hon. and gallant Friend?—the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) said that he had been a terrorist in a cause in which nearly all of us would have a good conscience, he was proving my point. The fact that he was asking to be shot if he was caught did not deter him in the least. He was perfectly satisfied that that was how he wanted to do what he considered his duty to his country.
Let us also consider the circumstances in which the death penalty would be applied. It is easy to talk about the death penalty in the abstract, before anybody is caught, before terrorists have been sentenced and are in the eye of the public and the world. What, a girl of 17? That is who it might be—perhaps the first time—for there would be proportionately more crimes of terrorism committed by girls and by minors precisely on this account. So we should find that the instrument with which we thought we had armed ourselves had broken in our hands. It would recoil upon us, because we should discover that a torrent of revulsion prevented us from applying what we had taken up as the supreme weapon of defence.
That should be enough to satisfy one that the death penalty would not be a deterrent. But I have said more: I have said that I believe that it would be a positive incitement to terrorism. What could be more desirable for those who are anyway prepared to risk their lives in a cause which they hold honourable—although we cannot imagine how it could 926 be honourable to uphold it by their means—than that, instead of the possibility of imprisonment for a number of years on conviction, they could have martyrdom, the glittering prize of terrorism throughout the history of revolution in Ireland? That would be the great attraction—even if the death penalty were not made the ground or the justification for further terrorism, which many people would consider it to be. So the death penalty would be an incentive rather than a deterrent.
§ Mr. Powell
Well, I accept it as my accusation, then—that, this being so burning a subject amongst ourselves and with the public at large, a subject on which my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and I differ, and on which I am probably in a minority among the representatives of Northern Ireland, it is peculiarly a subject on which, having arrived at a view on our own judgment, we should not suppress it but should declare it. I have done no more than that.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has, as always, presented a powerful case. I happen to be one of those who in principle—if it is possible to use the word in this context—are not opposed to the application of the death penalty to offences of terrorism, but I am dissuaded from voting for it by the kind of practical considerations which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned.
About a year ago, when we were nearing the end of the Committee stage of the previous Bill, at about 7.30 in the morning, I pleaded that if the provisions of the Bill needed to be renewed after six months the renewal should be done by a further statute and not by Order. I was sorry that that was not possible in the spring of this year, but I was glad that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary undertook then that if he felt obliged to seek renewal now he would do it by means of statute. I am glad, 927 but not surprised, that tonight he is honouring his obligation.
We should all pay tribute to the enormous success, not only the bravery, of the police in dealing with terrorists in this country. The success which the police have had in this country has been alluded to in the debate. It has been due in large measure to the fact that the terrorists do not have the backing of part of the community in this country. In Northern Ireland they have the backing of part of the community.
There have been in my constituency a couple of bomb outrages which, by good fortune, did not cause death, and I think we all condemn the moral degenerates who perpetrate these atrocities.
Some people have suggested that, rather than indulging in statutes and in military measures to counteract terrorists, we should concentrate upon political devices. They have suggested almost that there is some political solution to the military security problem in Northern Ireland and, perhaps, here. I have said before, and I think it is important to say again, that just as there is no military solution to the political problems in Northern Ireland, there is no political solution to the military problem. In dealing with the terrorists we are faced with a military security problem, and there is no political solution—not even, perhaps, the union of the Republic and Northern Ireland—which we could be confident would remove these terrorists from our society. They are not all devoted republicans, and their assistants are not necessarily all devoted republicans.
The people who pursue political means by these atrocities, were they not pursuing those political means by these atrocities, would probably be pursuing other adopted bogus political principles by means of the same kind of atrocity. We have, therefore, a military problem, which can only, in the end, be defeated, if at all, by military and security means.
I have no objection whatever to the continuation of the content of this legislation and, indeed, to toughening it if the provisions are necessary, but I am very worried by the kind of remark, which has been made once or twice in the 928 debate, that the public would not understand if we did not renew these provisions. I think the public have a lot more common sense than people give them credit for, and that the public are not interested in gestures but in practical means of defeating the terrorists. If, for example, we had said a year ago that it would be easier to catch the terrorists if we did not proscribe the IRA, I think the public would have accepted that and would not have said "It is of no practical significance but nevertheless ban the IRA." The public ask us to give them practical protection, and in this sphere, as in all others, gestures are the enemy of practical reforms. If people indulge in gestures they think they have done something, when in fact they have only distracted themselves from doing things which have a practical effect.
One has to look, therefore, at the content of the Bill and to see, in respect of each bit of it, whether it is doing any practical good. I want to pick on three aspects of the provisions, to raise questions whether they are necessary and whether they go too far, and then to pick up two points upon which I think the Bill is silent when it ought to have additional provisions within it.
The first respect in which, I think, there is a part of the Bill which may be unnecessary, and may go too far in limiting liberties, concerns the provision for the additional five days of detention on the certification of the Home Secretary. I cannot think that many, if any, of the people who have been held for seven days under that provision could not have been held in custody on the order of magistrates. I think that the people in Southampton, for example, had they been brought before the magistrates after 48 hours in the normal way, would have been remanded in custody. There may be circumstances which the Government can suggest where it would not be possible for the magistrates to remand in custody, or where they could be relied upon to be prepared to do so. I over-hear one of my hon. Friends saying that for the magistrates to remand, a suspected person must be charged. Exactly so, but the police have enough to go on, when they arrest a person in the normal way, to bring some charge or charges at that stage, even if some of the charges are later dropped and others added.
929 I am not saying that I am absolutely sure about this, but that it is up to the Government not just to say that obviously it is better to hold suspects for seven days, and that obviously this is necessary, but also why they cannot rely on magistrates remanding in custody. I also see a practical disadvantage from the point of view of the police in not bringing suspects before the magistrates.
The Home Secretary, in guarded terms—he admitted as much—suggested that during the period of seven days the police would be undertaking forensic tests in some cases with a view to later prosecution. My understanding is that the police, without the consent of the arrested person, do not have the right, for example, even to fingerprint an arrested person. They can photograph him without his consent but they may not fingerprint him. If they want to take the fingerprints—leaving aside this Bill—of a person arrested, they have to bring him to the court and get a court order to do so. We have not in the present Bill made any exception to that. I find it hard to believe that the kinds of people for whom these provisions are intended are likely to agree to a request by the police that their fingerprints should be taken.
If these people are not brought before the magistrates, that is one preparatory investigation which the police are denying themselves—with. I should think, every other form of test which involves physical interference. It is because it does not involve physical interference that the taking of a photograph does not require an order from the court. I hope something may be said about that in the winding up.
Secondly, concerning the provisions of Clause 2, relating to the wearing of uniforms, articles, and so on, which imply membership of a proscribed organisation, my complaint is related more to tidy legislation than to substance. I do not think it makes sense to have a Public Order Act on the statute book, containing provisions making it an offence to wear military uniforms in a public place, and so on, in respect of organisations that are not proscribed and to have these provisions, overlapping but different and with higher penalties, in respect of wearing uniform, and so on, in relation to an organisation that has been proscribed. If 930 the Public Order Act is deficient, it ought to be tightened up, and at any rate we ought to bring these two bits of statute law together so that there is not an untidy overlapping.
My third objection to the content of the Bill concerns the quasi-appeals—I think one has to call them something like that—against an exclusion order. I know how strongly, sincerely and rationally the Home Secretary feels that it is better to have an admitted executive decision, for which he is answerable in this House, rather than a quasi-judicial proceeding, because it could never be a fully judicial proceeding. I do not agree with his conclusion, because I think that a quasi-judicial proceeding would not take away significantly from the answerability of the Home Secretary in this House for the final decision; but it would be useful in enforcing a greater degree of clarity of thought in the reasons for taking or not taking a certain course.
For the same reason, it would be better for the advisers always to be of a judicial or legal background. In saying that, I do not reflect on the one of the two advisers who has not a legal background. I am sure that he has done his job as responsibly and as well as the other adviser. But a judicial background is a useful safeguard against the sloppiness which tends to characterise the decision taking of the executive in this country. I do not hope to shift my right hon. Friend from the firm view on this point that he has responsibly taken, however.
I come to the two respects in which in my view the Bill does not go far enough. Reference has been made by the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amer-sham (Mr. Gilmour) to better controls being needed over explosives and related substances. I made a plea exactly to that effect during the Second Reading debate on the Bill a year ago. I asked then that the Government should say whether they were satisfied that the controls over explosives were adequate. I might say that I was not given an answer a year ago. I hope to be given an answer in this debate or during the proceedings in Committee.
I refer again to the desirability of restoring an offence for the withholding of information about terrorist activities. A year ago I moved an amendment which, 931 in effect, would almost have restored the offence of misprision of a felony only in respect of terrorist offences. I was promised that the Government would look at the point during the period between then and the renewal of the provisions. I hope that they have done so and that they can come up either with an amendment to create this offence or with good reasons why it should not be done.
We are in the odd situation that if someone knew a terrorist offence had been committed and had accepted a bribe not to tell, under Section 5 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 that person would be guilty of an offence, but if he did not tell because of principle, because he did not want to, and there was no bribe involved, he would not have committed an offence. If he could be charged with conspiracy, if his activity were not related to mere knowledge of the on-coming offence, he could be got under conspiracy, possibly, if the prosecution were lucky enough to prove it. But if it were proved conclusively in open court that he had nothing to do with planning the offence, although he knew about it, it would not be possible to get him. It is monstrous when people are dying as a result of these atrocities that it should be possible for such a person to escape accusation.
Without wishing to raise the issue again, I want to refer back to the charges made by the Daily Express a few weeks ago in respect of possible charges of conspiracy against some of the people involved in the Guildford and Woolwich bombings. I have not asked for further information, but the implication of what the Daily Express said was that there were some people who might have been charged with conspiracy, and conspiracy alone, presumably because their involvement was limited to mere knowledge or very nearly so. It may be that, if my amendment had been adopted a year ago, there are some people on the fringes of these activities who might have been charged not with the highly emotionally charged offence of mere conspiracy but with the specific one of possessing knowledge that a terrorist offence had been committed and not providing it to the police.
§ Mr. Dunlop
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will concede that the reason 932 for withholding vital information in the North of Ireland is the fear of death. That is the salient and outstanding reason why people withhold information in Ulster.
§ Mr. Cunningham:
I understand that, and I understand also the enormous difficulty of ever proving that a person has information, but I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider the situation in which 10 people are charged with or conspiring to commit an offence, and that they are acquitted of conspiring, although the court is quite satisfied that they knew it was to happen, because the evidence does not go far enough to prove conspiracy. In those circumstances, those people could not be convicted of anything. That is a situation which in present circumstances has to be looked at in the calm atmosphere of a Standing Committee.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)
It is a pleasure to follow the thoughtful and useful speech of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), and at the outset of my brief remarks perhaps I may be allowed to advise him that as the law stands at present there are perfectly good remedies for the people whom he has just been discussing—those involved with knowledge of a conspiracy.
The hon. Gentleman also said that this House should not indulge in gestures. That was an important statement. When those members of the public who read the Gracious Speech saw that it proposed a new Act for the prevention of terrorism, I am sure that most of them imagined that a new Act was to be passed containing powers and penalties which would defeat the terrorism which is now being experienced in this and other cities. I am sure they anticipated that it was against acts of that kind that any new legislation would be directed. The public will be bitterly disappointed to discover that the phrase meant merely the reintroduction of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act which was previously before this House.
In the view of the public at large, the law is not working. They are rightly outraged by the concept of people, for political or purely destructive motives, blowing up innocent victims whom they have never met and never will meet or 933 causing them terrible injuries when, even if they are convicted of doing so, they parade on the roofs of prisons and invoke the concepts of their own civil liberties. I am sure that that is offensive to anyone.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) got it right when he said that he did not believe that this House had demonstrated the will to defeat terrorism and that, if it had demonstrated it to itself, certainly it had not demonstrated it to members of the public who might be the victims of that terrorism. Having listened to the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett), we might be forgiven for wondering which side he is on when it comes to liberty. Is he more concerned with the liberty of those who have been convicted of these crimes or with the liberty of those subjects who may be the victims of those crimes? The law is purely the adjustment of competing freedoms, and one of the major freedoms is freedom from attack and assault.
The House and the country are sometimes dismayed by the attitude of Labour Members to death. The Foreign Secretary used all the authority of his office to condemn the execution of three terrorists in Spain. I did not hear a word from any member of the Labour Party or the trade union movement when three Kenyans who had been summarily found guilty of robbery in 1972 were executed at the weekend. I heard no complaint about death and summary trial then. Why not? Because it was not an act of terrorism against the Spanish State but an act of robbery in Kenya, and that made all the difference.
Moreover, we have heard no genuine condemnation of the fact that those convicted of crimes of appalling violence in this country should parade on prison roofs and demand the right to have better treatment. That is the type of thing that makes people believe that Members of Parliament are not genuine in their desire to protect people from terrorism.
Having read the Bill, I believe that it does practically nothing. Under Part I it prescribes only comparatively minor penalties for persons wearing uniforms and committing other minor offences. The only proscribed organisation is the IRA.
934 Part II of the Bill makes a dangerous concession to the real problem in this kingdom, which is its break-up. I am dismayed when people talk about this country and Northern Ireland as if they were different places. This country is Northern Ireland. I am amazed by Part II of the Bill, which suggests that it is right and proper to take persons whom it is believed may upset the lives of citizens on this side of the Irish Sea and to dump them, whatever be their intentions, on the other side.
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
The hon. and learned Gentleman has criticised the Bill because the only proscribed organisation is the IRA. It might help us to understand his thinking if he were to tell us which other organisations he wishes to see proscribed.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
I was not about to suggest what other organisations should be proscribed; I was merely saying that it is a very limited invasion of liberty to proscribe any organisation in that way. I was emphasising the fact that only one organisation was proscribed. I am sure that there are other organisations which might be proscribed, but even if it were done on a wide scale the Bill would still be a minor one.
I am a Scottish lawyer and therefore I do not fully understand English law. One of the anomalies of this kingdom is that I do not have to understand it and I am not entitled to practice it, even though I am a counsel for the Sovereign of the Realm. I suspect that, even in England—it is certainly the case in Scot-land—a constable may arrest any person whom he reasonably suspects to be guilty of an offence—if he believes that the person has just snatched a bag, shot at a cat, does not have a television licence, and so on.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
He can make an arrest if he believes that someone has committed a crime. I accept that there are arrest-able and non-arrestable offences, but if a constable believes that someone is committing a crime or fleeing from the scene he can make an arrest without a warrant and without any difficulty.
Hon. Members should know what the law is. It is essential for the imposition 935 of the law that the powers belong to the officers of the law. Of course, it is not difficult to obtain a warrant to search someone's house or his person, or to arrest him. Many people in England, though not in Scotland, are said to be "helping the police with their inquiries" long after the time provided in Part III of the Bill has passed—namely, aperiod not exceeding 5 days".Let us not imagine that we are doing anything very different or dangerous. No one has been more forward than I in terms of the protection of civil liberties, or the protection of the citizen against the arbitrary power of the State and the arbitrary powers of arrest of the police.
Our overwhelming duty is to the public. I do not know of one member of the public who resents the imposition of being searched at airports, cinemas and restaurants and who would not give up many other liberties to eradicate the offensive terrorism which is and may be practised upon him. My right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone said that the message does not seem to go out of this House that we are interested in maintaining the authority of the State against the terrorist. We mention far too often the rights of the terrorist and not the rights of the citizen against the acts of the terrorists.
During the debate we have frequently heard the word "war". There is great confusion amongst hon. Members about the law of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in respect to acts of war and treason. One complaint of the Treason Act is that it is 600 years old. Indeed, it was passed in 1351 and was applied to Scotland by the Act of Union 1707. I should like to refer to Professor Gordon's book entitled The Criminal Law of Scotland. This is not an authoritative book, as the author is still alive, and in Scotland the living are not authoritative. At page 865 Professor Gordon says that one type of treason isBeing adherent to the Sovereign's enemies in the realm, giving them aid and comfort in the realm or elsewhere.That must not be forgotten.
At page 868 he says:Any attack on the Queen's forces, or any fortifying a place against them is levying war, as also is the mere raising of a band with warlike weapons, without any actual fighting.936 That was a decision that was made in the last century. On page 869 he says:It is treason to adhere to the Queen's enemies by giving them aid and comfort of any kind anywhere.However, if we are not satisfied with the Treason Act, which was passed in 1351, we must refer to an Act, passed in the United Kingdom in 1848, which has the supreme benefit that it does not concern the penalty of death. Thus, the consciences of those who believe that it is inappropriate are not affected. Section 3 of the Treason Felony Act 1848 provides:to levy war against Her Majesty, within any part of the United Kingdom, in order by force or constraint to compel her to change her measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon or in order to initimi-date or overawe both Houses or either House of Parliament, or to move or stir any foreigner or stranger with force to invade the United Kingdom…every person so offending shall be guilty of felony, and…be liableto life imprisonment.
That Act, which is in force in the United Kingdom, applies to every act of terrorism of which I have read. The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury, who referred to the concept of assistance, will no doubt know of the crime of misprision of treason. That consists in the failure by anyone who has any information which might lead to the arrest of a traitor to give that information to the authorities. It may also be misprision to fail to give information about a projected treason. So, without involving ourselves in the concept of conspiracy, the law is more than adequate to deal with these offences as supreme offences.
In English law, any offence relating to treason, accession before the fact by incitement or in any other way, unlike other offences, makes the accessory guilty as principal, and the same is true of accession after the fact. Therefore, the law is infinitely strong, regardless of this minor measure which we are enacting, against acts which imperil our society.
I should like briefly to mention the concept of the appropriateness of the death penalty for acts of terrorism. I have been a consistent opponent of the death penalty for murder, because it is imposed not upon the intention of the perpetrator but upon the result of his act. If surgery, chance or fortune in one way 937 or another results in the victim living, the perpetrator does not die. However trivial the offence of homicide and however great the provocation, if it does not amount to provocation in law and if the victim perchance should die, then the perpetrator shall die. Therefore, death is not the appropriate criterion for the punishment of death, but is an act, according to the old Jewish law, of lex talionis.
The penalty of death is appropriate only as a deterrent. When discussing measures such as this we too often forget that deterrence is on many occasions a prevention.
I have been most impressed by the extraordinary lengths to which every ambusher, blackmailer, kidnapper and terrorist has gone in every case in the world to ensure that, whatever else happened, his life was preserved. I know of no martyrs in this sphere. I know of no person who wishes or is willing to lay down his life in that cause. I have my reservations whether it is appropriate or not, for, as the House may know, I am presently attempting to achieve the release from prison of a man whom I believe to be innocent—a man imprisoned for an offence which would have been capital under the old law. Nevertheless, we have a duty to the victims and to the public to give the rightful impression that we will take all steps to eradicate this threat and that we are not basically on the side of the terrorist rather than the public. Unless that message goes out from this House, we shall fail with such measures as the one before us.
Whether or not we believe that the death penalty is appropriate, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) said, the penalty of life imprisonment for such acts was thought appropriate in 1848 under the Treason Felony Act, and life imprisonment meant life imprisonment when that Act was invoked. I believe that for any act of terrorism, whether it results in injury or death, life imprisonment should be the inevitable and appropriate penalty.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick upon Tweed)
I welcome the fulfilment of the pledge by the Home Secretary not to seek to proceed by Orders in future but to introduce 938 a Bill and to give the House the opportunity to consider the legislation at greater length than when we passed the original Prevention of Terrorism Act. Like other hon. Members, I raise no objection to the fact that in the meantime, while this consideration takes place, we must extend the operation of the Act by Order for a further period. I do not necessarily welcome all the provisions of the Bill. I do not think that anybody welcomes the circumstances which have given rise to it or the fact that we should have to consider measures of this kind.
Six months ago, when we debated the continuance in force of the legislation, the expression on the lips of many hon. Members was whether there was a "clear and present danger" which provided the basis for legislation of this kind. What was apparent then is even more apparent now. The danger is clear and it is more present than it was six months ago.
I am convinced that, whatever the IRA's tactics in Northern Ireland over the next few months, its tactics in the rest of the United Kingdom will be to cause the maximum amount of disruptive violence. The object of those tactics, as was pointed out by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), is to make hon. Members feel, by the reaction of their constituents, that they must take one decision and one decision only in the discussions which we shall have in the next few months. I am sure that the IRA intends to seek to influence our discussions by the use of violence. I hope that we shall be able to prevent the IRA from a great many of those acts of violence.
In this context it is right to echo the congratulation offered by the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) to the Southampton police who discovered a cache of explosives which, if they had been used, would have meant more bombs and deaths. We hope for more success of that kind. However, we are unlikely to be able to prevent entirely further violence by the IRA which is designed to influence our discussions. I hope that we can be unanimous in saying to those people that they will not influence our decisions by such means. Not only will they not intimidate the British public, but they will not intimidate Members of this House who, whatever conclusion they reach, will reach it on the basis of rational and serious consideration of what 939 is before them. The results of such violence will be more human suffering and, I hope, more determination to root it out with no gain to those who perpetrate it.
It is clear to all that the danger is present and is serious. But that danger does not absolve this House from the responsibility of scrutinising the Bill, or any other legislation, and applying certain tests to it.
The tests which are particularly appropriate to this legislation are, first, whether its provisions are necessary and will achieve or assist in achieving the prevention of terrorism—that is as strong as we should try to put it—and, secondly, whether its provisions or any alternatives measures would be beneficial or counter-productive.
It is in that context that I want to endorse what the right hon. Member for Down, South and others have said about a death penalty. There is a genuine and honest difference of view. My view is that the death penalty used against terrorists would have no deterrent value at all. We should judge it by that standard.
A third test is whether those provisions in the Bill which make serious inroads into civil liberties are balanced by an overriding need for their use in the protection of the public, and whether any, additional safeguards be incorporated. Much of that work will be done in Committee, and it is striking that this Bill is substantially the measure that we dealt with a year ago. We are dealing not with a fresh Bill but with more or less the same Bill. It needs to be improved, and I hope that it will be improved in Committee by the contributions of hon. Members on both sides of the House. We have had some indications today of the directions that those improvements might take.
I think it right now to refer to some features that we ought to consider, and I take them more or less in the order in which they appear in the Bill. I deal first with proscription, which most of us would agree has limited security value in preventing terrorism. It perhaps has some value in doing what some hon. Members have called for, namely, making it clear that this House is serious in its intentions against terrorism and backing members of the public in their view 940 that they ought not to have in their midst overt expressions of support for methods which they regard as abhorrent. It was such demonstrations a year ago which gave rise to the demand for proscription. The limitations on its value are shown by the limitations on its use. There has been, I believe, only one conviction arising out of this provision. I think that it would be a mistake to suggest to the public that this part of the Bill is of great importance in the prevention of terrorism, and I hope that no one will seek to do that.
It is also important that at all stages we make clear that proscription is something that should be and will be even-handedly applied. It is unfortunate that we have chosen to enshrine in the Bill the name of one organisation, and any other organisation involved in violence will have to be added by Order. We must make it clear—as we have had to make clear in Northern Ireland—that proscription is an even-handed thing and that any organisation involved in violence could find itself subject to it. I hope it is clear that that will be the position in Great Britain if any other organisation can be seen to be active in violence here. One hopes that that will not arise.
The powers of exclusion are of much wider significance and give rise to far more concern. They have affected a number of people. More than 50 persons have been the subject of exclusion orders. It is, as the Home Secretary said, a purely executive procedure, and it is his wish that it should remain so. Six months ago we debated this and considered whether we ought to increase the means by which the individual could either appeal against or represent against his exclusion. It was the right hon. Gentleman's view that we should try to preserve the assumption that this was an executive procedure and avoid the pretence that it was in any way a judicial procedure. I have some sympathy with that argument, and I am prepared to go some way with it, but some of its logical conclusions do not bear examination.
One conclusion is that a Minister is answerable to this House of Commons, and since it is an executive procedure it is best to keep it as such; the Minister should be answerable for it, and we should not confuse that fact by any form 941 of tribunal or recourse to courts of law. But most hon. Members would be in some difficulty if they felt that they had, on behalf of their constituents, to raise on the Floor of the House the case of an exclusion order and seek through the procedures of the House the kind of explanation from the Dispatch Box that they might seek in other circumstances. The very nature of the exercise and the very nature of the offences involved make the Floor of the House a most inappropriate place to raise the matter.
Here I come to the point to which the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) referred when he developed the Home Secretary's argument only to disagree with it. One cannot say that the alternative to a review procedure is responsibility and answerability to the House. We can pursue answerability to assess the total effect of exclusion, but we should be hard put to use it to pursue the individual case, and we must therefore look again in Committee at the possibility of some strengthening of the means by which exclusion can be questioned.
One or two Members on the Conservative Benches have suggested that any concern of that kind would be a concern for the terrorists which would be inappropriate and that our concern ought to be for the victims. I think that most of us would regard it as strange if we were forced to be concerned with terrorists. We are concerned with the innocent and those who may be wrongly excluded. Their families would be the sufferers if their way of life and employment were disrupted for something of which they were not guilty. The procedures may have been so carefully used that few people come into this category, but it is with the potentially innocent victims of such procedures that we must be concerned.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has taken care to stress that it would be inappropriate to suggest that when he makes a decision to detain people without trial he is acting in a way that the judiciary acts or could act. The similarity of sentence—imprisonment—is such as to make it more important to distinguish clearly between the judicial and the executive procedure. I am not sure that we should accept the argument so readily in the case of exclusion.
942 Let us look at the possibilities and see whether we can state the ground of exclusion at least to some extent in a form that can be given to the person excluded. There are difficulties about presenting to the person concerned a statement that may disclose the source of information, but that is a not unfamiliar difficulty and it is one that we must try to resolve. It is a principle of our law that no one should suffer a penalty without knowing the reason for the penalty, without the opportunity to challenge that of which he is thought to be guilty.
We must look at the possibility of improving the advisory procedure and perhaps extending its scope a little and making clearer than we have done so far what is the rôle of the adviser. The Home Secretary spelled it out today more than he has done on any previous occasion. He made it clear that in his view the adviser's job is not to review the case but to review the reasonableness of the Home Secretary's action in his original decision.
During the period in which the Act has operated we have not always been satisfied that the adviser knew that that was what he was doing or that he had at his disposal the necessary information. It appears that that is no longer the case, if it was the case at all, and advisers are now clear about what is going on, but it is far from clear to those who have to represent or act on behalf of those made the subject of an exclusion order.
There is a further point about exclusion. What is to happen when this legisation, which we keep saying is temporary in character, ceases to have effect? We hope that the time will come, and come fairly soon, when we shall not have to extend the legislation. We shall then be faced with the situation that we must either impose further restrictions on people whom we have consigned to another part of the United Kingdom, or dispatched from the United Kingdom entirely, or assume that they can all immediately return to it. That will be a difficult problem but we must consider it soon and come to some decision about how we are to handle it.
The thought that by ceasing to give effect to these provisions at some future time we shall allow back a large number of people whom we are satisfied are likely to carry out terrorism is worrying, but 943 equally worrying is the thought that we might be discouraged from taking this legislation off the statute book because one of the consequences would be a sudden influx of people whom we had found it necessary to exclude in the past. This is a consideration which we cannot defer until we are able to take the decision not to continue the legislation.
I turn to the issue of detention. It has clearly been of considerable assistance to the police, although not always in the way in which this House envisaged when the legislation was passed. Most of us would probably suppose that the police have made considerable use of the detention provisions to extend their information, of which they have from time to time made good use, rather than to lay charges leading to convictions. In Committee we must consider the possibility of improving the safeguards in this area of the law.
I think there may be a case for statutory enactment within this legislation of some part of the Judges' Rules, or for providing other means by which we make clear the rights—and what must be seen by any police authority as the rights—of those who are detained not just for a day or two to help the police with their inquiries but for a considerable period, which can be extended by the Home Secretary. The inability in some cases to contact lawyers and families does not seem necessary to the effective pursuit of the law. We could probably avoid that with proper provisions. In this context, one must also stress the importance of the establishment of an adequate and independent police complaints procedure to which people can subsequently take any dissatisfaction about the way in which these matters have been handled.
The provisions about control of entry have been mentioned. Anyone who travels regularly between Northern Ireland and Great Britain or between any part of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland will be aware of the increase in port security checks and the requests for identification which are made. Few travellers quarrel with that. What annoys most travellers, certainly on the air journey between Belfast and London, is the added irritation of having to have two separate baggage collection procedures. That has an indirect relation to 944 security, but the waste of time and effort involved could be avoided without impairing security considerations. The British public have rightly accepted that in their own interests they must be subject in other respects to delaying and perhaps frustrating security procedures. Their need is understood and accepted.
Again in Committee we need to be clear that a period of 12 days, the maximum allowed, is necessary for detention at the point of entry in the pursuit of police inquiries. This is a long period and one wonders whether it could not be avoided in most cases by fairly rapid inquiries and, where that is not possible, by careful subsequent control of the movement of anyone against whom there remains some limited element of suspicion when he goes on his way in the United Kingdom. It is a familiar procedure here and in other countries that people about whose background we may not be satisfied are required to report daily to a police station. This would not be someone against whom the police wished to prefer a conviction but someone about whose credentials there was an element of doubt.
The last of the points of difficulty is the renewal period. Hon. Members have said—I would be the last to disagree—that we are likely to have this problem with us for more than six months, that we are almost certain to need it for 12 months and that we may renew it again. But I am still not satisfied that there is much wisdom in extending the renewal period from six months to 12. A six months' interval gave us, during the working of the existing legislation, an opportunity for review and for suggestions about what might be done at the next six months' stage. I do not see why we need to forgo that opportunity. After all, it cost us only one evening of our time and I do not see why we should not subject ourselves to a renewal after six months as required in the original Act.
I recognise the dangers with which we are faced and the particular problems of the security forces to which those dangers give rise, but we must also recognise when dealing with legislation like this that we have to avoid in any way impairing those things which they are there to defend. The free society has a right and a duty to protect freedom, but once it ceases to embody that respect for freedom in its 945 own enforcement measures it has started to lose the battle. We have ample experience in Northern Ireland to show that even measures which for security reasons initially seemed desirable, perhaps inevitable, can have effects which subsequently undermine the effectiveness of the efforts to prevent terrorism.
Within this legislation, with amendments in Committee, we have the means of making useful extensions to our security powers. I do not believe that there are dramatic extensions which would assist the security forces to deal with the problems which they confront. We delude ourselves if we suppose that, by some grand measure or by some declaration of will by the Government Front Bench, we could make the task of the security forces immensely easier. By improvement in Committee we can give them some benefit from this legislation, but in doing so we must protect the civil liberties which they are there to defend. In that spirit, my right hon. and hon. Friends will support the Second Reading of the Bill and hope to see it improved in Committee.
§ 8 5 p.m.
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
Like the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), I support with a heavy heart the retention of these powers for a further 12 months in the form now before us—a Bill which can be properly examined in Committee. I recollect the late Iain Macleod saying on the introduction of the first Immigration Bill that he detested the necessity for the measure. I think that he was sincere. Many hon. Members on this side and perhaps some on the other side detest the necessity for this measure.
Many of us hoped that over the 12 months since the emergency powers were brought in on 28th–29th November last year the necessity for them, as was then claimed, would have vanished. Hopes rose as the bombing campaign in this country appeared to be dying away at the beginning of this summer. But that was only a lull, and since then the bombers have begun their ghastly work again.
No one can speak with total authority tonight about the emergency powers that we are debating in relation to the control—much less the extirpation—of that terrorism. The bombers are continuing, 946 and these powers are here. All that we can say is that 55 people have been removed under exclusion orders. Whether all of them were intent upon urban terrorism we do not know. We have no way of finding out. We do know that we face forces which have that terrorism at their beck and call.
Those of us who contemplate the price that we are paying in civil liberties—it is a heavy price: a balance has to be struck—realise that we must weigh that against the total contempt shown by these murder gangs for all those liberties that we cherish in an open society. It is bad enough to see young soldiers gunned down in Northern Ireland by a so-called army observing a so-called truce, but what concerns civil liberties, it is rightly said in the country, is the question of those who disembowelled the innocent with their bombs in the recent series of restaurant raids. What concern for human life was shown by those who took the life of Professor Hamilton Fairley and others? That must be balanced in the argument.
I come to the conclusion that we need this legislation for a further 12 months. We must ask ourselves not only whether it has prevented urban terror—the answer is that it has not; the terror goes on—but also whether it has aided the apprehension of those who have committed or may be about to commit murder. I do not know what the answer to that question is. It may have aided that process over and above the weighty powers already present in the conspiracy and incitement laws, which themselves should be under constant examination.
The dangers of this Bill are obvious: they are the dangers which were in the emergency powers of a year ago. The Bill is not significantly changed. The dangers concern not only what other Home Secretaries in other times and under other Governments might do to other people suspected of other offences on this precedent—even perhaps using the basis of this legislation—but also the procedure which is followed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) said, when suspects are picked up.
One hon. Member on the Opposition side talked about our being too tender of the rights of terrorists. That is not, of course, at issue. It is the right of 947 citizens who may among other things be suspected of terrorism about which we are concerned. They have their civil rights like all citizens, and it was what happens to them under the procedures of the Bill which concerns us and which concerned us when the powers were first debated.
We have a longer period now for representations to be made. We have what seems to be a more or less automatic right to confront the advisers. I cannot believe that the word "frivolous" in this legislation will have much impact in law. These are not frivolous matters, and I can see no frivolous argument whereby a man might appeal against an exclusion order. We are told that the Judges' Rules will be observed and have been observed in most of these cases, but when the six-months' review came before the House it was obvious that there were instances which caused grave concern.
There has been as yet no backlash, either by the British people as a whole against the Irish community here, the overwhelming majority of whom abhor what has taken place and what has been done in the name of Irish Republicanism by a tiny demented minority, or by the Irish community about the powers being invoked clearly and identifiably only against them by the limit of proscription contained in the schedule to the Bill.
We should pay tribute to both communities for that tolerance under the great tensions that urban terrorism places on a society such as ours. As a Member with a considerable Irish population in my constituency, I gladly do so. However, that may not last. It certainly would not last if this kind of legislation were to be slotted permanently into the framework of law in this country. That would bring about a sea change in our view of how open society operates. It would become an armed, rather an open, democracy. That is a danger.
The police deserve support in their arduous task. They will get it in the widest fashion if their procedure is seen at all times to be scrupulously fair. While this legislation is with us, the proper checks and balances are present. That is why I welcome the new Police Bill which has been laid before the House and for which I have long campaigned. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary 948 said early last year that he would contemplate these procedures coming into effect. They are very necessary. I hope that in reply the Minister will tell us that these two Bills will go through Parliament in tandem so that we may discuss both and see how one acts upon the other.
I am sure the Minister will accept our contention that the acceptability of the Bill we are debating tonight to those who will be at its receiving end depends on what is included in the Police Bill and on that Bill passing into law.
When we consider that 90 per cent. of those held under the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act were neither charged nor served with exclusion orders, we can appreciate the resentment that will fester if there is not independent redress. I do not wish to make Committee points tonight, but those rights should be set out in Clause 6 of the Bill. The Bill contains very little about what will be explained to the suspect or what procedures he may follow, but his rights under the Police Bill, as amended, must be clearly explained.
This Bill should run for one year only. If it has to be reintroduced a year hence, it should be done through another Bill, with extension by Order for a period of months only to cover the time during which the Bill will be in Committee. We should not allow this to become part of our permanent legislation. I accept that it may have to be renewed.
We face a sadistic group of people whose addiction to violence equals that of the adherents of Thuggee, who challenge almost everything upon which our society, and the normal processes of investigation within it, has previously been based. I hope that we shall continue to regard it as emergency, temporary legislation and will not take into account the arguments that have been adduced tonight and which will be raised at every stage in Committee about building in vengeance andtaking murder by the throat".It is not that simple or easy. By building vengeance into legislation we eliminate what that legislation is intended to guard against.
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), with whom I rarely agree, was absolutely right in his exposition of what the result would be if the 949 death penalty were included in this legislation. He said that it would be wrong and counter-productive. I cannot add to his argument.
The hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) referred to the law of treason and to bringing in the capital penalty for that offence. We are not serving any deterrent upon the terrorist if we tell him that he will be hanged if he betrays his country, because he does not follow that flag: he regards it as an honour to be thought a traitor. He follows different loyalties. They may be perverted loyalties in our view, but they are loyalties that would impel him onwards if he were told that he had committed treason against his country rather than treason against humanity.
We should tell the bombers, murderers and terrorists that we regard their threats with indifference and their methods with contempt, that we shall not build into this legislation vengeance or allow the processes we are now going through, with our society on the rack before the terrorists, to make this a permanent part of our legislation. That would be a heavier price than I am prepared to pay.
If this legislation ever again comes before the House, it must be debated as seriously and with the same adequate scrutiny as I hope we shall give it in Committee on this occasion. I pray that very soon the necessity for it will have vanished.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mrs. Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
Of all the heavy responsibilities that this House bears, there are two that compete for first place—to preserve the freedom of the British people and to guard the safety of the British people.
Tonight hon. Members who have spoken have concerned themselves, and rightly, with the question of freedom, but they have failed to appreciate that in this situation and with the Bill we are trying to guard the safety of the British people and that we are not doing so in a framework of normal peace-time existence. We are fighting a war.
The first time I visited Northern Ireland, I walked among the rubble of Londonderry and I said to the lady who 950 was showing me around that the situation must have been exactly the same during the war. She said "Oh, no. It is far worse now than it was then because when the war was on we were all together, all comrades and friends, against a common enemy outside. Today we do not know whether the old lady over there with the shopping basket or that man coming up the road is an enemy or a friend. We are fighting a war which is infinitely more terrifying and much more difficult than the wars we have known so far this century." This is the reason why we have to take action to guard the safety of the British people. Some of these steps would not be acceptable in normal circumstances, but we are not living in normal circumstances.
Clause 1(6) of the Bill states:A person belonging to a proscribed organisation shall not be guilty of an offence under this section by reason of belonging to the organisation if he shows that he became a member when it was not a proscribed organisation and that he has not since then taken part in any of its activities at any time while it was a proscribed organisation.I am troubled about Clause 1(6) because it is nonsense. It would be difficult to prove that such a person had indeed taken part. The way in which many IRA supporters walk about reasonably freely in Northern Ireland indicates that this is true. It would be difficult to prove that such a person had not taken part and it would be easy for him to claim that he had not.
Why do we need subsection (6)? Once a person joins the IRA, is he a member for life? What constitutes membership? Is it the payment of a subscription? If so, that is already covered in subsection 1(b). Does it mean attending meetings? If that is so, it is already covered in paragraph (c). If membership of the IRA constitutes indulging in violence, that is already covered in another measure altogether. What worries me about sub-section (6), however, is that it seems that there are many people who joined the IRA before 1974, and, although they may not have been to meetings and may not have been collecting any money since then, they certainly may be ready to harbour or hide weapons or to provide alibis or even changes of clothes.
Subsection (6) might much better read:A person who belonged to a proscribed organisation before it was proscribed but has severed his connection with that organisation".951 That is perfectly simple and straightforward and would be as effective as the intention behind subsection (6).
The second question about the Bill is, how stringently is it intended to be applied? What concerns me about the 1974 Act is that apparently even while it was in existence either we have been unable to carry it out or we have beeen unwilling to carry it out.
I turn to the situation in South Armagh, where it is necessary to get a pass from the IRA to move about the area in certain circumstances. It is necessary for the bus driver collecting children from their homes in outlying areas and taking them to school to have a pass from the IRA. I have such a pass in my hand now. My allegation that such passes existed was denied, but I have since been sent a pass. The spelling is not very good. However, it is clear enough. It reads:I have issued you this pass so that you can go through the various areas in South Armagh as follows: Crossmaglen, Keady, Fork Hill, Tullyhallen, Bessbrook, Whitecross, Middletown. Signed P. Cussick, IRA No.The pass bears the signature of the person to whom it was issued and the photograph of that person.
I find it highly offensive that there should be a part of the United Kingdom so much under the control of our enemies that British people are not free to move about it without the signed permission of the enemies of this land. It is totally extraordinary to me that this should be the case. However, as it is the case, the Act already in existence needs to be tightened up or applied properly. Indeed, it is a question whether we have the will to beat the enemies of this country. Time and again, I fear we have not so far shown that will.
I do not think that this measure goes any further forward in exhibiting real determination or real courage than that which we have so far had.
§ Mr. McCusker (Armagh)
Is the hon. Lady aware that the headmaster of a primary school in South Armagh told the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in my presence that last winter, in order to provide safety for the driver of his bus and to ensure the safety of his children, he had to supply the divisional 952 commander of the IRA in the area with evidence that that bus was going into the area of South Armagh on genuine bona fide educational business? The head-master said to the Secretary of State, in my presence, "Secretary of State, do I go to the IRA for protection this winter, or do I come to you?" The Secretary of State could not give him an adequate answer.
§ Mrs. Knight
That underlines precisely what I have said so far. I am sure that those remarks, coming from the hon. Member who represents South Armagh, will be paid great care and attention by the House.
Is it not a deplorable fact that our own people should be prevented from moving around in this way without the permission of the IRA? I gather that this "P. Cussick", who signed the pass about which I have spoken, is a well-known IRA commander in the area. I find it appalling to hear that this has gone on now for almost a year and certainly thoughout the time when the 1974 Act has been on the statute book. It is time that this country found its honour and its fight and said that no longer shall our enemies control sections of our land.
I believe that any Act which seeks to prevent terorism should contain proper deterrents. This Bill does not. The hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead)—unfortunately, he has now left the Chamber—spoke about the question of the deterrent of capital punishment for terrorists being vengeance. That is not the purpose of those of us who feel it right to suggest this penalty. Vengeance is no part of the reason why I have consistently advocated this penalty. I advocate it simply and solely because I sincerely believe that it would be a deterrent. Certainly it cannot be said that the law that we have passed so far has acted as a deterrent in any way.
Hon. Members should appreciate that there is a very strong groundswell of public opinion which demands the restoration of the death penalty for terrorist bombings. Hon Members who have spoken against the death penalty in this debate are totally ignoring the very clearly-expressed wish of the people in this matter. In December 1974 a poll revealed that 75 per cent. of the public of this country wanted the death penalty for ter- 953 rorist killings. This year there has been a poll among young people from 14 to 20 years of age, and of those young people no less than 78 per cent. think that there should be such a penalty. In the line that the right hon. Member for Down. South (Mr. Powell) and the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) indicated, do hon. Members feel that the public have no knowledge in this matter, or are not to be trusted and ought not to be listened to?
I am more and more worried about the way in which the House of Commons ignores the clearly-expressed will of the British people. I am afraid that there will come a time—as indeed happened in Northern Ireland—when the people who feel that the House and the Government are not protecting them sufficiently may take protection into their own hands. We all know what a disastrous step that was in Northern Ireland and how much better it would have been if the poor suffering people of that Province had been able to look to this House to protect them. Instead, they felt that we were a broken reed. We had let them down hopelessly again and again. Therefore, there was no way of protection save only that which they could muster for themselves. That led to an appalling escalation of the troubles.
It ought to be perfectly clear that when terrorists intend to murder innocent people whose only crime is that they stand on British soil as British people, those terrorists should know that they face the death penalty. The IRA bomber is not a kamikaze pilot. He intends to live. Earlier in the debate it was mentioned that evidence was not always forthcoming from those who had evidence. Of course it was not forthcoming—because of the fear of death. It is a very real penalty, and the IRA uses it itself with high success to ensure that its members keep in line.
The argument that these people would become martyrs has been wholly exploded. When recently a well-known journalist set out to find whether even one person who had been hanged or shot for murder in Ireland had ever achieved the status of being a martyr, he failed to find one. Of all the people who had achieved renown in song and story, there was no evidence of one such person. 954 The constant suggestion that these people will have glittering martyrdom, as the right hon. Member for Down, South suggested, is absolute nonsense. If they imagine that by dying they become martyrs, there is an easy way for them to achieve it, but they do nothing of the kind. They want to live.
There is a genuine public demand here, and we should heed it. When we leave the House tonight we know full well that we might be blown to kingdom come before we get far. We know full well that the badges have had to come off our cars and that we must look underneath our cars every time we have left them in the street. We must check our mail carefully.
But it is not ourselves we are bothered about. It is the fact that outside this place there are millions of people who look to us to provide protection. We are letting them down. Defending the British public by means of this Bill is like fighting a forest fire with a water pistol. It is perhaps better than nothing, but it will not do. The House should give a much clearer indication that it intends to protect the British people.
Finally, the Irish Provisional Army and the terrorists may as well get it clear here and now that, however many bombs they throw at us or plant and however much danger they put us in, we shall never submit to their demands or their bullying.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Stockport, North)
I wonder how much trouble the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) took in the last few days to check on the authenticity of the evidence that she presented to the House. There is a grave danger of people putting forward such a case in an hysterical manner and making the whole situation worse when it may well have no foundation in truth and in fact.
We are all concerned about the situation which has made this legislation necessary. We were all revolted, last year, at the Birmingham outrages and we have continued to be revolted by each new occurrence of terrorism. I am convinced that my constituents want us to do something about it, but the majority of them do not want us to act in an hysterical way. Some of them are asking 955 the Government to do something dramatic, but the vast majority of them want us to solve the problem and not just to produce a newspaper sensation.
One of the matters which most concerns me is the way in which some sections of the popular Press have been campaigning for the return of capital punishment. They should ask themselves why they are acting in that way. Do they think that the reintroduction of capital punishment would prevent terrorism, or are they more concerned about their circulation? I thought that one of the most revolting aspects of capital punishment was the way in which some newspapers treated the events before each hanging, and afterwards. This is one of the strongest arguments against our returning to capital punishment.
The Government have brought this measure forward in response to a demand for action against terrorism. We renewed the principal Act in May, for the same reasons. We are now being asked to extend it for another 16 months, again because there is a demand in the country that we take action against terrorism.
The Bill is a sham. This measure cannot be shown to have helped catch terrorists over the past 12 months. The Home Secretary suggested that it could be compared to the anti-aircraft guns during the bombing of London. I suggest that it is much more comparable to arming people during that period with small arms. This is not a very effective measure. We should have the courage to say that capital punishment for acts of terrorism will not help and that the problem cannot be solved by dramatic acts, and even minor acts like this do nothing to help. Instead, we have produced a measure which could be counter-productive. It has certainly eroded civil rights.
We should have learned at least one lesson from Northern Ireland. The dramatic events of internment removed civil liberties and gave the terrorists there a public grievance on which they could feed and on which they have gone on feeding. We should not be making the same mistakes here. As a result of this Act and its working over the last 12 months a large number of people and their families who were clearly innocent of any connection with terrorists have 956 either been detained or worried by the Act, and that number must now run into several thousand. Of course, those people talk to their friends. Many of them feel aggrieved at the fact that they were held for questioning although they were innocent. They have talked to their friends and they have spread their unease and disquiet.
Can we expect these people and their friends to help the police to find terrorists? I suspect that what will happen as a result of innocent people having been caught by this Act is that the next time they will prefer to pass on the other side. They will opt out of helping us and the police to find terrorists.
The Home Secretary has done a good job in keeping the House informed of the way in which the Act has worked. We know how many people have been held under the Act for 48 hours and longer. We know how many have been charged. We know how many have been charged with offences which have no connection with terrorism. We have not been told how many of those who have been charged have subsequently had the charges withdrawn and how many of those who have come to court have been found innocent.
I would have hoped that after 12 months of this legislation we would see some major changes put forward, and that the Government would have been changing their emphasis from this legislation to other possible ways of combating terrorism. What have we done to help the police forces? Do the police really need the extra powers which the Act gives them? I believe that what we need are extra policemen. How many police forces are up to full strength? How can we demand from the police the highest standards of professional conduct when they have to work for excessively long hours? How can we expect a policeman who is tired and overworked to show the sort of patience and good temper that we require from him? How can we expect a man working under extreme strain from tiredness and who may have to visit the scene of appalling horror not to want to cut corners?
Parliament demands of its police the highest standards, but we ought to give them the resources to do the job. If we want to do dramatic things in this House 957 to convince the public, we ought not to be talking about bringing back capital punishment. We ought to say that we are prepared to spend more on the police and, if necessary, to increase taxes specifically to do this.
I have talked to the police in my constituency and I find that they are not necessarily concerned about more pay. They are concerned about status, although, of course, when one goes into the question of police status one finds that it generally comes back to the amount that we pay the police. If we want to do something dramatic we should be increasing the number of police and reducing the number of hours that they have to work. That would produce far more effective results.
How difficult are we making it for terrorists to get hold of explosive materials and detonators? It does not seem to me that in the last 12 months we have done anything like enough to deny the terrorists the tools of their trade.
I am convinced that the real deterrent is the rate of conviction, the number of people we catch. Clearly, in this respect the police have an extremely good record. What is sad is the fact that some people do not mind getting caught. I disagree with the hon. Member for Edgbaston; many people do enjoy becoming martyrs. Of course, many of these people do not believe that they will serve their sentences.
I was disturbed by the suggestion that some of the people serving imprisonment for terrorist offences will have to be housed separately, because they are in danger from other prisoners. For their future safety we should not give them a separate status. It has been argued that the way to ensure that they serve their sentence is either for a declaration to be given that there will be no political deal or to substitute the death penalty for the life sentence. The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) argued about the difficulties of carrying out the death sentence in particular circumstances. An equally strong argument is that if we imposed the death sentence hostages might be taken. The death penalty is completely inappropriate on practical as well as moral and other grounds.
We must face the difficult task of convincing terrorists that a life sentence does mean "life", and that the convicted 958 terrorist will be treated no differently from other murderers. This Parliament cannot commit future Parliaments. Parliament must remain sovereign. The Government have to give undertakings, as do all politicians, that there will not be a political deal which involves the release of terrorists in the near future.
Legislation which restricts people's rights must be paralleled by legislation giving people the right to make complaints against the police and providing for those complaints to be investigated by an independent body. I hope that the Minister who is to reply will give an undertaking that this legislation will not come on the statute book until provision has been made for independent inquiry into complaints against the police.
Is it possible to preserve civil liberties and, at the same time, get at the terrorists? I believe that it is. If we make extra provision for holding people for questioning we should also increase the rights of the people who are being questioned. Over the last 12 months the case for incorporating the Judges' Rules into legislation has become overwhelming. In some instances relatives have not known for a considerable period what has happened to the person being held. The only way in which a relative can be convinced that a member of his family is safe is by seeing that person. It is easy for the police to ensure that solicitors and members of the family have access to people who are detained. So long as a policeman is present there can be no question of information being communicated which might injure the police inquiries. It is fundamental to this legislation that we should incorporate the Judges' Rules in statutory form and ensure that they are carried out.
It is unfortunate that there is no pro-vision for ensuring that fingerprints which have been taken under this legislation are destroyed after a reasonable time. Such provision should be made in Committee. A person found to be innocent should have the right to ask for this material to be destroyed.
This legislation, according to the short Title, is temporary. If it goes through, similar legislation will have existed for two years and four months before it comes up for further renewal. The least the House can do is to ensure that it is 959 renewed every six months. If it is temporary, the necessity for it should be questioned at regular intervals. It is unsatisfactory to renew the existing legislation for four months and then to bring in a new measure to last for a year. We should at least commit Parliament to enact legislation and not to extend it by continuation Orders.
Many safeguards of civil liberties must be built into the measure in Committee. I hope that the Government will agree to protect the civil liberties about which concern has been expressed. My final word is that I hope that we shall be able to achieve a political solution to the difficulties in Northern Ireland so that we shall not need this legislation within the next four months.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)
The hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) mentioned capital punishment. I am sure he will forgive me if I do not deal with that topic until later in my speech, when I shall want to develop the theme.
This debate has been about the maintenance of authority and the preservation of the rule of law. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) said, this is the duty of Governments, but I would add that it is also the duty of every civilian to assist. I recognise that this is not so easy in Northern Ireland, where there is often victimisation and people are frightened to give evidence.
There are two aspects of this Bill which need special consideration—the prevention and detection of crime and the punishment of people convicted of these crimes. The question of prevention and detection has already been fully covered. Terrorism is now a universal problem and its weapons are becoming more and more sophisticated. Fuses and other mechanisms used in bombs are becoming more technical and require more technical and advanced equipment to defuse and detect them.
Who is behind all this? I make no allegation, but it might be a thought on which the House should ponder that there are some people who would like to see large numbers of our troops locked up in 960 Northern Ireland, and who welcome the fact that they are not operating in NATO.
This terrorism is not confined to one pattern. The incidents in London indicate different patterns. There are a number of different causes for the outrageous acts of terrorism being inflicted upon us throughout the country.
I have always thought that operating in Northern Ireland is not a proper rôle for the Army, but as long as it is there, we must ensure that it is not inhibited. There is a feeling that the Army is operating with its hands tied behind its back. Perhaps this feeling is misplaced. I hope that the Minister will comment on it. A ministerial statement would greatly assist the morale of our soldiers in Northern Ireland. There is a feeling that this rumour is by no means ill-founded.
The Bill does very little. The Government have taken 18 months to prepare it and they must have known that these circumstances, unfortunate as they are, were likely to continue. With the Order, they have made sure that the provisions already in existence will continue, but the Bill does not go far enough and it has not been thought out sufficiently. The powers of arrest, which have been amended, are, I agree, limitations placed on individuals. None of us likes to see them, but they are necessary for the time being and I would not argue with the reimposition of those limitations.
I have always believed that the sealing of the border is essential. There are two areas—South Down and South Armagh—where the writ of law does not really run, and it is important that if the border is sealed it is made clear that there is no chance of these areas being seceded to the South. It would be only fair to the people who live there.
I tabled the amendment because it would be almost impossible to amend the Bill in the way I suggest or to vote on the amendment at the Committee stage or later. That was tried with the first Bill, but because of its very narrowness and its long Title, penalties could not be introduced. The Bill lacks the necessary machinery. I make no apologies for tabling the amendment. If we had been able to vote on it we could have voted on capital punishment and also on the 961 substantive motion. That would have been a reasonable way, and the only way, in which the object could have been achieved.
The reason for the wording of the amendment is clear. In the last Session 81 of my right hon. and hon. Friends signed a motion couched in the same terms. It is right that we should use that motion, imperfect as it is, as an amendment to the Bill. Maybe we could have improved it, but I think we were right to draft the amendment in the same language. Many of us believe that if we could have divided tonight it would have shown the individual constituencies what their Members of Parliament and the House of Commons felt about capital punishment for these acts.
An overwhelming majority of people think that the death sentence is appropriate for these ghastly acts of terrorism. I concede that there might be difficulty in deciding what constitutes an act of terrorism. We have already heard a very eloquent description of terrorism from the hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn), who spoke about the law of treason in Scotland, but that law is not applicable here. We are now facing an entirely new set of circumstances. This is not a civil war, or any sort of war. I am not altogether happy that we could use the law of treason. It would require considerable amendment to deal with this situation.
Debates in the House have shown that opinions here are divided, and for many years it has been impossible to reverse the decision made on capital punishment. In this Bill I am reserving my position on capital punishment entirely to acts connected with terrorism. People feel differently over capital punishment for terrorist acts. That feeling has been precipitated by the incredible number of outrages in Northern Ireland and London.
Many people ask whether the death penalty would be a deterrent. If, in the future, a person were sentenced for a crime of a quasi-political nature, or one that could be interpreted as such, a Government coming to power after a settlement could say "It is forgotten. We shall have an amnesty." That is the danger with a long sentence. Therefore, the death penalty would have a deterrent effect that I do not believe a 30-year sentence or any minimum prison sentence 962 would have. A potential terrorist would think twice if he knew that the punishment might be death. I know the argument about martyrs, but a dead martyr is not much good to anyone.
The question is one not so much of conscience but, first, whether people in this country feel that capital punishment is the right penalty for those who commit ghastly acts of terrorism, and, secondly, whether they believe that they would be best protected if such penalties were used.
I would wager that a referendum on the matter would show a strong body of opinion—perhaps 80 per cent. or 90 per cent.; who knows?—in favour of the death penalty for acts of terrorism. The House would be foolish to deny that there is that body of opinion in the country and consistently to refuse to implement what it favours.
It is our job to legislate—to say where the line should be drawn. It would be difficult to draft the law covering the matter, but that is our job. We must balance the rights of the citizen and the rights of the terrorist. Because the rights of the citizen must predominate, we should reintroduce the death penalty for crimes of terrorism.
§ Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St. Helens)
The House has twice debated the death penalty and on both occasions there was a big majority for ending the death penalty or for refusing to reintroduce it. If the hon. Gentleman is aware of that, why does he continue to talk about a referendum?
§ Dr. Glyn
I have read the Official Report of the debates, and I was present at some of them. What the hon. Gentleman says is correct. I said that ever since abolition Parliament had consistently rejected the reintroduction of the death penalty, but I also said that in a referendum there would be a very different result, and that therefore the House was not representing the views of the people. I also said that there were occasions on which the House had gone against the wishes of the people.
There is an overwhelming case for the reintroduction of capital punishment for crimes of terrorism. It is a great tragedy that we are not allowed to vote on the matter, so that constituents could tell Members "We don't like your voting 963 against" or "We are glad that you voted for". It would have given the country some indication of what Parliament was like. I think that many hon. Members would have thought twice about going back to their constituencies having tailed to register their vote in the Lobby.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)
Order. I think that the hon. Member for Windsor and Maidenhead (Dr. Glyn) has resumed his seat.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Litterick (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
When the Act was first brought before us it was described as containing temporary provisions for the prevention of terrorism. We now know that it was neither temporary nor preventive. The Act has so far failed in its stated intention to prevent or suppress terrorism.
There have been something like 50 bomb outrages since the temporary provisions were enacted, and I suggest to the House that the very act of asking for a renewal—this is the third occasion—is in itself an admission of the failure of the Act.
I am aware, as are other hon. Members who have spoken, that our duty is to preserve a balance between public order and the liberty of the citizen, and it seems to me that we have to consider the cause and the effect of this legislation in its relation to the liberties of the citizen. It seems that the Act is ineffective in that it has failed in its stated objective, but I should like to dwell at some length on the cause in terms of the liberties of the citizen.
Several months ago one of my constituents was awakened at 7 a.m. with a thunderous banging on his front door. He was alone in his house because his wife happened to be on overnight duty at a local geriatric hospital. He stumbled downstairs and answered the door, and several hefty men immediately rushed past him. He found himself confronted by a man waving a piece of paper in his face and saying things which he could not understand.
I ask hon. Members to use their imaginations and consider how they would react. That man was awakened from a sound sleep by heavy banging on the 964 door. He opened the front door and an avalanche of humanity invaded his home. Immediately these men were burrowing into every aspect of his house, opening doors and cupboards and overturning beds. One of them was waving an indecipherable piece of paper at him while at the same time mumbling all sorts of incomprehensible phrases.
As it happened, this middle-aged constituent was blind in one eye, so his ability to comprehend what was being done to him was further impaired. His real crime, of course, was that he had an Irish name. He had lived in the city of Birmingham for 27 years and he had never joined so much as a Shamrock Club, but there he was unexpectedly a host to 12 hefty men who had the right—or at least the power—to turn his house over and, as it happened, to take him away to a police station.
On arrival at the police station he was subjected to what is for the ordinary citizen a harrowing experience—"Who are you?" "Where were you?" "What do you do?" He was asked for his attitude to this and that. "Let us have something from under your fingernails", he was told, "so that we can make forensic tests. Let us have your fingerprints and full-face and profile pictures, left-and right-hand."
To a middle-aged person who has never had any truck with courts, policemen and so forth, and who has lived a quiet life, that is a truly shocking experience. Imagine the shock to his wife, who arrived home shortly after her husband was taken away, unwillingly, to a police station and did not know where he was. All she knew was that somebody had entered her home and turned it over. Her husband was kept in the police station for several hours and then released. He was given no apology. He was simply released. He was severely shaken.
But there was another aspect of this which also reveals part of the sinister cost of this legislation. In their search of this unfortunate man's home, the police found two documents. One was a routine circular from Amnesty International. The other was a routine circular from the anti-apartheid movement. My constituent was asked whether they were his. He said "No. They are my daughter's." He was immediately asked for her name 965 and whereabouts and what she did. I am sure that the Home Secretary would tell me that that young lady's name is not on a police file. If he said otherwise, I should not believe him. I know that that young woman's name is now on a police file. But she has not been interviewed. Her father simply said "These belong to my daughter. She is interested in Amnesty International and the anti-apartheid movement."
We now know from that incident another truth about the operation of this legislation. It is that the West Midlands Metropolitan Police Force regards any connection with Amnesty International or the anti-apartheid movement as prima facie evidence of terrorist potentiality. [Interruption] Hon. Members on the Opposition Benches are making disapproving noises. But if that is not the truth, why did the police take possession of those two pieces of paper and why were they so reluctant to part with them afterwards? I had to press the West Midlands Metropolitan Police Authority to part with those two bits of incriminating paper which a young woman had been sent by two perfectly respectable organisations. Apparently they are not respectable organisations in the eyes of the police authority. In the minds of the police, the documents were evidence that anyone possessing them must be a potential terrorist.
Herein lies the most sinister aspect of this legislation and a huge potential cost to the community. It gives to what I believe to be an unwilling police force the power, if not the duty, to make political judgments about people. I give place to no one in my respect for the police and my admiration for their efficiency. But they are not qualified to make political judgments about people. Certainly they are not trained to do so, and I believe and hope that they do not wish to do so.
It seems to me that, willy-nilly, this piece of legislation obliges the police to make such judgments. It puts the police force in the position of having to judge people not for what they have done or may have done but for what they are or what the police think they are or think they may be. That is truly sinister, and it is a very heavy cost for any community to bear.
966 I suggest that the benefits of such legislation would have to be very evident to persuade us of its worth. My contention is that there is no benefit. There is merely cost. What is more, it encourages a development which has been in evidence in our society for some time. It is that there is a tendency to politicise the police force.
At the moment, 14 people are on trial for distributing a piece of paper to soldiers. That is all. But they are on trial for a criminal offence. We also know that raids have been mounted by the police which can only be described as political in character and as politically motivated.
The family of whom I speak have had their confidence in the institutions of law and order shattered completely. But more has been done. At seven o'clock that morning in Selly Oak, no fewer than four police cars clearly labelled "Police" parked themselves right in front of my constituent's house. Hon. Members who live in middle-class residential areas may not know that at seven o'clock in the morning working-class areas are busy with people going to work, and therefore everyone in that terraced street saw what happened. Four police cars drew up and 12 policemen got out of them. People asked "What is going on?" My constituent's explanations were of no earthly use. Indeed, nearly always individuals are not inclined to give an explanation because they have been literally terrorised. I am sure that even case-hardened hon. Members would be terrorised by an unexpected visitation from 12 policemen at seven o'clock in the morning. The person affected will not try to explain. How can he tell his neighbours "I am innocent. I have not committed any crime" when he has been visited by 12 policemen at dawn? We all know that such visits do not occur unless someone has done some wrong.
For the benefit of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who I know is a well-read man, I should like to read a short piece from a long book written by someone who lived for a long time in an atmosphere of terror in which the police were given this type of power. She said:People vied with one another in thinking up ingenious reasons to justify each arrest'…'It was only to be expected. He's a terrible man'…'I always thought there 967 was something fishy about that fellow'…He isn't one of us at all'…' a bad character'…And the police kept adding fuel to the fire without which there is no smoke.That passage was written by Nadfzhda Mandelstam, the wife of the Russian poet who died in a KGB camp. She lived in a culture which gave this kind of arbitrary power to the police. By maintaining this Act we are either wittingly or unwittingly taking steps along that slippery path and those steps tend to be irreversible.
Once we start violating people's freedom, they will find more reasons for resisting such violations of their liberties, The more terrorists there are, the more crimes they commit. I am talking not about bombing but about the refusal to co-operate with the institutions of law enforcement, and adopting hostile attitudes which are contemptuous of the laws, the courts and the law-making process. The cost is too heavy.
I represent a Birmingham constituency and I am familiar with the attitude that if we kill the people who do these hellish things we shall somehow or other help the situation. I meet that attitude by reminding everyone that about 400 terrorists have already been executed and at least an equal number have either been maimed or temporarily disabled by the forces of law and order in Ulster. However, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will confirm that the terrorists keep on coming. They walk over the dead bodies of their heroes and martyrs and come at us again and again, whatever the risk. We shall not put them off by killing them. We have not put them off by killing them.
There seems to be a contradiction in policy. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland only a few days ago advised the House of his conviction that as long as he continued to detain people the very fact of continued detention would itself act as a catalyst and a source of encouragement to the Provos. Moreover, that violation of people's liberties enables the Provos to say" Look what the Brits are doing to us. Is it not awful? Is it not just a continuation of what the Brits have always done to Irishmen?"
I hasten to add that those were not my right hon. Friend's words, but they represent the substance of what he told the House only a few days ago.
968 Yet the Home Secretary appears to believe that arbitrary detention will have a deterrent or curative effect on the situation. However short a period seven days might seem, to an Ulsterman it is a long time if he is detained, and it is certainly a long time to an Englishman who is accustomed to the belief that he is entitled to a charge being defined and so forth. I believe that the two Secretaries of State ought to confer, because they are at cross purposes. The one does not understand the other's argument. The House will be in no doubt about the argument that I would favour.
We have this legislation because politically we failed a long time ago. To pretend to ourselves—after all, we are the politically sophisticated elite of the nation—that the so-called Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act is meaningful in a positive sense as a cure for the situation is a self-delusion. It is also insulting to the people who have been or may be bombed in future. The passage of the original Act was merely a gesture. We felt that we had to be seen to be doing something, and that was all. I sympathise with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight). It is natural for people to say "Why do you not do something?"
The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act did nothing relevant to what is basically a political problem. It has taken us one more dangerous, but not yet fatal, step down a slope which is very slippery. Having embarked on that path, it is necessary for the State to go on justifying it by saying "We did it for a good reason. What is more, we shall strengthen those provisions for the same good reason, and, when the next step fails, we shall strengthen them again." That is simply following the delusion that, being ever more repressive, we might one day be successful. However, that is to play the provos' game for them.
Hon. Members have said that terrorism is now a universal characteristic. It is. Terrorists seek to persuade the State to become repressive so that there will be a general reaction among the population of a ferocity that will transform the situation. That is a commonplace. We should see it for what it is. We should warn ourselves against trying to cure the situation by superficial means—by increasing the intensity of oppression on 969 certain sections of the population—because that would be merely playing into the hands of the enemies of the community.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)
To the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick), I would say that the most sinister aspect about this legislation is the circumstances which render it inevitable. The question which we must ask ourselves is: what do the bombers want? They employ the weapon of fear. To what end? By itself terrorism can achieve nothing. It makes use of fear to obtain from society the political response that it seeks
I should like to refer briefly to three examples from historical exercises of this kind, all of which have been successful, which illustrate that it is important to ascertain the terrorists' objective and how people should respond to it.
In the late 1940s the Irgun Zvaei Leumi numbered fewer than 1,000 in Palestine. Its plan was to destroy houses, shops, and buildings in order to suck into Palestine heavy reinforcements of British troops, thus creating a large and expensive commitment at a time when the Attlee Government were interested in retrenchment and getting the troops back home. We very soon got fed up with the struggle in Palestine, and we quit. In fact, we responded in exactly the way Irgun Zvaei Leumi hoped we would, thus conceding its political objective.
A further example, in the 1950s, was Algeria, where the FLN adopted the tactic of employing indiscriminate violence—the bomb in the market place. The instinctive French reaction was to treat all non-Europeans in Algeria as suspect. Raymond Aron wrote thatas suspects all the Muslims felt estranged from the existing community".The FLN thus achieved the result it wanted—the identification of the Muslim with Algerian nationalism and not with France. The French responded to terrorism in just the way the FLN wanted.
There are plenty of examples. A more recent one, in the 1970s, was the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which went in for hijacking. It was not until that 970 organisation had achieved a measure of international recognition and respectability that its leadership announced, earlier this year, that in future hijackers would be shot. The world has responded to violence by sympathy for the Palestine cause, and again terrorism had won the objective that it sought.
The London assassins are following a strategy which achieves its target not through their acts but through the response to those acts. They seek a psychological result. The success of terrorism in the recent past seems to have been due, in large part, to the errors of its enemies or opponents. They failed to focus upon the vitally important issue of the way in which they, as opponents, ought to respond. Discussion concentrated more upon prevention and punishment. It is obviously extremely difficult to achieve prevention, although no effort should be spared to apprehend those guilty and to remove the sources of explosives.
Punishment is also important. I would not resist the demand for hanging for terrorist offences, not because it would of itself defeat terrorism—it would not—but because it would give vent to the legitimate feeling of outrage on the part of the British people.
Those who are the targets of terrorism and who are prepared to defend themselves, start with one major advantage, namely, that the success or failure of the campaign depends upon them. Terrorism wins only if we respond to it in the way that those who are responsible for it want us to do, which means that its fate is in our hands. If we British choose not to respond, or to respond in a way different from that which they desire, the IRA campaign in the United Kingdom must fail. The really vital point is that we have the choice. That is the ultimate weakness of terrorism. We can always refuse to do what they want us to do.
I return to my original question: What is it that the bombers in London want? They want us to quit Ireland, to withdraw the Army from a part of the United Kingdom, and to give them a free hand in Ulster. The overwhelming majority of MPs is opposed to such a policy of scuttle, surrender and dishonour. A small number, mainly on the Left, who would 971 wash their hands, are unwittingly encouraging the Provisionals in their campaign of atrocities, and they are hazarding the lives of thousands, both in Ireland and in the United Kingdom. A slaughter of the innocents must result from any withdrawal from Ireland.
An open society such as ours is especially vulnerable to terrorist violence, which seems to threaten us each day more drastically. Have we the stoicism to endure none the less? Will we refuse to abandon our moral and political values? Are we prepared to pay an even higher price in order to defeat those evil men by refusing to respond in the way they want us to do? I devoutly hope so.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Clemitson (Luton, East)
The common ground that we all share is that we all condemn terrorism. When I say that, I do not mean that we merely go through a polite ritual of condolences to the victims and so on. There is a deep-seated horror of terrorism and of its results in every corner of this Chamber.
We must address ourselves to the real question, which is how best we can effectively combat terrorism—this evil in our midst. Those who are opposed to the Bill are as concerned with combating terrorism as those who are in favour of it. Those who are opposed to the reintroduction of the death penalty are as concerned with the combating of terrorism as those who want to reintroduce the death penalty.
The Bill has three main purposes. The first is to reassure the people of this country that something is being done to combat terrorism. The second is to facilitate the apprehension of those who have committed acts of terrorism or are concerned with possible future acts. The third, presumably, is to deter terrorists in a general way. I want to say something about each of those purposes.
The public need reassurance. That is right and proper. It is not an ignoble motive to bring in a Bill to reassure the public. In reassuring the public that something is being done, however, we must be careful not to build the house on sand. The reassurance must be genuine. What is being done must be effective, 972 otherwise the public are in effect being deluded into believing that something is being done when it is not.
Second, does the Bill enable terrorists to be apprehended? What is the evidence? My right hon. Friend told us that a number of people detained under the 1974 Act had subsequently been charged with various criminal acts, including murder and so on—presumably acts connected with acts of terrorism. But how can we be sure that the Act contributed to their apprehension? The Home Secretary made what seemed a bald assertion that it did. but there was no proven connection between the two things. Those apprehended may have been apprehended in any case. We do not know: this is one of our problems.
On the third point, has the existing Act deterred, and will this Bill deter, terrorists? Terrorism has continued. Terrorism in this country, we presume perpetrated by the IRA, has continued unabated. Whether the situation would have been worse, better or the same had the 1974 Act not existed, we do not know. This is pure speculation and it is impossible to prove one way or the other.
A number of hon. Members had great suspicions about the word "temporary" when it was used in 1974. In 1975 the word recurs. I am reminded that in this country it is said that nothing is as permanent as the temporary.
When the original Act was introduced in 1974 a number of hon. Members, including myself, said that, whatever happened, good reasons would be adduced for keeping it. We said that if the extent of terrorism increased, there were good reasons for keeping the Act and that if terrorism remained the same or decreased, there would still be good reasons for keeping it because it would be argued that if we did not keep it the situation would once again deteriorate. It is one of those "Heads I win, tails you lose" situations.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) and others of my hon. Friends have said that in Northern Ireland there is a situation in which apparently the Government's policy is to move in quite the opposite direction and to rely much more heavily on apprehending criminals in the normal way, dealing with them through the 973 courts, running down the number of people in detention and so on. This must be the right policy. However, in this country we appear to have gone in the opposite direction, and it is difficult to reconcile these two approaches.
What is happening? The bombers continue to bomb and at the same time they and their supporters cry out against legislation such as this, saying that it is an infringement of liberty. This is hypocrisy beneath the deepest contempt. However, if we continue with this kind of legislation we shall be playing directly into their hands. They would like nothing better than to have something much more than this legislation—perhaps the reintroduction of the death penalty. In a sense that would be their ultimate victory.
Last year we debated the original Act in an atmosphere which, as hon. Members will remember, was highly charged with emotion. A great deal of emotion still attaches to this debate because terrorism and suffering continue. I hope that this time we can consider the matter in a somewhat calmer, more reasoned and more rational atmosphere than we did this time last year.
I return to the question I asked at the outset of my remarks. Will the Bill help, in hard, practical terms, to limit and eradicate terrorism? That is the question to which we must address ourselves however emotional the subject. We hear assertions made but they are presented with no hard evidence. It will be said that it is impossible to produce hard evidence because it is in the nature of the case that this is so. However, when our liberties are being limited and threatened in any way, at least some of the onus of proof must rest on those who wish to limit them.
I was unhappy about the original Bill. I have heard nothing in this debate to dispel that unhappiness.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, East)
I respect the sincerity of the views of the hon. Member for Luton, East (Mr. Clemitson) but I disagree profoundly with them, because I see the Bill as the necessary price that our society must pay, in terms of the erosion of liberty, in order to combat terrorism at the present time. The evidence given by the Home 974 Secretary was ample justification—the fact that some human lives were being saved and some terrorists were being prevented from coming to this country as a result of this legislation. However, I agree with the hon. Member that terrorism is not prevented by the mere passing of Bills, even those containing powers as formidable as those in this Bill.
One aspect of the prevention of terrorism with which I want to deal is that of getting the co-operation of both the media and the public in stopping terrorism. The Minister will recall that when we debated a similar Bill a year ago there was considerable pressure, in Committee, for restrictions to be imposed on the broadcasting authorities, restraining them from transmitting IRA-oriented material. That arose particularly out of London Weekend Television's notorious interview with the IRA chief of staff, Mr. David O'Connell. My hon. Friend the Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts) tabled an amendment to this effect, which was withdrawn largely as a result of an assurance given by the Home Secretary that he would have discussions on this matter with the various broadcasting authorities.
There is still a need for discussions on these lines with the media autorities. I say that because I believe that there is a remaining need to have a tighter self-denying ordinance on the reporting of matters relating to terrorism. I should like to give two or three examples fairly quickly. Only a few days ago the Evening News published a story giving details about a forthcoming police operation which would involve high density police patrols in the London area, where these bombings had been taking place. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Robert Mark, publicly announced that the whole effectiveness of this operation had been largely ruined as a result of that story and, indeed, that the operation would not now take place. I believe that, however unintentional it may have been, that story was an abuse of the freedom of the Press. It put lives at risk and stopped the police from carrying out the operation that they wanted to carry out.
Another example is that on the night of the explosion of the bomb which was directed towards my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) 975 —happily, it missed him, although unhappily, it killed another person—one of the television news programmes put out on the air a map of the Kensington district, which indicated the location of the homes of a number of prominent people, including some hon. Members. I believe that here again a quite unnecessary risk was taken as a result of lack of self-restraint.
Thirdly, I should like to mention the case of an hon. Member living in the viewing area of Southern Television who received a death threat and had a police guard put on him as a result. Southern Television got wind of this story but was requested, on police advice, not to put it out. Nevertheless, Southern Television exercised its editorial discretion to put it out. In doing so, Southern Television may have gone further than it need have done, in that it actually filmed the hon. Member's house, even to the point of identifying its address.
These three examples, perhaps not wholly dramatic in themselves, nevertheless indicate the need for the Home Secretary to have further discussions with the media authorities. No one wants censorship. However, the media authorities can exercise great restraint, as was shown by the recent kidnapping incident. We must have a greater degree of self-denying ordinance from the media, and I think it right that at least one voice in the House should say so tonight. The prevention of terrorism is not merely the responsibility of Parliament, the police or the media. It is, above all, the public themselves who must be particularly vigilant at present.
I turn finally, in the interests of brevity, to the police. In common with many hon. Members, I salute them for their courage, diligence and devotion to duty. These emergencies put a tremendous strain on their manpower. I echo the plea made by the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell), who said that the Home Secretary should use all his powers of persuasion when talking to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make sure that expenditure cuts do not fall on the police. Indeed, I go further and say that the Government have a positive duty to make the police and security services the one area of exception. They need extra financial help to 976 end the manpower crisis. We must have an end to unrealistic establishments in the police forces. From my county of Kent the Home Secretary has had a request in which it is shown that the Kent Police establishment of 2,400 is deficient by about 570 men. I hope that the Home Secretary will give favourable consideration to that request, particularly in view of the necessity for security at the Channel ports and the extra burdens placed on police officers trying to screen the massive flood of visitors.
An increase is needed in the London allowance for police officers. The police are 5,000 short of establishment strength in London. The special constabulary needs to be strengthened. Consideration should be given to establishing a scheme whereby policemen, who at present retire at the unusually early age of 55, could be placed on a reserve list to be called up for extra duty in times of trouble.
The extra financial assistance which must be given to the police and the new infringements which must be put on individual liberty are harsh necessities that the nation must bear if we are to win the battle against terrorism. Any libertarian will dislike the extra powers in the Bill, but by giving it a Second Reading tonight we shall at least be giving a clear indication that there will be no surrender to the IRA.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Ron Thomas (Bristol, North-west)
The hon. Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) began his speech by suggesting that the evidence was that this legislation had deterred terrorism. That is his judgment. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, East (Mr. Clemitson) that there is no evidence one way or the other. It has been implied that without this legislation the police would have no powers at all and that they would simply have to sit back while terrorists engaged in their activities. That is nonsense. We all know that prior to this legislation the police had powers to detain people and to keep them in detention over a considerable period.
It is not that part of the legislation about which I wish to protest. I wish to protest about that part of the legislation which concerns exclusion orders. Much of tonight's discussion has been about matters not strictly relevant to this legislation. Much has been said about Northern 977 Ireland, no-go areas, past French and British imperialism and so on. Prior to this legislation the police and the courts had all the powers that were necessary to enable them to bring terrorists, or those they suspected of involvement in terrorism, before the courts and to charge them in the proper judicial manner.
This legislation enables the Secretary of State to issue exclusion orders. Clause 6 sets out what are described as the rights afforded to a person against whom an exclusion order is issued.
I want to recount the experiences of two Bristolians, members of Clann na Eireann. One of them was a constituent of mine. Both were taken into custody. Their families contacted me. The police refused to give any indication of the evidence against the men.
One point which has been raised is whether the Secretary of State could ensure that such persons secured representation by a solicitor pretty quickly. That is a complete waste of time, anyway. There is no point in such a person having a solicitor. My constituent secured the services of a good solicitor, who spent a considerable sum on telphoning me here at the House and asking me to appeal to the Secretary of State to give some indication of the evidence against his client so that he could prepare a defence. I assume that there are plenty of lawyers in the House who would hate to be asked to prepare a defence brief for somebody and then to be told that they were not to be given any indication of the evidence against their clients. I tried. I certainly was given no indication of the evidence. Indeed, I was told that I could not be given any such indication. The families of the men were not told of the evidence.
Although the Secretary of State gave a different answer this afternoon—and I shall follow it up later—when one of the two men said that in accordance with a provision in the previous legislation he would like to see the adviser appointed by the Secretary of State, the adviser went to see him in Bristol Prison and the man who was faced with an exclusion order asked the adviser whether he had any indication of the evidence. He replied "No. I have no indication of the evidence against you. What shall we talk about?" In fact, I understand they spent 978 most of the time talking about Bristol Rovers Football Club.
What happens to these people who are portrayed as bombers and terrorists and are made the subject of an exclusion order? They are put on a boat or aeroplane and sent to Northern or Southern Ireland. They are set free. But the evidence against them is such as to split up the families, and the two men to whom I have just referred left wives and children behind them. They have been sent back to Northern or Southern Ireland and set free.
I understand that in the Southampton case an exclusion order was issued against a person and then there was a wrangle about whether he came under Section 3 (4) (a) of the Act, which states:is at the time ordinarily resident in Great Britain, and has then been ordinarily resident in Great Britain throughout the last 20years…".In this case the man occasionally went off on a ship, and the authorities did not know whether he had been ordinarily resident in Great Britain for the last 20 years. They then decided that he was ordinarily resident, and he was set free.
Before I came to this House I believed that Parliament was the watchdog of the civil rights of the British people—not the Secretary of State's poodle, although that is what this legislation makes it. From the Opposition Benches we have had cries of "Hang them" and "Shoot them". It has been said by the hon. Lady the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) that we are trying to fight a forest fire with a water pistol. I suggest that if we bring back hanging for terrorism, we shall be fighting a fire with a petrol pump. It will be a great achievement for the terrorists. That is exactly what they want, to force us to give up civil liberties and let the hanging brigade have their way.
It has been suggested that we ought to pay heed to the polls that have been carried out. I wonder what would happen if we had a poll on whether or not the British troops ought to come out of Northern Ireland. Many people think they ought to come out. I do not so believe, but I respect the views of those people who think that our troops should be withdrawn. It could well be that if there were a poll on that subject a 979 majority would wish the British troops to be pulled out.
An hon. Member has referred to the situations in Algeria, in Israel and Palestine. Looking at the history of French, British or, indeed, American colonialism, we see that it was when the sort of methods demanded by hon. Members opposite were used that the majority of people rallied behind the so-called terrorists. That is the kind of situation into which we would be forcing ourselves. I hope that the House will never agree to bringing back capital punishment.
§ Mr. Dunlop
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the magnanimity of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the wholesale release not only of suspected terrorists but of well-known terrorists has in no way reduced the level of violence in Northern Ireland or in this country, and that, indeed, it has escalated? In my constituency the police and the UDR are the special targets of the Provisional IRA.
§ Mr. Thomas
Anyone against whom there is concrete evidence of terrorism or against whom there is an exclusion order should publicly be brought before the courts and, if found guilty, punished. That is the way in which it should be done.
It has been said that this legislation is about the preservation of the rule of law. It is also an essential part of the rule of law that a person who is charged with an offence should not be taken away from his family and dumped across the ocean without being told what is the evidence against him. That is the main reason why I voted against the legislation last time and why tonight, on the basis of the erosion of civil liberties—whether the people are Irish or Chinese is immaterial—I am opposed to the legislation.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. George Thomas)
Order. I remind the House that the winding-up speeches will begin at 10 minutes past 10 o'clock.
§ 9.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)
I shall be brief, because I shall be able to put forward my views when I speak on my Private Members' Motion on 11th December.
980 The Home Secretary should be congratulated on presiding over an increase in the police force of 4,850 men since this matter was last before the House. I commend him for the successful use which has been made of the 1974 Act, in particular the exclusion orders, which have been effective as a result of the efficient activities of the police.
The Home Secretary is also to be commended for the firmness that he shows in his speeches. No one in his right mind would want this legislation to be dropped. I bear in mind what Labour Members concerned with the civil liberties lobby have been saying. I share the view expressed by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) that what they have to contribute is vital. But the British people will forgo many of their civil liberties for the purpose of crushing terrorism.
Hon. Members are not always fair in their description of the working of the legislation. For example, the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) said that he was disturbed at the number of arrests which were made without charges being laid. He did not mention that from interviews with suspects or people connected with suspects a vast amount of information is gathered by the security forces which, when acted on, saves many lives.
I strongly commend the Irish community in England, which has persistently refused to give succour to terrorists. I also commend the incredible bravery and gallantry of the soldiers and policemen who have been engaged in the pursuit of terrorists in England. But, when all the praise and commendations have been awarded, terrorism in England still continues, notwithstanding the cease-fire of the Provisional IRA and notwithstanding this legislation. The Minister said that there had been 17 incidents in London since August, resulting in eight deaths and injuries to 170 people. Hon. Members who saw last week's television programme on the effect of terrorism on the lives of the injured will be appalled. But for the astuteness of a policeman who detected the bomb at Lockets restaurant, the number of dead and injured would have been much higher.
We have not heard how many incidents there have been since this legislation was 981 introduced, 12 months ago, but acts of terrorism are becoming more indiscriminate and more bestial in nature. This proves that this legislation is just not enough. Is there really nothing that can be done apart from minor amendments to the existing Act? I do not believe that for one moment. I would have been far happier if the Home Secretary had told us that following last year's debate he had set up a committee to consider the feasibility of suggestions put forward from both sides of the House for fighting the battle against terrorism more effectively—but all that seems to have been wasted breath.
What consideration has been given to the criticisms of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) about dumping people back in Northern Ireland, where they can resume their operations and where they cannot be detained unless they are suspected of terrorism in the Province? Nothing seems to have been done. No amendments appear in the legislation. What consideration has been given to the introduction of identity cards? The more terrorism there is, the less people will resent this interference with their liberties. It would be a great help in cutting down the amount of terrorism.
What assurances can be given about the control of explosives? How much has that been tightened up? How much consideration has been given to reducing the amount of United States financial support? What evidence has the Home Secretary for saying, as he did earlier, that he believes this supply of money has been declining? What has been done to discourage such support? Let us hear what action he has taken, rather than these vague words which are meant as palliatives to those of us who are rightly critical of the limited extent of this legislation.
I shall be grateful for answers to these questions. If the Home Secretary has no answers, a bit more thought should be given to these matters, so that when the subject is debated again next year, we shall have some answers and will not feel that we are just wasting our time in putting forward suggestions for helping to cut down the amount of terrorism.
I strongly support hon. Members who want consideration given to the provision of compensation for damage to property. 982 It may be possible to reinsure a car that is blown up, because it is unlikely to be damaged again, but I very much doubt whether the restaurateurs and shop-keepers in the centre of London will find it as easy to reinsure their property. They are in the front line of attack. This State is engaged in an act of war, and these people are entitled to compensation. If I am wrong about this, why was it thought necessary to include just such a provision in Northern Ireland?
Every bombing outrage in this country makes the British people more impatient with a Parliament which refuses to reintroduce capital punishment for violence of this kind that results in deaths. Parliament is out of touch with the wishes of the British people, and we ought to be ashamed that this is so.
The right hon. Member for Down, South referred to the problem of minors, but they do not engage in these activities alone, and those who put them up to it would be liable to capital punishment. I am sure that the number of minors who engage in this sort of activity is far fewer than the right hon. Gentleman thinks.
I agree with those who have said that this is a war in which we are engaged—
§ It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
That the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill may be proceeded with at this day's Sitting, though opposed, until Eleven o'clock.—[Mr. John Ellis.]
§ Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
§ Mr. Lawrence
We are at war with terrorists. Whoever heard of fighting a war without weapons, or without employing all the weapons at one's disposal? There are more weapons in our national armoury than this Bill provides. For God's sake let us use them, or the war will take too long in the winning and many more innocent people will be blown to pieces while we sit here twiddling our thumbs and congratulating ourselves on the excellence of the Bill.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Stan Thorne (Preston, South)
The issue has been expressed in a pertinent way by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) and my hon. Friend 983 the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett). We are not debating whether this House deplores terrorism. I take that for granted. But the Bill refers to the prevention of terrorism and we have to decide whether it will achieve that aim. We have 12 months' experience of the 1974 Act to help in reaching that decision. We must also consider whether as a House we should forgo on behalf of the British people the rights which are diminished by the Bill. We have to consider that delicate balance. Will the deprivation of liberty bring about the prevention of terrorism?
The last 12 months have provided some interesting figures. The Home Secretary gave some of them in his speech. Since the inception of the Act 1,154 people have been arrested, excluding those arrested recently in connection with events in Southampton. Fifty-one of them were charged. That is slightly less than 5 per cent. In other words, slightly more than 95 per cent. of them were innocent. The police, with all their resources, could secure no evidence to connect those 95 per cent. with terrorism.
It is important to look at the charges against those who were subsequently charged so that we may decide whether they were charged with offences which had some connection with terrorism. Of the 51, eight were charged with murder, three with attempted murder, one with conspiracy to cause explosions, six with conspiracy to possess or procure explosives with intent to endanger life, seven with unlawful possession of explosives, one with contravention of the Firearms Act, five with conspiracy to defraud the Inland Revenue, 10 with theft, one with robbery, two with burglary, one with assisting offenders, one with causing criminal damage, one with attempted criminal deception, one with handling a stolen vehicle, and, most interesting of all, three with wasting police time.
It is not difficult to determine how many of those charges were really connected with terrorist activity of one form or 984 another. The implementation of the Act over the past year illustrates that the Draconian powers—I use the words of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary—to attack terrorism have not prevented terrorism in the way that we hoped when the House gave the powers. Therefore, my question as to whether we are giving up liberties in order to have an effect on terrorism has been answered. We have not succeeded in doing it with all those powers, yet we are being asked to extend them for a further year.
The situation in Northern Ireland has been mentioned. The Chair might have been severe by ruling that a debate about Northern Ireland's political situation per se was not directly relevant to the Bill, but it has not done so. Therefore, I accept that some remarks about it are relevant.
The right hon. Member for Down, South said that we should recognise the existence of a frontier and do all we can to ensure that it is recognised by others and that it is protected. It is precisely because there are those who do not recognise the existence of that boundary that we face the present situation. Those who continue to say, as many do, that the rejection by the majority in Northern Ireland of the concept of a united Ireland means that the frontier is not open for discussion, and can never be discussed, are playing into the hands of those about whom we are concerned—those responsible for acts of terrorism.
It seems to me that inevitably—and, I hope, with no more loss of life than we have had so far—we shall have to recognise that the best way to attack terrorism in Northern Ireland or here is by a radical change in the policy pursued by our present Government, and by an acceptance that it is possible to establish a constitution in Ireland which will respect the rights of all sections in Ireland and give them the power to determine the nature of their society free from the influences of the United Kingdom.
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The winding-up has been delayed by five minutes to allow one more speech to be made.
§ Mr. Crowder
I am much obliged, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall not detain the House for more than three or four minutes. It used to be said that a speech in the House of Commons should make one point and one only. I shall make the point tonight and not the speech, and no doubt the House will forgive me for that.
In my view, the Bill points in the right direction. Rather like medicine before the war, it is a palliative measure, somewhat flannelised no doubt. It does not carry the matter much further, and it seems to me in the main to be dealing with the matter after the event.
If we are to prevent terrorism, we must strike at the very root of it. Let me declare an interest as a member of the Criminal Bar for 28 years. I know something about the way these people think, and the one man they dread above all is the informant. How was that large haul of gelignite discovered at Southampton? It was discovered because somebody "coughed", as they say in the criminal world. Somebody informed.
How are the police to carry out their job if they are not given the money with which to do it? I have no doubt whatever that if a senior police officer in the plain-clothes branch of the CID were to be given £1 million tomorrow there would not be one stick of gelignite left in the United Kingdom by Easter, because in these matters money talks.
The House has been discussing tonight whether we should hang these people, shoot them, detain them or arrest them, whether the Judges' Rules should apply and so on. That does not matter at all. What we ought to do is to deprive them of the tools of their trade.
There is no problem about that. The tools of their trade are within the suburbs of London and of Southampton in back-yard sheds. We should give the CID 986 money, which talks, to go into the public houses and find out where these tools are. The moment the CID is able, instead of dealing in £10 notes—that is the sort of pittance the Home Office deals out today for information—to say "There will be £2,000 in this for you", the information will come through and the police will be able to go to those sheds and garages and find the gelignite tomorrow.
That is the point I want to impress upon the Government tonight. Strike at the root of the disease. Do not try to deal with the person afterwards. Do not try to deal with the matter on the basis of deterrent. Go to the root of the matter. Find the tools of the trade. Give the police the money, and they will do the job.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Alison (Barkston Ash)
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Crowder), in alluding specifically to the usefulness of "grassing", was quite clearly in favour of the Bill, although it does not contain a provision in that direction. I think it is fair to say that what I might describe as the comfortable majority of those who have spoken in the debate are in favour of the Order to extend the Act and giving the successor Bill a fair wind. Indeed, I think it was the hon. Member for Bebington and Ellesmere Port (Mr. Bates) who pointed out that it was inconceivable that at the present juncture of terrorism in London the House should withhold its support from this measure.
Concern for liberty, for civil rights and for individual freedom, which all who support the Bill certainly share, cannot be carried to the point where it might condone or facilitate what Lord Hailsham vividly calleda criminal conspiracy to commit high treason and murder".—[Official Report, House of Lords, 28th November 1974; Vol. 354, c. 1510.]I listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick), about which I shall comment later. It is no good the hon. Gentleman saying that the real problem that we face is that the politicians have failed or that we have failed politically. The truth is closer to the point made by the hon. Member for Islington, South and 987 Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) that we are dealing with criminal psychopaths, with people whom Paul Johnson in the New Statesman likened more to Myra Hindley and Brady, the child murderers, than political activists.
The note from this House tonight is the will to combat that kind of criminal gang. I believe that the will has been sounded in the speeches by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), to take just two Members representing Irish constituencies, by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) in a combative speech, by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury and by other hon. Members. The will to combat this criminal gangsterism is present, and it is a crucial factor which has to be present to make sure that we win.
It is fair that the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett), the hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett), the hon. Member for Selly Oak and the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) should have drawn our attention very articulately and fluently to the fact that we must search ourselves and convince ourselves that the Bill really is effective and that, even if we are not certain that it is effective, it is still necessary. It is useful to have these discordant notes of inquiry and criticism.
My own conviction is that, although the effectiveness of the Bill cannot be demonstrated statistically or irrefutably, we have to give it and the Government the benefit of the doubt. Here I was struck, as anyone listening to it would have been, by the speech of the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell), which in many ways was the crucial speech of the debate. There can be no one who cannot visualise in his mind's eye the catastrophe which would have occurred if 400 lb. of gelignite buried in the basement of a tower block had exploded. Even anyone visualising it from having seen that appalling photograph from the film "Towering Inferno" currently on release can see that this could have been translated into human reality, carnage and destruction and must feel it is right that the benefit of the doubt should be given to those 988 who want to bring forward this Bill and implement it.
Can anyone doubt that the arrests following the discovery of that gelignite will have had a significant usefulness through the powers of search on individuals or on premises in leading perhaps to discoveries of precisely similar caches of gelignite? Who can doubt—and it may be that the Under-Secretary can throw some light on this—that the police must have had some help from the Act in discovering that cache? This must be the answer to the vivid and distressing description that the hon. Member for Selly Oak gave of the discomfort and suffering of his unfortunate constituent who was awakened in the middle of the night to find 12 burly detectives waiting upon him.
These raids by the police on people who may be innocent are distressing, but we have to set against them the potential catastrophe to which the hon. Member for Itchen referred. There would have been no redress if that block of flats had gone up, but there is redress for the constituent of the hon. Member for Selly Oak. If the police were a bit rough with him, he can complain to the Chief Constable, but there is no way out of an explosion of the kind which might have occurred in Southampton.
Incidentally, the point made by the hon. Member for Itchen about the Southampton police being severely constricted in financial terms as a result of their county budget is profoundly disturbing. My right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) made the same point when he said that police forces were short of money from the county precepts. I hope we shall be told that police forces engaged in these vital search operations with facilities provided under this legislation will, if necessary, have subventions from the central Exchequer to make sure that they do not have to resort to methods such as using last year's envelopes and all the other constraints on efficient administration which could actually lead to loss of life.
Most hon. Members have supported the Bill, but an underlying theme has been whether it goes far enough. Indeed, that was the implication of the speeches made by hon. Members who referred to the 989 need for some sort of associated provision in the direction either of introducing the capital penalty or of other special measures such as those spelt out by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) concerning inducement to give information, the need to carry identity cards and so on.
There must be misgivings, especially against the background of appeals for further extensions to the Bill about whether the scale of deaths, injuries and outrages since the Birmingham blast last year suggests that we do not have quite enough on the stocks here to deal with the problem. The outrage in Birmingham was appalling. Twenty people were killed. The Home Secretary gave some up-to-date figures this afternoon, and I think I am right in saying that since the Birmingham incident there have been either 264 or 265 bomb incidents, 60 deaths and over 1,000 people injured.
Obviously there is no scope tonight either to amend the Bill in the direction of capital punishment, for those who think that that is the right course, or to introduce some of the other proposals which have been made. However, within the terms of the Bill I wonder whether there is scope for carrying the matter a bit further. For example, perhaps the Minister can tell us why in Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 6 the powers of search without warrant are limited to persons and not premises. In the light of the discovery of the bomb cache in the constituency of the hon. Member for Itchen, it is vital that the power to search premises without warrant—a power which is available in respect of persons—should be introduced in the Bill.
The power to search premises is dealt with in Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 4. Paradoxically, although a warrant is required to search premises, under paragraph 4 (4) chief constables can bypass the need to get a warrant if they believe it necessary to do so. Why not give the police power to search either premises or persons without a warrant and have done with it? That would be a stream-lining and an acceleration of procedure which would be thoroughly justifiable in the light of some of the misgivings which have been expressed on all sides and especially in view of the horror of the Southampton incident.
§ Mr. Corbett
Can the hon. Gentleman provide any evidence of a magistrate who, having been properly asked under the law to sign a warrant for these purposes, has refused?
§ Mr. Alison
Like the hon. Member, who was himself interrupted when making his speech, I do not have all the facts readily at my disposal. However, immediately after a bomb outrage or the receipt of information it is vital for the police to be able to move instantaneously to search persons or premises if they are to catch the horse before it bolts. It is no use closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. That is provided for, in part at least, by paragraph 6 in respect of the searching of persons. Why not extend it to premises?
I turn to some detailed points of the Bill which give cause for concern. I wish to deal with the exclusion procedures.
I think that Northern Ireland Members can justly complain that Northern Ireland is or has become a dumping ground. It seems rather ignoble that, when Great Britain is for the first time seriously coming to grips with what is involved in terrorism—these outrages, sudden explosions, and ghastly injuries to men, women and children in our own streets—we should bring forward a measure, as we did in 1964, and propose to renew it, as we did in 1965, the effect of which is to transport back to Northern Ireland the people who carry out these ghastly acts here. I think that about 70 people have so far been served with exclusion orders. Fifty-five of them have been removed, of whom 38 have gone back to Northern Ireland. That tells a sorry story.
The right hon. Member for Down, South had an important request to make to the Home Secretary when he made the point that reciprocity should be carefully investigated. The fact that United Kingdom citizens cannot be excluded from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, although it can happen in reverse, is an aspect of discrimination in the Bill which we ought to look at carefully.
The hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas) made the point that it seemed strange that the penalty for thecommission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorismcould be as little as an exclusion order and nothing more when, for example, 991 being a member of the IRA or wearing part of the IRA uniform could, under Clauses 1 and 2, carry considerable fines or prison sentences. There is an imbalance here.
I understand that it is not possible for Northern Ireland officials to do anything about a person who has been excluded from Great Britain under the provisions of Clause 9 until he commits an act of terrorism in Northern Ireland. Therefore, it seems important that those who are or could be guilty of the serious charge ofcommission, preparation or instigations of acts of terrorismshould suffer something more than mere exclusion from this country.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins
I think that the hon. Gentleman is misunderstanding the fundamental problem and purpose of the Bill. The point is that the Executive will have power to exclude people on suspicion of these grave offences. If they can be charged and convicted of these offences, they will be liable to penalties far greater than can be imposed for belonging to the IRA. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman is proposing that people suspected of offences which cannot be proved should be liable to grave penalties.
§ Mr. Alison
That still leaves the awkward point that people who are suspected of this potentially serious charge, which may not be provable, can be removed to Northern Ireland, where nothing need or can be done to them until they commit offences there. I suppose that this is a useful measure for Britain, but it does not seem so useful for Northern Ireland.
Will the Under-Secretary tell us whether the suspicion which might lead to an exclusion order relating to Great Britain would automatically apply in the case of an internee or, by definition, an ex-internee, being one of the people whom the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is now in the process of releasing and will have released in large numbers by Christmas? Does release automatically carry with it suspicion such as would make it appropriate for the individual concerned, if he came to this country, to be served forthwith with an exclusion 992 order sending him back to Northern Ireland? If so, it seems a pointless kind of shuttle service of people going backwards and forwards between the two countries, the burden being borne in the Province.
Clause 4(1)(b) of the Bill refers to somebody whois attempting or may attempt to enter Great Britain.How will the Home Secretary, or the Home Department, ever get information that will lead him to suspect that somebody may attempt to enter the United Kingdom, particularly if that person is not a United Kingdom citizen? If it is somebody from the Republic of Ireland, or from a foreign country such as the United States of America or from some other place, how will the Home Secretary ever get suspicious that he may attempt to enter the country? The phrasemay attempt to enter Great Britainis used in the Bill, and there must be some significance or purpose for it.
Why is there a proviso, and a rather inhuman one, in Clause 6(6)? It says:Where representations are duly made under this section the Secretary of State shall, if it is reasonably practicable, notify the person against whom the order was made of any decision he takes as to whether or not to revoke the order.Surely it must always be the case that if somebody has applied for verification under the procedure in Clause 6 the Home Secretary must give him information about whether his case has been found to be worthy. I hope that the hon. Lady will assure us on this. Why is there a conditional proviso about letting the complainant know the Secretary of State's view?
Another important point that needs clarifying on the exclusion procedure is whether the service of an exclusion order—I hope that I may have the hon. Lady's attention—under Clause 6 automatically implies that the person upon whom it is served is to be detained forthwith, or is it the responsibility of the person upon whom the order is served to remove himself forthwith? In other words, does the removal of a person following the service of an exclusion order become the responsibility of the Home Secretary, or is it up to the individual to remove himself?
993 That is an important point, because Clause 8 states thatIf a person subject to an exclusion order fails to comply with the order at a time afterit has been served, he is guilty of an offence. If it is to be the responsibility of the individual upon whom an exclusion order has been served to remove himself forthwith, it will be impossible for him, within the 96 hours that the Home Secretary has allowed, to go through the procedure of making representations to one of the referees nominated by the Home Secretary. It will be an offence for the person concerned to stay in the country for any length of time after the order has been served. It will thus be impossible for him to take advantage of the 96 hours' latitude that the Home Secretary has decided to allow. The hon. Lady can no doubt clear up the point.
Those are points of detail on a part of the Bill about which many hon. Members are sensitive. Perhaps it does less than justice to events in Northern Ireland and carries the risk of a real miscarriage of justice and of separating families unnecessarily. In spite of these difficulties, which I am sure can be cleared up and, if necessary, amended, the will of the House as I judge it is overwhelmingly in favour of giving the Bill a fair wind, hoping and expecting that it will have the effect that the Home Secretary believes and wishes.
We hope that the Bill will provide further opportunities for the police by means of their powers to search premises or persons, to arrest or to interrogate, and to nip in the bud the kind of catastrophe to which the hon. Member for Itchen referred. If anybody has any doubt about the need for the Bill, the spectacle of the block of flats mentioned by the hon. Gentleman should remain permanently fixed in his imagination.
§ 10.35 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Dr. Shirley Summer-skill)
The Bill before us tonight concerns one of the most serious and immediate problems that, as a Parliament, we have to face—the problem of terrorism. The campaign of indiscriminate murder being waged against innocent people must be fought with every possible means.
There can be little doubt that the powers contained in the Prevention of 994 Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act now in force have played a vitally important rôle in combating terrorism. The use of the exclusion order power has led to the removal from Great Britain of people whose actions might otherwise have had very grave consequences, and the additional powers given to the police have led to striking successes in bringing terrorists to justice, as was amply illustrated by the figures given this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
The debate today has been considerably less expeditious than the one last November, and both Houses will have the opportunity to discuss the legislation in greater detail than was possible on that occasion. It is right that Parliament should be reassessing a Bill that affects fundamental issues, namely, the protection of life on the one hand and civil liberty on the other.
I consider, first, the protection of life. During this debate the most extreme suggestion, which was made by the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser), the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fair-bairn), the hon. Member for Windsor and Maidenhead (Dr. Glyn) and others, concerned the introduction of capital punishment for terrorist activities. This is a matter that is left to individual hon. Members to decide, and I remind hon. Members that as recently as last December the House resolved, by a decisive majority of 152 votes, that:a reintroduction of the death penalty would neither deter terrorists nor increase the safety of the public."—[Official Report, 11th December 1974; Vol. 883, c. 518.]In my view nothing that has happened since then weakens the general argument against capital punishment for terrorists, although I now recognise that the advocates of capital punishment hold their views deeply and sincerely and that public opinion in some areas is very strong on this matter. However, to introduce the death penalty for acts of terrorism would be to play into the hands of the IRA. There is no sense in creating martyrs and risking indiscriminate reprisals against innocent members of the public.
I remind the House of the decision of the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) to introduce the provision in May 1973 which led to 995 the abolition of capital punishment in Northern Ireland. He said, and I agree, that the execution of terrorists would actually increase the risk to members of the security forces in the days surrounding the date of the execution, and the ordinary citizens of this country would also be in danger of death or injury in such circumstances.
If the Government thought that we could save life by bringing back hanging, they would have to consider it seriously, but it is not possible to conclude from the available facts that the death penalty, when it was available, was ever a uniquely effective deterrent for murder. I find it hard to believe that it would deter the dedicated and ruthless terrorists of the IRA.
I turn to an important matter involving the police. I join in the many tributes paid to the police by all hon. Members for the courageous and admirable way in which they carry out their extremely difficult and dangerous tasks. Specific questions about police strengths were asked by the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour), my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) and the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone. At the end of October 1975 the strength of the police service in England and Wales was just under 106,000—an increase of 4,800 in the past 12 months. That is an impressive figure. Part of this increase was due to the attestation of a substantial number of cadets when the age limit was reduced. Even discounting this, the gain is a considerable improvement on the figures for 1974.
So far this year the Metropolitan Police have shown a net gain of 270, compared with the loss of 198 in the first 10 months of 1974. Even in the present difficult times the Government accept that police forces should continue to increase their strengths up to authorised establishments for police officers, though we have reluctantly had to ask for limitations on the growth of civilian support services. In areas in which the recruitment of police officers is relatively easy, many forces are close to full establishment. I hope that the situation in London and the main conurbations will continue the improvement recently shown. We are certainly not yet satisfied with the figures, and we 996 shall continue our present efforts to increase the numbers.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Does my hon. Friend agree that the increase in the numbers in the police force and the increasing recruitment in the Army are not unconnected with the fact that unemployment is greatly increasing?
§ Dr. Summerskill
That is a matter of opinion. It is certainly possible to put the two situations together and to conclude one thing from the other.
§ Mr. Crouch
Will the hon. Lady comment on the present deficiency against establishment in the metropolitan force? Will she also comment on the suggestion made recently by Sir Robert Mark that men recruited into the county forces should serve for a period with the metropolitan force in a time of crisis such as this?
§ Dr. Summerskill
That matter is under constant review by Ministers and the police. If there is any possibility of doing that, I am sure that it will be taken up.
I can give an unreserved assurance that there is no question of the Government's keeping the police short of money with which to pay informers for information about bombers or bombings. The position, simply, is that whatever a chief constable wants for this purpose, he receives.
I should like to take up two points raised by the hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies), among others. The first concerns compensation to victims of terrorist attack. People injured as a result of bomb explosions can apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, but there is no general provision to meet out of public funds the cost of damage to property caused by terrorist activity. The general principle is that an individual protects himself against damage to property by insurance to the extent that he thinks necessary. I agree that there is an anomaly concerning Northern Ireland. If a situation were to develop in Great Britain in which the balance of argument appeared to shift in favour of a greater measure of State acceptance of liability, the Government 997 would no doubt consider what was the best course and take steps to announce their decision at the time.
In Northern Ireland compensation is paid for damage to property, but conditions there are quite different. The scale of terrorist outrages is much greater, and insurance cover, in consequence, is difficult to obtain. We have no reason to think that insurance companies have been difficult in this country in this regard.
High treason is an offence which still carries the death penalty. It has been suggested that it should be used against terrorists responsible for bombing outrages. The whole of the law on treason is archaic, and is under review by the Law Commission as part of the programme of codification of the criminal law.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
When do the Government expect to receive the report? Will it deal specifically with amendments to the law on treason designed to be able to cover the case of those who perpetrate atrocities?
§ Dr. Summerskill
No doubt the Commission will consider every aspect of the law on treason, but I am afraid that it is too soon for me to say exactly when it will report.
I now come to the whole question of exclusion orders. This matter was raised in some detail by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). Under Clause 6 a person served with such an order may make representations in writing to the Secretary of State setting out grounds for objection to the order, and he mayinclude in those representations a request for a personal interview with the person or persons nominated by the Secretary of State".Under the present Act there is no automatic right to an interview, but the new Bill provides this and also extends, from 48 to 96 hours after the notice of the order has been served, the time in which representations against it may be made.
§ Mr. Beith
At such an interview, which I understand has already taken place without the formal right which the Bill, when enacted, will give, is the 998 adviser under an explicit restriction in terms of the extent to which he can communicate, to the person making representations against his exclusion, the reasons for that exclusion? To what extent may this come out in discussion; or is the adviser expressly discouraged or forbidden from communicating to the person who is being interviewed the reasons for his exclusion?
§ Dr. Summerskill
If I may continue, this will come out as I go on. The purpose of the adviser is to provide an independent and impartial review of an exclusion order case. It is not a judicial procedure and is not intended to be disguised as such, and it rests upon the integrity of those appointed as advisers. That is a reason why they do not necessarily have to have legal qualifications, as has been pointed out, although in fact both have legal qualifications.
The advisers are free to consider the case as they wish, and make their own procedures for so doing. It would be inappropriate for the process to be in any sense public or judicial, because of the sensitivity of the information on which the decision to exclude people is based, but clearly the adviser would have access to this information.
The making of an exclusion order, therefore, is an executive procedure. The test on which the Secretary of State may make an exclusion order is a very stringent one. He has to be personally satisfied that the person(a) is…concerned…in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, or(b) is attempting or may attempt to enter Great Britain or Northern Ireland with a view to being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism".The person concerned may make representations to the adviser, and under the new Bill the Secretary of State will be bound to refer to an adviser any case which is not considered frivolous.
I assure the House that the exclusion order procedure is exercised with immense care by my right hon. Friend, who has personally examined every case, and on all the five occasions when the advisers have recommended that an order should be revoked my right hon. Friend has accepted the advice and revoked the order.
§ Mr. Alison
The hon. Lady is now illuminating further the point that the Home Secretary made when he commented on my speech on this subject. If the Home Secretary is satisfied that the person is concerned with such an offence, why should he not be kept here for further investigation and examination, to see whether there is substance in it? If there is substance in it sufficient for the person to be excluded, surely, by definition, he should be kept here for further examination. Secondly, will the hon. Lady clear up the question whether the person concerned must make his application to the Home Secretary's referee from the place from which he has been excluded, or can wait until the examination procedure has been gone through?
§ Dr. Summerskill
The hon. Gentleman sometimes misses the whole point of the Bill. If he reads it carefully, he will see that the whole point is that investigations are made about people whom one can reasonably suspect of carrying out various crimes. I cannot go into every detail of every line in a Second Reading speech. I should like to get on now. With regard to exclusion orders my right hon. Friend said—
§ Mr. Alison rose—
§ Mr. Alison
This is a serious point. The hon. Lady has not answered the fundamental question, which is: does a person upon whom an order has been served then have to remove himself? The Bill states that he has to remove himself forthwith. Do such persons have to be removed forcibly by the Home Secretary?
§ Dr. Summerskill
They are removed. They do not remove themselves. They are not removed until they have made their representations, if they want to make representations.
As my right hon. Friend said, very few people released from detention in Northern Ireland—and this answers another point that the hon. Gentleman raised—have been excluded from Great Britain. We are checking the figures. The number is about five.
I now come to the point concerning the exclusion, from the United Kingdom, of 1000 United Kingdom citizens from Northern Ireland. Under Clause 5 a person who is not a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies may be excluded from the United Kingdom, but it is possible for a person who is a citizen of the Republic of Ireland to be excluded from the United Kingdom, and this power may be exercised whether he is resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland.
It has been argued by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) that this provision should operate reciprocally. The argument runs that if it is right to move into and out of one part of the United Kingdom, a reciprocal arrangement should apply to the rest of the United Kingdom. However, after careful consideration we do not accept the need for such a provision, either on grounds of logic or on its practical merits. The exclusion power is to deal with people coming to Great Britain from Northern Ireland or the Republic to commit acts of terrorism in Great Britain.
This is a real and substantial problem. I do not believe that there is a comparable problem of people importing terrorism into Northern Ireland. It may be useful to enable the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to send back to the Republic a citizen of the country who is engaged in terrorism in Northern Ireland, but for United Kingdom citizens, much as one might wish to be rid of some of them if they are terrorists, there is no power to exclude them from the United Kingdom.
The exclusion from Northern Ireland of persons in Great Britain would not be appropriate unless there were evidence of terrorism flowing from London to Belfast or Northern Ireland as there is from Belfast to London.
I should now like to deal with police powers—a matter that has been raised by many hon. Members. I appreciate the sincerity and long-held views of my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) and many others who have spoken from this side of the House, and their concern about police powers and the Judges' Rules. Clause 9 of the Bill gives the police powers to arrest people whom they have reason to suspect of involvement in terrorism, but whom they cannot arrest on suspicion of involvement in specific incidents. In the nature of things, people detained 1001 under Section 7 of the Act cannot often be brought before the court as people charged with a specific offence must be, Detention may be extended beyond 48 hours, to a maximum of seven days, only by the Secretary of State.
As for access to legal advice while people are detained, the usual provisions of the Judges' Rules pertain. This means that a detained person has the right to consult his legal adviser unless unreasonable delay or hindrance is caused to the process of investigation or the administration of justice.
§ Mr. Corbett rose—
§ Dr. Summerskill
I cannot give way again. I have so many points to answer. We do not believe that there is any need for legislation on this, or that the current provisions of the Judges' Rules need to be replaced by different provisions.
Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabullary have been giving attention to the arrangements made within police forces to secure observance of the Judges' Rules, and they will continue to do so. We shall be keeping a close watch on this matter. If a person has grounds for complaint, he may make a formal complaint against the police in the usual way. A Bill dealing with police complaints is to be introduced shortly.
Several hon. Members referred to the powers being used for interrogation on matters unconnected with terrorism. If any hon. Member who has evidence of interrogation involving questions about trade union activities, political party activities, or connections with various lobbies, will put in writing and send to me the details of specific instances—not generalisations—they will be looked into. If this is happening it is a serious matter. We should like to have evidence of such harrying, if there is any.
Several Opposition Members referred to the control of explosives. The arrangements to prevent the theft or misuse of
§ explosives in this country are carefully watched. My right hon. Friend receives expert advice on the technical aspects. Measures have been taken to strengthen our precautions, but, naturally, I prefer not to offer guidance to the IRA or its potential suppliers by describing the nature of the checks. We are also devoting much effort to checks on ports. The difficulties of detecting material which is very small in volume, in contrast to the vast amount of traffic which provides opportunities to hide it, are obvious. We have provided special equipment and extra manpower for these purposes.
§ I have much sympathy with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken), but I do not think it appropriate for me to comment on individual items of news.
§ Throughout the debate hon. Members on both sides of the House have been searching for the right balance on the various issues that we face. On the one hand, we have heard arguments stressing the need for any measures that can lead to the protection of human life and put an end to the violence in our midst; on the other hand, considerable concern has been expressed that this legislation should not interfere with the civil liberties which we all cherish. But the threat of terrorism is a threat to our liberties. We are faced with a crisis situation, and people's lives are at stake.
§ I believe that the Bill strikes the correct balance at a very difficult time. We hope that this is a temporary crisis, which requires only temporary provisions. The measure proposed will not, regrettably, bring an immediate or even speedy end to the problem. The Bill is both a necessary and an effective measure in our efforts to prevent terrorist violence, and I commend it to the House.
§ Question put, That the Bill be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 183, Noes 14.1003
|Division No. 5.]||AYES||[11.00 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael||Biggs-Davison, John||Buchanan, Richard|
|Allaun, Frank||Bishop, E. S.||Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)|
|Archer, Peter||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Campbell, Ian|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Booth, Albert||Carson, John|
|Ashton, Joe||Bradford, Rev Robert||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Bray, Dr Jeremy||Cartwright, John|
|Bates, Alf||Brotherton, Michael||Clark, William (Croydon S)|
|Bean, R. E.||Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)|
|Beith, A. J.||Buchan, Norman||Cohen, Stanley|
|Coleman, Donald||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Concannon, J. D.||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Knight, Mrs Jill||Ross, William (Londonderry)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Lambie, David||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Crouch, David||Lamborn, Harry||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Cryer, Bob||Lamond, James||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Lawrence, Ivan||Sillars, James|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiten)||Le Marchant, Spencer||Skinner, Dennis|
|Davidson, Arthur||Lestor, Jim (Beeston)||Small, William|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Deakins, Eric||Luard, Evan||Snape, Peter|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Lyon, Alexander (York)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||McCartney, Hugh||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Dempsey, James||McCusker, H.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Doig, Peter||McElhone, Frank||Stainton, Keith|
|Dormand, J. D.||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Slanbrook, Ivor|
|Drayson, Burnaby||Mackenzie, Gregor||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Dunlop, John||Maclennan, Robert||Stoddart, David|
|Dunn, James A.||McNamara, Kevin||Stott, Roger|
|Dunnett, Jack||Madden, Max||Stradling Thomas J.|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Marks, Kenneth||Strang, Gavin|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Marquand, David||Summersklll, Hon Dr Shirley|
|English, Michael||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Mates, Michael||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Meacher, Michael||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mendelson, John||Tierney, Sydney|
|Fox, Marcus||Millan, Bruce||Tinn, James|
|Freeson, Reginald||Miller, Mrs Millie (llford N)||Tomlinson, John|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)||Urwin, T. W.|
|George, Bruce||Molyneaux, James||Viggers, Peter|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)||Monro, Hector||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Ginsburg, David||Montgomery, Fergus||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Golding, John||Mudd, David||Ward, Michael|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick||Watkinson, John|
|Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Weetch, Ken|
|Graham, Ted||Neave, Airey||Weitzman, David|
|Grant, John (Islington C)||Newens, Stanley||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Griffiths, Eldon||Noble, Mike||White, James (Pollok)|
|Hardy, Peter||Oakes, Gordon||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss||Ogden, Eric||Whitlock, William|
|Hawkins, Paul||O'Halloran, Michael||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Hayman, Mrs Helene||O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Horam, John||Osborn, John||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Ovenden, John||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Page, John (Harrow West)||Woodall, Alec|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Penhaligon, David||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Hunter, Adam||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|James, David||Phipps, Dr Colin|
|Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford)||Prescott, John||Mr. Laurie Pavitt and|
|John, Brynmor||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)||Miss Margaret Jackson|
|Jones. Alec (Rhondda)||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Litterick, Tom||Selby, Harry|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Loyden, Eddie||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen||Mikardo, Ian||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Flannery, Martin||Richardson, Miss Jo||Mr. Stan Thorne and|
|Latham, Arthur (Paddlngton)||Rose, Paul B.||Mr. Robin Corbett.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).