HC Deb 28 January 1976 vol 904 cc538-54

Amendment made: No. 32, in page 6, line 13, leave out 'or 8' and insert '8, (contributions towards acts of terrorism) or (information about acts of terrorism)'.—[Dr. Summerskill.]

Mr. Mikardo

I beg to move Amendment No. 34, in page 6, line 21, leave out '5 days' and insert '48 hours'.

Throughout the proceedings on this Bill and its predecessor there have been many expressions of regret from all quarters of the House about the fact that we are legislating to detain people without charge and without trial. The best that even the most passionate advocate of the Bill has been able to say about it is that it is a necessary evil. Many tears have been shed over this evil which we commit, and the reactions to the amendment will be a fair test of which tears are genuine and which crocodile.

9.15 p.m.

If we are as genuine in believing that it is monstrous in Great Britain to keep in detention people who have had no charge levelled against them and who are not brought to trial—there have been motions on the Order Paper deploring that practice in the Soviet Union, Chile, Indonesia and many other places—as we are in believing that it is monstrous to do so in, say, Indonesia, the least we can do is to shorten as far as possible the period of detention. I am not wildly enthusiastic about moving the amendment, because I object to the principle as a whole. I am in a fall-back position.

Originally, we had a period of 48 hours. It could be argued that if a man is arrested late on Friday night, it is difficult to get hold of people over the weekend and more time might be needed. I know many cases of people having been detained for two days and then for five days, and then being released without anything having been done.

We should put the authorities on their mettle and give them a little less time, so that they have to move into action more quickly. No doubt the time passes quickly for those in authority who are able to go home and have a meal with their wives at night, but it is long drawn out for the fellow who has been detained. I wish to put a shade more urgency into the proceedings. If the authorities cannot find out enough to sustain a case against a person in four days, they will not find it out in seven days. The history of detention up to now suggests that that is so. To adopt the amendment would be a move in the right direction.

Dr. Summerskill

The amendment would have the effect of reducing from five days to 48 hours the period for which the Secretary of State may extend the detention of a person arrested under Clause 9 beyond the first 48 hours. Thus, the maximum period for which a person arrested under Clause 9 could be held would be reduced from seven days to four.

The reason for including in the Bill this exceptional power to be used in exceptional circumstances is to enable persons suspected of being involved in acts of terrorism to be detained for up to seven days so that the police can examine a suspect thoroughly and take all the necessary steps to establish whether the person concerned has been involved in acts of terrorism. These steps, often including the examination of fingerprints and other records to obtain positive identification of a person, sometimes take more than four days.

In deciding that the maximum period for which a person may be detained should be seven days, the Government took careful advice about the minimum period which would be required in a case where thorough investigation was considered necessary. If this amendment were accepted, the purpose of the subsection could be undermined and one of the powers which have been considered necessary to help combat the terrorist problem would be significantly weakened.

This exceptional power is essential in the present circumstances, but an exceptional power should always be an effective one, and my hon. Friends who are supporting the amendment are not disagreeing with the exceptional power. They support the principle of the Secretary of State being able to extend detention.

Mr. Mikardo

Actually, we do not.

Dr. Summerskill

The amendment supports the principle of extending detention, so the difference between us is really a matter of time. I suggest that the power as contained in the Bill is effective and that its effectiveness would be considerably reduced and rendered less useful if the amendment were accepted.

Mr. Arthur Latham (Paddington)

Does not my hon. Friend agree that five days is more objectionable than two days? Does not she feel that in replying to this amendment she has some obligation to comment on the conditions in which people are held for this extended period? From the cases about which I have written to the Home Secretary, it seems to me that sometimes people are treated worse when held in these circumstances than are those who are being held on ordinary criminal charges, certainly as far as visits are concerned. Can we have an assurance that my hon. Friend will look into the conditions in which people are held under these provisions?

Dr. Summerskill

As I have said before, if there are any complaints or representations to be made about the conditions in which people are being held, we are anxious and willing to look at them if hon. Members will tell us of the particular cases they have in mind. There is no difference about the way people are held, whether they are being held for five days or 48 hours. The principle of this exceptional power remains, and, as I have pointed out, the amendment supports that power, so that we are disagreeing only about the exact time.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

I beg to move Amendment No. 35, in page 6, line 21 at end insert— '(3) Any person arrested under this section shall be entitled, provided that no hindrance is reasonably likely to be caused to the processes of investigation or the administration of justice by his doing so, to inform a relative, or require a police officer to inform a named relative, of the fact of his arrest and the place of detention; and any person in respect of whom the Secretary of State has extended the period shall be entitled to communicate with and consult in private a solicitor (or his duly authorised clerk) at any time during the five days'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we shall take the following amendments:

No. 36, in page 6, line 33, at end insert—

  1. '(3) Where any person has been arrested under this section and is being held in England or Wales under an extension made by the Secretary of State under subsection (2) above such person shall be entitled immediately to have intimation sent to a solicitor that his professional assistance is required by such person, and informing him of the place where such person may be interviewed.
  2. (4) Such solicitor shall be entitled to have an interview with the person arrested.
  3. (5) For the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that a person arrested under this section and held in Scotland under an extension made by the Secretary of State under subsection (2) above is entitled to the rights conferred under section 19 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975.
No. 47, in Clause 11, page 9, line 6, at end insert— '(10) The provisions of Schedule (Rules of Police Procedure) shall apply to the operation of this Act'. No. 58, new Schedule—[Rules of Police Procedure].

Mr. Bennett

On 28th November 1974, when the House was first considering the Prevention of Terrorism Act, many of us were concerned that we were taking away many civil rights, and, that being so, that we should do all we could to give some countervailing protections. We were particularly concerned that the Judges' Rules should be applied in any case of arrest or detention under these provisions. Repeatedly we pressed Ministers for and received assurances that the Judges' Rules would be observed and that there would be access to solicitors and the right at least to contact a relative so that the family would know that a person was being held at a police station.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General told the House: I can certainly undertake that my right hon. Friend will make that absolutely clear."—[Official Report, 28th November 1974; Vol. 882, c. 906.] He went on to say that it was not possible, in the short time available for that legislation, to build in some administrative rules which would ensure that these rights were laid down.

Unfortunately, it appears, at least from the evidence that I have, that in many instances over the last 12 months the rights of access to solicitors have not always been made available. There has been plenty of time to consider the introduction of administrative rules or some other way in which the Judges' Rules could be incorporated into this legislation. The Government should have used the intervening period to draw up such safeguards.

I was disappointed, when reading through the Committee stage proceedings, to see that at the end of the debate there was merely a reiteration by the Minister that people had two possibilities open to them if the Judges' Rules were not observed. The first was that if they came to court it would be taken into account. The second was that they could use the complaints procedure against the police in order to try to get some redress if they felt they had been wrongly handled. In this very sensitive area it would have been reasonable, in bringing forward this legislation again, to build in safeguards of this sort.

On the Order Paper there are three possible ways suggested for reaching this objective. I do not suggest that any one of them is necessarily ideal, but I particularly press the Minister that, at least when the Bill goes to the other place, an attempt should be made to put into the legislation the undertakings given 12 months ago. These, unfortunately, in some cases have not been carried out.

I have been given a list of eight cases about which the National Council for Civil Liberties has been particularly concerned. In one case a man received an urgent telephone call from Belfast. His mother had died and he wished to go to the funeral. He left home to fly to Belfast and was then held by the police for over 24 hours before he had an opportunity to contact anybody. As soon as he was able to make contact, he was very quickly in a position to establish his credentials, and was rapidly released by the police.

I do not want to list these cases by name. These people have already suffered enough. In many instances, they have been the subject of newspaper stories. But it is very much a matter of concern that, in the instance I quoted, the police would have had their time saved if the man had been able to inform his wife that he was being detained. She could have made contact with the people who eventually assured the police that there was no reason at all for detaining the man.

Then there was the case of some people who were visiting London from Belfast and, most unfortunately, happened to travel on the day that the Guildford bomb trial started. They were detained for six days and for a considerable period of time had no opportunity to contact their parents or indicate to them their concern at being held. It was not possible for them to allay the concern of their parents as to what had happened.

In another case a man was held twice in a period of 12 months. On each occasion he had no opportunity to contact a solicitor or to assure his relatives that he was perfectly all right.

The comment will be made that if a person makes contact with a solicitor, or if his relatives are informed, it may impede inquiries, but it is very difficult for someone to convey to a solicitor information which will stop police inquiries being made. If the relatives were informed that a person was being detained, that would not normally impede inquiries.

Where someone is arrested in his own locality it is very important that a relative should be informed, for one of the fears concerning the development of a totalitarian State is that a person can disappear and there is no opportunity for people to know about it.

The National Council for Civil Liberties has also drawn my attention to the practice in Birmingham of taking in both husband and wife for questioning and leaving a policewoman to look after the children. This is a very frightening experience for the children. Presumably, again, it gives nobody the opportunity to ask for legal advice for the people being interrogated.

In view of the feeling that this is a very evil measure though possibly a necessary one—we ought to be prepared to build into it these basic safeguards and to say that in every single case where these powers are used the Judges' Rules will be observed. Following the experience of the past 12 months, we ought now to put them into the statute, rather than merely having a repetition of the undertakings given in the debate just over 12 months ago.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. George Cunningham

If it is convenient, I wish at this stage to speak to Amendment No. 36, which is grouped with Amendment No. 35.

My amendment would secure in its first subsection that a person arrested under those provisions during what might be called the five-day extension period would have the right to inform a solicitor or have information sent to a solicitor of the fact of his arrest. Under the second subsection he would have the right to an interview with a solicitor, though I make the point that I do not propose a private interview necessarily. The third subsection, although I understand it is technically defective, is intended to remove a doubt which exists in Scottish law. The wording of the amendment is drawn from Section 19 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975 and cannot therefore be said to be totally unprecedented on the British statute book.

At the moment, the rights that a person in England and Wales enjoys for access to a solicitor are said to be defined in the so-called Judges' Rules, which are a complete dog's breakfast which should have been sorted out long ago and which should now be sorted out quickly. It might be said that because we are here talking about rights which all people arrested enjoy or ought to enjoy, this Bill is not the place to achieve a reform in the situation. I think that it is, at least in regard to the five-day extension period.

This Bill is the legislation which provides for the five-day extension. To be held without charge for seven days is very different from being held without charge for two days. The judges cannot be expected to get together to think up different rules, or even to apply the same rules to the five-day extension period. Either we do it, or it is not done at all. The argument that this is not the place to provide for access to a solicitor during the five-day extension period holds no water.

For that reason, we have to look at the rights which the Judges' Rules give to a person arrested for this extended period of five days. First, the Judges' Rules really are a dog's breakfast. They are in three different bits—the so-called principles, followed by the so-called rules, followed by the so-called administrative directions.

If they are not adhered to, there is no comeback for the victim of that, except in one case. If, as a result of not adhering to the rules, he has made a statement not in a voluntary manner, that statement will be held to be inadmissible in court. But there are all sorts of other ways in which the rules can be ignored without there being any comeback either as regards admissibility or as regards bringing a prosecution against those responsible.

To illustrate that I draw attention to Rules IV(a) and IV(d). Rule IV(a) provides that, where the police officer is taking a statement from a person, he has to start by asking whether the person making the statement wishes to write down himself what he wants to say. We see in Rule IV(d) that Whenever a police officer writes the statement, he shall take down the exact words spoken by the person making the statement, without putting any questions other than such as may be needed to make the statement coherent, intelligible and relevant to the material matters: he shall not prompt him. I dare say that on occasions many of us have made statements to the police which should be governed by those provisions. On neither of the two occasions that I have made statements to the police has either of those rules been adhered to. Most police officers engaged in taking statements at police stations would be surprised to find that they are supposed first to invite the person making the statement to do the writing down himself. That is just an illustration of the way in which the rules are ignored and of the way in which when they are ignored there is absolutely nothing one can do about it.

It is said that the rules are only a guide and therefore any mandatory words which they appear to contain within them are mandatory only as a guide, which is a contradiction in terms. Let us see what the rules say specifically about access to solicitors. The relevant bits are Principle (c) and Administrative Direction 7(a), the first paragraph. The second paragraph does not have a letter. If we examine those two provisions we see that the judges do not seem to make a better job of writing legislation when they do it themselves than they sometimes say we do when we draft legislation. I point out that Principle (c) contains the loophole that one does not need to give access to a solicitor in cases where no unreasonable delay or hindrance is caused to the processes of investigation". However, when we consider the first paragraph of Administrative Direction 7(a) the phrase is different. It says: where no hindrance is reasonably likely to be caused". There is no reference to delay. It is hindrance without delay.

It is the normal practice, if different wording is used, to assume that someone means something different. If anyone is to adhere to that rule of drafting then presumably their illustrious lordships of the Queen's Bench should have done so. However, they have not done so. That is just one illustration of the type of mess we can get into when we stray from the path of putting legislation through the House of Commons with the rigorous procedures that apply here, and more particularly upstairs.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) referred to some cases where people had been held without being given the opportunity to inform their relatives or a solicitor. As I understand the Judges' Rules—I think it is perfectly clear—that is contrary to the rules and there is no loophole in this respect. If we turn to Administrative Direction 7(a), and the second unlettered paragraph it says, He"— that is the person in custody— should be supplied on request with writing materials and his letters should be sent by post or otherwise with the least possible delay. Additionally, telegrams should be sent at once, at his own expense. There is no loophole there about interfering with the judicial or investigation processes. Therefore, any prisoner who is denied the right to send a telegram at once, at his own expense, is being treated in a way which is fundamentally contrary to one bit, at least, of the Judges' Rules.

I ask the Minister who winds up the debate to say whether I am right in my interpretation of the second unlettered paragraph of Administrative Direction 7(a) and whether any people in England have been denied the right to send such a telegram. Is the Minister prepared to take steps to ensure that that unqualified provision in the Judges' Rules is vigorously adhered to in future? We should never tolerate, whatever the circumstances, Nacht und Nebel in this country. When people can disappear into a police station, be held without a charge and without even the capacity to tell somebody else, it is something reminiscent of Nacht und Nebel and the Hitlerian principles of the 1930s.

Ministers of both parties always say that the Judges' Rules are best kept out of statute. What I cannot understand is why, if it is desirable to keep the right of access to a solicitor out of statute in England, it is in statute in Scotland.

Mr. Mikardo

Because the Scots are more sensible.

Mr. Cunningham

I know that. But why are all the terrible disadvantages which are said to be likely to accrue if this terrible thing is done in England apparently not accruing in Scotland?

I have been in touch with the Lord Advocate about the situation in Scotland and the exact meaning of Section 19 of the Criminal Procedures (Scotland) Act 1975. That section dates back to 1887 at least and perhaps before that. It says clearly in statute:

  1. (1) Where any person has been arrested on any criminal charge, such person shall be entitled immediately upon such arrest to have intimation sent to a solicitor that his professional assistance is required by such person, and informing him of the place to which such person is to be taken for examination.
  2. (2) Such solicitor shall be entitled to have a private interview with the person accused before he is examined on declaration".
and so on.

I understand from the Lord Advocate's letter that there is some doubt as to whether the words in that section arrested on any criminal charge would exclude people arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. Some people arrested under that Act would certainly be entitled to those rights, but there is a doubt about others. However, as I understand it, the preferred view of the Scottish legal luminaries is that they all would be entitled to access to a solicitor under the Scottish Act.

Whatever the view of their legal entitlement, I understand from the Lord Advocate that, as a matter of fact, anyone arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Scotland gets access to a solicitor from the very beginning. In his letter to me the Lord Advocate refers to the number of people arrested in the Strathclyde area, where nearly all the Scottish applications under this legislation have occurred, and says: The police are willing to extend the right of access to a solicitor to all persons arrested and detained under Section 7 of the 1974 Act". even if a court were to rule that there was some doubt about the legal, mandatory nature of the provision.

So if this is happening in Scotland without any terrible consequences which have been reported to us, why on earth can it not happen in England, too? The answer quite simply is habit—bad habit—and the sooner we get it changed, so that English practice comes into line with Scottish, and the sooner we get this dog's breakfast called the Judges' Rules sorted out by the House of Commons, whose responsibility it is to do it and which has been ignoring its responsibility for too long, the better.

I shall be prepared to vote for one of these amendments just to get something on to the statute book, knowing that it probably will be defective in some way, but in the belief that it will be an encouragement to the Government if something is forced on to the statute book, rather than leaving the situation as it is and hoping for the best, as we have done for so many years.

Mr. Mikardo

I draw one clear conclusion from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham)—if, at any time, I have reason to believe that I might be in danger of arrest under this Bill, I shall immediately take a train to Edinburgh and get myself arrested there. In the administration of the previous Act, as in many other things, it seems that the standards of civilised behaviour are higher in the north than in the south of this island. The three amendments that we are discussing, with slight differences, seek the same objective—to give certain rights to someone who is arrested under this legislation or who has been arrested and has had his period of detention extended—notably the right of access and communication.

9.45 p.m.

I do not mind which amendment my right hon. Friend accepts. I would be happy to forgo my own in favour of that of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury. I would be happy, and I am sure that my hon. Friend would be happy, to forgo both of them in favour of that in the name of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith). But certainly one of them must be accepted.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) spoke of the horror of a chap being picked up and taken with his wife to a police station while a policewoman was left to look after the children. What a traumatic experience that must have been for the mother and children. But is it worse than the case of a man who was picked up and refused the right to make a telephone call or to make any communication at all? He was kept in custody for seven days and then released. In these seven days his wife did not have a clue where he was. She did not know whether he had been arrested, had an accident and was in hospital, had an accident at work, been kidnapped, had run off with a blonde or fallen down a pothole. I can document this case, if what I say should be contested. How would hon. Members like their wives subjected to that ordeal? It is not very pleasant.

This sort of uncivilised, barbaric behaviour is not essential for the prevention of terrorism. I do not believe that terrorism is better prevented by denying a man in prison the right to let his wife know where he is, or stopping him from contacting a solicitor for advice about his position. I do not believe that that is the right way. It is a myth that is being built up to make life easy for those who are doing the detaining, rather than to increase the effectiveness of the prevention of terrorism or punishment for that and other crimes.

My example is not an isolated case. A reputable firm of solicitors has told me in a statement that it has handled a dozen cases under the previous Act and in none was the person concerned allowed contact with the outside.

It will not do. If my right hon. Friend does not accept one of the three amendments I hope that the House will register a strong protest.

Mr. Beith

The eloquence of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) has saved me the necessity of developing the argument in favour of my amendment. I share all the views he expressed about his amendment. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for pointing out that my constituents at least are more favourably placed than those of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo). Being on the border, they can benefit from the enlightened legal provision on the other side if they wish.

I should have been aware that the amendment was unnecessary for Scotland, because of existing statutory provision. I have long believed that there is a need to place the Judges' Rules in statute form, though not the present Judges' Rules, which have been described as a dog's breakfast and need to be improved. We should start somewhere, and this is not a bad place to start.

A more important argument is that we are dealing with a far longer period of detention. The rules might have to have some modification for that purpose. The objective is the same—the protection of certain basic rights and liberties—but the nature of the exercise is different if someone is detained for seven days. I could accept the Governments arguments that the rules as they are included in the amendment could be improved upon, but I think that they need to be there.

All that I need to do in giving support to the amendments is to apologise for the drafting of my amendment before the Home Secretary has a chance to attack it. Amendment No. 47 does not refer correctly to the point in the Bill where it should properly be placed, whereas the other amendments do, and there are points in the schedule that should have been omitted and other points that should have been included.

I hope that the Secretary of State will recognise the widely held feeling that the Judges' Rules are necessary in our statute book in any case, and particularly so when detaining people.

The Lord Advocate (Mr. Ronald King Murray)

I should point out to the hon. Gentleman that his suggested amendment in relation to the schedule is also defective in regard to Scotland. It would be quite inappropriate for Scotland.

Mr. Beith

I readily accept that correction. My ignorance of these matters has already been demonstrated this evening. If the Home Secretary wishes to intervene in the debate, he may make the same point.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I recognise that among those who have spoken and who represent some differing points of view there has been widespread concern about the position. However, one must also recognise that there is a certain danger here. I make no objection to all these points being taken and argued very fully. It is the duty of hon. Members who believe, as I do, in protecting civil liberties, to take up these points. However, we are slightly in danger of getting away from the reality of what terrorism is and our discussions of the Bill. This has happened in the last hour or so.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said that his constituents were lucky in that they were near to Scotland. They are also lucky in not having had terrorist attacks made upon them.

We must keep certain facts in mind. The position with which we were dealing only two months ago should be remembered. There were then terrorist attacks about twice a week on a major scale in London, and there have been others. I regret to say that we could easily go back to that position in the near future. I must ask the House to keep that in mind.

First, it may be helpful to inform the House that chief officers of police, following the coming into effect of the first Act, have been specifically reminded that the normal safeguards for people in custody apply to persons who are detained under the prevention of terrorism legislation, and that includes the provisions of the Judges' Rules. It may well be that the Judges' Rules are fairly defective in some ways—a dog's breakfast, as my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) described them. I am not sure that that would be the most powerful argument for writing them in statutory form into this legislation.

Secondly, I do not think that it would be right. There are quite powerful arguments on both sides about whether the Judges' Rules—no doubt brought up to date and looked at afresh—should be given statutory form. I would not take a firm view of principle against that at all. It may well be right to do that. However, it would not be right to put the Judges' Rules—dog's breakfast or not—in statutory form so far as terrorists were concerned and to leave the rules in non-statutory form so far as every other type of criminal was concerned.

Mr. George Cunningham

I am surprised that my right hon. Friend refers to people who are held for the five days as terrorists. That should not be allowed to pass. If they were terrorists, different considerations would apply. We are talking of people who may or may not be terrorists, and they are entitled to the full protection of the law as being innocent until they are proved otherwise.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

They are not subject to exclusion under the Act until they are proved in a court of law to be terrorists. There is no presumption of guilt here more than that anywhere else. However, the desire of the House and the overwhelming desire of the country is that we should give what protection we can against terrorist activities. That means before the act and not after the act. People who are held under this Act are held under the suspicion that they are terrorists. That suspicion may or may not be right, but they are picked up because it is thought that they are likely to have been concerned in acts of terrorism.

Let us not get into the position of thinking that fears about groups of terrorists operating in this country are figments of people's fevered imagination. Sometimes one almost feels that some hon. Members talk as if that were the case. There is no doubt that there are substantial numbers of dedicated terrorists who are willing to do the most desperate damage to people in the perverted pursuit of what they regard as the right course.

Mr. Beith

Who is denying that?

Mr. Jenkins

Some hon. Members sometimes talk as though we are dealing with the most innocent of people.

Mr. Mikardo

This is not an answer.

Mr. Jenkins

Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to proceed.

I respect the point of view of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury and his knowledge of these matters. He follows these matters very closely—indeed, so closely that following his advice we took an hour and a half in introducing one of his clauses this afternoon, something which we did not originally intend to do. My hon. Friend took exception to my use of the word "terrorist". Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe them as suspected terrorists. However, we are dealing with people who are suspected of coming together to commit acts of terrorism. I do not think it right when dealing specifically with terrorism to put the Judges' Rules in statutory form in a way that does not apply more generally. I am willing to consider whether It is a reasonable proposition that the Judges' Rules should at some stage be put in statutory form, but if that is done it should he done generally.

I agree that the Judges' Rules are not completely clear. I accept that in some instances they are somewhat contradictory. I recognise that there may be good reasons in some cases for refusing to allow a person being interviewed to communicate with someone outside the police station, but in my view that power should be used sparingly. I am bound to tell the House that there may be some circumstances in which the use of that power in the Judges' Rules may be justified if it is used sparingly, even if the provision is somewhat ambiguous. I think that that view would be taken by the majority of the House, were it present, in relation to terrorist activities.

It is fairly well known to the House that terrorists operate in fairly small groups. They do not operate singly but in what are sometimes known as active service units. If a member of such a unit is picked up it is not possible to be certain as to his guilt. It is necessary to engage in processes which take a little time to complete—for example, fingerprint comparison with prints that have been found in bomb factories or on bombs placed or exploded. That must be done to discover whether the person who has been picked up has had that sort of involvement. If such a person is picked up it is of the utmost importance to public safety that that action should lead to the police being able to arrest other members of the unit, which may number four, five or six. It is also of the utmost importance to discover, if possible, the store or factory which provides the unit with the material which enables it to do its job. It is a fact that if a man is immediately picked up and is allowed to send a signal announcing the fact, the chances of being able to proceed further in the near future are greatly reduced. That applies whether the signal goes to his family or, in certain cases, to his solicitor.

Mr. Beith

The right hon. Gentleman should not assume that those who are concerned about certain aspects of this matter do not fully share his fears about the existence of groups of terrorists. I intervene briefly to draw attention to the presence in the Judges' Rules—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

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