HC Deb 25 January 1984 vol 52 cc979-1000
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Leon Brittan

I beg to move amendment No. 33, in page 10, line 3, leave out 'A' and insert

'Subject to subsection (1A) below, a'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take Government amendment No. 36.

Mr. Brittan

This amendment is designed to clarify the grounds for arrest contained in clause 12(1)(c), which provides that a person who is reasonably suspected of being subject to an exclusion order may be arrested and detained. This provision is intended to cover the case of a person who is in the country or territory from which he is excluded, and who is thus in breach of the order. We have taken this opportunity to make it clear that the power in clause 12(1)(c) may not be used against a person merely because he is the subject of an exclusion order but only when he is suspected of having breached that order.

We have no reason to think that the similar power of arrest in the 1976 Act has ever been used in the way which this amendment will ensure is not available under the Bill. In practice the great majority of arrests under clause 12 take place under 12(1)(b), on the ground that the person concerned is suspected of involvement in terrorism. Nevertheless, we felt that this point should be clarified. I hope that the House will show that it agrees with that judgment by accepting the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Powell

I beg to move amendment No. 34, in page 10, line 7, after 'concerned', insert 'in the United Kingdom'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 35, in page 10, leave out line 9 and insert '(wherever committed or to be committed)'. No. 37, in page 10, line 11, leave out subsection (2).

Mr. Powell

Amendment No. 34 introduces a very large problem attaching to the Bill, on which the Standing Committee spent a considerable time. It may come as a surprise to hon. Members who have not devoted much attention to this Bill to realise that part IV—the powers of arrest and detention and powers at ports — is not concerned with the same definition of terrorism as is the rest of the Bill. The rest of the Bill is concerned with terrorism in respect of the affairs of Northern Ireland.

Part IV is concerned with terrorism at large, and that raises two questions for my hon. Friends and myself. First, whether or not the anti-terrorist legislation includes the objectionable exclusion powers which unfortunately are still to stand part of the Bill—notably the power of exclusion under clause 6. What is the justification in 1984 for restricting those powers to terrorism concerned with the affairs of Northern Ireland when we are vulnerable in London and other parts of the United Kingdom to terrorism of a wider kind, purport and ambit? An obsolete approach has been retained in the Bill, which bears the marks of its origins in 1974, in that all portions of it except part IV are related exclusively to terrorism concerned with the affairs of Northern Ireland. We would therefore have wished to have had an opportunity which has not been available in the course of this consideration of the Bill to seek to widen the definition of terrorism for the purposes of parts II and III.

That brings me to the other problem, which resulted in long debates in Committee. What is to be the definition of terrorism, other than terrorism connected with Northern Ireland? There is only one restriction upon the meaning of terrorism in clause 12 as it stands, and that is the provision in subsection 2(b) which excludes terrorism concerned with the affairs of any part of the United Kingdom other than Northern Ireland. Presumably that means Scottish, Welsh or—for aught I know—English nationalist terrorists or the like. That is not a satisfactory definition, or lack of definition, of terrorism. That became clear when we considered it in Committee. A terrorist act committed in some other part of the world in a cause with which the United Kingdom as such is not concerned is still terrorism within the definition clause of the Bill. Hence there is the possibility that a person living peaceably in this country who nevertheless had been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism elsewhere in the world which in no way involved the interests of the United Kingdom would be brought within the powers of part IV of the Bill.

There were long debates on this matter in Committee, as the Home Secretary will know, and I think that at the end of them the Committee was very uneasy about the form of the clause as it stood. It might only be a theoretical possibility that the power would be used against a person who was a terrorist against some atrocious regime in some other part of the world, but that person would be covered by clause 12.

The clue to the optimum definition of terrorism for the purposes of part IV—and indeed, my hon. Friends and I would argue, for the purposes of parts II and III of the Bill—is to be found in the wording of clause 3(6), which defines acts of terrorism for part II of the Bill as acts of terrorism…designed to influence public opinion or Government policy with respect to affairs in Northern Ireland. I suggest that the essence of that terrorism against which we seek to legislate is that it is directed to influencing policy and opinion in the United Kingdom. That is recognised by the Government in their drafting of clause 3(6), where terrorism designed to influence policy and opinion in respect of Northern Ireland is designated as the terrorism aimed at by the provisions of part II.

If we are to legislate in part IV in the same sense and spirit, which I believe is the logical one, we ought to use that definition in part IV and apply part IV to terrorism, with whatever it is concerned, that is designed to influence the opinion and policy of the United Kingdom. This would deal with what, obviously, we would wish to deal with in the 1980s—terrorist offences in the United Kingdom or anywhere else—of which the object is to enforce upon this country a policy or an opinion which otherwise it would not entertain. The essence of the terrorism which we seek to bring within the Bill is terrorism aimed at the public opinion or the Government policy of this country.

The Secretary of State is entitled to remark that what I have just said in moving this amendment is distinctly wide of the amendment. I both apologise and offer my explanation, which is that the attempt to restrict terrorism in clause 12 by restricting it to acts committed in the United Kingdom does not appear to meet the case with which the Committee was attempting to cope in its discussions on clause 12. It is in clause 3(6), as my hon. Friends would have sought to amend it if we had had the opportunity, that the correct model is to be found for the definition of terrorism for the purposes of part IV.

Therefore, I hope that I may be taken to have moved this amendment as a means to open up the debate on the definition of terrorism in part IV. It remains only to mention the extraordinary exclusion in subsection (2)(b) which seeks to exclude United Kingdom terrorism other than United Kingdom terrorism concerned with Northern Ireland. Why on earth, when terrorist acts are being committed, for example, in Wales with a view to influencing public opinion and Government policy and why, when we know that there is a link between terrorism in Wales and terrorism in Northern Ireland, we should go to this length to prevent the powers in part IV being used against persons, whether they belong to the Angry Brigade, the Scottish National Liberation Army or whoever they may be, who could present an equal threat to security in some part of the United Kingdom I must admit passes my comprehension, and evidently passed the comprehension of the Committee when it considered this clause.

The proposition that I am putting to the Home Secretary and the Government is that they should take a new look at the problem of the definition of terrorism for the purposes of part IV. If we are to have these extended powers of arrest and detention which, when internal exile has gone, will be virtually the only remaining effective part of the Bill, we should have a definition that will stand up to examination and the prospective changes of the coming years. The present definition does not do that. It is too wide in one respect, in that it covers terrorism in other parts of the world not directed to influencing opinion or policy in the United Kingdom. In another respect, it is too narrow in that it excludes terrorism inside the United Kingdom for purposes other than those connected with Northern Ireland.

That is not a sufficient foundation for the serious powers of arrest and detention with which this part of the Bill arms the Government. Therefore, I ask the Home Secretary, when he comes to the debate, to deal with the problem in the widest ambit and to accept as contributions to the debate the amendments both to clause 3(6) and to clause 12(1) and (2) which have been tabled by my hon. Friends and myself.

Mr. Proctor

I am placed in a little difficulty by the group of amendments tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), because I agree with half the purpose and aim of these amendments but not with the other half. I support my right hon. Friend's comments about domestic terrorism. In Committee I moved an amendment to try to include domestic terrorism within the scope of clause 12 and my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) were good enough to support that amendment on a Division.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State and his Ministers said that as Lord Jellicoe had advised against it we should not proceed down that road at the moment, but should wait on events. I call that posture waiting for the horse to bolt before shutting the stable door. If we were legislating at the Government's behest to widen the scope of the Act and the reference to Northern Ireland terrorism, there would not be any logic or reason in not including domestic terrorism. I shall not weary the House with a list of recent domestic terrorist activities. The list is there for those hon. Members who wish to look at the report of the Committee, and it is a long list of domestic terrorism not related to Northern Ireland perpetrated throughout the United Kingdom.

Although it was not a violent or terrorist attack, but a criminal one, there has been an attack in the past few days on the home of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department. This was a disgraceful attack by an organisation which, in other guises, has sent letter bombs through the post and perpetrated terrorist activity.

8.15 pm
Ms Clare Short

I assume that the reference to an attack on the Under-Secretary's home is the attack by the Animal Liberation Front. I do not understand the hon. Gentleman's anxiety to extend the law to deal with such activity, as that attack was a criminal offence and there is therefore no need to extend the laws to cope with such people.

Mr. Proctor

I accept what the hon. Lady says about that event. I was merely noting that the organisation has in recent years perpetrated terrorist-style activities which bring other organisations, particularly the IRA, which perpetrate the same type of offence within the remit of clause 12, remembering that clause 12 is not creating any new offences, but is taking powers of arrest and detention. If we are saying that those powers should be widened to include international terrorists in certain circumstances—my right hon. Friend the the Government have supported that suggestion by Lord Jellicoe—it is an anomaly that we are not extending these powers of arrest and detention to domestic-style organisations.

Mr. Ashby

Will my hon. Friend accept that the members of the organisations about which the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms Short) spoke have been prosecuted on two separate occasions and are serving terms in prison, which is a demonstration of how such things can be dealt with effectively by the courts?

Mr. Proctor

I agree, and I am questioning, not the power of the courts, but the power of the police to bring these people before the courts. I am grateful for my hon. Friend's intervention, which has helped me to make clear the distinction between the two.

My reservations on the amendment concern the extent to which it relates to international terrorism. It is my view that, just as terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland and Wales have their links and are related, so, too, are international terrorist organisations linked and related. I believe, for example, that the IRA has links with the PLO. My right hon. Friend thinks it important to cover links between the IRA and Welsh and Scottish domestic terrorism, but it should also be remembered that international terrorist organisations such as the PLO have links with the IRA. Democracies can no longer remain isolated in their activities to counter international terrorists.

In paragraph 78 of his report Lord Jellicoe said: Prompt, firm and effective action by the police and other agencies has already helped to demonstrate that the United Kingdom is not a haven in which international terrorists can operate with impunity. My recommendation here would, if implemented, help to re-inforce that message. He used the phrase "a haven", and just before Christmas, President Reagan, in a speech on terrorism on 22 December, said: For terrorists to be curbed, civilian countries must begin a new effort to work together, to share intelligence, to improve our training and security, and our forces to deny havens or legal protection for terrorist groups".

Mr. Flannery

I have listened with great interest to the hon. Gentleman, both in Committee and now. He has given the opinion of President Reagan. The CIA, which to some extent comes under the authority of President Reagan, has made about 200 attempts on the life of Fidel Castro during various presidencies. Does the hon. Gentleman regard the CIA and, implicitly, President Reagan—because he commands that organisation—as terrorists? Will he also take account of the fact that Yasser Arafat, the leader of the PLO despite all its difficulties, is accepted by the vast majority of members of the United Nations? Indeed, when he spoke there, he received a standing ovation.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)

When was that?

Mr. Flannery

I am appalled at the ignorance of hon. Members who do not know—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We are straying wide of the amendment.

Mr. Proctor

I do not know whether your stricture applies to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but perhaps I might be allowed to reply briefly. I have no information about or direct knowledge of the CIA. However, if Yasser Arafat received a standing ovation at the United Nations, that says more about the United Nations and the sort of representatives prepared to support the PLO's terrorist links than it does about Yasser Arafat.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South seemed to suggest that this was not the appropriate legislation to deal with the growing phenomenon of international terrorism towards the democracies. If so, I agree.

I supported the Bill on Second Reading with great enthusiasm because it started to begin to deal with the problem of international terrorism, but I am now beginning to think that it was an error to mix terrorism of an internal and domestic nature with terrorism operating in different countries for different reasons, with each organisation having links with the other.

Perhaps my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary will consider whether we need to do more, in negotiations with our allies and Western countries, to see what can be done to confront international terrorism.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South spoke of the difficulties of definition. That problem also beset the Committee. A number of international conventions on terrorism exist, and perhaps they could be used as the basis of United Kingdom legislation to combat international terrorism. For example, the police should be given powers, if they do not already have them, to deal with conventions such as the convention for the suppression of unlawful seizure of aircraft, which was signed at the Hague on 16 December 1970, and the convention for the suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of civil aviation, which was signed at Montreal on 23 September 1971. Other conventions deal with attacks against the life, physical integrity or liberty of an internationally protected person, including diplomats

Some imagination may be required in our efforts to tackle international terrorism. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South has provided another opportunity to debate clause 12, I should be grateful if the Home Secretary's views would go wider than the direct issues raised by the amendments.

Mr. Chris Smith (Islington, South and Finsbury)

I rise briefly to press the Home Secretary on the major substance of the applicability of the clause and the amendments to organisations which, while committing no acts of violence or no offences against persons within Britain or the United Kingdom, could none the less he regarded as organisations involved in terrorism elsewhere in the world. I have a major interest in this matter, as 15 or 20 organisations which might conceivably be affected by the clause are based in my constituency.

There are major reasons why those organisations have cause to fear the implications of the clause as it stands, and I press the Home Secretary to make crystal clear the Government's view—and, therefore, by implication, the view that Parliament will adopt—of which organisations will be affected by clause 12, particularly subsection (2)(b).

Two difficulties were revealed by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). The first is the difficulty of defining terrorism in an international context. Earlier exchanges revealed a difference of view about the role of the CIA and whether that was a terrorist organisation. It has clearly been involved in violent acts against legitimate Governments. Would that be covered by the definition of terrorism?

Ms. Harman

Is not President Reagan directly involved in supporting and instigating acts of terrorism in central America, particularly Nicaragua? Therefore, if he came here after the Bill was enacted in its present form, would he not be in danger of falling foul of this law? Even though the Government might choose not to use their discretion to call him to book, could that not happen under the law? It shows that this is a highly contentious political point.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That is wide of the amendment.

8.30 pm
Mr. Smith

At the risk of incurring your wrath, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall agree with my hon. Friend, but I want to make a further point that may concern Conservative Members and their supporters somewhat more. Would the Free French during the second world war, for example, have counted as a terrorist organisation? According to the Bill, clearly it would. We must ask the Home Secretary to clarify the precise meaning of the clause and the amendments that we are debating. Therefore, the first problem involves the precise definition of international terrorism.

The second difficulty concerns the ambiguity of clause 12(2)(b) and whether its provisions are restricted to Northern Ireland or are more widely spread. The clause is extremely ambiguous. I hope that the Home Secretary will make the Government's view clear.

Ms. Clare Short

The problem that many Conservative Members have in understanding the argument is that they think they can take the law and act against groups that they do not like. Of course, the Government would not act against President Reagan under the clause, but, if we applied the law consistently, they should act against him. That shows what a ludicrous power it is. Similarly, General de Gaulle would have been guilty, according to this provision.

Mr. Anthony Beaumont-Dark (Birminghan, Selly Oak)


Ms. Short

The hon. Gentleman has not read the details of the Bill if he says "Nonsense". Surely, the answer is that we should take powers to deal not with terrorism, but with violence and the illegal actions of anyone at any time. Then we should not have all the problems of definition. We could apply the law consistently and live under the rule of law. We are presented with a fundamental flaw in the whole concept of the Bill.

Mr. Smith

I thank my hon. Friend, but perhaps I can add something that may give Conservative Members pause for thought. The contributions of Conservative Members, the interventions from the Opposition Benches, and the admirable speech of the right hon. Member for Down, South in moving the amendment reveal that there is a major difficulty in this part of the Bill—and in this clause in particular — involving the definition of terrorism and what constitutes terrorism, as defined in the clause. Wide powers are given to the police, so the Government should make very clear what counts as terrorism under the clause.

I am sure that the Home Secretary did not intend that groups which are involved in what we would all agree were liberation struggles against oppression elsewhere in the world should, under this legislation, be labelled as terrorist organisations and therefore should be included. If that is so, I hope that he will make it very clear when he replies to the debate. I hope that he will specify exactly how the clause will apply internationally, as opposed to Northern Ireland.

Mr. Ashby

This clause has given me great cause for concern. The amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) to clause 12(1)(b) is in conflict with clause 12(2)(b). So there will be some difficulty in accepting that amendment.

However, the clause contains something that is quite extraordinary in our law. It allows arrest, without charging. It allows a constable to arrest someone who he thinks has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism to which this Part of this Act applies", but where it allows for arrest for acts of terrorism for offences outside the United Kingdom, there is no way in which anyone can be charged with that offence.

For example, if someone from Afghanistan is over here, planning an act of what could be called terrorism in Afghanistan, planning to shoot down a Russian helicopter, that person can be arrested because the act could be considered an act of terrorism. However, he cannot be charged in this country, because the offence is not committed in this country. Nor can the offence be brought before the courts of this country. The only offences that can be brought before the courts in this country are acts of murder of British subjects abroad or acts of piracy against a British ship on the high seas. So there are grave limitations in the offences that can be brought before courts in this country. Acts such as the one I have described could not be brought before our courts, although it is clear from the clause that such a person can be charged.

Mr. Proctor

If my hon. Friend looks at the legislation he will find that a person can be charged in this country with the murder of anyone abroad. He does not have to be British.

Mr. Ashby

Yes, but only murder.

Mr. Proctor

He does not have to be British.

Mr. Ashby

No. However, there are those limitations, and any act that could be termed an act of terrorism abroad could not be charged in this country. So the clause contains a very unusual power, and I wonder whether it was always intended that courts should have this power. Someone can be arrested, perhaps interrogated and held up to five days, but then that person must either be allowed to go or be deported. That would be the only effect of the clause. I am not sure that hon. Members appreciate those limitations.

My hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Proctor) would like this clause to be extended to domestic terrorism. I disagree. There is no doubt that domestic terrorism is amply covered by the substantive offences in this country of criminal damage, murder, injury to persons, wounding and any one of a catalogue of substantive offences. We do not need more offences to be created. They are all there and available to the courts. I can find nothing in the clause that gives the police any more power of investigation, so I see no way in which this legislation could assist in offences that are described as offences of domestic terrorism.

Mr. Proctor

Clause 12 does not create any extra offences.

Mr. Ashby

Clause 12 does not create any more offences, but it provides powers of arrest for offences within the Bill, and my hon. Friend was trying to argue that the offences should be extended to domestic terrorism. It would be quite wrong so to extend them. There is ample opportunity to deal with wrongdoers in existing legislation.

The effect of the clause is disturbing and arbitrary. It allows for a constable to arrest, and within the definition of terrorism, which is revolt, one can conceive of a head of state—I do not want specifically to mention the President of the United States or the president of any other state—or someone of some importance coming to this country and being arrested by a police constable. There is no provision for reference to the Director of Public Prosecutions, for example, before such an arrest is put into effect. The clause provides an arbitrary power of arrest for offences which are the concern of countries abroad and not our concern.

Why do we spend so much time in Committee and on the Floor of the House discussing an issue which is not our concern? We have sufficient problems within our own boundaries and I am surprised that we want to concern ourselves with problems abroad.

Mr. Flannery

The fears of the hon. Member for Leicestershire, North-West (Mr. Ashby) are commendable but the answer to his question—he said that he did not understand why we were having this discussion—is that the debate is taking place because the relevant provisions are in the Bill. That is why the discussion is taking place. We did not put the provisions in the Bill, and we want to be rid of the Bill altogether. The entire Bill is a nuisance and it is causing far more trouble than it can possibly be worth. It is now outdated, if it was ever in date.

We have all commended Lord Jellicoe's report, but in this instance he has slipped up badly. At page 27, paragraph 76 of his great report, Lord Jellicoe states: I discussed in Part I the increasing threat in Great Britain from terrorism totally unconnected with Northern Ireland. It is in the mind of everyone that the prevention of terrorism legislation is connected with Northern Ireland and with the United Kingdom as it is connected with Northern Ireland. There is a tendency sometimes for people to think that Northern Ireland is not connected with the United Kingdom, but I am sure that it is in the mind of everyone that the entire Act is connected with Northern Ireland in some way. However, it was bound to be broadened. In amendment No. 38, we sought to remove one of the most dangerous clauses but, unfortunately, the amendment was not selected. However, as a result of the representations of my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley), we now have the right to discuss that amendment.

8.45 pm

It was the actions of some of the middle eastern terrorists in London that made Lord Jellicoe have what many of us considered to be unfound fears. He stated in his report: Many fear that London, in particular, could become a battle ground for warring Middle East terrorist factions; my own view is that we may be facing this threat for many years to come. To date, most of the victims of such outrages have been foreign nationals resident in Great Britain, rather than United Kingdom citizens. There is, however, no good reason to believe that this state of affairs will continue". Lord Jellicoe continued: My concluson, in relation to international terrorism, is that these powers should be available. They are available, as has been pointed out by the hon. Member for Leicestershire. North-West and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short). Therefore, there is no need for the extension of those powers in the Bill. Lord Jellicoe has introduced a factor that has resulted in the Government extending the powers by placing them in the Bill. That in turn resulted in the longest and most intense discussion in Committee.

We were pressurised democratically and honourably by many organisations which fear for their nationals in this country. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) referred to the Free French as an example. There are many people in Britain who come from countries where there is no democracy. South Africa is one example. Regimes exist which terrorise the populations that are under them and no democracy exists within them. There are valiant people who have no democratic outlet and who see their people being dragged into gaols throughout the country, as in South Africa, and tortured. They see surrounding countries being attacked, and these noble people fight. They are then accused of being terrorists. At some stage they have come to our country, where they have behaved themselves according to our laws.

Mr. Proctor


Mr. Flannery

No, I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. He has had a fair crack of the whip and it is time for one or two Labour Members to explain their beliefs.

These so-called terrorists. who come from countries which are held down by tyrannical and undemocratic regimes, are almost always the future statesmen and leaders of their people. They have come to our country from time immemorial. They are distinguished human beings who have struggled valiantly and at great risk to their own lives.

Mr. Proctor

They are murderers.

Mr. Flannery

The clause is dangerous because it will have an impact on these people. If they stay in our country and observe its laws, we believe that they should have the right to do what they do.

Mr. Proctor

They are killers.

Mr. Flannery

The real terrorists, who will be helped by the Bill, are the tyrants and regimes which suppress democracy. That is why we have received so many documents from those who are fearful of the consequences.

What are the implications? Many of these so-called terrorists are accepted by the United Nations, for which the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Proctor) and many of his colleagues have such contempt, and the comity of nations throughout the world, but they could be prevented from coming to our country by the Bill. That is one of the factors that has motivated us to struggle so intensively.

I shall mention some of the valiant people who have come to our country in the fairly recent past. Robert Mugabe was here legitimately and he met our leading people. Some of us met him previously when he was struggling for his people against the regime of Ian Smith.

Mr. Proctor

He is a killer too.

Ms. Harman

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Flannery

I shall deal with the hon. Member for Billericay as best I can. We all know his background and what he supports. Our Queen recently visited the monument to Jomo Kenyatta, who died some time ago, when she visited his country. He lived peaceably in Britain for many years.

He became the leader of his country, but before that he fought in and led a resistance movement. Our press was full of it and called him every name under the sun. He was known as "Burning Spear Kenyatta". Now, members of the Government and our Sovereign have been to that country and to the memorial to Kenyatta. He was the hero and leader of his people.

In Mozambique, Samora Machel led his people and was called a terrorist. He would not be accepted here. Arafat would not be accepted here either. Many people could be cited. For example, Mr. Begin was a terrorist and his group was involved in the bombing of the King David hotel. People like the present Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Shamir, are accepted throughout the world, yet were terrorists in their time. They fought against regimes that appalled them and used the methods of terrorism.

In Committee, I mentioned that I was in India and that we had to guard people such as Nehru and Ghandi. Of course they were not terrorists, but wherever they went they were surrounded by thousands of people. Terrorism is endemic in such situations. In the same way, Jesus Christ was once surrounded by thousands of people and the regime of the time dealt with him in exactly the same way. Such serious points must be taken into account.

Lord Jellicoe cannot produce any evidence for his recommendation. He has ample powers already. There is a serious lapse in this terrible Bill. However, it is typical of it, and that is why we must struggle against these provisions in particular. They will have an awful effect on innocent people, just as the whole Bill will.

Mr. Soley

In Committee, the Opposition tried to amend the clause, because we recognised that it was dangerous and basically undesirable. We saw that it would lead to all sorts of danger to groups that are legitimately in this country. To be fair, the Government and the Home Secretary recognise that. There was an exchange of letters between various organisations and the Foreign Secretary, and an Opposition spokesman was also involved. Thus, there was considerable concern and support for the idea of some change.

However, at the end of the day the Government were unable to find a form of words with which they felt happy. To deal with that problem, we tabled an amendment, which has not been selected, for the understandable reasons that were dealt with earlier, but which would have restricted the Act of terrorism connected with Northern Ireland. Instead, we are debating other amendments related to that. I shall direct my remarks primarily to the problem that has arisen because of the way in which the clause has been drafted.

The clause has given rise to great anxiety both at home and abroad to those groups fighting for the liberation of their countries and restoration of democracy precisely because there is no universally acceptable definition of political terror. Ultimately, people make political judgments as to whether it is right to use force in certain circumstances and in particular political systems. That is the problem that we all face.

The Government tried to find a form of words that would reassure some of the groups in exile. I think particularly of the groups operating in south west Africa, Iran, Chile and so on. We recognise that where a country has no democracy, or has lost it, people have a right to try to gain or restore it. Indeed, the Government also accept that. Some Conservative Members have been quick to heckle my hon. Friends. However, I can do no better than to quote someone whom I would not normally quote in support of my argument. I refer to the Prime Minister, whom I quoted in Committee. I said: The Prime Minister has expressed her understanding of a decision of the liberation movements to resort to violence. She wrote in September 1983: 'The exclusion of blacks from the political process has inevitably led to increasing dissatisfaction. Although not to be condoned, this has been a powerful factor in impelling black political leaders to seek by violence what is denied them by the laws under which they live'."— [Official Report, Standing Committee, 29 November 1983; c. 271.] Of course, we all recognise that members of this and previous Governments have met and dealt with a variety of such groups and individuals, and it is important that they should continue to have the power to do so.

The hon. Member for Leicestershire, North-West (Mr. Ashby) mentioned Afghanistan. In a way, that is a good example, not because it necessarily supports my case, but because it underlines the difficulty of identifying what we mean by political terror. In Committee, I put the following question to the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Proctor), and he could not deal with it. I asked him about the position of Afghan groups operating from Pakistan and receiving support from Britain. I pointed out to him that in the House the Secretary of State for Defence had said that he was not prepared to state that he was not giving direct military support to the Afghan forces fighting in Afghanistan.

The problem is that any direct military support that is being given is being given to fight the Soviet Union. I profoundly disagree with the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan. However, it is not just a matter of arresting the President of the United States under this provision. If it were taken to its logical conclusion, we would end up arresting the Secretary of State for Defence. Nothing could be more absurd or illogical than that. Ultimately, one has to decide which side to support. That difficulty must be recognised honourably. Indeed, the Home Secretary has recognised that in a way, but some Conservative Back Benchers have not.

Mr. Proctor

If the hon. Gentleman would care to look at column 315 of the Official Report of our Committee proceedings for 1 December 1983, he would see my response to the point about Afghanistan. However, I shall not weary the House with that now. By being selective, the hon. Gentleman has misled the House about the views of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I have quoted her views before, and shall repeat what she said on 21 July to the British Jewish community. She said: The terrorists of our own age talk in military terms. But their deeds are those of common criminals. Many specialise in the safe, long-distance attack: the letter bomb, the remote control device, the bullet from a secret haven. … Gangs of assassins cannot be dignified with the word 'armies'. Terrorists are not 'freedom fighters' … For modern terrorism is an international disease. Terrorists are trained in one country to bomb and murder in another. They rely on international trafficking in arms. The answer to this assault across the frontiers is closer and closer cooperation between governments—the sharing among likeminded countries of information, plans and techniques—and to that the British Government is strongly committed."—[Official Report, Standing Committee, 29 November 1983; c. 280.] I wish that the hon. Gentleman would quote the Prime Minister fully and correctly when it comes to terrorism.

Mr. Soley

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, because he has underlined the difficulty. He has not claimed that the Prime Minister did not say that. Indeed, we all know that she said it. The Prime Minister has the same problem as the Home Secretary, the hon. Gentleman and me. On each issue one has to decide. On one occasion the right hon. Lady chose to call such people terrorists and to say that they were unacceptable, and on another she said that they were acceptable. That is precisely what she said.

The hon. Gentleman is not denying that the quotation I read was true. It is a direct quote from the Prime Minister. I am not trying to say that she is wicked. The problem is that if one has to make a decision on each case, one gets into great trouble. Therefore, in trying to legislate across the board, one ends up taking out friends as well as enemies.

9 pm

The Government have attempted to get round the problem by saying that they will issue a circular to the relevant port and police authorities stating that the power of arrest or detention should not be used. That is suggested as an alternative.

We all recognise that Lord Jellicoe—and just about everybody else—has said that legislation by circular is undesirable and bad in its own right. If the appropriate wording cannot be found, the best course is to recognise the fundamental truth, which underneath we all know, that the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976 is on the statute book for one reason and one reason only—a persistent threat of paramilitary activity related to the situation in Northern Ireland which has not been resolved. Nobody has yet argued, nor can I consider such an argument, that the Bill should be enacted but for terrorism connected with Northern Ireland. No one could argue, therefore, that clause 12 should be enacted. It should not be there, and we all know it.

I return to Lord Jellicoe's review, and I ask the indulgence of the House to re-quote what has already been quoted, not just for the sake of repetition, but because there are several points that I consider to be particularly important. In paragraph 76 he says: I discussed … the increasing threat in Great Britain from terrorism totally unconnected with Northern Ireland. He continues: Many fear that London, in particular, could become a battleground for warring Middle East terrorist factions; my own view is that we may be facing this threat for many years to come. To date, most of the victims of such outrages have been foreign nationals resident in Great Britain, rather than United Kingdom citizens. That is a dangerous approach to the problem. First, Lord Jellicoe is suggesting doing something that none of us accept ought to be done—legislating for something that could happen. The essential word in that quotation is "could", and he uses it specifically: he fears that it might happen. We are now doing what we should never do. We are saying that we have identified the problem — terrorism related to Northern Ireland—and it might now come from somewhere else too, the middle east, so let us legislate for that. It might come from central America, south east Asia, Africa, north America—anywhere. Do we legislate for all that? Of course not. It is a dangerous approach. That is what I mean by referring so often to an erosion of civil liberties. Each action is justified as some necessary way of defending democracy as a way of life. It is then extended to cover a possible circumstance that might be bad. In that way, we erode the civil rights that we should be defending.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that, if one were talking in a kind of surrealistic world, one might be right? However, the House is considering a responsible police force. We are talking not about someone shoplifting, but about the police reasonably thinking that someone is a terrorist or is involved in terrorism. Such people can be detained for only 48 hours without the involvement of the Home Secretary which, in all conscience, regarding terrorism and all its ramifications, is not a long time. Any period exceeding 48 hours needs the sanction of the Home Secretary, and the total period cannot exceed five days. The House is talking not about somebody being shut up in a Chilean or East German prison, but about detention for five days at most. Why is that an erosion of liberty? Is it not more important to protect life than to protect terrorists?

Mr. Soley

The hon. Gentleman's argument to some extent supports my contention in that the police are not asking for this power. I shall say more about that later. The police feel that they do not need this power. If, 15 years ago, I had said to the hon. Gentleman that in Britain in 1984 there would be the power to order internal exile, to detain people without arrest or charge and without their seeing a lawyer for up to seven days, with daily searches in shops, stores, and so on, he would have said, "No, never. That is some authoritarian state, not Britain." What I mean by the erosion of civil rights is that the actions of each and every individual situation look reasonable in itself, just as the Prevention of Terrorism Act looked reasonable after the 1974 pub bombings and just as the Emergency Provisions Act looked reasonable in the light of the Northern Ireland situation.

All of those things look reasonable. The problem is that with that erosion of civil rights we lose the liberties that have been built up. Democracies are rarely lost overnight in a grand coup. What tends to happen is that the civil liberties that have become established are eroded over a period of time as a result of succeeding crises. Then there is a particularly big crisis, perhaps related to the economy or to unemployment, corruption, inflation and so on—or it may be an event related to war—and one suddenly finds that all the defences that were there to protect the civil liberties of the citizen are gone.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) recently complained bitterly about the police having power to stop and breathalyse drivers. I have made the point once tonight—I have also made it on the radio today — that we could save a couple of hundred lives a year if in every pub in the country there were police officers to stop people from drinking and driving. Should we do that? If we tried, hon. Members say, "No, the cost in civil liberties is too dangerous and at the end of the day that could cost more lives."

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

I concede the hon. Gentleman's point that had we been told a few years ago that we should be discussing a Bill such as this many of us would have been horrified. Will he concede that he would have been equally amazed to be told that somebody who was a well-known supporter of the murders that go on in Northern Ireland could be elected to this House? Does he agree that, if people who support the murder of British subjects are elected to this House, that in itself is such an extreme situation that the Government of the day must take powers that they would not wish to take but for the fact that some people are not loyal enough, or even willing, to protect the lives of those whom they have been elected to protect?

Mr. Soley

I am not sure how much research I should have to do, but I suspect that it would not be much, to show that a number of Members of Parliament, particularly in the last century, were involved in violence, especially in Ireland. I cannot name one off the top of my head, but I am sure that there have been a number. Indeed, if the hon. Gentleman thinks back to the last century, and perhaps to the early part of this, many such examples will come to mind. I urge him, therefore, to take a longer view of the matter. At present he is taking a short view, which is not good in present circumstances.

I come to the question of evidence, which also has a bearing on the point made by the hon. Member for Selly Oak. The onus is on the Government to prove that these extra powers are necessary. They have not done that. Where is the evidence? Lord Whitelaw, when Home Secretary, said that there had been no increase in "middle east terror" in the Metropolitan police area during the past 10 years, and he took the view that extra powers were not needed.

There is no evidence from any of the police forces that they want this legislation or that they believe that the threat in their areas has grown. The Police Federation takes a different view, but there is no evidence from the chiefs of police, who are responsible for collecting the statistics and analysing them, that such a problem exists in their areas. There is no evidence from the Government that there has been an increase in the threat.

It is clear to me that the present laws are sufficient. I cannot add to what the hon. Member for Leicestershire, North-West said on this issue. His analysis was accurate. There is no evidence to show that the present laws are not sufficient to deal with the problem.

I remind the House that the problem of political violence is not new. We say that it has been particularly severe in the last 10 to 15 years, and it has been, but it has been severe at a number of times in our history, particularly during the last 100 or more years. If one took to its logical conclusion the threat of excluding various refugees who fled to this country from less fortunate places, one would have to look back to the reputation of this country in the 19th century, and one would see that it was far less liberal than it is today. Indeed, for a Government who claim to have Victorian values, I must tell them that what stood out about the Victorians was their willingness to keep the door open to people such as Garibaldi, to some of the Russian emigrés and to a host of others who were not allowed to function in their own countries. Karl Marx and Lenin are other examples. The Home Secretary has clearly said that he does not want to stop such people.

I do not want to continue my speech much longer—I have been led down some diverse paths—but I must say something about the dangers of legislating by circular. Circulars issued by a Department are not laws and carry no weight in a court of law. Some time ago a Labour Government introduced community service orders as an alternative to imprisonment, but no provision was made for that in legislation. The recommendation that they should be an alternative to prison was issued in a circular sent to all the courts in the land. I remember a magistrate saying to me, "I do not mind what is in the circular— the Government can put what they like in a circular— but I see community service as a sentence in its own right, not as an alternative to prison, and I shall use it as I like." I take my hat off to that magistrate. He is right. That is an example of the danger of trying to legislate by circular.

The second danger is that the Home Secretary of the day can change circulars without difficulty. A recent example is the way that the present Home Secretary changed the parole instructions. That is a classic example of a sudden and dramatic switch in policy implemented through advice, not the law.

Circulars are incredibly dangerous because they are open to misinterpretation. We ask police officers, customs officers and immigration officers to pick up a circular, read it, and keep its contents in their heads. When they are on duty at a port or anywhere else they are expected to say, "Oh, yes, I think the circular applies to this person." They are expected to operate it fairly on that basis. We put an unreasonable burden on them by asking that of them. We ask them to do something that we would find difficult to do.

This is a classic case of the erosion of our democracy. The real threat is in Northern Ireland, but the law is being extended to cover supposed threats. There is no evidence that supposed threats cannot be dealt with within existing law or that they have become worse in recent years.

We must recognise that the Bill came about not because of terror in Northern Ireland, but because the problem spilt over into Great Britain. When the bombs started going off here, we suddenly became worried. If we had felt the same anxiety every time someone was killed, knee-capped or bombed in Northern Ireland, perhaps we would have done more about the problems in Northern Ireland earlier.

The Bill is about Northern Ireland and Great Britain, not about the rest of the world. We would not have the problem over clause 12 if the Northern Ireland problem did not exist. My advice to the Government is to drop the provision entirely. It is unacceptable, unnecessary and has all sorts of dangerous connotations.

Mr. Brittan

This debate began some time ago when the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) moved the amendment. It is fair to say that the amendments under discussion are a peg on which to hang a debate on the proper extent of the operation of clause 12. I do not criticise the right hon. Gentleman for using the amendment in that way, and we are grateful to the Chair for allowing us to conduct the debate on that basis.

The House should know that the amendments would not achieve any of the objectives sought by any right hon. or hon. Member, including the right hon. Member for Down, South. I am content to leave it at that and not go into detail about why the amendments would not secure any of the objectives that have been asked for. If we are approaching a vote, it is right that the House should bear in mind that the amendments do not provide an apt opportunity for an expression of view on any of the matters that we have been debating.

9.15 pm

We should remind ourselves of the extent of the provision that we are considering. It enables a constable to arrest a person whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of an offence under earlier provisions or a person who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism to which this part of the Bill applies. It is clear that the power of the constable is confined to detaining that person for no more than 48 hours after his arrest. Any further detention for a maximum period of a further five days is dependent, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, on a decision of the Home Secretary.

I take the liberty of repeating those facts on the face of the Bill because they are supremely relevant to whether particular offences of a substantive kind exist and are adequate to deal with terrorism. No one has suggested for one moment that the clause provides for crimes with which people can be charged. What the clause provides is a tool by the use of which it might be possible to ascertain whether somebody has been guilty of an offence and what conduct he has been guilty of. Therefore, I do not think that it will do to say that the number of substantive offences is adequate to deal with the mischief concerned, because the question is not whether the offences exist, but whether it is necessary to have this tool to find out whether certain people have committed offences.

Of course, one accepts, as I said many times during the deliberations in Committee, as I said on Second Reading and as I welcome the opportunity of repeating now, that the power is exceptional and inimical to the tradition of our civil liberties. It is a power which no Government would have introduced if they had not regarded it as absolutely necessary to do so. The least that I can say about the actions in 1974 of the Labour Government who first introduced the legislation is that, as my hon. Friend the Minister of State has indicated, it is extremely difficult to see what there is in today's circumstances which leads the Labour party to believe for the first time, after the legislation has been on the statute book for nine years, that the country is so secure and that the threat of Northern Irish terrorism has so diminished that the powers it once believed appropriate are no longer so. The ghastly irony is that between the time when these matters were debated in Committee and today, when we are debating them on the Floor of the House, the Harrods outrage should have occurred. All that will be taken into account.

The debate is about where and to what extent the powers should be exercised. First, I shall deal with the suggestion that if there is to be an extension of the powers other than—

Mr. Soley

The Home Secretary has made a number of allegations some of which we have dealt with before. I cannot let the one about Harrods go. He was not in the House when I challenged the Minister of State to say whether the legislation had been of any use in tracking down the people who committed that deed. Would the legislation have been of any use in preventing it? There is no evidence that it would. I challenge the Home Secretary now to say that there is such evidence.

Mr. Brittan

The inquiry into the Harrods matter is incomplete, but the hon. Gentleman's question is utterly irrelevant in any case. If he will bear with me, I will explain why. It is precisely events such as the Harrods outrage, which was very much on all fours with the pub bombings which originally led to the introduction of the legislation, which provide the justification for legislation of this kind.

Mr. D. E. Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Brittan

No, I shall not give way for a moment. It is not appropriate to go into whether the legislation has assisted the police in relation to the Harrods outrage at the present stage of inquiries. Nevertheless, powers of this kind were regarded by the Labour Government as justified in 1974 as a result of outrages of exactly the same type. It thus does not lie in the mouths of Labour Members to say that that does not matter and that the powers are now unnecessary and outmoded and should be wiped from the statute book.

Ms. Harman

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Brittan

When the Labour Government were in power, events of precisely this kind caused the legislation to be put on the statute book.

Ms. Harman


Mr. Speaker


Mr. Brittan

The call to order is as appropriate to me as to the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, as in straying into these matters I have gone beyond the important debate with which I should be dealing.

The clause changes the basis on which the powers could be operated. I must make it clear that there was nothing in the original legislation to confine the exercise of these powers to Northern Irish terrorism. The powers were at large, but when I was Minister of State I made it clear, as quoted in paragraph 75 of the Jellicoe report, that, although the powers were not specifically restricted to terrorism connected with Northern Irish affairs, their use would in practice be limited to such affairs. I said in a written answer: Arrest is a matter for the chief officer of the force concerned, but an extension of detention under these provisions is granted only where a connection with terrorism related to Northern Irish affairs is established or suspected. — [Official Report, 5 November 1980; Vol. 991, c. 571.] That was the position at that time.

The Bill makes it clear that it is possible for the power to be used in relation to terrorism unrelated to Northern Irish affairs, but, as the right hon. Member for Down, South pointed out, it is limited to terrorism which has no connection with political activity related to the affairs of the United Kingdom other than Northern Ireland. My hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Proctor) asked why the power should not be extended to Scottish and Welsh nationalists and those concerned with United Kingdom nationalist causes.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Brittan

Perhaps I may deal with this point.

Mr. Thomas

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way on that point?

Mr. Brittan

No, I shall not give way for a moment. I shall give way when I have explained the Government's view.

The Government take the view that precisely because this is a power of great gravity it would not be appropriate to extend it any further than is necessary. Although what has occurred in the name of Scottish and Welsh nationalism has on occasion been of a violent nature and certainly unlawful, the gravity of the matter has not so far been sufficient to justify the use of these powers in that context, although, as I said in Committee, if the position became worse the Government would not hesitate to extend their use in the manner suggested.

If that is the position, what is the justification for extending the power to acts of terrorism unrelated to the United Kingdom? The explanation, to which reference has repeatedly been made, is found in the conclusion reached by Lord Jellicoe in his review, and I shall not repeat the passage. His view was that, judging from recent British history, the facts were such that there was justification for extending the powers to acts of terrorism which were not concerned with Northern Ireland alone. It is not correct to say, as the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) attempted to say, that that would involve legislating for future anxieties. Every hon. Member will recall the Prince's Gate siege in May 1980 and the shooting of the Israeli ambassador in June 1982. To say that these are idle fears which do not call for legislation seems to be unrealistic.

Lord Jellicoe, after a careful review, said: I recommend … that the power of arrest in section 12(1) (b) … should be available for use against suspected international terrorists of any group, cause or nationality. The Government have accepted that and we are implementing other recommendations in the report.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

I should like to give the Home Secretary the opportunity to establish clearly in Hansard what he is talking about when he refers to Welsh nationalism. Welsh nationalism is a democratic, cultural and political movement which has massive support in parts of Wales — 10 per cent. of the popular vote — and has expressed itself traditionally through non-violent democratic means. I should not like to see the Home Secretary and the Government following the practice of some sections of the media—if I catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I might return to this subject on Third Reading, which would be a more appropriate time to discuss it—in using Welsh nationalism as a blanket term in attempting to link democratic political expression with the use of violence.

Mr. Brittan

I was extremely careful, in the words that I chose, not to fall into the trap which the hon. Gentleman rightly identifies, but I welcome the chance of spelling my point out even more clearly and wholly endorsing what he has said. I believe that I referred to those acting in the name of Welsh nationalism. I accept that the movement of which the hon. Gentleman is a member is different, but many reputable and respectable movements find that there are others which purport to share the same aspirations but use methods which would not be condoned by the reputable movements. I hope that I have assisted the hon. Gentleman in providing the clarification that he seeks, and I am glad to have the opportunity of making that point.

I have given the essential reason for the extension of the power in those directions, but concern has understandably been expressed in Committee and on the Floor of the House about the position of foreign nationals who, although they are lawfully in this country, may have been involved in violent struggles for reasons which they and some people in this country might regard as legitimate in their home country. The example that has been most to the fore is that of the South African nationalist movements. It is said that those people would be liable to arrest on the ground that there was reason to suspect them of involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of violence for a political end. The case of such people has been put forcefully.

In response to that concern, which I hoped I showed I fully understood when the matter was debated in Committee, the Committee was given an assurance that guidance on the use of the powers would be issued to the police by means of a circular to chief officers. The terms of that circular have not been put before the House. My hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State told the Committee that chief officers would be advised that powers in respect of international terrorism should be used only where there was some prospect that a charge would be laid before a United Kingdom court or that the person would be deported under the Immigration Act 1971.

9.30 pm

Having given that assurance — the Government recognise the limitations of assurances given in circulars —my hon. and learned Friend said that we would seek to draft an amendment to give effect to the assurance, although he fairly warned the Committee that that might not prove possible. I regret that, despite considerable efforts, it has proved impossible to draft an amendment which would embody the assurances which we agreed to give in the circular without greatly weakening the thrust of the clause against international terrorism.

I make no secret of the fact that the clause is intended to fight international terrorism, and not only in respect of international terrorists who commit acts of violence in the United Kingdom. I cannot believe that the House would wish that the powers should not be available to deal with an international terrorist group which took violent, murderous action against a friendly country or blew up buildings in, say, Paris or Bonn. Are we saying that we would not want powers to deal with such circumstances?

Mr. Flannery

We already have them.

Mr. Brittan

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. We may or may not have powers to extradite or to charge, but we certainly do not have the power in clause 12. Otherwise, there would be no basis for objecting to its inclusion in the Bill.

Ms. Harman

Will the Home Secretary give us an example of where the lack of that power has caused problems in the circumstances that he has described? Or are we concerned only with what he imagines might happen in the future?

Mr. Brittan

As those powers were absent in the past, it is impossible to answer such a question. However, I have given ample examples of terrorism in this country and the hon. Lady knows that people involved in hijackings, blowing up property and killing people in other parts of the world have come to rest in this country, either in transit or permanently. It is ridiculous to expect us to say, in the absence of such powers, who the powers might have enabled us to arrest and interrogate in London, Birmingham or Manchester and thereby prevent loss of life in Paris, Bonn or Rome.

We have been forced to conclude that the only way to protect the interests of the groups whose interests have legitimately been raised by hon. Members — without preventing us from having the necessary powers against international terrorism — is to proceed by circular, despite all the disadvantages of that procedure.

It would be possible to amend the clause to remove all the anxieties, but only by paying the price that I have mentioned. It is important that the United Kingdom should continue to take, and be seen to be taking, a firm stand against terrorism in all its manifestations. Successive Governments have strongly supported, advocated and pursued a policy of close co-operation with other countries to stamp out international terrorism. That is why we attach so much significance not only to the extension of the powers to international terrorism, but to the absence of a territorial restriction in clause 12(2)(b).

There are a number of precedents for measures related to terrorism to have extra-territorial aspects. A series of Acts have been passed in the past decade or so to enshrine in United Kingdom law the provisions of international conventions designed to deal with specific manifestations of terrorism by making them offences in the United Kingdom, wherever they occur in the world.

The Hijacking Act 1971 and the Protection of Aircraft Act 1973 provide that it is an offence under United Kingdom law for any person of any nationality anywhere in the world to hijack an aircraft or deliberately take measures which would result in the destruction of or damage to an aircraft, or otherwise endanger its safety. Is it unreasonable for us not only to have that on the statute book but to have a policing power which may assist in the detection and conviction of someone guilty of the substantive offence?

Similarly, the Internationally Protected Persons Act 1978 provides that it is an offence for any person, whether a United Kingdom citizen or not, to commit anywhere in the world any act against a Head of State or certain categories of diplomat which would constitute an offence if committed in the United Kingdom.

These measures and others like them protect us as much as they protect people overseas. If we want other friendly countries to give us the protection that we are prepared to give them, we cannot deny them the protection of this legislation as well. It would be quite wrong if, by restricting the application of clause 12 to acts of Northern Ireland terrorism or even to acts of international terrorism committed in this country, we lost the opportunity of showing that our concern with terrorism is not limited to those of its manifestations which take place on our soil or directly affect our own interests.

For that reason, even though the amendments would not have the effect that has been the subject of much of this debate, I ask the House to reject them on the basis that they would be inappropriate if they had the effect that they are intended to have.

Mr. Flannery


Mr. Bermingham


Mr. Speaker

Order. The Home Secretary has sat down.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment made: No. 36, in page 10, line 10, at end insert—

'(1A) The power of arrest conferred by subsection (1)(c) above is exercisable only—

  1. (a) in Great Britain, if the exclusion order was made under section 4 above; and
  2. (b) in Northern Ireland, if it was made under section 5 above'.—[Mr. Britton.]

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