HC Deb 12 May 1988 vol 133 cc565-76 10.21 pm
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)

I beg to move, That the draft European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1988, which was laid before this House on 12th April, be approved.

The order provides that the members of the European committee, to be established in accordance with article I of the convention for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, shall enjoy the appropriate privileges and immunities to enable them to exercise their functions under the convention.

Torture is one of the gravest violations of human rights. The British Government have repeatedly condemned it at the United Nations and in other international forums. It is expressly prohibited by the universal declaration of human rights, the international covenant on civil and political rights, and the European convention on human rights. Allegations that states or their agents have resorted to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment are subject to investigation under the relevant international instruments.

In a recent years, two new initiatives have been taken by the international community to make more effective measures for prevention. The first is the United Nations convention against torture, which was laid before Parliament in August 1985. The Government intend to introduce amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill which will enable the United Kingdom to ratify that convention later this year.

The second initiative is the convention that is the subject of tonight's debate. The initiative for the convention came from the Assembly of the Council of Europe. As hon. Members will know, torture is prohibited by domestic laws in all countries in western Europe. The victims of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment have legal channels—both domestic and international—open to them to complain and to seek and obtain redress. But the assembly believed that something more was needed—something that would go towards preventing such acts. It therefore proposed a non-judicial system that monitored detention, with a view to discouraging treatment that amounted to a violation of human rights. The result is the convention.

Under the convention, a committee will be established. The task of the committee will be to arrange visits to places of detention in order, in the terms of article I of the convention, to examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty with a view to strengthening, if necessary, the protection of such persons from torture and from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Parties are required to offer the members of the committee every facility in the performance of their tasks, in particular by giving them access at any time to any place where persons may be held—for instance, police stations, interrogation centres, prisons and hospitals—and the opportunity to interview detainees in private, and likewise their families, legal representatives and doctors.

Apart from periodic or routine visits in the territory of each contracting party, the committee may organise any ad hoc visits that it thinks warranted. After each visit the committee will communicate its findings and recommendations to the party concerned. That procedure is confidential. However, where the Government concerned fail to co-operate or refuse to comply with the recommendations, the committee may decide to make a public statement. If the relevant state itself requests publication of the committee's findings and recommendations, the committee is obliged to comply.

As officials in charge of places of detention do not know when they will receive a visit, they should be encouraged to fulfil their obligations towards detainees and to refrain from questionable practices. That non-judicial arid confidential procedure is designed to assist Governments in treating detainees properly. It aims at co-operation between the committee and the state concerned and not the latter's conviction by a judicial authority.

The members of the committee are, according to the convention, to be elected by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from a list of names drawn up by the bureau of the assembly. Members of the committee will serve in their individual capacity. The convention stipulates that they be picked on the basis of good character and experience in the human rights field. The committee may, if it wishes, appoint suitable experts to help it.

Much progress has been made in human rights in the last 20 years, but I think that everyone would say not yet enough. At the United Nations, particularly in the United Nations Commission of Human Rights, it has become harder for countries abusing the rights of their own citizens to escape the glare of international publicity and condemnation. Every year more problems are addressed and a closer examination is made of situations in which states have failed to live tip to internationally agreed standards.

Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)

Is it envisaged by the Government that during the visits that the committee will pay to various places there will be any change in the definitions that are currently accepted as constituting inhuman or degrading treatment? Or will the members of the committee be bound by the precedents set in judgments of the Court of Human Rights?

Mrs. Chalker

I believe that for the time being the committee would be bound by the judgments already set. But if there were a consistent pattern in what the committee was finding, I am sure that it would be both wished and sensible that there should be further examination. For the time being, however, I think that we had better let the committee get on with its work and see what is then produced. I am sure that no hon. Member would want anything that looked like a consistent pattern of seeking to evade the intention of the rules to be allowed to continue for any period. So that is certainly something that we should be looking at for the future.

In 1985 the commission appointed a special rapporteur on torture to investigate allegations of torture wherever they might arise. We have strongly supported his reappointment each year as another part of the international machinery designed to put an end to this horrific abuse. We also played an active part in preparing the United Nations convention against torture, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1984 and which we signed in March 1985. Under that convention, which came into force last June, a committee of independent experts has been elected to examine periodic reports by states parties. Through the periodic reports which no doubt will come from the committee we can look at the experience of the next few years as it is revealed by the investigations.

I do not wish to detain the House, so let me just say one more thing. The European convention is another step—perhaps a small but an important step—in the right direction. It has been signed by all 21 member states of the Council of Europe. Three countries have already ratified it—Turkey, Malta and Ireland. Sweden, in which my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) is interested, has not yet ratified it. I understand that Sweden will go through a similar procedure to this in its Parliament before it can rectify the convention.

The convention will serve as a signal to other regions of Europe's commitment to stamp out torture. Let us hope that it will lead eventually to the elimination throughout the world of this terrible violation of human dignity. We wish to do everything to prevent torture and such violations.

I am pleased to commend the convention and the Order in Council to the House.

10.30 pm
Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

I hope that the Minister is not too disappointed that she will not have her usual confrontation with my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson). It has fallen to me to speak for the Opposition. I do not know whether it is inhuman treatment or punishment for a Scots Member to be asked to do this late on a Thursday night. Sometimes I feel it is, as no doubt does the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell), the name of whose party I still have difficulty remembering.

We welcome the order, the convention and the committee—all described as a radical step in the crusade against torture in one of the commentaries on the matter. On behalf of the Opposition, I pay tribute to the work of Amnesty International and the pressure that it exerted for the setting up of the committee and the whole campaign that it has been running on torture. I also add a word of thanks to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) who, over a long period, has played a great part, particularly when he was chairman of Amnesty International in the early 1970s.

We approve of giving diplomatic protection and immunity from arrest and prosecution to the members of the committee who are undertaking an important task. It is always easy to say that we disapprove of torture, which the right hon. Lady rightly described as a calculated attack on human dignity and one of the worst indignities that we see. It is not enough to condemn; we have to back up the words of condemnation with action. Action to eliminate torture is particularly important when we read in the Amnesty International report that about one third of all countries recorded instances of torture in the 1980s. Those are not old records—but in this decade. So we have a long way to go. United Nations and European actions are vital.

Incidentally, it would be useful if the right hon. Lady, in her final words, could confirm the report which was in the Daily Telegraph of 25 November last year about the United Nations convention. It said: If the convention's provisions are made retrospective … it could form the basis for war crimes trials in Britain.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not stray too far from the motion.

Mr. Foulkes

I shall endeavour not to do so, Mr.

Deputy Speaker, but it would be helpful, as the right hon. Lady mentioned the United Nations convention in her remarks, if she could clarify that.

As the Minister said, we have a European responsibility to eliminate torture in the 21 member states of the Council of Europe, and we can act as an example to other regions of the world. That is something that Opposition Members fully endorse.

Even in 1988, there have been allegations of torture in four member states of the Council of Europe—here in the United Kingdom, in Spain, in Italy and, above all, there have been numerous allegations of torture taking place in Turkey. It is peculiar, and, strangely enough, disturbing, that Turkey should be the first state to ratify this convention. It does seem paradoxical and strange—[Interruption] I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State for Industry would find it strange if he paid attention to the debate. The allegations relating to Turkey are serious.

I find it disturbing because, as I understand it—perhaps the Minister will confirm this—the first seven countries to ratify set things in motion. Therefore, if the first seven countries—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that once we start discussing torture in the individual countries, the debate will be wide open and interminable. We are discussing the granting of immunities and privileges to those who are monitoring these things.

Mr. Foulkes

I appreciate that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but the right hon. Lady covered instances of torture in particular countries. When we are talking about the way that the monitoring takes place and the procedures and the immunities that are to be granted, what is happening in individual countries is relevant. Unless we see the order in its proper and wider context, this discussion will become technical and sterile.

The important matter that we should take into account is that the first seven countries have the responsibility of setting up the committee and its operational aspects, including its immunities and privileges.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We are not debating all those things tonight; we are debating immunities and privileges.

Mr. Foulkes

But these are the kind of things that these seven countries will have responsibility for. If those countries are the worst offenders in relation to human rights, the operation of the committee will be hampered.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Be that as it may, it is not a matter for debate before the House tonight.

Mr. Foulkes

I appreciate that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was merely picking up some of the matters that were raised by the Minister in her speech. If it is in order for the Minister to raise those matters, presumably it is in order for other hon. Members to raise them.

We appreciate the importance of all aspects of this convention, including the immunities and privileges which have been granted to the members of the committee. It is a unique committee and, because it is unique, it is important that it is given immunities and privileges which are not granted to many other operational committees. It will provide a sophisticated surveillance system and act, as the Minister said, as a preventative device. It will be a deterrent to human rights violations.

It is important to have some guarantee that the committee will be independent and that the members will not become the servants of the states from which they come. I hope that when the Minister considers this matter further, she will make sure at the Council of Europe that the method of appointment of committee members will ensure that they act independently. If not, the kind of privileges that we are considering and granting to them tonight will not be appropriate.

The Minister said that the members of the committee should be of good character. She did not quote the exact words of the convention on the arrangements for setting up the committee, which are that they should be of high moral character. Whatever the difference between "good" and "high moral" character, we believe that they should be of high moral character. We also believe that they should have some support and have independent access to funds—not just from Governments but from the Council of Europe—so that they can operate fully and independently.

We welcome the powers given to the committee members—which justify the granting of immunities and privileges—to interview any persons in private with unlimited access; right of access to all places of detention; and the power to produce and, if two thirds of the committee agree, to publish, reports.

However, the Minister will appreciate that we are concerned about some of the restrictions. The Minister said that no advance notice should be given. My understanding is that advance notice must be given to the states concerned, if not to the individual detention centres. Such restrictions will reduce the committee's effectiveness.

States are also given the right to postpone visits in the interests of safeguarding national defence and public safety; where serious disorder is occurring in detention centres; and especially where visits might prejudice interrogations relating to serious crime. That limitation on the committee's operations is the one about which the Opposition have the gravest doubts, because all Amnesty International's reports show that the most serious instances of torture occur during interrogation. When we ratify the convention and participate in the setting up of the committee, I hope that the Minister and our representatives will ensure that the derogations, limitations and restrictions on the committee are minimised as much as possible.

I am concerned that when we are giving immunities and privileges to the Committee to operate in a way of which we strongly approve, an exhibition of torture instruments produced in the United Kingdom should have been held in London at the Barbican centre. That was sad, and a matter which my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Eastham) raised several times in questions and on the Floor of the House. I hope that the Minister will give some assurance that we are not encouraging the maufacture and export of torture equipment from this country.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Again, I remind the hon. Gentleman that such matters have nothing to do with the instrument that is before the House. I hope that he will now address himself to the instrument that is before the House.

Mr. Foulkes

When we make the important decision to grant immunities and privileges, we are giving an important power to the recipients. Therefore, it is important to look at the matter in its wider context. However, as always, I accept your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

We should not be complacent about human rights, because we shall be subject to investigation and report by the committee. If people complain, committee members will arrive in this country and be able to travel free from any kind of arrest, prosecution or legal procedures, with the diplomatic immunities and privileges of a head of mission. It is likely that we shall have to look carefully at our interrogation procedures in police stations, at the condition of remand prisoners and of patients in some of our mental establishments. Otherwise we shall be subject to referral to the committee.

Finally, it would be helpful if the Minister could give some idea of the timetable for the ratification of the convention and the establishment of the committee. It would also help the House if the Minister could say whether the convention extends to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, or to Gibraltar, one of our overseas dependent territories in the European Community.

May we also have an assurance that information about the committee will be sent to prison governors, visiting committees and others who may have some responsibility for working with the committee when it comes into operation?

We welcome the Council of Europe's initiative in this matter and we welcome this instrument. We shall watch carefully the implementation of the committee's activities to ensure that actions match words. I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your usual kindness and tolerance towards me.

10.46 pm
Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)

I wish to explore the narrow but important question whether the members of the committee will have the ability to assess the mental condition of prisoners. Apart from knowledge of human rights issues, the committee, when dealing with people who may be disoriented in some way, will need at its disposal people with psychological or psychiatric expertise.

I say that because solitary confinement over an extended time can be a form of torture. Indeed, it can be as uncivilised as more direct forms of torture. It is alleged by countries which pursue solitary confinement procedures that there is justification for such action. But where the motive is to wear a prisoner down to obtain a confession, perhaps by starving him of company, by giving or withholding visits and privileges and perhaps even by manipulating his diet, then a confession obtained or information extracted by such means—or punishment without trial—should certainly fall within the definition—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member heard me reproach the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes), and I hope he will bear in mind what I said.

Mr. Gorst

Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but to argue for certain privileges and immunities, I must explain the qualifications I have in mind. For a prisoner who is disoriented as the result not of blows or the use of sharp instruments but of a different sort of treatment, a certain type of qualification is required to enable that prisoner to be interviewed. Will the Minister say the extent to which other countries which hold people for unacceptably long periods in solitary confinement—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I must again draw the attention of the House to the fact that we are debating the conferring of immunities on those who would carry out this work. We are not debating the kind of work that they would or should carry out. It is simply a question whether we should approve conferring immunities on them, and I hope hon. Members will address that point.

Mr. Gorst

I am simply arguing, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the fact that certain countries will sign this convention while others will not makes a mockery of any decision by us to approve this instrument. Sweden, for example, has not signed it. Has Switzerland signed it? We must discuss some of the matters that I am endeavouring to raise because some countries that have not signed are among the worst offenders in holding people in solitary confinement.

There are prisons in Sweden—for example, the Kronoberg remand prison—where prisoners will even—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I cannot allow the hon. Member to proceed further along these lines. I hope that he will not persist.

Mr. Gorst

Perhaps I have tried your patience a bit, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I shall conclude.

One must not make prejudgments, but I hope that the measure will have the universal support, not only of the House but of nations throughout Europe, because it deserves to be a further step forward in the humane treatment of prisoners. We live in a hypocritical world in which some of those with the most progressive reputations employ some of the most regressive means to achieve their ends. If this measure humanises anyone anywhere, it will fully justify the endeavours of the late Jean-Jacques Gautier, who is credited with being among those who gave inspiration to it. I hope that the House will pass the motion.

10.51 pm
Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

Like other hon. Members, I welcome the motion and the convention to which it relates. It is notable that the explanatory note, which is described as not being part of the order, points out that the order confers certain immunities and goes on to say: It will enable Her Majesty's Government to become a party to the European Convention on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, done at Strasbourg on 26th November 1987. It is clear that the order will have a direct and important consequence and hon. Members have directed their attention to that.

How far are these immunities justified? Those who are elected to the committee will have the power to visit any place where people are deprived of their liberty, the power to interview those in custody and the right to make recommendations to improve the protection of those who are thus detained. Those are considerable powers and responsibilities and it is not difficult to conclude that the greater the power invested in the committee, the greater the need for the committee to be possessed of immunity.

Is such immunity justified in relation to the quality of the people who are to be elected to the committee? They are to be of high moral character—that does not, of itself, necessarily justify immunity—and are to be known for their competence in human rights matters, to serve in an individual capacity, to be independent and impartial, to have the power to visit in time of peace or war and to visit all categories of those detained. If people of that quality are invested with those powers it is justifiable to argue that they are entitled to immunities on the scale that the order confers upon them.

The convention is, as the Minister said, but one further step in the attempt to eliminate torture and degrading punishment, in so far as that is within our power.

We cannot ignore the fact that those upon whom these immunities are conferred will be encouraged to exercise their responsibilities. We may look forward to the members of the committee visiting the prisons on mainland Britain, and perhaps also those in Northern Ireland. That will mean that these immunities can be used in a practical way to cause our institutions to come under considerable scrutiny. It is to be hoped that that scrutiny will not find us wanting, either in the management of the institutions or in the treatment of those who are necessarily detained in them.

The convention is a step in the unremitting battle against torture, about which some statistical information has been given to the House.

I conclude by joining other hon. Members who have asked the Government how soon they are likely to ratify the convention. If the order's purpose is to enable the Government to become a party to the convention, it is in the interests of the House to know how soon that enabling power will be exercised. Certain requirements must be met before the convention becomes applicable, and the sooner the Government ratify it, the sooner others may be encouraged to do so.

I welcome the order because I welcome the convention that it is designed to enable the Government to become a party to. That convention has a desirable purpose that hon. Members will not find it difficult to embrace.

10.57 pm
Mr. John Browne (Winchester)

I welcome the order and the establishment of the committee. Torture is not only illegal but, as my right hon. Friend the Minister said, an abomination. It still goes on in sometimes subtle forms in Europe. There is, for example, the use of solitary confinement. The case of Captain Hayward in Sweden is one that comes to mind—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I thought the hon. Gentleman was listening earlier when I had occasion to remind the House that we were not discussing such matters. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not pursue them.

Mr. Browne

I was just beginning my introduction about torture—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Introductions can be just as much out of order as perorations.

Mr. Browne

I accept that, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I welcome the order and the establishment of the committee. I particularly support the establishment of the spot-check visits. In a light vein, I ask my right hon. Friend whether the Whips' Office will be open to inspection. In more serious vein, I ask about the limitations on the committee's activities during interrogations about serious crimes. I agree with the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) that serious questions are raised. Those are just the times when the sort of torture that we arc trying to combat most readily occurs. We must increase the coverage of spot checks.

Mr. Menzies Campbell

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if interrogations are the times when the greatest scrutiny is required, they may well be the times when the committee must flex its muscles and show its powers? Are not those the times when its immunities will be all the more valuable to it?

Mr. Browne

When ratifying the convention, the Government must seriously examine the possibility of increasing these powers. This limitation on them must be re-examined, too. I agree with inviolability in respect of documents and papers.

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that interviews with selected subjects on visits will be carried out free from official host Government eavesdropping, particularly in the form of tape recordings and other electronic devices? That is a violation of what the committee is all about. Will she assure the House that private interviews will be really private, even in an electronic age?

I congratulate the Government on keeping the initiative going and supporting it with an order and the establishment of a committee which I and most people, if not all, entirely support.

11 pm

Mrs. Chalker

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I thank hon. Members for their contributions to this short debate. I have listened with interest to some of the useful points made. There were a number of specific questions, some of which do not fall within the order, and I shall write to hon. Members to clarify those points.

I can tell the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) that I think that the Committee is being set up in the right way. He asked a series of questions about powers and delays that might be promoted by the state under investigation. If that is to be the case, that matter will be alighted on immediately by the Assembly of the Council of Europe. I am sure that such matters would not continue for more than a short time.

The hon. Gentleman spoke of what was to him the peculiarity that Turkey had not only signed the convention on 11 January 1988 but that its national assembly ratified the convention of 25 February and was the first Parliament of the Council of Europe's state members to do so. That is an encouraging development. It is early days, but I believe that Turkey is seeking to put behind it many of the things that we believe to have happened in the past which it now says it wishes to cease.

I am sure that many elected in the recent elections in Turkey are determined to honour the provisions of the convention on the prevention of torture and certainly the inspection on demand of police and prison facilities by the committee is welcome.

Progress is beginning to be made, but I agree that much needs to happen. I would not quarrel with the hon. Gentleman on that. But Turkey has completed procedures to ensure the effective implementation of article 3 of the convention on human rights and that progress was reported more than a year ago now in the Council of Europe when the Commission of Human Rights reported.

Turkey has also said that it accepts the rights of individual petition to the Commission of Human Rights, although it has expressed some reservations. There are many other signs of progress in Turkey. We must do all we can, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did on her visit to Ankara, to ensure full respect for human rights in Turkey, as every Government must do in their own country.

The hon. Gentleman went on to ask me about the timetable for ratification. Three member states have already signed and ratified. We are coming before the House tonight and will go to another place, I believe next week, to ask for its agreement to the ratification of the order. That leaves three member states who have still to ratify the convention. I cannot say exactly when that will be, but I am sure that it will be within months, and then the convention will come into force. It can do so, as I think the hon. Gentleman is aware, once seven member states have ratified the convention. Then the committee will be set up.

The hon. Gentleman asked a number of questions about the export of instruments of torture. I think that it would be sensible for me to write to him about that. He also asked a specific question about dependent territories: would they be part of the process? They have the option, which I sincerely hope that they will all take up, of having the convention extended to them. The hon. Gentleman and the House will he glad to know that the Isle of Man and Jersey have already said that they will be doing so. We are waiting to hear from Guernsey, and Gibraltar is also being approached. In that sense, the convention will have an even wider scope than the hon. Gentleman may have thought.

The hon. Gentleman asked about information being given to prison governors and others that the committee had been set up. That is really a question for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, but what the hon. Gentleman said on this occasion seemed good, sound common sense, and I hope that we shall be able to meet the intention that lay behind his remarks.

I think that I have covered all the relevant questions that the hon. Gentleman asked. I believe, however, that we should probe how the committee will work and for that reason the questions asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) were also interesting. My hon. Friend will find that the mental condition of persons detained is covered in article 7 of the convention, which stipulates that the committee may appoint any expert whom it needs for particular visits. That expert will have the same immunity as committee members while working with them on a case. In that and perhaps other circumstances, I believe that my hon. Friend's anxieties are fully met.

My hon. Friend went on to speak of the use by some countries of solitary confinement. Obviously, I cannot speak for all countries, but the general intention expressed by members of the Assembly of the Council of Europe leads me to believe that if there are arrangements for solitary confinement in any of the states that will be party to the convention they will ensure, as we do, that they do not constitute torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment.

My hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) was concerned about the privacy of interviews. Article 8 of the convention lays down that interviews must be in private, and access by the committee must be without restriction and unlimited. My hon. Friend's fear that it might be fixed is already well covered by the convention, which requires that the actions of the committee shall be without limit in the sense of the pursuance of the articles. There are many ways in which hon. Members sometimes find their privacy threatened, but if they try to have nothing to hide, they will find themselves in much better order.

It would be easy to reiterate some of the points on which we all feel extremely strongly. The ratification of the United Nations convention against torture later this year is another way in which we will be marking the 40th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights.

The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) asked about another case. I shall be writing to him about that, but we seek to follow the principle that I have enunciated in this and in my opening speech. We must go on ensuring that the right procedures are in place to follow up the anxieties which, rightly, are readily expressed in the House and in many other Parliaments when Governments exceed what is right, sensible and reasonable in pursuing affairs of state and the security of the state.

As I have said, the last 20 years have seen much progress in the protection of human rights. We must maintain the momentum that we have achieved; we must ensure that the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms is really safeguarded. The order, and the convention to which it relates, mark further progress.

I think I have said quite enough for tonight and therefore, once more, I commend the order to the House. I hope that it will be ratified as soon as possible after it has been considered in another place. The hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) asked about that. I repeat that we wish to give the order all speed. We wish to see it in force.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1988, which was laid before this House on 12th April, be approved.

Forward to