HC Deb 10 March 1993 vol 220 cc955-99
Madam Speaker

Before I call the Secretary of State, I shall make an announcement. There is a lot of interest in the order and I plead with hon. Members to speak for only a short time so that I am able to call Members in all parts of the House.

4.24 pm
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)

I beg to move, That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuance) Order 1993, which was laid before this House on 15th February, be approved. The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 is a vital part of our commitment to the defeat of terrorism. The Act is used much more frequently in Northern Ireland against both so-called loyalist and republican terrorism than on the British mainland. But here too, as we all know, Northern Irish terrorism continues to present the main terrorist threat.

Last year, the incidence of terrorist crime in Great Britain was higher than at any time since the Act was first introduced in 1974, and terrorist activity in Northern Ireland, remains at a high level. There is little doubt that the threat from terrorist crime will continue throughout the next 12 months. However, I can assure the House that it will meet with a continuing resolute response from the Government.

Let us look at what has been achieved over the past year as there have been considerable successes. In Northern Ireland, 404 people were charged with terrorist-related offences, including 97 with murder or attempted murder. Last year, and also in the previous year, more people were charged with murder than in any year since 1984. More than 300 people were convicted of terrorist-related offences, and more than 200 weapons and two tonnes of explosives have been found.

Since the beginning of last year, 19 people have been charged in Great Britain with serious terrorist-related offences such as murder and conspiracy to cause explosions in connection with Northern Irish terrorism. All 19 were detained under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 using just those powers that I am inviting the House to continue today. We are debating the continuance order against the background of another considerable success for the police force and the security service in this country, with the discovery of a large cache of home-made explosives in London only yesterday.

In the face of the continuing threat, continuing success and the good use of the powers that a Labour Government originally thought necessary when they introduced the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974, I am extremely disappointed by the post-election reaction of the new Opposition Home Office team. It has offered talks, as it always does.

On previous occasions the Opposition team has offered to sit down and talk about the Act through the agency, originally, of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). He made it quite clear, as has the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair), that the talks will be held on two preconditions: that we accept the Labour party's opposition to the two most important provisions in the Bill and the two most important provisions in the order. That is an extraordinary attempt by the Labour party to sound reasonable by talking about holding talks with the Government, while it really lacks sense and is declaring a continued opposition to the purpose of the order.

I acquit my opposite number—the hon. Member for Sedgefield—of any ill intentions. I accept that he is as opposed to terrorism as I am, and does not intend to give help or encouragement to terrorists in this country, but he is in danger of doing so by accident. As we shall, perhaps, discover, the hon. Gentleman does not understand the purpose of the order, the use to which it is put and the vital part that it plays in our defence against terrorist activity on both sides of the Irish sea.

Therefore, I shall begin by addressing the two issues said to trouble the Opposition. I hope to get the Opposition to understand what the prevention of terrorism measure is designed to do.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Is not the Home Secretary playing on dangerous ground? The House of Commons is usually divided on virtually every subject under the sun. However, one form of unity that we have is our opposition to and loathing of all forms of terrorism, not least from Northern Ireland. Therefore, would it not be unfortunate and dangerous for the Home Secretary to give any impression other than that, while we are clearly divided over the measure, there is no division in our opposition to terrorism? Why should we give the terrorists the satisfaction of thinking that anyone in the House of Commons has time for them?

Mr. Clarke

I have just said that I accept that the Labour party is, of course, opposed to terrorism—as, I trust and firmly believe, are all hon. Members. We were agreed on the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) 1974 Act which, for eight years, was supported by both sides of the House after it was introduced by a Labour Home Secretary.

For the past 10 years, there has been a completely absurd division between Government and Opposition because the Labour party changed its mind about these powers. We have discovered that Labour is still withholding support for the Act. Although Opposition Members have not said so, as far as I can see they will vote against the order. As I accept that Labour opposes terrorism, I can only believe that it is giving encouragement to terrorists, who find these powers a considerable inconvenience, by accident.

The Opposition do not understand the purpose of the order, so I shall begin by trying to explain to them again the purpose of the Act and the order. I hope that I can get the Labour party to accept the failure of its opposition over the past 10 years and come onside in practice as well as in sentiment. The purpose of the Act—

Mr. Tony Blair (Sedgefield)

Does the Home Secretary understand that the first of the two principal objections that we have outlined, which relates to exclusion orders, has been supported by his independent adviser? Our second objection relates to judicial intervention and the period of detention, and was contemplated by previous Home Secretaries. Although the Home Secretary may disagree—I understand the reasons that he is about to give —how can he possibly say that we are giving some form of closet support to terrorism by voicing objections, one of which has been supported by his independent adviser and the other contemplated by a previous Home Secretary?

Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman's point about my independent adviser is deliberately disingenuous. Some years ago the independent adviser once expressed reservations. The independent adviser, Lord Colville of Culross, who I trust is accepted as independent by the hon. Gentleman, recommends the renewal of the order in full. The hon. Member for Sedgefield uses that argument to try to give some respectability to his opposition to exclusion orders, the merits of which I shall shortly address. It is not true to say that the up-to-date advice of independent adviser is for change.

I propose to address the arguments on the detention orders, which were the subject of the hon. Gentleman's second point. It is not a judicial duty to look al the extension of detentions beyond 48 hours. I shall again explain the reasons why we are satisfied that the police and the security services occasionally need to seek leave to detain people for more than 48 hours. There is no point in the hon. Member for Sedgefield standing up, looking steely-eyed, and declaring that his position is reasonable. He is trying to find reasons to carry on clinging to the year in, year out, objections of his predecessor to the renewal of the Act, and by doing so he opposes the renewal of important powers. To that extent he is, although unintentionally, giving great encouragement to the PIRA and others who find these powers so damaging.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

I served on the Committee that examined the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, and all my attempts to resist such invasions of human rights or proof or anything else by the then Labour Minister and the Labour Government were opposed. If Opposition Members care to read Hansard they will see that. They damn well should read it.

Mr. Clarke

I believe that my hon. and learned Friend was mistaken in some of the arguments that he made against the Bill at that time. It was a new and uncertain power and, as he has said, he was opposed by Labour. When the Bill, which apparently was different as far as the Opposition are concerned, was being introduced by a Labour Government, the hon. Member for Kingston Upon Hull, North said: It would be most sad, however, if we were to worry now too much about the curtailment of liberties and later to have upon our consciences the deaths of our fellow citizens. The hon. Member for Kingston Upon Hull, North, who is now the Opposition spokesman, also said: While examining the detail, we cannot deny the principle or say under any circumstances that when our people are looking to us for support we in this House should deny it to them."—[Official Report, 28 November 1974; Vol. 882, c. 700.] That is what he said when a Labour Home Secretary sought those powers. It is time for some effect to be given to what ought to be a bipartisan consensus on how to tackle terrorism and for the Opposition to stop retreating into obscure arguments about the detail and to give us the powers that unfortunately, we continue to need.

Mr. Blair

The Home Secretary has begun by playing exactly the politics that one would expect of him, and it is unworthy of him to do so. Let me pick him up on that point, so that the House is in no doubt about the nature of our objection and the offer that we have made to him.

On exclusion orders, the Home Secretary suggested that his independent adviser had resiled from his present position. Let me quote from this year's report, just published, in which Lord Colville says: My own views on this power"— the exclusion power— are well-known, but it is encouraging that its use is diminishing. He has in no sense resiled from his earlier view; he has merely accepted that the Home Office has no intention of changing its view. Exclusion orders are still rejected by the Home Secretary's adviser. Judicial intervention, on which we have been found in breach of the European convention, was contemplated by previous Home Secretaries. In those circumstances, to suggest that we are against the entire nature of legislation to prevent terrorism is an outrage.

Mr. Clarke

First, Lord Colville has recommended that the Act and the powers be renewed in their entirety. The hon. Gentleman has disingenuously left out that point in all three of his interventions. When we talk about playing politics, the hon. Gentleman is making it sound as though he is suddenly more robust in supporting the Government and wants talks about how we can make the fight against terrorism more effective, but, as I think he will demonstrate at the end of the debate, he will then vote against the powers that we need.

The offer that he says he has made is to have discussions that will lead to the suspension of the exclusion orders, the ending of the exclusion orders and the introduction of a judicial process after 48 hours. He requests talks on the basis that the most important powers in the Act are not used.

If the hon. Gentleman considers that his case has merit and not simply a new type of Clintonesque style, let us move on to the issues.

Mr. Blair

Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mr. Clarke

No. I am seeking to explore whether there is any substance behind the new smiling face on the Opposition Front Bench. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

Order. There are too many conversations and sub-debates. If hon. Members want to catch my eye, they should keep quiet now.

Mr. Clarke

As the House will appreciate, the Act is mainly designed to help the investigation and prevention of terrorism. People are not usually charged or brought to trial in the courts under the parts of the Act that are in dispute.

The Act is aimed at helping the investigation and prevention, where possible, of terrorist incidents before they happen. In attempting to prevent terrorism, powers sometimes have to be exercised in advance of a terrorist act. In some cases, preparations may not have reached the stage where there is any sustainable evidence of a specific crime.

In those circumstances, it is false to draw analogies with ordinary criminal law. When somebody is facing a charge for an actual offence, evidence is presented by one side or the other and there is a judicial determination. However, because of the threat of terrorism, we have to introduce in the Act specific powers designed to thwart terrorist acts in advance and to further the investigation of them. That is why specific powers are needed for the curse of terrorism.

The first of those powers, to which the Opposition continue to object, is the power of exclusion. It is not used frequently, and I certainly use it with considerable care. It is used less than previously because I would not use such powers which genuinely run the risk of curtailing the civil rights of innocent people. It is a power to be used with great circumspection. I use it in cases where I am satisfied that a particular person is involved in terrorism—such people almost invariably have a history of that—and there is sufficient information to satisfy me that there is a risk of continued terrorist involvement.

In such a case, however good the information is it cannot be presented in court to secure the prosecution of someone who has committed a particular terrorist act. In general, we are talking about would-be terrorists, where I am satisfied that they are travelling to this country to plan a terrorist act, if they have the opportunity to do so.

As Home Secretary, I use the power to prevent terrorists from coming to this country to plan and to carry out those attacks. In a few instances, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland uses the power to stop people going the other way. We certainly succeed in disrupting the free movement of terrorists between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. I am quite convinced that the use of that power has a substantial effect in frustrating and disrupting the activities of terrorists. It has been suggested that an alternative to the power would be to mount surveillance operations on those who would otherwise be excluded. I am satisfied that that would not work in practice.

The Opposition claim to be leaping to the defence of some great civil liberty. In fact, they are trying to stop me overruling the right of people with a long track record of serious terrorism to come across the Irish sea. They pretend that they want to come to visit relatives, to have a holiday, or to exercise some other great civil right.

I remind the House that during the past year I have made only two new exclusion orders. There were 81 still extant at end of the year. I renew them when I am satisfied that the threat posed by a named person wishing to come here is sustained. That is the lowest total of exclusion orders for 10 years; that is the exclusion order power that the hon. Member for Sedgefield insists is removed before we can have the fairly useless talks about the Act that he has offered.

It is an important power used to prevent people who I am satisfied have an involvement in terrorism from coming to this country. It is used sparingly. It is absurd of the Opposition to try to construct some elevated arguments of principle for removing that important power, thereby making us look for some other method of keeping tabs on 81 people who have been involved in terrorism.

Mr. Blair

The right hon. and learned Gentleman appears to be unsure whether to argue that the power is a fundamental necessity because it is used so often, or whether it is fairly trivial because it is not used very often. His own independent advisers have said that only a small number of cases are involved, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman acknowledges. The advisers—not just Lord Colville, but his previous adviser—said that the power could be used in a different way and that surveillance could be carried out in such a manner as to make an exclusion order unnecessary.

I remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman that previous Home Secretaries have said that exclusion orders would outlive their usefulness at some point of time, which is precisely what the right hon. and learned Gentleman's adviser has now advised. In those circumstances, how can he say that our proposition is extreme?

Mr. Clarke

I have said that it is an important power, which is used sparingly to ensure that there is no infringement of civil liberties. I am quite satisfied that the alternative of surveillance of 81 people on both sides of the Irish sea, wherever they might be at any given time, is not satisfactory. The hon. Gentleman is defending not an important point of civil liberty, but a silly position adopted by his predecessors, which he does not have the nerve to abandon. He takes the same position on the extensions of detention, which is the second power on which he tries to elevate an argument of great principle.

Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that two new exclusion orders had been made during the past year. Does he agree that almost all such orders arise out of intelligence gathered in Northern Ireland about people who wish to come to England, Scotland or Wales? Does not the exclusion of just two people say something about the level of hard intelligence that has been gathered, or has the capacity to be gathered, under the Act?

Mr. Clarke

We gather a great deal of intelligence in Northern Ireland, and we are strengthening the gathering of intelligence in Great Britain. The relationship between all those involved is extremely good. We use that intelligence in a whole variety of ways. It is true that there are 81 orders extant and that I have added only two new ones during the past year. They are based on sufficient information to satisfy me that a particular person is engaged in terrorism and that preventing him from travelling backwards and forwards between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain would disrupt his would-be activities.

That is not, in itself, a measure of the amount of intelligence that we have gathered. I hope that the hon. Gentleman was encouraged by what I said at the beginning of my speech about the number of people being arrested, charged and convicted. I assure him that, through intelligence gathering and every other legitimate police activity, we will build on that success.

Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

I hope that the Home Secretary, through the very exchanges that are now taking place, is beginning to understand the need for the talks offered by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) and my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). The issue is not just one of civil liberties, although that is important; it is about effectiveness. Terrorist activity has gone up while the use of the Act has gone down.

The dangerous aspect is that the Act is still used by terrorist groups on both sides in Northern Ireland to indicate the political nature of the issue. It is the only case in which a politician can determine a judicial decision; the matter does not go through the courts. Because of that, the terrorists—especially on the republican side, but also on the unionist side—make enormous propaganda use of the Act. It is counter-productive because it acts as a recruiting sergeant for the IRA.

Mr. Clarke

I do not believe that. It is an important point that the Opposition should address. I will deal with the hon. Gentleman's point about cases being matters for judicial decision when I come to deal with the extensions of detention, because the point applies strongly there. They are not judicial decisions; they are not two competing pieces of evidence being examined and decided on by a member of the judiciary. By their very nature, they cannot be so. They are the sorts of actions taken by politicians in every other country when there is intelligence about terrorist activity by an individual. Constraints must be imposed.

If the arguments of the terrorist organisations were not given some credibility by respectable democratic politicians sustaining their opposition to the Act, the terrorists would not get anywhere in trying to persuade anyone other than their committed supporters that the Act was a justification for their actions or that it was helpful in recruiting.

We cannot make exclusion orders a judicial process—I do not think that anybody has ever tried. By their very nature, exclusion orders are based on the fact that we have sufficient information to satisfy a Home Secretary, answerable to the House of Commons, that a particular person has sufficient involvement in terrorism for it to be desirable to prevent his movement between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. It is an important power, the renewal of which was recommended by Lord Colville. It should be renewed.

Mr. Blair

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has alleged that our position on exclusion orders lends credibility to the IRA. Is he making the same criticism of his own advisers, who advised him to adopt exactly our position?

Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman is clutching at straws. Our adviser, Lord Colville, has recommended the renewal of the Act, which is what the hon. Gentleman opposes. He flies in the face of Lord Colville's advice. I advise him to stop citing Lord Colville in his support, because that is somewhat inconsistent.

The Opposition have criticised us for not bringing the Act into line with the outcome of the hearing that took place under the European convention on human rights. Let us look at that issue, which is narrow but important. It is true that the European Court has held that article 5(3) of the convention is breached if detainees are not brought before a court after four days' detention. The court is quite satisfied about the first four days, but it has said that, thereafter, there should be judicial intervention. This is the point that the Opposition are pursuing. Following the finding to which I have just referred, the British Government have always had a derogation from the convention. We do not believe that what the Opposition suggest is a practical way of proceeding, as I shall explain in a moment.

In response to the claims that we are breaching civil liberties and providing a recruiting sergeant for the IRA, let me remind the House of the care with which this power is used. Last year, I granted only 17 detention extensions under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. That is the lowest number since 1984. We are exercising these powers with great care. In 10 of the 17 cases, detention lasted only four days, so in respect of those cases there is no dispute. Cases in which longer extensions are sought are considered very carefully by me.

There was a grand total of seven cases in which I concluded that detention should last more than four and up to seven days. In other words, the power is used very sparingly. However, these are serious cases. Terrorism is serious. Seven is a large number of cases when one is talking about people engaged in very serious, extremely dangerous, terrorist activity.

The cases in which detention beyond the first four days is necessary tend to be those involving serious investigation that has to be continued. Usually, but not always, this arises from the need for forensic tests. Sometimes it is the need for searches, sometimes the need to follow up leads from other contacts, and so on. Without this power in those circumstances, there would be cases in which people charged with terrorism could walk free. It has been said that extension beyond four days should be by way of judicial decision, that a judge should be called in to make a decision about the final three days. First, that was not the conclusion of Lord Shackleton in his report of 1978. Nor has it ever been the conclusion of Lord Colville, particularly in his report of 1987. So far as I know, the view of Lord Colville remains the same.

This is an executive rather than a judicial decision. It is with the greatest respect that I say that the decision of the European Court was wrong. The system here is different from that on the continent. On the continent, people ca .n be detained for very much longer, the papers having been considered by a comparatively minor member of the judiciary, who is probably supervising the whole prosecution. We do not have the juge d'instruction; we do not have the supervisory magistrate; we do not have a professional investigative judiciary. What we have is the careful exercise of executive power. What we have here is an executive rather than a judicial act. In judicial proceedings, someone would present to the judge all the evidence upon which the further extension was called for. The defence would examine the evidence and would put arguments to the judge, and, on the balance of argument, a judicial decision would be made.

In this country, the suspect is not given the information that is being followed up. We do not reveal how alleged involvement in crime is being investigated. It would be the height of folly to do so. Such people are often anxious to get out as quickly as possible to frustrate the investigation. Thus, an extremely serious executive act has to be taken by the holder of my office. The Home Secretary has to be satisfied that there is good reason for extending the detention up to seven days.

If that power were not exercised, or if it were weakened, as, in effect, the Opposition would do, terrorists would be released after four days. They would melt into the population like snow off a ditch, and then the results of the forensic tests would reveal that the authorities had the right people in the first place and that they should have been charged.

Mr. Blair

That is an outrageous suggestion. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that, while he wants detention to be extended by executive act, we believe that this should be achieved by way of judicial intervention. I am surprised that he should find this extraordinary. Judicial intervention is the normal course in the rule of law. It is absolute nonsense to suggest that after four days a person would walk free. The evidence would be presented to the judge in exactly the same way as it is presented to the Home Secretary. As the European Court found, and as a previous Home Secretary from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's own party was prepared to confirm, the difference here is the difference between proper judicial intervention and executive action. This goes to the very heart of the issue.

Mr. Clarke

The judge would be carrying out an executive act. The difference is that he would be new to the case. Judges do not normally take executive action of this kind. A judge presides at judicial proceedings in which competing evidence is openly exchanged and he makes a decision. That is the role that is most appropriate to a judge. Let me state what I see as the difference between us. I am confronting the reality of the need to deal with terrorist incidents. I am dealing with the reality of what is required for proper investigation of allegations of involvement in terrorist activities on this side of the Irish sea and in Northern Ireland. On the other hand, the hon. Gentleman is using detailed points, which in my opinion are not sustainable, to justify opposition to the renewal of these powers.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

Why does the Home Secretary say that Lord Colville never recommended judicial intervention? In the report in which the noble Lord was specifically critical of extended detention, saying that it must be examined again, he said that the new model ought to follow the example of Scottish and Isle of Man procedure, which involves judicial intervention. That is why Scotland was not arraigned before the European Court. Why does the Home Secretary say that Lord Colville took up a position opposite to that which, in fact, he did take up?

Mr. Clarke

I repeat that my understanding of Lord Colville's report of 1987 is that it did not take up that position. Lord Colville, having supervised the operation of the Act, recommends the renewal of all its powers. On the basis of my experience so far in this office, I believe that to be good advice, and I commend it to the House. I believe that our power to investigate and prevent terrorism in Great Britain and Northern Ireland would be greatly weakened if this order were turned down by the House.

Mr, John Greenway (Ryedale)

My right hon. and learned Friend has referred to those who have to face the reality of action against terrorists. I am sure he agrees that the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the other security forces in Northern Ireland do an absolutely superb job. Does he know that, when the Select Committee on Home Affairs visited Belfast recently, the deputy Chief Constable of the RUC pleaded with its members to see that the emergency provisions were renewed, lock, stock and barrel?

Mr. Clarke

I am aware of that. Perhaps I was naive in hoping that that point could be brought home effectively to the Opposition in the course of this debate. So far, we have not succeeded in that respect.

Let me turn to Lord Colville's report. The noble Lord gave the operation of these powers a clean bill of health. On the question of exclusion orders, he observed that the power had been used sparingly in 1992 and that the machinery was working effectively. He emphasised the importance of the work of the three independent advisers who, having reviewed the cases of those wishing to make representations against exclusion, advise the Secretary of State as to their findings.

I agree wholeheartedly with Lord Colville's observations. The advisers fulfil a most important role, each undertaking his work with very great care and diligence. I do not undertake always to accept their advice, although, so far, it has invariably been accepted. These people provide another important check on the use of the power and a safeguard for the individual. Lord Colville's report also records his finding that the proper criteria are being carefully observed in considering whether extensions of detention should be granted.

With regard to the other powers under the Act, the report goes on to present a good picture of the way in which the police have responded to complaints from members of the public about the conduct of checks under the Act. I am glad to hear it, because the co-operation of the public with the police is essential.

Lord Colville's report on the operation of the Act last year approves of the way in which the powers are being exercised and recommends their renewal, and—I repeat —the Opposition are scratching about trying to find some means of justifying the rather surprising repetition of their vote this evening.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

The law of Scotland was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), but he has got the law of Scotland wrong. Even if he had not, and if he had visited the Province, which I am sure he has, this is nothing to do with a religious war; it is purely a mafia operation which, I regret, is funded by the money thrown at Northern Ireland by the British Government, and the sooner we recognise that the better.

Mr. Clarke

I shall come later to the money-gathering activities of the terrorists. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that, as the difficulties continue, it becomes more and more clear that large numbers of terrorist organisations are heavily involved in arguing over the proceeds of criminal activities to finance what they are doing. The border between criminality and politics is becoming ever increasingly blurred in the continuing campaign—[Interruption.]—so far as the objectives of the terrorists are concerned. So far as the politics of the Opposition is concerned, their tactics are not criminal—I have always conceded that—they are just careless and an attempt to justify their past activities.

I have obtained a quotation to confirm what I said about Lord Colville. In addition to the clean bill of health that he has given, I now have his recommendation for this year, which has been ignored by the Opposition. The December 1987 report deals with the detention powers and sets out in chapter 12 the attractiveness at first sight of the argument that the decisions should be made by a High Court judge.

In paragraph 12.1.3, Lord Colville said: On reflection I believe that such a change would be wrong. It would be cosmetic rather than substantial". I shall not continue to quote, but Lord Colville supports the argument that I am making. [Interruption.] I can read it all if the Opposition wish, but I do not think that they are open to argument. In paragraph 12.1.6, Lord Colville concludes: On examination, therefore, this proposition adds nothing to safeguards for civil liberties".

Mr. Hattersley

I think that the Home Secretary quoted from the 1987 report. Let me quote Lord Colville in 1991 when he called for a bold new initiative which he regarded as irresistible since the power should be changed. He said: It is now perhaps irresistible that some new tribunal will be set up to oversee the powers"— that is what we are calling for— it could draw on Scottish or Channel Island methodology"— that is what we are calling for. That is four years after the quotation that the Home Secretary has just given us.

Mr. Clarke

The Opposition are calling for a judicial involvement in the extension of the powers. The right hon. Gentleman may wave his finger, but he is not on the Front Bench now. What is being called for is judicial intervention. The arguments against that were set out by Lord Colville in 1987. They were substantial and they remain substantial. I agree with them. I have one advantage over both Opposition spokesmen, in that I have operated the powers. I can assure them from experience that they would weaken the Act if their vote were successful. I assure them that, as they know perfectly well, they are going in the teeth of the up-to-date advice of Lord Colville that we should renew the powers that we are seeking today.

Mr. Blair

Lord Colville's point is not that a judicial intervention would inhibit the security services, which is the Home Secretary's argument; on the contrary, he is saying that he believes—I disagree for reasons that I shall give—that it will not safeguard the civil liberties of the detainee. The Home Secretary's argument is that if we put in judicial intervention that will inhibit the security services. It is that argument that Lord Colville specifically rejected.

Mr. Clarke

He rejects it rather more strongly than that, if we are to go into the detailed argument. He points out the difficulties of doing it that way at all. In paragraph 12.1.5—[Interruption.] the hon. Gentleman raised the point, so he must listen—Lord Colville says: In Northern Ireland and Scotland the number of High Court Judges is small enough to bring some consonance. In England and Wales, however, the practicality is different. These applications by the police would be made as a matter of urgency in the force area. The Senior Circuit Judge would often sit as a Deputy High Court Judge for the occasion; he or she would have great difficulty in communicating with colleagues who had been faced with similar applications. It is not a recipe for consistency. Apart from such Deputies, there are over 100 real High Court Judges who might have to make the decision. A whole range of different people would be involved in making those decisions.

It is right that, as Lord Colville says, no improvement in civil liberties would result. In my judgment—it seems to me to be reinforced by Lord Colville's recommendation that we renew the powers this year—the practicality would fall down in every possible way. It is the most effective way of handling these things that the Secretary of State has to be satisfied that further detention is justified. It would weaken our effectiveness in dealing with allegations against terrorist suspects if the power were changed in the way that the Opposition recommend.

Mr. Blair

I do not want to interrupt unnecessarily; I simply say that, after the passage to which the Home Secretary referred, Lord Colville concludes: On examination, therefore, this proposition adds nothing to safeguards for civil liberties. That is why Lord Colville is questioning the provision. At no stage in any of his reports—indeed, as I shall show, a previous Home Secretary said that he wanted judicial intervention—does Lord Colville say that it will prevent us from getting terrorists. That would be a substantial reason for rejecting our position. What is not a substantial reason is the reason given there.

Mr. Clarke

With the greatest respect, the hon. Gentleman is scrabbling about. In 1974, a Labour Home Secretary introduced the Act. Its powers were essential. The Conservative party has voted in favour of them consistently in opposition and in government ever since. In 1982 the Labour party went through what I would like to believe was a temporary period of left-wing aberration and, no doubt at the behest of some of its less desirable Members, things got completely out of hand and it suddenly started to vote against the renewal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The hon. Member for Sedgefield and the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) are meant to be leading figures in the attempt to rescue the Labour party from the murk of the 1980s and to get it back on to a sensible course of cross-party agreement in those things that are essential in the fight against crime and terrorism. So far, neither of them is up to it. The Opposition have carried on having this silly vote each year, and they are scratching about to try to find reasons for it.

The power is used sparingly by the security services and police who are successfully making strides in combating terrorism in this country. It is time that the actions of the Opposition began to match their rhetoric, and they would best be matched by a vote in favour of continuing the provisions this evening.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook referred to Scottish methodology. There is no such thing. Fortunately, our law is based on principle, as is our party and as is our commitment—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. It is clear that that is not a point of order for the Chair; it is a point of information; a point in debate.

Mr. Clarke

Let me explain some safeguards that are already built into the emergency provisions legislation and which are being strengthened in two ways in Northern Ireland in order to try to meet legitimate concern, if it exists, about the way in which the emergency powers are used.

First, on 16 December last year, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced the appointment of Sir Louis Blom-Cooper to the post of independent commissioner for the police holding centres. His principal role as commissioner will be to observe, comment and report on the conditions under which terrorist suspects are detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the holding centres of Castlereagh, Gough and Strand Road. He will provide an independent check that the statutory and administrative safeguards are fully complied with. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is preparing codes of practice under section 61 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1991, governing the detention, questioning, treatment and identification of suspects detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The codes will be modelled closely on the existing codes made under the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, amended to take account of the emergency legislation. The codes have been issued for public consultation, and it is hoped that they will be laid before the House in the near future.

Mr. William O'Brien (Normanton)

How will Sir Louis Blom-Cooper ensure that those matters are carried out in his absence?

Mr. Clarke

I am assured by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, who is in his place by my side, that a substitute will soon be appointed.

The question of terrorist finances was raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn). We have for several years been aware of the determined criminality of the provisional IRA's fundraising methods. There is now reliable information that loyalist terrorist groups are becoming increasingly involved in serious and complex frauds and crimes of dishonesty.

One effective way of undermining terror campaigns is to starve the terrorist groups of the funds that they require. The financial provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 are a significant component of our efforts to combat terrorist racketeering in connection with Northern Ireland. They have been used to good effect in stemming a number of traditional sources of terrorist funding and are regarded by the RUC as invaluable in its continuing efforts to combat terrorism.

Lord Colville has long advocated strengthening the Act's provisions in that respect, and his recent report recommends that the Government should seize the opportunity provided by the Criminal Justice Bill—presently under consideration in another place—to make some amendment to that legislation. That is just our intention. The Government will be introducing amendments to the Bill in Committee, with the aim of bringing the law on terrorist finances into line with many of the changes being made in the same Bill to the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986.

I will mention as briefly as possible two further Government measures taken during the course of the year. Last May, I announced that the lead for intelligence gathering against Irish republican terrorism in Great Britain would pass from the Metropolitan Police special branch to the security service. I make it clear again that the security service has not taken over responsibility for counter-terrorism from the police, who remain responsible for prevention and detection of terrorist crime, as for other forms of crime, and retain a national role in intelligence work.

The new arrangements came into effect on 1 October last year. Thanks to the efforts of both services, they are working well. As I intended, they are making the best use of the experience and expertise of each service, and we are steadily gathering more intelligence all the time. The new arrangements do not change the position in Northern Ireland, where the RUC retains primacy in all operational security matters.

The second measure is the extension of tape recording to terrorist cases in England and Wales on a trial basis for two years, from 1 December last year. I do not want to prejudge the outcome of those trials, which are being monitored by a broadly based steering group. If the trials conclude with a recommendation that such cases should be brought fully within the ambit of the PACE code of practice on tape recording, I shall welcome that—but difficult and serious issues must be considered first and, for the time being, I am keeping an open mind on that subject.

I have sought to remind the House of the terrorist threat and to explain as briefly as I can why it is important to ensure that the powers in the prevention of terrorism measures continue in force. Those powers are obviously used carefully and with discretion, backed by established safeguards that we keep constantly under review. The key point is that they continue to provide an important and necessary weapons in the fight against terrorism. At a time when we are achieving successes, it would be the height of folly to dispense with those powers.

I believe, as the hon. Member for Sedgefield often says, that this ought not to be an inter-party issue. We are entitled to expect the Opposition's support in our stand against terrorism in practical form, but their record since 1983, when they started voting against the Act, clearly shows that they are not yet ready to do that and to adopt the position that they occupied in Government in the 1970s. I am genuinely disappointed by that.

It appears that this year only the rhetoric will be changed slightly. The points being made and the policies are exactly the same. The origin of that policy goes back to a difficult time in the Labour movement, which the Opposition are no doubt trying to forget. If the Opposition are trying to forget and to break away from that, they should start changing Labour's actions. It would be welcome and reassuring to many if Labour did not just raise a smoke screen about talks but withheld its opposition to the renewal of the powers this year.

5.15 pm
Mr. Tony Blair (Sedgefield)

We certainly owe a great debt of gratitude to our police and security services for their excellent work recently, and the new find of explosives announced today. They often work in circumstances of great danger and difficulty, and we pay tribute to them.

This legislation is debated every year because, as every Home Secretary who ever introduced it has said—at least until this year—it involves serious and fundamental departures from the normal processes of British law. It grants powers of detention and exclusion in respect of subjects of the United Kingdom which would otherwise be condemned without hesitation as contrary to the principles of British justice.

In the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Parliament decided the reasonable outer limits of powers of detention and restraint, but the measures before us go beyond them. The majority of those arrested for terrorism could have been arrested under existing criminal law, rather than under the Prevention of Terrorism Acts. Those powers, introduced before the 1984 Act, are to cater for cases in which, it is said, ordinary powers are insufficient. We should not forget that they are unique powers, to deal with a unique situation.

That is emphasised by the title of the legislation: the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989. The first Labour Home Secretary to introduce the power, in 1974, said that he did so with great reluctance. His opposite number on the Conservative Front Bench, now Lord Joseph, spoke of his "distaste" for the laws, although he supported them. In 1982, Lord Whitelaw stated that the Act makes considerable inroads into the civil liberties of which we are justly proud", and he urged particular scrutiny of its powers. That is why they are subject to constant review.

Lord Shackleton reported in 1978, following pressure from the House that it would not agree to renewing the provisions in the absence of such a review, and Lord Jellicoe reported in 1983. In 1984, an annual process of review was established, first under Sir Cyril Philips, and then under Lord Colville. Following reviews, changes were made.

The annual nature of this debate emphasises the serious nature of the order. Of particular cause for concern are the speeches of recent Home Secretaries, especially that of the present Home Secretary today. Expressions of distaste, of concern, and of vigilance to ensure that we were not doing more than was necessary to combat terrorism, and the belief that the 1989 Act might be a necessary evil, have grown rather weaker with time. Today, for the first time, the Home Secretary made no such mention at all.

I hope that no right hon. or hon. Member believes that we should simply rubber-stamp an order of this nature. It comes before us every year precisely because we should carefully scrutinise its provisions. Those right hon. and hon. Members, some of whom are evidently among those on the Government Benches now, who believe that we should just rubber-stamp the measure—[Horn. MEMBERS: "No."]—and who show by their attitude that they think that it is wrong even to raise doubts about the measure's contents do not pay sufficient attention to the nature of our parliamentary democracy.

Mr. Stephen Milligan (Eastleigh)

I am trying to follow the hon. Gentleman's argument. May I ask him a simple question? A Labour Government introduced this measure, but for the past 10 years a Labour Opposition have opposed it. Were the Labour Government wrong to introduce it, or are the Labour Opposition wrong to oppose it?

Mr. Blair

I shall explain the precise reasons for the position that we have adopted. I hope to show the hon. Gentleman exactly why our position is entirely reasonable and justifiable; I simply ask him, and other hon. Members, to listen to the argument.

Mr. Eric Pickles (Brentwood and Ongar)

My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary quoted the words of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). Let me refresh the hon. Gentleman's memory: the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North said that the measures were necessary, and that we should not have the deaths of our citizens on our conscience. I support those sentiments: they were right then, and they are right now. Rather than just talking about getting tough with terrorists, why does the hon. Gentleman not give his support to the people who put their lives on the line?

Mr. Blair

We shall explain the nature of our objections. The hon. Gentleman should realise that Labour is prepared to separate the issue from party politics; it is the Conservative party which insists on turning it into a party political issue, despite our objections. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman, and other hon. Members, will listen to our objections to the order. I shall allow him to intervene if he considers those objections unreasonable.

Mr. Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Blair

I should like to get on with my speech.

There are two fundamental flaws in the order as it is now drafted. Exclusion orders, and the absence of a judicial review of the extraordinary power of detention. Exclusion orders were seen from the beginning as the most temporary of the temporary provisions that we are discussing. Lord Shackleton expressed deep unease about them in 1978; Lord Jellicoe called for them to be severely restricted, and possibly removed altogether; Sir Cyril Phillips, the first independent adviser under the annual review, said that such powers were no longer justifiable; and Lord Colville, the present independent adviser, in 1987 and subsequently called for their removal.

It is not true that Lord Colville has resiled from his earlier view, as the Home Secretary said. He has done no such thing; he has merely accepted that it is not the Government's view. He has also repeated in his review this year that he believes the powers to be unnecessary. Conservative Members may disagree with the point that is being made. They may believe that exclusion orders are necessary. It can hardly be said, however, that objecting to exclusion orders is extreme or unreasonable.

Mr. Nicholls

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Blair

Conservative Members will not even listen to what I am saying. Objecting to exclusion orders can hardly be described as unreasonable or extreme, given that their abolition has been sought with increasing firmness by every independent adviser to the Home Secretary.

Mr. Nicholls

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for extending his usual courtesy and giving way to me. I remind him that his hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) said of exclusion orders: It would be most sad…if we were to worry now too much about the curtailment of liberties and later to have upon our consciences the deaths of our fellow citizens. Much as I respect the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair), I must put it to him that he is now dissociating himself from the judgment of his hon. Friend because he knows that if he does not do so he will be unable to carry the left wing of his party. He stands condemned, in the House and the country, for putting the unity of his party before the priority of taking a stand against terrorism. That is the point that he ought to answer.

Mr. Blair

That is not often said, I must say.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) made it clear at that time that he believed that exclusion orders were necessary. If the hon. Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) reads the speeches made at the time, however, he will see that it was specifically said that those powers should be the first to go. The reason why there was an independent review—[Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members will at least listen to my replies to their questions. The independent review was set up precisely to establish whether measures such as exclusion orders were still necessary. The independent reviewer reported that they were no longer necessary, and his successor has said the same. That is why the position is different today.

It is not hard to see the reason. The section of the Act which provides for exclusion orders says that they can be made either to prevent someone in Northern Ireland from entering Britain, or to prevent someone in Britain from entering Northern Ireland. No restriction on freedom is imposed on such people when they are in Northern Ireland, or in Britain. To make such an order, the Secretary of State must be satisfied—not merely have grounds, even reasonable grounds, for suspecting—that a person entering either Northern Ireland or Britain is a terrorist, or is about to engage in terrorism.

Self-evidently, the power has been subject to attack, for a very simple reason. Either someone is a terrorist, in which case he should be in detention, or he is not, in which case he should be able to move freely. If such a person is under suspicion, he should be under surveillance, whether in Northern Ireland or in Britain. That is precisely why the Government's own independent advisers have sought the abolition of the power.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Blair

Perhaps I may be allowed to finish.

I quote the words of someone who was never considered to be soft on terrorism—former Member of Parliament Enoch Powell—who said in February 1987: The inherent objectionableness of a power to exclude from one part of the United Kingdom into another is undiminished, but the evidence for utility continues to diminish. I hope that we shall see the end of it, certainly no later than the new edition of this Act, and preferably when we come to consider renewal in a year's time. An indication of that indeed came from the Home Secretary. At that time, the Government were themselves saying that they could see the end of the exclusion powers. Mr. Powell continued: There is no reason why we should perpetuate this division of the United Kingdom into mutual exclusion zones. We should probably never have done this in 1974. It was probably based on misconception…The power is no longer welcome, certainly not in Northern Ireland."—[0fficial Report, 10 February 1987; Vol. 110, c. 277.] Conservative Members may disagree with the point being made, but they can hardly say that it is so extreme that no reasonable person could ever contemplate it. Their own advisers support it, and even Unionist Members of Parliament believe that the powers have outlived their usefulness.

There are Members of Parliament, such as the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon), who are opposed to exclusion orders although they themselves suffer terrorist threats and abuse. If hon. Members will not listen to us when we tell them of the use to which their views are being put as propaganda for the IRA, at least let them listen to those who have to live with the threat of the IRA day in and day out.

Mr. Derek Conway (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

Conservative Members do not like it either. No one wants the Act to come before the House. What the hon. Gentleman misunderstands about our position is that we also want to prevent terrorism. The whole point of what my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary was saying is that the power to issue exclusion orders was used only twice last year. The hon. Gentleman is right: there must be reasonable doubt. Until he sees that the purpose is prevention rather than punishment, the Labour party will not gain the respect it should for its so-called tough stand on crime.

Mr. Blair

That is the very question which fell to be considered. Does the advantage of the exclusion order, in the small number of cases to which it is applied, outweigh the disadvantages so well known to those who live and work in Northern Ireland? On balance, are those people better off or worse off? The independent advisers concluded that the disadvantages outweighed the advantages, and that is our conclusion, too. I am not saying that that conclusion is obvious, or that no reasonable person could reach a different view, but I ask the hon. Gentleman at least to accept that our objections are not being raised lightly or superficially. They are objections which can be sustained, even on the basis of the reports of the Government's own advisers.

Judicial intervention is the second ground of objection. This is perhaps the most important point that we can make. Under the criminal law, as set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, a suspect, whether it be a murderer, an armed robber, or a rapist, can be held for up to 36 hours. After that time, the suspect must be brought before the court. The court then has the power to detain further, prior to a charge being made.

Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the initial period is 48 hours, not 36 hours. That is one difference. The principal difference, however, is that after 48 hours the Secretary of State is given the power to extend detention for up to another five days, making seven in all. The Prevention of Terrorism Act therefore allows an extension of detention not by the judiciary but by the Executive.

It must be accepted, as it was accepted when the power was introduced, that prima facie the power is offensive to the basic principle of the rule of law, which is that deprivation of liberty should be through the courts and not through politicians.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)

Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that the preservation of life is an even more important principle, and that the precise reason why this power must lie with the Executive and not with the courts is because the information which leads the Executive to believe that the man is a terrorist is of a nature which cannot be given in open court on account of the danger to the lives of witnesses? Those extra five days give the police the opportunity to find information which can be used in court.

Mr. Blair

The hon. Gentleman has made two points. I shall deal in turn with each of them.

The hon. Gentleman said that these matters cannot be dealt with in open court. No one has ever suggested that they should be dealt with in open court. The courts have the power to sit in camera. That power would be used in such a situation. The hon. Gentleman also said—the Secretary of State says it, too, when he is being somewhat economical with the truth in these matters—that after four days the extra period of detention is necessary or we may let out a terrorist. In other words, we may just about be putting our hands on the evidence that we are missing when the detention period ends and we have to let the terrorist out.

That is a misunderstanding of what has been said. Nobody suggests that we should abrogate the detention period. What is being said is that the decision whether it should be extended should be a judicial decision and not an Executive decision.

Mr. Brazier

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to come back on that point?

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Blair

I will deal with the point, and then I will give way. The Home Secretary often gave way to me, so I will give way to him.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)

Will my hon. Friend give way on that point?

Mr. Blair

Very well.

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) talked about the efficacy of detention. Is my hon. Friend aware that, in the past 19 years, 7,192 people have been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, of whom precisely six have been convicted of crimes and given sentences of more than five years? Is he further aware that four of those were the Maguire family, who were found to have been wrongfully convicted? Far from this power being efficacious during that period, there have been 148 terrorist offences, 60 people have been killed, and the people for whom this legislation was driven through Parliament—the Birmingham pub bombers—are still at large after 19 years.

Mr. Blair

My right hon. Friend makes a point to which had intended to turn: why it is so important that we should be vigilant about the way in which these powers are used. Given that the vast majority of people are not then charged with any offence, as Members of Parliament we should at least look at whether the powers that we are granting to the Executive are justified. Such a situation should be tolerated only if the powers can be proved to be absolutely necessary to secure evidence against terrorists.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman does not agree with his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), who was nodding vigorously a few moments ago. He said that the Act should never have been passed in the first place. He plainly misunderstands the purpose of the Act, which is to prevent terrorism, not to give rise to convictions. The point is not to wait until the bomb has gone off and then try to convict somebody afterwards. The point is to prevent them from committing an act of terrorism in the first place.

Presumably the hon. Gentleman is aware of the passages in Lord Colville's current report about why these issues are not justiciable, if I may use that technical phase. It is right that when I exercise Executive powers they should be subject to judicial supervision. That is what Lord Colville is for: he finds that the powers are being exercised properly; he recommends their renewal.

The hon. Gentleman is really burnt up with civil liberties issues. Is he saying that I am not exercising the powers properly? Can he look across at me with a straight face and say that he believes that people's civil liberties are being damaged? The powers are used against someone only when I am satisfied—and I insist that I should be satisfied—that there is a serious public interest involved in using them. Frankly, the hon. Gentleman is irresponsible in engaging in debating games with his right hon. Friend and others to try to justify voting against the powers at the end of the debate.

Mr. Blair

I did not notice any refutation by the Home Secretary of the point that I was making. He says that I am becoming burnt up about civil liberties. These are serious powers. They are virtually unique in the western world. I hope that no hon. Member will say that we do not have the right to challenge powers to make sure that they are in accordance with the civil liberties of our country.

The Home Secretary says that he is satisfied that the powers are being used reasonably. If the fact that the Executive had said that they were using such powers properly was enough for any House of Commons, it would mean that we had given up the right that we have always had to separate the powers of the judiciary and of the Executive.

The purpose of judicial intervention—which the Home Secretary appears, with all due respect, not even to understand—is to make sure that the powers of detention, extraordinary as they are, are exercised in a proper way. It is not good enough to say that the Home Secretary will exercise them in a proper way, because the very principle of the rule of law is that that decision should be made by a court, not by a politician.

Mr. Clarke

This important point seems to be the key to the hon. Gentleman's concern. I am sure that he accepts that I believe in civil liberties just as much as he does. However, I do not ask either the hon. Gentleman or the House just to accept my assertion that my use of the powers is consistent with our common view of civil liberties. I am subject to judicial supervision. That is what Lord Colville is for. [Interruption.] Lord Colville is not a High Court judge. I believe that he sits as a recorder. He exercises a judicial style of review. He says, on supervision, that I exercise my powers properly.

Does the hon. Gentleman disbelieve Lord Colville? Does he have any ground for asserting that Lord Colville is wrong? Does he have any ground for asserting that I am not using the powers consistently with civil liberties? Or is he, as I insist, desperately casting about for reasons to vote against the use of powers which he knows are necessary and which he also knows perfectly well are exercised properly and with discretion by the Executive?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

Order. There have been a number of interventions, to which, of course, I have no objection, but they are getting longer and longer.

Mr. Blair

I shall try to make my answer short.

That is an extraordinary thing for the Home Secretary to say. Lord Colville was appointed by the Government. He does not sit in a judicial capacity. It is not that he is biased, any more than anyone else is biased, but surely the Home Secretary, of all people, can tell the difference between an adviser appointed by the Government or a member of the Cabinet and a member of the judiciary. That is at the very heart of and is the basis for the British rule of law.

It is extraordinary that the Home Secretary should say that an adviser to the Government—[Interruption.] I can agree or disagree, but to say that having a judge consider a provision is the same as having a Cabinet Minister consider a particular case is utterly absurd.

Mr. Clarke


Mr. Blair

Just a moment.

That is, of course, why the European Court of Human Rights found against the Government. It found against the Government not because of some technicality or legalism, but because the notion that one should be detained by Executive power rather than by order of the court is contrary to the provisions of the convention on human rights. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot understand that, he cannot understand the basis of British law.

Mr. Clarke

I shall make a short intervention, Madam Deputy Speaker. Lord Colville advises that I am using the powers properly. Does the hon. Gentleman agree or disagree with that? He skipped over that suggestion. If he does not agree, why not?

Mr. Blair

I have no means of knowing whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman is using the powers properly or not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] Of course I have not. The issue is not whether he is using his powers correctly. We passed the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 so that, after 36 hours, a person should be brought before a judge. We did not say that he should be brought before a civil servant or a politician but a judge. Let me educate Conservative Members. It is important that the power is vested in a court because in this country we believe that powers of detention should be exercised by courts, not by politicians, civil servants or parts of the Executive.

As a result of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, the IRA has been handed a massive propaganda weapon, which it uses. We have had to derogate from the convention, and our reputation abroad is attacked as a transgressor of human rights. All that could be avoided, and the fight against terrorism strengthened, if we were to comply with the ruling.

Listening to the Home Secretary, one would think that it was the most extraordinary proposition that a judge should be involved rather than the Secretary of State. When the European Court of Human Rights first made its decision, in the Brogan case, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's predecessor, now the Foreign Secretary, said that his preferred route was judicial intervention. In other words, the very suggestion that the right hon. and learned Gentleman today decries as an extraordinary breach of the necessary means to fight terrorism was proposed as the preferred route by the current Foreign Secretary.

Conservative Members may disagree with our proposals, but to claim that the suggestion that someone who is detained should have the right to go before a judge rather than a politician is an outrageous breach of what we need to fight terrorism stands sense, reason and decency on its head. To describe that position as soft on terrorism and to decry it as giving succour to terrorists says far more about the desperation of the Conservative party than about the fight against terrorism.

All hon. Members abhor terrorism. Everyone believes that we must act against it with all the powers we have. Of course that might involve measures which restrict civil liberty in a way which may otherwise be repugnant. However, if we go beyond what is necessary to combat terrorism effectively, if we cravenly accept that any Act introduced by the Government and entitled "Prevention of Terrorism Act" must be supported in its entirety without question, and if we adopt the attitude that anyone who dares to question it is a closet supporter of terrorism, we do not strengthen the fight against terrorism: we weaken it.

Several Hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. There is too much noise. Hon. Members know that, if the hon. Member who has the floor does not give way, they must resume their seats.

Mr. Blair

I am not giving way, because we need to make progress—[Interruption.]

Conservative Members who are barracking now should read reports of earlier debates on the issue. Some Conservative Members who are not in the Chamber—the present Leader of the House, for example—spoke of their distaste for the renewal of the provisions. I fully accept that they supported the provisions, but they were at least prepared to consider the case against them.

There is something very distasteful about Conservative Members' refusal today even to listen to the points being made. Since the exclusion orders were denounced by the Government's own advisers, and in view of the fact that a judicial intervention power was accepted by earlier Home Secretaries as not inhibiting the work of the security services, nothing that we are proposing would inhibit the security services or the police in the fight against terrorism. Nothing in our proposals would mean that recent arrests or fines would have been hindered. Suggestions to the contrary are merely crude propaganda of the most unworthy kind.

Let us be clear. The reason why the Government refuse even to talk to us about the legislation, despite the fact that our suggestions are being supported by their advisers and were previously contemplated by them, is that crime is doubling. The Government are losing the debate on law and order. They would prefer to disagree for the sake of the Tory party than agree for the sake of the country.

What we are asking the Government to do would in no way hinder the fight against terrorism. Indeed, it would allow us to present our case in the courts of the world with much greater conviction. I urge the Government even now to take the partisan nature of their debating out of the issue, to unite our parties, the House and the country in defence of our democracy and not to play politics with the issue.

Several hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker

Before I call the next hon. Member to speak, I remind the House of what Madam Speaker said earlier. Many hon. Members are anxious to participate, but there is not a great deal of time, so could speeches please be kept as short as possible?

5.47 pm
Sir John Wheeler (Westminster, North)

I shall try to abide by your wishes, Madam Deputy Speaker, and be brief.

I agree to a certain extent with the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair). The annual debate on the renewal of the Act is very serious and important. No hon. Member, regardless of the party to which he belongs, willingly or easily agrees to the curtailment of liberty or a change in the normal procedures for the management of the criminal justice system. To that extent, I agree with him. Unlike him, however, I shall vote to renew the order tonight.

The cat leaped out of the bag when the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) said that he was opposed to the whole concept of the Act, as he is entitled to be. It became clear that the Labour party is divided on the issue. That is the difficulty facing the hon. Member for Sedgefield.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir John Wheeler

I shall not give way, because I intend to be brief.

The difficulty faced by the hon. Member for Sedgefield is that he does not have a united party and policy behind him.

We have been debating for some time but, so far, we have not mentioned the victims of terrorism. On the Treasury Bench today I see the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office—my hon. Friend the Member for East Hampshire (Mr. Mates)—and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. They have the awesome, gruesome task of appearing before the people of Northern Ireland week after week when an outrage has occurred. We know from the television news at the weekend and over the past few days how dreadful those outrages have been. My hon. Friends have to explain to the public exactly what the Government and the security forces are doing. We know of the horrors inflicted on ordinary people and their families. People are injured, maimed and killed; people have to suffer the consequences of that horror for the rest of their lives.

It behoves us to tackle the problem in the House, and to think about the victims as well as the arguments about civil liberties and the intervention of the criminal justice system.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Sir John Wheeler

I intend to be fair, I want to be brief, and I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, so I shall continue, if my hon. Friend will allow me.

I feel able to support the renewal of the Act because I too have read the independent report of my noble and learned Friend Viscount Colville. I have it before me now. Lord Colville is a distinguished member of the Bar, a distinguished Queen's counsel. In his statement to the Secretary of State on 10 February, he said: The Act ought, I recommend, to continue in force in its entirety for another twelve months". He did not say, "Some part of the Act should be excluded from renewal"; he said, "in its entirety".

Lord Colville reviewed the operation of the Act in various ways. His report to the Home Secretary refers to exclusion orders, which have been the subject of considerable debate. Exclusion orders are now being used less and less. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary made only two exclusion orders in 1992, one of which was in respect of a man at the end of a 24-year prison sentence. The House may divine from the latter information that there were real reasons why my right hon. and learned Friend made the order relating to that individual. Twenty-one other orders were renewed.

Examining the operation of those procedures, Lord Colville said: The machinery is working effectively. The police themselves initiate the process, when orders are due to expire". My right hon. and learned Friend has to examine carefully a detailed brief before he agrees to the exclusion order.

By far the most important part of the Act, and the reason why we should renew it tonight, is the power to detain people while inquiries are being made. The public outside the House and the people listening to the debate would be astounded if, in the present circumstances, the House of Commons were to say that we would handicap the police in the course of their investigations. It is only fair and right that the police should have reasonably granted powers, because in the course of their inquiries they have to use forensic services, which require time—not merely hours but sometimes two, three or more days—especially when guns and explosives are the subject of the investigations. To deny the police the use of that time would be criminal in itself, and entirely wrong. The power should continue.

It is said that the decision should be transferred from the Secretary of State to a High Court judge. However, when I was a magistrate and had to consider whether to grant or withhold bail, I sat in an administrative capacity, not in a judicial capacity in which I would have been deciding the guilt or innocence of an individual. I was deciding, on the balance of the information presented to me, whether I should allow a person freedom on bail or withhold his liberty. Precisely the same process is in play when considering whether to detain someone under the Act.

One of the key factors in the decision is time. The Home Secretary must make the decision rapidly. As the House knows, such events occur dramatically and suddenly, when the police make an arrest and require further time for forensic and other inquiries, or wish to apprehend other potential suspects. They require an immediate decision from my right hon. and learned Friend. I see no advantage to the cause of civil liberty in transferring that burden and obligation from the Home Secretary's desk to the desk of a High Court judge.

I have heard references to the practices of continental Europe, but when I examine the administrative procedures of France or Germany, to my horror I discover that people can be detained without trial not only for weeks but often for months. We in this country would not find that tolerable, so I see no comfort in looking to the procedures of continental Europe for a comparison with our decision on the procedures in the Act.

I have consulted the police. They do a difficult arid dangerous job on behalf of the public in the United Kingdom. We ought to be grateful to them for the work they do in trying to prevent and contain terrorism. The police are successful, and they believe that they should be given the powers. They do not especially welcome such powers. They prefer to operate not exceptionally but within the curtilage of the normal criminal justice process, but they are firmly of the opinion that for the time being the powers should be retained.

The House does not have to agree simply because the police say so, but we certainly ought to listen to the voices of the people in the front line of the investigation and containment of terrorism.

For those practical reasons, I shall vote for renewal of the Act. I shall not do so lightly. I agree with the hon. Member for Sedgefield that this is a serious matter. It is indeed right that we should pause and ask whether it is really necessary to continue with the Act. I reluctantly come to the conclusion that, for the time being, we should, so I urge my hon. Friends and all other hon. Members to agree to the renewal of the Act for a further 12 months, as was recommended independently by Lord Colville.

5.58 pm
Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I begin by agreeing with a least two things that the Home Secretary said. First, in reply to an intervention, he said that terrorism in Northern Ireland was becoming less and less political and more and more a feature of gangsterism. The more often that we can say that, the better it will be for all parties involved. I have no doubt that it is true.

Mr. Mallon

I apologise for asking the right hon. Gentleman to give way immediately, but what he has said is entirely wrong. We under-estimate terrorism if we look upon it as gangsterism. Every murder committed by paramilitary groups is a political murder for a political purpose. We under-estimate what we are dealing with if we regard it simply as gangsterism.

Mr. Hattersley

Because of my respect for the hon. Gentleman, I am glad that I gave way to him in order to allow him to register his disagreement—but I believe that he will probably agree more with the rest of what I say.

I congratulate the Home Secretary on his decision to toughen the regulations governing terrorist finances, and to make the law in England more comparable with that which already exists in Northern Ireland, I urged his predecessor to do that last year, when the order was renewed, and I urged him to do so the year before. On both occasions, he swept aside the idea with something approaching disdain.

I suppose that I could then have toured the country saying that the Government were soft on terrorist finance, but that did not seem to me to be an especially grown-up way to behave. I do not believe that it is especially grown-up for the Home Secretary to have produced a mirror image of such behaviour when we advanced rational arguments.

The Home Secretary has the habit of saying the first thing that comes into his head and hoping that, if he is sufficiently emphatic, people will believe it. Several times he challenged my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) to say whether he agreed with Lord Colville's judgment that he, the Home Secretary, had behaved properly under the order. Lord Colville says no such thing. He says that the Home Secretary has observed the terms of the Act and that he has applied the criteria as set down in the legislation. Our entire argument is that the criteria are wrong and that the terms of the legislation need to be changed. The idea that Lord Colville has endorsed everything that the Home Secretary has done in principle and in practice during his 11 months in office is simply wrong.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield on the quality of his speech and on his proposal for all-party talks in the hope that there could be a consensus on how to deal with terrorism. All-party agreement would be very much better on this matter, but it cannot come about as a result of the Government stating what they want and expecting everyone else to fall into line. Before this Parliament is over, the Government will discover that Governments with small majorities cannot behave in that way. They will discover that, if they want some co-operation, they must offer some co-operation to other parties.

I have no doubt that it would have been very much better if that had been done today, although I am not surprised that it has not been. The Government prefer to posture as the only true enemy of terrorism rather than pursue the rational course and deal with the provisions on their merits. I shall attempt to do that in one limited area. Because of the limitation of time, I shall not speak about exclusion orders, of which I very much disapprove.

I shall talk about no aspects of the provisions except the powers of detention and extended detention under the Act. I shall at once make my position on the history of the Act clear. I was opposed to it when it was introduced. I was involved in its conception because five of my constituents were killed in the Birmingham pub bombing. With the then Home Secretary, I went to Birmingham in the early hours of the day following that atrocity. Then, and subsequently, I was opposed to the Act.

During the past 14 or 15 years, I have sometimes been convinced that some special powers are needed to deal with terrorism. In my case, that has been a move in a more authoritarian direction rather than the reverse. As I now believe that some special powers may be necessary, all I shall do is consider what those powers should be and how they should be administered.

We have to begin with the question of the purpose of section 14. From time to time—I have spoken in many of these debates over the past 10 years—different arguments have been advanced about why section 14 is needed. On one occasion, the Minister of State, Home Office, who is now, incredibly, the Secretary of State for Education, asked me to understand that it was necessary because men with guns and explosives had been found in the garden of the Secretary of State for Defence. I offered the view that if someone with guns and explosives was found in my garden, I should expect him to be arrested and prosecuted whether there was a Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act or not.

Two years later, the then Minister of State gave the explanation that the Home Secretary has given today—that it is necessary to arrest persons who have not committed a crime but who are assumed to be likely to commit crimes or to co-operate in the commission of crimes. Even as one describes that proposal, one realises how anti-libertarian it is. Men who, on the Home Secretary's criteria, have done nothing for which they can be prosecuted must necessarily be arrested in the belief that they may in some way that the Home Office and the police cannot describe be involved in the future commission of a crime. One may have to take such action, but one must be very careful about the procedure by which it is carried out.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke


Mr. Hattersley

I see the Home Secretary rising. I give way to him, but because of time, I shall not give way again.

Mr. Clarke

I give a short example. Under the Act, a request may be made to the Secretary of State for an extension of detention beyond 48 hours to allow investigations to continue. I have known of cases in which, after the extension has been given, the suspect has started to answer questions when interviewed by the police although he has refused to do so before. That can lead to the discovery of equipment, the discovery of weapons and the interception of other people who are still pursuing the criminal conspiracy.

In many such cases, sufficient evidence will never emerge against the person detained to lead to that person being charged with an offence. It may happen that the offence contemplated never occurs, because we have had exceptional powers to deal with terrorism. It is important that a distinction is made between the worst terrorist cases and the ordinary operation of the law. I have given an example of how the extra detention can lead to the frustration of terrorist acts, although not necessarily to anyone being charged. That is a perfectly proper exercise of my role in the protection of the public against terrorism.

Mr. Hattersley

The examples that Lord Colville gives in his report are very different from those that the Home Secretary asks us to examine. The examples given by Lord Colville might well occur in normal criminal prosecutions. A man shoots at a car and the driver is injured, but not killed. A man is apprehended and it takes more than three days to carry out the necessary forensic tests. Such a problem can arise in a shooting that does not have a terrorist connotation. All Lord Colville's examples in the report are very different from those that the Home Secretary has used in his attempt to convince us today.

I am prepared to believe that there may be occasions on which the extension is needed. The question is how the extension should be carried out against the background of what results from detention and its extension. Lord Colville's report tells us that, in 1990, 193 men and women were detained. Only 28 were charged and only six of them were charged with terrorist offences. In 1991, 153 men and women were detained and only four were charged. Last year, 126 men and women were detained and 30 were charged. That means that, although many people are held under these powers, at the end of the interrogation, which the Home Secretary has told us is likely to be so effective because it is prolonged, only one quarter at best are charged with any criminal offences.

The Home Secretary cannot take lightly the idea that numbers of men and women are held for 36 hours, for 48 hours or for seven days in police custody and then turned out without any charge being brought against them.

The suspicion that has always run through these debates is that men and women have been held under this power not because it was anticipated that they would be charged, but because it was thought that they would provide information. On one occasion, the then Home Secretary, Sir Leon Brittan, admitted that that was a proper use of the Act. The Home Secretary now says that it is a proper use of the Act.

Mr. Clarke


Mr. Hattersley

I shall give way in a moment.

The Home Secretary must remember that using the Act to trawl for information was a purpose of the Act which his Government specifically recanted when they went to the European Court of Justice. Sir Leon Brittan was disowned at the court. The Home Secretary's immediate predecessor said last year and the year before that the Act was never used for that purpose. If the Home Secretary wants to tell me now that it is, I shall give way.

Mr. Clarke

This is the point that I tried to make at the beginning of my speech. The Act exists to assist the prevention and investigation of terrorism. How many of those detained were charged is not a measure of its success. Of course it is important that people are not detained at whim and that we do not go on fishing expeditions. I have to be satisfied that there is a good and substantial reason for the individual to be detained. It is no good saying afterwards, "You may have recovered 10 tonnes of Semtex, but you have not been able to bring a charge against the person you detained." I regard it as a successful use of the Act if we have got the tonnes of Semtex even if nobody can be charged, because what was intended as a major terrorist outrage never actually took place, thanks to the use of the powers under the Act.

Mr. Hattersley

If the Home Secretary is making a second change of attitude and saying that the powers are being used for what I believe his profession calls fishing expeditions, the queue at the European Court will be a mile long, since the last judgment against the Government was minimised because the Government's representative was explicit in saying that the powers were not used for that purpose.

I say without hesitation that I am opposed to the arrest of men and women against whom no charge is likely or possible simply in order to obtain information from them. That is not consistent with the rule of law in a free society. Men and women who are deprived of their liberty by being held temporarily in custody—"temporarily" meaning seven days in this context—ought only to be men and women against whom a charge is at least possible, whether or not it is likely. Now that the Home Secretary has changed his attitude and has admitted that the Act is being used for this purpose, I believe that we will return to the subject time after time.

One reason why I want to see judicial intervention is that I do not believe that the Act would be used for fishing expeditions were that a feature of its operation. I now begin to understand one reason why the Government do not want judicial intervention; it would be difficult for them to say to a judge, "We have not got anything against this man but we want to hold him in peculiar circumstances under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act in the hope that we may obtain information from him."

Mr. Clarke


Mr. Hattersley

Mr. Deputy Speaker asked us to be brief. I have given way twice already. On both occasions the Home Secretary's interventions were almost as long as my speech.

Mr. Clarke


Mr. Hattersley

I have not given way yet. The Home Secretary must learn how the House operates. I will give way to the Home Secretary on the understanding that on this occasion he will be brief. Is that agreed?

Mr. Clarke


Mr. Hattersley

I have not given way to him yet. If he will be brief, I will give way to him. Is that agreed?

Mr. Clarke

Yes, I will be brief. The right hon. Gentleman obviously misheard me a moment ago. I said that we do not use the powers for fishing expeditions. We detain people only when we are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence or information to justify keeping them, but it is a successful use of the powers to prevent and investigate terrorism. It is not an accurate test to say that the person should necessarily be charged at the end. Great success may be achieved without the charging of the person properly detained.

Mr. Hattersley

Now that the Home Secretary and I have developed a proper relationship across the Floor of the House, let me say to him that if that was what he meant, it was not what he said. If it was what he intended to say, it is not consistent with the figures. The figures make it clear that only a tiny proportion of the men and women who are held are charged. That can only mean that what the Home Secretary appeared to say a moment ago is fact.

I want to pursue the crucial and central question of judicial intervention, but before that I want to make one other point clear. Over the past five years, I have taken part in innumerable radio and television programmes about men and women who have been wrongfully convicted. Inevitably the Home Office Minister who appeared with me said that there was nothing to worry about because those men and women had been convicted before the passing of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which meant that such a catastrophe could never occur again.

The Home Secretary must understand, as Lord Colville makes clear in this year's report, that were any of those people, who were so cruelly mistreated by the misapplication of the law and wrongful conviction, brought to court again, they would not have the full protection of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act; they would have the protection of that Act as modified by the prevention of terrorism Act. They would not get access to their solicitor at the same time as a man or woman who was charged under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. When I hear the Home Secretary say that, if people are kept in a long time, and if they know that their detention has been extended, they are more likely to talk, the overtones of the Birmingham pub bombing and of the Maguire case ring clearly round the Chamber. [Interruption.] That is what the Home Secretary said, as the record tomorrow will show clearly. He is dealing lightly with the fundamental concept of civil liberty which he, perhaps more than any other Minister, ought to preserve.

Many or perhaps all of the problems could be overcome if the Government would agree to a judge taking the decision on the extension of the detention order. That is necessary in principle because it is wrong in our sort of democracy that a Minister should have the right to imprison a man or woman for seven days. It does not matter how assiduous the Minister is in reading the papers, or whether he is a genuine or a bogus libertarian; it does not even matter if he is an ex-libertarian who is ambitious for high office. It is wrong in principle that a politician should be enabled to keep a man or woman in custody for seven days.

My fears, which the Home Secretary says are groundless, about fishing expeditions or people being likely to talk when they are locked up for a long time are much more likely to be avoided if at some point evidence is presented to a judge explaining why that man or woman is there. The explanation might even be that described by the Home Secretary in his third interpretation of what he said first. Whatever the reason, it could be put to a judge, who would make the judgment.

It has been said that, by giving the information to a judge, one would be risking further crimes being committed. I trust judges enough to believe that they could be given such information in camera and it would remain secure. That is all we are asking for. If that happened, many of our fears would be removed. We would no longer be at variance with the European Court of Human Rights and we would no longer have to have the derogation from section 5 of the document to which we are a party.

The Home Secretary seems to think that what Lord Colville said last year or the year before he no longer believes unless he issues an official confirmation. I assure the Home Secretary that if he reads all Lord Colville's reports he will find that three years ago Lord Colville said that a bold new initiative was necessary to replace the extension of detention order. He said that that initiative should be based on the Scottish or Isle of Man methodology. "Methodology" is not a word of my invention or of common use, but that is what Lord Colville said and that is what the Government should do.

I conclude by telling the Home Secretary what I thought he knew: his immediate predecessor but two, the present Foreign Secretary, told me that that was the scheme which he would like to see in operation. I saw the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary at the time we were arraigned before the European Court. I asked him whether we could conform to European practice by having a judge decide the necessity for the extended detention. There was no secret about it; the then Home Secretary told me that that was his preferred solution but that the judiciary would not have it. There was speculation between us as to why that was so. I came to the conclusion that the judiciary would have it if the House passed a law because, if the obligation was placed on them by Parliament, they would fulfil it.

When our argument provokes from the Home Secretary the response that we are pandering to terrorism, that is the most pathetically second-rate reaction imaginable, even from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. Right hon. and hon. Members on the Front Benches are just as much subject to the discipline of the Chair as any other hon. Member. I will not allow cross-party conversations.

Mr. Hattersley

Perhaps this comes as news to the Home Secretary, but at the meeting of the general council of the Bar in the summer, I discussed the matter with the Attorney-General and other barristers. We all knew that a past Home Secretary wanted that solution and there was discussion about whether the judges were right to reject it. I say only this to the Home Secretary. Some of us who believe that the fight against terrorism will be won only if the Government abide by the rule and the spirit of t he law will go on arguing the case made so well by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield.

It is not because we are soft on terrorism but because we are rational about it. Terrorism will not be defeated by a party which has a political advantage or has some sort of primeval reflex rather than thinking about the real methods of bringing terrorism to an end.

6.19 pm
Mr. Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke)

A sense of deja vu returns as we canter through our annual debate, with many familiar faces from previous years and at least a hint of some of the speeches from previous years.

The essence of the debate is how to perform the balancing act between a proactive response to terrorism and safeguarding civil liberties. A delicate balancing act must be performed. I do not for one moment challenge the sincerity of Labour Members when they pronounce their determination to see terrorism effectively combated. My argument is with the means to achieve that.

Listening carefully to the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) this afternoon, I had difficulty not so much with the points that he made, which are valid and worthy of debate, as with the fact that I cannot see that the distance between his point of view and that which is contained in the Act is sufficiently great to justify his party in not voting for the order. In other words, I feel that the hon. Gentleman would prefer the provisions to be in place rather than having no provisions at all, which is surely the implication of his voting against them.

To be brief because we are short of time, I wish simply to select three points from the report itself. Arguably, the report has received little attention in this debate. First, I refer to page 4 and the section on exclusions. I have certainly learnt something from the Home Secretary today about Lord Colville's attitude on exclusions which I did not previously realise. I was under the impression that Lord Colville had historic doubts about exclusion.

I specifically notice that, in paragraph 4, Lord Colville refers to the instance of a citizen of the Republic of Ireland being the subject of an exclusion order and being deported to Northern Ireland. I believe that it is the first time that that has happened. That raises serious questions and must be examined. Should not restrictions placed on deportation against a citizen of the Republic of Ireland be examined more carefully?

The second point relates to the comments on the statistics. Lord Colville acknowledges that we must be wary of percentages as an indication of the success or otherwise of the measures. Trends reflect more the level of terrorism than the effectiveness of the measures. I entirely endorse the conclusion that Prevention of Terrorism Act powers are a deterrent, the effectiveness of which it is impossible to prove. Although the effectiveness of the powers is impossible to prove, they are essential.

I am anxious to be brief. My final point relates to my concern about section 5 and the financing of terrorism. If I understood my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary correctly, he puts a different interpretation on the situation from Lord Colville's. Lord Colville refers to section 13 and schedules 4 and 7 of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. He acknowledges that the complexities are great but says: so far there have been no prosecutions nor money confiscated. That is an alarming state of affairs. I therefore fully endorse the suggestion that the Criminal Justice Bill, which is now before the House of Lords, should be examined thoroughly to see whether more effective measures are needed.

On page 19, Lord Colville raises another issue: the extent to which the PTA is able to catch fund raising in the UK which is intended to provide for internecine conflicts overseas. That is a subject which we have debated previously. Certainly, in the past I should have liked to see organisations of other countries prosecuted for their activities in London, but successive Home Secretaries have seen the dangers of that and I wonder whether we should tread more carefully than Lord Colville suggests. It may be difficult to take action against other countries' organisations; after all, today's freedom fighter could be tomorrow's terrorist.

My essential point is that I have no qualms or hesitations about these provisions. It is essential that they be renewed and I look forward to that.

6.25 pm
Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann)

I shall try to be as brief as possible in the present circumstances. I begin by thanking Lord Colville for his report. The frequency of quotations by both sides of the House from Colville past and present is eloquent testimony to the value of his report.

Lord Colville makes the point that the only thing that we can do today is renew the Act or not. We cannot make proposals for change, although in such debates we take the opportunity to air matters which we hope that the Home Office will take on board for future reviews. There is a pressing need for some decent parliamentary scrutiny of this issue. Clearly, this kind of annual debate is inadequate, and today's will be more inadequate than usual due to the lack of time. It is time for proper thought to be given to proper parliamentary scrutiny of these matters on a more continuous basis.

I find myself in the curious position of supporting the renewal of the legislation, although I have considerable sympathy with the two ranges of objections made by the Labour party. The hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) quoted the comments of the former Member for South Down, Mr. Enoch Powell, in 1987. We stand for those comments completely; we still do not like exclusion orders, and we believe that the practice should be discountined because it is fundamentally wrong.

The hon. Gentleman's second range of objections referred to the detention power and what we call the Brogan point. I regard the Brogan point as more of a technicality. The substance of the matter is that persons being detained and questioned are treated much better in the United Kingdom than on the continent. Reference has been made to the way in which persons can be detained on the continent for months on end. It is a problem of a different legal culture and the custom of having a juge d'instruction in the continental system.

Because of the propaganda point involved and because it involves our derogating on this small point, I wish that the Home Office would examine the issue more closely. I agree that a High Court judge cannot be involved because he would be involved in any subsequent trial, which completely rules him out. Nor could the job be given to magistrates because of the uneven quality of the magistracy—I say no more on that.

As Lord Colville said, we must look to the practice in Scotland with the procurator fiscal and the practice in the Channel Islands. We must also look at what was recommended in Northern Ireland in 1971 by the MacDermott report—that something equivalent to the juge d'instruction should be introduced. It would not need to be introduced for all cases; it could be introduced for these cases only.

The Brogan case did not require matters to be brought before a court. It used the term "judicial officer". A judicial officer could be created for the purpose of approving extensions. The same person could do the job currently done by Sir Louis Blom Cooper and his deputies with regard to supervising detention. That would be a more favourable way of doing it.

None the less, those matters are technicalities and are not sufficient grounds for voting against the legislation as a whole. I hope that the Labour party will continue to reconsider the matter. There is a change of tone, certainly between last year and this year: the Labour party has reduced its objections from three in 1992 to two in 1993. I hope that that trend will continue and that the Labour party will adopt a more sensible position. Labour Members have put on record their objections to the technicalities, but one way of showing that they are concerned simply with those particular aspects and are not opposed to the fight against terrorism generally is by declining to divide the House later this evening. That would be a fair and balanced way of doing it.

I am glad that the Home Secretary has accepted Lord Colville's suggestion to table amendments to the financial aspects of the Criminal Justice Bill. Financial powers need to be strengthened—even those in the emergency provisions are not working particularly successfully. The Home Secretary should take on board the relationship between financing terrorism and drugs. Terrorist organisations are deeply involved with drugs, and legislation to combat that problem is not very effective. It should be more effective on both counts.

The Home Secretary should also address the issue raised on page 17 of the report in relation to conspiracy offences. I am not sure whether the present Criminal Justice Bill does so. If it does not, will the Home Secretary ensure that it does?

As I have said on previous occasions, there is a need for a coherent United Kingdom provision on terrorism. We have a patchwork of overlapping provisions which operate as a code. The legislation is vital for the police and the Army in Northern Ireland as it is their chief arresting power. We need a more coherent provision.

I shall not explore the subject of the present structures operating in Great Britain as it comes under the Sheehy inquiry. Thought must be given to the structure and approach in Great Britain. The Home Secretary referred to the way in which the security service—MI5—has been brought in. I am not reassured by that, as MI5 has been involved in Northern Ireland, where it has not covered itself in glory, and I am not sure that it would do so here. We are discussing something which is fundamentally a police matter and should be treated as such. I do not think that bringing in overlapping agencies is the right solution. It may ultimately be correct to consider having a Great Britain or United Kingdom equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or some such organisation, but bringing in the security forces is not a good idea.

Like the Home Secretary, I congratulate the police on the recent finds of explosives in London. I wish that the Home Secretary could say whether the explosives were home-grown or imported. Today's edition of the Evening Standard estimates that 10 tonnes of explosive material have been found in England since December. The well-informed security correspondent of The Irish Times —no snide comment intended—estimates that more than 20 tonnes of explosives were manufactured in Great Britain last year by the IRA.

The public should be made aware of that, alerted and told what to look for. Such matters cannot be dealt with in a hole-and-corner manner. The best assistance that we can have in defeating terrorism is the whole-hearted support of the people—and if we receive it, we should not call it collusion.

As other hon. Members have said, the provisions have been on the statute book for many years. Some people wrongly regard that as a reason for dispensing with them. I turn the argument around and say that the Government should think carefully and ask themselves why they have not yet succeeded. What have they been doing for the past 20 years to cause their failure? What should they be doing that they have not done for their past 20 years?

It is time to give serious consideration, not just to the security measures, but to the political context in which they operate. Mistakes have been made, and a mistaken approach adopted, over the past 20 years. It is time to give fresh thought to such fundamental matters. We hope that such action will result in not having to hold debates such as today's year after year.

6.34 pm
Mr. Derek Conway (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble), whose experience and bravery—and that of his colleagues from all the parties in Northern Ireland—are well recognised in the House. We pay tribute to them. The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues will know that the fear and practice of terrorism occurs not only in Ulster, some of our major regional cities, our capital city in England, but in my constituency of Shrewsbury. In August, the IRA bombed many shops in Shrewsbury and caused considerable destruction at Shrewsbury castle and the regimental museum. However, the IRA has not won, as the people of Shrewsbury and Shropshire are determined to ensure that the regimental museum is rebuilt, despite the best endeavours of the terrorists.

It is right that the House should place on record its congratulations to the police on their alertness in making the discovery that was announced today. It should also congratulate them on the many other occasions when they have done a superb job in preventing acts of terrorism, not just sought to bring to justice those who have committed such acts. The purpose of today's debate—albeit a brief debate—is to talk about prevention, not exclusively what happens afterwards. Our police and the security forces have not only one of the most dangerous jobs, but are best equipped and trained to carry it out. Regrettably, they are also the most experienced people in Europe in dealing with the problem.

Is terrorism in decline? I do not think that anyone believes that that is true. How best can we help the security forces to fight on the community's behalf? This afternoon, Labour Members, including the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley)—who made a speech more than 20 minutes long—have done nothing but wriggle. The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976 passed through Parliament only with the support of the then Conservative Opposition, who were not prepared to make partisan political points on an issue as important as the prevention of terrorism. It was ironic that the then Labour Government could get the Bill through the House of Commons only with Tory support, as 35 Labour Members opposed the measure.

The nub of the difficulty for the Opposition during the past 10 years has been that, since 1982, they have opposed the renewal of the Act every year except 1989, when the then Leader of the Opposition decided that it was time for positive leadership and ordered a three-line Whip for Members to abstain. Even then, 45 Labour Members voted against the Bill and against their leadership. Some of those Members now sit on the Labour party's Front Bench.

In 1987 the Labour party did not even mention prevention of terrorism in its manifesto, which shows the extent of its commitment to tackling the problem. In the Chamber today we have heard only empty rhetoric, which is a great pity. I have time and respect for the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair). I fought his constituency in 1974 and know the district he represents. I believe him to be an honourable man, but if he wants the general public or the House to believe that he is serious about crime, his performance this afternoon will not convince them.

The Labour party has been wriggling about the exclusion orders, two of which were imposed throughout 1992. If a Martian landed on Earth and listened to today's debate, it would think that the Home Secretary was authorising the order to be used on thousands of people, but only two such orders were made in 12 months. The Labour party has advanced its whingeing civil liberties without a reference to the civil liberties of those people who have been bombed, injured and killed.

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary said, exclusion orders are used for prevention, not punishment. My newly elevated right hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) made an apposite reference to the magistrates' powers of bail. That is not a judgment, but a preventive action—and an executive, not judicial, one at that.

It is a great pity that the debate is not longer as we could have examined more closely why the Labour party is not prepared to support the order. It has tried to persuade us that its argument is based on civil liberty grounds. We believe that it wants to appease a minority—but significant number—of Labour party members who do not want the prevention of terrorism measure at any price. They would not want it if the Labour party were in government and they do not while the party is in opposition. They determine to fight terrorism with empty words, and are not serious in their fight. No Conservative Member wants the prevention of terrorism Act. The question is whether we need it, and Conservatives believe that we do.

We need strengthened intelligence—as mentioned by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary. 'We need to back the police. Above all—however cheap the heckling—we need to try to bring the Labour Front-Bench team back to the realisation that terrorism cares not a damn for civil liberties. The terrorists care only for the succour that they will receive when Labour Members vote against the order in the Lobby tonight.

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

Neither constraints of time nor inclination will persuade me to follow the line taken by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway), whose speech sits uneasily in the second half of the debate.

There must always be good and sound reasons for legislation of this nature. It inevitably places some categories of citizens in a less advantageous position than others. In truth, the legislation is discriminatory. Exclusion and detention detract from the civil rights of the citizen. The questions that we must answer are: whether the powers are justified and whether the price to be paid in terms of the freedom of a few is justified by the safety of the majority. Are we satisfied that, without the provisions, the police would be just as effective? It would be a confident Home Secretary who felt able to assert that these powers were not still necessary. Assertions that the powers are not necessary or that they should be diluted come rather more easily from those of us who do not have day-to-day responsibility for the terms of the legislation.

As I understand it, the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) opposes exclusion orders as a matter of principle. I understand and accept that, but, if the challenge to exclusion orders is that they are ineffective, one must remember that their principal purpose is deterrence. In the field of human behaviour, it is rarely possible to be satisfied that a deterrent has been effective. If the power of exclusion is removed, we shall certainly find out whether it is a deterrent, but finding out may be uncomfortable and unpleasant.

We have discussed judicial intervention in detention orders. I mean the Home Secretary no injustice when I say that he came to the view that, at least in relation to England and Wales, such intervention was determined by practicality. There is much to be said for an element of judicial intervention. The question for the Opposition is whether the absence of an element of judicial intervention at the moment is sufficient reason to vote against the continuance of the order, with the consequent public perception. The hon. Member for Sedgefield makes a good case, but we are not at the Chancery Bar: we are engaged in giving what is inevitably a signal to the people of the United Kingdom about the House's resolution to combat terrorism.

Mr. Blair

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Campbell

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not, because time is short.

If the hon. Member for Sedgefield were on the Treasury Bench, he would face the dilemma of a genuine concern for public safety, against which he would have to balance some of what has been said by his party before today and what he said in the debate. I rather fancy that, in that dilemma, the issue of public safety would prevail, and that would be perfectly understandable.

Mr. Blair


Mr. Campbell

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman but I am anxious to make progress.

Mr. Blair

As the hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned me several times, I think that I am entitled to intervene. Perhaps he will confirm that what I said about the judgment by the European Court of Human Rights was accepted by his predecessor in previous debates on this matter. Secondly, in no way would judicial intervention lessen public safety. I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman accepts that. However, it would mean that our law would be perceived to be fairer. In view of that, why does he urge me to change rather than urging change upon the Government, when he and his Front-Bench spokesmen used to agree with my position?

Mr. Campbell

If the hon. Gentleman had listened to what I said about judicial intervention, he would have heard that there is much to be said for it. The question is whether it is legitimate today to vote against the continuation of the order because of an absence of judicial intervention, bearing in mind the public perception that will necessarily follow.

We should not vote for the continuance of the order because it will prevent terrorism or because it is a substitute for the due process of law, any more than we should vote for it because we think that that would give us some political advantage over other parties in the House. We should vote for it because it is a regrettable but necessary enhancement of police powers in an area in which the police need special assistance.

If all-party talks are offered or even discussed, they could proceed only upon unanimity of purpose in the House. Such unanimity would be best demonstrated by the order being approved without a Division.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)


Mr. Mallon

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is with great reluctance that I make the point, and I imply nothing in relation to the Chair. It is ironic that the section of the community that is most affected by the order has not been able to put its point of view in the House. I shall leave it at that.

Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

Order. I shall deal with the first point of order. I fully appreciate what the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) says, but time is limited and there is nothing that the Chair can do about that.

Mr. McNamara

I would be more than happy to give two minutes to my hon. Friend to enable him to make his case so that both sides in Northern Ireland may be heard.

Mr. Mallon

I thank the hon. Gentleman. If he gave me more time, I would thank him very much.

Mr. McNamara

I am giving time.

6.45 pm
Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh)

I have been allowed two minutes, but one gets used to such things when one is a member of a minority party. I shall have time to make just one point and will have to keep an eye on the clock.

This legislation has existed since 1974, and surely after so much time it merits re-examination. Such reexamination has been proposed, and it should come in the light of one question that I pose to the Government and the House. Despite the PTA and the whole battery of legislation, the number of troops that have been poured in, the £3 billion that have been thrown at the problem and the number of police and Army installations, why does terrorism continue in Northern Ireland? Despite internment, curfews and this legislation, why is it continuing?

The thesis that must be challenged is the one that says that the more troops and money and the more stringent the laws that are thrown at the problem, the more success, the more intelligence, the more arrests will result and terrorism will be defeated. That is patently erroneous. As the detection rates and the Secretary of State's figures show, the contrary is the case. The greater the intensity of security, as shown by this legislation, the more the community suffers. The more it suffers, the less hard intelligence is received by the security forces, and the terrorists laugh all the way to their next atrocity.

Let us not forget that the ideal context for the terrorist is the outward show of strength in the north of Ireland. The panoply of legislation is strangling the capacity of the security forces for detection. Those measures defeat their own purpose because communities are being held to ransom, mine more than any. That is why I am angry. That is why intelligence is not coming through. The methods are counter-productive, and by their use we have allowed the classic wasteland to develop. That is an ideal scenario for the terrorists to do as they do in places such as South Armagh. The result is that the detection rate goes down. We are approaching the issue in the wrong way. Let us have the courage to rethink.

I thank the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McMamara).

6.48 pm
Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

I am obliged to my hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) for putting the debate in context. He has shown that all hon. Members share an abhorrence of terrorism and are united in the need to defeat the terrorist threat. Building upon that consensus, the Labour party called on the Government to seek all-party agreement on a counter-subversive policy that would be developed, in the words of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights in Northern Ireland, to strike a balance between the need to detect and convict terrorists and the need to preserve basic civil liberties. That offer has been rejected out of hand. Unlike the Conservative party, the Labour party does not want simply to hold up the prevention of terrorism Act as some kind of talisman to ward off evil terrorists, as legislation which takes no account of an individual's civil rights and which brings the law and the security forces into disrepute.

Mr. Gallie

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. McNamara

No, I shall not give way.

We want the exclusion order abolished because it violates at least six basic human rights, including the right of freedom of movement contained in article 2 of the fourth protocol of the European convention on human rights; the right to a fair and public trial contained in article 6; the right to respect for private and family life in article 8; the right to freedom of association in article 11; and rights to participate in public affairs and to seek work and improve economic circumstances. If there is insufficient evidence to bring a person before a court of law, there are insufficient grounds to impose internal exile. In a democratic society, the Government cannot simply ignore the due process whenever it is convenient to do so.

I have deliberately excluded various other matters in order to reduce the time of my speech, but I want specifically to turn to another part of the community which suffers inhibitions as a result of the legislation.

One of my hon. Friends spoke about the Irish in his constituency. A survey by the Irish Post found that one in 10 Irish males living in Britain have been detained under or affected by the prevention of terrorism Act. This harassment only adds to the sense of alienation felt by the Irish community in Britain. Although I am not suggesting that it leads people to support the IRA, it certainly does nothing to enhance their perception of the impartiality of the justice system in Britain.

The same survey found that, in the wake of the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six and other similar cases, 80 per cent. of the Irish in Britain doubted that they would receive a fair trial for a terrorist-related offence. Those figures starkly illustrate the legitimate fears of the largest ethnic group in Britain. While I accept criticisms of such a postal questionnaire, those who replied are the articulate, opinion-forming members of the Irish community.

The prevention of terrorism Act has only a symbolic value, but on this matter more than any other symbolic politics are not enough. The Government have tried to take the high moral ground in the fight against terrorism, and they singularly fail.

The hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) spoke about nitrates being used in explosives. I raised the matter with the Department in July; when I suggested that there might be reason to refer explosives and nitrates to the explosives inspectorate, I received the following reply: I understand that ammonium nitrate is classified, in line with United Nations recommendations, as an oxidising substance rather than an explosive. It is in widespread use in agriculture, and the Health and Safety Executive has published guidance for its safe storage. I do not believe that any further controls would be workable. Accordingly, I have no plans to refer the matter to the explosives inspectorate." —[Official Report, 15 July 1992; Vol. 211, c. 779.] It took a couple more bombs and a few more threats for me to write to the Secretary of State and get a reply from Earl Ferrers that the Department had suddenly realised the importance of nitrate and its value to the terrorist.

Those are the people who say that we are complacent about the terrorist threat when something has been lying around the country and they are unable to deal with it. We are not having any of that from them, especially when it was not the Labour party that allowed the Harrods bombing suspects to remain at large in London for 33 days.

The chief crime correspondent of The Mail on Sunday, Chester Stern, wrote that MI5—the Minister praised MI5 for having control of the terrorist campaign—insisted on holding back video security tapes which led to the capture of the suspected terrorists within hours of them being screened publicly. Disagreements between the police and MI5, whom the Government have placed in charge of anti-terrorist observations, allowed suspected IRA bombers to roam the streets of London for over a month longer than necessary.

During that time, another bomb was placed on a rush hour train leaving Victoria station, and we had to wait until three days after the bombing in Camden for MI5 to relent and release the pictures. I am happy to say that the public reacted quickly and within hours two suspects were arrested.

The decision to adopt such a high-risk strategy, despite police objection, would never have been countenanced by a Labour Government. The Labour party has never put the lives of the people of London at risk in such an incredibly cavalier manner. The consequences of such a policy could easily have been death and mayhem in the streets of London.

The Government talk to us about being easy on terrorism. The evidence was there, but they wanted to play clever dicks, and as a result two further bombs were placed, possibly by those under suspicion. They had the evidence, they had the photographs, but they refused to release them, and those men were roaming the streets of London for 33 days.

That story has never once been challenged, denied or contradicted to The Mail on Sunday, its editor or the reporter: I checked that with them today. Let us have none of that nonsense from the Government, that somehow they are the only people who are hard on terrorism because they have the fig leaf of the prevention of terrorism Act, which does no good at all.

Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This afternoon, in my constituency, we buried a young man—[Interruption ]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am trying to listen to the hon. Gentleman's point of order. It is difficult when there is so much noise in the Chamber.

Rev. William McCrea

This afternoon we buried a 25-year-old man in my constituency because of IRA terrorism. Can we hear what the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman has to say about the right to freedom of movement for Nigel McCollum, who was buried this afternoon? What about the right to family life— [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It is not a matter for the Chair what the Front-Bench spokesmen of either party have to say.

Mr. McNamara

I have every sympathy with that family and with the families of all people who have been killed in terrorism in Northern Ireland, but I must say quite sincerely that it appears that the prevention of terrorism Act did not work in that sad case.

6.57 pm
Mr. Kenneth Clarke

First, I hope that I never see the day when the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) is responsible for operational matters which hon. Members will have raised, even with the assistance of The Mail on Sunday. I am also sorry that I did not take up the invitation which he issued on behalf of the Opposition, when he was addressing the Machiavelli society at Hull university, to have talks on the renewal of the Act. However he and his hon. Friends made it quite clear that they are opposed to key provisions in the Act.

I have had robust support for our proposals from my hon. Friends the Members for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway) and for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter), among others. My right hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler), who has a liberal reputation and great expertise in these matters, supported them, and the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) also said that the commonsense judgment was to renew these powers. The Ulster Unionists also support us.

I understand why the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) feels instinctively that we should not have exclusion orders, but I assure him that the exclusion orders which disrupt the traffic across the Irish sea—81 remain extant, although we made only two new ones last year—disrupt the effectiveness of the terrorist threat on both sides of the Irish sea.

The main serious objection throughout is that we should have a judicial role in all this. Lord Colville has been much invoked. I pay tribute to Lord Colville who has been widely accepted as a good and impartial observer, and I take comfort from the fact that he is satisfied with my exercise of the powers.

On the point about judicial intervention, I refer to Lord Colville's 1987 report, which actually considered that matter. It was not his annual report. In paragraph 12.1.6, he makes it quite clear why he believes that the introduction of a judicial function would add nothing to safeguards and would not be practicable. Indeed, in that section of his report he defends the adviser system.

It is said that the Act is not successful because it does not result in a sufficient number of charges. I have said that I use its powers only when I am satisfied that charges can be made—but many other things flow from the Act. It is not true that few of those who are detained are then charged. In Great Britain, since the beginning of 1992, 19 people detained under the Act have been charged with serious terrorist-related offences. Indeed, about a quarter of all those detained are charged with serious terrorist offences. Without the powers of the Act, we would be frustrated, in part, in our efforts against terrorism.

I ask the House to renew the order. I make one last plea that we should renew it without a vote, to give some real meaning—

It being Seven o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Order [5 March]:

The House divided: Ayes 329, Noes 202.

Division No. 180] [7 pm
Adley, Robert Arbuthnot, James
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)
Aitken, Jonathan Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)
Alexander, Richard Ashby, David
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Aspinwall, Jack
Alton, David Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)
Amess, David Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Ancram, Michael Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Baldry, Tony Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Fishburn, Dudley
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Forman, Nigel
Beggs, Roy Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Bellingham, Henry Forth, Eric
Bendall, Vivian Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Beresford, Sir Paul Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Freeman, Roger
Blackburn, Dr John G. French, Douglas
Body, Sir Richard Fry, Peter
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gale, Roger
Booth, Hartley Gallie, Phil
Boswell, Tim Gardiner, Sir George
Bowden, Andrew Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Bowis, John Garnier, Edward
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Gill, Christopher
Brandreth, Gyles Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Brazier, Julian Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bright, Graham Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gorst, John
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Budgen, Nicholas Grylls, Sir Michael
Burns, Simon Hague, William
Burt, Alistair Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Butcher, John Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Butler, Peter Hampson, Dr Keith
Butterfill, John Hanley, Jeremy
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hannam, Sir John
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Hargreaves, Andrew
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Harris, David
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Haselhurst, Alan
Carrington, Matthew Hawkins, Nick
Carttiss, Michael Hawksley, Warren
Cash, William Hayes, Jerry
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Heald, Oliver
Churchill, Mr Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Clappison, James Heathcoat-Amory, David
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hendry, Charles
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Coe, Sebastian Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Colvin, Michael Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Conway, Derek Horam, John
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Cormack, Patrick Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Couchman, James Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Cran, James Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Hunter, Andrew
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jack, Michael
Day, Stephen Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Jenkin, Bernard
Devlin, Tim Jessel, Toby
Dickens, Geoffrey Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dorrell, Stephen Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Dover, Den Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Duncan, Alan Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Duncan-Smith, Iain Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Dunn, Bob Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Durant, Sir Anthony Key, Robert
Dykes, Hugh Kilfedder, Sir James
Eggar, Tim King, Rt Hon Tom
Elletson, Harold Kirkhope, Timothy
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Kirkwood, Archy
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Knapman, Roger
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Evennett, David Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Faber, David Knox, David
Fabricant, Michael Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lang, Rt Hon lan Sackville, Tom
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Legg, Barry Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Leigh, Edward Shaw, David (Dover)
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lidington, David Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lightbown, David Shersby, Michael
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Sims, Roger
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lord, Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Luff, Peter Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames, Nicholas
Lynne, Ms Liz Speed, Sir Keith
McCrea, Rev William Spencer, Sir Derek
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Maclean, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Spink, Dr Robert
Madel, David Spring, Richard
Maitland, Lady Olga Sproat, Iain
Major, Rt Hon John Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Malone, Gerald Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Mans, Keith Steen, Anthony
Marland, Paul Stephen, Michael
Marlow, Tony Stern, Michael
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Stewart, Allan
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Streeter, Gary
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Sumberg, David
Mates, Michael Sykes, John
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Tapsell, Sir Peter
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mellor, Rt Hon David Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Merchant, Piers Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Milligan, Stephen Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Iain Thomason, Roy
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Moate, Sir Roger Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Thurnham, Peter
Monro, Sir Hector Townend, John (Bridlington)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Townsend, Cyril D.(Bexl'yh'th)
Moss, Malcolm Tracey, Richard
Needham, Richard Tredinnick, David
Nelson, Anthony Trend, Michael
Neubert, Sir Michael Trimble, David
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Trotter, Neville
Nicholls, Patrick Twinn, Dr Ian
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Tyler, Paul
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Viggers, Peter
Norris, Steve Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Walden, George
Oppenheim, Phillip Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Ottaway, Richard Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Page, Richard Waller, Gary
Paice, James Ward, John
Patnick, Irvine Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Patten, Rt Hon John Waterson, Nigel
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Watts, John
Pawsey, James Wells, Bowen
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Pickles, Eric Whitney, Ray
Porter, David (Waveney) Whittingdale, John
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Widdecombe, Ann
Rathbone, Tim Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Redwood, John Wilkinson, John
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Willetts, David
Richards, Rod Wilshire, David
Riddick, Graham Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f''ld)
Robathan, Andrew Wolfson, Mark
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Wood, Timothy
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Yeo, Tim
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ross, William (E Londonderry) Tellers for the Ayes:
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Mr. Sydney Chapman and
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Mr. Andrew MacKay
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Abbott, Ms Diane Hall, Mike
Adams, Mrs Irene Hardy, Peter
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Allen, Graham Henderson, Doug
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Hendron, Dr Joe
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Heppell, John
Austin-Walker, John Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Hinchliffe, David
Barnes, Harry Home Robertson, John
Barron, Kevin Hood, Jimmy
Bayley, Hugh Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Hoyle, Doug
Bennett, Andrew F. Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Benton, Joe Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Bermingham, Gerald Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Berry, Dr. Roger Hutton, John
Blair, Tony Illsley, Eric
Blunkett, David Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Boateng, Paul Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Boyes, Roland Jamieson, David
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Janner, Greville
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Burden, Richard Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Mön)
Byers, Stephen Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Caborn, Richard Jowell, Tessa
Callaghan, Jim Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Keen, Alan
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Canavan, Dennis Khabra, Piara S.
Cann, Jamie Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Chisholm, Malcolm Leighton, Ron
Clapham, Michael Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Lewis, Terry
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Litherland, Robert
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Livingstone, Ken
Cohen, Harry Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Connarty, Michael Loyden, Eddie
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) McAllion, John
Cook, Robin (Livingston) McAvoy, Thomas
Corbett, Robin McCartney, Ian
Corbyn, Jeremy Macdonald, Calum
Corston, Ms Jean McFall, John
Cousins, Jim McKelvey, William
Cox, Tom Mackinlay, Andrew
Cryer, Bob McLeish, Henry
Darling, Alistair McMaster, Gordon
Davidson, Ian McNamara, Kevin
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) McWilliam, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Madden, Max
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I) Mallon, Seamus
Denham, John Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dewar, Donald Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Dixon, Don Martlew, Eric
Dobson, Frank Maxton, John
Donohoe, Brian H. Meacher, Michael
Dowd, Jim Meale, Alan
Eagle, Ms Angela Michael, Alun
Enright, Derek Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Etherington, Bill Milburn, Alan
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Fatchett, Derek Moonie, Dr Lewis
Faulds, Andrew Morgan, Rhodri
Fisher, Mark Morley, Elliot
Flynn, Paul Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Galloway, George Mowlam, Marjorie
Gapes, Mike Mudie, George
Gerrard, Neil Mullin, Chris
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Murphy, Paul
Godman, Dr Norman A. Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Godsiff, Roger O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Golding, Mrs Llin O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Gordon, Mildred O'Hara, Edward
Graham, Thomas Parry, Robert
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Pickthall, Colin
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Pike, Peter L.
Gunnell, John Pope, Greg
Hain, Peter Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E) Spearing, Nigel
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Prescott, John Steinberg, Gerry
Primarolo, Dawn Stott, Roger
Purchase, Ken Strang, Dr. Gavin
Quin, Ms Joyce Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Raynsford, Nick Turner, Dennis
Redmond, Martin Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Walley, Joan
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW) Wareing, Robert N
Roche, Mrs. Barbara Watson, Mike
Rogers, Allan Welsh, Andrew
Rooney, Terry Wigley, Dafydd
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Ruddock, Joan Wilson, Brian
Salmond, Alex Winnick, David
Sedgemore, Brian Wolfson, Mark
Sheerman, Barry Worthington, Tony
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Wray, Jimmy
Short, Clare Young, David (Bolton SE)
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Dennis Tellers for the Noes:
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Mr. John Spellar and
Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E) Mr. Peter Kilfoyle.
Soley, Clive

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuance) Order 1993, which was laid before this House on 15th February, be approved.