HC Deb 02 September 1998 vol 317 cc928-32

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. McWalter

There is a very short time left for debate, but amendment No. 63, which stood in my name, effectively countermands this clause standing part of the Bill. If hon. Members vote against the clause standing part, the consequential amendments on the Order Paper will mean that it consists only of clauses 1 to 4. That would be a good night's work, because we would have sent a message to the bombers at Omagh that the policies that we want to ensure be proceeded with—the manifestation of our commitment to the Belfast agreement—go ahead. However, two Bills have been presented to us, and the second Bill is not a Northern Ireland terrorism Bill. It is a conspiracy Bill, and a conspiracy Bill is, by its nature, complicated.

The right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) talked about how, if clauses 5 to 7 stopped the sort of events that happened at Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, it would be worth passing them, but he was talking with 20:20 vision, with hindsight. Of course, if we can connect conspiratorial actions with those vicious forms of attack, we should do everything in our power to ensure that they are curtailed, but what we have is a problem about conspiracy being detected, when we do not actually have the crime that is being conspired for.

We have an enormously complicated series of ideas about dual criminality, on which many hon. Members during today's long debates have made many fundamental errors. We have an annexe to a Bill that none of us has had a chance to read. Of course we support the Government's view that we must combat the increasingly international dimension to crime, but these clauses do not talk about terrorism. They talk about offences. They talk about matters, as Labour Members have said, such as theft. That is dually criminal, yet perhaps in some societies the way in which to undermine a despotic regime is to organise a campaign of theft. Yet that would be caught by the Bill.

It is too late to go into all the manifest reasons why we should consult Amnesty International and all those who are forces for good. We want to ensure that the objects of clauses 5 to 7 are achieved, but this is a rotten way to seek to achieve them. It will bring our process into disrepute in many ways. I was told earlier in the debate that, because I was a new Member, I did not know what was going on. A lot of people did not know what was going on. I had the advantage of discovering yesterday that the substance of the private Member's Bill of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) was coming here tonight. I read the comments made in February 1997 by the current Minister. I know what I am talking about because I was here last night at 5.30.

6.30 am

It is no way to treat new Members to say that the proposals have been coming for some time and that we talked about the issues 17 months ago and reached an agreement, so now we just want to ram the measures through. New Members have the right to assess such matters too. It is important that we debate the issues at length, in principle, with determination to commit ourselves to arresting international crime and conspiracy to commit offences on the international stage.

It is right that we have passed clauses 1 to 4. Like many others, I voted for Second Reading on that basis. However, I hope against hope that the Government will take note of the strong feelings that have been expressed today. Clauses 5, 6 and 7 may be all right in their objects, but they are rotten in the way in which they seek to achieve those objects. They do not take account of counter-arguments—the vital component of parliamentary democracy.

I ask the Government, if it is not too late, to take seriously the mood of the Committee on the clauses, and to withdraw them at this late stage. If they do not, I ask the Committee to vote against clause 5. It can be pulled away from the Bill, leaving an intact Bill with intellectual integrity. Amendments Nos. 63 to 69, in my name as well as those of other Labour Members and Opposition Members, would chisel out conspiracy and leave us with a Northern Ireland terrorism Bill. That is what we should have been dealing with today. We should deal with the other business in October.

Mr. Straw

Had it not been for procedural defects that caused the Bill of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) to come to grief in early 1997, the provisions would have been on the statute book by early March last year. It would have gone on to the statute book with less discussion than the many hours that we have had today on clauses 5, 6 and 7.

This has been an intense debate on a day on which Parliament was recalled. Far more hon. Members on both sides have taken an interest in the subject. Important contributions have come from both sides. For reasons that we have well rehearsed and I shall repeat in a moment, I cannot accept the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. McWalter), but I do not in the least dismiss it. We shall take the fullest possible cognisance of the anxieties that have been expressed and shall monitor carefully the operation of the whole Bill.

Because we have not had a full chance to debate the matter in the time available, I have put my name to new clause 7, which was tabled by Opposition Front Benchers and which provides that there should be an annual report presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State on the operation of all aspects of the Bill, after it has been enacted. The reason we accepted the Opposition's new clause is that it runs wider than similar amendments tabled by some of my hon. Friends, which referred only to certain sections of the Bill.

The Minister of State, Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), has also set out the safeguards that will apply in respect of the conspiracy provisions, in clauses 5, 6 and 7. To pick up a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead, I accept that the drafting of those three clauses is certainly technical, as the area is one of some technicality. However, the issue at their heart is relatively simple: it is about ensuring, as the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) and my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) spelled out, that those who are conspiring—conspiracy is a narrowly defined set of activities, very different from incitement—in this country to commit crimes abroad should be capable of being brought to justice in this country in appropriate circumstances.

We are talking not about trivial cases, but about those who go in for organising paedophile rings abroad, drug runners, other serious acquisitive criminals and terrorists. When I am asked what was the urgency to introduce that part of the Bill yesterday and today, I repeat the point that I made 14 hours ago. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister sought the agreement of the Speaker to recall Parliament because of the outrage at Omagh, where 28 people lost their lives and scores more were seriously injured. However, last month, 10 times the number who lost their lives at Omagh lost their lives in outrages in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

The Cabinet view, which explains why the Bill is constructed in this way, was that, given that Parliament was being recalled to deal with Omagh and that we had already got ministerial colleagues' agreement in principle to the legislation, we would have been negligent had we failed to introduce clauses 5 to 7 as well. I therefore hope that they commend themselves to the Committee.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Worthing)

The Home Secretary has some good arguments and he has advanced them better than many others would have done. However, his hon. Friends on the Back Benches also have a strong argument. It is not sufficient to say that people have had notice, when they did not. It is not good enough—

It being six hours after the conclusion of proceedings on Second Reading, THE CHAIRMAN, pursuant to the Order [this day], put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings to be concluded at that hour.

The Committee divided: Ayes 220, Noes 24.

Division No. 361] [6.38 am
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov"try NE) Chisholm, Malcolm
Alexander, Douglas Clappison, James
Allen, Graham Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Clelland, David
Banks, Tony Coaker, Vemon
Barron, Kevin Coffey, Ms Ann
Bayley, Hugh Coleman, Iain
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Collins, Tim
Begg, Miss Anne Colman, Tony
Berry, Roger Connarty, Michael
Blizzard, Bob Cooper, Yvette
Boateng, Paul Cranston, Ross
Borrow, David Crausby, David
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Cummings, John
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Darvill, Keith
Bradshaw, Ben Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Brazier, Julian Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Dean, Mrs Janet
Browne, Desmond Denham, John
Buck, Ms Karen Dobbin, Jim
Burden, Richard Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Butler, Mrs Christine Donohoe, Brian H
Caborn, Richard Doran, Frank
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Dowd, Jim
Campbell—Savours, Dale Edwards, Huw
Cann, Jamie Ennis, Jeff
Caplin, Ivor Etherington, Bill
Caton, Martin Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Lorna Love, Andrew
Flint, Caroline McAvoy, Thomas
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) McCabe, Steve
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) McDonagh, Siobhain
Foulkes, George Mackinlay, Andrew
Fraser, Christopher McLoughlin, Patrick
Gapes, Mike McNulty, Tony
Gardiner, Barry McWilliam, John
George, Bruce (Walsall S) Mallaber, Judy
Gibson, Dr Ian Mandelson, Peter
Gilroy, Mrs Linda Martlew, Eric
Goggins, Paul Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Golding, Mrs Llin Merron, Gillian
Gordon, Mrs Eileen Michael, Alun
Greenway, John Miller, Andrew
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) Moffatt, Laura
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Moran, Ms Margaret
Grocott, Bruce Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Grogan, John Mudie, George
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Norris, Dan
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Hammond, Philip Olner, Bill
Hanson, David O'Neill, Martin
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Organ, Mrs Diana
Heald, Oliver Palmer, Dr Nick
Healey, John Pearson, Ian
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Pendry, Tom
Hepburn, Stephen Pickthall, Colin
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Pike, Peter L
Home Robertson, John Pond, Chris
Hoon, Geoffrey Pope, Greg
Hope, Phil Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Prior, David
Hoyle, Lindsay Prosser, Gwyn
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Purchase, Ken
Humble, Mrs Joan Quin, Ms Joyce
Hurst, Alan Quinn, Lawrie
Iddon, Dr Brian Raynsford, Nick
Illsley, Eric Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Jenkins, Brian Roche, Mrs Barbara
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Rooker, Jeff
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark) Rooney, Terry
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Rowlands, Ted
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Roy, Frank
Jowell, Ms Tessa Ruane, Chris
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Ruddock, Ms Joan
Keeble, Ms Sally Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Salter, Martin
Kidney, David Savidge, Malcolm
Kilfoyle, Peter Sawford, Phil
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Sheerman, Barry
Kumar, Dr Ashok Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Laxton, Bob Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Leslie, Christopher Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Levitt, Tom Soley, Clive
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Spellar, John
Linton, Martin Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Stevenson, George
Lock, David Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Loughton, Tim Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Straw, Rt Hon Jack Vis, Dr Rudi
Stringer, Graham Watts, David
Stuart, Ms Gisela White, Brian
Sutcliffe, Gerry Whitehead, Dr Alan
Swayne, Desmond Wicks, Malcolm
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann(Dewsbury) Williams, Rt Hon Alan(Swansea W)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S) Wills, Michael
Taylor, David (NW Leics) Winnick, David
Temple-Morris, Peter Woolas, Phil
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W) Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Timms, Stephen Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Tipping, Paddy Wyatt, Derek
Touhig, Don
Tredinnick, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Trend, Michael Mr. Clive Betts and
Trickett, Jon Mr. David Jamieson.
Allan, Richard McDonnell, John
Berth, Rt Hon A J McNamara, Kevin
Best, Harold Öpik, Lembit
Canavan, Dennis Pollard, Kerry
Clwyd, Ann Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Corbyn, Jeremy Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Skinner, Dennis
Dalyell, Tam Wareing, Robert N
Davidson, Ian Webb, Steve
Fyfe, Maria Wise, Audrey
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Tellers for the Noes:
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Mr. Tony McWalter and
McAllion, John Mr. Andrew Stunell.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 6 to 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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