§ 3.38 p.m.
§ LORD HARRIS OF GREENWICH rose to move, That this House takes note of the Government's proposals announced by the Home Secretary for the prevention of terrorism in Great Britain. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I find myself in a curious position in moving this Motion in that the greater part of my speech will refer to a Bill which is not yet before your Lordships' House. Nevertheless, I hope that your 1501 Lordships will have obtained copies of the Bill from the Printed Paper Office and will debate it fully now so that it may be given as speedy a passage as possible when it reaches us from another place. I am grateful to noble Lords for having consented to the arrangements for to-day which my noble friend the Leader of the House announced in his Business Statement on Tuesday, and I am also grateful for what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, said this afternoon.
§ In the last few weeks we have experienced a series of increasingly vicious terrorist attacks. These culminated in the bombings in Birmingham only a week ago. And last night in London, there were two more, the second of which appears to have been designed to maim ambulance men and others called to the scene of the first explosion. It is difficult to find words adequately to describe the conduct of people responsible for such contemptible acts.
§ I should certainly not want to suggest to-day that, rigorous and wide-ranging though our proposals are, they will lead to a swift end to the present terrorist campaign in our cities. But this Bill in my judgment will powerfully reinforce the security forces in the struggle against terrorists. I would say at once that the Government regret that they have to ask Parliament for powers of the kind which are proposed in this Bill, involving as they must some encroachment on the liberties of individual citizens. We are well aware that few things would provide a more gratifying victory to the terrorists than for this country to undermine its traditional freedoms in the very process of countering the enemies of those freedoms. This we must keep well in mind not only to-day, but in the future, as we persevere on what may well be a long struggle to eradicate terrorism from our land.
§ My Lords, the Bill which the Government have prepared proposes strengthened powers in four broad areas. First, it proscribes the IRA and makes display of support for it illegal. Secondly, the Bill makes it possible to make exclusion orders against people who are involved in terrorism, Thirdly, the Bill gives the police wide powers to arrest and detain 1502 suspected terrorists; and fourthly, it gives the police powers to carry out a security check on all travellers entering and leaving Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
§ Part I of the Bill, in Clauses 1 and 2, deals with proscribed organisations. Under Clause 1(2) the organisation listed in Schedule 1—the Irish Republican Army—is proscribed forthwith. It will be an offence to belong or profess to belong to the IRA, to invite or to provide money for it, and to arrange or to address a meeting in support of it. The maximum penalty, on conviction on indictment, will be five years' imprisonment. As a necessary safeguard, paragraph 3(1) of Schedule 3 provides that prosecutions for an offence under this clause require the fiat of the Attorney-General. The Secretary of State has power under subsection (3) to add to Schedule 1 any organisation that is concerned in terrorism in the United Kingdom connected with Northern Irish affairs. This limitation to Northern Irish affairs does not signify that we regard other forms of terrorism as any less detestable. But the proscribing of named organisations is for us a wholly exceptional measure and can be justified only by a wholly exceptional situation such as now confronts us. The Government will add further organisations to the list, should this prove to be necessary.
§ My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has never claimed, and would not claim now, that proscription of the IRA would in itself reduce terrorist outrages. But the public should no longer have to endure the affront of public demonstrations of support for that body. Under Clause 2, it will be an offence to wear clothes or display articles demonstrating such support in public. My right honourable friend has thus taken the opportunity to ensure beyond doubt that it will be an offence to wear articles which are plainly ERA insignia, but which may fall short of the requirements for a successful prosecution under the Public Order Act 1936.
§ Part II of the Bill deals with exclusion orders. Its concept is derived from the Prevention of Violence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1939. Its object is to enable the Secretary of State to exclude from Great Britain certain people who are concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, or who attempt or may attempt to enter the 1503 country with a view to being so concerned. Here again, terrorism means acts designed to influence public opinion or Government policy with respect to affairs in Northern Ireland. Only a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies may qualify for exemption from having an exclusion order made against him. such a person is exempt if he is ordinarily resident in Great Britain and has been for 20 years, or if he was born in Great Britain and has lived here ever since. I should also make clear that the order my right honourable friend proposes to make under Clause 8 will secure that a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies who has no other relationship may not be removed to a place outside the United Kingdom unless he has indicated his willingness to go there. The Bill ensures that someone who is not a citizen and is excluded from Great Britain commits a serious effence if he goes to Northern Ireland, and he can be removed from there.
§ In proposing these powers, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has had in mind the need to be able to take effective action against those who are involved in the present terrorist campaign, but against whom there is not evidence of the kind needed for a successful prosecution; and on the other hand to introduce sufficient safeguards for those who are made subject to exclusion orders. The right to make representations in Clause 4 derives from the 1939 Act. But we have introduced an additional safeguard in Clause 3(2) designed to prevent a person being removed to some place with which he has no real connection.
§ We have carefully considered whether a full-scale system of judicial review should be introduced into the procedure for representations in Clause 4. But exclusion orders are concerned solely with national security rather than with justiciable issues and in such cases, distasteful though this may be, the final decision must rest with the Secretary of State. A person against whom an exclusion order is made is guaranteed, under Clause 4(3) of the Bill, the right to make representations against it to the Secretary of State. He has 48 hours in which to exercise this right. Under the provisions of the supplementary Order an exclusion order cannot be put into effect until the person concerned has had the 1504 opportunity to exercise his right to make representations. Unless the Secretary of State considers that the representations are made on frivolous grounds, he must refer them to advisers whom he nominates.
§ My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has considered carefully the sort of people whose advice he should seek in cases of this sort. It is not appropriate to announce names at this stage but it is clearly right for me to indicate how he will approach this issue. In making exclusion orders matters of grave national security are clearly involved. We must not be inhibited from getting rid of terrorists by an inability to use highly sensitive information. Advice must therefore be sought from people to whom secrets affecting national security can be entrusted. There can be no question of open proceedings or the public presentation of evidence. At the same time it is essential to ensure that individual liberties are safeguarded as far as possible. Those to whom representations against exclusions are put must be men of reputation whose impartiality is clearly beyond question.
§ There are already areas of Government in which the independent review of decisions taken on grounds of national security is a necessary safeguard against the infringement of the rights of the individual. The closest parallels are decisons taken on civil servants, where there are risks to national security, and immigration decisions where national security calls for a person's exclusion. In these fields there is a well-established machinery for obtaining independent advice. Advisers have been appointed to whom the person affected by a security decision may put his case. Having reviewed the case for and against the person concerned the advisers make their report. The final decision is then taken by the Minister concerned, in the light of, but not bound by, the advice given. My right honourable friend considers that a procedure of this kind will meet the requirements of preserving the interests of national security while at the same time providing an independent safeguard against abuse.
§ Clause 7 deals with powers of arrest and detention in connection with terrorism. The particular point which I draw to the attention of your Lordships 1505 is that under this provision the police will be able to arrest a person whom they reasonably suspect of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism. They may detain him for 48 hours and the Secretary of State may extend that period to seven days. The object of this power is to enable the police to hold people whom they have good reason to believe are involved in acts of terrorism but whom they cannot immediately connect with specific offences. This provision will, for example, enable them to check the fingerprints of suspects against police records, and to establish whether there is evidence on which specific charges can be brought, or, if not, evidence on which it would be right for the Secretary of State to make an exclusion order.
§ This power of detention is another power which is justified by the extremely grave situation which we face. It is wrong in this situation that the police should have grounds for suspecting that a person is involved in terrorist activities but be unable to detain him to check their suspicions because they do not have evidence of a specific offence. But it is also right that there should be some safeguard against abuse of this power, and it is for this reason that detention beyond 48 hours will require the approval of the Secretary of State. In no circumstances can a person be detained under this power for longer than seven days. In my view it is right that the decision whether to extend the period of detention should be for my right honourable friend to take. The powers of arrest in Clause 7 concern, largely, matters closely related to the powers to make exclusion orders, which essentially depend upon decisions of the Executive. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate to make these matters dependent on any form of judicial determination.
§ Clause 8, with paragraph 1 of Schedule 3, empowers the Secretary of State to make an order providing for the examination of travellers entering or leaving Great Britain or Northern Ireland. The object of the examination is to determine, first, whether a person appears to be concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism; second, whether he is already subject to an exclusion order; and third, whether he has committed an offence in connection with 1506 exclusion orders. Examining officers may be police officers or immigration officers, but it will fall mainly to the police, on the basis of the existing port units, to enforce what is a security rather than an immigration control.
§ Clause 8 enables powers to be given to examining officers to search people under examination and to arrest and detain them if necessary. Copies of the draft order have been made available to your Lordships: it contains provisions parallel to those in the Immigration Act. Such provisions include obligations on travellers to produce documents if required. The order will relate only to Great Britain. A further order will be made as soon as possible making similar provision for Northern Ireland. There is nothing in the new provisions which makes it necessary for the police to operate the control comprehensively, in the sense of subjecting every traveller to a thorough examination. The control can be operated to the extent that seems appropirate in the circumstances at the time. No one would wish these exceptional powers to remain in force longer than is necessary. The Bill as my noble friend the Leader of the House pointed out a moment ago, provides that the powers shall expire in six months, unless renewed by an Affirmative Order.
§ Having described the main powers in the Bill, I shall now, if I may turn briefly to a matter which I know has been troubling a number of noble Lords; that is, the appearance of IRA leaders on television. As the House knows, the noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, had down on the Order Paper for to-day an Unstarred Question about the use of television by those advocating violence. He has kindly agreed to withdraw it in order to make this debate possible. I understand that instead he intends to raise the matter during this debate. If I may, I shall anticipate his point. I should like to make it quite clear that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is strongly opposed to Government censorship of programmes on either radio or television.
§ The broadcasting authorities—both the BBC and the IBA—act as trustees for the public interest, and they are wholly and solely responsible for programmes broadcast. Under the BBC Charter (and related documents) and the Independent1507
§ Broadcasting Act both authorities have a duty to maintain proper standards and to ensure so far as possible that nothing is included in programmes which is likely to incite to crime or lead to disorder or to be offensive to public feeling. They are also required to treat controversial and political matters with due impartiality. For the Government to intervene on this matter would set a dangerous precedent for political control of programme content. Nevertheless, I think it true to say that, if, as I hope the House passes the Bill, the broadcasting authorities will be faced with a new situation. Indeed, both the BBC and the IBA have recently recognised this in public statements. I am confident that, when considering their position, the broadcasting authorities will have full regard to the provisions of the Bill in the light of their respective responsibilities, and will also be fully sensitive to the feelings of this House and another place.
My Lords, the powers in the Bill which I have described have inevitably been subjected to some criticism. It has been said that they go too far in eroding the liberties of the individual. I do not accept this. I agree, of course, that some infringement of individual liberty is involved in this Bill. But the present terrorist campaign has made the decision to introduce it quite inescapable. We must give the police additional powers to deal with a campaign of murderous violence without precedent in our history. In 1939 this House passed, also, if I may say so, with great despatch, the Prevention of Violence (Temporary Provisions) Act. This measure was introduced following a series of IRA attacks and the discovery of documents which disclosed that they had plans to attack public property. Speaking on that occasion the noble Earl, Lord de la Warr, then President of the Board of Education, said:
One of the most impressive things about this country and the workings of democracy is that suddenly without any propaganda whatsoever, apparently without any particular lead from the top, the country as a whole from one end to the other comes to a conclusion that these things must stop and that not a soul is safe until they have been stopped."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28/7/39, c. 645.)
§ My Lords, the Government, too, have come to just that conclusion. And that is why we have introduced the present Bill.1508
§ Moved, That this House takes note of the Government's proposals announced by the Home Secretary for the prevention of terrorism in Great Britain.—(Lord Harris of Greenwich.)
§ 3.57 p.m.
§ LORD HAILSHAM OF SAINT MARY-LEBONE
My Lords, I am sure the House would wish me to thank the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, for the lucid exposition of the measure which the Government is now taking through another place; such an exposition was the more necessary because we have only seen the Bill in the last 24 hours, and we would ordinarily have needed a certain amount of time to digest its contents. Perhaps I might also make a personal apology. I hope to be here during the greater part of this debate and, also, however late it is, when the Bill ultimately reaches us, but it might be that during the latter part of it an engagement which I have not been able to put off may take me away for a brief period of time. I hope to be here when the noble and learned Lord makes his reply, but if I should not be here I hope he will acquit me of any intention of discourtesy.
My Lords, as we were saying after the Business Statement, the measure which the noble Lord has discussed is designed to take immediate effect. Apart from its practical value—which I shall be talking about in a moment—its moral impact is hardly less important and would, I fear, be considerably blunted if we did not accede to the Government's request to enable the Bill to receive the Royal Assent so as to place it on the Statute Book to-morrow. Although, therefore, the House has been placed in inconvenience and one would normally prefer a more leisurely course, I am sure that the House would be well advised to accept the lead of the Government—endorsed, as it was yesterday, by my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition—and to pass the Bill with the minimum delay when it reaches us, and, I would suggest, to pass it without amendment.
For the same reason, although I shall be referring briefly to the merits of such proposals in a moment, I am sure the Home Secretary has been wise to exclude such measures as identity cards and the death penalty from this particular package. It would be both unseemly and, I 1509 think, impracticable to adopt either proposal in a hurry, and, at least so far as regards identity cards, it would not be possible to take the practical steps necessary to implement them for a considerable period of time. What we are concerned with is an emergency measure, and it is as an emergnecy measure that the Bill must be judged.
I feel quite sure that what is proposed will be seen by the great mass of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom as a welcome step in the direction of recognising the seriousness of what has been happening. My own view is that these measures are in fact overdue. The Home Secretary has described them as "draconian ", and although of course this was an historical solecism, they undoubtedly involve distasteful restrictions on individual liberty which the House would be unwilling to allow unless they were justified by necessity. However, if one asks oneself the simple question: which is the greater restriction of liberty and which the more serious infringement of human rights, the bombings in Birmingham or last night in Chelsea, or the measures proposed in the Bill, I think I know what the average man and the average woman would say was the worse, for I believe that the average man and the average woman know that the necessity does exist.
For some years now it has been apparent that though this country is at peace with all the world, there exists a body of men and women under the name of the Provisional IRA and, I would add, the Provisional Sinn Fein, who regard themselves as at war with us, and are certainly committing what they would describe as acts of war against us. I use the phrase, "acts of war" but they are in fact much worse than acts of war, for no civilised law of nations could possibly admit as justifiable, even in an authorised belligerent, the abominable slaughter of innocent men, women and children involved in the Birmingham bombings—or the Oxford Street bombings in Belfast, which let us not forget. They would in fact be treated as war crimes under the laws of nations, and indeed the Nuremberg courts inflicted the death penalty in cases less serious than this.
To regard the IRA as an army, or their members as soldiers, is to do them 1510 an honour which they do not deserve: they are a criminal gang. It is necessary that we should recognise that these people are absolutely merciless, absolutely in-inhuman, and not to be appeased by any concessions we make at present. I have always insisted that we must steadfastly refuse in this country to discriminate against individual groups in our society, to insult them, or allow them to be insulted in any way, or to treat them in any way as second-class citizens. Therefore, our policy of reconciliation between the two communities in Northern Ireland must go on at all costs. We must not allow our anger at these atrocities to interfere with that policy, and still less must we condone retaliation upon the broad mass of our neighbours in this country who may be of Irish extraction—as indeed I am myself—for the wicked deeds of a guilty minority of which the enormous majority are wholly innocent.
But we must recognise that the Provisionals, so called, are not to be bought off with appeasement. They are a criminal conspiracy to commit high treason and murder. It is not simply enough to sit back and wait for them to commit fresh crimes even if we then use the ordinary processes of law to identify them and bring them to trial; it is necessary to take the initiative against them, to identify their members, if we can, in advance, to bring them to trial, and sentence them, if need be, to deterrent sentences of imprisonment, and exclude them altogether from our society.
Of course, the immediate effects of declaring the IRA to be a criminal conspiracy will be only marginal, but the immediate effect will none the less be welcome. The new laws will make it plain to everyone that they associate with the criminals, or give them aid and comfort, only at considerable personal risk to themselves. Collections for them which have been going on in public houses will become illegal, or collections which have been going on (I believe by intimidation) on building sites will be illegal. Although I say this with a note of interrogation in my voice, I hope their funds will be at risk, and that if this Bill does not make them liable to confiscation other measures will do so.
Expressions of sympathy and support will, I hope, be excluded both from the media and the air, and I shall come back 1511 to this in a moment when I discuss the noble Lord's speech. Front organisations under a different name can be proscribed by Order; uniforms, berets, arm bands and disguises can be driven from the streets, and processions and demonstrations prevented. People, I hope, will realise at last—to borrow Chairman Mao's phraseology—that the IRA fish will be denied altogether the water in which alone they can live and swim.
Looking at the Schedule to the Bill, I notice that only the IRA is officially proscribed. I am wondering why it is proscribed under a single name, since I understood that there were two organisations concerned, both of whom used the IRA as their name; both the Official, so-called, and the Provisional, so-called. I notice also that Sinn Fein is absent. Also absent is the nasty little organisation called Saov Eirann, and a number of others of the same kind. I wonder why? Personally, I regard the distinction between Sinn Fein and the IRA as wholly illusory, and I am bound to say I regret not seeing its name in the Schedule. Their personnel I believe to be wholly interchangeable. Magill, who I now gather asserts himself to have been political is, unless the Press have been misinformed, the convicted author of terrorist crimes. There can be no sense in banning the IRA, I should have thought, without banning Sinn Fein as well.
The most serious infringement of liberty in the proposed measure is, of course, the exclusion order, which may effectively restrict free travel within the United Kingdom of United Kingdom citizens who have not been convicted of any crime. There are two points which arise in this connection and I want to deal with them separately. The first is the general policy involved, and the second is the method adopted to implement the policy. So far as the policy is involved, I must say that I endorse the proposals of the Government. I feel quite sure that, even apart from the general necessity of the case, we can safely trust the Home Secretary with this unusual power in the peculiar circumstances. Obviously, Mr. Jenkins is a man to whom I have been opposed at various times of my life, both individually as the shadow spokesman on Home Affairs and otherwise, but I do not think that anyone of us would doubt that, in 1512 every sense of the word except that which is dearest to the hearts of noble Lords below the gangway, he is a liberal-minded man, and I feel quite sure that the liberties of the subject are safe in his hands. But he must expect strict Parliamentary scrutiny in both Houses; and, of course, there is the additional safeguard provided by Parliamentary control in the Affirmative Resolution procedure of the renewal provisions in the Bill.
My Lords, coming to the second and rather more technical matter, I know that offence has been caused and questions have been raised about the method employed by representatives of the Protestant majority, particularly those who represent it in another place. They suggest, I think with plausibility, that the Bill provides a discrimination against those members of our community who dwell in Northern Ireland, since the exclusion order applies solely to Great Britain and this means effectively that a person can be excluded from Great Britain but not excluded from Northern Ireland. It is a one-way provision. I wonder whether this is really wise.
I could not help noticing, my Lords, that those arrested, rightly or wrongly, in connection with the Birmingham bombings were persons with addresses in this country who were trying to go to Northern Ireland. We know, for instance, that the criminal Dugdale, who is now under a nine-year sentence in Dublin, leaves this country where she ordinarily resides in order to lay waste one part or another of the island of Ireland; and one knows that Mr. Stevenson who for some reason spells his name with a "Mac" is also in this category. He lives in Britain, being an Englishman, but desires to commit murder on the other side of St. George's Channel.
I wonder whether it would have been wiser to provide that either the Home Secretary or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland should have been able to make a parallel and reciprocal exclusion order against such people entering the Province, or the Six Counties, for the purpose of committing acts of terrorism there. Such people obviously exist, and I feel quite sure that the criticism to which the Home Secretary is undoubtedly being subjected from the Six Counties (notably I believe by my noble friend 1513 Lord Brookeborough and others) would have been avoided had it been made an even-handed approach to this serious provision.
My Lords, the Home Secretary has, in my judgment rightly, excluded identity cards from this package and has kept an open mind about it. Apart from the correctness of his reasons for excluding it from this emergency Bill, one must remember that identity cards would be expensive, difficult to police, a great nuisance to the ordinary citizen and probably easily forged. It therefore remains an open question whether they would do enough good to make them desirable. I have no doubt whatever that should it prove necessary we should have to put up with it, but at the moment I am glad that the Home Secretary has not decided without further evidence to adopt the proposal. Personally, without further evidence I would not wish to call for it.
On the other hand, I should like to say this to those who concern themselves, and rightly, with individual liberty: I have never myself seen anything degrading in principle in asking people to give their fingerprints. I do not see what an honest man has to fear from giving his fingerprints. I certainly would not be reluctant to do so myself. I would only suggest that a slightly less messy method might be devised than the indelible purple ink which seems to be the only device which modern police technology has managed to think out. I should have thought that plaster or wax would be a little more popular.
I do not want at this stage to say much about the death penalty. I think that it was obviously rightly left out of this Bill, and I gathered from the noble Lord the Leader of the House earlier this afternoon that we shall have an opportunity in the reasonably near future of discussing it in depth. I think it is extremely important that Parliament should discuss it. Public opinion is deeply concerned about the subject. The arguments are in fact a good deal more evenly balanced than enthusiasts on both sides sometimes pretend, and I think a deployment of them with complete candour is once more overdue. There are two or three short points which I should like to put into the minds of the Government about the arguments, and indeed perhaps for the public. The first is that 1514 whatever the merits or demerits of capital punishment may be, it can be only a part, and not necessarily the most important part, of any campaign against violent crime. By far the most important precept is that said to have been contained in Mrs. Beeton's first edition of household cookery, "First catch your hare"; in other words, first identify and apprehend your criminal, bring him to trial and prove him guilty. Only after that can you rationally discuss what you are going to do with him, important as that may be.
However, I would point out the second thing to which I drew the attention of the Government long before this series of terrorist crimes took place. When Parliament abolished capital punishment for murder, it deliberately left the death penalty for treason. I say "deliberately ", because according to my recollection the matter was in fact discussed during the course of the debate. I feel sure, my Lords, that the time has come for Parliament to codify and modernise the whole law of offences against the State. The law of treason itself is contained in a Norman French Statute of 1351 which displays many bizarre features. Indeed, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will not be unaware that to kill the Lord Chancellor while executing his office (whatever that may mean) is treason and not murder. So far it has proved an excellent deterrent, because so far as I know no one has actually murdered a Lord Chancellor while executing his office, although Henry VIII did execute one some years ago for not swearing to what he did not believe.
My Lords, it has also been the subject of dubious judicial extension and in my opinion it is high time it was brought up to date. It is, however, clear that on any version of the Statute, levying war against the Queen (that is against society) in her Realm is treason according to the plain intent of the Statute. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Birmingham bombings and all activities of persons who regard themselves as waging war against us come well within that definition. We must make up our minds whether to enforce the law, amend it or abolish it. Left on the Statute Book and not enforced, it reduces respect for the law and remains on the whole an obstacle to its proper enforcement.
1515 Thirdly, we must not forget that those who commit acts of terrorism always, in my experience and belief, do so believing that sooner or later their side will win and that therefore they will get out of prison either by blackmail or by direct rescue or by amnesty. At any rate we can be sure that the death penalty would remove that expectation.
My Lords, I want to say a word about the media and about the question which was put down and subsequently withdrawn by my noble friend Lord Brookeborough. I quite understand the difficulties felt by the Home Secretary about it, difficulties which were repeated again this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. But there are three points which I wish to put to the Government—and to the media, through the Government—on this question. In the first place the media are under an obligation—in the case of television and radio it is a statutory obligation—not to cause undue offence to their fellow citizens. Personally I regarded the O'Connell interview as an affront to all our people who are trying to maintain justice in Northern Ireland and to the victims of IRA terrorism, both in Ulster and in Britain. I do not regard it as decent to allow people to make propaganda against us on our own air waves. The IRA regard themselves as at war with us; public opinion would not have endorsed it during the war if we had allowed Lord Haw-Haw to operate on the BBC, or Thames Television had it then existed.
There is another and rather more serious point. Anybody who knows anything about intelligence (I use the term in the military sense) or terrorism must know that if people are given the freedom of the air they can use it to communicate with their troops on the ground. How can we be sure that the O'Connell interview was not used in exactly that way? It took place a week before the Birmingham bombings. O'Connell said he was going to step up his terrorism campaign in this country, by which he meant Britain. A few days later it was stepped up. How can we be sure that that was not an executive order broadcast by the courtesy of Mary Holland and the Thames Television?
Thirdly, there is another point to which I should like to draw attention. Pre 1516 sumably Mary Holland would not have had access to O'Connell if she had not the authority from her television bosses to promise security so far as O'Connell was concerned. I have a Question on the Order Paper about the crime known as misprision of treason, which means suppressing deliberately information regarding traitors from the authorities. To the television authorities and to the Government I should like to say that people who promise security for traitors or murderers may very well be vulnerable to the criminal law without any general direction from the Home Secretary. But I think that I made a case sufficiently powerful for the television authorities to refrain in future from any kind of contact with those who are committing crimes of this kind. I believe that, if they failed to do so, public opinion would support the Home Secretary if he thought it right to give general directions to that effect. After all the Press Council has condemned cheque book journalism again and again. But what is this but chequebook television?
My Lords, I close with two brief observations. I sincerely hope that we shall hear no more of the so-called backlash. All of us hate terrorism but most of us know and love individual Irish men and women of both religious communities who reside here in our midst. Amid all the shame and horror of these crimes we must never forget that the enormous majority are wholly clear of any wrong. At all costs we must avoid the sin of confusing the innocent and the guilty and we must not descend to the level of our enemies in this respect.
I think that we all need to remember that the only end to these tragedies in the long run is not to be found in Dublin or Belfast alone. There is a British dimension in all this in addition to an Irish dimension. The horror of the Birmingham and Chelsea bombs underlines this as perhaps never before. We shall not have peace in Ulster, and we shall never be free from the terror of these atrocities here, until all the peoples of these islands as a whole come to realise that however much we may differ in national traditions or creed we none the less form a single group of human beings whose destiny and duty it is to live together in peace and friendship. Our 1517 past is far too indissolubly interpenetrated, the one with another, to make complete separation ever a possibility for any of us. To make us believe the contrary is exactly what the criminals of the IRA are trying to do. This is a war we have to win. Our duty is to wage it without sacrificing the ideals which make it worth while winning.
My Lords, I was very sorry to hear on the radio this morning a Member of another place advocating the withdrawal of our troops in this connection. The people of Northern Ireland are our fellow subjects. Rightly or wrongly we are told—and I certainly believe it—that the withdrawal of our troops would, in fact, lead to a massacre on a gigantic scale by the standards of which the present terrors would be miniscule. I do not think we could honourably pursue a course which led predictably to that. But if we were to do so then I think that we would find that even the cowardly course which we adopted would not be to our own advantage. It is a mistake to believe that if one yields to terrorism of this kind other terrorists in Britain will not draw the obvious moral that the gun and the bomb pay off because the British do not have the courage to resist them. If that once got abroad what is now limited to Northern Irish affairs might be repeated in various degrees, in various parts of this island as well, in support of various causes, some more and some less desirable. We cannot afford to lose this battle, and the Government may be absolutely sure, I believe, of the great mass of public opinion; and I can promise the support of the Party of which I am a member in trying to overcome it.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ LORD WIGODER
My Lords, all of us who treasure our civil liberties—and that means every Member of your Lordships' House—is bound to want to consider with the greatest care emergency legislation which may have been hastily conceived, hurriedly drafted and passed into law without careful detailed examination in your Lordships' House. I believe that we must apply to this proposed legislation three simple tests. First, does it match up to the existing emergency? Does it neither exaggerate it nor underestimate it? Second, is the encroachment upon our liberty that is inevitably involved the very minimum that is necessary for the purpose? Third, has every possible step 1518 been taken to ensure that such encroachment upon our liberty is of a purely temporary nature and is in no danger of drifting into becoming the permanent law of the land? By those three tests my noble friends on these Benches and I calculate that this is legislation which should properly be supported and which will be supported without amendment by my noble friends and myself later this evening. In those circumstances all I would propose to do is to make one or two observations about various clauses in this Bill in what is intended to be a wholly constructive spirit.
The first Part of the Bill, dealing with the banning of organisations, beginning with the IRA, and the prevention of display of support in public for such organisations, we welcome. We do so, first, because, as has already been said, it is an insult to the ordinary people of this country that such a body should be lawful and such public manifestations of support should take place; and, secondly, because there is a very real danger, particularly at the moment, of grave and serious breaches of the peace if they were to be allowed. The only query that I have on that first Part of the Bill is this. I assume that the security forces have agreed that their task is not going to be made any more difficult by the organisation concerned being driven underground. I should welcome an assurance to that effect.
Under Clause 1 of the Bill there is clearly a possibility of intervention by the Government against the Press or the television companies. I welcome very much the assurance given by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, that that is not in any way contemplated. I respectfully differ from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, in what he was saying about an appalling interview given by David O'Connell on television last week. I have read and reread the transcript of that interview, which appeared to me to be a dreadful, straightforward statement of the enlarged aims of that particular organisation and of the terms upon which they were prepared to call off their campaign. It was of a highly informative nature and it will have served to strengthen the determination of the people of this country to continue to resist the objectives which Mr. O'Connell was professing. I do not believe it would be right to take any 1519 action in relation to an interview of that nature (which was, incidentaly, given, as I understand it, in the Irish Republic) and no question arises, as the Attorney-General has made clear in another place, of any criminal offence being involved so far as the Independent Broadcasting Authority are concerned.
We welcome the second Part of the Bill, dealing with exclusion orders, which is linked with Clause 8, which deals with control of entry and procedure for removal. At this stage I do not want to embark upon a discussion about identity cards, except to remind your Lordships that under Article 8 of the draft Order that is being made under Clause 8 it is proposed that a person on examination at a port or airport shall, if so required, produce cither a valid passport with photograph, or some other document satisfactorily establishing his identity, nationality or citizenship. It is a small step from there to ensuring the carrying of identity cards. I appreciate the immediate practical difficulties. I am not impressed by the argument that identity cards can easily be forged. I have rarely heard that put forward by any Government as an excuse for failing to print further quantities of bank notes. I suggest the Government should consider earnestly in the next month or two whether the necessity arises for the extension of identity cards in this way. If it does, the Government should not hesitate to ask for those powers which I have no doubt would meet with very substantial support.
There is one other matter on the exclusion orders I would venture to raise. Clause 4(4) provides that representations against the making of an exclusion order can be referred for the advice of one or more persons nominated by the Secretary of State. As I understand the wording of that clause, it would appear that legal representation is not to be permitted to somebody in that position. I should be glad if the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack would in due course clarify that matter. If my understanding is correct, I must confess I somewhat regret that that position should arise.
I turn now to Part III of the Bill which deals with powers of arrest and detention. The powers of arrest laid down are in 1520 fact not substantially in excess of existing powers of arrest which are already very wide. I do not believe that, on the grounds of the preservation of the civil liberties of the individual, objection should be taken in any way to the proposed powers of arrest without a warrant which are set out in Clause 7. The other matter under the same clause, that a person should not be detained for more than 48 hours after arrest unless there is authorisation for a further five days by the Secretary of State, I welcome for a very curious reason. I welcome it on behalf of those who are concerned 'deeply with the liberties of the individual, because the present position in law is, as I understand it, that there is no maximum time limit between arrest and charge beyond which a person may not be interrogated. A person has a right to apply for a writ of habeas corpus, but it must be many years since one was successful in that respect. In fact it is in no way uncommon in serious criminal cases at the moment that have nothing to do with terrorism, for people to be detained for three, four, five or six days before a charge is made.
I very much welcome this provision. It makes it abundantly clear that in those cases such action by the police is not lawful. I equally welcome the provision in this Part of the Bill that where offences of this nature, suspected terrorism, and so forth, are concerned, it should be practicable to keep a person in custody for up to a period of seven days. On that I venture to raise only one matter: that during a prolonged interrogation over a long period—and four, five or six days is a long period in these circumstances—there is first of all the risk which is a possibility (I put it no higher) that in the heat of the emotion following upon a particularly dreadful outrage, some police officer may find it not entirely easy to abide by the precise bounds of proper interrogation.
There is another risk, which is not a possibility but very nearly a certainty; namely, that come the trial the detainee will inevitably allege the most appalling ill-treatment by police officers during this period of four or five days. I would therefore invite the Government to consider whether some form of administrative measure might be taken which would help to obviate this risk. Clearly, it is not 1521 practical in these circumstances to say a detainee should have immediate access to his lawyer. One would not expect that. It might be worth considering whether the divisional surgeon attached to each police station might, as a matter of routine, daily examine anyone who is detained in accordance with this clause, not particularly for the protection of the detainee himself, but just as much for the protection of police officers against whom otherwise monstrous allegations may in due course be made.
Having seen in Part III of the Bill powers of arrest and detention, I looked anxiously to see what appeared to follow from that, which was powers of search. For some reason which I fail to fathom the powers of search are not dealt with logically where they should be, but are somewhat secluded in Schedule 3. They are of extreme importance in assisting the police to deal with the present terrorist campaign. They provide, first of all, that warrants may be issued to enable the police to search the premises or places where they suspect material may be connected with offences of this nature. They provide, secondly, and much more important, that a senior police officer, who has reasonable grounds for believing this is a matter of great urgency, can himself authorise such a search. This will be of vast help to the police. They have felt constantly handicapped because, at the moment, immediately after an incident they are not enabled to go into the homes of known sympathisers in the vicinity of that incident, without first scouting around in order to find a justice of the peace who is willing to sign a search warrant. I believe that this is a sensible extension of that power and I am sure we can place our trust in the police not to abuse it.
The only other observation I wish to make on this Bill at the moment is that it provides for orders under various clauses to be laid before Parliament from time to time. Those orders are liable to be extremely important and complicated, and I hope it will be possible to have an assurance that they may be laid before us in sufficient time to enable us to peruse the details and to appreciate their significance, without having to deal with them in the rather hasty way in which we have had to deal with some of the legislation this afternoon. We on these 1522 Benches support this legislation as giving our community some of the means to, combat the attempts being made upon us. We support it also, because it demonstrates our determination that the community is not going to be blown off course by acts of mindless terrorism.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SLIM
My Lords, I come before you to-day with humility, being very sensible of the honour your Lordships do me in permitting me to speak to you during this debate. I hope I sense the mood of your Lordships' House correctly on this occasion. It seems to me that there is much to be accomplished and therefore, with your indulgence, I should like to put forward just a few points. As is the custom of a Peer making a maiden speech, I shall try to be non-controversial.
Any terrorist campaign will meet with success or failure in accordance with a nation's counter-measures, and these hinge on the loyalties, patriotism, attitudes and motivation of the general public. If I may venture to say this, perhaps it would be more far-sighted and prudent if, instead of the nation at this stage worrying about the penalties for treachery and treason, we concentrated mind and effort more fully on the identification and destruction of the terrorist in our midst—because the enemy is within. Subversion, sabotage, murder and terror harass our homeland to-day. Life and nationhood are at stake. It is a sad reflection that to-day many of the enemy, either by blood or adoption, are as British as anyone in your Lordships' Chamber. This subversion, in its insidious manner, has already stretched into society at many levels and that is always the aim of the terrorist, because, in the long run, he aims to break down the framework of our society. Wittingly or unwittingly, perhaps, some people have already gone some distance into the enemy camp.
Far and wide our tradition of British tolerance is envied. This is laudable when built on the true strength of democratic freedom, and when it rests on the firm and proven foundations that we have had for so many years. To that must also be added the integrity and unity of purpose of the mass of the people. But recently changing values and changing 1523 circumstances appear in some areas to have diluted this tolerance. So that it tends to become a tolerance which is sometimes mere indifference or non-involvement—the "don't want to know, brush it under the carpet" brigade. Perhaps I may be so bold as to say that the feeling of non-commitment is uppermost in some minds. This tolerance and, if you like, laxity in our national discipline to-day could, in my view, be our greatest weakness in this type of campaign—the Achilles heel. None knows better than the professional revolutionary and the infiltrator how best to exploit this weakness. After all, whose country is it? Why should the vast, good, honest majority be dictated to, threatened and intimidated by a vicious, murderous few? Perhaps it is time our silent majority, in a responsible manner, became a little more militant and made certain that the terrorists knew them as a force to be reckoned with.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ VISCOUNT SLIM
My Lords, we have seen only too clearly just across the water a silent majority that is terrorised, sometimes cowed and always under threat, so that it becomes apathetic. It is easy prey for the terrorist and the revolutionary, and we must never allow this to happen to the vast silent majority of the British public within our Kingdom. There is no place for fear or intimidation, and somehow the message has to be got across and the people must be galvanised into an awareness of the dangers and realities that face them to-day.
Some commentators say it is realistic that in these harsh times we have to accept a level of terrorism and of violence in our society. This, if I may say so, smacks of compromise: from the start it smacks of a defeatist attitude, and surely, my Lords, our national aim must be the total destruction and defeat of terrorism within our nation. We have to win, and the reason for this is that our national terrorism is supported so often by international outsiders. If we are seen not to take up the struggle and not to have the resolution to win, it will be said that the British are soft, that they are easy meat. Those of us who travel constantly are used to taunts by some abroad to-day, that our lion can have his tail pulled because he has no teeth. I venture to suggest to your 1524 Lordships that it is about time that our lion, or our bulldog, got a tooth or two.
My Lords, the Bill before us to-day is timely and much needed, but let us realise that it is a defensive measure. Those with experience in these matters will know that legislation seldom stops a terrorist act. We must be on the offensive; we must be aggressive. The professional terrorist will merely look upon these measures as another hurdle to overcome before the deed is done. We surely have to admit that when it comes to fighting terrorism we have not yet pulled out all the stops. So much is repugnant, so much is uncomfortable to us in these affairs. But, if we are to survive we cannot afford to shackle ourselves to what are perhaps outdated traditions, nor to use a machinery that, in some respects, creaks with antiquity and is not geared to take on the new enemy. We have to have a firmer and stronger measure of control from the centre, and we have to allow those engaged on these operations not to be fettered but to have freedom of action and to be able to operate with equal cunning and, at times, ruthlessness equal to those who are now our enemies.
My Lords, it seems to me that up and down the width and breadth of this nation to-day our people, if they are told the facts, will do their part. One gets the feeling that this is not the time for the prattle of third-rate politics. Our democracy has over the years taken a great deal of punishment, particularly in the last 10 years or so. It is looking a little tattered around the edges. It is starting to look to some as if it could be toppled. There comes a time when, to survive, democracy must punch back. I thank your Lordships for the great honour of allowing me to speak to you this afternoon.
§ 4.56 p.m.
My Lords, it is my privilege to follow a maiden speaker. It is a privilege that I have had on two occasions earlier and it gives me particular pleasure to-day. It is fortuitous because I have to apologise to your Lordships for the fact that I shall not be able to stay for the later stages of this debate, owing to an engagement from which I could not extract myself. But this has had the pleasurable result for me—and I think it is the only pleasure that I can derive from rising to speak to your Lordships at the moment—that 1525 I am able to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Slim, on behalf of all your Lordships. I hope that he will not take it amiss if I say that the pleasure which I derive is in part due to his distinguished father whom I knew, and who was admired by every Englishman and loved by all the soldiers—Gurkha, Indian, British and African—who served under him, for his rare qualities of courage and good common sense.
My Lords, I often think back to my own maiden speech in your Lordships' House and to the state of trepidation or, indeed, terror that I was in at that time, and it has always seemed to me that the main reason for congratulating maiden speakers is upon their courage. The noble Viscount has shown this courage to-day, but he has combined it with a compelling delivery and a striking good sense—qualities which, if we examine ourselves, we cannot always claim to have achieved in our maiden speeches. We hope to hear further from the noble Viscount.
My Lords, the measures which are to come before us have received an expert legal scrutiny from the Benches opposite and, not being qualified to do so, I do not propose to follow either the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Sain[...] Marylebone, or the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wigoder. I will merely say that I, of course, support the measures which are to come before us. I have read them carefully and I approve of them in regard to their nature, their degree and their scope, although I share with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, some doubt about the limitations upon their geographical scope, which I also think should have been widened to include Northern Ireland. I would also support the introduction of forms of identification if, notwithstanding the size and complexity of the administrative operation, they could really be shown to be effective, taking particularly into account the enormous task of checking against forgeries and stolen cards. I do not regard the individual personal inconvenience not—if it be seen as such—the slight infringement of our civil liberties resulting from having to go into an identity card situation, as being in any way compelling arguments against such a measure in the circumstances in which we are placed.
1526 It is contended by some that these measures do not go far enough; that they are no more than half measures. However, I have no doubt that the Government have already in mind further steps which they may in due course bring before us, and I have no doubt, also, that it may not be in the public interest to declare their hand as regards those measures now. I myself feel that these measures go a proper distance, and that before going any further we should see how effective they prove. Reference has already been made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, and by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, from the Government benches, to a matter which I intended to mention in any case, and if I raise it now it is only to reinforce what has been said.
I share the concern of those who have spoken before me about the television appearance of David O'Connell, and I certainly hope that if due publicity is given to what has been said in this debate, and if they read it, the media will look very seriously indeed at this kind of thing. As a member of the Royal Commission on the Press, I hope that I have as due a regard for the proper freedoms of the communications media as anybody in your Lordships' House, but in the light of the Unstarred Question which my noble friend Lord Brookeborough had put down but is now going to speak to in this debate, I take very seriously the decision that was made by a television company to invite this person to appear before millions of people on television, and to be given apparent recognition, if not respectability, for what he stands for. May I also say, as everybody knows, that any villian who is also a skilful actor can put on an extremely impressive act on the television screen despite his true image; and it is a very dangerous thing.
The other point that strikes me about this, my Lords, is that with the enormous discretionary responsibility that rests upon the media, which is rightly in their discretion in my opinion, if they make such an appalling and enormity of a blunder as was made on that occasion, the damage is done, and it is no good Press Councils or Broadcasting Councils afterwards saying what a bad thing that was. That damage has been done, and cannot be undone.
1527 My Lords, as with perhaps some other Members of your Lordships' House, my main purpose in speaking to-day was to say something about capital punishment. I learned at very short notice that this is to be the subject of a special debate, and I therefore asked the noble Lord the Leader of the House if I might say a very few words, and he seemed agreeable. I will put my few remarks in the form of a hope, a few questions and a personal reminiscence. My questions may be construed as doubting questions, but I remain open-minded on this subject. My Lords, my hope is that we will not allow our-selves to be provoked into a response in kind for reasons and motives of revenge. I feel that one can use the analogy of war to justify going to war in self-defence, but never to enact reprisals in kind. It is a personal belief that it is not for us human beings to wreak vengeance; that is a divine prerogative. That is a personal belief and faith from which I shall never be shaken. It is not an easy thing to say, but I am prepared to say it time and again. I think it is a matter crucial to our civilised society that our ethics and our motives remain Christian, even though our faith and our worship may have declined.
My Lords, I started with a question which I think at any rate has been lodged with the Government by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, to ask whether it is really a question of reintroducing capital punishment in view of the fact that it is still on the Statute Book for treason. Not being legally trained, I am not clear how treason is defined and in what circumstances it becomes treasonable to commit acts against the State; whether these can be done and deemed to be treason only in time of war, and whether we can in fact define the present situation as a time of war—admitting, as one must, that the IRA is an organisation calling itself an army waging a campaign accountable to no one but itself. But no doubt this matter will be taken into account when we debate and come to a decision on this crucial matter of capital punishment.
My further questions, my Lords, I will put quite briefly. They are these: are there solid grounds for believing that the example and the prospect of execution would deter the IRA or any other indis 1528 criminate political murderers?—and not only those, but those who apply the weapon of terror on some of their henchmen and who exploit the sense of adventure and idealism of minors to commit these fell and horrible acts and who lurk in the shadow and security of the South of Ireland, or perhaps in this country, or even elsewhere, in doing so. My second question is: might we not be playing the enemy's game and spreading and stimulating hatred beyond the point where compromise and tolerance as solutions to the problem of Ireland fade into the indeterminate future or are lost forever? My third question is: would we not be likely—and I think this should be taken seriously—to alienate Catholic opinion throughout Ireland, here in this country and further afield? Everyone would accept that that opinion undoubtedly disagrees with, deplores or is disgusted by the acts perpetrated by these bestial bombers. But it may not follow that this antipathy for their deeds would exclude sympathy for their co-religionists and, indeed, strong ' hostility to the Government if they had to face the gallows for a cause which is dear to the hearts of most Irish Catholics, which could be seen as the highest form of sacrifice.
My Lords, so much for the short-term questions, but what about the longer term? Nearly sixty years ago we executed some of the rebels in the 1916 Uprising for dastardly deeds, less dastardly than those which are being perpetrated to-day, perhaps, but every form of inhumanity can only be measured against the times in which it is committed. Those executions were used, and have been used successfully, to stir the patriotic instincts of Irishmen to this day. Here I come to a personal reminiscence. No two situations are identical, but it may be of interest, and within the knowledge of some of your Lordships, to mention a comparable situation which occurred in Bengal in the 1930s. There we executed a number of terrorists under the existing laws which we had, supported by additional and special legislation, and I recollect some of those executions. I remember, in particular, the names of one Surja Sen, a schoolmaster, and his accomplice, Tarakeswar Dastidar, who were executed for a bomb outrage at a cricket match in Chittagong in 1933 following a successful 1529 raid on the local Territorial Army armoury.
My Lords, their names, their appearance, their demeanour remain an indelible memory to me to this day, forty years on from the event. Those people were immediately made posthumous heroes with far wider and stronger appeal than they had ever had in life—heroes of the idealistic and eager young people in the high schools throughout the Province of Bengal. They included some of the brightest and best pupils among the Hindu population, and it was my business as a police officer to get to know and to help change the minds of those young people—boys and some girls, certainly misguided but not sadists, not psychopaths, not cowards but possessed of considerable courage.
All I am saying in putting those questions and giving this personal reminiscence is that we should look very seriously at these questions, and no doubt there arc others. We should look for firm indications, if not proof, in every relevant quarter before we resort to capital punishment for acts of political terrorism—and I will say now that if I could be persuaded in this sense I would bow to the evidence that the ultimate weapon should be invoked.
Finally, let us remember that the real solutions have still to be sought in Ireland, and in particular in Northern Ireland. The root problems—and it is easy to forget this when the enemy is within and among us—are not those of security over here, any more than they are basically of security across the water. They are political. One of the main objectives of the IRA is to destroy the Government's will to find a solution, and its current tactic appears to be to attempt to blacken the face and name of Ireland and of Ulster on the lips of the British electorate to the point where they irresistibly carry a demand for extreme reprisals; they irresistibly carry a demand to pull out of the Province.
Only two solutions are possible: the achievement of a consensus form of government for the North which is agreeable and fair to both the communities, or the abandonment of the Province to fight it out to the finish, over the bodies of a great many thousands of innocent people. The latter means surrender to—or could 1530 it be victory for?—the forces of evil. The former means the triumph of the very virtues on which our society here in Britain rests and stands, and from which it could conceivably fall. My Lords, that is the choice.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ BARONESS FISHER OF REDNAL
My Lords, may I start by congratulating the noble Viscount, Lord Slim, on an excellent maiden speech. Just a few weeks ago I myself stood in these Benches and made my maiden speech. My legs trembled a lot more, I feel sure, than did Lord Slim's. He stood there with great confidence. His delivery was excellent and the clarity and clear exposition of what he had to say was a joy for all Members of your Lordships' House. I congratulate him on an excellent maiden speech and look forward, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said, to hearing him many times in this Chamber.
My Lords, I wanted to join this debate this afternoon because. as I said to your Lordships when I made my maiden speech, Birmingham is my home town: I was born there and have lived there all my life. I was absent on Tuesday of this week, but read in the OFFICIAL REPORT the condolences that were registered by noble Lords on all sides of the House. I made it my business to let the Lord Mayor of Birmingham know the expression of sympathy which was voiced in this House, and he wishes me to say how pleased he is that your Lordships thought so deeply about the excellent work that was done by the fire brigade, the ambulance men, the police, and everybody who did a job of work, including many ordinary people who jumped to the occasion.
I myself, after leaving this Chamber last Thursday, left New Street Station as the first bomb had gone off. There was complete chaos, obviously, around New Street Station; but when I reached the general hospital (I know the hospital well, because it was in my constituency when I represented it in the other House) there were already queues of people waiting to give their blood, waiting to make cups of tea, waiting to do all those ordinary jobs for which one does not need very much skill.
Last Friday and Saturday, Birmingham was a very sad city. As I said, I have 1531 lived there all my life, but I have never found the city so sad. It was sad, because it has a reputation for opening its doors to anybody who comes into the arms of the city. We have welcomed everybody and have tried to protect everybody, whether they have come from Ireland, Wales, the West Indies, Bangladesh, Pakistan or India; whether they were Uganda Asians, and only a fortnight ago we welcomed some people from Chile. The local authority of which I was privileged to be a member for over 25 years has gone to great lengths to make sure that nobody who comes into that city is penalised because of his colour or creed. All kinds of Private Bills have come to these Houses of Parliament from the local authority to prevent Rachmanism and other situations that could have arisen in the great City of Birmingham if we had not taken such measures. Because we have welcomed people, they have become part of the "Brummy" family. Last Friday, the Lord Mayor expressed the situation very well when he said: "The family is upset because some of its young people have been treated so badly during the night." So many of those who were so severely injured or killed were quite young people.
It is important for us to recognise that no Government could be inactive when innocent people were suffering as they did last Thursday—and of course they will continue to suffer. Many of them will suffer for the rest of their lives because of loss of limb, blindness, and other kinds of terrible disaster. Therefore, the Government were faced with having to take statutory measures. If the Government did not take those measures, the people themselves would take their own vengeance. That vengeance would have been something more serious because the Government had stood by and said: "Civil liberties are important and therefore we must do nothing. We must just ask the people to keep calm." So the responsibility had to be taken, unpleasant as it was; otherwise, I think it is true to say that race relations, not only in Birmingham but in many parts of the country, would have been severely strained. That would have been the situation if the Government had not decided to bring these measures, unfortunate as they are, before us to-day.
1532 Demonstrations took place in Birmingham last Friday. There were demonstrations of emotion; there were demonstrations of sadness. I am pleased to say that mob passions did not arise—one or two incidents have arisen, but not of any serious magnitude—and one of the reasons for this was the clear statement of the Home Secretary when he visited Birmingham last Friday that the Government would act. That alone was one of the main reasons why the people themselves did not decide to take vengeance. Also, of course, one must give great credit to Archbishop Dwyer of Birmingham, who appealed to the Catholic community in the city.
Therefore, the Bill which Parliament has before it meets the real fears of ordinary people. Sometimes when one enters political life, at whatever level, one forgets that so much one does on every level is to look after the interests of ordinary folk. This Bill spells out the measures which are necessary to do that. As I said, some of the provisions are unfortunate; they can reflect and impinge upon our civil liberties. But what has to be clearly recognised by all of us is that the innocent also have civil liberties which must be protected. Those liberties can be the simple one of having a drink in a pub on the way home from work; being able to catch a Tube train in London quite easily, or posting a letter—just simple liberties, but liberties which must be protected. They are the majority liberties, and any Government must take cognisance of the need for the majority of people to be protected. While we can talk about the erosion of civil liberties, the liberties of the majority must be protected—and must be protected against this vicious form of terrorism.
The measures before Parliament are necessary. They are not measures that the Home Secretary has introduced out of a spirit of revenge because he represents a Birmingham constituency. We know the Home Secretary as a very sympathetic man. We know that he has fought all his life for those things that are for the betterment of mankind, whether it is our civil liberties or any other liberties. So the measures that we are considering this afternoon are not methods of revenge to get our own back against the terrorists. Ordinary people feel that it is important to them that 1533 they must have as much protection as is possible under the law against fanatical terrorists. While we can ask people to "galvanise" (in using that one word I do not want to be controversial regarding the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Slim) or while we need to ask people to do these things, ordinary people look to politicians to do many of them. We might ask ourselves in this Chamber, as in the other place, whether we ourselves, as the representatives of the people, are doing enough.
It has been said that the police have been appealing to people to report anything that they see which might lead to their tracing the terrorists in our midst. I support them in that. I have heard some harsh words about this. It is said that they will be agents provocateurs and that such things will tear away our liberties. In reply to that, may I say that we ask people to report cases of baby battering. It is important that children should not be battered. We should report such cases either to the local authority or to any child battering prevention agency. To me there is not very much difference between the two. It is the protection of life which is involved. If we believe in protecting babies' lives we must be interested in protecting the lives of everybody. Therefore any information which we give to help the police should not make us into the enemies of ordinary people.
My Lords, I am not very happy about one thing which the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, mentioned. I should like some assurance from my noble friend about Part II of Schedule 3. Paragraph 5 of Part II deals with search warrants. Subparagraph (4) deals with a member of a police force of a rank not lower than the rank of superintendent. I speak with some experience as a justice of the peace in the City of Birmingham. I do not believe that there has ever been any difficulty in that great city regarding the police having to run around to find a magistrate. The very fact that the courts meet every day of the week except Sundays makes their job extremely easy. However, what I am concerned about regarding paragraph 5(4) is, that if the police feel that it is necessary, and the Home Secretary and the Government also 1534 feel that it is necessary, to give this responsibility to a member of the police force, will the Home Secretary be answerable in another place for any authority that is given? I do not mean a particular authority against a particular person. If, however, the question were asked as to how many times such authority has been given by police superintendents during the last month, would the Home Secretary be able, under the legislation, to give that kind of information? It is a particular concern of mine that the rights of the ordinary person should be safeguarded by magistrates as at the present time. I do not believe that this is a vested interest; we do not get any extra pay if we give a warrant to the police. However, it is a safeguard for the police themselves as well as for the public generally.
My Lords, I will be brief because I know that other Members of your Lordships' House will be joining in the debate. I want to echo what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said. The proposals in the Bill represent legal powers of arrest and punishment, but they do nothing to solve the issue which causes the crime. I would refer to the people who went to the aid of the suffering in Birmingham. The fire brigade has fire prevention services. The police themselves have crime prevention services. I know that the Irish question is a difficult and complex political question, and that there is no easy answer to the problem. However, I think that, in the same way as we have accident prevention and fire prevention, we need political prevention, and this needs to become more apparent in the Irish situation. While members of the general public will applaud and accept the Government's measures which are before us to-day, and will accept them in the spirit that, while they may lose some liberties, it will be worth while losing those liberties if thereby lives are saved, what they will be demanding from us is that we should try to solve the problem; that we should try to find the answers to those issues which lie behind the crimes. Politicians have a serious burden to carry, and that burden is to bring forward solutions to the Irish question. In that way we shall get rid of the terrorists in our midst.
§ 5.26 p.m.
LORD BELHAVEN AND STENTON
My Lords, it should have been my privilege to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Harris, on his maiden speech today. Unfortunately, he is not able to be present, but I am sure that we shall look forward to hearing him speak in your Lordships' House at an early date. Additionally, we have had one absolutely excellent maiden speech from the noble Viscount, Lord Slim. It was delivered slowly and in a way in which I wish I could speak myself. I do not believe that I could disagree with a word of the noble Viscount's speech. Whether that means it is non-controversial or not, I do not know.
My Lords, may I apologise to your Lordships and the Government for the fact that I shall not be able to stay here to-night. I have to catch a train back to Scotland to-night in order to return to my home in the Outer Hebrides. This makes it rather difficult for me to sit up all night in your Lordships' House.
I wish to speak only very briefly, but because I am the first and only Member of the Scottish National Party in your Lordships' House I felt that I should be failing in my duty if I kept silent. What I want to say principally is that the Party to which I belong supports without any qualification whatsoever Her Majesty's Government in the measures which they are taking. We must conduct our discussions, differences and disagreeements in this country in the way in which we have always conducted them; namely, through the ballot box, through argument and through persuasion. Possibly the measures are overdue. We must stop these murderers and torturers. They have brought back torture to the British Isles. We must stop these people from having their way by terrorising the innocent, the weak and the young.
My Lords, the only other point that I wish to make is that we must all hope that these measures will be effective. They are taking away a certain number of civil liberties and, naturally, they can be justified only if they work. I think that all Members of your Lordships' House must hope that they will work.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ LORD KILBRACKEN
My Lords, may I begin by congratulating the noble 1536 Viscount, Lord Slim, on his maiden speech. It is a subject upon which one might think that it is almost impossible to be non-controversial—as he was supposed to be—but I think your Lordships will agree that he succeeded and I hope that he will often come to address your Lordships' House. Having said that. I must begin, in the only way I can begin, by telling your Lordships, as I hope you and everyone in this country will know, how deeply and sincerely I and all—or the vast majority; 90 per cent. of all Irishmen and women—deplore the terrible, deliberate mass murders which have taken place in Britain in recent weeks, and, indeed, in recent days.
Since the most recent outrages I have been moving around the Republic and I have heard nothing but regret, shame, anger and, indeed, disbelief that even the Provisional Irish Republican Army could be guilty of such events. Therefore, without doubt I will support all steps, however severe, to end terrorism in Britain, or in Ireland, North and South, which in cases where the IRA is involved—and I hope that this is understood—is solely aimed, not at taking the lives of innocent people having a drink in a pub on a Saturday night, but at bringing about the withdrawal of the British from Northern Ireland and causing the British people to express the feeling, "Let them get on with it and fight it out among themselves and let us clear out ". That is the aim of the campaign being carried out by the forces of violence in Ireland and now in Britain.
Therefore, although Part III of the Bill involves considerable curtailment of private liberties, and although civil liberties are very important to me (and always have been), I offer no objection to that part of the Bill. In regard to Part I of the Bill, the only objection I have to it is that, if anything, it is not severe enough, for reasons which I shall detail later. As for the exclusion orders which are included in Part II I have some reservations about them which I hope to enumerate in a few minutes.
Before I consider the Bill, there is one matter to which I must refer. I have spoken of the disbelief that was felt that even the IRA could be responsible for the monstrosity of Birmingham, What has amazed me has been that as soon as those six men were arrested and charged 1537 I assumed that the case would be sub judice and that there could be no comment from politicians or from the media that would in any way associate the crime of Birmingham with any political group, and, of course, it must be assumed that these men who have been arrested and charged, and who have connections with Northern Ireland, are members of the IRA.
Is it right, is it fair to make that assumption? Is it not immediately prejudicing any trial in which they will eventually appear when it is assumed and already being stated as a fact that the IRA are responsible? But if this connection between the IRA and Birmingham can be made then it at least enables me to point out that both on this occasion and on the occasion of the Guildford bombings and the Tower of London bombings—in all of which innocent lives were lost—a quite different organisation calling itself Red Flag 74, of which we know nothing, claimed responsibility. On each occasion the IRA repudiated responsibility. The only reason for the IRA to have carried out those attacks would be to draw attention to the fact that they were doing it, and if another organisation having a name indicating a Communist affiliation—and whatever the Provisionals are, they are not Communist—comes and takes what they would call "credit" for it, surely it stands to reason that the IRA will counter those claims and say that they were responsible. They have not done so; they have repudiated the attack and denied taking part in it. Red Flag 74, whoever they may be—and they are not Irish—have claimed responsibility for it and I feel that we must reserve judgment.
§ LORD HARRIS OF GREENWICH
My Lords, regarding one point on which the noble Lord has touched, I should like to say that one difficulty about Red Flag 74—which has secured substantial publicity during recent weeks—is that we never hear about it until after a bomb explosion; never before.
§ LORD KILBRACKEN
My Lords, I think that shows that the Provisional IRA, who normally give a warning, are that much more humane. I am not saying that the IRA is a humane association, but in this case Red Flag 74 did give a warning one or two minutes before the bombs went off.
§ LORD DONALDSON OF KINGS-BRIDGE
My Lords, I must ask my noble friend not to use the word "humane" in relation to the Provisional IRA.
§ LORD KILBRACKEN
My Lords, I am sorry that my noble friend has said that because I deliberately stated that I was not saying that the IRA was humane; I said that it was more humane than to give no warning at all. I did not say that the IRA was a humane association. I specifically deny that I said anything of the kind, and if my noble friend would like to hear it from me in so many words I regard the Provisional IRA as the most inhumane body of people of which I have ever had any knowledge or experience.
Turning to Part I of the Bill, which makes it an offence to be a member of a proscribed organisation, at the present time there is only one proscribed organisation, the Irish Republican Army, whether it be the Provisional or the Official Irish Republican Army. I should like to point out to your Lordships the extraordinary difficulty of proving that anybody is a member of that organisation in what is still a free society. It is already difficult enough both in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, although in the Republic of Ireland under the special courts it is only necessary for a senior police officer to state that in his opinion at a certain date a man was a member of the IRA for him to be convicted automatically, and in Northern Ireland it is only necessary for it to be suspected that a man has been guilty of terrorism for him to be detained under an interim custody order for six or eight months without appearing before a Commissioner and therefore without having to be found guilty; in Britain neither of those courses will be possible. It will be necessary to prove that a man is a member of an organisation of which, of course, he carries the identity card. I feel that this again is something which will present considerable difficulties.
What will make this part of the Bill much less effective than I should like it to be is that quite specifically under Clause 1(7) the fact that someone has been a member of the IRA in the past is not an offence and it is no good proving that somebody was wearing a black beret and the IRA uniform yesterday or the 1539 day before. That is perfectly legal. That is not an offence. It is not an offence unless he continues to take part in IRA activities after the passage of this Bill. To begin with, that means that it will not be possible to make a sudden swoop tomorrow evening on supposed members of the IRA, because it is no good proving that they are members of the IRA if they were members of the IRA at the time of the passage of the Bill. One must be able to prove that they have been involved in IRA activities since the passage of the Bill. I wonder why this is necessary. I know that retroactive legislation is contrary to normal legal principles, but surely it would be fair to assume, if it could be proved that the man had been a member of the IRA over recent weeks and months, that he has not suddenly resigned membership and foregone all activities as a member of the IRA as a result of the passage of this Bill. Therefore I feel that the Government are making matters much too difficult for themselves by stating that it is an offence only if one continues to be a member of the IRA after the passage of this Bill.
My Lords, I now want to turn to the exclusion orders in Part II of the Bill. I do not understand the need for these. I do not see why they should be used at all. They are very unpopular both among such Ulster Unionists as the Reverend Paisley and among such Republicans as Mr. Fitt, each for their own different reasons. It seems to mc extraordinary that membership of the IRA—if it continues after to-morrow—will carry a prison sentence or a fine, but that those who are concerned with the very much more serious offence, "the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism ", should merely face exclusion from Great Britain. This is a far more serious offence. It means that if someone addresses an IRA meeting he can be imprisoned, but if he commits an act of terrorism, under this Bill he is liable only to exclusion from the country. If the suspect was born in Great Britain, or has been resident here for more than twenty years, he would not be liable for exclusion, so presumably he would be tried and punished under some existing legislation. If that existing legislation can be used in the case of a man born in this 1540 country, I do not understand why it cannot also be used in the case of people born elsewhere.
The Bill does not make it clear precisely what happens if one of these exclusion orders is served. All we know from the Bill, all I have been able to deduce, is that if a person is not a United Kingdom citizen the order will exclude him from the United Kingdom. If he is a United Kingdom citizen, it will exclude him from Britain. But under Clause 5 it is stated:the Secretary of State may have that person removed from Great Britain …",or the United Kingdom as the case may be, whereas Clause 3(8) states simply that the person must comply with the expulsion order, presumably by leaving Great Britain or the United Kingdom, as the case may be. I am not clear about this. I hope it can be clarified as to whether a person can choose where he goes, whether he can decide to go to Dublin or to Belfast or, if he wishes, to Paris or New York. Is it simply left to him to comply with the order, as is stated to be the case in Clause 3?
My Lords, at this time I feel deeply for the Irish community in this country. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, and to others who have spoken of their hope that the Irish community will not be victimised, and that everyone will really know that they are in no way responsible for what has been going on. I should like to close by saying to the hundreds and thousands of Irish men and women in Britain, if my words can reach them, "You have done no wrong. Hold your heads high. Be proud of your Irish heritage. God save Ireland."
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BROOKEBOROUGH
My Lords, may I first welcome this Bill most sincerely. Also, I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, for taking up the case of the Unstarred Question on my behalf, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, for his remarks about the television interview which I raised. I think that the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, was absolutely brilliant. He pinpointed very much better than I could have done the major issues which 1541 are being raised by that particular programme.
I should like to ask the Government whether they can confirm that these measures will be available to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in just the same way as they will be available to the Secretary of State in this country. If this is so—and I understand that this is the case—then a new and really effective weapon has been put into the hands of the Government of Northern Ireland. Over a long time it would have been of enormous assistance to be able to exclude people from the South of Ireland merely on the suspicion that they were taking part in these activities, and to send them back to any other country.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said that if a person excluded from Great Britain tried to get into the North of Ireland he could then be removed. Will he not have committed a crime and therefore be subject to the penalties in the Bill? If he has committed a crime and is sent to prison, will he have the right to ask for that most iniquitous of all forms of sentence called "political status"? It would be a tragedy if someone excluded from England who then came to the North of Ireland was caught and convicted, was then able to claim this special status.
There is no doubt that this Bill is a temporary derogation, to a small extent, of Clause 1 of the 1973 Act covering Northern Ireland. It is a very good thing that the whole matter will be reviewed in six months' time. The temporary derogation must surely be well worth the advantages given to the Government in the handling of this very difficult matter. I support the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, in the suggestion that Saov Eireann should immediately be proscribed. I do not think there is a more evil or tightly-knit terrorist organisation about. The first and most important thing this measure has done is to deal a very heavy blow to the morale of the IRA, in that it has demonstrated the indestructible will to win. If a terrorist organisation feels it can win, it will keep going. That is most important to such an organisation. The quick passage of this Bill will be a major blow to that will.
My Lords, it worried me, as it has worried other noble Lords, that people in 1542 other places—and responsible people as well—talk about withdrawal, because that is merely bolstering up the will to win, and there is nothing that will kill the IRA quicker than the certainty that it cannot win. I should like to think that in the six months before this Bill comes up again for Affirmative Resolution there may be a more comprehensive Bill to try to deal with all terrorists, whether they be hijackers or any other form of terrorist.
I should also like to welcome the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, about the special police. May I say, from our experience in Northern Ireland, that I believe a very major recruitment campaign should be carried out in order to provide a boost, possibly with a review of the conditions of service within that organisation, to make it attractive to people of all classes to give even a small amount of time to relieve the hard-pressed policemen of a lot of duties with which many of us could help in a very big way. If we involve the people we will have far less worry about backlash. Involvement of the whole population in their own defence is one of the surest ways of preventing backlash.
The Secretary of State in another place said that he felt that the Government in Dublin should do more. If I may give my opinion, they should do a lot more. It is 12 months since that famous Sunningdale Agreement and the Act for extraterritorial courts has only to-day been presented in Dublin, and will not be passed into law until February. I think that that is very slow action and I feel that the Government should put a lot of pressure on Dublin to get this done. I also feel, with regard to co-operation between Dublin and ourselves, that it should be open co-operation; they should be proud of the co-operation which exists between the Free State police and our own Forces. But they co-operate in far too quiet a way, and because the orders are not cried out from the rooftops they are modified by the people involved. Nothing would encourage greater co-operation than if people were proud of that co-operation.
I should like to feel that in the coming months we could look at the whole of international terrorism. International terrorism has had an enormous boost from oil money, which has made it a much more cohesive organisation both as 1543 regards the methods and the aims. It is this which I consider to be much the greatest threat to our security—not nuclear or conventional war. Mein Kampf was the Bible of the Nazis, and in the world of terrorism we also have a book of the same sort, written by Carlos Maragehlla. He says, and all terrorists appear to follow him, that the first duty of the terrorist is to provoke repression, thereby creating support and also creating alarm and despondency in the community. They then hope to make life unbearable. The balance which we as a civilised society have to achieve is to suspend enough liberal institutions and enough liberties temporarily to beat the terrorist and to prevent a backlash, and then as soon as possible to return to our liberal society.
The really new weapon which in the last 10 years or so has been handed to the terrorist is the immediate access to television. It has added an entirely new dimension to terrorism, in that a single act and the reaction to it can be seen all over the world in the shortest possible time. It is access to television which, in my view, we have to deal with in a sensible and balanced manner. It was the Weekend World appearance on November 17 of the IRA leader, David O'Connell, which first led me to put down my Un-starred Question. The fact of the matter is that it is now recognised that the IRA is, and considers itself to be, at war with this country. In our view, living in Northern Ireland, it has been at war with the United Kingdom for a very long time, and we are extremely sad that that fact has not been recognised earlier.
Before dealing with the actual incident, may I quote from the 1964 Television Act which requires the Authority to see,that nothing is included in the programmes which offends against good taste or decency or is likely to encourage or incite to crime or to lead to disorder or to be offensive to public feeling ".This villainous criminal appeared on television and he said,The British Government and the British people must realise because of the terror they wage in Ireland they will suffer ".He then went on to say that the campaign would be "escalated". I know that in another place it has been ruled 1544 that this was not in fact a contravention of that Act, but I feel that if it was not a contravention of it then that Act should be amended, because we have gone past the stage where that kind of thing can be allowed to happen. It is not free discussion. This is a totally different state of affairs from what existed in 1964 when that Act was passed.
I consulted the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs in Dublin and, having criticised them before, it gives me great pleasure to compliment them now. The predecessor of the present Minister sent a directive to the RTE which I feel meets the bill and does not affect free speech; if by free speech we mean discussion and advocacy of change by democratic means. The letter read:I hereby direct you to refrain from broadcasting any matter of the following class: any matter that could be calculated to promote the aims or activities of any organisation which engages in, promotes, encourages or advocates the attaining of any particular objective by violent means.I would recommend that very strongly to the Government as being a reasonable position to take up.
But I should like to know what was the purpose of that broadcast. The journalist involved has over a long period had intimate connections with men of violence. Was she merely showing that at the drop of a hat she could do what the forces of law and order in another country could not do and bring to the British public this criminal—because that is what he is—or was she or the broadcasting company just trying to get a sensational interview. They said that they wished to inform people but that information, that the IRA intended to escalate, had already been made clear by statements from the IRA before. So it certainly was not to inform them.
What seems to me to have happened is that the broadcasting company allowed a facility to the IRA which would never be allowed in any other country. And look, my Lords, at the tragic events that happened. In my view, David O'Connell called his troops to action. My noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham referred to the radio messages by which we controlled the resistance movements during the war, and I believe that that control was exercised by David O'Connell. I come back to my theme, which is that 1545 this must not involve only the IRA. We must never allow this to happen again. We must also try to get agreement with other democratic nations to make sure that we are not undermined, or let us with our semi-State organisations undermine them. This is just as important in our present state. Propaganda is the weapon of the terrorist, and the way we must deal with him is to put him into oblivion.
I should now like to turn to the police power to hold for six days, which I think is the most welcome power of all. I am sure that in so doing we as a democratic State will have to accept a level of questioning and interviewing which has not existed before; otherwise we should not be keeping them for that extended period. It is a less liberal intention than it was before those six days were allowed; it is seven days—six and one. I feel, like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wigoder, that we have to face up to the fact that the police will be subject to enormous unjust criticism. In order to protect them, I should like us to consider that either a police surgeon or somebody else has a duty to look at the people who are being interviewed, to make sure that nothing can be levelled at the police. Having had experience in Northern Ireland, I say let us never again have Cameron Commission Reports, Parker Reports and Gardiner Reports. There is nothing which destroys the morale of the police more.
May I end by quoting from a well known liberal, Dr. Conor Cruise O'Brien. He said:Fake liberals protest against all repressive legislation, but laws against crime are necessarily repressive and armed conspiracy is the most dangerous of crimes. But if a democratic State fails to provide adequate response to armed conspiracy and thereby succumbs to that conspiracy, then it will be succeeded by a dictatorship.I believe that that is the issue we are facing, and I welcome the measure.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ LORD STRANGE
My Lords, I feel that I have a great honour in congratulating the noble Viscount, Lord Slim, on his excellent speech. I am very glad to do it because I was a great admirer of his father, and his father was at one time coming to govern the Isle of Man. We all wanted him there, and he wanted to 1546 come. It was very sad when he came to me and said that he had been given the governorship of Windsor Castle. I could not say very much because that is the greatest honour that you could have in the British Empire and in the country, and I was naturally glad that he had it; but I was sorry too.
I looked up the time about 10 years ago when we had a debate on the question of capital punishment, because I felt that while it would perhaps not be mentioned in this debate it would always be knocking at the door. I looked it up because I knew that I had spoken and I wanted to see what I had said. I thought I would repeat—do not get too alarmed about this—roughly what I said then, because I believe it to be the truth now as much as I believed it to be the truth then. I had gone to a murder trial in Scotland. I had gone there not for curiosity but because I had thought of writing a book about it. I was on the county council, and I had every facility, and I just thought that I would go and see what it was like. I had never ben to a murder trial before, nor even thought of going.
The procedure may be different in Scotland, but this is what happened. The accused was a Pole, and he lay in the bracken of a Highland glen watching a house. He saw the old lady, the grandmother, come out and give something to two children, and he saw the old shepherd with the collie dogs taking the children down in order to send them to school. Then he came out of the bracken and went down and asked the lady of the house for a meal. He said that he was starving. She went inside and cooked him a meal, which he ate. He thanked her for it, and then he flew at her, raped her, and murdered her. Eventually he was caught. The thing that he told me afterwards that he was very pleased about—I am glad that he was pleased about something—was that he had taken her gold ring, broken it, and put it into the rubber of his shoe, and the police thought that it was some sort of joint in there and did not realise that it was her wedding ring. He was pleased about that.
The man had always been a murderer, ever since his earliest days. One of the things that he told me which I found exceedingly interesting, and I have never forgotten it, was that the underworld, or 1547 some of them, in Paris knew that we were going to land in Normandy, and the Gestapo and the Germans did not. So he and a couple of friends went down to Normandy and found out who the collaborators had been there, because they did not think that they would be very popular. When we started to shell and land in Normandy, they went and murdered and raped the children of the collaborators, the lot of them, and stole everything in the house that they could and went back to Paris.
So here was this man, an habitual murderer, who who had killed he did not remember how many people when he talked to me. He had no regret, none at all. He said, "Well, that is the way it is with me. I have always been like that." He had no regret; it was his way of business. He did not regret the terrible murder in the glen, or anything. So it came to the end, and I was rather interested to see this and I thought that it might be very dramatic somehow, "The Lord have mercy on your soul ". But in Scotland it is not so dramatic. The judge stood, and a man who was an official in the court had a black square of cardboard which he held a little away from his head, and he gave the sentence, which went like this:Now, can you understand what I am saying? You have been condemned to death. Do you understand that?He said that because the convicted man was a Pole, and he thought he did not understand it. He said:Do you understand? You will be hanged on the 8th February, provided a licence has come through in time to buy the timber for your scaffold. Now is that understood? Right.",and that was that. In due course the man was hanged. I came to my opinion then, and I have kept it always, that there are certain types of people who are so evil, and so bad, that they are a danger to the public and they are better—I do not say, hanged—not with us. I have stuck to that opinion to-day.
This is taking us a little bit off what we were talking about, but we will come back on to it now. My daughter—I think that she is my youngest daughter actually—told me last night that her secretary had a girl of about eighteen or nineteen who was working in the local 1548 town, and she came out of the office in the evening to go home, when a bomb exploded and swept her down the street. She felt that she was floating down the street, and she hit something and caught hold of it and clutched it to her because she did not know what had happened. She finally came to, and found she was holding tightly to her an arm which had come off somebody. This almost drove her mad, and she was ill for a very long time. That is not the point of the story. The point is, where did this take place? In Northern Ireland? In "Brum"? In London? No, it took place in Dublin. It was the local IRA in Dublin doing it, which struck me as peculiar.
So, my Lords, I feel very strongly that we should steer—this is obviously the overture to a Bill of the future—towards capital punishment, which is what the public want. I know the public are unreasonable, but I want it too. Somebody said that they should not have any identity on them, but I think they should have identity on them. I think that it was Mrs. Glass who said, "First catch your hare", and I do not think it was the other lady, Mr. or Mrs. Beaton. But they did say "First catch your hare", and if you see somebody wandering about with a can with the badge of the IRA on them, it might make you suspicious. I do not think that they should be unmarked.
I could say a lot more. I have been speaking now quite long enough for anybody, about eight minutes, and I have really said all I wanted to say. I know it cannot be done at the moment, but I feel that the time must come when we are not going to stand any more nonsense. We have had enough nonsense. Some of these things are disgraceful. The Tower bomb was a disgrace, and it is a disgrace to civilisation if we do not stop this activity as soon as we possibly can.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, my family lived three miles from Guildford in 1641. I hold the position of High Steward of Guildford, which is an honourary post which I hold very dear and I am very gratified. I live three miles from where those bombs went off and killed several young soldiers, maimed several more and killed women 1549 and children. If I had been in Guildford when those bombs went off and had been in a position to lay my hands on any of the perpetrators, be they men or women, I am convinced that I would have killed them myself with relish in the nastiest possible way. I do not say this because I am a vengeful man but because, like all other Members of your Lordships' House, I am horrified and aghast at what is happening up and down the United Kingdom. The noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal, feels for Birmingham. I feel for Guildford; what she feels for Birmingham I feel for Birmingham.
However, I also cherish beyond all peradventure our civil liberties, and I have doubts about some of the aspects of the Bill. Will the security situation really be made any worse by not rushing this Bill through this House and another place in 24 hours? I am convinced that something is necessary. In a notorious case recently the police managed to hold a chap at a police station for four days without charging him, so surely by waiting, possibly, until next week and discussing the Bill in greater detail we would not be losing. I am not sufficiently expert to find any faults in this Bill though perhaps others could, but surely we should have taken a week looking at it and improving it.
One point that makes me very much less uneasy about this increase in police powers is the character of the present Home Secretary. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, said that the right honourable gentleman is a liberal in the truest sense. There are other people in public life on both sides of the political divide in whom I would be very much less happy to entrust these powers. I have two points on the television appearance of O'Connell. First, if the television can find him why cannot the Irish police find him—or even our own for that matter? Secondly, despite what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, said about using the television as publicity and possibly as a means of communicating orders, is not the IRA public relations counterproductive and is it not better to know your enemy? After all, my Lords, I think it probable that if Hitler had been interviewed by Pathe News in the United States of America before they came into 1550 the War it would have been reported verbatim and probably shown on our news screen during the War. After all, Hitler, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, was more humane than Genghis Khan.
I do not raise any of these points in an assertive sense, but because I have doubts and I raise them in a questioning sense. I have a query which I hope the noble and learned Lord will be able to answer for me; does the power of deportation to Northern Ireland mean, in effect, that we are introducing internment in Great Britain by the back door? As I understand it (and I would be delighted to be proved wrong) deportation back to Northern Ireland means that we do not have enough evidence to charge the chap but we are sure that he is involved in something nasty so the police will send him back to Northern Ireland and the Northern Irish authorities will lock him up and keep him out of harm's way. I am sure it is an excellent thing to do to keep him out of harm's way, but I think the position ought to be clarified.
Finally, my Lords, are Her Majesty's Government convinced that this Bill will prevent even one outrage? If it does then I am only too happy to swallow all my doubts. Despite those doubts, I wish it a speedy passage, but we must bear in mind that we have in previous situations introduced very heavy counter-terrorist regulations. The regulations in Palestine were far tougher than those we are introducing now, and Irgun Zvei Leumi was not in any way stopped. The Republic of Ireland has much greater and tougher anti-IRA laws than we are proposing or contemplating, but they do not seem to have worked. The Bill will fail unless the poison of Ulster is removed and when the problem is solved, in the words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, and the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, and Chairman Mao, "The water must be removed from the fish ".
§ 6.17 p.m.
My Lords, may I join in congratulating the noble Viscount, Lord Slim, who spoke in a manner which I thought was exceptional. I should like the noble Viscount to realise that all sides of the House thoroughly enjoyed listening to his speech and hope 1551 that in the future we shall have the privilege and pleasure of hearing him again on many subjects.
My Lords, we are dealing to-night with a problem which is beyond the immediate matter contained in this Bill. The noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal, referred to the feelings in Birmingham, and the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, referred to his feelings when he saw violence being committed in his particular area. I wish he would realise that that type of violence is prevalent not only in this country but in many parts of the world and is committed by people as criminally inclined as those who are practising it here. I join with all people of human understanding in extending our deepest heartfelt sympathy to those families who, by what I consider to be the dastardly criminal acts of murder which have been committed, have been bereft of their near and dear ones and those who have endured indescribable grief owing to members of their families having been deprived of their limbs and suffered other injuries. I can well understand the anguish which comes to these men, women and children, as I have, unhappily, in the course of my lifetime seen all too many of these people and listened to the heart-breaking account of their sufferings.
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Janner, that I am fully aware of the barbarisms of many other people in this world. We are addressing ourselves to Northern Ireland, but obviously one's sympathies go out to the killed and the maimed of any terrorist attack.
My Lords, I am obliged for the attitude that the noble Earl is expressing, because unhappily—1 am sure he will forgive me for saying so—some of the speeches which he has made in this House have been speeches which have rather led people to believe (he may not have intended it) that he did not mind what actions were perpetrated by scoundrels and gangsters in other parts of the world; that they were fully justified in consequence of certain ims which they had. But I may have been mistaken: I hope that I was. However, I was saying that we have witnessed and are witnessing an inhumanity of man against man which is abhorrent. 1552 Violence is treading underfoot the most obvious human rights. The ground principes of these human rights, contained in the Ten Commandments, is causing those Commandments to be defiled by the gangsters, irrespective of what profession of religion they make.
My Lords, I join with those who commend the Government's action in introducing the Bill as a step towards coping with the evils which beset us, as it has done in many parts of the world. As a lawyer, obviously it goes against the grain to find certain portions of the Bill unpalatable but I think the circumstances are such that what is being introduced now—much though it may be against the grain in normal or even some abnormal circumstances—is fully justified.
May I once again appeal—I think this is what the noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, was also driving at—to Her Majesty's Government to use their utmost efforts to take action with the other civilised nations of the world to eradicate the use of violence, and those who encourage it by financing, sending weapons to its practitioners or otherwise. The Government are no doubt aware that Libya is sending arms and money to the IRA. It is also said—and I believe it to be true—that vast sums of money and armaments are being directed towards that organisation, and similar organisations, through ports in Ireland, Amsterdam and other places. I hope that the Government will investigate this situation closely because I see that in the Bill there is a provision to deal with those who are assisting these murderers and gangsters in their activities.
Unfortunately, it is clear that the United Nations, which according to its Charter should have been the appropriate body to undertake this task, has shown by its recent votes in support of the PLO that it cannot be entrusted with such a task. This is clear when we fully understand the significance of the fact that that gangster organisation, with its poisonous branches spreading practically throughout the world, has been accepted into the UN deliberations. The PLO was the mastermind behind such horrifying acts as hijacking of civil aeroplanes, driving American diplomats into a cellar and garroting them to death, putting bullets into the heads of schoolchildren at Ma'alot, blowing up high school children 1553 in Kiryat Shemona and slaughtering 11 athletes under the Olympic flag.
What action has the world taken in regard to these criminal activities which obviously set an example to those against whom we are trying to protect our community to-day? Even some of the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations have been engendered by the supporters of the violent works into an acceptance of these violators of human rights. UNESCO, and, unbelievably, the pilots' organisation, which is part of the UN and which is dedicated to the freedom of the air, have accepted the PLO into their deliberations. The gangster spokesman, Arafat, has made it clear that he will continue whatever action, which obviously includes violence, he may decide upon to destroy Israel, in fact declaring his genocidal intentions.
My Lords, I described these vicious brutes as being a cancer on the body of civilisation. We and the other civilised nations, particularly those who are already affected or likely to be affected in the future, must get together to work out a plan for erasing this deadly growth and to make the world one in which people will live together in peace and security. For this is what is at stake at the present time. The Bill we are considering at the present moment is just one of the illustrations of the neglect of our duty in dealing with terrorist organisations.
May I say that I endorse the sincere hope that Irishmen in this country as a whole will not be blamed in any way for the actions of the criminals. They should be encouraged to know that all right-minded people here hold this view. I draw your Lordships' attention to a parallel case in respect of the relationship between Arab and Jewish Israelis in the grief-stricken townlet of Ma'alot to which I referred in a previous speech:The residents of an adjoining Arab village carry on their local affairs through a joint council with representatives of the residents of Ma'alot. I was informed that the Arabs feared hostile reactions from the Ma'alot community after the butchery of the children, and they hesitated for some time to meet the Ma'alot community. Eventually they came there to offer their condolences. They were however met with a friendly reception. As I was leaving the townlet I visited the house of a Jewish refugee from the USSR there. I 1554 found that he and his wife, both dentists, were busily engaged tending Arab children in their surgery ".I am sure that such a sense of brotherhood prevails here, between the Irish people and others in this country, as it does there between the neighbours.
I would say one thing more. I know your Lordships will forgive me if, with the knowledge that I have of how terrorism is being spread and of the vice with which it is attended, which is constantly being brought to my attention by the victims of that kind of violence, I say to your Lordships that we have a tremendous duty to perform. Before the Bill has to be put into full operation, I make an appeal to the terrorists themselves. They speak in the name of religion. They are debasing religion. That type of action can never succeed. We are a democratic country and there are democratic ways to meet the claims of all who are concerned with our actions. The civilised nations of the world would appreciate and approve of any measures which will help these terrorists to realise that such actions against democratic nations will not be tolerated.
§ 6.32 p.m.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I, too, should like to join in the congratulations offered to the noble Viscount, Lord Slim, on his maiden speech, for I, too, sat on these Benches with his father and was present and took part in the debate when he made a distinguished speech on the occasion when all the Back-Benchers rose in revolt against both Front Benches, who decided to deprive the Burmah Oil Company of its award in the courts. We enjoyed that debate very much, and the noble Viscount's father spoke with great effect, but then was more or less muted by taking employment at the Palace. I hope that the noble Viscount will resist all temptation to go to the Palace; and I am sure that if we have a debate on, say, violence, which arises out of this debate, he will make a great contribution. I think there is room for debate, not only on capital punishment and violence but perhaps on the PLO as well. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Janner, whom I am immediately following in two successive debates, will forgive me for not crossing swords on this occasion, because we did that last time and we have had some friendly exchanges of letters since.
1555 I think I may be the first Roman Catholic to speak, and I enjoyed very much the very good reference to Sir Thomas More made by the noble and learned Lord. Lord Hailsham, and the remarks from other quarters indicating that this is not an issue between Catholic and Protestant. It is not even an issue between Englishman and Irishman, because I, too, have a small drop of Irish blood. The Irish say that, although it is only an eighth, it is like the whisky in the soda—it is what counts.
I came to this House this evening for the purpose of supporting this Bill and of suggesting no Amendments, but I should like to contribute a few remarks. I think I have been associated, officially or unofficially, with terrorism in ten different countries between 1922 and the present time. In some of those cases Great Britain was against the terrorists; in other cases we were on the side of the terrorists. My own feelings have always been of pride in this country and of loyalty to its aims, and when I have found myself obliged to participate in some of the actions on behalf of terrorists I have realised that mistakes had been made which I on the ground could see and that it would take quite a long time before they were discovered higher up. I think one of the greater mistakes was acknowledged by the man who made it, our greatest statesman, in a public speech in Belgium. So there are mistakes, and when it is a question of war, as Napoleon said, the winner is the general who makes the fewest mistakes, not the one who makes none at all.
However, in every case I have asked myself: do I in any circumstances approve of terrorism anywhere? The case in which perhaps I was most tempted to say that I did concerned the Somali Province in Northern Kenya, which brought me into this House for the first time in 1962, to speak for the first time. In that case I felt that we had taken every step to ascertain the wishes of the people. They all wanted—97 per cent. of them—to be associated with the Somali country, and we did the opposite and put them in Kenya; and thereafter we engaged in a four-year war, supplying all the logistics, the field commanders and the equipment. However, there 1556 again, with all my sympathies on the side of the terrorists, I one day dined with the Chief of Cabinet of the Somali Republic and implored him to do his utmost to bring this conflict to an end. I have felt, even when my sympathies were most deeply concerned, that it was wrong for there to be these pin-prick efforts against all-powerful force.
Therefore, I am against terrorism in all circumstances. I am against terrorism, of course, in Palestine—and it occurs, if I may say so without starting a debate on the PLO, on both sides. I am in favour of law and order, and I think that Her Majesty's Government normally take the correct step in acknowledging the legal authority, whether it arrives by legal means or not. If it is in full control it must be recognised, so that the awful consequences of terrorism and violence are avoided. I have always taken the view that that is our obligation in South Africa, in Rhodesia and anywhere else: that it is wrong to support the wrongdoer against the authority once it has established itself in power. Therefore, my attitude to terrorism is complete: I am against. There is, however, this to be said, which I learned early: that if terrorism takes place in a territory which you are going to leave—and in the case of Northern Ireland we are not, but in the case of Southern Ireland we were going to do so—you have to look around to see who is going to remain.
My first item of dismay, which I have mentioned before, was in Ireland, when I was serving there in 1922. That was when my regiment had put De Valera "in the bag", regarding him as one of the murderers and scoundrels, and associated with acts of extreme violence. We were not congratulated on our act, but were told to let him out again. I think that counts. There is now still a reigning Head of State whose hands are dripping with blood, but who is honoured and respected, and rightly so. It is one of those remarkable things. Therefore, there is inevitably somebody to whom one has to go, and it is often not somebody one would choose.
I always have a feeling that when punitive measures are undertaken, one ought to try to see whether one can associate them with something positive which reduces the occasion for punitive measures. For what it is worth, therefore, I 1557 throw out this idea: I understand that for greater protection during the last four years 29,000 Belfast Irishmen have shifted house—Catholics to be with Catholics, Protestants to be with Protestants. They feel more secure. Presumably, they are what we call in the West Country "more neighbourly". It is not a thing we like doing; we do not like segregation. However, as it has occurred, is it not possible to develop in those areas. where birds of a feather have flocked together, a community feeling which is now absent? I find it lacking in cities all over the place. They vary. In some places nobody knows anybody and in others everybody knows everybody. Is there any positive policy one could adopt, perhaps through a corps of welfare officers—a horrible name, of course—whose task would be to provide leadership to produce a community spirit in areas where people have flocked together because they are afraid? I fear that that is the only contribution I have to make. I am supporting the Motion.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY
My Lords, I should first like to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Slim, who not only sounded like his noble and gallant father but looks like him, too. That is a good recommendation for us. It is a strange coincidence that the last speaker, the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, the next speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, and I are all Roman Catholics, and English Roman Catholics, and it may be no bad thing that we should be winding up this debate. Of course I welcome the Bill and I thought, as many of us must have done, that when the Home Secretary spoke on television he spoke for Britain. That was good. I feel that there are some things like identity cards which could be looked at in time. The Bill must go through quickly and the identify cards can be dealt with in a more leisurely way.
I see no objection to identity cards which are built into part of a photograph, as this would be much more difficult to fake and would include fingerprints. Are we so small-minded that we cannot agree to some inconvenience resulting from having our fingerprints and our photographs on an identity card in order to save lives? Surely, if that saves lives it 1558 is worth looking at. I hope, also, that the proscribing of the IRA can be increased to include other organisations which have the same aims of killing, maiming and commiting violence. Perhaps Sinn Fein itself should be looked at rather carefully.
I hope, also, that noble Lords opposite will think twice before cutting the land forces while this trouble goes on. If at any time we needed more forces on the ground to enforce law and order, it is surely now. I wonder, too, whether it has been considered possible to use the Territorial Reserve Forces on guard duties and to provide communications when trouble is expected or has occurred. They are ready and willing so to do and my own unit, the Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry, asked me the other day whether they are to be called up and used. They hope so.
My Lords, I said that I speak as a Catholic, and the Catholic Church has now done something which it might have done some time ago; it has come out clearly against what has happened. I wonder whether the Church would farther consider excommunicating—and I suppose that it would probably have to go to the Pope for that, but why not?—those who carry out these acts or take part in them. This would have little effect on the members of the IRA, because they are not, I presume, practising Catholics, but it would have an effect on those who, unwillingly or willingly, support them. I hope that my Church will think of this and will have a go.
I came back last month from a visit to the Republic of Ireland. I found there enormous and genuine sympathy for the British, and an almost embarrassed feeling about what is happening and a wish to do more than they have done. I think that to-day's announcement shows that they are doing a little more than they have done. The co-operation between the Forces, which my noble friend Lord Brookeborough mentioned, is very real, but we must not forget that the Republic's forces are minimal. We cannot expect much physical work on the ground from 7,000 men, which I believe is the strength of the Irish force. Finally, my Lords, we have still to make sure that justice is seen to be done and I hope very much that the Government have success in the new elections, so that there is a form of 1559 power sharing and a balance of power at that.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ LORD HYLTON
My Lords, I welcome this Bill, but I very much hope that after four or five months have passed the effects will be most carefully looked at, so that we may have a better and more comprehensive piece of legislation to follow on after it. I am persuaded by the arguments of several noble Lords who have suggested that a more comprehensive piece of legislation is needed to counter the vile attempts of terrorists of all kinds and of whatever shade or colour.
But I should like to speak to-day principally as an English Christian who is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. As such, I was delighted with the very positive stand recently taken by the Archbishop of Birmingham. It was a real pleasure to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal, commend his action. This coming Sunday, a pastoral letter from the Roman Catholic Bishops in England and Wales will be read in all the churches not only asking for prayers for peace, but also condemning all forms of murder, violence and torture. This is a beginning. It seems to have taken the State about five years to wake up to the fact that there is a situation almost of war—it is very similar to war—and the Church has been equally slow.
It may not be known to your Lordships that the Catholic ecclesiastical organisation in the British Isles is in three parts. There is a bench of Bishops for England and Wales, another quite separate one for Scotland and another equally separate one for Ireland—for the whole of Ireland, incidentally. So that is three separate benches of Bishops. To my mind, the English and Welsh bench has done absolutely the right thing, and I should like to make a personal appeal to the Scottish and Irish Bishops to stand shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues in England and Wales. For far too long it has been possible for the IRA to shelter after a fashion behind the Catholic Church. We have seen such things as triumphant funerals of terrorists or their associates and allies. This is a point on which I was questioning the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, only last spring. We have seen a funeral after a suicide due 1560 to self-imposed starvation. We have seen a priest absconding from bail when charged with serious offences in, I think, Glasgow. These things make Catholics hang their heads in shame. I feel it is high time that they were stopped, and stopped with the full force of authority.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ LORD HYLTON
To my mind, murders and killings are just as bad whether they take place in this country, in Ulster or in the Republic of Ireland. My noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone said earlier this afternoon that we are one distinct group of human beings in these islands. That is why I make my appeal to the Catholic Bishops in Scotland and in Ireland to dissociate the Church once and for all, totally and completely, from the activities of murderers and terrorists.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I apologise for the fact that I have not been able to be in attendance during every speech that the House has heard to-night, but I have had the privilege of listening to the great majority of the speeches uttered during the course of this sombre debate dealing with a very sombre subject. There have been some notable speeches, if I may say so, and in particular I should like to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Slim, on his contribution and to indicate our wish to hear him frequently in the future.
The thread that has been common throughout the debate is that the time has now come to extend the powers which the Government, the courts and the police have for dealing with terrorism. If we did less than what is being done in this Bill now, I think there would be indignation among the public at large. The innocent have suffered; it has gone on too long; and the famous patience and tolerance of the British people is about reaching its limit, so it is time for action to be taken. I have not heard a voice raised in the course of this debate, so far as I remember, saying that we have gone too far—though, quite properly, those who have been famous for their concern for civil liberty have raised some questions which I shall endeavour to answer. None of us feels any satisfaction in passing extraordinary legislation of the 1561 kind the Government are proposing in the Bill which we shall be dealing with directly later.
We in your Lordships' House—and it has been expressed emotionally here at times to-night—feel the deepest anger that a tiny minority of fanatics should be able to inflict appalling suffering and loss on innocent people, and in doing so, should be doing damage to our whole society. Far beyond the personal tragedies about which we feel so deeply, terrorism—and wherever it occurs the same applies—casts a shadow over all activities and over all our activities here. We cannot but be aware constantly of the threat which terrorism presents, as well as of the need for vigilance and for the taking of precautions which may interfere with the innocent pursuits of daily life, as the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, so movingly stated. Terrorism indeed infects the quality of our society and it must be eradicated.
I have not detected any mood of despair in your Lordships' House to-night: it would be appalling if we were to entomb ourselves in despair. The country and the people have faced greater challenges than this before and of course we shall fight through and win. But we must not lose sight of what we are fighting to preserve. We are very conscious that extended powers can lend themselves to abuse. They can undermine the freedom which individuals enjoy and which ultimately gives our society its quality. It is therefore highly important that the extraordinary powers we propose should not be allowed to become normal. They should be genuinely temporary and should be allowed to expire just as soon as they are no longer needed or considered to be vital. So far as possible we are incorporating in the proposed legislation formal checks on the use of the powers we propose; for example, the approval of the Attorney-General will have to be obtained before proceedings for certain offences are instituted, and a person against whom an exclusion order is made will have the right to make representations against the decision. The precise form of the proceedings before those representatives has not yet been determined and I cannot say more than that at this stage in response to the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, on the right of representation by counsel 1562 before those giving advice to the Home Secretary in these cases.
It is the case that the struggle against terrorism cannot be wholly waged in public, although it is right to say that the public and the community as a whole must also engage in the struggle—it cannot all be left to the courts and the police. Much of what is done so far as the police and others are concerned, must be done with secrecy. I must concede that our proposals inevitably involve powers which cannot be subjected to public scrutiny. The Government and the police are very conscious of the obligations which this places on us. I would say to the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, that the references to the power of senior police officers in times of emergency are referred to in paragraph 5(4) of Schedule 3 which reads:If a member of a police force of a rank not lower than the rank of superintendent has reasonable grounds for believing that the case is one of great emergency and that in the interests of the State immediate action is necessary, he may by a written order signed by him give to any member of a police force the authority which may be given by a search warrant under this paragraph."—that is a necessary power, but I can certainly say that the Home Secretary would be very willing in another place to give particulars of the number of occasions when that power falls to be exercised.
The first priority in what lies ahead is to do what will help us to overcome terrorism. We hope, and indeed believe, that the Government's proposals will make a significant contribution to this end. The secret, I suppose, and the most effective weapon against terrorism is successful intelligence and investigation leading to apprehension of the guilty. The certainty of detection would be the surest weapon in this struggle and much more significant than the methods of punishment, if I may say so—although of course punishment (and severe punishment) there must also be. We believe the new powers will strengthen the intelligence and investigation duties of the police. They will enable them to intensify the surveillance they exercise on the ports; they will enable the police to make more effective their investigations within the country, and they will enable the Secretary of Stale to make effective use of the results of police investigations by 1563 removing terrorists who have come to this country.
In the course of the debate, I have been asked a very large number of questions. I cannot promise that T will be able to answer them all in the time that is available, but there are certain major matters about which I will assist the House to the best of my ability. The first Part of the Bill deals with the proscribing of the IRA, and in that description there is included the Official and the Provisional IRA. The IRA has been an illegal organisation—both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic—for many years. The justification for singling out the IRA and not specifying—at any rate, now—any other organisation is clear.
No one doubts that the IRA or the IRA element has been responsible for the great majority of the attacks since the car bombs in London in March of last year, and its adherents have, to the indignation of the public, flaunted the well-known symbols such as black berets in demonstration of support. That will stop and, of course, must stop. It is true that suggestions have been made in the course of the debate that Sinn Fein should also have been made illegal. That has not been done. As the political body of which the IRA is the "military" wing, as they call it—it is, in fact, better to call it the "terrorist" wing—Sinn Fien is not illegal in Northern Ireland. It was removed from the list of proscribed organisations in March, 1973. While it is true——
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I believe it was March of last year, but I am willing to stand corrected on that. The noble Lord is obviously more familiar, if I may say so, with the activities of Sinn Fein than I am. I will certainly have the matter checked. It matters not for the purposes of my present submissions. While it is true that Sinn Fein and the IRA are interrelated organisations which it is difficult to consider apart, the justification for not making Sinn Fein illegal is that the proscription provision is not intended to prohibit political discussion, even though the views advocated by bodies like Sinn Fein may be repugnant. I should add this. If it 1564 should go beyond the expression of views and should promote or encourage terrorism, it can and will forthwith be banned.
I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, whether those advising us were satisfied that there was no danger that proscribing the IRA might drive it underground and therefore create new dangers. All I can say about that is that the police: have been consulted at all stages on the provisions of the proposed Bill, and now advise us in a different sense on this matter than was the case until last year—that proscription would now be helpful in the struggle against terrorism.
I was asked by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, in regard to the funds of the IRA. As will be known, under Clause 1(8) of the Bill, any IRA money or materials in the possession of someone convicted of offences under Clause 1 of belonging to or supporting the IRA may be confiscated. As regards the question as to the extent to which making expressions of sympathy with the IRA is illegal, the Bill does not go so far as that, but it is an offence under Clause 1(1)(b) to seek support for the IRA, and of course under Clause 2 public display of support for the IRA becomes a criminal offence.
There was discussion in the course of the debate on penalties, and I respectfully agree that a debate on the provisions of the Bill where the death penalty is not provided for would, in the circumstances, be inappropriate; and the House has been told of a future intention to discuss that grave and difficult issue. As to the law of treason, to which reference was made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, it is true that the death penalty remains for treason. He referred to my own personal position in that regard with a slight element of levity, I thought——
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
It may well be, my Lords, that the noble and learned Lord was declaring an interest, as he has so rightly said. The death penalty is also available against piracy with violence under the Piracy Act of 1837. Nobody has been executed in this century for treason, save in time of war. I think there have been three cases. It is an area of the law which is archaic, 1565 obscure and is presently being reviewed by the Law Commission—a review which I respectfully agree is long overdue.
There were a number of matters raised in regard to the operation of the Orders. There was a suggestion by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, that it may be appropriate for visits to be made by medical officers to those who are being held in custody for the permitted period of seven days while the police are making inquiries. The Government and the police recognise that the powers to arrest and detain suspected terrorists for seven days are, of course, exceptional. We certainly recognise that the fact that the normal safeguards, which have been brought before a court at the earliest opportunity, are withdrawn means that special safeguards, both to ensure that all proprieties are observed and to enable false allegations against the police to be rebutted, will be necessary. Police doctors may well have a role to play in this connection. The Home Secretary does not issue administrative instructions to the police on matters of this kind, but the Home Office will certainly draw the attention of chief officers of police to the concern which has been expressed in the House.
The noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, and others raised questions about the exclusion orders. Indeed, I think the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, asked: Why have them at all? Clause 3(3) of the Bill allows the Secretary of State to exclude persons concerned with terrorism who may not necessarily be guilty of specific offences under the law as it stands at the present, or against whom it may not be possible to secure convictions in the courts. The power to make these exclusion orders is therefore, in the opinion of the Government and the police, a useful and necessary addition to our powers to combat terrorism.
I was asked a number of questions about the respective position of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in regard to exclusion orders. The general aim is that the provisions for exclusion orders should apply to Northern Ireland as to Great Britain. Clauses 3 to 5 provide for exclusion orders to be made in Great Britain.
Clause 6 provides for the extension of those provisions to Northern Ireland, and this will be mainly done by the order for 1566 which Clause 6 provides. In simplified terms, the position will be that terrorists who are not United Kingdom citizens can be excluded from the United Kingdom as a whole by the Home Secretary or by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Terrorists who are United Kingdom citizens can, if they have a connection outside Great Britain, be excluded from Great Britain. They cannot be excluded from the United Kingdom unless they have a connection with or are acceptable to some other country. But if they have a connection with Northern Ireland they will be excludable from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The respect in which the end result will not put Northern Ireland in precisely the same position as Great Britain is that United Kingdom citizens will not be excludable from Northern Ireland; that is to say, to be sent to Great Britain.
The object of the Bill is to remove terrorists from the United Kingdom, or from Great Britain if they are United Kingdom citizens from Northern Ireland. It should be possible to deal with terrorists who go from Great Britain to Northern Ireland for terrorist purposes. There are already extensive emergency powers for dealing with terrorism in Northern Ireland, and the Bill's main object is to increase the powers available in Great Britain. I hope that that somewhat complex explanation clarifies the position, although it is not an easy part of the subject.
A number of comments were made in regard to the propriety of the notorious broadcast which was made on television. It is true, as was said, I think, by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, that the broadcasting authorities are under a duty to ensure so far as possible that nothing is included in a programme which is likely to be offensive to public feeling—that is the general requirement. It is now greatly hoped that they will have this very much in mind when considering any future interviews with IRA leaders, should that ever even be contemplated. But it is not for the Government to intervene on particular programmes. The present Bill will make the BBC and the IBA look carefully at their attitude on interviews; and they have already publicly stated that it is their intention to do so. The suggestion was made, by, I think, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint 1567 Marylebone, that it was possible that the O'Connell interview may well have been part of an intelligence device by the IRA themselves by way of a warning to the IRA troops on the ground. We have looked into that grim possibility, but we have found no evidence to indicate that it was, in fact, the case.
As to whether the Home Secretary will use powers to give a direction to the BBC and the IBA, no directions have ever been given in the past, and in the light of what has been said in this House to-day, and may well have been repeated in another place, I am confident that the broadcasting authorities will use responsibly their freedom from Government control and will take into account in doing so the feelings which have been so clearly expressed by your Lordships from all parts of the House.
There was discussion of the desirability of introducing a general system of identity cards. That, of course, has been considered by the Government; we do not have a closed mind to it, and if it becomes necessary it will be done. But the introduction of identity cards would carry with it a number of difficulties and not least the diversion of effort that the introduction of such a system would entail. The Government will keep the situation under review, but we are at present, at any rate, advised that the effectiveness of an identity card system in helping the police to combat terrorism is very much in doubt.
The noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, asked me some questions with regard to the difference in treatment in the Bill between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Putting the matter generally, except for Part I, for which there is already provision in Northern Ireland, the Bill applies to Northern Ireland. Part II, for instance, applies to a very large extent and with only limited exceptions, and the principal exception is that a United Kingdom citizen cannot be excluded from Northern Ireland and thus cannot be removed from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. But as to Part III, Clauses 7 and 3 both apply to Northern Ireland and therefore may help the special and more intensive struggle that they have so gallantly faced for so very long.
1568 My Lords, I cannot claim to have covered all the points which have been raised in the debate, but I am grateful for the support that the Government's proposals have received. As I ventured to say in beginning my observations, it is not a mood of doom that has emanated from the House to-day. I well remember in Nuremburg when we were dealing with the documentation of the great trial that one of the first documents I handled there—and I recollect the emotion of doing so—was Hitler's notorious order for the invasion of Britain, Operation Sealion, which he issued in June (I think it was) or September of 1940. It was signed by his maniacal signature, almost a perpendicular signature, rampant with folie de grandeur. The first paragraph of this operation order for our invasion read as follows:Although the British military situation is hopeless they show not the least sign of giving in.My Lords, we have not the least sign of giving in to the terrorists, and we will not.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.