HL Deb 15 October 2001 vol 627 cc361-75

4.36 p.m.

Lord Rooker

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall repeat a Statement made by the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, in another place. The Statement is as follows:

"With permission, I wish to make a Statement on the legislative steps necessary to counter the threat from international terrorism.

"Can I immediately pay tribute to all those in the emergency services and elsewhere who have already risen to the challenge over the last five weeks, and all those who have assisted in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack in New York itself.

"It is the first job of government and the essence of our democracy that we safeguard rights and freedoms, the most basic of which is to live safely and in peace. It is necessary now that we should look afresh, in a measured and proportionate manner, at whether our legal framework is adequate and our security sufficient.

"Whilst the nature and the level of the threat is different than previously envisaged, wholesale revision of our anti-terrorism laws is unnecessary. This is also the view of law enforcement agencies. However, we do need specific and targeted measures, which is why I intend to introduce an emergency anti-terrorism Bill. I am determined to strike a balance between respecting our fundamental civil liberties and ensuring that they are not exploited.

"Through these measures we will reinforce action against the perpetrators of organised crime, drug and people trafficking. In the next few days we will therefore introduce separate measures in the proceeds of crime Bill, which will now be complemented by anti-terrorist legislation.

"Terrorists use organised crime and trade in human misery to finance their activities. The tough new financial controls in the emergency Bill will help us to staunch the flow of terrorist funding. The emergency legislation will build on the provisions of the proceeds of crime Bill to deal specifically with terrorist finance, through monitoring and freezing the accounts of suspected terrorists.

"My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will spell out in more detail measures on the seizure of cash within this country, and strict reporting requirements on the financial sector. Separately, a new anti-terrorist finance unit is to be established in conjunction with my right honourable friend under the auspices of the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

"The events of 11th September have led to a new determination to co-operate at European and international level. Terrorists do not respect national boundaries. In line with the European-wide endeavour, I intend to include in the emergency Bill an enabling power to allow implementation of measures from the Justice and Home Affairs Council on police and judicial co-operation, by affirmative order.

"But, regrettably, there are also those who are prepared to exploit the tensions created by this global threat. Racists, bigots and hotheads, as well as those associating with terrorists, are prepared to use this opportunity to stir up hate. It is my intention therefore, to introduce new laws to ensure that incitement to religious, as well as racial hatred, will become a criminal offence. I also intend to increase the present two-year maximum penalty to seven years.

"I am examining wider powers in relation to incitement by people in the United Kingdom, against groups or individuals overseas. I am also examining additional powers in relation to conspiracy. None of this is intended to stifle free speech, dialogue, or debate. Fair comment is not at risk, only the incitement to hate.

"Obtaining good intelligence and being able to target and track potential terrorists is essential. We need comprehensive powers to require best practice to become the norm. This legislation will therefore facilitate the exchange of information in two key areas. It will ensure that law enforcement agencies can access vital information on passengers and freight. It will also enable Customs and Revenue officers to pass information to the police. These provisions will remove barriers that currently prevent the exchange of information in the fight against terrorism. These will be carefully targeted measures designed to protect the public, not affecting the privacy of law-abiding citizens.

"We shall introduce measures to enable communication service providers to retain data generated in the course of their business: by which I mean the records of calls made and other data, not the content. We shall work with the industry on a code of practice.

"I wish to thank those who have co-operated so well over the past five weeks.

"I believe we all accept that there is a compelling need for more effective powers to exclude and remove suspected terrorists from our country. We rightly pride ourselves on the safe haven that we offer to those genuinely fleeing terror, but our moral obligation and love of freedom does not extend to offering hospitality to terrorists. That is why both in the emergency terrorism Bill and in a separate extradition measure, I shall ensure that we have robust and streamlined procedures.

"I believe that it will be possible to achieve these changes without substantial alteration to the Human Rights Act. Nevertheless, it may well be necessary, using Article 15, to derogate from Article 5 of the European convention. This would allow the detention of foreign nationals who we intend to remove from the country, and who are considered a threat to national security. This would occur in circumstances falling outside those permitted by Article 5 of the European convention, but within the scope of Article If of the 1951 refugee convention.

"I am also looking to take power to deny substantive asylum claims to those who are suspected of terrorist associations, and to streamline the existing judicial review procedures while retaining the right of appeal. Appropriate safeguards would apply to any such derogation.

"A review of extradition procedure had been undertaken by this Government prior to 11th September. I intend to bring forward a separate substantive measure to modernise and place our laws within the context of the new international situation. Streamlining, while retaining rights of appeal, will form part of the measure.

"I also intend, following an announcement to this House in the weeks ahead, to modernise our nationality and asylum system.

"There are four other measures that I wish to refer to today. The first, which relates to the responsibilities of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport and Local Government, will strengthen security at airports and for passengers. Powers both within restricted areas at airports, and aboard aircraft, will all be strengthened.

"In addition, I can announce that we shall be expanding the role and jurisdiction of the British Transport Police, together with those working on enforcement from the Ministry of Defence and the Atomic Energy Authority. We shall be asking the House to agree to widen their powers beyond the boundaries of particular sites.

"I shall also seek powers to provide to the police, and Customs services, the authority to demand the removal of facial covering or gloves. This is a basic requirement to enable identification, where fingerprinting or other biometric tests are important.

"I am also including in the Bill clauses on nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological materials—generally described as, "weapons of mass destruction". These clauses will cover the intention to use, produce, possess or participate in unauthorised transfers of these materials.

"At the time of the millennium a great deal of work was undertaken to ensure the security of key utilities. I want to assure the House that both in the Civil Contingencies Committee, and more widely, we have examined and put in place further work to update our preparedness, preventive action, and remedial steps, should they be necessary.

"The United Kingdom has some of the world's best counter-terrorist expertise. Working together with international partners, we are taking every step to protect ourselves. These plans are continually reviewed and tested. There is no immediate intelligence pointing to a specific threat to the United Kingdom, but we remain alert, domestically as well as internationally.

"I know that many in this House will agree that strengthening our democracy and reinforcing our values is as important as the passage of new laws. If, therefore, we do not rise to the challenge, provide through our democratic institutions the commitment and will to face-down terrorists, then our economy, our social well-being, and our quality of life will suffer.

"The legislative measures that I have outlined today will protect and enhance our rights, not diminish them. Justice for individuals and minorities is reaffirmed, and justice for the majority and the security of our nation will be secured.

"On 11th September families lost their loved ones, and the threat of terrorism touched us all. If we fail now to take the necessary action to protect our people, future generations will never forgive us.

"That is why I am asking for the wholehearted support of all sides of the House in demonstrating that this Parliament, our democracy, and our judicial system, are capable of rising to the challenge and of doing so swiftly and effectively".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4.56 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith

My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will be grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement made by his right honourable friend in another place. Like the noble Lord's party, we also wish to see those changes in domestic law that are necessary to improve the effectiveness of the counter measures against terrorism in this country. However, I am sure that the noble Lord will agree that over a number of recent years we have witnessed too many instances where we have legislated in haste and subsequently repented at leisure. We must be most careful in what we do to ensure that we properly maintain the balance between public safety and individual freedom.

The Statement refers to building on the powers under the proceeds of crime Bill to deal with the question of cutting off funding for terrorist activities. I believe that the City is the biggest money market in the world; indeed, it is certainly by far and away the biggest within Europe. Can the Minister assure me that proper and adequate consultations are now taking place, especially with banks and other city interests, to ensure that, while every proper step is taken to ensure that we do what we can wherever possible to restrict the movement of funds that might be used for terrorist purposes, we do not take steps that might at the same time so restrict the City that we indirectly achieve the terrorists' purposes for them?

We welcome the acknowledgement that we need to change the law now in the interests of public safety so that the Minister can refuse entry to this country of persons known to pose a risk to public safety and national security. That law will require precise definition.

We also need to deal with the people who are already here. There will unquestionably be some, as we know from some recent court cases. What shall we do to remove them? Again, I welcome the Minister's assurance that action will be taken, but it is clear from recent cases that the removal of dangerous foreign nationals will present us with a tricky legislative problem.

The Statement appears to say that one way of overcoming that difficulty would be the indefinite detention of such individuals, but that may not necessarily be the best way forward. As we see the programme of proposed legislation, we shall need to explore whether other methods might be more appropriate.

We welcome the assurance that there has been in the past that Parliament will have the right to consider the Human Rights Act. Indeed, we may now have to examine the effect of that legislation in so many ways because of the counter-terrorist problem. The issue of counter-terrorism has affected not only this country. Europe has rightly woken up to the problem, which is a welcome response. We welcome the directive requiring other EU countries to pass legislation on terrorism that is parallel to our Act.

That is one thing, but to accept too slavishly what comes from Europe may not be as reasonable as the Statement implies. I admit to considerable concern about the part of the Statement that appears to imply that action to implement European arrest warrants might be passed into British law using only secondary legislation. That is so serious that we need to think more carefully about it. It could threaten the old British principles of habeas corpus and one is innocent until proven guilty. These are serious matters, and I should welcome the Minister's assurance that they will be treated with all necessary and due care when the legislation is brought before us.

It is clear that sunset clauses, to which I referred when we debated the Statement on emergency action a week or two ago, are very significant. Will the Minister assure us that there will be a sunset clause in the proposed new legislation on terrorism, as it relates to the present emergency, so that Parliament can review regularly both its effect and the need for it to remain on the statute book?

We support the principles that the Government have outlined and which they are trying to implement. The whole House will want to examine in detail the proposals, to minimise the possibility of any perverse effect. The legislation that is passed by Parliament must be in the best interests of all our people, whatever their background or their community within our nation state. That is our purpose and one with which we are happy to join the Government in pursuing.

5.4 p.m.

Lord McNally

My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement. I am not particularly good at mathematics, so I wonder whether he can tell me how many pieces of primary legislation he has announced today. I am sure that the House will be interested to know.

The most abiding memory of the events of the 11th September was the sight of firemen, police and other emergency services going against the flow and going into danger as others fled from it. There is no doubt that if we ever faced a similar attack, we could rely on a similar sense of duty and heroism from our own emergency services.

This is the first time that the House has had the opportunity to discuss or question home front matters and time will be needed for a debate on the issues raised. I wonder whether the Minister agrees that if truth is the first casualty of war, there is often a danger that civil liberties is the second, and freedom of the press is the third. There is a need for Parliament to be careful of the powers that government and the state ask for when facing an emergency.

As I said when I intervened in the debate on emergency action, it is not as if we have lacked legislation in these matters. The Terrorism Act, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, Immigration and Asylum Act and various Acts relating to criminal justice are all less than two years old, and presumably were drafted with an eye to emergency and attack. As regards some of the most recent Acts, in particular, Parliament should be willing to see how the new powers that were so recently granted apply to this situation.

On the question of money laundering measures, to which the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, referred, I disagree slightly with his emphasis. I spent part of the summer talking to various authorities about money laundering, mainly in relation to drug trafficking. In listening to the professionals of the various bodies involved, I was struck by how much slack there is in London. Although I understand the desire of the noble I Lord not to damage the City of London and its financial institutions, they cannot have it both ways. It is extremely important that bankers, lawyers and accountants show a sense of proper responsibility—I see one of our most distinguished accountants nodding vigorously.

The matter is important. It is no use saying, "I am not a private detective". I believe that those professional organisations have a public duty to help in taking effective action against money laundering.

Will the proposed emergency legislation on terrorism be published in draft form? Will there be a consultative process, especially considering the large number of parliamentary groups that are interested in these matters? Will our new Human Rights Committee be consulted? The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, referred to a sunset clause and annual provisions for renewal, which are matters that concern us all, so it would be useful to have clarification.

No mention of identity cards was made in the Minister's Statement, so can we assume that the authoritative put-down by the noble Lord to a Labour party fringe meeting is the last word on these matters?

Will the proposals for derogation from the Human Rights Act be put to the Human Rights Committee and will there be scope for judicial review of derogations? Will derogations be time limited by the Government? We welcome the proposals referring to incitement to religious hatred, although it has been pointed out that the existing legislation on racial hatred has been rarely used.

I wish to touch on another point, which relates to the second half of the Minister's Statement that comes under the broad term of civil contingencies, or perhaps the more old-fashioned term of civil defence. Who is in overall charge of the security of London? Can he give us a categorical assurance that there are no "turf wars" between central government and the Greater London Authority as have benighted transport policy? It is important that we do not fall foul of such "turf wars".

I am aware that a review of civil defence is under way, but there is the worry that our civil defence is geared to fight a cold war and nuclear war and a possible attack from Russia. This is an emergency and we are fighting a different kind of threat. One wonders how well geared we are to meet the new threat. The Minister mentioned that the MoD, atomic energy and transport police will have extended powers. How will those powers match those of existing police bodies and those of the police authorities who have oversight of those bodies? Does the Minister fear that "turf wars" or contradictions may arise? That is always a danger with these matters.

The Minister ended his comments with a ringing declaration of wholehearted support and our duty to future generations. We are all aware of that duty. However, Parliament also has a duty to be certain that emergency legislation is just that; namely, that it responds to an emergency, is clearly justified and will apply only for as long as is necessary. The wholehearted support of these Benches will be gained if the Minister can reassure us on those points.

5.12 p.m.

Lord Rooker

My Lords, in the limited time available I shall do my best to respond to some of the points which have been made. However, it is inevitable that I shall not be able to respond to all the points raised by the noble Lords, Lord Dixon-Smith and Lord McNally.

The Government have taken on board the point with regard to legislating in haste. We are trying not to do that. Much preparation and thought are being put into the legislation. Many of the loopholes we have identified have existed for some time. Sometimes it has not been appropriate to seek to close them, as has been the case in legislation that has been passed in the past few years. This House has not been satisfied that some of them should be closed. Therefore, we do not have to invent the wheel in respect of some of these issues.

I understand that the proceeds of crime Bill will be published later this week. I warn the House that it is a massive tome with over 400 clauses. It is a substantial piece of legislation. It has involved much consultation and has already been published in draft. Some consultations on the draft Bill are ongoing. As I indicated, we shall have to revisit the human rights legislation. I make no bones about that. That will have to be done in conjunction with the other place. As I made clear, we intend to use affirmative procedures with regard to the proposals of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union. I make it absolutely clear that the United Kingdom cannot solve these problems on its own. We must co-operate closely with our European Union partners. We do not seek to undermine or fast track the matter. As I say, we shall use affirmative procedures in bringing forward matters relating to the Justice and Home Affairs Council. There will be full debate in this House.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that I listed three Bills: the emergency anti-terrorism legislation; an asylum and immigration Bill and an extradition Bill. The proceeds of crime Bill will be modified to deal with some of the other matters. I take second place to no one in defending our civil rights, but inevitably there are those who will seek to abuse our liberal, tolerant democracy to undermine and exploit existing loopholes. We must make sure that we maintain our liberal and tolerant quality of life and not have it smashed by terrorist minorities. We must be careful. People have rights but they also have duties. One cannot have dutiless rights and have a decent civic society.

The other day I came across The Principle of Duty by David Selbourne. The book fell open at a page where a point was made that clearly fits the current circumstances. We must defend our rights but those rights involve duties. We shall consult fully. I hope that we have made that clear from the beginning of the parliamentary Session as regards the legislation that we are bringing forward. I cannot promise that it will be published in draft form. An emergency anti-terrorism Bill will be brought to the House quickly. I suspect that there will not be time to publish it in draft form. It will be introduced first in the other place and, to that extent, its contents will not come as a surprise. In so far as we can consult with all relevant parties we shall certainly seek to do so.

I was asked about ID cards. I was asked a straightforward question; namely, whether ID cards were part of the Government's emergency legislation. I replied, "No". I did not add, "How could they be? If we were to do that it would take years and this is emergency legislation". The next day the headline in the media was, "Government abandon ID cards from emergency legislation". When I replied "No" to the question that I was asked, it was an honest answer. That is not to say that the Government are still not considering the issue. I have not issued a "put down". I simply made the point that we were not rushing the matter, that there were no secret policies or plans and that the Government would discuss that matter and, if it was considered appropriate, we would bring forward proposals but that it would not be part of the emergency legislative package. It could not possibly be so in a country with nearly 60 million people. There are no "turf wars" in Whitehall.

Noble Lords


Lord Rooker

My Lords, I shall not say any more as anything I say will qualify that statement. I say to the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that I referred to the British Transport Police, the MoD police and the atomic energy constabulary. Those police forces already operate. The atomic energy constabulary was armed many years ago when Tony Benn was the Secretary of State for Energy. I remember the legislation going through the House of Commons. It was "touchy" at one point. Nevertheless, their powers are highly restricted and curtailed. I made the point that there are probably grounds for extending some measures beyond particular sites. Obviously we shall hold full discussions on that matter. It would not make sense for proposed changes not to involve the co-operation of the police. Therefore, as I say, the matter will be fully discussed.

As I say, I cannot respond to all the points made but I shall do my best. We shall, of course, revisit the issue soon.

5.18 p.m.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, will the noble Lord please help me? First, will he define "terrorist"? Secondly, will he remember that I have a vision of a man who was an Omagh bomber, leading a Rottweiler, carrying a target pistol and going to a football club to be a hooligan? All of the legislation covering those matters was passed in a rush and no one has taken a blind bit of notice of it. We have had terrorists in this country for 30 or 40 years now. We have introduced emergency legislation after emergency legislation after emergency legislation and it has not worked. I do not say that it is completely unnecessary, I just ask the Government to consider the matter carefully and to accept the situation if measures turn out to be illiberal and unnecessary. Instead of being stubborn and saying, "We cannot resist", I hope that they will say, "Yes, we shall listen". That is the mark of a good government.

I produce one further small point for the noble Lord to consider. As regards stirring up religious hatred, we are in difficulty with monotheistic religions. The Christians quote Jesus saying, "Only through me can you have salvation". The Muslims say, "There is one god, no god but God, and Mohammed is his Prophet". The Jews say, "God loves us and no one else". Those are all pretty mutually exclusive bits of, some could say, unpleasant attitudes. We have to be very careful before we embark on such legislation, because it will be illiberal in concept and difficult to enforce and the charges will create martyrs.

Lord Rooker

My Lords, I cannot give the noble Earl a legal definition, but it is a bit like the elephant on the doorstep: I will recognise a terrorist when I see one and so will the people of this country. We have had this problem with legislation in the past. It has been said that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Generally, the people of this country and the people who were affected by what happened on 11th September recognise terrorism when they see it.

On the noble Earl's other point about religion, there is one God and there are many prophets.

Lord Marsh

My Lords, will the Government take this opportunity to review the rules that prevent the extradition of someone accused of serious and appalling crimes to other countries—even to an ally such as the United States—unless they change their domestic law on capital punishment?

Lord Rooker

My Lords, that is not true. We have extradited many people accused of heinous crimes to the United States. We have an agreement with the United States and the rules are clearly laid down. We will extradite if there are reasonable grounds, provided there is a commitment that those extradited will not be subject to the death penalty. That has worked. It has not proved a barrier to extraditing people to the United States and there is no reason why it should prove a barrier in the future.

Lord Thomas of Gresford

My Lords, the Statement seems to envisage creating an arbitrary power of arrest and detention without trial and giving to the Home Secretary an arbitrary right to expel suspects, apparently without any form of judicial process or judicial examination of the merits of the case. Will the Minister assure us that, although the judicial review procedures may be streamlined, the Government do not intend to take away the right to apply for a writ of habeas corpus?

Lord Rooker

My Lords, I am not qualified to give answers before full legal authority, but I think that I have made it clear, as the Home Secretary did throughout his Statement, that we are not seeking to remove appeal rights. We are seeking to streamline the position, for example by removing judicial review from the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. I do not want to fall out with the legal nobles here. I assure the noble Lord that the legal industry, or legal trade, in this country will still be able to earn a living. We are not going to put them out of business, but neither are we going to let them misuse the legal process on key decisions to frustrate what we are seeking to do with our partners, as has happened in the past. That is all that we are seeking to do.

Lord Thomas of Gresford

My Lords, is the Minister referring to Her Majesty's judges? It is they, not the lawyers, who take such decisions.

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham

My Lords, I shall refrain from the temptation to indulge in a lecture on theology or comparative religion, but I should like to comment on the Government's intention to act against incitement to religious hatred. No healthy religion has anything to fear from scrutiny and honest debate. That is not the problem. The problem arises when attacks on a particular religion are used as a cover for racism and xenophobia. There is no difficulty with religions such as Judaism, which belong to a particular ethnic group. Anti-racism legislation is sufficient there. The difficulty arises with religions such as Christianity and Islam, which, in principle, transcend all ethnic divisions, but which, in particular historical circumstances, have become associated with an ethnic group. Islam is not an inherently Asian religion, but in this country it is generally perceived as such, so attacks on Islam are used as a cover for incitement to hatred against people of Asian origin. That is the problem.

I know some people who do not think that there is a problem, but there is. They should see some of the material recently distributed by the British National Party urging parents to withdraw their children from religious education on the grounds that it is an instrument for the Islamification of Christian Britain. For those reasons, the Government's intention to legislate against incitement to religious hatred is welcome. However, will the Government be very careful in drafting their legislation to ensure that they hit the intended targets and do not give unintended protection to bogus groups, whose names we can probably all think of and who deserve no protection from the most searching scrutiny?

Lord Rooker

My Lords, the right reverend Prelate made the case for me at the beginning of his remarks. We do not intend to define religion in the legislation as far as I am aware, because that is not the issue. The issue is criminal behaviour, which the courts can identify. There is no doubt that people have exploited religion as a cover for racial hatred. We are not seeking to ban or outlaw fair comment or debates within different religions. We are after the misuse of religion as a proxy for other purposes in the context of criminal behaviour. That is where the courts can be used to make the final decision.

Lord Baker of Dorking

My Lords, I strongly support what the Government have recommended this afternoon. It is entirely appropriate when faced with dangers such as those that we have faced since 11th September that the Government should bring in measures such as those that have been outlined. Indeed, they would be negligent in their duty if they did not do so.

We have been dealing with terrorism in our country for the past 150 years, but the nature of terrorism has changed significantly since 11th September. When the perpetrators of acts are prepared to destroy themselves in the process, new and uniquely difficult dangers are created for innocent people and prominent people. That is why the measures outlined have my strong support.

The Minister said that the Home Secretary was still considering two measures. One relates to those who, from the safe haven of Britain, still promote and support subversion and terrorism in their own country. I hope that those measures can be brought in relatively soon. As we shall be seeking to identify fanatical individuals and groups, we shall need much more intelligence about their activities, not only in this country but in the country from which they came. I very much hope that the resources available to the security forces will be increased significantly.

Lord Rooker

My Lords, the noble Lord is right. The nature of the threat has changed. If we do not recognise that, we and our fellow citizens in this country are in real trouble. However, that does not mean that we should over-react and destroy our way of life in meeting the threat. We have to be mindful of that. We need to use our brains to maintain the liberal tolerance of our society, but also to fight the new threat. That means change and accepting some duties that would not have been placed on citizens in the past. It means accepting a degree of intrusion. Communications is one example. We are not after the content of communications, but information such as the dates on which calls are made and which number rang which number. That will protect the privacy of law-abiding citizens. The noble Lord is right about the intelligence services, because we cannot operate without good intelligence. We are looking at that issue.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, I should like my noble friend to address a single point on money laundering. I think that there is agreement among the general public that money laundering is one of the means by which terrorists help to organise their activities and get the materials and transportation that they require. I ask my noble friend whether he will try to ensure that the money laundering instructions or regulations that the noble Lord may have in mind will be much more precise in nature than the mere generalisations that have been offered over the past year or so. Those are so general in their effect that one can escape them very easily.

Money laundering is an activity that benefits not only the person who wants to launder the money but also the person or body who supplies it. Therefore, it is a very sensitive matter. Can my noble friend assure me that some detailed precision will now be applied to the regulations that will be rigorously enforced? The Government should have studied the matter over the past year but the issue has now become vital. If we are successful in cutting off the money, we shall deal a very heavy blow against terrorism.

Lord Rooker

My Lords, I say to my noble friend that the Statement which is to follow this one will probably be more specific to the financing of terrorism. However, the point that he makes is correct. If we do not apply precision to the legislation, the matter will end up in the courts. As a result, the legal profession and not Parliament will make the decisions. Therefore, the more precise that we are, the greater the chance that Parliament and not the courts will make the rules. That is a matter about which we are actively concerned.

I return to the subject of the proceeds of crime Bill. As I indicated, it is a substantial piece of legislation and there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss it. I hope that the length of the Bill is an indication of its precision. Obviously, a broad-brush approach would leave gaping loopholes all over the place. Therefore, we must hone in on and target exact offences; otherwise, the matter will be taken out of Parliament's hands and into those of the courts.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord can answer the last part of the previous question concerning resources. We shall need a great many more people in the security services. Will he obtain the necessary money from the Treasury?

Lord Rooker

My Lords, as I said, there are no turf wars and we have joined-up government. At present, resources are being made available as required.

Lord Campbell-Savours

My Lords, why should a person within the United Kingdom be allowed to board an aircraft without being required, if necessary, to prove his identity? Is there resistance within the department to the introduction of national identity cards?

Lord Rooker

My Lords, we have not kept embarkation details in this country for several years. Rather, the situation has gone the other way: we check those who enter the country, not those who go out. However, measures are in hand which I believe will meet the point to which my noble friend referred. As touched upon in my Statement, other legislation will deal with aircraft security, the swapping of information about people on flights before they land, and so on, so that the authorities receive good advance notice. I consider that to be important.

So far as concerns my noble friend's second point, the answer is no. There is no barrier in the department.

Lord Glentoran

My Lords, convicted terrorists in my part of the world have for many years continued their dastardly trade from behind bars. Are there no conditions under which Her Majesty's Government will consider the reintroduction of the death penalty?

Lord Rooker

No, my Lords. In any event, as I understand it, that has always been a matter for a free vote in both Houses. I believe that the issue has been put to bed. The subject has been debated in Parliament time and again, and the result has been the same. Therefore, I say that there is no prospect of reintroducing such a penalty.

Lord Alton of Liverpool

My Lords, in his remarks earlier, the noble Lord, Lord McNally, reminded us of the abiding scenes of the emergency workers in New York. We also recollect the rock solid qualities of the Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, standing in the midst of the mayhem and creating some order out of the chaos. I want to ask the Minister whether he is happy that, if, God forbid, similar circumstances were ever to occur in this country—here in the city of London especially but also in our other great metropolitan centres—there will be clear lines of authority. Will someone be seen to be in charge and able to gather together all the resources of the state to deal with such problems?

Coupled with that, and endorsing a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Baker, about the importance of intelligence gathering, does the noble Lord recall the occasion in the 1990s when intelligence was able to detect that the state of Iran sought to purchase chemicals from Poland? That attempt was thwarted by good intelligence. Indeed, two-and-a-half years ago his own department quite properly warned of the dangers of anthrax and smallpox being brought into this country. Does he agree that good intelligence is the best way for us to combat the evil of terrorism? The noble Lord, and, through him, the Home Secretary, has asked for the support of all sides of the House today. In principle, he is entitled to that.

Lord Rooker

My Lords, with regard to the noble Lord's first question, contingency plans are, by definition, contingency plans. They are always being updated and tested. However, we do not advertise the fact and we do not make announcements. Exercises take place on an ordinary basis. During my time as a Minister since 1997 I have participated in contingency plans and exercises. However, that is not the type of matter about which one issues a press release. That would defeat the object of the exercise.

Obviously, post-11th September contingency plans have been considered, updated, extended and modified. I say with all sincerity that I have no reason to believe that a situation, as described or hinted at on more than one occasion, will arise in which we shall not know who is in charge in our great cities.

Lord Judd

My Lords, is my noble friend able explicitly to reassure the House that, amid all the important measures that are anticipated, the Government remain determined that one of the values which has been central to our life in Britain will be upheld? Will Britain continue to be a safe haven for the genuine refugee and genuine asylum seeker? Can he reassure the House that we shall not in any way be driven from that commitment by the terrorists?

Lord Rooker

My Lords, I can give my noble friend that absolute commitment. There is no question of undermining this country as a refuge and safe haven for those who flee persecution and torture. The fact is that those who genuinely flee persecution and torture are a minority of those who seek asylum. Because criminal gangs organise the trafficking of people in whose cases there is no shred of evidence under the 1951 convention, the concern remains that the genuine person who flees persecution may be prevented from reaching a safe haven. However, we do not seek to undermine our commitment to the 1951 convention or to undermine this country's proud tradition of being a safe haven for those who flee persecution and terror.