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Those are the facts as seen by us. I have referred to personal happenings in my constituency and to the representations made by the leader of the SDLP. What can we do in that situation? We must remember that we have to show that there is a will in the Government and in this House to deal effectively and adequately with the problem. I will not argue the case for the great deterrent of hanging. I am convinced that capital crimes of this nature should receive capital punishment, and I have argued that in this House before.
I will not dwell on the question of Executive detention. However, I was amazed that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook claimed that the Home Secretary, or a Cabinet Minister, does not have the right or knowledge to detain people executively. During the war the Home Secretary had the sole right to detain. Executive detention is a weapon in the armoury of any democratic Government, and it is used by democratic Governments in emergencies.
Column 226We also hear much in this House about the Irish Republic. It would be interesting for the House to know that the same kind of law--seven days detention--is on the Irish Republic's statute book. The Government of the Irish Republic will also have to have a derogation or they will have to drop their legislation. That fact has not been announced by Mr. Haughey. He has not made a declaration about what he is going to do.
In 1976, during a state of emergency--which still exists--declared by the Dail, legislation on detention was passed. When it was no longer used after 12 months, section 2 gave the Irish Government authority to bring in that detention up to seven days. The Irish Republic has the same law on its statute book as we have on ours, a law which some people try to tell us will antagonise the South of Ireland and those who support the South of Ireland. The Irish Republic has such a law on its own statute book, so it should clean up its own house before telling this House how it should act.
We read in the papers that there is uproar from the South of Ireland about the fact that remission will be cut. One fifth of terrorist prisoners released in 1984 have committed a further scheduled offence within two years. If people return to crime within two years of being released as a result of a 50 per cent. cut in their prison sentence, they deserve to have to serve out the rest of that sentence when they are apprehended after committing another criminal offence. The figures also show that one quarter of non-terrorist prisoners committed a scheduled offence within two years of release. The deterrent and the punishment must fit the crime.
The situation in Northern Ireland is serious and horrific. I spoke to an hon. Member from Northern Ireland today and he said, "Ian, do you worry when the phone rings?" I said, "Of course I do." He said, "That's how I feel because I don't know what the news will be." Therefore, I believe that the Bill can help.
I know that it is an infringement of civil liberties to take away a person's liberty for seven days. However, if a person is innocent of a crime, and if he can stand up to four days of interrogation, he can stand up to seven days or 14 days of interrogation.
I have always supported the police, but that does not mean that I support actions by police officers that are contrary to the law. If people are detained for seven days, their rights should be defended when they are being interrogated. Nobody should be abused, cursed or threatened and family matters that are immaterial to the interrogation should not be introduced. Let me give an illustration. A young man was detained recently. His father had hanged himself, so there was tragedy at home. The police officer who interrogated him said, "You'll be at the end of the rope like your father." Such language should not be used in interrogation. The Minister should consider such incidents carefully. I am glad that we have an independent police complaints board and I have taken the case that I have just mentioned, and many others, to it. Some members of the divisional mobile support unit in Northern Ireland need to realise that they cannot treat people in that
Column 227disgraceful way even though they have been lawfully arrested and detained in detention centres. Such abuses must cease.
I shall lend my support to the principle of the Bill. I trust that the House will acknowledge the reasons why we are discussing these matters. The sooner that the Anglo-Irish Agreement is put on ice, the sooner that it ceases to be implemented, and the sooner that the constitutional parties of Northern Ireland get round the table, the better it will be for everyone concerned. There will be no way forward until the constitutional parties discuss Northern Ireland together in such a way that we can find an agreement that will supersede the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which is flawed and has failed. We must bring constitutional and political hope to the people of Northern Ireland. That is my plea to the House tonight.
Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone) : The Bill is based on the review of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 that was carried out by Lord Colville between April and November 1987. He was able to undertake that review in the light of the experience that he had acquired when he reviewed the operation of the Act in 1986. Therefore, the noble Lord is not unfamiliar with the Act when he tells us :
"I fully believe that there is a continuing need for special legislation against terrorism".
Those of us who have been privileged to make submissions to Lord Colville have been impressed by his deep understanding of the needs of our nation, threatened as it is by both home-grown and international terrorism.
Yet we are equally aware of Lord Colville's anxiety to ensure that we, as a nation, do not become hedged in by harsh and rigorous law, which would in itself become oppressive. No one who loves and values freedom and democracy would wish to see any legislation on the statute book that would diminish or devalue those ideals. But we live in a world where the shadow of the great and ugly wars of yesteryear has been superseded by the mean but equally ugly spectre of terrorist violence. Some people--I admit to being one of them--believe that today's widespread terrorism, which pervades virtually every corner of the globe, constitutes the third world war. Although I share Lord Colville's convictions, I cannot claim to do so on the basis either of academic study or of professional training in legal matters. I share his convictions because of 20 years of practical experience of having lived cheek by jowl with the reality of terrorism and having been obliged, both as a soldier and as a politician, to witness-- often at first hand--the tragedy and suffering that have been inflicted on thousands of citizens of the United Kingdom by ruthless and brutal assassins.
It is right that the House should examine carefully the provisions in the Bill. However, it should do so with the conviction that only by ensuring and maintaining the democratic integrity of our whole community can it hope to promote the civil rights of individual citizens. The United Kingdom is facing political and economic terrorism, such as that carried on by the IRA, so we all have a responsibility to differentiate between the immediate luxury of philosophical libertarianism and the long-term benefits of belonging to a properly free and fearless society.
The Bill is particularly important in so far as it is a major piece of legislation that addresses the threat of Irish
Column 228Republican terrorism without the Government of the Irish Republic having the right to influence its form and format as they have done with exclusively Northern Ireland legislation.
Unfortunately, the folly of the Anglo-Irish Agreement has meant that, for example, the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 has become a political football. The Irish Republic exercises the authority given to it through the Anglo-Irish Conference to question, and more often than not dispute, any measure that might be considered to oppose the terrorism of the IRA. Sadly--I sincerely wish it was otherwise--the SDLP and the Irish Government have opposed as means to inhibit IRA violence the following measures : capital punishment ; the proscription of Sinn Fein ; selective internment ; an anti-violence pledge for candidates for election ; identity cards ; the removal of the 50 per cent. automatic remission from prison sentences for terrorism ; the banning of Sinn Fein from the airwaves ; and the change in the matter of the right to silence.
The list is much longer. It could even include opposition to protective barriers outside vulnerable police stations such as the Strand road station in Londonderry and to look-out posts manned by the Army in south Armagh.
It is well known that I would not support all the measures that I have mentioned, but to reject them all out of hand surely verges on the malicious and could give considerable comfort to the terrorist.
Mr. Mallon : I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way since he referred to my party specifically in his panegyric. Will he tell me exactly where he and the members of his party were when the public order legislation was going through the House? Will he have the good grace to tell us why they did not vote for that legislation? Just to keep the record straight, will he recognise the fact that I was the only Member of the House from Northern Ireland to vote for the legislation, in the face of our colleagues on the Labour Benches who voted against it? The hon. Gentleman should now have the good grace to put the record fully straight. He should also point out--as I will do later if I catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker- -that I welcome very much--I shall expand upon this--the part of the legislation dealing with racketeering. Indeed, I sought such a measure long before it was considered for legislation in the House.
Mr. Maginnis : We did not vote for the public order legislation because it was entirely different from the legislation that applied to Great Britain, but was in line with aspects of proposed legislation which was thrown out for Great Britain.
Mr. Mallon rose--
Column 229I was talking about the attitude of the SDLP and the Irish Government to virtually every proposed measure that is designed to inhibit or prevent terrorism. This House has seen the obstructive attitude of the Government of the Irish Republic in the case of Father Ryan, a man who has acquired a reputation as an international terrorist. The House has seen the destructive attitude of that same Government in its campaign against the British court system, not only or indeed mainly in Northern Ireland, but here in Great Britain. To put it bluntly, where there is doubt about international co-operation in the fight against terrorism--surely there are grave doubts--we must, as legislators, ensure that we meet our responsibility to the nation.
Bearing in mind your request for brief speeches, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I felt that on the Second Reading of this Bill it was appropriate to address the principle rather than the detail. That is not to imply that my party accepts the details because the opposite is the case, but it would take too long to deal with, for example, the Home Secretary's somewhat flawed and somewhat naive reasoning on the matter of terrorist funding and how it might be prevented or hindered.
Ulster Unionists will hope to table amendments to improve the effectiveness of the Bill as it progresses through its various stages. Indeed, we hope to have the opportunity to play a full part in the consideration of the Bill at each stage. Tonight we will, as we did last night on the Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Bill, vote for this Bill in principle. 7.5 pm
Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton) : The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) seemed very pleased with himself when he resumed his seat. He had made a speech against the Bill to please the half of his party that wants to see no anti-IRA measures passed, and a speech in support of some parts of the Bill to please those of his party who believe that terrorism has to be opposed by legislation and by a united approach across the Chamber. However, the British public will be thoroughly unimpressed by his performance. They will have heard with amazement his assertion, which I hope the media will cover tomorrow, that the IRA is not a threat to the British nation as a whole. The public will show what they think of that contemptible and mealy-mouthed performance at their first opportunity, which will be at Epping Forest and the Euro constituency of Hampshire, Central next Thursday.
On 8 March 1973 I was leaving court at the Old Bailey when a bomb went off outside the building, leaving a great deal of devastation. I arrived at the House of Commons one morning minutes after a bomb had blown out the north window in Westminster Hall and destroyed the secretaries' offices. In 1979 I left the Car Park minutes before Airey Neave was blown to pieces by a terrorist bomb. I was with the Israeli ambassador shortly before he attended a function at the Dorchester and had half his brain blown out and became, as he still is, a paralysed relic of his former self.
Many of us in this place have had the experience of our parliamentary and political friends being assassinated or of attempts being made on their lives by terrorists. Many
Column 230of us were living in London during the 1970s when bombs went off, killing and maiming hundreds of people in Hyde park ; in the Green park Underground station ; at Harrods ; and at the Woolwich arsenal. There were also the bombings at Guildford and Birmingham. Those are some examples from just Britain alone.
In 1981, there were 3,618 terrorists incidents worldwide. By 1984 that figure had risen to 6,653, and the number continues to grow-- Ms. Short rose --
Mr. Lawrence : I shall give way when I have finished this. In that year there were 3,324 bombings ; 1,123 assassination attempts or assassinations ; 1,341 arson or incendiary attacks. The murder, the maiming, the destruction and the misery goes on. There are 3,000 dead in Northern Ireland, including soldiers, policemen, civilians and women.
The terrorist threat continues. This year there has been the hijacking of the Kuwaiti Airlines jet ; the foiled car bomb attack in Gibraltar ; the cowardly murder of the British service man in the Netherlands. The bombs, the bullets and the destruction of the men of violence in Northern Ireland and elsewhere goes on and on.
Ms. Short : Obviously we agree that that is a catalogue of tragedy and we all want to bring it to an end and avoid it. However, the prevention of terrorism legislation has been on the statute book for most of the period that the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted, so it clearly is not preventing terrorism. That is our argument. Indeed, that legislation is likely to make some people more likely to support that kind of activity. That is our case. Of course, we all deplore the deaths.
Mr. Lawrence : We know that that is the hon. Lady's case and that several of her hon. Friends, who will vote against the Bill, have voted against such measures consistently when they have been introduced to the House. Indeed, they voted against such measures when they were introduced by the Labour Government in 1974 and 1976. We know that some people share that view, but the question is : what will end the murder and the maiming? Will cynical deals with terrorists by frightened Governments end it? Will weak Governments refusing to co-operate with information and action ever conquer terrorism? Will weak laws, half-heartedly enforced, achieve that end, or the wringing of hands, accompanied by weasel words? Will opposition to sensible Prevention of Terrorism Bills, showing that Britain is not united in its determination to root out this spreading virus, destroy terrorism? No. Only tough, determined, united, single-minded measures can possibly stop this terrible virus of international terrorism.
The first requisite is a Prevention of Terrorism Act that gives to the security forces the necessary powers to counter terrorism. We have such an Act, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) said, though Labour opposes it and is pledged to repeal it. Because of that Act, the IRA bombing campaign of British resorts in June 1985 was thwarted. Because of that Act, 54 people who were detained for Irish terrorism and 18 people who were detained for international terrorism have been charged with offences such as possessing explosives or conspiring to endanger life. Fifty-three out of 77 of the cases that
Column 231came for trial in 1988 were found guilty, and these people were sentenced to more than five years' imprisonment under the legislation. How absurd it is to suggest that it has played no part in the control of terrorism.
What is needed is this power to proscribe terrorist organisations and to exclude from Great Britain, Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom, as a purely preventive measure, those who are suspected of involvement in terrorism. We need this power to arrest and detain for up to seven days and this power to control the movement of passengers in and out of the United Kingdom. The prevention of terrorism legislation has struck hard at the terrorists and has helped to make the United Kingdom a safer place, whatever the hon. Member for Ladywood may say.
All of those who are determined that the fight against terrorism ought to be strengthened, not weakened, will welcome the powers in the Bill. They will welcome the power that strikes at the heart of terrorism--the fund raising--by confiscating the assets of terrorist organisations, stopping the laundering of their assets and requiring the forfeiture of terrorists' possessions. We welcome the wider power that is to be given to the police to apply to the courts for search warrants and orders requiring specific materials to be produced and the power to apply to the Secretary of State for warrants in Northern Ireland when the police have reason to suspect that certain offences are likely to be committed or are being committed. We welcome the changes in the remission arrangements that will do much to increase the element of deterrence.
So great is our concern, however, that civil liberties should be curtailed to the least possible degree that even here, in dealing with the abominable crimes of terrorism, we control the powers of the police by obliging detention for more than 48 hours to be reviewed, and we maintain parliamentary control by requiring the new Act to be debated and renewed in this place and the other place annually. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary concedes, there will have to be further amendment as a result of the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights against detention for interrogation for longer than four days.
The question must be asked : why do the police need more than four days? The answer can be simply given : because forensic testing these days is a very detailed process that requires a great deal of diligent care, because alibis sometimes need to be checked thoroughly--and that takes days--and because other people are sometimes arrested and new information is brought that has to be used in the process of interrogation.
The facts are that over 80 per cent. of those who were detained in 1988 for terrorist offences were either released or charged within five days and that, of the other 20 per cent., half were charged with serious offences, 16 were charged with murder and eight with attempted murder. The police simply must have all the powers that they need and the time to exercise those powers, or terrorism will not be defeated.
The next question is what the Government should do about it. My guess is that most people in this country would say, "What on earth is a court of foreign judges, brought up under a very different legal system and without the United Kingdom's terrible experience of unremitting terrorism, doing telling us what we may or may not do, particularly since we always give terrorists a fairer trial than terrorists ever give their victims?" But the
Column 232Government will not take that over- simplistic stand. They will want--and they will be supported by most hon. Members--to keep us within the restrictions of the European convention on human rights, if at all possible--which, of course, it is.
That leaves two options. First, we could derogate from the ruling of the court on the ground that the powers are needed because of the threat posed by terrorism to the life of the nation. Secondly, we could compromise by rejecting the ruling, but we could meet the spirit behind it by requiring a judicial element--a High Court or circuit judge, or a magistrate, or a tribunal of judges--to consider any police applications to extend the interrogation time beyond four days.
Derogation is, in my view, the least acceptable of those alternatives. When we derogate, although we act within the system, we make no concession to the civil liberties of the suspect, who might be innocent. We reject the ruling out of hand, although we do it politely within the terms of the convention. It would be more acceptable to many of us to require a judicial element--a judge, if there is no problem of availability, or a stipendiary magistrate, if that is more practicable. But what is needed is that the public should have confidence that injustice is not being done by the procedures. I think that a judicial element would meet that requirement.
There is the problem that defence challenges to police requests might bring out into the open highly sensitive material. That is a possibility. As always, the police will have to decide whether it is important enough to the success of their application to speak of such material. If, however, such hearings were in camera, as are applications for bail before a judge in chambers, there is less likelihood that such statements would get into the public arena. It is only a week since the ruling. The Government will need, and the House will support their request for, time to consider these matters.
That is the first requisite in dealing with terrorism--a Prevention of Terrorism Act.
The second requisite for a tough and effective campaign against terrorism is international co-operation over information, intelligence and action. The Government have taken the lead in Europe in such co-operation. Quiet, good work has been done through the Terrorism, Radicalism, Violence, International Committee of the European Countries--the Trevi group--and by anti-terrorist police and army units, such as the SAS, the GSG 9, Holland's marines and Spain's anti-terrorist group. The Government have improved international co-operation further by reforming the law of extradition, thereby satisfying the European convention on extradition which has served Europe well for 30 years. Are we not entitled to expect similar international co-operation from our friends and allies in this fight against terrorism?
We were all shocked and hurt by the cowardly behaviour of our friends, the Belgians. The arrest had been made in accordance with the Belgian laws. Belgium had sought our co-operation in asking for extradition. When appealed against to the courts, the extradition was upheld. When there was a further appeal to the court of appeal in Belgium it was upheld. The Belgian Government overruled the decision of the Belgian courts. The Belgian Government decided not to tell us--as they had undertaken to do 24 hours before they took action--what they were doing so that we could not try to stop it. They
Column 233just did what was necessary to get the problem off their plate, which is as near an act of cowardice as I have ever seen any Government perform.
We are all staggered by the reaction of the southern Irish Government over Patrick Ryan. They may need time to examine the evidence for extradition. Nobody doubts that. However, they needed no time to back our warrant for his arrest. Can they be surprised if many people in Britain are asking today whether the southern Irish Government's heart is in the fight against IRA terrorism? The third requisite for the effective containment of terrorism is the maintenance of border controls--the minimum necessary to reach as close as possible the unified Community market, targeted for 31 December 1992, and its concomitant, the free movement of peoples and goods, but the maximum possible to contain terrorism, as well as drugs trafficking and other serious crimes. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is absolutely right. We want to strengthen the European Community in its freedoms but certainly not at the expense of the security of the United Kingdom.
The fourth requisite is the determination of a united people in the United Kingdom to share in the responsibility of fighting terrorism. We all share that duty--every citizen and every organisation. It is wholly contrary to that obligation for any broadcasting authority to refuse to supply to the police film of atrocities in west Belfast or anywhere else. It is wholly contrary to that obligation for the IBA to allow film about the shooting of the three IRA terrorists in Gibraltar to be shown before the inquest has been held. It is contrary to that responsibility for mischief-making film makers to take statements from people who will not sign them and then to use them on television. It is most certainly contrary to the principle of joint responsibility for the Opposition to be less than totally united with the Government as they always used to be on matters of terrorist legislation.
As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State so effectively said, for all the murder, maiming, misery, heartbreak and human agony, the IRA is no closer to its aim of a united Ireland, nor will it ever be if the Government--with British people of all political parties resolutely behind them--stand strong in their total rejection of the inhumanity of the terrorist, wherever he may appear in our realm. 7.22 pm
Mr. Peter Archer (Warley, West) : That contribution was unworthy of the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) for whom, as he knows, I have great respect. He was not the only hon. Member in the House who knew and respected the Israeli ambassador. Many of us have known well other victims of terrorism and we do not minimise the tragedy. No one doubts the concern or sincerity of the hon. Members for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis). However, I wonder whether any of the previous three speakers listened to the contributions from either of the two Front Bench spokesmen.
This debate is not about whether to take a firm stand against terrorism, whether to protect the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from political violence, or whether to bring paramilitaries to justice; it is about how
Column 234best to obtain those goals. We must not permit terrorists to destroy--either by their own hands or by manoeuvring the Government into doing it for them--the freedom under the law which the people of these islands regard as their heritage. If they achieve that, they will have succeeded in their principal objective.
There may be general agreement in the House over some of what the Government are doing in the Bill. Sometimes it is necessary to give to the police powers which are not shared by other citizens. Sometimes it is necessary to impose inconvenience on our citizens in the interests of security. Sometimes it will be necessary to sentence convicted offenders to long terms of imprisonment. No doubt it will sometimes be necessary to intercept funds that would otherwise find their way to the paramilitaries. So far as I know, none of that is in dispute in the Chamber, although I have no authority to speak for my right hon. and hon. Friends.
But equally, the Government must be aware of two traps, both of which were mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). They must beware of doing something simply in order to give the appearance of activity and to deceive the public into believing that something is being done. When young Albert's ma announced, "Somebody's got to be summonsed" she was voicing the anguish and frustration that people feel when they believe that someone, somewhere, should be doing something dramatic about a tragic situation, yet they cannot be specific about what would remedy or even improve it. It is misleading and cruel for a Government to respond by appearing to be doing something which will not solve the problem, or worse, which may be counter-productive. We do not prevent terrorism simply by passing an Act of Parliament and calling it the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Secondly, we have to beware of doing something, which, because it is seen to be unfair, will lose the sympathy of decent, law-abiding people and transfer that sympathy to the very people to whom we are trying to deny support-- [Interruption.] If the hon. and learned Member for Burton wishes to intervene, I will gladly give way to him. This is intended to be a serious debate. All of us may be wiser over a period of years because so much blood has flowed under the bridges.
Those who try to understand the psychology of terrorism do not always agree, although they probably accept that there is no one single diagnosis or one single remedy. However, they all believe that potential recruits are not deterred from violence by the clang of the prison gates. All prison can do is to keep those who are properly convicted where their power to commit acts of terrorism is restricted. But that depends on whether we are convicting the right people.
We know that the most important single factor in influencing a young Catholic in Divis or Bogside or a young sikh in Southall who is deciding whether to join the men and women of violence is not speeches made by politicans in the House or editorials in newspapers but the opinion of their peer groups--young people of the same age group in the same area, whose assumptions are similar to their own and whose opinions they value. If they believe that the law is unfair and discriminating, they will influence one another to resist law and order. If they can be persuaded that the law and the authorities are trying to
Column 235be fair and that someone is trying to listen to what they say, they will look for ways of airing their grievances within the system. The Opposition believe that there are unjust provisions in the Bill, which for that reason are likely to be counter-productive. The time to look at those provisions is in Committee, but I shall give two examples, both of which were mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook. The exclusion powers in part II of the Bill are seen as discriminating in two ways. First, it is frequently people with Irish connections and Irish accents who are almost automatically on the receiving end, and, secondly, the powers are used to confine people to Northern Ireland. So someone who is thought to have terrorist connections must not be allowed to walk the streets of London or Birmingham, even if his family lives there, but it is perfectly acceptable for him to walk the streets of Belfast. In addition to being discriminating, it is unfair in operation. The subjects are not told why the order is made. There is no public hearing where it can be challenged and no appeal to an independent arbitrator. There is just a pointless and usually frustrating interview with a Government-appointed adviser.
There is no evidence that the most minimal contribution to protecting anyone from terrorism arises from those powers. No one could accuse Lord Jellicoe, Sir Cyril Philips or Lord Colville of being soft on terrorism. The Government use their recommendations in support of the legislation. Yet they have all expressed reservations as to the value of retaining the exclusion power and Lord Colville has twice recommended that it should be excluded from the Bill. The Government do not seem to have grasped the fact that the value of being able to rely upon the recommendations of a distinguished reviewer is totally lost if it is seen that they use them not as guidance but selectively, as backing for the Government's preconceived conclusions.
The second example is the power of detention in clause 14, to which the hon. and learned Member for Burton referred and which was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in the Brogan case. If that power were not in the Bill, the Government would have to rely on the powers of detention in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which does not seem particularly worrying because it is their own creation, and presumably was considered by the Home Office under the present Government to be adequate to the requirements of the police. If it is said that the PACE powers do not extend to all the situations contemplated in clause 14, they could table an amendment saying that the PACE powers should extend to clause 14. I am not saying that I approve of all the PACE powers but they are not the subject of debate tonight.
It is now clear that, once again, the United Kingdom, which used to boast to the world about its tolerance, its rule of law and its respect for freedom, has fallen foul of the European convention on human rights. According to the Prime Minister, and, as I understood it, according to the Home Secretary tonight, the Government are considering not only what to do about it, but whether to conform with it. I hope that I did not misunderstand the Home Secretary or do him any injustice, but I thought that that was the burden of what he said. If I am wrong, I welcome being corrected by the Minister when he replies to the debate.
Column 236Considering whether to conform with our international obligations which have been accepted by successive Governments because everyone knows that the European convention on human rights represented the consensus of the whole of western Europe as to the minimum standards which a citizen is entitled to expect from his Government and their legislation--
Mr. Maclennan : Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman recall that the Government of which he was an ornament as a Law Officer derogated from the European convention on human rights in 1978 on the introduction of the Emergency Provisions (Northern Ireland) Act concerning detention?
Mr. Archer : Derogation is one thing, and it is a possible course that is now open to the Government. We should be clear that derogation, as I understand it, entails declaring that the paramilitary organisations have endangered the life of the nation. Those are the words of article 5. If the Government say that the paramilitaries have endangered the life of the nation, I suspect that that accolade would occasion some rejoicing among the paramilitary organisations, particularly when the Government are saying that month by month they are failing and becoming less effective. So I do not think that derogation would be an issue on this occasion. How dare the Government say that they are considering whether to comply with a legal regime which, as far as I am aware, occasions no difficulties to any other police force or Government in Europe. How can the Prime Minister preach about the rule of law or respect for the law and then announce that the Government are considering whether to bring British law into accord with the international convention accepted by all our neighbours?
Finally, the Bill is claimed to be a temporary provision, but will it no longer be looked at afresh over periods of five years? It will be reviewed every year, but we all know what that means. It means an hour and a half's debate at 11.30 on a Thursday night. I know that some of us will want to say something about that in Committee, but I bear in mind the injunction of Mr. Speaker and I know that other hon. Members wish to speak.
I say again to the hon. and learned Member for Burton--I do not think that he is totally impervious to argument, and it may be that on reflection he will want to think again--that any hon. Member who seeks to represent our concerns as being soft on terrorism has either failed to understand what we are saying, or simply is looking for a stick to beat a political drum. He will be doing no service to the rule of law or to the people of Britain. To question how best to preserve the safety of our citizens and to maintain the rule of law is a serious matter, as the Home Secretary said. It requires analysis and not slogans, and it deserves better than to be trivialised by the Prime Minister, and the arguments should be addressed properly in the House.
Mr. James Kilfedder (North Down) : I always listen to the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) with respect. I have known him for many years, but I have to disagree with his observations tonight. I have reservations about the exclusion orders, but in my opinion they are necessary in the fight against terrorism. I put human life before human restriction.
Column 237The right hon. and learned Gentleman condemned exclusion orders as discriminating against the Irish. As someone who was born outside Great Britain, I think that no country in the world is as tolerant as the United Kingdom, and particularly the English people. I do not think that any other country would take in tens of thousands of citizens of the Irish Republic who are glad to come and live here and who are welcome. The Irish do not feel discriminated against. If they did, they certainly would not come to this country, and we must bear that in mind in considering the Bill.
The reduction in remission from one half to one third for prisoners who have been charged with scheduled offences and sentenced to five years or more is welcome to the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland. My Unionist colleagues and I have been pressing for such a change for many years. Our only complaint is that it has taken so long. That is our criticism of all the measures in the Bill. Why have we had to wait for 20 years for the forfeiture of money and property to be used in terrorist campaigns? The IRA depends on money to maintain its carnage in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and on the continent. The Home Secretary estimated that the annual income of the IRA is £3 million to £4 million. Every effort must be made to make sure that that money is not available to the men of terror. The present IRA campaign of terror has lasted for 20 years, three times longer than the duration of the last war when we had restrictions on the rights and liberties of citizens, and, as has been pointed out, there was internment of people on the order of the Home Secretary. During the past 20 years, 2,800 innocent men, women and children have been slaughtered by vicious terrorists. The IRA has slaughtered people in Northern Ireland, in Britain and on the continent. After every atrocity there is a torrent of words condemning the IRA on all sides, and from the Irish Republic there are words of condemnation and sympathy to relatives of the victims. However, whenever the security forces shoot a terrorist, or whenever a terrorist is tried and convicted, there is an immediate outcry. Many people in Northern Ireland are as perplexed as I am at the contradictory attitude which seems hypocritical in that the forces of law and order are meant to defeat Irish Republican terrorists but not to harm or convict them. In fiction, it may be possible to do that, but we are dealing with the world as it is, with all its harsh realities. The shadow Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), waxed strong about the resentment of citizens of the Irish Republic who were
"likely to have their support for law and order eroded". It seems that the right hon. Gentleman was not aware that citizens of the Irish Republic are also liable to arrest and detention for seven days on reasonable suspicion. Like many other measures, that measure was introduced in the Irish Republic to deal with the threat of the IRA. It is only right and proper that we should be able to introduce measures of that kind without criticism of the Government and talk about discrimination against citizens of the Irish Republic.
The IRA wins every propaganda campaign that it mounts. It is highly successful and highly sophisticated. It has the help of many people in Ireland, the United
Column 238Kingdom, America and elsewhere, who, for their own personal prejudices, are only too glad directly or indirectly to further the cause of the IRA.
The IRA is engaged in a bloody campaign of sectarian slaughter in Northern Ireland. The past 20 years have been punctuated by the most horrendous outrages committed in cold blood. Yet, throughout the world, there is the belief that Britain is holding down Northern Ireland by sheer brute force, against the wishes of the vast majority of the people there. There is the appalling belief that IRA members are freedom fighters who are defending a helpless Roman Catholic population against the terrorist attacks of the Protestant community. As hon. Members know, that is untrue. At his party conference, the leader of the SDP stated that the IRA has killed more of its own Roman Catholic compatriots than have been killed by members of the security forces.
As one newspaper suggested recently, the United Kingdom Government must spend an equal amount of money on trying to win the propaganda battle. It will be an uphill struggle, especially when those who are involved in television and radio broadcasting are doing everything possible to get around the ban on interviewing the spokesmen of the men of terror.
I hope and pray that political progress will be made in Northern Ireland and that constitutional politicians will get together and devise a system that is acceptable to the decent people of Ulster. Of course, constitutional progress will not bring an end to terrorism in Northern Ireland. Evil men are waxing fat on the profits of their evil deeds. We can destroy terrorists only by tough measures--measures that we would adopt only in a time of war. No matter what anybody may say, the IRA is waging a war against the decent people of this country. We should respond in kind. We must be tough. We must be resolute. We must be determined.
I hope that the measures will be implemented by the Government and that more will be introduced so that the Government can show that they are determined to destroy the IRA, not in another 10 or 20 years but as soon as possible. These measures may help towards that end, and I pray to God that they will do so.
Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh) : It is regrettable that, over the past few weeks, a certain atavism has grown up in Ireland and here in relation to justice and security matters. The Secretary of State was wise to ensure that that atavism does not raise its ugly head tonight. Unfortunately, in some cases it has done so. One point crops up again and again. I do not like wearing my heart--other than my political heart--on my sleeve, but accusations were made against me personally and against my party, and we should nail them. I represent the constituency of Newry and Armagh, and I am proud to do so. It was christened "bandit country" by a former Labour Secretary of State. It is a difficult area. We do not keep going a political organisation that is committed to non-violence to constitutional politics without having to fight hard against people who demonstrate the same atavism that the House has witnessed tonight.
I know what it is to have to fight my way out of a polling station in the dark. I know what it is to have to take my workers to a polling station, when men with guns stand outside to prevent people voting. I know what it is to visit
Column 239my election agent and find him dead on his doorstep, with his four-year-old daughter sitting beside him. I know what it is to sit in my house and hear and see the mob outside trying to burn it. Let nobody in this House or anywhere else believe that, when we talk about beating violence, we are soft on terrorism or have any sympathy with it. We see it at the coal face. When I say "we", I mean all hon. Members from the North of Ireland--Unionists and Nationalists alike.
The Secretary of State referred to the death and funeral of Mr. Barney Lavery. For over 30 years, he was a close friend of mine. I knew his little granddaughter well, too. I was at that funeral, as was, to his credit, the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis). It would have taken tears from a stone. Let nobody here imagine that, when we talk about suffering and terrorism and violence, we do not know it from all sides.
The Secretary of State referred to what I said previously in the House about using the law as a weapon to defeat terrorism. Maybe he should have finished the quote. I said that it was a weapon not to defeat terrorism but an instrument to create justice. I stand by that view. I stand by that view also in relation to this legislation, as I have done in relation to other pieces of legislation that we have considered recently, and I do so for one reason. I ask the House to think about it in rational terms. There are two ways of regarding the legislation. One is the negative way, saying that it will defeat terrorism ; and the other is the positive way, asking whether it will create peace. There is a clear distinction.
An important point is at stake. Surely everyone's aim is to create peace in Ireland--a peace that will last ; a peace that will not poison relationships every week of the year ; a peace that will not bring poisoned relationships into inter-governmental squabbles such as the one that we saw last week, the one that we have seen brought into Europe, and the one that we have seen poisoning the relationship between people who live happily together on this island and in Ireland, and between two Governments who have the right to live without embarrassment and without such a poisoned relationship on an almost daily basis. Without that peace, the defeat of terrorism will not be successful.
The Prime Minister rightly coined a phrase when she talked about the oxygen of publicity for terrorism. I make the point with all the sincerity at my command that, at present, the IRA, or Sinn Fein, does not need to look for publicity, because the House is giving it to it on a weekly basis. Those organisations were mentioned 168 times in yesterday's short debate. We all belong to political parties. If we were getting that type of cheap, free publicity, would we have to worry about what happens outside the House? Over the past four weeks the newspapers, the television screens and the legislation have given that oxygen of publicity to the very same people from whom everyone wants to take that oxygen.
There is the oxygen of abnormality. I commend to everybody concerned about the problem a most accurate article by Simon Jenkins in The Sunday Times last week in which he addressed that point. The habitat of the terrorist is the abnormal situation. He thrives in it and gets recruits and sympathy from it. Normality, where people go to work and lead normal lives, is the one thing that urban and rural terrorists cannot live with. They thrive on the abnormality that we have seen created in the North of Ireland. It is a tactic that they use successfully because we give it to them. A Sinn Fein political spokesman said :