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Column 702given it a warm welcome. The usual channels should have been able to agree a fixed and reasonable timetable for procedure. If that would have happened 20 years ago, what is the reason for the extraordinary situation in which we find ourselves? The Bill is designed to fight terrorism and it ought to command all-party support. It would have attracted all-party support in the United States of America and in most parts of continental Europe. The Government had to act and table this motion. To be fair to the Opposition, they gave the Government due warning of what they intended to do and how they intended to behave. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) who led for the Opposition in Committee may find this a rare and unusual occurrence, but sometimes the words that he uses are taken seriously on the Government Benches. He made it clear to the Government that any co-operation on the Bill had vanished, following the statement to the Committee by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 22 December 1988 in relation to the Brogan case.
After my right hon. Friend had made his statement on the Brogan case, the hon. Member for Huddersfield said :
"This has been a truly co-operative Committee."
He was right about that. He continued :
"We have worked exceedingly well on a proper scrutiny of the Bill and have kept to a schedule that facilitates the timetable of the Bill that we know the Government must meet."
That is an interesting statement. Up to 22 December the Opposition had agreed, through the usual channels, a timetable to which they had kept. They were aware that the Government were under pressure, because of the timetable to which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House referred, to get it through. The hon. Member for Huddersfield then said :
"What a mess this statement has left us in How can we carry on in the spirit of co-operation, faced with the great difficulties with which the Home Secretary has presented us? ... We shall have"-- he said, in a meaning and threatening tone--
"a very different attitude to the Bill when we return on 10 January."--[ Official Report, Standing Committee B, 22 December 1988 ; c. 236.]
The hon. Gentleman and those of his hon. Friends who support him are men and women of honour and they keep their word. They were as good as their word. When we returned to the House after turkey and plum pudding they adopted a very different attitude to the Bill. Acting, I am told, under the orders of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) they embarked on guerrilla tactics, the aim of which was merely to delay. As my hon. Friend the Government Whip, the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Carlisle) would testify, had he not been sworn to silence, the Opposition were unable and unwilling to agree on how the Committee should proceed in an orderly and proper fashion in its examination of this most important Bill.
Ms. Mowlam : Ought not the hon. Gentleman to tell the House that on 12 January the Government introduced a new clause and 14 amendments, which meant that the Committee had to discuss new material that Opposition Members, without a body of civil servants to help them, had to go through? If the hon. Gentleman is to paint a true picture of what happened, could we please have all the facts?
Column 703what tactics were adopted by Opposition Members. Moreover, the statement of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, to which I have already referred, is on the record.
The Opposition said at first that they would co-operate, even though they did not like the Bill very much. Then they were at sixes and sevens ; they did not know whether to proceed quickly, slowly or not at all. All hon. Members who serve on the Committee know that to be true. Opposition Members may have been working according to the directions and instructions of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. I make no criticism of that. He is responsible for the Labour party's policy on home affairs. It is right that he should have some influence on how the Committee behaves and the tactics that Opposition Members adopt in Committee.
If that is what the right hon. Gentleman told them to do, and if they accepted his instructions, I think that the Labour party has taken leave of its senses. What better evidence does one give one's political opponents that one is not serious, that one does not recognise the urgency and that one has failed to be in touch with public opinion than that which one gives on terrorism? What better evidence can one give than to play--to quote the words of the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave) on another matter-- "clever silly" in relation to the Prevention of Terrorism Bill? That is the evidence that some of my hon. Friends require about the motives of the Labour party.
During one of those late evenings when sleep was difficult because of the charms and eloquence of some Opposition Members, I chanced to read an article in The Times when I was looking for an explanation of this extraordinary behaviour by Opposition Members, particularly that of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. The article was by a former close colleague of Opposition Members. During his time in this House he took a close interest in home affairs. I refer to Kilroy, as he is now known-- Robert Kilroy-Silk. When I read his article in The Times on 6 January it satisfied me as to why we are here this afternoon.
I shall read out part of the article. It gives the reason as to why we are debating this motion today. The article is headed
"One of the Paler Shadows".
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook is not here. An hon. Member : "He is having his tea." He will read Hansard, anyway.
The article continues :
"Where has the shadow Home Secretary been hiding himself for the past few months? Who is the shadow Home Secretary? No, that is not a sarcastic or a rhetorical question, or at least it was neither what I asked it of myself at the beginning of this week.
For a brief but disturbing moment I could not recall the name or face of the incumbent of that august office ... My temporary lapse of memory was occasioned by the fact that it is difficult to think of anything of note that Labour's shadow Home Secretary has said or done recently on home affairs."
Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh) : Does my hon. Friend agree that about the only pronouncement that we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman was on football identity cards? Again, he is 100 per cent. out of tune with the British public.
Column 704The article was written on 6 January, and the right hon. Gentleman has since made his statement. He is right out of tune with the British public. To be fair to the right hon. Gentleman, he spoke on the case of Mr. Viraj Mendis, a case of great interest to many of my constituents.
Mr. Sumberg : My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman) makes the point that he was out of touch with the vast majority of people. He was certainly out of touch with the vast majority of my constituents, many of whom work in the city of Manchester and pay rates there.
The article--it is by Robert Kilroy-Silk, not me--concludes with the words :
"The fact that I had to pose the question to myself is in itself an indication of his failure to make an impact."
We have the answer there. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook made an impact today, and so did other Opposition Members, by allowing us to get into the situation in which a guillotine motion must be proposed. [Interruption.] Some Opposition Members are here. I see the former Solicitor-General the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer). He makes up in quality what the Opposition lack in numbers.
The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and many other Opposition Members have made an impact, but not in the way that they probably would have wanted. They made an impact by saying to the House and to the British people that saving the face of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, proving Kilroy wrong rather than right, and justifying the right hon. Gentleman's virility is more important than making sure that the country has weapons to defeat the bomber and the gunman.
When we debated the matter in Committee, certain Opposition Members, no doubt sincerely--the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) was one of them--and with some credibility argued that terrorism could never be defeated, that we had to learn to live with it, that we have always had it, and that we have to do our best to contain it. I am not prepared to accept that view and neither, I hope, is my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. Whatever is required, a civilised society must prevail. It will not be easy to defeat the terrorist.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : Although it is difficult to defeat terrorism, the only way it will be defeated is if terrorists believe that, despite the means that terrorists deploy, no Government will ever grant them their political objectives. As long as the Opposition show a lack of firmness of purpose, as they are doing today, they will give hope to terrorists and make it more difficult for us to defeat them.
Mr. Sumberg : My hon. Friend is quite right. Many times in Committee we asked the Opposition how they proposed to deal with terrorists. They answered by saying that they are perfectly satisfied that the ordinary criminal law is sufficient to deal with terrorists. In the light of their record, that is an extraordinary statement. It bears no relation to the reality in Northern Ireland or in the rest of the United Kingdom. Opposition Members recognise that, in 1974--certainly during their period of office--there was a need for specific anti-terrorist measures. It is a reflection on the change in the Labour party and the pressures that have caused that change that the Opposition now feel politically unable to say to the Government, "We accept
Column 705that there is a need for a specific measure against terrorism. Okay, there are certain points in the legislation with which we do not agree and which we want changed, but, in principle, we see the need to deal with a specific situation." They say that the ordinary law is sufficient and that we should try to deal with terrorism on that basis.
Opposition Members should say that to the people of Northern Ireland. They should say that to the people who have suffered from terrorism in this country. They should tell people who have lost friends and relatives that the ordinary law is sufficient. I only wish it were. If it were sufficient, we would not have to spend time this afternoon and all the time that we spent in Committee debating the issue. If we have determination, we can defeat terrorism. We must provide the means. We must give the forces of law and order the means to tackle and combat the men of violence.
Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough) : The hon. Gentleman's face is new to me in this kind of debate. I have been here all the years since terrorism first occurred. I remember every Minister, including a previous right hon. Member for Barnsley who is now a lord, telling me how we were destroying terrorism and that we were winning. I argued that the idea was utter nonsense and that terrorism would continue for many years.
The hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) speaks with the attitude that we will conquer terrorism and that it is easy to conquer it if only the Prevention of Terrorism Bill is enacted. Hon. Members who have never taken part in such a debate before are giving the House guidance about how to do it. The hon. Gentleman should wake up. The matter is far more serious than that. It will go on for a long time due, to some extent, to the kind of nonsense that I have been hearing from the hon. Gentleman.
Mr. Sumberg : Then he did not listen well enough. I said clearly that the fight against terrorism is difficult. It will not be easy to win through. If the hon. Gentleman did not hear me the first time, I hope he heard me the second time. If the hon. Gentleman reads Hansard, he will find that I said that. In any event, it will not be easy to win through, but it will be much harder if we follow the Opposition's policies. We would have no chance at all.
Opposition Members take the view that all is hunky-dory in the garden, that there is no need to do anything, that we can rely on the general criminal law, that we are just dealing with a group of rather horrible people, and that, somehow or other, sweetness and light will prevail. The public do not believe that. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) should talk to his constituents. He will find that they are 100 per cent. behind what the Government ae doing. They want us to succeed with the measure. They find it extraordinary that the Opposition should not have co- operated with us in Committee and this afternoon. If the matter goes to a vote and the Government win, we shall press ahead with the
Column 706Bill. The Opposition will rue the day they showed themselves not to be supporters of the Bill but the tacit friends of the gunman and the bomber.
Mr. Peter Archer (Warley, West) : Not for the first time, the Government have introduced us to "Alice in Wonderland". Hon. Members may remember the debate in that story about executing the Cheshire cat. The king's argument was that anything that had a head could be beheaded. The executioner's argument was that a head could not be cut off unless there was a body from which to cut it. Even as a small child I found the executioner's argument more persuasive. This is precisely what we are discussing this afternoon ; it is the issue which the Government have raised. A guillotine is an instrument for separating one thing from another. In the context of Committee proceedings, it is to separate those parts of the proceedings which may be discussed from the parts that will not be discussed. There is no sense or meaning in a guillotine which relates to discussions that have already been completed. One cannot cut off the completed portion of a Committee's proceedings unless there is an uncompleted portion from which to separate it.
It is true that this motion deals with the remaining stages of the Bill, and it is proposed to allot one day to the whole of the remaining stages. That is disgraceful, and it cannot possibly appear as anything but running away from the debate. But whatever the appropriate period of time for the remaining stages, that is not a matter on which the Opposition could prevent the Bill from reaching the statute book, because it is wholly within the control of the Government, who decide how many days shall be allocated to it. Usually, that is a matter for business questions.
If it is said that the Committee stage is not quite complete--there remain the two debates about which my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Ms. Mowlam) interjected, selected in the marshalled list--the Government are not chopping off a head : they are clipping toenails. The Committee is to sit tomorrow morning in any event, and those two debates will be disposed of well within the morning. If the Government believe that, for some reason, the Opposition proposed to extend those two debates, I ask where the evidence for that is in the context of anything that has taken place in the Committee. Of course, the Government say that the Opposition have wasted time. Governments always say that and the Opposition say that they have not. Nothing would be added to that discussion by my denying it this afternoon. I simply ask any right hon. or hon. Member who would like to familiarise himself with the events of the Committee, and who would like to know whether the debate there occupied an inordinate amount of time and whether we invented fanciful suggestions for debate, to obtain a copy of the Committee's proceedings in the Vote Office and preferably read it all. If hon. Members do not have time to read it all, they should take any of our discussions at random and judge whether they were extended artificially, whether time was wasted, or whether we had a perfectly normal, rational debate on matters of genuine concern.
It is true that, at the outset of the Committee, we objected to the Government's bland assumption that when
Column 707the Government get themselves into a mess with their legislative programme the solution is always and automatically for the Opposition to behave reasonably, curtail debate and agree a timetable. We do not accept that, because it is not a well-founded constitutional doctrine. It was the Conservative party which complained a few years ago that there was too much legislation and that we needed a rest from it, yet they created this problem by trying to cram too much sausage through the machine last Session, and then again this Session. So we started this Session late. Then they said that the simple solution was for the Opposition to curtail debate and be reasonable and helpful. We said that we did not accept that proposition, but our point was a constitutional one. No one who has read our debates could suggest that we extended them artifically or were unco-operative.
I complain at the travesty of our debates that we heard in the speech of the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg). If anyone accepts his argument, I plead with him to go and read our proceedings. For anyone who has heard or read them that suggestion is a sheer calumny ; for anyone who has not, it was a silly and ignorant construction. I have said this before in the Chamber, but I resent the suggestion that we in the Opposition do not care about terrorism and that we take lightly the tragedy, loss and foolhardiness of it all. Some of us have known the victims of terrorism, so when hon. Members suggest that that explains the differences--
Mr. Neil Hamilton rose --
When hon. Members suggest that this is the explanation of our differences, such suggestions arise purely from their ignorance. If it is not from ignorance, it is from something more sinister.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : I make no imputation against the right hon. and learned Gentleman or the vast majority of his colleagues, or against their firmness of purpose in opposing terrorism I said that their opposition to reasonable Bills such as this is perceived by terrorists as a lack of firmness of purpose, and that is the problem we are discussing.
Mr. Archer : If the hon. Gentleman had been familiar with our debates in Committee, he would have known that a great deal of our time was taken up with what is counter-productive as a means of dealing with terrorism. I know that I would be out of order if I embarked on the subjects that we discussed, and I do not propose to do that. But I resent the suggestion--it may not have come from the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Hamilton), but it has certainly been made by other Conservative Members-- that what is at issue with this Bill is whether we are opposed to terrorism.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department who dealt with the Bill in Committee has not suggested that we wasted time or that our discussions were in any way improper. He appeared to be interested in the points we were making ; he directed his mind to them and replied to them. We were not always in agreement, but I always understood his replies, which is not true of every Minister of this Government whom I have heard in Committee. We have had no complaints from the Minister that what was said in Committee was in any way inappropriate.
Column 708Right until the sitting after dinner on Thursday evening, after the Government announced that they were introducing this motion, we had heard no suggestion--although there had been no agreement about a timetable--that time was being wasted. Then, when the Committee resumed after dinner on Thursday, two things happened which I, at least, failed to predict. First, Conservative Back Benchers became different animals. Until then, although they had participated from time to time in our discussions and had made brief contributions, they had chiefly dealt with their constituency correspondence, wandered in and out of the Committee, and looked through the window. In one case, an hon. Member had brought a Division to a standstill until being shaken awake and told what to say. At that moment, I almost had a conscience about having called a Division, but the Division did not seem to interrupt his slumber, because a few moments later he adopted a somnolent posture and passed the rest of the sitting peacefully. In short, they were behaving exactly as Government Back Benchers are expected to behave in Committee, but after dinner on Thursday evening they began to exhibit an intense interest in our deliberations. They intervened in our contributions and made substantial contributions themselves, to which Ministers rose and replied. It was a real joy ; but it was almost as though the Government side of the Committee did not want the business to be concluded.
Then, at 10 pm, the second unpredictable event occurred. We had had a number of late sittings, about which we made no complaint. We appreciated that there was urgency, but there were matters that we genuinely wanted to discuss. However, on the stroke of 10 on Thursday, the Government Whip moved the adjournment of the Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) said that there was so little left to discuss that we could easily dispose of it if we sat a little later, but the Government side voted down his proposal. So it is not open to the Government to say that the business of the Committee was not concluded. It was nearly concluded, and would have been if they had not deliberately prevented it from being so. As my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) and, indeed, the Leader of the House have said, we have all taken part many times in guillotine debates and we could rehearse all the usual arguments in our sleep. Normally, our only problem is to remind ourselves of whether we are in government or opposition so that we do not transpose the arguments.
But this debate is unique. The usual arguments are simply not applicable. The Government cannot say that we are bringing business to a standstill and preventing vital legislation reaching the statute book because there is nothing left in Committee for the Opposition to prevent. We, the Opposition, cannot say that the Government are ignoring the rights of the House and inhibiting free speech, because there is virtually nothing left for us to say. If Lewis Carroll had thought of that far-fetched situation, I have no doubt that it too would have been in "Alice in Wonderland".
The Opposition should resist the motion, first, because although it makes provision, it makes disgustingly inadequate provision for the remaining stages. In other situations, we would have had to say this in business questions, but, as it is, that seems a good reason for
Column 709resisting the motion. Secondly, we should resist it because the House should not encourage pointless and unnecessary motions. It only remains to ask, why are the Government doing this? Why should they want to do something that Governments normally resist having to do? Why should they want it to appear that the House is more divided on the principle of the Bill than it really is? Is it true that in this House we have a hobby of ascribing motives to one another. If an hon. Member mentions the state of the weather, we all speculate as to what reason he might have for introducing that subject. Even if he tells us of the reasons, we all ask one another whether those are the real reasons or whether there might be some deeper and more cunning reason.
I have racked my brains, but I cannot conceive of any reason why the Government should want to introduce this motion--
Mr. Archer : Well, my right hon. Friend has made one suggestion and perhaps we could all put forward our own suggestions, but I can think of no reason, commendable, disgraceful, or morally neutral. On Thursday evening I found myself wondering whether we had entered some Kafkaesque situation in which the inhabitants of the lunatic asylums take over and the people are governed by lunatics. That would explain a number of things that have happened in the House in recent months. There is one other possibility, which is found back in "Alice in Wonderland." I have reminded the House of the king's argument and of the executioner's argument. The queen's argument was that if something was not done at once, she would have everybody executed. That was not the most logical contribution, but it was the most effective in concentrating people's minds. I take leave to wonder whether the "Queen of Hearts" has let it be known to her Ministers that they must be seen to be energetic and effective ; that they must stand no nonsense and flex their muscles to let everybody see who is boss. I wonder whether they are demonstrating their macho response by introducing a guillotine motion every time there is a debate. I see only those two possible suggestions. I still have not heard a third. 4.33 pm
Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West) : I congratulate the hon. Member for Warley, South-- [Interruption.] I am sorry, I congratulate the hon. Member for Warley, West-- [Interruption.] I shall start again, I congratulate the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer). However, like his hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), he has put a huge smokescreen over what has happened in order to apologise for the activities of the Labour party. The public will not see this matter the same way. Therefore, it is for myself and my hon. Friends to expose the activities and the cavalier attitude towards the safety of the public of the Labour Opposition in relation to their dealings with the Prevention of Terrorism Bill in Committee.
The timetable motion has been forced upon the Government. There was no choice in the matter. That decision was forced on the Government by the Opposition, not by anybody else. As a member of the Committee, I was aware, as were all my colleagues, that there was an understanding between the Government and the Opposition that Committee consideration of the Bill would be finished by 19 January so that it could come back to the House for Report and Third Reading and then go to the House of Lords. That was because, if we did not complete our consideration of the Bill by 23 March, there would be no Royal Assent ; the existing temporary provisions legislation would expire and the public would have no protection from terrorism in terms of the special powers that the Bill provides and neither would the police have the special tools that are specifically given to them by the House to deal with terrorism. That is what was at stake and that is what is at stake in this debate on the so-called guillotine motion.
It has been argued that the Opposition have said that the Government have reneged on the agreement because of the decision of the European court of human rights. In considering that position, we should remember that no extra Committee time was spent on the court decision because my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department made it clear that they were considering the matter.
What we are facing--it is the most important thing in the days after the accident at Lockerbie, after Enniskillen and the Battersea bomb factory--is the fact that without the Bill there is no protection against terrorism. That is what people outside the House must realise. They should also realise that the party that forced the guillotine did not support the Bill on Second Reading. It supported part of it and many Opposition Members voted against it. Indeed, two Opposition Members felt so strongly that they resigned from their Front Bench. The fact is that the Labour party today is against any legislation that gives power to deal with terrorists. That is what is at the root of this and that is what the public outside must realise.
I have two major points to make about the Bill. First, it does not deal only with terrorism in Northern Ireland. That is something that we all forget. The original 1974 legislation was indeed designed to deal with that problem, but today we are not just dealing with terrorism in Northern Ireland. The attempt to bomb an El Al jet at Heathrow airport illustrates that. We have seen international terrorists kill diplomats on the streets of London and we have seen WPC Yvonne Fletcher shot down on duty by a terrorist from the Libyan embassy in London--
Mr. Dobson rose --
We have seen a jet blown out of the sky at Lockerbie. Those acts were carried out by international terrorists. Those are the situations to which we, as Members of
Column 711Parliament, must apply our minds in order to provide protection for the general public in this country. We are not just talking about Ireland because the Bill has other major facets.
Mr. Dobson : When the hon. Gentleman talks about the shooting of WPC Fletcher, is he suggesting that the prevention of terrorism legislation did or did not work in her case? What I remember--and bitterly as a London Member of Parliament--is that I protested immediately the Libyans announced that they were going to use the so-called Libyan people's bureau as a base from which to pursue the enemies of the Gaddafi regime. I demanded that the British Government close it and throw them out, but for years the Government took no action. It was as a result of that failure to act that WPC Fletcher was shot from the window. What is more, this Government, who say that they do not deal with terrorism or talk to terrorists, negotiated with the Libyans about how they should leave this country. Finally to add insult to injury, the Metropolitan police were forced to carry out the humiliating task of providing their colleague's murderer with safe conduct from this country. We shall take no lessons from Conservative Members about how to fight terrorism, because they have nothing to teach us.
Mr. Hind : I hear what the hon. Gentleman says. I did not remember his protest about that, because he protests about so much. If the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 had been in force and the Government had taken the hon. Gentleman's advice it would have been of use. If he thinks carefully he will realise that the Act would have been important in that case. The people in the embassy had diplomatic status and that enabled them to leave. Because of the international conventions on diplomacy, the Government were not allowed to touch them. The hon. Gentleman knows that Conservative Members felt as strongly about that as he did. We had no control over the situation, which was forced on us by international agreements.
We are dealing with an international situation. On the streets of our country there are trained terrorists, many of whom have been trained in the middle east by the Libyans, the Syrians and Palestinian groups. Many of them are learning to counter the techniques of interrogation, and the Bill will at least give the police some of the tools that they need to get round that problem. No doubt some of my hon. Friends who served on the Committee will remember the arguments advanced about security checks at airports. Those checks are currently being carried out at Heathrow and Gatwick and at all our airports to protect people using American airlines to fly to the United States and back. They are to counter the threat about a plane from Frankfurt being bombed which resulted in the Lockerbie air disaster. The powers to carry out those checks are contained in the Bill. Are the Opposition saying that those checks are not necessary? If they are necessary, how are they to be carried out if the Opposition prevent the Bill from becoming law? What will the Opposition say to the relatives of those who may die as a result of proper checks not being carried out because the police or the security services did not have the powers contained in the Bill? I am sure that the Opposition would not be very happy if they were put in that position. That points to the need for the Bill. We must
Column 712also be mindful of the planes that fly from London and from all over the world to Belfast. Surely people flying in and out of Ulster are entitled to the protection of the special provisions contained in this Bill and in others and which allow for the searching of baggage and checks for bombs and weapons. They also allow for the detention for 12 hours of suspected terrorists, people who may not be able properly to account for their activities.
These are important protections not only for the people on the United Kingdom mainland but for those citizens of the United Kingdom who live in Northern Ireland. Those matters were forgotten by the Opposition when they filibustered on the Committee. Let us deal with the Irish situation. Today the Irish terrorist is far more professional than he was in the past. I learned a great deal in Committee by listening to the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) who told us much about first-hand dealings with terrorists. It was quite frightening to hear that, especially after incidents such as the one at Eniskillen. Many of these terrorists are trained by the Red Brigades and Baader-Meinhof and middle eastern terrorist groups and they come to Ulster to do their worst. We must prevent them from doing their worst on the mainland.
As an English Member, I have a duty to my constituents to ensure that they are safe. That can be achieved through the exclusion orders in the Bill. Their purpose is to keep known terrorists who are in Northern Ireland away from the mainland, to prevent them from running a bombing campaign in the rest of the United Kingdom. Most of them are at large only because of the intimidation of witnesses in Northern Ireland. Nobody will come forward to give evidence against terrorists in the courts so that they can be properly convicted because the families of potential witnesses will live in fear. Typically and laughably, the Opposition pray in aid the Brogan case decided at the European Court of Human Rights. That case involved five known terrorists with convictions, typical of this situation, who were excluded by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary from the United Kingdom. Nobody can tell me, and I am sure that nobody can tell the public, that those exclusion orders were not necessary. We have only to look at the Battersea bomb factory to see that. In that case terrorists were arrested, but some are still at large in London. The police suspect that bombs with long fuses, similar to the one at the Grand hotel in Brighton, are ticking away waiting to go off. We need to find the people who planted those and nobody can tell me that the Bill is not necessary to help root them out.
The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act prevented a seaside bombing campaign in the United Kingdom and was used some months ago to prevent the assassination outside his home of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. In the Grand hotel explosion some of my colleagues and I saw the building virtually falling around us as an IRA bomber attempted to wipe out the whole Government in one go. Are the Opposition saying that the tools of detection and prevention of terrorism are not necessary in such cases?
Mr. Archer : If we are to take seriously the hon. Gentleman's contribution on this subject, will he tell us whether he really thinks that the Brogan case had something to do with exclusion orders? Has he even read it?
Mr. Hind : I have already spoken about the situation in relation to that. I cited the people in that case as typical of the sort of people that we know about and for whom exclusion orders are used. Given that situation, I am happy, as I am sure many of my hon. Friends are, about the existence of exclusion orders. One has only to look at bombings in London and at bombings at military establishments and at the Brighton case, which is typical, to see that such measures are necessary.
I now turn to the European Court of Human Rights case about Brogan and others. Because of the case put forward in Committee by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary it was not necessary to spend much time dealing with the Brogan case. The Government clearly told the Committee that they would have wide consultations about judicial supervision in the case of suspected terrorists who were detained for seven days. They needed to consult the judiciary in Northern Ireland and in Scotland, England and Wales. They also needed to consult three Government Departments and the matter had to be considered in detail. No extra time was used in dealing with that matter. The Opposition cannot pray in aid the Brogan case because the decision was made after the Bill was published. The date for the debate was already announced before the European Court of Human Rights deliberated on this matter. In order to come to a proper conclusion, widespread consideration of that decision is important.
It ill becomes members of the Opposition to accuse the Government of derogating from that position. My right hon. Friend had no alternative but to derogate. Had he not, we would have been in contravention of the European court's ruling and his actions would have been illegal. He did what the then Labour Government did, as a result of different factors, in 1974 and 1978. Again, the derogation was the result of action taken under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. It ill becomes the shadow Leader of the House to say that the Labour Government derogated only on Northern Ireland. Those 14 or 10 years ago, international terrorism was nowhere near as bad as it is today, so the criteria for dealing with international terrorism were different. I support the derogation. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley)--I am sure that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) will tell the right hon. Gentleman about this--told us earlier in the year in the debate on the Security Service Bill:
"The protection of our liberties is too important to be left to judges."-- [ Official Report, 16 January 1989 ; Vol. 145, c. 39.] It seems that the Opposition will use the judges when it suits them. but in this case, as an apology for the position that they have taken on the prevention of terrorism, will say that the judges are a sufficient protection. When the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook comes to the House, we shall have to check to see which face he is wearing.
Mr. Sumberg : Although my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has left the Chamber, no doubt temporarily, he has been here from the beginning of the debate, but the spokesman for the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) was here for a few minutes at the beginning and has not been seen since. How are we to take seriously his claim to be the principal spokesman on home affairs?
Column 714Has my hon. Friend any idea where the right hon. Gentleman has gone, or when he will be back and whether he will play any part in these proceedings?
A Committee is considering the Bill, and the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook is not a member of that Committee. Despite that, Conservative members of the Committee are aware that the right hon. Gentleman's sticky fingers are all over the way in which that Committee has been conducted. That conduct has resulted in the introduction of this guillotine motion. If the agreement to finish on 19 January had been honoured, the public would not have been put in danger and we would not have been forced to truncate the debate on this important Bill. Such behaviour sends out the wrong message to the public. It shows them that the Labour party is soft on terrorism, and its attempts in Committee to water down every strong item of the police's powers to deal with terrorism merely shows both the terrorists and the public that the Opposition are weak on terrorism and that they are likely to be the terrorists' friends.
Mr. Hind : I will certainly withdraw it. The point that I was making was that the Opposition's actions will be interpreted outside in that fashion. I know many Labour Members and I am sure that that is not so. I am saying that the wrong message is being sent out to the British public by Labour Members. Mr. Holt : My hon. Friend may not wish to retract too conclusively his statement about terrorist supporters on the Opposition Benches, when he remembers the activities of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone).