Mr. Sheerman : The hon. Gentleman knows that there are some examples of that. I do not have the references with me, but I am sure that some of my hon. Friends can supply them. It is rarely done, but it happens, and certainly in the context of exclusions that people feel are frivolous or amusing. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) has given the example of an Irish folk dance group that was excluded. That is one way in which the law pertaining to terrorism and terrorists can be sent up by the terrorists. The power to exclude is unacceptable in democratic societies.
There is no real opportunity to challenge the evidence upon which the Secretary of State makes an exclusion order. One of the main thrusts of the criticism that we have levelled, not only against the exclusion power but against the Bill as a whole, is that the Executive power is great and runs throughout the Bill. That power is untrammelled and unchecked by the kind of checking by a legislature or judiciary that is normal in a civilised and democratic society. There is no regular review procedure either. That contravenes article 6.1 of the European convention on human rights, which says : "In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law."
Such avenues are not open to people who are subject to exclusion orders. It could not seriously be said that the current right to make representations to the Secretary of State constitutes compliance with article 6(1).
The Secretary of State has advisers on exclusion orders. They are appointed by the Secretary of State and he normally listens to their advice and acts on it. That is not the thrust of our criticisms. It is that this is a private and secret hearing and does not give any chance for the evidence upon which an exclusion order is based to come into the public domain or even to be brought to the attention of the person who may be excluded. Most people in the United Kingdom are totally ignorant of that element in the Bill--that one's rights to live in any part of the United Kingdom can be taken away without challenge.
Column 34Not only are normal judicial powers not involved in exclusion orders, but there is no real accountability to Parliament. That is because the Secretary of State will not discuss such cases in Parliament and hon. Members are not permitted to see evidence. That means that there is not only no judicial involvement, but no legislative involvement. That shows again that the power of the Executive is untrammelled. There is no statutory right to be informed of the reasons for the granting of an exclusion order or of the evidence or information that is being used. That means that there is a possibility of inaccurate evidence being used, such as evidence from unreliable informers. The difficulty in challenging an exclusion order is even more dramatically highlighted by that.
The gist of our criticism will by now be clear to hon. Members. The exclusion power should not be in any legislation in a democratic society, and we have it only because it has been with us for a long time. I should like to go into some detail on the assessment of Lord Colville of Culross, a former Conservative Minister, who was asked to look at the legislation and its working in an objective way, In assessment 11.6.1 Lord Colville says :
"Lord Jellicoe took the view that exclusion orders, of which there were then over 240 extant, materially contributed to public safety in Great Britain ; and in Northern Ireland too, though there it is necessary to put into the balance any added risk to the security forces. I have to agree that it is probably an effective way of getting rid of people from an area where otherwise they might cause great trouble ; and that it disrupts terrorist lines of communication and supply of arms, ammunition and explosives."
Lord Colville was fair in putting that on record. However, he says :
"I am not convinced that the ends justify these means. I renew my recommendation, made in the annual report on the Act for 1986, that Part II of the Act should not be renewed in 1988, or not replaced in the new Bill. The Home Secretary announced earlier this year that after careful consideration he had decided it would not now be wise to discontinue this power. I recognise that the alternative is a hard decision, but I express the view that it would be the correct one both in terms of civil rights in the United Kingdom and this country's reputation in that respect among the International Community."
There could be no clearer condemnation of the exclusion power. That largely says it all.
The Minister has had some time for mature reflection and, as Lord Colville said, this is a hard decision. Some decisions in politics, such as those that flow from a knee-jerk reaction or that are in line with what has gone before, are easy to make. It takes a true politician, perhaps a true statesman, to make a difficult decision. On Second Reading, in Committee and again now, we asked the Minister to show that he has the mettle to take tough decisions. The Home Secretary likes to tell us, in press conferences and on television, that he is capable of taking tough decisions and of looking at how things have been done over a long period and taking a new direction. There is little evidence to date that, on the Bill, he has done anything of the kind.
Let us put exclusion orders in context. Through the Bill, new clauses are added to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. The Bill is a civil servant's dream. Everything has been added and nothing lost. Not one ha'p'orth has been taken out of the Bill. Whatever the arguments of the Opposition in Committee, almost every
Column 35comma and dot of the Bill remains as it was. The Committee made no change to the Bill either in detail or in its main thrust. We welcomed one provision of the Bill, that which will prevent the flow of money to terrorists. We welcome that power, although we thought that it was not necessary to have another Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill to legislate for it. The Government have bolted it on to this old and creaking Act. Here is an opportunity at least to unbolt the worst part of the Bill and to discard the exclusion orders. It has not been done in this House. Perhaps the Government will have time for greater reflection in the other place.
Had the Government dropped exclusion orders, they would have sent a signal to Northern Ireland and to the people on the mainland that the House of Commons, and perhaps even the Government, were taking the argument on civil rights and people living under the rule of law more seriously than they had for some time. Lord Jellicoe moved towards this position and independent assessment moved progressively towards asking the Government--any Government--to get rid of the exclusion power. It did not come about, but we hope that tonight the House will vote to make sure that the exclusion order power comes off the statute book.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : When I told my constituents, through my weekly newspaper column, that I was serving on the Committee examining the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill, a number of them said, "That won't take very long because it must be a bipartisan Committee with the Labour party supporting the Bill." I had to disabuse my constituents by telling them that the Labour party was opposing the Bill, which renews the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. It is difficult to understand why the Opposition oppose it, especially after hearing the speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman). It lasted for 38 minutes but he was not able to tell the House why a Bill that was first introduced by Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, when he was a Member of Parliament 1n 1974, should not now be supported by the Opposition. In 1974, the Act was given the support of the then loyal Opposition, the Conservative party.
The hon. Member for Huddersfield said that the decision had been taken after mature reflection, and he asked Conservative Members to praise the Labour party for having changed its mind on this subject. If I felt that the Labour party had changed its mind on mature reflection, I might have been able to listen to its arguments with some respect, but, once again, that change of mind took place only when the Labour party went in to opposition.
In five years of the previous Labour Government, Labour Members supported the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. They had no mature reflection between 1974 and 1979--they were happy to support it. Their mature reflection began only when they formed the Opposition and no longer had the responsibility for governing the country and protecting the nation against terrorism.
Mr. Peter Archer (Warley, West) : Does the hon. Gentleman tell his constituents that the most effective way to fight terrorism is to pass an Act labelled "the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act"? Does it not
Column 36depend to some extent on what is in the Act? Lord Colville is not a member of the Opposition, and he agrees with my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) about this provision.
Mr. Bennett : I tell my constituents what is in the Bill, and I shall return to its provisions in a moment. I am just drawing attention to the Labour party's behaviour on this matter because we are seeing in this, as in so many other subjects, the Labour party in opposition putting forward a different view from that which it put forward when it was in government. An analogy is the case of nuclear weapons. The last Labour Government were a firm supporter of nuclear weapons and independent deterrent policy. They even wanted to modernise it. Their Prime Minister, now Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, had to exclude the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) from the Cabinet discussions in case they were leaked, but the right hon. Member for Chesterfield was happy to work for five years in a Labour Government who supported nuclear weapons and then to change his mind when he left office.
The same is true on this issue. The Labour party opposes legislation only when it goes into opposition. We are entitled to ask what is happening when the Opposition are prepared to do a 180-degree turn.
Mr. Bennett : The hon. Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) may not like what I am saying. If he wants to take part in the debate, perhaps he should get up and say why the Labour party has changed its mind rather than shouting from a sedentary position. I shall give way if he wishes to intervene, but he obviously does not wish to do so.
Mr. Flannery : The hon. Member cannot accuse me of changing my mind on this. I was here when the Act was first published and I have been here for the passage of each Bill that renewed and amended the Act. The hon. Gentleman has not yet referred to the amendments that we are debating. The atmosphere in 1974, when the Act was first introduced, was horrific, and it arose from the Birmingham bombings. The then Labour Government realised that there was hysteria and panic among the public, as there was among some Members of Parliament. Many of us, including myself, fought against the Government of the day. Many people are now opposed to the Act because of the over-enthusiastic and brutal way in which the Government are carrying out the Act's provisions and adding to it every time it is renewed. That is one among many reasons why we have changed our minds.
Mr. Bennett : Amendment No. 27 deals with exclusion orders. There are now fewer exclusion orders in being than there were in the last year of the Labour Government. The hon. Gentleman may talk about hysteria, but this Government have a balanced view towards the use of exclusion orders and have reduced the number.
If the hon. Member for Huddersfield believes that we do not need exclusion orders, he must face two different ways. The first is to say that exclusion orders do not work, and so are a waste of time. I believe that that was what the hon. Gentleman meant to say. The alternative is that exclusion orders work and have been successful and we do not need them any longer. Whichever way the Government face--if they were to accept the Opposition's
Column 37point of view and withdraw exclusion orders or, as we propose, continue them--the hon. Member for Huddersfield would attack us. On the one hand, the hon. Gentleman is saying that exclusion orders do not work, but that, on the other hand, if they do work, they reduce the number of people involved and are therefore no longer necessary. That is a catch 22 position which it is not respectable for the Opposition to put forward.
It is not respectable for the Opposition to advance such a view when the Opposition contain some hon. Members who actively support terrorist organisations. It is not respectable for them to claim that every Opposition Member supports that point of view. I know that the overwhelming majority of Opposition Members support the Government--
Mr. Flannery : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Will the hon. Gentleman give chapter and verse to support his claim that Opposition Members support terrorist organisations, or will he withdraw it?
Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) : Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman said "actively" ; he did not just say, "supporting". One might support people in general terms, perhaps wrongly, but the hon. Gentleman said "actively", and that is not good enough.
Madam Deputy Speaker : We had these points of order in a similar debate earlier and they were dealt with at that time. The hon. Gentleman is not naming any one person--he is generalising--but I hope that he will explain himself and now come to the amendment before us.
Mr. Bennett : Let me name an hon. Member who actively supports the so-called freedom fighters. The hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), who is often in the Chamber to question Ministers on Northern Ireland matters--
Madam Deputy Speaker : Order. We do not have anonymous Members in this House. This matter has been dealt with earlier in the debate. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will conduct himself in a proper parliamentary manner.
Mr. Bennett : The purpose of amendment No. 27 is to get rid of exclusion orders. It is a matter of judgment and balance as to whether exclusion orders work. It is clear that, when Lord Jellicoe considered the matter, he believed that they worked, and that the police officers representing England, Wales and Scotland believe that they work and are effective. Lord Colville has opposed them because he believes that the end does not justify the means. However, he is not arguing that those means do not have effect, and do not work. It must be a matter of judgment on the part of individual Members whether the means justify the end.
If the end is to exclude people whose behaviour and actions would lead to the maiming and destruction of human life in this country and to explosions on the mainland of Great Britain, and if those people are known to be involved or there are good grounds for believing that they would act on behalf of the IRA, the Government have the right to exclude them from the mainland of the United Kingdom. The House would not be right to take away from the police and security services that valuable weapon which is clearly effective when used sparingly as at present. It is not a suitable argument for the Opposition to claim that terrorists welcome such a clause, because clearly they do not. It attacks the heart of the organisation and disrupts its supply lines, organisation and terrorism. We should therefore welcome it and take note of the comments of the people who have to deal with it at the sharp end--the police officers and the security services--and back them in supporting the retention of the exclusion clause in the Bill.
Mr. Robert MacLennan (Caithness and Sutherland) : Perhaps it is true that the further one is from office the more difficult it is to put oneself in the shoes of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. That might have something to do with what the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) has described as the Labour party's change of mind about exclusion orders. It was not clear from his speech whether he and his hon. Friends took the view that it had never been right to use exclusion orders or that exclusion orders were now unsuitable because the circumstances had changed. Those are two very different positions. As I understand it, there was no doubt within the Labour Government that, although those measures were unpalatable and draconian in terms of their undoubted curtailment of human rights they were justified in terms of their impact on the safety of the community.
If the situation had changed, we were entitled during the hon. Gentleman's 38-minute speech to hear some reasons for that. The arguments adduced by the hon. Gentleman might as well have been deployed when the Labour party was still in government. They did not address the question of the present threat in a different way from that which had prevailed before the present Government took office.
Mr. David Sumberg (Bury, South) : Perhaps I might suggest the change of circumstances that has caused that change of heart. In 1974, the people in control of the Labour party were the decent, good Socialists who always
Column 39run the Labour party and manage to get elected, whereas the people now in control are members on the Left, as represented by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). Hence the decision to oppose the exclusion orders.
Mr. Maclennan : I do not wish to devote much of my speech, which will not be as long as that of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, to cross- examining the Labour party. However, if that is the best argument that can be made against the continuation of exclusion orders, it is not very strong. Clearly, no Home Secretary will adhere to the policy of supporting exclusion orders which plainly infringe human rights, unless there are overwhelmingly strong reasons for so doing and those reasons are bound up with the protection of our citizens from the threat of terrorism and the particular threat of terrrorism in Northern Ireland. Unlike much of the rest of the Bill, these measures are not designed to deal with the general threat of terrorism. They are concerned exclusively with the Northern Ireland threat.
In this debate, we are bound to consider extremely closely the recommendations of the Government's appointed reporter on the operation of the prevention of terrorism legislation, Lord Colville of Culross. I have no doubt that the Government did so before rejecting Lord Colville's recommendations. Earlier contributions to this debate suggest that the Government paid a great deal of attention to those recommendations, although they decided not to follow his advice.
Some changes in circumstances can be seen if one considers carefully what Lord Colville said about the operation of exclusion orders. There is a decline in the number of people subject to such orders. There is an increase in the number of people who are successfully appealing against them, using the internal mechanism of addressing the adviser, to whom they have access as of right. Lord Colville's remarks suggest that that increased use may indeed reflect some growth in confidence among those to whom exclusion orders have been applied--that there is a fairness and open- mindedness in the examination of the case by the adviser and the Home Secretary. It is important to recall the facts as stated by Lord Colville, who pointed out that, in the year that he was reviewing, two of the new orders and three of the renewed orders were revoked. I refer to paragraph 11.3.1 of the report, which hon. Members no doubt have to hand. At the time of writing, representations had been made against eight of the 17 new orders made so far. In four cases, the order had been confirmed and the remaining four were still receiving consideration. In addition, representations were made against four of the 16 orders renewed in the first quarter of the year. Two of the orders were confirmed and two revoked.
I dwell on those points because I think it important to realise that, although this is a draconian power, being exercised without recourse to the courts to test its exercise by the Executive, it is being exercised with some discretion, and some of those subject to exclusion orders are having them revoked. I do not regard that as the rule of law in any normal sense, and I share Lord Colville's natural predisposition to call into question an Executive action that so curbs fundamental rights and freedoms.
Column 40I cannot think, however, that it would be right for the Home Secretary to give paramount consideration to that factor in deciding whether the powers should be renewed for another year. He must decide whether the powers materially contribute to the safety of our citizens. If, in the light of his knowledge of the general circumstances and of particular cases, he feels able and bound to tell the House that he requires such powers, I do not think that it is open to us to do more than ensure that he has addressed himself to the right questions and given the measures concerned the attention that they merit.
The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) read out Lord Colville's crucial assessment, and I shall not repeat it, but it should be recognised that Lord Colville did not call into question the efficacy of exclusion as a means of controlling terrorism and terrorists' movements. He suggested that, if the powers did not exist, considerable risks would be posed. He described the powers as effecting the disruption of terrorist lines of communication and supply of arms, ammunition and explosives, and as an effective way of getting rid of people from an area where otherwise they might cause great trouble.
Mr. Heffer : I heard the hon. Gentleman's intervention in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman). The hon. Gentleman represents a party that is supposed to be deeply concerned with civil liberties. Do his comments mean that he has not yet caught up with a member of the Tory party, and that his party is not really in favour of the civil liberties of which it claims to be in favour?
Mr. Maclennan : I think that my record on the issue is perhaps even clearer than the hon. Gentleman's. I promoted a Bill, which he did not support, to incorporate in our domestic law the provisions of the European convention on human rights, and I am very sensitive to any derogation from the convention or any provisions that curtail the fundamental rights and freedoms of our citizens, as are my right hon. and hon. Friends. There are, however, circumstances, recognised in the convention, in which Governments must circumscribe those liberties. They include circumstances in which there is a threat to national security--that phrase is drawn from the convention--and we are dealing with such circumstances here. No one can doubt that the power of terrorists in Northern Ireland to create havoc and mayhem on both sides of the Channel remains very strong.
That is why, with great reluctance, my right hon. and hon. Friends and I feel bound to accept the Home Secretary's judgment on this issue for this year. We are glad that the Government have introduced the legislation in a form that will enable us to address these questions again, for the powers cannot be extended beyond the operative date without renewal by the House. We should and must give the powers scrutiny no less detailed than Lord Colville's when we reconsider them in a year's time. We expect the Home Secretary not only to scrutinise each case through his own system of internal review, but to consider whether such a curtailment of fundamental rights and freedoms is justified in terms of the perceived threat, and to do so with continuity, before he comes back to ask for a further renewal of his powers.
Column 41of speaking until the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) responded to my intervention, as did the hon. Members for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) and for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon). Let me make it clear that I do not for a moment dispute the sincerity of any declaration by Opposition Members of their opposition to terrorism. The right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) said on Second Reading that all that we were talking about was the best way in which to deal with terrorism, and I broadly accept what the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) said.
I wonder, however, whether the hon. Member for Huddersfield has fully appreciated the depth and the extent of part II. His reply to my intervention suggested to me that he, and perhaps the hon. Member for Hillsborough, regarded part II as merely an internal mechanism of exile. That is not the case. It is clearly stated that clauses 5 and 7 enable the Secretary of State to make exclusion orders
"prohibiting a person from being in, or entering"
Great Britain, Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom. We are not dealing merely with a mechanism to keep terrorists in Northern Ireland, as I believe the hon. member for Huddersfield said in Committee. Part II is far wider than his reponse to me suggested. On Report, as on Second Reading and in Committee, all hon. Members have been inclined to appeal to their sources of authority. Opposition Members have often turned to Lord Colville, and found that parts of his report differed from the Bill, but he is not the only authority to have pronounced on the legislation. Lord Jellicoe concluded that exclusion powers
"materially contributed to public safety in the United Kingdom." I readily confess that I adopt that attitude.
The hon. Member for Huddersfield would have been on safer and surer ground if he had not attacked exclusion per se but rather the scope of exclusion orders within part II. It might be asked why they were connected only with the affairs of Northern Ireland. The Bill deals too excessively with terrorism related to Northern Ireland and does not sufficiently take into account the phenomenon of international terrorism.
If the hon. Member for Huddersfield and other Opposition Members had said that part II was too limited, they might have found significant support from Conservative Members. Our quarrel, far from being theirs--that there should be no exclusion orders--is rather that the exclusion orders within part II are too limited. If, as the Home Secretary said on Second Reading, the aim is seriously to confront international terrorism, the Bill is limited, rather than deficient. 5 pm
Mr. William Cash (Stafford) : My hon. Friend and I have both made a similar point. He may recall that the Minister said that he would give the matter further consideration. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept my intervention as a prompt, to obtain some information from the Minister about how he has addressed the problem since we were in Committee.
Column 42The essential argument is that terrorism, far from relying on the oxygen of abnormality, is itself an, abnormal phenomenon and requires abnormal responses. That is why I totally support the Secretary of State's having the right to exclude. I entirely support part II. The arguments of the hon. Member for Huddersfield are deficient in that they are limited. I hope, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford said, that before we conclude the debate the Minister will comment on that fact.
Mr. Mallon : The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) did the debate a service when he said that he would make no imputations about any hon. Member supporting terrorism or violence. I welcome that. Having sat through the Committee which considered all these matters carefully with a great sense of responsibility, and having had to sit through the timetable motion debate last Monday, I was appalled that, rather than dealing with the issues, the debate almost reached the stage of "holier than thou". A series of people attitudinised, posturised and, to use a more basic word, craw-thumped.
I accept, as does the hon. Member for Basingstoke, that all hon. Members involved in the democratic process are against violence, terrorism and sin. Our discussions are not about who was holier than thou, and when, but about how best to deal with the mutual problem. I hope that Conservative Members will not find it necessary to accuse--in oblique or other terms--hon. Members who feel strongly about the legislation of being soft on or actively supporting terrorism. Opposition Members should not have to thump their breasts every time they speak and state that they oppose violence or terrorism. The exclusion orders send out two messages. First they send a clear message to the people of Northern Ireland, from whichever side of the tragic political divide. The general message is that the north of Ireland is not as British as Finchley, as the Prime Minister keeps trying to tell us, but is different. It is a place to which to send people whom one does not want to retain within England, Scotland or Wales. There is a feeling of resentment within the Unionist community about that, because it is offensive to those who regard themselves as British. It is also offensive to those who, like myself, do not wish to see a continuation of the link with Britain one day longer than the time it takes to end it by peaceful democratic means. The message to both the Unionist and the Nationalist communities is that, in effect, they are dumping grounds for those who are excluded. The message is offensive to those in Northern Ireland who are constantly told that the laws of Britain and the membership of this Parliament are the fundamentals by which they should abide, yet a distinction is made in legislation. In terms of the Bill, Finchley is a long way from Belfast or south Armagh.
The second message is to people involved in terrorism. When someone is served with an exclusion order, it is served not on evidence but on intelligence. There is a remarkable gap between intelligence and evidence. The clear message to those involved in terrorism is that there is no evidence on which he can be convicted. If there were, he could be charged before leaving Northern Ireland, when he entered this country or on the way out of it. This is a suspension of a basic form of justice and the substitution of an abnormal means of dealing with the problem on intelligence rather than evidence. That is a fatal flaw.
Column 43Even worse is the fact that there is often no hard evidence or intelligence. For that reason, the exclusion orders should be removed, as was suggested by Lord Colville. It is difficult for people who, through no fault of their own, but because of the area in which they live, or their relations' activities, about which they may not know, or a matter of which they have no knowledge, are excluded. I know that people will nod sagely and say that that will not happen, because there are checks and balances. However, such people should read a book published this morning by a former brigadier in the Parachute Regiment about his attitude to Northern Ireland. It has been said that we should listen to what our police and Army say. We should not just listen, but ask them questions. I recommend that people read that book and realise that, sometimes, what the Army does would not be approved by the House--for example, announcing that there was a bomb on a railway line between Belfast and Dublin when, patently, there was not ; and covering up the death of a young soldier in south Armagh so that the incident would not give, in the words of the army brigadier, "publicity to the IRA." We are all against sin, but let us realise that human and legal rights should not be determined always on the word of those whose statements may be difficult at times to substantiate.
Substantial financial losses are often suffered by people involved in exclusion proceedings. Perhaps it is important to remind the House on all occasions of the 80 per cent. unemployment that exists in parts of Belfast. There is 60 per cent. male unemployment in my constituency. Many of those who are unemployed in Northern Ireland have to come to England, Scotland and Wales to get work, and once they come to the mainland, they are immediately under suspicion. It is among those people that the problems of exclusion orders arise. The problems are not confined to someone losing a job here that he will not be able to find in Northern Ireland. There might be a loss of unemployment benefit. If an individual has built up a business and he is caused to leave it, there will be a loss to him and his entire family. We discussed these matters at length in Committee and I repeat my view that the Government's approach is a harsh one. We argued that some form of compensation should be arranged in certain circumstances, but the Government did not agree.
There are many forms of subterranean activity in Northern Ireland. It is a small place, and news travels fast. When an exclusion order has been placed or when someone has been detained prior to an order being placed, others get to know of it quickly. That knowledge in itself can result in the assassin's bullet. For that reason we should always be extremely careful. Knowledge of the placing of an order, or of detention, is almost enough to result in assassinations as individuals defend their homes.
This part of the Bill is seen to be fundamentally anti-Irish in its structure and in the way in which it will be implemented. It is seen-- perception is often more important than reality--as a piece of legislation aimed at those who live on the other side of the Irish sea, and only those. That has a political effect on relations between the two Governments, and those relations must be good and must work positively if terrorism is to be defeated. If
Column 44legislation of this sort is retained when it could be done away with, we shall destroy the climate that must prevail if the problem is ever to be solved. How long has such legislation been on the statute book, and has it worked? I know that some will say, "If such legislation had not been in place, we can imagine the terrible things that would have happened." In other words, one would be asked to prove a negative, which would be impossible.
When we consider the Bill in its totality--as we shall later--and the element that we are now discussing in detail, we must ask, "Why, after 14 years, has legislation of this sort, bearing in mind the powers and the means that it gives to the police, the Army and the authorities in both countries to defeat terrorism, not proved to be successful in defeating terrorism and realising the successes that were claimed would result from its implementation?" Why are we still dealing with the problem? I still believe that the wrong approach is to use the punitive type of legislation that we see before us. It has helped terrorism in the past ; it has not stopped it.
Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough) : My hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) speaks with authority and knowledge of what is happening in Northern Ireland. Having been a Member of this place for some time, he knows a great deal of what happens in the Chamber. Many of us have sat through many debates of this sort over the years--indeed, there is a plethora of Irish Bills being pushed through the House. They are passing through it like lightning. My hon. Friend referred to the timetable motion that was debated last Monday. I was involved in a debate on Thursday of last week--consideration of the Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Bill--there is tonight's debate on Irish matters, and there will be another one tomorrow. The Government are forcing us to concentrate on Irish affairs to the exclusion of other issues and we are having an arduous time. It seems that each Irish Bill deals with and follows on from another Irish Bill.
I stay in Pimlico and I often walk along the embankment on my way to this place. As I walk past a tall block of flats I always notice a small obelisk at the side of it. I am sure that most people do not know about the obelisk. For a long time I walked past it casually, but on one occasion I decided to examine it. It is only a few feet from the ground and it bears a plaque on which it is stated that on the site of the obelisk was the old Millbank prison. It was the spot on which deportees to Australia last saw their homeland.
The habit of exclusion continues--there was deportation to Devil's island by the French and by many other countries to many other places--and it is terrible that that should be so. Charles Dickens was well aware of the practice of deportation. He wrote in "Great Expectations" of Abel Magwitch, whose great expectations were given to Pip. Abel was one of those who went, and many of them went innocently. Vast numbers of them were Irish. They were taken to Australia and they had to live there. Some take the view that certain actions will stop people behaving in a certain way. The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) used vindictive language and almost accused many of my hon. Friends and others of supporting terrorism. Mr. Nicholas Bennett rose --
The hon. Gentleman used an expression that suggested that he thought that everyone who was excluded was a terrorist. Even if that were true, exclusion would still be appalling. Most of those who are excluded are not terrorists. Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman thinks that they are, and considers that many of us are supporters of terrorism. I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman. I have given way to him on so many occasions that if a count were made the result would be unbelievable. He is a congenital intervener. I give way to the hon. Gentleman. It seems that he does not want to intervene now. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh tells me that he thought that the hon. Gentleman wished to intervene.
The vindictive approach of the hon. Gentleman deepens and intensifies the problem we face. My hon. Friend attends funerals with melancholy and frequent regularity within his constituency. His life is in danger, as are the lives of others in Northern Ireland. He saw fit to speak about the element of danger. As soon as it is known that someone has been excluded-- he may be innocent, having done nothing--he is immediately in line for the assassin's bullet. The issue should be dealt with more lightly and more gently. The Government's approach is better than it was.
No one can prove that exclusion orders have had the slightest effect on the political position in Northern Ireland or in this country. All they have done is satisfy the vindictive and terrorise people who have been wrongly excluded. They deepen their feeling of alienation from a society which dares to exclude people who have done nothing wrong. Like the Bill, exclusion orders are anti-Irish. They even victimise people who have an Irish accent or name. They do not do what they set out to do--all of which could be done under existing legislation. A United Kingdom citizen, or an alien, can be excluded from Britain to Northern Ireland if the Home Secretary is satisfied that he has been involved in political violence related to Northern Ireland. Such a person is condemned as being involved in those activities, even though he may not. Many times in the House we have raised the cases of people who did nothing to justify their being excluded.
The previous Act and this Bill are examples of the appalling approach of, first, the Labour Government, and especially the Conservative Government, to Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. They are treated as dustbins. The Government can say, "If you remain in this country, you may engage in terrorism, so we shall send you to Northern Ireland." They shrug their shoulders and say, "You may do it in Northern Ireland, but you will not do it here." That attitude is personified by the hon. Member for Pembroke, who tried hard not to withdraw and apologise for what he wrongly said.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. As I withdrew the remarks, having not been in a position to make the quotations that I would have made had you allowed me to, is it in order for another hon. Member to attack me?
This part of the Bill has piled grave injustice and great human misery on to innocent people. As many hon. Members have said, it means internal exile. Lord Colville described the power as the most draconian in the Act and opposed exclusion orders. In 1985-86, Sir Cyril Philips, reporting to Parliament on the 1984 Act, recommended that no new exclusion orders should be made. Lord Colville went further and recommended withdrawal of that part of the Act. That is what the Opposition advocate. We know that we have no chance of winning the vote, but we believe that it is democratically correct to place on record our arguments against the measure. We struggled against the Labour Goverment to do that, and eventually we won them over. People and Governments can be won over, but this Government are a more difficult proposition.
Since 1977, 4,358 people have been detained, 3,701 of whom were neither charged nor excluded. The number of exclusion orders has varied from year to year. As my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) said, there were 248 in 1982, 99 in 1977 and today between 116 and 120. What misery they have heaped upon many honourable people. We have often been abused, sometimes by good people, because of our opposition to the Act. Even in this Chamber, we are pointed out as supporters of terrorism. But we oppose exclusion orders, just as we have opposed the entire Act.
Mr. Heffer : I support the amendment. This part of the Bill should be dropped altogether. I am not particularly enthusiastic about the Bill. That does not mean that at one stage of my life I did not go along with the Act. I do not think that I ever voted for it, but there were occasions at the beginning when I did not vote against against it. The reason for that was the horrific events that were taking place at the time. Most of us felt that some immediate action had to be taken. We were not happy about the Act, and we were certainly not happy about the basic problem of civil liberties. The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) asked why the Labour party is now against the Act officially, when the Labour Government introduced it in the first place and supported it thereafter. That is a fair question, and it deserves a fair answer. The reason is that, as the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) said, after 14 years the Act has changed nothing. The problem remains the same. We need to look at the reasons behind the troubles in Northern Ireland. Why are there still shootings, killings, and terrible sectarian murders? Has the Act, particularly this part, contributed to changing the position? I believe that it has not.
What worries me about this part of the Bill is that it can be, and is being, interpreted as anti-Irish. Some of us who are, unfortunately, old enough to remember the Second world war, remember that thousands upon thousands of people from Southern and Northern Ireland came to this country and joined the Army, Navy and Air Force. They fought alongside people from England, Scotland and Wales to defend the liberties of the people of these islands
Column 47against the Nazis. Thousands of them were killed. There is a special relationship. Our history shows that the English, with the Scots and the Welsh, dominated Ireland for centuries. The Cromwellian efforts in Ireland were not something of which we could be especially proud, yet I am a good parliamentarian and I believe that we would not have the liberties that we have now were it not for Cromwell and the parliamentarians and what they fought for.
We must recognise that a special relationship exists with the peoples of the whole of Ireland--not a phoney relationship, such as the one with the United States. It is therefore scandalous to read in part II that people who have lived and worked for many years in this country, but who come under suspicion--perhaps because some of their relatives have taken a different position and have ended up in gaol in Northern Ireland or they have relatives in Southern Ireland--may find themselves being excluded from this country.