|Previous Section||Home Page|
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hogg) : I do not want to misinterpret what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but I believe that he was saying that a person could be excluded from Great Britain even if he had been ordinarily here for many years. That would not be right.
Mr. Heffer : In that case, I cannot read. The Bill says : "In deciding whether to make an exclusion order under this section against a person who is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, the Secretary of State shall have regard to the question whether that person's connection with any country or territory outside the United Kingdom is such as to make it appropriate that such an order should be made."
Perhaps I have not understood that correctly. Can the Minister assure me of that?
Mr. Heffer : I did not say anything different from that. I was not arguing about the position of a British citizen ; I was talking about people who may not be British citizens, who may be citizens of Southern Ireland, but who have lived in this country for 25, 30 or 40 years and who could be excluded from this country under the provisions of part II. The Minister seems to agree that that is what the Bill says.
Mr. Hogg : I am trying to follow what the hon. Gentleman is saying. If I do him an injustice, I apologise. I thought that he was talking about people from Northern Ireland who were ordinarily resident here and who might be excluded.
Mr. Heffer : I did not say that. People who live here, work here and vote here can be excluded under the provisions of the Bill and can be as much involved in the exclusion order as anybody else. That is not internal exile, although it would be internal exile if a person from Southern Ireland was sent to Southern Ireland under an exclusion order.
Column 48British citizen. Under the Bill, I could be excluded from England, Scotland and Wales ; so, in effect, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) is correct. However, if the position has changed--although I am not aware that it has--and I am not a British citizen, I shall lead the trek down to the bar in another place and I shall buy at that bar with great pleasure.
Mr. Heffer : I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has made that point. The Bill proposes two types of exclusion. There will be internal exile if people who have lived in this country and who are British citizens are excluded to Northern Ireland. Equally, people who may not be British citizens but who are from Southern Ireland may be excluded. We have had this special relationship for a long time. People who may not be guilty of anything other than association because they have relatives could be picked up for any reason and excluded from this country, even if they have been here for 30 to 40 years. That is exactly what happened in Tsarist Russia and Soviet Russia, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) pointed out earlier.
I now come to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman). He said that the matter was one of basic civil liberties. We cannot accept the exclusion order, but must argue and fight against it. I am glad that the Minister accepts that Labour Members are not in favour of terrorism, but I am worried that some newspapers and some Conservative Members consider that because I am putting forward this argument--and had the temerity to query what had happened to four people in Gibraltar--I am automatically a supporter of terrorism. The finger is pointed at me. However, we should still stand up and fight for what we believe to be right, especially when civil liberties are involved. The day that we cave in on that, all our basic liberties and concepts of democracy and freedom will go for all time and we shall be craven people from then on, living in terror. If we believe in the democratic process, we cannot accept that.
I now want to deal with the point made by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan). I do not know how his party can talk about its Liberal background--even its Social Democratic background--and say that it is the champion of freedom and democracy. I heard the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) make quite a good speech on the platform at his party conference--it was, in many respects, an excellent speech. He attacked what the Government was doing in relation to civil liberties in a forthright manner, which was perfectly acceptable to me. But the party's practice is very different from its speeches at such public demonstrations. Social and Liberal Democratic Members prove that, when they run away from dealing with issues such as the one today because they fear that the issue is unpopular or that they may be misinterpreted. Even if one fears misinterpretation, one must take a clear stand on the issue. I hope that we shall have maximum support for the excellent contribution made by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Opposition's case is that we should do away with the exclusion order-making power. It is perhaps desirable to remind ourselves of the arguments that they have made in support of amendment No. 27.
The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), who was nothing if not robust, described the exclusion
Column 49order-making power as disgraceful and villainous. He said that it was unacceptable to all true democrats and true champions of democracy. He asserted, in other words, propositions of fundamental principle. However, if his difference with the Government is a matter of fundamental principle, how was it that the Labour Government introduced these provisions in 1974 and 1976?
It is not good enough to say, "After mature reflection we have changed our mind," because although after mature reflection on matters that are nicely balanced one can certainly change one's mind, it makes no sense when one is talking about matters of fundamental political philosophy. To say, "After mature reflection we have changed our minds," is not a proposition which hangs together in such cases and, because it does not hang together, I find the whole case deployed against the exclusion order-making power unacceptable. It is desirable that we reflect on the circumstances in which the exclusion order-making power can be made. It is set out in clause 5, which states that the Secretary of State may make an exclusion order "If the Secretary of State is satisfied that any person-- (
(a) is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism to which this Part of this Act applies ; or
(b) is attempting or may attempt to enter Great Britain with a view to being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of such acts of terrorism,".
As the House knows, similar powers apply in the case of Northern Ireland and rest with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Those powers are tightly drawn and they are subject to further restrictions, such as those set out in the remainder of part II, which limits the power in respect of British citizens, ordinarily resident in the relevant part of the United Kingdom for three years or more. It is interesting to note Lord Colville's views about how the order-making powers have been operated. The one thing that he made wholly plain was his conviction that the powers are used in a fair and reasonable manner. He said :
"if exclusion orders were to stay, I am entirely satisfied that the applications are prepared with great care and processed by officials in both Departments concerned with meticulous regard to the statutory grounds set out at the beginning of this Chapter."
Ms. Mowlam : We must be careful of the Minister's nasty habit of quoting selectively from Lord Colville when it suits him. The Minister quoted from points 45 and 44, but, with the logical consistency that we have learned to love in the Minister, he missed point 43 which states :
"the authorities in Northern Ireland would not be severely handicapped by the abolition of the exclusion orders."
Will the Minister please put his comments in context?
Mr. Hogg : I am perfectly well aware of Lord Colville's conclusions, but at the moment I am dealing with the narrow point of whether the order- making powers are being exercised in a fair and reasonable manner. The plain fact is that, having examined this matter, Lord Colville concluded that they were. Perhaps that is not wholly surprising when one bears in mind the fact that, at the end of last year, only 144 orders were in place in the United Kingdom. If we can be sure that the order-making power is being exercised meticulously and carefully and with full regard to the statutory criteria--
Column 50law, which guarantees rights and civil liberties to individual citizens in this country, must be above the individual whim and practice of particular Home Secretaries. We embarrassed the Minister several times by contrasting the attitudes of different Home Secretaries to different parts of the legislation. Bad law presents a vacuum that can be filled in different ways by different Home Secretaries.
Mr. Hogg : The hon. Gentleman should direct his mind to the need for the order-making power, to which I shall now turn. The questions that the House must consider are, who says that we need the order-making power, and why do we need it? Once again, the answer to those two questions appears clearly in Lord Colville's report, which makes it plain that all the senior officers of the police forces in England and Wales are ardent supporters of exclusion orders. Lord Colville stated :
"With one accord they say that they would not be able to provide surveillance for all the Irish terrorists who might arrive." Later in the report, under the heading "Assessment", Lord Colville's more qualitative judgment of the effect of the powers is :
"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."
It is perfectly true that in the end Lord Colville came to a different conclusion from that which I commend to the House, but there is no doubt that he was satisfied that the powers address a real need and have a real and desirable consequence.
It is wrong to suppose that where facts exist that justify the making of an exclusion order, there inevitably exist facts that justify the institution of criminal proceedings against such a person. That, too, was one of Lord Colville's specific findings. However, in the end, there is no answer to the question that was posed by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on Second Reading when he outlined to the House the fact that earlier in 1988 he had had to deal with a number of terrorists operating in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, against whom it was not possible to press specific charges, although they were known to be about terrorist business. My right hon. Friend has to ask himself whether he should do noting or whether he had to make an exclusion order. His decision was to make an exclusion order, and that would have been the decision of every person who has had direct responsibility for carrying through such business. It is for that reason that I reject the amendment.
Amendment made : No. 6, in page 24, line 5 leave out if necessary by force' -- [Mr. Douglas Hogg]
Mr. Archer : I do not wish to detain the House, but I should be grateful if the Minister would explain the case for amendment No. 1. On the face of it, I cannot see the difference between a police officer giving "express" instructions to someone to take a particular course of action or implying that he has given those instructions and allowing someone to think that this is the course of action that he wishes them to take.
Mr. Hogg : In the absence of the word "express" there could be dispute. People might assume that they have received implied consent and there could be an argument about that. It is better by far to make it plain that the consent must be express. that is why we have tabled the amendment.
Mr. Archer : I only hope that it will be made clear to police constables that they should take great care and not let anyone think falsely that he is being encouraged to take a particular course of action.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. MacLennan : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Amendment No. 28 was not a Government amendment. I wonder whether there is any way of the House knowing at this stage whether the Government accepted that amendment.
Amendments made : No. 2, in page 7, line 43, after made', insert
after he enters into or otherwise becomes concerned in the transaction or arrangement in question but is made'.
No. 3, in page 7, line 44, at end insert
but paragraphs (a) and (b) above do not apply in a case where, having disclosed any such suspicion, belief or matter to a constable and having been forbidden by a constable to enter into or otherwise be concerned in the transaction or arrangement in question, he nevertheless does so'.-- [Mr. Douglas Hogg.]
Amendments made : No. 29, in page 8, line 41, leave out from property' to end of line 44.
No. 30, in page 9, line 3, leave out
to which subsection (5) above applies'
and insert under this section'.-- [Mr. Douglas Hogg.]
Amendments made : No. 31, in page 28, line 45, at end insert--
Column 52(cc) directing a specified part of any money, or of the proceeds of the sale, disposal or realisation of any property, to which the forfeiture order applies to be paid by the proper officer to or for a specified person falling within section 13(6) of this Act ;'. No. 32, in page 28, line 48, leave out or (c)' and insert ,(c) or (cc)'.
No. 33, in page 29, line 5, after under', insert
sub-paragraph (1)(cc) above or'.
No. 34, in page 34, line 27, at end insert--
(bb) directing a specified part of any money, or of the proceeds of the sale, disposal or realisation of any property, to which the forfeiture order applies to be paid to or for a specified person falling within section 13(6) of this Act ;'.
No. 35, in page 34, line 30, leave out or (b)' and insert ,(b) or (bb)'.
No. 37, in page 34, line 34, at end insert sub-paragraph (1)(bb) above or'.
No. 39, in page 40, line 26, at end insert--
(cc) directing a specified part of any money, or of the proceeds of the sale, disposal or realisation of any property, to which the forfeiture order applies to be paid by the proper officer to or for a specified person falling within section 13(6) of this Act ;'. No. 40, in page 40, line 30, leave out or (c)' and insert ,(c) or (cc)'.
No. 41, in page 40, line 35, after under', insert
sub-paragraph (1)(cc) above or'.
No. 7, in page 31, line 36, leave out second the' and insert a'.
No. 8, in page 32, line 3, at end insert--
(6) Sub-paragraph (8) of paragraph 3 above applies for the purposes of this paragraph as it applies for the purposes of that paragraph.'.
No. 9, in page 37, line 32, leave out second the' and insert a'.
No. 10, in page 37, line 50, at end insert--
(7) sub-paragraph (7) of paragraph 13 above applies for the purposes of this paragraph.'.
No. 11, in page 41, line 6, after take', insert that'. No. 12, in page 41, line 29, after charged' insert in Northern Ireland'.
No. 13, in page 43, line 17, leave out second the' and insert a'.
No. 14, in page 43, line 33, at end insert--
(6) sub-paragraph (8) of paragraph 23 above applies for the purposes of this paragraph as it applies for the purposes of that paragraph.'.-- [Mr. Douglas Hogg.]
Amendment made : No. 18, in page 48, line 35, leave out from first him' to end of line 36.-- [Mr. Douglas Hogg.]
Amendment made : No. 22, in page 64, line 4, at endinsert-- (4) In Schedule 14--
(a) in paragraph 5, for the words "section" 12(1)(b) of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984" there shall be substituted the words "section" 14(1)(b) of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989" ; and
(b) in paragraph 6, for the definition of "the terrorism provisions", there shall be substituted--
" the terrorism provisions' means section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 and any
Column 53provision of Schedule 2 or 5 to that Act conferring a power of arrest or detention.".'.-- [Mr. Douglas Hogg.]
Amendments made : No. 36, in page 34, line 30, at end insert-- (1A) The Court of Session may by rules of court prescribe the powers and duties of an administrator appointed under sub-paragraph (1)(b) above.'.
No. 38, in page 35, line 4, at end insert--
(3) The accountant of the court shall supervise an administrator appointed under paragraph 11 above in the exercise of the powers conferred, and discharge of the duties imposed, on him under or by virtue of that paragraph.'.-- [Mr. Douglas Hogg.]
This amendment, if carried, would require the Government to respect and observe the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Brogan and others. That is to say that, if carried, the amendment would require the Government to accept that men and women should not be detained for seven days without either charge or judicial review. In the limited time available for this debate--just over an hour to consider whether the Government were right to derogate from the court's ruling--there is no opportunity to do more than discuss three central issues which should dominate our consideration of the amendments.
The first is the issue of principle--whether it is reasonable in any circumstances to detain a suspect for seven days without charge or judicial review. The second issue is whether it is reasonable to derogate from the European convention on human rights in these circumstances. The third issue is whether it is reasonable for the Government to invite us, as they do today, to pass into law a Bill which, if we are to take the Government's word, as I do, they hope substantially to amend in the immediate future. In each case, the Government's conduct is unreasonable.
By far the most important of the three issues concerns the question whether seven-day detention without judicial review is right, or, for that matter, necessary. The European court adjudges that, in general, it is not right, and it adjudges that for specific reasons. Men and women should be held in prison only when they are suspected of specific offences and when it is at least anticipated that they are to be charged with specific offences, not when their detention is convenient to the Government to deter others or to trawl for information. We know that the immediately previous Home Secretary has been explicit in saying that the prevention of terrorism powers were intended for exactly the purposes that the European court, and, indeed, all civilised people, deplore.
Sir Leon Brittan's own words in the House were these :
"The use of the powers of detention under the legislation has acted, first, as a deterrent to persons other than the people who have been detained and, secondly, it has in the course of the detention of those concerned enabled some to be excluded and charged on the basis of information to be obtained that
Column 54was of direct value in the battle against terrorism, even though it did not lead to action against the people concerned."--[ Official Report, 24 October 1983, Vol. 47, C. 55-56.]
In Committee, the Minister quoted the Solicitor-General before the European court expressly denying that the Government would use detention for those disreputable purposes which the previous Home Secretary said were the intention of the Bill. But it was the Solicitor-General's duty--I do not blame him for carrying it out--to put the best possible interpretation on the Government's actions when he addressed the court. If the previous Home Secretary is to be believed, there is no doubt that, if they wished, any Government could disreputably use the present Act and the proposed powers of the new Bill. Indeed, if the previous Home Secretary is to be believed, there is no doubt that the Government have disreputably used the present Act and the present powers. I repeat that there is absolutely no doubt that, if they choose, future Governments could use such powers to trawl for information.
On 24 October 1983, I asked the previous Home Secretary this question :
"Is he saying that it is right in a free society to detain innocent people without charge for the purpose of obtaining information from them?"
His answer was categorical :
"It has been made clear not by me but by the courts that that is a legitimate and necessary use of the power."--[ Official Report, 24 October 1983 ; Vol. 47, c. 56.]
I repeat again that I am well aware that in Strasbourg the Solicitor- General said that the Government would not use these powers for that disreputable purpose, but, unless Sir Leon Brittan was ludicrously wrong, the best that can be said of the Bill is that it provides the power to control that information, and all we can do is hope that no future Government will employ it for that purpose. In our view, and in the traditional view of the House, it is unacceptable to legislate on the basis that powers may be provided, but there is no need to worry, for the Government will not use them in the way that is allowed. We have contended that, in place of such power, we should apply the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The Secretary of State, who I thought would be here, but is not--I do not blame him for that ; he has been here all afternoon--replied to our proposal with an answer which was prolix even by his usual standards :
"under PACE the powers of arrest can be exercised only where a constable has reasonable grounds to suspect that a particular offence has been committed or is about to be committed".
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that, under the Bill, it is possible to detain an individual who is
"suspected of being involved in terrorism in circumstances where one cannot prove, or does not have reasonable grounds to suspect, the commission of a specific arrestable offence."--[ Official Report, Standing Committee B, 10 January 1989, c. 295.]
It is worth while dwelling for a moment on what the Minister said. Once again, as so often is the case with Government Bills that the Opposition regard as severe infringements of liberty, simply to state the power in the Government's own language shows how wrong the position of that power is. The Minister said that the Government wished for powers, demanded powers and would insist upon powers that allow them to detain a man or woman who there were no reasonable grounds to suspect had committed an arrestable offence--a man or woman who was not simply innocent because they had not been tried and proved guilty, but a man or woman against