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Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby): Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that the original exclusion order was brought in by a Labour Government and was supported by the Labour party until 1983? The hon. Gentleman is using weasel words to cover up the differences in his party. Does he agree with comments in The Guardian that his argument is entirely inconsistent? By abstaining on the order, he reveals himself as still soft on terrorism.

Mr. Straw: I confirm the first part of what the hon. Gentleman said, which is a matter of fact. I advise him never to take too much notice of what The Guardian says, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield(Mr. Benn)--had he remained in his place--would also advise him. As I will explain, there are good reasons for the position that the Labour party took earlier in this decade and in the 1980s.

Despite the way in which discussions into which we had entered in good faith were aborted as a result of the leaking of details about them--not by the Opposition, as I have said--my right hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield, in the debate two years ago, repeated the offer

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    "that has been made to the Government . . . to try to reach a consensus on the issue, take it out of the political divide and resolve it properly."

He continued:


of the PTA--


Last year, in the more encouraging climate of the ceasefire, my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar and I renewed those efforts to secure the establishment of such a review. Again, the approaches were not reciprocated by the Government by the time of the debate, which took place almost exactly a year ago. This time last year, I said:


I continued:


I repeated that point, so that there was no doubt about it, on two other occasions in my speech.

I regret that it has taken so long for the review we sought to be announced and for the foundations to be laid--as the review will achieve--for bipartisan agreement. The review we sought has now been announced and it follows directly from what I said last year that we should not vote against the measures tonight. Indeed, that was the reason why we did not vote against the Third Reading of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill on 19 February 1996, despite the fact that it contained measures to reintroduce internment in principle.

Sir Ivan Lawrence (Burton): But did not the hon. Gentleman and his party vote against the Second Reading of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill on the very day the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced a review? Is he not therefore talking absolute nonsense when he says that the reason for the change in his position today, for an all-party approach, is that we have announced a review?

Mr. Straw: No is the answer to that question. What I have said is entirely consistent with what I said last year:


Sir Ivan Lawrence: You voted against the emergency provisions Bill.

Mr. Straw: We did not vote against the emergency provisions Bill. We voted for a reasoned amendment which we had tabled and we did not vote against the Third Reading. The hon. and learned Gentleman needs to get his facts right before he asks further questions.

Mr. Howard: The hon. Gentleman has accused myhon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton(Sir I. Lawrence) of not getting his facts right, so let us make it clear what the record shows. Will the

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hon. Gentleman confirm that, on the day my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced the general review and after that review had been announced, the Opposition voted against the Second Reading of the Bill? The hon. Gentleman does not seem to know what his party did on that occasion, but I can tell him that it voted against the Second Reading of that Bill.

Mr. Straw: We voted for a reasoned amendment, as I understand it. I was not actually present and I did not vote either way on that occasion. I know that, on 19 February on the Third Reading of the Bill, there was no vote at all in the House.

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet): The hon. Gentleman may have been gratified to hear the BBC glorifying his party's apparent change of heart, after 13 years, about voting against the order tonight. The story that the BBC should have reported is that, in spite of the recent bombing and the breakdown of the ceasefire, the Opposition are still not prepared to support these measures. Where is the consistency in anything that the hon. Gentleman has said so far?

Mr. Straw: I have explained, on more than one occasion, that we have sought a bipartisan agreement on measures for the prevention of terrorism, as we have given bipartisan support for the peace process. But there is a difference. We have been able to achieve bipartisan support for the peace process because we have been able to have effective, constructive discussions with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland about that process. No such discussions have been remotely possible with the Home Secretary, who appears to believe that bipartisan agreement can arise only when a proposition is laid on the table and we have to take it or leave it.

Mr. Howard: The hon. Gentleman has made some allegations about me, so perhaps I may put another question to him. He attaches enormous importance to the review, which he says is the reason why his party has changed its position, and he is relying on it in his increasingly desperate attempt to preserve some semblance of unity in his party's position. Is the hon. Gentleman aware--I made it perfectly clear in my earlier remarks--that the review that we have asked Lord Lloyd to undertake is a review of the powers that will be needed if and when there is a permanent peace in Northern Ireland? It is a review of the powers that we will need against international terrorism or any other domestic terrorism, but specifically not Irish terrorism because it is predicated on the basis that there will be peace in Northern Ireland. The review has, therefore, precious little to do with the subject matter of today's debate.

Mr. Straw: That is entirely wrong. The terms of reference of the Lloyd review refer to the future need for specific counter-terrorism legislation in the United Kingdom if the cessation of violence leads to a lasting peace. I made exactly that point this time last year when I called for a review. I said that the review should be established on the Government's working assumption that the cessation of violence led to a lasting peace. So the review that has been established is the review that we sought--whether my hon. Friends like it or not.

Mr. McNamara: My hon. Friend has agreed with the Secretary of State that the review is predicated on a

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cessation of violence in Northern Ireland, and upon its continuation. Lord Lloyd is not looking at the situation since the breakdown of the ceasefire. The whole premise of the review has in one sense been knocked away by the IRA restarting its activities. So what Lord Lloyd is doing is of no relevance to the renewal of the prevention of terrorism Act--a point that I have made in the past to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Straw: When we called for a review last year we said that it should be established by a High Court judge or someone of similar standing, and that it should be carried out on the Government's working assumption that the ceasefire had led to a permanent cessation of violence. It is our judgment that the terms of reference of the Lloyd review meet the conditions that I specified last year. What I said then is clear for anyone to see. Despite the fact that the PIRA has abandoned the cessation of violence, the Lloyd review continues and he has invited my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar and me, among many others, to give evidence.

Mr. Mallon: Just to help us make up our minds,may I point out that there have been numerous reviews down the years? Lord Jellicoe, Lord Shackleton,Sir Cyril Phillips, Lord Gardiner, Lord Colville,Sir George Baker and John Rowe have all carried out reviews, but none of them dealt with the central points that the hon. Gentleman has identified and their recommendations were not adopted by Government. How can anyone therefore place any faith in the Lloyd review or believe that it will come up with the type of conclusions that I would like to see?


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