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Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan): In about an hour, barring an unforeseen accident, the House will renew the Act. It will still contain the power for the Home Secretary to sign exclusion orders. My hon. Friend is aware of the case of John Matthews, to which I referred from the Front Bench when I was my hon. Friend's deputy. The Home Secretary can still sign an exclusion order for a young man who was set free from a magistrates court without a stain on his character. That power will be retained this evening, no matter what we do.

Mr. McNamara: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising a point that I had intended to make. The Home Secretary, in his speech, condemned left, right and centre people suspected of planting bombs, evil crimes, murder and so on. He put labels on people, yet not one of them is able to defend himself, to see the evidence or to go before a jury in this country or a Diplock court to defend himself. The Home Secretary engaged in some of the most terrible

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smearing imaginable. It puts those people in ghettos where they become walking targets, find it difficult to get jobs, and are unable to go out of their areas without being attacked.

I want to return to the Opposition's attitude. We are renewing these provisions in March. What happens if there is not a general election--the Government do not want one--until next spring, with Lord Justice Lloyd coming along with his report but the Government doing nothing? Why do we have to go through all this again, especially if Lord Justice Lloyd does not come down on our side? If he does come down on our side and we have the order, there will be the nonsense of voting on that occasion, but not on this one. It does not make sense.

I say to my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench that they cannot run before this particular Home Secretary, because he will get them every time. The logic is that, by abstaining, we are in effect voting for these provisions. There is no choice; there is no question of abstention--we are either for the provisions or we are against them. We welcome a judicial inquiry, but we should still stand firm against renewing the provisions.

6.48 pm

Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh): There have been some remarks about being soft on terrorism. I have always regarded this debate as a litmus test on being soft on terrorism. Anyone who believes that any of us who come here as representatives of the north of Ireland are soft on terrorism should come and stay where we live, and he will find out about that.

I speak against, and will vote against, the motion for two reasons. My position is based on two basic principles of justice which do not, cannot and should not change with the political climate; which do not, cannot and should not change with the mood; and which do not, cannot and should not change with the feeling that is prevalent at any given time. It is not easy to speak against this Act today, after what happened in Scotland yesterday, but those principles must remain, and they are tied by two elements of the Act.

The first is the power of detention for seven days without any judicial assessment--contrary to the European convention on human rights--which is wrong, irrespective of the year or the circumstances. The second element is the power to exclude people in this jurisdiction, which is not only outside the norm of national and international law, but antipathetic to it.

The principles cannot be bartered away or be conditional on any prevalent mood. Nor can the debate be dispensed with by sleight of hand, on the fragile and probably fallacious argument that, as Micawber said, something might turn up. For Micawber insert Lloyd. Something will not turn up, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) correctly predicted.

When I heard the Labour party's decision to abstain,I felt obliged to look through copies of Hansard for the past 10 years that I have been a Member to find out what new elements I had not identified and what had changed since we last voted on the subject. I did not find any new element, except the proposed Lloyd review. Indeed, the principles that I hold were expressed by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) when he said:

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    "the only safeguard . . . against arbitrary arrest is a review by some authority outside the Government who arrested him or her."

That remains a principle to which I adhere, as I hope all hon. Members do.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook also expressed his opinion on the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights when he said:

That remains a cause for me to vote against the Act. He expanded on the point when he said:

I will not just cite the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook as an authority on the subject. I refer the House to what the hon. Member for Huddersfield(Mr. Sheerman) said in a similar debate:

They are unacceptable to me, and I hope that they are unacceptable to other hon. Members too.

The power of seven-day detention has been abused. The former Home Secretary, Sir Leon Brittan, allowed it to be abused when he defined two reasons why it could be used. He said that it could be used

because it has

There is a dilution of the principles of law in a statement by a former Home Secretary.

Such dilution has affected many people--mostly Irish people in Britain. We are all appalled by the bomb attack in which a young man was killed. Does anybody know the name of the young man who was injured in that incident? His name was Paul Woodhead, who ended up in hospital under armed guard and was detained under the PTA. He was the only person of all those who were injured to be put in that position--why? Because he is Irish. Although I understand the position in which people find themselves after an explosion, that is too much of a coincidence. I simply use that one example, but I could use many more.

The proposed review--regardless of whether Lord Lloyd turns out to be Micawber--is not the first that has been carried out by eminent jurists. Reviews have been carried out by Lord Jellicoe, Lord Shackleton, Lord Gardiner, Sir Cyril Phillips, Lord Colville, Sir George Baker and John Rowe. They all conducted either detailed or broad reviews of the operation of the Acts, and they all have one thing in common: when they recommended changes to the fundamental principles, the Government ignored them. The Government ignored their suggestions about exclusion orders and a judicial element in the seven-day detention power.

What should we expect from the latest review? Where is the confidence that, somehow or other, the Government will be convinced that the situation has changed so much

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that they should accept the review? I cannot make thatact of faith in Lord Lloyd, any more than I could inJohn Rowe or any of the noble Lords who reviewed the legislation.

When the Home Secretary referred to the input of a judicial element in the seven-day detention power in last year's debate, he said that the Government had carried out a review, and informed us:

Lord Lloyd is going to review a proposed judicial element, yet the Government's view is that things will not change, irrespective of what he presents to the House.

I leave the last word on the subject to the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley), whose speech I listened to with great interest, and some alarm. I wrote down at the time the words that he used in a television interview he gave on "Newsnight", so I know that I am not misquoting him. He said of the PTA:

I believe that it is a bad Act. I believe that it needs to go. But the only way in which I can try to ensure that is by voting against it tonight, as I hope every hon. Member who feels that way will do, given that it abuses the principles of law.

6.57 pm

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West): I consider the term prevention of terrorism Act a misnomer; it has not prevented terrorism. Twenty-two years ago, it was rushed through both Houses of Parliament in the aftermath of the Birmingham bombings. It has certainly not helped to catch the real culprits and, since then, many innocent people have been arrested and detained under it. We should be very wary about simple knee-jerk reactions to acts of terrorism.

We all condemn the atrocities, including the recent London bombings, and want to bring the perpetrators to justice. Lord Colville, who conducted a review of the PTA, said:

I was a Member of Parliament when the original legislation was enacted. Even Lord Jenkins, the Home Secretary at the time, admitted that it was a draconian measure. Exclusion orders are a form of internal exile by ministerial decree. Ministers can order detention for up to seven days with no judicial hearing. It is no wonder that such extreme powers were found to be in breach of the European convention on human rights and that the British Government had to seek a derogation from the convention.

Since the introduction of the prevention of terrorism Act, 448 people have been served with exclusion orders--33 of which are still in force. Since 1974, more than 27,000 people have been detained under the PTA and about 85 per cent. of them were not charged with any offence. It is a very blunt instrument and it could prove counter-productive in the campaign against terrorism. Good police-community relations are absolutely essential in that campaign, and the prevention of terrorism Act has succeeded in alienating many innocent people, their families and their communities. It has caused hostility between communities and the police, particularly among

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young people, who are often arrested and detained--their only crime being their Irish accent, Irish name or Irish family connections.

Since last year's debate, the Government have established another review, to be undertaken by Lord Lloyd of Berwick. I have no great confidence that he will tackle the basic problem. His terms of reference are as follows:

As we all now know, that is a big "if". It could be argued that those terms of reference have been tragically overtaken by events in view of the IRA's deplorable decision to end the ceasefire. I think that the Home Secretary said in his opening remarks that the Lloyd review has precious little to do with terrorism related to the Irish situation. Given that fact, I do not expect Lloyd to recommend scrapping the exclusion orders and introducing a judicial element into detention orders. At best, we simply do not know what Lloyd will recommend. It would be naive to buy a pig in a poke by voting for continuing the Act or abstaining in the hope that Lloyd will address the legitimate criticisms that have been made.

I have voted against this draconian legislation for many years and nothing that I have heard tonight has persuaded me to do otherwise. If the Government are serious about eliminating terrorism, they should repeal all such oppressive legislation, establish better police-community relations, and accelerate the peace process so that the terrorists and potential terrorists can see clearly that democratic and exclusively peaceful means are the only way to make progress and to build a better society based on peace, justice and equality.

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