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The Prime Minister: I do not agree with that view, for the reasons that I have expressed. It is a matter of

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judgment as to whether reintroducing internment at present would help the situation. The hon. Gentleman was part of the previous Government for a long period and I notice that they did not do that. [Interruption.] They did not actually introduce the power, they did not actually implement the power, and I believe that the judgment that we have made is the right judgment. If we got that judgment wrong, the danger would be precisely the danger to which we have drawn attention--that there would be set up a series of reactions in other parts of the community that would undermine the very thing that we want to achieve.

Several hon. Members rose--

Madam Speaker: Thank you. We must now proceed with the business of the House.


Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy)

Mr. Secretary Straw, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Prescott, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Cook, Secretary Marjorie Mowlam, Mr. Adam Ingram and Mr. Alun Michael, presented a Bill to make provision about procedure and forfeiture in relation to offences concerning proscribed organisations, and about conspiracy to commit offences outside the United Kingdom: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time today, and to be printed [Bill 244].

3.50 pm

Mr. William Cash (Stone): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am given to understand by the Clerks in the Public Bill Office that there may be some difficulty in tabling amendments for the Committee stage where the amendments, though going to the objectives that the Prime Minister has just outlined, are thought to be inconsistent with the long title. Is there any way in which we can ensure that, in the course of these rather rushed proceedings, we have the flexibility to ensure that the Prime Minister's objectives are achieved?

Madam Speaker: As the hon. Gentleman and the House know, the Chairman of Ways and Means will select amendments in due course. There will be ample time for such amendments to be tabled and for hon. Members to be guided by the Clerks because they will be accepted during Second Reading. The Chairman of Ways and Means will be generous in the selection of amendments so that there is proper scrutiny of the legislation.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 25 (Periodic adjournments),

Question agreed to.

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Business of the House (Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Bill)

Motion made, and Question proposed,

1.(1) Proceedings on the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Bill shall be taken and concluded at today's sitting; and for this purpose--
(a) as soon as the proceedings on this Motion are concluded, the order for Second Reading of the Bill shall be read;
(b) notices of amendments, new Clauses and new Schedules to be moved in Committee may be accepted by the Clerks at the Table before the Bill has been read a second time;
(c) when the Bill is read a second time it shall stand committed to a Committee of the whole House, and the House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee on the Bill;
(d) proceedings in Committee on clauses 1 to 4 shall be brought to a conclusion, if not previously concluded, three hours after the conclusion of proceedings on Second Reading;
(e) remaining proceedings on the Bill shall be brought to a conclusion, if not previously concluded, six hours after the conclusion of proceedings on Second Reading;
(f) at the conclusion of proceedings on the Bill at today's sitting the Speaker shall adjourn the House without putting any Question.
(2) For the purpose of concluding proceedings in accordance with sub-paragraphs 1(d) and (e), the Chair shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others)--
(a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;
(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;
(c) the Question on any amendment moved or Motion made by a Minister of the Crown;
(d) any Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded.
(3) On a Motion made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chair shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.
(4) If two or more Questions would fall to be put under sub-paragraph (2)(d) on successive provisions of the Bill, the Chair shall instead put a single Question in relation to those provisions.
(5) Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply to proceedings on the Bill.
2. At the sitting tomorrow--
(a) any message received from the Lords relating to the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Bill shall be considered forthwith;
(b) proceedings on any message shall be brought to a conclusion, if not previously concluded, one hour after commencement;
(c) the Speaker shall not adjourn the House until she has notified the Royal Assent to any Act agreed upon by both Houses; and
(d) the Speaker shall then adjourn the House without putting any Question.
3. Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to proceedings on the Bill at the sittings today and tomorrow.--[Mr. Dowd.]

3.51 pm

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills): I regret the fact that this motion appears on the Order Paper. We have heard a most profound and important statement from the Prime Minister today, giving voice to

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the views of many in Britain about the fears that we as a people suffer in the face of terrorism, and to the suffering that was experienced by one of the communities within the United Kingdom.

This is a land of laws and of due process, and that due process applies to the House of Commons. I am here only because of the liberties secured for me by preceding generations. We are all conscious of that as elected representatives of defined parts of this realm. This is important, therefore, because the process by which we conduct our business is the very process that has secured our liberty.

I say this with the greatest regret because I understand the urgencies that we often feel in our fear in the face of terrorism. We are being asked to consider, in the shortest possible space of time, measures that affect our profound liberties and our civil and criminal justice systems. That is a corruption of the ideal. We have a duty to weigh most solemnly and carefully every contention that is set before the House.

The Standing Orders of the House set out the way in which, by tradition and custom, that has been done by the House. A Bill is deposited before the House so that we, the elected representatives of the citizens--the generality of us all--may consider and weigh the contentions in it. All day yesterday, I, along with many hon. Members, telephoned the Home Office and the Northern Ireland Office and demanded to know when the draft of the Bill could be seen: first, it was to be by 12 o'clock, then before 2 o'clock, then some time between half-past 4 and 5 o'clock; finally, it reached the Vote Office at ten minutes to 6 yesterday.

Until ten minutes to 6 yesterday, all that I knew about the Bill was what I believe the country will come to detest more than anything--the manipulation, the spin, the press releases and all the covert ways of trying to secure the legislation of this country without reference to Parliament. I knew only what I was told by anonymous press spokesmen.

The matter goes further than that. We were told with a sort of laudable intent that the Bill would be draconian. Leaving all that aside, that is how long it took the House, assembled in London, to gain possession of the Bill. I am a representative from the west midlands, but how long would it take those from Scotland, Northumberland, Cornwall, Wales and Ulster to gain possession of the Bill?

We are assembled at half-past 2 to discuss the Bill. Before us is a motion that insists that we conduct an examination of the intents of the Bill and weigh the processes of the House. Can that process be borne? Is it worth bearing it, and for what purpose?

The House should reject the motion. In the face of terrorism, we should not abandon the freedom to discuss these matters. It is essential that we think about them. This is a new House of Commons, and it has almost become a House of Commons of acclamation. The contentions that we shall consider on Second Reading are such that we will come to regret them if we accept them in their present form.

I have been in the House for 19 years. I have seen every manner of expression and hallelujah and law. I opposed them as best I could, and I noticed that I had the support of the Prime Minister when he was shadow Home Secretary; I noted the words of the present Home Secretary in respect of these matters.

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On 30 October last year, the Home Secretary gave us to understand that a consultation paper on terrorism would be issued by the beginning of the year. Throughout the year we have inquired about it--it was to be available early this year, then a couple of months later and then a couple of months after that. We were told not to worry. We were told that in October a consultation paper would be issued on some of the principles contained in the Bill. The Prime Minister now says that he cannot promise us when the consultation paper will be issued--and it is only a consultation paper, not a Bill or a White Paper.

Throughout the year, the Home Office and its officials told us that the issues involved were dynamite. We were told that the matters would have to be weighed, and the views of the House would be needed. Yet the Bill is drawn up as though there were no need for consultation or for the House to reflect on the measures proposed to deal with terrorism.

I take the matter extremely seriously. I want the House to reflect on it. Will we have added one jot? What will we have accomplished by assembling at the beginning of September? Why have we assembled? The stately order of our business does not require us to be here. I noticed that in his statement, which at times was more like a speech in a Second Reading debate, the Prime Minister did not make a serious case for the House being assembled today and called out of turn. He said that the Irish Dail is sitting today. I wish the Dail well, and I hope that we march with it in this Bill. The Dail may have prepared the ground for it, but we as a House have clearly not done so.

This is no way for the House to conduct its business. The Government are acting manipulatively. The House does not countenance terrorism, but we have been knee-jerked here. There is much talk about considered, rational legislation, but all too little ability for the House to consider it reasonably.

Hon. Members should reflect on the contents of the Order Paper and on what we are asked to do. How do we table an amendment to the Bill? The Order Paper states:

The Bill was read the First time a few minutes ago, so the House has had only a few minutes to table amendments properly and in good order. We have all served on Committees and are familiar with the Committee stage of Bills. We may want to table amendments during the Committee stage, but the Order Paper does not allow for that. How do we deal with amendments? Are they to be tabled four or five minutes before the end of Second Reading? If an hon. Member tables a manuscript amendment, how will the rest of the House obtain a copy of it? How will we be able to read the amendment and relate it to the content of the Bill?

I am astounded that the Leader of the House did not think it worth her while to explain to the House why there should be a guillotine that would condense discussion of the entire Bill into six hours. Clauses 1 to 4 are to be dealt with in the first three hours, and the rest--Report and Third Reading--is to be disposed of in another three hours. How do we treat those assembled in the other place--the Law Lords of this land, some of the finest

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legal minds? How do we treat any amendment that they deign to send to us? All Lords matters will be disposed of in one hour.

I plead with the House. Ours is a great nation, a nation founded on freedom and liberty. We are the elected representatives of this nation. We should have a pride in our process, for in our process we defend our liberty in the face of these terrorists.

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