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Mrs. Fyfe: Will my hon. Friend confirm that the parts of the Bill that relate to Scottish law will be reviewed by the Scottish Parliament when it is formed and not by this House?

Mr. Ingram: The Bill for the Scottish Parliament is in place and we are entering into a debate on amendments to the Scottish legislation. That is a matter to which my hon. Friend may return if she so wishes, but clearly the first review--in March next year--will take place before the Scottish Parliament sits.

The hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) raised in a number of interventions questions about the long title of the Bill, including issues relating to the release of prisoners. Nothing in the Bill affects the prisoner release programme under the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998. However, a prisoner cannot be released under that Act if he is likely to become a supporter of a specified organisation such as the Real IRA. If the RUC or any other UK force has intelligence to the effect that a prisoner will become a supporter of such an organisation, that information should be passed to the sentence review commissioners appointed under the Act and will be taken into account by them when considering whether to release a prisoner.

Mr. Cash: The Minister may note that he has just used the expression "a supporter of": that is not what clause 1 says. It refers to a person who "belongs to an organisation". The amendment in my name uses the words

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that he just used--"or is a supporter of". I should be grateful for his confirmation that that amendment would be acceptable in those circumstances.

Mr. Ingram: If the hon. Gentleman's amendment is called for debate, we should discuss it during that debate rather than at this stage, given the progress on the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) and others made very strong points about the confidence that would be created in the legislation if audio recording were included in clauses 1 and 2. We are actively looking at ways of implementing that suggestion. I would have liked to be able to announce this evening that we were implementing it. He is aware, and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary intimated, that we already have the provision on the statute book. We are introducing codes of practice and there was an intention to implement it at an early stage. We are now looking at ways in which that can be done as quickly as possible. I give my hon. Friend the commitment that every effort will be made to seek compliance with that approach.

Mr. Mullin: The phrase "as quickly as possible" has been around for some months now. I want to know whether people arrested under the Bill will be subject to audio recording when they are interviewed in holding centres.

Mr. Ingram: I am trying to give my hon. Friend as strong an assurance as I can on this point. I have taken on board the strong representations that he and others have made in this debate, and in the time available--the past few hours--I have been considering ways of implementing audio recording. That effort will continue in the days ahead.

The right hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) made a valuable contribution to the debate, and I welcome his general support for the measure, especially for the clauses relating to Northern Ireland. He is right in his assessment that the House would not accept the word of a senior police officer as being sufficient to prosecute. For that reason, the Bill has been drafted to bring other elements into play. He is also right in his assertion of the importance of co-operation between the United Kingdom Government and the Irish Government, and between the RUC and the Garda Siochana. He has played his part in bringing about much of the positive development in the co-operation between the Governments and the police forces in the two jurisdictions.

My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) made another of his strong and informed contributions. He brings considerable knowledge to the issue, and I thank him for his very robust defence of the measure.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North made several detailed points. He spoke specifically to the clause relating to forfeiture and asserted that it conflicted with the European convention on human rights. Clause 4 provides for forfeiture orders on conviction for membership of specified organisations. It is similar in its impact to section 13 of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989. The legal advice that I have is that it does not breach the ECHR. My hon. Friend has his opinion, but our advice is different. In these cases, the trial will be concluded in the normal way.

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The question of forfeiture arises only in the event of conviction. It will be considered case by case in the courts, and any person claiming to have an interest in the property has a right to be heard by virtue of clause 4(4).

The right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) also raised issues relating to the forfeiture elements of the Bill and to the safeguards for dependants. We shall probably be able to discuss that when we consider the Bill's remaining stages. However, I have checked on that very point, and I am advised that inclusion of specific safeguards is not necessary because the court will already take account of such matters. Again, we may want to deal with that in due course.

I thank the right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) for his comments. He said that there was a need to recall Parliament--indeed, many right hon. and hon. Members commented on the correctness of that approach--and that there was a need to act in concert with the Irish Government. I noted his comments about internment. I think that I have responded to the remarks made by other hon. Members on that issue.

The right hon. Member for Upper Bann made several specific points, one in relation to the recommendations that the Chief Constable of the RUC has said he would like to be implemented in law. All those issues are now being considered as part of the comprehensive review of anti-terrorism legislation, and they will be given due weight.

The right hon. Member for Upper Bann also mentioned the Irish National Liberation Army and the Loyalist Volunteer Force and their current approach towards the ceasefire. Every encouragement will be given to those groups to prove that their declaration of a ceasefire means what they say, in words and deeds. If, on the evidence, we are satisfied that their ceasefire is unequivocal, they can be treated as other groups that have implemented unequivocal ceasefires.

The right hon. Member for Upper Bann also asked about the effectiveness of the membership provisions in the Bill. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already given a frank assessment of this matter, drawing on the Chief Constable's views. Convictions are a matter for the courts. An independent judiciary is essential in any democratic country. It is the Executive's role to provide the legislative framework within which that judiciary works. The proposals are important additions to the anti-terrorist laws available to the RUC.

It will be important to assess how the legislation works. After all, my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South has predicted that large numbers will be subject to the new powers, while others have argued that no one will be arrested. We have different opinions on how the legislation will take effect, and only time will tell. In any event, it will be done via the due process of law, not by the determination of the House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Connarty) asked two questions. First, he asked whether a conviction was possible on the basis of a superintendent's opinion and inference from a failure to mention a material fact. The answer to that question is yes.

Secondly, my hon. Friend asked whether subsection (10) of new section 2A in clause 1 would alter the law of evidence in Scotland. Scottish law normally requires two pieces of evidence for a conviction. The provision allows

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for a conviction for membership to be on the basis of some evidence and an inference drawn from failure to mention a material fact, which makes the provision the same in Scotland as elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Without it, the inference could not be taken into account in deciding whether the accused were guilty as charged. We may be able to debate that matter again at length when we deal with the remaining stages of the Bill.

The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) raised a number of issues in a strong contribution to the debate. On the most important--the relevance of the inferences element of the Bill--the ability to draw such inferences will apply in any case in which the accused has been charged with the membership offence. The fact that other offences have been charged is not relevant. The inferences that can be drawn relate only to membership of a specified, proscribed organisation.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the disposal of property and what would happen to seized property that could not be disposed of under clause 4, the forfeiture clause. That is dealt with in the detailed regime in schedule 4 to the PTA. Property can be sold. A receiver can realise land and pay the proceeds to a proper officer--that is, a court clerk. Any balance in the hands of the officer is treated as a fine going into the public coffers. Of course, that is subject to any claim that another person might have over the property.

Mr. Maginnis: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way, but I think that he missed the point that I was trying to make about the inference aspect of the Bill, in so far as I was asking whether, because of the different times at which access to a solicitor is possible, the new provision would be complementary to the existing provisions, or whether it would have to be treated separately.

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