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Ann Clwyd: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

2 Sept 1998 : Column 928

Clause 5

Conspiracy to commit offences outside the United Kingdom

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. McWalter: There is a very short time left for debate, but amendment No. 63, which stood in my name, effectively countermands this clause standing part of the Bill. If hon. Members vote against the clause standing part, the consequential amendments on the Order Paper will mean that it consists only of clauses 1 to 4. That would be a good night's work, because we would have sent a message to the bombers at Omagh that the policies that we want to ensure be proceeded with--the manifestation of our commitment to the Belfast agreement--go ahead. However, two Bills have been presented to us, and the second Bill is not a Northern Ireland terrorism Bill. It is a conspiracy Bill, and a conspiracy Bill is, by its nature, complicated.

The right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) talked about how, if clauses 5 to 7 stopped the sort of events that happened at Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, it would be worth passing them, but he was talking with 20:20 vision, with hindsight. Of course, if we can connect conspiratorial actions with those vicious forms of attack, we should do everything in our power to ensure that they are curtailed, but what we have is a problem about conspiracy being detected, when we do not actually have the crime that is being conspired for.

We have an enormously complicated series of ideas about dual criminality, on which many hon. Members during today's long debates have made many fundamental errors. We have an annexe to a Bill that none of us has had a chance to read. Of course we support the Government's view that we must combat the increasingly international dimension to crime, but these clauses do not talk about terrorism. They talk about offences. They talk about matters, as Labour Members have said, such as theft. That is dually criminal, yet perhaps in some societies the way in which to undermine a despotic regime is to organise a campaign of theft. Yet that would be caught by the Bill.

It is too late to go into all the manifest reasons why we should consult Amnesty International and all those who are forces for good. We want to ensure that the objects of clauses 5 to 7 are achieved, but this is a rotten way to seek to achieve them. It will bring our process into disrepute in many ways. I was told earlier in the debate that, because I was a new Member, I did not know what was going on. A lot of people did not know what was going on. I had the advantage of discovering yesterday that the substance of the private Member's Bill of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) was coming here tonight. I read the comments made in February 1997 by the current Minister. I know what I am talking about because I was here last night at 5.30.

6.30 am

It is no way to treat new Members to say that the proposals have been coming for some time and that we talked about the issues 17 months ago and reached an agreement, so now we just want to ram the measures through. New Members have the right to assess such

2 Sept 1998 : Column 929

matters too. It is important that we debate the issues at length, in principle, with determination to commit ourselves to arresting international crime and conspiracy to commit offences on the international stage.

It is right that we have passed clauses 1 to 4. Like many others, I voted for Second Reading on that basis. However, I hope against hope that the Government will take note of the strong feelings that have been expressed today. Clauses 5, 6 and 7 may be all right in their objects, but they are rotten in the way in which they seek to achieve those objects. They do not take account of counter-arguments--the vital component of parliamentary democracy.

I ask the Government, if it is not too late, to take seriously the mood of the Committee on the clauses, and to withdraw them at this late stage. If they do not, I ask the Committee to vote against clause 5. It can be pulled away from the Bill, leaving an intact Bill with intellectual integrity. Amendments Nos. 63 to 69, in my name as well as those of other Labour Members and Opposition Members, would chisel out conspiracy and leave us with a Northern Ireland terrorism Bill. That is what we should have been dealing with today. We should deal with the other business in October.

Mr. Straw: Had it not been for procedural defects that caused the Bill of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) to come to grief in early 1997, the provisions would have been on the statute book by early March last year. It would have gone on to the statute book with less discussion than the many hours that we have had today on clauses 5, 6 and 7.

This has been an intense debate on a day on which Parliament was recalled. Far more hon. Members on both sides have taken an interest in the subject. Important contributions have come from both sides. For reasons that we have well rehearsed and I shall repeat in a moment, I cannot accept the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. McWalter), but I do not in the least dismiss it. We shall take the fullest possible cognisance of the anxieties that have been expressed and shall monitor carefully the operation of the whole Bill.

Because we have not had a full chance to debate the matter in the time available, I have put my name to new clause 7, which was tabled by Opposition Front Benchers and which provides that there should be an annual report presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State on the operation of all aspects of the Bill, after it has been enacted. The reason we accepted the Opposition's new clause is that it runs wider than similar amendments tabled by some of my hon. Friends, which referred only to certain sections of the Bill.

The Minister of State, Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), has also set out the safeguards that will apply in respect of the conspiracy provisions, in clauses 5, 6 and 7. To pick up a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead, I accept that the drafting of those three clauses is certainly technical, as the area is one of some technicality. However, the issue at their heart is relatively simple: it is about ensuring, as the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) and my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) spelled out, that those who are conspiring--conspiracy is a narrowly defined set

2 Sept 1998 : Column 930

of activities, very different from incitement--in this country to commit crimes abroad should be capable of being brought to justice in this country in appropriate circumstances.

We are talking not about trivial cases, but about those who go in for organising paedophile rings abroad, drug runners, other serious acquisitive criminals and terrorists. When I am asked what was the urgency to introduce that part of the Bill yesterday and today, I repeat the point that I made 14 hours ago. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister sought the agreement of the Speaker to recall Parliament because of the outrage at Omagh, where 28 people lost their lives and scores more were seriously injured. However, last month, 10 times the number who lost their lives at Omagh lost their lives in outrages in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

The Cabinet view, which explains why the Bill is constructed in this way, was that, given that Parliament was being recalled to deal with Omagh and that we had already got ministerial colleagues' agreement in principle to the legislation, we would have been negligent had we failed to introduce clauses 5 to 7 as well. I therefore hope that they commend themselves to the Committee.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Worthing): The Home Secretary has some good arguments and he has advanced them better than many others would have done. However, his hon. Friends on the Back Benches also have a strong argument. It is not sufficient to say that people have had notice, when they did not. It is not good enough--

It being six hours after the conclusion of proceedings on Second Reading, The Chairman, pursuant to the Order [this day], put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings to be concluded at that hour.

The Committee divided: Ayes 220, Noes 24.

Division No. 361
[6.38 am


Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Berry, Roger
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brazier, Julian
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Butler, Mrs Christine
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clappison, James
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Collins, Tim
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darvill, Keith
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Edwards, Huw
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fraser, Christopher
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Greenway, John
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hammond, Philip
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Heald, Oliver
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Loughton, Tim
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNulty, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Peter
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mudie, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prior, David
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sheerman, Barry
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swayne, Desmond
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Clive Betts and
Mr. David Jamieson.


Allan, Richard
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Best, Harold
Canavan, Dennis
Clwyd, Ann
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Dalyell, Tam
Davidson, Ian
Fyfe, Maria
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
McAllion, John
McDonnell, John
McNamara, Kevin
Öpik, Lembit
Pollard, Kerry
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Skinner, Dennis
Wareing, Robert N
Webb, Steve
Wise, Audrey

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Tony McWalter and
Mr. Andrew Stunell.

Question accordingly agreed to.

2 Sept 1998 : Column 932

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 6 to 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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