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Mr. Clarke: I am not sure that that analysis is correct. In certain circumstances Governments seek the withdrawal of power as a result of events changing. [Interruption.] My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office suggests that that has happened recently in respect of the EPA.
The amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North are aimed at time-limiting the Northern Ireland- specific provisions to one year from the date on which they are brought into force. There would be no power to continue the provisions beyond that point--nor could a provision be brought back into force if it had been lapsed by order.
I shall set out again the Government's position on the Northern Ireland-specific measures. I am happy to do so as it is very important. I emphasise strongly that the Government wish to move to the position where there are no Northern Ireland-specific measures. The aim of the Bill is to have a UK-wide approach to combating terrorism. We remain strongly committed to this--indeed the Good Friday agreement requires us to remove the emergency powers in Northern Ireland as soon as the security situation allows it. That is our intention and desire.
If I thought that the security situation would allow for that in one year's time, I would be delighted to accept the new clause. Of course I cannot predict the security situation in a year's time--and neither can anyone else. The key is flexibility. Clause 111, which amendment No. 143 seeks to remove, time-limits the part VII provisions to five years. It allows powers to be switched off by order and to be revived if it is proved they are needed.
Although I sympathise with the thrust of what my hon. Friend said, his amendments would tie the Government's hands to a degree that I cannot accept. There have been too many events reminding us of the terrible situation.
My hon. Friend referred to the criminal review. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State assures me that it will be published soon, so as to enable further debate and consideration of these issues.
I hope that my hon. Friend will accept my assurances that the Government remain committed to dispensing with the part VII powers as soon as it is safe to do so and will not press his amendments further.
First, to measure the threat merely in terms of the number of planned attacks which have been carried out in the UK would be to ignore the substantial effort which goes on, largely in secret, to avert such incidents. Evidence which I have seen and heard, though I cannot set it out here, persuades me that, although the immediate threat is low, international terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to carry out attacks against UK interests, at home and abroad.
The second cause for caution is that developments in world politics and the changing nature of terrorism have made it difficult to predict what the future holds. Chapter 4 of Professor Wilkinson's report deals with some of these factors. Regional and national conflicts which have generated terrorism, or have the potential to do so, will continue throughout the foreseeable future. The complex problems in the Middle East and North Africa will remain the most important factor, not least because of the pronounced anti-Western position adopted by some of the parties involved. As the "weapon of the weak" terrorism is likely to remain an attractive option to those engaged in regional power struggles, facilitated by the ever-increasing international freedom of movement of people, goods and information. The UK, together with some other Western countries, is particularly liable to be caught up in these struggles because of the number of communities of foreign nationals who live, or seek sanctuary, here.
We have had so-called temporary provisions on the statute book for 25 years. The time has come to face the fact of terrorism and be ready to deal with it for the foreseeable future. We need to make the powers permanently available, although the fact that those powers are available does not mean that they have to be used.
The Human Rights Act 1998 will be fully implemented by the time that the Bill comes into force. That is an important new safeguard.We are providing Parliament with an annual report to allow for full consideration of these issues. I pay tribute to hon. Members on both sides of the House who asked for that provision. There is a full opportunity to discuss the issues in great detail. I am sure that that will continue, and on that basis I hope that my hon. Friend will withdraw his new clause.
'.--(1) All persons detained under section 40 of this Act shall be promptly informed of their right to consult privately with a solicitor and to have a solicitor present at all interviews to be conducted under this Act.
(2) All persons wishing to consult a solicitor must be permitted to do so as soon as is reasonably practicable.'.--[Mr. McNamara.]
'(3A) Where a person is detained under this section for more than 36 hours, a police officer shall state in writing the reasons for continuing to detain him.'
'and, subject to paragraph 19, shall be completed and the decision notified to the detained person within four hours of his arrest.'
Mr. McNamara: The question of legal access is interesting, and it appears to be missing from the Bill. I want to assert the right of detained persons to have access to legal advice promptly, before the questioning starts.
The situation in Northern Ireland is especially problematic, as those arrested in Britain under the Prevention of Terrorism Acts have, over the years, effectively been held under Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 conditions. One former head of the Met said that anybody who was arrested under the PTA in his area would always be held under PACE conditions.
The emergency provisions Act contains a provision allowing for deferral of access to a solicitor for up to 48 hours, which was used widely in Northern Ireland until the 1990s and is still occasionally used. Even when a suspect got access to a lawyer, the lawyer was not permitted to stay in the interview with the suspect, as is the case with PACE. There appears to have been no statutory basis for that exclusion, which resulted from Royal Ulster Constabulary policy and had not been subject to judicial review.
The only occasion when the matter arose was in Murray v. United Kingdom, a case in Strasbourg, in which the applicant argued that the exclusion of his lawyer from the interviews constituted a violation of article 6, which concerns the right to a fair trial. The court did not express an opinion on that point, having already found a violation on the basis of deferral of access to Murray's solicitor, combined with the drawing of inferences from his silence. Its attitude to the exclusion of a solicitor is not clear, but it said: