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1.40 am

Dr. Lynne Jones: I shall not detain the House for long. Like most hon. Members, I accept that, unfortunately, the measure is necessary. However, I share the concern of my colleagues about the definition of terrorism used in the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Minister, in rejecting the alternative proposal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), said that that definition could have included the Yorkshire Ripper as a terrorist. I point out to my hon. Friend the Minister that Peter Sutcliffe terrorised the people of Yorkshire--especially women. Many members of the public might feel that a definition that included such a person would be more acceptable than one that included, for example, the women who inflicted serious violence on Hawk jets or who attempted to inflict serious violence on a Trident submarine.

15 Mar 2000 : Column 469

For that reason, I hope that the Government will use the opportunity afforded during consideration of the Bill in another place to find a new definition that will ensure that the concerns expressed tonight are taken on board.

1.41 am

Mr. McDonnell: I apologise to my hon. Friends and comrades for detaining them. Many of us had an almost personal relationship with the predecessor legislation to the Bill.

In the early 1980s, Errol and Theresa Smalley approached me because they were concerned about their nephew--Paul Hill--who was one of the first people picked up under the prevention of terrorism Acts, and subsequently framed. I visited him in prison over the years--with my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). I even attended his wedding in Long Lartin. It took more than half a decade to secure his release.

Throughout the 1980s, many members of the Irish community in this country campaigned for the eradication of the PTA--as did many members of the Labour party. Indeed, at one time, it was the policy of our party to repeal the Act. The PTA was used to harass the Irish community; it was ineffective and a source of injustice.

The Bill makes that legislation permanent. We have rejected the possibility of a parliamentary review; tonight, we rejected the potential for a quinquennial review. The Bill extends the scope of that legislation; it widens the definition to include many people who could never be defined as terrorist. It sets the scene for further miscarriages of justice. I cannot support the Bill and will vote against it.

1.43 am

Mr. Corbyn: I, too, will be brief. I endorse the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell). I also remember clearly the saga of the Guildford Four and the way in which, under the prevention of terrorism Act, wholly innocent people were picked up by the police merely for attending meetings to discuss the situation in Ireland or because they were framed by others. They were subsequently released, but they have never forgotten the scar of interrogation.

Paul Hill was the first person to be arrested under the PTA. From that, followed the misery of the 17 years that he suffered in prison. I had hoped that we would get rid of such draconian legislation.

My worry is that the measure that I suspect the House will accept on Third Reading is draconian. It could be used against people who peacefully and legitimately campaign for change in their own country, but who live in the UK because it is not safe for them to mount such campaigns in their home country. That international dimension needs to be considered.

There is also the question of the rejected amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), which sought to amend the clause that forces people to prove their innocence. That theme runs through the Bill, and it is bad legislation. It shifts the burden from the prosecution to prove an individual's guilt to the individual to prove their innocence, something that is obviously extremely difficult to do.

15 Mar 2000 : Column 470

We have been through the pain of miscarriages of justice--Birmingham, Guildford, Judith Ward, Prem, and many others. Not all those cases were related to the prevention of terrorism Act, but they were miscarriages of justice. Parliament recognised that by setting up the Criminal Cases Review Commission. We recognised that the legal system in this country was not infallible. My concern is that without any possibility of review, the Bill might lead, although I hope that it will not, to further miscarriages of justice.

I suspect that we will be back here very soon, either because the House of Lords will significantly amend the Bill so that it must return here or because it will be overridden by the European convention on human rights and found wanting in European or British courts. I suspect that we will be amending the Bill in the near future. We ought to have better drafting of legislation in the first place so that we do not end up in that situation.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington. I have seen the effect of miscarriages of justice caused by crudely formed legislation to deal with terrorism. I am not in favour of violence or terrorism, but one does not solve those problems by imprisoning the innocent. In fact, one creates a far worse problem because if one imprisons the innocent, what happens to the guilty? The Bill will not do us any good, and we will be back here discussing it in the near future. I shall join my hon. Friend in opposing the Bill.

1.46 am

Mr. Charles Clarke: I begin by expressing my thanks, first to members of the Committee, Opposition spokesmen and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office for the way in which we have worked. Secondly, I thank the Bill team, who gave tremendous support throughout the proceedings, not only to Ministers but to all members of the Committee. Thirdly, I thank the officials of the House, including Hansard staff and clerks, who have worked extremely effectively. We have had an efficient and full discussion of many of the issues.

We have had a lengthy debate this evening, so I shall try to be brief, but I need to address some of the points that have been made. It is clear that my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) was not satisfied with the answers given in the discussion, and that is entirely his right. However, it is simply not true that the Government have not faced up to the issues. In particular we have directly addressed the implications of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the various issues arising from that. I know that there will be controversy about the issues because people will argue that cases will arise.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) and my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) have expressed concern about the inability to return to these issues. The doctrine of the omnicompetence of Parliament has simply not been grasped. There is a series of issues about the ways in which Parliament exercises its scrutiny in discussion, but it is possible, and indeed likely, that Parliament will return to discussion of these issues because it has a right and a duty to do so.

We have had a full discussion about the definitional points. Our definition is right, and it is defensible and positive. I acknowledge the difficulties of balance, and I repeat, as I have said throughout the debate, that we will

15 Mar 2000 : Column 471

consider proposals that have been made. I repeat my thanks to those organisations that have sought to make constructive proposals.

The Bill starts from the necessity to recognise the existence of domestic and international terrorism, and the terrible things that terrorists do--blowing planes out of the sky, destroying buildings, blowing up people and knee-capping. There is a vast range of activities. The obligation not only of Ministers but of all elected politicians and legislators is to ask what we can do to address international terrorism, and to do everything in our power to prevent those who want to terrorise us from being able to do so. Our need and our duty is to fight terrorism domestically and internationally, and that is what the Bill is about.

It is absolutely true--it has been a theme running through our discussions--that the need to defeat international and domestic terrorism has to be set against the individual liberties of every citizen in the country and their right to be properly treated under the law. Another theme has been the need to avoid the abuses of justice, to which my hon. Friends the Members for Islington, North and for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) referred. They are absolutely right to say that we must achieve the right balance.

I say as emphatically as I can that it is our duty both to maintain the rights of individuals under the rule of law and to maintain their right to very existence and life in the face of the threat posed by international terrorism. It is our duty to ensure that we do all in our power to inhibit terrorists' ability to destroy, kill and create a negative atmosphere in our society. That is why we have introduced the Bill, it is why I hope that my hon. Friends will support it and it is why I am grateful for the support of the official Opposition. I commend the Bill to the whole House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:--

The House divided: Ayes 210, Noes 1.

Division No. 114
[1.50 pm


AYES


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradshaw, Ben
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clelland, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Collins, Tim
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Dawson, Hilton
Day, Stephen
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Ennis, Jeff
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Gapes, Mike
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hinchliffe, David
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lidington, David
Linton, Martin
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
Luff, Peter
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, John
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Organ, Mrs Diana
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Singh, Marsha
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Soley, Clive
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Watts, David
White, Brian
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Clive Betts and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.


NOES


Flynn, Paul

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. John McDonnell and
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn.

Question accordingly agreed to.

15 Mar 2000 : Column 473

Bill read the Third time, and passed.


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