Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Litter and Fouling of Land By Dogs

Mr. Bob Blizzard accordingly presented a Bill to make further provision relating to litter and the fouling of land by dogs and to allow a local authority to retain the revenue from fixed penalty notices for such offences issued in its area for the purposes of enforcement: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 10 May, and to be printed [Bill 53].

21 Nov 2001 : Column 323

21 Nov 2001 : Column 325

Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill (Programme) (No. 2)

Motion made, and Question proposed,

Allotted dayProceedingsTime for conclusion of proceedings
First day New Clauses relating to the duration of the Act and reports to Parliament, Clause 123, Clause 1, Schedule 1, Clauses 2 and 3, Schedule 2, Clauses 4 to 6, Schedule 3, Clauses 7 to 17, Schedule 4, Clauses 18 to 20 6.00 p.m.
Clauses 21 to 35 8.30 p.m.
Clauses 106 to 119 10.00 p.m.
Second dayClauses 36 to 42 6.30 p.m.
Clauses 43 to 58, Schedule 5, Clauses 59 to 70, Schedule 6, Clauses 71 to 87 8.00 p.m.
Clauses 88 to 100, Schedule 7, Clauses 101 to 105, Clauses 120 and 121, Schedule 8, Clause 122, Clauses 124 and 125, Remaining New Clauses, New Schedules—[Beverley Hughes.] 11.00 p.m.

3.49 pm

Mr. Oliver Letwin (West Dorset): I do not want to trouble the House for long because we want to move on to the substantive matters, which are of huge importance. However, I have a question and want to register some concerns.

My right hon. Friend the shadow Leader of the House has explained to me that the programme motion as replicated in today's Order Paper is slightly different in a signal respect, from the Government's point of view, from the allocation of time as agreed. It does not refer to proceedings after 11 pm on the second day, which as I understand it are meant to include Report and Third Reading. Will the Minister illuminate the House on that troublesome point?

On a more serious note, I want to put on record our belief, which I am sure that Liberal Democrat Members and, I suspect, many Labour Members share, that it is wrong for the Lords to be allotted several days to consider the Bill when this House has one day for Second Reading and the greater part of two days exclusively for the purpose of scrutinising the Bill.

We have agreed a sensible division of the two days with the Government. I do not quibble about that. They have been generous in allocating the time as the Opposition thought fit, but it is not possible to allocate

21 Nov 2001 : Column 326

two days in a way that enables the House to have sufficient time to scrutinise and pursue matters that are of the utmost importance in both our opinion and that of the Government. That is why, despite the agreement on the allocation of time, I ask my hon. Friends to vote against the motion. I also urge them to express their views, but to be brief so that we can move on as quickly as possible to the substance of the debate.

3.52 pm

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall): I want to echo a couple of the points made by the hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin). Although it is of course true that we are operating within strict limits, and we object strongly to the overall limits, there has been agreement on how to divide up the time, which is better for our business. In particular, I hope that when there is general agreement on amendments, we will deal with them speedily.

It is surely ridiculous, however, that the Home Secretary told us earlier this week that it had taken no fewer than 10 weeks to produce the Bill, yet if we are lucky we will be able to spend 10 minutes on some of its most important aspects, some of which will have a great effect on the civil liberties and human rights of our fellow citizens and other nationals. It is extraordinary that, once again, we have to rely on the other place, at the other end of the building, to give vigilant scrutiny to legislation. As the country's elected representatives, we should be responsible for the vigilant scrutiny of matters that affect the nation's civil rights.

The Bill contains many diffuse issues. They cannot be easily bound up and dealt with together. Although it is important to cover the wider issues within the limited time available, we, too, believe that the motion puts the House in a difficult position.

3.54 pm

Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central): I, too, want briefly to add my support to what has been said and to register my grave concern about the motion. I interpret the fact that the Minister moved it formally as enthusiasm for getting on to the meat of the debate. That is the most charitable view, although it is strange that the Government do not want to say anything in their defence given the importance of the motion and the time that we have to debate it. They do not seem to want to explain why we have only two days. I hope that the Minister will speak at the conclusion of the debate and give us a glimpse of the Government's thinking. I am sure that she did not mean to be discourteous to House, and that she wished to hurry on to the important matters to be discussed, but I think that we are owed an explanation from the Government, however brief.

I entirely concur with the hon. Members for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) and for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) that two days is not only ridiculously short, but is a dangerously short time in which to consider things that change some of the fundamental principles of our legal system, albeit, if there are changes to the sunset clauses, for a finite amount of time. Nevertheless, for the next five years at least, our legal system will have a very different tone and implication.

It is not just the two days to which I object, but the fact that today, in the two and a half hours between 6 o'clock and 8.30, we shall have to consider the very serious

21 Nov 2001 : Column 327

question whether we want to go down the road to internment. We have had experience of internment in this country—let alone in Northern Ireland—twice in the last century, and we should have a chance to talk about it. Two and a half hours to consider the whole of part 4 is wholly inadequate given the grave seriousness of deciding to go for internment.

David Winnick (Walsall, North): I understand the concern about programming, which I share to some extent, if not entirely, but I wonder whether my hon. Friend has had the opportunity to see The Times today, because it gives a great deal of coverage to a fundamentalist Muslim cleric in Britain who has been sentenced to death in Jordan and is involved, it is alleged, with a terrorist network. The Spanish judicial authorities who have been investigating the case find it very difficult to understand why no action is being taken in Britain. There is some urgency, therefore, in connection with several people in this country. The public are, no doubt, wondering how on earth those people were ever allowed in. The Muslim cleric was apparently allowed in about seven years ago. I hope that my hon. Friend will understand the concern among the British public, even though I understand his concern, and that of others, over the programme motion.

Mr. Fisher: Of course I understand those concerns, although I have not seen the reference in The Times to which my hon. Friend referred.

I stress that hon. Members' wish to consider these things is absolutely not, in this instance, a desire to reiterate or delay. Indeed, I believe that the fear shared by all who have grave worries about the Bill is that we shall not even reach some clauses. The idea of this, of all pieces of legislation, not having each of its clauses fully discussed and each of its implications considered is frightening.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Why not arrest and try the individual to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (David Winnick) referred?

Mr. Fisher: I believe that when the House goes into Committee we shall discuss whether adequate powers to deal with some of these cases are already on the statute book.

David Winnick: There is, of course, an argument that the Home Secretary should explain why, if these allegations are true, the cleric has not been charged. However, if we work on the basis that it is not possible to bring charges—my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) would know, as we all do, that in such cases it is not always possible—should there not nevertheless be concern, which I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher) has already admitted, over cases of the type that I have mentioned, and which The Times publicises today?

Next Section

IndexHome Page