Mr. Blunkett: I am very grateful to my hon. Friend. In fact, on Monday, I read the Second Reading speech that he made in connection with the 1997 Act. It was very instructive and is why I know so much about SIAC. I appeal to the House: it is perfectly justifiable for hon. Members to want to do the right thing for the right reasons, but to want to do the right thing and then find out that one has done the wrong thing is neither justifiable nor wise.
Mr. Blunkett: I shall try to answer that question as delicately as I can, as that group, which was proscribed back in February, is appealing against the decision. I have a crucial role in the appeal, so my hon. Friend will forgive me for being circumspect. However, it must be understood that people who become members of groups that are banned in this country are subject to the law of the land. Obviously, people are free to join other organisations and democratically to make the point they wish to make. However, when the Prime Minister of India asks, as he did last week, whether we are serious about the organisations that are committing terrorists acts in terms of following up members of banned groups, the answer has to be yes.
Fiona Mactaggart: I quite understand that. I am concerned about the Bill's incarceration provisions and whether it is considered appropriate to hold in detention people who are simply members of some of these organisations.
Ms Abbott: Further to the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), one of the proscribed organisations is the PKK, a Kurdish nationalist organisation. In Stoke Newington, hundreds of people call themselves members of the PKK and go on marches. My local superintendent of police says that he cannot pick up hundreds of such people. Yet those people, who have joined what they perceive to be a legitimate nationalist group and have no intention of bombing or murdering anyone, will be at risk of incarceration if the Bill goes through unamended.
Mr. Blunkett: This is a red herring; we will not pick up everyone who has been on a march or in a room with a particular group. We are talking about people who have connections with and are believed to be involved with such groups. I am clarifying the position about links precisely to avoid red herrings.
Mr. Blunkett: I will give way in a moment. I do not want us to get involved tonight in trying to determine who poses a risk to our national security or is engaging in international terrorism. The evidence must be adduced by the security and intelligence services and presented so that it convinces the Home Secretary of the day that a certificate should be issued. When a certificate is issued, the individual has a right to go to SIAC and to appeal. I have spelt that outthe judgment will depend not on whether people turn up to a PKK rally in Stoke Newington but on whether they pose a risk.
Simon Hughes: The House is wrestling with the fact that although the Home Secretary says that the powers would be used only as a last resortwhich I acceptthat is not what the Bill provides. The second issue relates directly to the right hon. Gentleman's answer to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher). People could be certificated by the Home Secretary and detained because they had links with a person who was a member of or belonged to an international terrorist group, yet those links are not defined anywhere in the Bill. Someone who has represented them could be caught. All sorts of people might be caught. Surely the Home Secretary accepts that legislation cannot be drawn this widely. It is dangerous.
Mr. Blunkett: I will give way to one of my hon. Friends in just a second when I have answered the question. Taking into account the criteria that are laid down, I have accepted that "link" was not tight enough to ensure clarity about the nature of the connection with the group. That is precisely what I was responding to in saying that the members of the Joint Committee on
Mr. George Howarth: Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, as I suspect, each case will be dealt with on its own terms, on the basis of the evidence and information that is available? Given that some of that information will be very sensitive, it is probably not appropriate to spell out too clearly the circumstances in which he will make those judgments.
Mr. Blunkett: That is true. However, let me stressto avoid another red herringthat judgments will be made within the terms that we are laying down, the process that SIAC has to follow and the evidential base that has to be provided. Now that that has been challenged through the courts and is established as accepted, we can move forward in a sensible but sensitive way.
That comes back to my earlier point about choice. We have the choice to do nothing or to take draconian action and give the Home Secretary powers to certificate and to remove people from the country whatever the circumstances. We can also choose to take the middle route, whereby we cannot use temporary detention when extraditing people or removing them to a third safe country.
Dr. Nick Palmer (Broxtowe): Does the Home Secretary agree that a number of the points raised recently are partially covered by the fact that my right hon. Friend will issue a certificate only if he suspects that someone is an international terrorist under the terms that we have defined and believes that person's presence in the United Kingdom to be a risk to national security? It would not sufficient for someone to be a member of the PKK, for instance. He would have to be a member of the PKK whom my right hon. Friend believed was a risk to national security.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): I am grateful to the Home Secretary for giving way. He said a few moments ago that the law must be upheld and obeyed when he defended his right to proscribe a number of organisations, including the PKK. Does he accept, therefore, that the police will have the powers of sweep and of arrest, even if those people are subsequently released, as many were, under the prevention of terrorism legislation. If the Bill is designed to catch international terrorists individually, why is it not drafted to do so? Why is it drafted to catch people who are merely members of organisations that the Home Secretary, on advice from many sources, including the United States, believes to be international terrorist groups?