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Mr. Blunkett: I am not getting into that whatsoever. I do not understand the motives of those who commit suicide and blow up other people. I do not understand the motives of religious teachers and leaders and others who are not prepared to do that themselves, so instead send young men and women as suicide bombers to do their work for themthat is what happens. I do not understand those who have no negotiating position and no demands other than the total capitulation of our democratic way of life and values, because, make no mistake about it, that is what al-Qaeda is all about. There is no negotiation about the unification of a country or, for example, a just solution in the middle east, which we all want; it has never engaged in that demand. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have tried to engage in that process and we have tried to engage the United States' powerful voice to help us to achieve it. Virtually everyone in the House of Commons would want us to continue to try to do that. How can we understand those who take innocent lives not to free themselves from the shackles of some sort of post-colonialism, but to destroy the modernity and the society that they literally hate?
Mr. Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway) (Lab): My point is on precisely the issue about which the Home Secretary was talking before he took the previous intervention: the difference between the prosecution of terrorism and of normal crime. That is what causes some of us considerable difficulty, especially those of us who have been involved in the prosecution and defence of serious and organised crime, including terrorism. Many of the difficulties that the Home Secretary rightly enumerates are already dealt with when considering such serious crimes. When people are prosecuted for those crimes, it is inevitable that method and the fruits of method are revealed. Infiltration is revealed in such trials by necessity. Of course, that is subject to public interest immunity, which can be draconian in such circumstances. Will he consider what the difference is in truth between the problems when dealing with the most serious of crimes and with terrorism? It appears to us that terrorist crime is being elevated to a different level of crime, which is one of the reasons why some people cavil with the word "war"not because of its seriousness, but because crime is being treated as something other than crime.
Mr. Blunkett: I know that my hon. and learned Friend is more familiar than I am with the uses of public interest immunity and the constraints that exist on the way in which evidence may be seen by defendants and how it may be used in court. If we believed that public interest immunity would cover the requirements that I have tried to enunciate, we would have used that. We will want to come back to the serious crimes about which he talks in a White Paper on organised crime, which will build on
The surveillance and work of the security services are our best means of prevention, and that is why I can confirm that we have already substantially increased the resourcing of the Security Service so that we can double its capacity to process and use the materials that it adduces as part of its intelligence gathering. The development of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre that we established last June will be helpful for drawing together a range of evidence from not only MI5, but MI6, GCHQ and the defence intelligence service. The increase of staff numbers by 50 per cent. will also be helpful.
Mr. Oaten: Liberal Democrats fully support the Home Secretary's plans to staff up MI5 and other intelligence services. He said in the pressand just now on the Floor of the Housethat he expects a doubling of staff. What is the date by which he hopes to achieve that increase?
Mr. Blunkett: That has already begun. I confirm that at the end of last year we agreed additional resources for this year and the next with the Security Service so that it could develop its work, as it has been doing. We described that privately and in more detail to the Intelligence and Security Committee. Obviously, recruitment, training and ensuring that people operate in an acceptable way takes time. Resources have been provided at each stage at which the Security Service has requested them so that it may continue its expansion at a scale and rate that is appropriate to its ability to recruit.
We have also increased the co-ordination of special branches, following the review that we undertook, by pulling them together into eight regional co-ordinating units. We have appointed a new co-ordinator, Bryan Bell, who was the assistant chief constable of Cleveland, to undertake that work. I referred to the White Paper a moment ago, and I shall say more about that and the necessary border controls and co-ordination in due course. All the elements go together in terms of prevention, surveillance and making sure that we act on an acceptable basis.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): I hope that the Home Secretary will accept that I wish to make a non-partisan point. It is vital that the security services are expanded to meet the threat, but is it really such a good idea to make announcements that major recruiting programmes are under way in advance of the expansion? Is there not a danger that people sympathetic to the al-Qaeda cause may make special efforts to get themselves recruited? Would it not usually be better to do the recruitment first and make the announcement afterwards?
Mr. Blunkett: The BBC was wrong in only one regard. I am confirming the event this afternoon. The point is well taken that we do not want to parade what we are doing to those who would use what we are doing against us. The point is noted.
An interesting question was raised about the nature of our system. I have mentioned its adversarial nature, and some of the Newton committee's recommendations would depend on an inquisitorial system that, as it says, mirrors the magistracy system in France. There would be an investigating magistrate and the more detailed work would be undertaken behind the scenes, taking the evidence, collating it and bringing it forward in a different way. Our system is different, but if people are serious about an alternative oneI do not dismiss that, not least for low-level association and links with terrorist groupswe need to be serious about examining how it would work and how it would change the nature of disclosure and admissibility in our system.
David Davis: I must admit that, when I first read the Newton report, I had difficulty with the explicit point that it made about the examining magistrates procedure. As I understand it, it would put a firebreak into the evidence process, but ensure that it remained safe and even-handed. Would that not involve completely changing our approach to the treatment of major crimes?
Mr. Blunkett: By no means; we would not necessarily have to extend such a system to major crimes. In the end, it still does not deal with the question of to whom the material is exposed and how the safeguards can be built in, as with the special advocate process that exists through SIAC. By necessity, I have read the reports carefully. Each time one thinks that one is moving towards a solution, there is an objection to another piece of the equation. It is a bit like a puzzle that one thinks one has solved but finds that one has not. I have never been good at such puzzles, so I shall have to try to get a
Sir Brian Mawhinney: I was a member of the committee and we examined the magisterial system in France and heard direct evidence about it. I assure the Home Secretary that the purpose of the report was not to call into question the fundamental framework within which we are looking at these issues. He is right: the system in France is different from ours. However, we were struck by the fact that there were, or appeared to be, advantagesnot least, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) suggested, in terms of handling evidence. Given that the Home Secretary will have a full consultation and review, it is probably worth taking such a system seriously if we are seeking new structures that are acceptable to us, but that protect the rights of the individual somewhat better than part 4 does.