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Vera Baird: I share my hon. Friend's view, but there is no difficulty in this regard. If the law on admissibility were changed, everything in existence could be admitted from then on. Indeed, I hope that that happens.
The Newton report also refers to plea bargaining. I have always been a little suspicious of plea bargaining, particularly in the light of the problems associated with the "supergrass" trials of old, which led to serious miscarriages of justice. However, there is a separate issue, which is not necessarily plea bargaining, namely a different form of inducement in terms of co-operation with the police and security services. As I have said, we need to recognise that international terrorism is different in character and poses different challenges. We
On interviewing, we must also consider the high-tech nature of international terrorism, which has not been a feature of previous IRA terrorism, the use of computers and the need to examine many hard drives. In such circumstances, we must look at other ways of seeking co-operation from suspects. Quite properly, they rely on the right to silence when advised to do so by lawyers, but in any event they have usually been trained in interview techniques and in how to avoid giving away information. Currently, the judges' rules prevent any offer of inducements to co-operate, but why could we not amend the law to allow suspects to give non-admissible statements in private for intelligence purposes only, which would not be used in evidence against them? Credit could be given for such co-operation if those suspects were subsequently prosecuted on other available evidence. Such statements would allow them to explain their involvement. People working in the security services have put it to me that several suspects over the past year were proud of what they had done and wanted to trumpet it, but were advised not to do so because of the impact on their prosecution. Had they been able to make a non-admissible statement, that might have been a way of securing information from them to fight terrorism while at the same time protecting their legal rights by giving them help, should they be prosecuted, in respect of sentencing.
One issue that has not emerged from the debate so far is the question of advance passenger information. It was referred to in the Newton report and is, I believe, an extremely important issue, which we are not taking as seriously as we should. There is clear evidence that we are behind the game on that aspect of the war against terror. As we know, the US is demanding advance passenger information on certain flights coming into the US. Australia does the same as a matter of course, but our approach is rather hit and miss. There is some evidence that the Home Office is now starting to take it seriously, but we are behind the game and we must beef up our information to ensure that we are more aware of the people who enter the UK by air. That, of course, poses the question of which people are entering the UK through other routes.
There has been much discussion of the concerns of the Muslim community about anti-terrorist legislation. It has been said that there have been many arrests, but no court cases and noor very fewprosecutions. Part of the frustration arises from the fact the many of the cases are sub judice, so it is not possible to discuss or explain them. As those cases come to trial, the Muslim community will, with a degree of patience, be able to see that some very serious offences have been committed. Ultimately, the work of the police and security services will prove justified in that respect. We should remember that not only Muslim groups are proscribed organisations under anti-terrorism legislation, but other terrorist groups such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or ETA.
Part of the necessary work requires action on ordinary crimedocument or credit card fraud, for exampleusing ordinary policing techniques, but further investigating and analysing those cases, and attacking terrorism by attacking the wider criminality that those offences show. Investigating those sorts of offences can in time lead to the discovery of terrorist activity and terrorist suspects. In that context, I am concerned that the campaign against terrorism is not one of the targets in the national policing plan. It has targets for many aspects of policing, but I understand that the fight against terror is not included in the plan.
The campaign is resource intensive, and we need to strive for a much more consistent performance throughout the country. That requires a consistency of capability throughout the country, which I am not sure that we have. In the end, there is a certain inevitability about having some form of national unitperhaps based on the Metropolitan police with satellite units around the countryif we are to combat terrorism effectively and ensure that our country is safe, free and able to protect and maintain the liberties that we have debated so much this afternoon.
Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): This debate must be judged in the context of the Civil Contingencies Bill. When the House discussed the range of powers being sought by the Government in that Bill, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) and the hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) all made similar points.
We were all deeply concerned about the Civil Contingencies Bill, which may overlap the review period that will take place as a result of the Newton committee report. It is therefore even more important that the Bill be rectified to ensure that it contains the test of reasonableness, and that the courts' jurisdiction in these matters is not removed. The Bill's powers are so wide that they could even invade the territory of the 2001 Act.
I made it clear in earlier interventions that I have concluded that there is no serious alternative way of dealing with the problems presented by the terrorist threat that we face. Unlike the Civil Contingencies Bill, the 2001 Act contains a test of reasonableness to be applied to the Home Secretary's decisions. I wholly disapprove of the Henry VIII clause, but it is worth considering it in the context of Lord Hoffman's remarks in connection with the Rehman case, which took place only a year or two ago.
A test of reasonableness means that judges can review the Home Secretary's decisions, albeit with some conditions. With great respect to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham, he did not make it clear that the Special Immigration Appeals Commission could have regard to factors other than suspicion. I believe that courts have enough of an override capability to enable them to arrive at a proper review of decisions that have been taken, and I referred earlier to a recent case in which the Court of Appeal reversed a SIAC decision.
These are undeniably difficult issues, and the tone of the debate suggests that the House has been treading carefully through a minefield of problems. We have tried to give some indicators to the Government as to how to proceed in reviewing provisions that are on the statute book already. To that extent, the Newton committee report has served an extremely useful purpose. It has addressed some subordinate and supplementary questions in a way that I consider entirely helpful.
The central principle is whether the ultimate judgment in these matters should depend on the reasonable decisions of the Home Secretary. As long as the courts have the power to review those decisions, I believe that detention without trial is justifiable in these extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances. As I said earlier to my right hon. and learned Friend, we must also have regard to the power of SIAC to conduct the reviews.
There have been no fewer than five reports criticising the arrangements set out in the Act, and there is no doubt that some extremely learned authorities have expressed grave concern about its wide-ranging powers. However, in the balance of the serious threat of the kind of terrorism that faces us and the necessity to maintain public safetythe first duty of Governmentand national security, such powers are justified. In "Constitutional and Administrative Law", Bradley and Ewing make the point: