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Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): Does the Home Secretary accept that many of us are extremely concerned about the general trend of anti-terrorist legislation, which allows administrative detention? What has happened at Belmarsh is the British equivalent of Guantanamo Bay. If an administrative order is made against an individual based on security information that the Home Secretary has received, and if that is challenged in a court, would all the evidence on which the Home Secretary made that decision be available to the defendant, or would it be merely a rubber-stamping exercise whereby the Home Secretary can detain or restrict indefinitely the movements of a substantial number of people on the basis of secret information?
My hon. Friend's record and position on the matter is well known and understood, and we have had many debates about it. It is important to understand the difference between various forms of detention. It is not the case that detention in Belmarsh is the same as in Guantanamo. There is a series of different matters that need to be addressed. On his central point, I said in my statement and I say again that the judicial review of the Home Secretary's decision will work on the basis that the defendant has the right to access all the evidence that can be put to him, subject to the test that making that evidence available does not threaten national security. So there are issues that arise, and which my hon. Friend will no doubt push in Committee
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when we discuss the matter, but the principle established is that the defendant can have access to the evidence, with the exceptionit is an important exception, which he highlights in his questionof information that would be prejudicial to national security if made public.
does the Home Secretary agree that it seems strange that there is no aspect of the anti-terrorism law that can be invoked to bring him before a court? Assuming that he and the others have to be let out of Belmarsh, how will it be practically possible to restrict access to telecommunications and the internet unless they are confined in an individual premises and everybody going in to see them is searched and prevented from taking in such communications equipment with them?
Mr. Clarke: On the hon. Gentleman's first point, the fact that judgments of the type that he described are reached does not say anything about the source of that judgment. The question is whether the source can be exposed in open court without risking people's lives, the national security system or whatever. That is the answer to his question. On the second part, he is right. The control order regime that I propose suggests a range of controls dealing with access to telecommunications equipment and so on, as I indicated, which will require policing to work effectively. Is it possible? Yes, it certainly is. Can we establish it? Yes, I am advised that we can. But are there issues that arise about it? Yes, there are. That is what we have to address when we consider the detail of the orders.
David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): Considering what happened in Istanbul and Madrid, how could any Home Secretary not take into account the constant danger of terrorism to our country and our people? Bearing in mind the extended powers, what reassurances is my right hon. Friend giving to the Muslim community to let it know that no community in our country will be targeted and that all law-abiding people have nothing to fear?
Mr. Clarke: I am grateful for my hon. Friend's initial point, with which I completely agree. I have attended two meetings with representatives of the Muslim community to discuss those questions and make the precise point that he mentioned. I have not discussed the proposals that I have introduced today with the Muslim community, because I thought it more appropriate to come to the House before talking to other interests directly, but I will discuss those precise issues with members of the Muslim community to provide reassurance.
I reaffirm my hon. Friend's point that no law-abiding citizen of this country, whether they are Muslim or Christian and whatever their race, nationality, creed
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or belief, has anything to fear from the proposals that I have put in front of the House today. The proposals are intended to target those who aim to destroy the democracy within which we all flourish.
Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion) (PC): I accept that the Home Secretary has taken time and care to consider his proposals. Many Back Benchers consider it our responsibility to resist any proposals from the Executive to expand their powers in this way, unless the evidence and the need is overwhelmingly demonstrated in this House. To that end, I support the call from the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) for the matter to be debated on the Floor of the House, because all hon. Members will have something to say about the central question of the proportionality and application of the proposals.
In his reply to the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten), the Home Secretary did not state the number of British citizens whom the proposals might affect. Although he may not be able to answer that question today, by the time that we examine the Bill, he must be able to say how many British citizens are likely to be affected and how many British citizens are being investigated in the context of terrorist activities. For example, animal rights terrorism shows how such measures could be applied much more widely than the context that we have been debating today. The proposals will considerably enhance the Government's powers and we must take a careful, measured approach.
Mr. Clarke: I want to make three points. First, this is not a numbers game, although numbers are important. As I said in my statement, the part 4 powers have been applied to 17 people since they were enacted, which provides a context. I agree that it is right for the Government of the day to report to the House in a variety of different ways on the number of cases, the situation and so on, but it is not a numbers game.
Secondly, I accept the hon. Gentleman's important point that, before any legislationin particular, legislation that might involve a derogation from the European convention on human rightsis introduced, a detailed and substantive case must be presented to this House and the other place before they assess what to do. That process is needed to address his point about proportionality, which I accept is an obligation on any Home Secretary who seeks to introduce legislation.
My third point is an appeal to the hon. Gentleman. Although it is important to recognise that the role of Members of Parliament is to act as a check on the Executive and therefore question the Executive, it is also the role of Members of Parliament, as the elected representatives of their communities, to address such issues in the round and decide in the interests of the country as a whole how to deal with the balance between rights and security. That is why I have proposed a broad debate, which we have got. In my opinion, hon. Members should not simply ask, "What are the Executive doing? How can we deal with them?" That is one of their responsibilities, but I put it to the hon. Gentleman that another important responsibility is for elected representatives, and in particular political parties, to debate such matters in the round rather than simply existing as an anti-Executive element.
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Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) (Lab): Pursuant to the Home Secretary's answer to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews), can we take it that judicial review by the High Court has been excluded in favour of action by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission? Will the Home Secretary's decisions be subject to the High Court and what is the position on judicial review?
Early in his statement, the Home Secretary said that intelligence reports make it clear that the existence and use of the powers have helped to make the UK a far more hostile environment for international terrorists to operate in, with the result that some international terrorists have been deterred from coming here and that others have left to avoid being certified and detained. Does he know that for a fact or is it informed and educated speculation?
Mr. Clarke: On the first point, I have nothing to add to my statement and my answers to previous questions, including the question from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews). On the second point, it is more than informed speculation that the situation is much more secure and that the country is inhospitable for international terrorists. I am proud that the legislation has helped to achieve that result, which I want to ensure is a characteristic hallmark of this country.
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