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Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) (Lab): On a point of fact—it may be to my discredit that I do not know—in which other democracies are people locked up without charge and without trial?

Mr. Clarke: That happens in France, Spain and Italy, for example, under a different legal regime.

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): The Home Secretary must not mislead the House. He must be acquainted with the different regimes in force in other European countries. If detention takes place in those countries, it is in the context of investigation prior to trial. It is not administrative detention of the sort that he envisages.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman rephrase the initial part of his intervention. No right hon. or hon. Member seeks to mislead the House.

Mr. Grieve: The Home Secretary should not inadvertently mislead the House.

Mr. Clarke: I was not seeking to mislead the House in any way, inadvertently or otherwise. I said that there are different regimes of the sort to which the hon. Gentleman referred. The fact is that people end up locked up and deprived of liberty. The different systems are a key issue in looking at the way in which the legislative changes will take place.

Mr. Robin Cook (Livingston) (Lab): My right hon. Friend gave an important response to the intervention from the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath). Does he understand that he would meet the anxieties of many Labour Members who cannot support the Bill as drafted if he would take the next logical step and allow the courts to make the decision in the first instance, rather than second-guessing his decision? The sticking point is that the decision on whether to deprive a citizen of liberty should be judicial and not political.
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Mr. Clarke: I certainly understand very well my right hon. Friend's concern, which, it has to be said, is shared by other Members in all parts of the House. In their view, there needs to be judicial involvement at the earliest practical opportunity in the control order process, particularly if it results in someone being deprived of their liberty. I can assure the House that I will continue to give careful consideration to this issue, which has been raised with me by a number of colleagues, and we will of course debate it in detail in Committee on Monday. However, I must be certain that nothing is done to undermine my responsibility or ability as Home Secretary to safeguard the security of the country. That said, I recognise the point that has been made.

Mr. Michael Weir (Angus) (SNP): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Clarke: No, I will now make some more progress. As I have said, I will come to the judicial point later.

The Bill is before the House as part of a key set of proposals to address the terrorist threat that the country faces. There are four motivating principles behind the Bill, which I want to set out as clearly as I can. The first of them addresses the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn). We need to have a more secure prosecution process; on that, I share the ambition described by my hon. Friend. I emphasise that control orders will be used sparingly and only, as now with the current part 4 powers, in very serious cases. As I explained yesterday, prosecution is, and will continue to be, our preferred approach. These orders are for those dangerous individuals whom we cannot prosecute or deport, but whom we cannot allow to go on their way unchecked because of the seriousness of the risk that they pose to everybody else in the country.

Simply to illustrate the point, let me confirm the facts again. Between 11 September 2001 and last December, there were 701 arrests under the Terrorism Act 2000; 119 of those arrested were charged, and 45 of those 119 were charged with other offences as well. A further 135 were charged under legislation other than the 2000 Act, and 17 were then convicted of other offences. I set out those figures to emphasise to the House the seriousness with which we take the view that we must go down the prosecution route first and foremost, if we can achieve that.

David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Clarke: I will do so when I have finished my point on prosecutions.

Before making, renewing or remaking any control order, I shall ask the police whether there are realistic prospects of bringing criminal charges against the individual concerned, and I shall seek the confirmation of the police that further investigations will be carried out during the period when the order is enforced in order to pursue prosecution as the preferred route.

I turn to my final point on prosecution.

Mr. John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend give way?
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Mr. Clarke: I will do so in a second. Finally on prosecution, I mentioned yesterday that we are looking at the framework of our current counter-terrorist legislation and at the scope of the offences with which terrorists are charged to see whether there are any gaps or deficiencies that we can and should remedy. I hope to introduce further legislation as soon as it is practicable to do so; that is my objective. Yesterday, I mentioned a potential new offence of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, but there are others as well, because we must give the police all the tools that they need to combat terrorism and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

David Winnick: As I said yesterday, I will support Second Reading of the Bill later today, but I would be much happier if the Home Secretary would reinforce the point that he made to my right hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), when he said, in effect, that he will give very careful consideration to the valid points made by my right hon. Friend and other Members. If the Home Secretary does that, I will vote tonight in the way that I suggested in a much happier frame of mind.

Mr. Clarke: My hon. Friend's happiness is very high on my list of priorities. I can confirm what I said to   my right hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook). However, as I have said on a number of occasions, I will come to the judicial point a little later and I will elaborate on it then.

Mr. Denham: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. I welcome what he has said about seeking assurances from the police on whether there is a sufficient case to prosecute and to conduct further investigations. However, might not the appropriate route be for the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider all the information that is available in a particular case, and for him to provide the Home Secretary with advice as to whether that case is prosecutable?

Mr. Clarke: My right hon. Friend and his colleagues on the Home Affairs Committee have addressed this issue, and he has also said to me separately that there is a case for looking at whether an intervening procedure would also help in dealing with this process. I can assure him that I am ready to look at the precise way in which this issue can be dealt with.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): The right hon. Gentleman told the House about the number of individuals charged under terrorist or related legislation. Will he be good enough to tell us how many have been convicted?

Mr. Clarke: I will repeat what I said a few seconds ago: 17. I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was not listening.

Mr. David Kidney (Stafford) (Lab): My right hon. Friend has been very fair in saying on a number of occasions that prosecution would always be the first preferred route, but nowhere in the Bill is that stated. Would he be amenable to amending the Bill, so that it states that that would be a constant consideration of the
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Home Secretary? The significance of such an amendment is that at every stage of judicial oversight, judges could take that factor into account.

Mr. Clarke: I will take advice on that point and on the legal process that my hon. Friend suggests. I can assure him absolutely and without qualification that prosecution is the preferred route, as I was at pains to set out in this speech and in my statement to the House yesterday. I will look into whether that can be reinforced in law in any way.

Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend also seek advice, through the DPP, the police or any other relevant body, as to whether a prosecution might be possible if impediments to the use of certain types of evidence, such as intercept evidence, were removed? I understand that the Metropolitan police, the former head of MI5 and a number of other organisations believe that the Government are tying the hands of the police and others behind their backs with regard to achieving a prosecution in some circumstances.

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