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Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. How can the Government Whip, the hon. Member for Luton, South (Margaret Moran), say that the House has considered the whole Bill, when quite plainly we have not?
Mr. Hogg: Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I realise that the House has followed the programme motion, but we have not discussed the Bill. Should it not be in the power of the Speaker to inform the other place that we have not done that which we ought to have done?
Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West) (Con): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it not a fact that the Whip had no choice and that it is a parliamentary convention that she utter such words? We should deplore the fact that this House has considered just one part of a major Bill. With an hour's Third Reading we are sending it off to the House of Lords, yet we have not had the chance to debate any other of its important parts.
Today's debate has been very important, and we have discussed the fundamental issuesthe freedom of the individual, the right and duty of the state to protect the people within its borders and their interests from attack and the balance to be struck between the two. The Government take the view that we must take all reasonable and practical steps to protect people in this country from those determined to destroy our way of life, and the Prevention of Terrorism Bill does precisely that.
The Bill provides the police and security services with another weapon in their armoury. It is designed specifically to deal with one of the most difficult and challenging problems facing ushow we should deal with those whom we cannot prosecute or deport, but who are nevertheless planning and plotting against this country.
Mr. Beith: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Home Secretary is purporting to describe a Bill, the clauses of which have not been discussed at all. It is difficult for the House to draw conclusions on Third Reading about the features of the Bill, when it has not had the opportunity to examine whether the clauses bear out the claims that he is making. Do you have an answer to that problem?
Mr. Clarke: Control orders are preventive measures, not punishments, and they will be used carefully and only in serious cases. One has only to examine how sparingly the part 4 powers have been used to see that the Government take their responsibilities very seriously and act only when strictly necessary, and I believe that the same will be true of the new control orders.
As I have indicated today, with legislation of this type I believedespite today's eventsthat there is great merit in seeking as wide a consensus as is possible across
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Parliament. To that end, I have today announced some changes which I propose to make to the Bill in the hope that such a consensus can be achieved
Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Am I right in thinking that on Third Reading the Secretary of State is confined to the Bill as it now stands, not as it might become?
Mr. Clarke: I happily accept your ruling, Madam Deputy Speaker, because it allows me to move on to the main burden of the points that I want to make. We must remember why we are considering the Bill: we are considering it because the whole of this country, and not the Government or the Labour party, faces a terrorist threat. [Interruption.] Opposition Members do not accept the truth of that point. We face a terrorist threat, and those who think that we do not, who obviously include many Opposition Members, need to face the facts.
Al-Qaeda and its associates have a strategy to try to destroy the central themes of our democratic society, and this House must decide how best we can address that threat. In so doing, we must seek to analyse and understand the threat that we face, which we have donewe have laid the results before this House and are trying directly to assess the threat. Today's events clearly demonstrate that we must acknowledge that British citizens as well as non-British citizens are focused on the target of seeking to destroy through terrorist activity the society that we seek to represent.
Mr. Clarke: No, I will not give way. I gave way a great deal earlier today, but I will not give way at this point to pettifogging points of the kind that I think hon. Gentlemen are likely to make. We should discuss the arguments of substance around the Bill, and that is what I intend to do. The argument of substance
Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. If the Home Secretary is arguing that we should discuss the Bill, why has he denied us the time to do so? Can you not make a ruling that enables him to keep his word?
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is important that we debate on Third Reading the reason why the Bill is necessary, and why I hope Members will vote for it. The basic reason why I ask the House to vote for it is that we face a terrorist threat from
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British and non-British citizensBritish as evidenced by the case of Mr. Badat today and of Richard Reid, and non-British as indicated by the events that took place in many other areas. We need to take the powers to address that threat.
Mr. Clarke: No, I will not. I acknowledge that in taking those powers, which are serious powers, and as I stated in the House on 26 January, are major issues for the House to address, we need to do so in a way that does our very best to respect individual liberty and the issues that arise in that regard.
Mr. Clarke: I contend that we have done just that in putting forward the measures that we have in the House. I hope that colleagues in the House making the arguments about Third Reading, as they will, will also face up to the question of how the British state should respond to the threats against it, which really exist.
Mr. Clarke: No. Should those threats be ignored, as I contend the Conservative Opposition seek to ignore them? Should the measures be amended, as the Liberal Democrats, in fairness to them, have argued throughout the debate? [Interruption.]
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