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Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (LD): The hon. Lady says that she wants the control orders. If she were willing to accept the amendments from the other place, she would have the control orders.

Ms Blears: I want to make sure that the system of control orders is practical, that it works, that it has the proper effect and that it has the support of the security services. On that basis, I ask the House to support our amendments and to reject the Lords reason.
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Prevention of Terrorism Bill

Lords reasons for insisting on certain of their amendments to which the Commons have disagreed, further considered.

1.39 am

Mr. Grieve: Once again, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we have an example of how the Government lack any frankness in their dealings with the House. The question that my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) asked about what the Prime Minister said classically illustrates how the Government gloss the truth to suit their convenience. Instead of coming to the House, asking frankly for measures deemed necessary and engaging in proper debate, the Government spend their entire time fast-tracking the process, putting out spin, deceiving the public and then asking us to rubber-stamp their activities.

Let us examine the three issues of contention that now appear to remain. First, the Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety has told the House that she cannot accept that the distinction between derogating and non-derogating measures should disappear and she proposes instead a most deliciously complicated further tier of bureaucracy in an attempt to avoid the issue. Let me tell the Minister that as a recipe for further legal challenges, it would take some beating. I ask myself why the Government are going to such absurd lengths to avoid doing the sensible thing that the other place has asked for—treating derogating and non-derogating orders identically.

If what the Minister says is right, the derogating orders that the Secretary of State is keeping as an "important reserve power" that he may have to use in extremis, are, on her own analysis, completely valueless. I simply do not understand why the Minister keeps on refusing to do the simple and straightforward thing—indeed, the very thing that the Government originally gave the impression to the other place that they were going to do, which is to treat derogating and non-derogating orders identically. There is no explanation for that other than the Government's absolute determination not to be seen to be amenable to reason. If that is an example of the Government's common sense that they want to convey to the public, it takes some beating. There is no justification for the distinction.

Let me remind the Minister what the hon. and learned Member for Redcar (Vera Baird) said about non-derogating orders:

She went on to say:

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She was correct and the Minister is wrong. I am sorry that the Minister has suborned the hon. and learned Lady. We stand on the basis—

Vera Baird: Do I look suborned, Mr. Deputy Speaker? The hon. Gentleman has to remember that if these powers, which can be intrusive exactly as I said, cross over into an intrusion on article 5, they will never be granted because the judge is now at the front. It would be an unlawful order and the judge would not grant it. Checkmate on that one, I think.

Mr. Grieve: That is a fascinating comment, but it is not what the hon. and learned Lady said last week. She cannot escape her own analysis, which was absolutely correct and which the Government would have done well to heed. If the Government would see sense and treat derogating and non-derogating orders identically, they would be doing justice to the people subject to the orders. They would also solve their current problem and go a long way to resolving all the issues before the House tonight.

I turn now to whether a review should be prepared by an independent reviewer or a group of Privy Councillors. It is obvious that a proper and full review by Privy Councillors would be better than one by a single, independent reviewer. The latter would merely be a document handed to the Government, while the former would be a major document handed to Parliament for consideration. Furthermore, under the regime proposed by the other place, the reviews would take place at regular intervals and enable the House to monitor events.

Mr. Charles Clarke: indicated dissent.

Mr. Grieve: Does the Home Secretary wish to intervene?

1.45 am

Mr. Clarke: I should be happy to. The hon. Gentleman has completely failed to note that the independent reviewer will report to Parliament, not the Government, and that Parliament would debate his review. The amendment before the House means that when the renewal order is considered every year, it will be based on the independent review given to Parliament. That review will not be some Government thing on the side, as Parliament will examine it. As always, he simply does not understand what he is talking about.

Mr. Grieve: I understand that the last Privy Council report, chaired by Lord Newton, was ignored by the Government. I suspect that the Government do not want a Privy Councillors' report because they know that they will not be able to ignore it a second time. That is why I think that the House should demand it. There is no reason for not having such a report. The Government's insistence on their position is another example of them dancing on the head of a pin for no good reason. The House should reject that stand.

Finally, we come to the sunset clause, about which there is a fundamental difference between Opposition and Government. This Bill must be tolerated, but it is
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very badly drafted—and I might add that the hon. and learned Member for Redcar thinks that as well, as do many other Labour Members.

The Bill was passed in haste, without consultation or normal Committee and Report stages. This morning, we have had about nine minutes to consider important Government amendments. The Bill should die soon, and be replaced with something new that is passed in ordinary form. That is totally different from what the Minister proposes. The mechanisms that she proposes will mean that the legislation can be renewed again and again. It is not good enough to suggest that the two approaches are equivalent.

If the Government were honest, they would say, like the Prime Minister, that the Bill is for the medium term and that the country will have to bear it for the next 10 or 20 years, if this Government remain in office. Alternatively, the Government should accept the sunset clause. The sunset clause is a thoroughly sensible measure that would ensure that the House does its duty before 12 months are out. The Government should look at the alternatives to a measure that the Minister knows undermines civil liberties.

Mr. Clarke indicated dissent.

Mr. Grieve: I give way to the Home Secretary, so that he can explain what he was mumbling.

Mr. Clarke: I am grateful for this opportunity, as I had not intended to intervene. I have a simple question for the hon. Gentleman, who is sitting next to the Leader of the Opposition. Given his view of this matter, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman commit his party to repealing this legislation in his election manifesto?

Mr. Grieve: The Home Secretary knows that we consider this legislation poorly drafted and bad, so the first thing that we will do when we get into office is to find a means of replacing it with something that allows the security—[Interruption.] Look, the Minister and his predecessor have spent the last 12 months with their heads buried in the sand in respect of the recommendations of Lord Newton. There are alternatives and they need to be considered, but the Government have not given the slightest indication of even engaging in that process. There is the question of prosecuting. There is the question of using intercept evidence. There is a question, if nothing else, if I may say to the Home Secretary, about putting in the things that at the moment he refuses to have in this legislation. The sooner we can get rid of control orders and this type of measure, the better. [Interruption.] Yes—the sooner we can get rid of measures such as control orders, the better for this country.

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