|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West) (Con): I share the Secretary of State's objectives entirely. I agree that there now has to be a meeting engagement with the terrorists, and that we have to lick them here. However, I am concerned about the way in which the Secretary of State dismissed the intervention of the right hon. Member for Beith[Interruption.] I am sorry, I meant to say the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith). Is the Secretary of State not alarmed at the very high number of people being detained for acts that contravene the anti-terrorism provisions which, on closer examination, are quite properly judged to be common law offences? He will have my support in the Lobby tonight, but this matter requires much greater examination.
Mr. Clarke: I did not dismiss the concerns of the right hon. Member for what we must now call Beith-upon-Tweed. In fact, I did the opposite; I paid respect to what he and his political friend, Lord Carlile, had said. I also said that the Government would seek to address those points and criticisms.
Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy) (PC):
In regard to the concerns raised by the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) about section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, not a lot has been done by the Government, despite the fact that those concerns have been expressed by many for a long time. Between April and June 2004, 2,147 searches were carried out under section 44. No arrests were made on the ground of anything to do with terrorism; 30 were made for other reasons. The following year, the figures were similar. Some of us were very concerned when the Terrorism Bill was introduced in 2000. We were told that it would be used very rarely, yet it was
26 Oct 2005 : Column 329
soon being used against peaceful, flag-waving people demonstrating against a Chinese Government official visiting London.
Mr. Clarke: I think that I have said this about three times now, but I will say it again: we take seriously the points that were raised by the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed and by Lord Carlile. There are important issues that need to be addressed. The Association of Chief Police Officers is working specifically on them, and I shall address them. I agree that there are issues that need to be addressed.
Before I finish outlining the general position, I should point out that the final element of our strategy for combating terrorism is the need to work internationally. This week is the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, and some Members were privileged enough to go to St. Paul's on Monday for a service of thanksgiving and rededicationI emphasise the word "rededication"to celebrate that anniversary. Lord Ashdown, in his capacity as high representative in Bosnia, was asked to give an address, in which he said:
The United Nations is also seeking to prepare itself. United Nations Security Council resolution 1624, adopted by the Security Council on 14 September this year, addresses that very question, on behalf not of an individual Government but of the whole of the United Nations, precisely because of the threat that Lord Ashdown described. That resolution reaffirms
"that incitement of terrorist acts motivated by extremism and intolerances poses a serious and growing danger to the enjoyment of human rights . . . and must be addressed urgently and proactively by the United Nations and all States",
"that acts, methods, and practices of terrorism are contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations and that knowingly financing, planning and inciting terrorist acts are also contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations".
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby) (Lab): I take it from what my right hon. Friend says that any person in any country of the world who advocates terrorism would be subject to arrest under this Act should they arrive in this country? Would that be true if Pat Robertson, the American who advocated the assassination of democratically elected President Chavez of Venezuela, were to enter Britain?
Mr. Clarke: Anybody who thinks that Pat Robertson is on my side is very wrong indeed. I am prepared publicly to deplore Pat Robertson's remarks, as I think that they were an outrage. In answer to the central question of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing), yes, that is the caseadvocating terrorism is not acceptable under this law.
Alan Simpson: The misgivings of many Members of the House relate to the final part of what the Home Secretary said about necessary and appropriate means. Will he confirm that of the 900 or so people who have been arrested and detained under the Terrorism Act 2000, there has not been a single successful prosecution made for membership of any organisation on the burgeoning proscribed list, which we are told must be banned internationally. What we have done is to create a culture of fear, and a sense of division and vulnerability, that has nothing whatever to do with successful action against terrorism.
Mr. Clarke: I do not accept that. I am coming to proscription in a moment, and I will deal with my hon. Friend's point about proscribed organisations. I also observe, however, that the United Nations, in its action against terrorism, has listed proscribed individuals and organisations in a variety of ways.
Because of the need for this action, it behoves all parties in the House to carry through the ambitions of the Security Council resolution, which the Bill seeks to do. In all candour, I say to the Liberal Democrats, with whom we have sought to work closelyand I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Winchester, who has also sought to work closely with us to address these
26 Oct 2005 : Column 331
issuesthat their decision to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill weakens that common front of democratic politics against terrorism. Let me tell the House why I say that.
The Liberal Democrats have legitimate arguments about the definition of terrorism in relation to the term "glorification", and about the extension of the time limit for detention from 14 days to 90 days. I know that the hon. Member for Winchester has doubts, as he has said publicly and privately to me, about the wisdom of extending that time limit, and he has been perfectly fair about that. In relation to the structure of debates in the House, however, I do not believe that such doubts, which will be expressed, voted on and considered in Committee and on Reportand which, if so serious, could lead his hon. Friends to vote against the Bill on Third Readingought to break the unity of the House in seeking to carry through the principle established on Second Reading. His leader, the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Mr. Kennedy), wrote to The Spectator on 22 Octoberwhich I thought was a spectacular thing for him to dorevealing that the Liberal Democrat shadow Cabinet was having
If the Liberal Democrats want to provide real opposition to the Government, the way to do that is not to offer knee-jerk opposition to everything, but to work on the basis of principle, to carry things through and to debate things in a proper way. The principled position, in my view, is for the party to vote for Second Reading, and then vote against, as and when the hon. Member for Winchester thinks appropriate, on the particular measures later. Even at this late stage, I hope that the Liberal Democrats will reconsider their position.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|