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I had complete confidence that my right hon. Friend would not run away from taking my intervention. Is it not the case that any period of more than 14 days would cause certain difficulties? I happen to have greater sympathy with the Government on the extension of time than some of my hon. Friends, but does my right hon. Friend agree that any extension would give rise to two specific problems? First, the judicial authority would have to be a senior judge, because such cases are few and far between. Secondly, if the Government were to be completely honest, they
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would have to admit that the proposals run up against the Human Rights Act 1998although the Home Secretary refused to admit that on 20 July, when I questioned him. I suspect that that is why he ran away today. We should add the words "not withstanding the Human Rights Act 1998" to the provision, so that we do not get into a legal quagmire.
David Davis: I agree with my hon. Friend[Interruption]except that I do not agree with him about supporting this case. There are real problems with the extension beyond 14 days, such as the oppression of the individual. My hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve), the shadow Attorney-General made the point that, given the ECHR and the Human Rights Act 1998, we would have to change the PACE rules to ensure that people were not oppressed. A whole series of problems would arise from such an extension, and it would probably end up being counter-productive in terms of producing evidence in court.
Such an extension would be particularly exorbitant given that Australia, which has faced every bit as much of a terrorist challenge as we have, has just had a heated debate about increasing the time from 48 hours to 14 days. Our Government are looking for more than six times that amount, but Australia is not even considering a 90-day proposal. Given everything that I have read and heard, I can say with absolute certainty the case has not been made. It remains a fundamental sticking point between the Government and the Opposition. It is a provision that we wish to see excised from the Bill and replaced with other measures before the Bill is signed into law. As I have told the Home Secretary already, although I am happy to support the Bill on Second Reading, if those significant matters are not corrected, I will recommend that my party does not support the Bill on Third Reading.
Finally, we must turn our minds to what is not included in the Bill. As the Home Secretary will know, we have long campaigned for intercept evidence to be used in courts. The Italian Government have recently adopted its use; our Government are considering it. In fact, we know from their former spin doctor's recent book that they have been considering it since 1998. Sir Ian Blair says that he has
As July's attacks demonstrated, we must all do more to stop the seeds of terrorism taking root at home, but they are often nurtured by foreign influences, so we must do far more to plug the gap in our defences created by our porous borders. A new single border police force would help with that job. It would be an effective force that could bring together the work of the seven different Government agencies that are currently responsible for the task. Once again, Sir Ian Blair has said:
There are other matters of concern. The weekend press carried leaked documents highlighting weaknesses and organisational failures in the Government's anti-terror strategyProject Contest. All the legislation in the world is to no avail if the practical defences fail. There were also reports that the Government were considering our proposal of appointing a single Minister to deal with terrorism. Such a measure would sharpen the focus of the anti-terror strategy, and I recommend that the Government implement it immediately.
This debate is not the start of the processnor is it the endas I said at the outset, it is merely a part of it. The Bill is not the complete solution to the problem, although I believe that much of it will help. We must find the balance between effective laws and fundamental freedoms, between security and freedom and between defending our way of life and defending the values that define it. The terrorists have set us a challenge, but we must rise to it. They want us to give away by choice the very freedoms that they set out to destroy by force. We must not do so. It is a tough balance to strike, but we must show that we are able to do it. In that way, our generation of parliamentarians will be able to say that we did our job: we kept our country safe and we kept our fundamental freedoms safe, too.
Mr. Paul Murphy (Torfaen) (Lab): It has been a fascinating hour and a half. Obviously, the thrust of the debate in Committee will be about the 90-day question, but it seems much more significantthe right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis), the shadow Home Secretary, touched on this in the final part of his speechthat we in the House must always balance the first duty of any Government to protect their citizens from outrage, death and disaster and the duty to ensure that we safeguard those liberties that, over 1,000 years, the House has gathered for our people. However, we must be aware that we are in a situation that is not the same as in the past.
Some hon. Members have referred to a casual Bill, while others have said that it is a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in July, but the reality is that we live in an extremely different world, so far as terrorism is concerned. My experience, which is limited in these matters to Northern Ireland, tells me that the sort of attacks that we saw in July are unprecedented in our history. Although the July bombings came out of the blue in a particular sense, in a general sense, they did not. We had been warned by the security services for many monthsindeed, yearsthat it was inevitable that, sooner or later, we would face the situation that we faced in July.
During the past weeks, the Committee that I chair the Intelligence and Security Committeehas investigated the intelligence that may or may not have led people to take certain actions before July, and it will
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continue to do so in the months to come. The important thing is always that balance, which was not easy over 30 years in Northern Ireland. I suspect that internment did not prove successful, but certain parts of the terrorism legislation, certainly the gathering of intelligence, was extremely successful and helped to bring Northern Ireland to where it is today.
The Intelligence and Security Committee has already taken evidence on the Bill over two hours or more from the Home Secretary and it will continue to monitor the Bill's progress through both Houses. On those clauses that deal with amendments to the Intelligence Services Act 1994 and to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which relate to the issuing of warrants in the pursuit of national security, I agree strongly with Lord Carlile, whose views my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has touched on already, that the clauses on the intelligence services are helpful in countering terrorism and that, subject to appropriate controls and limitations, they are sensible and practical changes to the law.
We will as a Committee consider in some detail the deliberations of both Houses during the weeks ahead, but I repeat the point that I made earlier, which must underpin our debates in the House on Second Reading and in Committee, that if anyone thinks that what we have seen over the past weeks and months is something that we have experienced before, they are very much mistaken, and we must adapt new legislation to new circumstances. At the same time, of course, as a number of hon. Members have said, it is not just a question of changing the legislation.
As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary suggested and as I am sure my right hon. Friend the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety will indicate when she responds to the debate, we must consider the Bill in the context of a whole range of measures that exist to protect our citizens from the sort of outrages that we experienced in the summer in London. For example, we need to recruit more people to our police and our security services. We need to combat the so-called radicalisation of some of our communities. Religious leaders and Governments need to work together very closely. Police forces need special branches that can cope with the fresh challenges posed by 21st-century terrorism.
It is worthwhile, too, to put on record that the way in which the agencies and the emergency services reacted in July has been praised right across the world, as has the way in which we responded to that outrage in our capital city. All these issues must be taken in the round, as a whole. For example, on the restructuring of the police, there is no question in my mind about the fact that we need police forces that can deal with the intelligence requirements and the need to counter terrorism in the modern world. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has rightly decided to look at those issues.
I want to digress, but on an important point. In Wales, the situation is slightly different from the rest of England as regards the police, and an all-Wales police force, accountable to the Home Secretary but working closely with the National Assembly, would be sensible. However, long-standing, effective and successful forces, such as Gwent, should be able to continue in some form within the new structures so that accountability, efficiency and community support are retained.
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None of us wants more counter-terrorism legislation and none of us wants freedom and security constantly balanced, as they must be, but all of us must acknowledge that the world has changed. To protect our freedoms we have always to protect our people.
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