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: As a Member with a substantial Muslim community, I have not received one submission from my local Muslim community in opposition to the clause. My experience is that the great majority of the Muslim
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community want a legal process that enables us to identify those who are glorifying violence and exhorting people to violence, and that will provide the evidence to put those people away. Does the hon. Gentleman agree?
Mr. Grieve: I am diversity spokesman for the Conservative party, which involves my contacting numerous Muslims both in organisations and as individuals, and that subject has frequently been raised as a source of anxiety.
Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): I represent an inner-city constituency, which contains about 10 mosques. I have received many representations from members of the Muslim community against the proposals, which will disproportionately affect members of the Muslim community and members of the Asian community.
Mr. Grieve: I take the hon. Gentleman's point. In fairness to the hon. Member for West Bromwich, West (Mr. Bailey), it is, of course, right that the Muslim community wants to see terrorists brought to justice and removed from the communities in which they may be living. Anybody who applies their mind to the statistic that I have read out895 arrests and 23 chargeswill see that the justice and policing systems are perfectly fallible in a human way, which is inevitable. If we are sending out a message that, far from picking up terrorists, we are picking up and releasing young men who turn out to be uninvolved and that no proof can be shown against them, people will get irritated, alienated, angry and upsetthe very recruiting grounds from which some of our problems of terrorism currently come.
Susan Kramer (Richmond Park) (LD): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that many members of the Muslim communitythere is only one mosque in my constituencyhave given up writing to Labour Members, who they know will not defend them on a fundamental civil rights principle, and are addressing their complaints and issues to Opposition Members?
Mr. Quentin Davies (Grantham and Stamford) (Con): Is there not a danger that if the police can hold a suspect for up to three months, they will feel that they have quite a lot of time and will not pursue the investigation with the urgency that they currently adopt? In some cases, an individual suspect will lose their liberty while time is wasted.
Mr. Grieve: As we know from personal experience, work expands to fill the time available, which must apply to the police. Allowing the police to hold a suspect for up to three months sends them the thoroughly undesirable message that they can be slow in their work.
As we said to the Home Secretary on Second Reading, I am mindful of the fact that problems may arise in a number of areas. Breaking encryption codes has been adduced as an example of something that may take longer than 14 days to achieve, but I am not sure
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about that point, because there is a separate offence of failing to provide an encryption key. Indeed, the Bill will make that offence punishable by five years' imprisonment in a terrorist case, which we support, and it will certainly enable a holding charge to be brought if somebody does not provide the encryption key to their computer.
I want to make it clear to the Home Secretary that I am mindful of the fact that further information sometimes needs to be obtained from abroad, which can take time. One of the problems is how suddenly we have moved from 14 days in which to do such work to 90 days, which is not a slight increase.
May I take it from that that 14 days would not be regarded as the limit in those circumstances? What limit does my hon. Friend regard as necessary to accommodate the serious points that have been made by the police, the security services and others?
Mr. Grieve: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for intervening on a point of very great importance. As drafted, the Bill simply takes the old rules and extends them, with one or two very minor adjustments, to three months. One of the grounds it gives for continuing detention beyond 14 days is the need to continue questioning a suspect. If one has not found out what one wants from a suspect in 14 days of questioning, I cannot think of a conceivable legitimate reason that, on its own, can be a ground for further detention.
Of course I accept that one might want to question the suspect if new evidence has been obtained or if some new matter is to be put to him, but to say that he can be detained beyond 14 days merely for questioning strikes me as a very unpleasant conceptyet that is what would result from our passing the clause as it stands. That is why I tabled an amendment that would still allow detentionone of the safeguards that I shall discuss in a momentbut would make it clear that one of the grounds for going to a judge and saying, "We want to keep him for more than 14 days", cannot be, "We just want to keep him so that we can ask him some more questions." There must be a reason for asking those questionsfor example, because fresh material has come to light.
Mr. Mark Hendrick (Preston) (Lab/Co-op): The hon. Gentleman knows that the purpose of detention is not just to question but, perhaps, to obtain evidence, or other purposes. He described it as a blank cheque, but it is not, as he well knowsthe proposal is for 90 days. How would he feel as a legislator if after 40, 50 or 60 days without any evidence being found somebody was released and killed dozens of people?
I have to accept that in this country today there are likely to be, for all I know, a large number of people who have committed undetected crime,
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including crime of very great seriousness. In some cases, the police may well have suspicions about such individuals, but that does not justify their arresting or charging them. The logical conclusion of the hon. Gentleman's argument is that detention without trial of those who are suspected of one misdemeanour or felony after another can be allowed.
Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that there is no logic in choosing 90 days that would not apply to 120 days, 360 days or permanent detention? Moreover, if the 850 people who were released after 14 days were unhappy about the inconvenience, they would be considerably more unhappy if they were in prison for 60 or 70 days, and would not the effect on community relations be very severe?
Mr. Grieve: I agree. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden asked the Government to give examples of cases where 14 days had been insufficient, the person had been released and evidence had come to light over the following few weeks that would have justified a charge. I believe that I am right in saying that he was given just one example. One has to query on what basis the Government wish to extend the powers, and the duration for which they wish to do so.
Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): I want to bring the hon. Gentleman back to his important point about encryption and section 53 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The Bill would increase the penalty from two years to five years for offences under a section that gives the police the power to charge someone who refuses to hand over the encryption key. However, after five years that section has still not been brought into force. The Government are withholding from the police a crucial tool in their fight against terrorism, and are now asking us to increase the penalty for that offence.
Mr. Grieve: The hon. Gentleman is right. I never cease to be amazed at the number of hours that I have spent in Committee labouring over various Bills only to discover either that bits of them were never implemented or that we were amending bits that had not yet been implemented. Indeed, on one occasion, we were repealing provisions that had not been implemented. Such is the astonishing volume of business transacted by the Government that appears to have little effect, despite the amount of effort and the hours spent by Members.
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