Mr. Grieve: That might well be possible, but my amendment would not prevent that from happening. It would allow further detention, and questioning, to take place, provided there were some reason for that questioning, rather than for the purpose of obtaining evidence solely through questioning. For example, if the police were to say that they would have the results of forensic tests coming from another country in four days' time, and that they wanted to put those results to the defendant, I would not have any problem with extending the detention accordingly. I do, however, have a problem with the suggestion that the purpose of the extended detention should be solely to continue to ask questions, when there is no basis for doing so. The Home Secretary might come up with a different formula, but we need to look at this provision.
Amendment No. 13 deals with the PACE codes. I think that the Home Secretary would agree that the codes, as they stand at present, are not designed to deal with people under long-term detention. We need a completely separate set of PACE codes to cover terrorist cases in which detention is to last more than seven days. For example, the number of hours in a day for which a person can properly be questioned ought to be drastically reduced from the present amount. That would be as much in the interest of the police and those making the inquiry as of the defendant or suspect.
The process of questioning is not designed to break someone down. We are not dealing with Guantanamo-style interrogation hereat least, I hope
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we are not. I hope that the process is designed simply to enable someone to answer allegations that have been made against them. However, there is a long history of people confessing to things that they have not donenot necessarily as a result of police culpabilitybecause the environment of being held in a police station is, by its nature, oppressive. Those people might be suffering from personality problems, or whatever it might be that makes them susceptible to doing that. Nothing is better designed to create a miscarriage of justice than the coming together of those different circumstances.
So, we need new PACE codes. I cannot do anything to incorporate such codes into this Bill, because they have to be passed by the House by means of a statutory instrument. However, I am seeking an assurance from the Home Secretary that there will be new PACE codes, and that they will reflect the extended period of detention.
Mr. Hendrick : The hon. Gentleman's argument is based on the premise that the extra time is required solely for questioning, but if he looks at the Bill he will see that the further detention of a suspect may be deemed necessary
Mr. Grieve: If I might say so, if I had intended to interfere with the right to detain somebody for other reasons, I would have spelt it out in my amendment. I have not done so, precisely because I accept that there may be reasons, in those circumstances, for detention being justified.
The other part of amendment No. 17 deals with the fact that I believe that the PACE codes could do with being reviewed in terms of the questioning that can take place of an individual after charge. Historically, there have been good reasons for not allowing questioning after charge, except in exceptional circumstances, but if that needs attention perhaps the Committee should consider providing it.
Rob Marris (Wolverhampton, South-West) (Lab): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who is being extremely generous in giving way. It is clear from previous amendments, particularly amendments Nos. 12 and 13, and from what he has said today that going beyond 14 days is not a point of principle for him and that he would contemplate it. However, does he agree that 28 days, which he says is perhaps at the edge of what might be allowed under European conventions, might be a suitable compromise and much better than his proposed new subsection (7) in amendment No. 17, which represents changing the principle as opposed to the number of days involved, whether 14, 28 or 90that is, questioning after charge? I would find that much more undesirable, and I thought he would as well.
I am not sure that it would be a huge change in principle, because if the hon. Gentleman looks at paragraph 16.5 of PACE code C he will see that
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questioning after charge is already possible. My understanding from the police is that it is being used increasingly frequently, and in my view perfectly fairly. However, there are issues, one of which is whether an adverse inference should be drawn from silence to further questions after charge.
I say to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) that my view is that if there is a satisfactory judicial safeguard of being able to apply to a court for permission to question again, giving valid reasons for itprovided that is done in the presence of a solicitor and within all the other safeguardsI do not see why some questioning should not take place after charge. If there was silence, an adverse inference could be drawn from it.
I do not believe that that would be such a departure from principle as the hon. Gentleman fears. In practice, this is an incremental change, and there is an argument that the protection, while important, may be quite archaic in relation to how it was introduced. While I do not want it to disappear entirely, if there is a choice between charging somebody with, for instance, a lesser offence and wishing to revisit the circumstances while he is detained, probably in custody pending trial, I am much more comfortable with that than keeping somebody for 90 days without charge. We ought to consider that.
We can also consider who reviews the process. My view is that it should be done by a senior circuit judgeLord Carlile shares my viewand there should be a right of appeal to the High Court. Currently, a circuit judge may undertake the review, but that can also be done by a district judge. The supervision of that process ought to be taken to a higher level.
Dan Norris (Wansdyke) (Lab): I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Does not Lord Carlile also say that he has no problem with 90-day pre-charge detention; he is just concerned about the safeguards that are in place? The hon. Gentleman is prepared to cite Lord Carlile in one example; why is he not prepared to do so in that important example?
Mr. Grieve: I have no reason to doubt Lord Carlile's sincerity in presenting his proposals. He says a great deal on this. If the Home Secretary provided all the safeguards that I want, that would be a constructive step in deciding whether 14 days could be extended. The ball is very much in the Government's court. We have a problem because it seems that the safeguards are not being provided and a huge extension is being sought. I do not regard that as satisfactory.
Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere) (Con): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. Has he not made an important point on Lord Carlile's proposals, because what Lord Carlile says is based on the assumption that all the proper safeguards are in place? As the Bill stands, we cannot say that the safeguards he contemplates are in place.
No, they are not. The Home Secretary asked for a real effort to be made to try to achieve
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consensus. That requires listening in Committee, as there is no other point at which we can make representations, and coming back expeditiously with ideas. Otherwise, we are left with the impression that this is a one-way system in which we are asked to make the concessions and the Government give us nothing in return. As I said to the Home Secretary, the Bill must be in proper condition when it leaves this House, not at some mythical point in the future.
New clause 1, tabled by Government Back Benchers, to which I have readily added my signature to those of my hon. Friends, provides a mechanism for a sunset clause on the extended powers, which will be renewable by statutory instrument. In the past, that is how we have dealt with extraordinary terrorist powers, and I very much hope that that is how we deal with such powers in future. If we embark beyond 14 days, we are moving into uncharted waters, which causes many Members on both sides of the House a great deal of disquiet. I therefore hope that the Home Secretary will acknowledge that if the powers are introduced in any shape or form, it will be on the basis that there will be an annual debate in which Parliament can bring them to a halt if it is unhappy with their operation.