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John Bercow: I hugely appreciate the spirit in which the Home Secretary is addressing the issues raised by the   right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr.   Denham), my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) and others. I appreciate that the Home Secretary is looking at the nature and range of activities that need to be included in a definition. Notwithstanding the real difficulties, is he also considering the other side of the equation: the need to look at the environment in which people operate? If he wants to have an extraterritorial competence, it seems necessary to take account of the circumstances in which people are fighting.

Mr. Clarke: I agree. In fact, that was the central theme of my speech on Second Reading, when I sought to refer to the spread of democracy throughout the world over the past 30 years and the important changes in the environment of whole countries and even continents.

Helen Goodman: Following on from the previous point, not all hon. Members share the Home Secretary's very optimistic picture of the state of the world today. One way to deal with the different situations would be to   consider sympathetically amendment No. 61 in reconsidering the issue before Report.

Mr. Clarke: I will very much look at amendment No. 61 in the context of this discussion, but I have an element of optimism. Progress has been made over the past 30 years, and we should commit ourselves to trying to make progress in the future. That is the right way to go.

Before I sit down, I need to make one other point in relation to the previous conduct of the Committee. In   exchanges yesterday with the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) and others, I   suggested that I had received specific advice from the   Attorney-General that the Bill is compliant with the European convention on human rights. I should clarify that the clear legal advice that I received was on the Bill's   ECHR compliance, which enabled me to sign the   section 19 statement to which I referred, and did not come from the Attorney-General personally. Further, in making that statement, I inadvertently breached the long-standing convention over many Governments that the fact that the Law Officers have or have not advised on any matter and the content of their advice should not   be disclosed. For breaching that long-standing convention, I want to apologise to you, Mrs. Heal, and to the Committee.

Finally, I urge my hon. Friend to withdraw the amendment and hon. Members to support the Bill as arranged.

Mr. Cash : On a point of order, Mrs. Heal, I have put a question to the Solicitor-General, who is sitting on the Front Bench, and to the Attorney-General asking them to make a statement with regard to the point that the
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Home Secretary has just made. What is the status of that question? I have asked for a statement and for the opinion to be placed in the Library.

Peter Bottomley : Further to that point of order, Mrs. Heal. Is this an exception to the rule that, when a Minister refers to a document, it does not have to be placed in the Library?

The First Deputy Chairman: If the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) wishes to table those questions, it is entirely up to him to do so.

Mr. Cash: Further to that point of order, Mrs. Heal, I have done so: they are on the Order Paper today.

The First Deputy Chairman: If those questions have been tabled already, it is up to the Solicitor-General to reply to the hon. Gentleman.

In response to the question asked by the hon. Member for Worthing, West (Peter Bottomley), it is certainly not obligatory to do so.

Peter Bottomley: Further to that point of order, Mrs.   Heal, I am grateful to you for that—[Interruption.]

Mr. Kenneth Clarke: Is the Home Secretary giving way, or has he finished?

The First Deputy Chairman: Was that a point of order, Mr. Clarke?

Mr. Clarke: I was hoping that the Home Secretary would give way, having just referred to me; otherwise, I   am bidding for a 30 second speech.

The First Deputy Chairman: The Home Secretary has sat down and concluded his remarks.

Richard Burden: In view of the brevity of this debate, it would be inappropriate to vote on such a fundamental issue. I have heard what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has said.

Mr. Clarke: I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman could confirm that his understanding is the same as mine: we now no longer know what the Attorney-General's opinion is, despite the press speculation that he is deeply disturbed.

Richard Burden: My right hon. Friend has heard what has been said. I have heard his undertakings. They are   welcome. Many hon. Members' views will be determined by what he returns with next week. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

It being Six o'clock, The First Deputy Chairman, proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour, pursuant to Order [26 October].

Clause 20 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Clauses 25 to 27 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clauses 28 to 36 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clauses 37 and 38 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill (clauses 1 to 4, 23 and 24, 21, 22, 5 to 20, schedule   1, clauses 25 to 27, schedule 2, clauses 28 to 36, schedule 3, clauses 37 and 38, new clauses, new schedules, remaining proceedings), reported, with amendments; to lie upon the Table.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),


That the draft Immigration (Provision of Physical Data) (Amendment) Regulations 2005, which were laid before this House on 10th October, be approved.—[Joan Ryan.]

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9) (European Standing Committees),

Draft Budget of the European Communities for 2006

That this House takes note of the Unnumbered Explanatory Memorandum from HM Treasury dated 1st June 2005 relating to the Preliminary Draft General Budget of the European Communities for the financial year 2006, and the letter from the Economic Secretary dated 26th August relating to the Draft Budget of the European Communities for the financial year 2006; and supports the Government's efforts to maintain budget discipline in the Community.—[Joan Ryan.]

Question agreed to.

6.2 pm

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The House will be aware that today at Colchester the case against seven members of the Parachute Regiment who were charged with murder has collapsed at a cost of £10 million to the taxpayer, apparently. Scathing remarks were made by the judge about the unprofessional nature of the investigation that was conducted on British servicemen.

Given the concern that is felt throughout the armed forces and the damage to morale that such a number of prosecutions is causing, have you, Madam Deputy Speaker, received any request from the Secretary of State for Defence to come and brief the House today? If not, will you be prepared to call for him to make a statement to the House at the first opportunity on Monday—given that the House is not sitting tomorrow—bearing it in mind that all of us have in our constituencies the families of servicemen and women who are currently serving in the hostile environment of Iraq and elsewhere in the world? We in this House need to give real practical support to our troops to ensure that such accusations are not made against those who are fighting for our country in difficult circumstances, only for them to find that their judgment is second-guessed by civilians in London, after which the case collapses at
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substantial cost to the taxpayer. This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs, Madam Deputy Speaker, so I hope that you will guide me on how we might proceed.

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