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Mr. Grieve: I listened carefully to the hon. Lady's point about academics. Does she agree that it must be possible to devise a provision that gives adequate protection for those in teaching who distribute such literature, rather than leaving them with no protection in law?
Mary Creagh: We shall have to wait to see what comes back from the other place. I am disappointed that such a provision was not drafted in this place, but I realise that people may have had other things on their minds.
I share the interest of my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. Anderson) in the transformation of the Conservative party from a party that brought in the Riot Act, and used the law to hamper civil liberties, to a party of defenders of civil rights. I have listened carefully to debates on the measure over recent weeks, especially during the last few days. I am a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and I want to return to the pre-eminent right, which must be protected above all rights: article 2 of the European convention on human rights states:
It places an absolute duty on the state to protect life, but yesterday I heard nothing about that from the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis); yet from that right, all other rights flow. Article 5 states that everyone has the right to liberty and security of the person, but there are exceptions. To protect the 61 million people who live on these islands, we must ensure that the rights are balanced.
On 7 July, 52 people were deprived of their fundamental right to life. Hundreds more suffered the agony and anxiety of losing limbs when they were caught up in the evil work of the bombers. More people were spared from losing their lives on 21 July. About a week later, the House was locked down. When I asked a police officer what was going on, he said that there was credible intelligence that a suicide bomber was in the Westminster area and on his way to this place. I have to say that I did not notice a rush of people running towards the locked doors. When people were being brought in from the Terrace, they were not happy about what was going on. We must remember such moments, because they define us as a civilised country. Is that how we want to be defined? I do not want to be defined by my response on that day. We are guilty of forgetting too easily what happened to us in July and the horrific consequences if that were ever to happen again.
The right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) is no longer in the Chamber. I am sorry that he cannot hear me say that I agree with him: terrorism is not new. I grew up in Coventry in the 1970s and 1980s. My parents were Irishmy mother from the north, my father from the south. We were part of a Catholic community. Our parish priest was imprisoned
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for making bombs. It is uncomfortable to be part of a community under suspicion. Fights broke out on the assembly line at British Leyland in Birmingham when people argued about the issues. Irish people were accused of being terrorists simply because of their accent. Unfortunately, in those days, people were accused and locked up because the police judged them simply on the basis of their accents. That is simply not the case now. I am glad to say that policing has moved on in the past 20 years, and we must move forward and deal with new times, new terrorism, new techniques and find new strategies to deal with the new threats that we face.
I voted yesterday for 90 days. I serve on the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and I have listened for an hour to Peter Clarke, who is the assistant commissioner for terrorism at Scotland Yard. I recommend the evidence that he gave to our Committee to the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) because it is illuminating. He says that one constant difficulty relates to the fact that hon. Members have been asking, "What is the one reason for 90 days?" We asked the police that, and the problem is that no one thing points to 90 days. The problem is complicated and difficult. There are many different strands and a tiny number of cases, which are currently sub judice, that could help the police in guiding us to a better conclusion.
I sometimes feel that we have forgotten the nature and scale of what we are dealing with. I feel that there is a Pollyanna optimism that everything will turn out well, or a sort of defeatism that says that we have had terrorism before and we will have it in the future. I do not want to go back to Wakefield and tell people that I did not do my best to stop terrorism. I am an optimist, too. I believe in the potential of human beings, but in dealing with terrorists, we should hope for the best but plan for the worst. I passionately hope that, when we hold a debate under the review clause in a year's time, we will not regret the results of yesterday's vote.
Stewart Hosie (Dundee, East) (SNP): The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) was right when he said that we should be united in the fight against terrorism. I agree wholeheartedly with that. I have listened to many of the contributions throughout the process and I am convinced by the sincerity of every person in his or her own way in wanting to challenge this difficult problem. It is telling that the Democratic Unionist, Liberal and Conservative spokesmen have suggested that, if the motion is pushed to a vote, they will either back the Government or abstain. We in the Scottish National party would support the Government on Third Reading in the unlikely event of a vote this evening.
There is much to commend the Bill, particularly in its amended form. The provisions on acts preparatory to terrorism are helpful and those on attendance at a
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training facility are necessary, notwithstanding the possible lack of a defence in certain highly unusual but possible circumstances. The adherence to the international conventions is also very useful. I welcome the confirmation that we were given in previous debates that trespass at atomic facilities will be dealt with under serious crime legislation and that such charges would not necessarily involve terrorist offences, unless there was terrorist intent. That was a useful assurance to tease out of the Government.
I welcome the Home Secretary's comments yesterday that he would agree to consider post-charge questioning, although from everything that we have heard from the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) and other Members, that issue seems less difficult than many of us imagined. I welcome the sunset clause and the review, although I hope that the Minister will take on board the view that any amendment in another place should be very much in line with the sunset clause that the House voted for yesterday.
As I said yesterday, I welcome the changes in the provisions on intent and recklessness, notwithstanding the possible wrong definition. I hope that the Government will take that on board. If the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) is right, it would be ludicrous to throw out the amendment to the recklessness test. I welcome the tightening to ensure that encouragement must be addressed to individuals and that it must be shown that they have gained benefit from it. I have also said that previously.
I am very pleased indeed about the confirmation that we appeared to receive that those subject to extended pre-charge detention of between 14 and 28 days will be entitled to legal representation and, presumably, at least some indication of the likely charge that they may face. That seems to be a huge safeguard in the extended pre-charge detention period, and I very much welcome that.
Of course, we had the heat, froth and fallout in the newspapers about the pre-charge detention period. I hope that the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety will respond positively to this point. Many people wanted a period of 14 days on a point of principle, but were prepared to move to 28 days. Hon. Members on these Benches chose the provision for 28 days on a point of principle because it doubled the length of time allowed, which we thought was adequate. I hope that she will realise that there was a rationale for choosing 28 days. We believed that that time period did not breach the right against arbitrary detention. We also thought that evidence obtained prior to the end of the 28-day period would be admissible in a court of law, but that evidence garnered thereafter might not be. Given the Home Secretary's absence, I hope that the Minister will be more generous than he was earlier by accepting that those of us who chose 28 days on a point of principle did so for good reasons, not for some of the nefarious reasons that he perhaps tetchily mentioned earlier.
When the Bill returns to the House after amendment elsewhere, may I suggest that serious consideration is given to allowing provisions on phone tap evidence to be included, notwithstanding some of the difficulties that that might cause the Government? It is not legislation itself, nor even the unity of purpose of the Commons, that will defeat terrorism, but additional resources for
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the intelligence community, as we have consistently said. Although it is slightly off the remit of the Bill, I hope that the Minister will turn her attention to that in her reply.
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