Mr. Dismore: My hon. Friend is right. Some of the examples that were given earlier make that clear. Victims gave tough responses, even including the death of the assailant. In all the cases to which I referred the victim was either not prosecuted or was cleared.
My hon. Friend the Member for Tooting has been waiting with bated breath for some time for my views on the Human Rights Act 1998. I will indulge him, although I had hoped to deal with the matter in a more structured way later in my speech. I speak in this context as the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, although I was not the Chairman when the Committee produced its two reports on this subject.
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Our starting point when considering this serious matter must be part I of schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act. One of the rights and freedoms under the convention is article 2, which is titled "Right to life". There would be a possible cross-reference to article 8 and the UN convention on the rights of the child if the alleged criminal were a child. I will not go down the route of the UN convention because we have insufficient time, but that convention would cause the promoter of the Bill additional problems.
If the Bill were a Government Bill, the Minister would have had to certify that it was human rights compliant. As it is a private Member's Bill, however, it does not have to go through that process. I would be surprised if the hon. Member for Vale of York had made any effort to check the position of the Bill under the legislation. If the Bill were found not to be compliant with the Human Rights Act or the European convention on human rights, our courts could certify that the Bill was incompatible. If that happened, we would simply end up back here having the debate all over again. We would turn the law back to where we started because that would be required of us under the 1998 Act.
Mr. Khan: Bearing in mind what my hon. Friend says and the fact that the mischief that Opposition Members are trying to prevent is clarity, how would a court interpret a Bill that was incompatible with the Human Rights Act?
Mr. Dismore: A judge could merely issue a certificate of incompatibility. We would be back here straight away and we would have to debate a new Bill to put the law back to where we started. However, that gives rise to the question of whether the Bill would be incompatible, so perhaps I can address that matter now as we are running a little short of time.
"Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law."
Mr. Flello: Does my hon. Friend agree that the reasonable force defence in existing law gives the victims of crime the right to enjoy their property and live their lives without the need for this nonsense vigilante Bill?
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has examined the matter on two occasions, first in the context of the Criminal Justice (Justifiable Conduct) Bill, which the hon. Member for North Thanet introduced in 2004. The Committee reached the firm conclusion that the Bill would not be compliant with our obligations under human rights law.
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Mr. Khan: My hon. Friend might have read press reports about the wish of some members of Her Majesty's official Opposition to withdraw from the convention, which would obviously allow them to pass the Bill. Is he aware of the implications of withdrawal from the convention for the status of a member of the Council of Europe?
Mr. Dismore: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. As I was saying, unless there were a permitted derogation, a Government or country who wished to withdraw from those provisions would either have to leave the Council of Europe, or be thrown out of it.
"This Bill would remove the deterrent effect of the criminal law in relation to murder, manslaughter and assault, amongst other offences . . . In removing the deterrent of the criminal law in this way, the Bill would in our view breach positive obligations to protect Convention rights to life and physical integrity. We consider that the Bill would be unlikely to be capable of interpretation"
Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I would like to thank the Speaker for granting me the opportunity to hold a debate on an issue of immense importance to my constituency. I am also grateful to the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills, the hon. Member for Corby (Phil Hope), who will respond to the debate. I am pleased that half of the Members who represent Northamptonshire are in the Chamber, as well as my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski), who is concerned about the issue.
Secondary school provision in Wellingborough has been a huge concern for many years, as I will explain. I am grateful to all the teachers in my constituency, who do a tremendous job in circumstances that are not always ideal. I give them my praise and thanks for the superb job that they do. I should also like to place on the record my praise for the pupils and students who attend Wellingborough schools. They, too, face difficult conditions but, together with the help of their teachers, they work extremely hard to achieve their individual goals.
The problem with secondary school provision in Wellingborough has been apparent for many years, ever since the closure and demolition of a local secondary school in 2001. The John Lea secondary school was closed in 1998 by the Labour-run county council, which thought that there were enough secondary school places in Wellingborough for local children. How wrong it was. John Lea secondary school was a modern school with good buildings and facilities. At the time, there was widespread fear that the closure of the school would leave the remaining schools in Wellingborough oversubscribed, and would leave some children without any education at all. Despite that fear, the school was demolished in 2001 to make way for new homes for new families. Those families, of course, had children who required secondary school education.
Let us be honest: the closure and demolition of John Lea was meant to make money, yet that money has never gone back into secondary education in Wellingborough. I was not living in Wellingborough when John Lea was closedI moved there shortly afterwards. However, I was living there when the decision was made to demolish the school. Along with many others, I fought to save the school with my "Listening to Wellingborough" campaign. I founded that campaign because I felt that too many politicians of all parties had become arrogant and out of touch. They were more than happy to preach to people, but were not prepared to listen. My "Listening to Wellingborough" campaign aims to seek the views of local people, groups and organisations and to campaign on their behalf for change.