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The hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) mentioned a gentleman who entered a mosque. I said that he had not been served with a control order. That was an error: he had been served with an order, but paragraph 26 of the Carlile report makes it clear that he had not breached it. Given that entrance to the mosque was permissible under the control order, there was no obvious reason for the police to pursue the matter.
The issue of control orders will not go away. Lord Carlile has expressed the hopewhich I sharethat the advances we made in the 2006 Act might obviate the need for more and more of them. I think everyone broadly agrees with what has been said about Acts preparatory and other legislation, but Members are wrong if they think there is some legalistic nirvana in which there will be no individuals who remain the gravest of threats to the public but against whom there is not sufficient admissible evidence for a prosecution. To say otherwise is not correct.
Patrick Mercer: Anybody who has dealt with intercept evidence in practice, as I have, knows that it is no magic wand. It mightit will, probablyassist, but it cannot be the be-all and end-all of producing evidence in these cases. I asked the Government to explain why there continues to be a delay in making it admissible in court.
Mr. McNulty: Simply putthe matter is incredibly complex, as I know the hon. Gentleman will understandthe reason is that there needs to be the appropriate legal framework within which that can happen. The Attorney-General and others are considering that and will report in due course.
Mr. Watson: My hon. Friend has said that aspects of the Prevention of Terrorism Act worry him, and that he has heard recommendations for revisions to the Act. Will he confirm that in 12 months, when we renew the powers, we will be dealing with a revised Act? Will he also answer in more detail the question that I put to the Liberal Democrat Front-Bench spokesman? What would be the effect on British security if the House rejected the renewal order today?
Mr. McNulty: On my hon. Friends initial point, which was also raised by the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris), who is a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I cannot give an absolute assurance that within a year we will be looking at revised legislation, rather than a renewal.
We spent the summer, not least because of activities over the summer, examining carefully not only the Government structures, but the legislative framework for dealing with terrorism. As hon. Members know, the report has been sent to the Prime Minister and there will be a response in due course. There may be an additional counter-terrorism Bill, as indicated in the Queens Speech, before the next renewal is due. I hope that the House would agree that consolidation would be foolish if we were about to introduce a subsequent Bill, given the timing of the Bill if it were introducedI emphasise the word if. If there were further changes
to our terrorism legislation, that would move consolidation down the line a little, which means that I cannot guarantee that the annual review will not be on renewal, rather than otherwise.
Patrick Mercer: The point about intercept is similar to the excellent point from the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Watson). The Minister and I have been talking about intercept for at least two years. I fully understand the complexities, the sensitivities and the delicacies of the issue. Will he give me some assurance that we will not be having this same debate next year and that he will not be giving the same excuses?
Mr. McNulty: I fervently hope so. I want to move to a stage where we can determine, one way or the other, whether the legal framework, the technology and so on are in place to allay the fears of many about intercept evidence. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks because others far mightier and more expert than me will determine those matters, but I fervently hope so. I agree that getting to a stage where there is a definitive collective view in the body politic about intercept evidence is a goal that we all want to achieve. I accept that.
On the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), we have an elaborate preventive strategy that tries to engage communities, work in all the areas that she suggests to counter radicalisation, and work with those who have been radicalised and are trying to come back from that. On her other point, as far as I am aware, and in the light of all the inspiration that I have had since, the two original and lengthiest control orders do not relate to individuals who are subject to any criminal proceedings for breach. These matters are kept under constant review, but I understand and will consider her point about time and its impact on individuals.
The hon. Member for Newark asked about the control order review group, which has met quarterly since May 2006 and reviews each case. I will explore further whether that is sufficient and whether the review should cover welfare and other aspects identified by my hon. Friend the Member for Slough. Part of the review process deals with exit strategies for individuals coming off control orders and cases where there are not sufficient reasons for a control order to remain in forcea matter to which I have alluded, but which I may not have covered sufficiently.
Mr. Cash: I hope my comments will not make the Ministers cough worse. I hope he will accept that I am not against controlling alleged terroristsquite the opposite. My concern and my reason for voting against the order is that control orders will not achieve the objectives that he sets. There are intrinsic contradictions within them between human rights, which should be safeguarded by Westminster, not the Human Rights Act, and public protection, which is the first duty of any Government.
I end by responding to the four points from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam. Whatever ones position, it is not right to suggest or imply that control orders, as he said, remove the pressure on the police to prosecute, rather like Lord Carliles remark in passingno morethat control orders are used as a feeble excuse by those who cannot be bothered to undertake a full prosecution or, in his colourful terms, as a prophylactic. I do not think that that is fair on the police. It is entirely unreasonable.
The notion of a threshold test has been thrashed around. We are confident that the present test for prosecution or control orders is about right. Clearly, it will always need to be reviewed. The hon. Gentleman knows that the threshold is far higher for derogation orders. We think that that is about right, but it is not necessarily a panacea.
We have told the Joint Committee on Human Rights, among others, that we will seriously consider the issue of post-charge detention. That was alluded to in previous debates as well. I can assure the House that we will do so. If we think there is some merit in that, we may introduce such proposals in a Bill, if there is a Bill between now and the next chance for renewal.
As I said, a substantive debate is needed on intercept evidence, and that will take place. The hon. Gentleman is right that we should reach a conclusion sooner rather than later, but in an informed fashion. He is right to suggest that the legislative basis exists for dealing with supergrasses and people in lower positions involved in conspiracies against those higher up. So in at least two of the four aspects that he identified, provisions are in place, although I admit that they should perhaps be utilised more by the authorities
That the draft Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (Continuance in force of sections 1 to 9) Order 2007, which was laid before this House on 1st February, be approved.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Caroline Flint): It is a mark of the progress that this Government have made in safeguarding the nations health that possibly for the first time, public health has the opportunity to take its rightful place as one of the cornerstones of our health policy, moving the national health service towards being a prevention as well as treatment service. The programme of investment and health reform has transformed the NHS from a crisis service to one that is on the point of being able to deliver the health and well-being of every citizen, treating people as individuals, rather than as numbers on a waiting list. Clearly, in 2007 our NHS is more local than ever before. The service has been devolved. It is more transparent in its financial dealings, and its public health initiatives draw in partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors.
This Government established public health as one of the six key objectives in the NHS plan. In the past few years we have published a groundbreaking public health White Paper Choosing Health: Making health choices easier, completed 116 of the 210 commitments set out in it, and mapped the need and extent of the public health challenge in Health Challenge Englandnext steps for Choosing Health. In doing so, we have equipped those at the most local level to understand better the complex needs of their communities and neighbourhoods so that they can provide the best possible health service. In the face of the advice from the Conservative party not to legislate at all, this Government introduced comprehensive legislation for workplaces and enclosed public places to become smoke free by 1 July 2007more extensive smoke-free provisions than any other country.
More than 100 years ago, enlightened reformers like John Snow did not look at the fashions of the affluent minority, with their love of spas, gyms and country retreats to convalesce after illness. Instead, Snow examined the conditions of the majoritythe slums, the open sewers, the poor air and the dusty factories. He saw the connection between a lack of clean water and the spread of cholera. The modern sewerage systems and the fresh water that resulted from them were instrumental in reducing the impact of communicable diseases. After world war two, the mass vaccination programmes all but eliminated diseases such as polio. Today, our vaccination programmes are more far-reaching than ever and public information is more extensive than ever. However, although those are good things, they are insufficient. Life in the 21st century demands new approaches to public health. I hope that that will inform our debate.
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