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21 Feb 2008 : Column 580

Why have we not thought of making it very clear that we can use post-charge questioning? My hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) has advised me that the powers already exist. Those powers, along with the use of intercept evidence, might mean that one or two of the individuals currently under the thoroughly unsatisfactory, inhuman and liberty-taking measure of control orders could either be prosecuted or released. In any event, they could be brought to court and put in front of a jury.

Similarly, why have we heard so little about plea bargaining? A number of eloquent speeches have been made about the use of that measure yet it is one of those things that is seldom talked about, even though we can see how it is used by the American judiciary. Will the Minister give us some of his words of wisdom about those three measures, which could probably take people off control orders?

Exactly like last year, the Minister said that control orders were an “important tool”. I think I quote exactly his words of last year, and certainly of this year. If the orders are an important tool, why are they so inefficient? Why do they not produce the results we want? Why are individuals allowed to abscond? Why have the orders been compared to antisocial behaviour orders? As we have heard, we are talking about dangerous terrorists, in many cases bent on mass destruction. We must not conflate a measure that we might use against a young hooligan on the streets of Newark with measures against people who are hellbent on creating mass destruction and killing hundreds, if not thousands, of our fellow citizens.

Lastly, because although the subject is important others must speak, will the Minister talk—if he can—about a programme for rehabilitation of individuals who are either in prison already or subject to control orders? Singapore, Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines all have a well developed rehabilitation programme for individuals under close supervision. As we have heard many times this afternoon, such individuals are of no further use to terrorist organisations so what are we doing to bring them on-side? What are we doing to suck dry their expertise on their previous thoughts and how they were suborned? How can we use them against the very people who turned their minds? I appreciate that the Minister might not want to go into detail about that, but I would none the less like to hear from him this year—he avoided the issue last year—about what we are doing in that respect.

The control orders are thoroughly unsatisfactory. We are going to have a huge debate and confrontation over the amount of time for which we can hold terrorists without charge, be it 28, 42 or 90 days. In my view—I am probably one of the few people in the Chamber who would say this—28 days is far too long, but we are where we are, and I accept the fact that we have decided on it. However, I hope that that debate and the Counter-Terrorism Bill will provide the opportunity to get the wicked, inefficient and incompetent series of measures known as control orders off the statute book.

Mr. Winnick: We have deliberated on the matter in the Select Committee on Home Affairs. Do I take it from what the hon. Gentleman said that he will not vote for an extension beyond 28 days?

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Patrick Mercer: The hon. Gentleman understands it completely rightly. My personal view, as I will iterate, is that 28 days are far too many. We are where we are, but I will not vote for an extension beyond 28 days. I would like the Bill to involve a thorough review of the control order regime. On that basis, in line with the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield and despite what I said this time last year, I will not oppose the Government.

3.6 pm

Mr. Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth, East) (Con): I apologise to the hon. Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn). He speaks passionately about these issues, and I think that my frustration is shared throughout the House that one and a half hours is not enough time to debate them. The Minister has acknowledged that, and I appreciate his suggestion—I hope that the Government Whip, the hon. Member for Workington (Tony Cunningham), is listening—that we might have an opportunity to discuss the wider picture and the impact that the order will have as one part of the jigsaw of tackling terrorism in the United Kingdom.

The Minister also said that prosecution was the Government’s first, second and third priority. Leading on from what my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) said about rehabilitation, I just came back from Saudi Arabia, where 300 to 400 detainees are being put through a rehabilitation programme, with huge success. When the Minister sums up, will he comment on that? Perhaps we are not doing enough to get into the mindset of such individuals and prevent home-grown British Muslims from putting on the suicide jacket. I was shocked to hear that Guantanamo Bay has no such programme, and goodness knows how long the people there have been held. The Saudi programme was incredible. It brought in imams and people familiar with lecturing and teaching not only in Saudi Arabia but throughout the middle east to make the terrorists understand that their version and understanding of the Koran were simply out of context and wrong.

Jeremy Corbyn: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks a moment ago. Does he not accept that one of the problems with his concept of rehabilitation, to take up the point made by the hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer), is that the people whom we are discussing have not been convicted of anything? They have therefore not been found guilty. What are they being rehabilitated from if they have not been through a legal process?

Mr. Ellwood: The hon. Gentleman makes his point. I do not want to take away from the suggestion that a rehabilitation programme needs to be considered; where it will fit into the procedure is a matter for further debate.

As a result of the shortness of this debate, we have not had the opportunity to discuss exactly what the threat is. The Minister mentioned that there were 2,000 or so detainees. Interestingly, the US national security adviser, Secretary Chertoff, made it clear a month ago that the threat to the US now comes from Europe and the United Kingdom. That warrants a debate in the
21 Feb 2008 : Column 582
House. We have touched on the issue of mosques and the role that they play in the United Kingdom. It is important to stress that the 1.5 million people in the UK who go to its 1,300 mosques are law-abiding and peace-loving people, but there are individuals who choose to use the Koran and the words of Islam in their own way. They are the ones whom we need to seek out, in order to understand what they are doing. The community is diverse and there is no leader—no papal figure—who speaks for everyone. Because we have such a free and open society, it allows terrorist groups to operate in the United Kingdom in a way that we have not seen before and we are suffering the consequences. There is now a well trodden path between Britain and the mountains of Pakistan, where they complete their training, before coming back to this country.

We have had no discussion of that. We have gone straight into the detail, without understanding why home-grown Muslims decide to don the jacket and blow themselves up, along with British citizens. Richard Wright, the shoe bomber, was British. Mohammad Sidique Khan—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we are speaking about the renewal of an order. Perhaps he could direct his remaining remarks to that.

Mr. Ellwood: I am grateful for your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I asked the Minister about the guidelines given to the police when dealing with extremist literature if it is discovered in UK mosques. He said that powers are given to the police, and that the police issue guidelines to their officers that say that they are not allowed to go into mosques and remove any literature or artefacts. If that is the case, how can we understand what is happening in our mosques?

Another illustration of whether the order is working is the hesitancy with which we dealt with the demonstrations that took place outside the Danish embassy. It took months for any arrests to be made. That suggests that the measure is not working as it should. [Interruption.] The Minister says that there were prosecutions. No arrests were made on the day.

I conclude by saying that today’s debate is inadequate for the scale of the subject that we are considering—the threat, the sums of money being spent, and the impact on our daily lives. We need to understand the bigger picture and focus on why a British-born Muslim is radicalised to the point of wearing a suicide jacket with the aim of killing British citizens.

3.11 pm

Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon) (LD): I have only a few minutes to set out the reasons why my hon. Friends and I will be voting against the renewal order today.

There are three broad reasons for our decision. First, as my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) said from the Front Bench, fundamental problems with control orders have not been addressed, which is why there were grave difficulties in getting the House, and certainly those on the Liberal Democrat Benches, to agree to them in the
21 Feb 2008 : Column 583
first place. Secondly, there is the problem of inadequate parliamentary scrutiny. The third reason is the points made in successive reports from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which were eloquently summarised by the hon. Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore).

Parliamentary scrutiny is rubbish when it comes to control order renewal—I think that the Minister was on his way to accepting that. There should be more than a one and a half hour debate so that we do not have to rush the points that we wish to make, although I agree that they should be narrowly on the question of control orders and parliamentary scrutiny.

The report of the independent reviewer, upon which so much reassurance was staked by the Government in the original legislation, is available several weeks ahead of a decision that the House takes so that it can be considered by Members, and so that Select Committees—not just the Joint Committee on Human Rights, on which I serve—can consider it, take evidence if necessary and issue a report.

The detailed report from the Joint Committee was produced in rapid order and was published only yesterday. That does not allow enough time for many people to consider it, not least the Minister. There must be a way of ensuring that that report is made available in good time, whoever has responsibility—I accept what the Minister said in respect of this occasion—or at least ensuring that the debate is held a few days later, nearer the deadline. That request was raised previously.

The Joint Committee proposed many amendments to the control order regime. One was in respect of due process and a fair trial. It is not satisfactory for the Government to rely on the House of Lords judgment, reading words into it and making a circular argument—it is bound to be a fair trial because it will be a fair trial. Given the controversy about the detail and the framework of control orders, it is incumbent on Parliament to make clear the requirements for a fair trial, not just in terms of releasing the gist of the case against the controlee, but with respect to other matters. It is not satisfactory for the Government to rely, as they do, on scraping through on majority decisions, reading in words in the House of Lords. They may or may not come to grief in Strasbourg, but it is not satisfactory. That is one of the reasons why my hon. Friends and I will be voting against renewal today.

3.15 pm

Mr. McNulty: As I tried to say at the start of my contribution, I broadly agree that we should have the time to debate in greater depth the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the annual reviewer’s reports—and not necessarily just in respect of the narrow point of the renewal of the order. I am happy to take the matter back to the relevant authorities. I am not entirely sure whether it would be appropriate as part of the narrow focus on renewal, but a broader, in-depth discussion of both reports, on the issue of control orders and perhaps more broadly, would be welcome.

Patrick Mercer: Will the Minister iterate his desire for us to have a wider-ranging debate on Government counter-terrorism strategy?

Mr. McNulty: Yes, I will—as I also said earlier. However, that would be a separate debate; the business managers will love me. Three years on, there has not
21 Feb 2008 : Column 584
been an in-depth debate about the pros and cons of control orders. To be fair, the renewal of the order on our narrow parliamentary basis, defined by our rules for the hour and a half, will never be that satisfactory, so such a debate would also be appropriate.

I would still welcome a broader debate on counter-terrorism strategy and a debate, here or elsewhere, on prevention—a key aspect that relates in part to the points made by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Ellwood). His points were probably inappropriate for today, but no matter; some, although not all, of them—I have no time to discuss which—were entirely valid.

Tom Brake: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. McNulty: I will, but only if the hon. Gentleman promises not simply to reiterate last year’s speech, which is all he did today.

Tom Brake: I thank the Minister for giving way; I shall not be reiterating last year’s speech. He says that he will facilitate the debate that he thinks we should have. Will he also facilitate an opportunity during that debate for a vote on whether two years is the appropriate cut-off point for control orders?

Mr. McNulty: No, I will not; the hon. Gentleman is being rather silly. He asks me to make up policy on the hoof. I cannot facilitate debates; I have said that I shall urge the relevant authorities to afford us those debates on the Floor of the House. I have said that although I take the point that indefinite control orders are certainly inappropriate and probably counter-productive, somewhere around two or three years is the norm.

However, the hon. Gentleman asserts—with confidence, of course, as Liberal Democrats do—that there is absolutely no need for a control order beyond two years. It is not his fault, but he has no idea of the security threat, the risk or the assessment made by professional police officers, the Security Service and the judiciary about the length of a control order in respect of the caveats and conditions put on it. He blithely says that two years is about enough—and, by the way, makes no allowance for exceptions. At least Lord Carlile and the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) had the grace to say that there would be exceptions.

Intuitively and naturally, somewhere around two or three years is the norm. As a matter of policy, unlimited, indefinite control orders are probably not appropriate. As I said this time last year, I hope that with all the other things that we are doing, we are moving towards even further diminution in terms of the number of control orders used.

The hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) was churlish to say that there has been no progress on intercept as evidence. Given that people far greater than I have been looking at this thing for about 20 years, there has been enormous progress in the past year. We are not simply setting up another review but setting up a cross-party implementation process to go through all the hoops that Chilcot talks about, none of which is straightforward, to see whether we can make further progress.

The same applies to post-charge questioning. As the hon. Member for Beaconsfield will attest, there are already very limited circumstances under the Police
21 Feb 2008 : Column 585
and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 where there is scope for post-charge questioning. What we are trying to do in the Counter-Terrorism Bill goes way beyond that. I say again, not blithely, that there must be safeguards in that regard too, and a full look at the law; none the less we have moved in that direction. I hope that, with what we are doing in terms of incitement—the hon. Member for Beaconsfield also referred to that—and other subsequent offences such as acts preparatory, on which people have been convicted, this will all add up to less and less scope for the utilisation of control orders, which everyone in the Chamber agrees are not the most satisfactory mechanism.

Sir John Chilcot, among others, said that intercept as evidence does not obviate the need for control orders. Our contention is that even with, we hope, a diminishing number of such orders, there will still be a narrowly defined grey area where there is sufficient information but not sufficient evidence on individuals to warrant the sort of control—

It being one and half hours after the commencement of proceedings, Madam Deputy Speaker put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No.16(1) (Proceedings under an Act or on European Union documents).

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 267, Noes 60.
Division No. 090]
[3.21 pm


Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive

Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey

Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Snelgrove, Anne
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Vaz, rh Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watson, Mr. Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Dave Watts and
Mr. Frank Roy

Alexander, Danny
Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Cash, Mr. William
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Corbyn, Jeremy
Davey, Mr. Edward
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr. Don
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Harris, Dr. Evan
Hemming, John
Hoey, Kate
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Jones, Lynne
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kramer, Susan
Laws, Mr. David
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Price, Adam
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Robertson, Angus
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Short, rh Clare
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Sir Robert Smith and
Mr. Adrian Sanders
Question accordingly agreed to.
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