No, I will not. I have barely 15 minutes to respond to about 20 hon. Members. The hon. Gentleman was another who decided not to walk
the righteous path of proper debate in this House and spoke trivial political nonsense, of which we will hear more on subsequent occasions.
Mr. Baron: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister has directly referred to comments made by me and my hon. Friend. The convention of the House is that the Minister should allow us to intervene on him.
Before I come to what, given the tenor of the debate, is fully accepted by all as the most serious matterpre-charge detentionlet me dwell on some of the other issues. As other hon. Members, not least my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood (Mrs. Humble), have suggested, the inquest and inquiry clauses are worthy of greater scrutiny. I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) will take the issue seriously in Committee because I have some sympathy with the thrust of what he suggested. The issue needs to be explored.
Other contributors have, variously, either invoked post-charge questioning as the panacea or silver bulletit most certainly is notor had concerns about the very architecture around which post-charge questioning will happen. At the moment, the inference from the clauses is that PACE codes will secure the oversight. However, I say again that we want to get it right, so let us explore the issue further in Committee. I have some sympathy with the worries and concerns that oversight should not simply be an elongation of the rarely used principles of post-charge questioning already in the PACE codes.
On the most serious matter, I think that, as others have suggested, the Bill needs to be seen in context. If the House were saying collectivelyand the Government certainly are notthat only by legislation would we win the struggle against those who seek to murder and maim us through terrorism, it would be wrong. Everyone in the House accepts that. I do not accept for one moment the premise of those who suggest, in glib fashion, that somehow the prevention end, our engagement with communities and all the other aspects of that side of things have failed. Are such Government activities in far stronger and better shape now, two years on from when last we deliberated on these matters? Absolutely, and rightly so. There are also significantly more resources for the security services and the police to tackle those issues and more resources for local governments and communities to work together. Can and should more be done? Absolutely. However, this Bill needs to be seen in the broader context of, as someone described it, the battle of hearts and mindsthe ideological struggle. This measure is only a part of that.
I do accept the thrust of many of the contributions: that when even proposing such legislation, we need to be very careful about how it may impact on such communities and on the wider struggle of ideology. We have taken that into account. The House will understand that the impact assessment is brutally frank in stating the views of many in the Muslim community who have looked at many of those aspects. However, that is not a reason not to do this; it is a reason to do even more to engage with those communities and more on the prevention side so that the minority at which the Bill is aimednot Muslim communities, but terroristsis fully dealt with.
Mr. Cash: My point of order, Mr. Speaker, is to do with the fact that we are about to take further proceedings without debate. I simply wanted to ask you whether it was appropriate for the Minister to deny me the opportunity to ask whether we can have
I should say to my hon. Friend the Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) that whatever the circumstances of this legislation and whatever struggle we face now, the one struggle to which the issues are not comparable is Northern Ireland in the 70s. However, I take great care over this; I fully note what my hon. Friend said about that struggles impact on the Irish communitybecause I am part of that. I was part of it then, and I am part of it now. I rememberI have said this to Muslim audiences as wellfeeling ever so slightly troubled in 1974 when the Prevention of Terrorism Act came in. I remember my father going upstairs and checking my books to see which ones he should throw out just in case, because I was Irish and because of my interest in politics. I take my hon. Friends point very seriously, but say profoundly in the next breath: this is not in any way comparable with the failed experiment of internment in the early 70s, when people by the thousand were rounded up, with no intelligence, no
evidence, no suspicionno nothing. Anyone who refers to any of this as internment is entirely off the mark.
We start, as I think everybody here does, knowing and understanding the battle and struggle against terrorism. In relation to what my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) said, I do not challenge or traduce anybodys motives as regards where they stand on the Bill or their genuine understanding of the threat that we face. If we disagree, let us disagree with some degree of honesty. I may be the only optimist left in this place, but I still think that, across the elements of the Bill, not least the ones that I have already identifiedpost-charge questioning and coroners and inquestswe can get to real deliberation, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) and others suggested, on the model that is before us in relation to the nature of the emergency, the trigger in terms of the DPP and the police, and when there should be parliamentary oversight.
It is quite extraordinary how so many Members have been utterly dismissive of this place having any role in introducing a lawnot getting involved in an individual case but introducing the commencement of a law, which I thought was the role of this place. It is not our role to deal with individuals and individual casesthat is a matter for the judiciary. When people talk about the weak and flaccid nature of this place in terms of oversight, they then have a go at the judiciary and judicial oversight, which is as strong as anything comparable anywhere in the world, and in most cases far more so.
I think that on everything to do with pre-charge detention and moving from 28 to 42 days, everybody starts from the premise that the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) alluded tothat the norm for terrorist cases is, very strongly, 14 days, not 28 days, which is renewed yearly because of the circumstances that we face. Most, if not all senior policemenI will have a word with the hon. and learned Gentleman afterwards about the one whom he traducedand people in the security services are clear that they can foresee circumstances in which we will need this sort of reserve power and provision, not to be introduced overnight or on a whim in the face of where we start from in terms of British traditions, but in very specific and unique circumstances. That is why it is not internment. Fourteen days is the norm, 28 days is the exception, and going beyond 28 days is utterly exceptional.
In response to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael), I can say that the Lord Advocate and the Lord Advocates office are fully aware of and have been fully alongside the development of and consultation on these matters. I have spoken at length to Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Minister, and we have had extensive correspondence about very serious matters such as jurisdiction. Those deliberations are ongoing. If that does not answer the hon. Gentlemans point, I will come back to him after the debate.
The Bill, if passed in its entirety, will not be a propaganda tool for al-Qaeda or anybody else. However, people are absolutely right about striking the sensitive balance between our liberties and security. I do not want the securocratic response, and that alone, to be the way forwardthat cannot be the case. Let us have serious, mature and reflective deliberations on all aspects of the Bill. I commend the Bill to the House.
That the following provisions shall apply to the Counter-Terrorism Bill:
1. The Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.
Proceedings in Public Bill Committee
2. Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on 15th May 2008.
3. The Public Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.
Consideration and Third Reading
4. Proceedings on consideration and Third Reading shall be completed in two days.
5. Proceedings on consideration (so far as not previously concluded) shall be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the second day.
6. Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on that day.
7. Standing Order No. 83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings on consideration and Third Reading.
8. Any other proceedings on the Bill (including any proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments or on any further messages from the Lords) may be programmed. [Liz Blackman.]
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Counter-Terrorism Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of
(1) any expenses of the Secretary of State under the Act, and
(2) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under any other Act. [Liz Blackman.]
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Counter-Terrorism Bill, it is expedient to authorise
(1) provision requiring designated gas transporters to pay all or part of the costs incurred by the Secretary of State in connection with the provision of extra police services in or around certain gas facilities, and
(2) the payment into the Consolidated Fund of
(a) any sums received by the Secretary of State under the Act, and
(b) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable into that Fund under any other Act. [Liz Blackman.]
That the draft Early Removal of Fixed-Term Prisoners (Amendment of Eligibility Period) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 12th March, be approved.
That the draft Early Removal of Short-Term and Long-Term Prisoners (Amendment of Requisite Period) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 12th March, be approved. [Liz Blackman.]
That this House takes note of European Union Document No. 16071/07, European Court of Auditors Special Report No. 7/2007 on the control, inspection and sanction systems relating to the rules on conservation of Community fisheries resources; and supports the Governments aim of contributing positively to discussions for further improvements in fisheries management and control, thereby contributing to the long-term sustainability of fish stocks. [Liz Blackman.]
That, at the sitting on Tuesday 22nd April, Standing Order No. 17 (Delegated legislation (negative procedure)) shall not apply to the Motion in the name of Simon Hughes relating to Immigration (HC 321). [Liz Blackman.]
Ms Karen Buck (Regent's Park and Kensington, North) (Lab):
I wish to present two petitions to the House tonight that both concern post offices. A petition against the closure of the Formosa street post office is supported by 2,260 of my constituents, who call upon Post Office Ltd to drop the plan, arguing that the post office provides vital services to those most in
need, and that its closure will harm businesses in the immediate area that make daily use of its facilities. Users who have to go more than a mile to and from the replacement post office will suffer even more detrimental effects. Moreover, 690 of my constituents urge the Government to reject proposals by Post Office Ltd to withdraw services from the Harrow road post office. They hope that the case for the post office will be heard by the Government and Post Office Ltd.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Government to reject proposals by Post Office Ltd to withdraw services from the Harrow Road Post Office, in recognition of its importance to the local community and economy, and the absence of suitable alternatives.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Government to reject proposals by Post Office Ltd to withdraw services from the Formosa Street Post Office, in recognition of its importance to the local community and economy, and the absence of suitable alternatives.