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12 Nov 2009 : Column 382

Mr. Straw: The point is that the situation would arise only when a view was taken that there could not be an article 2-compliant inquest with a jury, because of the existence of information that could not go before a jury for reasons that we have all discussed, such as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. There might be other circumstances in which the issue of seeking an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 will arise, although, to provide a qualified assurance, I cannot completely anticipate them. The effect of the hon. and learned Gentleman's amendment (a) would be no different from the effect of the Lords amendment. I have already explained why amendment (a) is not necessary.

Mr. Dismore: I am not sure that that is right. Can my right hon. Friend absolutely assure us that if the Lord Chief Justice turns down a judge, the secret inquiry will not take place and the inquest will? If he can, that will go a long way to resolving the issue.

Mr. Straw: There will have to be an inquest. If the request is turned down and there is, therefore, no suspension, the inquest will continue in any event. There is a separate issue about whether that inquest would then be article 2-compliant, which sort of begs the original question. Of course, if the Lord Chief Justice says, "I'm not giving you a judge," paragraph 1, as amended already, means that there will not be a suspension of the inquest-full stop. There cannot be.

Mr. Dismore: Well, that is my concern, because I am not entirely convinced that the wording under the Lords amendment would achieve that. We would end up in limbo: on the one hand, the Lord Chancellor would say, "Secret inquiry"; on the other hand, the Lord Chief Justice would say, "You can't have a judge." We would end up exactly where we are with the Azelle Rodney case-four years on and no inquiry into it.

My right hon. Friend knows that when we last debated the issue, he won the Division by eight votes. It was probably closer than he thinks, however, because several people said to me afterwards, "We went into the wrong Lobby by mistake." That demonstrates the strength of feeling on the Labour Benches. There is nothing to be lost in accepting the Opposition's formulation, because it would strengthen the wording and achieve, beyond peradventure, what my right hon. Friend says he wants to achieve through the Lords amendment.

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): I am broadly in the same camp as my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore), because I feel that I voted the wrong way on Monday. However, I am a serial loyalist, and sometimes that overwhelms me.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor is probably the greatest circle-squarer whom Whitehall has seen in recent years. I tend to follow him, but I remember that when we worked together at the Foreign Office he would come to me and say, "We may be going in this direction, Denis, but it is about-turn time and swallow-humble-pie time, and I am afraid that is the political reality." On this cause, he may not have the votes of the House, so I ask him to consider whether that moment has arrived.

My thinking stems, first, from a fundamental principle that is enshrined in the term habeas corpus. It translates as "produce the body", and it applies as much to the
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dead as to the living. A core human right is to know how and under what conditions somebody died. If we do not have that right, we do not have full democracy. Families cannot grieve and injustices cannot be put right. That is why the coroners' jury surveillance system is of the most profound democratic importance. I wish there were far more of it in Africa, Latin America and Asia, and I am very reluctant to see any watering-down of it in our own country.

Of course, I fully accept my right hon. Friend's sincerity, but I well recall our great right hon. Friend, Michael Foot, saying in the 1970s that if the freedoms and liberties of Britain had been left in the hands of judges, we would have precious few. He got terrible stick from the learned QC profession about that-the Thomas Leggs and others were out there bashing him about the head-but I actually think he was right. When I hear, "The Executive will talk to a senior judge and, er, that's all right", I am afraid I start to become more and more of a Footite and less and less of a Strawite. These things can happen.

I have some direct experience of the matter, because some 19 years ago I became involved tangentially, through a friend, in the case of eight British fusiliers who were killed by friendly fire in the first Iraq conflict. They were brought home, but they could not be buried until there had been a coroner's inquest, because a person cannot be buried in the UK without the coroner's say-so. We found the most constant lying, deceit, obfuscation, dishonesty and cover-up on the part of the Conservative party, which was in power.

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby) (Con): What? Pathetic.

Mr. MacShane: One of the millionaires on the Opposition Front Bench says, "What?" I will send him my book, and if he can say to me that the letters sent by the Ministry of Defence or the then Prime Minister to the families were acceptable, I will give him even more money to add to his millions.

By using the Freedom of Information Act in the United States and by talking directly to American officers, we got to the truth. We were able to bring to a coroner's court at Oxford an American officer who, under the cloak of anonymity, gave vital evidence that disproved the position of the then Government, and a verdict of unlawful killing was rightly returned. The grieving families of those dead fusiliers felt that they had justice, because no part of the Executive or the judicial system could remove their right to the coroner's court.

I see that I am upsetting the Opposition; good. That does cheer me up. [Interruption.] Oh, the millionaire says I am boring them. Prepare to be bored.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. This kind of language is not helping the debate in any way.

Mr. MacShane: Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I am insulted and cat-called from a sedentary position, Members will get as good as they give.

Along with my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon and others, I am worried, if there is a change of Government, about handing to the state and the judiciary new powers that in that case would have denied the right of British citizens to know how their loved ones
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died. We should therefore resist it, so I say with affection and respect to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that I cannot follow him into the Lobby on this proposal.

Mr. Grieve: I am grateful to all the hon. Members who have participated in the debate and to the Secretary of State for the way in which he has responded, but I remain of the view that our amendment is useful. I hate to think that if we did not press it to the vote, I would regret it at a later date in the realisation that it would have helped in the interpretation of a difficult clause. I therefore wish to press it.

Question put, That amendment (a) to Lords amendment 1B be made.

The House divided: Ayes 186, Noes 243.
Division No. 248]
[12.55 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brokenshire, James
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Challen, Colin
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Field, Mr. Mark
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hoey, Kate
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jackson, Glenda
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Lynne
Keetch, Mr. Paul

Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Key, Robert
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Michael Fabricant and
Jeremy Wright

Ainger, Nick
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, rh Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
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
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Mr. Frank
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, rh Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Humble, Mrs. Joan
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
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Kelly, rh Ruth
Khan, rh Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie

Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Tellers for the Noes:

Mark Tami and
Steve McCabe
Question accordingly negatived.
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1.9 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 9 November).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83G).

Lords amendment 1B agreed to.


Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It would be useful if the Secretary of State could make a statement on the fact
12 Nov 2009 : Column 388
that the Government appear to have run up the white flag on Lord Waddington's amendment. This is a great victory for free speech, and we should know more about it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. Gentleman is an experienced Member and he knows that that was not a point of order.

Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have given you prior notice of this point of order. On 14 May 1977, Captain Robert Nairac of 3 Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, was captured by the IRA on operations in Northern Ireland. Yesterday, the press reported that someone has been arrested for his murder. The officer is still technically missing in action, and I wonder whether a Minister will come to the House and explain what is happening and what information can be given to his family and regiment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: While I appreciate that that is a matter of enduring and deep concern, I am afraid that the Chair has no means of requiring a Minister to come to the House on that matter; nor has the Chair had any notice that that might happen. The hon. Gentleman has made his point and there may be an opportunity before long for more to be said on that subject.

Policing and crime Bill (Programme) (No.3)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A (7) ),

Question agreed to.

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