suppmentary estimates 2010-11

Department for Education


That, for the year ending with 31 March 2011, for expenditure by the Department for Education—

(1) further resources, not exceeding £240,806,000, be authorised for use as set out in Spring Supplementary Estimates 2010-11, HC 790,

(2) a further sum, not exceeding £66,354,000, be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund to meet the costs as so set out, and

(3) limits as so set out be set on appropriations in aid.

HM Revenue and Customs


That, for the year ending with 31 March 2011, for expenditure by HM Revenue and Customs—

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(1) further resources, not exceeding £303,044,000, be authorised for use as set out in Spring Supplementary Estimates 2010-11, HC 790,

(2) a further sum, not exceeding £547,861,000, be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund to meet the costs as so set out, and

(3) limits as so set out be set on appropriations in aid.

The Deputy Speaker then put the Question s on the outstanding Estimates (Standing Order No. 55).



That, during the year ending with 31 March 2011, modifications in the maximum numbers in the Reserve Naval and Marines Forces set out in Supplementary Votes A 2010-11, HC 777, be usbauthorised for the purposes of Part 1 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996.—(Mr Goodwill.)



That, during the year ending with 31 March 2011, modifications in the maximum numbers in the Reserve Land Forces set out in Supplementary Votes A 2010-11, HC 777, be authorised for the purposes of Part 1 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996.—(Mr Goodwill.)



That, during the year ending with 31 March 2012, a number not exceeding 42,550 all ranks be maintained for Naval Service and that numbers in the Reserve Naval and Marines Forces be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 up to the maximum numbers set out in Votes A 2011-12, HC 769.—(Mr Goodwill.)



That, during the year ending with 31 March 2012, a number not exceeding 124,270 all ranks be maintained for Army Service and that numbers in the Reserve Land Forces be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 up to the maximum numbers set out in Votes A 2011-12, HC 769.—(Mr Goodwill.)



That, during the year ending with 31 March 2012, a number not exceeding 44,730 all ranks be maintained for Air Force Service and that numbers in the Reserve Air Forces be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 up to the maximum numbers set out in Votes A 2011-12, HC 769.—(Mr Goodwill.)

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That, for the year that ended with 31 March 2010—

(1) resources, not exceeding £747,000, be authorised for use to make good excesses of certain resources for defence and civil services as set out in Statement of Excesses 2009-10, HC 791, and

(2) a sum, not exceeding £318,000, be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund to make good excesses of certain grants for defence and civil services as so set out.—( Mr Goodwill .)



That, for the year ending with 31 March 2011—

(1) further resources, not exceeding £35,218,080,000, be authorised for defence and civil services as set out in Spring Supplementary Estimates 2010-11, HC 790,

(2) a further sum, not exceeding £7,577,185,000, be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund to meet the costs of defence and civil services as so set out, and

(3) limits as so set out be set on appropriations in aid.—( Mr Goodwill .)

Ordered, That a Bill be brought in upon the foregoing Resolutions;

That the Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Danny Alexander, Mr David Gauke, Justine Greening and Mr Mark Hoban bring in the Bill.

Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) (No. 2) Bill

Presentation and First Reading

Mr Mark Hoban accordingly presented a Bill to authorise the use of resources for the service of the years ending with 31 March 2010 and 31 March 2011 and to apply certain sums out of the Consolidated Fund to the service of the years ending with 31 March 2010 and 31 March 2011; and to appropriate the supply authorised in this Session of Parliament for the service of the years ending with 31 March 2010 and 31 March 2011.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 153).

Deferred Divisions

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 41A(3)),

That, at this day’s sitting, Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to the Motion in the name of Secretary Theresa May relating to Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism.—(Mr Goodwill.)

Question agreed to.

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Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

[Relevant document: Eighth Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Renewal of Control Orders Legislation 2011, HC 838.]

7.2 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (James Brokenshire): I beg to move,

That the draft Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (Continuance in Force of Sections 1 to 9) Order 2011, which was laid before this House on 3 February, be approved.

The purpose of the order before the House is to renew sections 1 to 9 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 pending their repeal and replacement with an alternative regime. These sections expire after one year unless renewed by order, subject to affirmative resolution in both Houses. The effect of this order will be to maintain the control order powers until the end of 31 December 2011. As the Home Secretary said to the House on 26 January, this limited renewal is to allow us to bring forward the legislation introducing a replacement system.

I would like briefly to set out the context for the proposal before the House. As the Prime Minister has said, the threat to the UK from international terrorism is as serious as we have faced at any time. It is assessed by the joint terrorism analysis centre to be “severe”. A number of significant terrorist plots have been uncovered over the past year. Recent trials and investigations show that terrorist networks are continuing to plan and attempt to carry out attacks. That threat will not diminish at any point soon.

Against this background, and given our commitment to redress the balance in our counter-terrorism powers, the Government conducted a review of counter-terrorism and security powers which considered the necessity, effectiveness and proportionality of control orders.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): Have any of the people whom the Minister is concerned about—who may or may not be plotting terrorist attacks—at any time been subject to a control order or considered for a control order?

James Brokenshire: The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that it is not appropriate for me to comment on such sensitive security issues. I can tell him that the review we undertook underlined that the Government’s absolute priority must be to prosecute suspected terrorists in open court. Measures that impose restrictions on suspected terrorists who have not been convicted in open court should be our last resort. As far as possible, given the need to protect the public, any restrictions should support the primary objective of prosecution.

The review concluded that for the foreseeable future, there is likely to continue to be a small number of people who pose a real threat to our security, but who, despite our best efforts, cannot be prosecuted or, in the case of foreign nationals, deported. As at 10 December 2010, eight individuals were subject to control orders. Our reluctant assessment is that there will continue to be a need for a mechanism to protect the public from the threat that such individuals pose. Lord Carlile reached the same conclusion in his most recent and last independent report on control orders. Consequently, he and the

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other statutory consultees support the proposal to renew the control order powers. I am sure that hon. Members from all parts of the House will join me in thanking Lord Carlile for his work over the past 10 years.

The review also concluded that it is possible to move to a system that will protect the public but be less intrusive and have more clearly and tightly defined restrictions. In particular, the two-year maximum time limit clearly demonstrates that these are targeted, temporary measures. It will be possible to impose a further measure only if there is evidence of new terrorism-related activity after the original measure was imposed. Measures will have to meet the evidential test of reasonable belief that a person is or has been involved in terrorism-related activity. That is higher than the test of reasonable suspicion of such involvement in the control orders regime. The police will be under a strengthened legal duty to inform the Home Secretary about an ongoing review of a person’s conduct with a view to bringing a prosecution. A more flexible overnight residence requirement will replace the current curfew arrangements.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): I thank the Minister for giving way; he is being very generous so far and we will see how this goes. Will he clarify how the new residence requirement is different from the existing arrangements? In her comments to the Home Affairs Committee, the Minister for Security, Baroness Neville-Jones, was less than clear on that point.

James Brokenshire: I know that this issue was of interest to the Home Affairs Committee. As the Minister for Security made clear in her evidence, the normal overnight residence requirement will be for between eight and 10 hours. She has written to the Committee to set out that as at 10 December 2010, the longest curfew under a control order was for 14 hours, which was in place in two cases. Of the remaining curfews, one was for 13 hours, three were for 12 hours, one for 10 hours and one for eight hours. Therefore, at least six of the eight individuals will be confined to their residence for a shorter period than they are currently. The Minister for Security has made that point clear.

It is worth stressing some of the other relevant issues. Forcible relocation to other parts of the country will be ended. Geographical boundaries will be replaced with a power to impose much more tightly defined exclusions from particular places. There will be no power to exclude someone from, for example, an entire London borough. Individuals will have greater freedom of communication, including access to a mobile phone and a home computer with internet access, subject to certain conditions such as providing passwords. They will have greater freedom to associate—for example, there will be no blanket restrictions on visitors or meetings. Individuals will only be prohibited from associating with people who may facilitate terrorism-related activity. They will be free to work and study, subject again to the restrictions necessary to protect the public. These changes will allow the individual to continue to lead a normal life so far as is possible, subject only to the restrictions necessary to prevent or disrupt involvement in terrorism-related activity.

The more limited restrictions that may be imposed may facilitate further investigation, as well as preventing terrorism-related activities. The new regime will also be

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accompanied by an increase in funding for the police and the Security Service, to enhance their investigative capabilities. The Government intend to bring forward legislation to that effect shortly. The legislation must be properly prepared and properly scrutinised by the House. In the meantime, we are clear that it would be irresponsible to allow the current regime to lapse in the absence of alternative measures and while the investigative capabilities of the law enforcement and security agencies are being developed.

It is important to underline that control orders remain legally viable and although they are, in our judgment, imperfect, they have had some success in protecting the public. We are satisfied that the current control order powers and the order before us today are proportionate and fully compliant with the European convention on human rights, and that, pending the introduction of their replacement, it is essential that these powers continue to be available in order to protect the public.

Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): I should like my hon. Friend to take note of the observation made by a former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke:

“The principal responsibility of the judiciary is to justice and to the liberty of the citizen properly carried through, but not to the security of the nation.”

Is my hon. Friend also aware of my Prevention of Terrorism Bill, which I introduced today? The object of the Bill is simply to disapply the Human Rights Act 1998 in respect of these matters in order to ensure that we maintain habeas corpus, due process and fair trial, even in the case of alleged suspects.

James Brokenshire: I am aware that my hon. Friend has introduced a Bill, although it would not strictly apply in the context of this debate on control orders and the new proposals that we are seeking to introduce, given that his Bill applies to provisions allowing for detention. That means that it would not affect these measures, because they do not allow for detention. I note that he has sought to introduce his Bill, but I do not think it is directly relevant to this debate.

Jeremy Corbyn: Is the Minister aware that the objection that many of us have to the principle of control orders is that they are effectively a form of Executive control and not subject to judicial review in the normal way? What we need is criminal law to deal with criminals, rather than Executive fiat to deal with people about whom the Security Service might or might not have suspicions.

James Brokenshire: I certainly hear the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. As I have already stressed, our preference is always to bring prosecutions and to bring people before the criminal law. I must also highlight my previous comment on the compliance with the ECHR of the provisions before us. These measures are always used only as a last resort.

We are currently preparing legislation to introduce the replacement system. I am anxious that the passage of that legislation should follow due process, and that it should be subject to the intense scrutiny that I know Members of this House and the other place will rightly bring to bear on it. Hon. Members will understand that these are complex issues, and I am sure that they will

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share my desire to ensure that we get the new provisions right. While the process is under way, it would not be responsible for us to leave a gap in public protection between the repeal of control orders and the introduction of the replacement regime. Our intention is that there should be a safe and managed transition to the new system. This means that, until the new system is introduced, we need to retain the full range of control order powers. The alternative would be to allow individuals who pose a threat to the public to go freely about their terrorism-related activities for the remainder of the year.

This is the last occasion on which the House will be asked to renew these powers. The Government will shortly bring forward a more targeted and focused regime to protect the public. Before the transition to that new regime is complete, the risk to the public would be grave indeed were control order powers not renewed. I therefore ask the House to approve the renewal of those powers for the transitional period.

7.15 pm

Mr Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford South) (Lab): As the Minister said, the threat level to our country remains at “severe”, and the threat of terrorism is never far away. We are a high-profile country that will be holding high-profile events this year and next, so there cannot and should not be any room for complacency.

We should congratulate and thank our security services and police on their co-ordinated work in keeping us all safe. They do a tremendous job, and we know of the plots that have been foiled in the recent period. It is our duty in the House to provide them with the tools and procedures that they need to do their job effectively. Sometimes, that means walking the difficult line between balancing individual freedom and collective safety, with the rights of the wider community sometimes outweighing the rights of the individual. Control orders have been the tool for that.

As has been said, in an ideal world we would not wish to use control orders. It would be greatly preferable if our criminal justice system could deal with terrorists who wished us harm. However, as previous Home Secretaries and Ministers have said, control orders have become a necessary evil. Until an alternative comes forward that gives the same level of protection, we have to accept that.

As the Minister said, this is the sixth annual review of control orders since the power was introduced in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. The order before us provides for the continuation of the power to make a control order against an individual when the Secretary of State has

“reasonable grounds for suspecting that the individual is or has been involved in terrorism-related activity”

and considers it necessary to impose obligations on that individual for the purpose of protecting members of the public from the risk of terrorism. That has to be the major priority for any Government.

Lord Carlile, who was the independent reviewer of terrorism, said in a previous report that one person subject to a control order was

“a dangerous terrorist who would re-engage with terrorism the moment he could.”

That is the type of person we are dealing with. I add my congratulations to Lord Carlile on his nine years in the

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job. He did a tremendous job, and I know that it challenged his political views on control orders and other terrorism-related matters.

The original intention behind control orders was to deal with foreign terrorists who could not be deported or prosecuted. As the Minister said, eight people are under control orders at the moment, and some of those orders have been made since the coalition Government came to power. As I understand it—he may be able to confirm this or otherwise—the current control orders are all on UK citizens as opposed to foreign nationals.

Yesterday, the Home Secretary announced in the Protection of Freedoms Bill what we see as a weakening of anti-terror legislation. We have also seen the ridiculous situation of the order on 28-day detention being allowed to lapse without the draft emergency legislation being in place. That legislation has now been published, but as yet we do not know when we will discuss it. There may be a difficulty if it is introduced when the House is not sitting and there needs to be a recall of Parliament for us to scrutinise it.

As the Minister said, the Home Secretary wants to repeal control orders, as she said in her statement to the House on 26 January following the belated counter-terrorism review. She said that too much of the 2005 Act was “excessive and unnecessary”, but she and the Minister have admitted that for the foreseeable future there are likely to be a small number of people who pose a real threat to our security but who cannot currently be prosecuted or deported.

We need to know whether the replacement for control orders will be weaker and whether it will protect the country as it should. We would like to hear from the Minister what evidence came from the security services and the police about the new regime that he and the Home Secretary want to introduce. There is a suspicion on our side that it is a political fix to get the Deputy Prime Minister out of a mess, and that it has to do with the reality of being in government as opposed to the rhetoric of Opposition. I say that because the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister realised, on the advice of the security services and the police, that there are dangerous people out there, whom we must tackle. I hope that the new regime is evidence-based, and I will be interested in any evidence that the security forces and the police publish about their viewpoints.

If the Minister is able to respond to the debate in the time available, will he react to the House of Lords Joint Committee report and its recommendations on the scrutiny of the new proposals?

Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): Some of us recognise that control orders are the jewel in the crown of the previous Government’s authoritarian legislation. The hon. Gentleman said that we are discussing the sixth annual renewal. Does he believe that the existing rules on control orders—that necessary evil—are perfect? If not, did he ever vote them down on the five other occasions they were discussed?

Mr Sutcliffe: No. The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. As I said, every time the matter has been discussed, the Minister of the day has said that it is a difficult matter, and that we much prefer to get to the point of

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prosecution so that the criminal justice system deals with it. However, as Lord Carlile, who was the independent regulator, found, there are circumstances for which the criminal justice system cannot cater in that way.

Richard Fuller: I greatly appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s giving way again. He used the word “weaker”, but a change in the law could be perceived as an improvement rather than a weakening. We should be careful when we use such words because they can have different meanings in different contexts.

Mr Sutcliffe: I take the point, but that relates to the parliamentary scrutiny of the new proposals, and perhaps I will deal later with how we can consider that further.

Counter-terrorism policy has to be built on evidence and on advice from the security services and the police, not political fixes. That is important because Members of Parliament do not get the detail of exactly what has occurred. We get the independent reviewer’s report, but we do not get the information about what has happened. Usually the Home Secretary, sometimes on Privy Council advice, gives briefings to the Opposition. When we discuss the new regime, that might be a way forward to work together to try to ensure that we understand what exactly is happening on the ground.

The Minister referred to the replacement legislation in discussing what the Home Secretary said on 26 January. She asked the independent commissioner, David Anderson, to pay particular attention to the new measures in his first report. That is fine, but the Minister used the word “shortly”, which was a favourite of mine when I was a Minister, and means any time between now and a given date a long time in the future. When does the Minister expect the proposed legislation to be available so that we can discuss the various issues that we face?

I particularly want to debate the difference between a curfew and an overnight residence requirement. The Minister mentioned a possible difference in hours, but we will see how we go.

The legislative proposals need to be scrutinised. The new control order regime pays particular attention to surveillance and we are told that sufficient finance will be available for the resource-intensive proposal to the police and the security services. Will the Minister confirm that it will be new money? How will the continuation of the current control order regime deal with the financial cuts that the police and the security services face? How much will the police budget for counter-terrorism be? How will a cut in that budget affect control orders? Is there any likelihood of needing to increase the number of control orders as prisoners detained under counter-terrorism measures are released and returned to our streets? Has any assessment been made of the possible increases in the need for control orders? Another issue that was raised the last time we debated control orders was the cost to the Exchequer arising from legal challenges made by controlees. Will the Minister inform us of those costs?

All hon. Members recognise that the safety and security of the public are difficult issues. We have long-held traditions of individual rights and freedoms, but as I said, given the world that we live in, there is a difficult balance to achieve. Evidence-based policy is vital, and we should err on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of the public. The Opposition will obviously

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support the extension of the orders this evening. We look forward to the new legislation on how we work and scrutinise what happens. We hope to reach a consensus that meets the requirements of individual freedoms while putting the safety of our country to the fore.

7.26 pm

Patrick Mercer (Newark) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Bradford South (Mr Sutcliffe). Many of his comments, and his support for the Government, were not unexpected.

I sometimes wonder how much time we consume in the House of Commons dealing with apparently insignificant affairs. For instance, having had a grand total of—I think—nearly 30 individuals under control orders at one stage, we are now down to eight, so we find ourselves devoting many minutes, if not hours, of parliamentary time discussing the fate of eight individuals. That is important. However, what concerns me most is that the previous Government imposed control orders that are fundamentally wrong, misapplied and undemocratic—they are fundamentally a help to our enemies—but did not seem particularly bothered when individuals who were subject to them under the previous regime absconded or escaped.

That is the point. I pay huge tribute, as the hon. Gentleman did, not only to the work of Lord Carlile, but to the work of our security services, who have foiled or plain put off any number of extremely dangerous plots. However, the fact remains that although the eight individuals about whom we are speaking today are not numerous, they are a totem for our enemies.

Jeremy Corbyn: I am interested in the hon. Gentleman’s opinions, but, as the Minister said earlier, there are no charges against those eight individuals, and there is apparently no possibility of deporting the foreign nationals involved. Does the hon. Gentleman share my concern that the House will vote through Executive orders that control and change people’s lives entirely when no criminal charges have been laid against them?

Patrick Mercer: The hon. Gentleman’s intervention is helpful and timely, and I completely agree with him. The difficulty is that we are detaining those individuals undemocratically and improperly, which plays directly into the hands of our enemies.

Our foes—be they Islamist fundamentalists, direct action groups or animal rights groups, Irish individuals or whatever—all understand the power of propaganda. The one thing at which they are good is broadcasting their word. They understand that the spoken, the written and the broadcast word are more powerful than any bullet or bomb.

Before Christmas there was a series of events, with which I shall not detain the House, involving a serious plot against western Europe—a core al-Qaeda plot—that both failed and was foiled. To replace that failure in the eyes of the public, an extraordinarily ill-thought-through plot was mounted from Yemen involving ink cartridge containers on a certain number of aircraft—cartridges that, frankly, were unlikely ever to explode. However, for very little effort, our enemies dominated the media for four complete days at the end of October last year, making the point that terrorism had not gone away and

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that they still intended to terrorise people. They did so without killing or injuring anyone, and with very little effort on their part.

The point is that with control orders we continue to aid and abet our enemies in exactly those methods of operation. First and foremost, we fought Nazism, communism and Irish republicanism without having to resort to any of those methods, because we were a democratic nation fighting on democratic principles against non-democratic enemies.

Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con): I agree with a great deal of what my hon. Friend is saying, but we did intern people in the last war and we did have extraordinary regulations—regulation 18B—to lock up people who were deemed to be a threat to the state, so I think it is fair to have extraordinary regulations for relatively small numbers.

Patrick Mercer: I am most grateful to my hon. Friend. He is absolutely right: of course we interned people in the last war, and we also carried out the disastrous policy of internment in Northern Ireland in the ’70s. I was not there at the time, but I was there in the follow-up to that policy, which was literally disastrous, not only in countering terrorism, but in aiding and abetting the recruitment of our foes in the battle with the Irish Republican Army that lay ahead. However, I hope that my hon. Friend does not mind if I do not go into that in too much detail.

If we retain the powers indefinitely and continue to treat that small number of people in that way, we will pass the most important tool that we can to our foes. We will be saying to our enemies: “Please understand that without letting off any bombs or killing any policemen, soldiers or civilians, you have achieved exactly what you want to achieve. In other words, you have destabilised our democracy. Without raising a finger, you have done exactly what you wanted to do: you have changed the way we live our lives.” That is not right. I celebrate the changes that the Home Secretary announced earlier. Without doubt, there have been some improvements. For instance, of the three measures for which I have long argued, and for which I shall continue to argue—the ability to question after charge, the use of intercept evidence and plea bargaining—one has been accepted. One is better than nothing—it is an improvement—but we must understand that our abiding aim is to get those individuals into court on a legitimate charge and with a legitimate trial, and to uphold the principle that they are innocent until proven guilty.

We have other methods of dealing with criminals. I am sure that, like me, the House remembers how a previous Prime Minister made it a point of principle that Irish republican terrorists, and indeed Protestant paramilitaries, should not be treated as they wished to be—that is, as soldiers—but as mere common criminals.

Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): I am following the hon. Gentleman carefully, but will he correct his reference to “Protestant paramilitaries”, by perhaps describing them as loyalists or so-called loyalists? His use of the word “Protestant” in this context is not correct.

Patrick Mercer: The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. I am afraid that I am a victim of my own experience. He is absolutely right that the term is outdated.

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It was one that we used in the many tours that I served in Northern Ireland, but it is both wrong and probably insensitive, and I apologise.

Whatever stamp of terrorist we were facing in Northern Ireland, that terrorist was deemed to be a criminal. There are methods that we can use to handle those criminals. They are not soldiers; they are criminals. Therefore, surely it is up to us to deal with them in the same way, using the rules of bail along with other methods that we use to surveille those of whom we are suspicious. We do not need to take these individuals’ liberties away from them.

There are two points behind that idea. The first is that it is improper and undemocratic; the second is that it is plain damn silly. If we say to someone, “We are interested in you; we are surveilling you; we are keeping you under observation”, we immediately fail to harvest the intelligence that those individuals can give us. Not all of them are terribly clever, although some are, and many of them are very foolish, which is why they have fallen under suspicion in the first place. Foolishness, of course, should be aided and abetted by the security services because foolishness provides us with further clues and further evidence.

I will not detain the House further. Despite my instincts, I will certainly support the Government tonight on the basis that I understand that future legislation needs time to mature and to be properly formulated. The fact remains that I hope that the Home Secretary and her Ministers will look most carefully at what is proposed so that in the future we will deal with our enemies not only in a democratic and proper way, but in a thoroughly practical one.

7.36 pm

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): I am grateful for being called to speak and I am sorry that it looks as though there are not enough Members present to call a Division later. I personally believe that these are very serious matters and I have opposed control orders in the previous Parliament as well as in this one, so at least I have the benefit of consistency on this matter.

I oppose control orders not because I have any truck with those who wish to set off bombs in the cities of this or any other country. Indeed, my borough lost more lives on 7/7 than any other London borough, and attending those funerals because of what happened on that day is not easily forgotten. My concern is that Parliament is again voting through provisions that give extraordinary powers to a Secretary of State, who is able to impose a control order on an individual without recourse to a due process of law.

As the Minister said, these are people against whom no criminal charge could be brought and they cannot be deported, presumably because of the lack of convention applicability in the countries to which they might be deported. We do not know, of course, who these eight individuals are. I think that for Parliament to give such powers to any Secretary of State is an abdication of our responsibility for two reasons. First, the separation of judicial and political functions is central to the constitution and very important. We are not a court; we cannot put people on trial. We can pass laws, and it is for the courts

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to deal with them in a separate place. Secondly, if by this process we deny individuals access to any judicial process whatever and people are restricted and to some extent detained by Executive decision, that bypasses both ourselves as a Parliament and the independence of the courts. We should think very carefully about that.

We are apparently dealing with eight individual cases and I have no idea who those eight people are. I do not propose to discuss any of those cases; that is not the point. The point is one of principle relating to what we as a Parliament are doing. If this measure is part of the war on terror, I ask Members to remember what the hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) just said about the experience of internment in Northern Ireland. Indeed, for that matter, there is also the case of internment at the start of the second world war, when a large number of Jewish people were detained on the basis that they had German relatives. Of course they had German relatives: they had fled from Nazi Germany and came to this country to escape fascism, only to be promptly detained as suspects of fascism. I suspect that they found that experience deeply troubling and that it did not leave them for the rest of their lives. We need to reflect carefully on that.

If an individual has an order placed against them, their movements, their liberties and their life opportunities will obviously be restricted. If an employer knows about it, as he probably will, the person concerned will be unlikely to keep his job. I suspect that many universities will be very reluctant to allow students in that position to remain there, and might refuse outright. The lives of such people are seriously harmed in many other ways

Is this a fair thing to do? If there is evidence that an individual is manufacturing a bomb, planning to put a bomb on a plane, or planning to kill civilians for no obvious reason—indeed, to kill civilians in any circumstances—let a criminal charge be brought against them. We should bear it in mind that in Northern Ireland, internment became a recruiting sergeant for the IRA.

Let us look at the issue on a wider scale. Let us consider the hundreds of thousands of young people who are wasting their lives away in refugee camps in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and many other parts of the middle east. Do they feel that they have a democratic choice? Do they feel that they have a democratic right for the rest of their lives? No. They see the rest of the world vicariously, through television screens and computers. Does their experience make them respect a democratic process? Does it give them choices and opportunities? No. It is the breeding ground for irrational acts of criminal violence against civilians.

The House cannot solve all those problems, but we can at least make two contributions. First, we can try to bring about peace and justice processes throughout the region concerned. Secondly, we can ensure that in this country we defend the democracy of an elected Parliament, defend the independence of the judiciary, do not allow Ministers to have powers to detain individuals without recourse to the courts or to an individual hearing, and allow such individuals to know what the charges against them are. We would condemn many other societies in which someone can visit an individual and say, “You are under suspicion; you are under arrest; you are under

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control”, and I think that we should be very cautious indeed about passing a law allowing that in the House of Commons.

Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con): The hon. Gentleman says that the accused should be allowed to know what the charge is. That brings into play the concept of special advocates who are given evidence behind closed doors and cannot take instructions from the accused, and hence the concept of not being given a fair hearing. On that basis, does the hon. Gentleman agree that the process involving special advocates should be reviewed, and that the concept of a fair hearing at which the accused can be given a chance to comment on the evidence must be right?

Jeremy Corbyn: I more or less entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission courts involve that concept of the special advocate who does not know—or, rather, may well know but cannot share with his client, the defendant—what the charges are against that person, and how the defence is to be mounted. Franz Kafka wrote about such circumstances extensively and with great passion. It is possible that descendants of Franz Kafka are working away in the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office or some grubby basement somewhere.

We are talking about the creation of a miasma of untrustworthy or untrustable sources. There might be a case against an individual, but that individual does not know what it is. His advocate might know what it is, but cannot tell him and can say only, “Do not worry—I will try and get you off. You want to know what you are charged with? Oh, I cannot tell you that.” Hello? Let us get real. If we believe in a proper judicial process, let us practise a proper judicial process.

I feel very reluctant to support any anti-terror law that departs from the principle that anyone who has been charged must know what the charge is, must be able to defend himself against that charge, and must be either found guilty or acquitted, depending on what evidence is presented and what the court decides at the end of the process. That principle, surely, is the best defence of a free society. Departing from it weakens a free society and damages all of us.

It is disappointing that the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Dr Francis), is not present to comment on its report. I want to make three brief points about the summary. The Committee calls on the Government to

“urgently review all existing control orders to ensure they are compatible with the findings”,

but it was not clear to me from the Minister’s earlier contribution whether that had happened, so perhaps he will tell us in summing up.

One of the other Select Committee recommendations was:

“The Director of Public Prosecutions should be asked to consider whether a criminal investigation is justified in relation to each of the eight individuals subject to existing control orders”.

Again, I am not clear whether that has happened. I apologise if I missed something the Minister said, but I would be grateful if he would say what has happened in that respect.

The Select Committee also said:

“We do not accept the Government’s reasons for not providing this opportunity”—

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for pre-legislative scrutiny—

“and recommend that it be published and made available to Parliament”.

If the Government have measures to introduce on control orders or anti-terror in general, that is clearly an important and major piece of legislation. This House has slowly and reluctantly dragged itself from the 18th century into the 19th and the 20th, and although we have not reached the 21st yet, we do have a process of pre-legislative scrutiny. Therefore, I think a Bill should be published as early as possible so that the House can thoroughly examine it and we can have a serious debate on it before it reaches the light of day. These are serious and important issues. We are talking not about just eight individuals’ lives, but the whole principle of a democratic and free society.

We put in place control orders, secret courts, special advocates and all kinds of special measures, and we have a Security Service that is not public and that is unaccountable. We also have charges that are unknown against individuals who do not know what the charges against them are. That creates a rather unpleasant Kafkaesque secrecy surrounding our society and our lives. It does not make us any safer, and it does not make the world any safer; actually, it contributes to making the world a more dangerous and precarious place.

I hope the Minister understands both my reasons for making these points and why many of us hold these views. It is reasonable and fine for him or the Secretary of State to ask for opinions and views from the security services and the police; of course they should ask for their views. They should also, however, ask for the views of the judiciary, advocates, civil liberties groups and the people who spend their whole lives trying to defend the civil liberties of all of us. Their views are equally legitimate and important.

7.47 pm

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn), who has consistently held his views on this issue over many years. I have a lot of sympathy with what he has said. It is also a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer), for whose views I also have much sympathy.

I want to comment on a point made by the hon. Member for Bradford South (Mr Sutcliffe). I know he is an honourable man, but he made an unfortunate comment which I suspect was down to an over-enthusiastic, wet-behind-the-ears political novice who is working in his office at present, who got a quote from the Labour agents’ handbook suggesting that the coalition Government’s proposal is some kind of political stitch-up for the benefit of the Deputy Prime Minister. That was an unfortunate comment, and it demeans the hon. Gentleman, because it has no credibility whatever. To suggest that the coalition Government would put the country’s security at risk is extremely regrettable, and I wish he had not made that remark.

I would prefer it if this debate did not have to take place, but I realise that we cannot allow control orders to lapse without anything in their place. I therefore welcome the fact that this is a temporary renewal, and that, as the Minister said, this will be the last occasion

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of its kind. We have a very clear milestone—31 December this year—by which the alternative arrangements need to be in place.

Mr Cash: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that in order to have effective and just alternative arrangements, they must be pivoted on habeas corpus, fair trial and due process, and any substitute within the framework of human rights legislation would simply not be workable?

Tom Brake: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, which he has made a number of times over the past couple of days. I certainly agree with him that any process must be heavily based on a judicial process; indeed, that is central to this debate.

It also gives me some reassurance that, where the coalition was able to take immediate action, such as on the 14-day provision, such action was indeed taken. Since this debate last took place, I have met—a couple of months ago—someone who was the subject of a control order that had been quashed. That happened because, eventually, some of the evidence held against this controlee had to be released. One of the apparently most convincing pieces of evidence held against him was that, when he was on the top deck of a bus with his son, he had stood up and turned in such a way that the camera could not see him, and therefore he had clearly been given counter-surveillance training.

That person set out precisely what his experience had been. He was at home when, all of a sudden, a large number of police officers came through the door. He was told, “We are now going to relocate you. No, you can’t call a lawyer. We are going to relocate you to a part of the country you’ve not been to before. That doesn’t matter—that is where you are going.” He was then subject to conditions which meant that going out to work was not a possibility—doing that is not possible for someone who has to be back in their residence perhaps three hours after leaving it. If they live in a place that is already some distance from the town where they work, no sooner have they got there than they have to come back. They can therefore forget working, going to university and so on.

That experience led that person to have a breakdown and to abscond, because he could not take the pressure of the control order he was subjected to. As I said, it was eventually quashed, because when some of the evidence against him was produced, it was considered not terribly convincing.

There was one very regrettable aspect of the review process. The hon. Member for Islington North rightly talked about the other organisations that should be consulted as part of this process. It is very clear that one group of people who were not consulted as part of the process was controlees who subsequently had their control orders quashed. In order to get an appreciation of the effectiveness of this measure, what alternatives could be put in place and whether, psychologically speaking, this is a good way to move people away from terrorism—if that is what they are inclined to pursue—it would have been sensible as part of the review process to sit down and listen to some of these people’s stories. However, that has not happened. That omission needs to be addressed in any ongoing process of examining the new legislation, and I hope it will be.

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Whatever the alternative measure is, it clearly has to be a qualitative improvement from a civil liberties perspective—and, indeed, from a security perspective—on what was there before. It has to put the onus on prosecution rather than containment. All too often, as is acknowledged, one of the purposes of control orders is to contain people for long enough for them to lose track of the people whom they had had contact with in the context of terrorist activity, so in many respects it is simply a containment process. People are kept for as long as it takes for them to lose track or lose interest—or, indeed, grow up—and therefore not pursue that line of action. Therefore, the focus was not on trying to prosecute people and that was a mistake. I hope that the proposed terrorism prevention and investigation measures—TPIMs—will ensure that prosecution is very much at the heart of what happens. Lord MacDonald has set out clearly how that process could work and how a limited process of a couple of years could be allowed for such a prosecution to take place, and the Government will need to examine that very carefully.

As has been mentioned, further clarification is needed on curfews. As we know, a curfew does not stop someone doing what they want to do—that is also the view of Lord MacDonald. To replace a curfew with a shorter curfew is not the right course of action. A curfew, be it for 12 or 10 hours, is still a curfew and we need to examine the alternatives. For example, we might need to consider carefully a system where someone nominates a place of residence where they will be and has to give advance notice if they are going to be somewhere else on a particular day or week. We must not simply replace a curfew with a shorter curfew.

As I have stated, the judicial process has to be at the heart of the arrangement. Liberty has produced a useful crib sheet listing what applied under control orders and what will apply under TPIMs. I suspect that Liberty welcomes half the changes, although perhaps feels that more clarification is needed on a quarter of them. For example, control orders are renewed annually, but we need to know whether there will be a renewal process for TPIMs, as opposed to a permanent arrangement. As we have heard, there are question marks over the future of special advocates—perhaps that process could be changed—and, as I have said, we also need more clarification about exactly what is proposed on curfews. On some areas, particularly the judicial nature of the process, Liberty has severe reservations, as do I. I will certainly welcome anything that we can do to move this process into a court-based environment, rather than an Executive one, as will other Members who have spoken in this debate.

Clearly this is a crucial piece of legislation. There is a no alternative for us tonight; we cannot do anything but renew it, and that is entirely the right course of action. We have until the end of the year to flesh out what the alternative will be and to address some of these fundamental civil liberties considerations that require further clarification. I hope that we will see some substantial improvements from a civil liberties perspective, if not tonight, certainly as the draft legislation is developed, so that we can get rid of control orders and replace them with something with which I and others who are concerned about civil liberties will feel comfortable.

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7.58 pm

Dr William McCrea (South Antrim) (DUP): Having listened to much of this debate, I find that I come to it from a completely different perspective from most, because I know the importance of facing the reality of terrorism. Many in this House have lived in the safety and quiet of their own home, but for 25 years of my life I lived totally under police protection. I could not drive on my own—I never drove in those 25 years. I had to be taken from A to B in a police car in the presence of the police because of terrorism. That was so even when some Members from my side of the Irish sea were playing along with those who were threatening people within the United Kingdom.

This debate is important, because it goes right to the heart of the solemn duty that is placed on a democratically elected Parliament and Government, which is to provide the protection and security of their people. The effect of the order will be to maintain the power set out under the 2005 Act and to allow the Government to exercise the use of control orders to tackle any severe threat from suspected international terrorists in particular.

We are living in a dangerous world. Let us realise that there are people in our society, within the UK, who live and breathe terrorism. They live to destroy and bring havoc upon the law-abiding people of the UK. I speak from experience, as IRA terrorists wreaked havoc on Northern Ireland for more than 30 years. I have spoken in many debates in the Chamber over the years, pointing out that various Governments have sought to appease terrorists, leaving the innocent population to endure grievous suffering and pain.

Tonight, hon. Members have spoken, no doubt with sincerity, about the withdrawal of people’s rights and ability to move around, but my family have been denied such rights for the past 35 years. For 25 years, my wife was denied having her husband travel with her, but nobody seems concerned that elected representatives in the UK were forced into an intolerable situation or that those people inflicted that situation on our families. Many of my children grew up without their father being able to travel in the car with them. They grew up under a continuous threat and behind bulletproof windows and doors. That is how we lived our lives in Northern Ireland. I wish that hon. Members could live in the real world when they talk about these issues. That was the reality in Northern Ireland. Many people were happy to play along with Gaddafi whenever he was arming the Provisional IRA. They were lauding and applauding him, saying what a wonderful person he was, but of course they want to jump ship now because that does not really suit the international scene.

I am sure that no hon. Member desires to have these Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 measures continued for one second more than is necessary, but necessity prevails and we have a duty to grant the Government the powers that are essential to deal with the threat. I remember travelling by aeroplane across the Irish sea whenever there was a bomb threat. I know what it is to land on the ground—thankfully safely—and immediately be evacuated from the plane, going down the chute, because of a bomb threat. There is nothing glorious about terrorism and I suggest that the House should be more concerned about innocent, law-abiding people than they sometimes seem to be about terrorists and their rights.

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Sadly, there are those in the community who pose a real threat to public safety and unfortunately they cannot always be prosecuted or deported if they are foreign nationals. Such people not only pose a significant potential threat but seek to undermine the very fabric and stability of our society. There are those who suggest that if there is not sufficient evidence to prove such persons guilty of a crime they should not be detained even though they are perceived to pose a serious threat. I do not accept that argument. The burden of proof means that the high level of evidence needed to gain a successful prosecution may not always be available, but the Government have vital information and intelligence showing that those persons pose a serious threat to the safety of people residing in the UK. There has to be a series of measures available to those in authority who are charged with the important responsibility of providing safety and security for the people of the UK.

It is easy for some in society, and even in this House, to condemn the availability of such measures, but when something goes tragically wrong they are often the same people who readily criticise those in authority for not acting swiftly enough and who even call for heads to roll should mistakes have been made. It is very easy to sit on the sidelines and be an armchair general without having to make a life-or-death decision, but I suggest that Ministers will be faced with that reality in future as Ministers in the House now have been faced with that responsibility of high office.

We cannot stand idly by and let a potential threat go unchecked. Perhaps it is important for us and for me tonight to pay tribute to all those within the police, the armed forces and the intelligence services who are actively engaged daily in seeking to keep us safe. The House owes them a great debt of gratitude, and I wish to put that on the record.

Control orders are used only for a relatively small number of individuals and although this may not be ideal, in my humble opinion and without apology, I believe it is preferable to allowing terrorists to endanger the general public. Members have laid great emphasis on the fact that eight people were under detention orders. One successful terrorist—not eight—can leave a whole city, a whole community, a whole country in grief and wreak havoc upon family after family.

It is not my wish to detain the House any further. I support the Government in their desire to have a valuable tool available to be employed when necessary. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I will carefully examine what the coalition Government intend as a replacement.

8.6 pm

Mr Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) (Con): It is a privilege to speak in the debate and to follow the hon. Member for South Antrim (Dr McCrea). I welcome the outcome of the counter-terrorism review. Ministers have been decisive in scaling back some of the more draconian aspects of the previous Government’s authoritarian legislation, such as pre-charge detention and stop-and-search powers, and by tightening regulations in relation to surveillance.

The contentious debate that we are having on control orders should not obscure this welcome sea change in the overall approach. The tide is turning, and I commend the Minister for helping to bring about that change.

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Likewise, I recognise that Ministers are committed to substantial reform of the control order regime. The new powers will be significantly less offensive to basic principles of British justice than what we have now, but each half-step in the right direction raises the question of why we are not scrapping them altogether.

Under the regime that we are reviewing, the Home Secretary must have “reasonable grounds to suspect” an individual’s involvement in terrorist-related activity before imposing a control order. Now the threshold will be raised to “reasonable belief”. No one can deny that that is progress, but it still allows the equivalent of a criminal penalty to be imposed without a criminal conviction. There is no getting around that. It undermines the most basic principle of our justice system: innocent until proven guilty.

The two-year limit is a welcome recognition that a person not convicted of a crime should not be subject to intrusive restrictions indefinitely, but the orders are renewable, or they will be, which in the same breath undermines this element of the reforms. The fact that under the new system an order can be renewed if someone is engaged in further, different, terrorist activity while subject to its restrictions speaks volumes about the frailty of control orders as a means of public protection. I recognise that curfews are an improvement of sorts on virtual house arrest, a feature of the current regime, but as Lord Macdonald said in his report, curfews are still “disproportionate, unnecessary and objectionable”.

Control orders are an affront to British liberty and justice, but—I make this point to the hon. Member for South Antrim—their relevance as a security measure for dealing with a threat on which we all agree is at best minimal. My hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) put it more eloquently. There are eight control orders in force. On the best numeric assessment, there are 4,000 terrorist suspects in this country. Use of the orders against that rising threat has halved. Overall, 15% have absconded. Between 2006 and 2009, £16 million was spent on the regime. That is without factoring in court costs or policing.

The new regime is intended to strengthen the duty to consider prosecuting controlees, but Lord Macdonald pointed out clearly and categorically that control orders are not just a poor substitute, but make prosecution more difficult. He said that the regime is

“an impediment to prosecution… controls may be imposed that precisely prevent those very activities that are apt to result in the discovery of evidence fit for prosecution, conviction and imprisonment”.

With that in mind, the House should note that the number of terrorists convicted in the past three years has not just fallen, but plummeted. The number of convictions has fallen off a cliff edge—90% in three years, according to the October statistics. Control orders cannot reverse that trend. As Lord Macdonald said, they just get in the way.

What is being done to address this pretty fundamental failing in the counter-terrorism strategy that the coalition Government, to be fair, have inherited? What is being done on plea bargaining, prosecutorial policy and intercept evidence? The Home Secretary has indicated that the review on lifting the ban on intercept will continue.

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Both Lord Macdonald and the current Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, support lifting the ban. They say that it can be made to work effectively, as in virtually every other country in the world. However, Liberty has described the Government’s efforts—I think it is a reference to official efforts—to grasp this important reform as “lethargic”. Prosecution is vital. It is not some quaint commitment to legal tradition. In relation to the home-grown threat, suspects cannot be deported, so prosecution and incarceration is the only way to protect the public.

Mr Dodds: I am very interested in what the hon. Gentleman is saying and his emphasis on prosecution and incarceration. He will remember that his party and the Labour party, and indeed the House, voted to release terrorist prisoners who had been duly prosecuted and imprisoned for lengthy periods of time. It was decided that they should be let out, free from the severe punishment that had been meted out to them. That was a decision of this House. Does he now regret the decision to take that course of action, given what he has said about prosecution?

Mr Raab: The right hon. Gentleman makes a valid point. In fairness, that was in the context of an overall conflict resolution settlement. I was not a Member of the House at the time, but I pay deference to an important and valid point.

Richard Fuller: On my hon. Friend’s point about the critical importance of prosecution, is he aware that many of the conditions that apply to control orders also apply to immigration bail conditions: relocation, restriction on communication and tagging, all without any charge and imposed indefinitely? Does he agree that it will be an omission if those restrictions in the conditions are not also considered for change in the review?

Mr Raab: My hon. Friend makes a valid point and is absolutely right that those restrictions should be considered.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newark made an important point about the significance of measures that we consider in this House. The political heat that the debate on control orders has generated over a number of years bears scant resemblance to their relevance as a security measure. In fact, that distracts us from grappling with a growing prosecutorial deficit, which in my view is one of the major problems we face.

There are other vital reforms that we should be grappling with but are not because of the political lightning rod of control orders. Most notably in my view, we should be reforming the Human Rights Act 1998 so that we can deport criminals and terrorist suspects more readily. I want to be clear that we would not necessarily deport them to face torture—I do not support that—but there has been an expansion in article 8 cases, which prevents deportation when it might disrupt family life; I currently have a constituency case dealing with that. That is a bridge too far and a result of judicial legislation. Some changes to the Human Rights Act would restore some balance in that respect.

The increasing fetters on deportation mean that we are importing risk, which is one reason why the previous Government resorted to so much authoritarian legislation

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in the first place. In deference to this Government, I welcome the fact that they are expediting the review on the Human Rights Act and the case for a Bill of Rights. That is an important piece of work and it should not end up in the long grass.

I support the Minister in his efforts, but I struggle to see the case for keeping alive this broken control order regime to limp on indefinitely when there is so much else that we can and should be doing to deport and prosecute those who threaten our country with terrorism.

8.14 pm

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for calling me in this important debate. As we consider control orders and counter-terrorism, it is important to think of the context in which we make these decisions. It is a time of unprecedented flux in the middle east and in north Africa, and what we are seeing there is nothing less than the wholehearted pursuit of liberty. None of us can imagine what it must have been like to be part of the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir square, and none of us has experienced the oppression that Libyan protestors are currently suffering.

All of us are privileged to live in a country where, by and large, freedom has been established and protected for many generations, but it has been clear to many of us for a while that those cherished rights and freedoms have been under attack. The previous Government used the uncertainty created by terrorist atrocities to carry out a widespread squeeze on civil liberties, and they shamefully used fear as a political and electoral weapon. Even their party’s leader, who is not particularly given to making statements about the dubious legacy left to this Government by new Labour, admits that they “seemed too casual” about civil liberties. He has not yet overcome his vagueness and set out a new and generally liberal path, although I hope that he will, and he certainly has not told either shadow Home Secretary whom he has so far appointed.

The coalition Government, however, are making progress—slow but steady progress—in their attempt to regain a better balance between security and liberty, and the counter-terrorism review was an important part of that programme. I am privileged to be a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and I was involved in writing its report on control orders, which I hope Members have read. Along with the Committee, I welcome the review’s conclusion that the current control order regime, which Labour put in place, is too intrusive and fails to demonstrate a commitment to the priority of criminal investigation.

Terrorism prevention and investigation measures are a step forward, and the system is different and better, although it is certainly not perfect, because, as many Members have already said, extra-judicial processes are simply not the right way to proceed. It is a shame that we do not yet have the replacement, and it is a shame of timing that we are not in a position to ditch control orders completely and pass the legislation on TPIMs. That is what I would like, and I have made that point in a number of places in the House. In fact, we should go further. We already have the concept of bail for people who have not yet been convicted of a crime, and that is the model we should use, not the control order regime. I hope that we continue with that thread.

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I am concerned about what will happen in the next nine months if we agree to the order tonight. It seems illogical for the Government to ignore their own assessment of the weaknesses of the control order regime, but that is what is happening. A number of points have been made about Lord Macdonald’s suggestion that the Director of Public Prosecutions should have a role in criminal investigation. I hope that the Minister will respond to that point, which others have made, and that he will be asked to look at each current controlee’s case to see what is the right thing to do.

I am also concerned—in timing and in practice—about the Government’s plan to make emergency legislation available for a stricter version of control orders, which would be introduced in an unforeseen emergency. Lord Macdonald described to the Joint Committee how huge such a disaster would have to be, and the Government say that they will share a draft of the legislation only with those on the Opposition Front Bench. That is wrong. The number of Members who are neither in the Government nor part of the Opposition Front Bench, but who would be interested in seeing such legislation, is very high. We would like to see it, and it should be scrutinised.

I find it hard to imagine what the need would be, but, if there ever were a need, I would like to know that Parliament had thought in the fullness of time about how the legislation would work, and had not made a rushed decision after a huge number of bombs had already gone off. I hope the Government will agree to let all Members see the legislation and go through the same process that they are going through for their emergency legislation on 28 days’ detention.

There are a number of concerns about TPIMs in detail, and I have had the privilege of talking to people in the Home Office and raised the matter with the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. On the measured transition that the Minister described, we know that the review described relocation as too intrusive and inimical to the possibility of prosecution. Will the Minister commit to leaving unused the power for relocation in control orders between now and the new TPIMs regime?

Similarly, can we shorten the curfew periods in control orders as we head towards the new TPIMs regime? I hope that we do not introduce just a shorter curfew. To me, an overnight residence requirement involves a requirement to live somewhere normally, and if I live somewhere normally that means I am typically there between 1 am and 3 am, that I am often there earlier or later, and that sometimes I will get up early and sometimes arrive home late. That, not a shortened curfew, is an ordinary residence requirement.

I hope that the Home Secretary will thoroughly review the current controlees to see how we can bring the regime into line with what we aim for in TPIMs, and as a first step towards getting rid of the whole system. I look forward to the Minister’s comments and hope he will be able to reassure the many of us who wish to see even greater steps away from the abhorrent nature of control orders.

Mr Cash rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. Let me point out that I intend to give the Minister a 10-minute winding-up speech, so the hon. Gentleman has a brief opportunity to contribute if he so wishes.

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8.19 pm

Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): I am extremely grateful to you, Mr Speaker, as ever.

Having listened with great interest to hon. Members’ speeches, I think it is perfectly possible to reconcile them all. With reference to the excellent speech by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Dr McCrea), the whole question of the realities of terrorism has to be dealt with in relation to whether people should, as the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) suggested, be given a proper trial. That is what I keep insisting on in my interventions, as I did in the debate that took place yesterday. These are the real freedoms. At the same time, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab), who makes extremely valuable contributions to these debates, and my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer). I also pay tribute to the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), which may surprise him a little.

All these things can be reconciled if, as the essence of my Bill on the prevention of terrorism proposes, we take out the overhanging shadow of the human rights legislation against which our legislation is constantly being tested. It is simple. We did not have a problem in the days when we ourselves decided on matters such as habeas corpus, fair trial and due process. It is not beyond the wit of our Parliament—in fact, it is the duty of our Parliament—to make proposals that meet all the different requirements. That can be done by sitting down, drafting a Bill, sending it to Committee and coming up with a reconciliation of all those different questions under one simple principle, to which the hon. Member for Islington North rightly referred—that people should be guaranteed the proper justice to which they are entitled when they are confronted with an accusation, whether they are suspected terrorists or serious criminals of a different order.

There may be a public emergency, which can be defined in various ways, in which it is absolutely essential that the Secretary of State, not the courts, should make the decisions, because ultimately the security of the nation has to be prescribed, as Lord Hoffmann clearly stated in a case called Rehman. Following that important judgment he was somewhat criticised by those who want to see a much more relaxed arrangement. National security has to be decided by Secretaries of State not by the judiciary, and once those decisions have been taken, the manner in which the legislation is interpreted by the courts follows.

I leave the argument at that point. We have a review. Let us stick to simple principles. Let us be sure that we give justice even to suspected terrorists, but not at the expense of the security of the state.

8.23 pm

James Brokenshire: I thank all right hon. and hon. Members for their contributions to this measured, considered and useful debate on a range of issues relating to combating and preventing terrorism. I, too, would like to put on record my thanks to the police service and the security services for all that they do in keeping us safe, keeping our constituents safe and keeping our country safe.

I will seek to address as many of the points raised as I can in the time available to me. I thank the hon. Member

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for Bradford South (Mr Sutcliffe) for the support that he is giving to the renewal of this order on a temporary basis until the end of this year. I hope, notwithstanding his comments, that he may be minded to support the important measures that we will introduce on TPIMs. We think that those measures are an important step in bringing forward measures that are less intrusive, with more clearly and tightly defined restrictions. I note that the hon. Gentleman sought to have some political fun, but the serious point is that the review of our terrorism and security powers was about trying to do the right thing for our country, for its security and for our civil liberties. The Prime Minister has made it clear that we will not do anything that puts our national security at risk.

The hon. Gentleman made a number of other points. As for the timing, we will try to introduce the replacement legislation at the earliest opportunity, but we want to get the technical issues right; he will appreciate the legal issues. It is therefore important that we make the revised proposals at the appropriate time after that work is concluded. I reiterate what I said in my opening speech: we want to ensure that there is proper scrutiny by this House of the provisions. He will recall that the provisions on control orders were brought forward in an expedited fashion, and perhaps did not receive such scrutiny and investigation. We believe it is important that that should take place.

Jeremy Corbyn: Does that include pre-legislative scrutiny of the proposed Bill?

James Brokenshire: The Bill will be brought forward and scrutinised in the usual way. I think that the hon. Gentleman may be referring to the draft Bill on the enhanced TPIM provisions, which the hon. Member for Bradford South highlighted. When this matter was raised with Baroness Neville-Jones by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, she said that she would take it away and give it further consideration. We are considering it further.

Hon. Members have asked whether the Security Service is content with the outcome of the review. The Security Service played a full role in the review and provided it with all the facts and assessments required. The director general of the Security Service told the Home Secretary that he was content that the replacement measures and mitigations balanced the risk of the abolition of control orders. I note that the Joint Committee sought the publication of a summary of the views of various agencies and organisations. Again, Baroness Neville-Jones undertook to consider whether such a summary could be produced, but noted that some of the contributors to the review would have views on whether they wished all their evidence and views to be made public, and that it would be necessary to consult on that. We are considering that position further in the light of those statements.

I thank the hon. Member for South Antrim (Dr McCrea) for his impassioned and very personal contribution to the debate. Anyone who was here and who listened to it will have felt his comments keenly. The threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism is significant, and it is vital for the UK’s terrorism legislation framework to be capable of dealing with it. Evidence from Northern Ireland was taken account of as part of the review, and the Home Secretary has discussed the review several

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times with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we take security in Northern Ireland extremely seriously. I know that the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, who is on the Front Bench, would endorse that view in relation to the work of his Department.

I have been asked about cost. The control orders regime cost the Home Office £12.5 million between 2006 and 2010. We will provide sufficient new money for the Security Service and the police to take the mitigating actions that they have identified as necessary.

Other points have been made about the Joint Committee report published this morning. Quarterly reviews are undertaken of the conduct of individuals who may be subject to control orders, the prospects of prosecution and the prospects of gathering evidence that could be used to prosecute. Those are formally reviewed by the relevant authorities on a quarterly basis. This issue is examined further and followed through in that way. I reiterate that it is our priority to get individuals into court on appropriate charges. That is the commitment that the Government have always made.

Some questions were asked about special advocates. As part of the counter-terrorism review, we received a contribution from the special advocates. On 6 July 2010, as part of the package of measures on detainees, the Prime Minister announced a Green Paper on the use of intelligence in judicial proceedings. This will aim to develop a framework for ensuring full judicial and non-judicial scrutiny of intelligence and wider national security activities in line with the Government’s commitments to individual rights and the rule of law, and to protecting national security properly. The Green Paper will need to include consideration of the key concerns that have been expressed about the operation of the special advocate system. We will ensure that the system remains compatible with human rights. We will consider this matter along with the Committee’s other recommendations, and we will respond formally to its report in due course.

Some questions were raised about the use of intercept as evidence. There is an ongoing programme of work on assessing the likely balance of advantage, cost and risk involved in a legally viable model for the use of intercept as evidence, compared with the present approach. Our intention is to provide a report back to Parliament during the summer.

This has been an important debate. We are replacing the control orders with a new, less intrusive, more focused system of terrorism prevention and investigation measures, but we wish to see a safe and managed transition to the new system. This means that, until the new system is in place, we need to retain the control order powers in order to avoid a gap in protection for the public, which is clearly the primary role of the Government. I therefore hope that the House will support the motion.

8.32 pm

One and a half hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the motion, the Speaker put the Question (Standing Order No. 16(1)).

Question agreed to.


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That the draft Prevention of Terrorism At 2005 (Continuance in Force of Sections 1 to 9) Order 2011, which was laid before the House on 3 February, be approved.

Business without Debate

delegated legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Environmental Protection

That the draft Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) (Amendment) Regulations 2011, which were laid before this House on 10 January, be approved.—(Jeremy Wright.)

Question agreed to .

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

That the draft Offshore Chemicals (Amendment) Regulations 2011, which were laid before this House on 10 January, be approved.—(Jeremy Wright.)

Question agreed to .

European Union Documents

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 119(11)),

Audit Policy

That this House takes note of European Union Document No. 15274/10 and Addendum, relating to a Commission Green Paper on Audit Policy—Lessons from the Crisis; and supports the Government’s approach to work closely with the European Commission to deliver an effective framework for audit as part of a corporate governance regime and to promote national solutions to these issues, where appropriate, rather than seeking legislation at EU level.—(Jeremy Wright.)

Question agreed to .


Youth Inclusion Programme (Bristol)

8.33 pm

Stephen Williams (Bristol West) (LD): This petition was presented to me after a visit to the Catch 22 project in the Barton Hill area of my constituency, which is the most deprived ward in the city of Bristol, and one of the most deprived wards in the south of England.

The petition states:

The Petition of residents of Bristol,

Declares that, after nine years of working with the families and young people of East Central Bristol, there is now a real risk that the East Bristol Youth Inclusion Programme will not have its funding renewed; and notes that the Petitioners believe that this cut will have a negative impact, not just on local young people, but also on the wider community.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to ensure that money for preventative work remains ring-fenced, so that young people can be given the necessary support to remain out of the youth justice system, and live fulfilling and empowered lives.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


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Trawlermen’s Pensions

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Jeremy Wright.)

8.34 pm

Alan Johnson (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) (Lab): The purpose of the debate is to bring to the attention of the House and the Minister a scandal involving the maladministration of a pension scheme that has left thousands of distant water trawlermen who reached retirement age up to 30 years ago without a penny of the pension to which they contributed, and thousands more unlikely to receive their pension in future. I am pleased to be joined this evening by hon. Members who represent port constituencies, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr Campbell), the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford) and my hon. Friends the Members for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner), for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) and for Great Grimsby (Austin Mitchell).

I shall set the context. Distant water trawlermen worked in the most arduous and hazardous occupation imaginable, working 18-hour shifts in Arctic waters where temperatures could fall as low as 40° below freezing. In 150 years of distant water trawling from Hull, which was exclusively a distant water port and the biggest in the world, 900 ships were lost at sea—that is six a year—and 6,000 trawlermen were killed. The mortality rate was 14 times higher than in coal mining.

When the industry collapsed as a result of the agreement between Britain and Iceland that ended the so-called cod wars in 1976, a Government Minister, from the Dispatch Box, promised the men compensation, retraining and redeployment. They received nothing. Classified as casual workers, they were thrown on the scrap heap. While the trawler owners were paid millions of pounds in decommissioning grants, not a brass farthing was paid to the trawlermen themselves. That injustice was belatedly rectified by the compensation scheme that the previous Government introduced in 2000, although one aspect of it is still outstanding, and my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby and I have referred it to the parliamentary ombudsman.

As we worked with the ex-trawlermen to achieve that compensation, a number of them referred to a pension scheme that operated in the industry. Some men over 50 had been allowed to commute their pension to a one-off payment, to alleviate the hardship that they suffered as the industry collapsed, but many men said that they could not remember receiving anything from the scheme, even though they were now well beyond pensionable age.

I ascertained that there was indeed a fishermen’s pension scheme, which had been established on 1 April 1961 by a trust deed made on 19 December 1960 between British Trawlers Federation Ltd and Lowndes Associated Pensions Ltd. The scheme was compulsory for those coming into the industry after the date of its introduction. It was a contributory scheme, with the men originally paying sixpence per sea day and the employer ninepence. I add that that is old pence, as a few Members will not remember the conversion to decimal currency, so those sums were 2.5p and 4p

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respectively. Contributions to the scheme ceased in 1979, and benefits ceased to accrue. The benefits accrued up to the date of discontinuance were secured by a group deferred annuity contract underwritten by Norwich Union, which is now Aviva. Capital Cranfield became the trustee when it acquired Lowndes in April 2000.

Having established those facts, I wrote to Aviva in 2006 to find out whether any pensions remained unpaid. My impression was that there might be about 100 such cases. By 2007, I had discovered the full horror story of a scheme in which few records had been kept and no efforts had been made to track down the men whose pensions were due. More than 4,500 trawlermen from Hull, Grimsby, Aberdeen, Fleetwood, Milford Haven and North Shields had reached pensionable age from the 1980s onwards without receiving the pension that they were due. About a quarter of them were from Hull.

The reason for that disgraceful maladministration was that the only record kept of members was their surname, initials and date of birth. There was no record of the men’s national insurance numbers, their addresses or any other pertinent information by which they could be traced. There had been no attempt to rectify the situation and nobody in the communities affected was alerted to the problem, least of all the MPs. The unpaid pensions simply remained in the fund while many of the men affected lived out their old age in penury.

Aviva, the insurer, had been paying benefits—or more accurately not paying benefits—without the intervention of the trustees since 1986, at the request of the then trustee, Sedgwick Noble Lowndes, which, as I said, is now part of Capital Cranfield. That in itself seems a strange arrangement and one that neither party should have allowed.

As well as the 4,500 men who had reached pensionable age, there were 8,879 still below 65 with little prospect of receiving their money as they became eligible. Since I wrote to the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Pensions Regulator in January 2007 to alert them to the scandal, a great deal of effort has gone into finding the missing fishermen.

Aviva has worked with local MPs on the Find the Fisherman campaign, which we agreed should run for two years. At the end of that time, in October 2009, Members of Parliament met Aviva and Capital Cranfield to take stock. Aviva, in its briefing note for this debate, talks about unclaimed assets being “common across the industry” and, after setting out details of the Find the Fisherman campaign, states that “some members remain unpaid”.

For “some”, read 6,837. That is the figure that we were given for the men who had not been—and probably never would be—traced at the end of the campaign. That is more than half the scheme membership. Perhaps the Minister will tell me whether he believes that that level of unclaimed assets is at all “common across the industry”.

With my hon. Friends the Members for Great Grimsby and for Aberdeen North (Mr Doran) and my former hon. Friends the Members for Cleethorpes and for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood, who also attended the meeting with Aviva and Capital Cranfield in October 2009, I put forward proposals that would allow the schemes to be wound up fairly.

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First, we would need to agree how to distribute the surplus in the scheme coffers. At that time it was £2 million, although I heard this morning that Capital Cranfield is saying it is £1.3 million. The disparity has yet to be explained to us.

Secondly, provision needs to be made for unidentified beneficiaries who may come forward in future. Thirdly, we sought payment to the 50-odd families for whom payment is disputed. Those are cases in which Aviva says that the money has been paid, usually in the 1980s, but it has no proof of payment and the families are adamant that it was never received.

In that respect, let me explain how the payment system worked as described by the chief executive of Aviva in a letter to one of my constituents:

“When an employer wanted to claim a pension on behalf of one of his employees he would make an application to the Royal National Mission”—

the seaman’s mission—

“who acted as an intermediary and would in turn apply to Norwich Union on behalf of the employer. Norwich Union would verify the details against the policy and authorise a payment to be made to the Mission who would then pay the employer so they are able to pass the money on to the individual fisherman”.

He goes on:

“I appreciate this will appear unnecessarily complex but, rightly or wrongly, this is how payments were settled in the past”.

I think that we would all agree that it was “wrongly”.

A scheme with no national insurance numbers and no addresses relied on trawler owners, who were gradually disappearing as the industry was in terminal decline, to go through the seaman’s mission—which incidentally informed Norwich Union, as it was then, 12 years ago that it did not have the resources to undertake this work—to give cheques to men who in the main did not have bank accounts.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): From my knowledge of the fishing industry and how it works, I would say that sometimes fishing organisations that represent the people have a record of their membership. I am sure that that has been checked, but if not, it may be a method, even at this late stage, of getting a wee bit more information.

Alan Johnson: I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion. He is right—records are kept. We have looked at all those possible avenues, including the DWP’s tracing arrangements and the former Department of Trade and Industry’s records of trawlermen. We have exhausted every avenue to try to find those men.

Perhaps the Minister will understand why we say, given the convoluted way in which the payments were made, that the benefit of considerable doubt in disputed cases should rest with the men and their families.

Our final proposal concerns recompense. We feel strongly that some compensation should be paid to the men and/or their communities for the appalling way in which the scheme has been administered.

The trustees and the insurers had a financial and moral responsibility to scheme members, which they failed to fulfil. The way this scheme operated would have shamed an office sweepstake organiser. The fact that the men whose interests they should have safeguarded did one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs imaginable,

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and in the main spent their old age scraping for every penny while money that could have eased their plight was never paid to them, adds to the sense of injustice within those proud communities.

Since October 2009, we have been fortunate to have the services of a pensions expert from Thompsons solicitors working pro bono on our behalf to try to bring the arrangements discussed then to a successful conclusion. Seventeen months later, there has been little progress, and no further approaches to the port MPs by Aviva or Capital Cranfield to resolve the outstanding issues.

In the absence of any ex-trawlermen or anyone from the affected communities among the trustees, I believe it is incumbent on Aviva-Capital Cranfield to seek the approval of the port MPs for the final arrangements to wind up these schemes. Perhaps the Minister will tell us to whom those are companies answerable. I understand that they are proposing to agree their own fees for the wind up—the money will come from the scheme. There must surely be some external oversight of those arrangements.

The port MPs wish to meet the Minister to explore the issues surrounding that scheme and smaller associated schemes in more detail, and we think that it would be beneficial to have the Pensions Regulator present. Surely he must have a role in ensuring that the schemes are wound up in an orderly and timely fashion, with the interests of the members properly protected.

We seek from the Minister nothing beyond his understanding of how badly this scheme has been administered and his assistance in bringing this long saga to a conclusion that is acceptable to port MPs, as virtually the only remaining representatives of those fishing communities. We seek no public money and no taxpayer contributions.

Finally, I ask the House to imagine the outcry there would be if thousands of bankers, civil servants, or even former MPs had been treated in such a way. That would be a huge story that we would be following regularly in the national media. This has been an almost silent scandal, but this evening’s debate will, I hope, bring it to the attention of a wider audience in the quest for justice for communities who contributed so much, sacrificed so many and yet were treated so abysmally.

8.47 pm

Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby) (Lab): I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson) on securing this debate and on the fight he has put up, and indeed initiated, on behalf of the fishermen. Icelandic fishing finished in 1976, and the middle water fishing that went out of Grimsby finished in the ’80s with the laying up of the cat class British United Trawlers vessels, and the industry has been in abeyance as a powerful force since. It is a tragedy and a scandal that this matter has not been cleared up, so many years after the death of the distant water fishing industry. We are also still fighting for compensation for fishermen who did not receive it under the two schemes operated by the Labour Government.

The fact is that the pension scheme was appalling. It was badly administered and badly run, and the fishermen were treated with total contempt by the owners. The

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owners had to set up a scheme, but set up the meanest scheme possible. It was run inadequately first of all by Lowndes, which became Noble Lowndes. It then passed in a series of shuffles to General Accident, and finished up with Norwich Union, which promptly changed its name to Aviva.

My attempts to grapple with the problem began in the early ’80s. Some people were allowed to withdraw their pensions, but some were refused. I took up some of the more difficult cases with the Office for Pensions Administration, which investigated the scheme and found that the records were in an appalling state. The company did not know to whom it was due to pay pensions. It had no records of their addresses or dependants, and it made no attempt to contact them to say that there was money to be collected on their behalf. It was not until pressure was brought to bear by my right hon. Friend, working with the fishing port MPs, that we got a response. To be fair, Norwich Union, and subsequently Aviva, has done its best to contact those concerned, working with the mission and the port MPs, and putting adverts in local papers. A large number of people have come forward to make claims, but, as my right hon. Friend has said, there remains a substantial number who have not been found who are still owed money—substantial sums in some cases; small sums in most cases—by the scheme.

The time has come for the scheme to be wound up and for the Minister to exercise whatever power he has. It is time for the company, working with the fishing port MPs, to wind up the scheme. We have decided that the money could best be paid to fishing charities, to support fishing families in desperate need. That would be a fair use of it. However, after all this time, the company owes us the decency of adding a substantial sum in compensation to the sums already in scheme to be wound up, because here we are, after 34 years, still arguing for justice for the fisherman. That could have happened to no other section of our society. It is appalling that we have to do this, but let us now get it done. Let us get this monstrous scheme wound up.

8.51 pm

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): It is common courtesy, simply as a matter of routine, to congratulate the Member who has secured a debate, but in this case I sincerely congratulate the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson), because he has a track record of campaigning on this issue over a number of years. I looked at some of the articles on his website, and I recognise that he and other right hon. and hon. Members have done an important service to their constituents and the trawlermen. He spoke powerfully and evocatively about the lives that they led and their quite proper demand for justice.

I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for that work and for, as he said, giving a voice to what has to some extent been a silent campaign. I must admit that when the titled “Trawlermen’s pensions” came out of the hat, I raised an eyebrow and wondered what the subject was. As I have read up on the issue and as my officials have provided me with briefings, I have been quite startled by, as has been said, the shoddy record

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keeping of the various schemes right from the beginning. It seems incredible to think that a pension scheme could have just a name, an initial and a date of birth—for example, “Smith, J., 1920”, or whatever. It just seems hopeless.

It was clearly a different world back then. We did not have the Pensions Regulator, a pensions ombudsman, the Pensions Advisory Service or the pension tracing service. A lot of those institutions have come about partly to ensure that such situations do not arise again. I want to talk predominantly about the trawlermen and their situation this evening, but I should also say that good record keeping in company pension schemes has not completely gone away as an issue. Even this year, the regulator has been doing more work to ensure that schemes keep proper records. I would like to use this opportunity to reiterate the vital importance both of schemes keeping proper records—something that the trawlermen’s case demonstrates—and, if records are not in order, of doing something now to put them in order to avoid a recurrence of anything similar.

Let me draw together where we are now and where we go from here. I recognise that in the limited time available I might not be able to cover all the detail that I would like to, so let me say that I would be more than happy to meet the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to discuss how we might take matters further, although I do have an update for him of where we have progressed things in the interim.

We are talking about five schemes, all of which are now administered by Aviva. One confusing aspect of this situation is that the schemes have traded under different names at different times. The principal scheme is the fishermen’s pension scheme, which had around £1.3 million of assets as of June 2010, as the right hon. Gentleman said—obviously these things fluctuate—and around 4,800 remaining members, but there are four others: the Fleetwood fishermen’s scheme, the Scottish trawler fishermen’s pension scheme, the Fairtry pension scheme and the Hull fish merchants’ pension scheme. The right hon. Gentleman talked about tuppence-ha’penny and fourpence going in, but what is unusual about those schemes is that, essentially, the amounts coming from them are in many cases not pensions at all, but lump sums of, say, £300 or £400. This leads to confusion about where some of the money has gone. If someone was told that they were paid a pension but they said that they were not, it would be obvious and easy to decide, but on the whole we are talking not about pensions but about a right to a small amount relative to a lifetime of pension receipt. In the past, those amounts were often paid as lump sums.

Alan Johnson: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way and for agreeing to a meeting. The amounts involved average £600, and, as with any average, many of the amounts are higher. The people involved did not have bank accounts, and when the battle rages about disputed payments—there are about 53 cases—it is important to recognise that fact. One of my constituents, unusually, had a bank account in the 1980s and he was able absolutely to prove his case. Aviva said it had sent the money via the seaman’s mission and the employer so that it eventually ended with him, but he was able to prove from his bank account that the money had not arrived. In the one case where there is any proof, we can

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see that it clearly supported the side of the trawlermen and their families. That is why we say that people should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Steve Webb: One issue that I know has been suggested to the right hon. Gentleman in the past, but as far as I am aware has not so far been taken up—he will correct me if I am wrong—is how far the pensions ombudsman could be used for this purpose. There are issues of cases being out of time, but it might be worth considering whether the pensions ombudsman can provide a route to resolve some of the disputed cases. It is an issue that we could discuss further.

The right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Austin Mitchell) stressed the need to wind the schemes up as soon as possible. One problem has been the absence of trustees and the difficulty of tracking people down. I asked my officials to speak to the Pensions Regulator on that very subject. As the former Secretary of State will know, the regulator is operationally independent of the Department and therefore cannot be told what to do by me, although I am sure that he is doing his best for the trawlermen.

We spoke to the Pensions Regulator’s office today to find out the latest information and to try to ensure that things move forward as quickly as possible. The regulator confirmed that he expects Capital Cranfield to be appointed to the other three schemes where it is not already the trustee. I understand that the appointments are imminent. Capital Cranfield will be in a position to resolve issues quickly, and I certainly hope that it will do so.

I should add, given that the hon. Member for Great Grimsby asked about costs and charges, that Capital Cranfield has confirmed that it is willing to take on the trusteeship of the additional schemes at no charge. The regulator is taking all urgent steps to get the trustees in place quickly—within weeks. I hope that getting those trustees in place and getting the schemes dealt with by a single trustee will represent an important step forward. My impression from the briefing provided by Capital Cranfield is that the lessons learned from the biggest scheme can be applied quickly across all schemes to bring these matters to a satisfactory conclusion.

The decision about what should happen to the balance of the funds is important. The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that this issue is governed by a number of factors—fundamentally, trust law and tax law. There are formidable barriers to taking money from a pension fund under trust law for which tax relief and so forth is given. There is quite a web—if you will pardon the phrase, Mr Speaker—of complex legislation surrounding the use of that money for an entirely laudable purpose, but one that is different from the trust’s original purpose. I believe that Capital Cranfield has looked at that option and I know that the right hon. Gentleman is in dialogue with it. I would be happy to discuss it further with him when we meet, but I place on record the fact that there is a significant barrier to that approach.

Very much prompted by the right hon. Gentleman’s efforts, Aviva undertook the Find a Fisherman exercise. I understand that one further exercise is being undertaken to try to track down those who might not have made claims. This uses a service known as Assets Reunited and it is used to track down any people not already found. It is a dwindling exercise, but I am pleased to hear that this ongoing effort is being made.

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The right hon. Gentleman asked to whom the companies involved are answerable. There is a sequence. They are answerable initially to the members of the scheme, who have some representation—typically they are represented by the trustees, although the position varies—and are then answerable to the regulator. The regulator is becoming very involved, and I welcome the work that it has already done. In the event of maladministration, that is where the pensions ombudsman comes in. I should be happy to discuss with Opposition Members the scope for involving the ombudsman, particularly in the disputed cases.

I understand that the overall sum that we are discussing is about £1.7 million across the five schemes, and, as we have heard, there are between 6,500 and 7,000 untraced members. Given that the record keeping was so poor, it is not surprising—although entirely to be condemned—that it has been impossible to trace half the members involved. It is reasonable to assume that, thanks to the efforts of the Pensions Regulator to improve record keeping, the failure to find members will not be repeated on the same scale. As I have said, the problem does not occur as much in large, well-run schemes, but one of the features of pension funds is a very long tail. In many very small schemes record keeping may not be particularly good, and problems not dissimilar to this may well have arisen in other schemes. As was pointed out by the hon. Member for Great Grimsby, over a period the assets of the schemes and member records have passed through various companies owing to corporate amalgamations and acquisitions, which has increased the difficulty of tracking people down and finding out what has happened to the money.

Capital Cranfield has expressed the hope that matters will be pretty close to resolution by, certainly, the end of this year. I know that the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle has been involved in the issue for about four years, but these schemes were set up 50 years ago, and it has been a long saga. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the sooner we can resolve the matter and convey the money to the people who should have it, the better.

There is also the question of the balance of the fund. I shall leave aside for the moment the idea of an alternative charitable or other use. In the normal sequence of events, part of the balance would be used to buy a deferred annuity for any deferred member who might no longer be a trawlerman—presumably that applies to pretty much all of them now—and who had not yet reached pension age within the scheme: in other words, to buy a product that would match the pension promise made to that scheme member. That would be the first call on the funds, but a second possibility would be the purchase of an insurance policy. If new members turned up after the scheme had been wound up, the policy would pay out and they could also make a claim.

If, after all that, there was a surplus in the fund, it would be a matter for the trustees and the administrators to consider how the money is allocated. I understand that the most straightforward option available—although it is a matter for them, not for me—is to allocate the money to the people who are still members of the scheme. One of the questions that I have asked when we have discussed the matter in the Department is whether it would be possible to pay it to the people who had

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received the lump sum some years ago, but in many cases that money was paid and those people cannot be traced.

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle on raising an important

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issue of injustice. I am happy to commit myself to working with him and with the Pensions Regulator to try to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

Question put and agreed to.

9.3 pm

House adjourned.