Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Prevention of Terrorism Bill

3.8 p.m.

Brought from the Commons on Monday 28 February and printed pursuant to Standing Order 51; read a first time.

Business of the House: Standing Order 47

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.
1 Mar 2005 : Column 115

Moved, That Standing Order 47 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with today to allow the Prevention of Terrorism Bill to be read a second time.—(Baroness Amos.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Gambling Bill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to which the Gambling Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order: Clauses 1 to 11 Schedule 1 Clauses 12 to 14 Schedule 2 Clause 15 Schedule 3 Clauses 16 to 20 Schedule 4 Clause 21 Schedule 5 Clauses 22 to 29 Schedule 6 Clauses 30 to 124 Schedule 7 Clauses 125 to 138 Schedule 8 Clauses 139 to 173 Schedule 9 Clauses 174 to 241 Schedule 10 Clauses 242 to 252 Schedule 11 Clauses 253 to 269 Schedule 12 Clauses 270 to 278 Schedule 13 Clauses 279 to 284 Schedule 14 Clauses 285 to 290 Schedule 15 Clauses 291 to 349 Schedules 16 and 17 Clauses 350 to 351 Schedule 18 Clauses 352 and 353.—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


Lord Grocott: My Lords, before we begin the Second Reading of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, perhaps I may give noble Lords the usual information about time. We have nearly seven hours before the normal finishing time of ten o'clock. Thirty-nine
1 Mar 2005 : Column 116
speakers are on the list. That leaves comfortably 10 minutes for each Back-Bench contribution in order for us to meet our target rising time. Ten minutes is not a bad offering for each individual.

Prevention of Terrorism Bill

3.10 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Scotland of Asthal, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

In my opening remarks I should explain precisely to your Lordships in what form the Bill has left the House of Commons. That way I hope we can avoid confusion on this point and have a properly informed Second Reading debate. Yesterday, the other place debated the Prevention of Terrorism Bill in Committee on the Floor of the other place and at Third Reading. As noble Lords are no doubt aware, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary told the other place that he would propose amendments to the Bill.

The Home Secretary explained that he had been considering very carefully all the representations that had been made to him. He was prepared to contemplate making changes, so as to create as wide a consensus as possible across Parliament to support this Bill. The Home Secretary also said that the necessary amendments to the Bill would be tabled in time for Committee stage in this House, which will be done. The amendments will be ready for 9.30 a.m. tomorrow and will be available through the usual channels.

This Bill needs to be seen in the context of the scale of the continuing and serious threat to the security of the United Kingdom from terrorism. A primary issue raised by this Bill is whether, in the light of the threat that this country faces, it is appropriate and necessary to introduce a process which goes beyond the powers of the normal criminal prosecution process to protect the nation against terrorism. It is the Government's view that there is such a requirement to introduce such a process and to impose restrictions on individuals where absolutely necessary. But it is also the Government's view that we should ensure that such powers are subject to stringent safeguards.

Perhaps I may quote from simply one observer on the current position in relation to the threat. I choose the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, a Member of this House, who has reviewed the terrorism legislation. He said:

1 Mar 2005 : Column 117

That was the assessment of an independent reviewer. It is a view shared by very many people.

Some believe that the absence in this country of a terrorist outrage, such as 9/11, Atocha or Bali means that the terrorist threat has somehow passed us by or failed to materialise. The Government do not take that view. We take the view that there is a threat of mass casualties in this country and overseas. The threat is made worse by three particular aspects: first, the willingness of those engaged in terrorism to cause cataclysmic events, such as 9/11; secondly, the well funded nature of the terrorism; and, thirdly, the fact that people are prepared to die in the course of exercising those terrorist atrocities.

A principal responsibility of the Government is to protect this country and everyone within it as best they can, but consistent with the rule of law and human rights obligations. The Government are determined that consistent with the rule of law we will take the steps which are necessary to ensure our safety.

The Government have made it clear repeatedly that wherever possible our priority will always be to prosecute suspected terrorists through the criminal courts. Therefore, as I said at the outset, the vital question is whether we can leave the problem that I have described to the normal police and criminal procedures or whether additional measures are necessary. We believe that we cannot leave it simply to the ordinary processes. It is the view of the Government, on the advice of the security services, that the provisions in this Bill are a necessary component of our weapons to fight terrorism.

In that context there has been much debate about the potential benefit of the—

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, I apologise for interrupting. Perhaps the Minister can help me with something that has been puzzling me. Of course I accept that there is a serious threat, but the provisions which were challenged by the Law Lords originally applied only to foreign nationals and not to British citizens. So if there is such a serious threat from British citizens, why did the Government act only following that challenge? Why was it not necessary to take action before then?

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page