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Lord Kingsland: My Lords, the Government have accused the Opposition—

Lord Joffe: My Lords—

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, I beg your pardon.

Lord Joffe: My Lords, I am a relatively inexperienced Cross-Bencher who is bemused by what is happening in this House and wants to make the right decision on which way to vote. Is the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor willing to summarise the precise reasons why the Government oppose the sunset clause?

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, the Government have accused us of intransigence in the course of the past 24 hours. Yet their concessions during this period have been derisory compared to our own. We have conceded on the rule-making powers of the Lord Chief Justice. We have conceded on placing Article 6 on the face of the Bill. We are conceding today on the insertion of a committee of Privy Counsellors to review the Bill. Yesterday we conceded on the time for the kicking in of the sunset clause.

This morning we hear that the Liberal Party has decided to table its amendment after removing the very important role of the DPP. We shall support the Liberal amendment when it is moved by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, although we are extremely sad about its dilution.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, the situation has changed in a certain material respect. We have had debates in this House in which disquiet has been repeatedly expressed. The situation that will be considered by the review committee is rather different from before. The Government would be very unwise to ignore what has happened in this House. Does the noble Lord concede therefore that when we consider the review committee we are considering something very different from what we were considering before?

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, I certainly do not make that concession. I was not actually talking about the review committee when the noble Lord intervened; but nevertheless since he asks whether I would make that concession I do not. It is wholly different from the sunset clause and entirely unacceptable to us. Quite apart from anything else, it would not give your Lordships' House the opportunity to amend the Bill before it was renewed; and there are many other reasons why we should oppose it.

If I may return to the DPP, this would have been a very important guarantee on the face of the Bill had we been able to sustain it as part of the amendment. This is because control orders should be kept to the absolute minimum. The most important way to deal with terrorism is through the prosecutorial process. It guarantees the individual the right to have a fair trial.
 
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Control orders do not. If the DPP is not obliged to investigate every case thoroughly, there is a danger that the control order system will be abused. So we regret the removal of the DPP although we will be supporting the Liberal Democrat Party in its amendment.

In his opening speech, the noble and learned Lord addressed everything except the merits of the Motion he moved. Now is not the time to go through the arguments that have been adduced on either side during these debates. I just say this about our amendment on the sunset clause. We have been flexible on the question of time. The noble and learned Lord has, on more than one occasion, suggested that our attempt to amend the Bill has in some way assisted the terrorist cause. We wholly repudiate that suggestion and, indeed, remind the noble and learned Lord that all the advice he has been getting, on his own admission, is that the insertion of the sunset clause would not in any way affect the effectiveness of the Bill in the fight against terrorism.

Baroness Lockwood: My Lords, the noble Lord said that the review would not enable this House to move amendments to the legislation. I suggest that neither would a sunset clause, which would bring the legislation to an end. The review can make recommendations about amendments to the Bill. Then it would be up to the Government and the two Houses, after the procedure had been renewed, to come forward with amendments to the Bill on the grounds of the reviewers' recommendation.

This is not a question of permanently withdrawing individual rights or habeas corpus. The legislation will not remain on the statute book for ever.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Baroness Lockwood: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord King, himself, and several other Members referred to the Government's proposal that the whole question of the regulation of terrorism and the removal of the threat be looked at carefully so that we can all agree on the fundamentals of a new Bill—a comprehensive Bill—which will come to both Houses at a later date. So I think that we are exaggerating the importance of a sunset clause in comparison with the assurances and the amendments that have been made to the review process by the Government.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for her intervention and her question. I am afraid that I have, most respectfully, to disagree with her. The whole point of the sunset clause is that the Bill dies and you have a new Bill, so we can formulate it in any way we want. We cannot do that with the clause that the Government have inserted.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord King, is right. There has been a time limit in practice on the Bill; it has come from the decision of the Law Lords, which we respect. One could have extended for a short time the Part 4 powers but,
 
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ultimately, because the Law Lords said that the earlier part was incompatible with human rights, we rightly took the view that we should introduce a new Bill.

I also accept the noble Lord's definition of what has happened. There has been a significant number of improvements made in this House. That is what this House is for, and I do not for one moment shirk from that. But there comes a point when a decision has to be made. The noble Lord, Lord Joffe, quite rightly asked us to summarise the arguments for not having a sunset clause. We accept the proposition that the Bill should be kept under review. That is why we have introduced, as the Bill has gone through, provisions for renewal, which mean that annually the Bill has to be debated by both Houses, and only if both Houses approve it does it continue. We have also introduced a review by an independent reviewer. In the ping-pong that has been going on over the past 24 hours we have introduced a provision that says, in effect, that that review must be available before each annual renewal, so that at the time when the Houses of Parliament debate the renewal they are informed by the criticisms, if there are any, or the recommendations, if there are any, made by the reviewer on it.

12.30 p.m.

Should we go one step further and say that there is no law on terrorism if both Houses of Parliament cannot agree? That is the critical point why we do not go as far as a sunset clause. We have done what is done so often and so sensibly in this House: to introduce a review clause. I accept that the consequence of not having a sunset clause is that there is not hanging over the terrorist law the possibility that there will be no terrorist law. The reason why we do not think that that is the appropriate course is that we are advised by the security services that there is a threat and that it will continue.

The noble Lord, Lord King, is absolutely right: no government should accept what is said by the police or the security services on a proposal such as this without interrogating them as firmly and as effectively as one possibly can. But we have done that, and we have decided to take their advice. I anticipate that people with such records as those of the noble Lords, Lord King, Lord Waddington, Lord Baker or Lord Brittan, would equally have taken the same advice.

Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has made the point that the reason against the sunset clause is that it runs the risk that there will be no law. At the very beginning of his response this time, he recognised that there was universal support in this House, in all parties, that there has to be law to deal with these issues. Therefore, whatever was the government, it is inconceivable that any government would not recognise the responsibility; use their majority to achieve it if necessary; and look to the responsible response of opposition parties to ensure that at all times in this country—because no one party has the monopoly of responsibility for the security of our citizens—there would be a law in place.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I quite agree that no one party has such a responsibility. We seek to
 
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agree on these issues. But the power to renew with the review ensures, if we are all agreed on what should be done, that the Bill—or the Act as it then would be—could be amended. We should not introduce a provision that says, "It is possible there could be no anti-terrorism law" at a time when we agree that the threat will continue.


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