§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Roy Jenkins)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The House is already aware of the reasons which have led the Government to introduce this Bill and of the broad outlines of the Bill itself. This Government, in common with their predecessors, have given the highest priority to measures to combat and to overcome terrorism. We have always affirmed that, so long as the basic political solution eluded us, only skilled and patient police work could achieve this end. But again, like my predecessors, I have throughout said that if at any time it seemed that it would be necessary and helpful to seek additional powers which would assist that work I should not hesitate to seek Parliament's approval for them.
That time has now come. We have had only too many opportunities of giving expression to our feelings of detestation of these attacks and sympathy to the victims of them. I hope that today we shall approach with determination and reasonable expedition the task of making sure that our defences against further outrages are in this situation as effective as we can make them.
It is the police who are our main protection against terrorism and it is to the police that we must give our sustenance and support. It cannot be without reluctance that we contemplate powers of the kind proposed in the Bill, involving as they must some encroachment—limited but real—on the liberties of individual citizens. Few things would provide a more gratifying victory to the terrorists than for this country to undermine its traditional freedoms in the very process of countering the enemies of those freedoms. This we must keep in mind not only today but in the future as we persevere in what may not be a short struggle to eradicate terrorism from this country.
635 As the House knows, the Bill proposes strengthened powers in four broad areas. First, it proscribes the IRA and makes display of support for it illegal. Second, the Bill makes it possible to make exclusion orders against persons who are involved in terrorism. Third, the Bill gives the police wide powers to arrest and detain, within limits, suspected terrorists. Fourth, it gives the police powers to carry out a security check on all travellers entering and leaving Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In Part I of the Bill, Clauses 1 and 2 deal with proscribed organisations. Under Clause 1(2) the organisation listed in Schedule 1, the Irish Republican Army, is proscribed forthwith. It will be an offence to belong, or to profess to belong, to the IRA, to invite or to provide money for it, and to arrange or to address a meeting in support of it. The maximum penalty on conviction on indictment will be five years' imprisonment. As a necessary safeguard, paragraph 3(1) of Schedule 3 provides that a prosecution for an offence under this clause requires the fiat of the Attorney-General.
The Secretary of State has powers under subsection (3) to add to Schedule 1 any organisation that is concerned in terrorism in the United Kingdom connected with Northern Irish affairs. Terrorism means the use of violence for political ends and includes any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public in fear.
The limitation to Northern Irish affairs does not, of course, mean that we regard other forms of terrorism as any less objectionable. But the proscribing of named organisations is for us a wholly exceptional measure and can be justified only by a wholly exceptional situation—a clear and present danger, as I described it in my statement on Monday, such as now confronts us. I have no immediate intention of adding further organisations to the list. But I shall certainly add other organisations, of whatever complexion, if necessary.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South-West)
Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify one matter which is causing some concern outside this House? Are we to take it that this provision includes both the provisional and the official IRA?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I have never claimed, and do not claim now, that proscription of the IRA will of itself reduce terrorist outrages. But the public should no longer have to endure the affront of public demonstrations in support of that body. Under Clause 2 it will be an offence to wear clothes or to display articles in public demonstrating such support. I have thus taken the opportunity to ensure beyond doubt that it will be an offence to wear articles which are plainly IRA insignia but which may fall short of the requirements for a successful prosecution under the Public Order Act. We are also increasing the penalties here.
Part II deals with exclusion orders. Its concept is derived from the Prevention of Violence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1939. Its object is to enable the Secretary of State to exclude from Great Britain and, if they are not citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, from the United Kingdom as a whole certain people who are concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism or who attempt, or may attempt, to enter the country with a view to being so concerned. Here again, terrorism means acts of violence for political ends designed to influence public opinion or Government policy with respect to affairs in Northern Ireland.
Only a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies may qualify for exemption from having an exclusion order made against him. Such a person is exempt if he is ordinarily resident in Great Britain and has been so for 20 years or if he was born in Great Britain and has lived here ever since.
I should also like to make clear that the order I propose to make under Clause 8—a draft of it has been made available to hon. Members—will secure that a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies who has no other citizenship may not be removed to a place outside the United Kingdom unless he has indicated his willingness to go there.
The Bill ensures that someone who is not a citizen and is excluded from Great Britain commits a serious offence if he goes to Northern Ireland, and that he can be removed from there. There is no question of using Northern Ireland as a dumping ground for Irish terrorists who 637 have no close connection with Northern Ireland.
There is a technical point which I should explain about exclusion orders made against non-citizens under Clause 6. These will be orders for exclusion from the United Kingdom, and the Bill enables such orders to be made whether the person affected is in or seeking to enter either Great Britain or Northern Ireland. But in relation to the latter category—that is, Northern Ireland—the Bill needs some adaptation because the arrangements provided for in Great Britain are inappropriate in the Northern Ireland situation. Some of the adaptation is done in Clause 6 itself, but to enable the detail to be filled in the clause empowers the Secretary of State to make further adaptations by order. The Government intend that an order will be made as soon as possible.
In proposing these exceptional powers I have had in mind the need to be able to take effective action against those who are involved in the terrorist campaign but against whom there is not evidence of the kind needed for a successful prosecution, and, on the other hand, to introduce sufficient safeguards for those who are made subject to exclusion orders. The right to make representations in Clause 4 derives from the 1939 Act, but I have introduced an additional safeguard—additional to that provided in 1939—in Clause 3(2) designed to prevent a person being removed to some place with which he has no real connection, whether on the basis of his nationality or length of residence or other consideration.
I have considered carefully whether a full-scale system of judicial review should be introduced into the procedure for representations in Clause 4. But exclusion orders are concerned with national security rather than with judicial issues and, distasteful though this may be to me and to others—it involves a particular burden upon me for the time being—the final decision must, I believe, rest with the Secretary of State.
Nevertheless, I think it right that I should have informed advice and that it would be appropriate to indicate how I approach this issue. In making exclusion orders, matters of grave national security are involved. We must not be inhibited, by an inability to use highly sensitive 638 information, from getting rid of terrorists who may, if we do not get rid of them, commit in the future some dreadful act in this country. Advice must, therefore, be sought from people to whom secrets affecting national security can be entrusted. There can be, therefore, no question of open proceedings or the public presentation of evidence. At the same time, it is essential to ensure that individual liberties are safeguarded. Those to whom representations against exclusion are put must be men of reputation whose impartiality and sense of fairness is beyond question.
There are no recent or exact precedents. There are arrangements for dealing with cases involving national security in the public services and in the context of deportation. Advisers have been appointed to whom the person affected by a security decision may put his case. Having reviewed the case for and against the person concerned, the advisers make their report. The final decision is then taken by the Minister concerned, taking into account the advice given. For the present purpose I hope to have the assistance in this way of men of independent note either in the law or in public affairs.
Clause 7 deals with powers of arrest and detention in connection with terrorism.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
Without asking the right hon. Gentleman to commit himself, in that context may I ask him to bear in mind the precedent of the aliens tribunal arrangements which operated throughout the war under the distinguished chairmanship of the late Lord Birkett, which had to handle precisely this problem, and to bear in mind also the very grave and intricate security matters involved?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I shall certainly bear that in mind. I shall bear carefully in mind all precedents here concerned. But what I must make clear is that we must have a body here to which highly sensitive information can be communicated, otherwise the purposes will be defeated, and that, compatibly with human rights, we must have reasonable expedition in these matters. The people concerned will have to be held in close custody until a decision is reached. It will not be possible to say that someone is a 639 grave security risk to this country and, in the circumstances we have experienced recently, allow them to go about their ordinary business while a decision is arrived at. I must here try to strike an extremely delicate balance. That I shall endeavour to do to the best of my ability. But what are here involved are the gravest matters of national security.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)
I am obliged to my right hon. Friend for the explanation that he has given of this clause. Taking up the point made by the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), may I ask whether there will be an opportunity for these people to get help and advice when seeking to make representations, having regard to the speed which will be necessary? Also, may I ask my right hon. Friend when he will be naming his adjudicators in this particular case, so that public fear about this system can be damped down?
§ Mr. Jenkins
On the second aspect, I must point out to my hon. Friend that they are not, and cannot be, adjudicators. This is bound to be, in my view, an executive decision, with all the heavy responsibility there involved. In the last resort, the decision must be mine. They will be advisers and not adjudicators. They will be advisers to whose opinion I shall obviously give the greatest weight. But if one is to exercise executive decision in matters of this importance, the ultimate responsibility must rest upon the relevant Secretary of State, who, I regret to say, will for this purpose be me.
§ Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)
Am I to understand from the reply that has been given to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) that, in fact, there will be no possibility of any legal representation being given to the person detained to help him to make his representations to the advisers? Does it mean, therefore, that he will be held in custody without advice and that the matter will then be adjudicated upon by these clandestine advisers?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I will certainly announce the advisers. They will not be clandestine in this case. I have not excluded the possibility of legal advice. 640 I should like to consider this matter further, but I must make it clear that there can be no possibility here of a judicial hearing in the full sense, since this would be defeating what I believe are the necessary purposes of this measure.
§ Mr. James Kilfedder (Down, North)
On the question of exclusion orders, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman what he would do if the Dublin Government refused to accept a person against whom an exclusion order was made in this country? Has he had any talks with them?
§ Mr. Jenkins
If he is a citizen of the Republic of Ireland—I cannot think how the Dublin Government would come into the matter if he were not—they have no right to refuse entry to him. They have no power to do that. They must accept their own citizens when they are excluded from other countries. That is the fundamental position here. I do not think that the situation to which the hon. Gentleman referred is practical.
As I indicated earlier, if hon. Members were following me, there is no question of allowing people with citizenship of the Republic of Ireland and no other citizenship, having been excluded from this country, to be able legally to find their way into Northern Ireland.
Clause 7 deals with powers of arrest and detention in connection with terrorism. The particular point which I draw to the attention of the House is that under this provision the police will be able to arrest a person whom they reasonably suspect of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism. They may detain him on their own authority for 24 hours, and the Secretary of State may extend that period to seven days.
The object of this exceptional power, which differs from the normal power of arrest is not necessarily being related to suspicion of a specific offence—although it must be suspicion of terrorism, not anything else—is to enable the police to hold people whom they have good reason to believe are involved in acts of terrorism but whom they cannot immediately connect with specific offences. This provision will, for example, enable them to check the fingerprints of suspects against police records and to establish 641 whether there is evidence on which specific charges can be brought or, if not, evidence on which it would be right for the Secretary of State to make an exclusion order.
§ Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
The Secretary of State said 24 hours, but the Bill refers to 48 hours. I think that for the record the right hon. Gentleman should correct it to 48 hours.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)
No. My right hon. Friend said 24 hours.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I apologise to the House. It is 48 hours with extension to seven days. It is not seven days in addition to the 48 hours, but a total of seven days on the authority of the Secretary of State.
The power of detention is another power which is justified by the grave situation which we face. It is wrong in this situation that the police should have grounds for suspecting that a person is involved in terrorist activities but be unable to detain him to check their suspicions because they do not have evidence of a specific offence. Inability on their part to act in such circumstances might well be decisive in determining whether a major act of terrorism was avoided.
It is also right that there should be safeguards against abuse of this power. It is for this reason that detention beyond 48 hours will require the approval of the Secretary of State. In no circumstances can a person be detained under this power for longer than seven days. The normal rules and safeguards relating to persons in custody will be observed by the police. In my view, it is right that the decision whether to extend the period of detention should be for me to take.
The powers of arrest in Clause 7 largely concern matters closely related to the powers to make exclusion orders which essentially depend upon decisions of the executive. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate to make these matters dependent on any form of judicial determination.
Clause 8, with paragraph 1 of Schedule 3, empowers the Secretary of State to 642 make an order providing for the examination of travellers entering or leaving Great Britain or Northern Ireland. The object of the examination is to determine, first, whether a person appears to be concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism; secondly, whether he is already subject to an exclusion order; and, thirdly, whether he has committed an offence in connection with exclusion orders. Examining officers may be police or immigration officers, but it will fall mainly to the police, on the basis of existing ports units, to enforce what is a security rather than an immigration control.
Clause 8 enables powers to be given to examining officers to search people under examination and to arrest and detain them, if necessary. Copies of a draft order have been made available to hon. Members. It contains provisions parallel with those in the Immigration Act. Such provisions include obligations on travellers to produce documents, if required.
The order will relate only to Great Britain. But a further order will be made as soon as possible making similar provision for Northern Ireland. There is nothing in the new provisions which makes it necessary for the police to operate the control comprehensively in the sense of subjecting every traveller to a thorough examination. The control can be operated to the extent that seems appropriate in the circumstances at the time. It is not the intention, at any rate initially, that travellers between Great Britain and Ireland should be required to carry passports, but it is inevitable that wholly innocent people will occasionally be subjected to a certain amount of inconvenience. I believe that people will be prepared to accept that in present circumstances.
Since I made my statement on Monday, we have been in communication with the Irish Government through diplomatic channels with a view to arranging further talks on co-operation regarding security in the light of the provisions in the Bill.
I do not think that anyone would wish these exceptional powers to remain in force a moment longer than is necessary. The Bill, therefore, provides that the powers shall expire in six months unless renewed by affirmative parliamentary approval of an order of the Secretary of State. It would be possible at the end 643 of that period, or any subsequent period of six months, to continue parts of the Act and to drop others. I will also keep under review whether the Act as a whole, or parts of it, while continuing to be essentially necessary, have been shown to offer a clear case for amendment.
In bringing forward these proposals I have tried to steer between two dangers, both of them real. The first is that we fail to take effective and practical steps which are available to us to deal as effectively as we can with terrorism. The second is that if we over-react we risk doing serious damage to our respect for human freedom and dignity.
I believe that the course that I am proposing in very difficult circumstances steers us as safely as it reasonably can through these twin dangers.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)
The Opposition are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation of the Bill. He has enabled us, in the inevitably short time that we have for this study of the subject, to understand a little more clearly some of the implications of what is proposed.
Some of the aspects of the nightmare that has been Ulster's daily life for several years have now spread more widely. We think of the succession of horrors that have precipitated the Bill. The powers sought are distasteful, but protection of the public makes the Bill necessary. National security must, with due care for civil liberties, now take priority.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke, with some interruptions, for something less than half an hour, and every minute of it, from the point of view of the House, was thoroughly worth while. I do not think that I should serve the interests of the House if I took an equal amount of time to go in general over the Bill. We have a packed Order Paper, and the questions that have to be raised are, in most cases, very detailed and require thorough technical examination. Therefore I propose to speak very briefly and raise only some general issues so that, subject to the wishes of hon. Members on both sides of the House we can leave the maximum time for the Committee stage and for the Government still to get the Bill in time.
644 The essence of the judgment that the Government have had to make is, as the right hon. Gentleman correctly emphasised, a question of balance between national security and individual liberty. It appears to the Opposition at first sight that the Home Secretary has got the balance about right, but the time to examine this in detail will be in Committee. We welcome the fact that the Government are proposing that if the powers are still necessary the Bill will have to be renewed after six months, so we have a long-stop if anything is decided today which we find later to have been wrongly decided. We shall, therefore, help the Government to get the Bill as soon as is compatible with the necessary scrutiny of the important details.
A large number of hon. Members, not only on this side of the House, believe that the time has come to re-examine the question of capital punishment for murder by terrorism. I very much understand the strong feeling that there is in the country and among many of my hon. Friends. I think that all those who want to examine this subject carefully, and I imagine that that will include every hon. Member, should have the chance to hear the arguments for and against the reintroduction of capital punishment for terrorism. I emphasised on a previous occasion that I believe the arguments are very strong in both directions, and here again the House will have a difficult question of balance to decide. The Opposition therefore welcome the Government's decision to make a day available in the near future for a debate on this subject.
I now come to one general question before dealing with the contents of the Bill. The Home Secretary rightly emphasised the vital role of the police in protecting the public, but the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to the Bill, in its last paragraph, is almost disingenuous in its reference to the manpower implications of what the Government, in our view rightly, propose.
Surely the Government must appreciate that the Bill and what is involved in it are bound to impose a considerable extra burden on police manpower, and we know that the police are substantially below strength generally, and dramatically below strength in the big cities. When the figures were last reported there was, 645 I think, a national shortfall of about 12 per cent., and a shortfall in London and Birmingham of nearer 20 per cent.
We should like to hear later in the proceedings what the Government propose about police manpower, because it is essential, if the Bill is to be made effective, that the police should not have to draw strength from elsewhere, at a time when the crime rate is rising, to carry out the obligations imposed upon them by this legislation. We ask the Government also to give us a report on the progress of the working party that we understand has been set up in connection with the special constabulary, which, in the Government's view—and in ours, too—has a complementary role to play to that of the police.
There are several questions upon which we shall be focusing in our amendments and which I should like briefly to mention to the House. The Home Secretary, rightly, is diffident about the use of the proscription powers which constitute Part I of the Bill. He is limiting his use of the proscription powers to terrorist bodies whose purposes are connected with Northern Ireland. We recognise the importance of what the right hon. Gentleman calls the clear and present danger of the IRA as the predominant guide in this legislation, but we ask the Home Secretary to consider whether it may be possible, in this age of terrorism, that other bodies without connection with Northern Ireland may, under cover of apparent Northern Irish outrages, contribute their own terrorism to the national scene. If that be so, the powers of the Bill are sharply limited, and the protection of the public may require that the Government should consider whether to extend their powers to proscribe bodies that carry out terrorism even if they cannot be connected immediately with Northern Ireland. We do not press this view strongly upon the Government because we must, inevitably, be extremely diffident about suggesting an extension of the severe powers that the Bill embodies, but we ask the Government to consider that.
Secondly, at a time when the right of assembly for IRA purposes is very properly and sharply restricted under Clause 1, it would surely be wrong for members of a proscribed organisation to be given a national, and perhaps even 646 international, platform by way of the media. In answer to questions following his statement earlier this week the Home Secretary rightly emphasised the delicacy of the slope upon which we might find ourselves if we sought by legislation to restrict the freedom of expression on the media. There is an amendment—not backed officially by the Opposition—on which this subject will be able to be discussed, but we for our part would be much happier if the Home Secretary could undertake himself to see the editors and those responsible for the BBC and the Independent Broadcasting Authority and discuss with them whether there is any self-restricting ordinance that they might impose upon themselves compatible with the proscriptions in the Bill. Of course we do not seek to restrict the reporting of events, but we do seek to deny a platform to those who would be in bodies that are proscribed by the Bill.
An intensely complicated set of questions arise from what appear to be differential deportation powers; that is to say, the power for the first time, as far as we can see, under the Bill for citizens of the United Kingdom to be moved compulsorily from one part of the United Kingdom to another. The position is extremely complicated, and a number of amendments on the Notice Paper are connected with it. When we consider this in Committee we shall hope to understand the Government's view of the necessity for what seems to be a power to deport United Kingdom citizens from Great Britain to Ulster.
The Home Secretary rightly focused attention on the implications of the detention powers taken by the Bill. We shall want to examine this carefully, and we shall want to ask the Home Secretary whether it would be possible to provide for some administrative palliation of the longer detention powers such as would not obstruct the purposes of those powers in helping the police to carry out their duties.
Finally, we shall want to cross-examine the right hon. Gentleman—we shall be able to do this on the Question "That the clause stand part of the Bill"—on the balance of advantage in connection with the introduction of identity cards or travel documents.
The best thing that I can do for the House is to leave as much time for other hon. Members as possible, so that we can 647 get down to detail on this important Bill. We, and I am sure all hon. Members, hope that it will, as the right hon. Gentleman expressed the thought, enable the police and the public together to eradicate terrorism in this country.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Brian Walden (Birmingham, Ladywood) rose——
§ Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)
On a point of order. Could the House be assisted, Mr. Speaker? The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) has set an example of brevity and said that many of the matters involved in the Bill can be raised when amendments are debated. Because of the hurried way in which the Bill has been brought together, amendments have been processed to a very late hour. I understand that the Chairman of Ways and Means has not been able to consider all the amendments proffered. Would it be of assistance if some indication could be given about some of the later amendments, as to whether or not they will be selected, as that will obviously help hon. Members to circumscribe their Second Reading speeches?
§ Mr. Speaker
Two points arise out of that. The first is the desire of the House to get on reasonably quickly to the Committee stage, when these matters can be discussed in more detail. Second, I understand that a further list of selected amendments will be put up shortly.
§ Mr. Walden
It was in my constituency of Ladywood that the outrages occurred which have given rise to these measures. The whole House will, therefore, understand that no Member could be more anxious than I am that the Home Secretary should get the Bill through all its stages today. Therefore, the contribution that I can make to ensuring that he does so is to be as brief as possible.
I note what my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) has just said. I intend to speak only on Second Reading and not on any amendment which may come up later, nor to raise any points from the Bill except perhaps one to which the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) referred.
648 No legislation could be more important than this, and there could be no purpose more important and vital than the purpose for which we are passing it. So I want to make one or two references to things which seem to be crucial, not only in terms of this legislation but in terms of the length of time for which it is likely to be on the statute book, which, I am sure the Home Secretary will agree, we all hope will be as short as possible. How long that is, however, depends on a number of things.
First, the justification for it, to my mind, is overwhelming, and I make no bones about the fact that I shall not listen with too much patience to any anxieties about whether this or that or the other civil right may temporarily be somewhat abridged. Of course civil rights will. We know that passing this kind of legislation means that they will. But the very first function of any Government is the maintenance of life and property, and there is real doubt in this country at the moment whether the Government have the means to ensure the maintenance of life and property.
Faced with a threat like that, faced with a public mood like that, there is absolutely nothing else that my right hon. Friend could have done. In view of his own magnificent reputation as a libertarian, he should not worry in the least that any of his old friends will misjudge him on this matter. He has done his duty, and he could not have done less.
Having said that, it is crucial that we in this country maintain standards of civilisation appropriate to the claims that we are making. We are not the animals that the terrorists are. It sometimes alarms me in some of my correspondence and some of the things that people say to me that so many people in this country, regrettably, under an understandable stress of emotion, wish to do things or to have things done which cannot conceivably be justified either morally or in terms of any benefit that they would give to the community.
It is the responsibility of this House not to do anything which will incite the populace either to intemperate feelings or to intemperate acts. Let us be frank. The overwhelming mood in my constituency, and I believe in my city, is one of vengeance. That is what is 649 really wanted. When people talk about the death penalty—I intend to say nothing about that because it is something that we shall be discussing at a later date—I do not think that the great majority of them are interested in whether it is a deterrent or not. What they want is revenge—a perfectly natural human emotion for which I do not particularly blame them.
Of course they want revenge for the unbelievable atrocity and carnage which was committed, but we may have to face a cruel fact—that vengeance and victory over the IRA might be two quite separate things. They might not be: they might be logically connected. Equally, they might not be logically connected. We in this House have the responsibility rationally to consider, if we decide that they are not logically connected, which we want—the vengeance or the victory. I am for the victory. I am prepared to forgo the vengeance.
I do not want us to do anything in regard to the Irish community which will add to our difficulties. However, I will at least say this. I have been counselling—indeed as many hon. Members will know, I have been begging—people in Birmingham to do nothing which will disgrace the city or inflict on the innocent punishment which should be reserved for the guilty. However, it is the moral responsibility of all in this country, and especially the Irish community, who have any information whatever which could be of use to the authorities to give it, and to do so absolutely unquestioningly, without a thought that they are doing something morally wrong. They would be doing something supremely morally right. There is an obligation on all Irishmen in this country who feel that they can assist in any way to give that assistance.
That having been said, there is an obligation on us to ensure that nothing is done or said here or anywhere else where we have responsibility or authority which can lead any of our fellow citizens to take what would be intemperate, unreasonable or dangerous action towards any Irishman in England who has no connection with the IRA. I am referring not simply to acts of violence. I do not want the Irish people living in this country to begin to feel that their 650 citizenship, their way of life, is somehow different from that of the rest of us.
The reason is not only that I feel that it would be morally wrong but that I do not want the IRA to win, and if Irish people in this country come to feel like that, the IRA will have won. These terorists need a certain pool of approval, or at least of apathy, in which to swim, and it is not our responsibility to give it to them. It is our responsibility to deny it to them. So I hope that no one will do anything which will widen the breach which already exists, to be frank, between many English people in Birmingham and the Irish community. On the contrary, they will do, everything to try to heal it.
I sympathise with the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East when he talks about the media giving publicity to the IRA or indeed to any terrorist organisation. However, I should sound a note of warning, and I know that I shall not carry the majority of the House with me. Some of the things which have been said in the House about the broadcast which gave rise to the comment were not just. They were not just to the lady who conducted the interview and they were not just as to the impact of the interview.
Do not let us be so foolish as to deny ourselves an understanding of the mind of the enemy. Very well—if the thing is intemperate, if it plainly, as it were, is a party political broadcast for terrorists, certainly one expects the IBA and the BBC to ensure that it does not go out, but we must not do as so often we did before the Second World War, and simply refuse to understand our opponents and their mentality. That will not do us any good if we want to beat them, and I insist again that the whole purpose of the Bill is to assist in that process.
Lastly, we cannot write off what happened in my constituency as an isolated act or consider it as such. It is part of a whole climate of violence that has grown up in the world. Worse than that, it is part of a disgraceful attitude towards law which has grown up in this country.
I hope that now there can be nobody who has any doubt whatsoever that the observance of the law is the protection of minorities and that law and its observance is the very basis of democracy. I hope that we shall be spared any condonation of lawless violence on the ground that the people who are doing it 651 have some sort of case. That sort of talk has encouraged the climate of opinion in which the IRA has received support that it ought not to have received.
The job of my right hon. Friend when he gets the Bill, as he will—I know that the House will give it to him as quickly as it can—will be to use the time that we have given him to ensure that the root cause of our problem, which lies with the IRA in Northern Ireland, is in fact rooted out so that we can get rid of this measure as swiftly as possible. Until then, thank God for it. Thank God for my right hon. Friend. I hope that the House will pass the measure as expeditiously as it can.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Mates (Petersfield)
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to catch your eye so that I can address the House for the first time.
My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) has been describing himself as a newcomer to the House as the new, fatter model of Jeffrey Archer. If I were to pursue the same analogy, I should have to call myself the new and entirely reconstructed model of Joan Quennell.
I am aware that time is at a premium in the debate today, so I hope that my constituents in Petersfield will forgive me if I do not recite the customary travelogue of my constituency, beautiful though it is, but proceed almost directly to what I want to say about the subject we are debating.
First, it is my pleasure as well as my privilege to pay tribute to Joan Quennell for her service here during the past 15 years. I was made well aware during the election campaign of the great esteem in which she was held in Petersfield and of the warmth and affection with which many constituents of all political persuasions spoke of the work she had done in the community there.
I am sure that the House will also wish me to pay tribute to her long service here, both as a back bencher and as a member of Mr. Speaker's Panel of Chairmen.
I wish to make two points about the measures to combat terrorism which will be discussed during this debate. Let me 652 say straight away that I warmly welcome the proposals which the Home Secretary has brought forward in the Bill. They are necessary, they are sensible, and I think that there will be no resentment by the British people of any marginal effect that these measures may have on individuals who may suffer some hardship as a result. I am perfectly certain that the vast majority of the people of this country are only too ready to suffer some personal inconvenience if it means ridding our society of the cancer of terrorism.
As some hon. Members may know, I came to the House almost direct from the Army, in which I served for 20 years. One of the features I noticed during my service in Northern Ireland was the ready way in which many decent citizens are prepared to co-operate fully with the security forces, although they are personally substantially inconvenienced, in order to play their part in helping to get the situation there under control.
However, I do not believe that the proposed measures go far enough. The Home Secretary spoke on Monday about identity cards and said, in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), that he was not satisfied that the direct effect would be worth the trouble involved. The right hon. Gentleman said also that identity cards were eminently forgeable documents.
I question that. I have here an identity card which I used for two years during my recent tour as an exchange officer for the British Army to the army of the United States of America. This document is cheap, it is simple to issue, and it is virtually unforgeable. It bears my photograph, my signature and my fingerprint on it, and it was issued to me in a permanently sealed, laminated, tough folder within the space of about 10 minutes.
I have heard it said that to be required to give one's fingerprint is an infringement of the liberty of the innocent. I gave my fingerprint to no one. The only mark I made is on this card, and should I have been required to produce a print for the purpose of comparison I would have made one mark only on a piece of paper, which would then have been returned to me.
653 I most strongly urge the Home Secretary to look again at this problem, because it would be of the greatest value to the upholders of law and order, both in Northern Ireland and here in Great Britain, and for those seeking to regulate travel between Great Britain and either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.
I hope that my argument will persuade the Home Secretary to change his mind over this matter, as I believe that it would be worth his while to include such proposals, for which his Department must have contingency plans, in his Bill, even at the last minute. They would gain a large measure of support.
My major disappointment, having read the Bill, is that the Home Secretary has not seen fit to include any reference to or measures concerning the punishment of those convicted of acts of terrorism. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that we will discuss the whole question of capital punishment at a later date and that he would prefer this course to debating the subject of punishment in the immediate aftermath of any incident such as the Birmingham bombs. That was a sentiment which was echoed at Question Time by the hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead).
I disagree with that, for two reasons. First, if we go on at the rate we are going now we shall almost always be in the aftermath of such barbaric incidents. An illustration of this is the answer by the Home Secretary to my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed), which is published in today's OFFICIAL REPORT and which shows that there were 30 crimes of bombing since 1st January of this year—almost one a week—that 40 people had been killed, and that 396 people—more than one person for every day of this year—have been injured in bomb outrages.
Secondly, and more important, I believe that the great majority of the British people at this time do not want us talking about taking action. They want us to take action. Moreover, I do not think that it would be helpful to discuss this particular aspect of punishment in the context of capital punishment as a whole. I know that there are many deeply held views of personal conscience on the whole question of executing 654 criminals who have committed murder. Let me say at this point that I am not in favour of a general re-introduction of the death penalty for murder, but I do not think that it is right to consider the sort of people who indiscriminately slaughter totally innocent citizens in the context of other criminals. I believe that they are the enemies of the State, and, as such, I believe that we should consider ourselves to be at war with them. They certainly consider that they are at war with us. It is in this context of enemies that they should be ruthlessly sought out and destroyed. After all, these enemies are employing the tactics of indiscriminately taking the life of our innocent citizens, which makes the case immeasurably stronger for us to employ the same measure, although judicially, against them.
If we look at the matter in this light, all of the other questions which are properly raised in the wider issue of capital punishment as a whole, such as deterrence, the repugnance of taking a human life as retribution for a civil crime, and other moral issues and considerations, become quite irrelevant.
The Home Secretary also spoke on Monday of the law of treason and referred to the remarks of Lord Hailsham. We know that the law at present is obscure and archaic and that it has fallen into disuse, but is that any reason for simply dismissing it? It surely cannot be beyond the wit of the House to amend it and make it apply to the new sort of enemy that exists in our midst, provided that we have the will to do so. I believe that many of my right hon. and hon. Friends believe that this should be done.
Every aspect of this proposal will have to be examined very deeply, not least the possible kidnapping and reprisals if terrorists were to be executed. There is a very real danger that members of the judiciary, politicians and members of the security forces and their wives and families would be at risk to this sort of reprisal. One need only look at terrorist operations outside these shores to realise that the imprisonment of convicted terrorists is an open invitation to hostage-taking as a bargain for their release. It is a matter of some surprise that we have not yet been faced with this situation in Britain.
655 I appreciate the urgency with which the Government rightly wish to see the Bill become law, but it is my profound hope that some way can be found today for the House to express its views on the matters I have raised. This is not an occasion for the deferring of difficult and unpleasant decisions. It is an occasion when I believe that the vast majority of the British public want their elected leaders to stand up and be counted for what they believe in.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)
The whole House will want me to congratulate the hon. Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates) upon his vigorous, fluent and thoughtful contribution. It is not often that we have speeches which so clearly show the impress of the experience on an hon. Member before he came into the House. The impress of the hon. Member's military experience was clearly implanted upon his speech, and I am sure that he will be making similar valuable contributions many times in the future. The whole House will listen to him with great attention.
I can recall in September 1971, as can no doubt many other hon. Members who were in that Parliament, a speech by Dick Crossman. It was an unpopular speech advocating that we should get out of Ireland. He said then, speaking of Ulster,This is not a natural State of any kind at all. It is an artificial political product created to destroy political rights and to maintain one group of people in permanent power. By its very essence it denies every principle of democracy and always has from the time this House of Commons created it. If we use our troops to say that it is our duty to defend to the last breath … then in my view we are fighting an unjust war."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd September 1971; Vol. 823, c. 244.]It was because of our awareness of the discrimination which existed within the Ulster society that all parties made a bid to bring democracy to Northern Ireland, to make certain if we could that we brought about power sharing. Therefore, when we consider the Bill it is well to remember that the fundamental cause of the present difficulties is that the industrial strike of the Ulster majority, the type of behaviour of which my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden) would fully dis- 656 approve, thwarted the declared will of this House and the declared wishes of the whole of the British people. Now that selfsame recalcitrant group protests its citizenship of Britain but refuses to accept the obligations of democratic citizenship. With a rare insouciance, it now expects the people of Britain not only to send its young men to die in Northern Ireland, not only to continue to dole out huge subventions, but to submit peacefully to the most severe limitations of its civil liberties that have occurred in peace time Britain certainly in this century.
It does not become this House or our people to formulate policies or to approve of Acts that are creatures of blackmail. But, while we are affecting to be standing up to the IRA, the reality of the position is that our fundamental stance is dictated by the fear that if we insist either that democracy must come to Northern Ireland or that we must get out, the obdurate majority will stage a pogrom. To declare ostentatiously in this House through this Bill that we will not submit to the IRA psychopaths whilst cravenly submitting, as we are, to the implied or explicit threat of the majority group in Ulster is, in my view, a totally unacceptable approach.
The draftsmen of the Bill have certainly acted with rare speed. That is not surprising since they have had plenty of precedents——
§ Mr. Kilfedder
Does the hon. Member not realise that the Roman Catholic Cardinal and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Londonderry have asked the people of Northern Ireland to stand up against the IRA? In view of that, how can he go on with this utter tripe that he is coming out with?
§ Mr. Abse
As I was saying, the draftsmen have had an easy task. They have plently of precedents. It has been simple for them to turn back to the 1939 legislation, which, of course, was intended—if I 657 may remind my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood—to be in existence for only two years. That legislation lasted 15 years. It was temporary legislation. The draftsmen had not only the benefit of that legislation but the benefit of legislation which applied under similar circumstances in Kenya, Palestine, Cyprus and Aden. There are remarkable analogies between that legislation and clauses in the Bill. We notice, for example, how in Cyprus there was the extension of capital punishment to what was then the new offence of consorting with terrorists. In the legislation for Kenya there was a massive attempt to control movements, and it led to about 4,500 arrests a month of people who were in breach of that law. None of that legislation was of any avail. It led only to one thing—to withdrawal. All this legislation was nothing but a precursor to the ultimate acceptance of the inevitable withdrawal. Why should this Bill not prove to be an equal vanity?
Is it not more likely rather than less likely that that will happen? Our measures, however stringent we may make them, however Draconian they may be, and however much a raging section of the Conservative Party may want to escalate still further the penalties even up to the ultimate death penalty, will only control events in the House of Commons. We cannot control legislation in the Dail. Of course, too, we have a large and worthy indigenous Irish community who, repelled as they are by the IRA activities, are bound to see the Bill not only as a part of the war against the IRA but as a weapon to maintain an unjustified status quo in Northern Ireland. Is that a happy augury to suggest that we are likely to get more success out of this legislation than we derived from similar legislation in the colonies?
Further, this large and worthy section of our community will, too uncomfortably, discover 'ere long that all that will lie between this legislation and second-class citizenship is the integrity and liberality of a rare Home Secretary, who, whatever his impeccable intentions, cannot and will not—even with the aid of this body whose names will be known but which will act clandestinely, but whose procedures will not be examined—really be able to scrutinise every action, every search, every arrest made by the 658 over-zealous at the prompting of any mendacious informer.
That background is no augury to this Bill. I do not believe that the Bill will succeed in its objectives. Nor must we forget when we consider whether it is likely to save lives or whether it will lead to escalating violence—and this Bill is unfortunately distracting us to deal with symptoms and not causes—that there is in Northern Ireland a lost generation which is the very material to provide recruits for the Provos. For six years they have been brought up in the best possible breeding ground for delinquent behaviour. Now, within their distorted sub-culture, the conditions exist which will give them a social sanction to act out their criminality. In examining the Bill it is distressing to see that we are not only taking away rights from adults in the powers relating to arrest; we are taking away the rights of children, too.
It will be seen that even the Children and Young Persons Act is mentioned in the Bill, because it is already clearly anticipated, as it should be—because it is what happened in Cyprus when EOKA recruited the young—that it is highly probable that as a result of the passage of this Bill we shall find the same type of recruitment going on in Northern Ireland.
I will not go into the details of the legislation. It is the old story of hurried legislation passed in the white heat of an emotional aftermath—more haste less rights.
As in every colonial situation, repressive legislation is no substitute for policy. We have no policy whatever. None is coming from Conservative Members, none exists on the Front Benches. What are we waiting for—Godot? We are hopefully waiting for a Convention, waiting for decisions to come out of it. Everyone knows our hopes will be proved illusory. I repeat, we have no policy.
Those who say that this is not a colonial situation are deceiving themselves. It has become increasingly clear that as far as they exist at all the loyalties that come from many in Northern Ireland are to yesterday's Britain, certainly not to today's We should regret but accept as inevitable that our Britain can no longer contain 659 those who flout our contemporary commitment to full parity of esteem for all religious bodies, all races within the kingdom.
Those who, like the white Rhodesians, refuse to accept that principle must accept their self-determined destiny and not expect the British people to follow them down their doomed paths. The brutal fact is that this is the final, and perhaps most complicated, disengagement from Empire that Britain has to face. The Bill certainly does not provide either of the options open to us to deal with the dilemma. The harsh real options we have are to get out of Northern Ireland in an orderly manner or to get out in disarray.
There is a limit to the threshold of tolerance of our people. If we do not now commence a phased withdrawal of troops and financial subvention we shall do so in disarray, in response to public clamour that will be no less than has come from the anguish of the Birmingham atrocities. Instead of pursuing this legislation, it would be wiser to face the sad inevitability, and hope that the majority group in Northern Ireland, on seeing our determination to refuse to subsidise any longer a non-democratic society, will, out of self-interest, change its tune. If it does not, then, with Eire, we must surely use the present barren financial aid to provide assistance to a minority who, out of well-founded fear, may have to be re-housed and rehabilitated out of Belfast.
What I am convinced of is that this Bill will provide, even for the hard-pressed people of Birmingham, only a temporary catharsis for those who naturally feel outraged and indignant. In the end the British people will insist that they are not content merely to be scapegoats for all the paranoid extremists on both sides. It is wiser to face the harsh truths and commence a phased withdrawal.
The nation does not want escalating violence. It does not want repressive legislation. What it wants is a policy, and it is the duty of the Government, since there is no policy from the Opposition, to bring in as quickly as possible a new move, a new political initiative. The country wants it, and if we fail to provide it all that can happen is that Nor- 660 thern Ireland will end in disarray, with all the pogroms that all of us in our hearts are constantly fearing.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Sir Peter Rawlinson (Epsom and Ewell)
The hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) never makes a speech in this House which is not carefully prepared—some might say over-carefully prepared. What he had to say to us today bore a sense of unreality to those who know something about some of the difficulties in Northern Ireland. The House will listen with greater attention to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates) in a striking maiden speech based on his experience in Northern Ireland as a soldier. It will listen also with greater attention to what was said earlier by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden), who, as we know, always presents with eloquence and the greatest of good sense the issues which are before us.
It was inevitable that the Government would introduce this Bill. They were, however, in a dilemma. I would have preferred to see the Bill being introduced without making it exclusive to Northern Ireland. Although I can see the reasons behind this—and I listened with great care to the Home Secretary—it would have been better if the House had faced up to the short Title of this Bill, which is the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions).
I do not believe that IRA terrorists will be the only terrorists whom this country will have to face. By presenting the Bill in this way we have emphasised the de facto different status of Northern Ireland. I wonder whether this is advantageous at the moment. The Government had to act swiftly, for what has happened over the past few weeks and the past few incidents is that the people of this country are beginning to realise just what other citizens of the United Kingdom have been experiencing daily, for weeks, months, and years. It is only this situation which brings home to the people of this country what terrorism is all about.
But there are other groups. Some of us have suffered from the attention of these other groups. We have had our homes attacked by them. It should not be forgotten that the problems of the urban guerrilla, of the hijacker and of 661 the terrorist exist in this country as in other countries, quite apart from the situation in Northern Ireland, which will be fed by others so that they will be able to accomplish what ultimately would be the abdication by the State of its responsibilities and the breakdown, as the hon. Member for Ladywood said, of the whole system of law under which civilised society can exist.
There comes a time, as the Secretary of State for the Home Department acknowledged, when with repugnance and with reluctance, some of the rights and freedoms which ordinarily people accept and demand must be surrendered in exchange for the defence of the State against men, sometimes very few, and women, again sometimes very few, who together are determined to break down the society and the civilisation of the State. Although I welcome this Bill and although I shall support it, I was hoping that it would be more extensive and would apply not only to Northern Ireland.
I differ from my noble Friend Lord Hailsham—he is my friend in every sense of the word—on his view about trying such persons for the crime of treason. I had to review this matter when as Attorney-General I had to deal with the London car bombings. It is the duty of the prosecutor to apply contemporary law to fit the alleged facts and to charge those concerned with the appropriate crime. It is certainly not right for the prosecutor to seek to charge a different offence because it carries a different penalty. At the time of the last Fenian attacks upon this country with explosives in 1883 Gallegher and the other persons involved were not charged with treason. They were members of the Fenian brotherhood who came to this country from the United States, and did so with the intention of procuring the freedom of Ireland by force. They came to this country with the intention of destroying public buildings, such as the House of Commons, by the use of nitroglycerine and other explosives. They were detected, but they were charged not with high treason under the Treason Act 1351 but under the Treason Felony Act 1848. The sentence under that Act was only life imprisonment.
Similarly in the Deasy case, the Irishmen who came from Cork were not tried for treason, for the Treason Act was 662 conceived at a different time and in different conditions. It is now 620 years old. It provides forimagining the death of the King.and forslaying a justice of assize".It certainly includes the levying of war. But the concept of treason in that Act was of a rebellious assembly and armed men within the concept of war of those times. In my opinion, it would be irresponsible and wrong for a prosecutor to apply that concept to these offences when they can and should be dealt with under the Explosive Substances Act. If Parliament altered the law of treason and brought it up to date the prosecutor, if so minded, certainly could apply the new law as enacted by the legislature. But until such time I believe that we must deal with these people under the law as it is. They should be dealt with in these present cases as they have been in the past.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Thanet, West)
On the question of levying war there are a number of precedents. If I remember correctly, the Dumaree case is such a precedent. Treason was found against a number of men who were concerned with burning down two houses of those who were members of the Baptist sect. In that case a charge of treason was brought and they were convicted. Why is it that we should not indict on the issue of levying war if it is levied by subjects of the Crown or by our own people and not by Americans or foreigners? Is the Birmingham case not an example of treason? To indict for treason would be good at law, would it not?
§ Sir P. Rawlinson
The Dumaree case was tried in 1710, 160 years before the Gallagher case and the Deasy case, which are the most apt when we consider the use of explosives. Dumaree was a man who put himself at the head of a rabble and marched with the rabble with the intention of burning down the dissenters' meeting places.
By 1848 the law had to be changed and the Treason Felony Act was introduced. That provided for not the death sentence but life imprisonment. That was followed by the Explosive Substances Act 1883. Unless and until Parliament changes the 663 Treason Act and applies a modern principle of treason, I believe that the courts and the prosecutor should rely on the modern legislation presently before us.
I want next to bring to the attention of the Secretary of State for the Home Department the traffic in arms between this country and Northern Ireland via the port of Belfast. I draw attention to the hiring of motor vehicles and the packing behind the trims of doors of Armalite rifles for passage to Northern Ireland. The rifles are delivered and gelignite is brought back in the same way. This must be stopped, and could be stopped, by further supervision at the ports, by greater control of the vehicles passing between Northern Ireland and England and by insisting upon documents being produced. It has come to light recently that such traffic is taking place. Moreover, greater supervision and greater care in the control of industrial explosives should be taken. We should pay far greater attention to such matters. Often gelignite is kept in certain places without proper attention and care being exercised over it.
Although I do not believe that the Northern Ireland problem is basically religious, I have found that both Protestants and Catholics who go to Ireland from England seem to be alienated by what they see of some of their faith when they get across the water. As an English Catholic I welcome and support what the hierarchy of the bishops of England and Wales have said in support of Archbishop Dwyer. I confess that over the years I would have preferred a sterner attitude to be taken by the Primate of Ireland. I would have preferred him to speak more. But it does not lie in the mouths of those of other denominations who year in and year out have insulted and abused the faith of many of their fellow citizens to criticise, and we should not forget the grievous responsibilities of those who have levied abuse and insult over the years.
But now is a time when all religious leaders could play a considerable part in the Northern Ireland situation. I should like to see greater effort on the part of the hierarchy everywhere to prevent those who pay their respects to a person who is dead from in any way seeming to support the evil acts which that person has committed. 664 There is still room for leadership among the clergy of all denominations on both sides of the water to help in the solution of this problem.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)
I understand the deep feelings of anger and emotion as this debate takes place. A great tragedy has struck Birmingham. Is this legislation the answer to the problem? With my knowledge of terrorism and terrorists in Northern Ireland, I do not believe that it will lead in any way to the defeat of the IRA.
I am not saying that I am opposed to the Bill. I understand that the Government have a duty to take every possible step to prevent such a tragedy recurring in Birmingham or any other city within the United Kingdom. However, time after time in the old Stormont and latterly in this House we have passed emergency and temporary legislation, but when we consider the continuing tragedy taking place in Northern Ireland it will be seen that all that legislation has not brought violence to an end.
Since the terrible carnage in Birmingham only last week, 10 people have been brutally murdered in Belfast, and they included both Catholics and Protestants. With all the legislation that we have over there, there is a feeling in Northern Ireland that it took the tragedy of Birmingham to make the British people and the British Parliament realise what we have had to live through these past five years.
If the IRA is to be banned, other organisations should be banned as well. It is evident that there are extremist organisations in Northern Ireland which are opposed to the IRA and have emerged from the Protestant majority population and are guilty of dastardly deeds as well. Even from the logical point of view, it appears that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will find himself in some difficulty unless these other organisations are proscribed along with the IRA in Great Britain.
Under Northern Ireland legislation, the Government have proscribed certain elements within the UDA and organisations such as the Ulster Freedom Fighters, which have admitted responsibility for serious crimes, the Red Hand Commandos, which have admitted responsibility 665 for murders, and the Ulster Protestant Action Group, although no one really knows whether this group exists, but it has claimed over the telephone responsibility for a number of crimes. If all these organisations are banned in Northern Ireland, it is only logical that they should be banned in Great Britain.
Hon. Members have spoken about the traffiic in arms between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is not limited to the provision of arms for the IRA. Many people in this country belonging to the Ulster Defence Association are in prison for having engaged in arms traffic. In view of all this, it is surely eminently sensible that the Home Secretary, if he is going to ban one organisation, should ban all terrorist organisations involved in the Northern Ireland situation.
Many thousands of Irish people have lived in Great Britain for many years and have contributed a great deal to the wealth of the nation and to the democracy which exists here. Many of them will now feel that they are being slighted in some way by this Bill in that it is aimed at one particular organisation to the total exclusion of others. Yet we must remember that the majority of Irish people who have engaged in terrorism in Great Britain have come from Northern Ireland. Only a small minority have had connections with the Republic.
Even if one tries to compare these terrible happenings, one is reminded that Dublin has had the greatest single tragedy in this whole campaign of violence, when 31 people were brutally massacred by car bomb explosions and hundreds were injured. One cannot say that the Irish people are in any way giving their support to the IRA as a violent organisation.
I know that many hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies will feel, after this Bill, that for the first time they are being put by this Parliament into the category of being Irish in the island of Ireland, because the Bill makes it clear that people can be excluded or deported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
If a person is excluded or deported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland on suspicion that he is connected with a terrorist organisation, the order will be signed by the Home Secretary. But does it not, in effect, mean that once the 666 man involved has travelled to Northern Ireland he is liable to be arrested and interned immediately he lands? It is only logical that if a person is excluded from Great Britain on the ground that he is suspected of giving support to an illegal organisation he must be interned in Northern Ireland. We have been told today by the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, that there is to be a further six-months extension of the emergency provisions. The blunt fact is—and I do not think that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary can whitewash over it—that the British people, who, understandably, find internment repugnant, will be able, by this Bill, to get these persons interned in Northern Ireland instead of Great Britain. The British people will be able to ease their consciences.
I do not think that this says very much for the loyalty and allegiance of the Northern Ireland Unionist Party and its so-called "United Kingdom citizenship". Ulster Unionists have every right to feel that they are being given, deliberately or not, second-class citizenship within the United Kingdom. I hope that they feel as badly about it as the minority in Northern Ireland have felt for 50 years, during which there was no doubt whatever that they had second-class citizenship.
We have detention in Northern Ireland. People have been kept in detention on suspicion of being involved with illegal organisations. After a period of detention, their cases have been brought before the commissioners in Long Kesh, and many of them have been released—on condition that they did not stay in Northern Ireland but went to some other part of the United Kingdom.
I know many cases in which young lads, having been interned or detained—whether they actually had any connection with illegal organisations is open to question—have been released on condition that they went to London or Birmingham or somewhere else in Great Britain.
What will the situation be now? We are to have exclusion orders from Great Britain. Those excluded will, when they get back to Northern Ireland, be interned. Eventually, they will come before the commissioners in Northern Ireland and will be released on condition that they get out of Northern Ireland. I cannot see this law operating very effectively.
667 I know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will tell me, "If we get proof that the UFF or the UDA are engaged in terrorist activities in Great Britain, we will issue an order bringing them within the ambit of the Bill." But by taking such an attitude he is, in effect, saying that Northern Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland knows all this very well because he has had to proscribe the UFF, the Red Hand Commandos and others. They are still proscribed. Is Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom? We should know once and for all. I do not know. I have considerable doubt at this time.
If extremist organisations which are engaged in a massive campaign of assassination are proscribed in Northern Ireland, they should be proscribed in this part of the United Kingdom. I understand the necessity for legislation to try to curb the activities of arsonists and murderers here, as in Northern Ireland, but I do not believe that this Bill will have the effect that is desired. What is even more dangerous is that it will lead to a very dangerous erosion of the civil liberties of the people of this country.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)
The House is engaged on a difficult operation, that is, legislating in haste and under the immediate pressure of indignation on matters which touch the fundamental liberties of the subject; for both haste and anger are ill counsellors, especially when one is legislating for the rights of the subject.
There is no doubt how far-reaching is the impact of the Bill upon those rights; and that applies to all three parts of the Bill. It applies to Part I, with the principle of the proscription of organisations and making membership of an organisation a criminal offence in itself. That is not without precedent, but it is certainly not in accordance with custom and expectations in this country. There are the extended provisions for detention without trial in Part III. But, above all, there is an almost total innovation in Part II of the Bill. So far as Clause 3 in Part II refers to persons who are British subjects and citizens of the United 668 Kingdom and Colonies it indicates that it shall be possible, so long as the Bill is law, for a United Kingdom citizen in the United Kingdom to be ordered to remove from one part of the United Kingdom to another, or to be forbidden to remove at his own free will from one part of the United Kingdom to another.
It is hardly possible to imagine a more severe interference with individual liberty than for freedom of movement to be impeded in this way. There is a precedent of some sort, though I notice that the right hon. Gentleman, wisely I think, did not refer to it in introducing the Bill, in the Prevention of Violence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1939. But that is in many ways not a very helpful parallel as no doubt he found. At that time the constitution of the British Isles was radically different from what it is today, the citizens of the Irish Republic being at that time, perhaps unwisely, regarded in the law of this country as British subjects.
Therefore, we are legislating upon the most fundamental matters and we are doing so in haste and under pressure.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of an even more disturbing precedent? The proposed legislation represents precisely the kind of power exercised by the South African Government, and that power is one of the most detested powers of the South African Government.
§ Mr. Powell
I do not think that any Member of the House will need the distastefulness of the contents of the Bill to be emphasised or proved. That is probably common ground. But I am glad that the Government have shown, as far as they can within the limits of time, that they are open to consider the Bill, as a Bill can only be considered, in detail during the Committee stage, which is to go on as long as is necessary in order for the House to be properly satisfied of what it is doing.
Subject to that, when the Home Secretary comes to the House and says that in his opinion for the safety of the subject some such Bill as this is necessary and that it will result in the saving of life and the avoidance of outrage if legislation of this kind is adopted, the burden of proof lies upon those who would oppose 669 it. Certainly, there would be no disposition to reject it in principle among those who represent the constituencies in Northern Ireland which have borne for many years now the brunt of the same attack upon the United Kingdom and its integrity which fell so heavily on Birmingham last week.
I do not expect that the Home Secretary is in any doubt as to the limited effect to be expected from this legislation. It is entitled a Prevention of Terrorism Bill. That is an almost humorous optimism, if humour in such a context were possible. A Prevention of Terrorist Acts Bill it may be. That we all hope it will be. But terrorism itself is not to be prevented by legislation of this kind. Terrorism cannot be prevented simply by arresting and punishing those who commit acts of terrorism, necessary of course though that is. Terrorism can be dealt with only when its true nature is recognised. Terrorism is a form of warfare. Though a warfare conducted by methods which are peculiarly horrible in themselves and peculiarly difficult to deal with, warfare it remains; and like any other form of warfare, it can be brought to an end only when one side or the other is convinced that the war cannot be won—in this case when the terrorists are convinced that the war cannot be won.
Reference has already been made several times in the debate to the statement issued, and carried by the Press today, by the Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, in which, after expressing their abhorrence of what has happened, they say thatinjustice … is the cause of violence.What a happy world we would live in if terrorism were caused by injustice. There may be cases, somewhere, somehow, where that is the relationship of cause and effect; but normally the relationship of cause and effect is very different. Normally terrorism causes injustice. Terrorism is intended to wreak injustice. Terrorism is designed to bring about that which would not otherwise be tolerated or envisaged, simply by acts of violence, acts which appear to be senseless, but, in fact, are ruthlessly directed towards achieving specific aims.
That is why the Home Secretary, when he spoke on this subject last Friday, and the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) were right when they 670 recognised this larger dimension beyond the Bill, a dimension without recognition of which the Bill and all such measures are likely to be futile. The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East said:the Government's success against terrorism will depend upon their demonstrating in all their policies the will to win."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November 1974; Vol. 881, c. 1672.]The Home Secretary said:I do not think that one can or should deal with this situation by appeasement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November 1974; Vol. 881, c. 1676.]These are correct analyses, because the very aim of terrorism—of the form of warfare which it represents—is to force its victims onward step by step; and at each step it forces its victims to go in the direction they do not intend, the terrorism itself gathers strength by encouragement.
What is above all essential in legislating as we are invited to do today is to be sure that in the form of that legislation and in its administration we do nothing that will give comfort and encouragement to those against whom it is aimed. Here I found some observations of the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) very pertinent, for if this legislation can be seen as further differentiating two parts of the United Kingdom—Great Britain and Northern Ireland—if it can be seen as in any way isolating Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom, it will be not illegitimate for the IRA to claim that Birmingham was not a failure which brought down upon its head this instrument of detection and control, but that Birmingham, after all, was a success which took it another stage further towards its object, the detachment by violence, by fear, of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.
Therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, both in consideration of the Bill in detail and in its administration, to bear in mind throughout that their object can only be furthered by the Bill if on the face of it, and in the manner in which it is applied, it binds more closely together the various parts of the United Kingdom, and certainly Great Britain and Northern Ireland, instead of being used as a means of driving them apart.
That can be followed up in detail as we look at the successive provisions of the Bill; but I think that the principle at 671 which we should aim was well expressed in a motion which the House passed yesterday—it was not so well attended a House which passed it—when it took the Money Resolution to the Bill. I would like to quote the operative lines of the Money Resolution under which the Committee stage will take place, because they seem to me perfectly to illustrate what we should be doing and should be seen to be doing in the Bill.
The two objects of the Bill as there set out are:the control of travel into and out of any part of the United Kingdomand secondly,the removal from any part of the United Kingdom, of persons subject to exclusion orders.There is the central fact of which we should not lose sight: we are legislating here for the United Kingdom and we should be seen to legislate for the United Kingdom.
I agree again with the hon. Member for Belfast, West. It is my belief that Part I, even if this is not possible at once, should eventually be uniform in its application to all parts of the United Kingdom. If it is right that organisations should be proscribed in one part of this country, it is right that they should be proscribed in other parts of the country. If it is right that movement into and out of one part of the kingdom should be controlled, then reciprocally so should movement in and out of the rest of the kingdom.
I believe that if the Government in all their actions—in their actions during the rest of today's sitting and the manner in which the Bill is handled; in their actions in framing regulations under the Bill, for much may be done there, and something very helpful on this subject was said by the Home Secretary, if I understood it correctly; and in their actions in administering the Bill—maintain that even-handed justice and that common intention as between all parts of the kingdom, the Bill may in some measure have the effect which we all hope for it—of saving life rather than losing it.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Litterick (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
Having been a Member for only a short time, I still feel something of a 672 stranger, sufficiently so to feel that my judgment of the House as a group of people might not be without some value.
On Monday the House was confronted, or at least it confronted itself, with an unusual event. My impression then was that this assembly was a frightened mob. That atmosphere persists today.
I am reminded of a piece of what is alleged to be wisdom which lawyers frequently serve up to me. They tell me, and they have told me so often that I must assume that they believe it, that hard cases make bad law. What happened in Birmingham last week was undoubtedly a hard case by any standards. It is undoubtedly also true that we are debating the Bill because of what happened last Thursday in Birmingham, and the outcome, it would seem, is almost predestined to be a piece of bad law.
I think, too, that all hon. and learned Members would push their piece of folk wisdom a bit further than saying that hard cases make bad law, and assure us that bad law brings the law into disrepute. That is what the House is doing now. It is laying the foundation of something which will have the effect of bringing the law into disrepute, partly for reasons which several hon. Members have already indicated, and partly because much of the measure will probably be inoperative and make fools of the people who are paid to implement the law.
In the wake of the Birmingham events, I ask myself why the House feels it necessary to bring the Bill before us, when it is called the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. I am advised by newspapers and so on that several arrests have been made and charges have been brought, which seems to suggest that not only are the law enforcement agencies in the Midlands superbly efficient but that the law as it stands, works very well.
I am assuming that the people who have been arrested are guilty, which is a reasonable thing to do at this stage. If they are subsequently found guilty, they will be sentenced, and they will not be given light sentences. Therefore, I ask myself what the House wants. The law enforcement agencies have demonstrated their efficiency.
The situation suggests its own answer. The House wants blood.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
The hon. Gentleman asks what the House wants. How can it be described as satisfactory that people are arrested after the bombs have blown a large number of people apart? What the House and the country want is for that to be prevented, not for people to be caught and convicted afterwards.
§ Mr. Litterick
I am sure that the House will agree that the surest deterrent to criminals is the certainty of being caught. The law enforcement agencies of the West Midlands performed superbly over that incident, so the people who might have been thinking of doing something similar know that they are up against a really efficient law enforcement service. They know it as a matter of fact now, because a number of people were arrested. That is what law enforcement is about. It is about demonstrating the effectiveness of the law and its enforcement agencies, which has happened. Here we are, a panic-stricken mob—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."]—because we have had avalanches of letters from panic-stricken, shocked people saying, "Hang them." I know, because I received the same letters.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest) rose——
§ Mr. Litterick
That is the kind of pressure we are supposed to resist. We are not supposed to hurry into these judgments like frightened people. We are supposed to give considered judgments. Already hon. Members have clearly indicated the constitutional dangers in which the legislation places us. Already, shockingly, we have heard the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden) say that he does not mind his constituents' liberties, or at least several of them, being abridged. He was not elected to this House to abridge his constituents' liberties. He was elected to defend them.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
Will the hon. Gentleman take it from me that a number of us on this side of the House who are equally concerned with the defence of civil liberties, with the constitution and with the defence of the United Kingdom have for years been urging on leaders on both sides of the House some of the measures being introduced by the Home Secretary? Therefore, the hon. Gentle- 674 man cannot charge my hon. Friends and myself with acting under the stress of fear, panic or emotion, because for a very long time we have been asking for measures of this kind to assist the police.
§ Mr. Litterick
The fact that the hon. Gentleman's opinions have not been allowed to prevail until now suggests that the situation has been transformed by what happened last Thursday. The hon. Gentleman has been joined by many Members on both sides of the House simply because of what happened last Thursday, which I suggest is not good reason.
I intend to speak briefly and——
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Gal-pern)
Order. I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman say that, because a large number of Members are anxious to take part in the debate, which must finish by 10 o'clock. If Members keep their speeches within reasonable limits—I do not want to suggest a time; I could easily say five minutes, but I am not saying that—we can accommodate all those who wish to speak.
§ Mr. Litterick
I intend to speak later on a number of amendments, so I shall be as brief as possible now.
The most sensible course for the House to take would be, by whatever procedural means available to it, to put aside this proposed legislation for at least a month and then consider it further. Cooler counsel might then prevail, and reason, which is the proper master for us to serve, might dominate our decisions.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
A great many general statements have been made about the Bill, some of them in the House during this debate and a great many outside. On the one hand, it has been described as Draconian in its effect on civil liberty. On the other hand it has been described as giving a very slight and unnecessary increase in the powers of the authorities and adding little to the weapons at the disposal of the bodies responsible for keeping law and order.
The fact is that the Bill is a very mixed bag in respect both of its security significance and of the value of the proposals and the extent to which they invade the liberty of the subject. We hope to proceed as quickly as possible to the Com- 675 mittee stage so that this diverse collection of proposals can be subjected to individual scrutiny. Some of them are Draconian, but others are very slight in the extent to which they invade the liberty of the subject.
Some matters must be made clear from the start. The British public will not have much confidence in or respect for a House of Commons which is not prepared to grant the authorities powers which, in the opinion of those authorities, they need and which, on examination by the House, prove to be needed. I do not think the public would retain much confidence in us if we were prepared simply to defer provisions which it could be shown were needed for the exercise of authority in a situation as desperate as the present.
Nor would the public have much confidence in us if we did not share their outrage at the public glorification of mass murder. That has a bearing on certain provisions in the Bill. If we were to stand by and ignore the sense of outrage of many people at the presentation and glorification of mass murder by parades and so on, we would be very much out of tune with the people we represent.
At the same time, however, the public, both now and perhaps more in future, will not thank us if we put on the statute book measures which set dangerous precedents and which on examination we do not find to be necessary to deal with the situation. That is why we must have a Committee stage so that we can thoroughly consider the proposals. We shall not be thanked by successive generations if we create precedents which are not seen to be justified even by the present situation.
One matter which we must make particularly clear is that these measures are not directed against the Irish community in the United Kingdom. I have received letters on this subject, including one this morning which claimed that the measures were a direct assault on the Irish community in this country and a deliberate attempt to make second-class citizens of that community. That is grotesquely untrue. I am sure that it is far from the intentions of the Home Secretary, and it is certainly not the intention of those of us among a number of different political parties who broadly support his proposals.
676 In Committee we must consider some of the proposals to ascertain whether they are necessary, particularly whether they readily bear that interpretation by people outside the House, and whether they can be modified or even explained in such a way as to make it clear that they are not intended to make second-class citizens of people who live and work peacefully here and who have earned a continued place in this country.
There are measures in the Bill which are directed against people in the Irish community and outside it who are engaged in terrorism and support it. But they are directed against terrorists and not against peaceful, law-abiding inhabitants of the United Kingdom. We must make that as clear as we can, and we must make our intentions as precise as possible.
It is partly from that point of view that we must ask about the scope of the Bill. It was partly for that reason that I, on behalf of my hon. Friends, tabled an amendment, which proved to be identical to an amendment tabled by the Oppositition Front Bench, on the scope of the Bill and the various references to Northern Ireland in the definition of terrorism. We must consider that matter carefully lest we should seem to suggest that terrorism linked to the Northern Ireland situation is different from other kinds of terrorism. A bomb is a bomb, and a terrorist act is a terrorist act, whatever its political purpose.
I have been critical over the years of those occasions on which we have seemed to say that terrorist acts pursued for political causes, such as that of the IRA, acquire a different status. Destruction of human life and the damage caused by such actions is an outrage by whoever it is performed and for whatever purpose. The purpose is almost entirely immaterial. It is the act of terrorism which we are talking about. That may cause us to reconsider the way in which we define terrorism. It is not long since the explosions that were attributed to the Angry Brigade. It is conceivable that other acts of terrorism will present us with problems, and we can consider that matter in more detail in Committee, but it has a bearing on the feeling of the Irish community in this country and it is something which we should make clear to them.
677 On the subject of proscription, I think most of us would agree that the direct security value is not all that great. That is why the Home Secretary has been reluctant to introduce it. Its significance relates largely to the sense of outrage of people in this country that an organisation engaged in mass murder can proclaim itself by parades, processions and other means and be seen to be something to which people can publicly belong.
We must ask questions about the media, not out of a desire to induce censorship—I should be the last to seek that—but because it would be anomalous if it were a prohibited and illegal act to stand on a public platform and make statements in support of the IRA but not a prohibited act to do the same on television. We must think carefully about that anomalous situation, however much we want to know the mind of our opponents and however much we want to protect the freedom of the broadcasting organisations.
I was among those who criticised the television company which broadcast the interview with David O'Connell, but that interview was rigorously conducted and no criticism reflects on the person conducting it. I have in the past criticised interviews with hostages in an American bank raid because those interviews were not conducted rigorously and were a mockery of serious journalism.
The point at issue is not whether the interview is conducted but whether it is right to provide a platform for the views of people who are self-confessed mass murderers and whether we can afford the traditional protection which journalists expect for their sources when we are dealing with wanted men who have been behaving dangerously. I look forward to going into the detailed aspects of that matter.
The powers of detention contained in the Bill do least to extend existing powers and least to make inroads into civil liberties. As is apparent from the actions of the police in relation to the Birmingham bombs, it is possible to detain people for questioning over a considerable period. The inclusion of these provisions reminds us that we might need to clarify the existing state of the law on the powers of the police to detain people for questioning. The provisions in the Bill do not add enor- 678 mously to what the police already can do, but the clarification may be of value.
The powers of exclusion are the main source of worry, both to citizens of the United Kingdom who live in Northern Ireland and to members of the Irish community, citizens of the Irish Republic, who live within the United Kingdom. Citizens of the Irish Republic enjoy, and have enjoyed over a long period, a status which is quite different from that of any other alien. They have enjoyed the right to proceed into and out of this country without passports, an enjoyment which has been reciprocal and conferred on us. By taking careful thought, the members of that community will recognise that, although we might wish to preserve that reciprocal arrangement, we have to ensure that we can protect them from terrorists who would abuse the privilege which they enjoy, and to do so we may need to enable ourselves to identify people from within that community and outside it who might abuse that privilege. If that is clearly explained it will be understood.
We all hope to be able to consider carefully the means of appeal or reconsideration and the advice which the Home Secretary receives when he makes decisions, admittedly executive decisions, in this area.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman's first-class argument, which is most relevant to our debate. Does he not agree, however, that if Irish people are here, and have been here for many years, it is because they want to be here and like to be here? Therefore, if someone is attacking this country, those Irish people must acknowledge that they too are being attacked, and Irish people, from bishops to barmen, should declare loudly which side they are on. I think it will be our side.
§ Mr. Beith
That is a well-made observation which will be echoed by anyone with military experience who can speak of the military service that members of the Irish community have given both during the last war and since. The more Irish people who come out and say that, the better it will be for the whole Irish community. That is why we should explain what we are trying to do by these measures.
On the question of security checks at ports and airports, I am grateful, as I 679 am sure will be the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee), for the help given to us in the apposite maiden speech of the hon. Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates), who spoke from his own experience of a particularly un-forgeable identity card. I should not like to see a general identity card system. I share the Home Secretary's reservations about that, and my view is that the effort it would cost would outweigh the value of such a system. It is important in movements between the Republic and Northern Ireland and between the Republic and the rest of the United Kingdom that we should be able to identify people quickly and reliably and at the minimum inconvenience to the vast majority of innocent travellers whose journeys we do not wish to interrupt.
What some of us have in mind as being helpful is the provision of identity cards of a fairly rigorous kind, with the alternative of passports, as a means of identification which could be required of anyone, whether a citizen of the United Kingdom or of the Irish Republic, who made a journey between the island of Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. That system does not need to be an incursion into a person's civil liberties, and it might be of assistance. The type of identity card—a much more rigorous one—referred to by the hon. Member for Petersfield, would be a natural way of providing such a checking procedure.
With those observations, I hand over the debate to other hon. Members in the hope that in Committee we shall be able to go into more detail on these important provisions.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
May 1 first congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates) on a maiden speech that made a real contribution to the debate.
I welcome the Bill, but only as a first step towards reinforcing the powers of the police. There must be other steps that should follow swiftly. Two of these are so important that they must be separately debated in the House, and I shall come to them later.
We in Great Britain are facing an organised campaign of violence against 680 the civil population—men, women and children—aimed to detach Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom. To us, though not to the people of Ulster, that is a new situation.
There is a countryside demand for the Government to take all steps to protect ordinary citizens. Our parliamentary system itself is on trial. The Government must show the people that, while the political solution to the Irish question is being worked out, they can by measures passed by Parliament first contain and then defeat this violence.
The extension of police powers contained in the Bill is not enough. The Government must at the same time reinforce police manpower, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) touched on that. Heavy additional duties are being placed on the police. Police forces must be helped to recruit up to their full establishment and, as soon as possible, to establishments expanded, as necessary, to meet the new challenge. They must be given money for that purpose. They must also be given the money to extend their civilian staff to release trained policemen for operational duties.
Such measures will take time to be effective. For the immediate future it is even more important for police forces to be able to retain their trained and experienced policemen. The Home Secretary must see that pay and other conditions of service are immediately made attractive enough to draw in new recruits and to retain many trained men who have been leaving the service. It should also be an aim to attract back into the service as many as possible of those who have recently left.
As the next line of support, there should be a new drive to recruit and train greatly increased numbers of special constables. These special constables will be only part-time. I know that the Home Secretary has a working party on this subject, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East has already referred. At a time when the country is demanding a great expansion of the regular police forces, I hope that the Police Federation will react to the national mood and welcome an expansion of the Special Constabulary as a major reinforcement to help them fight terrorism.
681 Next, will the Home Secretary look urgently into the case for re-establishing a full-time police reinforcement on the lines of the wartime First Police Reserve? I see some Labour Members looking a little mystified, but I hope that the Government will look into that possibility.
The need to bring in the Armed Services to reinforce the police, within Great Britain, has already arisen—for example, in the recent security operations at Gat-wick in my constituency and at Heathrow Airport. I welcome this evidence that our two great forces in support of law and order—the police and the Armed Services—are working together in the campaign against terrorism.
But when we are giving important new commitments at home to our Armed Services it seems to me to be utterly against our national interest to contemplate cutting their manpower. Instead, surely, in these new and disquieting circumstances, the Secretary of State for Defence should be making every effort to bring the Armed Services up to full strength.
In the meantime the Government should, I am sure, be expanding the Territorial Army, or whatever its new-fangled name may be, to enable it to serve as a part-time reinforcement, to help in the task of defeating terrorism which will clearly be with us for a long time ahead.
Those are some of the basic measures which I believe the Government must take now to meet the public demand for an end to terrorism and all kinds and a restoration of safety and freedom under the law.
As I said earlier, however, there are two other important measures which should be taken, but not until they have been fully debated in this House. The first is to bring in the death penalty for acts of terrorism. I welcome the promise of a debate on this subject within the next few weeks. The second is an introduction of identity cards, including photographs and thumb prints. This, I realise from my own past experience, is a measure that would take time to bring in, but it would help the police and for that reason I would support it. I was impressed with the description of the identity card system given by my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield.
682 If the Government take these additional measures which I have suggested, the public will be reassured and the forces of law and order will be given a better chance to contain and defeat terrorism while political solutions are being worked out.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Stan Thorne (Preston, South)
Having been a Member of the House for a relatively short period of time, I find that the Bill poses for me probably one of the most serious problems I have had to face since I was elected. The issues may appear to be relatively simple, and it would be easy to go along with the clamour for action, whether on the death penalty or in some other way, to deal with an extremely difficult situation. I do not think there are any in the House who would not deplore the tragedy that took place in Birmingham, a tragedy which led to the present situation.
Having said that, however, I have to decide whether it is right to deprive people of civil liberties to ensure that by these measures acts of terrorism will in some way be prevented. One Conservative Member said a little earlier that the defence of civil liberties was dear to him and to many of his hon. Friends. I believe he said that with sincerity, but I am extremely sceptical about the results of the actions of this legislative chamber over many years. Many are concerned about the power of the executive in Britain, about the lack of individual liberty and the continual erosion of civil liberties.
There has been reference to the Universal Charter of Human Rights to which Great Britain is a party, but it is apparent that many of the articles in that charter are offended by the Bill's provisions. Articles 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 26, 29 and 30 are all offended by the Bill. Possibly that is why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary described this legislation as Draconian. It certainly is. It could be argued—and no doubt it will be in the next 24 hours—that measures of this type are justified in the interest of protecting the individual liberties of the majority. I, too, accept that view. Therefore, I believe that the onus of proof falls on the Home Secretary to show that by these measures we shall 683 succeed in preventing the terrorism to which we are addressing ourselves.
What is the evidence to date? We have had emergency powers in Northern Ireland; we have had internment and various other restrictions on the liberty of the individual. Has this resulted in a diminution of acts of terrorism, assassinations and murders of various descriptions? The evidence is against acceptance of that theory. On the contrary, it would appear that there is a considerable correlation between increased acts of violence and the establishment and exercise of emergency powers and internment. The police in Britain—the Home Secretary confirmed this in his speech today—have consistently advised him against the banning of certain organisations on the ground that in such a situation it becomes less effective to pursue normal police techniques and to seek out the guilty.
We have not had from the Home Secretary a satisfactory explanation of the new factors in the situation today which suggest that the police, exercising the powers in this Bill, will be more effective in the pursuit of their aims. It must not be forgotten that the police have to rely upon information from a community which cares to establish the truth arising from these acts, and I believe that that would apply to the majority of English and Irish communities living in England today. But will the police get the sort of co-operation they need from communities like that if they are seen to be operating the coercive aspects of the Bill? I think that the answer must be "No". There will be a tendency to enjoin against the police rather than to seek to co-operate with them. The reason for that may be either fear or an obscure concept of loyalty.
There are various provisions in the Bill which a number of my colleagues intend to deal with during its later stages, and I am mindful that Mr. Deputy Speaker has appealed for short speeches. Notwithstanding that, I hope I shall be allowed to say how much I regret that a Labour Government, who still have before them a decision of the 1972 Labour Party Conference to establish a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland to protect minority communities against discrimination on religious or other grounds, have not seen fit 684 to use the machinery which is being used this week to get through this Bill to rush through that type of Bill. Had they done so, in my view we would have laid a foundation which would have meant that these proposed powers and other powers in operation in Northern Ireland would not have been necessary.
We are bringing in certain legislation because the Government are unwilling, as were the previous administration, to reappraise their policy in regard to Northern Ireland and the situation existing there. I agree with those of my colleagues who believe that we shall begin to solve the problems of Ireland only when we declare our intention to disengage from Ireland. That does not mean that it could be done in the short run. It might take two years. It might take even five years. But such a declaration of intent followed by the ending of emergency powers in Northern Ireland, the ending of internment and the establishment of a Bill of Rights, with the withdrawal of troops to barracks and with uniformed policemen doing the job of policing in Northern Ireland, would enable us to begin to solve the problems of Ireland and avoid the necessity for the Draconian measures involved in this Bill, which I hope the House will reject.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Farnham)
I begin by taking up one matter referred to by the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thome). I do not think that anyone in the House, let alone the Home Secretary, believes that the Bill will solve the problems in Northern Ireland. What it will do, we hope, is make it harder to commit acts of terrorism.
In my brief remarks, all I wish to do is to obtain some information which I believe will help in our consideration of the Bill in Committee, assuming that the Minister is able to provide it meanwhile.
First, I must take up a little time to congratulate my hon. Friend and political neighbour the Member for Peters-field (Mr. Mates) on his maiden speech, which was apposite, brief and to the point.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Sir P. Rawlinson) regretted the narrowness of the Bill and that it did not extend to acts of terrorism originating in causes other than 685 Northern Ireland. Terrorism is a worldwide factor in our lives today. Throughout the world more people are relying on violence as a means of obtaining their political objectives, not caring very much how many innocent people may get hurt in that violence.
We are dealing today with only one narrow aspect of world terrorism. We are dealing with the extension of Irish terrorism from one part of the United Kingdom to which hitherto it has been confined to the whole of the United Kingdom—to Great Britain as well as to Northern Ireland. Yet, in referring to the provisions for exclusion orders and methods of protecting individuals against injustice under those orders, the Home Secretary said that matters would be raised which "were the gravest matters of national security." That implies a little more than just the extension of terrorism of a particular kind from one part of the United Kingdom to another.
In the Bill only the IRA is initially proscribed, although there is provision in Clause 1 for the proscription of other organisations at a later date should it be necessary. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) suggested that other groups might commit terrorist acts in the name of and under cover of the IRA.
I come now to the specific questions which I wish to put to the Minister. What use does he think is being made of the IRA by other revolutionary or subversive groups from outside? What use are they making of it to try to extend their terrorist activity? Are they arranging supplies of arms or money to the IRA for use indirectly against our society?
Conversely, is there any evidence that the IRA itself is making use in this country of revolutionary, subversive or terrorist groups, some of which may have been much more innocent in their original foundation than they have now become, later in their careers? In other words, what is the extent of the penetration of the IRA or other domestic groups in this country by subversion from abroad?
I accept that questions of this kind have to be answered delicately. However, it will be useful if we can be given some idea of the answers when we come to discuss in Committee amendments which 686 propose extending these provisions beyond acts of terrorism in connection with Northern Ireland.
We all know that there are subversive and revolutionary elements in this country which are determined to destroy our society by one means or another. I should like to know whether we are beginning to discuss some of these means in this debate on Irish terrorism. I fear that, unless we look at the whole reality, we may go either not far enough or too far. These are matters which the House should consider most seriously.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)
I agree with the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) to the extent that it is right to draw attention to the fact that terrorism has far wider implications than those we tend to treat in the Bill. The Title of the measure is Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill. I hope that the problem of terrorism will be a temporary matter.
I feel the gravest possible foreboding. We know that this problem of terrorism started before the Irish situation became acute. Modern technology has placed in the hands of those who are minded to resort to terrorist tactics the most fearsome and formidable armoury. I do not believe that any country in the world, however powerful militarily, has begun to find the answer to it.
I support the Bill. I think it was inevitable that it had to be introduced. I wish in a way that it could have been introduced at a stage when it did not appear to be a reactive measure to the terrible events of last week, although those events have made us realise, if we did not realise before, the gravity of the problem with which we are faced.
I am by no means entirely sure that the provisions of the Bill are sufficient to be wholly effective. On Monday, in a Question to the Home Secretary, I said that I believed that identification cards, coupled with photographs and fingerprints, would not be an unwarrantable intrusion on civil liberty given the appalling situation that we face. At the risk of offending people's libertarian susceptibilities, which I share—I do not like having to say this, but I believe that it should be reconsidered—there is an argument for that suggestion.
687 In one respect at least, the Government have got off on the wrong foot. It may be true at the moment that none of the Protestant extremist organisations has yet resorted to violence of the kind we are seeking to combat on this side of the Irish Sea, but it is no guarantee that they will not do so in future.
It would be a good thing if in Committee the Government were to accept the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) not only, as it were, to fend off or to make more difficult the perpetration of violence by any such organisation but also to parry the argument that this is wholly angled against the IRA and not against other terrorists. It may be an irrational argument, but let us kill it stone dead. Let us demonstrate with pedantic exactitude our impartiality in this matter and at the outset make certain that all organisations that engage in the kind of villainous conduct that has been going on in Northern Ireland find their way into the scope of the Bill here and now so that we do not have to bring in further legislation or Orders in Council to bring it up to date if and when the occasion arises when those events occur.
There is a ring of desperation about certain aspects of the Bill. I hope that the Attorney-General will note this point. As one who supports the Bill—not, I hasten to add, merely because I represent a Birmingham constituency, but because I am profoundly troubled by the problem of world terrorism—I think that the Home Secretary ought to consider again the question of some kind of juridical tribunal. It need not necessarily meet in public. However, it would be some form of guarantee against bureaucratic mistake and, more than that, it would provide a reassurance for all who want to stamp on terrorism and at the same time are concerned that civil liberties shall not be abridged one jot or tittle more than is absolutely necessary for the purpose for which the Bill has been created.
I turn now to something a little more controversial. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) ran into some trouble when he castigated the principle upon which the Bill is founded. My hon. Friends said, in effect, that it was 688 falsely founded and that unless and until we reversed our Irish policy we would have no solution to the problem. The right hon. and learned Member for Epsom and Ewell (Sir P. Rawlinson) took my hon. Friend to task on that point.
I find myself in the paradoxical position of being able to agree with both the right hon. and learned Gentleman and my hon. Friend. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was right in what he said about the necessity for this measure, and I support it.
However, the Irish aspect of terrorism, as I have pointed out, is not the only one and possibly in the last analysis is not the gravest. We have only to recall what happened in Tunis the other day—I digress to make this point—when, in the wake of the United Nations recognition of Yasser Arafat, another group of terrorists proceeded to do the same kind of things as the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, so-called, had been carrying out before, and they are people who probably regard Yasser Arafat as a Fascist beast. Therefore, we should not imagine that when the Irish problem has been solved we shall have finished with terrorism.
I think that the time has come to admit that this country has nothing further to offer in Ireland. We have had one paper constitution after another torn up by the divergent irrational forces that dominate that country. Only one sane Member of Parliament has been returned to this House from Northern Ireland—the hon. Member for Belfast, West.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I think that any reflection on the sanity of Members of Parliament is going a little too far because it might become too comprehensive.
§ Mr. Lee
I accept your reproof, Mr. Speaker. It may be—I say this in all seriousness—that this is too serious a matter to get involved in polemics. If I said something I should not have said, I withdraw the observation. I suggest that the hon. Member for Belfast, West is the only comparatively non-contentious Member who seems to have found his way into this House from Northern Ireland.
I should like to know from hon. Members on both sides who want us to continue in Ireland how long they think we should stay there. If after 50 years or more of the present situation, to say 689 nothing of the much longer history of British involvement in Ireland, we are unable to reconcile these forces—largely, I suspect, because they do not wish to be reconciled one with another—surely it is time for us to admit that we cannot do anything further. It seems no argument to say that, because the IRA wants us out of Northern Ireland and is using force in an endeavour to speed our departure, that is a reason for not going. It may be that if we were to announce our imminent departure we would force the divergent factions in that country for the first time ever to face the reality of living with each other. As long as we are there, they are enabled to go on playing out their seventeenth-century fantasy-world religious struggles, whereas if we were to depart they would know perfectly well that they would have to live together or dissolve into a blood bath.
I draw this analogy, which is by no means inappropriate. When in March 1947 Lord Mountbatten announced that we were going to leave India, like it or not, and, whether or not the Hindus and the Moslems were prepared to accept each other, we would depart——
§ Mr. Lee
If the hon. Gentleman will contain himself, I will come to that in a moment. Lord Mountbatten forced the Congress Party, for the first time, to accept the reality and existence of Pakistan.
The hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) says that there was a blood bath. I hope he will accept the sincerity with which I say this. I have many constituents who have come from Jullundur, Amritsar and Lahore, and so I am not insensitive to the scope and tragedy of what happened. But how much worse it would have been if we had held on in India. We should have found ourselves involved in a three-cornered war of indefinite duration.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury) rose——
§ Mr. Lee
No, I cannot give way. A number of hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. The time has come for us to say that we shall depart from Northern Ireland and for the Irish people to work out their own destination.
690 I make one final observation in view of the way in which religion is used in this matter. To use a Gilbertian observation, "Thank God I am an atheist and do not belong to either of the religious forces when I look at the things that are done in the name of religion".
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Thanet, West)
That speech ended on a word of comic content.
The Irish Republican Army and its sympathisers wish to bomb us out of Ulster. They are terrorists, and they are engaged in levying war.
I want to pose two questions to the Government tonight. One of them can, happily, be put briefly following the able contribution of my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan). The other can be equally brief if I pay tribute to the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates). His was a first-class contribution to the debate, and, following what he said, I ask the Home Secretary to accept what he said as being true; namely, that fingerprints can be used in the way he suggested, and I believe that they should be so used.
I want to take further what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham. The IRA has a large band of allies. Some of them are Marxist sympathisers from Czechoslovakia, Poland and elsewhere, and some are notorious criminals who are paid for their work. The Home Office knows, as does the Ministry of Defence, a number of those criminals and their associates who have provided valuable information to Her Majesty's Government and their precessors. To what extent is the infiltration that one finds in the universities—as illustrated by the resolutions passed by some of them in support of the tactics of the terrorists in the IRA—and in the various other organs such as the Press and the mass media interrelated in this question? More important, is this measure sufficient to cover all those activities?
§ Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley) rose——
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
No. I promised to be brief.
I share the view of my right hon. Friend that much of this cannot be said in public, but there are real fears on the 691 Upposition benches about this aspect of the matter.
I share strongly the view of the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, that the law of treason can be used. I disagree entirely with the view expressed earlier this afternoon by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Sir P. Rawlinson), a former Attorney-General, and I do so after carefully considering what he said.
I should like to refer the Attorney-General to two particular matters. I am most anxious that this should not become a legal debate, and I do not intend that it should do so, but it is of the utmost importance to recognise that it is open to the Government, through the Director of Public Prosecutions, and on the view of the Attorney-General, to indict for treason those who have been guilty of these bomb outrages in Birmingham, and, if they are found to be the proper persons and are proved to be guilty, to execute them.
I believe that they should be so indicted, and I have strong support for that in the view expressed by the learned author in "Russell on Crime", Twelfth Edition, Volume 1, at page 210, where he says that it is treasonableto levy war against His Majesty, his heirs and successors, within this realm, in order, by force or constraint, to compel him or them to change his or their measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon, or to intimidate, or overawe, both Houses or either House of Parliament.He goes on to say on page 211:it is still legally possible to prosecute, in an appropriate case, either for constructive treason or for 'treason felony' under the Act of 1848. Moreover, facts which would support an indictment for felony under the Act of 1848 may be such as would be evidence of such overt deed as would support the charge of treason under the Statute of Treasons, 1351.Lower down the page he adds:Levying war against the King in his realm. The constructions which have been put on these words have enlarged their meaning beyond warlike operations in the ordinary meaning of that term. In the law of treason war can be levied constructively by even small numbers of persons, without being armed with military weapons, so long as their purpose is to make a resistance by force to the King's authority with a subversive purpose of a public and general character.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
It has everything to do with it, because it is concerned with the use of emergency powers to try to stop those who owe allegiance to Her Majesty in this country from engaging in acts of treason. That is what the whole Bill is about. We are concerned to ensure that there is a clear distinction between the death penalty, which will be dealt with in another debate, and this Bill, which is concerned with people who are the enemies of Her Majesty and of Her Majesty's Government and come to this country to levy war against us, which is what the latest bomb outrages are, and what the earlier ones were.
I wrote to the previous Attorney-General asking him to indict for treason in previous cases, but he decided not to do so. I respect the discretion vested in every Attorney-General. I can see that there are two arguments. I am not in any way suggesting that there are not. but I respectfully urge the Attorney-General to consider that it is open to him to indict for treason.
If the Attorney-General admits, as he must, that that is so, he may say that it is safer to proceed under the Explosive Substances Act, but one thing I must ask is whether the decision to indict for treason——
§ Mr. George Cunningham
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it relevant on the Second Reading of this Bill to consider what charge the authorities ought to bring in respect of some activities that have taken place?
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
The relevance of the matter is that in considering this issue I invite Her Majesty' Government to consider whether they should adopt a new provision—not necessarily an amendment—to the law of treason that would provide the real power that is needed to bring these people to justice and secure that they are liquidated in the manner in which enemies of the State should be liquidated. Whatever view one takes of a death penalty, those who are enemies of the 693 realm deserve to be dealt with swiftly and executed.
I hope that my right hon. Friend's amendment to widen the basis of this provision to deal with terrorists in general and not only in Northern Ireland is carefully considered. Even if it is not found acceptable tonight, I hope that we will recognise that, as a more permanent provision, we shall need a measure to deal with terrorists in this country, and not merely those associated with the Irish Republican Army. I mention this matter because there is not the recognition that there should be that they are, and believe themselves to be, an army. This provision should cover also further acts of terrorism which will shortly fall upon us.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
I hope that the motivations of the hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) do not dominate this debate. They are too chauvinistic to help to reach the solution that we all want.
Like everyone else, I was horrified last Thursday to hear what had happened in Birmingham. I am sure that all our hearts go out to the dead and the bereaved and that we want to do our utmost to think out solutions to an intractable and terrible problem which has been with us for a long time. At this stage we are moving further away from any solution to the great problem of Northern Ireland because we need a radical reappraisal of our entire policy towards that country.
When I came to the House on Friday for a debate on a quite different subject—that of referenda—I was shocked by the attitude of many of my fellow Members, who seemed to be motivated by the bad counsellor, the spirit of vengeance. If we are counselled by that spirit, we shall move further from a solution to this problem.
The solution we need is not punitive or retributive as many Conservative Members seem to think. It is a very difficult political solution. The refusal to have a debate in depth about its achievement leads us to thresh wildly around like those who are planting bombs all over the place. We are liable to reach solutions which are non-solutions and will intensify the problem.
694 One of the fundamental problems is one which is faced by the whole community, whether in Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom or in the world. We need to be seen to be fair and unbiased in our attempt to reach these solutions. Large numbers not only of English people but of honourable Irish people in our community are, to use the Home Secretary's words, bound to be frightened even though they had nothing to do with what has happened and were appalled by it.
The Home Secretary described the Bill as Draconian. I should like to have seen in the long Title some reference to Ireland. I am frightened by the prospect of many of these Draconion provisions being used against working people if something is not done about it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] This is a widespread fear in the Labour movement and was expressed in the Palace of Westminster by many of the lobbyists on behalf of the Shrewsbury pickets. This view has been expressed repeatedly today and it should be taken into account.
Anyone who has looked through the amendments realises that some Conservative Members intend to try to make the Bill even more Draconian than the Home Secretary says it is. That is the position that we are liable to be in if our libertarian principles are not present in our minds. I received a whole shoal of threatening letters after I raised in the House some time ago the subject of the six men who, after a parade, were called to account. I mentioned that, in Birmingham at the same time, 2,000 men with 20 drum and fife bands had what they called a victory parade, during which the most obscene gestures were used.
Those men were wearing top hats and stoles and carried rolled umbrellas. If that does not constitute a uniform, I do not know what does. [Interruption.] Hon. Members from Northern Ireland have no reason to laugh when they realise what is happening in this country, as an overspill effect from the events in Northern Ireland.
They have held part of the community in Northern Ireland in virtual subjection and have done nothing to give democracy to that minority in the spirit which motivates us in this House towards any minority.
695 The Bill should provide that anyone wearing uniforms provocative of trouble in Northern Ireland should be forbidden to do so. Some time ago, some young men were arrested after parading in uniform on Darwen Moors. They were tried and sentenced. During the trial they had claimed that they were part of a 6,000-strong Ulster defence army which was ready to go over there and fight in a civil war. Should we not take these things into account when considering the Bill? There should be no retaliatory parades of people in stoles and top hats carrying rolled umbrellas, because they are provocative to the Catholic Irish community in this country. They should be eschewed and condemned.
We should not allow the forces which have always wanted the death penalty for many things to carry the day. Many of us have managed to stamp that out, but the spirit of vengeance and their determination to raise the subject of the death penalty will make a solution of this problem more remote, because they will thereby give hostages to fortune and martyrs to those who need martyrs.
My aim tonight has been to try to heal the breach between us. If those who do not want to heal the breach and can be clearly seen not to want to do so want to stick their necks out, that is up to them, but in the House there is a spirit of determination to grapple with the problems which Northern Ireland forces on us and which long years ago we forced upon Northern and Southern Ireland.
I agree with a previous speaker who said that one of the problems we have to face is that at some time we shall have to withdraw from Northern Ireland and leave it to the Irish people to settle their own affairs. I hope that at some time, without being rigid about the date, we could ask the communities of Northern Ireland to come together and discuss their affairs as a prelude to our being able to withdraw. When that happens, I hope that Opposition Members who come from Ulster will make a better contribution to healing the breach than they have made so far.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)
It was with sorrow rather than with anger that I listened to the extraordinary speech which was just delivered by the hon. Member 696 for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). His speech showed a complete failure to grasp the reality of the horrible activities of the terrorists in our midst which has been the cause and which has procured the Bill to be brought before the House.
The Bill has been accepted by the House with grim reluctance and with sorrow but as a grim necessity. One of the tragedies of the work of terrorists in the modern world is that civilised societies seeking to defend themselves are obliged, in the very process of self-defence, to cut down on and to limit the very liberties which are the most precious fruit of civilisation.
To the extent that civilised society is obliged to limit its own freedoms to combat terrorism, the terrorists exult in a victory. I am convinced that terrorists are linked internationally. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) showed that in his speech. We do not know, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will inform us before the evening is out, to what extent there are links between various terrorist groups that are known.
There can be no doubt that the aim of anarchists, be they in the Irish Republican Army or in whatever other group working in the free world by terrorism, is to destroy freedom and to bring about the end of civilised society.
Because it is absolutely essential to protect the lives of the people of this country and to protect law and order, I welcome the Bill, but, as I said on Tuesday, I welcome it as a cruel necessity. I hope that it will not be too long before we are able to do away with it, but such is the force of the work of the terrorists and so strong are they in the world today that I suspect that we shall have to bear with this measure for a very long time.
I was shocked by the speeches made this afternoon by the hon. Members for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) and for Pontypool (Mr. Abse). I believe that those hon. Members neglected completely to take account of the fact that the very first duty of the Government in a civilised country is to protect the lives, the liberty and the freedom of the citizens of that country. That is the first duty. In the modern world Governments have a great many others. So many duties have they 697 that in the Parliaments of the free world we tend to forget that the first duty of the Government is to protect us from the enemies who beset us, and who are now besetting us so strongly both outside and inside the country, especially from inside at the moment.
The Bill is a necessary Bill. I was very impressed by the speech in support of it by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden). From only one thing in the hon. Gentleman's speech would I dissent. I do not think that this evening is the appropriate moment to enlarge on the question whether we should now introduce in Britain capital punishment for death caused by terrorist acts, but I am profoundly convinced that we should introduce it, and I hope that we shall have an early opportunity of debating that issue.
I do not dissent from the view which was expressed by the hon. Member for Ladywood that many people, in advocating the return of capital punishment for crimes of terrorism which cause death, are actuated by vengeance. I believe, however, that there is a profound philosophical difference between vengeance and that retribution which society has always expected will meet the worst crimes which are known to humanity. This has always been the view of society. In recent times, in peace, we have tended to see this overlaid, but it is still a profound truth.
The death penalty exacted against the worst types of criminal working in the public field salves the conscience of society. There was no argument that was used at the time of the execution of the war criminals at the end of the war which would not be pertinent to and could not be applied to the execution of those who were responsible for crimes such as have recently been committed in Birmingham and elsewhere in Britain.
Further, I am obliged to say that, although one can talk till the cows come home about whether the death penalty deters, I have always taken the view that there are some who will be deterred by the death penalty, and if there are some who will be deterred from crimes such as these by the death penalty, we should have the death penalty as an essential weapon in the armoury of society to enable it to defend itself against terrorist acts of this kind.
698 I do not see how proper control can be exercised at the ports of entry into Great Britain and I do not see how the police can properly exercise the sort of control that they must exercise in society now to deal with terrorists unless we have an identity card system. I was one of the first to applaud the abolition of identity cards in the 1950s. I do not believe that the British people take willingly to having to carry identity cards.
The carrying of identity cards was always regarded—I think rightly so—as an inroad upon freedom and upon liberty. However, there are times when the identity card is necessary. It was necessary in war time, and we freely accepted it. The mood in my constituency of Solihull, where people have suffered grievously not only from the bombs actually planted, which thank God did not cause death there, but because people from Solihull have been killed by the bombs in Birmingham, is all one way. People are willing to accept the identity card if it is a necessary means of defending society.
The Secretary of State said today and on Monday that he was not yet convinced that it was necessary to have identity cards. I believe that further consideration will show that it is. In his splendid maiden speech this afternoon, my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates) showed that such cards should not present enormous administrative difficulties. After all, we are one of the few countries in Western Europe—a free society—that does not have identity cards. People in France and in many other countries are used to carrying them. If the identity card can be used in combating terrorism, we should have it. I hope that the Secretary of State will give further consideration to this.
Again referring to the speech made by the hon. Member for Hillsborough, it would be the greatest betrayal in our history if we were to pull out of Ireland, as they say, and if we were to betray the people of Northern Ireland and leave them to a bloody civil war. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. Our responsibilities are as great in Northern Ireland as they are here in Great Britain. To pull out of Northern Ireland would be an appalling betrayal, and I trust that it would not be contemplated by more than a mere handful of hon. Members.
699 I greatly hope that any tendency to wreak vengeance upon perfectly responsible, honest, decent Irish citizens in our society will be resisted by everybody who has the power of resistance and the power to give tongue about it. I have had letters, as many other hon. Member will have had, from constituents so moved by what happened last week that for a moment they so far forgot themselves as to say that the Irish should be chased out of Great Britain. That would be ignoble. It is our plain duty to encourage the people in our constituencies to see that the great bulk of the Irish citizens here are respectable, decent citizens in our society, but they, too, have a duty and must not shield or in any way succour the terrorists in our midst who are taking British lives. I welcome the Bill.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)
It was not my original intention to speak in the debate, but as I have listened to contributions from both sides of the House I have felt that we were losing the measured tones and the consideration that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary introduced, and the careful advice and wise words that had come from my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden) and his stricken constituency.
There has undoubtedly been a great deal of hysteria as a result of that bombing exercise. There have been many cries for vengeance. People have said that we are being panicked. I believe that we have a prime duty to defend the liberties of our constituents, but a Bill of Rights and a whole volume of liberties are of little value to someone who is 6 feet beneath the ground or someone whose body has been dismembered by a bomb.
Therefore we have a right to protect the lives of our constituents, but we also have a right to say that there is no sign of panic on their part. They express a legitimate wish when they look to this House and those who represent them at a time when our cities are under attack for understanding and protection. They want to know how we will protect them. We must therefore look for advice to the police, the people to whom we give the power and the duty to protect us. We 700 must consider what we can legitimately give them in extra powers so that they can protect us. But we must not forget that those powers are such that normally we would not like to bestow them.
The police have given their advice and my right hon. Friend has responded to it. In so doing, what he has done is the least he could do. He is altering the 1939 Act, which was originally intended to run for two years but which, in view of the events which overtook it, ran for a much longer period. He has said that the Bill must run for only six months or be renewed, and that is a point we must welcome in view of the curtailment of our liberties which the Bill entails.
It would be most sad, however, if we were to worry now too much about the curtailment of liberties and later to have upon our consciences the deaths of our fellow citizens. We must bear this in mind in deciding regretfully that we must pass the Bill. That does not mean, however, that the legislation must go through in all its detail unchallenged. It does not mean that we must not examine it carefully, because we are still the protectors of our fellow citizens' civil rights. While examining the detail, we cannot deny the principle or say under any circumstances that when our people are looking to us for support we in this House should deny it to them.
I am glad that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has returned to the Chamber. He mentioned the statement by the Archbishops and Bishops of England and Wales which will be read in all Catholic churches this Sunday. I welcome the statement but I feel that it should have been made a long time ago. I welcome it, too, because it helps to give the matter a certain amount of balance. I shall read it because it sums up the feeling of all the Catholics in this country. I have never spoken here before—or, at least, I hope I have not—as a Catholic. I am not a Catholic Member of Parliament. I am a Labour Member of Parliament, and it is as such that I generally speak.
The Archbishops and Bishops say:We ask all our people to observe this Sunday as a day of reparation and intercession for peace in our countries and Northern Ireland.701The brutal and indiscriminate killings caused by the bomb explosions in Birmingham have excited feelings of horror and revulsion among all right-minded people. We utterly condemn these murders as well as the cruel mutilations and injuries suffered by so many innocent human beings. We express our deepest sympathy and compassion to all who have suffered or been bereaved. We pray that God will comfort and console them.Our feelings of revulsion for these acts of terrorism must not allow a wedge to be driven between the English and Irish peoples in these islands. The vast bulk of Irish people condemn this terrorism as much as we do. No Catholic can offer support or excuse for these acts of violence.We must continue to condemn the actions of all terrorists, no matter from which side. We believe that all Christian leaders would do the same.This is the point which is relevant to the right hen. Member for Down, South, because he quoted only a part of the statement: It goes on to say:No peace will be possible until violence is repudiated on both sides. Above all we must work for the removal of injustice which is the cause of violence. On each of us falls the duty of praying and working for this end.Condemnation of violence is not enough. We must root out its causes. Therefore we ask all Christian people to consider more seriously than we have ever done before what are the injustices and fears which have led to the present violence. For our part we are ready to co-operate in any way we can.I read the whole statement because I took exception to what the right hon. Member for Down, South said. That is a fine part of Ireland he represents and one which I particularly love. Unless we root out the injustices which exist in the Six Counties, we shall not get rid of the men of violence. It is not as though we were starting with a clean slate. The history and the divisions go deep. Injustices have been perpetrated by each side upon the other. No side in this conflict is virgin pure, no side can say that it has no responsibility for a part of the situation which exists in Northern Ireland. No side can say that it has not perpetrated injustices, violence and the denial of social and political rights.
The House therefore has a duty not only to pass legislation to protect our people but to question why a massacre such as took place in Birmingham last Thursday should suddenly precipitate a debate on Northern Ireland on the Floor of the House the following week. We must question why it takes such things as that to make us appreciate the brutalities 702 which are happening to the communities in Northern Ireland and to make us realise that, since we claim that the Six Counties are a part of our Sovereign Lady's dominions, we have a real and positive duty towards the people there. We cannot simply brush that under the carpet until there is another bomb in Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow, Hull or London. We have a duty to act now.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Carol Mather (Esher)
I welcome the Bill in terms similar to those which the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) welcomed the Archbishops' statement. I welcome the Bill and feel that it ought to have been produced a long time ago. When the hon. Member thinks about the problem more deeply, it will perhaps occur to him that it is because of the injustices which the people of this country are now suffering and have suffered for the past two to thre years—as innocent victims in Northern Ireland have been suffering for years—that the Bill is introduced. I make no bones about welcoming the Bill because I and many of my hon. Friends have been advocating such measures for a long time.
Over the past two and a half years I have been pressing for proscription of the IRA in this country and for control of travel between Ireland and this country and between the North and South. As long ago as July 1973 I and a colleague went to see the Home Secretary and the Leader of the House during the Summer Recess to press for a recall of the House to introduce measures on the lines of this Bill. What effect would there have been if such measures had been introduced then? Those of us who pressed for them believe that they would have been effective and that some of the outrages of recent months could have been prevented. Obviously I cannot claim this with certainty. What I can claim is that our pressure and our activities in this respect perhaps made it more possible for this Bill to be introduced in record time, within a few hours of the Home Secretary making his original statement.
Such a measure needs to be comprehensive. We do not want legislation in dribs and drabs. Many useful things are contained in the Bill, but I would have liked to see all the steps taken at one time. The introduction of identity cards 703 into the United Kingdom as a whole would have been a useful step, not least because it would not offend the susceptibilities of people living in Northern Ireland who may feel that they require special authority to go to another part of Britain. We could have introduced an identity card system quite easily. There is a precedent for the use of such cards because young people travel around Europe on such cards. They are used as a normal travel document.
My hon. Friend the Member for Peteisfield (Mr. Mates) in an excellent maiden speech pointed out that these things could be done speedily and with a lack of administrative trouble. I would have liked to see a Northern Ireland part to this Bill. I would have liked to see more effective control of the border and to have seen an end to our present low-profile attitude towards interrogation in the Province. I would also have liked to see equal powers of arrest and detention, because from what I read in the Bill the powers of arrest and detention in this country are now greater than those available in Northern Ireland. If there was a moment to do it, this is the moment when the death penalty ought to have been introduced. I believe that the country expects this of us.
I congratulate the Home Secretary on his courage in introducing the Bill. It might be thought to be rather out of keeping with his libertarian principles. I believe that far from being Draconian he has shown something in which he believes strongly, in compassion, for the innocent victims of these crimes. He has taken the first faltering steps to protect society and its individual members. Why have some of us been pressing for such measures for several years? I think it was because we sensed that a terrible wound was being inflicted on the morale and pride of people in this country. We sensed also that as a result there might be a terrible backlash. We saw for ourselves the utter incredulity among people who felt that Parliament could sit back and take no action and that we apparently had no will to win and were not prepared to fight back or show any defiance.
I am glad that the Home Secretary has so wholeheartedly disowned a policy of appeasement. As I said in a recent letter 704 I wrote to the Press, the most important lesson to learn—I am glad that this was reiterated by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell)—is that the first thing we must do to win the battle against the terrorists is convince them that their days are numbered. When that is done, more than half the battle will have been won. It may be said that there will be retaliation from terrorists and even bloodier incidents than we have already had. It is suggested that if stronger measures such as the death penalty are introduced, perhaps hostages may be taken. We may be asked whether such a step is wise. People are saying that if we take stronger measures we may be acting as our own worst enemy.
This has to be thought through—all the way through. If we do nothing, we will surely see an escalation in terrorism. In that event we will all go under. I reject the theory that all we are doing is bringing more trouble on our heads. This is pure defeatism. I reject too the contention from the Labour side that we are interfering with the liberties of the subject. We are now at war with the terrorists. We are not interfering with the liberties of the subject. We are protecting those liberties. The country expects that of us.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
An earlier occupant of the Chair beseeched us to be as brief as possible so that all those who wished to contribute would be able to do so. I will do my level best to meet that request.
The troublesome times through which our nation is going, economically and in other ways, often raise tempers in this House. The temperature has been driven up to astronomic heights on occasion. It is perhaps to the credit of this House and its great history that when it comes to something really savage, when there is an attack on the democracy which we have created, not only for this country but for the world, we can debate the issue coolly, sensibly and soberly.
Often we are tempted to join with those outside who say that respect for Parliament is decreasing. There may be some justification for this. It is at times of crisis that the House of Commons has shown an example, and I believe it has done so today. The last time it did so was on an occasion which turned out 705 to be more dreadful—an occasion which posed just as savage a threat. That was when the enemies of this nation came from another part of Europe. They never actually reached this country. We now have just as villainous an enemy who has got into the land and is trying to destroy our constitution and nation. The present position is just as serious as if the Nazis were preparing to invade. That is what must be acknowledged. I can hardly understand the point of view of those who show great concern, agitation and worry because of the temporary loss of civil liberties that is involved. We must realise and acknowledge that the Bill is being introduced to prevent further loss of life to our fellow countrymen.
It has been said that from time to time we on this island have always found an opportune moment and some mystic means to produce the right person in times of crisis. I believe that we have once again found the right person with the right frame of mind. He is a person with great intelligence and a record of massive defence of liberty—namely, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. We should be grateful that we have people of his great ability in times of stress who can come to this House and present a Bill which by the very method of its presentation, coupled with the fact that it has been considered by my right hon. Friend, should enable all of us, whatever reservations we may have, to allow it to become enacted as quickly as possible.
Let us be blunt: we all hate the bombers. They are despicable people. If it is a sin to hate, I admit that sin. I hate and loathe them. I am prepared to take any consequences for that statement. Somebody has to say it irrespective of whether we are Irish, Welsh, Scottish or a mixture of all three. I am sorry that I cannot include Anglo-Saxon because I am a mixture of Irish, Welsh and Scots. My daughter's child, however, may correct that omission.
It is necessary for us to say clearly that we are prepared to put aside our religious and national feelings. I had some difficulty in doing so yesterday because, whilst I love the New Zealanders, I wondered whether my love had faded a little when they beat Wales at rugby football. Those are the sort of matters 706 that make this great country of ours such a superb example.
Let us realise that people of alleged massive strength in arms, air forces and military paraphernalia have failed to smash these islands. That is because in times of stress and strain our people have been prepared without hesitation to surrender a great deal of their civil liberties and to have measures imposed upon them that they would never have accepted unless there had been an emergency. We are now facing another grave emergency.
Sorrowful and dreadful though the situation is for the families of those who have suffered the anguish and bitterness of knowing that innocent people have been villainously destroyed, we must ensure that we do not fall into the trap of not differentiating between the defence of our civil liberties and our system of jurisprudence and of ensuring that we introduce protective and effective measures in the best traditions of this House.
The worst thing of all to do would be to fail in this House to do our duty. I believe that my right hon. Friend has given us the right lead. If we do not do our duty and pass this Bill swiftly there will be people outside who might encourage others to give them the power that they want. They would do much worse than anything contained in the Bill. They would offend all who believe in the principles of democracy. We must take full cognizance of that danger.
We would fall into a dreadful trap if we were to allow a form of anti-Irishness to creep into these islands. If we were to blame people because of their party or religion or nationality we would become as despicable as those who have blown to bits our fellow countrymen. That is what we must avoid. We have done it before and we can do so again.
We must recognise and acknowledge the magnificent contribution which has been made by Irish men and women to the great freedoms that we enjoy. We are proud of the great sailors, soldiers and airmen who are Irish. Let us put all that in the balance. I hope that that will be done within my constituency. When the occasion allows me to go home to Wales and to visit an area with Irish names like my own I find that there are 707 many people of Irish descent. There is no group of people more loyal and dedicated to the cause of British democracy than those folk. We must ensure that they are in no way injured or hurt by the whipping up of some form of vulgar spasm of hate against folk who happen to be Irish.
I agree with all my right hon. Friend's proposals but I must point out that many of them will rely upon enforcement. It would be unfair if we were to enact this measure and then leave the police and others concerned get on with it. We cannot do that. The brutal truth is that the British police forces are tragically under-staffed. If this terrible evil that has been visited upon us by wilful and cowardly people now forces us to enact this measure, let us realise that it is about time that in our great cities we provided a proper force of police to enforce the law. Without the law there is nothing civil or libertarian for us to enjoy. Let us remember that the entire police force of Birmingham, the second largest city in the country, is equal to the lack of staff in our capital, London. Perhaps we can do something in addition to enacting this measure. If many of the things that we want to be done are to be done we must ensure that the police are given the assistance that they require. They must be given every encouragement, particularly with recruitment, if they are to meet this evil.
My right hon. Friend had some critics in the House today. He will probably have a few more outside as well. However, he can rest assured that he will get the full support of the House for what he has done and presented to us. It is my firm belief that he will have, too, the massive support of the majority of our fellow countrymen, the support of those who gave so much to defend democracy and liberty and are prepared to do so again. I believe that he can count on the overwhelming support of the British people.
§ 7.40 p.m.
Mr. Edward da Cann (Taunton)
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) and indentify myself quite plainly with almost all he has said, not least with the patriotic sentiments lying behind his speech.
708 I have a single clear point to make and a question to put to the Home Secretary. Although I dislike this Bill very much, and some aspects greatly, I do not oppose it and will support it, for my conviction is that all the resources of the State must be mobilised to root out what my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates), in his admirable maiden speech, called "this cancer" which afflicts our body politic—and, as other speakers have said, promptly. If this is not done, in the end the freedom we cherish will prove to have been used as the chief agent in its destruction.
Let us be plain. The men and the women to whom this Bill expressly refers, like others who practise terrorism at home and abroad, are no honourable patriots or idealists. They are dishonourable enemies of democracy, of liberty, of the Christian religion, and, I suspect, so extreme are the political views of some of them that they are enemies even of those whose interests they purport to serve.
As the hon. Member for Ealing, North said, the Home Secretary is assured in principle of this House's support for the Bill, however distasteful he may find it to introduce and however distasteful we may equally regard it as being, for if on advice he tells the House that it is an important weapon in the fight to achieve security, though it may set a bad precedent, we must and we shall put that weapon into his hand.
But just how adequate is this weapon? I am not clear that it is adequate.
More significant perhaps than the support which the right hon. Gentleman is re-receiving in the House is the fact that he is sure of our sympathy. Listening to him today, and listening and watching him on television the other evening, we comprehend only too well the dilemma which faces authority in a democracy.
This freedom of which we boast is a privilege to be enjoyed and cherished in every way, but one might say that our chief job on the back benches is constantly to curtail the usurpation of power by authority. If some countries enjoy freedom today, the credit is mostly due to the consistent resolution in this regard of the United Kingdom, plus, of course, those of the citizens of countries such as Southern Ireland who, as the hon. Member for 709 Ealing, North said, individually supported us in the dark days, as their Government, happily, does today.
Freedom is more than a privilege. Many people think, old-fashioned as they may be accused of being, that there is too much talk of rights today and too little talk of responsibilities. Freedom is a heritage to be actively defended, not least against the assaults of those who, as Milton, the English poet dead 300 years this year, said, cry liberty when they mean licence.
I say as clearly as I can that it is, and always will be, the responsibility of Government to see that the Queen's peace is kept throughout the whole United Kingdom—England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster. The temporary reality is that the Queen's peace is in serious jeopardy, and has been now for some years.
I little thought, when I first came to this House 18 years ago, that I would not be able to post letters in my local pillar box in SW1, that the personal records of more than 20 years of public life would be blown up in an explosion by Westminster Hall, and that, simply through an accident of time, those who serve us as secretaries would so narrowly escape with their lives.
I little thought that I would see that Ministers would need bodyguards and electronic protection in their homes, or that some of my colleagues would say to me "I am concerned for my wife and children, for they see the news on television and are bound to worry." This situation is intolerable.
We have a special duty, as other hon. Members have said, to protect also those law-abiding Irish citizens, the minority in our midst. They are our friends, our neighbours, and form part in many instances of our own households.
We speak often of the rule of law, and mostly, it seems to me, without thinking through all that the phrase implies. In general terms, we can all agree that the law is the only protector of the weak against the strong, the guardian of justice and of right, the safeguard of our constitution and our liberties. But as we profess these high-sounding sentiments, let each of us in this place remember that we have an individual and collective responsibility to set an example of respect for and observance of the law of the land.
710 The law itself is a mere foundation. What counts equally is the strength behind it, whether that be physical or in terms of acceptability and practice.
It is evident that the law has not been fully effective. In some respects, of course, this Bill is a complete remedy. Whatever the arguments of the security forces have been, the proscription of the IRA and its membership as a public example of the Government's determination is long overdue, and, as the Home Secretary rightly said, it may not be enough and in due course perhaps other terrorist organisations will require to be proscribed.
Other matters in the Bill may be useful. But is the Bill by itself enough? To answer that question one has to pose another. Is the existing law and its procedures in all respects adequate? For example, some may feel, as I do, that in these matters the processes of justice have been habitually too slow. In the M62 murder case, it took eight months to bring these people to trial—far too long. I hope that the Home Secretary will inform the House at some time how he believes that the processes of justice in this regard can be speeded up.
I do not believe either that the processes of justice have always been as certain as they might have been. I fancy that there are some who should have been tried but have escaped and others who were tried and who escaped owing to technicalities in the law—its defects. That, I believe, is not satisfactory.
There is another question, which was also asked by hon. Members, not least by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). Are we satisfied with our success in matters of enforcement? Are we satisfied that we have the apparatus? Are we working hard enough to prevent the smuggling of arms or gelignite into this country or into Ireland? Are we satisfied with our methods of control? Are we satisfied with the strength of the police forces? I am not. I believe that we could do much to recruit special constables. Nor do we do enough to reinforce the Special Branch. These matters equally require attention. It is not enough for this House merely to pass legislation. We need to be sure also that the process of enforcement is certain.
711 The law, as at present drafted, does not apparently cover every aspect of matters related to terrorism, or, if it does, it is not applied with adequate vigour. I would state as a principle that any person who gives aid and comfort of any description to a terrorist—other than, for example, on humanitarian grounds to an injured person—must be severely dealt with. It is a gross affront to us all if a known terrorist is able to flaunt his views on television, or in any other public way.
We have on the statute book not only a law of high treason, to which reference has been made, not least by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Sir P. Rawlinson), but a law of sedition, too. Both have apparently fallen into desuetude. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) pointed out, surely the law must be put into force or, if it is too complex and too uncertain to be used in its present old form, it should be revised and re-introduced in a modern form.
It is undeniable that the situation has deteriorated. I suggest that, this Bill apart, it will continue to deteriorate unless the Government indicate a clear will and determination at all times to govern. I realise that it is inevitable that unpleasant things must be done—including temporary restrictions on our liberties and rights—of the style that we see in the Bill. Some people feel, as my hon. Friend the Member for Esher (Mr. Mather) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) have said, that there should be a temporary restoration of the supreme penalty for terrorist and attempted terrorist offences. I agree. I think that that is appropriate.
The feeling has existed in this country that successive administrations have not, no matter how good their intentions, prosecuted their responsibilities regarding security with adequate vigour. The nation has, I know, the will to defend our democratic free inheritance, and it has every right to demand from this House clear leadership, and it trusts this House to provide it.
What is the ambition of our people? I suggest that it is modest enough. It is to live out their lives in some sensible comfort, if it is attainable, and in health. 712 Perhaps people are mostly more ambitious for the future of their families than they are for themselves. But, above all, they want security and peace, and for that they have a reasonable expectancy that this Parliament is, above all, the trustee and the guardian.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. William Craig (Belfast, East)
The debate recognises more than adequately the gravity of the situation, and we have listened to many thought-provoking speeches. It is perhaps invidious that I should draw attention to one particular speech but, like the right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), I cannot help but refer to the speech by the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy). The hon. Gentleman's approach, his tone and his attitude were wholly admirable and right, and I would like to associate myself with every word he said.
We must all be aware that for the present Home Secretary the emergency has produced a personal strain. We respect the integrity of his approach in this matter. Those who represent Ulster constituencies would not in any way wish to delay or prevent the necessary action being taken, but unfortunately there are defects in the proposals. If we can improve the Bill without causing delay, all hon. Members should be ready to join us in doing so.
The sad fact is that we are approaching this emergency with a proper sense of urgency but neverthless in unnecessary haste. It seems unfortunate, to put it mildly, that after six years of terrorism we are not in a position to deal with what is a predictable situation. I do not think anyone would dispute that not only the words of O'Connell on television, but many instances in the past and many sources of information, would have indicated with accuracy what could be expected in this part of the United Kingdom. But it would be wrong now to dwell on regrets.
We have an emergency situation. As we address ourselves to this situation I would have hoped that hon. Members would have had an opportunity of looking at the whole problem of political terrorism. The Home Secretary misunderstood me the other day when, after he made his statement, I asked for a general debate. I was not thinking only of
713 Northern Ireland. I believe that a general debate on the problems of security, in so far as they arise out of political terrorism, would be of considerable help to us all. But I readily concede that action is now needed quickly and that it was perhaps right to take the first step before we have a comprehensive examination. But we must have a comprehensive examination soon.
As other hon. Members have pointed out, political terrorism is a form of war and must be tackled as such. That leads one to examine the proposition that the processes and machinery of the ordinary law may not be adequate for dealing with a war situation. Having said that, however, we should recognise that while it is a war situation it is essentially a matter for skilled police work.
As we consider the situation, we must look very much to the organisation and strength of the various police forces. It is true that police manpower in this part of the kingdom and in Ulster falls far short of the necessary level. When there is a manpower shortage, it is all the more important to ensure that the organisation of the police forces is the right sort of organisation to deal with the problems arising from terrorism. Sadly, it is my opinion that in neither Great Britain nor in Ulster is the organisation of the police forces appropriate to meet the situation.
Many of us in Ulster feel very sad that we have to go through such harrowing experiences simply because some people thought that it would be better to put the organisation of the Ulster police force on the same basis as that of the English county police forces. Whoever looks at the situation today cannot defend the decision that was taken regarding the organisation of the police force in Ulster. But while advocating changes in the organisation of police forces we must recognise that in Great Britain the scale of the problem is not the same as it is in Ulster. One would not advocate wholesale changes for Great Britain in the way that one might advocate wholesale changes for Ulster. Nevertheless, changes are necessary in the police forces in the United Kingdom.
Perhaps we shall meet with considerable difficulty because we have county police forces in this part of the kingdom 714 rather than a national force. But somewhere, somehow, someone must take central responsibility in providing a specialised police organisation to deal with the problems of terrorism on a national basis.
I do not suppose it is right for me to continue on the general theme for too long. We can only hope that we shall soon have an opportunity to do so. But, having the reservations that arise from the need for a general examination, I can nevertheless say that the principles behind the Bill are right in the present situation, provided we look upon them as an initial step and recognise that new steps must be quickly taken. While we may travel along the different stages of identity cards and travel permits—and there are very strong arguments for such measures—and through the stages of punishment, I emphasise that before we plant these trees we should satisfy ourselves that the ground has been prepared for them. In other words, we should be considering the need for a special law, and perhaps for special courts, before we plant too many trees on the way.
I should like to think that all hon. Members examine the Bill from the point of view that it is not only a measure to protect Great Britain but a measure aimed at defeating the IRA, which presents a threat to the whole of the United Kingdom. I am not sure that it is generally appreciated that for us in Ulster dealing with the IRA organisation in Great Britain is almost as important as dealing with it in Ulster.
I am satisfied that over a quite long period the IRA organisation in England has helped to promote and sustain, and to participate in, the campaign of violence that has been waged in Ulster. Therefore, we have our own vested interest in seeing that the IRA is quickly broken up in Great Britain. It is sensible that we plan the defeat of the IRA on a uniform basis. It is not enough for us in Ulster for the IRA to be defeated in Great Britain. Certainly it is not enough for the citizens in Great Britain to have the IRA defeated in Great Britain.
It is in that light that I should like to look at the Bill. I can readily see the wisdom—indeed, it is a necessary first step—of considering the proscription of organisations that can be associated 715 with the IRA campaign of violence. It is easy to write a law declaring it to be illegal, but it is a quite different kettle of fish when it comes to writing the law in such a way that it can be enforced and produce results. I have some reservations as to the way the matter is put in the Bill.
I can also see that in a situation of emergency, where there has been no planning for the situation, the Home Secretary is tempted to follow his present proposals for excluding citizens of the United Kingdom from a part of the United Kingdom. I agree with the proposition to exclude foreigners from the United Kingdom. That is the part which gives us the least difficulty. But when dealing with foreigners or non-British citizens in this respect the Home Secretary should not have his eyes set in only one direction. I am aware that nationals of European continental countries have been hired by the IRA to commit terrorist outrages. I cannot be sure whether they made their way to Ulster via Great Britain or via the Irish Republic, but wherever our controls of entry are to be they must be capable of dealing with the employment of international terrorists.
I find myself in difficulty over the proposals to restrict the movement of United Kingdom citizens. I fully understand the problem that faces the Home Secretary. It has been made exceptionally difficult because he apparently has no other law to deal with British citizens who are a terrorist menace. He resorts to this device because of that deficiency, but I think it is an unhappy step to take. It could have all sorts of consequences. It certainly has given rise to a natural and understandable fear in Ulster that we shall be the dumping ground for security risks from Great Britain. I hope that the Home Secretary will do what he can to alleviate that fear.
But it is not only on those grounds that I object to this form of exclusion. Many problems arise from it. The exemption of citizens who have resided in Great Britain for 20 years causes a problem. If my memory is correct, at least one of those charged with the Birmingham murder, for example, would be outside the proposals for exclusion.
716 There is another aspect which is worth thinking about. If a Northern Ireland citizen who has been resident here is excluded from Great Britain, where does he go? What happens if he goes, for instance, to Northern Ireland? The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will have a problem on his hands, because the Home Secretary will have taken a decision that the man represents a terrorist threat. Will the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, be the person who is asked to deal with him? It is wrong in principle that if a citizen represents a threat to the United Kingdom, the threat should be shifted from one part of the United Kingdom to another.
There may be all sorts of funny consequences. Many IRA terrorists—I would say all of them—while legally British citizens, do not regard themselves as such. Under the laws of the Irish Republic they have a right, and undoubtedly claim it, to be Irish citizens. In many circumstances, therefore, they will elect to go to the Irish Republic, which will undoubtedly receive them. We in Ulster would, therefore, need to be satisfied that the control along the land frontier will be as efficient as it will be at the airports and seaports.
I hope that the Home Secretary will give proper consideration to the amendments tabled in my name and the names of my colleagues in respect of the law relating to the exclusion of United Kingdom citizens from parts of their own country. It is wrong in principle, whether or not we are prepared to concede it in an emergency. If we are, it needs to be tidied up. If that is the way to handle the matter in the short term until there is adequate law for the situation, we should also be thinking of reciprocity for all parts of the United Kingdom.
I have touched briefly on the problem of the travelling terrorist. The Home Secretary has told us that we can expect an order for Northern Ireland similar to the draft order that has been circulated in respect of Great Britain. But "similar" is a word which leaves many questions unanswered.
The order for Great Britain is aimed at control at airports and seaports. 1 should like to know specifically how the authorities propose to handle the question of the land frontier of Northern 717 Ireland. It is absolutely no argument to say that it is impossible totally to close the land frontier. I concede that it is impossible to close it 100 per cent., but there can never be any justification for leaving our defences open more than is necessary. A great deal can be done more effectively to seal the land frontier. Those of us who are from Ulster will take a very poor view of any travelling control regulations which are not applied with the same sense of purpose along the land frontier as they are applied at other access points.
Undoubtedly some hon. Members wonder when this will end. The Home Secretary, with commendable prudence, said that it may not be a short struggle. I impress on hon. Members that, whatever the time scale, there is no political solution to this problem in relation to the IRA. The problem is to defeat the IRA. As we set about it in the Bill, which I hope is regarded by all as a useful first step which can be improved, we must seek to make law which will be effective and which can be vigorously enforced. I have seen the consequences of making law and not enforcing it. Much of the law proposed in the Bill for Great Britain is already law in Northern Ireland and it has been enforced. Therefore, as we put our hands to the task, I hope that we shall pass the Bill in such a way that it will be vigorously and effectively enforced.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. J. W. Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Bar)
We have heard that the Catholic Church leadership has said that injustice breeds terrorism. Today we have heard from the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) that terrorism breeds injustice. Both cannot be right in the Northern Ireland context.
Many of the people who have come to my constituency over the last few years to get away from the troubles have told me that failure to meet the moderates' simple requests of the late 1960s for "one man, one vote" and no discrimination in jobs and housing led to the injustices which have bred the present reign of terrorism we are discussing. Nevertheless, in the light of the outrage in Birmingham last Thursday, my constituents wholeheartedly welcome these measures.
718 I was probably the first Member of the House to arrive at the scene of the carnage in Birmingham last Friday morning, at about 7.30. Policemen were still pulling out bits of bodies from the wreckage. How there are as many survivors from the two bomb blasts I shall never know. I have used both pubs many times in the past. The scene which people have witnessed on the television and read about in the Press has brought outrage across the country. Many other people consider it an outrage that the House is discussing this matter only subsequent to the bombing outrage in Birmingham.
My constituents in Perry Barr will expect very tough, firm action from the Home Secretary. They will also expect the action to be fair and to be seen to be fair. I implore the Home Secretary to heed the request made from both sides of the House that the action taken must be seen to be fair.
The wide scope of the Bill is frightening in some respects. I agree with what has been said by more than one hon. Gentleman opposite. People outside do not yet realise how wide is the scope. They will, because undoubtedly people who are arrested and detained will subsequently be found to be blameless. I hope that when they are so found citizens will accept the decision and that no private enterprise action will be taken. As least three of those who have been arrested and charged—and I am ashamed to say this—are my constituents. Above all, we must appeal to our fellow citizens not to be led or misled by those who would seek to capitalise on the situation and divide us on cultural and religious grounds.
Having given the Bill a welcome—a welcome which my constituents would wish me to give—I question most seriously whether it will stop the bombing of our cities. It goes without saying that I hope it will, but until we can replace our bankrupt policy on Northern Ireland by a policy which emphatically places on citizens of that part of the United Kingdom the responsibility of settling their own differences we shall not see an end to the problem or an end to the bombing of our cities.
However severe the penalties which may be proposed today or in future, I do 719 not believe that they will have an effect for more than a few days or weeks. Only the phased withdrawal of the British presence from that part of the United Kingdom will bring the ultimate solution. I made this call during the Summer Recess because it is the correct thing to do in Northern Ireland and not just because it is a demand made by one section or as a response to the bombing and killing of our citizens. It is the only way.
I give the Government due warning that as the months go by the cry for withdrawal will come from outside. That call and non-reaction to it will begin to affect other Government policies which have nothing to do with Northern Ireland. They will affect the Government's industrial and social policies. Everything will be sucked in unless we take a bold initiative. There is now the excuse—and this is a terrible thing to have to say about last week—for the Government to take the initiative.
I only hope that the Prime Minister will show more interest, or will indicate that he shows more interest, in this problem. My constituents have written to me about that. They have talked to me about it and it has been discussed by my hon. Friends. It is about time that it was said in this House.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
A number of hon. Members have referred to the enforcement of this Bill. We are all wasting our time unless it is enforced once it reaches the statute book.
I am sorry that neither the Secretary of State for the Home Department nor the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is present. We all know that at funerals in Northern Ireland members of the IRA have been recognised by the security forces and the police, but they have been instructed not to do their duty and arrest those men. My first question to the Government, therefore, is this: if we pass the Bill and it receives the Royal Assent, will it be enforced, or will the police and the Army once again be made the laughing stock of the neighbourhood by being told that they must not enforce the law because murderers are participating in a funeral? That is the first question. All I want is an answer "Yes" or "No".
720 Secondly, the police cannot enforce the provisions contained in the Bill unless they have the support of the public and the House of Commons. We all know that we have some colleagues who are only too quick to jump in and attack the police without having been into the merits of the case and without examining the evidence, and we must expect that when the Bill has been enacted there will be a campaign by those who support the IRA to discredit the police in executing the provisions of the Bill. There will be malicious and deliberate complaints against the police.
My second question to the Minister who is to reply to the debate is this. Will he grasp another nettle which is not touched on in the Bill and institute within the next week a proper complaints procedure—which the police have been asking for for years—a complaints procedure which has some teeth for dealing with malicious complaints? I do not mean that procedure to be used when a complaint made in good faith is found not to be well based. I mean it to be used when malicious complaints are made.
We owe it to our police that the full force of the Attorney-General should step in with an action for criminal libel. It requires no change in the law; it merely requires a little determination on the part of the Government of the day to back up the police forces. Police establishments have already been mentioned.
In two places in the Bill—in lines 20 and 21 on page 13 and lines 5 and 6 on page 14—these words are used:No woman shall in pursuance of this paragraph be searched except by a woman.That being so, we must make sure that we have enough women police officers. The Price sisters were not men. Terrorists come in both sexes. We must make sure that our police force is up to establishment in women as well as men. Too often in the past, because of poor pay and conditions and overwork leading to a great shortage in the police force, chief officers have been persuaded to write down the establishment so that there is not too glaring a gap between the establishment and the number of men and women they can recruit. Chief police officers should be encouraged to put in writing the establishment which in their 721 professional judgment they need to discharge their task, so that the gap between establishment and reality is apparent, instead of the written establishment being adjusted so that there is no large apparent gap between the strength of the force and the actual establishment. For too long we have had this charade.
I gave notice of these questions to the Home Secretary's office at 10.30 this morning. Will the Home Secretary take power by order to compel captains of aircraft and ships who have brought to this country people on whom an expulsion order is served to take those people out again? If a captain of an aircraft or ship who is willing to transport a terrorist on whom an expulsion order has been served cannot be found, the effect of the expulsion order is nugatory. Unless there are penalties for failing to convey people on whom an expulsion order has been served, the procedure becomes to some extent a charade. The apprehensions of captains of aircraft and ships are reasonable apprehensions, and unless there is a method by which people on whom expulsion orders have been served can be transported the effect of the order is nugatory. I want an answer to that question—and that is why I gave notice to the Home Secretary.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon)
Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman——
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
I am asking for answers in the Minister's winding-up speech. I am trying to keep my speech as short as possible so that other hon. Members may have an opportunity to speak.
With the new rights of arrest the question of "reasonable suspicion" arises. As any experienced detective knows, much of a detective's work is done on intuition and not on evidence which he may not yet have gathered. That is particularly so in the form of detective work concerned with the prevention of terrorism. Is "reasonable suspicion" subjective to the police officer making the arrest, or is it a "reasonable suspicion" in the mind of the magistrates or the superintendent who signs the warrant?
In several clauses there is the requirement that a magistrate should sign the warrant and, failing that, a police superin- 722 tendent. It is likely that sea ports will be used by undesirable people coming into the country, rather than airports, and in many parts of the United Kingdom, including the West Country, policemen may easily be 30 miles away from the nearest superintendent. That means a 60-mile round trip by car to get a warrant. Magistrates can be hard to find when they are wanted in a hurry.
For provincial forces which are not equipped with electronic links with Scotland Yard it can take up to a week to get fingerprints up to London by post and the reply back again. I mention that because the Bill gives power to hold for 48 hours unless that period is extended by the Home Secretary for up to another five days. The Home Secretary may find himself rather busy unless police forces are equipped with electronic links.
The greatest problem for police forces will probably be the identification of people coming into the country from the Republic of Eire. When somebody arrives in this country and seeks employment—and I put this point to the Minister of State in the absence of the Secretary of State for the Home Department; indeed there is nobody else on the Government Front Bench to whom I can put the point—he has to have a national insurance card before the employer can take him on. I suggest that the employer should notify to the police the name and national insurance number of his employees. This particularly applies to the "lump" in the building industry. There would then be some record of the movements of persons who otherwise may be extremely difficult to identify. When a person is out of his own country there is not necessarily anybody else to whom one can appeal as an independent witness of identification. It can be a real problem for police officers and security forces. If the Minister in reply will be kind enough to cover this point, I shall leave it there.
Legislation will not have the effect which most of us would like to see unless the Government of the day, public opinion and the House of Commons are prepared to give the police force and the Armed Forces, if they are involved, the backing that it is so essential for them to have if they are to discharge the task which we impose on them.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)
There are occasions when the job of the House of Commons is to vote rather than talk about Bills which are before it, and tonight is such an occasion. Therefore, I intend to restrict myself to only a few points which seem to bear on the content of the Bill, either in terms of what should be in the Bill and is not or of what is in the Bill and should not be there.
Some hon. Members have said that they believe there should be a military withdrawal from Northern Ireland and that the contents of the Bill will not succeed unless there is a military withdrawal. It would be a great pity if the moral defectives who planted the bombs in Birmingham and elsewhere were to get the message that any hon. Member had expressed that view because of the bombings and the casualties which resulted from them. I think I am right in saying that so far in the debate not one hon. Member has expressed the view that there should be a military withdrawal from Northern Ireland who did not hold that view before and who has not expressed it on many previous occasions. If the bombings were intended to have that kind of result, judging by this debate they have failed.
A number of contributors to the debate have said that they believe we are tackling the symptoms rather than the disease. Many Ministers and others in the House have said in past years that one cannot solve political problems in Northern Ireland by military means. I believe that the disease is the terrorism and that that is a more fundamental threat to our society than any of the political content of the Northern Ireland situation. Recourse to violence is the element that we must endeavour to root out. There is nothing in the political situation throughout Ireland, or within Northern Ireland alone, which could not be much more easily solved if the violence could be suppressed.
It is true that there cannot be a military solution to the political problem. It is equally true that there is no political solution to the military problem. We cannot, by anything we do in Northern Ireland, deter these people from the use of violence to achieve one end or another. If the people who planted their bombs in 724 Birmingham for allegedly IRA purposes somehow achieved their political objectives, they or some of their assistants or some other people would plant bombs to achieve some other political purpose. Around the central core of these people there are always others prepared to assist in the process. Therefore, it is the police content of these measures which is the important thing and not the political background against which those police measures are taken.
I have a few practical points to address to the Minister in respect either of the Bill itself or of measures which might follow. First, I support the call for serious consideration to be given to the aspect of identity cards with photographs and fingerprints. This is not a provision which could be put into the present Bill. It will take a long time to make that change, and there are strong objections. It is not the issuing of identity cards or the fact that one has to carry an identity card that is the problem. It is the powers one must give to the police to stop people and ask for identity cards. That is the infringement of liberty that is involved, but it is an infringement which at present I am inclined to accept. I believe that, if present circumstances continue, most people in the country would be prepared to accept that infringement of liberty. We should look at the matter in the medium term, although, as I have said, such a provision cannot be included in the Bill tonight.
The second practical point I shall not discuss at length because it arises on new Clause 1—when we finally come to that stage around dawn tomorrow. I mention the point now so that any legal Members who are present may take the opportunity to consider it.
Finally, I find it odd that there is nothing in the Bill which tightens up controls over explosives and chemicals, fertilisers, etc., which can be used to make explosives. It may be that the Government take the view that the controls are as tight and as effective as they can be made. If that is the case, I find it surprising. To my knowledge, they have not been changed for a long time, and they were written into law at a time when we did not face the difficulties which now confront us. We have regulations which require chemists to keep records of the poisons they issue to people. It may be 725 that a provision along similar lines would be desirable, if it was practicable to initiate, in respect of explosive materials and chemicals which can be made into them.
§ Mr. David Lane (Cambridge)
There was a tightening up by the last Government. But I echo the hon. Gentleman's request to the Minister of State to bring us up to date on what further tightening up of explosives controls may be desirable.
§ Mr. Cunningham
I was about to conclude my brief remarks with a request to my hon. Friend the Minister of State to say whether the Government were satisfied that the regulations were as tight as they could be in the present circumstances.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Macfarlane (Sutton and Cheam)
I too intend to make only a few brief remarks, because I know that a considerable number of hon. Members still wish to speak.
I add my welcome to the Bill. I think that it will give a welcome indication of the first positive step to have been taken for some time by the House of Commons. I hope that it will be the successful positive step which is so earnestly required in this country.
I wish to make two or three practical points. I endorse wholeheartedly the suggestion that identity cards should be introduced. As the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) said, that is impractical immediately under the terms of the present Bill. I hope, however, that the Minister of State will convey to his right hon. Friend my belief that at some future stage the country will be fully prepared and willing to take on the mantle of an identity card in the manner suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates).
I suggest also that embarkation cards are a vital step in trying to control the traffic between here and Ireland. Again, the necessary provisions for these could be implemented at some future stage.
It is sad to realise that only by some fortuitous piece of police work were the Price sisters' gang of bombers detained at London Airport after their activities at the Old Bailey and in Whitehall. That 726 was possible only because of an industrial dispute which prevented the aircraft taking off on time. It should be made well nigh impossible for people to travel between the two islands while the emergency is on—and we are slap-bang in the middle of an emergency. I hope that most of our citizens would accept that this is an inevitable situation during the current period. I believe that the residents of this country are ready for it and will accept it for the time being. Entry into this country should be made very difficult, and I hope that at some future stage the House will recognise the need for such restrictions.
I ask the Minister of State to explain an anomaly which has developed over the statement which the Home Secretary made last week when the IRA bomber in this country died at his own hand. The Home Secretary rightly suggested to the Birmingham Constabulary that there should be no public display and no uniforms, and that any action which it was felt necessary to take would be fully supported.
When the body eventually arrived in Ulster, we had the appearance of black berets, glasses, armbands and the complete panoply of the customary IRA graveside funeral. I ask the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if we accept that Ulster is part of the United Kingdom, why it was stopped in this country but allowed to go ahead in another part of the United Kingdom. These are some of the many questions to which people will want answers during the debate.
I hope that the Government will do all they can to prevail upon the broadcasting authorities to use their fine judgment over how they interpret the Bill. I was disheartened on Saturday morning—perhaps it was Friday morning—when I read that the broadcasting authorities were not prepared to comment upon their role when this legislation was on the statute book. I hope that all the broadcasting authorities will be approached by the Home Secretary to ensure that our forces and the people of this country get the right and responsible amount of support that is so necessary at this time.
I hope that my hon. Friends will welcome the Bill. I declare my conviction that hanging at some stage will have to 727 be reintroduced, but I do not wish to hold up the passage of the Bill by pressing for that amendment to be made tonight or tomorrow morning. However, I believe that at some stage in future this House will have to consider that eventuality.
I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will enable the Bill to go through. I certainly welcome and support it and will do nothing to hinder its progress tonight.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Tierney (Birmingham, Yardley)
When speaking in any debate in this House I think that one ought to think very carefully about what is to be said and how it is to be said, and, although not always successful, be as logical and reasonable as possible. However, when speaking in a debate on Northern Ireland one must try to be more careful and more thoughtful, and have a deep sense of wondering. Has what I have to say been said before? Has what we propose been tried before? Has it all failed before? These are some of the questions that go through our minds.
Is our effort to try to apply logic to what appears to be an illogical situation an abandonment of reason? Certainly what we are experiencing now from the terrorists is an abandonment of reason. When this prevails, emotion and hysteria become natural reactions and may hold sway if we are not firm and resolute in our actions.
I think that one of our responsibilities as elected representatives is to do what we can to calm the emotions. If we do not. we shall fail in the task that we are trying to achieve.
I have already said that these people are not concerned about one section of our community or another. They are just against people. They use people. They kill and maim people. Their very objective is to create chaos and division in our community.
This must not happen. We must put firmly on record in this House tonight that in the latest outrage in Birmingham last Thursday a normal cross-section of our Birmingham community, irrespective of colour, religion or origins, were the victims, and that we unite with them and all our people to be rid of the mindless 728 lunatic fringe which is repugnant and alien to our community.
We must have calmness. We must avoid backlash. We want no division of our people. We must allow the police to do their job without hindrance or distraction. The Birmingham and West Midlands police and the Special Branch have certainly done an excellent job. I pay them that tribute.
I think that it is generally agreed that something had to be done at this time. I welcome the Bill. People will quote the same old phrase that comes out in any debate in this House on Government decisions, "Too little and too late". Perhaps that will be so if people shout out the headlines and ignore the small print.
There are plenty of headlines, and plenty of newspapers to print them, such as "Ban the IRA", "Bring the troops out", "Restore capital punishment", and so on, as though each headline and each statement in itself was a solution to the problem. Such headlines will satisfy the public for a while, but none will solve the problem. Let me say to those who claim that there is public pressure and a demand to restore capital punishment that public pressure is as great to bring the troops out now, but they do not push for that. Leaving aside whether I agree or disagree about one or the other, one thing of which I am certain is that, in itself, pushing as hard and as often as some are trying to do will not solve this problem.
§ Mrs. Knight rose——
§ Mr. Tierney
I shall conclude my speech in a moment to give other hon. Members a chance to take part in the debate. Perhaps the hon. Lady will have an opportunity to speak later.
It is always the strict interpretation and application of the small print that is important in any legislation. To make this measure effective will need the widest publicity and understanding of our people. They are not to be blinded with headlines and one-headline solutions. We must appeal to our people to understand what the Bill will mean in terms of law, and appeal for their full and constant co-operation with the police and those in authority to ensure its successful application.
In a war on terrorism all our people must defend themselves because all are 729 in danger. The success or non-success of what is proposed will, as I have said, depend not on slogans but on community activity and co-operation to make the small print of the Bill work; for example, how effective we can be in getting information about where meetings are held, who holds meetings, how do we get to them, and so on. We shall need the greatest co-operation of the community, including the Irish community, to get the kind of information and co-operation that we want. How do we get to know the people who help them out of the country, who help them into the country, who harbour them and co-operate with them in any way? I think that these are everyday, practical things that will ensure the success of the Bill.
It will be how effectively we can apply the numerous small but important items in a practical way in everyday life that will ensure its greatest success, and I am sure that the Bill will be welcomed by most reasonable people in this country. I hope that it will involve them in active and practical co-operation.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mrs. Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
The first bomb that was placed in Birmingham was placed in my constituency. The first person who was killed in Birmingham was killed in my constituency. My own constituency office was blown up by a terrorist bomb. It has been suggested to me that these things happened because I have on frequent occasion spoken out against the IRA. Whether or not that is true, I am certain that the day when Members of this House keep silent for fear of what may happen outside will be the day when the authority and honour of this House is severely breached.
I felt that capital punishment for terrorism would be a deterrent, and I accept that there are different arguments about that. I am sorry that that matter does not properly come under the heading "Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill". I thought it did. But the Bill must satisfy the people as well as protect them.
The thing that some of us in Birmingham have been most anxious about is that innocent Irish people should be attacked. If that should happen, it would be because it was felt outside this place that 730 not sufficient heed had been paid to the use of strength against the kind of terrorism that we have seen in our city.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman to recognise that that situation cannot be allowed to spread over the sea to this country. It is important to cease the low profile approach which has been followed for so long when British people are in danger and British property is under attack.
I have in my hand a letter from a man with a timber yard in Belfast. That yard has been sullied and attacked by the bombers. He makes the reasonable suggestion that something should be done to deter the petrol bomber. He says that apparently the soldiers are allowed to deter the petrol bomber only if the petrol bomb is likely to cause loss of life:
The letter states:… hence, they still throw them into our firm at quite regular intervals" and they have had over 1,000 of them.Inside the last three months, the army was in our firm and they saw a petrol bomb about to be thrown. An officer was present and stopped a Soldier shooting. Thereby, several thousands pounds worth of damage was caused.I have been in that timber yard and dodged the bullets there and seen the petrol bombs. When the livelihood of British people is threatened by this kind of action, I hope that the Bill, as I believe it must, will protect them and their property.
I want to urge the Minister to look at some of the things that have happened in Northern Ireland, where the IRA has been banned, and assure us that the whole armoury against terrorism will be stepped up not only for the people in England, Scotland and Wales but for the poor people in the North of Ireland who have suffered terrorism for so long.
We must not only prevent terrorism. We must also prevent intimidation. My right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) said we must ensure that help and succour are not given to IRA supporters. I am anxious that there should be no intimidation, as has happened so often in Ulster, where people have had a gun pushed at them and have been forced through terrorist tactics to allow their front room to be used as a gun post and to give money to the IRA. People in the North of Ireland have been afraid to bear witness 731 against the IRA bombers and this has prevented guilty people from being brought to justice.
On the subject of explosives, I understand that there is a chemical—I do not know its name—which can be mixed with fertiliser to ensure that it is no longer explosive. It has been suggested to me that such an addition would increase the cost of the fertiliser by £5 a ton or 25 per cent. If it is true that it is the cost which is deterring the Government from taking action, I beg them to think again.
It should never be said that we in this House give in to terrorists or that we should come out of Northern Ireland, because that is the prime part of the terrorists' objective. I beg hon. Members to understand what they are saying when they urge that course. It is high time that we said to the suffering people of Ulster, who for so long have been bombed and put in fear of their lives, "We are with you. We are all the same country. We can no longer tolerate what you put up with and it is not just the attack on us that has made us feel this way." When British people are in danger of their lives on British soil, they have every right to expect the British Army to protect them. I trust that we shall always do so.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
I shall follow the hon. Lady the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) only by saying that I wish tonight more to pay tribute to the courage with which she has spoken out on many occasions than to record my long-standing disagreement with her on the specific issue of capital punishment. That is an argument we shall have very soon in another context, and I do not think it should enter into the debate tonight.
That these measures or something very like them were needed and had to be introduced seems to me very clear. No one can deny it. We have all had evidence from the shock waves of our own constituency mail, reflecting the shock waves of the explosion in Birmingham just exactly a week ago tonight, of the strong public feelings as people here now realise for the first time what many in the Province of Northern Ireland have 732 realised for many years about the actual effects of terrorism of this kind.
But that these measures of themselves cannot defeat terrorists should not be denied. These measures may be necessary, but they cannot be a sufficient part of the battle that is now joined, because that battle is essentially one for hearts and minds. It is not a battle that can be carried out on the streets with bullets or with the bombs of the terrorists. It is essentially a battle for the minds of our fellow citizens and, most of all, for the minds of those of our fellow citizens in this country who are themselves of Irish descent.
Least of all is this a battle that can be carried out in the atmosphere of civic vengeance which would be carried over into the antiseptic environs of the execution chamber. We have to be able to show to all our fellow citizens, and especially to those of Irish extraction, that it is here a liberal society, a society respecting the classical freedoms of speech and assembly, that is under threat. It is that kind of society that is confronting the terrorists today.
These Fascist hoodlums—that is really all they are—have perverted and stained the traditions that they claim to invoke. It has never been the role of the terrorist in society to enlarge freedoms where he is confronting a democratic society. Indeed, I think it was an Irish Republican Army gunman of a previous generation who said "The only good thing about liberty is fighting for it." The answer to O'Connell and his fellow gangsters today is not to turn this country into an armed camp. There must be nothing in the legislation which allows licence for the agent provocateur, for the malignant informer or for the private quarrel.
I have, and have always had, the greatest admiration for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. He will understand when I say we are taking perhaps more from him than we would from some other Home Secretary. He will also understand why some of us will be raising points of detail in Committee later.
If the Bill diminishes some of our civil liberties, it must diminish the liberties of all of us equally. It must not allow the mechanism of discrimination and the 733 power of search, arrest, detention and deportation which it applies to enter into the system of this country. I hope that my right hon. Friend can give us assurances today of his hopes for a parallel legislation, for an independent review procedure, for complaints of the kind to which the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hys1op) referred, although I would put a slightly different interpretation upon the complaints procedure from the one he used.
I accept that the initial executive decisions in this procedure under the Bill will be for the Home Secretary. It is a lonely decision and not one which I envy. Essentially we have to have a situation in which particularly the minority community in British who might be brought into conflict with the police because of some of the powers in this Bill—Clause 1(6) in particular—have confidence in the police.
Three years ago a Select Committee of the House, examining relations between the police and another immigrant community—the coloured community, particularly the coloured community in London—drew attention to the fact that if there was to be harmony in relations between the police and this community, there had to be an independent review procedure. I have long believed that that was necessary, and I hope that my right hon. Friend can indicate that it is in his mind to bring such a procedure forward. We are introducing at a later stage in new Clause 5 what is essentially a probing amendment to search his mind on this matter. However, I believe it has to be done if we are to have full confidence in the police in discharging the new and onerous powers which are being given to them in this legislation.
It must not become permanent legislation. My right hon. Friend, and the civilised values he represents, is in one sense the best ultimate argument against the sneak gunman and the cowardly bomber. It is the values he represents and the value of a society which proceeds by reason and by argument and by not giving way to pressure from any source which is unreasonable and irrational which must be sustained. This is the answer to the values of the gunmen and their way of life. The Bill cannot be the framework, and we must not slip 734 into the trap of ever more Draconian legislation if the terror continues, as indeed it might.
The right hon. Member for Down South (Mr. Powell) said that the Bill could not outlaw terrorism. It cannot, but it might be a step on the way to containing it. It cannot be more. If the terror continues we must be careful with what we do. There is an old saying that nothing endures like the provisional. Progressively more repressive legislation linked to no solution in Northern Ireland would guarantee that nothing endured like the Provisional, and that is something we do not want.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)
Like many other hon. Members I have received a great many letters on this subject, no doubt partly because my constituency is within seven to 12 miles of the centre of Birmingham. Feelings are very strong, stronger than on any other subject I have known in the four and a half years I have been a Member of the House. I fully understand and appreciate the strength of those feelings.
I must tell certain hon. Members that there has been no panic whatever in the letters I have received. Only two or three of a very large number have mentioned the possibility of withdrawing our troops from Northern Ireland. My constituents, no doubt like the constituents of other hon. Members, look to us to deal with this matter calmly, coolly and with great firmness and determination.
The present bomb outrages in the Midlands and elsewhere in England have firmly reminded everyone, including those who regarded Northern Ireland as a far away place, that the emergency is now here on our very doorsteps. They have also brought home that the Government's first duty is to protect the people and to safeguard their rights and property, and that everything else the Government do is secondary. Even the most deeply charged political issues must be subordinated to this prime duty of the Government.
I therefore welcome the Bill as far as it goes, but I believe with some of my hon. Friends that it has been brought in very late. These measures could and should have been introduced a long time 735 ago. Also, I do not believe that in some respects the Bill goes far enough. Terms of imprisonment may be an ineffective punishment for terrorists. Apart from the possibility of rescue there is also the chance of political amnesty. I support those who object to the media giving the opportunity to terrorists to talk to the public. Believing as I do, and as the great majority of my constituents do, in the death penalty, I nevertheless welcome that it will not be dealt with today but at a later stage, and very soon.
I was glad to hear today that the Government of the Irish Republic are to take sterner action against the IRA and have promised to collaborate more closely with the British Government in dealing with terrorism. This is absolutely vital.
There are two other aspects of equal importance in supporting and making this measure more effective. The first entails an increase in the activities and strength of the police, particularly the Special Branch. Secondly, there is the need to train the public to be constantly alert and on the look-out for anything suspicious which might lead to an act of terrorism.
The activities of the Special Branch are not always understood or appreciated, either in this House or by the public. It has a duty to seek out evil-doers and prevent them from committing offences, thereby preventing loss of life, wounding and so on. By now the IRA must have developed a number of cells in different parts of this country. Obviously it will try to plan to make its outrages as wide-spread throughout the nation as possible. Only relentless determination on the part of the Government to seek out these cells and root them out will satisfy an angered and somewhat bewildered public opinion.
The public, in England at any rate, are still ignorant of the effects of terrorism. It is a long time since the blitz. Long years of peace and our long tradition of peaceable living have suddenly been rudely interrupted. We may again have to teach people not only to be constantly on the look-out for anything suspicious but also what to do if an emergency occurs. For instance, there should be an increase in first-aid training, lessons on how to deal with blast injuries, what to do when the house falls down, and so 736 on. Those in public places may have to suffer some inconvenience for the sake of their own safety.
Above all, the nation and the nation's will is now on trial. With a resolute and united nation we can defeat this tiny handful of cruel and desperate men. Perhaps from this threat and from this appalling suffering a better spirit of selflessness and patriotism may arise. We must all hope that that will be so.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
My daughter was only 500 yards away from the massacre that occurred last week, so I am by no means personally indifferent—indeed, no one could be—to the hideous crime which took place then. Nevertheless, I feel that this legislation has been introduced in a mood of panic. This House ought not to legislate in such a mood, and I regret that we are doing so. If anyone doubts that there is a mood of panic abroad, he has only to listen to the hysterical clamour from the Conservative benches for the return of hanging—something which would make no contribution whatever to the problem of combating a ruthless urban guerrilla movement which poses serious problems for our country.
Worse, in some senses, than the clamour for hanging—which was crude enough in itself—was the speech by the right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), who started talking about the courts being too slow and too concerned with technicalities. He suggested that there are some other legal methods which he would like to see adopted rather than the due process of law. That is evidence enough that we are on a dangerous path in embarking on this kind of legislation, though I accept that the Government must take action to combat the guerrilla movement that we face.
This legislation appears to be a crude copy of the 1939 Act. I inquired a little while ago about the 20-year provision for residents as part of the provisions of the exclusion orders. The answer was not that there was a logical reason but that it just happened to be in the 1939 Act. I do not think that we should promulgate legislation of a serious nature on that basis. I accept entirely that we need legislation for the rigorous control of movement of persons in and out of the 737 country. That is essential, and we need to consider the problem. I believe that the Government have paid insufficient attention to the sale and general use of explosives and examination of the way in which materials which are meant to be harmless can be used for unlawful purposes. If it is a fact, for example, that fertiliser can be rendered innocuous, the Government as a matter of urgency should consider doing so as a way of limiting the opportunity to get hold of dangerous substances.
I have the greatest reservations about the proposition of exclusion from certain parts of the kingdom. This is the hated South African system of endorsement—namely, arbitrary executive action to compel by fiat that a man or woman must go from one area to another not because they have committed a crime but because they are suspected of contemplating an unlawful act. I hope that the Government will consider seriously the consequences of this kind of legislation.
I also have some reluctance about extending the powers of the police. Their powers are already immense and are exercised vigorously when it happens to suit the police. I am not persuaded that we require the power to hold individuals for seven days without trial and without charge to tackle the urban guerrilla problem. It may be that in the present circumstances some such Draconian power is required. If that is so, I endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) said—namely, that we need careful independent reviews as to how these powers are used.
In Northern Ireland there has been legislation far more Draconian than this. We have had internment without trial, and police action. We have had torture. Let us not play that down. It happened. It was a disgrace to this country and to that territory. Yet, despite repression and massive police and military action, there is a murder every day in Northern Ireland. That should remind us that legislation of itself will bring us no nearer a solution to the problem.
§ Mr. Cryer
Perhaps my hon. Friend will point out that for most of the years he is talking about, and certainly up to 1973, capital punishment existed. It made not the slightest difference to the rate of slaughter in Northern Ireland. Is 738 that not an important point to counteract the cry that comes from the Opposition benches for the restoration of capital punishment?
§ Mr. Hooley
My hon. Friend has a fair point, but I shall not pursue it as I promised to make only a brief contribution to the debate. In embarking on this legislation we are taking a dark and sombre road. I have grave doubts that it will solve the problem of tackling the ruthless urban guerrilla enemy that exists. I am afraid that it may be a substitute for the policy initiative, the new thought and the new policy that is required to solve the Northern Ireland problem.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)
I welcome the Bill, as I am sure the overwhelming majority of my constituents and of the country welcome it. I agree with those of my hon. Friends who wish that the legislation would go a bit further. We should have something to strengthen explosives control. I join in the paeans of praise to my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates) for his excellent speech, in which he underlined the necessity for identity cards. I agree that passports are a good and necessary alternative. I think that the police force should be substantially strengthened, and that this legislation should perhaps be extended beyond the IRA, because the public are just as horrified by the bombings of the Angry Brigade and other groups. Their horror is not just limited to the activities of the IRA.
In considering banning IRA appearances on television, I am inclined to disagree strongly with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden), who said that we need to understand the mentality of the IRA people who appear on television. I do not think we need to understand their mentality. There is nothing magic about it. It is roughly the same sort of working machinery as anyone else's. We just hold that mentality in contempt. That is a simple matter to understand for which we do not require offensive displays on television.
I have time only to state the main reason for my welcome of the Bill. It is a fundamental reason. I welcome the fact that the Government are responding to the extremely deep, powerful and 739 united will of the people. The Home Secretary said that Part I would not reduce terrorism but would remove an affront to the British people. It will certainly remove an affront, but it will also help to reduce terrorism. The right hon. Gentleman is wrong if he thinks that it will not.
The Home Secretary understates the rational cast for the Bill, as I am frightened he may understate the rational case for capital punishment for terrorism. It is true that many people are asking for vengeance. It is equally true that many people ask only for constitutional and legitimate action to defend this realm from attack. They dread that if the Government do not act, maverick groups, without the backing of legality will act in a way that will only make the situation far worse and will increase terrorism.
Both those attitudes must be taken into consideration, and a Government who failed to do so would act not only at their peril but at the peril of the nation. I do not mean that the Government are wise to give in to the temptation of political popularity. My point is that by doing what the people demand they will be uniting the people in the fight against terrorism.
This sort of legislation, however shocking it may be to those of us who revere the concept of civil liberties—I give ground to no one in my concern for them—is justified in this case because it is the sort of legislation the country wants. For most people in the country, life itself comes before a reasonable infringement of liberties.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said that this was different from ordinary warfare and more terrible. It is certainly not the weapons which make it more terrible; it is not even the injuries which make it more terrible. It is the fact that we in this country are not at present prepared for war. We are not on a war footing. It is a shock; we are stunned; we are not ready. We do not take precautions; we do not look about us; we do not keep ourselves alert for danger.
The Bill will help to put us on that war footing because the will of the people will be overwhelmingly behind the Government. We will be able the better to combat terrorism if in our alertness we 740 provide information for the security forces without which terrorism will not be halted. We will be able the better to combat terrorism if maverick groups are not allowed to respond in a way in which it is the duty of the Government to respond. This Bill, by responding to the public will, will achieve the response of the people and, therefore, will be far more likely to stop the terrorists. That is essentially my main reason for supporting it.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Sir Michael Havers (Wimbledon)
All who have listened to the debate from the galleries or who read about it tomorrow will agree that the standard of the debate has been very high. The debate has been conducted in a calm, thoughtful and generally constructive atmosphere which has done away with the fear expressed that events would prevent such a calm debate taking place. I am sure that all hon. Members will have been impressed by the speech, following those from the two Front Benches, by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden). I agree with a great deal of what he said, but I confess that I would like to believe that he was wrong in saying that there has to be a choice between vengeance and victory.
The whole House will have been delighted by the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates). It was amusing, firm and very lucid, and for me it disposed of one of the objections I had in my mind about the imposition or use of identity cards. I had always felt—this fear was expressed by the Home Secretary—that these documents could be easily forged. If that were so, they would provide a measure of security, which they might not otherwise expect, for those carrying forged identity cards. I hope that the Home Office will look into the type of identity card mentioned and see whether it can be effectively used. There would be nothing worse than an identity card which could easily be forged and so provide a person with extra security to which he was not entitled.
A sour note was struck by the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) in using the phrase "clandestine body" of those who are to be appointed by the Home Secretary to consider representations. It was an unnecessarily sinister phrase, which can only tend to devalue 741 those gentlemen when their names are known—and known they will be because it has been made clear by the Home Secretary that their names will be published. The repetition of the phrase, not only in a question but in his speech, by the hon. Gentleman is something I regret. A risk is entailed for those who are to carry out this job. When their names are known they will be put at greater risk, but it is in the public's interest to know who these gentlemen are so that their calibre can be judged.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) said that he was not elected to the House to abridge his constituents' civil liberties. That seems curious logic when one bears in mind that perhaps one of the most important liberties which we enjoy in this democratic society is the right to go about our lawful ways in safety. In my view the House has a duty to make this possible.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) spoke, as did other hon. Members, about improving the facilities and conditions for the police force and emphasised the part that could be played by the Special Constabulary. That point was expanded by my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), who said that additional members of the Special Branch might be recruited. This seems to be very important because the Special Branch plays a very important part in this sort of high security work. I appreciate that there are difficulties in recruiting people to this work, but I hope that it will be regarded as a matter of high priority by the Home Office when it considers the further enforcement that will become necessary.
The hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) said that the only way we would solve the problem would be to declare our intention to disengage in Northern Ireland, end the emergency and withdraw the troops to barracks. In my language that is equal to capitulation and is giving in to force and blackmail, and it is no practical solution to the problems facing us in Northern Ireland.
A number of hon. Members spoke of the need to extend the powers to all acts of terrorism. The matter obviously requires the most careful consideration, although I accept that the need to get the 742 Bill through quickly makes it impossible to extend it at this stage. However, I hope that the Home Secretary will not close his ears to any pleas in that respect.
Another problem raised by a number of hon. Members was that of justice being too slow. Dealing with criminal cases in courts is a matter about which I know a little. First, particularly in a terrorist case where bombing has taken place, there is the difficulty of obtaining evidence. Confessions do not usually occur. There must be careful research. In the Winchester bombing case, after the London bombs, there was an enormous amount of detailed inquiries and many witnesses were seen by the police. In the end, the police managed to build up the case which led to conviction.
There is also the difficulty that when a case is finally presented upon committal it is usually extremely complicated and requires many further inquiries by the solicitors for the defendants. It is often they who properly ask for further delay before the case comes to court, so that they may make those inquiries.
A number of hon. Members have said that the Treason Act 1351 should be used. I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Sir P. Rawlinson) that the use of that Act would be inappropriate, for a number of reasons. One is that it is more than 600 years old, and nowadays there will be more and more juries with people on them aged 18, 19 or 20. When they hear the count read out, dealing with an Act of 600 years ago, and hear the wording in that Act, the case will perhaps start off on the wrong foot, when the intention of the prosecution, provided with evidence that tends to satisfy it that an offence has been committed, must be to see that the defendants are convicted if possible. I am no great historian, but I understand that the Act was designed to deal with rival claimants to the throne in those days or with a situation in which the country was at war with a foreign Power.
Problems will also arise under that old Act when allegiance to the Crown must be proved. Moreover, I doubt whether it is right to invite a jury to convict of an offence under an Act designed to cover entirely different circumstances because it happens to provide a penalty available under no other statute. This has been 743 the policy as I know it of the Law Officers' Department for a considerable time. The Attorney-General has asked me to express his agreement with what I have said about the Act. If the House should wish to provide the death penalty for acts of terrorism there is a better way, either by a new statute or by amending the existing Treason Act, though I can see the attraction of the use of the word "treason", because it seems to provide the necessary distinction between terrorist offences and ordinary cases of murder.
We are left, to use again the words of the Home Secretary—that a clear and present danger now confronts us. That danger is causing increasing anxiety to those members of the public who use the great cities or have relatives or friends in the areas which are now so vulnerable to terrorist attacks. It is that fear that the IRA seeks to use and increase for its own ends. The new—at any rate new to this country—method used in Chelsea last night is another clear example.
The balance of judgment may be difficult, but the escalation of deliberate terror tactics over the past few weeks, and especially the past few days, must justify the Government's decision now to ask the House for these powers.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon)
The nation as a whole is facing the gravest threat that it has faced since the end of the Second World War. The threat is twofold. The first part of it has been demonstrated throughout the debate but it comes to us with an immediacy and poignancy which even the Second World War did not have for those of us who lived through it. We see it demonstrated on our television screens in a way which was not possible at that time.
I remember last Thursday night, when those horrible events took place which prompted this Bill, watching the television screen to see the carnage which had been caused in Birmingham and being interrupted in viewing it by one of my constituents who telephoned me to say, "Mr. Lyon, please do something to stop this", All of us have felt that degree of urgency and emotion which came to 744 us through our telephones and mail and through personal contact with constituents in the week which has elapsed. It is partly in the wake of that that we introduce this Bill.
But there is another danger—a danger which is not so obvious but which nevertheless is just as real. The right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), in a distinguished speech delivered with all his usual classic precision, referred to Milton, who said:Let not England forget her precedence of teaching nations how to live".Would that Milton were here today.
We are in danger of forgetting the greatest contribution which England has made to civilisation. We cannot, under the threat of the bomber, draw back from that which has made us great and which we are in danger of losing. There is a sense in which English self-confidence over the last few years has been draining to the point when four people, most of them Americans, issue a statement in the form of a so-called report from the Hudson Institute which they themselves declare to be journalese which is given full front-page coverage by our newspapers as if it were a document which underwrote the decline in our national self-confidence. If we feel that lack of confidence now, at a moment when we are under grave threat from the bomber and the murderer, we will react in a way which will destroy all that has been good and great in that part of our character which we admire.
Therefore, the challenge to us is twofold. The second part of the challenge is just as important as fighting the IRA. Last week the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) asked whether we had the will to win. We do not have any doubt about it: we are determined to win. But we are determined to win in a way which will save for us that for which we are fighting. We shall not lose that in the fight to overcome the bomber.
Some hon. Members have characterised the situation as a war—that we should take the lives of those who engage in it because it is a war. When we got German prisoners of war within our grasp in the Second World War, did we shoot them or hang them? When did we torture them? Was it not this nation which, rightly, characterised the barbaric methods 745 of other nations in relation to their prisoners of war as being completely against all humanity? Is it suggested that we should take life in a way which can be justified only on grounds of vengeance? To take life as a means of deterrence—yes, that is well within the confines of the morality of a humane society, but that has to be proved, and so far the proof has been lacking.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
Is the Minister saying that the Geneva Convention applies? When there is a state of war people are in uniform and certain rules of international war apply. But here we are subjected to war by the IRA, without a declaration of war, and the rules of war do not apply.
§ Mr. Lyon
If the bombers are at work in Northern Ireland and are seen, and if apprehension is attempted by the troops, the bombers are shot and may be killed. That, I accept, is analogous to war. But for the State when it has caught the culprits to take life not because that would deter others, not because it would stop the spread of bombing, would be to lose that which is vital in our society.
§ Mr. Grieve
Does the Minister say that society, in self-protection, is not entiled to impose a death penalty and to carry it out through the ordinary judicial channels?
§ Mr. Lyon
What I said was quite clear. We can take life as a society to deter the taking of life, but for us to take life as an act of vengeance is wholly wrong. If those who claim that we should take the life of the terrorist are to succeed in their claim, they must do so by showing that we shall deter the further taking of life by terrorists.
In looking at the legislation we have to see whether we have struck that balance correctly. In seeking to meet the challenge of the bomber, have we kept a proper regard for human liberty and for the civil rights of our people? In doing that the House would say, as has been said in most of the speeches today that there is a proper balance. There have been some questionings, and those questionings will be pursued in greater detail in Committee, but let me go through what the Bill does in the four grounds which are advanced.
746 The first is the banning of the IRA. The House knows that both this Government and the previous Government have been relucant to take that step. The Government took the step only because in the end it became clear that, although the police would find it more difficult with the IRA underground to make proper contacts and to see what was going on, the open panoply of IRA activities was such an affront to our people that it had to be banned for that purpose. We have done that so that a proper balance can be made between the detection of the terrorist and the kind of offence that is given by that open display. But make no question about it: it will in many ways be rather more than less difficult as a result of the banning to apprehend the terrorists.
Those of us who followed the account of the Price sisters' trial will recollect that much of the detection work that ultimately led to their apprehension at Heathrow had taken place before the events, because much of what the Price sisters did was in the open, but we reckon that the balance here has shifted markedly in favour of proscription.
The question that is raised by some hon. Members and by some amendments which we shall be discussing is whether that proscription should be extended to other terrorist groups. It was suggested by the right hon. and learned Member for Epsom and Ewell (Sir P. Rawlinson) that we should look at terrorism generally because, he said, we may in the future have to deal with other terrorist groups which are not connected with Northern Ireland. If that be so, the proper time to deal with the situation will be when the threat is made manifest. But at the moment the reality of the threat is the reality of what the IRA is doing here and now.
The evidence against other groups taking part in terrorist activities at the moment would not justify their proscription on present evidence. If it becomes available, there is power to add groups to the Bill, and we would not hesitate to do so.
§ Mr. George Cunningham
Are we to understand that it is the seriously considered view—leaving aside the effect on public morale—that in practice it is 747 better that, for the purpose of finding terrorists, the IRA should not be proscribed? If that is the case I shall not vote for it to be proscribed, because I can put it across to my constituents that it is better to have an ounce of practicality than all the propaganda and gesture in the world.
§ Mr. Lyon
The balance in the past has been a balance in terms of what the police found desirable in the proscription of the IRA in seeking out the terrorist. In the past the view by the police has been that it is better to keep the IRA in the open. The police now accept—this is the advice we have received—that this is the time to proscribe the IRA. Therefore. I do not think my hon. Friend's point would be valid.
The second part of the Bill relates to the question of exclusion orders. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said that, although my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had described this measure as Draconian, there were parts which were Draconian and other parts which did not carry the law very much further. The Draconian part of it undoubtedly is the question of the exclusion orders. Attention has been drawn to this point by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). It is a new and very grave development that we can now take power to exclude from one part of the country to another a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies resident in this country. It has to be to another part of the country because we could not exclude one of our citizens who had the right of abode here to some other country.
The question raised by the right hon. Gentleman is whether this brings into question the whole constitutional relationship of the Union, and clearly it does not. The issue about the relevance of the Union and the right of Northern Ireland to stay within that Union is guaranteed under the Northern Ireland Act. What is intended in this Bill is not to introduce even immigration control between the North of Ireland and the rest of the Union. It is to try to create security control at the ports and to contain within Northern Ireland the violence which has emanated from Northern Ireland into this country, so that it can be 748 contained within the legislation and the powers which lie within the administrative area of the Northern Irish Government.
What we are seeking to do is to exclude from this country certain persons who have been found to be engaged in terrorism. We shall use the powers sufficiently widely to exclude totally from the United Kingdom all those whom we can so exclude. It is those who were born in Northern Ireland, those who have a real connection with Northern Ireland and, therefore, those who could be sent back to Northern Ireland who will make up the only group who would be the subject of these powers. The object of the exercise is simply to try to contain the violence in Northern Ireland in that way.
We do not minimise the need to fight that violence by all the means at the disposal of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and that fight will continue. But where we can, we hope to contain it.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
Surely what the hon. Gentleman is saying is that he wishes to contain such people in Northern Ireland, and what the Government are proposing to do is to expel people who have lived in England back to Northern Ireland again, even though the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland knows that he is embarrassed by the difficulty of keeping people in the Maze Prison who have been detained. The people sent back to Northern Ireland will be those engaged in terrorism, and, therefore, they should be detained. Why should they not be detained in England, where it will be possible to make their detention more secure?
§ Mr. Lyon
If the evidence is available for the conviction of an offence within Great Britain, such a person will be charged and, subject to the decision of the jury, convicted in this country and dealt with by the normal processes of the law.
In relation to exclusion orders, we are dealing with the power to proceed against someone against whom we may have information of a sensitive kind which could not be produced before a court and which might justify us in an order for exclusion. That is the only limited class of case where we would want to use the power.
749 The argument that there would be a dumping ground for Northern Ireland is belied by the power which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has in his own capacity, which is not available to this country. The argument could be raised that we ought to take that kind of power. But if we were to do so in this country at the present time it would mean a marked departure from the traditional guarantees in our English common law which we would not feel was justified by the present threat.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)
I have been trying to follow the hon. Gentleman's argument. If that is so, surely it should be true reciprocally that if there were people brought up in this country who went to Northern Ireland and carried out these acts, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland could expel them or exclude them from Northern Ireland so that they might be dealt with in this country.
§ Mr. Lyon
The position about this matter is raised in an amendment which will be dealt with in Committee. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will have the power under this Bill to exclude people who are not citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who have engaged in acts of terrorism in Northern Ireland, and he can exclude them to the Republic of Ireland.
§ Mr. Powell
I understand the Minister to be arguing that there is nothing in these provisions that contradicts the essential unity of the United Kingdom. However, I thought that I heard him say that the purpose of these provisions, so far as they concern citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, is that where they are under suspicion or the like and, therefore, cannot be dealt with conveniently by the general law, they are to be sent to that part of the kingdom where there happen to be special ways of dealing with them not available in the rest of the realm. That is what I thought be said. If so, does he regard that as evidence of the unity of the realm?
§ Mr. Lyon
What is being argued is that those who have a substantial connection with Northern Ireland and have engaged in terrorist activities over here should be the subject of an exclusion order from Great Britain. That is all. If they were citizens of the Republic of 750 Ireland they would be excluded to Ireland. If they came from anywhere else, the exclusion order could be to that other place. Northern Ireland is not being chosen because it has the powers to which I have referred. Even if people are sent there, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has power to deal with them in those circumstances. Therefore, it is not that we are taking people from Great Britain and dumping them in Northen Ireland where they would be a greater threat.
§ Mr. McNamara
My hon. Friend is rapidly getting himself tangled up in something of a quagmire. Will he state carefully whether it is his learned opinion that a person picked up here and sent to Northern Ireland will be detained by my right hon. Friend? Is he saying that my right hon. Friend has the power to detain people in Northern Ireland for offences committed in this country? I do not think that he has.
§ Mr. Lyon
The position, as I understand it, is that when in Northern Ireland a person who is capable, and may be suspected, of committing acts of terrorism can be considered within the preventive powers of my right hon. Friend. In exercising those powers he must take into account the threat of those persons in Northern Ireland, not the threat that they were in Great Britain. In doing that he has the capacity, within the Northern Ireland legislation, to take such action as he deems right.
Other parts of the Bill relate to detention by a constable without warrant and allow detention for 48 hours or for seven days if the Secretary of State agrees. The powers are wider than the powers of arrest contained in the normal English statute, but only to a very limited extent. They apply for only two days and the extension applies only when the Secretary of State so authorises, which would be a rare occurrence.
Another part of the Bill relates to control at the ports.
§ Mr. Lyon
No. I have given way a great deal. I am just about to wind up.
What I was about to turn to was the final power that relates to control at 751 the ports. I indicated at the beginning that that control relates not so much to immigration as to the security that would be exercised, mainly by the police, and only as a standby by immigration officers. Therefore, it is not the case that that part of the powers that are taken in the Bill is designed in any way to mark a division between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. It is merely a method of extending the power of the police to check the passage of bombers and terrorists across the sea between the two islands, and I am sure the House will agree it is a limited power.
The hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) wanted to know whether there would be a power to command captains of ships and aeroplanes to take the people back to the place from which they came. That power is contained both in the reference in Schedule 3 to the Immigration Act and in the order that will be laid as soon as the Bill is passed.
Questions were asked about the police and police strengths. The trend over the past six months has been a small but satisfactory increase in the size of the police force. This has been due to a maintenance of the trend towards recruiting and a slowing down of the wastage that had been felt in the service hitherto.
The pay award that was authorised to operate from 1st September was a substantial one, and it indicates our determination to increase the strength of the police force in a way that will enable us more effectively to carry out the task of preventing crime. In particular, the London weighting allowance provided a marked incentive for people to join the Metropolitan force.
752 At the end of December 1973 the Special Constabulary had 25,000 special constables, including 2,000 women. There was a substantial increase last year as a result of recruiting advertisements, and that campaign has been carried further this year with notable success. We are doing all that we can to increase the size of the police force to carry out the work that was intended.
I have not the opportunity to deal with all the points that were raised during the debate, but I think it is clear from the arguments that have been put forward in support of the Bill that the balance to which I referred at the beginning is one which we have sought to maintain in our approach to the legislation, and I hope the House will agree that we have suceeded in maintaining it.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House proceeded to a Division.
§ Mr. JOSEPH HARPER and Mr. WALTER JOHNSON were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Noes, Mr. SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Coleman.]