§ 6.44 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Merlyn Rees)
I beg to move:That the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976 (Continuance) Order 1977, a draft of which was laid before this House on 24th February, be approved.I must confess that I am tempted to move the motion formally, so that we can all go home, because there does not appear to be anyone present who is interested in the business. I see that one hon. Member has now entered the Chamber, so I shall have to stay. I hope that my hon. Friends will note that if I had been too clever by half I could have moved the motion before they came into the Chamber, and all would have been over.
However, the purpose of this order is to extend for a further 12 months the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976. The legislation on which this order is based was passed nearly a year ago and it will expire, if not renewed, on 24th March. The original legislation was passed in 1974. It stems almost completely from the activities of the Provisional IRA, which has been responsible for murder and mutilation in Northern Ireland and in this country. It is due to the IRA's activities here that it is the only proscribed organisation in the order.
The House will need no reminding of events in Woolwich, Caterham, Birmingham, on the M62, and in Balcombe Street. In the last year there has been a series of incidents. On 27th March 1976 an explosion occurred at the Ideal Home Exhibition in London, where 85 people were injured, one of whom subsequently died. That was the last incident in a series of terrorist attacks which took place in London and the Home Counties in the early months of 1976.
In May 1976 a series of eight letter bomb attacks against well-known people and several Civil Servints took place. Fortunately these attacks did not result in any casualties.
After this there was a period of comparative calm, and there were no more terrorist attacks during the remainder of 1976. During that period of calm the police still had a great deal of work to do, 1473 and some of that work may have prevented action during that time.
However, the terrorists returned early this year. On 29th January about 14 devices exploded in shops and other premises in the Oxford Street area of London. Although there were no casualties, extensive damage to property was caused. I am sure that the House will have noticed how promptly the police responded to the resurgence of terrorist attacks. I should like to pay tribute to the police now.
About five days after the incidents in London an explosion occurred in the Department of Employment offices in Liverpool. In a subsequent search a substantial quantity of material was found in a house in Liverpool. The find included more than 101b of high explosives, 17 incendiary devices assembled ready for use, seven electrical detonators for bomb-making materials, a 38 Smith and Wesson revolver, and 24 rounds of ammunition. Two men were detained after these discoveries since when they have been charged in connection with them.
It must be clear to the House that in the 12 months since the Act has been in operation—
§ Mr. Stan Thorne (Preston, South)
With regard to the Liverpool incident, how many people were subsequently arrested and held, and for how long?
§ Mr. Rees
I could certainly find out and let my hon. Friend know. I was cautious not to comment on the precise case in Liverpool, tempting though it is, because it is sub judice and two men are before the courts. At that time, when I was Home Secretary, there was no doubt that the police were anxious to make sure that, whether in Liverpool or London, we were not at the outset of another spate of attacks. Two had taken place in Liverpool and London, and it was the responsibility of the police to act in a protective way to make sure that there were no killings. Ten pounds of high explosives, 17 incendiary devices, seven electric detonators, and so on, are not there just for fun.
It will be clear to the House that in the 12 months during which the 1976 Act has been in operation terrorist 1474 activity in Great Britain has continued, although it has been at a much lower level than in 1975 and the early part of 1976. The Provisional IRA is still in being. Its army council still issues its orders to its brigades in Belfast and Derry and to its battalions. It is an army structure, with army ranks. Its members use a stock of firearms and make bombs with sophisticated timing devices. We know of the deadly toll in Northern Ireland. The same Provisional IRA has active service units under the battalions in Ireland. We know from Balcombe Street of active service units in this country.
The aim of the Provisional IRA is to drive the British out of Ireland. It is an aim which illustrates its lack of knowledge of Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, as long as it has this aim it will aim at targets in Great Britain. It will send couriers here. It will form and re-form active service units. I say to my hon. Friend that even when there is no action active service units do break up and re-form. This goes on all the time, and it is something that I and the police must take into account.
We should not underestimate the organisation of the Provisional IRA, because in guerrilla warfare strength is on the side of smallish groups acting in that way. It is not the normal sort of war.
Last year the ending of special category after 1st March posed the Provisional IRA a dilemma, as did the success rate against it in this country. Before I left Northern Ireland I learnt that in the autumn there was to be a campaign against alleged ill-treatment of IRA members in prisons and that there had to be incidents in prisons which would spark off action in order that the so-called ill-treatment could take place. Before I became Home Secretary I was expecting that' to happen.
We are dealing with a para-military force, not with people who simply have political ideals and ideology. Incidentally, the claims for prisoners to go back to Northern Ireland are taken in the context of that date of 1st March last year. People returning to Northern Ireland would have special category status and would be not in proper prisons but in the open compounds which are a feature of Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
My right hon. Friend has spoken of a para-military force. Will he confirm that there is more than one in Northern Ireland, and that we are dealing with terrorism from not one but two sides? So far my right hon. Friend has mentioned only one side.
§ Mr. Rees
Of course, because I am dealing with this part of the United Kingdom. There was one occasion just before my time in this office when another organisation was involved, but I am dealing with the Provisional IRA on this side of the water because it is the only organisation proscribed under the legislation. If at any time any of the other organisations were seen to be a danger on this side of the water I should have no hesitation in proscribing them, as in Northern Ireland. My hon. Friend must believe me. I am not unaware of the other organisations, of which there are large numbers, but I am dealing with the danger on this side of the water, because my legislation is in general concerned with that. Exclusion is a different aspect.
I have carefully considered the need for this legislation and I am convinced of its necessity. It is right that the balance between civil rights and the need for the protection of our citizens should be weighed up and discussed. There is a balance to be struck, and my judgment is that the continuance of the Act is a necessity. I ask the House to agree that this is the right course.
I come to one other aspect to which I should like to return in another context later. When I went to Northern Ireland three years ago, as Secretary of State, I looked very carefully at the emergency legislation there, together with wider issues, as I had concluded in opposition that there was a need for a wide investigation into a number of issues besides the law. I set up the Gardiner Committee to consider, in the context of civil liberties and human rights, measures to deal with terrorism in Northern Ireland. I did that against the background of 50 years of emergency legislation, including the Conservative legislation concerning the courts, based on Diplock. The Committee also considered the way in which detention was handled, how ex-detainees should be brought back into the community when they left prison, and so on. 1476 It was not concerned only with the law The report of the Gardiner Committee, which happened to confirm my own view that my aim should be to end detention led to new legislation.
There is no case for such an investigation in this country. I understand that there is concern about the workings of the Act. I shall try to deal with some of those matters and then listen carefully to the debate. If there is a feeling that there is a need for an investigation into some aspects of the Act, though not a Gardiner-type investigation, I shall carefully consider that matter.
I come now to the Act and the uses that have been made of it. I shall give cumulative statistics covering the 1974 and 1976 Acts and the use my predecessor and I have made of the powers in the legislation since 24th March 1976. These statistics include all cases up to 1st March.
I deal first with exclusion orders. An exclusion order may be made against a person who, I am satisfied, is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism or who is attempting or may attempt to enter the country for the purpose.
My predecessor and I have made 95 exclusion orders in total, of which 20 have come under the 1976 Act. In addition, six orders in total and two under the 1976 Act have been made by the Lieutenant-Governors of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, as they are entitled to make them.
Nineteen people in total and two under the 1976 Act against whom orders have been made have made representations against the orders, and five of the orders in these cases, all under the 1974 Act, have been revoked. Four orders have been revoked for other reasons.
Eighty-one people in total and 20 under the 1976 Act have been removed, 58 in total and 14 under the 1976 Act to Northern Ireland, and 23 in total and six under the 1976 Act to the Republic of Ireland. Eight orders in total have not been served. In five of these cases, the person concerned was and is believed still to be outside the United Kingdom. In two other cases the persons concerned were charged with murder and my predecessor revoked the orders before they were served. In the remaining case, the person concerned was returned to 1477 Northern Ireland on a warrant and my predecessor revoked the order before it was served.
Most people know how exclusion works, but I want to make one or two points about it. The making of an exclusion order is an executive procedure exercised by the Secretary of State, but the information on which an exclusion order case is based may be very sensitive. In some cases revealing the nature of the information to an alleged terrorist or his friends would enable him or his friends to deduce the sources of information. Informants would be at risk. That is the basic reason why a person cannot be told the case against him.
Clearly a purely executive procedure such as this does not have the public safeguards inherent in judicial procedures. The Prevention of Terrorism Act incorporates two safeguards. First, the test on which the Secretary of State may make an exclusion order is a very stringent one. He has to be satisfied in each case that the person is or has been concerned inthe commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, or …is attempting or may attempt to enter Great Britain or Northern Ireland with a view to being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.Secondly, the person concerned may make recommendations to an independent adviser and the Secretary of State is bound to refer any case not considered frivolous to an independent adviser.
§ Mr. Ron Thomas (Bristol, North-West)
I refer by right hon. Friend to Section 7 of the Act. Is it not a complete charade that someone can make representations to the Secretary of State or to an adviser without having any indication whatsoever of the evidence against him? In the case of one of my constituents even the adviser had no indication of the evidence against my constituent.
§ Mr. Rees
I have no doubt that my hon. Friend has been in touch with my Department about that case. I was dealing with cases where a person has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, and I shall come in a moment to what I can do in individual cases. But I do not 1478 find that the adviser system is a charade. It is not a judicial system. That is why I am making clear that it is an executive procedure. It is not a judicial procedure and should not be discussed as one. The exercise of this system depends on the quality of the advisers, and 1 pay tribute to the work of Lord Alport and Mr. Ronald Waterhouse, QC.
It is inappropriate, for the process of considering representations, to be in any sense public or judicial, for the reasons that I have given. Persons objecting to exclusion may seek the advice of their legal adviser in framing objections to the order—and I know that some hon. Members have views on that subject. I am prepared to consider this matter.
I turn next to the powers of detention exercisable under Section 12 of the Act, which replaces Section 7 of the 1974 Act. This power enables the police to detain a person who is reasonably suspected either of having commited an offence under the Act or of being concerned in terrorism. The period of detention must not exceed 48 hours but can be extended by me for a further five days. The extended period enables the police to make comprehensive inquiries and to carry out forensic science tests.
A total of 796 people have been detained under this power, including 253 under the 1976 Act. In 250 cases—49 under the 1976 Act—my predecessor and I authorised extensions of detention. There have been full discussions between Home Office Ministers and the police about the criteria on which I would be prepared to authorise extensions of detention.
A special office has been set up at New Scotland Yard to process police applications from forces throughout Great Britain and to help in securing common standards. These arrangements have proved helpful, and neither I nor my predecessor have had to refuse any formal police applications for an extension of detention, although there have been some cases where, following informal discussions, an application has not been put forward formally.
My predecessor undertook that he or the Home Office Minister of State would personally see each application for an extension of detention. He added that the only exception was in cases where it 1479 might be necessary for the official to make a decision overnight when the Minister could not be reached immediately, and the matter would then be referred to the Minister next morning. This undertaking has been fully adhered to, and since I came to the Home Office I have tried to see every case. For the record, there was one occasion when I had 'flu and I saw the application after the event, but that was the only one.
That procedure is one about which I feel very strongly. My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) will know that I and my predecessor were actually putting people in prison. I saw every one of those cases myself, because I have always thought that if something is being done in my name I must see beforehand that it is being done in the correct way.
People may also be detained at ports by examining officers, either on arrival or departure. A total of 1,637–765 under the 1976 Act—have been detained under this power.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)
My right hon. Friend recognises, does he not, that a person held for up to seven days in England and Wales can be held incommunicado because of the proviso to the Judges' Rules about not impeding investigations. But in Scotland a person cannot be held incommunicado. He has a statutory right to have access to a solicitor, which, a fortiori means the ability to tell his family where he is. If it is a perfectly proper and safe thing to have north of the border, how is it that we cannot have it south of the border as well?
§ Mr. Rees
My hon. Friend is quite properly raising the question of the use of the Judges' Rules not only under this legislation but in general. I shall willingly look at that. I have been looking at this matter in general terms, not in terms of legislation, because there is concern about the Judges' Rules. Again, this is something to which I intend to refer later.
I come next to the charges that have been brought for offences under the Act; three people have been charged under the 1974 Act and eight people for offences arising out of the 1976 Act. A further 98 people in total—21 of them under the 1976 Act—have been charged with offences following detention under the Act. 1480 This 98 includes eight people charged with murder, three with attempted murder, 12 with conspiracy to cause explosions, seven with unlawful possession of explosives, six with conspiracy to possess or procure explosives with intent to endanger life, and six with offences under the Firearms Act 1968.
So far I have not been able to give figures about convictions. To do that would involve following through individual cases. However, I should like to give this information, and I have asked the police to consider whether it can be provided.
As Northern Ireland Members will recall, we had this problem in Northern Ireland under a different arrangement where everything went through the Department of Public Prosecutions. We had the problem that we were giving out at weekly security conferences the number of people charged but not the number of people convicted, and because there is often a long delay—quite properly in most cases—between a person being charged and being convicted any figures that one might have had actually referred to something that happened in an earlier period. I believe that during my time this was corrected. In a different context I want to do the same thing here. I shall do all that I can to ensure that the figures are available because I think that they are important.
Charges by themselves are not enough. The number of charges is of course only a small proportion of those detained under the Act. Fortunately we are not looking for large numbers of terrorists. The problem is that a very small number of people can put on to the community an enormous amount of havoc and kill many people.
The recent trial of the four people arrested at Balcombe Street made clear how much murder and destruction four people can create. I can express it in this way because it was before my time —on the night of the Balcombe Street siege and before that, anyone who thought that that number of police turned up because they just happened to have been in the area will have got it wrong.
A great deal more happens before an incident of this kind than most people—including myself until a year or two ago 1481 —completely understand. There is more to it than the actual number of people charged. When one is dealing with a para-military terrorist group one has to take account of other factors.
§ Mr. Tom Litterick (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
What my right hon. Friend says is interesting but not surprising. After all, the police are trained and expected to be able to anticipate crime. Will my right hon. Friend make it perfectly clear whether or not he is saying that the success of the police in the case that he mentioned arose from the powers that have been conferred on the police by the Act that we are now considering?
§ Mr. Rees
I am not so sure that the police in general are trained to anticipate crime. If that were the case, a great deal of crime would not happen. With terrorism, however, it is often more important for the police to build up information because they are dealing not simply with drugs or theft but with people dying.
§ Mr. Rees
I will answer it, but my hon. Friend used the word "anticipate", and this is an important factor to take into account. I know that the information that the police build up in this way is absolutely vital. I am not prepared to say exactly that there was a connection between the powers we are discussing and the case I referred to. The information is collected by the police over a period of time, and that could not be done without this legislation. If we did not have this legislation we would be putting at risk the lives of people, and I am not prepared to do that in the light of the judgments I have to make.
The police have to look for a needle in a haystack. The important test is not whether large numbers of people are charged, or even convicted, but whether the Act helps in detecting, arresting and convicting those who are responsible for or are planning major terrorist offensives. It is the case, but probably more so in Northern Ireland, that the planners of terrorist acts are in many respects more important than the people who carry out the crimes.
In my view the fact that detentions under the Act have resulted in charges of 1482 murder, and so on, shows that the Act is being used for its proper purpose. Neither I nor the police would claim that this could not be done without the Act, but without these clear powers the police might have had difficulty in obtaining the necessary information in time or even at all. Time is of the essence in com-batting urban terrorists.
I know now, as I did not know before, that the police spend months and even years building up a case against a person involved in drugs offences, for example. The time element is not important because ultimately it is the strength of the case that the police have to take to court that matters. That is not so with murder and killing. It is no good waiting for a murder to take place so that one can catch the offender and take him to court. Prevention of the offence is vital.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
I am sure that the House recognises the seriousness of the right hon. Gentleman's point. Is he going so far as to say, however, that the value to the police of the detention provisions is in gathering information and that, therefore, if they are to be effective the police must surely be seeking to detain those who are not concerned in the preparation or instigation of terrorism? If those people were so engaged that would give rise to charges against them. The right hon. Gentleman is suggesting that there is a much wider purpose—perhaps a necessary one—which does not appear on the face of the Act and has not so far been advanced by the Government.
§ Mr. Rees
It is not a question of picking up people ad lib. People are involved in the way that I have described. A careful study of the wording reveals that the Act covers this point adequately.
The House has been kept informed throughout the year of the use that has been made of the legislation. The facts have been given by means of answers to Questions tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara). I understand that my predecessor made clear that if at any time my hon. Friend were to cease that practice, and if no other hon. Member were to take it up, he would make other arrangements to ensure that the information continued to be made available. I 1483 repeat the undertaking given by my predecessor because the Questions perform a vital service and give information upon which people can base judgments about the working of the Act.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)
Will my right hon. Friend confirm, however, that the Questions are not planted?
§ Mr. Rees
If my hon. Friend means whether I asked him to put them down, he is absolutely right in saying that I did not. If he is asking whether I am pleased that he puts them down, he would be absolutely right in assuming that I am.
The basic need for the legislation lies in the continued threat of the Provisional IRA's activities in this country. There is other legislation for Northern Ireland for dealing with proscribed organisations. It is the Government's duty to reach a considered judgment on the threat without being unduly swayed by the events of the preceding few days or even weeks. That is not always easy, but we have to make a judgment about maintaining our protection at a high level and ensuring that the powers under the Act remain necessary.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)
Surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the Act covers Northern Ireland and that it gives powers to exclude from Northern Ireland to Great Britain a person who does not belong to Northern Ireland but whose terrorism is not necessarily IRA terrorism.
§ Mr. Rees
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, and I do not blame him for making the point because it is important for Northern Ireland. The point I was making is that a major part of the Act is concerned with Great Britain and that there is separate legislation for Northern Ireland. Exclusion, however, is for the United Kingdom as a whole.
In taking the judgment about the need for the powers I have taken into account not only the extent of terrorist activity here, but the continuing threat. That is a judgment that all of us have to take, but it would be a brave person who believed that there was no chance of further terrorist activity on this side of the water.
I have had regard to the statements by prominent members of the PIRA. I am 1484 careful about taking such statements at their face value. There is no doubt, however, that the PIRA has publicised its intention to continue the campaign of violence here. The Sunday Independent contained a report on 19th September 1976 which said thatthe Provisionals would start the violence again in Britain with what it described as a devastating effect if they deemed it opportune".A leading member of the PIRA in an interview broadcast on French television on 14th February made remarks in the same vein. Three days after the Oxford Street bombs at the end of January a statement issued under the usual pseudonym of the PIRA claimed responsibility for the attacks and added that the Provisionals' campaign in Great Britain and Northern Ireland would be maintained and intensified.
To use a phrase that has been heard here before, why look in the crystal ball? This is what the PIRA says it will do, and I have to take that into account. It has shown that it means it. Hon. Members may make what they will of the PIRA's statements, but its generally threatening approach is a significant factor.
I have taken police advice about the Act, and both the Commissioner of the Metropolis and the Association of Chief Police Officers have advised me that the Act should be continued and that it has made a major contribution to their efforts in dealing with terrorists. The advice of the police is important, but it is not the only consideration.
I have reached this judgment after giving full weight to the civil liberties case. These powers—with a maximum of seven days' detention without trial and exclusion procedures—certainly entail an infringement of civil liberties. The powers are acceptable only on an emergency basis. I would be pleased to see our society sufficiently free from the Provisional IRA at present and perhaps from other groups in the future to enable me to dispense with these powers.
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
Accepting what my right hon. Friend has said on account of the threats by the Provisional IRA, which will continue as long as that organisation is in being, I still maintain that there is a case for saying that renewal of the powers should 1485 be on a six-monthly basis rather than annually. Since the original legislation was for six months, maximum parliamentary scrutiny is necessary.
§ Mr. Rees
I was coming to that point. When I was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland I reduced the period of renewal of the Northern Ireland Emergency Powers Act 1973 from 12 to six months in accordance with a view that I expressed in opposition. But that is very much more powerful legislation—the Army is involved and the power to detain is much more comprehensive than it is in this legislation. If the Northern Ireland legislation was at this level I would not have felt so strongly about the six-monthly basis.
There is a particular problem here with a period of six months. It would have to be four months, because six months from now takes us to September, and with any luck the House will not be sitting then. But the point is that under the Northern Ireland legislation I locked up 400 people myself. When a Minister is locking up people it is very important that the House should have a chance to scrutinise the legislation at six-monthly intervals. I do not think that it is so important in this instance but it is not something that I have an absolute view about.
I shall explain the purpose of the Draft Prevention of Terrorism (Supplemental Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Order, which comes under a different procedure. It will be discussed in the House only if it is prayed against, but it is relevant to this debate. It is not a major change, but it is important. Article 13 of the main order that we are discussing is concerned with control at the ports. Under this article the examining officer at a port has the power to control the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers to and from Ireland and he can require that details of the passengers and crew be supplied. I found that doubt has arisen as to whether these controls can be treated as standing arrangements or whether they will have effect only if invoked on every separate occasion that a ship or aircraft moved from or leaves for Ireland. It was regarded that the control was a standing arrangement but the proposed amendments will establish this beyond doubt.
1486 The change in port controls involves landing and disembarkation cards. I have discussed this matter with the police and in the light of experience I have decided that it would be desirable to make a direction under Article 8, which I shall do. The cards will be overprinted with a reference to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act and thus the authority for the cards will be clearer to passengers who hitherto have been in some doubt about whether the Act empowered the use of cards. I emphasise that this does not mean that cards will be used everywhere. The chief officers of police will continue to make their own decisions on whether it is helpful to use cards, and that depends to a large extent on the scale and flow of passenger traffic. Where cards are used the authority for them is much clearer.
The police are under no illusion that the value of cards is limited. People can fill in the cards falsely, and no clear evidence of identity is contained in them. Corroborative information on identity will continue to be required as permitted under Article 6.
§ Mr. Powell
I want to get this clearer still. I understand that at the moment completion of the cards is not mandatory on passengers because the form is not prescribed under the relevant order. Is the Home Secretary saying that that situation will be changed by his new order or will it remain the same?
§ Mr. Powell
Although the use of cards will in future be specifically empowered under the Act and there will be no doubt about it, it does not follow—so I understand—that the use of cards will be made mandatory by the prescription of the form.
§ Mr. Rees
It is not a matter of being mandatory. If the police decide to use the cards they are covered by the legislation. That we thought to be the situation before, but apparently there was some dubiety about it. I have gone into this in great detail because I know that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. 1487 Powell) is concerned about it. If he has any particular point in mind perhaps he will make it and I shall reply to it later. This is not a major change. It is simply a matter of clarifying something that was thought to be in doubt.
In my view this legislation is vital. There is a threat from a para-military force that operates easily over here on soft targets. There is a very high clear-up rate by the police in this country which has been aided by this Act. I will listen very carefully to what is said about the legislation tonight but there is no question of ending it while the Provisional IRA or other groups are engaged in violence.
I have no reason to think that the police have misused the powers under the Act but I will consider ways of looking at its workings before its renewal next year. In no sense am I saying that there will be a Gardiner-type report but I will consider ways of doing it which might lead to amendment of the legislation. If in this way I can reassure those who are not supporters of the IRA but who are concerned about civil liberties, I will consider it.
§ Mr. Robin Corbett (Hemel Hempstead)
Is my right hon. Friend saying that there will be some kind of inquiry into the workings of the Act? If so, will he consider publishing the findings—not all the evidence—of that inquiry?
§ Mr. Rees
Yes, I understand my hon. Friend's last point, because there is no point in simply reassuring myself. I am talking about aspects of the Act and its working which, after three or four years, could be looked at again. In no sense would the information be given to the outside world about this, but I will consider the points that have been made because I want to reassure people about this, and I consider that it is my responsibility to reassure them.
I have to balance civil rights against death and destruction. I cannot say that there will be no more death and destruction in this country: I wish I could. At the moment the threat is from the Provisional IRA. As long as it is from that organisation or any other, I have a duty, with the police, to protect the public. This legislation has been passed for that purpose and I commend the order to the House.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
The Home Secretary's speech has underlined two things. The first is that he takes seriously his accountability to Parliament for the great powers that the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act has provided. I am grateful to him for that and personally I trust him completely in this if not all other matters.
The second thing he has made clear is that political terror has now arrived in the United Kingdom. It has, sadly, existed in Northern Ireland for some time, but he is right to say that we shall have to get used to the fact that it now exists here, on the mainland, as well. In saying that, I am all too conscious of the fact that, over recent years, while many of us have been aware, through the television and the newspapers, of the horror in Northern Ireland, it was not until these killings and murders arrived on this side of the water that many of us came to understand the ordeal which our fellow citizens in Northern Ireland have endured for so long.
I have only one or two simple points to make. One is that the task of countering terror will increasingly concern Home Secretaries. That task is partly a matter of law—I should like to say a word or two in a moment about this particular law—but it is mainly a matter of practical counter-terrorist action. The Home Secretary has fairly said that that burden lies primarily on the police. I of course declare an interest in that I have a connection with the police.
Three things, basically, are required. First, the best possible intelligence, wherever possible in advance of the terrorist action. Second, sufficient counterforce. Third, the necessary legislation, some of which inevitably restricts civil rights, so that when counter-force and intelligence are brought to bear we may be reasonably certain that the defects of the law will not enable the guilty to escape.
On the first of those, intelligence, I have recently attended a conference of leading counter-terrorist police officers from Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and of course the United Kingdom. They described in considerable detail some of the terrorist incidents with which they have had to cope. What came through very 1489 plainly was that intelligence about possible terrorist action is not confined to any one nation, that the activities of the potential terrorist extend far beyond the boundaries of the United Kingdom or any other country and that it is of crucial importance that the police services should have the best possible sharing of intelligence information. I put this suggestion to the Home Secretary, without elaboration—that there could be better ways of exchanging intelligence on these matters among the professional police services at least of the nine countries of the European Community.
Some efforts have been made in this direction. Indeed, it was the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor who attended a conference in Brussels on this matter not so long ago. The preparatory papers were good, but comparatively little has been done. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to have another look at what is being done to improve the intelligence on terrorism between the member countries of the EEC. I believe they could assist us greatly, if they were encouraged to do so, in our efforts to counter the terror of the IRA.
My second point relates to counter-force. Most of the other European countries have elite police and paramilitary organisations. We on the whole do not. I am very glad that we continue to root our police service in the people of our country. I should very much oppose the creation of any paramilitary police service in Britain because, as yet, I believe that we do not need it and that the police in Britain should be the same wherever they are.
Many have suggested that the Special Patrol Group of the Metropolitan Police is in some way a paramilitary organisation. It is no such thing: it is simply the ordinary London bobby rostered into a group for a short period. Once he has done that duty, he goes back on the beat. It is important to say that, because there have been suggestions, following Balcombe Street and many other brave and effective actions of the Special Patrol Group, that it is somehow a separate and specialist paramilitary force. It is no such thing.
None the less, in the process of applying sufficient counter-force to terrorist 1490 activity it is of crucial importance that the police should have the necessary force at their disposal. From time to time, that means arms. As the Home Secretary knows better than anyone here, the weaponry of the police already has been increased. There may soon be a need for them to have more sophisticated weapons. Indeed, I believe that a committee is now considering this in respect of the London police.
Then there is the need for the closest possible liaison between the police and the Army. We have organised these arrangements better in this country than anywhere else. We have done so largely because the British Army has a long tradition of policing activities and it understands the need to operate in difficult situations with a minimum rather than a maximum of force. In Northern Ireland the Army has carried out its immensely difficult duties with a forbearance, a patience and a restraint which deserves admiration from the whole world. I am certain that the British Army and the police in this country, as has been seen at London Airport and on various other occasions, have now developed a method of working together which, although it can always be improved, has regard to the need to apply counter-force with the minimum of violence and the minimum of restriction of civil liberty. That is no mean achievement.
No one can possibly deny that it is distasteful) for this House to restrict the civil liberties of our people as the measure unquestionably does. But it cannot be said too often, clichéthough it may be, that there is no freedom without order, there is no liberty without law and there are no civil rights without a police service rooted in the community which is juridically impartial and above all which is politically neutral.
I believe that the order and the original Act that it seeks to continue are regrettably necessary in our present circumstances. Indeed, I believe that if we had not had that Act over the past year or so, there would certainly have been more casualties, at least among the police. No one can say that the Balcombe Street success arose from the Act—it would be silly to say that—but it is certain that if the police had not had these powers, they would have been less able in many circumstances to assemble that advance 1491 intelligence and to deploy their limited resources in such a fashion as to be able to obtain the maximum results for their efforts.
Hon. Members opposite, who are as concerned as I am about the intrusion into civil liberties, should give thought to the lives of our police. We ask them to take on this dangerous and disagreeable job for us. Let us not place their lives more at risk by failing to have the courage to maintain on the statute book legislation which the police, who are on the sharp end, believe to be an indispensable aid to their difficult task.
Regrettably this Bill is necessary. I was not sure exactly what the Home Secretary meant at the end of his speech when he was throwing out some kind of sweetener to his hon. Friends. I hope that he was not saying that he proposes some kind of inquiry into the workings of the Act that would involve the police or, indeed, any other counter-terrorist organisation, to satisfy himself and his officials in a manner that could become public. It is extremely difficult to define the frontiers of what needs to be kept secret and what needs to be made public. I understand the Home Secretary's dilemma. That is why in present circumstances we have no choice but to make a judgment of the Home Secretary himself.
At present I am engaged in a serious quarrel with him. To a large extent he has lost the confidence of the British police. He has mishandled his recent negotiations over pay and conditions. But, having considered the whole question of the anti-terrorist Bill and the whole question of the accountability of the Minister for the infringement of civil rights, the House has no choice but to judge whether it can trust the right hon. Gentleman. In this particular matter, I do. I am therefore glad to support the Bill.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
I agree with the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) in one thing —that the legislation can at best be described as a detestable necessity. Those of us who are concerned with civil liberties must regret the need to cut back on that area of freedom in the way that the legislation does.
1492 We have been asked to renew the legislation for the fourth time for a further period of a year. We have had some assurances—although they are not sufficient assurances—about ways in which the House, Parliament and the wider public that we represent can satisfy themselves about the way in which the legislation is operating. My right hon. Friend addressed himself to those in the House concerned for civil liberties—and they are not all on the Labour benches—who detest the IRA, those who have violence at their beck and call and who have attempted to destroy the forces of law and order in this country and in Northern Ireland. That includes not only the IRA but the para-military Protestant organizations which are equally condemned.
My right hon. Friend said that those who destest terrorism can take comfort from the concern that he has shown about the Act and its operation. He has gone some part of the way to indicate that that concern might be translated into more material action before the House has to discuss the legislation again, if it has to do that.
There are three or four areas of major concern of which some of us believe that my right hon. Friend should take note with a view to an inquiry. Many of us on this side of the House are looking for an inquiry. It should be a limited, departmental inquiry which will provide advice to the Secretary of State and the House before we come to consider the legislation again. It should not be a Gardiner-type inquiry because that would be too wide.
In November 1974, two and a half years ago, when we first had to consider the legislation, many of us, certainly on this side of the House, pointed out the areas in which it could be misused. We said that the legislation could be a catch-all for people who were suspected not merely of terrorist activities in connection with the IRA or linked organisations but with other activities that were considered inimical by the police. We said that the Draconian powers—and that was the phrase used by the then Home Secretary—could lead to great injustice in individual cases. That has been discussed in debates in the House, notably by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas).
1493 This possible misuse, some of which can now be substantiated, must be taken with the alarming possibility that the legislation might stay on the statute book as long as there is any threat of violence from the IRA, whatever the potential level of urban terrorism is in the country, and might remain in effect as long as the emergency legislation that existed between 1939 and 1950.
We must discuss how the legislation has worked. About 95 per cent. of those who have been pulled in under the legislation have been kept incommunicado and then released without any charge being made. Of those that have been charged, comparatively few have been charged with activities that are linked to the purposes of the legislation. That must concern us.
In some instances the legislation has been misinterpreted in the way in which it has been used by the forces of law. I need go no further to illustrate that than today's issue of The Guardian in which a former Scotland Yard detective —hardly a potential IRA suspect—complains of his detention for two days under the legislation by the Liverpool police. The former detective, who is 57 years old, said that he was arrested with two Irish friends as they came off the Dublin Ferry after a touring holiday in the Republic. He was picked up at the docks by the Special Branch and the three men were taken to separate cells. One of his friends, who suffers from a sugar deficiency, collapsed in his cell because the police refused to supply him with his required daily medicine. They were not allowed contact with their families but were assured that contact would be made by the police. When they were released, they found that that had not been done.
Many people such as Mr. Evans, who makes the complaint, could be in the same situation. In this case, he was possibly arrested because he had crossed the border and the number plates of his car had been taken by the police and passed on.
There are a number of other examples that could be given. There is concern about the way in which the Act is interpreted and some examples have been given by the National Council for Civil 1494 Liberties. One of those is the case of Mr. O'Neill, a full-time official of the Student Christian Movement, who was arrested when commuting between Dublin and Bristol. There is also the case of a number of Community Service volunteers who were attending a conference and who were arrested at Heathrow Airport. There are enough examples of that kind to indicate the area of concern. I go no further than that.
Many of us on this side of the House who raise such points, as we have done also in previous debates, find ourselves under the odium of those who say "If you are against that kind of misuse of the legislation, it means that you are for the IRA." Nothing could be further from the truth. We detest the kind of thing that the IRA stands for as much, if not more so, as we do the vile and odious methods that the IRA and the paramilitary organisations use. But two wrongs do not make a right, and we should look hard at a situation in which many people have been gravely inconvenienced and have had their civil liberties abused, I believe, by an overenthusiastic interpretation of the legislation.
Again, many of us believe that in some of the areas where the police have been most effective—and I share entirely the tribute paid to them by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds—that effectiveness cannot be prayed in aid of this legislation. The hon. Gentleman was fair enough to make that point himself. The ultimate success of the Balcombe Street operation was 100 per cent. It was a brilliant police operation. But I submit that that brilliant operation would have gone on whether there was a prevention of terrorism Act or not.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
May I put this point in the hon. Gentleman's mind? Very often, what this Act provides is a benefit to the police in the deployment of resources. Every time there is an incident like the Balcombe Street siege, they have to take large numbers of people away from ordinary civil policing, and hon. Members then complain that their constituents are not getting the cover. Frequently, because this Act exists, the police are able to use their limited resources much more economically, and therefore there is a sideways benefit which comes 1495 in cases like the Balcombe Street siege because the Act exists.
§ Mr. Whitehead
That is the hon. Gentleman's point of view. It is not necessarily mine. I think that the effective mobilisation of police manpower does not depend upon the particular powers of detention that they have under this legislation. That is as far as I would take it, but I think that the hon. Gentleman will see the reason why many of us are concerned about other uses to which this legislation has been or might be put.
I think that we should now ask my right hon. Friend to go further. He has already told me, in response to an intervention, that he will not consider having this legislation renewed for a period of six months only. I made that point not because six months is some kind of magic figure and one year is a dreadful extension but precisely because, in the present state of urban terrorism, it might be possible to take another look at what we all agree to be a detestable measure in six months' time.
Whatever the threats and fulminations which may come from Press conferences in Paris, or the so-called brigade commanders of this preposterous IRA in Dublin or elsewhere, as long as the IRA exists there will be threats of violence. As long as there is one befuddled brigade commander issuing statements, he will be threatening violence. If we are to wait for the day when the last IRA man has said that there will be no more violence against the British occupying forces, or against those whom the IRA opposes in Northern Ireland, we shall have to wait much longer for this legislation to be removed from the statute book than we did for its predecessor to go.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
But it is not just a matter of what is said. These so-called preposterous brigade commanders in Belfast shoot and kill every day. They are not preposterous, and I have never found them to be befuddled.
§ Mr. Whitehead
They are befuddled in their ideas. I think that few of us would disagree with that proposition. This legislation was introduced for the United Kingdom in the wake of the Birmingham bombings. It was introduced because it seemed at the time to outraged public opinion that there was 1496 coining to the mainland a wave of terrorist violence so extraordinary, so extensive, that only the most extraordinary measures to counter it could be expected to have success. That is not exactly the situation today. There may be a further urban terrorist onslaught on the British mainland. We pray not. But I am saying that it is possible now at least to consider a more speedy process of scrutiny and, if necessary, renewal of this legislation than was the view of Mr. Roy Jenkins a year ago and is the view of the Home Secretary today.
I believe that there should be an inquiry now into the working of the legislation of the kind I have outlined. A number of points have been raised already in the debate, and others will come from my hon. Friends. I do not wish to anticipate them. But I want to give a small example. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) intervened to ask about the Judges' Rules and why it was necessary to have in England and Wales a set of procedures entirely different from those in Scotland. This is exactly the kind of procedure that we should be investigating and about which my right hon. Friend should be advised, as well as looking at how the Act has operated in practice in terms of people who have been run in, particularly those who have not been charged but released after a period in detention because no evidence was found against them.
If my right hon. Friend is able to say to us, at the end of the debate, that he is prepared to have such an investigation, many of us who go so far as to say that, faced with something as evil as the IRA, we see circumstances in which this is a detestable necessity, might be prepared to welcome his move towards us and not vote against the renewal of this legislation.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
I begin by agreeing in part with the hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) but disagreeing with him in part. I agree with the case for the six-month renewal. I argued for such a period on an amendment I proposed to the Bill originally. We are fortunate tonight that the arrangement of business has allowed us a longer debate on the subject than 1497 we would have had otherwise. All we would have had under the normal procedures would have been one and a half hours. We have a little longer tonight. One and a half hours a year is precious little time in which to debate such major issues as civil liberty and terrorism itself. We should be reconsidering this legislation more frequently than we are allowed to do, and devoting more time to it.
But I disagree with the hon. Gentleman on the implication that there is anything remotely temporary about terrorism. I have said at every stage of this legislation that I do not believe that terrorism is temporary, either in the Northern Ireland context or more generally. I believe that Northern Ireland terrorism and Northern Ireland-based terrorism are with us for some time to come, because. whatever we are able to achieve, and whatever the people of Northern Ireland are able to achieve in rebuilding their community, there will be some who will have an interest in using violence to stop it, and that it will spill over to the rest of the country. We are clearly faced with a long-term problem.
If we are to solve that problem, and also the problem of the habits and techniques of terrorism being spread, we have to make sure that we make arrangements to deal with these and other groups of terrorists. I do not rest my case on the argument that we are dealing with a temporary phenomenon. We cannot say that the threat has receded. We shall not be able to say in six or 12 months' time that the threat has receded.
§ Mr. Whitehead
That is not my case either. I was saying that we should not wait for repeal of this legislation until all violence has vanished from the other parts of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Beith
I am glad to have that comment from the hon. Member for Derby, North. I took the hon. Gentleman to be suggesting that although the trend might continue the violence itself would recede. I am glad that he is as realistic as I feel we have to be in these matters. Let us not fool ourselves by supposing that we can have satisfactory temporary provision legislation. Let us not fool ourselves by supposing that these are necessarily short-term incursions into civil liberties. We must face some of the 1498 harsh realities, and that must lead us to consider this legislation in a rather different light.
The question must be whether measures of this sort are so helpful in preventing the sort of terrorism that we have been facing and will continue to face that they should remain on the statute book. Let us not pretend that the threat itself will disappear so quickly that the necessity for such legislation will go out of the window with it. I believe that the threat will continue. Therefore, we must ask again and again whether certain incursions into civil liberties are justified. Do they significantly aid the police, or is it the case, as I suspect it is in some respects, at least, that the impressive successes of the police in dealing with terrorism on this side of the water have been achieved largely with the normal powers that the police have enjoyed over many years? That is the question to which we must address ourselves.
There is considerable doubt abroad about the extent to which the police are dependent on the Act for the work that they need to do.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
When the hon. Gentleman asks that question, has he asked the police themselves? Does he know what their view is? The Home Secretary gave it. The police want it.
§ Mr. Beith
The hon. Gentleman is in a rather special position. He is able to put one kind of official view to the House. The Home Secretary has put forward the view of the chief constables and the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, but policemen vary in their views. That is bound to be so. It is unfair to the police to put them on the spot and expect them to make public judgments and public statements about legislation that they have to carry out. In this House we must ask questions and seek to answer them. To some extent I accept that there are things that cannot be said clearly and openly. It would be wrong to expect the police to become involved in the political question of how far we are entitled, in representing the British people, to abrogate civil liberties to assist them in their work. We listen to the police individually and we listen to their organisations but as legislators it is for us to make the final judgment.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)
The police are not competent to judge the area of counter-productive political consequence that flows from having such a wide net available in their operations? Surely they are not competent to make that judgment.
§ Mr. Beith
I do not agree that the police are not competent. I know of many policemen who have to make just that sort of judgment, but it is a fact that it is easier for us as Members to draw the attention of the community to such considerations. It is not an area in which we should expect the police to have to make public comment. We should not call upon them to do so.
I mention, first, the proscription of organisations. Although it appears apparently one of the severest in terms of incursion into civil liberties, it is in reality one of the less significant provisions. It went into the legislation originally because of the deep public revulsion caused by the public parading and public identification of organisations that were self-confessed perpetrators of terrorism and violence. Some of the organisations were banned in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. We have had occasion to criticise the Republic from time to time but it seems unreasonable that we should allow in our midst the public parading of organisations proscribed on both sides of the border on the other side of the water.
I do not find the proscription provisions the most worrying parts of the Act, although I should like them removed from the statute book. However, as long as the IRA is prepared to engage in the depravities of terrorisms, I am certainly not deeply worried by the fact that it is a proscribed organisation.
When we come to exclusion orders, we enter a much more important area. This is the most Draconian part of the legislation. Part of it represents a perhaps necessarily ham-fisted and crude alternative to what any sovereign Government would normally be able to employ. I refer to the ability of a sovereign Government to close their frontier to a potential source of terrorist and to deport to that other country those whom they have good reason to suppose are engaged in terrorism. Part of the whole problem of our 1500 relationship with the Republic is the practical difficulty of closing the border. We must admit that the exclusion order provision arises in part from that.
There are those whom we would no doubt seek to deport to the Republic. When they can be shown to have origins in the Republic. However, the reality of the situation is that movement across the border is extremely difficult to control. Deportation does not have the practical reality that it would have in another situation. We end up moving people from one part of the United Kingdom to another, which is a profoundly worrying thing to have to do.
Exclusion is an unattractive procedure and the appeal procedures under it are even more inadequate than those that have concerned us in the recent Agee and Hosenball cases. We have referred to the appeal procedures in detail and argued them in detail at earlier stages of the legislation now being considered. In some cases exclusion orders may have been necessary and may have helped in the prevention of terrorism, but I cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that they are crude instruments. The reality of movement across the border and across the water is such that they are of limited value, although I do not wish to rule out their value in some instances.
I now turn to detention powers, especially in relation to Great Britain and the way in which they are used in Great Britain. I share the concern that has been expressed about whether they are of value in dealing with terrorism and whether they are really necessary. We are bound to be concerned by the discovery that over 90 per cent. of those detained have been released without any charge or exclusion order being made against them. Of those who have been charged, many have faced charges on offences unrelated to terrorism such as drug offences and offences of wasting police time, which have a certain irony about it in the circumstances. There have even been five cases of conspiracy to defraud the Inland Revenue. I wonder whether they were in the building trade. It is a curious chain of circumstances that such charges should result from detention legislation that has been defended in strong terms as being a necessity for dealing with terrorism. It is an extremely worrying feature.
1501 I am still not convinced that many of these matters could not have been dealt with under the existing powers of the police. When the Home Secretary dealt with this matter he opened up wider concern. The burden of his argument—it is a serious one—that the gathering of information depends to some extent upon this process, upon the detention of people for a period of 48 hours and for the longer period of five days that the right hon. Gentleman can authorise. If that is so, we are surely going beyond what was originally intended by the Act even though we may be justified in doing so. The Act envisaged the detention of any person whois or has been concerned …in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism".It is to be supposed that in many cases in which such people are detained charges will ensue and that not merely information will result. I find it puzzling if we are to suppose that the most effective means of obtaining information about offences like the Balcombe Street seige, is by the taking in of suspects. If we take in suspects the word gets around, people go underground and the raid is not carried out and something else is done instead.
My knowledge of police work is, of course, not as good as that of the Home Secretary or the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths). I can see some instances when the taking in of suspects is effective but I can see very many others in which the information gathering process does not depend upon the provisions in the Act. I am sure that a great deal of the terrorism successes of the police would not have been achieved if their information had had to be gained solely by these procedures and not by others that give less of a tip off to those involved.
The absence of the right to see a solicitor when detention is taking place remains a matter of some concern. I listened with care to the Lord-Avocate when he spoke with confidence and without doubt about the continued application of the provision in Scotland that gives access to a solicitor, which is normal and which causes no difficulty or harm to the police. There was no implication in anything he said that it was causing difficulty in Scotland. Therefore, I do not 1502 see why we cannot do something in that direction in England and Wales. For the Home Secretary to say that the matter is under consideration is not good enough. The issue was raised strongly at the time that the legislation first came before the House and we have had a clear 12 months in which to make some progress.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman takes the view that it is something that should be considered as part of the general issue of the Judges' Rules in respect of all legislation. I do not share that view. When we have multiplied several times over the period of detention we surely have a special duty to ensure that families are able to be told unless there are strong overriding reasons not to do so and that access to a solicitor is available. Surely we should ensure that there is communication during the period of detention.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
May I ask the hon. Gentleman a question on that point? I am truly interested. I was making a point about the Judges' Rules and said that they apply to the people who are detained in the same way as to people on normal charges. When the hon. Gentleman says that people have not been allowed to see solicitors, is he making that as a general point or does he have any particular case in mind?
§ Mr. Beith
I was making the general point that several provisions of the Judges' Rules, including that one, are not necessarily available to people detained under this legislation. The Minister will recall that I sought, by amendment, to make it a feature of the legislation and to write the Judges' Rules into the statute.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
I shall come back to that point later. My understanding of the matter is that an undertaking was given by my predecessor due to concern about the Judges' Rules. It is contrary to the information that I have been given that there have been cases arising from the Judges' Rules. I understand that they do apply in exacly the same way. The hon. Gentleman, who shows great knowledge of this, speaks as if that is not the case with regard to detention. Has he any knowledge of a chief officer not carrying out the instruction that has been given?
§ Mr. Beith
There is much concern, not simply in relation to this legislation, that 1503 the facilities of the Judges' Rules are not made available to all persons detained. There are specific cases that have been raised by the National Council for Civil Liberties that show that they are not being followed.
§ Mr. McNamara
Will the hon. Gentleman, for the Minister's benefit, reinforce the point about access to legal advice under these circumstances where the period of detention has been increased 250 per cent.—from two days to seven days? In that period there has been no access to solicitors. We need advice from the Home Secretary for the 243 people for whom detention orders were issued and any such requests for them to have access to solicitors.
§ Mr. Beith
The advice that was given to me prior to the debate was that the Judges' Rules have not been applied in all circumstances. If the Home Secretary can give any assurances to the contrary they would be welcome, but such assurances would be questioned in a number of quarters. It would be surprising if the Home Secretary were able to say that he was satisfied that both in this case and in police procedure generally the Judges' Rules were being observed for all types of detainee. It would be a remarkable new development if he were able to give such an assurance.
There are other features of the legislation that do not give rise to particular difficulties, such as include the ban on the collection of funds, and the tighter checks on arrivals and departures through ports to Northern Ireland and the Republic. Most people regard these as a much more limited incursion into civil liberties, that can be clearly justified in the present circumstances.
It is the key features to which I refer, and which I come back to, that are particularly important. There are well-documented allegations of abuse and genuine doubts about the use of and necessity for legislation. I was, therefore, pleased when the Home Secretary seemed to indicate a willingness to hold some form of review of the effectiveness of the legislation.
The Home Secretary can surely recognise from today's debate that it is difficult on the Floor of the House—as the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds 1504 pointed out in an intervention to my speech—to make a serious assessment of the difficulties that the police face in particular cases and for the necessity for the application of legislation. I would welcome a review, not on a scale that would waste a great deal of time for the police involved but one carried out by people who carry sufficient respect to enable us—hon. Members, and the public generally when the report is produced to form a clear judgment on how far the Act is proving necessary.
I agree that the Gardiner model is not necessarily the best, but we might use three Privy Councillors, as is done in security matters. We could look at the possibility of having two judges or QCs to carry out the investigation, not on a large bureaucratic scale but employing people of considerable repute and relevant knowledge to inquire into the working of the legislation and to report on it.
§ Mr. Ian Mikardo (Bethnal Green and Bow)
What the hon. Gentleman says is extremely important, and I go along with it apart from one small but important point. He says that the inquiry should be held only into the question whether the Act is necessary. But that is not the real question. We have to assess the balance of the advantage and disadvantage of the benefits accruing from the Act and whether they are enough to justify the intrusions into civil liberty and intrusions into people's private lives caused by it.
§ Mr. Beith
That is precisely the question to which we in this House must address ourselves. The difficulty that we face is in asking the related question of how far the Act is necessary and justified and testing that against our judgment. We, as legislators, must make the judgment. We should then consider, in the light of the report, whether the necessity for the legislation justifies the particular incursions into civil liberty involved. We can make that judgment. The difficulty that we have had is in fairly and correctly assessing the needs that the security forces face in the task that we have given to them. We have had to take on trust statements that have been made by the Home Secretary. No hon. Member is suggesting that we cannot quite trust the right hon. Gentleman. There is a great 1505 deal of trust in the Home Secretary's personal integrity.
But one must consider that one is bound to see these things from a different viewpoint depending on one's rôle. We give the Home Secretary the primary charge of the protection of the rights and liberties of the people of the country and he is bound to lean heavily upon the advice of the security forces. We cannot take everything that he says without challenging it. We would be greatly aided in that task when the legislation next comes up for renewal if we had before us an independent and reliable review. If the Home Secretary could give that assurance later it would make a considerable difference to the attitude of myself and my hon. Friends.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Robin Corbett (Hemel Hempstead)
I thank the Home Secretary, in opening the short debate, for making clear —if it needs making clear in this House or outside—that those who have from the beginning expressed concern about the provisions of the Act are in no way pro-IRA. We are concerned, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) has just said, to weigh up and assess whether the balance of advantage that has been given by the Act over the past three years has justified the undoubted incursions and intrusions into civil liberties. That is the point in a nutshell.
We accept that at any time these balances have to be weighed up and judgments made, but it is astonishing that if one old lady with an unpaid rate bill is ever threatened with going to gaol, someone from the Opposition will be asking for a Standing Order No. 9 debate or tabling an early-day motion, yet tonight, when we are discussing an Act under which more than 2,250 citizens of the United Kingdom have been arrested, there seems to be scant concern.
I said "arrested" because we have enabled the police, for the first time in my knowledge and certainly in recent law, to arrest people for questioning. This is not asking people "Come down to the station please, and answer a few questions"; it is a power of positive arrest, and, as other hon. Members have 1506 already said, it is not a matter of being arrested for merely 48 hours on the signature of the Home Secretary. It is arrest and detention for a period of seven days. The family of a man so held may not even know where he has gone, and they could be scouring the hospitals.
I know of one such case. The family had no idea where someone was. He had disappeared off the face of the earth. A person arrested in this way is unable to contact even his family or have contact made to reassure them and to let them know—I was going to say that he is in good hands but he would of course, be in good hands—that he had not done a bunk or had a serious accident.
Reference was made earlier to the number of people detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and what happened to them subsequently in terms of charges. I congratulate the Home Secretary for saying honestly that at present no list is kept of the convictions against those figures and that he will have a look at this, because it is extremely important. I could have some fun going through the list of what some of these people were subsequently charged with, but I do not wish to be frivolous. From my knowledge of some of the charges that have resulted from arrests under the Act, the legislation seems a mighty great sledgehammer to get people for such things as wasting police time, wrongful possession of a motor vehicle, and Inland Revenue offences.
We are as guilty in the House as many people outside. We take civil liberties far too lightly. We climb on platforms and proclaim our belief in individual and collective freedom, but we behave in a different way in the House and it is not always as a result of a considered judgment.
Under the Act, it is an offence not to pass on to the police information about acts of terrorism in the United Kingdom connected with Northern Ireland affairs. It substantially erodes the right of silence. I know that it sometimes gets in the way of police inquiries in this connection and in other areas, but it is an important part of the protection that individuals have in this country and we have given it away.
1507 Having allowed it in this Act, how do we know who will be the next Home Secretary who will argue in the House that we should do something similar in another context? That is the danger once we have opened this door.
§ Mr. McNamara
I am not certain how the right of silence has been eroded by the Act. Evidence will still have to be produced to show that information has been withheld. This would not be incumbent upon the accused. Will my hon. Friend explain why he believes that the right of silence has been eroded?
§ Mr. Corbett
I accept what my hon. Friend says. Perhaps I should have phrased my remarks more carefully. We have created an offence in respect of which not passing on information can result in a person's being charged. I accept that the onus is on the prosecution to prove that a person knowingly had the information and did not pass it on. I did not mean to overstate the position, and I am sorry if I did so.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I understand that the hon. Gentleman is claiming that a precedent has been created that might appear in other Acts. I do not know why he said that. If he possessed information pertaining to possible terrorist acts involving the killing or maiming of innocent men, women and children, would he not feel that it was reasonable to make it an offence for such information to be withheld? If he withheld it, would he not become virtually an accessory to the murder of innocent people?
§ Mr. Corbett
I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says and I imagine that every other hon. Member would share that view, but we must make up our minds whether a person has the information. The fact that a police officer says that I knowingly have information about terrorism and have not passed it on does not make me guilty. Hon. Members will remember that when the Act first came before the House it was proposed that the mere possession of a piece of paper relating to, for example, proscribed organisations would be an offence. The then Home Secretary was persuaded to remove that provision. It could affect any one of us, because we often receive unsolicited pieces of paper and circulars through the post.
1508 By virtue of the position that he holds, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has great trust and responsibility placed in him on behalf of the Executive. He also has an enormous amount of power. I am not suggesting that he would be tempted to misuse it. He makes his judgments on the basis of information that he is given, but it is legitimate for us at least to advance the argument, which I consider respectable, that after three years of the operation of the Act, which is detestable to many of us on the Government Benches, there is a case for saying that an independent inquiry should be held into its workings to weigh up the balance of advantage and disadvantage.
This suggestion of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) is surely worth looking at. It could be conducted by persons of repute and known independence and standing to satisfy not only hon. Members, important though that is, but the public who have so far gone along with the risks being taken in this legislation.
Such an inquiry should not be seen as putting the police in the pillory. It is our responsibility that the police have these powers. We vested them with that authority for reasons that appeared right and proper to a majority of hon. Members. There is no question of the police being in the witness box.
We have a right to ask a group of independent people to look at the Act and see whether it has worked as intended. I know of a case in which someone was picked up at a port on his way back from a fairly regular visit to Northern Ireland. He tells me that he was detained for 48 hours and questioned for a total of only 20 or 25 minutes, in two sessions, solely about his trade union and legitimate political activities. The Minister who replied to a similar debate last year said that if I sent him details it would be looked at, but unfortunately a uniformed police officer went to the man's lodgings and his place of work. Naturally his neighbours and workmates were concerned why a constable should be calling on the man and he decided, because of this disturbance, to have nothing to do with that procedure. I regret his decision but his case could be put to the sort of inquiry that I have suggested. That man 1509 feels passionately that his rights were invaded. [Interruption.] It is no good hon. Members shaking their heads. He would have had the police around at his lodgings. None of us minds a copper knocking at his door or calling at the place where he works—
§ Mr. Corbett
—provided that he has a logical reason, because the neighbours would not give him a second look knowing what we do for a living. However, in the case of an engineer and a copper at the factory gate saying "Please may I see Mr. Brown?", that raises suspicions, particularly if the person concerned has an Irish accent. People put two and two together and make five before one can do the arithmetic.
I hope that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will acknowledge that this is an area in which there arises at least the possibility, from the figures of those arrested and detained, and the wide net that the police are allowed to use for fishing, frankly, for anything that they like, that there may have been some occasions on which the police have trawled in waters far distant from terrorism and for purposes that are an interference in basic political rights or legitimate trade union rights. There is a possibility of that. It is something on which many of us want an assurance.
As I have said, I say that in no way wanting to put the police in the dock or under the microscope. We have had this exceptionally repressive piece of legislation for three years now. These powers were described by the Home Secretary at the time as Draconian. It is quite right that after three years of operation of the Act we should take a step back and charge those in whom we can put confidence and respect with trying to satisfy us that the Act has been working in the way in which it was intended to work.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to respond to that and to say that should such an inquiry be set up, at least its recommendations would be published —although we accept that probably not all of the evidence could be published. I hope that he will say that if the inquiry made recommendations he would take those into account if, regrettably—as 1510 seems likely—he had to ask next year for another renewal of the provisions.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. William Craig (Belfast, East)
I can understand those who have spoken from a desire to preserve civil liberties. All hon. Members would like to do that. However, we must also recognise that we have a duty to deal with those who put the civil liberties of the innocent at risk.
While there are aspects of these provisions that I would tend to question, nevertheless I must say to the Home Secretary that in this House we have reason to be grateful for the efficiency of the security forces in Great Britain, as a part of the United Kingdom. I only wish that I could say unreservedly the same thing concerning Northern Ireland. How much of the success in Great Britain depends upon the provisions of the Act is a matter for speculation. Nevertheless, all who have an interest in how to combat terrorism will know that the capacity to interrogate is of paramount importance. The question before us is what cost we are prepared to pay for the right to interrogate suspects.
Terrorism, as we have known it in recent years throughout the United Kingdom, has become the most vicious and heinous of all crimes. Happily, those citizens who live in Great Britain have not experienced the worst of it. I and those hon. Members from Northern Ireland have seen the utmost cruelty perpetrated in the name of a so-called political cause, in which law is not recognised and people take unto themselves the right to pursue their cause outside the law. There is contempt for law, and for all for which law stands.
When one thinks of the innocent women and children, not to mention male adults, or even the security forces doing their duty in preserving law and order, it is very hard to have any sympathy for those who do that sort of thing and cast aside the processes of law.
The main objection that I have to the provisions before us is that I find it rather difficult to accept that a Minister of the Crown, with expert knowledge and reason to believe that he has a suspect involved in terrorism, can exclude a suspect to another part of the United Kingdom and exclude him to a part of the United Kingdom in which people are 1511 less amenable to the law—namely, Northern Ireland. Looking at the operation of the Act, we must question how many killers have been sent by a Minister of the Crown from this part of the United Kingdom to that part which I and my colleagues represent. That is a matter of very grave concern.
I propose to support, for a short time to come, this sort of provision. However, in doing so, I must say that I would expect from the Government a much more realistic effort to defeat those who resort to such cruel terrorism. Our criminal law used to regard as the absolute horror the premeditation of a man who sought to kill by the use of poison. How much more objectionable it is to think of the killer who quite indiscriminately takes an explosive package into a crowded populated area and leaves it to kill whoever might unhappily be there at the time? I can think of no worse crime.
It is the duty of all of us in this House to support the Government, and the forces of law and order, in whatever way we can to defeat those who put themselves outside the law. I am aware of no evidence which indicates that the police or anyone else have used these powers outside their endeavours to contain the action of terrorists. I for one would be the first to rise if I thought that these techniques were being used to deal with ordinary crime. But this is the sort of special crime with regard to which the State must be prepared to take special measures.
I am sure that my colleagues would agree that we tend to be cynical with other hon. Members in this House in their approach to terrorism as it happens in Northern Ireland when compared to the reactions when it happens in other parts of the United Kingdom, namely, Great Britain. All of us can remember the horror and exasperation as a result of the bombs in Birmingham. Most hon. Members of this House would have freely strung those people up to the nearest lamp-post. Yet as the dust settled, and they were removed from the pressure of that sort of horror, they began to afford themselves a luxury that innocent people who are at risk cannot afford.
As we are not under the immediate threat of those who would take our lives, or the lives of those near and dear to 1512 us, I would counsel hon. Members to think deeply. I hope that this part of the Kingdom will be spared the sort of thing that we in Northern Ireland have to go through. I am conscious that unless the Government show the will, and take on to themselves the powers, to deal with this modern crime that has developed in our midst, many innocent people will be at risk.
We can find faults with this legislation. but this is the time to think of those who may suffer. Recently we had the firecracker attack in London from the IRA. What if those had been real bombs, the sort of bombs that explode from time to time in Northern Ireland? We should think of those people who are in no way connected with the political issue, like the business men and others, who die day by day in Northern Ireland. Do we want to help that sort of terrorist organisation on its way? Should not we support the Government in using all the powers that we can to defeat that sort of thing?
Civil liberty is something to be prized. It is something that from time to time has to be defended with the use of force and not by mere platitudes. We are not dealing with criminals who attack the rule of law in the ordinary sense. We are dealing with a tiny minority of people, with no political mandate from any useful quarter, who put themselves outside the law and defy the authority of the State. Let us show some of the ruthless ness that they are prepared to wage against the innocent of our country.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Mikardo (Bethnal Green and Bow)
Hon. Members on both sides of the House have pointed to the key question before us. The key question is not whether we find terrorism abhorrent, because we all do. The description by the right hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Craig) of the horrors that go on in his part of the kingdom moved all of us. But that description, with respect, was not relevant to the judgment which we have to make about the Act. We have to judge the balance of advantage and disadvantage. No one disputes that there are disadvantages in the Act. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made that clear in strong terms. Most political judgments—for that matter, most other judgments—are a 1513 balancing of advantages and disadvantages of different options which are open as courses of action.
The major job of the politician is, in the trite phrase, to get the greatest good for the greatest number, because he cannot get 100 per cent. good for everyone. Therefore, we must ask: what advantages is the community getting out of this Act? What price is it paying for those advantages? Which is the greater? Is the game worth the candle?
The right hon. Member for Belfast, East knows the answer because he has already carried out the inquiry for which some of my hon. Friends and the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) have asked. The right hon. Gentleman has worked it all out and has come to the conclusion that the balance of advantage is that we must have the Act.
I have not had the advantage of access to the information that the right hon. Gentleman has received. No doubt the inquiry, if we have it, will ask him to cough up all the information at his disposal. My guess is that he spoke with his heart, not with his head, and that he knows no more about this matter than the rest of us. Therefore, he is in no better position than any other hon. Member to guide us on the balance of advantage and disadvantage.
Some hon. Members have said that the erosion of civil liberties is a heavy price to pay in a democratic society. There may be circumstances in which it is justified, but it is a heavy price to pay for a number of reasons. One is that seldom in history has the erosion of civil liberties been static. Almost always, when trenching into the principle of the rights of the individual, the temptation to move a little further and a little further still is irresistible. That is why we have the almost laughable situation of defining tax evasion as terrorism. The only terrorist crime committed by some people who have been proceeded against under the Act has been tax evasion. Their only destructive weapon has been a ball point pen or perhaps an india rubber. That shows how easily one can slip down this slippery slope.
Heaven forbid that I should compare my right hon. Friend the Secretary of 1514 State, whom I love, with some of the horrible people in other lands who carry out a similar job to his. But every regime which proceeds against the liberty of the individual does so on the ground that the security of the State demands it. Even the most extreme totalitarian illiberal regimes put forward such pleas. I am not making comparisons, but I am saying that many crimes can be committed not merely in the name of liberty, but in the name of the security of the State.
That is the general point. Let us examine the particular point. What do we mean by the erosion of civil liberty? A couple of thousand people have been arrested. All but a very small proportion have been released as having no guilt whatever. The overwhelming majority of them are completely innocent. They have been arrested and abstracted from their families. The families do not know where they are.
It involves a man who is expected home from a job in Belfast or in Dublin, and his wife and children are expecting him to supper and are waiting to welcome him home. But that man does not come home today, tomorrow or the day after, or even three or four days after that. His family has no way of finding out where he is. The man in question is unable to do anything about the situation. He cannot obtain a lawyer to advise him about his civil rights.
I repeat that a couple of thousand people are involved in this exercise. The overwhelming majority of them are innocent. Only a small proportion are ever charged and—although my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has been good enough to say that he will obtain the figures —only a fraction of that small proportion are ever convicted.
§ Mr. Mikardo
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman thatStone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage".If people are put in a building from which they cannot escape, and are kept there by 1515 force, so far as I am concerned that is a prison, whether or not it has stone walls or iron bars. A couple of thousand people have been detained, robbed of their liberty, against their will, and have proved to be innocent. It has been established that there has been no justification for such action against such people. That surely is a very big price to pay, and we have to weigh whether whatever benefits we have achieved as a result of that exercise justifies that price. But we cannot weigh it because we do not know the benefits.
§ Mr. Bidwell
Is it not a fair bet that action by the anti-minority putting people in Long Kesh, and all the rest of it, in Northern Ireland has been counterproductive and has caused many people to become attracted to the campaign of terrorism as a consequence?
§ Mr. Mikardo
That may be so. I do not speak with any intimate knowledge of events in Northern Ireland. I therefore speak about them with deference, diffidence and humility. I am talking about the general principle of the facts which we know and those which we do not know. I repeat that we do not know what advantage, if any, there is in this interference with civil liberty.
My right hon. Friend is, as we all know, a man of great probity. If he is satisfied that the advantage is worth it, we should all believe him. But that is not the rôle or the tradition of this House. This House exists to check upon the Executive, whoever its members may be and whatever admiration we may have for them. If we do not do that, we might as well not have a Parliament. We might as well just have Ministers and say "They are good chaps. We like and trust them, and they can do as they like." However, I cannot take this.
We have a duty, because each one of us represents about 60,000 or 70,000 people, to satisfy ourselves on the balance of advantage and disadvantage. Evidence has been adduced to suggest that there have been gross defects in the operation of the Act and that it has not worked out as intended. If that is not a case for examination, I do not know what is.
I wish to raise a question that has not been raised so far in the debate, except in an intervention by my hon. Friend the 1516 Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), which I do not think my right hon. Friend effectively answered.
The Act should be called not the Prevention of Terrorism Act but the Prevention of IRA Terrorism Act, because it discriminates between terrorism carried out by the IRA, which is repulsive, and terrorism carried out by other organisations, which is equally repulsive.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough asked why other para-military organisations were not listed in Schedule 1. My right hon. Friend replied that he was concerned about terrorism on the mainland and that the IRA was the only terrorist organisation operating there. That was how he justified the fact that the IRA was the only organisation in the schedule. The Act is not concerned with terrorist organisations operating only on the mainland. It states:The Secretary of State may by order add to Schedule 1 to this Act any organisation that appears to him to be concerned in terrorism occurring in the United Kingdom and connected with Northern Irish affairs".No one here is saying that Northern Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom. Is my right hon. Friend saying that there are no organisations other than the IRA that appear to him to be concerned with terrorism occurring in the United Kingdom? We all know that there may be only one organisation which appears to him to be connected with terrorism in Birmingham or Caterham.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
There is far more Draconian legislation in Northern Ireland under which a variety of organisations are proscribed. The Act has a general heading because of my exclusion powers in the United Kingdom as a whole. There is only one body proscribed in the early part of the Act because, as I explained, there is no problem from other organisations. Some people may say "Not yet". But that does not affect my exclusion rights. During the last three years a small number of members of Protestant para-military organisations have been excluded to Northern Ireland. I should prefer to leave the matter at that general answer.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I take my right hon. Friend's point. The exclusion order Part, Part II, is not concerned with Schedule 1. Therefore, the point I am making does 1517 not apply to Part II, and I do not raise it in connection with Part II. I raise it only in connection with Part I. if it is right that Part I is intended to apply only to terrorism on the mainland, why does not Section 1(3) say so? It could easily have done so, saying "occurring in England, Wales or Scotland" instead of "in the United Kingdom". This will not do.
§ Mr. Flannery
I intervened in my right hon. Friend's speech because, although there have been no terrorist acts by other organisations on this side of the water, many of us, including myself, have been threatened. On advice from the Special Branch, I changed my telephone number, and it has been changed again since. These are realities. The Act should refer to any para-military terrorist organisations, not just one side, because the threats do not come only from one side.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I do not want to detain the House unnecessarily, and therefore I shall not comment on what my hon. Friend has just said.
My right hon. Friend said that he was prepared to consider ways in which there might be an examination of the Act. That is not good enough. The case for examining what value has been gained from the Act in return for its cost demands much more than that. From my point of view it demands, first, that there will be an inquiry. Secondly, to quote the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, the Liberal spokesman, it should be an independent inquiry, carried out by persons who have had no connection with the operation of the Act and no connection with the Home Office or the Northern Ireland Office. Thirdly, enough of its conclusions should be published to enable the House to judge what value has been derived from the Act compared with the cost it has imposed on hundreds of innocent people.
I understand, of course, that one would not want to publish some or perhaps all of the evidence. Some of the conclusions might not be helpful to the main balance-of-argument question. But it is essential to publish enough to enable the House, and hence the country, to judge whether the game has been worth the candle. I have no evidence that the Act has led to 1518 the apprehension of one terrorist who would not otherwise have been apprehended. If there is any hon. Member who possesses such evidence, I shall be grateful for the information, but I am sure that there is not.
The fourth thing I want to hear is not only that the conclusions on the balance of argument will be published, but that they will be taken fully into account in considering the future of the Act, and whether it has a future at all.
If the Home Secretary found it possible to go as far as that I think that some of us might be willing to damp down our feelings on the Act, to the extent of biding our time before expressing our views about it in the Lobby. But anything less than that would be insufficient to achieve that end. I am not just offering a bargain—that would be demeaning both to my right hon. Friend and to me.
I feel deep concern about this subject, but we do not have the information to judge whether that concern is right. If we obtain that information this evening's debate will have been worth while. If not, those who have grave reservations about the Act have no reason for not expressing those reservations in the only way that is open to them.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. John Farr (Harborough)
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) does not seem to think that the order is desirable and is apparently threatening to vote against it, should it appear another time. The hon. Gentleman said that about 2,000 people had been questioned under the order but only a few had been proceeded against. But surely, if the few who were proceeded against would not otherwise have been unearthed, if the hon. Gentleman is sincere in his wish to see terrorism stamped out he must agree that it is worth while to put this Act into effect.
It appears that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow is particularly unfair when he criticises the order for referring only to the Provisional IRA and asks why this is so. Surely the hon. Gentleman does not need to be told by anyone in the House that the Provisional IRA is the only international or national terrorist group that has executed the most 1519 terrible crimes on the mainland of Great Britain as well, and has threatened to continue those crimes. As such, the Provisional IRA should be properly leant upon by the implementation of this order.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I read in my newspapers from time to time about things called secular killings, which I understand refer to cases in which a man is murdered for no other ground than that he goes to a different Church. That strikes me as not merely a crime but a blasphemy. As I understand it, both Catholics and Protestants have been murdered, but I do not believe that the IRA murdered the Catholics.
§ Mr. Farr
I turn now to another aspect of the order. Some of us would like to see, instead of this annual debate, the Government taking action to introduce into the House a Bill to implement the European convention on terrorism. We should like to see this probably within the next 12 months and before the order is next due for renewal. We have a fairly easy timetable now, and a lot of time available.
The European convention on terrorism was signed by Britain earlier this year and was also signed by all the members of the Council of Europe, except for Malta and Ireland. Having signed it, if the Government have every intention of enacting it in this country—we can assume that they have, from what Ministers have said at Question Time—what is to prevent them from introducing a Bill incorporating the convention before this order comes round again for renewal?
If necessary, to the extent that the convention does not embrace the necessary provisions—even though it covers 16 statutes—any Bill could be extended to cover the rather narrow area dealt with by this order. I can see no reason why the House should not be spared the blessing of this annual exchange, which generally occupies only 1½hours, by having on the statute book an Act incorporating the convention on terrorism.
The convention has been signed by all countries except Malta and the Republic of Ireland. Ireland refuses to sign it because, I understand, the convention conflicts with its constitution. But there is no reason why Ireland should not sign 1520 it with a special proviso added to the effect that the convention shall apply except in respect of certain provisions. By putting its national signature to the convention Ireland would demonstrate a certain amount of good will and good faith in tackling what should be an international problem.
I hope that the Government will take steps to introduce the convention at an early date. A possible vehicle for it would be the Criminal Law Bill, which is proceeding through another place and which I understand could be adapted here to include the necessary statutes in the convention. That would have the effect of giving legal force to the convention at an early date.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) has spoken strongly and with authority on the role of the police and the very difficult and delicate task that they do so well. Both sides of the House will commend them for their fortitude. However, there is another equally difficult but probably far more delicate task, which is never referred to in this House. I refer to the work of the prison officers in the seven dispersal prisons in Britain. They have to assimilate the terrorists with the ordinary civilian prison population.
This is one of the most difficult jobs that one could imagine. It must be appreciated how difficult it is to assimilate with the ordinary prison population a number of terrorists who do not accept that they are not regarded as political prisoners and who refuse to join in with the normal prison routine. It is as well that we should remember the prison officers when we discuss this order every year.
My last request is one that I expect the Minister to reject. Will the Government make a noble attempt to define terrorism as a crime, possibly in the Criminal Law Bill? It is a difficult definition to frame.
Although I deplore the necessity for the continuance of the order, I shall help as best I can to speed it on its way.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)
With the experience that he gained in Northern Ireland, the Home Secretary will be all too aware of the great emotions that can be aroused in debating this legislation—both in Britain and in Northern 1521 Ireland. He will also be aware of the very strong reservations that were voiced by many Labour Members when the Bill was orginally enacted, and again on every subsequent renewal. I have heard many contradictory arguments advanced this evening, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will clarify the position.
I fully support the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo). If there is to be legislation of this kind—and I hope to have the opportunity to vote against it tonight—it should not be so selective against the IRA. When the original Bill came to Parliament I moved an amendment providing that other organisations such as the UVF, the UFF and the Red Hand Commandos also should be proscribed organisations. My right hon. Friend has said that the IRA in the main is involved in the violence in Britain.
Let us not forget that there have been occasions when the UVF and the UVA have been involved in acts of terrorism in this country. There was the case of the bar in Kilburn being blown up by members of the UVF who were flown from Glasgow especially. We should also remember that arms, ammunition and explosives have been found under the control of Loyalist para-military organisations in Britain. Then there was the appearance of a UVA leader on Scottish television when he said that his organisation was engaged in making a lot of parts that could be assembled into machine guns and sent to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom and the so-called Loyalist organisations should be proscribed as long as they are engaged in such terrorist activity.
The Home Secretary said that Section 11 of the Act made it an offence not to disclose information to the police if one was aware of someone being engaged in terrorist activities. I would be very surprised if any prosecutions ever took place in any court in Britain or Northern Ireland under Section 11. My right hon. Friend's experience in Northern Ireland must have made him aware that thousands upon thousands of people in Northern Ireland who are aware of terrorist activities do not give information and 1522 they cannot be prosecuted under Section 11.
On the exclusion order process, could my right hon. Friend tell us whether people who have been excluded from Great Britain to Northern Ireland have been subsequently bought before the courts and convicted of terrorist offences? Does he not think that it is at least an infringement of one's liberties to be excluded from Britain and sent to Northern Ireland where the police have been made aware of the exclusion order? This must create a suspicion in the minds of the police that that person will engage in terrorist activities in Northern Ireland.
I shall refer to a specific case. I believe that the figures we have had tonight on detention indicate that there are at least some policemen in Britain who are allowing their anti-Irish prejudices to run riot when they detain people under the provisions of this Act. I refer specifically to Liverpool, because an analysis of the figures would show that more people have been arrested and detained entering or leaving Liverpool than anywhere else. I should not be surprised if there were Orange and Green elements in Liverpool, in view of its history.
A friend of mine from Belfast arrived in Liverpool on 2nd December last year on his way to Coventry to attend the wedding of a relative who had lived there for many years. He was detained at Liverpool by the Special Branch. An officer, when told that he lived in Andersonstown, said that he suspected him of being an IRA man. He did not detain him, but he said something much more dangerous—that he did not like my friend because he lived in Andersonstown and advised him to get a plane out of Liverpool that night. He said, "If you do not get back to Belfast tonight, I will have you detained for seven days".
I do not think that that police officer had authority to do that. If police officers act in such a prejudiced way, they should be relieved of their duties.
§ Mr. Powell
Did the hon. Member take any action on that matter? It is clearly something on which action should have been taken.
§ Mr. Fitt
I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that I would be prepared to go to Liverpool with the person whom 1523 I have mentioned and identify the policeman concerned. I have strong suspicions that it is the same policeman with whom I had dealings at Liverpool one evening. Some of my hon. Friends and I were travelling home from this House and the plane could not land at Aldergrove but was diverted to Liverpool because of bad weather. As I was about to board the boat, I was apprehended by the same Special Branch officer. He knew very well who 1 was, but he insisted that I had to show him some means of identification. As soon as I began to do so, he told me to go ahead. [Laughter.] I must tell my right hon. Friend that I do not think that that is funny. I believe that that officer was exceeding his duties. If he was trying to be smart at the expense of a Member of Parliament, one can imagine how he would act against other people going to and from Northern Ireland.
I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will take up this matter. If I identify that constable, will he take action against him?
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
As I understand this matter, I think that there is more to the story than my hon. Friend has told the House. There are existing complaints procedures, let alone the new ones. Complaints have to be made to the chief constable. My hon. Friend has only to write to him and the process will be started immediately.
§ Mr. Fitt
On the question of detention, I should like to put forward a purely hypothetical case. Let us suppose that someone going to or from Belfast is detained for two days, that nothing is found against him and he is released. Three months later, he goes back to Liverpool and is stopped by the Special Branch and asked for his name and address and whether he has ever been detained there before. He has to say that, three months before, he was detained. It is highly likely that this time he will be detained for four days.
Every Friday evening in Liverpool, someone from Northern Ireland is detained until Monday morning because the detectives have the weekend off. My right hon. Friend can check that with the Northern Ireland Office, with which I am in touch every weekend trying to get people released.
1524 I agree with what has been said by my hon. Friends. The necessity for this legislation is not immediately apparent to me. There are adequate laws throughout the United Kingdom that would enable the police forces to apprehend those guilty of terrorism. The debate on the Act is not another denunciation of terrorism. We are all opposed to terrorism and none more so than myself. I have lived with terrorism every day over the past few years. This legislation will do nothing to prevent it while at the same time it leads to a serious erosion of liberty throughout the United Kingdom.
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)
It was the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) who said that he hoped the public would not think that those who spoke against the order were in favour of the IRA. I hope that no Labour Members will think that because my hon. Friends and I support the Home Secretary in seeking to renew this order we wear our respect for civil liberties lightly. The fact is that those whom we represent would never understand it if tonight the order were not to go through.
We have been through the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act at some length in Committee and on the Floor of the House. It is clearly the will of the people that the Act should remain on the statute book and in operation for at least another year.
I seek to delay the House only long enough to raise one matter with the Home Secretary. Is he satisfied that every loophole has been closed and that nothing more need be done, or can be done, to stop any more terrorists coming into this country? A short while ago the IRA announced that it is proposing to step up its activity in this country. That raises again a question that has been advanced on previous occasions—namely, whether we should have identification cards for travellers coming into this country from Ireland. My hon. Friends and I felt that there was a strong argument for identification cards and that the argument against them was rather weak.
The point was well made by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), who said that the method of identifying anyone coming into the country is at best haphazard. Some 1525 people come in and show their passport by way of identification. Some come in with travel documents that may be valid or may be forged while others come in and show their driving licences, which do not have a photograph and which cannot convincingly demonstrate to the authorities that the person in possession of the licence is the person set out in it.
At some airports there are travel questionnaires and it is not immediately clear whether it is obligatory to serve them or obligatory to answer them. It is not clear under what authority the obligation, if it is that, is undertaken. I hope that the Home Secretary will clarify these matters.
As a result of the doubt in this area my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) introduced an amendment to the Bill. The Home Secretary's predecessor opposed it. That was not because of money as that would not have deterred him. The right hon. Gentleman did not oppose it because of administrative difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman said "No" because he said the police considered it to be a considerable disadvantage. It was said that the police preferred the haphazard method of people coming into the country and passing before the immigration or police authorities. Some of us found it difficult to understand that approach because it would be an argument for not having passports when coming into Britain from foreign countries.
The right hon. Gentleman said that it would make no significant difference in the fight against terrorism. At least, that was the view of the police. However, if only one terrorist who might otherwise have threatened or taken a life, or seriously injured someone, is deterred out of the many that otherwise might or might not come in, that is a significant contribution.
The right hon. Gentleman told us that the police were saying "No identification cards". On 28th January 1976 the Home Secretary said:They not only say that they do not want it; there is a hint that they think that it would be positively deleterious.They believe that a control which is designed to identify terrorists should concentrate principally on examining and assessing the travellers themselves rather than relying entirely on the 1526 documents they carry. Although it may seem paradoxical,—there even the Home Secretary seems to have hesitated for a moment while reciting his brief. He went on—they see certain positive advantages in there being a variety of documents, which enable them in certain cases to engage in conversations with travellers as to why they are carrying particular documents. This may lead to some more useful information than going through the routine passport check as is done in other cases. That is the essential difference.That was ignoring the fact that any immigration officer can engage somebody coming through Customs in conversation and does not have to converse just about the document that he is carrying. That explanation caused the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) to ask this question of the Home Secretary:In that case, why is it thought desirable to use at certain airports in the London area immigration cards to be completed by travellers from Northern Ireland?In other words, why have cards at all, if that were a valid argument? The Home Secretary replied:A variety of methods is used, but they are not subject to the normal checks through immigration officials. There is a difference in the relationship of the police and immigration officials to movement, whether between Northern Ireland and Great Britain or between the Republic and Great Britain."—[Official Report, 28th January 1976; Vol. 903, c. 569–70.]The former Home Secretary is not normally as slow as that to grasp the implications of the question in order to answer it directly, and that answer was not an answer to that question. It was a deflection to another point that he was merely reiterating. Frankly, one concluded that the explanation was not convincing, and many of my right hon. and hon. Friends thought that the Home Secretary's opposition to identification cards was the expression of a view held by the police which just did not make a great deal of sense.
If the true reason was that the police thought that identification cards would mean there would have to be more police and that more police officers might have to be trained, recruited and paid, then, with the greatest of respect to the Government and to the police whose views they represent, that is not an explanation that would have weighed with, I suspect, the majority of those that I represent. A 1527 reasonable expenditure of money and resources ought not to be, as the Home Secretary then conceded, a reason for going soft in any way on terrorism.
I ask what has happened in the past 12 months to the Government's thinking on identification cards. Have they raised the matter again and have police officers reconsidered and looked at it in the light of the increase in recruiting? Are there any better reasons now than were then advanced in objecting to identification cards?
In pressing those questions upon the Home Secretary, I do so with great respect, understanding the problems that he and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland face. I accept the importance of the view of the police. I think that it is worth pressing this point even though it was conclusively and firmly rejected last time. I remember when we originally asked for the IRA to be proscribed that the argument was strongly advanced by the police that it would make their task more difficult. Administrative and monetary reasons were not enough. It was said that it would be deleterious because it would drive such organisations underground. The House will recall that argument. But in due course the police reconsidered the matter and so did the Government and there was proscription of the IRA.
I ask that this matter be likewise reconsidered and I ask for a specific answer to these questions.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Litterick (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
We are not discussing whether we approve or disapprove of the use of violence in settlement of political issues; we are here to decide whether we can justify the arrest and detention of 2,443 people, almost all of whom have not been charged, and the deportation of 58 people, without charge, trial or any normal process of adjudication that anyone here would recognise, in order to arrive at an unknown number of convictions. The Home Secretary was unable to tell us how many, if any, individuals have been convicted within the terms of this legislation.
Thus, there is one obvious sense in which we clearly do not know what we are talking about—nor does the Home 1528 Secretary. He was sensible enough to concede that in these terms he was unable to justify this allegedly temporary piece of legislation. All this prompts me to ask "How long is temporary?" and to remind the House that the first income tax law was temporary—and that was passed in 1812. Clearly, "temporary" is meaningless, as other hon. Members have indicated in their own ways.
As a Birmingham Member, I am, more than most, painfully aware of the fact that the Act was hurried through and can be seen reasonably as a political fig leaf. As was said at the time by several hon. Members, and particularly by the Press, the State had to be seen to be doing something, however fatuous and ineffective it might be.
It therefore produced this Act, which, as the Home Secretary readily concedes, damages the liberties of my constituents and every other hon. Member's constituents. Having said that it damages our liberties and that he cannot prove its effectiveness, the Home Secretary goes on to ask us to renew it and, by way of apology, makes a half-hearted gesture and suggests that if we feel strongly about the matter he might get a couple of prestigious people to look into the way the Act works. I do not know what that means, but I have seen the use of prestigious people as fig leaves for ugly things, and Ireland has been the setting for a number of such exercises.
The form of words used by the Home Secretary did not reassure me. The number of charges brought works out at 100 detentions per charge within the terms of the Act. That is a pretty extravagant way of bringing charges against people and we must assume that when we finally get information about the number of convictions, the extravagance will be even more obvious. It is likely that we shall be talking about more than 200 people being arrested, terrified by the police and held in prison without access to lawyers in order to get the conviction of one person of an offence under the Act—and that, as we know, need not necessarily be for one of the most horrendous offences of killing people by explosions, and so on.
My experience of the Act comes through the experiences of my constituents as they bring them to me. They tell 1529 me what happens to them because they are Irish, because they have Irish names, because they have Irish associations or Irish friends, or because they drink in a pub or a club that is known to be a place in which Irishmen congregate, and so on. The stories that they tell are not pretty. The experiences that they have had are far from pretty. I am talking about the experiences of innocent people.
The House should try to use its imagination—and, incidentally, its common sense. We are not talking simply about 2,433 people who have been bundled by the police; we are also talking about their relatives. When 12 people come through someone's door, back or front, there is mostly a wife inside the house, who is terrified to see her husband seized and taken away. There are children who are also terrified to see their father taken away by about 12 or 14 policemen. They always come in droves, with fleets of cars in the street.
Furthermore, however innocent the person so arrested may be, the consequences are visited upon wives and upon children. At school, children are harried, bullied, beaten and called the foulest obscene names imaginable, because their fathers have been taken away by a dozen policemen for some unexplained reason, and held. A wife may find herself excluded from her normal society because the appearance of people in official uniforms in this open way persuades the majority of men and women that there must be something wrong with the person who is the object of such highly organised official attention. Those informal sanctions, beyond the Home Secretary's intentions, are visited upon far more than the 2,433 so detained.
We should remember, too, that many people so detained lose their jobs because they have been detained. Innocent people are penalised. I insist on their innocence, because no charge is brought against the vast majority of those 2,433 people. But they may lose their jobs, nevertheless, because what gets around is that they have been bundled by the cops, dragged in, fingerprinted and photographed, and that, therefore, there must be something wrong with them, so they get fired.
Therefore, without any offences against the law, penalties are inflicted upon 1530 people because of this panic-stricken piece of legislation.
§ Mr. William Whitelaw (Penrith and The Border)
The hon. Gentleman has made a very important assertion. He has said that people are losing their jobs because of detention under the Act.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
Has the hon. Gentleman any evidence to support that assertion? Can he actually say that he knows of any case in which that has happened? This is very important. He makes a general assertion, but the House ought to know specifically what evidence he has of particular cases.
§ Mr. Litterick
I have had the evidence of two people who have come to me to explain how they lost their jobs following their detention for a few days. There was no explanation. Their jobs were filled in their absence. The right hon. Gentleman should remember, too, that there is another effect of this sort of thing. It is not simply the immediate terror of being descended upon in one's own home by a large number of policemen; it is what goes on in the person's mind afterwards, and how his neighbours see him thereafter. He is no longer the same person. Incidentally, society is no longer the same. I have had vivid evidence of that. Society no longer looks the same to someone who has had that experience, and the institutions of law enforcement no longer seem the same to such a person.
Only on Monday I was obliged to come here and describe a specific event. The House should pay some attention to the fact that the individual I described on Monday was assaulted by the police not under the powers conferred upon them by the Act that we are discussing but under another piece of legislation. Nevertheless, they assaulted him and they knew that he was an Irishman. Ulster Unionist Members should pay attention to the fact that the man was an Ulsterman, and that he was British born and bred, from Belfast, but so far as these policemen were concerned he was Irish. I shall not repeat the obscenities. I gave examples of them on Monday. But he was an Irishman and was regarded by the police literally in racist terms.
That, of course, justifies in the mind of that kind of police officer maltreating 1531 a human being. The police convince themselves that the individual is less than human and can be kicked around in prison, the "nick", the cell, or wherever he is held, so long as there is no one else present but policemen. That is what happened to John Joseph Girvan in Kings Heath last week.
The police often feel good about it because they are doing it to an Irishman. It is a hideous fact that since the passage of this Act events have amplified the problem of the respect with which the public holds the police. Large numbers of people have first-hand evidence, and the evidence of their associates, of how the police behave in certain circumstances. That inflicts severe damage on those institutions that everyone in this House cherishes. We rely on the law and the ability to enforce the law, and that means the police. If the police are then held in disrespect, because of the acts that they have committed, one leg of the support structure is severely endangered and weakened.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
My hon. Friend has serious allegations about this case and I have called for a report on it. I wonder whether I can give him the facts now rather than later. Mr. Girvan was arrested in connection with a hoax telephone call about a bomb. The facts of the case are being considered by senior officers. As my hon. Friend has fairly said. Mr. Girvan was not detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. No complaint has been made. There has been a great deal of publicity, although no one has made a protest, except at a distance, and the police feel that it is most important that Mr. Girvan should be interviewed. I hope that my hon. Friend will go to the police and make his claim on this case and the wider aspects. At the moment what is happening is that we are reading about it in the newspaper but nothing is being done about it in practice.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Meyer Galpern)
In view of the fact that it has just been disclosed that this case does not arise under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. it hardly comes within the ambit of the discussion and debate that we are having.
§ Mr. Litterick
I thank you for that piece of guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Home Secretary is a victim of a police hoax. The man was harassed by the police after being released. I was obliged to visit the police myself to establish what was going on. The police were obliged to lie to me in order to cover the facts. The man has been harassed, in the sense that he has been refused admission to all the pubs in the district. The police deny that they had anything to do with it but claim that he was banned from these pubs because he was found drunk and disorderly a month ago.
The man had never been refused a drink in any pub until the day after he was arrested by the police. In fact, he had arranged his wedding reception on the Wednesday of the week on which he was arrested in the very pub from which on the next evening he was excluded. The man is being harassed by the police and needs my protection, and I have given it to him by publicising this case. By the way, the Home Secretary will hear a lot more of this case.
The police now find it easier to take advantage of people than they did before this Act was first enacted. That is bad for society in general. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has failed in his own terms and is incapable of providing convincing proof that this Act helps society combat terrorism. He admits that a severe cost has been inflicted on society, and he is prepared to concede that perhaps the Act should be investigated. In my opinion, it ought to be abrogated, and abrogated forthwith.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Stan Thorne (Preston, South)
Hon. Members on both sides of the House have indicated their opposition to terrorism from whichever source it emanates and has emanated over recent years. Indeed, many Labour Members, if they had any way of getting a message to the IRA, the UVF and others who have been involved in terrorism, would simply say, "Put away the bombs and the guns and get down to a political solution of the Northern Ireland issue." Unhappily, we have little opportunity of getting that message over.
In the context of the renewal of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, it may be argued that the 1533 situation in Northern Ireland is not directly relevant. However, it inevitably forms a back-cloth to the debate.
It is unfortunate that we should still be looking for a change of attitude on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite who represent the Unionist conglomerate regarding the basic causes of the problems in Northern Ireland. I refer specifically to their failure to reach any agreement on power-sharing, to accept the necessity for civil rights for minorities in the Province, and to indicate the need for all groups to work together on the basis of democracy. That situation tends to bedevil the problem facing us now.
The Home Secretary, who has considerable experience of the situation in Northern Ireland, is apparently still convinced that the deportation of over 100 people and the harassment of about 2,500 Irish people in this country, of whom fewer than 5 per cent. were charged, in some way contributes to the lessening of terrorism in the United Kingdom.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) devastatingly blew that argument sky high. There is not a jot of evidence forthcoming, nor was any presented at the beginning of the debate, which in any way establishes that the Act, originally brought in for a temporary period of six months, has in any way contributed to the lessening of terrorism. However, arising from the harassment of Irish people in Birmingham, Liverpool and elsewhere, it has contributed to a hardening of attitude regarding co-operation with the police. When the previous Home Secretary presented the then Bill to the House, one of the arguments put to him was that if the police were given the powers proposed, it would be at the expense of community co-operation.
The National Council for Civil Liberties has done a tremendous service in producing this report on the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Acts of 1974 and 1976. It has taken that course, and indeed is the only organisation that has carried out a systematic job of monitoring the legislation.
I view with scepticism the suggestion that there should be an inquiry, since such an exercise would produce little more than has already been produced by 1534 the NCCL in its report. If the Home Secretary had any firm evidence that contradicted even one paragraph of the report, I suspect that we would have heard about it earlier in the debate.
The council has set out in its report some case histories. I have a couple of cases with which I should like to deal briefly, and I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to say that they are not true. I refer to the case of Joe Gallagher, a member of the Bletchley Trades Council, a shop steward for UCATT. He was held under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, he and his family were harassed by the police and he was served with an exclusion order. There has been no difficulty in tracing that man, and through the support of his trade union, the trades council and his local Member of Parliament, he was released after a period of a fortnight. Although no charges were preferred against him, he still had to pay £300 in legal costs. Since that incident he has found it impossible to obtain employment.
I wish to mention another case, involving Louise Cunningham, aged only 12. It is reported that while her parents were held under the Act, she was lifted from her school and interrogated until late in the evening. She was eventually released to stay with relatives, but on the following day the Special Branch attempted to pick her up from school again and were prevented from doing so only by a teacher in the school. If those allegations are true, they are serious matters which should be answered by the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. Thorne
I said "If"—I did not say that they were. The Act gives extensive powers to the police and no proof exists to show that those powers have in any way restricted terrorism in the United Kingdom. It is not difficult for associates of the Provisional IRA to be traced by the police and to be excluded. In many cases people are excluded having had no opportunity to see the evidence upon that which the exclusion is decided.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that there were some figures that he did not possess in regard to the numbers of people convicted and charged. 1535 It is significant that my right hon. Friend should come to this House and should seek to obtain our agreement to extend the Act without being able to give figures that are crucial in determining our attitude about the effectiveness of the Act.
It has also been implied that the police would not be able to winkle out the terrorists without the benefit of this Act. There is a straight question that arises from the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for l3ethnal Green and Bow. Why is it not possible for the police, in exercising their normal powers, to do the job which the Home Secretary claims that this Act has achieved? Seeking information by detention, by questioning families, children and friends and by the detention of innocent people is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow pointed out, the price we pay for the Act.
The question still remains, "Is the price justified by the results already obtained, or to be obtained, from the working of the Act?" My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has not convinced me that the Act has succeeded, or that we are justified in renewing it. It is clear that the harassment of Irish people living as decent citizens in Great Britain is so serious that it ought to be curtailed.
I do not seek to give any comfort to anyone who wants to terrorise innocent people for political ends, because terrorism is morally and completely unacceptable. However, I think that in the interests of innocent people the Act should not be renewed. I firmly believe—and I think that the Home Secretary knows this to be true—that the guilty can be found by ordinary police methods. On that basis we must consider whether the Act should be renewed. I hope that the House will not proceed along those lines.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Stockport, North)
While I question the need to renew the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, I want to make it plain that I am as much opposed to terrorism as is any other hon. Member. It is my opposition to terrorism and my belief that civil rights are important that make me question the need to renew the Act. If we are not careful, by eroding civil rights even more we shall begin to produce a State terrorism. That makes me feel strongly that we 1536 should question the renewal of the Act now and work hard to remove it from the statute book.
The question that we have to ask is whether a series of small wrongs perpetrated under this Act can make a right. Can evil produce good? Can restricting the freedom of some people who have not committed crimes increase the freedom of other people? I am clear that the Act was a reaction to the horror of the pub bombings in Birmingham. The Goverment had to be seen to be doing something to prevent reprisals against the Irish community in Great Britain, and in the face of overwhelming demands for the return of capital punishment. If either of these two things had happened, I believe that they would have given the terrorists fantastically big levers to use to disrupt society.
I accept that in December 1974 there were arguments for introducing this sort of measure. But it was clearly cosmetic and was not, in practice, even necessary. Perhaps because of luck or perhaps because of first-class police work, the Government were able to show that they were doing something quickly after the bombings. They have continued to show, again because of good police work, that they have been successful in dealing with the terrorists in Great Britain in the last few months. I do not believe that this success owes anything to the Act. It is because of the effectiveness of the police and the abhorrence of terrorism felt by the vast majority of people in Great Britain and their willingness to help combat it.
The real effect of the Act is to reduce that willingness to help the police. There is growing evidence that the Act is counter-productive, that it leaves some people feeling that injustice to them and their friends is being perpetrated. Because of that feeling, they become less and less willing to co-operate in the stamping-out of terrorism.
Many people have referred to the figures showing the numbers affected by the Act. One of the most disturbing aspects is the number of people detained at ports of entry. Many have come for relatively short visits, to see a football match or to attend a meeting, a family wedding or a funeral. The short period of detention makes their whole visit pointless, so those are particularly mean 1537 detentions, which irk people and make them resent the State and the system.
People detained in that way often have no opportunity of informing friends and relatives who are waiting to meet them. Anyone who has hung around a railway station waiting for somebody who does not arrive knows the anger and frustration caused, so detention at the ports must be carried out very carefully. In view of the numbers listed in the statistics, I am not convinced that it is done with the care and concern that there should be for the effect on those involved and their relatives.
I am also concerned about the fact that sometimes people appear to be detained because they give a smart answer to the police or because of their appearance. They can be detained and, in effect, punished for something that perhaps they should not have done but that they did on the spur of the moment, without any judicial process. A couple of hours' detention for someone who has come to watch a football match or address a meeting is effective punishment, and it is completely wrong.
The Home Secretary told us that he was trying to obtain the details of convictions rather than the number who had been charged. That is very important in trying to evaluate how well the Act is working. However, we need to know not only the number of convictions resulting from people being detained under the Act but how many of those convictions would not have occurred but for the working of the Act.
When we look down the list of charges we see some odd ones, such as the person charged with drunken driving who apparently looked more like a terrorist than a drunken driver and so was arrested under the provisions of the Act. It would be better to have a list of those who were convicted as a result of being arrested under the Act and who would not otherwise have been convicted. It may be difficult to produce those figures, but they would give a true guide to whether the Act has been effective.
I turn to the question of the exclusion order. For people who move from place to place there may be some grounds for using the exclusion order, but its use is 1538 puzzling for a person who has a family and a home and a job and is known to have fixed habits in a particular town. It is difficult to see how we improve everybody's safety by sending him where he is unlikely to have a home and unlikely to obtain a job. It is much easier to keep an eye on someone in a known place where he has known and fixed habits than someone who is turfed out and sent to a place where there are unlikely to be those benefits.
There is a strong case for reducing the period of renewal from 12 months to six months. My right hon. Friend said that that would be difficult, because it would mean renewal in March and September. I understand that it would be possible for the renewal order to be debated at least a month before the renewal, so we could have half-yearly debates in January and July.
I would have thought that it was well worth having the Act renewed every six months. This is such a serious matter that it is worth monitoring the situation for at least one and a half hours twice a year. Another argument in favour of this is that it would increase the chances of finding the right moment to decide not to renew the Act. It is always possible, if a small incident occurs after a long period during which there seems to be no need to renew the Act, that this small incident will colour people's views. If we had two opportunities each year it would be a welcome advance.
The most important thing would be an inquiry into the way the Act works. The inquiry is important, because many allegations have been made tonight and there are many more contained in evidence collected by the National Council for Civil Liberties, and because many trade unions are extremely disturbed about the working of the Act.
An inquiry would bring out and verify much of the criticism that has been made and make it very much easier for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary if he concluded that he could dispense with the Act. He would then be able to point out that an official inquiry had shown that there was no need for the Act to continue.
There is a strong case for setting up an inquiry now and making its findings available before we have to renew the 1539 Act again. The inquiry ought particularly to look at the holding of people in detention, especially at ports, and the general power to hold people. It has been suggested to me that while they are being held in detention many people feel that the attitude is "Talk or stay in". That may be a possible form of blackmail if someone has something that he can talk about to the police, but it is frightening for someone who knows nothing that could be of use to the police if he is told "Either you talk or you will be kept in for a longer period while we make inquiries." The inquiry should consider how far people feel they are being got at and detained because they are not prepared to talk.
The inquiry should also consider the questions that are asked of people held in detention. Many people clearly feel that the questioning is irrelevant to terrorism but is concerned with their political and trade union beliefs. I realise that it is difficult for those who are doing the questioning. They have to think of something to ask people to find out all sorts of information, but it is disturbing that while people are being detained and interrogated they feel that it is their political beliefs and their trade union activities that are being questioned. It leaves them feeling unhappy about the State and its activities. This is another matter that the inquiry should look into.
Some people feel that they are being harassed and stopped because they have long hair, or because the police do not like them. There may be no basis for the allegation, but it is something that people say repeatedly, and an inquiry could establish whether the allegations are true.
One of the most important matters that an inquiry should look into is that of the Judges' Rules. It was suggested earlier—and I think it was a strong point —that because the Act contains strong powers to detain people it is particularly important that the Judges' Rules are applied here. An inquiry into the use of or the specific failure to observe the Judges' Rules would be extremely important.
§ Mr. McNamara
We must try to clear up this question about the Judges' Rules. The Judges' Rules now apply to 1540 detention for 48 hours and the impeding of proper inquiries. The whole point is that the Judges' Rules themselves need re-examination, because of the possible extra five-day period. The point is not that the Judges' Rules should not be used but that there should be fresh rules to allow access to a solicitor within that time.
§ Mr. Bennett
I accept that the Judges' Rules could well be strengthened because of the extra period of time, but we should be examining whether the Judges' Rules are applied in those cases up to 48 hours, because there is a lot of evidence that they are not. It is particularly important to allow access to solicitors and the right to let relatives know where someone is. One of the most frightening aspects of a totalitarian State is that there may be a knock on the door and someone disappears. No one is suggesting that in this country they could disappear for long, but to worried relatives 24 hours, 48 hours or a week is a long time, and that will cause a great deal of worry and anxiety.
There seems no good reason why people cannot be allowed to tell relatives where they are, thus at least allaying this anxiety. This is one of the most important subjects that an inquiry could look into.
One other matter that an inquiry could consider is the regional variation of treatment. This is a difficult point, because it may be that regional variations simply reflect the variations in the activities of terrorists in different parts of the country. However, I think that they reflect far more the police attitude to the legislation. In many areas the police do not use the powers which exist under this legislation. They believe that the powers under normal legislation are sufficient to enable them to carry out questioning and other duties. This is another matter that could be looked at by the inquiry.
I feel strongly that having voted twice against the renewal of this order it would be worth while doing it again only if we failed to gain a Government commitment to an inquiry. I would very much welcome an indication from my right hon. Friend, when he replies to the debate, that he will carry out the inquiry, thus meeting many of my points and those made by my hon. Friend the Member 1541 for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo).
If my right hon. Friend cannot give such an indication he will leave many of 1542 us on the Labour Benches with no alter-native but once more to put our names on the record as opposing the renewal of this legislation. We should then have give to continue our campaign to get this legislation removed from the statute book.
§ 10.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Ron Thomas (Bristol, North-West)
I was very pleased to hear my right hon. Friend make it absolutely clear, as has every one of my hon. Friends, how all of us in this House are completely opposed to acts of terrorism. None of us wants to say or do anything which would give any comfort to those who commit these mindless acts of terrorism, from whatever part of the religious or political spectrum they may come, whether in Northern Ireland or anywhere else.
Tonight the onus was on my right hon. Friend to show to those of us who are concerned about this legislation how the Act contributed in any way to lessening terrorism in Northern Ireland or the rest of the United Kingdom. Frankly I do not think that he has given us any indication of the contribution of this legislation to that end.
We have heard about the 2,500 people who have been arrested. I stress the point by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) that this is a most traumatic experience. It is interesting how the police on these occasions seem to be able to get together goodness knows how many vehicles, men and dogs. It is a traumatic experience, not just for the individual but for his family. All the neighbours are soon involved. This approach has a bad effect on Anglo-Irish relationships.
I, too, know a case of an individual who insisted that he was sacked because he was detained by the police. It is not much fun having to tell one's employer that one's absence from work for a week was because of detention by the police on suspicion of terrorist acts. We cannot be so naïve as to believe that that would have no effect on a person's job and career prospects. It may be shown—indeed in most cases it is—that he is completely innocent.
It is not just a question of balancing the erosion of civil liberties against acts of terrorism. The onus is on the Home Secretary to show how the Act has contributed to the lessening of terrorism, and I do not think that he has done that. The more civil liberties are eroded in Britain, the more we are playing into the hand of the IRA. An erosion of liberty is exactly what it wants.
1544 I shall relate the procedure for exclusion orders to two cases in Bristol. One concerns a man named Danny Ryan, who is an active trade unionist in the Bristol area and has been for many years. The other concerns an individual who is one of my constituents. Section 7 (3) talks about making representations in writing to the Secretary of State setting out the grounds for an individual's objection to an exclusion order. It also says that these representations may include a request for an interview with a person nominated by the Secretary of State. The Home Secretary has said that anyone faced with an exclusion order can have a legal adviser to frame representations. This question has been given considerable emphasis, but what good is a legal adviser if there is no indication whatever of the evidence against the person who is the subject of the exclusion order? It is a complete waste of time and money.
In both the cases to which I have referred the individuals had legal representations. In fact, they got quite a good solicitor to defend them. That solicitor kept telephoning me at the House of Commons asking me to contact the then Home Secretary—he has now left for a better paid job in Brussels—to give him some indication of the evidence against the individuals. That request was refused.
When the person nominated by the Home Secretary met Danny Ryan he told him that he know nothing whatsoever about the evidence against him. What was Danny Ryan, or his legal adviser, supposed to do then? Were they supposed to throw random questions into the air or make random statements in the hope that these might have some impact on the person nominated by the Home Secretary? If the nominated person has any indication of the evidence he will not give that indication to the individual concerned. So what does the individual do? Does he throw out random questions and hope that a change of attitude or a glint in the eye of the nominated person will give him an indication that he has got to the point and that he should pursue it in some depth?
It disappointed me that when Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball were faced with the same kind of procedure under which the Secretary of State, or three wise men, or 1545 someone, made a decision to deport them, they were given no indication of the evidence against them. We had a considerable number of national newspapers, the media and hon. Members raising all hell about this. We have the same kind of procedure under the prevention of terrorism legislation, so I hope that hon. Members who continue to raise the question of Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball will make the same kind of protest about this legislation this evening.
We have a situation where an individual who is subjected to an exclusion order is given no idea of the evidence against him and nor is his solicitor. His family are given no indication of the evidence and his Member of Parliament cannot discover it from the Home Office.
The people served with exclusion orders are sent to Northern Ireland and let go. They are supposedly involved in acts of terrorism, yet, after the traumatic experience of their homes being broken up and of losing their jobs and families going on social security, in Northern Ireland they are set free.
I understand that a seaman in Southampton was about to have an exclusion order made against him until it was pointed out that Section 4(3) of the Act raised the question whether, since he was a seaman with an address in Southampton, he had been resident in Great Britain for more than 20 years. The Secretary of State presumably had evidence that he was involved in acts of terrorism and was about to proceed against him when someone said, "Hold your foot up a minute. This section says that if he has been here more than 20 years we cannot proceed against him." So they let him go. What a nonsense that is.
I know what has happened to Danny Ryan and Brendan Pheenan, the two constituents I mentioned. They are walking around in Northern Ireland—out of work, the last I heard. They were members of Clann na Eireann. A fair number of the members of Clann na Eireann have been picked up in this country. If the Home Secretary thinks that that organisation is connected with the IRA, I should be grateful if he would say so. I would hate any of my young constituents to join what is to all intents and pur- 1546 poses a perfectly proper organisation only to be picked up in the dead of night and sent away.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) mentioned information. Another doubtful provision in the Act, Section 10(2), says:If any person gives, lends or otherwise makes available to any other person, whether for consideration or not, any money or other property, knowing or suspecting that the money or other property will or may be applied or used for or in connection with the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism to which this section applies, he shall be guilty of an offence.Therefore, presumably someone could he arrested for not having acted on a suspicion. We have all been to political meetings and been inundated with collections and pamphlets and so on. Unless we suspect every time that the money may by devious ways be used for acts of terrorism, we could be guilty of an offence.
Both my right hon. Friend and his predecessor have admitted that this legislation is based on executive, not judicial, orders. In every dictatorship in the world where people are excluded or put in prison—whether Uganda, the Soviet Union or Chile—someone says that an executive order is made necessary by the security of the State. We on this side condemn acts which deprive an individual of his liberty, whether in the Soviet Union, in Czechoslovakia, in Chile, in South Africa or anywhere else.
This piece of legislation takes away the civil liberties of many of our people without justification. It does so without the justification that it leads to a lessening of terrorism. We would oppose such legislation in a whole number of other countries. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would take that view. Perhaps it is in supreme naivete that I say to him, as in previous debates, that the House should be the watchdog of civil liberties and not the poodle of the Home Secretary. If we allow this legislation to be renewed for another 12 months, we simply become poodles. I for one will be voting against the order if given the opportunity.
§ 10.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
The outstanding fact about the legislation now before the House in 1547 the form of an order is that it was born in panic as a result of public clamour and it continues as a monumental failure and a suppressor of human liberty. When public opinion is shocked and horrified by horrendous killings of the type to which we are all opposed, it is all too easy to go along with the first thinking of public opinion, with the natural fear that all of us share as a result of the horrific bombings that took place. Immediately we do that, democracy suffers and retribution is on the agenda. That is a bad guide and has nothing in common with the reasons for which I was sent here and came here. The witch hunt then begins to take over, and it has begun to take over.
I oppose such an attitude as something that all human beings of a civilised nature should oppose. Those of us who have stood up against this legislation throughout will surely be vindicated by the history of the near future. The emergency powers introduced in Northern Ireland did not prevent terrorism in any way. On the contrary, it is worse than ever from both sides. Although there is no slight movement towards what I am about to say, the solution lies in a political context and not in emergency powers of any sort. The sooner we grasp that the better for all of us. The slaughter will continue for another 10 years if we rely purely on emergency powers.
In this section of the United Kingdom the same hardening of attitudes is beginning to become apparent as in Northern Ireland as a result of internment and emergency powers. This sort of legislation enables the police—those of them who are of such a character—to engage in legalised terrorism of the sort instanced by a whole group of cases. I have heard nothing from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to make we want to lean on any vague promise of considering an investigation. That is quite insufficient.
My hon. Friends and I in common with Opposition Members are totally and completely against terrorism no matter from which corner it springs. It is all too easy to place my hon. Friends and I in the position of supporting terrorism because we oppose a document that is set against terrorism. It is all too easy for others to suggest that in some oblique way it can be read into our words and 1548 actions that we are for terrorism when everything we do proves the very opposite.
My hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) referred to the NCCL pamphlet, which is quite a sizeable inquiry into the results of what has happened so far. I advocate that all Members read it. I ask them to bear with me while I read a particular section:One of the fundamental tenets of the English legel system is that a person is innocent until proved guilty. Under this Act over and over again it is the innocent person who must establish his case. The attitude amongst supporters of this Act seems to be that this shift in the burden of proof is unimportant after all, innocent people have no need to fear.The truth is that for "innocent" one should read "non-Irish", "not interested or involved in Irish politics", "does not live, work or mix socially with Irish people", "does not belong to a political party or other body that might be critical of British Government policy in Ireland".
That is the kind of thing that is being hurled against people who have any Irish connection—that they are somehow synonymous with a background of terrorism.
All that has gone on over the years of emergency powers has exacerbated the situation. The powers have not done the least thing to make us sleep safer in our beds. They have terrorised a whole group of innocent people. Yet, in the legal sense, only a tiny handful of people have been arrested who could be said to be vaguely connected with what has happened in Northern Ireland.
Suspects are arrested without trial or appeal, and instances of this have been given. I understand from my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) that if we looked closely at what has happened in Liverpool we would be horrified at the number of people who have been subjected to kind of justice and legal vigilantism that this legal jargon has put into effect.
Of course, we know that this all happened because we were frightened and that hon. Members were nobly motivated. But, surely, after three years, it is time for second thoughts. We should now look at the Act again, go through it with a fine toothcomb and see what is really happening. We should examine it and 1549 find out whether this Draconian Act—as the previous Home Secretary described it—has done what it was supposed to do.
Arrested persons have little or no access to their MPs or the media. They are arrested and can do little or nothing about it. Is that what we passed this legislation for? The suspect has only 96 hours in which to make representations to an adviser and has no friend or solicitor to help him plead his case. I cannot believe that there is any semblance of natural justice in that. It is quite contrary to British justice as we have been taught to believe it. It is a dangerous precedent in English law and one hopes that something can be done about it quickly, but one almost despairs when one sees what is happening.
If the Act continues—and it looks as though it will and as though those of us who will vote against the measure will be defeated—at least the Act should be subjected to six-monthly rather than annual renewal so that we can let people know that we are looking at the matter closely and that we are deeply worried about the effects of the Act.
We ask for at least six-monthly renewal and for a commission of inquiry to be set up to consider the workings of the Act. We ask for an attempt to be made to reconcile the Act with the traditional rights and liberties to which we are used in our country.
Although many hon. Members—and I think more than previously—will vote against the measure on a point of principle, we still ask for these concessions to be made to us on matters that we have been brought up to believe in. We ask for a six-monthly renewal period and for a full-scale commission of inquiry into what has been going on. I hope that there will be more people voting with me against this Draconian measure that has been proved conclusively not to have done the things that it was intended to do.
§ 10.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)
I have listened to the debate this evening somewhat stunned that all the opposition to the renewal of the Act and the careful examination of its terms have come, mainly, from this side. I would have thought that on a matter of 1550 civil liberties we would have a more representative debate, pulling in more hon. Members to consider the problems involved. I am also saddened that some of my hon. Friends have exaggerated their cases and over-egged their puddings to such an extent that, although the kernel of what they were saying is correct, it can be shown that they were wrong in the excesses of their comments.
I have plotted the course of the Act over the past two years by way of monthly Questions because of my concern about its operation and it has become increasingly obvious that it is not working in the way intended. The Government's own figures do not demonstrate conclusively that the Act has been a help in deterring terrorism in the United Kingdom, but it can be demonstrated that there has been a deterioration of police-public relations in certain areas and a feeling that because a person is of Irish descent or has Irish friends, he is subjected to considerable harassment.
When we cast our minds back to the passage of the Act, we can remember the sense of panic, desperation and noble motives that combined to lead us to bring in legislation to show the public that the Government and the parties were at least as concerned as the popular Press about bringing about the downfall of terrorism in this country. We went for legislation that contains much about which no one could reasonably complain, but there are two provisions that are causing us all considerable concern. These are the extra five days' detention allowed under the Act and the exclusion principles.
We understand that, in the nature of terrorism and the gathering of evidence, it may be necessary to detain a person for more than 48 hours, but we cannot accept that after those 48 hours there should not be notification of his relatives and next of kin immediately and automatically and that the detained person should not have immediate and automatic access to legal advice and direction.
The Home Secretary made great play of the fact that the normal Judges' Rules apply, but until a recent case, those rules said that there should be access to legal advice only if it could be shown that this would not deter progress of the inquiry. The difference between the Judges' Rules and the Act is that the legislation provides an extra five days in 1551 which the police can argue that access to legal advice would impede the inquiries. That is the important distinction and that is the reason why we claim that such access should be given after the normal period of 48 hours—although there are many who would argue that it should be given immediately, as I would argue, and not only for this sort of offence but for other offences. That, therefore—the question of access and information —is the first cause for concern.
The second main cause for concern is the procedures under the exclusion orders. If we make the comparison with the American journalists of our British subjects likely to suffer from exclusion orders, we cannot but come to the conclusion that if one is a British subject one is more badly treated under the terms of the Act than if one is a foreign immigrant under the terms of the Immigration Acts. I make no particular racial point over that, but point out that one of the many civil liberties about which the British rightly boast is curtailed in this particular circumstance under this Act.
Going further, what is wrong with the whole question of exclusion is that we effectively banish people from one part of the United Kingdom to another. The ridiculous aspect of it is that we export our terrorists to Northern Ireland, or, in a few cases, to the Republic. But what happens when they get there? None of them has yet been charged. I again accept that in this delicate business of intelligence and counter-intelligence, information will be given which cannot be released or shown. But it is quite ridiculous to export a terrorist to Northern Ireland, where almost by definition he is more likely to commit an offence than he would be if he were in England, and more likely also, with the situation in Northern Ireland, to get away with the commission of an offence than he would be if he were here.
That brings me to the partial commitment that my right hon. Friend gave in his opening speech. Before I deal with that, however, I should like to raise the question of the six-monthly renewal. From what my right hon. Friend has heard today, I would have hoped that sufficient concern had been shown on the Labour Benches for him to reconsider his argument about having renewal only 1552 every 12 months. He drew a comparison between legislation in this country and that which exists in the Six Counties, and he said that he felt that it was necessary in the Six Counties but perhaps not necessary in this country because legislation was not quite as severe. Whether or not legislation is quite so severe is beside the point. We are comparing two unlike situations.
In addition to that, even though we are comparing two unlike situations, the mere fact that the legislation is severe is sufficient to justify renewal every six months. Certainly the degree of concern that has been shown on the Labour Benches should also do that.
I come now to the question of the inquiry. From the way in which my right hon. Friend spoke, it is obvious that his mind has been turning towards the question of an inquiry into this Act. However, what I am not certain about is the exact nature of the inquiry that my hon. Friends and I want. Do we want an inquiry into whether we should have the Act at all? If that is our conclusion, that will be a subjective judgment by all hon. Members. Are we to have an inquiry into whether in fact the Act has achieved its objects? That would be, perhaps, a more objective inquiry, and one that would, perhaps, be worth pursuing. Or are we merely to have an inquiry into the actual mechanics of the Act—in what way will appeals be heard on exclusion orders, and can we tamper with the Judges' Rules in this case whilst we await my right hon. Friend's general examination of the Judges' Rules, and so on? These are matters that we shall have to carefully think about and work out. I personally hope that my right hon. Friend can be more forthcoming about the terms under which he might possibly envisage an inquiry.
I would add a word of caution to many of my hon. Friends, and to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) who is no longer with us. They should not expect that an inquiry will necessarily reach the conclusion that we would like. It is a question of the terms of reference as well as the people appointed to it. For every Gardiner inquiry we can have a Diplock, and for every minority report on Compton we can have a majority report on Compton. Let us bear that well in mind.
§ 10.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Parry (Liverpool, Scotland Exchange)
My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) earlier made reference to the number of arrests in Liverpool. I should briefly like to bring to the attention of the House the number of arrests on Merseyside in general and Liverpool in particular.
Last Friday I tabled some Written Questions about this Act and I asked my right hon. Friendhow many persons have been detained by the Merseyside police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; how many have been prosecuted or released; and how many are still pending.My right hon. Friend replied:566 people were detained up to 25th February 1977. Of these, 43 were prosecuted; 16 were removed under exclusion orders; 504 released; prosecutions were pending in two cases; and one person was still in custody.Only 43 prosecutions have been carried out. In the other Written Question I asked my right hon. Friendhow many persons have been convicted on Merseyside under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; and what sentences have been given.The answer shocked me, because it was "None". I should like my right hon. Friend to clarify this because quite frankly it has got me baffled. In his earlier reply my right hon. Friend said:The 43 prosecutions include five people charged with conspiracy to cause explosions, three charged with attempted murder and four charged with causing explosions".—[Official Report, 4th March, Vol. 927, cols. 327–8.]I should like my right hon. Friend to explain under what Act these people were charged. Was it this Act or some other Act of Parliament?
I presume that most of the arrests took place in my constituency because Liverpool dockland is in my constituency and the Dublin and Belfast boats sail from my constituency. I myself know of a particular case that was brought to my attention last year. It concerned a young lad in his early 20s whom I had known since he was a youngster. He had never been involved in any political organisations and had a record of doing good voluntary welfare work. He was detained for between 48 and 60 hours but when I made representations to the Chief Constable of the Merseyside police I was refused permission to see him. Eventually he was released without any charge 1554 being made against him. When I took the matter up with the Home Secretary it took about 4½months before I even got a reply to this particular query.
More recently, a young couple in Liverpool, who were going to Northern Ireland on honeymoon, were detained for 48 hours and then released and no charges were made. One can understand the great stress and humiliation caused to that young couple who had just got married and were going on their honeymoon.
Therefore, I have strong reservations about renewing the Act. I voted against renewal of the Act on other occasions. If there is a Division tonight, I shall again vote against its renewal.
§ 10.50 p.m.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)
I support the renewal of the Act. However, I went on this occasion, as I have on every occasion that we have discussed whether the 1974 and 1976 Acts should be renewed, to raise the question of the Judges' Rules, to which reference has already been made in the course of the debate.
The Home Secretary will recall, I hope, that the Judges' Rules apply only in England and Wales. Completely different arrangements apply in Scotland. I am sorry that a representative of the Scottish Office, or the Lord Advocate, is not on the Treasury Bench. But I can understand that. It is always embarrassing when arrangements in Scotland, which cause not the least difficulty and which the police in Scotland accept as needing no change, are resisted in England on the ground that enormous difficulty would be caused and that the work of the police would be hugely impeded, and so on.
It is not only that we have achieved no change in the Judges' Rules in all this time, but that they have got worse. I cannot recall whether this happened during the tenure of office of my right hon. Friend or immediately before, but I want an explanation.
The last time that we discussed this matter—a year or so ago—I pointed out to the then Home Secretary that the judges had made a god-awful mess of drafting the Judges' Rules. On the one occasion when we let them draft quasi-legislation, they made an awful botch of it. In consequence, one part of the Judges' Rules provides that a person 1555 arrested and held in a police station must have access to a solicitor provided that the police do not think that it will impede the investigation, and so on, but in another part of the Judges' Rules—in the administrative direction appended to them —it is said that a person so held has a totally unqualified right to send out a telegram so long as he has the money to pay for it. That was in the Judges' Rules and I drew it to the attention of the previous Home Secretary a year ago. My right hon. Friend said that he would look into it, and he did.
What did he do? He produced a new circular and sent it out to the police forces in this country without informing Parliament by any means at all and without informing me, the Member of Parliament who had raised it, that he was doing it, and he removed the right to send out a telegram.
I tell the Home Secretary that that had better not happen again or there will be big trouble. No orders will go through to the Statutory Instruments Committee without a Division—and there are many of those. So I hope that point will be taken on board.
I have had other reasons to complain about the carelessness of Home Office officials with regard to their attitude to this House in the past, and it had better stop. I am not sent to this House to have Home Office officials treating it with contempt. This is not the only occasion in recent times. I blame officials, not Ministers. It is asking coo much that Ministers, faced with a circular to be issued to police forces, should recollect that this matter had arisen because a Member raised it in the House. It is the job of civil servants to remind Ministers and to remember that they would want to communicate with the Member and tell him what has happened. So much on the procedure.
Does the Home Secretary appreciate the enormity of the significance of that change? We are saying that a person can be picked up by the police, taken inside a police station, and not have the right to send a message out to anybody at all so long, of course, as he is in England.
If he is in Scotland he will be all right, because under the Scottish legislation, for the past 90 years at least, and 1556 now under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, he has a right not only to tell relatives but to have a private interview, not in the presence of police, with a solicitor and to have the examination held up until the solicitor can get there if the sheriff so decides.
The phrase used in Germany at one time for picking up people at night was nacht and rebel. People disappeared without anybody knowing where they were. I am prepared to go a long way in the modification of civil liberties in the cause of counteracting terrorism, but there is always some point at which one says "Thus far and no further". The torture in Northern Ireland was one such occasion when it was said "We do not care so long as innocent lives are saved". Innocent lives can always be saved with terrible methods, but we are not prepared to save them by torturing prisoners.
I draw a line at the idea of picking people up and taking them to the police station without the right to communicate outside that police station. If they have the right to communicate outside, they may communicate with other terrorists. That is the price that has to be paid and that is where I draw the line.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider the decision—it may have been taken by his predecessor; I do not know —to remove a right to communicate outside. There was a case where two Community Service Volunteers from Northern Ireland were going back to Northern Ireland following a conference and were detained at Heathrow. I have seen a signed statement made by the two volunteers in question and have had representations from the CSV, whose headquarters happen to be in my constituency. The statement admits that those people were kept overnight without food being provided until the second day. If that is true, it is a straight-forward breach of the Judges' Rules, even as they arc now framed.
I hope that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will examine that case. I do not expect him to respond now, but I hope that he will consider that point, because nothing can damage this kind of anti-terrorism legislation more than the knowledge that the police are pushing things a little far and exploiting the 1557 extension of the powers which we have chosen to give them.
§ 10.59 p.m.
§ Mr. William Whitelaw (Penrith and The Border)
The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) said that he was prepared to accept a considerable modification of civil liberties in the interests of defeating terrorism. I agree with him, and I shall try in these brief remarks to tell him why.
I shall not take up the argument about the Judges' Rules, which I shall leave to be dealt with by the Home Secretary. I have always believed in never dealing with legal matters unless I have received a great deal of advice—and when I face matters involving Scots law, I take that view even more strongly.
Let me turn to the main theme of this legislation and its renewal. I submit that the first duty of any Government is to protect innocent citizens. This Act gives the Government considerable powers which could lead to injustice in individual cases. It is right that this House should discuss the use of these powers by the Government and should question them hard. The fact that we have had considerable debate on this legislation is right and proper. That is why the Act was introduced on a temporary basis, and it was absolutely correct that it should have been so introduced in order to cover debate. That it should be a temporary measure, subject to renewal must be right in principle and the debate has shown that it is right.
Some people may think that there is irony in the fact that the two right hon. Gentlemen who are dealing with the Act from the Front Bench are the Home Secretary and myself. Whether that is good or not, one thing that cannot be denied is that, apart from the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who sit for Northern Ireland constituencies, there are no two Members of the House who have more experience of terrorism at first hand than the Home Secretary and myself. No one can deny that, and it is important that it cannot be denied.
I intend now to exercise my right to say what I feel about it from my own experience. I have heard a great deal of talk this evening and from many hon. 1558 Members at different times, about terrorism. People say "I am wholly against acts of terrorism. I shall not say anything or do anything that will encourage terrorism in any way but…". There is no such thing as "but" in terrorism. There can be no compromise.
If one is against terrorism one must be wholeheartedly against it and be seen to be so. I hope that hon. Members will listen because I shall admit that I was very wrong and that I made a major mistake when I was in Northern Ireland. I believe that it is possible to make a mistake once but it is a fool who does not learn from it. When hon. Members talk about dealing with terrorism they should listen to one who feels that he did make a mistake and who has learned from it.
Many people thought that the introduction of special category status for prisoners in Northern Ireland was right. There were very considerable reasons why I did what I did in the circumstances in Northern Ireland. I was criticised by some hon. Members and, looking back, I am glad that I was. I was supported by the right hon. Gentleman and by many hon. Members of the House. But, the fact is that I was wholly, utterly and entirely wrong. I was wrong to the extent that my successors have had the difficult task of dealing with the problem which I created for them. I created it for them because— although I did not realise it at the time—it looked as if the resolve in dealing with terrorism was weakening. That is what it looked like in Northern Ireland and many people believed that there would be some easement in the Government's resolve to deal with it.
That is why I say to the Secretary of State—please, when we talk of dealing with terrorism do not let us imagine that there is any way of compromise. Do not think that we can say "I am wholly against it but…on this occasion I think that it would be better not to go as far as this." In that way lies very great danger. I have thought it right to say why I think that from my own experience.
We are dealing with very desperate men. I say to the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) that I hope he will not continue with the argument that we are dealing only with the Provisional IRA in this particular case. The schedule of the Act gives us the right and gives the Home Secretary the right to include any 1559 other organisation that he thinks fit. If he believes that it is necessary when dealing with terrorism he has the right to include them and I believe that he would have the support of the House in so doing. Certainly right hon. and hon. Members from Northern Ireland have made it clear that they would say that, if it were necessary in similar circumstances to deal with the Ulster Volunteer Force or any other terrorist organisation, the Home Secretary should come to the House and deal with it.
The right hon. Gentleman said that at this time the threat to this country comes from the Provisional IRA, and I do not think that anyone can substantially deny that fact. No one can deny, from what we have seen, that that is a fact of life, and the Home Secretary is right to say so.
I hope that the hon. Member for Belfast, West will feel that the Act can be used to deal with terrorists from where-ever they come. I am entitled to say that now because he will remember that, against considerable opposition, I used various emergency powers in Northern Ireland—and I was the Secretary of State who first used them—against some of the militant Protestant organisations. I did it because I believed that I was right to do so. I was supported in that action by Members of the Unionist Party, by the late Lord Faulkner, and by many other people, both inside this House and outside it, who said "If there are terrorists, wherever they come from they should be dealt with."
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I take the point. It is important to make the point that the Act can be used against terrorism wherever it comes from. I hope that we shall always remember that as a fact.
When dealing with terrorists, we need to come back to the point which is sometimes lost sight of, and that is that we are dealing with very desperate men. We are dealing with people who think nothing of placing bombs to kill unknown numbers of totally innocent people. They do not care how many they kill; they are not interested. We are dealing with people prepared to go into a pub with 1560 a machine-gun and fire it, caring not whom they kill. We have to reckon that that is the sort of person we are dealing with.
If anyone doubts whether we still face these dangers in Britain, he has only to look at the tragic and dangerous situation in Northern Ireland, a situation which I always feared but did not actually experience to the extent that it is happening now, the assassination of individual people. That is a very dangerous development. It it happens in one part of the United Kingdom, it could happen in another, and we would be fools to imagine that it could not. We would he fools to think that these dangers could not come here.
It is against that background that we are looking at the renewal of the Act. I believe that the Home Secretary has made a very powerful case for its renewal. He said that the police advice was that the Act had made a major contribution to dealing with terrorism. I do not think it necessary to argue whether that is so. It is difficult to prove whether an Act has made a major contribution, but some hon. Members have tried to argue otherwise. It is a fact that, since the Act was passed, we have had considerable success in dealing with terrorism in this country. Whether that success has come from the Act is difficult to argue, but we have done it, and that in itself is a major reason for renewing the Act.
Then one comes to the consideration of the protection of those who are seeking to deal with terrorism and to protect us—a point well made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) and my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr). Both made the point about being able to protect the police, who are seeking to protect us. The renewal of the Act is important in that regard.
Therefore, I conclude that the Act should be renewed. As the Home Secretary himself said, the balance in these matters is very difficult to achieve. The right hon. Gentleman should look into any genuine, clear and definite complaints from any hon. Member on either side of the House who can put before him arguments as to where the Act has impinged unfairly on individual citizens.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
No. It is right that the Home Secretary should look into genuine and definite complains, and I think that he will. There is no "but". It is just a question of looking into genuine and definite complaints. Whilst I think that that is right, I should have grave doubts, some of which the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) raised in my mind, about any formal inquiry. If the right hon. Gentleman decided to have a formal inquiry, that decision would question the Government's resolve. It would raise a "but" whether they were determined against terrorism. Looking into individual complaints from hon. Members is a proper democratic process under any Act. Deciding to have a formal inquiry into the Act is a different matter, and I have grave doubts whether it would be wise.
On the whole, I think it right to renew the Act for a year.
§ Mr. George Cunningham
Was not the right hon. Gentleman a member of the Government who had the Compton Inquiry and the Parker inquiry into the things that happened in Northern Ireland? Those were formal inquiries, and very useful, too. They were the ones that eradicated torture on the part of British personnel. Was not that rather useful?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I will not be led into that matter. I have strong feelings about some of the things that happened and some of the balance that went wrong in that issue. The matter raises all sorts of issues outside this country, and I shall not return to it. I have great anxieties whether some of the inquiries held in those cases helped in dealing with terrorism. I think that some of them did not. That is a lesson I have learnt from experience. I am very dubious about such inquiries. There may have been some reason for them, but whether they were right when seen in retrospect I am not too sure.
But I am certain about an Act which can be looked at every year. I should have no objection to its being looked at every six months. Now that I am in Opposition and am not Leader of the House I am always very free with the Govern- 1562 ment's time. If they are prepared to concede a debate on the order every six months and not every year, who am I to complain? Nevetheless, a year is a reasonable time. I repeat that I do not like the idea of a formal inquiry, because I believe that it would go to weakening the Government's resolve.
If at the end of the debate there is to be a Division and there are hon. Members who are determined to a vote against renewal of the Act—I hope very much that they will not, because they have all said that they are against terrorism, and if they are against terrorism they should not vote against renewal—
§ Mr. Flannery
Is the right hon. Gentleman implying in his last few words that if we vote against the Act we are for terrorism?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
It will not say that, if Hansard reports what I thought I said. If I did not say what I thought I said, very well—the hon. Gentleman can argue what I said. But I thought that I said that I very much hoped that hon. Members would not vote against renewal. If one is firmly against terrorism one would believe it right to renew these provisions for another year. That is my firm belief and that is what I hope will be done. If there is a Division I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will vote for the renewal.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
I begin by dealing with two points concerning Liverpool. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Scotland Exchange (Mr. Parry) raised the question of the interpretation of the legislation. I think that the difference is that it is one thing to be prosecuted under the early part of the Act on the question of proscription, but it is something entirely different to be detained and then charged with murder. That charge is laid not under this Act but simply on the basis of murder.
I was asked how many people had been detained after the Liverpool bomb incident. Six people were detained following 1563 inquiries into that incident. Three were in the building at the time and were released after a few hours. Two were detained two days later. I granted extensions of detention and inspected the cases. Both people have been charged in connection with the incident. One person has been excluded. Those figures are important in an incident such as that. I think that the sharpness of what happened is what the people of Liverpool had expected of the police in that case.
Let me deal now with the Judges' Rules. If my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) looks at Hansard for 23rd February he will see the dates when he was involved with the Home Office on the matter that he has raised. Having learned from experience of my previous job, I gave instructions when I went to the Home Office that any matter done in the office which related to anything that hon. Members had put to me should be indicated to the Member concerned. If that was not done I shall look into the matter, but I suggest that my hon. Friend looks at the relevant part of Hansard. I can see that my hon. Friend is not taking the point I am trying to signal to him without making a point about what happened in the past.
I will not bandy words about police pay. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) says that he has no confidence in me on that subject. I will not say in whom I had no confidence when I first looked at the police pay question. I do not think that this is relevant to the matter in hand.
There is also the question of sharing intelligence with the EEC. Britain took the initiative in proposing co-operation on this matter. Working parties have been set up over the past few months and I will chair a meeting in May of EEC Ministers of the Interior to consider the results of their work. We shall see what more can be done.
I think that the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) misunderstood me on the question of identity cards. I was not talking about identity cards, and we have not changed our mind therefore. I was referring to authority for passengers to have to complete landing cards at the ports, and that is rather different. This does not mean that cards will have to be used now. The chief officer of police at 1564 each port will decide whether the cards will help, and the change in the other order is simply to do what we thought we had been doing all along. If cards are used and a passenger refuses to complete one he will be liable to prosecution with a penalty of £200 or three months' imprisonment or both.
§ Mr. Powell
So the position is changed which hitherto was that completion was on a voluntary basis, as stated by the Minister on 12th June 1972. Completion where cards are issued is to be on a compulsory basis.
§ Mr. Rees
Use will be compulsory only where the police want to do it. It will not be done on a large scale.
I turn now to the generality of the debate. There is a threat from the PIRA. Northern Ireland Members know that there is a threat from a wide variety of groups. The proscription of the PIRA was referred to. There is an offensiveness in its members collecting together and marching after they have killed and bombed. That does not mean that the legislation cannot be used to detain and exclude people who belong to other organisations. The only limitation is on proscription. There is no limitation on dealing with other para-military organisations in the rest of the Act.
I believe that the legislation is necessary and that normal powers are not enough. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) made the interesting point that terrorism is not temporary. That is all too true. I listened briefly to Northern Ireland Questions the other day, and the Parliamentary Secretary made a point then that has stuck with me about the nature of violence in Northern Ireland. He said that it was constantly changing, and that in the end one wondered how often it could change. It changes from day to day. First of all it is violence against policemen, and then it is against business men. First of all it is bombing in the towns, then it is bombing in the country. This is not brought about by clever organisation. In fact there is little in the way of organisation. There is no great staff work where something is done because a general has a point of view about how he will break through a line, and that continues until he is replaced. My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, 1565 West (Mr. Fitt) knows about the changing nature of the violence and the problems for the police in not knowing where it will come from next.
I have an idea of the nature of the people who telephone my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) and abuse him. These callers play on people's fears of assassination.
Terrorism cannot be defeated by force alone. There is a political aspect in Northern Ireland. But it is my job to ensure that I protect the people of this country through the police. Those hon. Members who do not want this legislation renewed should think what they would do if they had my responsibility and they did not renew the powers, and two days later there were bombings. The come-back from the British people would be such that I would not want to face it. Until we are sure that the threat is no longer there—and that may be a long time—we must have the legislation.
§ Mr. Rees
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) is good at making points, but his arguments are never crystal clear or logical.
In my view this legislation must be passed tonight. When I put the point earlier about looking at the legislation I was not showing signs of weakness. My hon. Friend said it was just a fig leaf and that he would vote against the order anyway. The easy way for me would be to say that I am for the legislation, and that I will make no changes and at the end of the day I make no commitment.
As far as individual cases are concerned, complaints can be made against the police. But there is nothing to be gained by making complaints and not using the procedures provided. That does no good to the police and does not bring about changes. I get the feeling that the House is concerned only with the razzamataz of dealing with complaints. I understand that there are problems with the Judges' Rules. These are different in Scotland, and the Criminal Law Revision Committee in 1972 recommended against making the Judges' 1566 Rules statutory. I am surprised by some of the things that I have heard tonight about the Judges' Rules. I am seized of the point that giving the seven days as opposed to two days does have an effect on the Judges' Rules. I will look at that.
As for the point made about fishing expeditions—picking people up not under the terms of the legislation—the powers of arrest under the Act can be used only where the constable concerned reasonably suspects that someone is concerned in acts of terrorism, or their preparation or instigation, or may be subject to an exclusion order and guilty of an offence under the Act relating to terrorist activities. It would be improper and illegal for the powers of arrest to be exercised for any other purpose. If those powers are being exercised wrongly it should not happen, but I need examples, and not generalities, to let me look into the question.
If, in carrying out their investigation, the police find that a man has been indulging in tax evasion, they must make a judgment. But if they decide to prosecute for that they will not be using this legislation in questioning the man for that purpose, because their questioning will not have been for that purpose.
§ Mr. Litterick
On my right hon. Friend's earlier point, I suggested that the commitment that he made was not really a commitment. It was made in a very wishy-washy way and did not seriously convince anybody.
Secondly, in connection with the case that I mentioned, many people are afraid to use the complaints procedure. My right hon. Friend will have to think seriously about that.
§ Mr. Rees
On the first point, if my hon. Friend regards what I said as being wishy-washy he knows what to do. But he said that whatever I said he would vote against it. That is the point he made the first time round.
I was saying that there is no question of ending this legislation while the PIRA is engaged in violence. I should be failing the people of this country if I put an end to this legislation in those circumstances.
On the details, I shall consider ways of looking at the legislation. I shall not have another Gardiner investigation. As 1567 I explained earlier, there are certain aspects that I shall look at, but there is no question of a political decision by an outside committee. The political decisions must be taken in this House. In my view political decisions are too often taken outside. It is for us to make them.
As for the working of the Act. I want to provide reassurance, but it would be wrong—I take the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo)—to try to buy a few votes at half-past eleven so that by the end of the day I won.
I cannot consider terms of reference at the moment. It would be wrong to do so without more detailed investigation. But I want to provide reassurance and information. I shall consider what I can
|Division No. 86.]||AYES||[11.29 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Phipps, Dr Colin|
|Anderson, Donald||George, Bruce||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch|
|Archer, Peter||Golding, John||Ress, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Graham, Ted||Rodrick, Caerwyn|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Roper, John|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Griffiths, Eldon||Ross, Stephen (Ilse of Wight)|
|Bates, Alf||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)|
|Bean, R. E.||Hampson, Dr Keith||Ross, William (Londonderry)|
|Beith, A. J.||Hardy, Peter||Rowlands, Ted|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Harper, Joseph||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Harrison, Walter (Walefield)||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Horam, John||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Sims, Roger|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Hunter, Adam||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)||Snape, Peter|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||John, Brynmor||Spearing, Nigel|
|Campbell, Ian||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Carlisle, Mark||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Carson, John||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Cartwright, John||Judd, Frank||Stoddart, David|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Kaufman, Gerald||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Cockcroft, John||Kerr, Russell||Strang, Gavin|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael||Kilfedder, James||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Lamborn, Harry||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|Coleman, Donald||Lawrence, Ivan||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|Cowans, Harry||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Thomas, Mile (Newcastle E)|
|Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Lyon, Alexander (York)||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||McCusker, H.||Tinn, James|
|Cryer, Bob||MacKenzie, Gregor||Urwin, T.W.|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Maclennan, Robert||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Davidson, Arthur||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||McNamara, Kevin||Ward, Michael|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Marks, Kenneth||Watkinson, John|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||White, Frand R. (Bury)|
|Dempsey, James||Mather, Carol||White, James (Pollok)|
|Dodaworth, Geoffrey||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Dormand, J. D.||Meacher, Michael||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Dunlop, John||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Whitlock, William|
|Dunn, James A.||Molyneaux, James||Williams. Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Morris, Charles R.(Openshaw)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Eadie, Alex||Moyle, Roland||Winterton, Nicholas|
|English, Michael||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Woodall, Alec|
|Ennals, David||Noble, Mike||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Farr, John||Page, John (Harrow West)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Forrester, John||Pendry, Tom||Mr. Thomas Cox and|
|Freud, Clement||Penhaligon, David||Mr. Joe Ashton.|
§ do. I fully understand that anything that was to be done would have to be done in an independent fashion.
§ Mr. Rees
At the appropriate moment, yes.
I believe that legislation is necessary. I fully accept that from time to time it may need amending, but we need these extra powers while there are paramilitary forces around, and while there is death and destruction that may end tomorrow, or the day after, I believe that this order should be passed.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 140, Noes 15.1569
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Skinner, Dannis|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Litterick, Tom||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Loyden, Eddie|
|Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)||Maynard, Miss Joan||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Flannery, Martin||Parry, Robert||Mr. Ian Mikardo and|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Richardson, Miss Jo||Mr. Stan Thorne.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ That the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976 (Continuance) Order 1977, a draft of which was laid before this House on 24th February, be approved.