§ 7.29 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 19th February be approved [11th Report from the Joint Committee].
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, it is a year since the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1989 was given the Royal Assent on 15th March 1989. Most of the Act's provisions came into force a week later. The Government believe that, like its predecessors, the 1989 Act is a wholly exceptional measure, justified only by the continuing threat to the people of this country of Northern Irish and international terrorism. I hope to explain to your Lordships why, in the Government's view, it is essential that the Act should continue in force for another 12 months.
§ There will, I believe, be no doubt in any of your Lordships' minds about the seriousness of the terrorist threat both in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland. In 1989 we saw the first anniversary of the Lockerbie disaster in which 270 people were killed. We also saw the terrible explosion at Deal in which 11 soldiers were killed, the highest number of deaths in any Irish terrorist incident on the mainland since 1974. Sixty-two people were killed in Northern Ireland, including 23 members of the security forces. In Great Britain, a soldier and his wife were injured by a car bomb in Colchester last November, and it is only good fortune that prevented deaths or serious injuries when more recently bombs exploded in Leicester and Halifax. A corporal and his baby daughter were tragically murdered in West Germany. Those were terrible incidents. Our sympathies are with all those who suffered and we mourn for those who died.
§ But there have also been successes. International co-operation is now an important aspect of counter-terrorist investigations. The year 1989 saw arrests in France, in West Germany and in the United States of America. At home, there was the discovery of an arms cache, including 100 pounds of plastic explosive, on the Pembrokeshire coastal 1705 path; and the arrest of two men at the site of the cache just before Christmas. Those two men were subsequently charged with explosives offences. Obviously, I cannot comment further other than to say that the arrests marked the end of a sustained and determined police operation over a period of seven weeks in the most atrocious conditions. I am sure that your Lordships will wish to join me in thanking all the officers concerned in this as in so many other counter-terrorist operations.
§ In considering the Prevention of Terrorism Act we have the benefit of the report of my noble friend Lord Colville on its operation in 1989. I am glad to see that he is in his place in the Chamber tonight. This is my noble friend's fourth annual report on the legislation, and we are all grateful for the work which he does for us. The chief innovation of the 1989 Act is the fact that money and assets which will be used for terrorist purposes can now be seized or frozen. My noble friend rightly points out that it is too soon to evaluate these powers, which came into force on 1st September. But I am glad that the powers were supported on all sides of your Lordships' House.
§ Under the 1989 Act there were also new powers to assist in counter-terrorist investigations. These included the ability for the police to apply to a court for a production order. Production orders enable the police to have access to, for example, bank accounts which are believed to be used for terrorist purposes. I can tell your Lordships that since 1st September the police have successfully applied for a total of 48 of these production orders.
§ At the heart of the Prevention of Terrorism Act—and its most difficult and controversial feature—are the executive powers of exclusion and extended detention. I am glad to say that my noble friend makes no criticism of the way in which these powers were exercised in 1989. But it is not enough for me to assure the House that the powers are properly exercised. I must also persuade your Lordships that they are still needed, and I must do so in the knowledge that my noble friend, in his review of the 1984 Act, recommended that the exclusion power should be discontinued.
§ The purpose of the Act is to prevent terrorism, and it is always more difficult to show that something has been prevented than to show that something has occurred. It is particularly difficult to demonstrate that an exclusion order has prevented specific acts of terrorism. My noble friend Lord Jellicoe said in his review of the legislation in 1983 that the power had been used against individuals who there was a good reason to believe had come to Great Britain in order to set up an IRA active service unit or who were being used as carriers of information or arms. My noble friend Lord Colville, who I acknowledge is not in favour of the exclusion power, nevertheless agreed with the assessment of my noble friend Lord Jellicoe that it disrupts terrorist lines of communication and the supply of arms and explosives. We believe that these results are sufficient justification for the continuation in force of the power.
§ There have been some notable cases in which the use of extended detention has resulted in serious 1706 charges which are unlikely to have been brought had the police been obliged to rely on the powers of the ordinary criminal law. My noble friend Lord Colville cites in his 1987 review and in this year's report two examples in which Loyalist arms procurement operations were disrupted in Scotland as a result of investigations involving extended detention. Sixteen men received sentences of up to 16 years' imprisonment in the two operations. We can only speculate on the number of shootings which were prevented and the number of lives which may have been saved.
§ We should not assume that, because the threat of terrorism continues, the Act has therefore failed in its purpose—far from it. Both the Government and the police remain convinced that the executive powers are still needed in the fight against terrorism. It is in the very nature of these powers, though, that we cannot always show the results which they achieve.
In November 1989 the Government confirmed their limited derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights arising from the case of Brogan. Your Lordships will recall that a case in which a suspect had been held for just over four days without charge was found to be in breach of the requirement to bring the suspect promptly before a judge. In his report my noble friend said:
It cannot be felicitous for the UK to have to derogate",
from the convention. As is so often the case, he is quite right. We took the decision to derogate with great reluctance and only after the most serious consideration.
§ It remains the Government's view that the power to detain for up to seven days on reasonable suspicion of involvement in terrorism is essential in Northern Irish cases. In Great Britain, the decision to authorise a detention of more than 48 hours is always taken by the Secretary of State in person, and not by a junior Minister. The Government accept that these exceptional powers have to be matched by adequate safeguards for the suspect. Schedule 3 to the 1989 Act introduced a system for reviewing detentions based on the comparable system under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
§ There is at present no general system for the tape recording of interviews with suspected terrorists. However, the Government announced on 1st March a two-year experiment, at Paddington Green police station and the Main Bridewell, Liverpool, involving the tape recording of summaries of interviews together with any comments by the suspect or his legal adviser.
§ The experiment will be monitored by the Home Office research and planning unit and evaluated by a steering committee which includes representatives of the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Criminal Bar Association and the Law Society. We continue to believe that tape recording the whole of the interview, as opposed to a summary of it, has to be ruled out on security grounds.
§ There is clearly much more that I could say. My noble friend has made many valuable points in his report, and I would like to assure him, if indeed he was in any doubt, that his reports are taken very seriously in my department. Copies will be sent to 1707 all chief constables in due course and we are most grateful to him for his careful and assiduous work.
§ If there are any points on which your Lordships wish me to enlarge I shall endeavour to do so at the conclusion of the debate.
§ Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 19th February be approved [11th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Earl Ferrers.)
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, the House will as usual appreciate the manner in which the noble Earl has moved this order. I should at once like to echo from these Benches what he said in expressing appreciation to the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, for his report which we read with great care. We realise the effort, the fairness and the assiduous work that he puts into these reports which we very much value.
I wish to make the position of the Opposition in this House abundantly clear. We are completely at one—I almost feel that this does not require to be said—with the Government in wishing to defeat terrorism at the earliest possible moment. We have co-operated with the Government, as we should in legislation which deals with international co-operation to defeat terrorism. We have supported the Government in legislation which aims to confiscate funds which are meant to support terrorist activities.
It is only in regard to certain matters contained in the Act that we feel uneasy about just a general continuation order. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to dwell upon the matters that we support. It is obvious from our previous attitude that we support the confiscation of terrorist funds. The noble Earl mentioned tape recordings. We are pleased to have received the recent announcement by the Home Secretary that those detained under the Act would have a limited tape recording made of their interviews in the police station.
However, as the noble Earl made clear, those tape recordings will merely be a summary. Perhaps I may ask for the noble Earl's reaction to this suggestion from the Front Bench. If he cannot give it immediately, I shall understand. Perhaps it would be a much better idea to give not only the impression of justice but a reassurance to everyone as to how these interviews take place and what are the justifiable actions following those interviews. Would it not be better if there were a complete tape recording and if arrangements were made that in any trial the judge should hear the whole of the tape recording? He could then excise from it those portions which he felt should be excised, either because they are not admissible for any reason, according to our law of evidence, or because they infringe security. Representations could be made to him in chambers as to what was thought about the security risks.
I emphasise this point not only because of the inherent justice which I believe lies within the point but also because some of us will have been concerned at the recent decision on extradition by a High Court judge in Eire. It would be our practice to say that 1708 we respect the judges' judgments in any country where we have reason to believe that the court is an independent court. I therefore show my respect in that context.
However, I believe that we do not make our lives any easier in front of foreign courts or in particular in front of courts in Eire if we do not show that our procedures are consistent with fairness, weighing it up in the balance of how we have to fight terrorism. I shall refer to our procedures in another context in a moment. We endanger the true and proper working of those courts in our favour if we do not show transparent justice where we can, certainly in the conduct of interviews where vital evidence will be given by the prosecution, based on those interviews. That is why I regard the point that I was trying to make to the noble Earl with such seriousness.
In the same context I examine the provision of detention without charge for seven days. Here again we give the excuse to certain courts, if they wish to take advantage of it when asking for co-operation, whether it be on extradition or whatever, that as I see it we are flying in the face of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Terence Brogan. The European Court held that detention without charge and without judicial review was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in regard to that case. I believe that when we have a provision which entitles us to detain without charge for seven days we are in danger of being in breach of the judgment and therefore of the convention which we have signed.
Lastly, I turn to the exclusion orders which the Minister mentioned. Again he dealt with a matter which was mentioned in the House on the previous occasion when we dealt with continuation orders. I am referring to the fact that the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, made it clear in his previous report that the Government ought to consider carefully the continuance of exclusion orders. His advice—if I may term it that—has not been followed. I regret that it should not have been followed. Again, we are literally saying that for our security someone who is not fit to live in England, Scotland or Wales can be required to live in Northern Ireland.
I could mention other points against exclusion orders and their justification, but I mention that one specifically because it seems to me to be quite inconsistent with the view that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom. How we can expect the people of Northern Ireland to respect our judgment—I put it no higher than judgment—in keeping these exclusion orders in our armoury against terrorism, is beyond me.
Those are our reservations. There will be no question of opposing in this House an order which has had the approval of another place.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I support the order. I believe that the powers that it confers on Ministers are justified on the basis of the terrorist threat to the United Kingdom. I am well aware of the concerns about exclusion orders. The noble Lord, 1709 Lord Mishcon, dealt with them when he referred to the strong reservations held by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, on this point. I am glad that the noble Viscount is in the House. He indicated that although that was his view and had been his constantly stated view, it was not the opinion of an almost unanimous police service in this country.
I concede at once that the exclusion order is a most unusual power to give to any Secretary of State. There is no difficulty at all about that. Nevertheless it is my view, based on my own direct experience, that without the operation of exclusion orders, many more of our fellow citizens in the United Kingdom would have been murdered by the IRA. Having said that, I must admit that I remain deeply uneasy about the Brogan case. The European Court of Human Rights has held, as the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, reminded us, that seven-day detention orders should be subject to some form of judicial intervention. Since we last debated this matter, the Government have derogated. I concede at once that this is a difficult matter. The noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, confirms that in paragraph 4.4 of his report. Nevertheless, as I am sure the Government recognise, the decision to derogate is an exceptionally serious matter. However, I concede that there is a precedent. All I would say to the noble Earl is that I hope the Home Office will keep this matter under review.
It is not just a question of satisfying Parliament at Westminster; our international reputation is also involved. We rely a great deal on international co-operation in our fight against terrorism. We have received substantial assistance both from the United States and from our partners in Europe. They, too, have to be persuaded that we are behaving reasonably. To take one example of that, Ministers will be well aware of the constant pressure faced by the President and his senior advisers in the United States from some members of Congress who are highly critical of our position in Northern Ireland. One does not have to be an enthusiast for their cause to remind Ministers that when they take action of this kind it can sometimes play into the hands of some of our most dedicated critics.
I should now like to turn to some other issues which were raised in the report of the noble Viscount. I agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, and the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, said. The reports of the noble Viscount have been remarkable pieces of work. They are clear and lucid and they are based on a substantial programme of visits to all parts of Great Britain. I know very well the deep appreciation felt by many senior police officers for the amount of effort that the noble Viscount puts into his reports. It is right to acknowledge that on a day such as this.
However, I shall deal with one or two other questions based on the judgments in the report of the noble Viscount. First, I wish to ask the noble Earl a question about the national ports scheme which, as he will know, is run by a department of the Special Branch of the Metropolitan Police. I am bound to say that I was rather disappointed to see in paragraph 2 of the report of the noble Viscount that a few police forces are still not members of that scheme. Obviously not all police forces have 1710 coastlines in their areas. However, as the noble Viscount has pointed out, all at the very least have a number of private airfields. I do not believe in interfering with the operational independence of chief officers of police, but I hope that the noble Earl will be able to confirm that these matters will be raised with those chief officers by the inspectorate of constabulary. I believe that is an important matter.
Secondly, I wish to discuss the issue of control facilities at ports which is dealt with in paragraph 6.4 of the report of the noble Viscount. This, as the noble Earl will be aware, is again a rather important matter. Paragraph 10 of Schedule 5 to the 1989 Act requires carriers to present passengers and crew in such a way that the police can fulfil their duties. Paragraph 9 gives the Secretaries of State the power to insist on proper control facilities for passengers. It also gives them the power to require port operators to comply with notified requirements for facilities and other matters.
The noble Viscount comments in paragraph 6.2 of his report:I assume that paragraph 9 is wide enough to ensure that port operators can be made to provide the facilities … which the police must have for efficient exercise of their PTA powers".However, in paragraph 6.4 the noble Viscount indicates that significant problems appear to have arisen at Felixstowe and Cairnryan, although some small improvements have been made at the latter port. Does the noble Earl agree with the noble Viscount that his right honourable friends have power to ensure that operators can be compelled to provide the necessary facilities when they decline to do so? I have looked at the relevant part of the legislation. It seems to me fairly obvious that Secretaries of State have such a power. However, if that is so, what action do they propose to take regarding the single operator at Felixstowe and Cairnryan?
It seems to me highly unsatisfactory that a single operator is not providing the facilities which are clearly required in the national interest. I hope that the noble Earl will be able to reassure me that the operator concerned will experience some heat from his department on this matter. I do not think it is at all appropriate, particularly given the past problems that have arisen at Cairnryan, to see difficulties of this kind still being experienced.
Finally, what action do the Government propose to take regarding paragraph 7 of the report of the noble Viscount which deals with ships which do not set out from designated ports? That is, of course, a matter of high importance, not only in relation to the prevention of terrorism legislation but also in respect of the smuggling of heroin and cocaine.
The noble Viscount has referred to various initiatives taken by a number of police forces from Devon and Cornwall to Lincolnshire and Dumfries and Galloway and has suggested in the final paragraph of his report that the neighbourhood watch scheme against crime might be extended to a "boatwatch" scheme around the coast. At first sight that appears an interesting proposal. I hope that the noble Earl will be able to confirm that this matter will be discussed by the inspectorate of constabulary and the Association of Chief Police Officers.
1711 As I indicated at the beginning of my speech, my noble friends support this order. However, as I have also indicated, I believe we have a right to expect progress on the Brogan case before we debate the matter again.
§ 8 p.m.
§ Lord Fitt
My Lords, since the passing of the original Prevention of Terrorism Act 1974 I have on a number of occasions in both Houses opposed many of the draconian provisions that were contained within that piece of legislation. I opposed particularly the powers of exclusion that my noble friend Lord Mishcon referred to. However, throughout the years that that legislation has existed, I have never found myself able to justify exclusion orders. I know that there are two sides to this story and that there are differences of opinion. However, I have desperately tried to find justification for the exclusion of certain people from England, Scotland and Wales to Northern Ireland in many cases that have been brought to my attention. I have referred to Northern Ireland as being a dumping ground. However, as the years have gone by, I have lived with and seen the effects of terrorism both in Northern Ireland and, latterly, in this country. I am now of the belief that legislation such as this is necessary. In the absence of this legislation the IRA and other paramilitary organisations would be able to move about far more freely to carry out activities which would undoubtedly increase the death toll from year to year.
The noble Earl has read out this evening a list of the number of people who have been killed since we last discussed this order. Those men, women and children, and very young babes in arms, have all been murdered by terrorists. Therefore I could not in all conscience either oppose the legislation or, even more cowardly but as some people would expect me to do, be absent when the issue was discussed.
The noble Earl has said that since we last discussed the legislation, there has been international co-operation in the fight against terrorism. He mentioned what had taken place in France, Belgium, Germany and so on. My reason for coming here tonight is to tell him that he is not receiving international co-operation where he should be obtaining it most: in the island of Ireland, from the Government of the Republic of Ireland.
I was appalled, sickened and saddened by the decision of the Irish court during this week. I say that as an Irishman and one who loves Ireland. We are only two days away from St. Patrick's Day, on which the Irish national saint will be commemorated and celebrated in Ireland. There will be great celebrations this year in the camps of the Provisional IRA. There will be great rejoicing in all paramilitary organisations because of that terrible decision which was handed down in the name of Ireland by the supreme court in the island of Ireland.
I cannot for a single second see any reason or justification for those five judges making such a disastrous decision. Let the lawyers talk as much as they like, let them go into all the legal niceties, let them emphasise the fact that it was a judicial 1712 decision and not a government decision: that judgment was manna from heaven for the murderers in our midst in Northern Ireland. Those judges are Irishmen. They have lived on the island of Ireland. Irrespective of the legal niceties of their decision, they must have been aware of the terrible effect that it would have in Northern Ireland.
That decision was a tribal decision. I say that with the authority of the knowledge that I have gained from living on the island of Ireland. If you oppose that decision, and I do most vehemently, then you are categorised as a Unionist, a Protestant, anti-Irish, pro-British. I am none of those. I am proud to be an Irishman; I am a Catholic; I have been an anti-Unionist all my life, and I love the island of Ireland. I certainly am not anti-British.
Let us analyse that decision. There is one thing that has not been said by any of the leader writers in all the thousands of words that have been written in the past few days. One of the reasons that the judges gave for not sending those two convicted criminals back to Northern Ireland was the fear that they might be assaulted by prison officers in the Maze. The judges said that they were protecting their constitutional rights. Their constitutional rights represent an intrusion into Northern Ireland. If the judges can give a decision based on their constitutional rights, it is in line with Articles 2 and 3 of the constitution which claims jurisdiction over the whole of the island of Ireland. Otherwise, they would not have any constitutional rights in the Republic, which would allegedly be a foreign country outside the United Kingdom. That is an admission and it is a precedent. That precedent is very far-reaching. We shall have to live with the consequences in the years that lie ahead.
The judges said that prison officers had been found guilty of assaulting other Republican prisoners in the wake of the very vicious break-out from the Maze prison in 1983. On that occasion 19 prison officers were brutally beaten, one of them was stabbed to death—he subsequently died—others were also stabbed and severely injured. I cannot stand here and say that those prison officers were justified in beating up those prisoners they were able to apprehend in the immediate aftermath of the break-out. However, one can quite understand their emotion and how they felt after being subjected to such brutality themselves by the escaping prisoners.
The very fact that the prison officers were charged with assaulting Republican prisoners and the Republican prisoners were awarded compensation last year means that those prison officers are far less likely to assault anyone who is given back into their charge. If they have been found guilty of assault and compensation has been awarded, the prison officers are going to be very careful before putting themselves in a position to be charged with assault again. The argument that the prisoners were going to be assaulted does not hold water.
We say in Northern Ireland that the IRA could not have sustained its campaign of murder for 22 years unless there was a section of the community which was willing and able to give it protection. It is like a fish; which, as Chou En-lai said, has to have room to swim around in in which it will be given 1713 protection. We all recognise the active service soldiers, as they are called, of the IRA, the ones who set off the bombs, who kill, who kneecap and who blow out the brains. We all know that they are there. However, there is another element in Irish society which does not do any of those things. They stand back in silence and wish those active terrorists well. There are far too many of those people in Ireland. They are not confined to one section of the community. We refer to them as the "prawn cocktail provisionals"—the people with the mohair suits who finance the IRA but do not let their names be mentioned.
Let us consider the history of the judges who made that decision. Every one of them was a political appointment. Let us go into the antecedents of the Fianna Fail Party. Fianna Fail is the party of the Republicans—that is what it says on its election material. Its present Taoiseach was charged in the courts in the 1960s with arms smuggling and gun running. He was found not guilty, but many people said that there was no smoke without fire. Some of the judges who gave the decision this week were actively involved in the defence of Mr. Haughey, who is at present Taoiseach. There is a line of communication all the way through nationalist Ireland. That is why it was a tribal decision.
Can anyone blame the Protestant majority, the Unionist majority, the people who live—terrified for their lives—along the border where most of the murders take place, for being totally and absolutely furious at that decision?
I stood in this House when the Anglo-Irish Agreement was promulgated. I expressed great reservations about it. I did so with a knowledge of Ireland, not because of what I had been told over here or read over here. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was cobbled together without any discussions with the main party—the Northern Ireland Unionist Protestant majority—which was treated disgracefully. Its opinions were not asked for. We were told that the agreement would make extradition easier and that it would involve the Irish Government in a campaign to prevent terrorism on the island of Ireland. It has not done so.
People over here are inclined to forget very easily once an issue is taken out of the leader writer columns. Let us think of what happened in the case of Father Ryan. I do not refer to that man as a priest; I call him Mr. Ryan. He was suspected of having been involved in terrorist activities. He was arrested in Belgium. The Belgian courts decided to have him extradited to this country, but the Belgian politicians overruled that decision and sent him to Ireland. No one here criticised or opened their mouths about those happenings until Mr. Ryan arrived in Ireland. The Prime Minister then went to the Dispatch Box in another place and voiced her concern that it appeared that the Irish were unwilling to extradite Mr. Ryan. She was quite right to voice that concern. I was sitting in the Gallery and felt concerned about the whole matter.
Immediately the whole Irish diaspora from America and particularly from Ireland criticised the Prime Minister for intervening and saying that she wanted to see Mr. Ryan extradited. That was refused.
1714 It was not a case of the Dublin court saying, "We absolve ourselves. It was a judicial decision". The Attorney-General in the Republic refused to extradite Mr. Ryan. That was a political decision because he was a Law Officer of the Government.
There are three or four more cases pending in the Republic. The precedent that was set down last week will in effect mean that, if any of those IRA terrorists on the run in the Republic are apprehended, they can say, "Please don't send me back there because the warders are liable to beat me up". The IRA does not beat up warders; it blows their brains out and has done so over many years.
Was it not possible for those five judges who were so caught up with their legal jurisprudence and their right to protect constitutional rights to say, "We can't send them back to the Maze Prison, but we could send them back to another part of the United Kingdom because they are convicted terrorists". Naturally, there would have been great dissent, from Republican sources, but that would not be true of most reasonable people.
I have been watching television programmes and saw one this morning which made me sick—the "Kilroy" programme, on which the IRA justified its actions. It takes the view that IRA political prisoners do not get justice in Britain. I say, with the full knowledge that my noble friend Lord Mishcon is on the Front Bench, that I have been deeply unhappy about the official Labour Party response to the happenings over the past two or three days, certainly not from Members of this House. However, one spokesman for the Labour Party said, "We have good co-operation from the Irish Government—900 people have been extradited over the past 20 years, many of whom were terrorists". That is untrue. Many of them were not terrorists. The vast majority were charged with other criminal offences in this country, for example, tax evasion. Only a handful of terrorists—I believe five altogether—have been extradited back to the United Kingdom.
I raise the matter deliberately so that the Government may question matters through the Anglo-Irish Agreement with which I do not agree. I do not believe that Britain has achieved anything out of that accord. In response to Ireland giving a promise that she would do everything she could to apprehend terrorists, they were given a say in the running of affairs in Northern Ireland through the Anglo-Irish Conference.
Over the past two or three days, most of the editorials have said that the Anglo-Irish Agreement must be kept, otherwise we might go back to megaphone diplomacy. I suggest that a little megaphone diplomacy in cases such as this would be all to the good because the British people and the British Government would be speaking on behalf of the Northern Ireland people. They should shout as loud as they can to those Congressmen on the Irish-American scene in America who believe every bit of propaganda that is ladled out to them by the Provisional IRA.
There are two sides to that story. America's Congressmen do not have to contend with bombings and murders in America. Those acts take place here. I read today that a member of the Kennedy family 1715 has again criticised Britain for not giving justice to Irishmen. If those same Irishmen were bombing his homeland in Boston or other parts of the United States, Congressman Kennedy would be peddling a different tune.
I feel strongly about the matter. I could go on for a long time. Another part of the judgment was by Mr. Justice Walsh. He said that, if terrorists fight to unite the country, it is a political offence and they should not be charged or extradited. That takes us back to the realms of uncertainty.
I have noticed that not too many Catholics in Northern Ireland have voiced their criticism at the decision of the Dublin High Court. I wonder why. Does it mean that every Catholic wants to see IRA men released so that they can return to the use of the gun, or that they are frightened? Do they think that it is not right to break away from the tribal response and say something which might be construed as helping the British or the Protestants?
I do not believe that I am helping the British or the Protestants in any way by voicing my concern at that awful decision. I believe that I am helping humanity in Northern Ireland by saying and doing whatever I can to force the Irish Government to look again at their extradition procedures and to look into their own mind and conscience to see whether they have done all they can to prevent terrorism on the island of Ireland.
Yesterday's Evening Standard contained a leader on this issue. The last sentence is appropriate to clear thinking on this week's events. It stated:Terrorists are enemies of all Ireland, North and South: and so are the the judges who wrongly set them at liberty".I urge the noble Earl to make whatever strong representations he can to the Government so that they in turn may make the strongest representations to the Irish Government to live up to what they say they are doing and to take every action to prevent a further eruption of terrorism in the island of Ireland.
My Lords, I am grateful to your Lordships for the contributions that have been made on this matter which affects us all gravely and about which we all feel acutely concerned. Perhaps I may start my remarks by referring to the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, who, if I may say so, made a speech which was full of feeling—feeling which derives from his knowledge of Northern Ireland and his concern about the judgment made last week.
I can understand why the noble Lord feels cross, angry and upset. I believe that most of us feel very concerned. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister said that the judgment was grossly offensive and totally unjustified. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State said that it was an unacceptable slur on the practices which are carried out in Northern Ireland and that he would be pursuing with the Irish Government his concern that the system should work effectively and fairly. However, the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, will recognise—as the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, said—that it was a judicial judgment. As such it is a judgment of the courts and one which we must respect, even though we may not agree with it. I should also say that 1716 throughout the whole extradition process it was the Irish Government which was seeking the extraditions on our behalf. Indeed, it made strenuous efforts on our behalf all the way through to get these two men extradited. It is the judicial judgment about which the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, is so concerned.
Effective extradition arrangements between our two countries are vital to co-operation against terrorism. We shall closely study the terms of the judgment to see how similar episodes can be prevented in the future. In fact the judgment consists of seven judgments which run to 98 pages, so there will be quite a lot for the Government to consider and decide how we can best run affairs so that these unfortunate occurrences do not happen in the future. The noble Lord, Lord Fitt, was not too complimentary about the Anglo-Irish Agreement but both governments are committed, in the context of that agreement, to ensure fair and effective extradition arrangements between our two countries. That is what we wish to try to ensure happens.
Both the noble Lords, Lord Mishcon and Lord Harris, referred to the Brogan judgment. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, said that Members of the United States Congress would be critical of what we do. I have no hesitation in saying to your Lordships that derogation from the convention is not to be taken lightly. We did not undertake it lightly. But by the same token, nor is any measure to be taken lightly which would weaken the effectiveness of our response to terrorism. To put it frankly, the Government were not able to find a system that would satisfy the terms of the convention without risking the lives of individuals and valuable intelligence or affecting public trust in the independence of the judiciary. That is the reason that we had to have the derogation. In the Government's view, intelligence and the sources of intelligence might have to be revealed either to the judge, the defendant or his representatives. That would put or might put security at risk. The derogation is limited to extensions of detention under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland but of course not to international terrorism.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, was concerned that a tape recording was being made only of the summary and not of the complete interview. I quite see why the noble Lord would have preferred the recording to be of the whole interview, But our view remains that the information that might be revealed to the police during an interview with a terrorist suspect could be such as to put lives at risk should it fall into the wrong hands. Tape recording the whole interview might therefore discourage the suspect from speaking freely to the police and information vital to our efforts against terrorism would therefore be lost. The police also rightly fear that tape recordings of interviews could provide terrorist organisations with an insight into police investigative matters which otherwise would not be available to them.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, perhaps the noble Earl with his usual courtesy will give way. I rise only so that the House may be clear on what is being said.
1717 Is the noble Earl saying that a full recording on tape will not take place? In those circumstances, how does one prepare a summary? I did not understand that the Home Secretary's statement meant that there was not a full recording of which there was a summary. That is why I suggested that the judge should be given jurisdiction in camera to decide which part of the tape should in fact remain as evidence.
This is an important point. If the noble Earl cannot help us now, I shall understand and perhaps he will be kind enough to write to me. I am sure that equally the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and possibly the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, would also be interested. It is an important point. If there is a full recording, his point about suspects not being prepared to speak so frankly when there is a full recording obviously would not apply.
My Lords, I shall certainly give the noble Lord details later exactly how it is proposed the arrangement will operate. I should emphasise that it is not intended to have a full and complete recording of the whole interview because by so doing it is possible either that the interviewee may not give the information which he would otherwise give (because it would be on the tape and might fall into the wrong hands) or he may well find that he would prefer to be less open. It is for that reason that a summary of the interview will be taped as opposed to the whole interview itself. I note that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, is concerned. If possible I shall try to placate his anxiety in more detail later.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, was also concerned about the exclusion powers. He said that it was inconsistent, if Northern Ireland is to be part of the United Kingdom, that we should exclude certain members of the United Kingdom from part of that kingdom. I understand his concern. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, was in favour of it. It is a matter of great concern if one must have such exclusion orders and of course they are highly controversial. As I said in my opening remarks, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris, agreed, one can never say when the attempt has been successful. We are concerned that there is evidence to consider—evidence which makes us believe that if we did not have those exclusion powers, unfortunate and unattractive though they may be, others would suffer as a result. If they had been removed, I believe that noble Lords would agree, given the examples that I mentioned earlier, that there might have been either more deaths or more trouble from terrorism than has been the case with the exclusion powers.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris, was concerned about Cairnryan and Felixstowe. I can tell him that discussions are taking place with the port operator about the improvements which need to be made. The local police forces are being fully consulted. I hope that significant improvements will be made shortly. We do not at present foresee any need to use the powers which are available under Schedule 5.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris, also referred to the national ports unit. The national co-ordinator of ports policing continues to encourage the remaining 1718 forces to join the scheme. They have no major ports but as traffic grows, or if new facilities are developed, they will need to consider joining the scheme.
With regard to small boats—this was another point made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris—I was grateful to my noble friend Lord Colville for his analysis. The Home Office is discussing the issues with police forces and other agencies including customs and immigration. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, will understand that I am not in a position to describe in detail what we have in mind but I can assure him that we take the matter very seriously and hope to make proposals before too long.
I acknowledge that in this order there are exceptional powers. They are intended to meet exceptional circumstances. We all look forward to the day when the Act will no longer be necessary. However, so long as terrorism remains a threat to the people of this country we shall have to seek to continue to keep it in force. We shall continue to provide the police with the powers they need. But we also have due regard for the rule of law. That is why there is an extensive range of safeguards associated with the Act that we are now extending by means of this tape recording of interviews on an experimental basis.
I am grateful to your Lordships for having given overall approval to the order, even with the reservations that have been expressed. I hope that noble Lords will see fit to approve the order. I commend it to your Lordships.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.