Terrorism Bill — Expiry and revival (No. 2) — 15 Mar 2000

Oliver Letwin MP, West Dorset did not vote.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 8-- Expiry and revival (No. 2) --

When lasting peace is established in Northern Ireland there will continue to be a need for permanent anti-terrorist legislation.

He went on to argue--we will come to this in later amendments--that new legislation should apply not just to violence related to Northern Ireland but to terrorism throughout the United Kingdom, covering domestic as well as international terrorism.

once lasting peace has been established in Northern Ireland, there will continue to be a need for permanent counter-terrorist legislation to deal with the threat of international and domestic terrorism.

From my interviews with the police, the Security Service and other counter-terrorism specialists in the UK and overseas, I am convinced it would be a mistake--indeed, that it would be folly--to assume that a few years of relative freedom from acts of international terrorism here meant that the threat had largely gone away. There are two reasons for that view.

First, to measure the threat merely in terms of the number of planned attacks which have been carried out in the UK would be to ignore the substantial effort which goes on, largely in secret, to avert such incidents. Evidence which I have seen and heard, though I cannot set it out here, persuades me that, although the immediate threat is low, international terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to carry out attacks against UK interests, at home and abroad.

The second cause for caution is that developments in world politics and the changing nature of terrorism have made it difficult to predict what the future holds. Chapter 4 of Professor Wilkinson's report deals with some of these factors. Regional and national conflicts which have generated terrorism, or have the potential to do so, will continue throughout the foreseeable future. The complex problems in the Middle East and North Africa will remain the most important factor, not least because of the pronounced anti-Western position adopted by some of the parties involved. As the "weapon of the weak" terrorism is likely to remain an attractive option to those engaged in regional power struggles, facilitated by the ever-increasing international freedom of movement of people, goods and information. The UK, together with some other Western countries, is particularly liable to be caught up in these struggles because of the number of communities of foreign nationals who live, or seek sanctuary, here.

the Government believes that there exists now a clear and present terrorist threat to the UK from a number of fronts and that a terrorist threat is likely to continue to exist for the foreseeable future even when a lasting peace in Northern Ireland is achieved.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

(2) All persons wishing to consult a solicitor must be permitted to do so as soon as is reasonably practicable.'.-- [Mr. McNamara.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment No. 173, in clause 40, page 18, line 34, at end insert--

It is of paramount importance for the rights of the defence that an accused has access to a lawyer at the initial stages of police interrogation.

The Government intends to retain the arrest powers of the PTA which entitle the police to arrest without warrant anyone who they have reasonable grounds for suspecting. Liberty has long been concerned about the existence and operation of this power and considers that it should not be retained for the following reasons:

it is unnecessary: there is no evidence that the PACE powers of arrest are inadequate.

it is too wide: it permits a police officer to arrest where the person is not suspected of committing any offence . . .

powers have been used in the past simply as an intelligence gathering device.

These points are particularly important in view of the widened definition of terrorism.

In England and Wales, whether a person is arrested under PACE or under the PTA, he has the right to consult a solicitor and to have the solicitor present during interview. He is also entitled to have someone he knows informed of his arrest. These rights may be delayed on the authority of a superintendent if he reasonably believes that such communications might be detrimental to the investigation for one or more specified reasons. The maximum period during which a detainee may be held incommunicado corresponds with the length of time for which he may be detained without further authority. Thus, in non-terrorist cases the rights of access may be delayed up to 36 hours whereas a terrorist suspect may be held incommunicado for up to 48 hours. Furthermore, in terrorist cases an officer of Assistant Chief Constable rank or above may order that consultations with a solicitor are to take place within the sight and hearing of a uniformed officer of at least the rank of inspector.

as soon as is reasonably practicable.

The person named must be . . . a friend of the detained person . . . a relative, or . . . a person who is known to the detained person who is likely to take an interest in his welfare.

What if none of those categories applies? For example, people from abroad might have no one in those categories in this country. Much abuse is being heaped on beggars at the moment. If they were taken into a police station under these powers, they might have nobody in those categories available.

Where a detained person is transferred from one police station to another, he shall be entitled to exercise the right . . . in respect of the police station to which he is transferred.

consult a solicitor as soon as is reasonably practicable, privately and at any time.

a detained person . . . may consult a solicitor only in the sight and hearing of a qualified officer.

an officer of at least the rank of superintendent may authorise a delay.

the reason shall be recorded as soon as is reasonably practicable.

in the absence of a further authorisation under sub-paragraph (1).

shall be promptly informed of their right to consult privately with a solicitor and to have a solicitor present at all interviews to be conducted under this Act.

as soon as is reasonably practicable

as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

(2) The Secretary of State may by order provide--

(a) that a provision of this Act which is in force (whether or not by virtue of this subsection) shall continue in force for a specific period not exceeding five years;

(b) that a provision of this Act shall cease to have effect;

(c) that a provision of this Act which is not in force (whether or not by virtue of this subsection) shall come into force and remain in force for a specified period not exceeding five years.

(3) An order under subsection (2) shall be made by statutory instrument; and no such order shall be made unless a draft of the statutory instrument containing the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.'.-- [Mr. Simon Hughes.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 47, Noes 281.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 100.6%
DUP1 0050.0%
Independent0 1033.3%
Lab273 (+2 tell) 6067.5%
LDem0 36 (+2 tell)082.6%
PC0 2050.0%
SNP0 1016.7%
UUP7 0070.0%
Total:281 47051.3%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

NameConstituencyPartyVote
Paul FlynnNewport WestLabaye
Dr Jim MarshallLeicester SouthLabaye
John Martin McDonnellHayes and HarlingtonLab (minister)aye
Mr Kevin McNamaraKingston upon Hull NorthLabaye
Alan SimpsonNottingham SouthLabaye
Ms Audrey WisePrestonLabaye

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