Skip to main content

Prevention Of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuance) Order 1996

Volume 570: debated on Tuesday 19 March 1996

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

7.21 p.m.

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 22nd February be approved [11th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall speak also to the second Motion on the Order Paper. As in the debate in another place, there are two elements to the debate on the prevention of terrorism powers. Two orders are to be considered by this House. The first relates to the renewal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act for a further 12 months. The second relates to some amendments we propose to be made to Schedule 2 to the Act. These will bring the procedures under which exclusion orders are made into line with European Community law following the judgment given in the Gallagher case. The debate is to be followed by separate votes on each of the orders. I shall deal with each of the orders in turn.

First, I shall deal with the renewal of the PTA. I should like to begin by thanking Mr. John Rowe QC for his very interesting and thorough report on the operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 1995. His clear recommendation is that the Act should be renewed, and for the full 12 months possible under the Act. The Government have accepted his recommendation but before I explain why I should like to say a little about the background to tonight's debate.

The background is very different from last year's, and indeed very different from that which I thought it would be only a few weeks ago. We argued last year for the continuation of these powers against the backdrop of a Provisional IRA ceasefire and the subsequent cessation of violence by loyalist paramilitary groups. While recounting the very real threats which still existed and noting the activities of the first part of 1994, I was able to point to the hope felt by many in Northern Ireland and Great Britain that the threat from terrorism would diminish in the longer term. At that time, and for the first time for many years, the people of Northern Ireland were beginning to experience the fruits of peace. They could go about their daily business without fear of violence from either republicans or loyalist paramilitaries. For the first time, too, in many years, the imminent threat of Provisional IRA violence in Great Britain had receded.

The hope was that the cessation in the violence would become a lasting peace. As your Lordships know, the Government have done all in their power to bring that about. In the months which followed the paramilitaries' respective ceasefires, we reduced the more visible and inconvenient aspects of security. In Northern Ireland we took soldiers off the streets, and border crossing points were reopened. The number of house searches carried out in 1995 under the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1991 were reduced by 75 per cent. and the number of arrests under Section 14 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act fell to a third of what it had been in 1994. There has been new investment in Northern Ireland and new jobs have been created. Tourism was on the increase.

The total number of detentions under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the United Kingdom for 1995 was 70 per cent. down on 1994's figure. We constantly sought to move the peace process forward. The Government held talks with all the parties including Sinn Fein at ministerial and official level. The terrorist response to these developments was the bomb at South Quay on 9th February. As ever, the Provisional IRA's intent appears to have been to kill or to maim as many people as possible. It is with great sadness that I remind the House that two people were killed in that blast; many others were injured, some seriously. I know that I speak for the whole House when I say that our thoughts are very much with them and with their families.

Since then there have been further incidents, further injuries and another death. Our deepest thanks go to the emergency services whose courage and professionalism have done so much to limit the injury and pain planned by the Provisional IRA. A new ceasefire has not been declared. Instead Mr. Gerry Adams tells us that the Provisional IRA is offering another 25 years of bloodshed.

The powers in the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 enable us to fight terrorism more effectively than would otherwise be the case. That is why we have argued for their renewal each year, and it is why we do so again today. In his report on the operation of the Act in 1995, Mr. Rowe confirms that the paramilitaries have retained their structure and their organisation intact throughout the past 18 months. Murder, assault, intimidation, and coercion; all continue in their name and under their direction. He concludes therefore that the provisions of the Act are still needed and that the Act should therefore be renewed. His report was prepared and submitted to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary before the Provisional IRA's ceasefire came to an end. His conclusions must carry even greater force now that the bombings have begun once more.

The Government agree with Mr. Rowe's conclusion. It would be sheer folly to lower our guard now by allowing any of the provisions in the Act to lapse. The events of the past few weeks surely put the continuing need for the Act beyond question. But the Act's provisions are not used solely to counter Northern Irish terrorism. Some of its powers can be, and indeed are, used to great effect to counter the threat of international terrorism. The most recent examples are the charges on explosive offences—after detention and extension of detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act—made following the car bombs outside the Israeli embassy and Balfour House in July 1994. In 1995 a series of detentions under the Act of those suspected of involvement in the terrorist campaign in France were a contributory factor in the disruption of that campaign. One of those detained is currently held following an extradition request from France. Mr. Rowe concludes that whatever happens in Northern Ireland there is always likely to be terrorism of an international kind; that the manifestations of this are increasing; and that the need for the Act's provisions to counter them therefore remains.

I should also like to say something about the inquiry which is currently being undertaken by a Member of your Lordships' House, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced to the House on 9th January, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, had then agreed to lead an inquiry to consider whether specific counter-terrorist legislation would be required once a lasting peace was established in Northern Ireland. His review is under way. It will examine the provisions both of the PTA and of the Northern Ireland emergency provisions legislation in the course of considering what may or may not be needed in future. His terms of reference remain unchanged notwithstanding recent events and the Government will consider his conclusions once the inquiry has been completed. I understand that the noble and learned Lord hopes to report before the autumn.

The Government's first priority must be to protect the public. To do that we need to give the police the powers they need to combat terrorism effectively. The provisions of the PTA are needed to stop the terrorist from taking action and from re-stocking his armoury and to deprive him of funds and a place to hide. In the absence of peace, at a time when the terrorist is ready and willing to strike and slaughter at random, there can be no question but that the Act is needed. The Act must be renewed, and for the full period of 12 months allowed under the Act. I therefore commend the order to the House.

I come now to the second part of this debate. The second order before the House today amends the procedures in the PTA governing the making of exclusion orders.

In putting the case for the renewal of the Act, I have not dealt with the detail of the powers themselves. They have been discussed and debated many times before, both here and outside Parliament. We all know the arguments. Except as regards the making of exclusion orders, I shall not detain the House therefore in describing them now.

The power to make exclusion orders may be used only to counter the threat from Northern Irish terrorism; and it has, as Mr. Rowe points out in his report, proved a valuable tool over the years in disrupting terrorist plans.

Particular individuals can be barred from entering Northern Ireland, Great Britain or the United Kingdom where the Secretary of State is satisfied that they would take advantage of their presence in that place to commission, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism in connection with the affairs of Northern Ireland. The use of this power not only hampers the terrorists' ability to travel, but because their identity is known, it also limits their overall usefulness to the terrorist organisation to which they belong. Once their organisation is aware that the activities of an individual have become known to the security forces, their usefulness necessarily diminishes.

Some have argued that keeping people under observation could be more effective than exclusion. But the Government believe that the resource implications of mounting a surveillance operation in every case would be substantial, and in most cases that would not be a realistic proposition.

Some people have suggested that the process of exclusion is arbitrary and unfair. I do not accept this, and Mr. Rowe's report makes it clear that it is not so. Before any order is made, a considered report is sent to the relevant department. Mr. Rowe refers to the further scrutiny of the case for exclusion by officials and by the Secretary of State. This scrutiny is robust. I was pleased to note from his report that Mr. Rowe found that each participant in the process,

"approached the task with fairness",

during the year under review.

Each case is assessed on the basis of the available facts. There are currently 33 orders in force. That is the lowest number ever since the power was introduced.

The reduction in the numbers of orders in force since 1994 reflects the assessment of the level of threat presented by certain individuals at the relevant time. I have to tell your Lordships that the case to exclude each of the 33 is a strong one and that it remains.

It is possible that further orders will be made, particularly now that the Provisional IRA's ceasefire has broken down. But each case will, as now, be considered very carefully on its merits.

The need for the exclusion power is proven. It is effective. It is an essential weapon in the counter terrorist armoury. Now is not the time to relinquish it.

But we propose to make some changes to the procedures governing the making of exclusion orders in order to bring them into line with European Community law following the European Court of Justice's ruling in the Gallagher case; and these are set out in the second order which we are debating today. The regulations are to be made under Section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 which makes special provision to facilitate the amending of legislation to bring UK law into line with European Community law.

For the avoidance of doubt, perhaps I may say that the Court found no fault with the substance of the power to exclude. Its judgment simply requires the Secretary of State to obtain independent advice in every case where he is considering whether to make an exclusion order before the decision is taken.

The new procedures set out in the regulations require the Secretary of State to serve written notice on any person in the United Kingdom against whom he is considering making an exclusion order; to refer the matter for advice to one or more independent persons nominated by him to give him advice on such matters; and to take the advice he subsequently receives into account when making his decision. A person who has been served with such a notice may make written representations setting out his objections and can ask to be interviewed by the independent adviser before the latter reports to the Secretary of State.

These new procedures replace very similar procedures in Schedule 2 to the Act but which currently apply only after an exclusion order has been made.

Historically, those detained under the Act have often been at an advanced stage of planning a terrorist operation. The decision to arrest them will have been taken either because surveillance has been compromised or because there is uncertainty as to the exact timing of a terrorist attack. This can sometimes mean that the individual is detained before sufficient evidence is available to secure a criminal conviction. In such cases it is often the police who apply for an exclusion order.

These people can be dangerous, committed terrorists involved in an operation at an advanced stage of planning. It would not be right to release them back into the community pending the procurement and consideration of independent advice.

That is why there is currently a power to detain individuals during that time; and it is why the new regulations before us contain a similar power of detention. Under the new procedures it will he possible, if the individual concerned is within the part of the United Kingdom from which consideration is being given to excluding him, to detain him for the period between the serving of the notice and the final decision being taken.

This power is not always used now. It may not always be used in the future. Sometimes the individual is permitted to leave the jurisdiction pending consideration of the case against him. This will still be possible in future.

All the necessary procedures will be carried out as swiftly as possible. But, as your Lordships will have seen from the regulations, the time it takes for any individual to be interviewed and so forth is partly dictated by them. The individual concerned will have seven days from the date of the notice, if they arc inside the jurisdiction from which consideration is being given to excluding them, in which to make their representations and request an interview.

The events of the past five weeks fill us all with dismay and sorrow. Peace seemed for a while as close as it has ever been and then the terrorists chose to return to violence and murder. The bombs in London serve the interest of no one and no party. They have shown us, however, that we cannot afford to drop our guard. We do not propose to do so. We continue to need the emergency powers contained in the Act. The orders before us will give us those powers, and I commend them to the House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 22nd February be approved [ 11th Report from the Joint Committee].—( Baroness Blatch.)

7.37 p.m.

My Lords, the Minister spoke, entirely properly, for, I think, 15 minutes in total. I begin by saying that I agree with 13 minutes of what she said—in other words, minutes one to 10 and 13 to 15. Therefore, it will be clear that on a subject on which one must be entirely serious we are largely in agreement with the Government.

We are, and always have been, in total agreement with the Government, and I believe with all the people of this country, and with virtually all the people of Northern Ireland, on the nature of the scourge of terrorism in Northern Ireland. We have always totally condemned terrorism by paramilitaries of whatever persuasion, and we do so again. We do so with renewed fervour because of the deplorable resumption of hostilities by the IRA in recent weeks. We share with the Government and with all parties in your Lordships' House the sincere hope that it will be possible by the continuation of the peace process to persuade the IRA to return to its ceasefire and to enable positive negotiations to take place in the period following 10th June of this year. Our position on all these matters has never changed; and we have pursued our bipartisan support of the peace process ever since it began, as I think will he recognised by Ministers and indeed by all noble Lords.

We have always accepted that there must be some form of anti-terrorist legislation. In 12 of the years since the legislation was first introduced by a Labour Government my colleagues in another place have felt it necessary to vote for the legislation, although they did not do so in other years. That fact is evidence of our recognition of the need for anti-terrorist legislation while the situation in Northern Ireland continues. Our votes against that legislation in certain years have been specific, by design. I shall deal with each of the issues in turn. We have been concerned with the problem of exclusion orders and with who is responsible for the extension of detention and whether that should be the Secretary of State or whether there should be a judicial element. Above all, we have been concerned with the need for a general and comprehensive review of counter-terrorism legislation.

I deal first with the issue of exclusion orders. The figures which the Minister gave us tonight are extremely welcome. We are glad to learn that the number of exclusion orders in force has decreased from a much larger figure in recent years down to 33. The number of exclusion orders is important and we are glad to note that the figure has been reduced. Nevertheless, exclusion orders are internal exile, which has not been part of our law since the time of Henry VIII. We must surely continue to look forward to a time when no citizens of the United Kingdom are excluded from one part of the United Kingdom. By using the phrase "United Kingdom", I do not in any way prejudge the result of the peace process. I am saying that we are citizens of the United Kingdom and it must surely be our intention to ensure that we all have freedom to move everywhere within our own country.

Having read Mr. Rowe's report carefully, I still do not know whether the exclusion orders have an effect. It is true that a majority of the police in all parts of the United Kingdom take the view that the orders continue to be necessary. But it is to be noted that a significant minority expressed the view to Mr. Rowe that the exclusion orders were not performing any useful purpose. While it is not a basis on which we or my honourable friends in another place would vote against the order, nevertheless we look for a statement from the Government that they share our view that exclusion orders are peculiarly undesirable. All counter-terrorism legislation is undesirable, but exclusion orders are especially so. They ought to be brought to an end either by administrative action—in other words the action of the police—or by an amendment to the Act as soon as possible.

The second issue is extended detention. Again, we have reluctantly come to accept that extended detention is necessary, although I understand that in recent years the number of detentions under the Act beyond 48 hours has fallen. It is quite small, although the power exists for extended detention for seven days. All that is welcome.

Our specific complaint about extended detention is the involvement of the Home Secretary rather than judicial involvement. We hope that, in legislation which contains many necessary elements, the Government will continue to scrutinise that element with care and will bring it to an end as soon as possible. In other words, where there is a derogation from the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act that should be done within the judicial process, without political involvement. I believe that that principle ought to commend itself to many noble Lords. We hope that it will commend itself to the Government and that we shall not be in the position of being forced to mention it in future years. Ideally, we would not wish to be faced with these regulations under the temporary provisions Act 1974 in future years.

The third issue is the general and comprehensive review. Over the years at intervals there have been reviews of the operation of the anti-terrorist legislation by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, Lord Gardiner, Lord Shackleton and, recently, the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, in 1987. We welcome the appointment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, to undertake a review which was announced in January of this year. I appreciate that the terms of reference of his review are not strictly a review of the prevention of terrorism Act. As I understand it, his responsibility is to consider the future need for specific counter-terrorism legislation in the United Kingdom if the cessation of violence connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland leads to a lasting peace. It has not yet, but we welcome the fact that the noble and learned Lord has been encouraged and is continuing his review, even though the ceasefire has come to an end and there has been a resumption of violence.

I do not believe that one ought to make a distinction between the need for counter-terrorism legislation in Northern Ireland in the present situation and the possible longer-term need for counter-terrorism legislation in respect of other enemies. The considerations are the same, whether it is the IRA or the Groupe Islamique Armée of Algeria, or whoever else it may be. The noble and learned Lord's inquiry specifically considers terrorism in general and seeks general principles about how we, as a free nation, seek to counter terrorism and to learn what departures from our normal procedures may be necessary if we are to succeed in doing so.

That most important concern which we had about the prevention of terrorism legislation has, I believe, been properly answered by the appointment of the noble and learned Lord. We welcome it. On that basis my honourable and right honourable friends in another place felt that it was unnecessary to continue to vote against the continuance order when the matter came before the House of Commons last Thursday. However, as I have made clear, they felt that some of the provisions are still defective. Therefore, it was not possible to give a blanket approval to the continuation order.

I turn now to the exclusion orders regulations. Again, we do not oppose them, but they are Henry VIII legislation. We are, by order, amending Schedule 2 to the current 1989 Act in considerable detail. I accept that the need for amendment which arises in part from the Gallagher case before the European Court of Justice has been demonstrated. We certainly do not oppose this exclusion order, and we shall not be voting against it. But I do so only having drawn attention to the strictly constitutional impropriety of amending legislation in this way.

The involvement of the European Court of Justice, as has been made clear, was relatively peripheral to the fundamental thrust of the exclusion orders. It was concerned with the opportunity for an independent review rather than with the principle of exclusion orders themselves. On that basis, we do not oppose the second order that will be put before the House.

In conclusion, we find ourselves in complete harmony with the Government on almost all the issues relating to terrorism that confront our country. We share with the Government a desire not to have any more derogations from the rule of law than are absolutely necessary to maintain our position in seeking to defeat terrorism. We do not under-estimate the power of terrorists who have no fear of public opinion and have nothing but their own fanaticism to drive them forward. We see that in Northern Ireland, but we see it much more strongly and horribly with the suicide bombs in Israel. We do not think that a prevention of terrorism Act will prevent terrorism. But we think it is necessary to do what we can to minimise the effects of terrorism, and to that extent, subject to the remarks I have already made, we are not opposing these orders.

7.51 p.m.

My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness. She was so quick off the mark that I missed her opening two minutes. We on these Benches share the very deepest regret, felt in this House and elsewhere, about the resumption of terrorism by the IRA. We also greatly welcome the Government's determination to pursue the peace process when it would have been so easy to find cause to abandon it. What the Government have done in this respect should have the support of everyone.

I shall not pursue some of the contradictions in the Labour Party's approach to the order. They are such that even the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh became tongue-tied trying to explain them. I invite noble Lords who have any doubt about the matter to read the debate in the other place on 11th March to get the full flavour of the divisions in the party. What I particularly regret are not differences of opinion, which are natural enough and are found in any party, but the failure of the Opposition to support positively what we believe to be a necessary measure. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, made the best of a bad fist in that respect. Because I have a regard for him, I like to believe that if there were to be a vote on the order in this House he would have found it extremely difficult not to support it.

The views that the noble Lord expressed about the original legislation and what has happened since will be widely shared. I do not think any noble Lord can welcome the order, because it might imply welcoming the necessity of it. But we accept it because it is an instrument, however limited, in the fight against terrorism.

I recommend that noble Lords wishing to explore the matter should look back to the debate in this House in November 1974 and study particularly the remarks of my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich in introducing the Bill, as it then was, and what he said about the fundamental need for such legislation in the circumstances of that time. I also advise noble Lords to read the speech of my noble friend Lord Wigoder. He had some very wise words to say about how we had to be very careful that the legislation did not become a permanent feature of the landscape in this country. I should be quite happy to rest, if that were sufficient, on what they said all of 22 years ago.

There is no question that there is a derogation from civil liberties in the order. I agree—at least, I do not dissent from, if that is the best way of putting it—the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, about detention for seven days and about exclusion orders. I regret those powers. We should not take them for granted, and we should not allow them to become a permanent aspect of legislation in this country.

Of course, it is true that the expression "prevention of terrorism" is a misnomer. The legislation of 1974 and the subsequent orders, including this one, neither prevent terrorism nor ensure the capture of those who practise it. It is a blunt instrument. But its role, although limited, is not one we can abandon. I accept that innocent people are sometimes victims of it. Sometimes, also, it may impede good relations between the police and the community. That is the inescapable price that in today's circumstances we must pay, faced with the threat that terrorism represents to a free and democratic society, sustained both by the rule of law and by our belief in the liberties that flow from it.

A year ago, in the debate in this House on 16th March, I said that I could not see why a full review should not be undertaken of existing legislation and that that could be done without prejudice to the order we were then discussing. I said that we on these Benches believed that such a review should be undertaken without delay. I made those remarks a year ago, and the view had been expressed before.

The noble Baroness, in her reply to that debate, while accepting that the time might come for such a review, said that it would be premature. It remained "premature" for all of 10 months. But that is no reason why we should not welcome the announcement made in January this year of an inquiry—the review to be undertaken by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick.

There is, however, one point on which I should like to be clear. It may be the point on which the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, briefly dwelt. The terms of reference of the inquiry are to,
"consider the future need for specific counter terrorism legislation in the United Kingdom, if the cessation of violence connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland leads to a lasting peace".—[Official Report, Commons, 9/1/96; col. 33.]
That could he read as meaning that as, very sadly, the terrorism has resumed and we do not know when a further cessation may take place, in effect, the inquiry of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, is on hold meanwhile. I am sure that that is not the intention of Ministers, and indeed I understand that the noble and learned Lord is taking evidence at the present time. But perhaps the Minister will confirm my assumption that, whatever the terms of reference, it will be within the power of the noble and learned Lord not only to make such recommendations as will be appropriate once the cessation of terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland has led to a lasting peace, but, if that cessation has not taken place, to make whatever recommendations he feels are proper in respect of the legislation that has resulted in this order. As I say, we accept the need for the order with reluctance; but we support the necessity of bringing it forward.

7.58 p.m.

My Lords, I support the renewal of the temporary provisions Act, which I consider to be most necessary. Rather than put the argument in my own words, which people may think indicate that I take a particular view, I refer to paragraph 13 of the report by Mr. J. J. Rowe, QC, which has already been referred to by the Minister. It states:

"The proscribed organisations still maintain their structure and organisation, and murders and assaults are carried out in their name and under their direction. Between 8th December 1995 and 2nd January 1996, 5 murders were carried out by DAAD, which is widely believed to be associated with the IRA. The influence of the proscribed organisations is as strong as ever, and they retain the capacity, which they exercise, to intimidate and coerce individuals and businesses. I have seen examples. Jurors and witnesses receive threats, or fear to receive them; traders pay 'protection money'. Collections are made for contributions; and funds are diverted to the organisations by fraud and racketeering. Robberies are carried out to raise money. Explosive devices have been found: a new mortar device has been developed for use … [in] Northern Ireland. Considerable amounts of firearms and explosives are still in the hands of the proscribed organisations and ready for use. Training goes on, and there is some recruiting — The summary is this: there remains a capability to carry out attacks with explosives and firearms; the risk of immediate large scale violence has gone down, but the threat of it is still there, and the structure and influence of organisations remain. In these circumstances, there is a need for the PTA so far as concerns terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland".
That was written in respect of the year 1995, during the so-called ceasefire. How much more is it applicable today in view of the recent atrocities that have been committed.

Another point that was made by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, concerned the possibility of a judicial element in exclusion orders. Again, I take an impartial source and quote Mr. Rowe:
"it must be remembered that an application for an exclusion order usually relies upon and recites information which does not amount to admissible evidence; it is intelligence which is secret, and cannot be disclosed in court, because disclosure would compromise the source of it, and endanger someone. An application to a judge would rely on material just like this. Thus the person against whom the exclusion order was sought could not be told what the information was, and so could not cross-examine or challenge it, and could not raise an answer to it … In these circumstances the judge would not be hearing both sides, and the rules of natural justice would simply be absent. The judge could not give reasons for a decision, there would be no appeal, and there would be no possible guidelines from a superior court. He would be acting as a judge in name only".
The other aspect that I should like to mention is the funding of terrorism. That is very important. People talk about Godfathers and the Mafia-like characteristics of some of the terrorist organisations. Again, that was dealt with by Mr. Rowe in paragraph 41 of his report, in which he said:
"There are two other sections which have been effective on the financial side of terrorist activity; section 12 as to voluntary disclosure of a suspicion that money or property is derived from terrorist funds, and section 18A which penalises failure to disclose knowledge or suspicion of financial assistance … all these powers have been used to support anti-terrorist investigation; I was given important examples of the detection and analysis of financial transactions, and this applied both to international terrorism and terrorism connected with Northern Ireland".
With that mention of international terrorism, we must remember that most of this Act—not in its entirety but most of it—applies to the whole of the United Kingdom and not just to Northern Ireland. It is essential in this country that we have proper defences against people who come here from another country and seek to plot against the government of that country or some faction within that country and do it within the shelter of the United Kingdom. It is essential that we are able to defend ourselves against such activities.

Finally, I join in the welcome that has been given to the review that is to he undertaken by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. We have every confidence in his ability and impartiality and we look forward to reading his report when it is published.

8.6 p.m.

My Lords, I shall be brief. Ever since I introduced, as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Prevention of Terrorism Act in another place in 1976, I have consistently supported the continuation of that Act and the exclusion orders which back that legislation. Tonight, I do so once again.

The ceasefire has ended. We are now back in a terrorist-war situation. There is all the more reason therefore to support the Government in their fight against terrorism, both terrorist forces within the United Kingdom and those who come from beyond our shores.

We have just endured an uneasy peace, welcome though it was particularly for those in Northern Ireland. I wish that it could have continued. But I believe that it was a sham. As I have reminded the House on previous occasions, the Provos—the Provisional IRA—were never at rest. When Gerry Adams was heckled in West Belfast, he said, "They haven't gone away, you know". Well, we know that now.

During the course of the ceasefire, Irish Americans, many of them gullible and naÏve, with no real knowledge of the Northern Ireland situation, raised nearly £½ million. Many of them thought that it was going to Provisional Sinn Fein or probably the families of terrorist prisoners. But in reality it has been going to the Provisional IRA. It has been paying for recruiting and training in the Republic and used as payment for the movement of arms or bomb-making equipment, renting safe houses, supporting activities such as dummy bomb runs in London and surveillance of persons. Therefore, there has been no shortage of moneys to finance those operations. Indeed, there is no more classic example than that of the lorry used in the Canary Wharf bombing which was prepared and moved from Northern Ireland to Great Britain; weeks of work were involved and it took place during the so-called ceasefire. No doubt that job was made easier because of the relaxed state of the security forces.

Having reverted to a terrorist-war condition, we must use to the full the legal armoury of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the exclusion orders.

During the ceasefire, the Provos have taken full advantage of all those relaxations, many of them when visiting the mainland from both the north and south, visiting friends or attending football matches and so on, but diverting en route to leave a message in a covert drop, awaken sleepers, contact an active service unit, move arms and establish safe houses. We know in retrospect that for the past 18 months that has been going on. So checks at our ports and airports must be increased and exclusion orders are an important element in those operations.

I know there is concern about the extension time that a suspect can be held under the orders and that a Minister or the Secretary of State can determine the length of detention. I have no qualms about that, having done it and treated it with the seriousness that it deserves. I recognise its value. Tracing, tracking and detaining suspects, including exclusions, may he harassment—hut often it disrupts the plans and operations on the mainland and deters suspects from crossing from Ireland. As Mr. Rowe mentioned in his report, the powers to make exclusion orders deter terrorist acts and deprive the terrorist groups to which these people belong of some of their experienced operators.

The latest figures show that 477 people were detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1995: 19 were held in connection with international terrorism—that is some proof of its value—and the rest were in connection with Northern Ireland terrorism. Subsequently, 121 were charged with offences under the Act and these orders.

The terrorists are still active; they are not at rest. There has been no recognition by them of the ceasefire; and without these orders more terrorists would be active. I know that some people complain and object to these orders. But libertarians must understand that we have to forfeit a little liberty to save and secure a lot of freedom. That is the crux of anti-terrorist legislation and that is why I back these orders tonight.

8.11 p.m.

My Lords, the House will appreciate that, in rising to speak tonight, I may bring a slightly different perspective to this debate. First, I thank the Minister for introducing and explaining the orders. I wish to explain why I am speaking; to go on to look at some of the background; to look at the current situation and then to ask the Minister a number of questions.

Why am I speaking? It will be appreciated that when I first came to this House 11 years ago I attempted to divide the House against the Prevention of Terrorism Act as it was being renewed and I did that for a number of years. I stopped doing it because I received no support in the House for my point of view. I noted also that the legislation was changed a little by the introduction of the 1989 Act.

There are two elements that bring me to my feet tonight. First, in the second of the orders we are effectively introducing a new power of detention without charge and without judicial review. Secondly, given the debate and discussion that surrounded the Labour Party's opposition to these renewal orders, I felt that I had to stand and reaffirm my commitment to the principled position based on what I believe is a pragmatic view of the facts.

Perhaps I can explain a little of the background as I see it. The original Prevention of Terrorism Act was introduced in 1974, 22 years ago. If any Act introduced by Parliament demonstrates the adage that legislation introduced in haste leads to repentance at leisure, this does. I only hope that we can learn from that experience and not be pushed into a knee-jerk response following the horrific tragedy that occurred in Dunblane last week.

Over the past year or so we have experienced a peace process. It is worth considering the background to that. We need to look at the economic circumstances, the predominant one of which is the accession of the Republic of Ireland to the European Union. As a result it became involved in the common agricultural policy, which injected massive economic stimulus into its economy and reduced the gap between the two economies—that of the Republic and that of Northern Ireland. I can also point to the immense damage done to the City of London by the Bishopsgate bomb and other activities.

We should all pay tribute to John Hume for instigating the peace process. But we need to be aware that the Government placed road blocks in the way of that peace process. The first was the demand for the surrender of arms and the second was elections prior to talks. When we consider the situation in South Africa, we see that the ANC was not required to surrender its arms before a rapprochement between its members and the ruling white elite. When one looks at the situation in Israel and Palestine, one sees that there was no requirement for elections prior to negotiations.

With regard to the current situation, it is unfortunate that the peace process has broken down and I am sure that we all hope that some way is found to ensure that it is resurrected and taken forward. We are faced with a continuation of seven-day detentions without charge or legal review and exclusion orders that have already been referred to this evening by other noble Lords. I am not sure of the current situation—this is almost a rhetorical question for the Minister—but the last time I researched the subject the only other part of the world that operated a system of internal exile was the Soviet Union, when it existed. Even in the Soviet Union there was some form of judicial review of the process of internal exile.

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. Is he going to try to justify the 2,500 civilians—many of whom were women and children—who have died as a result of terrorism? It is not a road block; it is a dastardly effort to reduce any peace chance in Northern and southern Ireland.

My Lords, one of the matters we must look at is what is the practical reality of our actions. We are talking about the renewal of the draconian powers—that is how they were described when they were first introducedߞcalled the Prevention of Terrorism Act. We have had 22 years, less a little bit, of terrorism. The new situation with which we are presently faced, which is part of the reason I am speaking tonight, is that, because of the European ruling, the Government have seen fit to amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act in regard to exclusion orders and effectively bring in a new power of detention prior to operating the exclusion orders.

I am sure that there are other ways in which the Government could approach the issue, but they have chosen to introduce this new power of detention. On my immediate reading of it, it would appear that there is no time limit. It is supposed to be carried out "reasonably quickly", but no specific time limit is placed on the powers of detention. That gives rise to a number of questions.

First, will the detainees have the safeguards of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act? Will they be able to consult a solicitor and contact their families? How will the Home Secretary be safeguarded against charges of abuse of unfair executive powers? Finally, who will be the person nominated by the Secretary of State to conduct the investigation and the review of those powers of the provisional detention order, if I may describe it like that?

In concluding my remarks, I believe that the Prevention of Terrorism Act effectively discriminates against Irish people and acts as a recruiting sergeant for violent Irish nationalists, and that is the reason why I take a principled stand against it.

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he accept that this Act would become unnecessary if the IRA would adopt a democratic procedure?

My Lords, as I understand the noble Lord's question, what he is effectively saying is that, if the peace process in Ireland can progress so that all the parties agree and an effective peaceful situation can be arrived at, then, by implication, there would be no need for the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Unfortunately, we have heard a number of people around the House tonight effectively saying that, whatever happens in Northern Ireland, this is going to carry on. I think we do need to have a very serious look at how we deal with this. Yes, there are problems of terrorism, of international terrorism, of people taking violent acts, but I would hope that we would not ride roughshod over the principles of civil liberties that have been established over centuries in this country in the process of dealing with that problem.

My Lords, first, I am grateful to all those noble Lords who have spoken in favour of these orders. May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, that I welcome what he said and I understand very well the particular point the noble Lord made when he said that the measure was not so much welcomed as seen as a necessary measure to counter terrorism. I think that is a very appropriate way to describe these measures.

I may also say that we have heard the many voices of the Official Opposition, the Labour Party, tonight. We heard them in another place but we have heard them again tonight. I do want to put it on record that the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, speaks with some very real insight, understanding and experience of that land and knows exactly and appreciates, I believe, the importance of these measures. As for the noble Lord, Lord Mason of Barnsley, we all know in this House of the distinguished service that he gave in very high office in Northern Ireland and of his incredible courage and bravery, and I believe he has been entirely consistent throughout and sees the full force of the need for this legislation.

I have to say that the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, will have given succour to only one set of people tonight. They are the terrorists and the Provisional IRA. Much of what he said was very much more in their interests than in the interests of people who walk free in our country.

The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, have expressed concern about the exclusion power. They had objections to it on the grounds of civil liberties or as an unacceptable form of internal exile. As I have already said, this is a power which has been used sparingly and has been used carefully over the past year. There are only 33 exclusion orders currently in force, and that is less than half the number in existence at the beginning of 1995. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, accepted this and recognised it, but he nonetheless believes that they are wrong. However, it would be naïve and irresponsible of the Government to abandon the power completely while the Provisional IRA maintain their weapons and maintain their explosives and, indeed, maintain their will to use them. I wish it were not so, but I am afraid that we have to face hard realities.

The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, referred to the second order as a Henry VIII order. The amendments made by the second order are not Henry VIII provisions. That is a type of provision that I know and he knows well allows you to do whatever you like. The amendments are made under Section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. That provision entitles us to make regulations to implement our Community obligations, and that is what these regulations do in response to the European Court of Justice's ruling in the Gallagher case.

My Lords, if the Minister will allow me, I really do not want to detain the House but of course a Henry VIII order is not one which allows you to do what you like. It is the amending of primary legislation by means of secondary legislation. It is a very specific thing and the reason why I did not object to it was because intrinsically it is right and, although I did not expand on it, also because it is required by the European Communities Act 1972.

My Lords, the noble Lord has done battle with me across this Box on many occasions; he has always referred to them as being open-ended and sometimes the use of a Henry VIII clause can be seen because one has to rely on the Secretary of State to use a power in the appropriate way.

I confess I am not impressed by arguments about civil liberty if we are talking about the civil liberty of a person to travel around the United Kingdom to commit what acts of terrorism he pleases. The Government and, I am sure, the vast majority of the population are far more concerned with the civil liberty to run a newsagents in Docklands without the roof being blown off on top of you or the civil liberty to catch a No. 171 bus without it and its passengers being blown to bits in the Strand. As for the extensions of the detention order under Section 14 of the Act, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary gives his personal authority for any detention beyond 48 hours. In doing so, he looks at the case put forward by the police, including, for example, the need for further inquiries or for searches to be made or, with foreign suspects, for suspicious material to be translated, and he takes into account any intelligence we may have which might justify the inquiries where an extension of detention is necessary for investigative purposes. It is authorised for that purpose.

This is a decision which cannot he subject to a judicial process, some have argued, since the full intelligence picture, which alone enables an informed judgment to be made, could not be revealed to the detainee. The noble Lord, Lord Mason, certainly understands this and the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, referred to it specifically. It would not be susceptible to examination or challenge. No reasons could be given for a judicial decision and, as Mr. Rowe wisely pointed out in his review of the operation of the Act in 1995, a judge would be acting as such in name only and, in essence, he would—and I quote the report:
"have every appearance of being an arm of the executive".
I am sure that noble and learned Lords would agree with me that this would be a most unsatisfactory outcome. The idea of introducing a judicial element has in fact been rejected in reviews of the Act by Lord Shackleton in 1978, by my noble friend Lord Jellicoe in 1983 and by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, in 1987.

Perhaps the most difficult area to address is the funding of terrorist operations in other countries. Whatever legislation is in place, it is extremely difficult to get the evidence to secure a conviction. Money is laundered through various routes and some may indeed be used for humanitarian purposes as a cover and, as soon as one supposedly innocent fund raising activity is exposed, I regret to say that the collecting tins will come out under another guise. To tackle this, we need close and careful international co-operation and, in many cases, it may be best to tackle the fund raiser rather than the fund he establishes, excluding or deporting when my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is satisfied that the activities concerned are effectively funding terrorism elsewhere. It is an area to which the Government will continue to give very close attention and, if there are ways of tightening up our practices which will make a real difference, we will put them into effect speedily.

We all regret the necessity for this Act. It is only on the statute book because of the activities of terrorists. So long as there is terrorism there must be prevention of terrorism. It is a reasonable defence against the very unreasonable acts of terrorists, and I think most people in the country would welcome the renewal of the Act as a way of making life more difficult for the terrorist and helping to prevent further outrages.

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell's questions: yes, detainees, as now, are able to seek a solicitor and have an interview with an independent adviser, and the PACE rules, as I understand it, do apply to the exclusion order provision.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act is our principal legislative defence against terrorists of every description. I commend the two orders to your Lordships to make sure it remains so.

My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, I asked her a specific and important question about the inquiry of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. I asked whether it was in limbo because the terms of reference refer to cessation of terrorism and to a lasting peace. I thought she was going to say—I hope she will say—that it is not in limbo at all but is proceeding. I think we need that on the record.

My Lords, I apologise. I was trying to avoid going back to some bitty points—not unimportant points but I did not want to go on repeating myself. I apologise most profusely for not referring to that point. I am able to say that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, will indeed take into account as part of the review the possibility of not only a lasting peace, for which we all hope, but also the awful possibility that a ceasefire is not secured and the need for continuing legislation. That will form part of the review.

On Question, Motion agreed to.