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Volume 692: debated on Thursday 7 June 2007

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

“Mr Speaker, the House will know that we face an unprecedented threat from terrorism. It is the duty of the Home Secretary to ensure that our response provides the best possible protection against that threat on a personal, local and national level. That is why we have increased the spending on counterterrorism to £2.25 billion in 2007-08. That is why our security services have never been better resourced. MI5 has doubled the number of people it employs since 2001, and we have given greater powers to the police, such as increasing the length of time they can detain terrorist suspects from 14 to 28 days. Furthermore, in April, we refocused the Home Office to concentrate on protecting the public and securing our future in a more effective way. The new Home Office brings together responsibility for managing the Government’s counterterrorism strategy, including the new Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism.

“In pursuit of the same objective, we have now completed a comprehensive review of potential counterterrorism legislation. Legislation forms a relatively small, but vital, part of our response to the terrorism threat. It sends a signal to those who wish to plot terror and turn people towards violent extremism that their actions will not be tolerated, as well as offering substantial protection. This is a threat that is continuously evolving, so it is crucial that our response evolves with it to include legislation which is effective and proportionate and to provide the maximum possible security and liberty for the law-abiding majority.

“In approaching this, I have tried to incorporate three elements. First, I want to strengthen our capability to counter terrorism and protect this country from acts of terrorism. Secondly, I want to try to ensure that as we increase these powers where appropriate, we also increase the parliamentary, judicial and sometimes public scrutiny to ensure a proper counter-balance against any arbitrary use of these powers. That is essential in any democratic society. Thirdly, it is my intention, wherever possible, to proceed to build national consensus on national security, to build cross-public and cross-party consensus. That is why I will set out proposals today. It is in that context and spirit that we will bring forward a new counterterrorism Bill later this year. Today I want to outline our approach and the main areas of law it might strengthen.

“Because I start from the position that it is desirable to reach a consensus on national security wherever possible, I want to ensure that there is extensive consultation before any legislation is introduced. Today’s announcement is only the start of that process. For very good reasons, previous counterterrorism legislation has been fast-tracked through Parliament. We have an opportunity here to do things differently. That is why the Prime Minister, my honourable friend the Member for Harrow East and I have already met members of the Opposition. Today, following those meetings, we will outline the areas and direction of measures we wish to pursue. Then we will conduct further discussions and consultation, after which we will produce further detail, including a full Bill content paper, which will then further inform discussion.

“Since it has been said to me, and I completely accept, that the devil is often in the detail of proposals, we then, at that stage, intend to share draft clauses before introduction and to seek the scrutiny of the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights in key areas. I can tell the House that I have also asked today for Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of counterterrorism legislation, to undertake a report on what is proposed.

“In addition to discussions we will have in Parliament, with colleagues on my own Back Benches and the Opposition, I am also committing to discussing fully with those organisations that have an interest in the proposed legislation. That includes discussing the proposals with the police, representatives of the judiciary, civil liberties groups and with communities. I hope that the House will accept that this is a more comprehensively consensual approach than we have ever used before, but I think that this is the best way of establishing counterterrorism measures. To begin the consultation, I have today produced a short document, copies of which will be placed in the House Library and available on the Home Office website.

“Now I turn to a number of specific areas. The decision to increase pre-charge detention limits from 14 to 28 days has been justified by subsequent events. It means that we have been able to bring forward prosecutions that otherwise may not have been possible. We have made it clear for our part that we believe that it is right for terrorist cases—I stress, terrorist cases—to go beyond 28 days. But I want where possible to build broad agreement on the way forward—if that is possible. I would therefore like to begin discussions now on how we might do that.

“I am not being definitive, but one way might be to legislate now to extend the current limit but to make it clear that there would be further judicial and parliamentary oversight if such measures were to be implemented. That would continue to include judicial approval every seven days for any request to hold suspects, but it might also, for instance, include a detailed annual report to Parliament on the pattern of the use of such powers with an accompanying debate. We will discuss that further.

“We are planning to legislate so that in terrorist cases suspects can be questioned after charge on any aspect of the offence for which they have been charged. With regard to adverse inferences, we will apply the same rules for post-charge questioning that currently apply to pre-charge questioning. In addition, we are considering notification requirements, similar to those already imperative for sex offenders, once convicted terrorists leave prison.

“Where terrorists are charged with general offences, we believe that the sentences should be enhanced to reflect the additional seriousness that terrorist involvement represents. The House will know that I do not consider control orders to be our best or most effective option, but we need to make of them what we can. We are therefore proposing a number of changes to control orders, including measures relating to fingerprinting, DNA and powers of entry. We do not want to propose any amendments at this stage that might pre-empt the forthcoming judgments from the House of Lords. We accept that these are always controversial.

“We would like also to legislate to place data-sharing powers for the intelligence and security agencies on a statutory basis and put the police’s counterterrorism DNA database on a statutory footing similar to that of the national DNA database. I stress that these measures do not alter the powers of the police and agencies to collect material.

“The Government’s position on intercept as evidence has consistently been that we will change the law to permit it only if the necessary safeguards can be put in place to protect sensitive techniques and to ensure that the potential benefits outweigh the risks. I have not been persuaded that this is the case. However, I accept that the right approach is to address this carefully and fully before deciding on whether to use intercept as evidence. That is what we are and have been doing.

“However, we believe that we now need to reach a conclusion on the issue. Therefore, subject to further discussions to agree the structure and timescale, I am today announcing that we will commission a review of intercept as evidence measures on Privy Council terms.

“Consideration of powers to stop and question, currently available to police in Northern Ireland and suggested for introduction across the UK by the Northern Ireland Office, is at a very early stage and subject to a process of internal government consultation. We will report the outcome of that in due course.

“I believe that terrorism remains the greatest threat to life and liberty that this country faces. It is our greatest challenge, and it is important that our legislation continues to evolve to meet that threat. I firmly believe, however, that any legislation to deal with the threat to national security should be taken forward with the full support of this House where possible. I hope that the process which I have outlined will enable us to do that”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for reading out to your Lordships' House the Statement by the right honourable Home Secretary.

The Opposition welcome this new approach to the drafting of terrorist legislation. Hitherto, the Government have almost invariably reached their decisions without consultation and then proved quite immoveable in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary. The process that the Minister now outlines will, if fully implemented by the Government, allow not just your Lordships’ House and another place, but those who have an interest in these matters outside Parliament, to play a full part. I also hope that we will see during this process an end to some of the posturing that has been evident from certain members of the Government in relation to terrorism.

There are some matters that have been announced by the Government today which have our wholehearted agreement. I am thinking in particular of, first, the introduction of a terrorist offender register. Secondly, we agree with the requirement that those committing offences who are at the same time involved in terrorism should see their sentences aggravated by the terrorism factor, although that should be handled carefully by the judiciary; it should exercise that new power proportionately. The third proposal is one that we have been pressing for the last two years—that there should be interviews after charge. Once again, the rules about how that should be introduced will have to be carefully thought through if the processes for fair trial in this country are to be properly protected. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, will underline that if he chooses to intervene.

In reading the Statement, the noble Baroness placed great emphasis on two factors to which your Lordships have addressed your minds with particular intelligence and acuteness over the past two years. The first is intercept evidence, and the second control orders. I am, of course, not as great an expert on the subject as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, but it is clear to me that if we can find a way of allowing intercept evidence to be used in terrorist trials, that will substantially reduce the dependence we need to place on control orders. The questions of intercept evidence and control orders are intimately linked.

I welcome the announcement today by the right honourable Home Secretary that he intends to establish a committee of privy counsellors to consider ways in which intercept evidence might be introduced in the trial process without in any way compromising either the sources of the methods used or the techniques. I ask the noble Baroness to pass on a suggestion that, if the decision of the committee is to be credible, it should be chaired by a privy counsellor who is quite independent of the Government, and that the committee should be representative of all parts of the political spectrum.

About two and a quarter years ago, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor gave an undertaking to your Lordships' House that we would be able to revisit the legislation that introduced control orders in full measure. That undertaking has not yet been met by the Government. I understand why the noble Baroness has announced this afternoon that the Government wish to wait until the Judicial Committee of your Lordships' House reaches a decision on some important issues that are in front of it in relation to control orders. However, if the consultation process on the matter unrolls in the way that the Government suggest, that decision will be comfortably behind us by the time that the legislation is in place. I therefore see no reason why we should not be able to review the control order system in its entirety in our debates on the new Bill when it comes before Parliament. I should be most grateful if the noble Baroness would confirm this afternoon that if the decision of the Judicial Committee has been made by the time that the Bill is introduced, the Government will meet in full measure their undertaking to your Lordships' House made in March 2005.

Although I have said some critical things about the Government this afternoon, I underline that we welcome the Statement and the principles that lie behind it. Terrorism legislation is constitutional legislation. By that I mean that it affects the liberties of the individual citizen. If we fail to protect those liberties by ceding unnecessary ground in legislation to the powers of the state, we shall simply signal to terrorists that they are winning. So it is absolutely crucial that we ensure that we cede the minimum amount of liberty necessary to achieve the maximum protection for our citizens.

My Lords, I add my thanks to the Minister for repeating the Statement in your Lordships' House. I am grateful to her, too, for the more detailed explanation that she gave me in expectation of this Statement.

We also welcome cross-party consultation about measures to tackle terrorism. I fully concur with the sentiments and reasons advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland. That is the right way in which to proceed. The British public rightly expect that on an issue of such importance parties will work together rather than create synthetic points of difference. Equally, we welcome the wider consultation, referred to in the Statement, with civil liberty organisations and other relevant bodies.

There is another reason why a consensus on terrorism legislation is important. If agreement is reached, it will send a clear message that the country is united in its approach to safety and security. Terrorists who wish to harm our country will have no comfort from any one of us. The process of consultation is attractive because it will allow us to identify where cross-party agreement is possible. We must also accept that there will be grey areas where consensus will be possible if proposals advocated by the Government are based on clear and compelling evidence.

It is equally important that we achieve the right balance between rights, liberties and security measures. That is particularly important when the effect of both the language and policy of our anti-terrorist strategy can have such an impact on the opinions of precisely the communities whose co-operation we need to counter terrorism. We also welcome the fact that this consultation will lead to draft legislative proposals. We should seek cross-party support before a Bill is put before Parliament.

There is a need to recognise the limitations of a consultative process. There are bound to be matters on which cross-party support cannot be reached. However, I am glad that the Minister identified issues for consultation. I need not repeat them, but I offer our views on at least four of them.

On pre-charge detention of 90 days, 28 days or something in between, we have yet to see any compelling evidence that this is necessary. Such a departure from the principle of habeas corpus should be considered only if there is overwhelming evidence available at the consultation.

On intercept evidence in courts, the Government are aware that we supported the amendment proposed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. This is vital if we are to focus on terror convictions. While there is merit in the Privy Council committee, it must not be used as a delaying tactic. We stress the need for an independent chair. A better way would be for the group to be asked to find a way on how such evidence could be admitted in court without jeopardising the work of our security services.

On pre-charge questioning of suspects, we have been advocating this change. As for control orders, however, it is clear that they are not working. Six controlees have absconded. Even John Reid has said that they are full of holes. It will not help to tinker around with this legislation—we need a fresh approach.

Overall, we are broadly supportive of other measures and proposals, but we need to look at draft legislation as part of the consultative process. At this stage, I shall simply ask the Minister to indicate when the Government expect my noble friend Lord Carlile to report. My noble friend has pointed the way forward in a number of media interviews, and this may lead us to a road map towards a proper consensus.

My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for the temperate way in which they responded to the Statement. I very much welcome what they said, particularly, if I may respectfully say so, the comment of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, that if we can reach agreement between ourselves, it will send a very clear and powerful message to those who wish to undermine the security, stability and well-being of the people of this country. We are all of one mind. Therefore, I say very openly and frankly to the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, that in terms of aspiration nothing divides us.

Our country is a proud democracy. We wish to give no succour to those who wish to undermine democracy, not only here but elsewhere. The challenge with which we are faced is great because we have at the same time to preserve civil liberties and the public security and well-being. When we have had to introduce legislation in the past, we have all had to do that quickly—sometimes much more quickly than any of us would have desired. These provisions give us an opportunity to do that which I am sure many on all sides of the House would most like to do, which is soberly and carefully to review all the measures and to arrive at a situation which will deliver for us the balance we have all sought for some time.

I agree that we must seek consensus wherever it is possible. I understand what the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, said—that there may be issues upon which we will not be able to arrive at total unanimity and consensus. I am sure that all of us in this House and in the other place will work as hard as we can to make sure that those areas are narrow and limited. In saying that I am greatly comforted by considering all those issues upon which the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, and the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, indicated their assent. I acknowledge that a number of these issues have been pressed for some time by parties and individuals.

Intercept is one of the issues upon which there is not total agreement. The assent to the suggestion that we should now seek consensus through a committee on Privy Council terms is not an attempt to put this issue into the long grass, if for no other reason than that we know a very efficient mower comes along every other moment to make sure the grass is kept very smooth and short. It is a genuine attempt to reach a conclusion.

There is nothing between the Government and the Opposition on the desire to use this information if that can be safely achieved. But that is the issue—can it be? Therefore, I very much agree with both noble Lords that these provisions give us an opportunity to do just that. As regards control orders, it very much depends on whether the Judicial Committee of this House comes to a resolution sufficiently quickly to enable us to consider the matter in the round. I am very grateful for the indication given by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, that he accepts the propriety of not seeking to look at this as a wholesale change unless and until we have had an opportunity to consider what the Judicial Committee has to say. Not only would it be discourteous to that committee not to consider its view but it would deny us an opportunity to receive sound advice and direction on how we should take this matter further.

There is no dispute that, for different reasons, we believe that the control order system could be better. We could have a number of arguments—although we will not have them today—about why the control orders are not as effective as they could be, but we now need to start again. I thank the House very much for the spirit in which the Statement has been received because that augers well for our deliberations in the future.

My Lords, I apologise to the House for not having been present when the noble Baroness started to read the Statement but I was present when she finished it, and of course I have seen a copy of it, so I know what it contains.

I welcome the part of the Statement that deals with intercept evidence. I am delighted that the Home Secretary has decided to set up a committee of privy counsellors to investigate the whole question because, as the Minister may remember, that was the very purpose that I had in mind when I introduced the Interception of Communications (Admissibility of Evidence) Bill in 2005, although I could only ask for a Select Committee of Members of this House, which I did.

One of the objections to having a Select Committee of Members of this House was that there was already the Intelligence and Security Committee and it could do the job. But I have always been of the view that an ad hoc committee to consider the problem was required, and that is what I am glad to hear we now have.

I have only two short questions for the Minister and I think that both are easy to answer. I hope that she does not see me in the guise of a mower who is determined to keep the grass short. I do that at home but not in the House of Lords.

First, I read a reference to a committee of Members of the House of Commons considering this matter. I take it that Members of this House are not excluded from such consideration, but perhaps the noble Baroness can confirm that. Secondly, will she do her best to ensure that membership of the committee will include those with expertise not only in intelligence and police matters but, above all, in the criminal justice system? I say that because of the widespread misunderstanding that still exists about the extent to which the courts can, and even do, restrain and protect sensitive intelligence. If she can answer those questions satisfactorily, then I myself shall be very satisfied.

My Lords, I reassure the noble and learned Lord that the whole idea of the Privy Council committee came from members of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition. We have taken that proposal very seriously. We will talk to all parties about how the committee should be set up and who should be on it. I cannot give a definitive answer to that because that is what consultation is. If the committee is to be of a mixed complexion, it would be appropriate for us to talk to the relevant parties about how it should be made up. The beauty of having a Privy Council arrangement is that we will have the benefit of privy counsellors who sit on all Benches and in both Houses, so we can pick from an array of talent.

Perhaps I may say how pleased I am by what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, indicated in relation to the committee. That enables us to move forward. If we look at the details of the clauses and the Bill in the future, that might be the better time to consider the outcome of whatever deliberations there may be by then. I say that because we do not yet know how the work of that group of privy counsellors will be taken forward.

My Lords, I join with those who have expressed appreciation for this very helpful preliminary Statement. It is helpful to have it in this form. As a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I welcome the undertaking to seek scrutiny by that committee and by the Home Affairs Committee. I can assure my noble friend that we shall take that task extremely seriously.

Does my noble friend agree that, in considering these proposals, it would be very helpful for parliamentarians, and for the general public, to have as much contextual information as possible? Of course, there are security implications and it would be foolish to overlook that. For example, just what is changing in the nature of the threat that makes any additional powers, or an extension of existing powers, necessary? It would be helpful to have an indication of that. Similarly, it would be very helpful to have an indication of how many prosecutions have not been brought but which could have been brought if there were a further extension of the period of pre-detention and of how many prosecutions that have been brought and which were possible only because of the extension from 14 to 28 days.

As a member of the Joint Committee, I do not want to waste time raising issues that we shall probably raise in the committee. However, I draw my noble friend’s attention to the fact that, on a recent, very interesting visit by the Joint Committee to Paddington Green police station, and during discussions with the very helpful and co-operative police with whom we spoke, it was strongly pointed out to us that the police would find it extremely helpful to have the provision of police bail in this situation. I wonder whether that will be included in the possibilities that are put out in the consultative paper to which this Statement is committed. Above all, like others, I believe that this is the right way to approach the matter and it has been helpful and sensible of the Government to make this preliminary Statement.

My Lords, on contextualising, we will try to give as much information as we safely can. Your Lordships should know that in relation to two of the terrorism suspects who were subsequently dealt with effectively, we went right to the edge of the 28 days. To my knowledge, that was a matter of some importance. We shall have to consider whether it is necessary to go further. That is why the Statement talks about that and the seven-day extensions. There will be an opportunity for us to look very carefully at that point.

On the number of prosecutions, we have the report from the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew. The Government are very open to receiving any cogent, sound suggestion in this area that any part of the House thinks will help. This is not a situation in which we have closed down the options or the opportunities. We have an opportunity to discuss and to debate, so I do not close off the suggestion of police bail, but there are some very clear dangers in bail in relation to individuals who have been arrested and are being detained because they are identified as possible terrorists. Detention is being considered because it is felt that we need to retain them in custody while further investigations are undertaken. I am in no way being dismissive, but I am simply saying that there may be challenges on some of those issues as they arise.

My Lords, the Minister has referred to the delicate balance between security and civil liberties. Because a consensus has to be achieved on that, the Statement is extremely welcome. I hope that the consultation process works well. It might have been better achieved if Mr Gordon Brown had restrained his impatience in seeking to pre-empt that agreement with his statement at the weekend.

I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Judd, that there must be evidence-based decisions. Although the Minister has referred to various matters in the report of my noble friend Lord Carlile, I hope that we will have something specific before both the committees and this House. On the post-charge questioning, will the Minister confirm that there will be stringent safeguards, that there will be an opportunity for the parties to discuss them and that regulations are not brought forward at the Third Reading of some Bill? There should be discussions on that important matter.

As for intercept evidence, unlike the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, we will be reapers, not just mowers, if there is an attempt to kick that issue into the long grass. I hope that we can have an assurance from the Minister that intercept evidence will be fully considered.

My Lords, the whole point of saying that we are going to consult on post-charge questioning is that we are going to consult on post-charge questioning. There will opportunities for all of those who have a genuine interest in this issue—and I know that the noble Lord is one—to put forward suggestions. We must clearly have safeguards for post-charge questioning, and there will be an issue as to what they are and how we ensure that they are implemented in a proportionate and appropriate way without impinging inappropriately on the ability to being people safely to trial. All those issues will clearly be important.

It may help if I give a few more details on the figures and extensions since 31 December 2006. Since the extension from 14 to 28 days, 10 suspects have been held for over 14 days: six have been held to the maximum and three were released without charge. We must look at, discuss and debate those issues and what they mean for the system we are trying to put in place for the longer term.

My Lords, I, too, welcome the Statement, and apologise for missing the first minute or so of it. I hope that when divisions arise on these matters, they will be at least as much on either side of the House as across it. I suspect from some of what has already been said today that that may be the case.

Is the Minister entirely satisfied that the definition of “crimes of terrorism” is sufficiently tightly drawn that there could be no creep of that definition of crime into areas which are not really terrorism-related? Secondly, is there any prospect of dealing with the problem of the ineffectiveness of control orders by making it easier to deport foreign nationals believed to be involved in terrorism on the grounds that their presence here is not conducive to the public good, regardless of whether their deportation might be to their good?

Finally, is the Minister aware that I do not believe that the Home Secretary or Mr Brown are simply being obstinate about the facts on intercept evidence or simply illiberal over the issue of 28 or 90 days? I would like to feel that we knew more of what is driving them to their conclusions. If we fully understood that, the odds are that, I, for one, would agree with the Home Secretary.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, for his comments, which I welcome. He will know that we have an opportunity to look at the definition of terrorism as a result of the review conducted by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. It is important for us to differentiate clearly between measures that we are taking against terrorism and measures that we are taking against all other forms of crime. I understand the anxiety that there should not be inappropriate creep. That is something that we have all been anxious about in the past.

We now have more information than we did about the nature and length of time that we need to respond to some very complex cases. We have said before that one of the difficulties we have is that terrorists are getting increasingly skilled, and it is much more difficult than before to interdict some of the things that they are doing. Getting the technological solutions right will be a challenge. This process is an opportunity for us to explain, share and think together in a concrete way about how we can make a proportionate response.

I reassure the noble Lord that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is not being obdurate or difficult, but he is resolute, as he will remain, about putting the safety and security of this country first. Noble Lords will know that we are challenging the decision in Chahal through the case of Ramzy, which is going to come up. We need see what consequences that will have.

However, nothing should undermine our adherence to democratic processes and the rule of law, which are of fundamental importance. The difficulty we all have is how we keep democracy and security, both of which are precious to us, in proper balance. It will not be easy, but I am much heartened that all around the House there is a determination to try to do this together.

My Lords, my noble friend made a commitment to consult on proposed legislation and spoke about consulting the police, representatives of the judiciary, civil liberties groups and groups within the community. Will she also undertake to consult the victims of terrorism, those who have lost loved ones and those who have been directly threatened by terrorism? It is important that those voices are also heard. Secondly, when we come to the review of intercept evidence, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and I have taken very different views of this matter in the past, but I agree with him that this is the right time to have this review so that a considered view can be taken without the heat of legislation at the time of taking the decision. Can my noble friend tell the House what timescale is anticipated for the review?

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Symons for raising the issue of victims because in many of our debates their interests and views have not always got the credence, support and voice that perhaps they deserve. We intend to make sure that all those who are directly or indirectly affected by this have an opportunity to have a say and make an input so that we have an opportunity to consider how to go forward.

It is difficult to give my noble friend a timetable because we would like to do this as expeditiously as we can. We are going to consult on composition and at that stage we will be in a better position to advise the House about what the timetable may be. This Statement is an important opportunity to set out the plan for how we hope to work and to get the assent of both Houses to the fact that this is the best way forward. We will continue to work together on that as quickly and as effectively as we can.

My Lords, does the Minister recognise the unusual nature of the Statement? It is a valedictory Statement by the Home Secretary, in which he is undertaking to conduct major consultation that in barely two weeks’ time will no longer be his responsibility. I do not think this is an entirely frivolous point. The theme of the Statement is entirely welcome: that a more measured approach is to be taken.

If the new occupant of the Home Secretary’s post is someone in a hurry—we have had some impatient Home Secretaries recently—I am mindful that some of the undertakings given today did not help the noble Baroness in the very difficult role she had to play. I refer in particular—the noble Baroness knows this better than any—to fast-tracking and the sense that this House and others were being bounced over some of the other proposals. Therefore, the new and more measured approach is very welcome. I hope that it is sustained in the future.

My Lords, this is not a valedictory Statement because, as the noble Lord knows, I speak on behalf of the Government. The Government will remain so after my right honourable friend the Home Secretary moves on to do other doubtless more restful things than he is currently able to do.

On the question of being bounced, the noble Lord will know that it was the Government’s intention to take this matter more slowly but that the emergency situation in with which we found ourselves on 7/7 and the change in the dynamic meant that none of us was able to do that which we would have liked. There was an agreement in this House that bearing those factors in mind we would have to adopt a different—a truncated—approach. So I say to him that this is a commitment being made by the Government, and whoever sits in the seat of my right honourable friend will be bound by the same process. I cannot say to noble Lords that we will not have an event similar to that which put us off guard. My noble friend wants to get in so I shall sit down.