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Mr. Garnier: Is not the very good point that the hon. Gentleman is making reinforced by the selection list? In the first allotted day, before 6 o'clock, there are 15 underlined subheadings to be dealt with, many of them subdivided. The Home Secretary very fairly said that he was prepared to listen, but if we do not have time to talk to him, he will find it quite difficult to listen.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Paul Boateng): You are taking up time now.

Simon Hughes: Ministers cannot say that we are taking up time now. Members of Parliament are sent to this place to debate issues; I am sorry about that. We are sent to Parliament to ask Government questions. We are sent to Parliament to question whether the Government have got things right. The hon. and learned Member for Harborough is absolutely right, as are my hon. Friends, to point out that it is impossible to do so if there is no time allocated to do it.

It is a constitutional matter. We—ordinary people, the people whom the Home Secretary commends: the trade union movement, women, students—have fought over the years for Parliament, not the Executive, to be supreme: for Parliament to have the chance to decide, not the

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Executive. The Home Secretary must understand, and I am sure that he does if he is straightforward with the House on this matter, that Parliament must be here to hold each and every Government to account, including his; and on matters emanating from the Home Office, to do with the powers of the state and liberty, Parliament must do its duty above all, for us, and for future generations as much as anyone else.

Several hon. Members rose

Simon Hughes: I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Truro and St. Austell (Matthew Taylor).

Matthew Taylor: I want to catch my hon. Friend before he goes too much further. A moment ago, the Home Secretary intervened to argue that the bribery and corruption clauses had been presented to the Opposition parties because they were drafted subsequent to the main items of the Bill. I was grateful that the Chancellor of the Exchequer took the time to discuss that issue with me, because it was something that I had pressed on him, and we welcome the introduction of those clauses. However, my understanding was that the discussion took place on the basis that there was some question as to whether they were appropriate for inclusion in the Bill, because although they might have indirect links with terrorism they were not directly linked with it, and whether we would support them in view of that issue, not because they were drafted late.

Simon Hughes: That is exactly the point, and that was the subject of the debate. The debate was about whether—without prejudice to the question of whether there was a terrorism link—because there was perceived by Government to be a relevance, and it was a reasonable case that there might be, and because everyone else had said that they supported these proposals, and they were part of an international obligation, we would accept the Bill as a home for them. Without prejudice to the rest of the Bill, we said yes to that.

The whole debate about the Bill, however, and about the justification for it—I hope that we shall have that debate shortly—is about whether the Bill should be a general Bill about terrorism, crime, security and other things, or whether it should be a terrorism-related Bill only. Those of us on the Opposition Benches who are trying to do our constitutional job are saying that if the Government want Parliament to pass a Bill quickly to deal with an emergency, it must be limited to matters that are to deal with that emergency.

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall) rose

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) rose

The Chairman: Order—I now wish to intervene. The hon. Gentleman is straying wide of the duration clause. I know that there are various interconnected issues but we must, for the sake of good order, keep within the confines of the new clause.

Simon Hughes: Of course, Sir Alan. I wish to take two interventions. Let me deal with the last substantive points before I let my colleagues intervene and then allow others to speak.

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The reason Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Front-Bench team have sought to work together on the new clause and others is to try to achieve the maximum agreement to save time as far as possible, so as to create a basis for reasonable agreement in both Houses. That is why, conscious of the timetable, we have separated out the most controversial aspect of the measure and given it a specific one-year duration proposal—we believe that detention without trial should not be authorised by rushed legislation, given all the controversial issues that were raised on Monday night, without its returning properly to the House after being considered in the other place—and why we have suggested, in relation to a limited number of proposals, that some of them, but only some of them, should have a two-year life.

I remind the House of what those proposals are. They are: the parts of the Bill dealing with exchange of information among Government Departments—controversial; the part of the Bill dealing with race and religion—extremely controversial, if it were to reach the statute book; the part of the Bill dealing with police powers and their extension—extremely controversial; the part of the Bill dealing with communication data and the control by authorities of data—also controversial; and lastly, and not accidentally, the power that the Bill gives Ministers to introduce, by secondary legislation and by order, legislation that has only ever seen scrutiny by Ministers in Brussels and has not even been to the European Parliament. It is not unreasonable to argue that that sort of legislation, when we do not have time to scrutinise it and we may not in the House have time to debate much of it either, should have to return to this place, definitely, certainly and not conditionally on the whim of the Home Secretary.

Mr. Tyler: I am grateful that my hon. Friend continued his speech somewhat before taking my intervention, because it makes my point even more formidable. I suggest to my hon. Friend that the Home Secretary is taking a huge risk by resisting these sensibly, carefully crafted amendments, because by resisting them in the House, where the Government have a majority, he is simply inviting the other House to spend more time examining these issues and perhaps reaching a more rational and carefully crafted conclusion than we are able to in the House. He is taking that absurd risk by pushing the Bill through without these central amendments, because he will come a cropper at the other end of the building.

Simon Hughes: I not only accept that, but I hope that the Home Secretary accepts that if he does not want his Bill bouncing around between both Houses of Parliament in the days leading up to Christmas—

Mr. Blunkett: That is a threat.

Simon Hughes: No, it is not a threat. It is a constitutional process, not a threat. The right hon. Gentleman knows that it has happened in every Parliament he and I have been in this place. The House of Lords has a job to do. When it overturns the Government or amendments are made, the legislation returns to this place, and the more the Government resist in this place, the more will have to be overturned in the other place, and the more it will have to come back to this

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place. I am seeking to do what the Home Secretary said he wanted to do, which was to make proposals with widespread support, which will be supported in this and the other place.

Mr. Hogg: Might I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that his arguments are further reinforced by this consideration? We are now debating a group of new clauses and amendments, and the debate must end by 6 o'clock. There are actually 20 clauses in the schedule on which discussion must end by 6 o'clock. Some of them relate to the Treasury's powers to freeze money or to seize what is described as terrorist cash. The truth is that we shall never reach any of those clauses because we must terminate this part of the debate by 6 o'clock. Very important things—

The Chairman: Order. I must say to the—

Mr. Hogg: I am so sorry.

The Chairman: Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman must accept that that is taking us outside the scope of the new clause before us. He is trying to make a more general point than is permissible in the debate that we are having.

Mr. Hogg: What I am seeking to do, if I may just explain—

The Chairman: Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot, on an intervention, argue with the Chair. Mr. Simon Hughes.

Mr. Hogg: On a point of order, Sir Alan. I was not seeking to argue with the Chair. What I was merely trying to do—and I am not seeking to argue with the Chair—was to reinforce the case for the sunset clauses, on the basis that we would not be able to discuss many things because of the timetable.

The Chairman: What I heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman say seemed to me to fall outside the terms of the new clause to which the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey is addressing his remarks. For the sake of time, we have to concentrate very determinedly on the terms of the new clause.

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