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Lady Hermon (North Down) (UUP): The Home Secretary will know that successive Chief Constables in Northern Ireland have had to fight terrorism in that part of the United Kingdom. What view does the present Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, have on the renewal of detention every seven days and extensions to 90 days if needed?
Mr. Clarke: The hon. Lady has more personal experience of the dilemmas caused by such questions than most hon. Members. I have spoken to Sir Hugh Orde on that point, because of his particular experience. He was unequivocally clear, and he authorised me to say so in the House, that the legislation isin his experience and from his point of viewnecessary, and that includes the extension to 90 days. He is also of the view that the seven-day review by High Court judges is the right way to proceed, and that the flexibility that I am discussing is necessary. I hope that Members from Northern Ireland will take account of those views when they vote this evening.
Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood) (Lab): Can my right hon. Friend tell the House whether any of our police officers have suggested that we have a power of internment? If they did, what view would the Government take of it?
Since I have been Home Secretary, there have been no suggestions from any source, the police or the security services, that internment be adopted as a measure to deal with any of these questions. Were that suggestion to be made, I would consider it, but I am sure that the House will agree that the assessment of the operation of internment in the period in which it operated was that it was a counter-productive approach
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to terrorism in the circumstances. By the way, I reject the rhetorical commentmade not by my right hon. Friend, but by othersthat the measures we are discussing today can in any sense be equated with internment. That is simply not the case.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): Further to the point raised by the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon), Sir Hugh Orde will appear before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee this afternoon and will doubtless be asked many questions. Are there any chief constables who take a directly contrary view on this issue?
Mr. Clarke: I am not aware of any. I have not personally spoken to every chief constable, so I cannot put my hand on my heart and say that not one of them takes a different view, but all the chief constables to whom I have personally spoken about it take the strong view that the provisions are necessary. The Association of Chief Police Officers also strongly takes that view, which is held most strongly by those people who have been most directly involved in fighting terrorism.
Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): The Home Secretary has just said that the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland had reached his conclusion based on his experience. The letter that we received from Hayman of the Met said that the experience in Northern Ireland was totally different and not relevant. We now face new circumstances. What relevant experience has the Chief Constable had? Does he believe that the new powers are necessary in Northern Ireland and, if so, did the Home Secretary refuse to give him those powers?
Mr. Clarke: I regret to say that the right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the point that Assistant Commissioner Hayman made. His point was that the modern terrorism that we face is different in certain important respects from the terrorism that we had to face in the past in Northern Ireland. It is the case that the modern terrorism that we face is a challenge for police in Northern Ireland today in a very direct way, which is why the Chief Constable is entitled to make his comments, not as a point of general principle but in terms of dealing with the modern terrorism that he has to face.
Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): The Home Secretary may recall that under schedule 8 it would be open to the judicial authority to exclude any person to whom the application relatesthe suspector anyone representing him from any part of the hearing. How can he reconcile that with the provisions in the European convention on human rights on fair hearings?
Mr. Clarke: I shall come on to the amendment tabled by the hon. Gentleman in a few moments. I believe that the two can be reconciled, which is why I have provided the certificate for this legislation.
In answer to the earlier question from the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve), I want to say a few words about codes of practice. He also raised the point with me last week. In Committee, it was suggested that we needed a code of practice to govern the
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treatment of those held under the Terrorism Act 2000. We welcome that suggestion. Powers for that already exist in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Under section 66 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the Secretary of State can issue a code of practice in respect of those detained under schedule 8 to the 2000 Act if he so wishes. Existing PACE code C already applies to those detained under the Terrorism Act 2000, but we can see grounds for having a separate code for that purpose, as the hon. Gentleman argued earlier in our proceedings.
Such a code would be laid before Parliament and be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. Similar provisions exist for a code that would relate to the Northern Ireland (Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland)) Order 1989. In Scotland, codes of practice are not generally used. Instead, the Lord Advocate, as the head of the systems of criminal prosecution and investigation of deaths, has a statutory power to instruct the police in relation to the investigation and reporting of crime under section 12 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 and section 17 of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967. Constables must perform their duties subject to the directions of chief constables, and chief constables must comply with all lawful instructions, in relation to the investigation of offences, from the appropriate prosecutor.
The Lord Advocate takes the view that it would be inappropriate to have different powers and periods of pre-charge detention in Scotland from the rest of the UK in terrorist investigations and, in considering appropriate guidance to chief constables in the Scottish context, he would want to maintain a consistent position north and south of the border, as far as possible. His officials would expect to work closely with Home Office officials on the preparation of a code of practice for England and Wales and any equivalent guidance to be issued by the Lord Advocate in Scotland. For those reasons, we are not tabling amendments at this point, but I can give a firm guarantee that the appropriate codes and their equivalent will be brought forward.
Mr. Grieve: The Home Secretary will remember that last week we discussed the possibility of altering the rules about interviewing detained people after charge so that it facilitated inquiry after charges had been brought. Will that be part of the subject matter of the codes that he is bringing forward and, if so, does not it have some bearing on the total length of time for which we may need to detain people?
Mr. Clarke: I do not expect that aspect of the code to deal with the particular point that we debated. Unless I have misunderstood the hon. Gentleman, I think his position is that we need, because of the particular situation of a possibly extended period of pre-charge detention compared with existing detention, to have a different approach to PACE in certain regards. I shall say later
The question of judicial scrutiny is important and becomes more and more pressing at each stage of the process, as time moves on, and the judge needs to deal with that directly as we move forward. I am ready to have discussions on that point, too. The proposal is not designed to address the issue of questioning pre and post-charge that we have already discussed.
David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): That is an extremely important point, which was twice raised by Mr. Hayman in his letter. It was raised during the Privy Council briefing that the Home Secretary organised for the Leader of the Opposition and me. The question of interview post-charge has clearly had a major effect on the attitude of the police to charge and to the proposal that we are discussing. It is clearly the case that if we alter the ability of the police to interview after charge, it will open up to them much evidence and procedure that will act to stop terrorism. Can the Home Secretary please give the House an undertaking that he will put that in process?
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