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22 Feb 2007 : Column 455

The hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) mentioned a gentleman who entered a mosque. I said that he had not been served with a control order. That was an error: he had been served with an order, but paragraph 26 of the Carlile report makes it clear that he had not breached it. Given that entrance to the mosque was permissible under the control order, there was no obvious reason for the police to pursue the matter.

Mr. Cash: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. McNulty: Not at the moment.

The issue of control orders will not go away. Lord Carlile has expressed the hope—which I share—that the advances we made in the 2006 Act might obviate the need for more and more of them. I think everyone broadly agrees with what has been said about Acts preparatory and other legislation, but Members are wrong if they think there is some legalistic nirvana in which there will be no individuals who remain the gravest of threats to the public but against whom there is not sufficient admissible evidence for a prosecution. To say otherwise is not correct.

Patrick Mercer: Anybody who has dealt with intercept evidence in practice, as I have, knows that it is no magic wand. It might—it will, probably—assist, but it cannot be the be-all and end-all of producing evidence in these cases. I asked the Government to explain why there continues to be a delay in making it admissible in court.

Mr. McNulty: Simply put—the matter is incredibly complex, as I know the hon. Gentleman will understand—the reason is that there needs to be the appropriate legal framework within which that can happen. The Attorney-General and others are considering that and will report in due course.

Mr. Watson: My hon. Friend has said that aspects of the Prevention of Terrorism Act worry him, and that he has heard recommendations for revisions to the Act. Will he confirm that in 12 months, when we renew the powers, we will be dealing with a revised Act? Will he also answer in more detail the question that I put to the Liberal Democrat Front-Bench spokesman? What would be the effect on British security if the House rejected the renewal order today?

Mr. McNulty: On my hon. Friend’s initial point, which was also raised by the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris), who is a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I cannot give an absolute assurance that within a year we will be looking at revised legislation, rather than a renewal.

We spent the summer, not least because of activities over the summer, examining carefully not only the Government structures, but the legislative framework for dealing with terrorism. As hon. Members know, the report has been sent to the Prime Minister and there will be a response in due course. There may be an additional counter-terrorism Bill, as indicated in the Queen’s Speech, before the next renewal is due. I hope that the House would agree that consolidation would be foolish if we were about to introduce a subsequent Bill, given the timing of the Bill if it were introduced—I emphasise the word “if”. If there were further changes
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to our terrorism legislation, that would move consolidation down the line a little, which means that I cannot guarantee that the annual review will not be on renewal, rather than otherwise.

Mr. Cash rose—

Patrick Mercer rose—

Mr. McNulty: I shall give way to the hon. Member for Newark first. If I have time, I will indulge the hon. Member for Stone.

Patrick Mercer: The point about intercept is similar to the excellent point from the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Watson). The Minister and I have been talking about intercept for at least two years. I fully understand the complexities, the sensitivities and the delicacies of the issue. Will he give me some assurance that we will not be having this same debate next year and that he will not be giving the same excuses?

Mr. McNulty: I fervently hope so. I want to move to a stage where we can determine, one way or the other, whether the legal framework, the technology and so on are in place to allay the fears of many about intercept evidence. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks because others far mightier and more expert than me will determine those matters, but I fervently hope so. I agree that getting to a stage where there is a definitive collective view in the body politic about intercept evidence is a goal that we all want to achieve. I accept that.

Mr. Cash rose—

Mr. McNulty: Now that we have covered all those points, I shall make a few more comments; I promise to give way to the hon. Gentleman with at least 20 seconds to spare.

On the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), we have an elaborate preventive strategy that tries to engage communities, work in all the areas that she suggests to counter radicalisation, and work with those who have been radicalised and are trying to come back from that. On her other point, as far as I am aware, and in the light of all the inspiration that I have had since, the two original and lengthiest control orders do not relate to individuals who are subject to any criminal proceedings for breach. These matters are kept under constant review, but I understand and will consider her point about time and its impact on individuals.

The hon. Member for Newark asked about the control order review group, which has met quarterly since May 2006 and reviews each case. I will explore further whether that is sufficient and whether the review should cover welfare and other aspects identified by my hon. Friend the Member for Slough. Part of the review process deals with exit strategies for individuals coming off control orders and cases where there are not sufficient reasons for a control order to remain in force—a matter to which I have alluded, but which I may not have covered sufficiently.

Mr. Cash rose—

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Mr. McNulty: I give way to the hon. Gentleman because I have to cough.

Mr. Cash: I hope my comments will not make the Minister’s cough worse. I hope he will accept that I am not against controlling alleged terrorists—quite the opposite. My concern and my reason for voting against the order is that control orders will not achieve the objectives that he sets. There are intrinsic contradictions within them between human rights, which should be safeguarded by Westminster, not the Human Rights Act, and public protection, which is the first duty of any Government.

Mr. McNulty: That is absolutely the first duty. I will not go over the arguments with which we began the debate.

I end by responding to the four points from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam. Whatever one’s position, it is not right to suggest or imply that control orders, as he said, remove the pressure on the police to prosecute, rather like Lord Carlile’s remark in passing—no more—that control orders are used as a feeble excuse by those who cannot be bothered to undertake a full prosecution or, in his colourful terms, as a prophylactic. I do not think that that is fair on the police. It is entirely unreasonable.

The notion of a threshold test has been thrashed around. We are confident that the present test for prosecution or control orders is about right. Clearly, it will always need to be reviewed. The hon. Gentleman knows that the threshold is far higher for derogation orders. We think that that is about right, but it is not necessarily a panacea.

We have told the Joint Committee on Human Rights, among others, that we will seriously consider the issue of post-charge detention. That was alluded to in previous debates as well. I can assure the House that we will do so. If we think there is some merit in that, we may introduce such proposals in a Bill, if there is a Bill between now and the next chance for renewal.

As I said, a substantive debate is needed on intercept evidence, and that will take place. The hon. Gentleman is right that we should reach a conclusion sooner rather than later, but in an informed fashion. He is right to suggest that the legislative basis exists for dealing with supergrasses and people in lower positions involved in conspiracies against those higher up. So in at least two of the four aspects that he identified, provisions are in place, although I admit that they should perhaps be utilised more by the authorities—

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Standing Order No. 16(1).

The House divided: Ayes 322, Noes 61.
Division No. 053]
[2.28 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Amess, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkins, Charlotte
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera

Baldry, Tony
Banks, Gordon
Baron, Mr. John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bell, Sir Stuart
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brennan, Kevin
Brokenshire, James
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Caton, Mr. Martin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Greg
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Yvette
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curry, rh Mr. David
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Dowd, Jim
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Francois, Mr. Mark
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Helen
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hanson, Mr. David
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Mr. Tom
Hayes, Mr. John
Healey, John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hoey, Kate
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Mr. Stewart

James, Mrs. Siân C.
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Kidney, Mr. David
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Lazarowicz, Mark
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Linton, Martin
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luff, Peter
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Maples, Mr. John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Mercer, Patrick
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Randall, Mr. John
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rosindell, Andrew
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Selous, Andrew
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Stanley, rh Sir John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swayne, Mr. Desmond

Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Jeremy
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Ian Cawsey and
Claire Ward

Alexander, Danny
Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brooke, Annette
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Cash, Mr. William
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Corbyn, Jeremy
Davey, Mr. Edward
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr. Don
Galloway, Mr. George
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hemming, John
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Jackson, Glenda
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Moore, Mr. Michael
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Williams, Mark
Williams, Stephen
Wishart, Pete
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Jenny Willott and
Mr. Jeremy Browne
Question accordingly agreed to.
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Public Health (England)

[Relevant document: the progress report, “Health Challenge England—next steps for Choosing Health”, published by the Department of Health in October 2006.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.— [Caroline Flint.]

2.41 pm

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Caroline Flint): It is a mark of the progress that this Government have made in safeguarding the nation’s health that possibly for the first time, public health has the opportunity to take its rightful place as one of the cornerstones of our health policy, moving the national health service towards being a prevention as well as treatment service. The programme of investment and health reform has transformed the NHS from a crisis service to one that is on the point of being able to deliver the health and well-being of every citizen, treating people as individuals, rather than as numbers on a waiting list. Clearly, in 2007 our NHS is more local than ever before. The service has been devolved. It is more transparent in its financial dealings, and its public health initiatives draw in partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

This Government established public health as one of the six key objectives in the NHS plan. In the past few years we have published a groundbreaking public health White Paper “Choosing Health: Making health choices easier”, completed 116 of the 210 commitments set out in it, and mapped the need and extent of the public health challenge in “Health Challenge England—next steps for Choosing Health”. In doing so, we have equipped those at the most local level to understand better the complex needs of their communities and neighbourhoods so that they can provide the best possible health service. In the face of the advice from the Conservative party not to legislate at all, this Government introduced comprehensive legislation for workplaces and enclosed public places to become smoke free by 1 July 2007—more extensive smoke-free provisions than any other country.

More than 100 years ago, enlightened reformers like John Snow did not look at the fashions of the affluent minority, with their love of spas, gyms and country retreats to convalesce after illness. Instead, Snow examined the conditions of the majority—the slums, the open sewers, the poor air and the dusty factories. He saw the connection between a lack of clean water and the spread of cholera. The modern sewerage systems and the fresh water that resulted from them were instrumental in reducing the impact of communicable diseases. After world war two, the mass vaccination programmes all but eliminated diseases such as polio. Today, our vaccination programmes are more far-reaching than ever and public information is more extensive than ever. However, although those are good things, they are insufficient. Life in the 21st century demands new approaches to public health. I hope that that will inform our debate.

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