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I was asked: if we can prosecute, do we? The answer is yes. We look at and review control order cases. If we can prosecute them, that is what we want to do. The travel restriction order is an interesting point. We are not convinced that it makes a real practical difference but we will be thinking about it and considering whether it is worth going further with it.
The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, referred to judges. They are fully involved in control orders, as I hope I have already covered. There is no doubt that control orders have prevented terrorist activity, and the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, agrees. We have seen their impact. The reason why control orders are broken is because the people want to engage and make contact. We see them talking to people and using systems that they should not-we have a certain ability to know what is going on. Control orders have a major impact.
The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, asked about people under control orders and the risk that they present. They present a serious risk. We absolutely believe in the rule of law and I do not accept that this Government have withdrawn from that. There have been great changes as a result of 9/11 and the risk of global international terrorism of a type that we have never seen before. Groups of people do not mind losing their own lives. All they want is to cause mass civilian casualties. In certain cases we have not got everything right and inevitably we have had to make changes. We have always tried to ensure the rule of law and our belief in those standards, as everyone in this House does.
We always read JCHR reports very carefully because they are very important. We do not agree with all the assertions made in the JCHR report. The noble and
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I agree. I think they are the least worst option, and I have no doubt that the director-general of the Security Service and the intelligence services commissioners would not have agreed if they did not believe that that was the case. I believe that the country would quite rightly never forgive us if we removed control orders and it had that impact on the country. I therefore have no hesitation in commending this order to the House.
I thought at many times that the logic of what the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, said would mean that she would support the Government. Perhaps it was a half-and-half speech and, in her eyes, we have drawn, which leads to the proposed abstention. I thank the Minister for the assurances that he gave. I take what he said very seriously, and I by no means dismiss the points that he made. He reminded me of the 2,000 people under surveillance. I cannot resist commenting that that suggests to me that the resources required for a handful more cannot be quite as great as we are being led to believe.
We take terrorism very seriously but our objections, which I will not go through again in view of the time, have not been met. However, I shall comment on one point that the Minister made in his winding-up speech. It sounds a little as though the Government have fallen into a temptation to impose control orders not on the balance of probabilities. Then if, or indeed when, conditions are broken, an offence is automatically committed, which means that the individual-against whom there is no evidence that can be used-finds himself imprisoned under that parallel route.
As an amendment to the Motion in the name of Lord West of Spithead, at end to insert "but this House regrets that, following the judgment of the House of Lords in Secretary of State for the Home Department v AF and the subsequent revocation of
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Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I perhaps should inform the House that I will also be calling a Division. I have nothing whatever to add on the first part of my amendment, which has been covered earlier in the debate. But I should like to add a few words on why I am calling on the Government, whoever they may prove to be, to limit control orders to one year without renewal.
In his third report, the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, pointed out that control orders were never intended to continue indefinitely. He recommended that they could and should be limited to a period of two years. His reason was that, after two years, the controlee was unlikely to be of much use to his fellow terrorists. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, as we have learnt this evening, is-if I may use a nautical metaphor-the sheet anchor of the Government's case; yet the Government rejected altogether his very sensible suggestion without giving any reason. I agree with the reasoning of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, on that-if not on everything else-and I suggest that it would apply equally to my amendment, which proposes that a controlee should not be kept for more than one year as a maximum. If the person has been out of circulation for that long, he will be of very little use to his fellow terrorists.
That brings me to the stance of the Official Opposition. I can understand why they abstained on the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, although I greatly wish that they had not. However, what is their difficulty with my amendment? They must surely regret, as I do, that the Government have not done more in the past five years to find a substitute for control orders. Why do they now not stand up and say so? I remind the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, that her predecessor said as long ago as 24 February 2007 that the Conservative Party would vote against any subsequent renewal of the control order legislation-that is, in 2008 and subsequent years-yet they have not done so. It is now 2010, and I suggest that it is high time that they put into practice, in relation at least to my amendment tonight, what they have refused to do in the past two years. I beg to move.
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, as I mentioned in my previous summing-up, our position is that control orders should be imposed for as short a time as possible, commensurate with the risk that is posed by the person in question. The High Court has supported our view.
When the new Labour Government come in, I shall advise them that we should review and consolidate all counterterrorism legislation. I am sure that control orders would be part of that. However, it would be wrong at the moment to have an arbitrary end point to an order; it surely has to be based on the risk that the
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