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Lord Hylton: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, does he agree that we are very much in the dark regarding the case of Miss McAliskey? We have neither seen the German evidence nor have we heard the case for the defence. Therefore, his strictures on the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary may perhaps be a little undeserved.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend for intervening but I do so in order to thank him for bringing forward this order. The House will be aware that after coming to this place in 1985 I attempted for a number of years to obtain a vote against the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I was unsuccessful in those endeavours because I could not even get a seconder.
There were two reasons for my seeking to vote against the Prevention of Terrorism Act. First, it was Labour Party policy at the time to oppose the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Secondly, it was my personal judgment that the draconian Act that was rushed through Parliament in 1974 as a result of the Birmingham pub bombings was a recruiting sergeant for terrorism rather than a mechanism to fight against terrorism. I am glad that the Government have seen fit not to renew the power for exclusion orders. That is one of the more objectionable features of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I am glad that that has happened. I hope that in
I am very tempted to respond to the contribution from the Official Opposition and from the Liberal Democrat Benches. I must resist that temptation. We have already had an altercation in the House earlier this evening about asperity of language, which is one of the phrases that might be used. On that basis I shall not clash with the remarks that have been made. I can assure noble Lords that I could do that very effectively if tempted. In conclusion, I thank my noble friend for the changes that this Government have made in policy compared with the previous government and wish them well in their progressive developments in the future.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who have contributed and in particular for the tone which underlay what the noble Lords, Lord Henley and Lord Thomas of Gresford, said. I know that all parties, when there was a different government and different opposition, tried to work together to deal with these problems. When the noble Baroness, Lady Denton, was here for the government and I spoke for the Opposition, with the noble Lord, Lord Holme of Cheltenham, I believe that we adopted the stance which has been put forward tonight, which is of great importance.
As regards the particular questions, I confirm that Mr. Rowe said that there had been no abuse of the powers and that they had been used fairly and lawfully. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, asked about powers. As I indicated during questions on the Statement by the Home Secretary, which I repeated, the Home Secretary has emergency powers which he can retake and which would lapse if they were not approved by Parliament within 40 days. I can confirm to the House that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, is quite right.
He is also quite right in assuming that the financing of terrorism will be a part of the review. I cannot give the noble Lord anything more precise about it within two to three months. That is for a number of reasons, not the usual ignoble ones that he used to rely on as he confessed a moment or two ago. The fact is that the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland have taken these matters very seriously. The Home Secretary, Dr. Mowlam, and I attended to give evidence before the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, when we were in Opposition.
We are in delicate, shifting times at the moment and one does not want to rush forward with a consultation paper, for reasons which are too obvious to spell out. We are certainly mindful of the fact that we need to get a comprehensive review and not a paper that is capable of being distorted by a threat from one particular part of the United Kingdom.
The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, asked for specific reassurance that Human Rights Bill matters would be taken into account when we bring forward new legislation. I can give him that assurance because, on the basis of the Bill which he and his colleagues
He asked what sort of people committed these acts. The truth is that they are cruel, subtle, determined and sophisticated. Those are the people and the causes that we have to deal with. I stress that that situation is not limited to Northern Ireland.
There were one or two questions about Roisin McAliskey. I shall deal with them quite briefly. The Home Secretary did notify the German government to explain his decision, which does not reflect in any way on the fairness of the German legal system or on the quality of the extradition request. We have very good working relationships with our colleagues in Germany in the field of extradition and in international co-operation against terrorism. We are quite confident that this decision will not affect that relationship. The decision was not unprecedented. In fact, the Secretary of State has taken a similar decision, again on medical grounds, relating to an extradition request from the United States of America.
In respect of the medical evidence, there was medical evidence from doctors who had been responsible for Miss McAliskey's care since she was bailed to a London hospital and from a senior psychiatrist retained by the Home Office--I stress that--who spoke to her doctors and who interviewed her, and those reports were put before the Home Secretary. Miss McAliskey is entitled to client confidentiality and to medical confidentiality. Those documents are not, of course, publicly available.
I want to say plainly and unambiguously that the Home Secretary's decision was taken under extradition legislation. He is obliged to take an independent decision in each individual case. It would be quite wrong for political considerations to interfere with a decision on whether to order a particular person's return. I think it was the leader in the Evening Standard which said that the decision was one of courage. It was. It was an independent political decision which the Secretary of State took as part of his independent exercise of his powers under the relevant legislation. I have spent a moment or two on that case because noble Lords raised questions about it, bearing in mind its relevance and importance. On the basis of what I have said, I--
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, partly in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, perhaps I may stress that I am not making any comment upon the validity of the request for extradition in the particular case to which I have referred; nor am I questioning the Home Secretary's decision. I said that if it was on political grounds--indeed, a moment ago the noble Lord said that he had taken "an independent political decision"--he would have been entitled to say so. I accept, of course, what the Minister says now.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am most grateful. I was not in any sense reproaching the noble Lord for anything that he had said. Bearing in mind that a number of noble Lords had raised these questions, it seemed to me that the House was entitled to such explanation as I could give. What I said was that the Home Secretary took his "independent decision". That was not based on political considerations.
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