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Lord Williams of Mostyn: Certainly, it is possible that assisting people to flee from justice in another country would be capable of being prosecuted, but that is the point of the Attorney-General. The hypothesis which the noble Lord fairly put--he put both the attractive points from my point of view as well as the attractive points from his point of view--is that the Attorney-General would be entitled, in the exercise of his duties, to ask, "What sort of trial were these people facing? Did they have any legal court system that could reasonably be regarded as fair?" It seems to me that that is the answer to that question.
I recognise some of the unhappiness. Although I am grateful for the noble Lord's invitation, we must bear in mind what my noble friend Lord Dubs said earlier. This is to be subject to very close review. First, the Home Secretary has announced his general review of anti-terrorism provisions. That has been the main concern tonight. It is going to be the subject of consultation. Everyone who has alluded to the topic is firmly convinced that the present "patchwork"--I am grateful for the support of my description of it in those terms from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew--is not satisfactory and is not suitable for modern times when terrorism is internationalised, as is so much other serious crime.
That is the review. I hope that it is not without significance and I hope that Members of the Committee will bear in mind that when an amendment was tabled in another place--it may have been an Opposition amendment and it may have been under the signature of Mr. Hague; I am not sure--the Home Secretary attached his signature to that amendment which brought about new Clause 8. I am grateful for the noble Lord, Lord Cope, supporting me in my understanding of that by nodding. That clause requires the Home Secretary to lay before both Houses of Parliament the report specified by my noble friend Lord Dubs on the working of the Bill after it becomes an Act.
I hope that I have recognised the concerns that have troubled a number of noble Lords. I am aware that I have not given perfect satisfaction. I cannot, because we have different views. However, I commend to the Committee what is now agreed to be a control mechanism, which is an annual report. That means that in not more than 12 months we shall have a report on how the Bill has worked in practice once it has become law. That is extremely important. I ask your Lordships to bear it in mind in coming to a conclusion on whether or not to damage this Bill.
Lord Holme of Cheltenham: Before the noble Lord sits down, may I raise one point to clarify what he has just said? He explained forcefully that this is not an anti-terrorist measure but that these are a wide range of criminal offences in dual jurisdictions. However, in the earlier part of his summing up, he said that it would be dealt with as part of the review of terrorist legislation,
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Yes, I tried to make it clear. I focused on that because I understood that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, was deeply concerned in that context. He did not--and I understand the reasons--range wider than the questions of political dissent, political activity which might or might not fall within the description of terrorism.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: Before my noble friend sits down, bearing in mind the question which he was just asked by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, what can he give the Committee to prevent a vote being carried against the Government?
Under normal circumstances, if we were in Committee and we had had a debate of an hour and 16 minutes, with some extremely high-powered discussion from extremely high-powered people, my noble friend would have been able to say, "I have listened to what everybody has said. Some very good points have been made. I shall want to consider what has been said between now and Report stage, after having consultation with noble Lords and further thoughts about the whole matter". Because of this procedure, he is denied that and so is the House denied that. That is why I and many other people are concerned about the way in which this legislation has been introduced in an inappropriate way in an inappropriate Bill.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am offering a good deal more than the words which I am guilty of having used in the past; namely, that I will take it away and think about it. What I am doing is much more positive and precise than that. I say "what I am doing" but in fact it is what the Home Secretary did in joining yesterday with Mr. Hague in another place. We are specifically binding ourselves to the discipline of, not more than 12 months away, and in successive years, putting a report to both Houses of Parliament on the workings of the Bill. I suggest, although cosmetically it may not sound quite as much sugaring of the pill, that that is a good deal more substantial a benefit--I use that word neutrally and without wanting to cause offence--than simply saying, "I will take it away and have a word with the Home Secretary about it". In the past some of your Lordships, quite unfairly, have said, "Well, you have only gone away to think about it. You may come back with exactly the same solution".
We have a discipline and a structure in the Bill. I have attempted to deal with every point that has been put to me and I cannot sensibly repeat what I have already said in answer to similar points which are being made.
Lord Elton: The noble Lord has gently and with enormous courtesy led us steadily towards where he wants us to go. I do not believe he has quite got there because he has now said that Parliament will consider this legislation in 12 months' time. But if the legislation proves to be defective or unsatisfactory, as is very likely given the circumstances in which it has been forged--
Lord Williams of Mostyn: I cannot temporise. I cannot give way on Amendment No. 50. I hope I have made my position as plain as I possibly can. Of course, I cannot guarantee what parliamentary time will be available in 12 months' time. But it is a significant earnest, I believe, of the coincidence of view between the Leader of the Opposition and the Home Secretary in another place.
Lord Avebury: I am afraid that the concession which the noble Lord has just reiterated--that we shall have a review in a year--is not as good as the solution to which the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, referred. If there were a Report stage, we should have an opportunity to take action to correct any of the defects in the legislation, whereas if after a year the review published by the Government discloses that there are material defects, then we have no guarantee of when parliamentary time will be found to put them right.
We are in a very difficult situation. It is clear to the noble Lord, Lord Williams, and to the whole Chamber that a large number of Members--perhaps a majority, I do not know--are seriously unhappy about the provisions that we are discussing. They are unhappy both about the way in which they have been introduced, sneakily tacked onto the provisions dealing with Northern Ireland terrorism, and also about the substance of the proposals, on which, I respectfully suggest, the noble Lord has not satisfied the Committee.
I do not believe that the noble Lord has addressed the question whether or not there are just liberation movements and armed struggles against repressive governments and whether it is legitimate (using that term in a moral and not legal sense) for people in this country to support them not only with words but even money. I believe that the noble Lord is wrong on the latter point because legislation exists elsewhere that prohibits the sending of money for illegal purposes overseas. There are people in this country who may be exiles from dictatorial regimes, as in the example of South Africa or Iraq, which the noble Lord did not address. I said that there were two organisations in Northern Iraq with which we had constant and regular dealings. They are separate from the Iraqi state and no doubt are committing sedition, if not other unlawful acts in Iraqi terms. They would also be unlawful if they were committed in this country. Having given that example, the noble Lord did not reply. That is a very good illustration of the dilemma that we face. If we continued to support those movements and actively encouraged them, even in taking armed action against their own governments, as we would like to see in the case of Iraq--nothing would give us greater pleasure than to see a rebellion that unseated Saddam Hussein so that a democratic system could be installed in that country--
We will not solve that this evening. As frequently happens in politics, there is no solution. We cannot take the debate any further in this Chamber. We are in a dead end. If the amendments in my name were passed and the Bill had to go back to the Commons, the Government would simply strike them out in the other place and they would return here tomorrow afternoon. The way in which this Bill has been introduced means that effectively we are estopped from exercising our rightful duty to amend legislation.