CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

NORTHERN IRELAND – TERRORISM (NI) BILL – 31 October 2005

[The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr Peter Hain): ...  Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of the Terrorism Act 2000 ... has conducted his own external review. I received a letter from Lord Carlile this morning ... in which he said:

"In sum, I remain of the view that, in terms of the prevention of terrorism, some special powers remain necessary. Were there not such powers in the Bill, I would be driven to the conclusion that there would be a risk of more terrorist acts connected with the island of Ireland rather than less."  [...] ]

Dr Julian Lewis: Did Lord Carlile's letter indicate the sources from which he anticipated that further acts of terror would come if the regulations were relaxed?

[Mr Hain: No, the letter did not indicate that, but allow me to cite another of the important points in Lord Carlile's letter that the hon. Gentleman and the House will want to hear. He said:

"In my view the duration of the powers proposed in the Bill is justified on the merits and proportional."]

* * *

Dr Lewis: The Secretary of State will recall that I asked him whether Lord Carlile's letter indicated where he thought threats might still come from. As if by magic, copies of that letter have now appeared, and I see that it did in fact say:

"On the other side is the Commission's conclusion that paramilitaries, especially Loyalists and dissident Republicans, continue to exert a malign influence over communities."

That was the justification for his statement, and I thought it just as well to get it on the record. 

* * *

Dr Lewis: Does my hon. Friend [David Lidington] accept that there is a third possible reason why the IRA might be reluctant to dismantle its paramilitary structures? That is its record of criminal activity, which amounts to a mafia-type operation involving the robbing of banks and many other activities that it would be loth to give up, even if it has called off the political war.

[Mr Lidington: My hon. Friend is undoubtedly right. Republican and loyalist paramilitary groups use crime as a means of financing their organisations and providing a livelihood for large numbers of activists, and as a means – through protection rackets and the like – of imposing their control and their rule over republican or loyalist estates, rather than submitting to the rule of law, which is what we would expect any democratic political movement to do.]