New Forest East



[The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr Charles Clarke): ... in cases in which we cannot deport, we should consider primary legislation to extend our powers. That possibility will be tackled in the consultation paper.]

Dr Julian Lewis: Like control orders.

[Mr Clarke: No, not like control orders. The Hon. Gentleman should face a fact: we have the power to keep in prison those who have committed offences until the end of their sentence; we have the power to keep under immigration detention those whom we have a realistic prospect of deporting, but we do not have the power, on my say-so or anybody else's, to keep people in prison because we feel like it because of the risk that they might pose.]

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Dr Lewis: To his credit, the Home Secretary tried to deport several very dangerous suspected al-Qaeda organisers, only to run up against the human rights legislation that had been signed up to or enacted by his Government. It is clear from his statement today that the same would happen in relation to people claiming asylum from countries with repressive regimes. Did the Home Secretary discuss that issue with the Prime Minister before the Prime Minister came to the House today? If he did, how was it possible for the Prime Minister to say that these people would automatically be deported under the new rules, when he – the Home Secretary – has made it perfectly clear that they could not be?

[Mr Clarke: I have already dealt with the substance of the question, but let me make a specific point. Yes, I have frequently discussed with the Prime Minister the question of the operation of the European convention on human rights, and the fact that it impacts in a number of different ways. As far as I know, the Opposition still believe that we should be signed up to the convention, but if I am wrong about that, I should be interested to hear it.]

[For press comment on this exchange, and Charles Clarke's sacking, click here.]