Back to website


House of Lords Judgment on A & Others

and The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke): The House of Lords has today handed down the judgment in this difficult and complex
16 Dec 2004 : Column 151WS
case. A committee of nine Law Lords has spent the last 11 weeks considering the issues and, within the short time available since the judgment was handed down, it is not possible to give a detailed response to all the points raised by the judgment. However, given its importance I believe it necessary to make this statement to the House as soon as possible.

This appeal is about the compatibility of our domestic law with the ECHR. The Law Lords have upheld the appeal by those detained under the Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act and we need to study the judgment carefully, not least because the Court of Appeal had unanimously endorsed our view that these provisions were compatible with our obligations under the ECHR. It is ultimately for Parliament to decide whether and how we should amend the law. The Part 4 provisions will remain in force until Parliament agrees the future of the law. Accordingly I will not be revoking the certificates or releasing the detainees, whom I have reason to believe are a significant threat to our security, a judgment upheld by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, chaired by a High Court judge.

My primary role as Home Secretary is to protect national security and to ensure the safety and security of this country. In doing so, I need to consider how we balance the rights of individuals against those of society; how we ensure safety and security within a democracy without undermining the values that are at the very heart of it.

Derogation is not something that any Government enters into lightly and the powers have been used sparingly as promised Parliament during the passage of the Act. To date 16 individuals have been certified and detained under the part 4 powers and another individual has been certified but is currently detained under other powers. Of these 12 remain in detention. Two have chosen to leave the country as those detained under the part 4 powers are free to do at anytime. Those certified have a right of appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAQ) which is a superior court of record, chaired by a High Court Judge.

Those who have been certified and detained under the Part 4 powers are detained because they have been certified as a threat to our security. This considered assessment is supported by the Security Service and has been tested through a superior court of record with full access to all the relevant security and intelligence information.

The need for the Part 4 powers and the derogation are kept under frequent review. In addition to regular threat assessments the Home Secretary regularly meets the Director General of the Security Service, and it is their advice that informs the Home Secretary's decision on the continuing public emergency threatening the life of the nation.

I will be asking Parliament to renew this legislation in the new year but in the meantime we will be studying the judgment carefully to see whether it is possible to modify our legislation to address the concerns raised by the House of Lords.
16 Dec 2004 : Column 152WS