(12 months ago)Read Full debate
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for acknowledging that.
Let me turn to the issue of death penalty assurances, which has clearly aroused a great deal of controversy, and explain our position. I should say to the Security Minister that I totally accept that new clause 1 is an improvement. The position the Opposition have ended up in today is a procedural one: unfortunately, because new clause 1 is the lead provision in the group and is therefore at the head of the list to be voted on, the only way that the Opposition can secure a vote on our own amendment is by voting against new clause 1. That is just the procedural position we have ended up in, but accept that it is a step forward and make that entirely clear from the Dispatch Box at the outset.
I accept that there is always a danger that when we vote on a number of new clauses and amendments in a row, the order matters and what happens on them matters, as we have seen in recent days. Let me reassure my hon. Friend: what I am trying to say is that although I do accept that new clause 1, with its duty to seek assurances, is certainly an improvement on the case we had in the summer, when no assurances were sought at all, it does not match the position of the Labour Front-Bench team, which is that if there are circumstances—they will be rare—in which assurances are sought but not given, the data should not be handed over. That is the difference between myself and the Minister. The Minister accepts that we should be getting assurances. That is the difference: new clause 1 is an improvement, but it does not match our position.