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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Jeremy Vine interviews
Please note BBC Politics Show must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

NB:This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.

On Politics Show, Sunday 10 July 2005, Jeremy Vine interviewed:

  • David Davis MP, Shadow Home Secretary
  • John Hutton MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

David Davis
David Davis MP, Shadow Home Secretary

Interview with David Davis MP

Jeremy Vine: And the Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, joins me now from his east Yorkshire constituency. Good afternoon to you.

David Davis: Good afternoon.

Jeremy Vine: Do you have any latest briefing on the course of the investigation?

David Davis: No, nothing beyond what you've already reported in your programme.

Jeremy Vine: Let's talk then about what Parliament can do and firstly, ID cards, which you've been opposed to. Would you be thinking about changing your position on that?

David Davis: No, the reason we opposed ID cards was practical, we didn't think they would work. They were hugely expensive, 19 billion, and if you're going to spend 19 billion, there are probably much better ways of preventing terrorism, with it than this like tightening borders and so on.

There would be an erosion of individual's liberties and they may even reduce our security rather than improve it. So there's no real change in that. And indeed, actually, the Home Secretary had the grace to say the other day that they wouldn't have made any difference here.

Jeremy Vine: Although we may find as a result of what's happened that the public become more enamoured of them.

David Davis: The first signs then to that is not the case. I mean there are about half, slightly less than half the public think they're a good idea.

But I think what's happening over time is as people know more about these proposals, they realise the weaknesses, that they realise the costs, and they decide that they're not a good idea and they're too much of an incursion of their civil liberties.

Remember, the Prime Minister in his moving comments the other day said, we will not be intimidated, we will not allow the terrorists to change our way of life and that's something very important to remember throughout this whole exercise, this very emotional and difficult time.

That we mustn't let the terrorists change our way of life. We should only do the things which will work and don't change us from being a free society.

Jeremy Vine: Let's talk about those principles because when control orders were talked about in parliament, you were against them.

We've got the quote here, you say, "I believe Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, has settled on the wrong answers which will sacrifice essential and long standing British principles of liberty and justice in a way that is unlikely materially to enhance the security of our people."

Now does the balance change in that comment as a result of what has happened? Do you start to think again about what he did?

David Davis: Not really. We have a review. The deal we struck with the Government on this was that they would put control orders in place. Remember when we did this, this was the run up to the General Election campaign. Most of us believed, the most - the highest point of risk was during the General Election campaign.

We considered the possibility of an event like this during the General Election campaign, and we said well, you must have it for that period and for nine months and then review it and see whether or not it works. Our fear was that control orders would act as a recruiting sergeant for people like Al Qa'eda. That if the wrong person was put under house arrest or was restrained and had their life constrained with a control order, they got the wrong person, that would be a recruiting sergeant for the people we're trying to defeat.

That was one of the primary arguments, that of course and the proper arguments of process - that the decision should be taken by a judge not by a politician. A politician possibly under pressure of events; so those were the two key issues and we'll come back to those in less than nine months' time now.

Jeremy Vine: But people may well not have as much time for what you call the proper arguments of process and where you have somebody who is under suspicion that they may do something like what we saw last week, you can't put them through a court because you don't have all the evidence gathered. What on earth do you do?

David Davis: Well the first thing, we talked about this during the debate and one of the things that was clear is if you have somebody who is as - thought to be an imminent threat, firstly you put them under very very close surveillance, that is actually much more, in many ways much more restraining than a control order.

And if you think they're about to take action, you arrest them. And now that's all possible under current law so that is not an appropriate example. It's not an appropriate way to look at it. (overlap)

Jeremy Vine: But they get a good lawyer and they're out in forty eight hours surely that's the problem. If you haven't got any evidence (overlaps)

David Davis: (overlaps) Well no, no. No, that is not the case and that's one of the things we have to review at the end of the nine months. Now the issue here is if somebody is a threat to the public and the police have the powers now to arrest them, under current laws.

And we made this argument at the time - look, if you're going to do this, the Home Secretary was countenancing I think dozens, tens or dozens of people possibly being under these constraints or control orders.

If you're doing to do something like this then you must be sure that the process of law works properly. There's no difference in speed between having the Home Secretary make the decision and having a judge make the decision.

They can be equally quick and at the end of the day, when there was a judge making the decision you take much less risk of as I say creating not martyrs but creating recruiting sergeants for the sort of radicals that - the sort of extremists that we're trying to defeat in this battle.

Jeremy Vine: Everyone is trying to work our who and how many is responsible or a threat in this country and today Lord Stevens who used to run the police in London made a very interesting comment in a newspaper column where he says up to three thousand British born or British based people have passed through Bin Laden's training camps in the past few years. Do you think he's right.

David Davis: Oh yeah, there's no doubt about those numbers. It is measured in thousands, the people who've been through the training camps.

And probably there are hundreds of people who would act as supporters in some context or another, and probably tens or some anyway, who would actually carry out the sort of events we're fearing here, we're dealing with here. So those numbers are not new. We knew this all along.

The Home Secretary was not, never countenancing putting thousands of people under control orders, he said that in the House of Commons.

This issue, as I say, will be looked at very coldly and clinically in a few months' time to see what can be done with these orders to make them work well as a counter-terrorist exercise, and I suspect one of the first things we'll look at is making them more judicial. They'll still be there but more judicial and less politician driven.

Jeremy Vine: But when this was raised in the run up to the Election, the number of possibly active terrorists who were around, you said, and I quote, "What happened to the hundreds of terrorists roaming our streets?

Was it just convenience that they appeared then disappeared in the run up to an Election?" So you're suggesting the government was crying wolf on the whole thing?

David Davis: Well the, the, if you remember what happened was that there were talk of hundreds of terrorists.

In fact the number of control orders exercised, the people from Belmarsh have been, have been put under a control order and a few others, two or three others now.

I think each of them have come out of jail and therefore they could have been under bail conditions. The point I was making was that you shouldn't exaggerate the numbers involved here. It was just a few. (interjection) And I'm afraid ... (overlaps)

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) ... But you were agreeing with Lord Stevens a moment ago, on the thousands.

David Davis: Yes. But let us, of course, of course. You're talking about different categories of people. People who've gone through the camps. We know, we know those numbers.

We know the sorts of numbers at each category if you like. Those who've been through the camps, not all of those are now a threat to us.

Jeremy Vine: Really.

David Davis: There are those who might ... Exactly. I mean the Government knows broadly who they are.

With hundreds who are, who might be supporters, and there are maybe dozens or a few, who would actively be terrorists. But bear in mind the concern here. The aim here is to deal or prevent the sort of event we've had in the last week.

The biggest concern was what the intelligence agencies called clean skins. People about whom we know nothing. (interjection) And that's the real problem here.

Jeremy Vine: Okay, David Davis thank you very much indeed for joining us. Thank you.

End of interview

Interview with John Hutton MP

John Hutton MP
John Hutton MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Jeremy Vine: And I'm joined now from Blackpool by the Cabinet minister, John Hutton. Welcome to you. So Britain got some of what it wanted on Africa but very little on climate change.

John Hutton: Well I, I think Tony Blair showed tremendous leadership in chairing the G8 and in fact so did the heads of government themselves in tackling the issues to do with debt relief and aid for Africa.

And I think we always recognized in relation to climate change, that you know we probably weren't going to reach an agreement at the G8 on that for obvious reasons I think that people are very familiar with. I mean there is the Kyoto protocol process around looking at targets specifically, and I don't think anyone really envisaged that the G8 would come out with as it were a separate set of targets over and above the Kyoto protocol.

But what I think has been established, and I think this is important, is that we have now got I think a process in place now which will involve not just the leaders in the G8 but also China and India and others to begin to get to grips with this serious problem about climate change. So I think it was a success. I'm not sure we could have gone further than we did, and I think we've laid in the process, I think the foundations for progress in the future.

Jeremy Vine: Do you think we saw in the G8, in the results of it, the limits of British power. We heard Daniel Altman the journalist saying that it showed that Blair can't push the White House.

John Hutton: Well I think you saw a process of engagement and dialogue, which Tony Blair was instrumental in facilitating at Gleneagles and I think it will be you know five years, ten years from now maybe that you know, we can have this conversation.

But I think what is undoubtedly a big success from Gleneagles, is the deal on debt relief and aid for Africa. I think that's going to save literally hundreds of thousands of lives, and I really don't think you could possibly ever sort of put a price on that. That is a fantastic achievement. And I think in relation to climate change, I think it is a process now.

I think, as I said, I don't think anyone really envisaged a new set of targets or a new set of agreements, specifically coming out the G8 but what we have got I think is a very important process that will help us to get to that point. And it, and crucially involving the new emerging economies you know the giants of India, China, Brazil and others, who have to be part of the process and at the moment really aren't.

Jeremy Vine: But even on Africa, where you got a better result as Glenys Kinnock was pointing out, you haven't dealt with export subsidies, you haven't got an agreement on them which would stop us sending our own product to Africa and other places, you know, subsidized, cheap prices.

John Hutton: Well I think to be fair as well. I mean I think what came out of the G8 was a recognition that this clearly needs to be addressed and there is a process involving the Dohar Round, involving the World Trade Organization and the very important ministerial meeting that's coming up in Hong Kong in December where I think we will be able to take this further.

And that is the, if you like the appropriate process for that engagement and that discussion. But I think the Gleneagles agreement, and I think the work of the G8, I think really has taken the debate very significantly forward in a way that yes, of course, in relation to trade subsidies and maybe in relation to climate change, not everyone is able to say is what they wanted.

But it has certainly moved the debate on and that I think is a very signal achievement of all of the G8 leaders.

Jeremy Vine: But it was surprising wasn't it to hear the journalist Daniel Altman saying, an American saying that the relationship between Britain and America runs only in one direction. Now would you not expect something better than that after Britain backed the US in Iraq?

John Hutton: Well I, I don't see it as a one way street here. I think the relationship is a hugely important one, certainly in historical terms but also for the world in which we live today, which we know from the dreadful events this week in London and 9/11 and you know, the Bali bombing, all of these and Madrid, all of these horrendous events, these terrorist atrocities, you know we do need a strong transatlantic alliance, and that is what we have.

So I don't accept that you know, this is all one way traffic here and the relationship between ourselves and the United States and I think if anything, you know, those people who are objective and fair minded, looking at what came out of the G8, would have to say that you know, it was a sensible set of agreements.

It shows that there is significant value and strength and depth in that relationship that we have across the Atlantic, and we should do everything to maintain and sustain that.

Jeremy Vine: You mentioned the horrors of Thursday, and it's been an astonishing few days for this country. Do you have a sense that people now don't look to politicians for every answer and don't blame politicians for everything that goes wrong?

John Hutton: I don't think that everyone looks to politicians for the answer to every problem. I think on events like this, which are you know, really, really really significant, they do want to see in their elected leaders, resolve.

They want to see a determination to track these vicious criminals down, and in the process make sure that the things that are important to us as a country, the values that we hold dear - our unity, our belief in democracy and fair play, that we don't lose sight of those things and I think when that bomb, when those bombs went off on Thursday, I think that was the response that most people in this country were looking for and I think they got it.

Jeremy Vine: John Hutton, thanks very much indeed for joining us.

End of interview

NB:This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.

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The next Politics Show will be on Sunday 17 July 2005 at 12.00.

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