(Original post by TopHat)
Gentleman of the House (I'd say ladies, but we seem to be severely lacking in that department. Looks like the new Minister of Equality has some work on his hands!), this motion goes far beyond the simple immediate repercussions of whether or not we deport Qatada. This motion, at the core, is an argument about whether the state has the right to work outside the legal framework that has been created. If you value liberty and the protection of rights, in any way, then I beg you to oppose this motion. I'll now break down the Government's arguments to show you why.
The first and most basic argument is that he is a Jordanian citizen, and must therefore face the Jordanian justice system. The Government has proposed that he is escaping the law that Opposition seeks to enforce if we prevent him being detained. This is patently not the case, however. If we could fully trust the Jordanian authorities in every way that Qatada would undergo the punishment the courts decide, and nothing more, then I would agree with the Government. However, we can not. There are multiple grounds to believe Qatada would be tortured if he were turned over to the Jordanian authorities. The ECHR is not the only authority to note this, our own Supreme Court did so in 2009. There are two responses offered by the Government to this. The first is that the Jordanian authorities have promised to treat him with respect, and that the Opposition owes a burden of proof to show that Qatada will not be treated safely. This argument patently does not hold. Consider: if the Jordanian authorities do not torture, then Qatada will receive what the law would give him. If they do torture, he shall receive far more. The cost of the Jordanian's promise being falsely made is far, far greater than the cost of the Jordanian's promise being truthfully made. A false positive is far more dangerous than a false negative, and as such, the burden of proof lies firmly with the Government - this is a burden of proof they have not provided. The second response is that this is patronizing - there are allegations that the US has engaged in torture, yet we still extradite to them. Why is Qatada different? Birchington has already provided a more than adequate answer to this: he is not. The Opposition is perfectly consistent - British citizens like Gary McKinnon, Chris Tappin and Richard O'Dwyer should not
have been extradited.
The next argument offered by the Government is that Qatada is a criminal, and therefore forfeits his right to asylum. This argument is patently incorrect so far as the UK is concerned, as Qatada has not committed a crime as recognised by the United Kingdom's Courts. This was later amended by the Government, in a clear sign of their inconsistency, to "Qatada is dangerous, and therefore waives his right to asylum". This shows a clear disregard for the rule of law. We do not punish people before a crime has been committed or intent to commit a crime has been clearly displayed. If the state thinks he may be dangerous, then we take precautions. What we do not take is the law into our own hands, and declare ourselves judge, jury and executioner. The final and most worrying Government response as far as this argument was concerned was "you wouldn't feel comfortable with Qatada in your community - you would be scared, you would want him gone". I freely admit - I would be scared. I would want him gone. I wouldn't want him in my community. But, gentlemen, we must be better than that
. As individuals, we may be scared, but as a society, we must be strong. We have to rise above the fear, and follow the laws that we have created for ourselves, for without them, we are no society at all. To play to the fears of the individuals in the mass is the worst kind of populist demagoguery.
The final argument, and the weakest argument, that we heard from the Government was about cost - Qatada costs money to keep. In Opposition, we are fully aware of that cost. However, we are aware of that cost for what it really is. Beyond paying for his security and imprisonment, that money is ensuring that our laws and rights are respected. That money ensures that the say of the courts is final, and that we uphold the laws and rights of all men, even when government would seek to overturn them. The Opposition sees that as a cost well spent. I feel the Labour Party is not alone on this. They can correct me if I am wrong, but I do believe the Libertarians see the Rule of Law as one of two central tenets of state existence, alongside defence. I do believe this is the one aspect of government spending even they would defend. I'd also like to say how glad I am to have the backing of CyclopsRock and D.R.E on this matter - this is not some petty party issue, but a cross-party matter of liberty.
Niemoller's words are as important as they always were.
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me
Gentlemen, if you want anyone to speak out for you, please, vote against this motion.