Since the effects of this section is to extend the Act for a further three years without any other safeguards, would it be appropriate to write in certain safeguards? The reason for this is that when the Bill was passed in 1972 the idea was to meet the emergency of needing further accommodation. However it is admitted that the extension is for a different reason: to deal with what are known as subversive or difficult prisoners, where strict security is needed. They will be held in military custody while a high-risk prison is being built.
First I find the word "subversive" a very dangerous one. There are certain people who might call me "subversive" and might call me even more subversive after my contribution here this afternoon. It has that very loose connotation and it would be preferable to use a more precise description of the persons concerned. It is my fear that in allowing an extension of this Act for another three years we are not writing in a sufficient safeguard. We are allowing the transfer from civil to military custody. Under the Bill the Minister does make a statement about persons and about reasons for the conviction, etc., but there is not sufficient control of the exercise of his discretion. The particular danger that could be foreseen would be that if a person held in a prison was objecting to conditions in the prison and to the way he was confined within the prison, objecting in a way which was immediately categorised as "subversive", that person could either be threatened with or be transferred to military custody without any further scrutiny or any need for any objective process at all. Without wishing to cast any aspersions on the particular Minister for Justice at any time, as a Parliament we ought to be cautious about giving——