Wednesday, February 23, 2005
24 February 2005 ~ At the nub of the debate is the question of just how grave [the terrorist] threat is.
Editorial, February 23
"At the nub of the debate is the question of just how grave [the terrorist] threat is. The government argues that the sprawling terrorist entity known as al-Qaida represents a danger of a different order to anything Britain has ever faced. We disagree. We are facing a substantial threat from terrorism, and we expect our security services to play a vital, and unprecedented, role in protecting us in coming years. But we do not think the scale of the threat justifies the suspension of the right to trial."
The Daily Mail: "In a draconian piece of legislation, this government proposes to tear up our treasured safeguards as part of the war on terror ... but this wretched measure is not a serious attempt to address this problem ... The party that misused intelligence on Iraq and hounded Dr David Kelly to his lonely death simply can't be trusted with the new powers it now demands." See Guardian
Thirty-two Labour MPs joined the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in opposing the Prevention of Terrorism Bill last night, more than halving the government's majority. The bill will apply to both British citizens and foreign nationals and would give the Home Secretary power to make a “control order” against any individual if he has "reasonable grounds for suspecting" that the individual is or has been "involved in terrorism-related activity"
See Hansard for the division.
Mr Blair, hoping to lessen the blow, has written in today's Telegraph that there is "no greater civil liberty than to live free from terrorist attack". However, the Telegraph quotes Mr Blair from 1994, when he was Shadow Home Secretary, as saying: "The liberty of the subject should be taken away not by the act of a politician, but by a court of law."
The bill goes to the House of Lords next Monday.
Feb 23 2005 ~ Labour backbencher Bob Marshall-Andrews has declared the Prevention of Terrorism Bill " the greatest attack on the nation's liberty in three centuries."
- Yorkshire Post today:
David Davis, MP for Haltemprice and Howden, criticised the decision to fast-track the Bill.
"The Bill removes, for the first time in modern times, the presumption of innocence of the accused and it also removes the right of the accused to see the evidence and charges against them. Further, the Government are introducing emergency measures that they say they will not need to use – why are these included in the Bill? Parliament needs more time to debate these issues.
Our civil liberties and system of justice are worth more than two days of hurried decisions."
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said: "Charles Clarke's proposals are going to have a very rough ride through Parliament.
It is wrong in principle, and dangerous in practice, to allow British citizens to be locked up in their homes on the say-so of a politician.
Controls on suspects' movements and communications should only be made by a judge. "..."