Terrorism Bill - house
I voted against the Prevention of Terrorism Bill and for amendments that would have
confined the Bill to dealing with the measures for immediate problems created by the House
of Lords ruling on the Belmarsh detainees.
I thought it reasonable to allow some restrictions on
such people short of house arrest (eg tagging, restrictions on electronic communications)
as well as the covert surveillance that would have taken place anyway. But I felt there was no need for legislation with
wider application to be rushed in. I also
tabled amendments to restrict the current wide definition of terrorism. In the end, I was pleased when the Government
eventually agreed to a comprehensive review of the legislation in a years time. This is an acceptable equivalent to the
sunset clause included in Lords amendments. It will mean MPs will be able to look at this
legislation again in 12 months.
remains that I will not support giving powers to any politician to place people, who have
not been found guilty of any crime, under house arrest. Such
matters should only be dealt with by the judiciary. I
am also concerned about decisions being made on an insufficient standard of proof
(reasonable suspicion rather than balance of probabilities).
I would also wish to see more done to bring terrorists to trial. During the debates, the Government kept saying that
its preferred option is to prosecute suspects, when there are good chances of a
conviction. Yet, I was amazed to learn, from
their lawyer, that the Belmarsh detainees have never even been interviewed by the Police!
supported the following statement by Liberty:
STATEMENT FOR JUSTICE AND SECURITY
The plight of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and
Belmarsh has been condemned at home and abroad. Our highest court has described detention
without trial on the basis of secret intelligence as "the stuff of nightmares".
We choose to live in a democracy that protects life,
liberty and the rule of law. The Home Secretary is now proposing new laws to replace
internment in prison with measures including house arrest at his discretion. This loss of
liberty is to be based on his suspicion rather than proof before a court.
We call for:
An end to detention without trial.
Respect for precious British values of freedom,
justice and the presumption of innocence in any new anti-terror laws.
Recognition that human rights must not and need not
be sacrificed for effective security.