Diary: Labour got terror measures right, May reveals... quietly

There were no fewer than 23 written statements from ministers tabled in the Commons yesterday. This is a device by which ministers make announcements on which they are obliged to keep MPs informed, but which are either too trivial, or too embarrassing, to be delivered out loud.

By far the shortest of these written statements was a four-line announcement by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, that a new report was being made available to anyone who thought to ask for it. The report is from David Anderson, QC, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation, on the effect of abolishing control orders, introduced by Labour after the London bombings on 7 July 2005.

These orders undeniably caused great distress for the 52 Muslim men who were subjected to them, and to their families. The wife of one said the experience was like "fighting a ghost".

But Mr Anderson concluded that control orders "fulfilled their primary function of disrupting terrorist activity", that they were "enforceable" and that there was "no evidence" that they were counter-productive.

They were abolished by the Coalition in 2011 because of concerns about civil liberties, and replaced by TIPMs (terrorism prevention and investigation measures). Of TIPMs, Mr Anderson concluded: "They are unlikely to further requirements of national security – rather the reverse."

So, the verdict of the official reviewer is that in this case, Labour was weaker on civil rights than the Conservatives, but tougher on preventing terrorism.

You can see why Theresa May's announcement was so short.

An extra helping of food for thought

The story about Cameron, party donors and private dinners in public buildings, wittily encapsulated in yesterday's Daily Mirror headline "Cam dine with me", is not new. Early in 2007, Mr Cameron had to make an unreserved apology to the House of Commons after the Standards Committee upheld a complaint from an MP about leaflets offering free dinners or lunches several times a year with the Conservative leader, in the House of Commons, paid for by the taxpayer, to anyone who put £50,000 into Tory party coffers.

The MP who lodged the complaint was the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, now a junior minister for Transport.

Figure not exactly on the money

I am told the residents of York were shocked to receive a booklet through their doors telling them that their city council planned to spend £354bn in the coming year. That is almost half what central government spends, but, mercifully, it was only a typo. They meant £354m.

Team player held his nerve

There is no mystery about why the self-effacing Tony Newton, whose death was reported yesterday, thrived as a cabinet minister under John Major, or why Mr Major described him as a "fully fledged human being with no sense of self... the ultimate team player". Newton was the only minister who knew the secret of John Major's affair with Edwina Currie, and he never told.

Not so obvious is what he was doing in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet. She did not think much of him, though she acknowledged that he was good at his job and popular in the Commons. The adjectives she applied to him – "stolid" and "left-inclining" – did not feature as compliments in the Thatcher lexicon.

On the day Mrs Thatcher was forced to resign, Newton was last in the line of cabinet ministers who filed into her office to tell her that she had to go. According to her description, he was "nervous" but "just about managed" to say what he wanted to say. Given that Newton was a kindly man who built his career on never saying anything controversial, and given the terror that Mrs Thatcher inspired, you can bet he was "nervous".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own