Clarke: Terror threat justifies crackdown

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Controversial house arrest for terror suspects will not be introduced immediately, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said today.

Controversial house arrest for terror suspects will not be introduced immediately, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said today.

The security services advised him that the house arrest measures were "valuable" but not currently necessary, he told the House of Commons.

The lower grades of control orders involving travel bans and bars on access to phones and the internet will go ahead, he said.

But the top-level house arrest measures contained in the new Prevention of Terrorism Bill will require secondary legislation if it is decided to implement them in the future.

Mr Clarke told MPs: "I have been advised by the police and security authorities that they consider that the control orders ... are currently sufficient to deal with individuals concerned and that deprivation of liberty, though valuable, is not necessary in the language of the convention.

"They support the measures in the Bill which allow me to impose obligations up to but not including a 'requirement to remain in a particular place at all times' and the flexibility they give me to tailor the obligations imposed under any order to the threat posed by the particular individual."

Mr Clarke refused to bow to demands that house arrest control orders should be imposed by judges.

The house arrest control orders would require a derogation from Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), he told MPs.

But he said he did not intend to seek a derogation immediately.

Each house arrest order will be immediately referred to the High Court for an initial hearing within seven days, he said.

If the court backs the Home Secretary's decision to impose the control order, there will be a full hearing at the High Court.

There will be open and closed sessions of the hearings, using special advocates nominated by the Government and vetted by the security services to represent the suspects.

The type of control orders which do not require the Government to opt out - or derogate - from the ECHR would be subjected to judicial review in the High Court.

"The measures of judicial scrutiny which I propose should meet the genuine concerns which have been raised," he said.

Mr Clarke said control orders would enable the Government to protect the public."This is an important Bill. It raised serious and difficult issues but we must have the capacity to protect our people now and to do so in the future."

He said "it would be the gravest dereliction of duty to wait until we have suffered a terrorist outrage here and then respond after the event".

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