Plans to allow more civil courts to sit in secret were pushed through the Commons last night in the face of protests from MPs of all parties that the moves would undermine basic principles of British justice.
Ministers defeated two moves by Labour and coalition rebels to introduce extra safeguards into the system – each time by majorities of more than 70.
Kenneth Clarke, the Minister without Portfolio, insists the "secret courts" are essential to allow highly sensitive material to be heard in private. He said judges would have "unfettered discretion" to decide whether to hear evidence in camera without being influenced by ministers.
But Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie said the defeated amendments were about "whether people can get to hear the case made against them and whether we can keep legal safeguards we have had for generations".