Government abandons 42-day detention plan

The Government tonight decided not to try to force through the defeated plan to extend from 28 days to 42 the limit for pre-charge detention of terror suspects.

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced to the House of Commons that she had prepared an alternative to the Bill, which was overwhelmingly rejected in the House of Lords by 309 votes to 118 after an impassioned debate. The Counter Terrorism Temporary Provisions Bill which would be held ready and introduced if needed. This move was interpreted by the Conservatives as an abandonment of the Bill.

Tony Blair suffered his first Commons defeat over a bid to extend detention to 90 days in 2005. Parliament agreed instead to a 28 day limit.

Mr Brown's attempt to extend that to 42 days scraped through the Commons by just nine votes in June, despite a rebellion by 36 Labour MPs.

The Government had to rely then on the votes of Democratic Unionists.

The huge scale of tonight's Lords defeat will make Home Secretary Jacqui Smith wary of trying to force the measure through the Commons again.

And even if she did, there's likely to be a prolonged period of "ping-pong" with peers before Mr Brown would have decide whether to use the Parliament Act to ram the measure through the Lords.







The latest bid to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects was rejected by a coalition of Tory and Liberal Democrat peers and Labour rebels.

They backed a move by crossbencher Lord Dear, a former chief inspector of constabulary, to bar any extension beyond 28 days in the Counter-Terrorism Bill.

Lord Dear, opening committee stage debate, said: "This attempt to appear tough on terrorism, I believe, is a shabby charade which is unworthy of a democratic process and we should reject it."

He argued there was "no evidence to date" that the existing 28-day limit had been insufficient and that no other common law democracy had a limit as high as 42 days.

The Association of Chief Police Officers backed the increase, he conceded. "But I have had numerous chief constables telling me privately that they see no reason for the extension and that privately they do not support it."

Lord Dear poured "scorn" on the "Byzantine" safeguards, which gave Parliament a quasi-judicial role in authorising an extension in individual cases. There were "grave risks of breaching sub judice arrangements, he warned.

To extend to 42 days, he warned, "would almost certainly give ammunition to those who seek to justify acts of terrorism against us. I think it would be an act of sheer folly to provide them with such a gift."

Tory frontbencher Baroness Neville-Jones - former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee - condemned the Government's plans as "unnecessary, undesirable and unworkable".

The proposed safeguards made it "unworkable and constitutionally worrying," she said.

"They risk conflating the roles of Parliament and the judiciary. They will place on Parliament demands to act in a quasi-judicial manner."

Lib Dem frontbencher Lord Thomas of Gresford QC warned the extension could lead to a "drying up of intelligence" from the Muslim community.

The Government was using the judiciary as "a convenient cover to give an aura of respectability to what is essentially executive detention".

Labour QC Lady Mallalieu said: "It surely is an essential ingredient of living in a free country that we are free from the fear of being locked up without charge."



Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Tebbit, who was seriously injured and whose wife was permanently disabled in the IRA's bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the 1984 Conservative Party conference, said he was backing the Government's plans and warned his party might "come to rue this day" if ministers lost the vote.

"If the lack of this provision leads to the police to fail to prevent a major terrorist outrage, what then?" he asked. "It might mean multiple fatalities, it might mean a strike against economically important infrastructure, with great consequences.

"It might mean we fail to prevent an outrage as great as the detonation of a dirty nuclear device in a city centre, leaving it uninhabitable for years."

Labour former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer of Thoroton said he would vote against the Government, telling peers: "If I thought that this provision for 42 days would make any difference at all in the fight against terrorism I would unhesitatingly support it."

Liberal Democrat Lord Carlile of Berriew, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said that if 42-day detention had an adverse impact on civil liberties it would be on "a maximum of five or six people in the next four or five years", adding: "This is not the end of civil liberties as we know it."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker