MPs warn law would turn Cherie Blair into a criminal

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats joined an insurrection by Labour backbenchers as they savaged the Terrorism Bill during an unusual line-by-line debate on the floor of the Commons.

They condemned proposals for a new offence of glorifying terrorism before turning their fire on to highly contentious plans to give police powers to hold terror suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow Attorney General, protested that the glorification law could criminalise anyone who justified violence carried out by the African National Congress and by the Bosnian resistance against Serbia. He added: "The glorification of Robin Hood is likely to be covered by this."

Kenneth Clarke, the former Tory chancellor, said there was nothing in the proposed legislation that would make the public safer. "It's ridiculous, it's absurd, it should never have been brought before us ... it has been dragged together from all over the place to give the impression of a dynamic, tough government taking firm action," he said.

John Denham, a former Home Office minister and the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the former US president George Bush would have fallen foul of the Bill when he called on Iraqis to overthrow Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Gulf war.

Alistair Carmichael, for the Liberal Democrats, described parts of the Bill as "opaque" while others "border on the impenetrable".

He said: "It fails a very basic test and that is it is one of the fundamental principles of natural justice that laws should be sufficiently clear that the citizens can regulate their conduct by them."

Alan Simpson, Labour MP for Nottingham South, said George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia would have been caught by the Bill. "The far-reaching consequences of the Bill in its current form are so draconian as to virtually provide a Bill that could have been drafted for us by al-Qa'ida ... We are doing what al-Qa'ida sought to do by other means and we will not be thanked by society for it," he said.

Bob Marshall-Andrews, Labour MP for Medway, proposed amendments forcing prosecutors to prove intent when taking cases of alleged incitement to terrorism to court. He said Cherie Blair's famous statement of sympathy with Palestinians driven to resist the Israeli government would have been illegal under the "odious" proposed ban on glorifying terrorism."

Hazel Blears, the Home Office minister, signalled a partial climbdown, denying that people could be charged with incitement as a result of their own negligence. "I am prepared to say that there are legitimate concerns and I will continue to discuss that issue," she told MPs.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, faced a second torrent of criticism as the Commons moved on to discuss plans to hold terror suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

Mr Grieve said the plans were "at the outer limits of what would currently pass scrutiny under the European Convention on Human Rights".

He said: "Merely to say you can detain somebody beyond 14 days for the purpose of questioning strikes me as being really a very unpleasant concept."

David Winnick, Labour MP for Walsall North, said that MPs should not introduce the 90-day detention simply because the police had requested it. "That does not seem to me to be right and not fulfilling the functions of the Commons."

Shahid Malik, the Labour MP for Dewsbury, said that only 11 people had been held up to the current maximum of 14 days without charge - "there seems to be no example in the last two years of any one case where detention would be justified to 90 days".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Freight Forward Senior Operator

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This logistics firm are looking...

Recruitment Genius: Lead Marketing Specialist

£34500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A lead marketing specialist is required ...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician - 2nd / 3rd Line

£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Technician is req...

Recruitment Genius: Folder Gluer Operator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: There will be a number of exciting opportuniti...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map