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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border