Senior peers to mount attack on 42-days plan

The two most senior legal figures in Tony Blair's cabinet will today lead a devastating assault against plans to hold terror suspects without charge for up to 42 days.

Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general, made it clear yesterday that he was prepared to defy the Government and vote down the measure. Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor, is also expected to attack the plans in the Lords when peers open debate on the Counter-Terrorism Bill this afternoon.

Lord Goldsmith insisted the measure was "wrong in practice and wrong in principle".

The two men, who occupied pivotal positions in Mr Blair's government after the terror attacks on London and in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, are among nearly 50 peers due to speak during today's debate amid growing anger at the plans, which only scraped through the Commons last month by the nine votes of the Democratic Unionist Party. The intervention of two such senior Labour figures will pile pressure on Gordon Brown, who already faces months of pitched parliamentary battles over the Bill.

Mr Brown faces a drubbing in the Lords when peers vote on the Bill later this year, with critics predicting that plans to extend the current 28-day limit on holding terror suspects without charge could be defeated by more than 200 votes. Sources have predicted that a string of Labour rebels would join Conservative, Liberal Democrat and cross-bench peers to throw out the measure, heralding a fresh round of parliamentary trench warfare for the Government when the legislation returns to the Commons.

A spokesman for Lord Goldsmith, whose legal opinion on the legality of war was crucial in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, made his opposition to the anti-terror legislation clear. He said: "He is prepared for people to know he will vote against the Government at committee stage. He thinks it will be counter-productive and all his experience when he was attorney general looking at these cases in real time shows this is not needed."

By tradition, peers will not vote on the Bill after today's second reading debate. But peers say the 42-day plans will be overwhelmingly defeated when the Bill reaches its detailed stages after the Parliamentary break.

Yesterday both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said that they stood firm against the measure. Lord Thomas of Gresford, who will speak for the Liberal Democrats, said: "On the eve of the vote our position remains as hard as it always has been. We cannot be bribed by knighthoods, peerages or larger rooms. On the Labour benches there is significant opposition. On the cross benches there will also be some very powerful speeches made against it by people with genuine experience of terrorist cases."

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, the former Joint Intelligence Committee chairman and the Conservative spokesman for homeland security, added: "The Conservative Party strongly supports effective action to disrupt terrorists and bring them to justice and is very critical of the Government's feeble efforts to enforce its own legislation outlawing support for terrorism.

"But it will continue to oppose the Government's obnoxious proposal to extend maximum pre-charge detention from 28 to 42 days when it comes to the Lords on 8 July and where it risks heavy defeat. The Government has utterly failed to demonstrate the need for this further extension of police power and, as the former home secretary Charles Clarke has pointed out, the Government's ostensible safeguards against possible abuse are almost certainly unworkable and therefore worthless."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living