Friday, November 04, 2005

Shock news: Parliament defends liberty

Well, not quite - the government's terrorism legislation squeaked in with just one vote. However, a further vote had to be suspended on Wednesday for fear it would be lost. If it has come this close in the Commons, it seems safe to assume that the Lords will give this bill a mauling - and quite rightly so.

I really don't like this idea that the PM or the Home Secretary's job is simply to turn up in Parliament and announce what the intelligence services or the police want but in any event it seems that it was the police only and not MI5, as had been suggested, that called for the 90-day detention without trial. From the Scotsman:
'Mr Clarke has now admitted the 90-day plan came solely from the police. " It is the police who, through their professionalism, came to the view that 90 days is right," he said. "The security service aren't committed to a 90-day figure, as such."

The minister accepted that, contrary to the suggestions from his colleagues, it would not be appropriate for MI5 to be making direct recommendations on government policy.

MI5 is known to see advantages in extending the detention period, but is rarely directly involved in investigations aimed at bringing criminal charges.

Mr Clarke said: "The security services think their case is right, but it's not within their professional competence because they are not the people going through the police process."'
Given that Blair, as he's so fond of doing, has staked so much of his own personal authority on this ill-conceived piece of legislation, people have predictably begun to ask whether this Blair government has begun to resemble the Major regime in its dying days. This was what Michael Howard was trying to evoke by using Norman Lamont's barbed remark about Major during his resignation speech, 'in office but not in power'. Is this so? I don't think the parallels are particularly strong for reasons I'll explain in my next malinformed and under-researched posting.

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