Peter Hain, the Leader of the House of Commons has announced an astonishingly compressed time table for the passage of the Government's extremely controversial "Control Orders" legislation, the Prevention of Terrorism Bill.
The Bill is to be introduced tomorrow Tuesday 22nd February, the Second Reading debate will be on Wednesday 23rd February and it will finish its Committee and Report and Third Reading stages all in one day on Monday 28th February 2005 !
Given that the Home Office have had over 3 years to come up with more satisfactory legislation to replace the poorly drafted and rushed Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, it is totally unacceptable to destroy our civil liberties and freedoms, not just for foreign terrorist suspects, but potentially for any British citizen, by introducing "Control Orders" which are not imposed by the Judicial system on the basis of actual testable evidence, but on the whim of a politician, acting on possibly illegal and secret and very often wrong or misinterpreted "intelligence".
Who cares if the Home Secretary Charles Clarke or the Prime Minister Tony Blair are actually decent honest people with a conscience, and could, perhaps, be trusted not to abuse this power ? That is not the problem.
The problem is that this law will be on the statute books for use by future elected dictators, and could just as easily be turned against you and your family as against the alleged Islamic terrorists who are currently the targets for the Government's mismangement of the terrorist menace.
For those of us who are already worried about the extraordinary powers which the Government has given itself under the controversial Emergency powers section of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, which is meant to have Emergency Regulations reviewd by Parliament after 7 days, the extreme rapidity and "rubber stamp" nature of this "Prevention of Terrorism Bill" passing through the Commons in under 6 days (including the weekend), with only 2 days of actual debate, gives rise to actual fear and dread.
This is not a whinge about some notional "airy fairy" civil liberties concept, this is not a question of "being soft on terrorism", this is about the fundamental core beliefs which most people have taken for granted in British society. To undermine these is to let the terrorists win by default !