The Government has been showing its contempt for Parliament in the highly curtailed debate on the very controversial Prevention of Terrorism Bill.
They were not content with limiting the Committee, Report and Third Reading stages to a single day, which in itself is an affront to the House of Commons for such a complicated and fundamentally dangerous and powerful piece of legislation.
After over 180 amendments had been tabled, supposedly to be debated in under six hours, the Home Secretary, decided to "clarify" his "concessions" that he had decided on over the weekend, by writing a letter to the Conservative Home Affairs spokesman David Davis, outlining the fact that instead of actually tabling the "concession" amendemnets for debate and scrutiny in the House of Commons, the Government would presnt them later to the House of Lords.
To make matters worse, the Home Secretary then wasted about two of the six hours alloted for debate by "explaining" the contents of his letter, which had not been made available to all MPs before the start of the debate, and how it would do such and such in the way of providing more Judicial involvement in Control orders.
Even if you support this Bill, you should be dismayed by this abuse of Executive power - the Members of Parliament were not debating the Bill as presented or even the Amendments as tabled, but the unsigned copy of the Home Secretary's letter of intent, which may not even survive debate in the House of Lords starting tomorrow.
If this was the only time which a late arriving letter from the Home Secretary, which contained important issues or clarifications for the debate going on in the Commons had somehow, mysteriously, despite an army of civil servants, been distributed late to MPs, but,, not, of course to the press and tv media, then the Government might be forgiven for a blunder.
However they did exactly the same thing with the curtailed debate on the Report stage and Third Reading of the equally controversial Identity Cards Bill, only last Thursday 10th February, when the late document was the Home Secretary's response to the 14 points put to him by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
Charles Clarke even made use of the "failed shoebomber case" of Saajid Badat, a British citizen who pled guilty to a conspiracy to cause an explosion charge, involving a bomb threat outside of the United Kingdom, today. This case was nearly compromised by former Home Secretary David Blunkett's sub judice comments last year. How this case is relevant to "Control Orders", which are meant to apply when there is no evidence available, when this case was successfully prosecuted due to the evidence of the shoe bomb found in the failed terrorist plotter's home, is a mystery.
The Badat case actually undermines most of the Home Secretary's assertions that "Control Orders" are somehow needed to foil imminent terrorist attacks. "Control Orders" would have been of no use in this case, which only came to light because of indirect telephone "communications data" evidence -not "intercept evidence", but apparently "Belgian phone cards" which linked the other failed British "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and Saajid Badat with a common Al Queada agent now being held in Belgium.