Hansard and the Parliament's website seem to have found it impossible to keep up to date with the slime mould that is the legislative progress of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill.
We suspect that almost nobody actually completely understands exactly what the House of Commons and the House of Lords have actually been voting for or against.
Whilst there have been several Opposition Amendments voted through in the House of Lords, so have a few alleged "concessions" and Government amendments which, through a mixture of incompetence and contempt for Parliament, the Nu Labour politruks (political commissars) failed to let even their own supporters have sight of, for proper scrutiny in the House of Commons.
As a result several of the points we raised on first reading the proposed legislation have still not been discussed or addressed, points which should worry even supporters of the Bill. e.g.
- What about Control Orders applied to Children ? Where is the provision for parents or guardians to be present with legal advisors throughout all stages of the hugely complicated legal proceedings ? What about the anonymity of Children under these circumstances ?
- What about Criminal Records Bureau Enhanced Disclosures and Police Intelligence sharing databases e.g. I-PLX or IMPACT with respect to people who have not been convicted of any crime ? Should a future employer be able to see if someone was subjected to a Control Order in the past ? If a Control Order is quashed on appeal, and the conviction for breaking the illegal or disproportionate Control Order falls, what happens to the Criminal Record and to the fingerprints, DNA samples etc. of those people who have been arrested ? What happens if the person is arrested for 48 hours, fingerprinted, DNA sampled , photographed, pending the serving of a Control Order, and the Home Secretary decides not to serve it at that time ? What happens to the Criminal Records etc ?
- What about Anonymity when the Finger of the State has been pointed at you , branding you a Terrorist Suspect ? It is not just demonstrations from suppporters of those under say, House Arrest that needs to be considered, but lynch mobs, vigilantes and the Press Pack harrassment of family, neighbours and the local community, which needs to be guarded against. Waiting for a court date to apply for an Anonymity Order is all very well for someone already safely in custody, but is unfair on people served with a Control Order who are not in custody, especialy when a mistake has been made,
- The new Government "concession" amendment regarding an immediate power of police arrest for up to 48 hours (extensible for another 48 hours) for someone who is to be served a "derogating" "House Arrest" type Control Order is not on the same footing as the other powers for serving a "non-derogating" Control Order, where there is a power to use force to enter without a warrant, any premises in search of a person to serve a Control Order on. There are still no provisions for arranging a reasonable time, contacting the actual lanlord or keyholders of premises or for paying compensation for any damage or loss of business.
Now that the Bill is back in the House of Commons. This afternoon, the House of Commons will only have time to accept or reject the Lords Amendments, and presumably the promised further "concessions" from the Government, and will, presumably, not bother to even consider any of the points raised above.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke has been wittering on about the need to be able to inflict Control Orders on someone "in an emergency" where there is a risk of them fleeing. This is utter rubbish. The size and cost of the 24/7 surveillance team needed to keep an eye on any dangerous terrorist suspect even confined to "House Arrest" is virtually the same as required to keep them under covert survellance. Anything less than "House Arrest" e.g. electronic tagging, is ridiculous, if there is a risk that the suspect might flee.
If people are suspected of being an immediate danger, then the existing Terrorism Act 2000 allows arrest without trial for up to 14 days already, so what is the need for "Emergency Control Orders" at all ?
Passing this Bad Legislation, even in this amended form, is wrong, and will simply cause injustices which will be exploited by terrorist recruiters, without actually making us any safer.
The Nu Labour Government seems to be more concerned with pretending to be "tough" on terrorism, and trying to pretend that its opponents are somehow "weak" on the issue, ahead of the forthcoming General Election. Surely this is too transparent a political ploy to influence the Electorate ?