The House of Lords is now debating and voting on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, which has come back from the House of Commons, which to their shame, removed all the substantive Amendments that the Lords had voted in e.g. the "sunset clause" and the "standard of proof" and the having the same judicial process for the "non-derogating" Control Orders as for the "derogating" ("House Arrest") ones. The Lords seem to have re-introduced some of these Amendments, and the Bill is due to be sent back to the Commons.
How long will this Parliamentary "ping pong" continue for ? Potentially this could go on untill midnight tonight, but what then ? Will further time be taken out of the Parliamentary timetable which could affect other controversial Bills such as the Identity Cards Bill or the repressive clauses in the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Police Bill (e.g. making all offences arrestable which means that your fingerprints and DNA will be taken for even the most trivial offences which you may be accused of, and which will be retained forever even if you are innocent ?
Since the Parliamentary website cannot seem to keep up with publishing all the detailed amendments online, so that the public can see exactly what is being voted on at any one time e.g. it is completely unclear if the Lords amendment to remove the power of the Secretary of State to create arbitarary "non-derogating" Control Orders which are not spelled out on the face of the Bill, has been removed, or reinstated.
We therefore have to guess, that none of the points we have raised earlier have been discussed e.g. the effect of Control Orders on Children or on Criminal Records.
We question the whole concept of the practical effectiveness of "non-derogating" Control Orders.
How are we meant to be any safer if a supposed terrorist suspect is prohibited from using his own mobile phone ? What is to stop him or her from using their friend's phone or a public call box ? In order to ensure compliance such an order, he or she would need to be under constant 24/7 surveillance, as would all his friends and the whole area in which he or she happens to be in at any particular time.
Surely such scarce surveillance resources are better devoted to lawfully authorised covert surveillance of suspects, for intelligence purposes to find their accomplices and any weapons, explosives, illegal money , documents etc ? What possible intelligence can be derived from even a "guilty" terrorist suspect who has been "tipped off" by the fact that they have been served with a Control Order ?
Peter Hain, the Leader of the Commons has been wittering on about how the Prevention of Terrorism Bill would somehow be a protection from "suicide terrorists". Any people that our security services have identified as being actively involved in such a plot should never be served with Control Orders at all.
They should either be under constant 24/7 covert surveillance up to the point that say, explosives evidence can be found, and then they should be prosecuted in the normal way. If there is any prospect of any immediate danger, than the use of deadly force by the Anti-Terrorist Police or SAS etc. may be justified.
The Prime Minister has also uttered a spurious warning that somehow the "sunset clause" would encourage terrorists because the "temporary" nature of the legislation would be seen a being "weak".
Why this should have any influence whatsover on the hate filled death cults who threaten us, is a mystery.
Even if the terrorists attempt an atrocity in the UK during the Election Campaign, we hope that the British electorate will not believe that any of the democratic political parties are "weak on terrorism".