Their Lordships divided: Contents, 60; Not-Contents, 172.
Unfortunately, this also means that the last opportunity to amend the other repressive powers in this Bill has now been lost.
The Bill will now get the Royal Assent and become another of Nulabour's repressive Acts of Parliament on the Statute Book, which will be of little use in protecting us against real attacks, but which will scoop up innocent people into the Kafkaesque bureaucratic "anti-terrorism" system, and will also have a chilling effect on free speech.
It does not matter if the current NuLabour Government and the current police and security bureaucracy does not intend to abuse these powers. They have made now made a further legislative "rod for our own backs" for the future.
The terrorists have won another propaganda victory, by tricking the Government into removing more of our fundamental freedoms, which is exactly what our terrorist enemies are trying to achieve.
The only substantial "concession" which the Opposition have extracted from the Government over this Bill, is the Pyrrhic victory of the reduction from 90 days to 28 days detention without charge. This still represents a doubling of the current 14 days, which was only introduced in January 2004, and it far exceeds the detention without charge powers in any other European Union country or in the USA (at least in the Civil Justice system, rather than the quasi-legal Military "enemy combatant" system in Guantanamo Bay etc.)
The "justification" for the 90 days was very weak, as demonstrated by the Andy Hayman letter , but even so , Home Secretary Charles Clarke seems to be threatening to try to re-introduce this in the next bit of anti-terrorism legislation promised for next year.
There have been slight concessions on the "2 day website takedown notice" to make it 2 working days, not including weekends or Bank Holidays, before you are assumed to condone any publicly posted blog comment or discussion thread which might express sympathy with "terrorism". The liability of company directors has also been slightly reduced from the original wording.
However, we still stand by most of our original fears about this Bill, e.g. the life sentence for the undefined "acts preparatory to terrorism", the censorship of websites and blogs like this one, the reduction in democratic accountability of the Home Secretary over electronic interception warrants under RIPA by delegation to faceless bureaucrats, the stupid increase in penalties for the Encrypted data Part III of RIPA which has still not yet come into force after over 5 years, and the chilling effect of the dissemination of terrorist publications involving "noxious substances", which will impinge on COSHH health and safety information, the excessive world wide scope of the legislation, the prohibition on entering "terrorist training camps", even if you do not know where exactly they are, anywhere in the world. etc.
- Terrorism Bill 2005 - we are genuinely scared by this evil Bill - part 1
- Terrorism Bill 2005 - part 2 of our comments
- Terrorism Bill 2005 - comments part 3
The Police have not yet got around to understanding the differences between the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. Surely they, and the media, will now continue to confuse these Acts with each other and with the new Terrorism Act 2005 ?
God help us all.