British government defeated over controversial anti-terrorism bill

October 14th, 2008 - 4:19 am ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownLondon, Oct 14 (DPA) The British government was forced Monday to drop controversial plans to allow terrorism suspects to be detained for up to six weeks without charge after the measure was defeated in the upper house of parliament, the House of Lords.Home Secretary Jacquie Smith said after the vote, which rejected the measure 309-118, that the proposal to extend detention from currently 28 days to 42 days would be taken out of a package of anti- terrorism legislation.

The government would reintroduce the plan in a separate legislative proposal at a later date, Smith said. She accused critics of the measure of being prepared to “ignore the terrorist threat” to Britain.

The vote in the Lords represents a stinging defeat for the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which had fought hard to get the controversial law through the lower house, where 36 Labour members voted against it late last year.

The government had argued that increasingly complex and internationally-coordinated acts of terrorism made longer periods of detention necessary, but opponents said the extension of the time limit for detention would undermine civil liberties and human rights.

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