British government slapped down over terror bill

October 14th, 2008 - 6:03 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 14 (IANS) Britain’s Labour government fought back Tuesday after the upper chamber of parliament dismissed a government proposal to increase the detention limit of terror suspects from 28 to 42 days.Home Minister Jacqui Smith said that in the event of a terror attack or a serious threat, the government will be able to rush through emergency legislation to extend the upper limit of detention.

The government proposal has been politically controversial and is opposed not only by civil liberty groups and libertarian politicians in all three major political parties, but also by former heads of police and intelligence.

Speaking a day after the House of Lords defeated the bill by 309 to 118 votes, Smith said she was determined to “find a way through this”.

“That’s why I brought to the Commons (lower house) yesterday a bill that is ready-prepared so that if, and I fear when, we face a situation that is so complex, so difficult, so potentially dangerous that it actually requires us to investigate somebody for longer than 28 days it will be there ready,” Smith said.

Under the new proposal, terror suspects can be detained only if authorised by a judge, and any extension will require the director of public prosecutions to apply to the courts.

In addition, there will be a ’sunset clause’ so the measure lapses after 60 days unless parliament renews it.

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