A Joint Committee of MPs and Peers began work on scrutinising Government proposals to prepare emergency legislation that could be used to increase the time people suspected of terrorism offences can be detained before they are charged. The proposals follow the Home Secretary’s announcement that, in normal circumstances, the maximum period for pre-charge detention will be 14 days
The Committee will examine the draft Detention of Terrorist Suspect Bills that were published by the Home Office on 11 February, and has started its inquiry by asking for evidence on issues including:
- whether the Government’s proposals strike the right balance between justice and public protection.
- how the contingency powers would best be introduced i.e. through specific primary legislation or more general legal frameworks for dealing with emergencies.
- whether it is appropriate for parliament, rather than the courts alone, to have a role in deciding whether extended detention may be necessary in a particular case.
- what information parliament would need to make decisions about whether to pass the contingency powers, and how this information would be presented.
The Committee took evidence from Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, the former Director of Public Prosecutions who was the independent overseer of the Government’s counter-terrorism review.
Committee Chairman, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, said:
"It’s very important that we get this legislation right. We need to make sure we balance people’s freedoms with the need to keep our country safe".