Home Affairs Committee Press Notice

Session 2005-06 / PN No. 21

COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES INQUIRY INTO TERRORISM DETENTION POWERS

The Home Affairs Committee announced today that it will conduct an inquiry into the police case for an increase in detention powers in respect of terrorism suspects.

In particular, the Committee will examine the strength of the specific arguments put forward by the police in support of 90-day pre-charge detention. These arguments are (as set out in Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman's letter to the Home Secretary of 6 October 2005) that public safety demands arrests earlier in the investigative process than in the past, and that more time is needed pre-charge because of:

• the international nature of terrorism
• difficulties in establishing the identity of terrorist suspects
• the need to find interpreters
• the need to decrypt computer files
• the length of time needed for scene examination and analysis
• the length of time needed to obtain and analyse data from mobile phones
• the need to allow for religious observance by detainees
• delays arising from solicitors' consultations with multiple clients.

The Committee will also investigate the value and effectiveness of safeguards provided by judicial oversight, and consider possible alternatives to extending detention powers, including:

• providing more resources to the police and intelligence services
• bringing lesser charges to enable terrorism suspects to be held in custody while the major investigation proceeds
• use of tagging, surveillance or control orders as alternatives to custody
• giving the police power to continue questioning of terrorism suspects after charges have been brought
• permitting the use of telephone intercept evidence in the courts.

The Committee will be prepared to exercise its right to sit in private if necessary to hear sensitive evidence on these topics.

Details of evidence sessions to be held in the New Year will be announced in due course.

The Committee is seeking written submissions of no more than 2,500 words from interested parties, before it takes oral evidence on this inquiry. Organisations and individuals interested in making written submissions are invited to do so by Monday 12 December 2005.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Evidence submitted should:
-if possible, be provided as electronic versions in MS Word or Rich Text format
-include full postal address and contact details
-begin with a short page summary
-have numbered paragraphs
-avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material

Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included. Submissions should be sent to the Clerk of the Committee via homeaffcom@parliament.uk or, by post , to Home Affairs Committee, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA. Further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found in the http://www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence with its Report on the inquiry or by making the evidence publicly available through the Parliamentary Record Office. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

FURTHER INFORMATION:
Media Enquiries:
Jessica Bridges Palmer, Tel 020 7219 0718, email: bridgespalmerj@parliament.uk 
Specific Committee Information:  Tel 020 7219 3276, email: homeaffcom@parliament.uk
Committee Website:  http://www.parliament.uk/homeaffairscom
Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv
Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on www.parliament.uk

NOTE FOR EDITORS: The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. Its terms of reference are to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Home Office and its associated public bodies; and the administration and expenditure of the Attorney General's Office, the Treasury Solicitor's Department, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Fraud Office (but excluding individual cases and appointments and advice given within government by Law Officers). The Members are:

Rt Hon John Denham (Chairman) (Lab) (Southampton Itchen)
Mr Richard Benyon (Con) (Newbury)
Mr Jeremy Browne (Lib Dem) (Taunton)
Colin Burgon (Lab) (Elmet)
Mr James Clappison (Con) (Hertsmere)
Mrs Ann Cryer (Lab) (Keighley)
Mrs Janet Dean (Lab) (Burton)
Nick Harvey (Lib Dem) (North Devon)
Nick Herbert (Con) (Arundel and South Downs)
Mr Shahid Malik (Lab) (Dewsbury)
Steve McCabe (Lab) (Birmingham Hall Green)
Gwyn Prosser (Lab) (Dover)
Mr Gary Streeter (Con) (South West Devon)
Mr David Winnick (Lab) (Walsall North)