UK PM defends 42-day terrorism detention bill, security proposals

[JURIST] UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown Tuesday spoke in favor of a controversial anti-terror bill [materials; BBC Q/A] that would allow authorities to detain terror suspects without charge for up to 42 days [JURIST news archive] in a speech [text] he presented to the Institute for Public Policy Research [group website]. Brown said that stronger safeguards are needed to protect national security:

I agree with those who argue that the very freedoms we have built up over generations are the freedoms terrorists most want to destroy. And we must not - we will not - allow them to do so. But equally, to say we should ignore the new demands of security - to assume that the laws and practices which have applied in the past are enough to face the future, to be unwilling to face up to difficult choices and ultimately to neglect the fundamental duty to protect our security - this is the politics of complacency.
Brown said that the bill did not authorize "internment or preventative detention," since it required that suspects be brought before a judge within 48 hours of detention. He also defended other controversial security proposals, including an expanded DNA database and national ID cards [JURIST reports], as necessary to preserve public safety. BBC News has more. The Guardian has additional coverage.

Brown said that the speech was not related to the resignation [statement text; JURIST report] of UK shadow Home Secretary David Davis [party profile] last week. Davis resigned his parliamentary seat Thursday in protest of the House of Commons' passage [JURIST report] Wednesday of Counter-Terrorism Bill 2007-2008, and said that by resigning and forcing a by-election in which he will run, he could take the issue to his constituents for public debate. The House of Lords must still pass the bill for it to become law, but Davis suggested that politically motivated government officials might invoke the Parliament Act [backgrounder, PDF] to allow the bill to pass without the House of Lords' consent.


 

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