UK Liberty

42 days plucked from thin air

Posted in detention without charge, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on April 30, 2008

Can’t believe I missed this, from a week or so ago… ..must have had my eyes closed.

The Telegraph (see also this FT blog, which says the list in question is about three months old):

More than 50 Labour MPs are preparing to block Home Office plans to detain terrorist suspects for up to 42 days without charge, a leaked list compiled by government whips revealed yesterday.

The document shows that 10 former ministers are among the 50 MPs who have informed whips that they will not be voting in line with the Government.

Another 44 Labour MPs are recorded as undecided. With a Parliamentary majority of 66, Gordon Brown could now face an embarrassing defeat over the plans.

The list, compiled earlier this year, also details some of the individual MPs’ comments and views on the terrorism legislation.

It reveals that Joan Ruddock, a junior minister, “feels case not proved… 42 days plucked from thin air“, while Andy Slaughter, a Foreign Office aide, “will support but thinks barmy“.

Anne Moffat, MP for East Lothian, is said to be “very unhappy at proposals” [as is Barry Gardner, although he will vote with the Government] and Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, is recorded as saying: “I don’t understand why we need to do this“.

The Times reports that Bill Etherington, “could be persuaded to stay away”.

Interestingly, according to the  list, the police in John Battle’s constituency are campaigning against the proposals.

Government ministers are expected to put intense pressure on MPs to back the proposal – or stay away from the vote – over the next few weeks. Although the legislation is now before the Commons it is not expected to be put to a vote until June.

The list also casts light on the normally secretive workings of the whips’ office. One MP, John Cummings, is described as “usually persuadable”, Fiona Mactaggart, the former minister, is “volatile” and Tony Wright will “do what security services want”.

The whips also say they “need to watch” Khalid Mahmood. David Cameron urged Mr Brown to abandon the plans.

“The situation on 42 days is that they have comprehensively lost the argument. “They should just drop it,” he said.

Yes, very pigheaded.  No consensus, unnecessary, and counterproductive.

Today at PMQs, Gordon Brown said,

It’s right to have the power in law to have the power to hold people beyond 28 days. There will come a time when it’s difficult for the police to do a sophisticated investigation within 28 days.

Um, some police investigations take years, Gordon…

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