Engagements

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 2nd March 2005.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister 11:30 am, 2nd March 2005

I have already explained the position in respect of derogating control orders, which will effectively be subject to a sunset clause because they have to be renewed each year. The right hon. and learned Gentleman asks whether it would not be better if the other powers were subject to debate. There will, of course, be the continual reports by the independent person charged with assessing the way these control orders are used, and they can and will be debated by the House.

Since 11 September, more than 700 people have been arrested for various terrorist offences. That is a significant number of people, some of whom—I am not saying all of them, by any means—would, if they could, engage in serious terrorist activity that would cause severe loss of life in this country. The police and the security services tell us that they want these powers. It would frankly be bizarre if I took up the right hon. and learned Gentleman's suggestion not to have these powers but instead to re-legislate detention without trial in prison. That would be a very odd thing to do. We have the powers. They were recommended by the Newton committee and by the police and security services, and I do not believe that they are an affront to civil liberties. On the contrary, I believe that they are a proper balance between the civil liberties of the subject and the necessary national security of this country, which I will not put at risk.