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Orders of the Day — Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:24 pm on 26th October 2005.

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Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary 1:24 pm, 26th October 2005

I have already said that I am going to give way at an appropriate point later.

Forensic requirements are still more complex and time consuming, particularly with the possibility of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards. It often takes a long time to make a site safe before it can be examined. That applied in the case of the London attacks in July, and the al-Qaeda methodology of mounting simultaneous attacks extends the time taken for proper crime scene examination and analysis.

The use of mobile telephony by terrorists, as a secure means of communication, is, by definition, a relatively new phenomenon. It takes time to obtain information from service providers and subsequently to analyse that information to identify links between suspects and their locations at key times.

For all those reasons, I believe that a strong case exists for increasing the maximum detention period. I stress that we are talking about a maximum period. Very few cases currently run to 14 days and we would expect an even smaller proportion to run beyond that. The safeguards that exist are designed to ensure that no one is kept for any longer than absolutely necessary.