Orders of the Day — Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 26th October 2005.

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Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin Labour, Sunderland South 4:45 pm, 26th October 2005

With all due respect to my hon. Friend, that point rather rebounds on him. If it has not been necessary to detain anyone for more than 14 days so far, it is a rather large leap to say that we now urgently need a 90-day provision.

If a time period of 90 days is now essential, why, when the police were last consulted only a little over two years ago—terrorism had been with us for some time by then—did they ask for a rise from seven to only 14 days? I do not understand why their request has suddenly leapt from 14 days to 90. If they had asked for a more modest increase, I could engage with the argument.

When I looked up the way in which the then Minister, my right hon. Friend Beverley Hughes, justified the extension from seven days to 14, I noticed that some of her reasons were remarkably similar to those cited in assistant commissioner Hayman's letter. The points about the need to study computers and technology were made almost word for word. I accept that other considerations have emerged since then and that there might be a case for extending the limit, but not to 90 days, for goodness' sake.

Some Members have said that Lord Carlile endorses the proposal. I accept that he does so in his report, but not with any great enthusiasm. He does not endorse all the proposals in assistant commissioner Hayman's letter, and dismisses some of them explicitly:

"I do not regard extra time for interviews as being a sound basis for the extension of the time period . . . the reality is that most suspects exercise their right to silence".