Clause 23 — Extension of period of detention by judicial Authority

Part of Orders of the Day — Terrorism Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:45 pm on 9th November 2005.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 2:45 pm, 9th November 2005

The hon. Gentleman will start terrible rumours if he is not careful.

The initiative will lie with the police. When the Cabinet Office gave me a Privy Council briefing on the matter, I expressed my concern that the provision will take the pressure off the police to resolve situations quickly. After all, even 14 days is a damaging experience for someone who is innocent, so 90 days is an enormously damaging experience that could wreck lives, ruin jobs and destroy relationships. We must understand that this is a fundamental British freedom that should not be thrown away lightly.

We recognise the Government's difficulties on this. It is of course a matter of judgment. We acknowledge that the world has changed since the IRA halted its terror campaign. New technology brings new security challenges. As the Home Secretary said in relation to the National Technical Assistance Centre, the police and security services need more time to scour CCTV footage and to crack encrypted messages. The international dimension of Islamist terrorism also brings new challenges. That is why my hon. Friends made it clear in Committee that we agree with the Government that the current 14-day limit is too brief and propose its extension to 28 days. I believe that that proposal will find widespread support among Members around the House, including on the Government Benches. But the proposal before the House is not ours but the Government's. The Government propose a full 90 days. The House must therefore ask itself this question: have Ministers made a robust, convincing and evidence-based case, not for an extension, as there is a case for that, but for 90 days? I do not believe that they have.