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Protection of Freedoms Bill

Part of Resource Extraction (Transparency and Reporting) – in the House of Commons at 6:12 pm on 1st March 2011.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities) 6:12 pm, 1st March 2011

That might be possible in some cases, and officers might be able to use it, but there is an issue, because, although it is right to make 14 days the norm, it is also right to have the provision to move to 28 days if needed. Doing so through emergency legislation, as the Government propose, however, raises some significant difficulties.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn has raised the question of what happens if Parliament is not sitting, and whether it will be possible in those circumstances to move fast enough. The Home Secretary says, “Well, it’ll be all right because we’ll find out on day one whether we might need longer,” but we might not. We might not find out until day 10 of an interrogation that, in fact, a longer period is required.

Let us suppose, for example, that the police have a serious case, including credible intelligence on an imminent terrorist attack or some extreme situation. After 10 days it becomes clear that they need more time before they can charge, but they are afraid of releasing the suspect because they might abscond abroad or even trigger the attack. What happens in those circumstances? The Home Secretary will come to Parliament and say, “We need emergency legislation,” but neither she nor anyone else in the House will be able to discuss why we need it, for fear of prejudicing an investigation or a possible trial. Parliamentary scrutiny will be very difficult, so, given how difficult and risky it might prove, I urge her to look again at options such as special bail conditions, which could reduce the need for emergency legislation.