Thursday, May 29, 2008

How will these concessions work with transparency?

In a couple of weeks time Gordon Brown is going to face yet another challenge to his authority in the Commons over his desire to increase detention without trial to 42 days. According to report in the Times he is also ready to offer concessions to his backbenchers to try to avert a disaster.

The thing is, one of this apparent concessions will be 'the need for a parliamentary vote approving the use of detentions powers within in a week of their first use and making their operation subject to judicial review'. Now I might be wrong on this, but if you say that Parliament has to approve their use does that not imply some sort of open debate about an ongoing investigation and case, and will that not therefore undermine any potential trial?

After all, if MPs have to vote to approve the power use they will also have to know the full details of the case in order to make the decision, which would put details in the public domain. What's more, what sort of vote would it be even if they surmounted any potential prejudgment of a case? It would surely have to be a free vote, as you can't whip MPs on something like this right?

To be honest, the concessions look more like panicked desperation. He doesn't want to have to climbdown for the Nth time, so he's offering concessions that I can't imagine working in a Parliament which is meant to be transparent by holding open debate.


Barnacle Bill said...

Also what happens if Parliament is not sitting when further approval is sought?
Can we expect a re-call of MPs to vote on this matter, when they might be scattered all over the globe on our expenses fueled junkets.
Another ill thought out soddy NuLabor piece of politic-legislation.

Anonymous said...

It's a real Dog's dinner isn't it. As per the previous poster, Parliament seems to be in recess more often than sitting, so it's going to cost a fortune to drag them back to Parliament and reimburse their costs.

Perhaps this is an admission that they see little chance of a case taking more than 28 days.

Letters From A Tory said...

You can almost feel the desperation from Brown. Another humiliation is waiting for him with open arms.

Anonymous said...

Dizzy, you're right, and this isn't an isolated error, it's one of a myriad of flaws all the way back to 1997.

Everyone has their own catalogue of government mistakes and I'm trying to pull them together in the definitive list of all the failures at "The Error Log". Please drop by. All suggestions welcome.


Anonymous said...

How can they make a Parliamentary vote subject to judicial review?

Anonymous said...

This is precisely the attitude Gordon Brown needs to drop if he wants to survive. Obviously the concessions haven't been detailed fully, but essentially they offer very little to tackle the main major criticisms of the 42 day legislation anyway. As you point out, it still doesn't explain how MPs will be fully aware of all the facts in an ongoing terror investigation and thus able to make an objective opinion, and it doesn't explain why the 42 days are even needed with the stats available.

But what can he do? Say nevermind we won't do it? All that does is make it obvious he was trying to push through policy that isn't right because of a majority, and doesn't want to lose face with a loss...

Anonymous said...

Dizzy, there is something VERY VERY bad about this.

If for whatever reason I was suspected by the plod of acts of terror I would expect to be dealt with by an impartial judge and not a bunch of Politicians who are far from impartial.

Surely this proposal to let Westminster MPs decide a person's treatment under the law of the land is illegal? They may make our laws but they should never be allowed sit in judgement.

I believe this attempt at compromise is far worse than the original intent to lock people up without charge for 42 days.

Simon Fawthrop said...

" making their operation subject to judicial review'"

Have been hibernating and missed the bit where Judges lost the power to review the case of anyone held in detention? When I went to sleep it was called Habeous Corpus

Anonymous said...

Look carefully at the small print of the concession - if we're ever allowed to see it.

Look for something about "continuous" or "enduring" or "for the duration of..."

Remember the special "Section 44" police anti-terrorist powers that somehow turned out to apply to the whole of London for years on end? You've got the idea...