No ifs, buts or maybes. Liberal Democrats must not support Counter Terrorism and Security Bill in its current form.

I’ve written before that I have reservations about the Government’s Counter Terrorism and Security Bill. Last week, there were signs that Nick Clegg was going to insist on changes when it comes to the House of Lords.

The very least you would expect for a Bill that’s supported by Liberal Democrats is that it meets human rights standards. Today, a report by Parliament’s joint committee on human rights says that amendments are required in several key areas of the Bill:

the Temporary Exclusion Orders should be changed to a requirement to notify the authorities of a return;

there should be more judicial oversight of the power to confiscate passports;

the duty to tackle extremism is not clearly defined and should not apply to universities.

The chair of the Committee, Hywel Francis MP said:

Recent events in Paris make clear the challenging times in which we live and the need for Government to carry out their function of fighting terrorism and assuring the security of their people.  We are satisfied that in some areas there are gaps in the Government’s counter terrorism powers but some of the powers proposed in this Bill require extra safeguards so that they are not used unreasonably and to permit individuals affected to challenge them where there are grounds to do so.  We should never forget that these are exceptional powers which could be mistakenly used against any of us, and in a civilised democracy there must always be processes for subjecting the claims of the State to independent scrutiny.

I still have reservations about the content of the  Bill, which is debated in the Lords tomorrow. It ticks off very little of Theresa May’s Counter-terrorism to do list thanks to the intervention of the Liberal Democrats, but it still needs further safeguards.

Nick Clegg must withdraw Liberal Democrat support for this Bill unless at the very least, the JCHR amendments are made. Some party members would feel that even that doesn’t go far enough and we should have no business supporting it at all. What do you think?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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12 Comments

  • David Faggiani 12th Jan '15 - 2:12pm

    I would urge support of the Bill, with the JCHR amendments. Abandoning support for it altogether at this late stage would seem counter-productive.

  • Rabi Martins 12th Jan '15 - 2:15pm

    I woud go further than Caron and say ” Nick Clegg must withdraw Liberal Democrat support for this Bill ” period
    It is an invasion too far into our Human Rights and Civil Liberties
    I take no comfort from the proposed safeguards because it gives the ultimate powers to the Home Secretary

    Giving the Home Secretary the power to sign a warrant is simply not acceptable I cannot believe Teresa May would refuse to sign a warrant when she has been at the forefront of pushing for further restrictive and intrusive powers
    I think a Labour Home Secretary would be just as bad

  • John Broggio 13th Jan '15 - 12:17am

    Of course LD MPs must not support the bill. Until Labour table an amendment that’s in keeping with the sentiments outlined above, that is.

  • Caron, thank you for your article.

    I agree with most of your conclusion —
    “Nick Clegg must withdraw Liberal Democrat support for this Bill unless at the very least, the JCHR amendments are made. Some party members would feel that even that doesn’t go far enough and we should have no business supporting it at all.”

    But not your ‘get out of jail free card’ provided in the words —
    “…unless at the very least, the JCHR amendments are made. ”

    This sort of approach is what has damned our party throughout the coalition.

    Our MPs should state our Liberal Democrat case, vote accordingly and give the voters a clear signal of what we believe.

    They should not get involved in debating points, obscure compromises, the finer theories of ‘collective reponsibility’ and unintelligible horse-trading which merely confuses the issue and leaves everyone doubting our motives.

    There is nothing worse that watching a voter’s eyes glaze over as a Liberal Democrat tries to explain some obscure Parliamentary debate or dubious ‘In The Quad’ compromise as a reason for letting the Conservatives and the Estabishment get away with it yet again.

    The voters want clear statements such as Tim Farron demanding the publication of Chilcot “within a week”.

  • Andrew Purches 13th Jan '15 - 9:13am

    There are many times when I am given good reason to think that Nick Clegg has lost the plot, and the likelihood of him withdrawing support for the this bill in the Lords may not prove to be the case. But having just heard him state on “Today ” that he knew nothing about the savagery of a public flogging of a blogger in Saudi for criticising on line the lack of freedom in this benighted,evil Kingdom shows a woeful ignorance of what goes on in this awful world. A sentence of a 1000 lashes, administered at the rate of 50 lashes a week over 20 weeks is truly wicked, and coming as it does from a Kingdom who is fully supported by the UK’s coalition government as a bulwark of western values in the Middle East drives me to despair. Surely he must have known enough of this instance when an out right condemnation was called for.

  • Andrew Purches
    We are not allowed to criticise the Saudis because it would upset Prince Charles, who having made 11 official “State Visits” to this unusual state has shown a great deal more interest and support for them than he has for the majority of Commonwealth Countries to which he hopes to be King.
    His brother Prince Andrew has also visited – but it is perhaps best to draw a veil over his activities there.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 13th Jan '15 - 10:18am

    Andrew, when I see a fellow blogger being treated with such brutality in Saudi or anyone else, it fills me with horror. But this has nothing to do with a Bill which has fundamentally illiberal measures at its heart. Human rights just that, human rights, to which every human being is entitled with no exceptions.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 13th Jan '15 - 1:13pm

    As John Tilley says

  • It’s time that the default was on privacy. Privacy is not a privilege it’s a right. Should I be consorting with terrorists then the security services should be gathering evidence on me and only people like me.

    There should be a declaration that is updated with technology about the rights I have as a digital user. The government should cease co-operating with the other `four eyes` unless stringent demands are made. You just can’t implicity trust the NSA/GCHQ.

    According to a very recent article in Der Spiegel about the NSA `recording a facebook chat is minor`. Why? Why are they doing this? Apparently VPNs are being hacked into and are very much `virtual`. That’s right – VPNs you may use for your company may be hacked into. Why?

    We have to go back to first basics – No one can protect you 24/7.The basic conditions for a free society is the trust of citizens. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather have the threat of some lone wolf kidnapping me than to have to go through the complicated process of making my data private .

    Because in the end I feel rationally and proportionally more at risk of my liberties being taken away by the NSA/GCHQ than I do of the Islamists.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/inside-the-nsa-s-war-on-internet-security-a-1010361.html

  • I agree – and I hate to sound trite – the one thing a family can do to reduce it happening 100% is probably to leave London. It’s a vicious circle really – those outside London may have to suffer the same privacy compromises yet get less of the wealth due to the reasons London attracts terrorism. One of the most effective ways of reducing terrorism might be the dismantling of Londoncentrism.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 14th Jan '15 - 10:53pm

    But one of the big attacks in the UK was in Glasgow..

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