while retaining personal freedoms and rights was published by home secretary
David Blunkett today.
Open Society, sets out the following:
*An explanation of the threat we face and the way in which Al Qaida
organise their activities;
*An examination of the part 4 powers of the Anti Terrorism Crime and
Security Act 2001 (ATCSA) and a defence of their use;
*The need for a wider debate on how to strike an effective balance
between security and liberty;
*An analysis of the recommendations of Lord Newton and Lord Carlile,
who have reviewed existing legislation, and of powers used in foreign
countries as a starting point for a discussion.
Mr Blunkett will also announce today additional funding for the security
service, which will see their numbers increase by up to 50 per cent in the
next few years and£3m to set up a regional network of Special Branch
'As home secretary, I am the custodian of civil liberties,
but I do not own them. How we balance them with security is a matter for the
country, not just for government. The paper I am publishing on future terror
laws today does not set out answers to the issues it raises, but aims to
start a debate.
'The issues raised are put forward for discussion by
parliament and the public so we can reach an informed judgement on the way
forward. I hope this discussion will encourage a focus on answers, not just
criticism. Rather than putting forward government ideas for future terrorism
laws, we are starting off the debate with a summary of how different
countries handle terrorism, together with the recommendations of the Lord
Newton and Lord Carlile reviews.
'We recognise that under current legislation these powers
will lapse in November 2006. My responsibility is to se t out the reasoning
for the powers as we consider how to proceed beyond that point.
'It is the government's ultimate responsibility to find a
fair and effective balance between security and liberty. The rights we must
balance belong to everyone. Ensuring a successful fight against
international terrorism demands we all play our part in getting that balance
'But we also need to consider whether adequate powers are
available to deal with all terror suspects irrespective of their
nationality. This is one of the issues I raise in the paper published for
'The paper also raises the question of whether we might
further define the range of terrorism offences and the difficulties of using
intercept material within our existing criminal justice system. We are
currently reviewing whether some intercept evidence could be made available
to support a prosecution in certain cases.
'I am in no doubt that the terrorism threat remains and the
need to have the right legislation in place is greater than ever. The recent
attacks in Riyadh, Jakarta and Istanbul and continuing threats against
airline security illustrate the need to address these difficult issues now
and debate how best to protect our country from these genuine dangers.'
Responding to Lord Newton's review, Mr Blunkett said:
'I am convinced that the current threat leaves us with no
option but to continue to use these powers. I have limited their use to the
terrorist threat posed from Al Qaida and the network of terrorist groups
associated with it.
'That is why I am seeking to renew the part 4 powers for
another year and have vigorously and successfully upheld them in the face of
any legal challenge. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a
superior court of record chaired by a high court judge, and the court of
appeal have upheld my conclusions that there is a state of public emergency.
There have been 13 individual appeals against certification and the 11
decisions so far handed down have all dismissed the appeals and confirmed my
decision to certify the individuals as suspect international terrorists.
'The nature of that threat means that it was right to target
those powers at foreign nationals. Because of that the specific powers we
introduced were only used when an individual could not be prosecuted through
the normal procedures and could not be removed from the UK because of our
international obligations under human rights.
'Nonetheless all of those detained are entitled to leave the
United Kingdom at any time they choose, provided a country is prepared to
countenance their presence, as two of those certified have already done.
'These were not powers I assumed lightly. I have never
pretended that they are ideal, but I firmly believe that they are currently
the best and most workable way to address the particular problems we face. I
believe that I would be failing in my duty of public protection if the part
4 powers were removed from the armoury of measures available to protect the
United Kingdom from specific terrorist threats.'
The home secretary today pays tribute to the work of the people in the front
line in the efforts to counter the threat from terrorism.
'I am grateful to the invaluable, brave and painstaking work
done by security and intelligence and police and law enforcement agencies in
protecting us from threats by groups of people engaged in long term,
sophisticated planning, using every means of science and technology to evade
surveillance and detection. They present a severe challenge to the security
services, who need to disrupt them at the early stages of their planning.
'That is why I am today announcing that the government is to
provide additional funding to the security service. We have also committed
£3m to set up a regional network of Special Branch intelligence cells
and appointed a nat ional co-ordinator to promote better oganisation of their
activities. This work will complement the role of police in forming
relationships with communities, whose support is vital to strengthening our
defence against terrorism.'
1.The Discussion Paper Counter-Terrorism Powers: Reconciling Security
and Liberty in an Open Society is available at
2.The government's formal response to the report by Lord Newton's
Committee on the operation of the ATCSA is also published today as part two
of the Discussion Paper.
3.Under the terms of the Act, the legislation is subject to review two
years after enactment. This review reported in December 2003. The Act would
expire within six months unless both Houses consider the report.
4.Part 4 of the Act provides the home secretary with powers to detain
suspected international terrorists, pending deportation, who could not be
returned to their own countries for fear that they face torture, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment.
5.There are currently 14 suspects detained under ATCS Act. They can
apply for bail, have rights of appeal to the special immigration appeals
commission and access to special advocates. Their cases are regularly
reviewed and they are subject to anonymity orders imposed by the court.
Anyone detained under this power is free to leave the UK at any time and two
detainees have exercised this right so far.
6.Part 4 of the ATCSA has a sunset clause, which means that the part 4
powers contained in the Act will expire in 2006.
7.The Home Office also laid a Written Ministerial Statement today
setting out updated resilience and contingency planning arrangements. The
paper is available at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/terror
8.The Home Office has appointed Bryan Bell, formerly assistant chief
constable of Cleveland police, to co-ordinate activity between special
branches on behalf of ACPO.
9.The£3m provided to set up regional special branch intelligence
cells follows HMCIC's thematic report on future organisation of special