Friday, September 4, 1998 Published at 08:18 GMT
Terror crackdown becomes law
Irish terrorists: facing a crackdown under the new law
New emergency measures designed to crack down on terrorism have become law after being rushed through parliament in just two days.
MPs and peers had been recalled to parliament to pass the legislation after last month's Omagh bombing which killed 28 people in Northern Ireland.
The Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act gained Royal Assent after clearing all its stages in the House of Lords early on Friday morning.
Police action awaited
It aims to end difficulties police have faced in bringing prosecutions for membership of the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA, the INLA and the LVF.
North and south of the Irish border, people are now waiting to see whether the new legislation will bring about a police blitz on terrorist suspects.
But some MPs continued to criticise the way in which the legislation was rushed through Parliament.
Fury at rushed process
Former Tory minister, Alan Clark, dubbed it "focus-group facism".
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's a very dangerous combination. What you're getting is gesture politics."
"It's kind of focus group fascism. You know: 'Oh look, there's a great row about this and we must be seen to do something and let's get going and never mind Parliament.' They're a lot of old fogeys. They want to make long-winded speeches."
Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews said: "This is a draconian measure.
But Labour MP Gerry Bermingham said the Bill was straightforward and understandable.
"We had a particular situation here which required a certain amount of speed. The issues themselves were fairly straightforward. I think most MPs actually understood what was going on," he said.
The debate in the Lords opened with protests at the rush.
Conservative Home Affairs spokesman Lord Henley said it was " vital that we present a united front" against terrorism.
Therefore his side supported the Bill - though it had misgivings about the way it was being passed.
He said it seemed these measures had been included simply because the "Home Office could push something through with populist haste".
Lords gave the Bill unopposed second and third readings after nearly 11 hours of debate.
The main measures: