Page last updated at 19:26 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

MPs renew control orders system

Armed police outside Parliament
Control orders were introduced under 2005 anti-terrorism legislation

The government's controversial system of using "control orders" to restrict the movements of suspected terrorists has been renewed for another year.

The measure was endorsed by MPs, despite a legal challenge that it threatens civil liberties.

Under the system, individuals who cannot be put on trial or deported face "house arrest" for 16 hours a day.

The Tories did not oppose the move, although home affairs spokesman Crispin Blunt said the system was flawed.

Mr Blunt told the Commons the orders "do damage to the basic notion of British liberty and to the values we seek to defend".

The orders, imposed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and which cost £3m a year to administer, have to be renewed every year by both Houses of Parliament.

Rather than oppose the extension, Mr Blunt said he would examine a suitable replacement system on the assumption his party would be in power to change things next year.

'Breach key rights'

The Liberal Democrats opposed the extension, which was also criticised by some Labour MPs.

Lib Dem leader Chris Huhne said: "[The orders] breach key rights to a fair hearing and they perilously get close to reversing a very fundamental principle of our criminal justice system that we are innocent until proven guilty."

Security Minister Vernon Coaker admitted that seven of the 38 people held under the orders had absconded, although none since January 2007.

But he added: "The threat to the UK from international terrorism remains real and serious."

The House of Lords is currently considering the cases of two terror suspects who are challenging orders imposed, despite them having no knowledge of the evidence against them.

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