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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March 2005, 13:54 GMT
Head-to-Head: Anti-terror plans
An armed police officer outside the Houses of Parliament

Lord Strathclyde, Tory leader in the House of Lords, and Lib Dem peer Lord Carlile, appointed by the government to review the 2000 Anti-Terrorism Act, spoke to BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the government's anti-terror legislation.

LORD STRATHCLYDE

The House of Lords should look at the issue dispassionately, with great responsibility, but try to seek consensus across the parties and with the government, to produce the kind of legislation that will be long-lasting and that we can all be proud of.

Everything you hear from what happened in the House of Commons last night (Monday) demonstrates that, at the moment, that is clearly not the case.

Lord Strathclyde
Strathclyde: Ministers should be prepared to rewrite the bill
I think there is going to be a great deal of work for the House of Lords to do and we'd very much like to work with the government to make sure that we have good legislation by the time we finish the Bill next week.

I don't think anybody can believe, having heard the debate in the House of Commons yesterday (Monday), to look at the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights - a joint committee between the House of Lords and the House of Commons - and also to see the scale of the diminution of the government's majority last night, leading us all to believe that if the vote had not been whipped, then the government would have lost this part of the legislation.

The Second Chamber, the revising chamber, now has a very real job to do - it's an important job and it's important that we should get it right.

My presumption is always to try to help the government get its business, but that does not mean that the House of Lords should accept every aspect of what the government is proposing, particularly on something as important as this.

But it is a two way street. I think that the government should prepare themselves for substantial rewriting of various aspects of the bill.

They should consider far more seriously the use of intercept evidence in any trial and I think they should drop the most objectionable proposals which are for house arrest.

These are the key areas that we're going to be looking at in the days ahead.

LORD CARLILE

The government had to give a response the House of Lords decision of the 16 December on the detention provisions.

What (Home Secretary Charles Clarke) did was give a mathematically accurate response by producing proposals which do not discriminate, as the House of Lords criticised, and which he was attempting to show were proportionate in response to that judgement.

Lib Dem peer Lord Carlile
Carlile: Ministers should have responsibility for national security
There is absolutely no doubt, and I have been looking as independent reviewer at this legislation for three years, that there is a very serious terrorist threat and that there is some material which it would be extremely difficult to present in a conventional court.

On the other hand, there is the paramount need to protect civil liberties and ensure that there is a proper judicial procedure to deal with any restrictions on the liberty of the subject.

I am the independent reviewer who looks at the working of the legislation. I do think that the primary responsibility for protecting the national interest lies with the government.

I think it would be a sad day for this country if ministers were to hand over their responsibility to judges.

It is something that all governments have resisted of every party and this ought really to be a completely non-party issue because so much is at stake.

Having said that, I think that it is very sensible to involve the judges at a very early stage where there is a plainly justifiable issue, such as derogation from the Human Rights Convention, which will be required if full house arrest is needed in any cases.

I think that the response by the home secretary is well worthy of consideration although it maybe subject to further amendment.

I think the government should take a fairly long view about this and be prepared to introduce further legislation after what we assume is an early general election.

That should include allowing intercept evidence to be given in court.

I believe very strongly that that might be useful in a small number of cases. I also think that the government should look very closely changing terrorism laws so a new offence is introduced of acts connected with, and preparatory to, terrorism which could be tried in the normal criminal way.





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