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Control order debate criticised
An armed police officer outside Parliament
Control orders have to be renewed every year
Laws allowing suspected terrorists to be kept under close supervision have been criticised by MPs and peers.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights accused ministers of failing to give Parliament a proper chance to debate the use of control orders.

Although the orders have to be renewed every year, the committee says there is not enough chance for discussion.

Critics say the orders, which came into force in March 2005, amount to a form of house arrest.

The committee said more should be done to prosecute people rather than imposing the orders.

Labour MP Andrew Dismore, the chairman of the cross-party committee, said: "We know there is a genuine dilemma: what to do about people who pose a serious threat but cannot be deported or prosecuted.

"The only right answer is to find ways of prosecuting them, but we fear that the government is not as committed to prosecution as it professes to be, and we are concerned that imposing a control order relieves the pressure on the police and the Home Office to bring a criminal prosecution."

The High Court and the Court of Appeal have quashed seven control orders on the grounds that they amounted to deprivations of liberty.

The committee said the government could do more to make it easier to secure a criminal prosecution, mainly by allowing the use of intercepting material such as phone taps to be used in court.

Last month the government's independent reviewer of terror laws, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, called on ministers to draw up an "exit strategy" from the control orders regime.

Andrew Dismore MP criticises control orders

Q and A: Control orders
16 Jan 07 |  UK

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