Page last updated at 08:56 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 09:56 UK

Davis 'vindicated' over 42 days

David Davis
Mr Davis said Labour wanted to appear tougher than the Tories

Ex-shadow home secretary David Davis has said he feels "vindicated" in quitting as an MP to oppose plans to hold terror suspects for longer.

Peers have rejected the government's call to extend the pre-charge detention limit from 28 to 42 days.

Mr Davis, who returned as an MP after a by-election on the issue of civil liberties, said he was "happy to burn out a career for a success like that".

But the government said the 42 days plan could be re-introduced in future.

Peers rejected the proposal - passed by the Commons in June - by a majority of 191 votes on Monday and the government then announced they would not try to force the measure through.

Emergency bill

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both oppose the measure, which was also voted against on Monday by many Labour peers, including former cabinet ministers Lord Irvine, Lord Falconer and Lord Goldsmith.

Mr Davis, a Conservative who has long been one of the most outspoken critics of the plan, stood down as Haltemprice and Howden MP in June.


He was returned with a 15,355 majority in July, after Labour and the Liberal Democrats declined to field by-election candidates.

Mr Davis told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the government's 42 days plan had "been all about politics, not about security. It has been about trying to give the Labour Party a 'tougher-than-Tory' model in the public mind.

"It has failed miserably and I don't think anybody sensible would revisit it."

He said: "I feel vindicated, because before I resigned it looked like it would go through in a ping-pong."

Parliamentary "ping-pong" is where a bill goes back and forth between the Lords and Commons until one house gives way to the other or the Commons forces the measure through via the Parliament Act.

One-page bill

But following the Lords defeat the 42 days proposal will be removed from the government's main Counter-Terrorism Bill.

Instead, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has written the plan into a separate one-page bill which could be pushed through Parliament quickly in the case of a national emergency.

She told Today she hoped the government could still "count on people's support" if such a measure had to be introduced.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "My priority is we need to find a way through this, even if other political parties won't engage with it."

Ms Smith said: "The thing about opposition is you don't have to cover off those risks but government, quite rightly, does and that's why I brought forward the proposals I did."

However, former Labour attorney general Lord Goldsmith said the detentions of up to 42 days were "not only unnecessary but also dangerous".

'Abandoning plans'

The home secretary's alternative legislation would also not work unless there was an extremely different scenario facing the UK, he added.

For the Conservatives, shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said the prime minister's spin doctors had stopped Ms Smith from "saying in straightforward terms that she is abandoning 42 days".

He said his party was "perfectly prepared to be firm on terrorism" and pass difficult bills.

"But they have to be credible, they have to be based on evidence and they must not be put forward in a way that smacks of mere political posturing and gimmicks."

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg added: "The decision to prepare emergency legislation instead is merely a fig leaf which does little to disguise their defeat."

He added: "The push for 42 days' detention was more about ministers posturing and looking tough than it ever was about fighting terrorism."

MPs passed the proposal by a majority of just nine votes in June, with 36 Labour backbenchers rebelling.

Plans to extend the pre-charge terror detention limit to 90 days were rejected by MPs in 2006.

Asian Age Lords rejects UK terrorism bill - 3 hrs ago
Independent David Davis 'vindicated' over 42 days - 22 hrs ago
Sky News Terror: Detention Plan Is Dropped - 27 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Falconer leads assault on 42-day plan - 27 hrs ago
Sky News Detention Plan Is Dropped - 31 hrs ago

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