Page last updated at 21:04 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

Terrorism Order debate

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MPs have agreed to extend the controversial terror suspect control order regime, despite concerns they undermine civil liberties.

On 1 March 2010, security minister David Hanson told MPs that the orders were still needed because of the "serious terrorist threat" Britain faced.

The orders, which put suspected terrorists who cannot be put on trial or deported under a form of house arrest, were condemned as "exceptionally draconian" by Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne.

Introduced by the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, they have to be renewed every year by both Houses of Parliament.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hanson said: "There are and have been a number of potential threats and significant potential terrorist attacks or attempted attacks to both our country and other countries in recent years.

"I believe these attacks... undermine the very fabric of our society and lead potentially to indiscriminate murder of innocent people."

"We believe this order will help support the British people to live their lives more safely than if we didn't have the order in place."

Mr Hanson said there were 11 suspects subject to control orders at the moment and in total there had been in the region of 40 who had been subject to them since the regime began.

Shadow security minister Crispin Blunt said the Tories would abstain on the vote to renew the orders as it would be "irresponsible" to scrap the system with no alternative in place.

His party would look to replace control orders as part of a thorough review of counter-terrorist legislation if the Conservatives won the general election, he pledged.

Andrew Dismore, Labour chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, said it was increasingly clear that the control order system was "unfair, counter-productive and unsustainable".

Mr Dismore said there was growing use of a new form of control order, amounting to "internal exile" by "parachuting" those subject to them into a different part of the country.

"This tactic was used by apartheid South Africa. It didn't do them any good," he said.

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