Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Thursday, 22 November 2012

Justice and Security Bill

On 21 November 2012, peers concluded report stage of the Justice and Security Bill, focusing on plans to allow more civil courts to examine secret intelligence evidence in private.

In the first part of the debate peers inflicted three defeats on the government over its plans to allow more civil courts to hear intelligence in secret.

CMPs mean some defendants would not hear all the evidence against them, which critics say would threaten the principle of open justice.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger rejected the government's argument that the bill is necessary because it cannot currently defend itself against cases of alleged complicity in torture in open court as the disclosure of sensitive information could endanger British security services and compromise relationships with key allies.

He told the Lords this was "flawed as a matter of principle" and "factually incorrect".

Lord Strasburger put his name down to an amendment by Labour peer Lord Dubs to remove the entire clause dealing with closed material applications.

Lord Dubs said he feared the bill would make the public "suspicious" of the country's criminal justice system - a point echoed by Liberal Democrat Lord Macdonald of River Glaven.

Responding to the debate, Advocate General Lord Wallace of Tankerness insisted CMPs were "absolutely necessary" and a "significant improvement on the current system".

He asked peers not to remove the clause altogether "after such time has been taken to scrutinise and amend it", referring to the first part of the debate.

Lord Dubs insisted on pushing his amendment to a vote but it was defeated by 164 votes to 25, majority 139.


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