Jo Swinson MP has hailed a defence of the principles of justice following the defeat of the Government’s Terrorism Bill in the House of Commons.
MPs have been voting since last week on the new terrorism laws. The proposal to allow terror suspects to be detained without charge for up to 90 days has split opinion in Parliament and up and down the country.
The Government had the option of watering down this proposal last week but pressed ahead with the 90 day clause, a decision that has backfired on them.
Jo welcomed the result of last night’s vote, which saw the 90 day proposal defeated by 322 votes to 291. A subsequent vote in favour of 28 day detention was backed by 323 votes to 290.
Commenting on the Government’s defeat, Jo Swinson MP said:
“I am glad that the House of Commons has asserted its authority and defeated the government on the 90 day proposal. Clearly the government must think again. Elected with just 35% of the popular vote, I believe it is a healthy development for this government not to be able to take the House of Commons for granted.
This is the first time that Tony Blair’s Labour Government has been defeated in a House of Commons vote since coming to power in 1997.
The defeat has dealt a severe blow to the authority of the Prime Minister.
Some commentators have claimed it will severely undermine his plans to reform schools and hospitals.
Jo spoke on Radio Five yesterday morning about her reasons for voting against the 90-day proposal:
“Detaining people without bringing a charge for 3 months in unacceptable. Not only would it undermine the principles of our justice system, by fuelling resentment it could act as a recruiting sergeant for terror organisations.
“There are many ways to approach the issue of detaining terror suspects. The Terrorism Bill makes an offence of ‘acts preparatory to terrorism’, and this is the kind of lesser charge that could be brought against a suspect while the case for a greater charge is being made.”