It was rather unusual to find the Today programme going live to the House of Commons this morning following the all night sessions on the Anti-Terrorism Bill. It's still going on now, at 3pm.
Ministers are furious that the opposition parties, who are in the majority in the Lords, are continuing to demand that the bill has a so-called "sunset clause" so it expires in a year's time, when parliament could return to the issue.They believe that placing a time limit on the legislation would send out a signal of weakness to terrorists.
They have come up with some excuses for pushing this Bill through but this must be the most pathetic. The idea that terrorists are going to be emboldened because the measures the government is suggesting have to be renewed in a year's time is , frankly, laughable. The Finance Bill only lasts a year, does that send a signal of weakness to tax payers?
Still, at least that was only a risible suggestion on the part of the government rather than another downright lie, like claiming that the intelligence (sic) services had demanded that any 'sunset clause' be omitted.Balders at UK Today has posted an excellent piece on this subject which says everything I want to say, and better. He quotes Ben Franklin:
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty not safety.Surprised that it takes the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords to protect our ancient and hard-won freedoms against an the elected Labour controlled Commons he is nevertheless relieved that:
...the liberties enshrined in Magna Carta (1215 - right to fair trial), Petition of Right (1628 - no imprisonment without trial) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679 - judges can command the Government to bring any person in its custody to court for trial under the due process of law) endure.For now, at least.