The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Worries over Habeas Corpus

The Telegraph leader today captures my worries over the "Prevention of Terrorism Bill" which the government is pushing through the Commons.

Britain is certainly in danger from terrorists; this must be faced. But that does not mean we should surrender the very rule of law of which terrorists wish to rob us. Hard won liberties, from Habeas Corpus onwards, must not be carelessly suppressed by ill-considered legislation.

The principle is clear: the executive, mere ministers, should not put citizens in detention. Under the constitution that is a power reserved to the courts.

Many conservatively-minded people seem broadly satisfied with the Blair government: the economy has not been wrecked as usually happens under Labour, the Unions have been kept in their place and the military response to 9/11 has been surprisingly robust for a team whose sympathies used to lie with CND. But I shall never forgive them for the damage they have done to the British constitution: over Europe, devolution and the House of Lords the government has shown itself far too willing to break with established structures and traditions before fully considering the consequences of change. If this were not bad enough, soon we will wake up in a world where we may lose our liberty on the say-so of a politician and without the right to demand his grounds. It is little comfort to know that the Home Secretary intends to use the legislation infrequently and in our interests. Charles Clarke may be the most trustworthy of men, but he is not going to be Home Secretary for ever. Who knows how these powers might be used by less liberal successors?


At 23 February 2005 at 12:50, Blogger Jorgen said...

I would be in favour of legalising internment in terrorist cases like in the US. You are dealing with players that are not following the normal rules.


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