Wednesday is terror! The Government’s latest anti-terrorism legislation came to the floor (i.e. the main chamber you see on TV rather than being discussed off in committee) of the Commons for its Second Reading. The “second” reading is actually the first proper debate as the First Reading is just when it gets published.
I wrote my latest newspaper column on this so you can read my thoughts – if you are interested – on my main website.
The actual debate was interesting in as much as it was quite clear, despite Labour and Tories going to vote it through and LibDems going to vote against – that there was wide agreement on the points that should be taken out and rethought. The main questions were around the new proposed offence of ‘glorification of terrorism’ – which everyone in nine hundred different ways disparaged for its broadness of definition – and the police powers to extend detention without charge from 14 – 90 days.
The others tried to have a go at the LibDems (what’s new?) for voting against at Second Reading. If you support bits of a bill and oppose other bits, do you vote for or against the overall package? For the Lib Dems the parts we oppose (supported in fact by many MPs from both Tories and Labour) are so important that we decided to vote against the bill. Our position was upheld by several Tories who spoke to voice their objection to voting with the Government despite the whip being out on them. As one really great speaker said – it is the principled position to vote against the Government when a Bill contains such a section which is much be objected to.
Despite rising to my feet for the best part of seven hours at the end of every speech – Mr Speaker failed to call me. The way things are done is excruciating – but I will have another go at report stage next week. I did manage an intervention to point out that the authorities always say they ‘know’ that someone is guilty! Of course – they ‘knew’ about weapons of destruction. And they ‘knew’ that the Birmingham Four and the Guildford Six were terrorists! Wrong … I rest my case.