UK terror bill passes first Commons vote

[JURIST] The British government's proposed Terrorism Bill [PDF text; Home Office overview] passed its first test in the House of Commons [official website] Wednesday, despite a 16 MP-strong rebellion [Reuters report] of Labour Party backbenchers against the government and continued disagreement from opposition parties over controversial detention provisions. The bill, championed by Prime Minister Tony Blair [official website], passed with the support of most Conservatives. The bill outlaws "glorifying" terrorism and taking steps to prepare a terrorist act. A major point of dispute remains the period during which UK police may hold terror suspects without charge. The time set by the government in the bill is 90 days, up from two weeks, but bar leaders, rights groups and some opposition politicians have objected to the extension. UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official profile] Wednesday led off the Commons debate [Guardian report] on second reading by saying that the bill's critics would have the government fight terrorism with "one legal hand tied behind our back." BBC News has more.

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