[JURIST] The BBC is reporting that the UK government of Prime Minister Tony Blair has lost a House of Commons vote [BBC debate summary] on a key provision of its proposed Terrorism Bill [text] that would have authorized detention of terror suspects without charge for up to 90 days.
12:25 PM ET - AP is reporting that MPs in the House of Commons have instead approved a compromise measure to allow detention of terror suspects for 28 days without charge.
12:30 PM ET - In what was Blair's first Commons defeat [BBC Q/A] since his Labour party came to power in 1997, MPs rejected the 90-day detention provision advanced by the government on the advice of the London Metropolitan Police [letter to the Home Office, PDF] by a vote of 322-291, despite Blair's usual 66-seat majority. Anticipating a tight vote, Blair had called two top ministers back to the UK [Reuters report] so that they could be present in the House. In rejecting the 90-day proposal Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and rebel members of the Labour party dismissed Blair's challenge that they had a "duty" to support the police, and instead backed a compromise detention period of 28 days. Under current law [Criminal Justice Act 2003, amending the Terrorism Act 2000], terror suspects can be held for 14 days before they must be either charged or released. The detention provision is part of a larger anti-terrorism bill proposed earlier this year in response to the July London bombings [JURIST news archive]; the bill as a whole is still expected to pass. The defeat of the provision in the House does not force an election or the dissolution of Parliament as this was not a money bill or a vote of confidence. BBC News has more.
Previously in JURIST's Paper Chase...
- British government holds line on 90-day terror detentions
- Blair urges MPs to keep 90-day detention limit despite calls for compromise
- UK government wards off terror law amendment by one vote
- UK terror bill passes first Commons vote
- UK chief justice, PM clash over terror law interpretations
- UK government rethinking provisions of anti-terror proposal
- Blair spars with rights groups over tougher UK anti-terror laws