» Thursday, May 24, 2007

Control Orders

He was asked if he thought that Control Orders, in their current form, had "run their course". Mr Straw said that was a matter for the Home Secretary to propose, because he was much closer to the regime than he was as Leader. The crucial point to get across – and it was hard-going with some of the media, he noted – was that Control Orders, by definition, were never a substitute for incarceration. Mr Straw said that, according to some newspapers, the impression was that an individual had escaped. Control Orders, inevitably, were a much lighter regime of supervision in the community, with concomitant judgement about the risk.

Asked if it was an issue which arose in his constituency, Mr Straw said he could not recall it being so. There was a wider issue – and it was quite a problem not to generalise – of whether the powers which had been taken by the Government in respect of terrorism and suspects had a disproportionate and adverse effect on the Muslim community. That issue had arisen, when he had been asked, for example, for information about the number of "stops" and arrests made by police. He pointed out that the data had been reassuring.

In response to a further question, the Leader said that, since the Orders were non-derogatory, the powers did not include house arrest. Even though individuals were subject to Supervision within the community, the conditions imposed varied according to intelligence about the risk the individuals posed. He did not think it would be possible to impose house arrest unless the Government was to derogate. It had the power to derogate, but to do so involved making a declaration that there was a threat to the life of the nation.

Mr Straw was asked if he shared the Home Secretary’s "frustration, anger at judges and opposition politicians who were getting in the way of national security." The Leader said he had not taken the Home Secretary to be frustrated at the attitude of the judiciary – nor was he himself. It was inevitable sometimes in a free society that judges would come to a different opinion from that of the Home Secretary of the day. Mr Straw then commented on the performance of the Opposition spokesman in the House earlier and of previous stances adopted by other parties.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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