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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 October 2008

Democratic rights

42-day detention dropped - for now

THE GOVERNMENT'S proposal to increase how long police can hold you without charge, from 28 days to 42 days, was dropped from its counter-terrorism bill last week.

Ben Robinson

This would have given the police and the government additional powers to detain people without justification or reason. It meant a further attack on civil liberties and could have been used against trade unionists in conflict with New Labour's big business friends, socialists and activists in the anti-war movement and others involved in campaigning against this unpopular government.

The Lords reflected the opposition to extending detention by passing an amendment by 309 to 118 votes. The government was subsequently forced to drop the proposal, together with other aspects.

But this bill still contains a number of draconian measures. According to The Observer (19/10/08): "Still intact are the measures for post-charge questioning, which may add to the presumption of guilt; the confiscation of property without trial; extra punishment without trial beyond the original sentence... and a new offence of providing information about the armed forces."

This bill is likely to pass into law without controversy now that the '42 days' measure has been dropped. And home secretary Jacqui Smith has said that we haven't seen the end of New Labour's moves to increase detention without trial.

A draft bill will be prepared so that when there is a perceived increase in the threat of terrorism, this can be pushed through parliament.

Big brother

In a further Orwellian move, Jacqui Smith has also announced plans to create a huge database holding information of every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK.

The database plan is part of the Data Communications Bill contrived under the pretext of combating terrorism.

The government says details stored would include phone numbers dialled and addresses to which emails are sent but, as if to reassure any sceptics, not details of phone conversations or the contents of emails. No doubt all this data will be found on a government laptop, left on a train!

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In The Socialist 22 October 2008:


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