Baroness Neville-Jones spoke in yesterday’s Lords debate on the Government’s plans to introduce a period of 42 days’ pre-charge detention. Here are three key paragraphs from the Conservatives’ Shadow Homeland Security spokesperson.
"Many in this House will have watched with grave concern the passage of this proposal through another place. It brings to the fore the challenge of balancing the rights of the individual and the needs of efficient justice with the duty of the state to protect its citizens. We will be judged on how we strike this balance.
At the heart of the debate is one central question: what type of society are we trying to create, protect and secure? After all, it is on the effects of our actions, not our intentions—however virtuous these may be—that we will be judged. Extending pre-charge detention seeks to guard against the terrorist threat by giving more power to the state. We take a different view from that of the Government. Security measures should not have as their sole focus a reduction in the threat, essential as this is. If security is to be sustainable over the long term, security measures must also facilitate and protect a united society based on shared liberal values and the mutual trust of a free, responsible citizenry. Citizens must be able to repose their trust in each other, not in the state for fear of each other. The impact of this legislation on different communities is, therefore, not a minor, subordinate matter. It goes to the heart of our chances of reconciling freedom with security.
Will the proposed extension achieve and protect an open and unified society? The answer is emphatically no. It represents yet another attempt on the part of the Government to abridge, without sufficient justification, fundamental democratic rights and freedom that have underpinned our society for centuries and which we have defended against tyranny on so many occasions. The Government are putting those rights and freedoms at risk in a reactionary fashion. Terrorists want to undermine our freedoms and way of life by provoking the state into putting in place repressive measures. We therefore risk, in effect, doing their job for them. No doubt many noble Lords will make comparisons with other common-law jurisdictions to illustrate the point that our allies are addressing the terrorist threat without draconian extensions of detention."