Prevention of Terrorism Act

Prevention of Terrorism Act
(2006)
   The Prevention of Terrorism Act contained proposals designed to ensure that the police, intelligence agencies and the courts all have the tools they require to tackle terrorism and bring perpetrators to justice. Though not a direct response to the London bombings of July 2005 (legislation on terrorism for introduction in the autumn had already been announced), the Bill took account of the reactions to them. In the words of Tony Blair, ‘the rules of the game are changing’. When the Bill was introduced in the lower chamber, the House of Commons voted to reject the plans to allow police to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days without charge, an issue on which the Prime Minister was personally unwilling to budge. (An amendment allowing for a maximum period of 28 days was passed.) Other controversial features of the legislation included the creation of an offence of ‘glorifying terrorism’ in the UK or abroad, new ground-rules for proscribing certain extreme organisations and powers of closure over places of worship used to foment extremism. Many critics portrayed some of the Bill’s clauses as an unwarranted inroad into long-established civil liberties and might convince members of Britain’s Muslim community to turn to violence. Ministers countered that it was a necessary response to an unparalleled terrorist threat. It became law on 30 March 2006. The Act aroused considerable media attention, not least because the defeat on the detention clause was the worst suffered by the Blair Government on the floor of the House of Commons, and the worst such defeat for any government since 1978.

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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