Lead letter in The Times
Poor quality of Bill for extending charging period
The Times, 11 Jun 2008
||Doc. No. 2008.018 T114L
Introductory Note by Francis Bennion
The following letter by me appeared in The Times
on 11 June 2008. It concerned provisions in the Counter-Terrorism Bill which were debated
on that day by the House of Commons.
The Bill was given a third reading on that day and will now proceed to the House of
Lords. I propose to write an article in time for the Lords consideration of the Bill.
This article will expand the brief argument put forward in the letter.
Mr David Blunkett insists the Government’s 42-day
extension is necessary (letter, June 10). As a constitutional lawyer who has spent sixty
years working in statute law,
I suggest it is unnecessary. If the feared emergency actually arose, an appropriate empowering
Bill would be passed by Parliament within hours, as has frequently happened.
to transgressing freedom and being unnecessary, the proposal is basically unconstitutional.
Contrary to the separation of powers doctrine, it improperly jumbles
together functions of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. It provides
that an executive order declaring the reserve power to be exercisable in the case of
individual shall lapse unless confirmed by the legislature. It brings the judiciary
into what is an executive procedure by providing that the question whether detention
be authorised beyond 28 days in the case of a particular individual is to be decided
by a judge.
The proposal is also absurdly complex in many respects, whereas what we need is simpler