House Arrest

I've had a letter from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in response to the letter I copied to Michael Howard.

It reads as follows:

Thank you for your recent letter to Michael Howard about the Government's policies on house arrest, as laid out in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill currently before Parliament.

The Government's proposals centre around house arrest for suspected terrorists on the say so of the Home Secretary. David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, and Mr Howard have thought long and hard about these proposals. They have serious misgivings about both their effectiveness in protecting life and their consequences for the British way of life.

We have always said that this was a bad Bill. The Government have not allowed anything like enough time for Parliament to consider it.

In the time available, the Conservative Party has put down a number of amendments to improve the Bill which we will continue to press. These include, for example, that there should be judicial decisions on all the control orders and that there should be a reconsideration of the appropriate burden of proof in relation to the making of the orders.

But even if the Government give way on all the amendments we regard as essential, the Bill will still be unsatisfactory. That is why we are calling for an additional safeguard which is that the Bill even with those essential amendments will need to be replaced in November. This will give the Government of the day the time necessary to bring forward a properly considered Bill to deal with terrorism.

However, if the amendments we regard as essential are not passed, including the sunset clause, the Conservative Party will vote against the Bill.

Thank you for taking the trouble to write.

Yours sincerely,

(name removed)
Office of the Leader of the Opposition