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Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill fails to protect constitutional principles, warns Committee

26 October 2018

The House of Lords Constitution Committee criticises the Government for failing to protect fundamental constitutional principles in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill. It follows two critical reports on the Bill by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Key findings

The Committee raises concerns about the limits placed on access to confidential legal advice, noting detainees under the Bill are not afforded this fundamental constitutional protection and recommends the Bill requires detainees to be informed of their right to consult a solicitor. The Committee highlights that the justifications for these limits rely excessively on government assurances that these powers will be executed more benevolently than the text of the Bill requires.

The Committee also warns that individuals are not given a fair opportunity to know about the law that applies to them, as individuals could be prosecuted in the UK for criminal offences that do not exist in another country.

The Committee echoes the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Human Rights by calling for a clearer definition of broadly defined offences, and observes that the Government's failure to publish the draft code of practice setting out the planned use of the powers for the entirety of the Bill's passage through the Commons has hindered parliamentary scrutiny.

Chairman's comments

Chairman of the House of Lords Constitution Committee, Baroness Taylor of Bolton said:

"The Bill fails to respect important constitutional principles. Broad definitions for offences, excessive reliance on Government assurances, and barriers to proper parliamentary scrutiny are all deeply problematic. We urge the Government to think again, considering both the recommendations from this Committee and those of the Joint Committee on Human Rights."

Further information

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