Joint Committee On Human Rights Nineteenth Report

7  Other matters

Control orders

213. We reported on the annual renewal of control orders in February this year.[155] Judgment from the House of Lords is now pending in the cases referred to in that report, in which the lower courts have considered the compatibility of the control order regime with the right to a fair hearing in Article 6(1) ECHR and the compatibility of particular control orders with the right to liberty in Article 5(1) ECHR. We say nothing further about those issues in this report pending the decision of the House of Lords, but we may return to these issues in a future report in light of the judgment.


214. In the then Home Secretary's statement to the House of Commons on 24 May 2007 he indicated that if the Government does not succeed in persuading the House of Lords to overturn the lower courts' interpretation of the requirements of the right to liberty in Article 5 ECHR, the Government will consider other options, including derogation. He also referred to "the fact that the threat to the life and liberties of the people of this country is higher than ever before, and is at the level of a national emergency."

215. It has been the Government's consistent position since introducing the Bill which became the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, establishing the control order regime, that the UK does not face a "public emergency threatening the life of the nation" within the meaning of Article 15 ECHR and that the UK Government is therefore not entitled to derogate from the right to liberty in Article 5 ECHR. This was the premise of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which contains what is essentially an enabling power allowing the Government to derogate swiftly if conditions change in future. At no time during the two annual renewals of the control orders regime, in March 2006 and March 2007, did the Government suggest that the level of the threat had changed so that the UK now faced a public emergency threatening the life of the nation.

216. We therefore wrote on 25 May 2007 to the then Home Secretary asking whether it is now the Government's position that the threat from terrorism is such that there is a public emergency threatening the life of the nation; if so, what precisely has changed since the Government renewed the control order regime in March of this year; and on what material the Government relies to demonstrate that the level of the threat has changed.[156]

217. To date we have received no response.

155   JCHR Report on Second Control Order renewal (2007). Back

156   Ev 69. Back

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