Draft Detention of Terrorist Suspects (Temporary Extension) Bills - Joint Committee on the Draft Detention of Terrorist Suspects (Temporary Extension) Bills Contents


Call for Evidence

A new Joint Committee has been appointed by both Houses of Parliament to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny on the draft Detention of Terrorist Suspects (Temporary Extension) Bills.

The draft Detention of Terrorist Suspect (Temporary Extension) Bills were published by the Home Office on 11 February. The bills are potential pieces of emergency legislation that would be introduced only in exceptional circumstances and provide for the temporary extension of the maximum pre-charge detention period for terror suspects from 14 to 28 days.

The Joint Committee comprises 6 MPs and 6 peers. It will take oral and written evidence and make recommendations in a report by 9 June.

The Committee invites interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence as part of its inquiry. The areas it will examine include:

The case for contingency powers to extend the period available for pre-charge detention beyond 14 days

  • Do the proposals strike the right balance between justice and public protection?
  • In what circumstances, and against what criteria, might it be necessary for the period available for pre-charge detention to be extended beyond 14 days?

The procedure for introducing a contingency power to extend the period available for pre-charge detention:

  • Is the extension of pre-charge detention for terrorism suspects best dealt with in a specific emergency Bill, or should it be explicitly provided for in a more general legal framework for dealing with emergencies, such as the Civil Contingencies Act?
  • Is fast-tracked primary legislation a practical way of introducing contingency powers to extend the period available for pre-charge detention? What are the possible dangers of requiring primary legislation be passed when a power is urgently needed? What are the possible advantages?
  • Are there other, preferable options for creating a contingency power to increase the period available for pre-charge detention in urgent circumstances?
  • Will the change from an annually renewable order, to reactive fast-track legislation increase parliament's ability properly to scrutinise the need for, and use of, extended pre-charge detention powers?
  • In the event that either of the draft bills are introduced, how will Ministers be able to give Parliament appropriate information about why the contingency powers are needed at that time?
  • What information would Parliament need in order to take an informed decision about whether the legislation is needed?
  • How can parliamentary debate be handled so that Members can scrutinise the need for the legislation without undermining ongoing investigations, compromising national security or prejudicing future trials?
  • Is it appropriate for parliament, rather than the courts alone, to decide whether extended detention may be necessary in a particular case?

The judicial authorisation process for extending pre-charge detention beyond 14 days:

  • Is the judicial authorisation process in Schedule 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (as amended) compatible with the right to a fair hearing? Should anything be done to strengthen this process?


  • Could extra requirements be added to the legislation to improve the scrutiny of the use of extended pre-charge detention powers if and when they are used?

You need not address all these questions. Short submissions are preferred. A submission longer than six pages should include a one-page summary.

Submissions, which should be original and not copies of papers written for the Counter Terrorism Review or any other inquiry, must be received by 20 April.

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Prepared 23 June 2011