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UK Press Briefing: Anti Terror Law

Press Briefing: 3.45pm Tuesday 22 February 2005

Briefing from the Prime Minister's Spokesman on: Anti Terror Law.

Anti Terror Law

Asked what the Government was trying to get across in the documents released in conjunction with the Home Secretary's Statement the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that they were intended to set out the situation so that people had as much of the information surrounding the debate as possible. These were important issues and as such it was important that as much information as possible was available to inform the public debate.

Asked if they were aimed at the opposition the PMS said that they were aimed at those taking part in the debate, which had started when the new legislation had been announced. These papers were intended to help inform that debate.

Asked what Charles Clarke meant by "accommodation owned and managed by the Government" and whether that meant internment the PMS said that it would be best if people checked details of the Home Secretary's statement with the Home Office.

Asked how important Downing Street considered it that people did not get the idea that any electioneering was going on in terms of competitiveness on who was being the toughest on terrorism as there was a suggestion that there was a deliberate strategy to crowd out the Conservatives on the security agenda, the PMS said that as a civil servant she could not take part in electioneering or comment on party political matters. The necessity for today's statement had come about as a result of the Law Lords ruling on the present emergency legislation. The Government had had to consider how to deal with that situation. The ruling had lead to today's statement on Anti-Terror legislation. The PMS said she was not clear how that could be described as competitive behaviour when it was this Law Lords decision that had lead to today's statement.

Asked what was going to happen to the suspects detained at Belmarsh when the current legislation ran out in a few weeks time if the Home Secretary was not going to introduce house arrest immediately the PMS said it would not be appropriate to discuss individual cases. People should wait for the new legislation to come through and then see what decisions were taken relating to specific individuals. The new measures being introduced gave the Home Secretary greater flexibility on how to deal different individuals and this was what he had set out today in his statement. It was not appropriate to comment or speculate on whom the legislation would apply to once it was introduced.


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