THE defeat by the House of Lords of the British government's 42-day detention provision in its Counter-Terrorism Bill was expected. The subsequent decision of the government not to return the Bill to the Commons was taken, it must be assumed, because of the prime minister's concern that the time and effort needed to do this would not be justified when the global economy is on the brink of destruction. I cannot see, though, why the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has been criticised for announcing that a new draft Bill providing for 42-day detention will be prepared and kept in readiness for any renewal of terrorist activity in Britain. It is just common sense to do that. One of the surprises following the House of Lords vote was the assertion by David Davis MP that this had “vindicated” him for resigning after the original Commons debate five months ago in order to fight an election to protest against the government's repressive inclinations. He said that he had been happy to “burn out a career” in order to see a defeat of the kind inflicted by the Lords. The implication of Mr Davis's comment is that if he had not resigned and “burnt out his career” the Lords would not have defeated the Bill. That, of course, is nonsense. The Lords were always likely to vote the Bill down. So Mr Davis may have ruined his career unnecessarily. Will we ever really know why he did it?


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