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Coffee House

Secret justice bill unites senior Tory and Lib Dem MPs

12 February 2013

11:10 AM

12 February 2013

11:10 AM

Last week ministers managed to rewrite some of the protections in the controversial Justice and Security Bill while it was being scrutinised in committee: this week backbenchers MPs are starting to hit back.

I reported in late January that Andrew Tyrie was considering amending the legislation, and that a group of Tory MPs was minded to support him. He has now tabled a series of changes for the report stage of the Bill in the Commons, with the support of Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes.

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Tyrie’s proposals involve creating an elected chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee who is an MP, which is one of the recommendations in his CPS paper on the Bill.

These proposals relate to part I of the Bill, which is perhaps the less controversial section of the legislation. Lib Dem grassroots members are continuing to push their parliamentarians to vote against part II, which contains measures for secret courts, or Closed Material Procedures.

Last week’s committee hearings saw the amendments from the House of Lords torn up through a series of new amendments by ministers. Labour’s shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter says the party will also table amendments to part II which reinstate those from the Lords. He tells me:

‘Our position has not changed: we have been very nervous of CMPs throughout and that if the government is saying that they should be restricted in the most appropriate way, i.e. as a last resort, then at the very least we need the Lords amendments to do that.’

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