The Liberal Democrats have secured a number of important concessions from the Government on its Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill.
Ministers hve tabled amendments to the Bill at Report Stage in the House of Lords, to address concerns raised by Liberal Democrat MPs and peers. These amendments would limit some of the Bill’s impact on civil liberties, including by creating clear defences for the new offences of travel to areas designated by the Home Secretary and viewing terrorism-related material online, where someone has a reasonable excuse for doing so.
Liberal Democrat MPs opposed the Bill at Third Reading in the House of Commons, but Labour voted with the Tories to pass it by 376 votes to 10. Liberal Democrat Peers have raised concerns about many aspects of the Bill as it makes its way through the House of Lords, and will continue to do so despite the Government’s concessions.
Responding to the Government’s amendments, Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Lords spokesperson for Home Affairs, said:
“Through our opposition to these unnecessary, illiberal new laws, we have secured important changes that will reduce the risk of innocent people being wrongly convicted.
“However, we are still fundamentally opposed to much of the Bill, most of which is based on the discredited ‘conveyor belt’ theory: that simply expressing extreme views inevitably leads to radicalisation and terrorist violence.
“Completely innocent people could be arrested and detained simply for expressing an opinion, for undertaking legitimate research or for visiting a dangerous part of the world, even if they had a good reason for doing so.
“It would also allow people to be detained at ports, airports and the border area between Northern Ireland and the Republic, have the contents of their phones and computers gone through, even if they had no intention of committing any offence.
“We must do all we can to protect our country but not at the cost of losing our own liberty.”
The Government’s amendments are here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2017-2019/0142/18142(d).pdf