David Cameron and Nick Clegg are at odds over new anti-terror powers announced by the Prime Minister yesterday, with the coalition partners agreeing to just three out of the five changes so far.
Cameron yesterday unveiled widely-expected beefed up powers to tackle the threat posed to the UK by the Islamic State terrorist group, telling MPs that 500 UK citizens are currently fighting in Iraq and Syria. The changes could see terror suspects forced to relocate and enrol in de-radicalisation programs.
The new powers, which could be in force within weeks, include: giving police the power to seize the passports of suspected terrorists at the border; plans to prevent known terrorists from reentering the UK from abroad; Terrorism prevention and investigation measures will be extended to include relocation powers; airlines will be forced to hand over information about people travelling to conflict zones and the government will protect its ability to seize passports, despite a challenge in the courts.
“Adhering to British values is not an option or a choice; it is a duty for all those who live in these islands,” Cameron said in a statement. In response to the threat of terrorism by groups like Islamic State he said: “We need a firm security response, whether that means military action to go after the terrorists, international co-operation on intelligence or uncompromising action against terrorists at home.”
But the controversial plans, which could yet fall victim to legal restraints, are yet to be agreed in full by both sides of the coalition. A senior Liberal Democrat source last night warned that the party is “far from convinced” about the need for relocation powers which have been likened to Labour’s now-illegal control orders. Clegg is also said to be concerned about powers to bar UK citizens suspected of terrorism from reentering the UK from abroad; plans which could also be illegal under international law.
Labour last night welcomed the proposal to reintroduce relocation powers. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “It is right that relocation powers should be restored in what is effectively the return of the control orders this government abolished.”