Detention Time to Be Extended; VOTE: Terrorism Legislation Squeaks through Commons the World Today

Article excerpt

GORDON BROWN was saved from a humiliating Commons defeat over his new counterterrorism legislation by the votes of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists.

The Government scraped home in the key vote on extending the pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects to 42 days by just nine votes - the number of DUP MPs who supported the Government in the division lobbies.

Mr Brown also needed the votes of Tory rebel Ann Widdecombe and the UK Independence Party's Bob Spink to secure victory as 36 Labour MPs defied the party whips to vote with the Opposition against the measure.

Amid angry recriminations and accusations of "pork barrel politics", Labour rebels said the result represented a "catastrophic" blow to the Prime Minister's already weakened authority.

The parliamentary battle over the legislation is far from over as the Counter-Terrorism Bill now has to go to the House of Lords, where it is facing almost certain defeat.

Mr Brown would then have to decide whether to use the Parliament Act to force through the legislation in the next parliamentary session - if he can maintain his slender Commons majority on the measure. …