Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bill Jacobs in the House

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bill Jacobs in the House

Article excerpt

Byline: By Bill Jacobs

This week, as Newcastle Central Labour MP Jim Cousins stepped up his campaign against the Government new anti-terror laws, he was surprised to find himself with an unexpected ally ( former Tory Home Secretary Kenneth Clarke. Mr Cousins said he was amazed to find himself voting in the same division lobby as a man whose policies he consistently opposed when he was in power.

But he said Mr Clarke's speech in the debate on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill was brilliant.

Mr Clarke said: "I am tempted to say that looking back over the years some of the silliest pieces of advice that I was ever given urged me to do certain things on the grounds of security, protection of the national interest and prevention of terrorism.

"One has to count to 10 and say that the step is basically stupid, illiberal, unacceptable and disproportionate and that, if this society does not stop giving and receiving such advice, we must fear where we end up.

"One of my predecessors, the late Roy Jenkins, strongly advised me in my term of office to keep an eye on what the security services were doing because I would never find out what they were really up to.

"Any Home Secretary who unquestioningly takes the advice of the security services runs a risk on those occasional moments, when they make a mistake or advise him to do something foolish."

Mr Cousins said: "I was amazed to find myself on the same side of the argument as Mr Clarke. I think his speech was absolutely brilliant.

"He made the points about taking the advice of the security services

brilliantly. I was surprised to find myself voting with a former Tory Home Secretary with whom I never thought I would agree."

Questions are being asked at Westminster today about the abilities of Labour Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong, MP for North West Durham, after Labour's majority on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill fell from 161 to 14.

This will encourage the House of Lords to seek further concessions on the proposals but a number of senior ministers, including Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, failed to vote and several loyal MPs were overseas. …

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