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February 12, 2008

Shadow Attorney General has anxieties over 'surveillance society'

In light of the government’s proposals to extend detention without trial for terrorist suspects to 42 days, the recent revelations of the bugging of Labour MP Sadiq Khan, and the ongoing controversy over ID cards and a biometric database, RaW News has been addressing the issue of the “surveillance society” and the ubiquitous dichotomy between liberty and security we face.

In the same vein of last week’s discussion on civil liberties with interviews with Conservative and Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretaries, David Davis and Chris Huhne, I interviewed Dominic Grieve, Conservative MP and Shadow Attorney General, on the issue.

Dominic Grieve spoke clearly and elegantly on the issues of 42 day detention and ID cards, advancing an argument based chiefly on pragmatism rather than an ideological regard for civil liberties.

Sceptical of the efficacy of such procedures as extending detention without charge, but aware of the need to restrict some liberty in exchange for security, he called upon the existing powers and civil law, like the Civil Contingencies Act, to be used more effectively; he went on to criticise proposals for 42 days as an “act of administrative discretion.”

Grieve, who has been his party’s spokesman on community cohesion, highlighted the need to use also persuasion to prevent people becoming sympathetic to terrorism, and in such a “values battle”, he stated firmly that “the last thing you should do is to bin your own values.”

On the issue of ID Cards and a national database he again offered criticism based on a pragmatic outlook, but also underlined anxieties he had over the implications that the “surveillance society” would have on the liberty and fulfilment of future generations.

Puneet Dhaliwal
Political Correspondent

July 2022

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