Post on security - 4/11/2010
Posted by Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, at 12:10, Thu 4 November 2010:
The debate between the needs of security and the liberties of a free people is one again central to political life.
Several times in British history rights have been sacrificed for security. During the Napoleonic wars habeas corpus (which limits the time somebody may be imprisoned without trial) was suspended. This ensured potential French spies could be locked up. Equally, in the Second World War Regulation 18b was introduced which allowed for Nazi sympathisers to be interned. In the current battle against terrorism there are ‘control orders’ which allow dangerous terror suspects to be kept under a form of house arrest. All of these offend a basic principle of the Magna Carta but equally are proportionate to the threat that we do or have faced.
However, the law that allowed the Police to stop anyone at random and led to hundreds of thousands of searches but not a single arrest for terrorism failed. The proposed Identity Card was equally pointless. Both of these measures could even have proved counter-productive as effective law enforcement requires consent as well as force. Neither could be as useful as a tough immigration policy that would keep dangerous people out.
Perhaps all policy decisions are a matter of balance but it is particularly true in this field. I am a great believer in our historic liberties and fear that the terrorists win when we limit them. Nonetheless, sometimes emergency measures are suitable and better protect our liberties in the long term. I am confident that the Government is getting it right at the moment.