MPs vote to renew control orders

Parliament has approved control orders for another year after the Conservatives “reluctantly” voted with the government.

Introducing the renewal vote, security minister Tony McNulty told MPs that control orders are still necessary to combat the “serious and sustained” terrorism threat which the UK faces.

Control orders allow terror suspects to be closely monitored when there is insufficient evidence for prosecution or deportation, and Mr McNulty claimed: “Without control orders these individuals would be free to continue to engage in terrorist-related activity.”

He argued that prosecution remains the government’s preferred option for countering terrorism, but is not possible in all cases.

Control orders are subject to renewal each year and, after MPs voted 322 to 61 in favour, the Lords will still need to approve their continued use.

Shadow security minister Patrick Mercer told the House the Conservatives would support the motion “with great reluctance”, but warned Mr McNulty that control orders would be unsustainable this time next year.

Earlier this week the Conservatives had called on the Home Office to review all control orders with intent to prosecute terror suspects.

The Liberal Democrats voted against renewing control orders, labelled “imperfect and in need of extensive revision” by home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg.

Mr Clegg argued that the power to impose control orders should be transferred from the home secretary to the courts and that orders should be strictly time limited and subject to regular review.

The human rights group Liberty had urged MPs to vote against control orders but admitted it was unsurprised but disappointed at yesterday’s vote.

Jago Russell, Liberty’s policy officer said: “Control orders were introduced as a quick fix two years ago with terrible results for our freedoms as well as public safety. It is time for the sun to set on the control orders fiasco.”

Earlier this week an independent review led by Lord Carlile accepted that the use of control orders was justified in a small number of cases.