Sunset Clauses in Anti-Terrorism Laws: What’s the Point?

Sunset Clauses in Anti-Terrorism Laws: What’s the Point?

On 31 October 2016, the House of Commons agreed, without debate, to approve the draft Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (Continuation) Order 2016. If agreed by the Lords, the order will continue in force the Home Secretary’s powers under the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011, namely to impose, via a ‘TPIM’, a range of duties, obligations and restrictions on suspected terrorists. That power was due to expire on 13 December 2016, five years after its enactment, because of the incorporation in the legislation of a sunset clause – a legal provision that provides for the expiry of a law or part of a law at a later date. Unless the House of Lords defies parliamentary convention and does not approve the continuation order, it is unlikely that the TPIM powers will now expire. This does not necessarily mean that the sunset clause has failed; after all, it may be that the TPIM powers are an important and useful part of the UK’s counter-terrorism regime and warrant extension. The imposition of six new TPIMs by the Home Secretary in the past three months suggests that the government believes this to be the case. Continue reading

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