An influential committee of both Houses of Parliament has endorsed the News Media Association’s call for the new Counter-Terrorism Bill to be subject to enhanced scrutiny to protect free speech.
In a report published today, the Joint Human Rights Select Committee said that the Government has so far failed to provide a “coherent or sufficiently precise definition” of key concepts in the Bill such as “non-violent extremism” and “British values.”
It added: “There needs to be certainty in the law so that those who are asked to comply with and enforce the law know what behaviour is and is not lawful.”
The Bill, which was trailed in the Queen’s Speech this year but has yet to be published, is expected to introduce a series of civil orders aimed at prevent the spread of political and religious extremism that Ministers believe leads to harmful activity or behaviour.
The NMA is concerned about the free speech implications of these measures, which have so far only been set out in general terms. It wrote to the Joint Committee to emphasise that the Bill must be set out in draft first in order to give Parliament and stakeholders the opportunity to examine the proposals in depth. More at www.pjnews.co.uk