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Terrorism Act 2000


3.The Act reforms and extends previous counter-terrorist legislation, and puts it largely on a permanent basis. The previous legislation concerned is:

4.The Act builds on the proposals in the Government’s consultation document Legislation against terrorism (Cm 4178), published in December 1998. The consultation document in turn responded to Lord Lloyd of Berwick’s Inquiry into legislation against terrorism (Cm 3420), published in October 1996.

5.Previous counter-terrorist legislation provided a range of measures designed to prevent terrorism and support the investigation of terrorist crime. These fall into three broad categories: a power for the Secretary of State to proscribe terrorist organisations, backed up by a series of offences connected with such organisations (membership, fundraising etc); other specific offences connected with terrorism (such as fund-raising for terrorist purposes, training in the use of firearms for terrorist purposes, etc); and a range of police powers (powers of investigation, arrest, stop and search, detention, etc).

6.The Act repeals the PTA and re-enacts those of its provisions which remain necessary, with a number of modifications. The previous counter-terrorist legislation was subject to annual renewal by Parliament. Under the Act this will in general no longer be the case. The main provisions in the Act are to be permanent. There will, however, continue to be an annual report to Parliament on the working of the Act; this is required under section 126.

7.The EPA would have repealed itself on 24 August 2000. The consultation document expressed the Government’s hope that the special provision it makes for Northern Ireland might not be needed after that date, an objective to be kept under review in the light of developments in the security situation. The Government takes the view that the time is not yet right to remove all of these provisions. Part VII of the Act therefore provides additional temporary measures for Northern Ireland only. These are subject to annual renewal and are time-limited to 5 years.

8.The previous counter-terrorist legislation was originally designed in response to terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland (“Irish terrorism”), and some of its provisions had subsequently been extended to certain categories of international terrorism. It did not apply to any other terrorism connected with UK affairs (“domestic terrorism”). Under the Act these restrictions have been lifted, so that counter-terrorist measures are to be applicable to all forms of terrorism: Irish, international, and domestic.

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