Powers to detain suspected terrorists for more than 14 days in an emergency have not been put in place, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said.
The Government was adopting a “shocking and cavalier” approach to national security and it was “irresponsible” of ministers “not to be prepared for every eventuality or to be able to react swiftly if emergencies arise”, she said.
The power to hold terror suspects for 28 days lapses on Monday night, meaning the detention limit will revert to 14 days ahead of the announcement of the result of a sweeping review of counter-terrorism powers by Home Secretary Theresa May on Wednesday.
Home Office Minister Damian Green said last week that emergency legislation would be drawn up and placed in the Commons library to extend the maximum period to 28 days “to prepare for the very exceptional circumstances when a longer period may be required”.
But no such legislation has appeared.
Ms Cooper said: “The Tory-led Government’s counter terrorism policy is collapsing into ever greater confusion. This is a shocking and cavalier way to deal with our national security.
“Ministers themselves told us these back up powers were needed in case of emergency, but they have failed to get them ready and give Parliament the chance to look at them or see the evidence.
“Ministers need to tell us urgently what is going on and whether this puts our security at risk. If their own review has shown this emergency legislation is needed, then ministers need to act immediately to get it ready and in place, in case a crisis arises.
“Right now we have no idea when this legislation will be ready and it is irresponsible of the Government not to be prepared for every eventuality or to be able to react swiftly if emergencies arise.”
She went on: “Government policy on counter terrorism is vital to the future of our country and needs to protect our national security as well as our historic freedoms. But instead of serious, responsible debate, we have seen chaos, delay and party political manoeuvring within the Government.”