Debate is presently taking place in the United Kingdom surrounding the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2017-19. This bill is in response a speech given by Queen Elizabeth on June 21, 2017.

In it the Queen requested a review of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy “to ensure that the police and security services have all the powers they need, and that the length of custodial sentences for terrorism related offences are sufficient to keep the population safe”.

The Bill attempts to update terrorist offenses to the digital age and current patterns. It strengthens the sentences for crimes committed for terrorism offenses and addresses managing criminals after release. It also strengthens police powers to investigate and prevent acts of terrorism. The Bill also attempts to harden border defense “against hostile state activity” in light of the 2018 poisoning using a nerve agent developed by Russia.

There is, of course, a counter debate arguing this bill is an “erosion of our rights and privacy by intruding even more excessively into our everyday thoughts and behaviour.”

The opposition argues that the “Bill would criminalise curiosity, academic research and journalistic investigations.” They conclude the penalties goes so far as to penalize watching the wrong video on YouTube with up to 15 years of imprisonment.

A Bill, such as this anti-terrorism bill, is a proposal for a new Act (law) of Parliament, or a proposal to change an existing law, presented for debate before Parliament. It may start either in the House of Commons or in the House of Lords. It must be approved in the same form by both Houses and finally by the reigning Monarch.

This Bill was started in the House of Commons and has now passed that House as well as the first reading in the House of Lords. The second reading is scheduled for October 9, 2018. This is followed by Committee, its report and the third reading in the House of Lords before being passed on to the Queen.

At the second reading the members of the House of Lords are able to debate the Bill’s purpose and main principles. During Committee the Bill is examined and amendments may be added.

The amended Bill is printed at the report stage which leads to further examination and a vote on the amendments. The Bill’s third reading follows where Amendments may also be added.

If there are no amendments, the Bill is sent to the monarch for approval. If there are amendments, the Bill is sent back to the House of Commons. This process goes back and forth until both Houses agree to all amendments before the Bill is sent to the monarch.

Royal assent is necessary before the Bill becomes law.

We hope to keep you abreast of the progress of the anti terrorism Bill as it works its way through Parliament and to the Queen.