Security Service 'needs more spies'
The Security Service MI5 needs to recruit and train more surveillance specialists before the control order regime for terror suspects can be relaxed, the Government says.
Ministers aim to replace the regime from the start of next year.
Security minister Baroness Neville-Jones, a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, said sufficient surveillance needed to be in place "to give the necessary security to the public".
"That surveillance doesn't exist at the moment," the Tory Home Office minister told peers. "Individuals have to be recruited. People have to be trained. We need extra capacity and capability."
She was responding to calls from former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Macdonald of River Glaven (Lib Dem) and former terrorism laws reviewer Lord Lloyd of Berwick (Ind), a retired law lord, for an early relaxation of restrictions on the eight people currently subject to control orders.
Lord Macdonald argued that a more relaxed regime, as planned by the coalition for next year, would increase the chances of gathering incriminating evidence that would allow the suspects to be prosecuted.
Lord Macdonald's recent review of the controversial control order regime resulted in the Government's proposed and less restrictive Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure (TPIM) as its replacement.
Lady Neville-Jones acknowledged, as peers debated the temporary extension of control orders until the end of the year: "There is, I think, some light between us (ministers and Lord Macdonald) on the subject of the balance to be struck between protection and prosecution.
"I can't conceal from the House that the protective element in TPIMs is a primary objective."
The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (Continuance in Force of Sections 1 to 9) Order, which MPs approved last week, was later approved by the Lords without a vote. It will take effect on Friday, when the existing powers had been due to expire.