Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has introduced a one-line bill* which could be rushed through Parliament against any individual the police wished to hold for 42 days.
The House of Lords last night threw out her attempt to extend detention for suspected terrorists to 42 days. The clause was removed from the Counter Terrorism Bill as expected, following widespread opposition to the measure in the Lords and elsewhere.
Smith told the Commons that the threat facing the UK was: "the severe end of severe" as she promised to introduce a separate bill to extend detention powers - a move dismissed by opponents as a face-saving measure.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said the proposed bill was one of the most bizarre things he'd ever read. The Lib Dems described the move as a "fig leaf which does little to disguise her defeat".
Opponents in the Lords included Tony Blair's former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, Lord Goldsmith, formerly the Attorney General, and two former bosses of MI5.
Former Tory shadow home secretary David Davis said the bill's defeat was a vindication of his decision to resign his seat earlier this year and force a by election about the government's erosion of civil liberties.
He told the BBC that while it was always clear that the bill would go down in the Lords, the fact that the government was not turning to the Parliament Act to force it through showed that Downing St had recognised that public support for 42 days was in the minority.®
Update: It's a three page bill - text available here as a pdf. Thanks to Reg reader Will for the spot.