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Prevention of Terrorism Act

The Prevention of Terrorism Acts were a series of Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom from 1974, which conferred emergency powers upon police forces where they suspected terrorism.

In 2000 it was repealed and replaced with the more permanent Terrorism Act 2000.

The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 had seven parts:

The remaining parts of the act (Information, Proceedings and Interpretation, Further Provisions for Northern Ireland, and Supplementary) are largely technical although the Northern Ireland provions extends the right to search property, restricts remission for those convicted of statutory offences, and tightens control over the granting of licenses under the Explosives Act 1875 (new explosives factories and magazines).

The first Act was enacted in 1974 following the IRA bombing campaigns of the early 1970s. The act was introduced by Roy Jenkins, then Home Secretary, as a severe and emergency reaction to the IRA threat. It passed into law without substansive debate.

It was rewritten in 1978, 1984 and again in 1989, but continued to stay as emergency 'temporary' powers, that had to be renewed each year. The first three acts all contained final date clauses beyond the annual renwal, this provision was not included in the 1989 act. The inclusion of the "Temporary Provisions" statement in the act is somewhat disingenuous, much of the initial act's legislation has passed into permanent law and the annual renewal of the act was never a threat to its existence.

The exclusion orders were used by the British government to ban prominent Sinn Fein MPs like Gerry Adams to enter Great Britain, and was later held to ban the broadcast of their voices on television and radio.