– Ken Clarke, Justice Secretary
We have consulted and listened to many critics of our original plans and have made substantial changes. Protecting the public cannot come at the expense of our historic freedoms. That principle is absolutely right and has guided the Government's response.
The Bill now ensures that no evidence given openly in court at the moment can be given in secret in future, and gives the judge the final decision about whether any evidence at all can be heard in closed session.
Only civil cases involving national security evidence will be affected. The proposals were never intended to apply to criminal cases.
Powers to hear evidence in secret in civil courts will not be extended to inquests. The Ministry of Justice is due to publish the Justice and Security Bill today, which includes rules on controversial proceedings to hear some evidence secretly.