42 days

The polls indicate that most of my constituents were in favour of extending the period of detention without charge for terrorist suspects - although the single e-mail I received on the subject was strongly opposed.

So was it right that I should nevertheless vote against the proposal?  At a meeting in Steyning on Friday, one person asked me what an MP should do where local people are clearly of another view.  I replied that of course we must take the most careful note of their constituents.

But as the statesman Edmund Burke said:  "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion."

I have only been an MP for three years, yet I have already voted to double the detention period to 28 days.  That gave us the longest period of pre-charge detention in the free world.  Now the Commons has narrowly voted to increase it still further.

This week marks the anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta.  As long ago as 1215, it was enshrined that "no Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned ... but by lawful judgment of his Peers."

I went to see one of the copies of Magna Carta held in Lincoln Castle.  But you do not have to see the document to be affected by it.  Because it remains the cornerstone of liberty in the English speaking world.

When I spoke on this issue at a seminar at Wiston House recently, I quoted one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin.  "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither ...."

Far from acting genuinely to enhance our security, I fear that Gordon Brown was playing politics.  Our freedoms and our national security are too important for that.  He did not deserve to win the vote.

Michelle Taylor