All-night sitting to force Terror Bill

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Indy Politics

Labour MPs have been warned by pager that they will, if necessary, be required to vote all night next Thursday to get the Government's anti-terrorism Bill past the Lords' attempt to sabotage it.

Backed by Tony Blair, David Blunkett will threaten the Lords with an all-night sitting, and Parliamentary ping-pong between the Commons and the upper house to force the Bill through before Christmas.

The Home Secretary said yesterday: "I am absolutely clear – whatever it takes I am going to do it. If the Lords really do think they know better than the Commons what constitutes terrorism, I beg to disagree." Last night Mr Blunkett wrote to Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory leader, accusing the Conservatives of double standards by helping to inflict seven defeats on the bill in the Lords.

Mr Blunkett said he will begin planning a swoop on terrorist suspects as soon as the Bill is given royal assent.

He made it clear that there will be no major retreat on the measures to allow detention without trial of suspects, after the last-minute concessions on Friday to try to meet objections raised in the Lords over the removal of judicial review for suspected terrorists.

Mr Blunkett is ready to make an amendment to the proposal to outlaw religious hatred following suggestions by the former Northern Ireland minister Brian Mawhinney to stop holy books, such as the Bible and the Koran, falling foul of the new law.

The Home Secretary said: "I will be looking at that over the weekend, to see if there is something we can do to meet the concerns, without driving a coach and horses through the Bill. We are prepared to do that if people are prepared to be reasonable. What we are not prepared to do is take seven defeats indiscriminately, irrespective of whether the argument has been won, and then be expected to capitulate."

There was no sign of the Lords backing off last night. Tory and Liberal Democrat peers warned that the opposition to the Bill was holding firm and included Labour rebels in the Upper House.

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