Blair and Straw warn of chemical weapons danger

Anti­Terrorism Measures
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David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, suggested that identity cards could be introduced to Britain in the wake of the US terrorist attacks.

The atrocities had increased recognition "of our interdependence and they way in which we need to co-operate globally", Mr Blunkett said. It also posed new questions about how democracies defended themselves, the Home Secretary added.

The Government would have to consider "how far anyone should expect to go in a democracy in being able to identify, being able to co-operate in terms of surveillance", he said. "Those things are very difficult issues but they are ones we are going to have to address if we are actually going to protect the most basic freedom of all, which is to live in peace without fear," he said.

The Home Secretary said he did not want a debate on the issue "purely on the back of the attack in the United States" but would return to the topic later in the year. Meanwhile, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, is already holding talks with European leaders to tighten extradition laws and increase controls on organisations identified as terrorist.

Mr Straw invoked memories of the rise of Nazi Germany. He warned the world not to make the mistakes of appeasement in the 1930s, and told MPs that Britain had to brace itself for fresh terrorist attacks in the future. Pan-European measures to combat terrorism are also to be introduced, including a formal definition of terrorism and plans to harmonise national sanctions against terrorist groups.

Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, was also due to meet European transport ministers to discuss improvements to aviation security.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, spoke to President Bush by telephone yesterday and will spend the weekend at Downing Street in talks with ministers and other foreign leaders about the crisis.

The estimated number of Britons killed remained at least 100 yesterday. It emerged that the Foreign Office helpline had taken more than 16,000 calls from anxious relatives.

Mr Blair described the attacks against America as "a tragedy of epoch-making proportions". He said the world faced threats from "fanatics capable of killing without discrimination" who knew no limits to their deadly actions.

Sources at the Foreign Office said they did not believe terrorist groups had access to weapons of mass destruction, but emphasised that the Government was reviewing Britain's defences to guard against possible future threats as well as proven existing terrorist capabilities.

Mr Straw highlighted the mistakes of appeasing Nazi Germany in the 1930s, warning that the terrorists "have no respect, however minimal, for human life, not even for their own lives". He said the United States was proceeding "with deliberation and care".

But he warned: "Equally, to turn the other cheek would not appease the terrorists, but would lead to a still greater danger. We need to acknowledge this overwhelming, if dismal, truth, if we are to prepare ourselves and our societies for the possibility, unpalatable as it may be, of further attacks."

Mr Blair and Mr Straw both emphasised that neither the Arab nor the Muslim worlds were responsible for events in the United States. He said: "If, as appears likely, it is so-called Islamic fundamentalists, we know they do not speak or act for the vast majority of decent, law-abiding Muslims throughout the world.

"I say to our Arab and Muslim friends: neither you nor Islam is responsible for this; on the contrary, we know you share our shock at this terrorism and we ask you as friends to make common cause with us in defeating this barbarism that is totally foreign to the true spirit and teachings of Islam."