Brown boosts security budget

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown is to announce a huge increase in Britain's spending on "national security" when he unveils his three-year government-wide programme next Monday.

Gordon Brown is to announce a huge increase in Britain's spending on "national security" when he unveils his three-year government-wide programme next Monday.

The defence, civil defence and anti-terrorism budgets could rise by about £400m or 20 per cent under a shake-up designed to meet the threat from global terrorism. The total "security budget" is expected to rise to well over £2 bn a year.

Budgets which are spread across different departments, including the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office, the Foreign Office and the Cabinet, will be pooled under the changes. But the Government will not set up a Department of Homeland Security as has happened in the United States.

The move raises the prospect that Labour will try to make national security a key theme in the general election expected next May.

Mr Brown will challenge the Tories to match his move but believe they are vulnerable to the charge of imposing a real terms cut in security spending. Oliver Letwin, the shadow Chancellor, has pledged to freeze other budgets in order to boost spending on health and education.

Mr Brown will trail his changes in a speech today to the British Council. The Chancellor will argue that a British Government's first duty is the defence of its citizens. "Since 11 September, strengthening security at home and taking action against terrorism abroad have been more important than ever.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, and Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, have appealed to Tony Blair to squeeze more money out of Mr Brown for their departments.

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