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UK Politics

Brown pledge after failed plane bombing

The Prime Minister vowed today to learn lessons from the failed Detroit plane bombing.

Gordon Brown told the Commons the first of a "new generation" of body scanners would be in operation at Heathrow Airport within a few weeks.

They would be introduced "over time" in other airports across the UK, he said in his first Question Time session of the year.

Mr Brown said the Government was "reviewing and enhancing" its watch list arrangements to prevent a recurrence of the incident.

University College London graduate Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to ignite explosives hidden in his underwear as Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam made its final descent to Detroit on Christmas Day.

Mr Brown told Labour's Brian Donohoe (Central Ayrshire) that the Cabinet Secretary had been asked to ensure that "any lessons learnt from recent events should be considered and whether we can further and better co-ordinate, and integrate, the work of the intelligence services".

Mr Brown was accused of cutting investment in technology to tackle the terror threat by Tory Ben Wallace (Lancaster and Wyre).

The Prime Minister insisted no government had done more to improve the ability to tackle terrorism.

But Mr Wallace said although technology was "vital in allowing us to stay one step ahead of the terrorist threat" spending on defence research had been cut by 23% over the past three years.

Mr Wallace said: "Isn't grasping at a couple of scanners and yet another review too little too late?"

The Prime Minister said: "We have increased spending on security from £1 billion in 2001 to more than £3 billion.

"We have increased counter-terrorism capability massively in this country as a result of making the right decisions.

"We have doubled the number of security staff, we have doubled the number of police that are associated with counter-terrorism work, we are introducing the e-Borders system which is a means by which we can catch those people who are coming into this country.

"I don't think any government has done more to increase the counter-terrorism capability in this country and it's right because our first duty is the security of our citizens."