Conservatives fear trap if they block terror Bill

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Senior Tories have indicated that the party is unlikely to kill the Government's controversial anti-terror legislation and accused ministers of preparing to portray their opposition to it as soft on terrorism. One senior Tory said: "They are setting a political trap for us and we are not going to fall in."

Senior Tories have indicated that the party is unlikely to kill the Government's controversial anti-terror legislation and accused ministers of preparing to portray their opposition to it as soft on terrorism. One senior Tory said: "They are setting a political trap for us and we are not going to fall in."

Conservatives believe Labour plans to place the blame at their door if there is a Madrid-style terrorist outrage during the general election campaign if the Prevention of Terrorism Bill falls next week.

Proposals to put terror suspects under house arrest as part of a system of "control orders" have been condemned by senior judges and MPs and peers of all parties. Downing Street insisted yesterday that the Government would press ahead with the legislation despite opposition to its plans.

Tony Blair and Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, briefed the Cabinet on the Bill yesterday. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said he maintained "the Bill struck the correct balance in what were, as everyone admitted, difficult circumstances".

But Liam Fox, the Conservative co-chairman, accused the Government of "shamefully and cynically playing a political game on this most serious issue. We have gone out of our way to be accommodating and ensure the British people are protected, but the Prime Minister seems to be more concerned with political point-scoring."

Ministers believe their stance is popular after opinion polls showed wide support for tough measures against terrorist suspects. Mr Blair indicated his resistance to a deal with the Opposition on Wednesday when he rejected a Tory offer to back the Bill in return for a "sunset clause" forcing Parliament to return to the issue in the autumn.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers have tabled amendments to the Bill, aimed at giving judges power to impose control orders from electronic tagging to full house arrest.

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