Parties unite for second Lords defeat on Blunkett's terror Bill

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will unite to inflict the most serious clash between peers and MPs since the election, opposition leaders said. Both parties said they would vote down sections of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill to force concessions from David Blunkett, the Home Secretary.

Senior Home Office sources said the Government would not offer fresh concessions and they still hoped "to win round some peers". But Tory and Liberal Democrat leaders said they would not allow the Bill to pass without substantial changes to limit the Government's power and safeguard civil liberties.

They demanded giving the right of judicial review to foreign terrorist suspects held without trial and introducing a package of "sunset clauses" to force the Government to bring the legislation back to the Commons for approval after one or two years. Opposition peers also want to scrap proposals to allow European anti-terror laws to be incorporated into British legislation without debate, to remove new laws against inciting religious hatred and to impose curbs on powers to hold financial information on suspects. Last week the Lords forced an amendment.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers hope to vote down the Government when the Lords debates the Bill's report stage today. Further defeats are expected during the Bill's third reading next week.

Ministers want to put the Bill on the statute books by Christmas, but that could be in jeopardy if it "ping-pongs" between the Commons and the Lords as the Government attempts to overturn peers' amendments.

Lord Strathclyde, Conservative leader in the Lords, said the party was seeking consensus, but insisted it would not allow the Bill to become law as it stood. "This is the first serious clash between the Lords and the Government this session. I expect a statesmanlike response from the Home Secretary. But the Government should be in no doubt that, if need be, we are ready to fight for the right balance in this Bill.

"None of these requests is unreasonable. None strikes at the purpose or effectiveness of the Bill. All are aimed to find the right balance between the needs of security and protection of freedom that is the historic role of Parliament."