Revealed: how Blair's 12-point plan to combat terrorism now lies in tatters

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Indy Politics

Many of the measures promised by Tony Blair in the wake of the London bombings last summer have been dropped or shelved despite his dramatic warning to terrorists that "the rules of the game are changing".

Six months after the Prime Minister's pledge, an analysis by The Independent shows that only five of the 12 proposals he unveiled are likely to be implemented in full. Yesterday opposition parties criticised the slow progress in bringing forward the "urgent" measures promised by Mr Blair at a Downing Street press conference last August before he left for his summer break.

The delays will raise further questions about Mr Blair's ability to force through his agenda before he stands down. The doubts intensified after the Government's surprise double defeat on plans to outlaw religious hatred on Tuesday.

Yesterday Downing Street and the Home Office insisted the 12-point anti-terrorist plan was "on track" and that significant progress had been made. But some of Mr Blair's proposals have already been abandoned, such as a plan for a new power to close mosques that foment extremism, or quietly dropped - among them a maximum time limit for extradition cases involving suspected terrorists.

Other measures have been watered down. For example, the Government claims it has implemented a proposal to increase the period for which terrorist suspects can be held without charge from 14 to 28 days. But this stopped short of the "significant extension" promised by Mr Blair, who wanted a 90-day limit.

Other measures are still technically alive but stand little chance of being put into effect. Ministers want to create a new offence of glorifying terrorism but the proposal has been defeated in the House of Lords and MPs predict the Commons will now follow suit. A plan to proscribe the extremist groups Hizb ut-Tahrir and the successor organisation of Al Muhajiroun has been delayed amid signs that Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, has got cold feet.

Critics claim progress has been painfully slow on other issues. In August, Mr Blair promised that Britain would agree memos of understanding with "about 10" countries to which extremists could safely be deported. So far, only three have been signed - with Jordan, Lebanon and Libya. Officials admit that it is taking longer than expected to negotiate agreements with other nations including Algeria, Syria and Egypt.

The Prime Minister also pledged to extend the use of control orders for UK terrorist suspects. But only eight are in force - including one for a UK citizen.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, said: "The 12-point package was a triumph of rhetoric over reason. Many of its counter-productive proposals have now been diluted or abandoned. Parliament and the public are consistently demonstrating that even in the face of terror, the rules of democracy do not change."

David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "Eyebrows were raised when the Prime Minister announced this 12-point plan out of the blue, while the Home Secretary was on holiday. Given that many have been abandoned or are still under review, this shows the dangers of grasping at headline-grabbing measures which may turn out to be impractical or undeliverable, rather than solid careful work which will actively undermine the real terrorists."

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, said yesterday: "The problem at the heart of the government strategy is that it relies on gimmicks and soundbites rather than sensible workable initiatives on which political consensus can be built. This is the reason why the 12-point plan is floundering."

Today Lord Carlile of Berriew, the independent watchdog, will deliver his verdict on last year's controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act, which introduced "control orders" for terrorist suspects. The Government will also announce plans to renew the Act, potentially opening itself to a new risk of rebellion on the issue.

The Home Office suffered the latest in a series of defeats to the Terrorism Bill in the Lords yesterday when peers threw out plans to give police the power to ban material on the internet that could help terrorists. The Government lost the vote by 148 to 147, a majority of just one. It later emerged that Baroness Scotland of Asthal, who is piloting the Bill, missed the vote because she had been called away on a "family emergency".

The change to the Bill now means that a judge would first have to agree with the police officer before a notice was served on the internet provider.

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