Senior Tories prepare to oppose terror Bill

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Senior Tories are poised to oppose "draconian'' emergency legislation by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, to impose control orders without charge or trial on suspected terrorists.

Senior Tories are poised to oppose "draconian'' emergency legislation by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, to impose control orders without charge or trial on suspected terrorists.

Ministers appeared divided yesterday over plans to use the new powers to put animal rights extremists under house arrest. The Home Office minister Hazel Blears said last week that control orders being drawn up to deal with terror suspects could apply to animal activists.

But Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, said that was a "completely separate issue". Ms Hewitt made clear the powers were still being debated inside the Government.

Charles Clarke last night faced questions from Labour MPs about whether his plans for the "house arrest" of foreign and UK terrorist suspects would threaten civil liberties.

At a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, MPs raised misgivings about the policy with the Home Secretary. Mr Clarke said he would listen to their concerns and believed there should be a debate on the proposal for "control orders." Despite the risk of being portrayed as the "terrorists' friends", senior Tories are opposing the Bill. David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, is ready to oppose the legislation, if he can gain the support of Michael Howard, the Conservative leader.

The Tories want Mr Howard to call for phone taps to be made admissible in court so that suspected terrorists can face trial.

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