Tories back stronger Household Defence Bill

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Frontbencher Anne McIntosh will table a Householder Protection Bill, backed by shadow home secretary David Davis.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to come under fierce pressure to give his support to the private member's bill, which is very unlikely to become law without it.

Mr Blair indicated in the last Parliament that he was sympathetic to calls for a change in the law, which currently allows householders to use "reasonable force" against intruders in their homes.

Critics argue that this is inadequate, and leaves those who tackle burglars open to the threat of prosecution.

Conservative homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer won strong support for a bill he introduced last year which would have allowed householders to use all but "grossly disproportionate" violence.

But, despite passing its first Commons vote with a majority of 130, opposition from Labour MPs stopped it becoming law.

Speaking about the Mercer bill in the Commons last December, Mr Blair said: "I entirely share and understand the concern and I hope we can reach agreement on it."

But Home Secretary Charles Clarke later ruled it out, saying that after discussions with police and prosecutors he had concluded that the existing law was "sound".

Ms McIntosh said she had decided to resurrect the legislation after a spate of cases in her Vale of York constituency where home-owners were confronted by burglars.

"The problem is that, while defending your life is clear under law, defending your property is not," she said.