Tory campaign for anti-terror rethink

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Indy Politics

The Tories are to begin a campaign against the Government's anti-terrorism measures today by forcing a vote on the controversial plan to allow the automatic detention of foreign suspects.

The Tories are to begin a campaign against the Government's anti-terrorism measures today by forcing a vote on the controversial plan to allow the automatic detention of foreign suspects.

The planned measure only applies to people accused of attacks overseas and does not cover those believed to be plotting terrorism in Britain. Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats claim the omission creates a legal loophole.

The Opposition is demanding sweeping alterations to the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill in the Lords and claims that, without concessions on several of its provisions, it can defeat Labour.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has so far refused to give way to his critics during the legislation's stormy passage through the Commons. The Government insists the plans are, "moderate and precautionary".

A Home Office spokesman said: "We're extremely confident that we have the public behind us. If the Lords persist in rejecting what we consider to be essential security measures, they will show themselves even more out of touch."

The Government's stance sets the scene for days of skirmishing in the Lords – and the very real risk of a number of defeats at the committee and report stages of the Bill.

It is also facing concerted opposition to proposals to bring in a new offence of inciting religious hatred and to allow Parliament to adopt European Union anti-crime measures by secondary legislation.

Critics are also focusing on powers allowing the Home Secretary to go unchallenged by judicial review on the detention of suspected terrorists.

The Tory leader in the Lords, Lord Strathclyde, said: "Peers from all parties and the cross benches are voicing important concerns. This is not a party issue."

He complained the Bill included a medley of far-reaching powers which had not been properly scrutinised and which were not justified as "emergency legislation".

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, a Labour peer, told BBC Radio 4: "The truth is we do not need this new law. But it's about seeking to show we're acting on these things. It's one of the things governments do in the face of events. Actually, it's when we get bad law. It's rushed, not properly debated, not the way to get good law on to the statute book."

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