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Howard accepts Blair terror deal


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#1    Talon

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 06:31 PM

Howard accepts Blair terror deal
Tory leader Michael Howard says he accepts the prime minister's offer of a compromise that will deal with his concerns over the anti-terror bill.
Mr Howard said Tony Blair's pledge to give MPs a chance to review the law in a year's time was a "sunset clause in all but name".

This was earlier denied by Mr Blair - but Mr Howard said his party had got what it had been asking for.

The moves look set to end the deadlock between MPs and peers over the bill.

'Best attempt'

The House of Commons and the House of Lords had earlier failed to reach agreement over the government's Prevention of Terrorism Bill despite more than 30-hours of debate.

Peers had refused to give up amendments that would put a 12-month time limit on the bill and place a higher standard of proof on suspects.


Instead the bill "ping ponged" between the two houses four times as the two sides failed to reach agreement. The stand-off even threatened to stretch into the weekend.

Mr Blair told reporters that the new plan was "our best attempt to get this legislation on the statute book" - and he warned the Tories there would be no more concessions on the bill.

If they had genuine concerns about the legislation, "this way through meets it", he said.

"If what they are actually doing is watering down the legislation in the interests of playing daft games with the nation's security then this will flush it out," he said.

'Point of difference'

Asked if those opposing the bill might think they can push the government for more concessions, he said: "I think they would be making a big mistake."

However, Mr Howard said of Mr Blair's plan: "He's agreed to a sunset clause in everything but name.


"Everyone agrees that terrorism is a real threat to our country - the point of difference has always been how we most effectively tackle it.

"If only he'd been less arrogant, these sensible changes could have been agreed to in a quicker and more dignified manner."

Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said the government had been forced to address "principled opposition" to the anti-terror bill.

"I think that people outside Parliament consider this a public victory," he said.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke unveiled the new plan to a packed and rowdy Commons and described it as a "positive course of action".

Belmarsh Prison

He said it would be produced in draft form first with MPs given time to consider its contents.

A report from the independent reviewer of the control orders, contained in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, could form part of their discussions, before a new bill was launched in the spring of 2006.

Mr Clarke assured Tory MPs that all matters currently being debated could form part of the new bill.


It appears the home secretary was offering a new route which would have a similar effect to the sunset clause being proposed by the Tories, while refusing to concede to their demands.

Mr Clarke told MPs: "The course of action is, I suggest, a constructive attempt to find a way forward.

"It will allow both houses to consider the situation in detail, and instead of allowing the legislation to disappear it will allow the legislation to be improved."

It comes as five foreign terror suspects were freed on conditional bail from Belmarsh Prison after being detained for up to three years.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_p...ics/4341269.stm



When the first bomb goes off in a station, when the first building goes up in flames, I do expect all those MPs opposed to this bill to resign.

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#2    Talon

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 06:36 PM

Eight terror detainees given bail
The last eight foreign terror suspects detained in UK jails without charge or trial have been granted bail.
The men will be subject to electronic tagging, curfew, and will have limited access to the internet, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled.

Some of the suspects had been held at Belmarsh high security jail since 2001, prompting civil rights protests.

Their detention, under controversial anti-terror laws which are due to lapse on 14 March, has been widely condemned.

Judges at the Siac released a ninth suspect, an Algerian man known as A, on Thursday.

'Truly dangerous'

One of the eight to be bailed, Abu Qatada, was previously described as "a truly dangerous individual" by Siac judges.

They said he was "at the centre in the UK of terrorist activities associated with al-Qaeda."

The former detainees face bail conditions which include:


Electronic tagging

A night-time curfew from 1900 to 0700

A ban on using mobile phones and the internet

Obtaining permission from the Home Office if they wish to meet anyone outside their home

Living at an address notified to the Home Office and police, who can search the property without warning

No visitors unless the Home Office has been notified in advance, except for under-16s

Notifying the Home Office of any intended departure from the UK, and the port of embarkation

Bank account restrictions and sending monthly statements to the Home Office.
Siac chairman Mr Justice Ouseley also imposed an extra condition on Abu Qatada not to lead prayers at a mosque.

Abu Qatada and the men known only as E, H, K and Q, were taken from Belmarsh jail to Colnbrook secure immigration centre in west London earlier.

The jail has been the scene of several protests by human rights groups over the past few years.


Two of the other bailed men, Abu Rideh and suspect B, are still detained at Broadmoor high security mental hospital.

Suspect P, an Algerian who was also held at Broadmoor, appeared before Siac judges in person on Friday.

He was released from the court after being electronically tagged.

Suspect P arrived in the UK in 1999 and had an application for asylum refused.

He was later accused of providing logistical support for acts of terrorism and was detained as a result.

Granting him bail, Mr Justice Ouseley said: "You need to understand these conditions are taken very seriously, if you breech them you will be liable to be returned to detention."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/4338849.stm


Again, when Abu Qatada of one of his collegues starts bombing our cities, I expect every minister who opposed this bill and watered it down to the joke its become resigns.

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#3    Talon

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 07:22 PM

Blair stands firm on terror bill
Tony Blair has insisted he is not being "arrogant" by refusing to give way over his controversial anti-terror plans.
He said he was trying to protect the security of British families and described Tory opposition to the plans as "extraordinary" and "unbelievable".

The bill has returned to the Lords after MPs overturned key amendments.

Peers have given way over the need for a Privy Council review, but a "sunset clause" and the burden of proof against suspects remain sticking points.

'Respect' the Commons

The debate threatens to stretch into the weekend with both sides refusing to back down.


In a series of votes over the past 24 hours, MPs repeatedly rejected demands by peers for a "sunset clause" which would kill the bill in 12 months time.

They also rejected calls for a privy council review of the bill's operation and a higher burden of proof against suspects.

As debate recommenced in the Lords, Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, appealed to peers to accede to the MPs' demands and to "stop rocking" the bill.

"The time has come to respect the supremacy of the Commons, put aside our disputes on the debate and join together on the terrorist threat we revile," he said.

'Messing about'

Meanwhile, in an interview with the BBC, Mr Blair refused to accept the opposition's call for the bill's lifespan to be limited and accused the Tories of "messing about" with important laws.

"I am not being dismissive of people's civil liberties - I don't mean to be arrogant in taking this legislation through," he said.

"I am doing it genuinely to protect the security of Britain and British families.

"It's important that we have legislation on the statute book and don't send a signal of weakness that this legislation may evaporate or disappear in some months time."

He told Sky News he did not want terror to be an issue at the forthcoming general election.

In earlier rowdy scenes in the Commons, Home Secretary Charles Clarke argued that the government had made "constructive moves" to end deadlock over the bill.

He contrasted these with what he called "zero movement" from the Tory and Liberal Democrat controlled House of Lords.

'Imperfect bill'

"It's been a stick in the mud response, simply trying to put heels in the sand and prevent the elected House carrying its proposals through," he said.

"I argue that the country needs a bill which prevents terrorism and protects our people.

"It is time for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the Lords to respect the considered view of the elected chamber."

Tory leader Michael Howard insisted the parliamentary battle would "take as long as it takes" and described the bill as "full of imperfections".

He said if the prime minister wanted to push it through, it should have a lifespan limited to 12 months to give all sides time to come up with an alternative.

"We believe terrorists should be brought to trial and put in prison, not wandering around with an electronic bracelet - the kind of thing which is routinely broken by conventional criminals every day," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The notion that a tag of this kind will be a serious inconvenience to an al-Qaeda operative takes a great deal of swallowing."

Lord Steel of Aikwood, former leader of the Liberal Party, said Mr Blair should consider having a further meeting with Mr Howard and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, in a bid to reach a compromise.

"I think it would be wrong if he were to behave like a Chinese emperor and be worried about loss of face," he said.

The debate continues as the eight remaining foreign terrorist suspects held under existing anti-terror laws - which expire on Sunday - were preparing for their release under strict bail conditions.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_p...ics/4339103.stm

Again, when Abu Qatada of one of his collegues starts bombing our cities, I expect every minister who opposed this bill and watered it down to the joke its become resigns.



"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#4    Talon

Talon

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 12:20 PM

Anti-terrorism law row rumbles on
Ten terror suspects have been subjected to interim control orders as the war of words over the battle to introduce the new anti-terrorism powers continues.
Leader of the Commons Peter Hain said Michael Howard's stance on the measures had put the security of the UK at risk.

But Tory co-party chairman Liam Fox said Tony Blair had shown he was "arrogant and out of touch".

The home secretary signed the orders after a marathon debate on the powers which peers finally approved on Friday.

The political stalemate over the Prevention of Terrorism Act only ended when the prime minister promised to let MPs review the law in one year.

Under the new law, the interim orders, which are thought to be similar to the bail conditions already imposed on the suspects, will have to be referred to a judge for confirmation within seven days.

'Proportionate'

They will then be the subject of a full High Court hearing.

On Friday, a Home Office spokesman said the orders would be "proportionate" and would "assist us in combating a threat that remains real and serious".

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Margaret Gilmore said the orders would include a ban on buying communications equipment and using the internet and mobile phones.

There would also be "strong" restrictions on who the 10 men can meet.

She said one of the 10, Abu Qatada, was also banned from preaching because, it is alleged, his sermons have been used by people training suicide bombers.

'Individual liberty'

Mr Hain told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This bill is now in a position which balances individual liberty with the necessity to control very dangerous terrorists."

He accused Tory leader Michael Howard of attacking the bill without having a "coherent alternative".

"Michael Howard's whole position is putting at risk serious anti-terrorism legislation and therefore the security of the country," he said.

Shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve said dealing with the terror threat would "dominate politics over the next decade".

"What has happened over the last two weeks is that this issue has at last been highlighted and that is important because it will enable a proper public debate to take place," he said.

'Way forward'

Mr Grieve said a Tory government would consult security services and police over measures to allow suspects to go on trial.

Judges, he said, would oversee the collation of intercept evidence to ensure it would not damage national security before it reached court.

"In the long term the control orders, particularly those which restrict liberty, will increasingly come under criticism," he added.

Political wrangling over the orders finally ended on Friday, three days before the current Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Act 2001 (ATCSA) was due to expire on 14 March

House arrest

During the long political "ping-pong", peers had refused to give up amendments that would put a 12-month time limit on the bill and place a higher standard of proof on suspects.

Instead the bill bounced between the two houses four times as the two sides failed to reach agreement.

As the debate raged, one suspect was freed by a Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) on Thursday and another, being held under house arrest, had his conditions relaxed.

The other eight men were released on bail from London's Belmarsh prison and Broadmoor secure mental hospital on Friday.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_p...ics/4342717.stm



"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato




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