Blair pledges ‘exclusion’ and incitement’ powers

Armed police outside parliament  – now appearing all over London
Armed police outside parliament – now appearing all over London

Prime Minister Blair yesterday announced the government’s intention to introduce new laws against ‘incitement and the instigation of terrorism’, for which he had the full support of the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

During prime minister’s question time in the House of Commons, not one MP’s voice was raised against Blair’s planned draconian attacks on civil liberties.

Human rights group Liberty warned: ‘Anti Terrorism measures have done little to ensure Britain is safe and secure from terrorist attack, but much to infringe the civil liberties of those living in the UK.

‘The miscarriages of justice which involved Irish suspects and anti-terror laws in the 70s and 80s are a reminder of the dangers of rushing laws which create a twin-track system and delivering poor justice.

‘The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 gives the Home Secretary the power to issue “control orders” to restrict the liberty of individuals. Without any need for a trial, control orders range from restrictions on communications to house arrest.

‘In Autumn the Government will publish proposals for another new anti-terror act, probably creating a new offence of committing acts “preparatory to terrorism”.

‘As we recover from the attacks on London we must be prepared to defend our ancient principles of freedom and liberty. To allow their erosion, and to give in to intolerance, would give victory to the terrorists.’

Referring to last Thursday’s bomb attack, Blair yesterday praised the ‘police and security services for the magnificent work they have done’.

He added: ‘The number of confirmed dead still stands at 52, there are some 50 injured in hospital, of whom twelve are in intensive care.’

Tory leader Michael Howard said it was ‘appalling to know’ that those who had carried out the attacks ‘were born and brought up in our midst’.

Blair thanked Howard for his strong support, and continued that ‘in accordance with the timetable to publish new anti-terrorism legislation in the autumn, it’s our intention to begin the process of consultation with the other main parties over the next couple of weeks.

‘This legislation will focus, as we’ve already indicated, on the measures the police and security services say are necessary, and in particular to focus upon measures to combat incitement and the instigation of terrorism as well as the acts of terrorism themselves.

‘Meanwhile we will use Control Orders where necessary under existing legislation.

‘Secondly, we will look urgently on how we strengthen the procedures to exclude people from entering the UK who may incite hatred or act contrary to the public good, and how we deport such people if they come here, more easily.’

He claimed: ‘This is not an isolated criminal act we are dealing with. It is an extreme and evil ideology whose roots lie in a perverted and poisonous interpretation of the religion of Islam.’

He added that ‘we are talking to other nations, Muslim and non-Muslim, as to how to mobilise internationally, the moderate and true voice of Islam’.

Tory leader Howard pledged that ‘we stand ready to work through with the government their legislative proposals and more generally the security implications of what we now know’.