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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
Blears given counter-terror role
Hazel Blears
Hazel Blears is the new counter-terrorism minister
Home Secretary David Blunkett has passed responsibility for dealing with counter-terrorism activities to Home Office minister Hazel Blears.

The role was formerly filled by Beverley Hughes, who resigned as immigration minister last week.

Ms Blears will take on the new role, as well being minister for policing, crime reduction and community safety.

This will allow the new immigration minister Des Browne to concentrate on his brief.


Ms Hughes had to leave her post that included asylum and immigration, after she admitted that she "unwittingly" misled people about a suspected visa scam.

On Tuesday the government was forced to hold an emergency immigration summit that was overseen by the Prime Minister.

We need clear responsibility for this vital issue, we need a minister dedicated to homeland security
Michael Howard

Tony Blair said there would be a National Audit Office probe into asylum statistics to restore public faith in the issue.

At the same time the home secretary announced that there would be fresh crackdowns on bogus students and sham marriages.

Conservative opposition leader Michael Howard has said that counter-terrorism should not be "tagged on to" another minister's job.

"We need clear responsibility for this vital issue. I believe that as counter-terrorism is central to our national security, in the current climate, we need a minister dedicated to homeland security. It is in Britain's national interest," he said.


Ms Blears will now sit on two cabinet committees on protective security and resilience, which play a key role in the formation of government policy.

The MP for Salford was one of Blair's babes when she was elected to the north west England constituency in Labour's landslide 1997 general election victory.

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