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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 February, 2005, 16:33 GMT
'No back track' on home detention
Charles Clarke
Mr Clarke says the plan is just one part of the 'control orders' scheme
The home secretary has dismissed reports that he is considering dropping his plan to detain terrorist suspects in their own homes without trial.

Newspaper reports suggested Charles Clarke could back down over MI5 and police fears that protesters could target suspects' homes.

But Mr Clarke said he would press on with the plan, part of the government's proposed "control orders".

The Tories said Britain's "traditional freedoms" must be protected.

Mr Clarke told Sky News on Sunday: "What I said in the House of Commons was that we would be introducing a regime of control orders, up to and including the ability to restrict people on the premises they live, and that is what we will be doing."

We want to protect the traditional freedoms of British citizens and if you are not protecting those then the war is not worth fighting
David Willetts, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary
The Sunday Times claimed that an about-turn on detention at home without trial had been agreed by the cabinet after advice from police chiefs and MI5.

Security services believe the houses could act as a focal point for recruitment by Islamic fundamentalists, the paper said.

"I'm not prepared to discuss the advice I get from the security service. That would be completely inappropriate," Mr Clarke said.

The Home Office said the legislation had not yet been drafted and that no final decision had been taken.

Opposition talks

BBC correspondent Reeta Chakrabarti said that Mr Clarke had made plain his belief that there was no easy answer to how the government should deal with terrorist suspects.

But the government is under acute political pressure over the proposed measures with Tony Blair due to meet Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy this week, our correspondent added.

Protesters outside Belmarsh Prison
Protesters have targeted Belmarsh, where most terror suspects are held
Both parties have signalled they might oppose the legislation, which could mean a defeat in the House of Lords if a compromise could not be reached.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary David Willetts told Sky: "We agree with Tony Blair and Charles Clarke that the nation faces a serious terrorist threat and therefore we need to look at measures that we would not have had to consider before 9/11," he said.

"On the other hand we want to protect the traditional freedoms of British citizens and if you are not protecting those then the war is not worth fighting."

The Lib Dems' home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said: "The home secretary has to make it clear that he will have judges and juries involved in the process and he will not have new measures which require an opt-out from our international human rights obligations."

'Power abuse'

Other measures included in the proposed changes includes restrictions on suspects' movements or limits on their use of telephones and the internet.

When he announced the new measures, the Law Society dubbed Mr Clarke's new proposals an "abuse of power".

British citizens would be included in the changes after the law lords said the current powers were discriminatory because they could only be used on foreign suspects.

There have been calls for the rules for wire-tap and intercept evidence to be allowed to be used in courts but Mr Clarke refused to back that change.

"Using intercept evidence does not, in fact, lead to an increase in convictions according to the view that we've had," he told Sky.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats would support the use of intercept evidence.

Mr Clarke says he will press on with his plans

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