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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 16:56 GMT
Blair delivers security laws plea
Tony Blair

Guaranteeing security is as important to Labour as fairness, Tony Blair has said as he prepares for key votes on anti-terror laws and ID cards.

In a speech to Labour's spring conference in Blackpool, Mr Blair urged activists to back the plans.

Failure to ensure laws are in place to fight security threats would be an "abrogation of duty", he said.

The Conservatives have rejected Labour claims they are "weakening" the fight against terrorism.

'Labour's duties'

Labour's spring conference comes as the party tries to shrug off its defeat to the Liberal Democrats in Thursday's Dunfermline and West Fife by-election - a seat it won at the last General Election by more than 11,500 votes.

In his speech, Mr Blair tried to bolster support within his own party ahead of next week's Commons votes on identity cards and anti-terror laws. He made no mention of the by-election.

Ministers are also publishing concessions on Friday over the ID Cards Bill to try to allay concerns about how Parliament will decide whether to make the scheme compulsory.

Mr Blair argued there cannot be an opportunity for people or strong communities without security and Labour must realise security is an essential part of its political purpose.

"Once we understand that providing security is our duty, we also see that to try to fight the new security threat of the 21st century without the new laws and resources that are needed would be an abrogation of that duty," he said.

Lords battles

He added: "When moderate people do not take action in the face of extremism, then less moderate people, with their own version of extremism, take control of the agenda.

"Our programme therefore is not, as some say, undermining good community relations; it is the only way to preserve the consent, in all parts of the community, for those good community relations we value."

The prime minister stressed Labour should be proud of its record in government on law and order issues, from tackling nuisance behaviour to planning ID cards.

The government last month suffered defeats in the House of Lords over both identity cards and the terrorism plans.

Peers want to stop the ID cards scheme going ahead until the full costs are clear. And they have struck down plans to outlaw "glorification" of terrorism.

But Mr Blair said peers voting against the proposals were out of touch with the instincts of the public and the advice of professionals.

His attack comes after Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the Conservatives were "weakening" the anti-terror drive by voting against parts of the plans.

Tory shadow home secretary David Davis hit back, saying the claims were ludicrous.

"We are a party that actually lost people to terrorism," Mr Davis told BBC News.

He added: "Co-operation is not supine acceptance of every idea that comes into the prime minister's head."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: "The prime minister threatens to remove our liberties and replace them with gimmicks. That is a poor exchange, which MPs should not accept."


SEE ALSO:
Concessions planned on ID cards
09 Feb 06 |  Politics
Clarke calls for Tory terror help
09 Feb 06 |  Politics


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