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Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 15:23 GMT
New terror bill: Will it work?
New emergency anti-terror legislation has been passed by MPs after Home Secretary David Blunkett compromised on one of the key issues.

In a major policy U-turn, Mr Blunkett agreed to drop proposals making incitement to religious hatred a criminal offence.

Mr Blunkett's concessions were designed to clear the way for the controversial Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill to be on the statute book by Christmas, as he had pledged.

Despite the concessions, the bill gives police and security services significantly more powers. It allows foreign terror suspects to be detained without trial where they cannot be deported - those arrested will have a right to appeal although not to a full court of law.

What do you think? Is Mr Blunkett right to compromise? Will the new legislation work?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

You open the door to the law being misinterpreted

Viv, UK
As with any legislation of this kind where we start denying people their rights you open the door to the law being misinterpreted or even abused by individuals in positions of power. We in the UK have always been renowned for our legal system which has been used as a model the world over.
Viv, UK

Just another step closer to 1984
D. Engel, USA

If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about but where there is smoke there is fire.
G. Alexander, USA

What we need are fewer laws that curtail our personal freedoms and more for corporations that deal with situations where public safety is concerned (like airlines) to ensure that their security is stepped up to the best they can. Stop constricting public freedoms and protect the public.
Paul Charters, England

Well it'll never affect me and it will stop terrorists for good? If you're stupid enough to believe that then you'll agree with this legislation. Take away the rights of one man and you take away the rights of humanity.
Ben Eaton, England

The Bill appears to discriminate against foreigners; secondly it ought to be reviewed after 6 months of operation; it could result in Muslims or others who use strong verbal attacks on Britain or America being hauled in for questioning or investigated even when they have no connection with terror or violence. That is pretty much what George W Bush implied in his McCarthyite statement about those who did not support his "anti-terror" measures also being the enemy. So is America still a democratic state with its secret military tribunals and dilution of Congressional powers? And could Britain go down the same illiberal slippery slope?
S. Browne, England

With this legislation we have lost the presumption of innocence

Steve McCoull, England
If this is necessary to stop Europe-wide terrorism then why haven't Spain and Britain already introduced this kind of legislation? Is it because it is nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with total EU control of all EU citizens? With this legislation we have lost the presumption of innocence and the duty of the arresting force to provide evidence before issuing an arrest warrant.
Steve McCoull, England

Every step towards a safer future is affordable. I don't think this legislation will affect ordinary people in the UK.
Peter, Finland

Now if I criticise the Greeks over their treatment of the plane-spotters I can, in theory, get extradited to Greece on charges of xenophobia. The UK courts will be able to do nothing to stop this extradition. Welcome to the EUSSR!
Neil Goat, UK

Perhaps this government should stop passing laws and start catching terrorists

John Harding, Wales, UK
Withdrawal of the right to trial by jury, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers bill and now a blatant attempt to further curtail the rights of the common man with this anti-terror legislation. I thought the Tories were bad with the Criminal Justice Act but they seem like positive libertarians compared to this government. Perhaps this government should stop passing laws and start catching terrorists.
John Harding, Wales, UK

I think the new laws will tighten up the extraordinarily lax situation in Britain and will no doubt contribute to greater security here. I'm extremely pleased that David Blunkett was brave enough and flexible enough to drop the "incitement to religious hatred" bill. The idea that our freedom of speech with regards to any ideology - whether religious or otherwise - could be taken away was terrifying. As an atheist who respects other people's beliefs while absolutely rejecting any attempt to impose them on others or society as a whole, I was deeply worried about the implications of religious protectionism. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed in this matter. People are free to think and believe what they like, with no belief system gaining legislative priority.
Michael Entill, UK

I believe that it is an erosion of our civil rights. Yes, civil rights are a hindrance to national security, but they are a necessity for a democratic society. I am still waiting for the introduction of identity cards for the control of terrorism.
Barney, UK

I am pleased at least that our freedom of speech has not been further curtailed

Edwin Thornber, UK
I am pleased at least that our freedom of speech has not been further curtailed with the needless clause regarding the incitement of religious hatred. However I am still left with a loathsome taste from the unbelievably crude attempt to smuggle in the EU-wide arrest warrant as an anti-terror measure when it had been planned months before September 11. Does this government really think we are stupid? I believe its attempt to quash opposition was only defeated because it was unable to invoke the Parliament Act to overrule the Lords. We are truly in the middle of a terrible dictatorship. Britain will never be the same again after this executive has finished crushing British democracy, the Magna Carta and what remains of our constitution and our institutions.
Edwin Thornber, UK

It depends what you mean by asking if it will work. If you mean "will it prevent terrorist attacks?" then I strongly doubt it. If instead you mean "does it give the security forces the power to round up anyone they don't like?" - then yes, it will.
Duncan King, UK

With the newfound, albeit tentative, peace in Northern Ireland, I say Mr Blunkett is more than 25 years out of step with terrorist threats to this country.
Chris, UK

I agree with comments that have stated that a law against incitement to religious hatred would be a good thing, but not in the context of the current bill, or brought about by way of the New Labour railroad approach. I still think that if a proper trial is the accepted method of proving guilt or innocence then detainment on suspicion mocks the rest of the legal system.

See also:

14 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Battle ends over anti-terror bill
13 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Setback for anti-terror bill
13 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Q&A: Anti-terror bill
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