Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Sunday, 8 June 2008 14:10 UK

DUP terror suspects deal denied

Jacqui Smith on terror detention

The government has denied there is a deal with the DUP to secure support for extending the time limit for holding terrorism suspects without charge.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said there was "absolutely not" an agreement to provide 200m extra funding to the NI Executive in return for votes.

However, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the government told him a deal had not been ruled out.

Support of the DUP's nine MPs could be crucial in Wednesday's Commons vote.

Responding to a question over any financial deal, Ms Smith said: "I don't know what's happening to that money because what I've been focusing on, and what I've been talking to the DUP about, is the danger that we face, the need to address it now."

Ms Smith said MI5 had not "directly" asked the government to extend the time limit for holding terror suspects without charge, to 42 days.

But if the DUP do a deal - if Peter Robinson does a deal - and says he gave the vote on the basis of money coming to the executive, or consideration about Army bases, then that raises fundamental issues about the executive
Mark Durkan
SDLP leader

But the home secretary told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show the security service had been "clear about the growing scale of the threat" to the UK.

She added that she hoped the government would not lose the crucial Commons vote on the issue on Wednesday.

The Conservatives, Lib Dems and up to 30 Labour MPs oppose the plan.

'Quid pro quo'

The opposition parties argue the proposed pre-charge detention limit will infringe civil liberties, but ministers argue it is necessary to deal with increasingly complex terror plots.

The home secretary said extending the limit for terror suspects from 28 days to 42 days was a "safeguard, not a target", and that it was a "reasonable maximum".

Asked by Mr Marr whether there was a "quid pro quo" deal with the DUP, she said: "Absolutely not."

However, Mr Durkan said the government had not ruled it out.

"They were straight enough to tell me that - that they couldn't give a guarantee that there wouldn't be a deal with the DUP," he told the BBC's Politics Show on Sunday.

"Whether they will or not, I don't know.

"But if the DUP do a deal - if Peter Robinson does a deal - and says he gave the vote on the basis of money coming to the executive, or consideration about Army bases, then that raises fundamental issues about the executive.

"Can the DUP do executive business on that sort of basis?"




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