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Monday, 15 October, 2001, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
UK anti-terror measures unveiled
World Trade Center
The UK is promising action to curb future attacks
New anti-terrorist measures have been outlined to MPs by Home Secretary David Blunkett and Chancellor Gordon Brown in the wake of the terror attacks on the US.

The home secretary told the Commons that the government's first job was to safeguard the public's rights and freedoms.

Main proposals
New law to ban religious as well as race hatred
Swift asylum system reform
Policing agencies to get full access to air and ferry passenger lists
Financial institutions required to report suspicious transactions
He was followed to the despatch box by Mr Brown who unveiled a series of measures aimed at hitting terrorist finances.

Mr Blunkett told MPs that the most basic right of all was the right to live in safety, free from the fear of attack.

He outlined a strategy that included amending the immigration laws to ensure those suspected or convicted of terrorist involvement were not considered for asylum in this country.

He said that the UK was proud of itself for providing asylum for those who needed it.

"We rightly pride ourselves on a safe haven we offer to those genuinely fleeing terror but our moral obligation does not extend to offering hospitality to terrorists," Mr Blunkett said.

Human rights

He acknowledged that in increasing the power to remove terrorists from British shores human rights legislation would have to be amended.

Other aspects of the catch-all bill, expected to be published in November, include giving law enforcement agencies full access to air and sea carriers' passenger and freight lists.

Legislation would also allow police, customs officers and other authorities to address the problems of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Mr Blunkett confirmed a widening of the law on incitement to include religious as well as racial hatred.

Muslim reaction

Sentences would be increased to a maximum of seven years, he said.

That move was welcomed by a spokeswoman for the Muslim Council of Great Britain, although she warned that some of the measures, particularly relating to asylum, would get a "lukewarm reception" within the British Muslim community.

Plans for a second bill to cover an overhaul of the UK's extradition system were also outlined.

New shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin said the Conservatives would broadly support the government in its "principal objectives" but warned against "over-hasty" legislation.

'Ancient principles'

He maintained Europe-wide arrest arrant could threaten the ancient principle of habeas corpus and the right of defendants to be considered innocent until proved guilty.

"Too often in the past there has been over-hasty legislation that has proved inoperable in practice."

Mr Letwin promised to engage constructively with the government in the hope of producing "fast law that is also good law".

Chancellor Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown : Sanctions against terror funds
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Simon Hughes, said that where the government brought forward "well considered legislation" they would be supported.

But he warned: "If it is not immediately necessary and it is nothing to do with terrorism then that's not for this legislation and the liberties of the individual citizen will be defended robustly from these benches."

Mr Brown detailed a range of measures aimed at stemming the flow of terrorist cash.

He told MPs: "If fanaticism is the heart of modern terrorism then finance is its lifeblood."

Anti-terrorist unit

The chancellor gave details how the police will be given new powers to disrupt terrorist finances.

A new multi-agency anti-terrorist finance unit would be set up, he said.

This forms part of a wider initiative which will see the world's most powerful nations putting pressure on the kind of "offshore" financial centres believed to be used by the prime suspect for the US attacks, Osama Bin Laden.

And in the continuing hunt for Bin Laden's financial assets another bank account has been frozen.

Britain had so far frozen 35 suspected bank accounts with assets totalling 63m, Mr Brown said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"The emergency laws will be rushed through Parliament in weeks"
John Wadham, Liberty
says the measures need to be looked at very carefully
David Blunkett, Home Secretary
on the widening of the law on incitement to include religious hatred

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