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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Identity cards in Blair's sights
ID card
Blair says ministers have won over civil liberties concerns
Identity cards will be introduced "more quickly than even we anticipated", UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted.

He told his monthly news conference the government had won over those who opposed the controversial measure for civil liberties reasons.

Practical issues and logistics were the only things stopping the introduction of ID cards, he told reporters.

"The whole issue of identity cards...are very much on the political agenda here," Mr Blair said.

New information

He made the comments just two days after police arrested eight British men thought to be of Pakistani descent in raids across south-east England over an alleged bomb plot.

During his Downing Street briefing to press, Mr Blair indicated that he was now prepared to draw up further anti-terrorist legislation because of the new world situation.

There is no longer a civil liberties objection to that in the vast majority of quarters
Tony Blair on ID cards

"We need to make sure that in the light of fresh information and operations such as the one we have just seen that we are keeping our law up to date with the reality on the ground," he said.

"I think that the whole issue of identity cards, which a few years ago were not on anyone's agenda, are very much on the political agenda here - probably more quickly even than we anticipated."

Mr Blair said: "There is no longer a civil liberties objection to that in the vast majority of quarters.

"There is a series of logistical questions, of practical questions that need to be resolved.

"But, in my judgement, now logistics is the only time delay in it. Otherwise I think it needs to move forward."

'Every precaution'

Mr Blair denied that the current anti-terrorism legislation was aimed at Muslims.

"This particular form of terrorism that we are dealing with is based on what I think the vast majority of Muslims would accept is a perversion of the true faith of Islam," he said.

"Therefore, necessarily and obviously, many of those that will be questioned will be Muslims, but that is not in any shape or form a disrespect to the vast majority of the Muslim population here who contribute an immense amount to our country.

"But we need, I'm afraid, particularly in these days, to take every precaution we can to make sure that if we believe anyone may be suspected or involved with terrorist activity, that we are prepared to act on it.

"I don't think the public, including the Muslim population, would accept anything different."




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