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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 November 2004, 19:58 GMT
Blair denies terror hype claims
The Queen delivers her speech
It is likely to be the last Queen's Speech ahead of an election
Tony Blair has denied "scaremongering" over the terror threat after he put security measures at the heart of the government's legislative plans.

The threats faced by Britain and other major countries were real, he insisted in a debate on the Queen's Speech.

Plans to fight terrorism, crime, anti-social behaviour and introduce ID cards dominated the speech on Tuesday.

Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats accused the government of fostering a climate of fear.

The Queen said in her address: "My government recognises that we live in a time of global uncertainty, with an increased threat from international terrorism and organised crime.

"Measures to extend opportunity will be accompanied by legislation to increase security for all."


Responding to claims the terror threat was being over-hyped, Mr Blair said: "It's said that these measures are scaremongering but the fact is that the threats faced by the country and every other major country around the world are real."

He also told MPs that although security and crime were central to this year's Queen's Speech, they should be taken alongside on-going investment in public services and continuing economic stability.

No specific proposals to combat terrorism were set out in the speech, but the promised draft Counter Terrorism Bill is expected to include controversial measures such as trials without juries for terrorist cases and the use of phone-tap evidence in court.

'Political football'

ID cards
Creating Serious Organised Crime Agency
Drug tests for minor offenders
Offering schools more freedom
EU constitution referendum rules

Earlier, in the House of Commons, Mr Kennedy accused ministers of deliberately confusing terrorism with domestic crime in the public mind and promised to campaign "vigorously" against ID cards.

Tory leader Mr Howard also accused the government of "over hyping" measures to tackle terrorism.

"There is no better example of the government's preoccupation with talk, spin and newspaper headlines," Mr Howard told MPs.

The Queen's Speech sets out the government's priorities for the coming parliamentary session.

With a general election expected in May, many of the 37 bills and draft bills outlined - more than in the two previous years - are not likely to become law.

Cherie Blair, left, with Pauline Prescott watching the Queen's Speech
Cherie Blair, left, with Pauline Prescott, watch the speech
The speech contained six separate Home Office Bills, with a further five, from other departments, including law and order elements.

Plans include the introduction of national identity cards, with personal data on a microchip, although Mr Blunkett said Parliament would not make a final decision on the issue until "around 2010 or 2012".

There was also a bill to create the new Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), to hunt major drug smugglers, people traffickers and paedophiles.

The speech also signalled a new focus on drug abuse including compulsory drug testing for people arrested for some crimes, and the creation of a new offence of incitement to religious hatred.
Consumer Credit Bill - New rights for borrowers to contest unfair credit terms
Constitutional Reform Bill - creation of a supreme court, scrapping post of Lord Chancellor
Charities Bill - cutting red tape
Road Safety Bill - tougher penalties for drink drivers and dangerous drivers
Animal Welfare Bill - moves to protect circus animals and pets
Railways Bill - scrapping the strategic rail authority
Corporate manslaughter laws

And there will be new measures to clamp down on animal rights extremists.

On anti-social behaviour, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill will give local authorities more powers - including levying on-the-spot fines - to deal with graffiti, fly-tipping, abandoned cars and other low level nuisance.

Shami Chakrabarti, from civil rights group Liberty, warned that "cheap" tough legislation would not make Britain safer but would undermine democracy.

The Queen's Speech also outlined laws setting out the rules for a referendum on the EU constitution, currently expected in spring 2006.

Among measures not included in the speech were Lords reform and moves to ban smoking in restaurants and pubs that serve food. They will not come until after the next election.

Political reaction to the Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech 2004






Pomp and pageantry


Watch the speech
MPs debate the speech


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