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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 17:09 GMT
Blair to set out new asylum plans
Tony Blair
Tony Blair pledged to focus on the Middle East peace process
Tony Blair has pledged to set out new proposals to tackle asylum and immigration early in 2005.

In his New Year message, the prime minister said he understood people's confidence was undermined by the fear of crime and insecure national borders.

But he said he would also focus on ongoing international issues like the Middle East, Africa and climate change.

Britain could be sure of the future as long as it worked for security and opportunity for all, Mr Blair added.

'Threats'

"In 2005 we will continue to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and increase our efforts to ensure the integrity of our borders and remove failed asylum seekers from Britain," the prime minister said.

"To this end, I want to see the Identity Cards Bill passed by Parliament in 2005.

"We will also set out further proposals on asylum and immigration in the early New Year."

The scale of the challenges ahead were clear, Mr Blair said, and included economic competition driven by global competition, security threats at home and abroad from crime and terrorism.

But he insisted Britain was making "real progress".

Britain can be confident about the future as long as we continue to work hard to provide security and opportunity for all in this changing world
Tony Blair

Its economic stability gave it the chance to invest in the "nation's vital public services" and boost teacher and police numbers.

Mr Blair also said he wanted, "to see a new a new emphasis on discipline and order in the classroom.

"I want pupils and parents to accept their responsibilities as well as assert their rights."

And looking to the international arena, the prime minister pledged to "give a lead" on the search for peace in the Middle East.

He also reiterated an earlier pledge to put Africa and climate change at the top of the world's agenda.

'Tribute'

Britain would use its place on the UN security council to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, he said.

Turning to Iraq, Mr Blair said: "Let the first ever democratic elections later this month in Iraq be a sign of Britain's determination to counter the destructive threat of terrorism wherever it appears, with the values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law, despite all the difficulties, and sacrifice, that involves.

"I again pay tribute to our outstanding armed forces who are helping to make this happen."

He concluded: "Britain can be confident about the future as long as we continue to work hard to provide security and opportunity for all in this changing world."


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