[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Blair defends anti-terror plans
Aldgate bomb site
The measures have been made more urgent by the London bombs
Prime Minister Tony Blair has defended plans to toughen up the UK's anti-terrorism laws.

He was speaking after draft laws were published, including new offences of "glorifying" terrorism.

Civil liberties groups have attacked plans to extend the time terror suspects can be held without trial and to deport more people.

Mr Blair said such fears had been "exaggerated" and rights had to come with responsibilities.

NEW TERROR PLANS
Outlawing "glorification" of terrorism
Offence of acts preparatory to terrorism
Law against giving or receiving terror training
New offence against indirect incitement of terrorism
Powers to tackle bookshops selling extremist material
Using phone-tap evidence in courts being considered
Pre-charge detentions powers extended from two weeks to three months
Those applying for British citizenship must be "of good character"

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Virtually every country in Europe, following terrorist acts, has been toughening up their legislation.

"And the fact that someone who comes into our country, and maybe seeks refuge here, the fact that we say if, when you are here, you want to stay here, play by the rules, play fair, don't start inciting people to go and kill other innocent people in Britain.

"I think when people say this is an abrogation of our traditional civil liberties, I think it is possible to exaggerate that. I mean, as far as I know people have always accepted that with rights come responsibilities."

Mr Blair denied there was any question of destroying British civil liberties.

But he said: "We have not been tough enough nor effective enough in sending a strong signal across the community that we are not going to tolerate people engaging in terrorism or propagating it."

Detention powers

Home Secretary Charles Clarke on Thursday backed calls for police to be able to hold terror suspects for up to three months without charge.

Suspects can currently be held for two weeks. Critics say the proposed extension amounts to internment.

Mr Clarke wants cross-party consensus to get the proposed new laws through Parliament quickly.

But already the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats say they have problems with parts of the new legislation - particularly the detention powers and the offence of "glorifying terrorism".

But they do support creating offences of "acts preparatory to terrorism", indirect incitement of terrorism and the giving or receiving of terror training.

Other plans include powers to ban organisations which glorify terrorism and to prosecute "extremist" bookshops which sell terrorist propaganda or handbooks.

And a proposed change in immigration rules would mean anybody applying for British citizenship would have to be "of good character".

Phone taps

In a letter to his Tory and Lib Dem counterparts, Mr Clarke says the government hopes to decide by the end of the year whether is possible to allow phone-tap evidence to be used in court cases, he says.

The idea of a "supergrass" system to allow terror suspects to give information to police and security services is also being considered.

Mr Clarke stressed he was ready to discuss the wording of the proposals with MPs before finalising the plans.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights pressure group Liberty, called the detention plans "the very antithesis of justice".

"This new British internment is as damaging to fighting terrorism at home as to defending our reputation around the globe," she said.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Listen to Tony Blair defending his plans



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific