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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 05:42 GMT
Clarke re-examining terror bill
Home Secretary Charles Clarke
Mr Clarke will seek a consensus on detention plans in the next week
Charles Clarke is re-examining his anti-terror proposals in a bid to find a consensus and avoid a possible defeat over the detention of terror suspects.

The home secretary has asked for a vote on plans to extend the time suspects can be held without charge from 14 days to 90 days to be delayed by a week.

On Wednesday, ministers won a Commons vote on plans to outlaw indirect incitement of terror by just one vote.

It was the government's smallest majority since coming to power in 1997.

'Urgent talks'

However, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and some Labour MPs oppose the plans to extend the detention time limit to 90 days.

Civil liberties campaigners say the move would effectively bring back internment.

Mr Clarke told MPs that police and prosecutors had made a "compelling case" for extending the limit because of the complexity and volume of evidence in terrorism cases.

Police at Heathrow
Anti-terror proposals have faced stiff opposition

And he promised to look at new safeguards, such as a senior judge supervising the process.

Acknowledging there was no consensus on his plans, Mr Clarke said he hoped to return with new proposals when the Terrorism Bill is debated in the Commons again next week.

"My proposal is that we engage in urgent discussions with colleagues on all sides of the House to see if we can reach consensus on a figure beyond 14 days," said Mr Clarke.

Labour MP David Winnick, who led backbench opposition to the plans, withdrew his attempt to force through a compromise time limit of 28 days.

I would welcome tougher laws
Robert Neve, Newport, UK

But he warned: "If it's a question of 90 days being dropped to 80 days or 75 days, I believe that is totally unacceptable."

The Conservatives and Lib Dems welcomed the pledge of all-party talks.

Tory shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve said he regretted the government had only moved when it appeared to be facing defeat.

And Liberal Democrat spokesman Mark Oaten said the terrorism plans were now "in tatters".

"The home secretary should act now to amend this illiberal and dangerous piece of legislation," he said.

Vote missed

Earlier, 33 Labour MPs rebelled against the government over plans for a new offence of indirect incitement or glorification of terrorism.

The government, which normally has a majority of 66, won the vote by 300 to 299 - Tony Blair's slimmest majority.

It later emerged that Lib Dem frontbencher Vince Cable had missed the crunch vote which the government won by just one vote.

Mr Cable told BBC News he had wanted to vote.

But he had gone to see a large group of trade justice protesters who could not get through Commons security and then been unable to return to Parliament in time for the vote.

The MP, who said he had taken part in other terror laws' votes, said he had written to the Commons authorities to complain about the "preposterous" security arrangements.

Details of the proposed anti-terrorism laws

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