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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 November 2006, 14:28 GMT
Terror 'priority' if Brown is PM
Gordon Brown
Mr Brown dismissed Tory calls for a full-time Cabinet terrorism minister
The fight against terror would be Gordon Brown's "first priority" if he became prime minister, he has hinted.

The chancellor also backed Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair's call for tougher anti-terror powers.

Sir Ian wants phone-tap evidence usable in court and the 28-day maximum period for questioning suspects extended.

Mr Brown told the Sunday Times he "completely agreed" with Sir Ian - but he dismissed Tory calls for a full-time Cabinet terrorism minister.

'Top table'

Conservative leader David Cameron told the newspaper he would appoint a minister responsible solely for combating terrorism to his Cabinet, if he became prime minister.

"Action against terrorism deserves a dedicated seat at the top table," he said.

But Mr Brown dismissed the idea, saying: "If you are prime minister, you cannot devolve responsibility for protecting the nation.

"Every minister and every agency of government must take responsibility for security - each of them must play their part."

However, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis told BBC One's Sunday AM show that the prime minister and home secretary were "too busy doing other things" to deal adequately with terrorist threats.

He said the government was "behind the curve" on the issue and that a minister "with the power, clout and determination" to focus on it was needed.

'Completely agree'

On Saturday, Sir Ian told the Urban Age summit in Berlin the 28-day limit for holding terror suspects needed to be reviewed in the near future.

Mr Brown said: "I completely agree with him.

"Given the scale of the threat we face, we must give the security service and the police not just the resources they need, but the powers they need to gather securely the evidence and use that evidence to gain convictions."

The chancellor added that if he became prime minister he would introduce an annually updated "national security strategy" to cover "conventional counter-terrorism" and the battle for "hearts and minds".

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said MPs should reconsider the government's call to hold terror suspects for a maximum of 90 days without charge, which was rejected by the Commons in favour of 28 days.

He told BBC One's Politics Show that it was still felt by police that 28 days was not quite adequate, and "if that is the case Parliament could certainly revisit and consider it."

On Friday, MI5 chief Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said the security service knew of 30 terror plots threatening the UK and was keeping 1,600 individuals under surveillance.


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