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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 12:20 GMT
Reid reviews anti-terror options
The aftermath of Tavistock Square bombing
New laws would be aimed at preventing a repeat of 7 July
Security is a theme of the Queen's Speech and a key part of that is another new terrorism bill. But what will it contain?

The new bill which has been mooted by Home Secretary John Reid may attempt to combine all of the UK's anti-terror legislation, along with a number of new measures.

Mr Reid says: "The government remains committed to ensuring that all necessary measures are in place to tackle all aspects of terrorism."

He is currently chairing a review of Britain's anti-terrorism capabilities and resources which is designed to enable the threat to be tackled properly over the next 10 years.

Key to that review would be an attempt to reintroduce the 90-day limit for detaining suspected terrorists.

The government remains committed to ensuring that all necessary measures are in place to tackle all aspects of terrorism
John Reid

Parliament rejected the last attempt to push through the 90-day limit, claiming it was detrimental to human rights. The limit currently stands at 28 days, an increase on the original 14 days.

Part of the push for the 90-day limit is believed to stem from issues which arose from the recent investigation into the alleged liquid bomb plot.

The government may scrap the four different terrorism acts which are currently in effect and merge all anti-terror laws in one huge bill.

The legislation would be a massive document with hundreds of clauses and lawyers, judges and policemen working in the field would have to know it inside out.

Phone-tapping

Mr Reid is believed to have tried to identify gaps in the current anti-terror legislation and areas he is thought to have looked at are bolstering the police's power to freeze assets and revamping the entire control order system.

One major change which may be in the bill is a U-turn from the government on the use of telephone tapping evidence in courts.

Currently evidence adduced from a tapped phone is not admissible in court. This means that even if a terrorist suspect is heard admitting he planted a bomb which has just blown up an aircraft, a jury at his trial cannot be told this information.

The government, backed by the police and security services, has always resisted changing the law because it feared criminals and terrorists would learn too much detail about the technicalities of tapping and would adapt to evade it.

The new bill might also address differences between the legal system in England and Wales and those in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to prevent terrorists basing themselves somewhere to use legal loopholes.


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