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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Labour 2007: Fringe round-up

Some of the best debates at party conferences are away from the main conference hall. Here is our round-up of the best of the 2007 Labour Party fringe:

Home Office Security Minister Tony McNulty has admitted the government made mistakes in response to the 7 July 2005 bomb attacks in London.

Women's minister Barbara Follett has fuelled fresh speculation about a possible autumn general election.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith tells a fringe meeting the time has come to look again at extending the 28-day limit on holding terrorism suspects.

Ensuring equal pay for women is not about "political correctness" but "common decency", Women's minister Barbara Follett has insisted

British history should be rewritten to make it "more inclusive", says Trevor Phillips, the head of the new human rights and equality commission.

Union leaders backed away from a showdown with Gordon Brown because they did not want to ruin his first Labour conference as leader, it has emerged.

Tony Benn has made an impassioned plea to Gordon Brown to give the British people a referendum on the EU treaty.

Jon Cruddas has attacked Immigration Minister Liam Byrne over his "extraordinary" response to Lib Dem calls for an illegal migrant amnesty.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw warns lawyers that legal aid bills have to come down.


MUSLIM COUNCIL DOES 'STERLING JOB': At the fringe discussing 10 years of the Muslim Council of Britain, its chair Dr Mohammed Abdul Bari said that "terrorism is inhuman" and that we all sink or swim together. He added that the media had been "relentlessly hostile" since the 7th July attacks. But he said that attacks carried out in the name of Islam were not just a Muslim issue. He made the point that the 7/7 bombers may have been Muslims, but they were Britons as well. Labour MP Sadiq Khan teased the audience over the ongoing election fever referring to "the general election next month... or whenever it is they're called". He added that while all organisations have flaws, the Muslim Council of Britain was doing "a sterling job". Joanna Shinn

MINISTER BACKS GANGS EXIT STRATEGY At a fringe meeting to discuss gun and knife crime, the father of murdered 10 year old Damilola Taylor said people who get involved in offences are disgruntled about things in society - and it's that society needs to address. Eighteen-year-old Lhamea Lall, the Youth Board Chair of Kids Count, talked of being bullied and receiving a death threat via her website. She said her school and the police didn't address either issue - and cash being spent on the Olympics should be spent on facilities for young people instead. Mike Jervis, from Defending Da Hood - a group which encourages mediation between rival gangs - said the authorities need to change their thinking on projects which discourage black-on-black violence. Home office minister Vernon Coaker said most young people are decent, and growing up in difficult times. He backed early intervention and exit strategies for those who want to leave gangs. Joanna Shinn

GOVERNMENT 'WILL HIT AID TARGETS' Douglas Alexander said he was flying to New York for two days of meeting with the UN and the Clinton Foundation on development goals. He said he was confident his international development department would get enough cash in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to keep the UK on track to meet its target of 0.7% of gross national product spent on aid each year. He also criticised the Conservatives' recent policy commission report on development, saying many of the aid agencies who had praised were only doing so because they had contributed to it. He said the Tory report was "incoherent". Brian Wheeler

MPs SPLIT OVER ELECTION DATE: Chief Secretary to the Treasury Andy Burnham told a Progress fringe meeting: "Personally I would prefer a general election next year". Mr Burnham said although Labour was doing well in the polls particularly in London, the Tories had pumped an unprecedented amount of resources into marginal constituencies. He said the party was ready to fight an election and would win it whenever it was called, but warned of the danger of seeing the "Tories as a spent force." Kitty Ussher MP was more forceful and said David Cameron was a "loser and lets bring it on." Stephen Twigg said that the party had to show it had real momentum before "confining Cameron to the dustbin of political history." An interesting footnote the other panellist the pollster Deborah Mattinson, of Opinion Leader Research, whose private polling for Labour has sparked much of the current election speculation, pulled out of the event at the last minute. Jo Coburn

NATIONAL DEBATE CALL ON ROAD PRICING: Transport Minister Rosie Winterton said she wanted a national debate on whether road pricing was forcing people off the roads and on to public transport. "If we continue with the increase in car use and road use that we have at the moment, we would be talking about something like 5bn worth of investment in our roads, " she said. "Frankly, that does lead us to the conclusion that the status quo is not an option." Jackie Storer

GOVERNMENT 'EXPECTED BLUETONGUE': The government was expecting the arrival of bluetongue disease in Britain, it has emerged. Speaking at a Labour fringe meeting, agriculture minister Lord Rooker told a fringe meeting ministers had been preparing for the possibility for some time. Officials had even mapped out possible dates in the summer when conditions would be just right for midges carrying the disease, he said. Robin Brant

BLAIR-BROWN HANDOVER 'WITHOUT BITTERNESS': One of Tony Blair's closest allies has been praising Gordon Brown's "maturity" and "strength" since taking over as prime minister. Former Cabinet minister Peter Mandelson told a fringe meeting the changeover had taken place "without bitterness", with Mr Brown maintaining much of the policy agenda set out by his predecessor. Jo Coburn

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