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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 January 2008, 21:18 GMT
Brown hints at nuclear power plan
Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown accused his political rivals of opportunism
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has hinted that the government may approve a new generation of nuclear power plants.

He told the Observer newspaper that taking decisions on energy sources is "a fundamental precondition of preparing Britain for the new world".

He used the interview to accuse his opponents of "opportunism", saying he would put long-term interests first.

Mr Brown also indicated his determination to find a compromise on the detention of terror suspects.

Discussing the government's plans to extend to 42 days the period a terror suspect can be held without charge, he said: "I believe that if we could show people that there is proper judicial oversight."

Mr Brown said it was important to "satisfy people that all the mechanisms by which civil liberties are [protected] are put in place".

'Rich debate'

"I think it's a more rich debate than is simply summed up by a number of days," he added.

On the issue of renewable energy, he dropped hints about the possible use of nuclear power in the future.

He said: "When North Sea oil runs down, both oil and gas, people will want to know whether we have made sure that we've got the balance right between external dependence on energy and our ability to generate our own energy within our own country, and that's about renewables as well as about other things.

"And so the willingness to take tough long-term decisions, whether it's wind power or wave power, whether it's renewables generally or nuclear, is I think a fundamental precondition of preparing Britain for the new world."

Where housing is concerned, Mr Brown said he hoped the government's housing bill could be used to build three million houses "over the next few years".

Political opportunism?

He also declared that major projects will be given the green light despite environmental objections.

"We have got legislation coming through on CrossRail, on Heathrow, on big infrastructure decisions which if the country doesn't make now then we will either be congested or be unable to cope with some of the problems in the years to come," said Mr Brown.

The prime minister also used the interview to criticise his political opponents.

He said it was "fascinating" that the opposition parties are against most of his long-term decisions and accused them of being "opportunist".

"I think it's not putting the long term interests of the country before the short term political gain to parties," said Mr Brown.

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