Page last updated at 09:19 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 10:19 UK

Brown vows to 'win' over 42 days

Armed police
The government says more time is needed to foil complex plots

Gordon Brown says he wants to "win the argument" in Parliament over his plans to extend the pre-charge detention limit for terror suspects to 42 days.

The prime minister is facing the prospect of a Commons defeat over the plans which are opposed by the Tories, Lib Dems and some Labour backbenchers.

But he insisted he was not playing a "political game" by vowing to get the legislation through Parliament.

He said the UK had to "do everything in our power" to tackle terror plots.

Defeat for Mr Brown - when MPs vote on the Counter Terrorism Bill next month - would come as a major blow to the prime minister's authority.

But in an interview with BBC political editor Nick Robinson, he insisted he would not compromise on the issue.

'Everything in our power'

"I would rather win, and I'm going to put the argument... I'm going to try to win this argument," he said.

"The reason is not because it's a sort of political game in the House of Commons. The reason is I'm concerned about the security of this country.

"We must make it possible for us to do everything in our power where there are terrorists, and particularly multiple terrorist plots, to take action."

On Wednesday, a committee of MPs and peers said that extending the detention limit from 28 days was "unnecessary".

The Joint Select Committee on Human Rights, made up of peers and MPs, proposed a series of reforms which it says are a viable alternative to increasing the current 28-day limit.

'No evidence'

They include ending the ban on granting bail in terror cases, and allowing post-charge questioning of suspects.

The committee said "no clear evidence" had emerged of any likely need to extend the pre-charge detention period.

It described the proposed safeguard against wrongful detention - a parliamentary vote after the 42-day power has been triggered - as "virtually meaningless".

Under government proposals, the home secretary could immediately extend the limit on pre-charge detention from 28 to 42 days, if supported by a chief constable and the director of public prosecutions.

MPs and the House of Lords would then vote to approve it within 30 days. If they rejected it, the extension would end at midnight on the day of the debate.

Attempts to extend it to 90 days in 2005 ended in Tony Blair's first Commons defeat as prime minister.

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