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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 April, 2005, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Key crime bill clears the Lords
Suitcase full of drugs
The crime bill is partly aimed at drugs gangs
A key government bill to tackle organised crime has cleared the Lords minus a controversial proposal to outlaw incitement to religious hatred.

The Serious and Organised Crime, which creates a so-called British FBI, now goes back before MPs.

In the rush to get legislation through before the election, the government has lost its ID cards plans and made major concessions on casino liberalisation.

Ministers have vowed to resurrect the ID cards bill if they win the election.

Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland said the religious hatred issue would also return if Labour was re-elected.

Wide-ranging powers

The crime bill controversially puts limits on noisy demonstrations outside the Houses of Parliament as well as establishing the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

It also gives powers to crack down on people traffickers and drug gangs.

The Gambling Bill, which has been approved by peers and is returning to the Commons on Thursday, will only go through after ministers agreed there would be only one super-casino instead of eight.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke accused the Tories of "killing" his ID cards plan - a charge they rejected - while the Lib Dems welcomed the decision to drop it.

VULNERABLE BILLS
Clean Neighbourhoods Bill
Charities Bill
Criminal Defence Service
Crossrail Bill
Equality Bill
European Union Bill
International Organisations Bill
Management of Offenders and Sentencing Bill
Mental Capacity Bill
National Lottery Bill
Road Safety Bill
Consumer Credit Bill

The ID scheme would cost an estimated 3bn and see each UK citizen issued with a "biometric" card bearing fingerprints and other personal details which would also be stored on a new database.

Opponents say the plans will infringe citizens' privacy but ministers insist they will help tackle illegal immigration, organised crime and terrorist groups.

Mr Clarke said the Lib Dems had failed face up to "resolving the tension between individual liberty and community security".

Meanwhile, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell struck a deal with the Tories to save the Gambling Bill, by agreeing to scale down plans for eight super casinos to just one.

Tory culture spokesman John Whittingdale said the government had accepted his party's proposal for one "prototype" super-casino and on that basis they were prepared to allow it to pass into law.

Lib Dem Don Foster said: "We welcome this deal, which crucially allows for the rapid introduction of a tougher regulator whose remit will include internet gambling."



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