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Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 17:39 GMT
Battle shifts to crime
Labour has unveiled plans for new powers to stop paedophiles targeting internet chatrooms, as the main parties turn the spotlight on law and order.
The proposals come as the three party leaders take a breather from the election trail at the end of the campaign's second week.
Charles Kennedy has been out walking in rural Scotland, William Hague is spending most of the day at home in Yorkshire, and Tony Blair is at his Chequers country retreat celebrating his son Leo's first birthday.
The first opinion poll conducted since the John Prescott "punch" on Wednesday suggests the incident has failed to hit Labour's lead in the polls.
The NOP/ Sunday Times poll gives Labour 49%, the Tories 30% and the Lib Dems 14%.
The farmworker whose egg-throwing prompted Mr Prescott's punch has told the Mail on Sunday he will launch civil court proceedings if he is prosecuted and the deputy prime minister is not.
It suggests 50% of over-65s intend to vote for Labour, 31% for the Tories and 12% for the Liberal Democrats.
Both Home Secretary Jack Straw and shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe have made speeches on law and order on Sunday.
Mr Straw announced plans to crackdown on paedophiles using web chatrooms in a speech about crime.
Children's charities believe paedophiles are increasingly using the internet.
Labour is promising to give the police new powers to take action against people who try to make such approaches and who have been found, for example, to have lied about their age or sex.
Paedophile protection orders would be used to prevent them making any further approaches and repeated unlawful contact via the internet would become a criminal offence.
But Miss Widdecombe, in an address to party supporters, accused Labour of a "dereliction of duty" for not acting sooner.
Mr Straw was announcing the orders now, she added, because they were in a "panic" over proposals already in the Tory manifesto to create a new offence of child enticement.
The Lib Dems say they have been urging action for months and want a raft of new legislation to stop internet abuse.
The Observer also prints an interview with Mr Straw in which the Home Secretary indicated he would introduce a "quota" for refugees allowed to settle in the UK.
The Tories, who used law and order for a hard-hitting election broadcast last week, continued to focus on crime with Ms Widdecombe's speech in Kent.
The Liberal Democrats are stepping up their pressure on Tory shadow treasury chief secretary Oliver Letwin.
But Lib Dem treasury spokesman Matthew Taylor is demanding that William Hague either backs Mr Letwin on the £20bn figure or sack him.
The Sunday Telegraph reports there has been a "bitter rift" in the Tory high command over advertising strategy - a report Mr Hague later described as "complete fiction".
And in the week when Labour won the support of celebrities such as Britney Spears, the Sunday Times reports that previous famous backers of the party are worried by its "swing to the right".
It quotes Birds Of A Feather writer Laurence Marks and Rumpole creator Sir John Mortimer voicing their disillusionment with the party.
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