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Page last updated at 08:22 GMT, Wednesday, 4 April 2012 09:22 UK

Surveillance plan 'not a carte blanche'


One of a group of Liberal Democrat MPs who signed an open letter to the Guardian outlining their opposition to the government's plans to update the law on electronic surveillance, has said that he is "delighted" that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said these are merely draft proposals which needs "legitimate debate".

Greg Mulholland MP, chair of the Liberal Democrat Backbench Group, told the the Today programme's Sarah Montague that while there was a balance to be struck between anti-terror surveillance and protecting the public, "civil liberties are fundamentally important".

He insisted that this should not be "carte blanche" for government to apply a "snoopers' charter" but rather should only be allowed by a judge.

Mr Mulholland said that it was not clear what the proposed legislation would cover but dismissed the suggestion that it was merely an extension of current law to social media saying such a claim was "weasel words".

"There are many of us... that think this a clear extension of state surveillance which we could not support," he said.

He maintained that this was "coalition politics working" where there will be differences of opinion.

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