Blair defends terror legislation

TONY Blair last night insisted he was not pre-election "scaremongering" by putting security at the heart of the Government's legislative proposals outlined in the Queen's Speech.

TONY Blair last night insisted he was not pre-election "scaremongering" by putting security at the heart of the Government's legislative proposals outlined in the Queen's Speech.

The decision had been made because of the real threats faced from possible al Qaida attacks both here and around the world.

A Counter-Terrorism Bill is to be published, and it is likely that it will include measures such as no-jury terrorism trials and allowing phone-tapping evidence to be used in court without corroboration for the first time.

Among the 32 Bills outlined in the Speech was plans for a National Identity Card is to be phased in, with the probability that it will become compulsory within a decade.

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The Queen told peers and MPs gathered in Parliament: "My Government recognises that we live in a time of global uncertainty, with an increased threat from international terrorism and organised crime."

In the first debate on the Government's proposals, Tory leader Michael Howard and the Liberal Democrats' Charles Kennedy decided not to accuse the Government of scaremongering, but that didn't stop both political parties having a go elsewhere.

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Dr Liam Fox, the Conservative Party's Vice-Chairman, said: "It is clear that they are trying to raise the fears from terrorism in the country at the present time. Now I think that is quite despicable, but it is a desperate Government.'

Matthew Taylor, the Liberal Democrats' Parliamentary Chairman snapped: "The Government is focusing on fear, whereas the Liberal Democrats offer hope. Crime and terror would be better addressed with 10,000 more police and a National Border Force, rather than wasting £3 billion on ID cards that didn't protect people in the United States or Spain and which would curtail British rights and liberties.'

Other proposed measures include the establishment of a Serious Organised Crime Agency to crack down on drug gangs, people traffickers, major fraudsters and internet paedophiles.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill will give local authorities more powers to tackle fly-tipping, abandoned cars, noise nuisance and light pollution, with measures such as spot fines.

A Road Safety Bill will give police new powers to tackle drink-driving and uninsured drivers, introduce stiffer penalties for using mobile phones while driving and a new graduated points system for speeding.

An Education Bill is designed to reduce bureaucracy in schools by streamlining the inspection system.

Disabled people will gain more rights under a new Discrimination Bill and an Equality Bill will extend protection against discrimination on grounds of religious faith.

The European Union Bill will pave the way for a referendum on the proposed European Constitution, but no date will be included in the legislation.

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