Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Blair defeated in 'Police state' vote

Prime Minister Tony Blair has lost the key House of Commons vote on plans to allow police to hold terror suspects without charge for up to 90 days. MPs rejected the proposals by 322 votes to 291.

The defeat came despite Mr Blair saying MPs had a "duty" to give police the powers they needed to tackle terrorism. The vote - the government's first Commons defeat - will be seen as a blow to the prime minister's authority.

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and some Labour backbenchers said the 90-day plans went too far. Civil liberties groups compared the proposal to internment - a charge rejected by ministers.

In his final plea for MPs to back the plans, Mr Blair urged MPs to take the advice of the police who had foiled two terrorist plots since the 7 July attacks in London. In heated exchanges at prime minister's questions, Mr Blair said: "We are not living in a police state but we are living in a country that faces a real and serious threat of terrorism." in response to Conservative MPs shouting "police state" during Prime ministers questions

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said the measure would almost certainly be defeated in the House of Lords, where two ex-law lords had called it "intolerable".

In a sign of the importance given to the vote, Chancellor Gordon Brown was called back within minutes of arriving in Israel for a high profile visit. And Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also flew back early from EU-Russia talks in Moscow.

I find myself yet again on the side of the British Conservatives (i will see a doctor i promise) in thinking this was a step to far and dangerous step towards a police state . I commend the elected Members of parliament for stopping the government from going too far .

The MPs have now voted to instead increase the Police powers to enable them to hold a suspect for 28 days (double the exisiting law) which seems far more sensible . Mr Orwell can sleep peacefully in his grave tonight

This is the first time Mr Blair has been defeated in any vote since 1997 .


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