UK's Brown plans tougher terrorism law

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LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown unveiled proposals today to toughen anti-terrorism measures and address a crippling housing shortage in a new policy platform meant to revive his ruling Labour Party.

In a speech delivered by Queen Elizabeth at a colourful ceremony in parliament, the government also announced plans for a shakeup of Britain's framework for dealing with banks in financial difficulties and for protecting bank deposits.

The failings of the present system were cruelly exposed in September when mortgage lender Northern Rock suffered Britain's first bank run in more than a century.

''My government's programme will meet people's aspirations for better education, housing, healthcare and children's services, and for a cleaner environment,'' the queen said at the state opening of parliament that draws on centuries-old customs.

The queen, escorted by the Household Cavalry, had earlier arrived at parliament in a horse-drawn carriage to address a joint session of parliament, including members of the upper House of Lords clad in ceremonial red and ermine robes.

The queen's speech, drawn up by the government, sets out laws the government will introduce in the year ahead.

Brown, who took over from Tony Blair in June, needs a new start after his decision in October to pull back from calling an early election undermined his prestige and gave a boost to his Conservative opponents.

Brown's Labour Party trailed the Conservatives by five points in a recent poll.

That has led to grumbling among some Labour insiders that the party is stuck in a rut after a decade in power and demands for Brown to show he has the vision to lead the party forward.

HOUSING SHORTAGE Brown's programme includes a plan to build 3 million houses to tackle a housing shortage and a climate change law that aims to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.

The government said it will introduce a new law to strengthen prosecution of terrorism cases.

Jonathan Evans, head of Britain's MI5 intelligence agency, said on Monday the agency knew of at least 2,000 British-based individuals who posed a direct threat to national security because of their support for terrorism.

The bill will make it easier for police and intelligence agencies to share data and allow police to continue questioning terrorism suspects after they have been charged - something they may only do now in limited circumstances.

The government also plans to introduce a foreign travel order that may be used to ban people convicted of terrorism offences from travelling overseas.

The government said it was considering its options on extending the period that suspects in terrorism cases may be held without charge -- but did not propose a specific period.

Parliament blocked Blair's plan to extend the pre-charge detention period in terrorism cases to 90 days from 14 in November 2005, compromising on 28 days. Police Minister Tony McNulty has indicated Brown wants to extend this to 56 days.


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