Blair advises MPs to 'make up their mind'

Prime Minister Tony Blair stood firm on his plan to introduce legislation allowing the detention of terrorist suspects for 90 days without charge ahead of a key parliamentary vote on the issue later today. Speaking in the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions, Blair said it was time for MPs to 'make up their mind' on the issue.

Blair is prepared to risk a damaging blow to his leadership to push the issue through.

There are two other motions set down that reduce the period to 60 days or 28 days.

The government pulled out of a vote on the issue last week when a defeat looked inevitable. It has spent the last week trying to gather support and has agreed to a 'sunset clause' where the legislation would be reviewed on an annual basis.

During heated exchanges, Blair objected to remarks he said he overheard claiming Britain was now living in a police state because of the tougher counter-terrorism measures.

"We are not living in a police state, but we are living in a country that faces a real and serious threat of terrorism. Terrorism that wants to destroy our way of life, terrorism that wants to inflict casualties on us without limit," Blair said.

"When those charged with protecting our country provide, as they have, a compelling case for action then I know what my duty is. My duty is to support them and so is the duty, in my view, of every member of this house."

"Let's send out a signal from this house that when it comes to defeating terrorism we are going to give the police the powers they need and back them."

"Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing, than win and do the wrong thing," Blair said to those prepared to vote down the measure.

Drafted in the wake of the July 7 suicide bombs in London, the Terror bill calls for an extension of the period for which suspects can be detained without charge from the current 14 days to 90 days.

It also calls for a ban on those who glorify terrorism, sell extremist books, receive or provide terrorist training, and prepare to commit attacks, according to Forbes.

Blair told MPs two terrorist plots had been foiled since the July 7 bombings in London.