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April 15, 2005

Labour prepared to use Parliamentary Act on religious hatred

Labour is prepared to overrule any opposition in the House of Lords from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, in order to pass legislation against the incitement to religious hatred, if it is re-elected for a third term next month, The Muslim New has learnt.

"Yes we will use the Parliament Act" Home Office Minister Fiona Mactaggart told the paper’s Editor, Ahmed J Versi, when asked how Labour would ensure that it kept to its manifesto pledge after failing twice to enact the law in the last parliament.

Mactaggart, who was attending her party’s manifesto launch to the ethnic media on Wednesday, confirmed the intentions of Labour for a second time when questioned for a second time to clarify any doubts.

“It remains our firm and clear intention to give people of all faiths the same protection against incitement to hatred on the basis of their religion. We will legislate to outlaw it and will continue the dialogue we have started with faith groups from all backgrounds about how best to balance protection, tolerance and free speech,” she said quoting from Labour’s manifesto.

The Parliament Act, which reduces the power of the House of Lords in delaying legislation to one year, has been used three times by Labour in the past four year out of a total of only four times since it was amended in 1949.

On Tuesday, Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, wrote to mosques across Britain in an attempt to deflect blame on opposition parties for the failure to outlaw the incitement to religious hatred before calling the general election.

It came after Muslim leaders expressed their outrage at the government for dropping the clause as part of its Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill to pass the rest of the legislation through parliament, warning that it could have further
implications for Labour’s vote at the election.

It was the second time that the government sacrificed plans to legislate on the new offence after an earlier attempt was also sacrificed as part of a compromise deal to rush through emergency anti-terror legislation at the end of 2001.

For further information contact us on 020 8863 8586 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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