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Cameron may face defeat on EU bill

LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron could face a parliamentary defeat over Europe but is set to avoid a damaging split in the ruling coalition over a controversial counter-terrorism measure, reports said on Sunday. The Sunday Telegraph said ‘eurosceptics’ among Cameron’s centre-right Conservatives could combine with opposition Labour legislators to inflict an embarrassing first parliamentary defeat on Cameron over his flagship European Union bill.
The proposed law, designed to prevent the transfer of further powers from London to Brussels without a referendum, will be debated in parliament on January 11.
Cameron proposed the so-called “referendum lock” in an attempt to appease eurosceptics in his party angered by his decision to give up his campaign for a referendum on the EU’s Lisbon treaty. But the Sunday Telegraph said his strategy appeared to have backfired.
Some eurosceptic Conservatives feel the measure offers no real safeguards, because ministers would have discretion in many cases over when a referendum was required and their decision could be challenged in the courts.

The report said eurosceptic Conservatives would propose radical amendments to the legislation and, if these were rejected by the government, some could vote against the entire bill.
It quoted sources in the main opposition Labour Party as signalling that Labour leader Ed Miliband would order his members of parliament to oppose the legislation.
The Sunday Times said “control orders” — a contentious form of house arrest imposed on some terrorism suspects who have not been charged — would be scrapped in a victory for the centre-left Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in Cameron’s coalition.
The cabinet was poised to approve a compromise deal next week, ending months of arguments that Cameron feared could destroy the eight-month-old coalition, the newspaper said.
Suspects will be allowed to stop wearing electronic tags and be released from home curfews. They will be able to travel freely in Britain, but not overseas, and to use mobile phones and computers, the report said.
The LibDems promised to scrap control orders in last year’s election campaign and a reversal of that position could fatally undermine the credibility of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, with his party. Support for the LibDems has slumped since the party performed a U-turn over raising student tuition fees to help cut a record peacetime budget deficit.
Security agency MI5 and the interior ministry have pushed for control orders, introduced by the former Labour government, to be kept, the report said. Nine suspects, all British, are now subject to control orders, the Sunday Times said. They are electronically tagged and confined to their homes for 16 hours a day.
International civil liberties groups have united to call on the government to abandon control orders, accusing it of presiding over one of the most serious violations of natural justice in any developed democracy, the Observer reported. -Reuters


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