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Blair Defends Home Secretary in Deportation Scandal


Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for automatically deporting foreigners who commit crimes, following criticism of the country's deportation program.

Mr. Blair spoke in the House of Commons Wednesday, saying that the government's deportation system has been failing for years.

He added that Home Secretary Charles Clarke is working to fix those problems and ensure that foreigners are sent to their home countries after serving their prison sentences.

But opposition lawmakers are calling for Clarke to resign. They say he is to blame for the failure to deport more than 1,000 former prisoners since 1999, including some violent criminals.

Recent media reports say a suspect in the killing of a police officer last year is a Somali man who was not deported after an earlier prison term.

The criticism of the ruling Labor Party comes ahead of local elections on Thursday. Opinion polls indicate Labor candidates will fare poorly.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.