Tony Blair was at odds with a former Birmingham MP over plans to downgrade human rights laws yesterday.
The Prime Minister called for a "profound rebalancing" of laws guaranteeing civil liberties after a court ruling allowed nine Afghan hijackers to claim asylum in Britain.
But former Labour MP Terry Davis said it was "false and dangerous" to argue there was a conflict between human rights and national security.
Mr Davis, who represented Birmingham Hodge Hill for 12 years, is now head of the Council of Europe.
The Strasbourg-based organisation acts as guardian of the Human Rights Convention, which was incorporated into British law by the Government in 1998.
Human rights legislation has led to a number of controversial decisions.
In one high-profile case, rapist Anthony Rice was released from prison and went on to murder Naomi Bryant. An official inquiry concluded he had been freed because his human rights were put before protecting the public.
In a speech designed to reassure the public yesterday, Mr Blair said far-reaching reform was needed.
He said: "We should not have to fight continual legal battles to deport people committing serious crimes or inciting extremism. We cannot allow violent or drug-abusing offenders to be put back out on the streets again without proper supervision and, if necessary, restraint.
"We cannot have bail requirements, probation orders or community sentences flouted without proper penalty.
"Now none of these things is new but what I think is new is the emerging national political consensus to tackle them, and that should be a central part of the debate ahead."
Ministers are to consider amending legislation to prevent courts overruling Government decisions, effectively allowing them to ignore human rights laws when they are not in the public interest.
In a letter to John Reid, the new Home Secretary, Mr Blair said: "We will need to look again at whether primary legislation is needed to address the issue of Court rulings which over-rule the Government in a way that is inconsistent with other EU countries interpretation on Human Rights."
But Mr Davis, a former Government whip, criticised the plan. He said: "The idea that human rights are a threat to public safety is false and dangerous.
"All governments have a duty to protect their people. Indeed, the right to life is the most important human right. But there is no serious evidence to support the claim our security can only be achieved by human rights transgressions committed by the state.
"The effective response to threats against people's security is competent and effective law-enforcement."