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Mr. Winnick: Fortunately, the position in South Africa has changed, the liberation movement has triumphed and we are in a new situation. I would argue that we should

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not harbour in Britain people who want to commit such acts abroad. I do not believe that Britain should be a haven for such activities. It should, however, give every opportunity to people who want to use Britain by living in this country because they have been persecuted in their own countries, and to agitate for more democratic regimes. That is perfectly legitimate.

The line that we have to draw is a very fine one. We want to defend our democratic rights in every way, but at the same time there is a problem that we must face whether we like it or not--that there have been, and will probably continue to be, elements in this country from abroad who want to use this country for terrorist purposes. I do not think that we should give them any help whatever.

For those reasons, with many, many reservations, I consider that clauses 5 to 7 are probably appropriate, in view of the curse of international terrorism.

Dr. Palmer: So far we have discussed these clauses from a somewhat "Westminstercentric" point of view. We have asked under what circumstances Ministers or the Attorney-General should take one action or another. However, if we turn the matter round and look at it from the viewpoint of an individual who is considering what action he or she might be able to take in pursuit of a cause that they support, we see the difficulties from a slightly different angle. The Minister may be able to help in that regard.

At the moment, the individual who, let us say, wishes to campaign against the Iraqi Government is faced with a grey area in roughly five dimensions. There is the dimension of the severity of the act; we have heard discussion of everything from graffiti to assassination. There is the dimension of the democratic or otherwise nature of the regime.

There is the dimension of the adequacy or otherwise of the legal system, and the other considerations that might come under the heading of public interest, such as those relating to trade or diplomatic relations, and the fact that the Attorney-General, and even the political party of the Government, can change. That means that the usual principle of jurisprudence, that a person is expected to follow the law because he or she knows what the law is, applies to a much weakened extent, because people do not really know what the law is. It depends very much on what the Attorney-General of the day thinks it is, and people know that it might be different next week.

Mr. McWalter: As the hour is very late and these are complex matters, might my hon. Friend consider curtailing his remarks so that we may consider clause 5 stand part, with a view to dividing the Committee on that, so that these matters might then return to the House at a time when we are all capable of paying attention to the intricacies of his argument?

Dr. Palmer: I am grateful for my colleague's suggestion. I have nearly finished.

I suggest that we should accept that each of the various attempts to limit the powers of the Attorney-General on a specific axis--such as the Liberal Democrat proposal to limit them according to the severity of the offence, or some of the proposals to limit them according to the

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nature of the country--is open to the criticism that it will not cover every conceivable situation.

However, it would help the Committee a great deal, and I believe that it would help individuals in the group that we are talking about, if the Minister would develop the comments that he made in response to my question about severity, and if he would confirm that, in cases where the alleged crime has a political element, considerations of the human rights record of the Government, and of the nature of the legal system in the country, would be expected to be important to the Attorney-General in reaching a decision on public interest.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): This is likely to be the last substantive debate on our proceedings on this important Bill. During most of the past five or six hours, I have listened from the Front Bench to the debate--in fact, I believe that I have sat there for about 12 of the past 16 hours. Much of those five or six hours has shown that my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) was right when, on Second Reading, he said that this was not an ideal way for us to proceed with regard to these matters. However, he rightly signalled that we believe, as do the Government, that it is right to send a message to terrorists that we are united in every respect with the Government in the action that they have chosen to take.

The arguments that we have heard on this group of amendments included a plea from one or two Labour Members--the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has made the point on several occasions--for the Government to take clauses 5 to 7 back and reconsider them. I must tell the Home Secretary that that is a problem for the Government, not for us; but, were he to feel obliged to take such action, Opposition Members would continue to support the Government in seeking to introduce the measures in clauses 5 to 7, because we have long considered them to be right and appropriate. Nothing that my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) and I have heard throughout the night has deflected us from the view that they would make a valuable addition to our criminal law.

6.15 am

We understand and sympathise with the concerns that have been expressed, particularly on this group of amendments, about human rights. This is not the group on which to debate whether it is reasonable to rely on the Attorney-General not to prosecute in cases in which it would be inappropriate to do so, although we believe that it is reasonable to rely on him in those circumstances.

The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) put his finger on the real issue. The real point addressed in the amendments is that whether a country has a democracy of the standard that we enjoy, and whether it has the standard of human rights that we enjoy, is of no concern or interest to the terrorist who takes the innocent human lives of those who have nothing to do with the political arguments, or the political struggles, that take place in some countries. The atrocities in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi make that abundantly clear: 300 innocent lives were taken.

I think it inconceivable that the Committee would want to agree to an amendment--however well-intentioned--that effectively says that, in countries where human rights

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and democratic standards are less than we would consider ideal, innocent people should be denied the protection that these clauses provide. As the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) made plain, in the atrocity in Egypt that was precisely the point: innocent life was taken, quite deliberately, by an act of terrorism.

If some of that activity was plotted and planned from these shores, although we have voiced our concern--I have echoed it now--that we do not think that this was the ideal way of proceeding, it does illustrate the urgent need for Parliament to do something. I am not entirely surprised that the Home Secretary has taken the opportunity to add the clauses to the Bill.

It is tempting to say, at 6.18 am, that not only is this far from ideal, but it could and should have been handled better; but I am honest enough to admit that I suspect that I might well have done the same had I been in the Home Secretary's position. We must be honest. What has happened in Omagh--and, in the context of these amendments, in Dar es Salaam, in Nairobi and in Egypt in the past--should tell us one thing above all others: that the terrorist strikes when we least expect it. For that reason, we will support the Government again on Third Reading if there is a vote in a few minutes' time.

Mr. Michael: I thank the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) for his last remarks. I accept his point that the way in which we are dealing with the Bill is not ideal, but he was honest in balancing his preference with a sense of the urgency. I congratulate all hon. Members on the quality of speeches in this important debate, in which some important issues have been raised.

I took particular comfort from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), because I remember the powerful speech he made in expressing his concerns and reservations about the Jurisdiction (Conspiracy and Incitement) Bill. The power of his speech on that occasion makes it all the more valuable to have his support for a measure that is intended to help combat a series of evils which affect people throughout the world. That is the reason for the urgency.

I do not wish to reopen the question of the role of the Attorney-General, which I dealt with in response to a series of questions in the previous debate. There is no doubt that human rights considerations will be important where they are relevant to the public interest consideration on which the Attorney-General has to make a decision. I agree with the hon. Member for Ryedale that the main question will be the nature of the offences that are the subject of consideration for prosecution in respect of conspiracy--particularly the likelihood of the indiscriminate killing of innocent men, women and children as a result of the activities of those involved in the conspiracy.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Allan) and many others, I have concerns about human rights and the freedom of people in this country to campaign abroad. Along with many others, I played an active part in the anti-apartheid movement, and supported the ANC. That has been in the forefront of my mind when dealing with previous Bills and this one. I say to my hon.

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Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) that the right to demonstrate against regimes abroad is not threatened at all by the Bill. We want to combine in this country a commitment to promoting democracy with fighting terrorism and organised crime. We must not allow the two to be inconsistent, and we must pursue both objectives.

Amendments Nos. 44 and 46 stand on the implication that an offence can infringe the European convention on human rights. I am not sure whether that is the case. Even if an offence can infringe on the convention, the Human Rights Bill will provide the opportunities to test the compatibility of UK law with the ECHR and to obtain remedies where it is not. That is the reason we are incorporating the convention into our legislation.

Amendments Nos. 80 and 81 are an unnecessary restriction on the scope of the Bill which already contains the safeguards that were discussed fully in the previous debate. We should not restrict the application of the clause in that way, although I have explained the way in which important human rights considerations can be part of the Attorney-General's consideration.

My hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) asked about the role of the Lord Advocate, which we have debated previously. The problem is that there is a difference between the function of the Lord Advocate and the procurator fiscal in the Scottish regime, compared with the responsibilities of the Attorney-General here. However, I understand that, under Scots law, all offences are prosecuted with the consent of the Lord Advocate. That responsibility is put in the hands of the procurator fiscal in terms of the conduct of proceedings. The same limitations will be achieved without putting them into the Bill.

Reference was made to countries under occupation where the Government perhaps are not the legitimate Government of the country. That may be relevant in some cases, in which case it would be taken into account by the Attorney-General. Therefore, I can give the assurance that, where that is a relevant consideration, this mechanism does allow for it to be dealt with.

This is not a question of pulling a Bill off the shelf. The commitment to legislation is long standing. It pre-dates the recess. It goes back to debates in opposition. We certainly considered it in the Home Office before consulting colleagues throughout Government during recent months. That is why I can be confident in arguing for support for the Bill and in appealing to colleagues not to press their amendments. They would not bring about the results that they wish because the dangers that they perceive are not there. I hope that I have been able to satisfy them of the rounded and effective nature of this legislation and that it will have support from colleagues and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee.

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