Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): I have no difficulty with the international terrorism provisions and I said so in an intervention on Second Reading. The powers are essential. However, I have many reservations about the matters raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher) and for Hornchurch (Mr. Cryer). Although the Minister dismissed the possibility, I am concerned, for example, that the miners' strike of 15 years ago and other actions--industrial or otherwise--could be included in the definition of terrorism. As someone who believes strongly in civil liberties, the right to demonstrate and the rest, I remain concerned about those aspects.
In Committee and today, the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) openly argued for two Bills. First, I understand his arguments but, whether we have two Bills or one, we will not avoid having the definition. In either or both of the Bills, the issue would have to be dealt with. That could be done in the same way in both Bills, or in different ways, which would cause difficulties.
Secondly, the hon. Gentleman said that some legislation was not used. In Committee, he argued forcefully for the principle of deterrence that is used in much anti-terrorism legislation--to dissuade people from becoming involved in any way with terrorist activity. The fact that aspects of legislation have not been used is not a convincing argument.
The right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham and my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Simpson) gave much the same speeches today as on Second Reading, although they were more lengthy and--to be frank--a little less coherent today. The logic of their argument is that we cannot find a definition. The right hon. and learned Gentleman clearly suggested that, although I am not sure whether my hon. Friend would say the same.
The logic of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's position would be to vote against Third Reading because we should not have the Bill. In the balance that he weighs between the need to fight international terrorism and the need to protect individual liberties, he comes to the view that we should not use more legislation--I was going to say that we should forget the fight against international terrorism, but I do not mean that quite so pejoratively. He thinks that the liberties would be so challenged that we should forget the idea of taking extra powers. I see the logic of that position. However, it is not the same position as that of those who argue that our definition is amendable.
My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South gave a long list of examples and other hon. Members gave similar examples on Second Reading and at other times. I repeat what I said on those occasions: the legislation will give rise to no fears about the domestic political and industrial relations activities and so on that have been described during the debate. Part of the debate has been fanciful. A string of arguments have been pushed out that bear no relationship to the facts or to the potential of the Bill.
Mr. Winnick: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for allowing me to intervene again. Will he give us a further explanation as to why we should not be worried about the domestic position? He said that those activities would not be covered by the Bill. Why should they not be? I apologise to the House because I was not in the Chamber for some of the earlier speeches, but I heard the powerful speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central--as did the Minister. Much concern and worry were expressed that certain activities would be defined as terrorism when in my view, and that of some of my hon. Friends, they should not be.
Mr. Clarke: I shall not give way to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) who was not in the Chamber for the debate. I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook).
Mr. Cook: I refer my hon. Friend to the example I gave earlier this evening. An individual was detained on suspicion of robbing a post office. Under the PTA provisions, he was detained without charge for an extraordinarily long period. His wife and his two sons were detained under the same provisions and subsequently released without charge. He was tried, sentenced and served his time. If that is permissible at present, what redress would people have against such abuse in the future?
Mr. Clarke: I know nothing of the detail of the case, apart from what my hon. Friend said in his earlier intervention. Based on his description, it would seem to be an abuse of current law and would thus be an abuse of future law. No doubt, my hon. Friend will take up the case in the proper way.
Mr. Clarke: As I said earlier, under the definition in clause 1, it is clear that the cause of the actions in the demonstrations that have been mentioned would not have been to endanger people's lives, nor to engage in serious violence and so on. That is why--
Mr. McDonnell: I am grateful to the Minister. I hope that, if I were to come up before a court on such matters, he would be sitting on the bench. The miners' strike has been mentioned several times. That was an ideological cause. There is no doubt that the general secretary of the miners union at that time was pursuing a socialist cause in that strike. Furthermore, the strike involved serious violence against persons and property. Indeed, some of the Members who spoke in the debate admitted to that. The strike endangered life; it created a serious risk to the health and safety of the public. With the greatest respect to my hon. Friend, it is not up to him to decide on the definitions; a judge would do so--on that basis, we should be guilty.
Mr. Clarke: My hon. Friend is right to say that, at the end of the day, it would be for a judge to decide. However, I was asked for my view as to whether the miners' strike and various other actions could be caught by the legislation. I do not believe that they would. I said that on Second Reading, and have continued to say so all through the Bill's proceedings.
If one takes the view that there ought to be such legislation, the consequence is that one must have a definition of terrorism. I acknowledge the difficulty in drafting that definition, as I have done throughout the proceedings, and I have invited proposals for reaching a better definition. I have explained why we are not in a position to accept any of the amendments. They would not provide a better definition that the one offered in the Bill.
When the Liberal Democrats decide whether to proceed with amendments Nos. 192 or 193--they are not consequential amendments but independent and separate amendments operating in different ways--they must consider what types of terrorist activity might not be covered if either of their amendments were to be carried. Would, for example, the Tokyo sarin attack be covered if amendment No. 192 were accepted? I suspect that it might not. There might well be other activities that would not be covered. The hon. Gentleman and his party will make a judgment on that, but there is a genuine issue of balance that has to be resolved.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin): Order. The hon. Gentleman is not the only Member who has been guilty of making long interventions. I appeal to hon. Members to keep their interventions brief.