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Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): I know that my hon. Friend is not a lawyer, any more than I am, but is it not the case that judges can now refer to Hansard? What he has just said is a very important point should a prosecution ever be brought--in spite of all that he has said--in relation to an industrial dispute. Am I right to suppose that judges can refer to Hansard if requested by counsel to do so?
Mr. Clarke: I am not a lawyer, but I think that it is open to counsel to make any reference to Hansard in
Mr. Corbyn: I am sure that my hon. Friend will appreciate that this is an important point about which several of my hon. Friends and I are concerned. Can he assure us that if some rogue prosecution for terrorism should be mounted against an organisation such as Greenpeace--as my hon. F the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) suggested--the Government would not pursue that prosecution? If there was an attempt to pursue such a prosecution, can my hon. Friend the Minister confirm that the Government would be prepared to amend the Bill accordingly?
Mr. Clarke: Although I am not a lawyer, I recognise the phrase "rogue prosecution" and I understand from my learned friends that there is no such thing as a rogue prosecution that involves lawyers. I am describing the activities of the organisations as they exist in current circumstances. If Greenpeace decided to breach the various causes in the Bill, that would be a different issue which would have to be addressed, so I cannot give my hon. Friend an absolute guarantee. However, I can guarantee that if an organisation does not violate the provisions of clause 1, any prosecution could not succeed.
My final point to my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington is that, while I acknowledge his creativity in tabling an amendment based on previous legislation, it contains a flaw. It is not the flaw of the use of the phrase
Mr. Simon Hughes: An additional point in reply to the point from the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn)--and I hope that the Minister regards it as helpful--is that, subject to some limited exceptions, all prosecutions under the Bill would require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Therefore, to some extent, parliamentary accountability would exist through the Law Officers in the case of any aberrant prosecution.
Dr. Godman: The procurator fiscal in Scotland.
Mr. Clarke: That is true, and as my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Inverclyde says, the decision would go to the procurator fiscal in Scotland.
Mr. Corbyn: What would be the Government's attitude to an attempt to use extradition law to obtain the removal of a foreign national legally resident in this country who was deemed to fall within the definitions for support for an organisation in their own country?
Mr. Clarke: I regret to say that I have to duck that question. Extradition law is exceptionally complicated and we are reviewing it in the light of the experience of the attempted extradition of the former dictator of Chile. I am hesitant to touch on what would or would not be grounds for extradition in any particular case. However, I am happy to write to my hon. Friend to set out my understanding when I have had a chance to take advice on that point.
Mr. Corbyn: I look forward to receiving my hon. Friend's letter, which I shall treasure as being from one non-lawyer to another. Can he also assure me that whoever reviews the legislation will also be asked to undertake a review of this aspect of the Bill, which has enormous implications in respect of our human rights legislation and the convention that will become British law in October?
Mr. Clarke: The parliamentary reporting process established in the Bill will ensure that the review made available to the House every year takes account of all aspects of the operation of the legislation, including the aspect raised by my hon. Friend.
My hon. Friend makes a serious point, and is right to raise it in this context. However, the approach that I intend to take is to ensure that, once the institution proposed in the Bill is established and fully operational, the full record of the debates on the matter is made available for consideration.
I turn finally to the points raised by the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham. I appreciate that his intention is to extend the scope of the application of the "influencing a Government" definition of terrorism to cover situations where chemical, biological or other agents rather than conventional explosives are used in a terrorist attack.
As the Government explained when the amendments were tabled on Report in the House of Lords, the disapplication is intended to cover a set of circumstances that are rare, but which should not be ignored. Those circumstances would arise when an individual or place is attacked by a terrorist group whose intention is to "take out" that person or place for its own sake, rather than as a means of influencing a Government or intimidate the public.
In introducing the disapplication, the Government felt that we needed to strike the right balance between ensuring that the most likely circumstances in which such cases might occur were covered, and broadening the disapplication so much that it undermined the usefulness
I hope that I have dealt with the points raised in the debate. We made it clear from the outset that we recognised that the definition of terrorism was key to the whole Bill, and that we were committed to getting it right. We have tried to listen to concerns expressed at all stages of the debate in the House, and we have made a range of changes to try to address those concerns. We believe that the definition as amended in another place is an improvement, but we do not believe that the further modifications proposed add up to further improvements.
We must have a workable definition that is broad enough to cover the range of circumstances that we can reasonably anticipate might confront us, without going too wide. The definition must be easy to apply, even under extreme time pressures. We believe that we have achieved those objectives in the definition as amended in the other place, and I hope that the House will support the Government amendments.
Mr. Simon Hughes: I am grateful for the Minister's assurance that the Government will seek to ensure that the report provided for by clause 125 will cover the concerns about the definition of terrorism raised in this debate by hon. Members of all parties. That is welcome, as is the procedure for getting the matter right. Some of us argued for an automatic review, but a mechanism that combines an annual report and the methodology that the Minister has set out will be very helpful.
I posed a specific question, by way of example, to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) and then to the Minister. It is possible to apply that example to one or more of the offences under the Bill. Most obviously, clause 16 makes it an offence to use money or other property for the purpose of terrorism. It takes no great stretch of the imagination to contemplate a person using money or other property to set up a raid on a post office, and that would bring that offence within the criteria set out by the Minister.
That example illustrates the prospective, theoretical danger of an interpretation that makes the Bill wider than we might wish. The matter will, of course, be subject to the requirements and consideration of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the procurator fiscal, and the Director of Public Prosecutions (Northern Ireland). That is a protection for all of us, and other provisions require orders to be laid before the House later.
I do not pretend, and never have pretended, that the amendments tabled by my hon. Friends and me, or the amendment in lieu tabled by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell), are the ideal solution. I think that we have all been honest enough to admit that. We have made attempts, collectively, to get a better Bill and, to be fair, the work has produced results and rewards. It would be wrong to suggest that the Bill would be perfect if our amendments were accepted or that it is perfect as it stands. The Bill would be imperfect in either case.
Against that background, I am happy to accept the Minister's good faith, in terms of working with colleagues on both sides of the House to ensure that we keep the matter under review. We will want to do that--none of us will let the Bill disappear from sight once it becomes law. On that basis, I do not intend to press our amendments.
Lords amendments Nos. 2 and 3 agreed to.