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Mr. Straw: My hon. Friend's first question was about Greenpeace and animal rights organisations. I am not a signed-up member of Greenpeace, but on its behalf I take considerable exception to it being lumped with some animal rights organisations. I answered the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham. I say with considerable care that I know of no evidence whatever related to Greenpeace's activities that could bring it remotely within the Bill's ambit. I could not be clearer about that.

Proscription of organisations is dealt with in part II. If my hon. Friend reads clause 3, as I am sure he will, he will see that an organisation becomes a candidate for proscription only if it is concerned in terrorism and, under subsection (5),

The power of proscription is of course an extreme power, and it has been used only in very specific circumstances in respect of Irish terrorism. My hon. Friend will be well aware that clause 5 provides that if the Secretary of State decides to proscribe an organisation, a judicial commission known as the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission will make the final decision about any proscription.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey) rose--

Mr. Straw: I shall make one more point before I give way to the hon. Gentleman.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) mentioned India. That is interesting because he may have the idea that the incitement provisions in clause 57 might lead to someone being charged in this country with incitement to commit, in India, one of the serious offences laid down in the clause. That is not the case, because since the introduction by the previous Labour Government of the Suppression of Terrorism Act 1978, incitement to commit such serious crimes in India and Council of Europe countries has been

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an offence. We are seeking, in a limited way, to remove certain anomalies in the criminal law, not to establish a new principle.

Mr. Hughes: As the Home Secretary knows, my colleagues and I support the end of piecemeal legislation and the introduction of UK-wide legislation. However, his definition of terrorism, which is at the heart of the Bill, goes beyond the dictionary definition, which concerns actions of a political nature, and it goes beyond the phrasing in Lord Lloyd's report, which relates to coercing Governments and, therefore, to the political process.

If we take into account clauses 1 and 38 and the incitement provisions, the Bill's definition sweeps in not only people who attack property for an environmental objective or for objectives connected with other general issues such as animal rights, but people who support organisations outside Governments in countries that are not democratic. All those people would now be included in the definition. Does the Home Secretary accept that it is a much wider definition than we have had before?

Mr. Straw: No, I do not--quite the reverse. The current definition of terrorism applies to Irish terrorism and international terrorism. I accept that the scope of the Bill is broader than that of current legislation, in that it encompasses domestic terrorism. I think that that is justified and anyone who is familiar with some of this country's not directly political, but ideological and religious groups would agree.

In Japan, a religious cult released nerve gas on the Tokyo underground: I hope nothing similar ever happens here, but, if it does, we need powers to deal with it. If the security forces were to obtain information that such an organisation was plotting such an outrage in this country, the security forces would need the powers provided in the Bill to prevent the outrage from occurring. That is the principal justification for introducing powers to arrest and detain on reasonable suspicion of involvement in acts of terrorism whose scope are wider than those covered in existing anti-terrorism legislation and in the normal criminal law, such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that the threshold in the Bill is lower than that in existing anti-terrorist legislation and that proposed in Lord Lloyd's report. The wording of existing provisions is different, talking of "violence" rather than "serious violence", so, in that respect, the threshold is raised by the Bill. The language we have used differs from Lord Lloyd's. He talks of government, but that is too specific: a terrorist act can threaten the foundations of our society without being exclusively directed against government, except when that word is understood in its broadest sense; therefore ours is a sensible and proportionate description.

I repeat that clause 1 does not create a terrorist offence. It sets out the circumstances in which terrorism takes place and defines terrorism; in turn, in limited circumstances, those provisions may trigger the use of the powers set out in the Bill. Those powers are backed by offences, but the clause does not in itself create any offences.

Mr. Alan Simpson (Nottingham, South): Many of us are concerned that the definition of terrorism has been

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broadened to encompass a series of offences that are currently covered by normal criminal law, and that it is hard to see how they will not fall within the new anti-terrorism law. My right hon. Friend says that there are different thresholds, but many Members of Parliament are involved in international campaigns, such as those that support, for example, the action of Kurds resisting being driven from their lands by the building of dams, the resistance of the Ogoni in Nigeria to the theft and pollution of their lands, and the resistance of the Amazon Indians to the destruction of their rain forests. All those campaigns of resistance have involved incidents of violent collision with those who would destroy people's livelihoods and lives. Despite my right hon. Friend's assurances, it is hard to see how such international campaigns, if supported by acts of solidarity within this country, will not be covered by the provisions of the Bill. Will he spell out where and why they will not be covered?

Mr. Straw: I understand my hon. Friend's concern. In general terms, people supporting one or another of the international causes he cites will not even remotely come under the Bill. It is perfectly possible that some of those who support those causes will conspire to commit, either abroad or in this country, acts that are plainly, by any definition, terrorist acts; in that case, they would come under the legislation. However, to think that the Bill will restrict the right of peaceful protest, demonstration and campaigning is wholly erroneous.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): My right hon. Friend has been generous in giving way on an important subject. My view is somewhat different from that of some of my colleagues, who are critical. I have always taken the view that Britain should not be used as a base for terrorism abroad. The use of this country for such a purpose cannot be defended or justified because of what happened previously in relation to the anti-apartheid movement, which I supported from day one and throughout my political life. Nevertheless, does my right hon. Friend accept that those of us who accept the broad thrust of the Bill have certain misgivings and feel that under a Government different from the present one civil liberties could be threatened or undermined? He has said that in combating terrorism we must take a proportional and responsible attitude and not give ammunition to the very people who, through their terrorism, also want to destroy or undermine our democracy. I hope that on Report, if not in Committee, he will be flexible in reconsidering various safeguards which would go further than the existing ones. After all, I speak as someone who supports what he is trying to do in combating terrorism.

Mr. Straw: I understand and share my hon. Friend's anxieties. I also share his view about the need for the powers that are set out in the Bill. I was about to say that we have put in place another profound safeguard against the disproportionate use of the powers that we are discussing, and that is the Human Rights Act 1998, which will come into force on 2 October 2000, before the Bill takes effect. That measure brings into our domestic law all the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights as well as specific articles, including article 5, which provides protection against arbitrary detention, and article 6, which provides the right to a fair trial.

Leaving aside whether or not successive Governments will have the same concern to balance liberty and the fight against terrorism as this Government have, the Human

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Rights Act will provide powerful control over the use of the powers that are set out in the Bill. I also say--I hope that this will be of reassurance to my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North, who was concerned, as I have been--that we took great exception in opposition to what we saw as particularly arbitrary aspects of the prevention of terrorism Acts. For example, we took exception to the use of exclusion powers, to Secretaries of State having power to authorise extensions of detention without judicial authority and to section 18 in the current Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, which relates to tipping off.

In each instance, we have made fundamental amendments. I have not operated exclusion powers since early 1998. I am sure that they were dropped altogether under PTA renewals, and they are absent from the Bill. We have ensured in the Bill that in place of a Secretary of State having the power to authorise an extension of detention, that power will be exercised by stipendiary magistrate--district judges, as they will come to be known from April next year. We were told for years and years that that would not be possible, but the change has been made in the Bill. It is one that meets the concerns that we expressed. Section 18 offences, which have given rise to considerable anxieties, have been dropped altogether.

We have sought to act proportionately. However, I accept the need--it is the role of the House--to examine with particularly great care that which we are proposing. If there are ways in which the Bill can be improved, it is our duty to accept those suggestions.

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