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Mr. Clarke: There is a case for a full debate on these matters. I shall indicate, as I go through the substance, the areas in which points have been made that need to be discussed very fully in the Standing Committee. However,

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that does not add up to an argument for a Special Standing Committee. I shall now give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North.

Mr. Corbyn: The Minister mentioned that the Home Secretary had given the authorisation for the Bill under the Human Rights Act 1998. The Bill contains provisions that allow detention without access to legal advice for 48 hours, the rights of invasion of privacy, powers of stop and search and the power to proscribe organisations operating in other countries which help people in this country. Does the Minister not believe that many of these will be tested in the European Court of Human Rights or under British law when the Bill is finally enacted? What will the Government do if the Bill is found to be inadequate in that respect? Will they accept the power of the European convention on human rights or try to legislate around it?

Mr. Clarke: I remind my hon. Friend and the House that it was this Government who decided to incorporate the convention into British law and establish these rights. As a result of that law, we must give our verdict on the front of the Bill as to whether we think that it complies with the convention. Our view is that it does. As my hon. Friend suggests, any decision that is raised may be tested through the judicial process. We shall have to consider that aspect as the Bill progresses.

That leads me to the third procedural point that I wish to make--Parliament's continued attention to the matter. A number of proposals have been made in the course of the debate, including renewal every Parliament, annual reports to Parliament and to the Select Committee on Home Affairs, and scrutiny under the European convention on human rights, as mentioned by my hon. Friend. These are serious points and the Government take them seriously. We are prepared to discuss in Committee the best way of ensuring that the whole House can judge these matters as the Bill progresses and consider the best way to proceed.

There are a number of different views in this approach, and many hon. Members on both sides of the House have indicated the importance of Parliament having the continued right to scrutinise this effectively through the whole process. I am prepared to say that we shall return to the matter in Committee so that we may discuss the most effective way in which to proceed.

My fourth procedural point is that we are repealing the exclusion orders, something which several hon. Members have welcomed. That powerful and positive development should be welcomed on both sides of the House.

Mr. Simon Hughes rose--

Mr. Clarke: The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey has had a lot to say, but I shall give way to him once more.

Mr. Hughes: I accept that that is so. The Minister's comments on the possibility of reaching an agreement on reconsidering the Bill are welcome. We, and I hope the other parties, shall take seriously any all-party discussion on how any legislation can be opened to greater scrutiny in future.

Mr. Clarke: I am grateful for that offer.

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Let me turn to part VII, which deals with Northern Ireland, and which several hon. Members have mentioned. Our whole approach to this part of the Bill is part of a process in which all our colleagues in Northern Ireland have participated. The Government are prepared to remove part VII as soon as the assessed level of threat means that it is safe to do so. It is part of the process through which we have gone and to which both sides of the House are committed. We intend to be in tune with the process rather than being at odds with it. That is why the Bill has been introduced, and why we have dealt with these matters in this way.

Several hon. Members have gone over the history of their roles in the process in entertaining and sometimes informative style. I thank the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) for all that he has said and for the support that he has given to the leader of his party. He raised particular points about schedule 2 and proscribed organisations, and I can tell him that the Continuity IRA and the group that calls itself Uglaigh na hEireann--otherwise, the Real IRA--are proscribed by the general proscription of the Irish Republican Army in schedule 2.

The nub of the debate is the definition in part I. Several clarifications must be made for the sake of clarity. First, our definition does not threaten demonstrations and expressions of opinion. Secondly, contrary to the suggestions of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Simpson) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield, it was not inserted into the Bill at the behest of international corporate interests. Thirdly, the definition will threaten organisations that seek to prosecute ideological views by the threat of serious violence. That is our intention, because that is a dangerous area.

Insufficient attention has been given to one further point of the Bill. The threshold of the definition--not its breadth--is higher than was previously the case. The tests applied in the Bill involve "serious violence", endangering


or creating


    "a serious risk to the health or safety of the public".

The test is not "any use of violence". Acts that intimidate the public but for which no qualifying motivation can be demonstrated are no longer caught by the Bill. As at present, no offence of terrorism is linked to the new definition. The major offences for which any terrorist may be charged--this answers the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell)--will, as at present, be criminal offences under the ordinary criminal law. Those include murder, conspiracy to cause explosions and so on.

The definition triggers extra powers for the police to prevent and investigate terrorist actions and threats, such as stop and search, the power to raise cordons and a special power of arrest. Special additional powers and offences are being introduced to thwart the establishment and continuance of terrorist groups, such as a power to proscribe and a bar on fundraising.

In light of some allegations that swirled around the Chamber earlier this evening, I want to make it clear that the new definition would not necessarily catch the actions of any domestic groups currently in existence. My right

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hon. Friend the Home Secretary has no plans at present to proscribe any domestic group. Circumstances may of course change, and it is right that we should have the flexibility to respond if they do. However, if groups do not engage in serious violence--to the best of my knowledge and that of my right hon. Friend, most do not--the new definition cannot catch them. For example, peaceful demonstrations or strikes could not be caught. That clarification is important for the whole process.

I acknowledge that the question of definition is a real issue, as the right hon. Member for Bridgwater pointed out. Serious proposals have been made on both sides of the House as to how we should deal with that question. Opposition Front-Bench Members offered to introduce a series of probing amendments in Committee; I look forward to them. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South suggested an alternative definition, which he felt would be more appropriate than the one in the Bill.

I agree with the right hon. Member for Bridgwater that we need to find the difficult balance between the additional powers under the Bill and the additional safeguards and responsibilities that attach to it. Definition is important and the balance of judgment is difficult. We shall debate the various issues that arise from that in Committee. I am fully ready to explore those matters in Committee, as long as we do not water down one of the critical commitments of the Bill--to deal with terrorism in the most effective way.

Dr. Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak): If my hon. Friend is not prepared to accept the amendment to create a Special Standing Committee, which I regret, given that the principal Opposition are not against the Bill will he ensure that the Government Members on the Standing Committee include some of those who have expressed concerns about the Bill and who will engage in vigorous discussions on the points that he has just raised?

Mr. Clarke: One of the great tragedies of my life--hitherto I have not shared it with the House--is that I have never been a Whip and thus am not entirely privy to the processes of the Committee of Selection. However, I am sure that that mysterious group--whoever they are--will have heard what my hon. Friend said.

Proscribed organisations are dealt with under part II, and there is a specific definition. There is an appeals process--to the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission--as set out by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. We acknowledge that the power to proscribe is an extreme and significant one. The groups currently listed in schedule 2 are Irish organisations that are already proscribed under existing legislation. We are considering which international groups it might be appropriate to add, taking into account such factors as the nature and scale of the group's activities, the specific threat that they pose to UK and British nationals abroad, the extent of their presence in the UK, and the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism. However, I emphasise that proscription is a heavy power; it will be used only when absolutely necessary. It is part of the balance that I mentioned earlier.


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