|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Blunkett: Well, it is, but that question has two answers. First, the person will be detained while that process takes place. Secondly, under the existing Acts and powers and in the circumstances where the Attorney- General would use his powers, military courts can also be used. In such circumstances, evidence can be presented in precisely the way that we intend under the SIAC process. I would not advocate such an approach, and I do not imagine for a moment that other hon. Members would.
Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East): I thank the Home Secretary for giving way so often and helping Back Benchers to understand this complicated Bill, but will he genuinely explain why clause 21 states:
I want to make progress by giving Members the opportunity to intervene on different parts of the Bill. Before I move quickly through the Bill in detail, I want to lay to rest once and for all the idea that, because action has been takenaction criticised by othersthat has liberated two-thirds of Afghanistan from the threat of the Taliban, the threat has somehow gone away. It has not. It is worth bearing in mind the fact that a wounded and cornered tiger is more dangerous than ever.
Further to the question raised by the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), I thought that, under the Bill, when a case could be brought to trial in the United Kingdomas I would expect for a case of terrorism in Northern Irelandthe person subject to immigration control would be subject to due legal process in Britain. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that where it is possible to conduct a trial in the UKbecause the evidence and the witnesses are herewe will seek to bring these criminals to trial here?
Mr. Blunkett: My answer is unequivocally yes. Of course we would do that. The hypothetical question was not about the act that could be chargedsuch as organising terrorism in Northern Irelandbut about whether it could be shown that there was a link to terrorism world wide.
Mr. Fisher: I am most grateful to the Home Secretary for his patience. Following on from the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), do not the courts in this country have all the powers that they need to take evidence in camera, and are not judges able to clear the court? In respect of any evidencemy right hon. Friend identified it earlierthat prejudiced sources or the security forces or is prejudicial to the case,
Mr. Blunkett: My hon. Friend is right. The difficulty, as adjudged in passing the measure that set up the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and that results from the challenge of Mullah Rehman, is that some evidence is not admissible in such a court, but it is admissible in SIAC. That protects the security and intelligence services. The required threshold has to reach the level where SIAC adjudges that the decision taken by the Home Secretary on advice is correct. The Rehman judgment affirmed that what we believed to be the case over the past four years was indeed the casethat the threshold of evidence that would not be admissible in a normal court is acceptable in the SIAC process. I hope that that clarifies the position, because there has been a major misunderstanding about that at the public level. Although I have tried on various news and current affairs programmes to clarify the issue, it has not been possible to spell it out.
Parts I and II complement the Proceeds of Crime Bill in stopping organised terrorism and crime being perpetrated through money laundering by organised financea subject that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer considered in Ottawa. We are seeking the ability to freeze assets, to take unified action with other countries and to introduce restraining orders. I also referred to the terrorism finance unit.
Part 3 will enhance the power of disclosure to law enforcement agencies, with clear guidelines, and allow disclosure to be presented in constrained circumstances, including those that relate to criminal investigation.
Part 4 deals with the issues to which I have just referred. In addition, I intend to make a small amendment to clause 25. During the deliberations of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, it was pointed out to me that there should be a test of reasonableness. It is my intent, therefore, to introduce an amendment to clarify that. I hope that that information helps the House and shows that we are genuinely prepared to listen and respond to what is proposed on such matters.
Part 5 covers issues that relate to the controversy that has arisen in respect of religious hate. For the sake of clarification, I again want to put on the record what we seek we do. The debate on this subject has been going on for a long time. We were approached by leaders of the Muslim communityit was a representative leadership groupwho thought that it was only right, fair and protective to include religion with race in terms of avoiding incitement to hate using the Public Order Act 1986. I considered that and decided that their point was fair and reasonable. That suggestion was also made when the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 went through Parliament and the Opposition pressed us hard to implement it. At the time, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who is now Foreign Secretary, accepted that there was a reasonable case for keeping it under review, but that it would not be introduced then.
Since then, others from the Muslim communityrepresentative or otherwisehave said that they do not like the idea. It has been suggestedI heard people say this as recently as this morning on the radiothat it might be used against Muslims. That is true; it might, because
The case is to be adjudged by the Attorney-General and brought only if he believes that there is a case to be heard. That brings the law into line with those of the Jewish or Sikh faith who have already been adjudged by the courts to be covered by the term "race".
Sir Brian Mawhinney (North-West Cambridgeshire): I am grateful to the Home Secretary for giving way and want to put a question to him from a Christian point of view. He will know, to use his own words, that two of the central foundations of the Christian faithnamely, that Jesus Christ was both man and God and that people can get into a relationship with God only through Jesus Christare deemed by some in other religions to be insulting and offensive. Indeed, in some countries it is so insulting and offensive that the very statement of Christian faith is enough to put someone in prison. Will the affirmation of those fundamental Christian beliefs fall foul of his Bill?
Tony Baldry (Banbury): I fully support the Home Secretary's intention to extend to Muslims the protection afforded by race relations legislation to members of the Sikh and Jewish faiths. However, the problems with that legislation, including the exclusion of Muslims from its provisions, have simply been created by judges in their interpretation of it. Why does not the Home Secretary simply amend the Race Relations Acts of 1965 and 1976 to extend their protection to the Muslim community, rather than creating a new criminal offence? Will the Home Secretary acknowledge