Mr. Clarke: I give that reassurance and I shall revert to that point later. I celebrate the various values of freedom of expression that are at the core of our society for precisely the reason that my hon. Friend states. If he will be patient, I shall deal with the need to defend those values against those who seek to destroy them.
Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central) (Lab):
Does my right hon. Friend accept that all the historical events that he listed involved acts of terrorism according to the definition in the Terrorism Act 2000 and that they
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would all be culpable under the Bill? Glorifying, inciting, encouraging or trying to emulate those events would, in some people's view, be offences under the Bill.
Mr. Clarke: I greatly respect my hon. Friend; we served together on the Treasury Committee, but he is wrong. If he goes through the list in detail, he will see that the striking fact is that those changes were made by democratic processes and with little violence.
Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): Does the Home Secretary accept that, in contrast to the society that he has just described, the terrorism that threatens this country is based on the fascist-type ideology of hatred and an obsessive wish to destroy the west and modernity?
Mr. John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab): The House welcomes the progress to democracy in many parts of the world, but it is relatively recent and we cannot be sure that it is permanent. I am one of those who, in the 1980s, regularly produced material that praised the then Government of Nicaragua for their work in education, health and tackling poverty. That Government came to power in a revolution in which a brutal dictatorship was overthrown. Were those events to repeat themselves, I cannot understand how I would not be guilty of an offence under clauses 1 and 2.
Mr. Clarke: With all due respect to my right hon. Friend, he is wrong. We have had that conversation privately and in the Select Committee that he chairs. I respect the motivation in Nicaraguait also applies to other parts of the worldto which he refers, but I do not accept his point. To argue that what he described would in any way violate the terms of the Bill is to misread the measure.
The fight for democracy is at the core of the changes that have occurred. It is precisely because we have developed a highly successful model of integration, which enables people of all backgrounds and faiths to prosper and live together within the safeguard of common values, that our society has become an affront and a reproach to the ideologues who believe that only their way of living is right. We should make no mistake: the threat that we face is ideological. It is not driven by poverty, social exclusion or racial hatred.
Those who attacked London in July and those who have been engaged in or committed the long list of previous terrorist atrocities were not the poor and the dispossessed. They were, for the most part, well educated and prosperous. Terrorists in the UK have also been ethnically and nationally diverse. Ideas drive those people forward. To revert to the point that my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham) correctly made, unlike the liberation movements of the post world war two era, they are not in pursuit of political ideas such as national independence from colonial rule, equality for all citizens without regard for race or creed or
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freedom of expression without totalitarian repression. Such ambitions are, at least in principle, negotiable and, in many cases, have been negotiated.
However, there can be no negotiation about the recreation of the caliphate in this country, the imposition of sharia law, the suppression of equality between the sexes or the ending of free speech. Those values are fundamental to our civilisation and are simply not up for negotiation. It is equally wrong to claim, as some do, that the motivation of al-Qaeda and its allies is some desire to seek justice in the middle eastthe part of the world where progress has been most difficult to achieve in the past 30 years and where the litany of change that I read out has made so little headway. Al-Qaeda and its allies have no clear demands for the middle east. The only common thread in their approach is a violent and destructive opposition to democracy in any form. They find democracy in Palestine abhorrent and seek to destroy it.
Al-Qaeda finds democracy in Israel abhorrent and seeks to destroy it. It finds democracy in Afghanistan abhorrent and seeks to destroy it. Now it finds the democracy in Iraq, which the United Nations is trying to support and establish, so abhorrent that it does whatever it can to try to destroy it.
Al-Qaeda's methods, too, are different. It recognises no common bonds with people who have different beliefs and its members are prepared to kill indiscriminately. Indeed, mass murder is their explicit objectivethe measure of success in their terms. Their methods of recruitment bear more comparison to self-destructive cults than political movements. However, we must acknowledge that their modern nihilism is innovative, flexible and cunning. Al-Qaeda and the networks that are inspired by it approach the task with all the resources of modern technology and all the focus of modern zealotry.
The most important conclusion to draw from this analysis is that there is no particular Government policy decision, or even an overall policy stance, which we could change in order somehow to remove our society from the al-Qaeda firing line. Its nihilism means that our societies would cease to be a target only if we were to renounce all the values of freedom and liberty that we have fought to extend over so many years. Our only answer to this threat must be to contest and then to defeat it, and that is why we need this legislation.
I do not disagree with what the Home Secretary is saying about al-Qaeda, but he must realise that the terrorism covered by the Bill also extends to overseas terrorism. There might well be movements designed to displace by violent means the Administration in Burma or that of President Mugabe. There are many people in the House who would want to see both those regimes displaced and who might
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countenance violent action being taken to achieve that. Does the Home Secretary want to turn those people into criminals?
Mr. Clarke: Wanting to change the regime in Zimbabwe or Burma is the legitimate right of every citizen of this country. We might have different views about which regimes would qualify, but I would argue that there is almost a duty for democrats to argue for change in certain areas. It would not be right, however, to say that blowing up a tourist bus or a tube train, or taking action of that type, was a legitimate way of changing the regime of Robert Mugabe or whoever. That would not be acceptable
Of course the right hon. and learned Gentleman has the right to say that there is room for discussion about where the line should be drawn between peaceful and non-peaceful, and violent and non-violent action. I shall return to those issues when I come to the definition of terrorism in the Bill.
I suggest that the best way to contest this threat is by building and strengthening the democracy of our society, by isolating extremism in its various manifestations, by strengthening the legal framework within which we contest terrorism, and by developing more effective means to do so. That is why, particularly since 7 July but also before then, we have worked very hardmy right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench in particularto build our relations with the Muslim communities and the communities of all faiths, and to discuss how we can build our democracy and strengthen it so that all communities, young and old, men and women, have a genuine, strong stake in our society.
That means that we have to promote a society based on the true respect of one individual for another, one culture for another, one faith for another and one race for another. It also means promoting the view that democracy is the means of making change in our society. We therefore need to take steps to isolate extremist organisations and those individuals who promote extremism. In so doing, it is essential for us to work closely with the mainstream faith communities and to understand their preoccupations. That is why we need legislation to outlaw incitement to hatred based on religion or race. We need legislation that makes it clear that the glorification of terrorism is not a legitimate political expression of view. We wish to encourage faiths to pursue their faith openly and directly.
We want to attack the focus of extremist organisations. We are working, with international allies as necessary, to identify the networks and individuals who are promoting extremism, and we will use legal power to disrupt and
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weaken them. We intend to remove from the United Kingdom those foreign citizens who are using their time in our country to promote extremism, although that course of action is not legally straightforward. All the measures we have taken will further isolate and weaken those extremists who wish to promote terrorism as an appropriate form of activity. However, we need to strengthen the legal framework within which we can address those issues.
Throughout all this, I assert the need to retain and strengthen our human rights and the values that underlie them, but, at the same time, I say that the right to be protected from the death and destruction caused by indiscriminate terrorism is at least as important as the right of the terrorist to be protected from torture and ill-treatment. Our peoples expect not only the protection of individual rights but the protection of democratic values such as safety and security under the law. We need a legal framework that seeks to address the difficult balance in relation to those rights. We cannot properly fight terrorism with one legal hand tied behind our back, or give terrorists the unfettered right to defend themselves as they promote and prepare violent attacks on our society. That is why we are proposing legal changes in Britain to outlaw acts preparatory to terrorism and terrorist training.