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Mr. Clarke: That case would be considered by the court at the time, but I should point out that the individual concerned has recentlymore recently than the period to which the hon. Gentleman refersgone out of his way to condemn, at length, terrorist acts. I am not an expert on his writings and works, but his conduct in respect of all such issues should be taken in the round.
Mr. Denham : I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who makes a powerful case for legislation to deal with the terrorist threat that we face, but does he not acknowledge that this legislation goes far wider than that? It is a question not of someone in this country supporting an action taken somewhere else in the world, but of anyone anywhere in the world supporting any type of violence. If an Uzbek living in Uzbekistan supported the destruction of a statue as a symbol of opposition to the tyrannical regime in his country, he would be guilty of an offence under clause 17, and liable to prosecution and seven years' imprisonment, should he come to this country. Is it really our intention to do the dirty work for some of the most oppressive and tyrannical regimes in the world?
As my right hon. Friend knows, it is not our intention to do anybody's dirty work; rather, we
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intend to do our best to protect this countryand, indeed, the worldagainst terrorism as a means of political change. All our constituents will want us to do that as best we can. That said, I concede, as I have to my right hon. Friend privately and in his Committee, that we have to look at these definitions in order to avoid such questions arising. I say again
We will look at these issues in Committee, and as I have said to the Home Affairs Committee and to others, if amendments are tabled that seem to meet the concerns expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen, we will look at them very seriously. In our opinion the definitions in the Terrorism Act 2000, which form the basis of our current position, are the best founded that we have in our law, and they have not led to the abuses that some people are concerned about.
Mr. Clarke: I know that a lot of Members want to get in, but I shall give way twice more and then make some more progress. I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts).
Mr. Clive Betts (Sheffield, Attercliffe) (Lab): I thank the Home Secretary for giving way. I know that he genuinely wants to win over the Muslim community in this country in the fight against terrorism, but I wonder whether he understands the point that Muslims in my constituency made to me. They said that despite any assurances that prosecutions may generally not be in the public interest, the thousands of people who support resistance to what they regard as the occupation of Palestine or who support those whom they regard as freedom fighters in Kashmir will feel criminalised by this legislation. It will do nothing to win them over in the general fight against terrorism, in which we need their support.
On the contrary; I believe that we are doing a great deal to win those people over through our actions in the communitiesI described those actions earlier, and my hon. Friend is pursuing themand through our efforts to promote a peaceful settlement in the middle east. Those who believe that blowing up a tourist coach in Tel Aviv are in some sense moving that peace process forward are mistaken. In my opinion, they are setting back that process.[Interruption.] I would argue that the point applies in all such circumstances. My hon. Friend is correct to point to the importance of a very close dialogue with the communities in question, but it is very important not to confuse an argument for
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a particular form of political change in a particular placethe middle east, for examplewith an argument for the form of violent change that has been described.
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. Is it not true that the Bill's definition of terrorism goes rather further than he is suggesting? Paragraph 19 of the explanatory notes states:
"Section 1(5) makes it clear that . . . an act is also for the purposes of terrorism if it is taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation. Clause 20(2) of the Bill makes it clear that acts (or act) of terrorism as used in the Bill includes an act taken for the purposes of terrorism and so includes an act taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation."
There is no doubt that Hamas is a terrorist organisation and that it is already proscribed under existing legislation. Let us consider the question of its having a major internal debate about whether to get involved in the political process in the west bank. If a Member of this House tried to use their influence with Hamasthrough intermediaries or directlyto persuade it to get involved in that political process, that would probably be to the benefit of that organisation. Would it be criminal to do so?
Mr. Kilfoyle: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. Like every other Member, I get regular missives in the names of Members of the other House on behalf of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which commits acts of sabotage and violence in Iran against the elected Iranian Government. Would those who advocate its cause be guilty of an offence under this legislation?[Interruption.]
As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) points out from a sedentary position, that is an interesting reinterpretation of the House of Lords' role. I cannot comment on a particular
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organisation, but I shall look at the case that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) mentions.
The Bill creates a new offence of acts preparatory to terrorism that I hope will find favour in all parts of the House. It also deals with training for terrorism and makes it an offence to give or receive training for terrorist purposes, or to attend a terrorist training camp. It contains the necessary measures to enable the United Kingdom to ratify the United Nations convention on the suppression of nuclear terrorism, and it extends the offence of criminal trespass to civil nuclear sites for reasons that, I hope, all Members will understand, given that such sites need the maximum possible protection. On that theme, we have decided that a small number of key military sites should be covered by the protection afforded by the offence of trespassing on a designated site in sections 128 to 131 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. An order designating those sites to be protected will be submitted to the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence in due course.
I should perhaps have emphasised more strongly in my responses the fact that all prosecutions for offences in part 1 require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions and that any offences involving the affairs of another country also require the consent of the Attorney-General. There is therefore a serious bar in the process in respect of some of the issues that have been raised.
Part 2 makes changes in respect of proscription. I believe that proscription provides an important part of our armoury in the fight against terrorism and I am grateful that the House recently endorsed without a Division the order to proscribe an additional 15 organisations. The Bill widens the criteria for proscription to encompass groups that glorify terrorism, where it is reasonable to expect that such glorification will be seen by others as an inducement to emulate the terrorist acts in question.
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