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: That is exactly the point. The hon. Lady seems to be oblivious to the fact that if she had made the statement that she has just made anywhere other than in the Chamber, she would already be guilty of the crime of incitement. Therefore, why on earth are we discussing this measure? It clearly broadens the interpretation beyond what anyone would consider reasonable in terms of the right to free speech.
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Mr. Grieve: The hon. Gentleman is right. It is impossible to understand what the Government are trying to do, except for broadening that interpretation. I regret having to say so, but this is all the more sinister for being so opaque.
Mr. John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab): Is not the problem that, in the example given by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews), if one deleted the words "destruction of power lines"or whateverand inserted the words "killing of civilians" and "oppressive regime", the Government certainly intend to catch that under clause 1? The only thing that would prevent someone from being prosecuted for using such language in the South African context, or in the context of suicide bombers, would be the decision of the Attorney-General. In effect, a political judgment would be made about whether someone was to be prosecuted? Is there a way round that?
Mr. Grieve: The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. One difficulty is that the discussion on the definition of terrorismto which he has paid a great deal of attentionhas been deferred until tomorrow's debate. I tabled an amendment, which I deliberately tried to introduce into clause 1, so that we might have that discussion at the same time as our deliberations on the clause, although I do not criticise the Clerk for having moved the amendment away.
The right hon. Gentleman highlights the fact that it is possible to look at this issue from another angle, which involves the definition of terrorism. At the moment, however, we have to proceed on the basis that the Government's definition of terrorism is extremely wide. Moreover, they are seeking for the first time to create a worldwide jurisdiction with the capacity to criminalise anyone in the world for making a comment that falls within the UK definition of terrorism, which is intended for conditions in this country. I have to say to the Minister that that is a bold thing to try to do.
Mr. Grieve: Indeed, and pregnant with disaster, if the Government get it wrong. It will not be adequate to fall back, as the Government will, on the argument that that will not matter because the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Attorney-General will be able properly to interpret the will of Parliament. We cannot do that.
Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (LD): Does this exchange not reinforce the hon. Gentleman's earlier point that the second part of clause 1 is really designed to get the Prime Minister off the hook of having too glibly come up with a new crime, without considering the consequences? Is the hon. Gentleman not also right to point out that giving people the protection of the Attorney-General is completely unfair, because they will have to judge the mind of the Attorney-General in deciding whether they might face prosecution?
Yes, the hon. Gentleman is right. There are often accusations that the application or interpretation of
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the law by law enforcement authorities can be selective. The truth is that, as in all human affairs, that probably does happen. The Bill creates the grounds for a wholly selective legal application, and I remain profoundly unconvinced about the desirability of the glorification clause. Everything that we have discussed today, including the matter raised by the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), could be dealt with if the glorification clause were removed.
Chris Bryant: The hon. Gentleman said something earlier with which I wholly agree, namely that many Members on both sides of the Committee are more concerned about the issue of glorification than they are about many of the other provisions in the Bill, not least because many of us have taken part in the fightnot necessary the physical fight, but the ideological oneagainst oppressive regimes around the world.
I want to tease another response from the hon. Gentleman. He says that glorification is a stand-alone issue, but in fact the clause is worded to contain three lock-ins that have to go together. First, there has to be
Mr. Grieve: If it is not a separate offence, why is it there? What is the point of having clause 1(2) unless the intention behind it is to highlight a particular area and to give a steer to the judge and jury. I see the Minister nodding: that is obviously exactly what is intended. I do not agree with that. The jury should decide what incitement is. In some cases, jurors might conclude that a form of exhortation or glorification amounted to incitement; in other cases they might decide that it did not. That should be a jury matter, not a matter on which the Government impose their view, especially as that would have the capacity to distort the entire concept of the legislation.
Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): Can the hon. Gentleman think of many circumstances in which an act could be interpreted as glorification without it being possible to infer that people were being encouraged to emulate it?
I can envisage circumstances in which people might wish to glorify past events. We are talking about existing circumstances, but that is rather loose terminology. It might be possible to have an ongoing conflict in which violence was not occurring. Any glorification of the recent events in that conflict would therefore be seen as having relevance to existing circumstances. That is an example. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is likely that the glorification of a specific activity will be caught by the legislation anyway. That is all the more reason why it should not be highlighted. We have no business doing that.
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John Bercow : It might be argued that an academic treatise was precisely the kind of example in which glorification would not imply any desire to emulate an activity. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) wrongly takes comfort from the notion of an interlinkagein a sense, a mutual dependencebetween the three separate concepts that he mentioned. May I suggest that it is not a good idea for there to be three such concepts in any one clauselet alone a subsectionand certainly not when there is no requirement to prove intent?
Mr. Grieve: I agree. On academic treatises, it is quite common, particularly in philosophy departments, to ask university undergraduates to produce essays on the question of whether violence is ever justified. I seem to remember writing one myself. It is not difficult to put together a coherent academic argument, based on recent examples, that good might have come from the use of violence. Such writing would be caught by the operation of the Bill. An academic treatise might reach the conclusion that political violence, including acts of terrorism, was justified in some circumstances. Irrespective of whether the context was a foul regime, or of whether in practice the violence involved attacking the security forces while respecting civilians, such a treatise would be caught by the Bill as it stands
Mr. Grieve: The Minister shakes her head in disapproval, but that is what the Bill currently says and there is no escape from that. The Minister might have all sorts of other explanations to advance as to why we should vote for the measure, but that is not one of them. What the Bill says at present precisely catches such examples.
I want to move on briefly to cover the amendments that have been tabled and then give other hon. Members the opportunity to participate. As I said, amendment No. 79 would replace the existing tests to make it quite clear that there were two testsone of specific intent and one of recklessness. I am always conscious, particularly late at night in my room at the House of Commons, that drafting could be wrong, but that is the intention behind the amendment. It would therefore make a concession, which I am mindful the Committee might not wish to accept, that recklessness could be an ingredient of this offence, rather than it involving merely a specific intent. I hope the Minister specifically tackles that matter when she responds to the debate.
Amendment No. 1 would remove everything except specific intention. Therefore, there would have to be a specific intention to carry out the offence. Indeed, I rather thought that this would be the lead amendment for the purposes of this afternoon's proceedings, which is why I tabled it first. Although that has not happened, I might want to commend such a possibility to the Committee. I want to listen to what the Minister has to say in respect of that. Amendment No. 2 deals with another example of recklessness and would remove the likelihood altogether.
Amendment No. 4 relates to glorification. This is, for me, a key amendment because it would remove the glorification provision in its entirety. I simply say to
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the Minister that, at this stage, I will need a lot of persuading not to put that to the vote when the time comeswith the leave of the Chairman of Ways and Meansbecause I believe the amendment is critical. I shall be interested to hear Members' views.
Amendment No. 6 tries to define recklessness according to its impact on members of the public, so it can be linked to the previous amendment. As will be seen, it involves the consequential effect of the statement on members of the public. In a way, that provides an alternative approach to that of the Government. My concern, as I said, is that I find the Government's wording extremely woolly, and I much prefer the old clarity, which seemed to exist in earlier legislation and which we seem to be abandoning so quickly. Amendments Nos. 54 and 78 also deal with the issue of specific intent. Finally, amendment No. 26 has been tabled by Government Back Benchers.
Those are the amendments that I am putting to the Committee, and the view I take at the moment is that we must restructure the way in which clause 1 is worded. We must ensure that it is clear. We must decide whether it should involve an offence of specific intent only or whether we want to add anything to that. I have an open mind on whether we should do so. Above all, I take the view that the glorification provision ought to be deleted.
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