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Mr. Hogg: The hon. Gentleman says that the subsection does not add anything. What he means, surely, is that it extends the range of activities that will be caught by clause 1.

Mr. Carmichael: That is true. When I said that the subsection did not add anything, I meant that it did not add anything positive. It adds a great deal that is negative. As I may have already said, it contributes substantially to the lack of clarity in the Bill, but it does not add anything that we want.

The lack of a proper definition of terrorism, along with the wide jurisdiction envisaged in the Bill, raises serious concern in my mind about the possible implications for free speech. The defences in subsection (5) are very tightly drawn. I defy anyone to explain to me why paragraph (a) is there or what it means: it is one of the more impenetrable provisions. Paragraph (b) makes it a defence for a person to show that the statement in question did not have his endorsement, while paragraph (c) makes it an offence for him to show that

That leaves a big gap that remains to be filled in relation to terrorists or freedom fighters who are the subject of a report such as a documentary. One thinks of the many despotic regimes around the world now and throughout history. One thinks of John Pilger's documentaries about Vietnam and of the current situation in Uzbekistan. It is right that people should know what happened in Andijan on 13 May in a way that, frankly, they currently do not. It is difficult to see how a person making a documentary about a volatile and emotive situation such as that in Uzbekistan would not fall foul of the clause. The defences listed in subsection (5) might well be breached.

John Bercow: Is it not clear that the Minister let the cat out of the bag in winding up last week's Second Reading debate when she accused those of us who referred to the international scenarios that the hon.   Gentleman has just depicted as seeking to distinguish between a "good" terrorist and a "bad" terrorist? I hope that the hon. Gentleman agrees that the precise point that we were seeking to make is that there is a distinction between not a good terrorist and a bad terrorist, but a terrorist and a freedom fighter. The Minister's mistake is to take a Euro-centric view of the world.
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Mr. Carmichael: That is but one of the many mistakes that we might identify in that speech. My recollection is that the Minister went further, saying that only those who sought to resist by non-violent means could be given support. That is palpable nonsense. The difficulty is that the distinction that the hon. Gentleman seeks to draw between terrorists and freedom fighters, for example, is not always apparent at the time. It is an awful lot easier to judge that distinction with the benefit of hindsight and the clarity of history, but the clause makes no allowance for that point. In the case of Uzbekistan—my working example for the moment—we are relying extensively on the Uzbek Government for information on what happened in Andijan. That makes such judgments all the more difficult.

John Bercow: The hon. Gentleman is right: the benefit of hindsight is very great indeed. But even if one does not work on the assumption that history tends to be written by the winners—I do not offer myself that protection—we can safely say, for example, that Burma is an illegitimate state. In such circumstances, to criminalise someone who supports the attempts of the   Karen National Liberation Army to overthrow that illegitimate state is wrong.

Mr. Carmichael: Indeed, and my own views on Burma are on the record, as are the hon. Gentleman's. The real difficulty that all who value democracy face if we pass this clause is how one resists an illegitimate Government once they have taken control of the mechanisms of the   state. So far as I can see, the Government have so far provided no answer to that question. They have introduced a very wide-ranging Bill that would cover such situations, because it seeks to achieve a worldwide jurisdiction, regardless of the locus of the incident complained of. The hon. Gentleman is doing the Committee a great service in bringing this fundamental flaw to its attention.

Alan Simpson (Nottingham, South) (Lab): The opening paragraph begins in a fairly straightforward way:

It goes on to offer both encouragement of, and glorification of, what was to follow:

The encouragement and glorification is found at the end of the paragraph:

That is the opening of an illustrious and well-known book written by Mr. Blair—Eric Blair. Those who find it easier to recognise him as George Orwell will also recognise that it is the start of "Homage to Catalonia", a book that unambiguously sought to praise those participants in the civil war in Spain who attempted to   create a republic. Blair himself was open about, and proud of, his own involvement in that process as a "brigadista".
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I am not sure that the family tradition of such political alliances still continues, but throughout the recent history of this country—and certainly within the Labour and internationalist movements, and in the   history of our literature—"Homage to Catalonia" has been regarded not as a revolutionary tract, but as   an   honourable, distinguished and legitimate book. However, it falls foul of the Bill's definitions of acts of incitement of, and encouragement of, terrorism.

Mr. Llwyd: "Homage to Catalonia" was on the book list when I was doing my A-levels at Llanrwst school. It is a great book, but perhaps we should remind ourselves that the same author wrote "Nineteen Eighty-Four".

Alan Simpson: He did, and perhaps that book also encourages and incites resistance to tyrannical regimes.

Jon Trickett : Had I read out a passage from "Homage to Catalonia", I would have chosen precisely the one that my hon. Friend chose. Is it not a fact that the   Independent Labour party, which was part of the Labour party, glorified what was happening in Barcelona during the Spanish civil war—such as the violence committed against Franco—and that sections and individual members of the Labour party actually raised money to arm those in Barcelona who were resisting fascism, and sent over International Brigade troops? Did not distinguished Labour party and trade union members fight in Spain in a manner that would now be described as terrorism? If that happened now, the Labour party would doubtless be prosecuted under this Bill.

Alan Simpson: That is absolutely true, and it is precisely the reason why I and other Members from all parts of the House have tabled amendments to a clause that is an absurdity.

Mr. Hogg: What the hon. Gentleman says about literature is entirely right, but does he not agree that precisely the same point applies to any historian writing in laudatory terms, and in an historical sense, about struggles in any part of the world?

Alan Simpson: I completely accept that point, which was also made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews). He said that the British Library cautioned the Government about the draconian consequences that would follow, were this House daft enough to pass legislation that included such terminology.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway also drew our attention to the question of fund-raising for such causes. I do not doubt the generosity of his hospitality toward those Members who were involved in the anti-apartheid struggle and supported the African National Congress. I suspect that he, like many of us, contributed cash to that process—cash that supported the ANC's work. To do so would now be seen as actively encouraging the actions that were then taken.

The huge danger is that the Government are treading   into such areas without thinking through the   consequences. The question has been raised of the position of Members of this House and members of
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the   wider public who take issue with the actions and very existence of non-legitimate regimes throughout the world.

It is true that that case can be made about Burma, which has a wretched regime. Do we wish to make it a terrorist offence actively to speak about events in that country, and to encourage the resistance movement in such countries to pursue regime change? It is crazy to land ourselves in the position of gagging society and not allowing people to pledge their support or call for international support for those in domestic troubles who seek to free themselves from tyrannical regimes.

2 pm

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