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Mr. Hogg: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there is a curious paradox here, in that on the one hand, it appears that it is proper for Governments to wage war to procure regime change in Iraq, whereas on the other, if we recommended that the citizens of Iraq should have risen up to destroy Saddam Hussein, we could be prosecuted in this country for doing that?
Alan Simpson: Indeed, that is a paradox. We seem to have drifted into the dreadful position whereby over the past few years, the international perspective has drifted away from a presumption that all countries should be held accountable to the international courts and the Geneva conventions. Instead we are allowing ourselves to drift into a world where the rules are written by the rich and powerful. If someone is in a position to conduct an illegal war and pursue regime change on that basis, they subsequently rewrite international law to justify that. But to invite, encourage or support people within tyrannical regimes to do precisely the same thing becomes a terrorist act. That is nonsense.
Mr. Denham: Does my hon. Friend recall the first President Bush, at the end of the first Gulf war, urging the Iraqi people to rise up and overthrow Saddam Hussein? Has he considered the possibility that had this Bill been in place at that time, the President would have been guilty of an offence under British law, and subject to seven years' imprisonment?
Alan Simpson: Indeed, there are considerations that might make me think again about the unexpected virtues to be found in such a Billbut I doubt whether that is the sort of person who would be hauled before the British courts.
Mr. Salmond : The President would have been fighting a legal warunlike the one that his son pursuedbut, given the international scope of the Bill, he would simultaneously have found himself on the wrong side of the domestic law of the United Kingdom. Even somebody pursuing an internationally legal action could find that action illegal under this ridiculous Bill.
A couple of weeks ago, Parliament added to the list of proscribed organisations an Uzbek organisation calling for the removal of the Karimov regime and free
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democratic elections. Apparently we did so on the advice of the intelligence services that the group in question was responsible for acts of terrorism within its own country. Two days later, in The Guardian, the then British ambassador to Uzbekistan took issue with that and, as someone who had visited the sites where it was claimed that acts of terrorism had taken place, said that they all bore the hallmarks of Government killings, with an attempt to set up the notion that they had been committed by terrorists, although there was no evidence to support that claim.
We know that Uzbekistan is a regime with a wretched record of persecuting its own citizens, torturing them and boiling them in oil. It is a horrible regime by any standards, and we ought to be able to call on the international community and the domestic communities to remove itbut under the definition in the Bill, we would not be allowed to do so.
The far-reaching consequences of the Bill in its current form are so draconian as to provide legislation that could virtually have been drafted for us by al-Qaeda. If we want to see acts that destroy the framework of liberties, confidence in democracy, accountability to the judiciary and rights of representation, they are to be found enshrined in much of the panic legislation that has been pushed through this House as an extension of the war in Iraq in the form of a war on our own liberties. We are doing what al-Qaeda sought to do by other means, and society will not thank us for it.
I know that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway ducked the question about extraterrestrial activitiesI assume that that should have been "extra-territorial"but I want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that an in-house consequence would follow from the Bill, under the current definition of terrorism. I know that we will come to that at a later stage, but people such as myself who have pledged to be part of the Green Gloves campaign against the growing of genetically modified crops, were they to be allowed in the UKthose of us who will doubtless go out and seek to remove those crops and replace them with organic non-contaminating cropswould be in breach of the Terrorism Bill; and also if we made the intellectual and political case for doing that.
There are many people outside the House who are extremely happy to see the definition of terrorism widened in a way that will allow global corporate interests to define civilian and domestic opposition to the policies that they are trying to push through, not as acts of resistance by consumers but as acts of environmental terrorisma phrase that they are already beginning to use. They will use exactly the same terms as appear in clause 1, and say that people are guilty of acts of encouragement, glorification and encouraging others to emulate what they have doneand thus are committing terrorist offences.
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The dangers of criminalising the whole framework of social protest and resistance within our own society is a dreadful draconian step. I would love it if the Bill would allow us to prosecute the President of the United States, but he will not be brought before the courts. Neither will the Baptist minister in the United States who, interviewed on Channel 4 News last week, openly said, with regard to the 7/7 bombings in London, that the only shame about it was that 1 million people were not killed. He said that England deserved to be bombed in that way. Will he be branded as a terrorist? Will he be brought to trial before the UK courts? No.
The Rev. Pat Robertson, the head of the Christian Coalition in the United States, will not be brought to trial here either, although he has openly, on television, called for the assassination of the elected President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. No one like that will be brought before the courts, but Muslim lads in this country making similar claims or criticisms about events in the middle east are precisely the ones who will be picked up. They will be defined as being in breach of the terms of the Bill, because it is not directed at crazy mullahs who are notionally on "our" side, but only at the crazies on other people's sides.
The real danger is that the Bill is a first step down the path that leads us away from judging people on what they do. In the end, we will all be judgedby our own courts or by international courtson the acts that we commit. However, we are starting to move away from that premise and to judge people, in broad and speculative terms, on what they say.
The next step will be to judge people on what they think. For me, that is the hallmark of a society that is beginning to retreat from the founding and fundamental principles of an open and democratic society, and to take its Parliament, institutions and citizens into dark days of tyranny. That is why I urge the House to support amendments that will change this absurd clause.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con): I strongly disapprove of some of the shocking statements made by extremist preachers in recent years that have been reported in the newspapers. Offence is caused to the public when the events of 9/11 are referred to in a way that seems to heap praise on the perpetrators. In addition, great grief is caused to the victims of events such as the bombings on the London underground when they read that preachers are allowed to say things that appear to extol the virtues of the people who carried out those acts.
In most circumstances, moreover, inciting people to violence in the cause of some political purpose, however worthy, is something of which the law and Parliament ought to disapprove. Certainly, I strongly disapprove of inciting people to indiscriminate violence against members of the public in any part of the world. Many hon. Members feel sympathy for the various causes of struggling or oppressed peoples around the world, but I trust that none would give encouragement to those wanting to blow up school buses, for instance, in the territory of some odious regime.
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