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Paul Goggins: I cannot give the right hon. and learned Gentleman a specific example, but I can tell him that it is important that we have the necessary powers in place where it is necessary to proscribe organisations that glorify acts of terroracts that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) reminded the Committee earlier, are acts of mass murder.
Because of his knowledge of the previous legislation, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that when the Home Secretary takes the view that a particular organisation should be proscribed, he does so not on a whim, but with great care and judgment. He then has to come to both Houses of Parliament for approval under the affirmative resolution procedure. Indeed, under the existing legislation and the existing rules, we did exactly that a couple of weeks ago. Not only is care taken with the initial decision, but that decision then has to be agreed and affirmed by both Houses.
Mr. Cash: If we were to go through the clauses in which the term "glorification" crops upincluding the definitions at the end of the Bill, the convention offences and the other stuff with which the Minister will be familiarand we stick to the wording, but exclude all the subsections and paragraphs that include a reference to "glorification", we would still deal with the mischief that the Minister and the rest of the Government seek to overcome. That is a sensible propositionand we would also link the provisions to the proscribed organisations, while knocking out the increasingly threadbare argument that the notion of glorification adds anything useful to the process. In fact, that notion is dangerous and unproductive. Furthermore, some have saidI do not want to make this into a certain accusationthat it was the Prime Minister who used the word "glorification" at some stage. Some people have suggested that this is a sort of face-saving operation. However, the real question is whether we are going to deal with the mischief that glorification would include. Am I getting a sense, from what the Minister is saying, that the Government are having second thoughts?
Paul Goggins: We are not having second thoughts, but we always listen carefully to the hon. Gentleman, who yesterday in Committee made a number of constructive interventions and speeches. I assure him that we continue to listen to him.
I apologise to my hon. Friend the Minister and the House for having joined the debate somewhat late. A moment ago, my hon. Friend said that the target of the measure was organisations that glorified terrorism, and he referred specifically to the causing of mass murder. Does he accept that many of us are concerned because our definition of terrorism is much wider than that, and that were the Government to
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limit the scope of the Bill to mass murder and similar acts, we would be much more comfortable with what is proposed?
Paul Goggins: The listening exercise continues, not least with my right hon. Friend. I was simply repeating the words used by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, who said that acts of terrorism were acts of mass murder.
Paul Goggins: My hon. Friend may have other thoughts as well, which he may share with us, now or in the future. My right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen has made many contributions to the debate, and continues to do so. We listen to him very carefully.
Rob Marris: In response to the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), my hon. Friend said that he could not give any examples of organisations that would be caught by this measure but were not already caught by the proscription provisions in the 2000 Act. I mentioned earlier, as a concrete example, the distributors of the film "Michael Collins". Can the Minister tell me whether, were the clause to become part of an Act, they would be caught by these provisions? If not, why not?
Paul Goggins: I was about to come to my hon. Friend's question, so now is definitely the time to deal with it. When making a judgment, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will of course look at all the evidence, and I find it highly unlikely that a record company would be considered worthy of proscription in the way that my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West described.
My hon. Friend, and several other right hon. and hon. Members, referred to matters of history. I invite them to read paragraphs (a) and (b) of suggested new subsection (5B) of section 3 of the 2000 Act, which makes it clear that we are talking about
I appreciate the comments on history, but I am sure that many of my colleagues and many Labour Members will have attended, within living memory, fringe meetings at party conferences with SWAPO members, Sandinistas or people from Kurdistan. Such events are also highly likely to happen next year or the year after. It is not all ancient history. Would
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applauding someone from the Sandinistas or SWAPO for a legitimate struggle be covered by this catch-all provision and is not that the real problem with clause 21?
Paul Goggins: If I repeat myself, I apologise to the Committee, but I wish to draw a distinction between what may be described as cultural events or those that celebrate a part of our collective memory, such as Guy Fawkes and bonfire night, and people who glorify acts of terror to try to encourage similar acts here and now in existing circumstances.
"The glorification of any conduct is unlawful for the purposes of subsection (5A) if there are persons who may become aware of it who could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified, is being glorified as . . . conduct that should be emulated".
If one celebrates the life of Michael Collins, it will be to some people a celebration of a historical phenomenon, but for others it might be a live issue because they believe that they are emulating Michael Collins by killing people in Northern Ireland. How does one make the distinction? The phrasing of clause 21 does not succeed in making that distinction, and I could cite countless other examples.
Paul Goggins: The hon. Gentleman and I have shared many a happy hour in Committee on this and many other Bills. Normally, he is good about reading out the whole of a particular provision, but he has just missed out the three vital words, "in existing circumstances". As I have been arguing, those are very important words.
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): I wish to give my hon. Friend an example of something that might happen. The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Stewart Hosie) mentioned the Sandinistas, and the history of that part of the world still often leads to cultural events, many involving music. Let us suppose that a further assassination happened in South America, as Pat Robertson has urged, and that that led to a military coup in Venezuela. That might lead to people thinking that resistance to that regime might be justified. If somebody glorified the Sandinistas at a social event and referred in some way to the awful things that were going on in Venezuela, would they commit an offence under this Bill?
Paul Goggins: The point that I am making has to be seen in the context of the clause that we are discussing. We are not discussing individual conduct, but the criteria by which a particular organisation could and should be proscribed. I emphasise to my hon. Friend that the clause is not about the conduct of individuals, but the conduct of organisations. I shall not speculate about specific examples.
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