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Paul Goggins: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. We have had many such discussions in   the past. It is of course not for us to define precisely what the penalty should be. A judge will decide the appropriate penalty after considering all circumstances. However, if a person is preparing for an act of terror that could wipe out people's lives, life imprisonment is an appropriate penalty that should be available.

Mr. Heath: I do not want to detain the Minister much longer. He is of course right that the offence is most serious, so such a sentence should be available. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Sir Robert Smith) wished to be reassured that the sentence would not be mandatory. I add in parentheses that the offences in clause 6 regarding training for terrorism, which allows people to commit such ghastly crimes, carries a much lower penalty, which is perhaps surprising.
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Paul Goggins: I shall examine the penalties in the other clauses and we will no doubt have the opportunity to discuss them as our proceedings continue. I wanted to reassure hon. Members that such a serious penalty will be available to the courts, but it will be for the courts to decide the appropriate penalty depending on the offence that has been committed.

Rob Marris: I did not want to broaden the debate into   a consideration of what constitutes terrorism at this stage of the Committee's proceedings. However, I   wanted to point out to the Minister that clause 5 is an example, if one were needed, of how careful we must be elsewhere in the Bill when defining terrorism. If we get the definition wrong elsewhere in the Bill, I could be caught under clause 5 if I made a donation of 25p, or even, if we wish to be pedantic, if I went to the bank to draw out that money, because that would be conduct in preparation for my assistance—the donation itself. Surely that is not Parliament's intention. We must get the definition of terrorism right elsewhere in the Bill, because otherwise clauses such as clause 5 will become nonsensical.

Question put and agreed to

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 6

Training for Terrorism

Mr. Grieve: I beg to move amendment No. 57, in page 7, line 32, leave out 'or suspects'.

The Second Deputy Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 89, in page 7, line 32, after 'or', insert 'reasonably'.

No. 58, in page 8, line 26, at end add—

'(4A)   It shall be a defence to an offence under section 6 (1), for the defendant to show that he reported any suspicion to the police or in the case of an employee to his employer or other person in authority over him.'.

No. 42, in clause 8, page 10, line 13, at end add—

'(7)   It shall be a defence to a charge brought under this section for an accused person to show—

(a)   that he had no reasonable grounds for believing that the place was a place used for terrorist training; or

(b)   that the accused was in the place used for terrorist training for legitimate research purposes.'.

No. 59, in clause 8, page 10, line 14, at end add—

(7)   It shall be a defence to an offence under this section for a defendant to show on the balance of probabilities that his attendance at any place used for terrorist training was—

(a)   for the purpose of preventing the instruction or training taking place; or

(b)   for the purpose of gathering information about the instruction or training; or

(c)   involuntary.

Mr. Grieve: The amendments relate to clause 8 as well as clause 6. Clause 6 is entitled "Training for terrorism" and clause 8 is entitled "Attendance at a place used for terrorist training". I have no difficulty with the principle of introducing such criminal offences. However, as we have seen in our previous debates, the detail of the measures presents considerable difficulties.
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May I start with training for terrorism? Clause 6 says:

The Minister will acknowledge that those skills are very wide. They include:

The Minister will be aware of examples of the people about whom we are talking that spring to mind from experience, such as somebody who trains someone else in chemistry, which enables that person to make explosives. Another example is someone who might train someone else to fly a small aircraft, to which could be attached crop-spraying equipment through which noxious biological or chemical substances could be distributed. A further example is someone who teaches someone else to fly, and then the plane might be used as a missile, as happened in the events of 2001 in the United States. The range is vast.

I do not suppose that the House of Commons would have any trouble criminalising someone who, in the knowledge that an individual was asking for instruction in any of the areas to which I have referred, knew also that that knowledge would be used for the purposes of terrorism. There would be no difficulty in saying that such a person should be treated as a criminal if they had that knowledge. However, the way in which the Government have worded the clause means that it applies not only to someone who knows, but to someone who suspects. The use of the word "suspicion" in this instance can be very wide. Many things can give rise to suspicion, but suspicion in itself need not necessarily be grounded in fact. Someone may suspect someone else, but it may turn out that they are wrong. Suspicion is when we start feeling a little uneasy.

There are some obvious examples. There is that of a teacher of chemistry at university giving a lecture to students. The teacher is dealing with substances that could be used for explosive purposes. A student in the room asks him a question, which although it might have an innocent explanation also suggests that he might have an interest in explosive properties. Experience of chemistry students at university suggests that many of them have a great deal of interest in the explosive properties of some of the substances that they use, but for frivolous purposes rather than terrorism.

As I read the way in which the clause is drafted, unless the university lecturer immediately says to the class, "I   am sorry, but this class cannot continue with the presence of the individual who asked that question", he would have committed a criminal offence. I do not think that that can be the way that the Government intend the provision to work in practice. No doubt we shall be told again about the discretion of the Director of Public
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Prosecutions in bringing a prosecution, but in reality we must put something into the clause that provides a safeguard for the individual.

One approach is that of amendment No. 57, which would provide that an offence cannot be committed merely on suspicion—there has to be actual knowledge. However, although that amendment is the lead amendment in the group that is before us, it is not my favoured route. The Minister will be aware that other legislation we have considered, especially money laundering provisions, also had "knows" or "suspects" as the grounds for the commission of many criminal offences—but it did at least have the saving clause that if someone believed that it was not his job to stop something, he should instead report his suspicion to a relevant authority.

That, too, is far from ideal. The point has been well   made by the academic lobbies that have written, I   suspect, to many right hon. and hon. Members, that to an extent university lecturers and teachers, or anyone else, will be turned into potential spies. That would be an uncomfortable situation for them.

The anxiety that has been expressed from many academic quarters—I could quote the publication if the   Minister so wished—about the implications of the clause is real. Amendment No. 58 tries to deal with that by providing:

That still leaves open the criticism that the Bill will turn university lecturers into spies. It is a valid point when they say:

I look forward to hearing the Minister's response to that concern, which I think is a real one, not a frivolous one.

1.45 pm

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