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Chris Bryant: Clearly, the university lecturers are not making a frivolous point. However, at the other end of the spectrum is the chemistry lecturer or teacher who becomes convinced over time that one of the reasons for someone having joined their course is deliberately to gain information that they might then use to perpetrate terrorist offences. Would the hon. Gentleman like to rebalance a little along that spectrum?
That is right. We know from the past that many of the experts in weapons of mass destruction in Iraqtechnical engineerswere trained at Imperial college. The foundations of the Iraqi nuclear research programme were based on the knowledge of the students who had been on the relevant courses, to such an extent that I understand that now there is an informal system of regulation to try to provide a degree of vetting of those who undertake courses that may be particularly sensitive in terms of technology being imparted to such people.
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These are real issues, which I acknowledge, but we must live in the real world. A university lecturer who is delivering a course is placed in a difficult position if he begins to worry about a perfectly ordinary undergraduate. It is the same for someone who is training someone else to fly a small aircraft. The worry for him is that if something subsequently emerges about the individual, the chain will be followed up in exactly the same way as it was after the events of September 2001. He will then be questioned and might even be prosecuted and liable to 10 years' imprisonment. The Government must provide a let-out clause to ensure that people are not placed in an impossible position.
The reality of most contractual relationships is that if a student pays money to acquire a skill, the classes cannot be discontinued half way through because it is thought that he is an unsavoury character. Either there has to be a fail-safe mechanism so that the student can be reported and the teacher told whether he should continue with the classes, or there must be some protection under the law. That is what amendment No. 58 is designed to achieve.
I take amendment No. 58 seriously and regard it as more than a probing amendment. Unless the Minister can provide me with some assurance that the Government will reconsider this issue between now and next Wednesday, or can give me a positive response in this debate, I intend to put the amendment to the vote. There must be a safeguard that enables people to report to their employer or to someone in authority, saying, "I am troubled by this student but I cannot really say anything more about it." That person would know that he was protected and would not subsequently be open to prosecution.
The same thing, but in rather a different context, will apply to attendance at a terrorist training camp. I am sure that we all agree that that should be made a criminal offence. There is ample evidence that individuals have attended places that provide terrorist trainingthey went there because they wanted to be trained as terrorists. The difficulty arises over what happens if individuals find themselves at a place of terrorist training for good, valid or innocent reasons. There is no mechanism in clause 8 for any exoneration of such a person. The only fall-back position will be the discretion of, presumably, the Attorney-GeneralI hope that the terrorist training place is abroad, but I suppose that it could be in the UKor the DPP not to prosecute. There is a way through that difficulty that improves the clause, and that is what amendment No. 59 is designed to achieved. It states:
Chris Bryant : I have some sympathy with the amendment, which is seeking to tease out the purpose of the clause. However, I am cautious about paragraph (b) because it is very broad. Anyone who merely sought instruction could use the defence that they were gathering information about instruction or training. By contrast, a journalist would be seeking to write an exposé of a training camp in another part of the world. Would the hon. Gentleman accept a different wording for his amendment?
Mr. Grieve: A different wording is, of course, possible, and I am happy to listen to any variants that the Minister may suggest. There is nothing sacred in being a journalist, just as there is nothing sacred in being a Member of Parliament or anything else. Categorising journalists as a separate group is not necessarily helpful. Someone may wish to be present to gather information about instruction or training, and an undercover journalist is an obvious example. However, I do not see why the provision should be restricted. I fully acknowledge that it may provide a get-out clause because people could claim that they attended the camp only to gather information. A jury, however, would ask, "For what purpose?" A coherent reason would have to be provided. A BBC journalist, for example, could say that they had heard about a camp. The police were not interested, so they sent an undercover journalist to find out what was happening. If someone simply says that they went along because they were intrigued they are unlikely to be believed. Alternatively, someone could say that they heard what was going on and were worried about it, so they decided to find out what was happening before tipping off the authorities. That person needs to be covered as well as the journalist.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): Like my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), I have great deal of sympathy with the hon. Gentleman's amendment, but I am concerned about placing the onus on the defendant. A community centrea mosque or a church, for examplecould be accused of being a training centre and, indeed, nefarious activities may have taken place in part of the building. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that everyone who attends has to prove their innocence? It is a complicated area.
The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I suggested that in our legal system traditionally the burden of proof lies with the prosecution who, on the whole, must prove a case. There are examples in criminal law, however, where once the main facts are established the burden of proof can be reversed, although never beyond the test of reasonable doubt. On the balance of probabilities, the defendant must give a legitimate reason for doing something. I share the hon. Gentleman's discomfort because I am not usually in favour of such legislation, but the Government have a difficulty in dealing with a particular problem. Proving beyond reasonable doubt that someone was at a camp for the purpose of gaining instruction can be a very hard test. If the purpose behind the clause is to deter people from going to camps abroad to receive terrorist training, the Government are entitled to wield a heavy club. I am not unsympathetic to their aim, but a let-out clause is needed. My amendment is to another clause so,
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subject to your consent, Sir Michael, unless the Minister satisfies me that my concerns will be taken on board and that the Government will return with another proposal, I am minded to seek the Committee's view and put it to the vote.
John Bercow : Is the word "involuntary" in paragraph (c) of my hon. Friend's amendment intended to have a broad or narrow application? Does he mean to provide an effective defence for someone who attends a terrorist training centre after being transported there against their will, or should that defence be available to people who are employed in another part of the establishment, perhaps in an ancillary and unrelated activity?
Mr. Grieve: I was thinking of the first group of peopleI had not thought of the second. The defence of duress already exists, so the Minister may say that the term "involuntary" is unnecessary. We need to tease that out in debate, which is why I do not intend to be too prescriptive. However, reasons for attendance need to be highlighted in the Bill.
Someone might say that they did not attend a training centre voluntarily because they had been enticed there under false pretences. It was not a voluntary attendance for the purposes of the establishment. It is a difficult area, so I shall be interested to hear the views of the Minister and other Committee members. To clarify the position, the issue can be addressed without damaging the intention of the relevant clauses. In my view it must be addressed, because if it is not we will create two powers in clauses 6 and 8 with an incredibly sweeping scope that could criminalise the innocent.
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