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I should be very surprised indeed if there were a Council of Europe provision that mandated the inclusion of clause 17. If such exists, it is incumbent on the Minister to write to all Members specifying exactly what it is. I put to him in all sincerity that there is a circularity about the argument that he is deploying. He told my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), in all innocence and with a degree of insouciance, that of course the Attorney-General would make judgments on those matters because that is what he does. But what I say to the Minister, and what I think my right hon. and learned Friend was saying, is that of course the Attorney-General will do what he is obliged to do by the law, but it is quite wrong to pass a clause that requires him to behave in that way. That is the point. By the way, I am sure that the Minister will not forget to deal with the
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issue of asylum seekers that I raised, or with the concerns expressed by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman).
Paul Goggins: I hope to have the opportunity to do so in due course, and I am certainly happy to clarify the issue in writing to the hon. Gentleman, with copies placed in the Library for other hon. Members to look at.
What reciprocity is there with any other country in the world that has sought universal jurisdiction for any offence committed under some form of terrorist legislation? How does the provision fit in with the normal extradition process?
Paul Goggins: The hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) mentioned the new world order. We are dealing with a challenge of global proportions, and in meeting that challenge, it is important that we draw up agreements with one another across the international stage and that we honour those agreements. In passing clause 17, we would put into effect a number of our obligations under existing conventions and agreements.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke: The hon. Gentleman wisely cited his strongest point when he talked about the preparation of terrorist acts, which is covered by the Bill. Speaking for myself, I would be prepared to contemplate British courts having jurisdiction over someone who came here if they were guilty of preparing to carry out a terrorist activity elsewhere. I hope that, before Report, he will try to think what the arguments are for extending that to the encouragement of terrorism, with all the arguments that we had about it yesterday, or to attendance at training places, given that he has said today that any kind of innocent attendance at a training centre is a loophole in the law that cannot be conceded. So a humanitarian worker is guilty of a criminal offence unless he leaves immediately when he suspects that some men are coming in from the woods in the evening and training somewhere on the edge of the village. Extending the proposal to those sorts of offence in the whole of part 1 makes clause 17 ridiculous and will impose all kinds of diplomatic and political problems for the Attorney-General and other Ministers as soon as other Governments realise that they can pursue their enemies here and try to get them arrested.
Paul Goggins: I know from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's earlier comments, which he now reinforces, that he has serious reservations about the range of offences covered by clause 17. I do not share his view that some bits of terrorism are more important or serious than others. If anyone participates at whatever level in either preparing for or carrying out an act of terror that results in the loss of innocent lives, that is a serious role and it needs to be covered by the Bill. Of course the court will take a decision about the appropriate penalty in the given circumstances of the case. I do not agree with him that some offences should be excluded and others included. The range of offences that we have included is fair.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) referred to evidence. Anyone who is
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prosecuted in this country for an offence is prosecuted only if sufficient evidence can be adduced in court to mount such a prosecution. Cases cannot be spurious: there must be proper and serious evidence. Clearly, if an offence that is caught by the provision is committed abroad, the evidence to prosecute here must come from abroad. However, of course, the evidence must fit our rules of evidence. If a case is tried in a UK court, the UK rules of evidence apply even though the evidence may have come from another country. The provision is not unusual. It applies to sections 62, 63 and 66 of the Terrorism Act 2000. So this is not a new power; it already exists. Clearly, we must apply the same rules of evidence as those that apply normally in our courts, even though the evidence may have come from another country because that is where the act was carried out.
The hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) asked about the way in which the Bill will interact with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill. Although they are two separate measures, I can appreciate how they interconnect. The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill will allow people to be excluded on the basis of acts carried out overseas, but people who come here as asylum seekers may be prosecuted under this Bill if they have committed an offence under it. Such people may be prosecuted, but whether they could be excluded would be another matter because of our obligations in such circumstances.
Mr. Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon) (Con): Does that not mean that the very reason why someone might be seeking refuge in this country could be the basis on which he is prosecuted when he arrives here seeking asylum? As my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) said, the measure is dangerous nonsense.
Paul Goggins: What the hon. Gentleman says is true. People who come here to seek asylum who have carried out terrorist acts may be prosecuted in a court in this country if there is sufficient evidence. However, it is equally true that under our international obligations, such people could not be excluded if there was a threat that their lives could be taken if they were returned to their country of origin. The two processes are not contradictory. People who apply for asylum may receive it, but they cannot be excluded if there would be any risk to their life if they were returned to their country of origin.
Mr. Denham: Does not my hon. Friend realise that the provision could cover people who had not taken part in any terrorist activity at all in the other country, but had glorified terrorism, which might not even have been an offence in that country? If such people came here as asylum seekers, however, they would be guilty of an offence and thus face seven years in jail. It is ludicrous to jail people in this country for doing something in another country that is not an offence there, but the Bill makes that possible.
I do not dispute what my right hon. Friend sayshe explains the situation clearly. A person who was in this country and had committed an offence
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by glorifying acts of terror could be caught under the Bill due to the international obligations that are being put into effect. That is a proportionate and reasonable response to the threat of terrorism that exists not just in this country, but in many countries throughout the world. We need a proper response to that terrorism.
John Bercow: I am genuinely astonished by the Minister's response to the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham). He agreed with the thrust of the description of the position that the right hon. Gentleman pithily gave, but then dissented from the right hon. Gentleman's verdict on that description. It is extraordinary that someone should be incarcerated here for something that is not illegal in the other country. I politely put it to the hon. Gentleman, who has served with distinction as a prisons Minister, that there are great pressures on the Prison Service, but we are not a prison service for the world.
Paul Goggins: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comment. I was giving an honest response to my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen, but it might well be that there is still disagreement between us. I take people who glorify and encourage acts of terror that result in the loss of people's livesin whatever country they are, whatever their nationality and whatever their originvery seriously. The Bill puts in place powers to enable us to deal with that not just here, but internationally. It gives effect to the obligations to which we have signed up through the various conventions to which I referred.
Ms Keeble: May I flag up the opposite position to that put forward by other hon. Members? It is clear from several decisions of appeal tribunals that some people who apply for asylum here have been involved in activities that would rightly be considered to be offences under the Bill. Most of us would accept that the behaviour of some of those people has been unacceptable, but their lives could be at risk if they were deported. We must ensure that there is justice on both sides of the equation.
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