|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Grieve: These amendments address the important issue of the encouragement of terrorism. As the Minister will know, we have supported provisions on indirect incitement, even if we have had differences of opinion on whether it can be committed recklessly and what the definition of "recklessness" should be. The difficulty we have is with clause 1(2), which seeks to introduce into the definition of incitement statements that indirectly encourage the commission or preparation of acts, or glorify
"the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of such acts or offences; and . . . is a statement from which those members of the public could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified is being glorified as conduct that should be emulated in existing circumstances."
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. The hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) should not be discussing matters in sub-committee while this debate is taking place.
Mr. Grieve: The concept of unlawful glorification is alien to our law. On the whole, if people wish to go out and glorify something, they are free to do so. Indeed, as the House will be aware, the origin of the provisions seems to have come from a decision by the Government at some time in the summer that they wanted to make glorification a separate offence. That attracted much adverse public comment and, as a result, the Government decided shortly before the Bill was publisheda previous draft Bill contained the separate offence of glorificationto collapse glorification into the single offence of encouragement of terrorism.
The impression that was given at the time was that glorification had disappeared, but unfortunately it has not. It is present as a distinct subsection in clause 1. It is difficult to understand why it has been left there. I can easily think of examples of someone glorifying something that might amount to an incitement to commit a terrorist offence, because the words of glorification could clearly relate to incitement. But if there is indeed no incitement, to identify glorification as a form of incitement and as something that is likely to be understood by members of the public
of an offence seems quite wrong. It imposes a burden on anybody who wants to glorify historical events to think carefully, because they may find themselves liable to criminal prosecution and subject to a term of imprisonment of seven years. That is not a reasonable way for Parliament to proceed.
If somebody incites terrorism, even by indirect meansoblique references, nudges, winks or suggestions that terrorism is an appropriate remedyI am happy to criminalise them and happy that they should go to prison for seven years if the offence is serious enough. But it is not right that the mere glorification of the commission of a terrorist offence, which, under the Bill, could include the
9 Nov 2005 : Column 411
past activities of Robin Hood, Wat Tyler or Guy Fawkes, should be sufficient to found the basis of a criminal offence, if the statement was one from which
I am sure that there was a Wat Tyler society when I was up at Oxford and, as I said on Wednesday, many student societies of a slightly anarchic kind might have dinners or meetings that glorified Wat Tyler or John Bullnames that used to have a great appeal for Labour Members, which has disappeared under new Labour.
Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire) (LD): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the provision would apply not only to Guy Fawkes and Robin Hood but, at least in theory, to Gerry Adams? There is a difficulty for the Prime Minister and the Government, as it is unclear that the Prime Minister would not fall foul of his own law, given the fact that he has often praised, and expressed admiration for, the contribution of a man who is unquestionably a former terrorist. The courts could have a field day with the Prime Minister, who could end up behind bars as a result of the provisions.
Mr. Grieve: The hon. Gentleman raises a possible unintended consequence. In fairness to the Prime Minister, I do not think that he has ever commended Mr. Adams for having committed terrorist offences. He has commended him for being a reformed terrorist, which is a slightly different conceptif indeed, Mr. Adams is reformed, a subject on which there is always a certain amount of speculation, given his membership, certainly in the past, of the IRA army council.
Mr. Heath: I was struck by the hon. Gentleman's recollections of his student days. When he was at Oxford, did he ever see a poster of Che Guevara in a heroic pose? Did he share that experience[Interruption.] The hon. Member for East Lothian (Anne Moffat) says that this is serious. Taking away people's liberty is serious.
Mr. Grieve: Che Guevara was a student pin-up when I was at university; indeed, there were Che Guevara societies. There were commemorations of what people claimed was his heroic death and life, and of the fact that he was a freedom fighter or, as some would say, a terrorist, using force to combat what were regarded as capitalist and tyrannical regimes. There is no doubt that if someone were to glorify the activities of Che Guevara at a meeting where
they would commit an offence. Furthermore, in relation to the term, "emulated in existing circumstances", one has to ask: existing circumstances, where? These are issues that the Minister really must address.
9 Nov 2005 : Column 412
Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman recalls the statement that Churchill made in the middle of the war: "set Europe ablaze." That is what he said when he gave the job of running the Special Operations Executive to Hugh Dalton, who was a previous Member for my constituency. The SOE supplied the explosives for the resistance in Europe. That is particularly close to my heart since my Danish uncle used those explosives to blow up Nazi trains to disrupt Nazi communications. Would the hon. Gentleman like to comment on that example?
Mr. Grieve: The hon. Lady makes a serious point. During the war, the Germans described those who were resisting them as terrorists. Indeed, that issue was not necessarily free of difficulty. I am half French by background. General de Gaulle had concerns that the violence being used by the resistance in France should be proportionate and focused, otherwise those involved could be reasonably classified as behaving as terrorists. Indeed, he tried to moderate them by saying that they should use complete force only when the liberation was at hand and it could be shown to produce a military goal. I simply cite that as an example of the very difficult grey areas that we must consider.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|