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Mr. Grieve: If the Government were prepared to look again at the provision, that would be sensible. Clause 21 presents slightly different difficulties. There is agreement that the clause has some merit, but in its current formulation it is fundamentally flawed.
Precisely so. That is why I hope that even at this late stage the Minister will give an assurance that she will look again at the clause. I treat such assurances with a little more scepticism now than I did last week, because sometimes the assurance and even the statement in public of an intention to revise do not quite materialise in practice. Nevertheless, I am prepared to
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take at face value any assurances that the Minister is likely to give this evening. The House will wish the Bill to be improved in the way that has been suggested, and if the House does not demand that in the Division Lobbies this evening, I am confident that the other House will.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke: I support my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) on his amendment No. 3. I would support him in the Division Lobby if he pressed the argument that we should remove the subsection referring to glorification because, as he said, of its dangerous vagueness.
I spoke on the subject last week during the Committee stage, so I will not repeat the arguments that I advanced and the examples that I gave of incidents that might be caught by the Bill, such as people holding dinners in favour of one national hero or giving speeches in praise of another historic hero. I trust that the Minister will address herself to some of those when she replies.
I agree with the Liberal spokesman, the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath), that one or two of the examples that we bandied about were rather fanciful. I doubt whether Robin Hood would fall within the clear definition of a terrorist, but some of the others were quite serious. I spoke last week about the Irish examples that could be cited on both sides of the political divide that has hitherto existed in Ireland, and there are other international ones as well.
In addition to adopting the arguments that I made last week, which were not met, I seek clarification about how international the application of the clause will be. I cannot anticipate a later group of amendments that deals in general with the commission of offences overseas, but in trying to envisage the problems that the insertion of the term "glorification" might create, it is important that we get clear in our minds whether we are speaking of incidents involving glorification in this country, or whether we are still liable to find that people are being prosecuted on allegations that they have glorified various violent people in their own territory, far away from this country.
The Government have tabled, and we will discuss later, amendment No. 48, which seeks to move towards some of the arguments that we used last week about extra-territoriality. The Bill will now apply only to offences committed by foreign nationals overseas if the offence falls within clauses 1 or 6. We are debating clause 1, which, as I see it, will continue to be enforced extra-territorially in this country in respect of an offence
"so far as it is committed in relation to any statement, instruction or training in relation to which that section has effect by reason of its relevance to the commission, preparation or instigation of one or more Convention offences".
We are discussing the power being applied extra-territorially only in so far as we are discussing a breach of a UN convention or the European convention on human rights, which this country is obliged to enforce extra-territorially. I regret to say that I have not had time to look up the relevant conventions, but I suspect that the Government's choice of phrase is not a word-for-word match. I am unsure whether a foreign national would suddenly be charged with an offence because they had said or done something in their own country before coming here that would amount to an offence if it had occurred in this country.
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I shall move on to one of the more tricky examples. If someone in the Caucasus were to praise the Chechen rebels and their struggle against the Russian authorities, they would arguably commit an offence, although they might not appreciate it at the time. They would have praised the commission of an act, because they would undoubtedly have praised people who had participated in terrorism in circumstances in which it might be inferred that they were encouraging other people to join. It is almost certain that they would not have the first idea that they were breaking British law or were making themselves liable to conviction in a British court when they stood up to speak in some far-away town in the Caucasus and became carried away with their own version of patriotic fervour.
Such a person might come to this country and find that the Russian Government were demanding of the British Government that they should be arrested and dealt with on an extra-territorial basis, because they had committed the act of encouraging terrorism. If that is the case, I regard it as wholly objectionable, although I do not support anybody encouraging the commission of indiscriminate acts against civilians anywhere in the world, and I do not object to the law being enforced against such people.
A Bill that seeks to define the encouragement of terrorism in such general and uncertain terms should not be allowed to create an offence of worldwide application. Furthermore, the British Attorney-General should not be put in a situation in which he or she is subject to political pressure from a foreign Government to start arresting people who come here, because, in that Government's opinion, one of their citizens has committed an offence under the Bill.
Clause 1 would be improved by the deletion of subsection (2), but the key point is that subsection (2) should not be applied to the opponents of President Chavez in Venezuela or those who lead uprisings in Chiapas in Mexico or in the Caucasus. It would be preposterous if the Government were still contemplating the possibility of using that vague wording to start arresting people, if such people were unwise enough to visit this country after making over-stirring and over-excited speeches in the country from which they came.
Mr. Gummer: Would not the Government have to take for granted the information laid before them by a foreign Government? I am thinking about the wholly unjustified attempt to prosecute a Belgian priest in the war-torn areas of Rwanda. It would not be helpful if this Government were pressurised by such a Government to take action against such a person, because we would be unable to make a judgment, except on the advice of the foreign Government who were demanding action.
I agree with my right hon. Friend. That is one reason to be particularly cautious when hon. Members try to claim extra-territorial jurisdiction and give it to our courts. The problem with any offence of any kind that is committed outside the United Kingdom is that it is extremely difficult to get evidence in order to try the case properly and fairly before a British court. It
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is, however, likely in such cases that a Government who felt a sense of grievance would find it less difficult to start producing what they would describe as "prosecution evidence" than an unfortunate dissident citizen who was suddenly arrested and faced a charge in this country. I am sure that the Government of Russia would facilitate the attendance of whoever had overheard this stirring speech made on the occasion of some dinner in Georgia, or wherever, and would be able to provide the prosecution authorities in this country with the necessary evidence. The unfortunate man who suddenly found himself arrested
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will anticipate why I have intervened at this point. I understand that when he began his speech he put it in the form of a query to the Minister. He is, as I think he knows, very much dealing with a group of amendments that comes a little later on. He should therefore be restrained in what he says.
Mr. Clarke: You have been indulgent, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, I trust that it is in order to press my question on the Minister, because a judgment of the desirability of the clause in its current vaguely drafted form is more clearly made if one knows whether it has a purely domestic application to British events or a worldwide application that might be evoked in circumstances such as those I am describing.
Mr. Grieve: As I understand it, the Bill certainly has an extra-territorial application. Interestingly, although the Government have made some concessions in restricting extra-territoriality for some offences, they have not done so for the offence in clause 1. The points raised by my right hon. and learned Friend are entirely appositeone can make a speech in the Caucasus and be prosecuted for it in Britain.
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