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Mr. Grieve: Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is a strange sense in the Bill, and particularly in the glorification clause, of a refusal to recognise that the use of force to remove a tyrannical regime can ever be justified?
I find that particularly peculiar from a Government who have entered, in my view, an entirely
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illegal and immoral war, and who have explained it, with hindsight, precisely on such grounds. The Government must accept, however, that there are cases today, and there have been cases in the past, in which such action must be justified. I could not discuss the regime in Burma without giving evidence of the fact that I think that it ought to be overthrown, and if it were overthrown, and in the course of that some activities that would be terrorist in this country took place there, I think that I would condone them.
Helen Goodman: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 1.8 billion people in the world today live under military dictatorships or one-party states in which there is no political opposition? We are not talking about a tiny minority but a large proportion of the population of the world today.
Mr. Gummer: The hon. Lady is absolutely right. What we must doI have been accused in the past of doing itis to put ourselves into the situation. I seem to remember an occasion on which I graphically explained why I thought a certain product was safe by doing that. I believe that that is the only thing that a politician should do. When I say that I think this or that, I must ask whether I think it in relation to me. Earlier, many of us voted against the 90 days. In doing so, I was not thinking of people a long way away but of what I would think, or of what my children would think, if they were arrested and locked up for 90 days. Many people, I am afraid, think about what other people, whom they do not really like very much, might think.
The same is true with glorification. What would I think were I living under a military regime? I think that I would be bound to take part in activities that the regime would certainly see as terrorist. I hope that I would be brave enough to do sothat would be my only problem. If I cannot glorify those who are brave enough to do so, however, I lack an important part of my freedom of expression.
John Bercow: My right hon. Friend mentioned Burma, and to do so in my presence is to do the equivalent of pricking me with a needle. I entirely agree with what he said about glorification. May I put it to him that if one believes as strongly as I do that the savage and bestial military junta in Burma is among the most oppressive and sadistic regimes in the world, it is not difficult to persuade oneself that the Karen National Liberation Army and others who are engaged in a sometimes violent attempt to overthrow it are engaged in activity that we should glorify and of which we can be proud? If the Government cannot see that, they do not see much.
Mr. Gummer: The Government cannot turn around and say, "We are allowed to do that. This refers to something quite different." I very much dislike the idea of extending the Government's powers so that they can decide what is and is not suitable for me to glorify.
That is my first objection. My second is this. If the clause does not refer to that, how can it refer to anything that is not covered by the rest of the clause, which deals with the encouragement of terrorism? That is the
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distinction that seems to me so difficult. If it does mean something different, what it means seems to me to be something that should not be made illegal and punishable by seven years' imprisonment. It is part of life that we must put ourselves in the position in which others find themselves and, in doing that, we may have to glorify actions which we would not only consider entirely wrong in our own democratic society, but might well not have the guts to perform ourselves, in view of fatal flaws that might result from not having been pressurised in the same way.
There is, then, a genuine present reason for the amendment. Let me end by suggesting a reason from the past. I was lucky enough to be taught history very enthusiastically. Part of my historical bias arises from a wish to fight out again the issues that mattered at the time. The glorification clause could so easily be seen as a restriction. I am sure that that will not be the case in the classroom or the local authority, but I warn the Minister that the BBC and organisations that deal with the national press are all too likely to say, "I think this may be a bit dangerous. Let's not do it quite like that." Our experience of people allowing the public to see what an abortion is actually likewhich is not glorificationshows what happens if organisations such as the BBC and ITV are allowed to control the expression of powerful feelings and emotions more than is absolutely necessary.
Mr. Gummer: For obvious reasons, I am rather opposed to attempts to blow up Parliament. I also happen to think that Guy Fawkes was encouraged by the establishment of the time. It seems to me that Lord Cecil, in the good tradition of that long-standing family, was right in the middle of it, and I have no doubt that he knew what was going on and encouraged it. I am not as unhappy about Guy Fawkes as some would be, simply because I think he was a cat's paw whose activity was much closer to the Reichstag fire than people are normally allowed to believe.
Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): Would my right hon. Friend care to pay tribute to Lord Monteagle, who came from my constituency and is still revered there? It was he who gave the warning about the gunpowder plot that saved our predecessors.
There are circumstances in which terrorism is seen in different lights in different places. In democracies, people have a right to expect an obedience to the law that they do not have a right to expect in military dictatorships. In today's world, we have a right to expect obedience to the law in a way that would not have applied in Britain 100, 200 or 300 years agonot necessarily mainland Britain, but certainly the island of Ireland. It ill behoves us to pass legislation that is the
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Prime Minister's appendix: the bit left over, an entirely different piece of the jigsaw that has unfortunately been left there and will, if we leave it still, have much the same effect as a grumbling appendix. We do not need it but we need to deal with it, and the only way to do so firmly is to cut it out.
Mr. Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon) (Con): It is a privilege to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer). My objection to this clause is largely based on the fact that it is a pointless excrescence and a wholly unnecessary appendage. It resides in the Bill solely for the reason that the Government announced over the summer that they would criminalise glorification, and so had to leave some reference to glorification in the Bill.
It is clear on examining the relevant part of the clause that, in any event, it is used only as an example of the kind of conduct that the clause proscribes in an earlier part. It is an inclusive statement that simply points the way to the all-embracing umbrella section, which makes it an offence indirectly to encourage a terrorist act. As my right hon. Friend said, it is a pernicious and pointless appendage that has no place in legislation made by this House.
The common law has always been extremely careful to ensure that the proscription of speech is precise, carefully targeted and narrowly defined. That is why the common law has always proscribed the incitement of specific acts of violence. On examining the common law offence of incitement, one sees that the ingredients require that an accused person mustmusthave incited a specific act identifiable and particularised by the Crown in the indictment. But the clause and this specific section of it simply enable the glorification of a type of conduct, with no need for a specific act to have been encouraged or incited.
The dangers have been dwelt on by Members in all parts of the House, but my right hon. Friend put his finger on a particularly important point. Among the many examples that Members have used, we have heard some that are fanciful and others that are more realistic. The glorification of some heroes of the past has been dismissed by Ministers as the product of fevered fantasy, but the truth is that a more subtle and insidious danger arises from this clause remaining in the Bill.
Let us suppose that a speech was made at Hyde park corner by an English nationalist who wished to sing the praises of Hereward the Wake. That it should even be thought that the glorification of the conduct of Hereward the Wakewho led an uprising, as I recall, against the Normanscould in any respect be in danger of being criminalised or made illegal by this Bill might attract from us smiles and a degree of risibility, and we would doubtless be right. The Director of Public Prosecutions would greet with consternation and dismay any lunatic who even proposed the idea that a speaker on Hyde park corner singing the praises of Hereward the Wake might invoke the penalty under this clause.
Let us suppose that the speaker on Hyde park corner was not white. Let us suppose that he was a Muslim, and that he was glorifying and praising not Hereward the Wake, but the actions of Saladin. Let us suppose that he was holding out for emulation the actions of Saladin in
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the wars that he fought against Christian civilisation for two or three decades or more. Let us consider the circumstances of the time and take into account the particular factors of the speaker's audience, which might include not only ordinary Londoners going about their business, but one or two Muslims, perhaps some of the Arab race and some who were susceptible to the message of waging a crusade against Christian civilisation. The speaker might notice them coming from the local mosque; he might see them gathering around his soapbox on the corner of Hyde park. I do not know whether there is, in fact, a mosque local to Hyde park, but let us suppose that there is one and that gathering around our speaker is a crowd of turbaned Arab and Muslim people.
Still, our Hyde park speaker continues to sing the praises of Saladin and begins to discern the murmuring and sussuration[Hon. Members: "Ooh!"]yes, sussuration and I shall be providing a few more soon. He senses the restiveness of his audience and begins to see that, although he has perfectly innocent intentions, his praise of Saladina great hero of the Arab raceis beginning to excite an intemperate reaction among his audience. Perhaps, we might say, a wise speaker would button his lip. A wise man would cease to speak at that point, climb down from his soapbox and immediately go silent. However, it would be too late, for he would already have committed a crime because he would have glorified in circumstances where he could see[Interruption.] I notice that the Minister is looking at me in consternation, but for 23 years I have practised law in the criminal courts of this country, and let me tell her and Government Members that more stupid prosecutions have been brought than thatfar more.
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