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Mr. Grieve: The Minister must explain what its purpose is. If glorification can amount to incitement without being separately spelled out, the subsection simply is not needed and produces a misleading impression and places emphasis on a particular activity, when all sorts of other activities could also constitute incitement to terrorism.
Hazel Blears: The hon. Gentleman must have a little patience and allow me to explain the point. He has made that point on innumerable occasions, and I shall deal with it. I repeat that Lord Carlile thinks that the provision is proportionate and the proper thing for us to do.
The use of the word "include" means that we do not have a stand-alone offence of glorification, but statements of glorification are included within the ambit of the direct or indirect incitement in clause 1. That is the point that the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Jeremy Wright) made in his thoughtful contribution. It is important to include reference to glorification for the very reason that it is a new concept to our courts and, therefore, we need to provide the courts with a guide to the kind of behaviour that we are trying to ensure is covered through the direct and indirect incitement provision.
The hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) said that he found the provision "a distasteful concept". Well, most of us would find statements that glorify, praise and celebrate terrorism in a way that is likely to encourage others to emulate terrorism more than distasteful. We find them completely unacceptable. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth was generous enough to acknowledge that we do now face a new kind of threat from international terrorism, including people making the sort of statements that we have not heard in
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the past. Therefore, although the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) was kind enough to say that I am not the sort of person who ignores history, I am the sort of person who wants to ensure that our law is fit to address some of the new threats that we face as well as our experience in the past. There is universal acknowledgement in this House that the threat that we face from international terrorism now is significantly different from threats that we have faced in the past.
Stewart Hosie : I appreciate what the Minister says and what she is attempting do. However, given the wide definition of terrorism and the link to the very broad definition of glorification, the danger is that the Bill will catch not the people she is seeking to catch, but others. If I may give a more contemporary example, thousands of honest citizens in the UK supported the Chilean refugees who were on the run from the Pinochet regime, which deemed them to be terrorists. Is not that the problem with the Bill?
Hazel Blears: We debated that point at great length in Committee and we went through all the different examples. The glorification part of this offence also has to fulfil the other provisions of clause 1. That means that there has to be intent, or recklessness, or the objective definition of recklessness. A statement also has to be one that encourages terrorism and encourages people to emulate such behaviour. The offence contains a series of different elements that have to be completed before there is any prospect of a prosecution.
Several hon. Members have suggested that the only safeguard is the Director of Public Prosecutions. That is not the case. There is a series of seven hurdles, which I have now set out three times at the Dispatch Box, of the different component parts of the offence, all of which have to be completed before a prosecution could be brought. Someone would have to condone or glorify terrorism in such a way that the persons hearing his statement would be encouraged to commit an act of terrorism or emulate that behaviour. It is not simply glorification or condoning that form the offence, because there is the second limb of the likely effect on the audience and what it would be encouraged to do.
Stewart Hosie: It is helpful to have the list that the Minister has given. However, someone might say, to a person who was here in the circumstances I described a minute ago, "What you faced was terrible. I hope that you go home, take your country back and make it democratic." That short conversation would fulfil all the obligations for the offence, except the decision by the DPP.
My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), who is no longer in the Chamber, made an important point earlier when she said that someone could preface their remarks with the statement that they do not condone or endorse acts of terrorism or encouraging people to kill others. They could express sympathy and even support for the activity, but not in a way that encourages people to commit acts of terrorism.
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Mr. Grieve: I am interested in the Minister's endorsement of the words of the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), as she has just provided a let-out for every person who wants to incite terrorism. If all that is required to get around the clause is to preface one's remarks with that saving clause, why are we passing clause 1 into law? That is a classic illustration of the muddled thinking behind the Government's approach. The Government should remove glorification and stick to incitement, with proper terminology. They will then have an offence that works, that bites and, moreover, that commands widespread respect.
Hazel Blears: It will be no surprise for Members to hear that I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. Yet again, he is stuck in the traditional analysiswe can do things only in a certain way, because that is how we have always done them. He is not prepared to look at some of the novel challenges and threats that we face in this new situation, or to try to adapt the law to ensure that we meet those threats in a proper way.
Unfortunately, there are young and impressionable people in our society who can all too easily be manipulated by people preaching or advocating a message of hate. Such people can create the climate of hate in which terrorism can more easily flourish. That is what we are trying to tackle with the offence. I remind the House that the terms of the offence are clear. Simply condoning terrorism, or even glorifying it, will not be sufficient to constitute a criminal offence. The glorification must take place in such a way that the person making the statement must intend it or be reckless as to its effect. The statement must have an effect on the audience, who must be encouraged to emulate the behaviour. Because the offence includes all those components, it would address all the illustrations bandied around the House to express genuine or, in some cases, not so genuine concern.
The offence is complex. It has two limbs: what someone does and what the effect is. That combination should be sufficient to reassure people that we are trying to focus on the mischief of those who make statements to vulnerable young people that could draw them into extremism, without casting our net so wide that we catch people where it is inappropriate. I have genuinely tried to formulate the provisions so that they attack that mischief, which I hope everybody acknowledges is a real threat to us, but without drawing people in too widely.
Mr. Leigh: Does the Minister accept that the Burmese regime would consider that I was glorifying terrorism when I initiated an Adjournment debate to congratulate the Karen people on fighting for their freedom?
There is a difference between expressing support for people's actions and that further step where a person makes the statements that they intend or are reckless about and that they know are likely to
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encourage others to engage in acts of terrorism. That is what the provision is aimed at and it is perfectly proper to bring it into effect.
Some Members have suggested that the provisions are unnecessary. If that were the case, we would not have included them. They provide the courts with a useful guide as to the type of conduct that Parliament wants to cover in the new legislation. Moreover, if they were to be removed at this stage the courts could interpret that as meaning that we did not intend such conduct to be covered. If the provisions were removed, I am concerned that courts could consider that acts of glorification, celebrating, exalting and praising terrorism were not the type of behaviour that should be covered under direct or indirect incitement. They are an important illustration to the courts of the type of behaviour that we want to cover.
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 provides an analogyalbeit on a difference scalethat helped me to understand the clause, as the Act includes a description of the type of conduct involved in harassment. When the concept of harassment was introduced, it was new to the courts, so the Act described the type of conduct that would be covered, to assist and guide the courts in interpreting that criminal offence.
This provision is certainly similar because it would tell the courts that we are considering behaviour that glorifies, celebrates or exalts terrorism and that it should be included in direct or indirect incitement in accordance with clause 1, so it is very helpful indeed. Any suggestion that praising Robin Hood would fall into that category is very far of the mark.
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