|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Clarke: My ministerial and official colleagues and I have held several meetings with the Muslim Council of Britain and a range of other Muslim organisations to discuss precisely that matter. There are concerns, as my hon. Friend correctly says, and I concede that not all of them have been met. However, I take a great deal of strength and fortitude from the fact that, both on the Bill and the general conduct of affairs in recent circumstances, a wide range of mainstream Muslim opinion supports us and condemns those who are extremists and glorifiers.
Mr. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): The Home Secretary understandably referred to the United Nations resolution, but will he explain a tautology in the reference that he cited? He quoted the phrase "justification or glorification", but that is the only part of the resolution that has in brackets behind it a further explanation: "apologie". The only translation of that word that I can find is justification in French, so the principle is being redefined, rather than extended.
Mr. Clarke: I understand my hon. Friend's point. The word "apologie" is French. As he knows, international agreements are produced in English and French, for obvious reasons. It is not a translation error because the word "glorification" is the English word in the internationally agreed text. The word has importance and significance.
The question of what each word in any UN declaration means is ultimately a matter for the courts to resolve, but the word chosen by the United Nationsappropriatelywas glorification, which is why I focus on that word.
Mr. Sadiq Khan (Tooting) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend reassure me and those in the community that it will not be possible to be guilty of the offence if one inadvertently uses language? Will he confirm that the mens rea required will be intention?
I can give my hon. Friend that absolute assurance. I will talk about the detail in a moment, but he is entirely correct. Part of the debate in this House
15 Feb 2006 : Column 1431
and the other place has been the intent behind any of these acts. An inadvertent situation of the type that he mentions could not arise.
Mr. Grieve: I was going to intervene on the Home Secretary to offer him the benefit of the fact that I am bilingual in French and English. I was simply going to point out to him that the word "apologie" cannot be translated as glorification. If that was what was done, it was bunkum.
Mr. Clarke: I shall certainly take the opportunity to offer the hon. Gentleman's services to the United Nations as a translator. With his manifold talents in the law and translation, I am sure that he would be a great asset. Although we in the House would miss him greatly if he departed, I am sure that the United Nations would welcome his arrival.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): Why is the Home Secretary placing such emphasis on the manifesto commitment? Yesterday, a majority of the Cabinet decided to renege on a manifesto commitment because they thought that certain things had been rather wrongly worked out. Why can he not take account of what the other place has said about this manifesto commitment and accept the sensible amendments that it put before us?
Mr. Clarke: I am surprised that a Member of such long-standing and constitutional weight does not acknowledge the importance of manifesto commitments when considering Lords amendments. We were not considering such amendments yesterday and the decisions taken on a free vote went beyond manifesto commitments. I mention the manifesto commitment because there is a difference of opinion between the elected and unelected Chambers. Conventionally, and for good reasons that are accepted on both sides of the House, a manifesto commitment is an important consideration when hon. Members debate Lords amendments.
Mr. Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth, East) (Con): It was inappropriate of the Home Secretary to suggest on the radio this morning that Opposition Members are somehow soft on terrorism. We are worried that although the measures in the Bill may already be covered by other laws, more people who normally have absolutely nothing at all to do with terrorism might come under the Bill's footprint.
Mr. Clarke: I will address the details in a moment, but on the question of being soft on terrorism, I advise the hon. Gentleman to prove his determination to fight terrorism by voting with the Government today.
Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon) (LD):
The report to which the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) referred was the third report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which was published several weeks ago. That report addressed the Bill, but the report to which the Home Secretary referred was on renewals. The third report criticises the Bill and says that there is a high risk of it being outside the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European convention on human rights
15 Feb 2006 : Column 1432
because of the use of the word "glorification". The Home Secretary cited the words "glorification" and "justification" in the UN resolution, so why do the definitions in clause 20 include no reference to justification? Is that because there are UN terms that even he considers to be too broad to be related to the offence?
Mr. Clarke: I apologise to the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) if I misunderstood the Committee report to which he was referring. Let me put the position on record. The Joint Committee on Human Rights expressed doubts due to the lack of clear intent requirements in clauses 1 and 2. The Government have amended the Bill to make it clear that the offences can be committed only with intent or subjective recklessness, which I believe meets the Joint Committee's concerns.
The hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) asks about the wording. Our biggest problem is that there is no internationally accepted definition of terrorisma central issue from which a series of political arguments arise. A number of alternative definitions are used, and this House debated them on Report. I stand readyit is why I have suggested that we consider new legislation based on Alex Carlile's reportto look at the new language that emerges from the UN and elsewhere as a result of the process that is to take place this year, but I regard it as significant that the Security Council included "glorification" in its resolution.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): I recognise that there are concernsthe issue is sensitive and I share the reservations that have been expressed to some extent. However, since we last debated the Bill we have seen the most blatant glorification of acts of terrorismthe events of 7 July. The House discussed that only last week. In other circumstances where there is less publicity, might there not be individuals and small groups who continue to glorify the horrors and atrocities of 7 July, and might not the law that my right hon. Friend proposes be necessary if the Opposition are wrong and the existing law does not cover such activities?
Mr. Clarke: I shall deal with that point in more detail later, but my hon. Friend is entirely correct, without qualification, to say that we have to deal with the glorification of terror. If anything was needed to demonstrate that, it was the events of 7 July last year and how they happened. That is what the legislation is designed to do.
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab):
May I take my right hon. Friend back to what our hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Khan) said, and my right hon. Friend repeated, about the importance of linking the offence in the clause with intent or reckless disregard? That change was made between Committee stage and Report. Although that is on the face of the Bill and it is what he is arguing today, in attempting to put water between what the Bill as passed by the Commons would do and what the Lords amendments would do Ministers have sometimes appeared to say that the Bill
15 Feb 2006 : Column 1433
is intended to go furtherthat it would outlaw glorification of terrorism rather than outlaw glorification of terrorism where there is an intention to encourage terrorism or reckless disregard in that respect. Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that the Bill as he wants it to be passed will not outlaw the glorification of terrorism, but will outlaw the glorification of terrorism where the intent is to encourage people to commit terrorist acts?
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|