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The reason we made a manifesto commitment and why we think glorification should be dealt with as I propose is that people who glorify terrorism help to create a climate in which terrorism is regarded as somehow acceptable. They help to persuade impressionable members of their audiences that they have a moral duty to kill innocent people in pursuit of whatever political or religious ideology they espouse. In recent times, we have seen threats from extremists who claim to represent Islam. As I said in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz), leaders of the Muslim community in the UK and elsewhere have, quite properly, explained that such views do not represent true Islam. None the less, all too many people may be influenced by those who glorify terrorism and conclude that they have a duty to kill and injure innocent bystanders in the misguided belief that they are bound to do so by their faith. Our duty to those we represent is to do everything we can to prevent that from happening.
Both Houses have agreed that there will be an offence of encouraging terrorism and that the offence will cover both direct and indirect encouragement. I am, however, concerned by the changes made to clause 1 and replicated in clause 21 by the Members of the other place. The Lords removed a provision which clarified that statements that constituted indirect encouragement included statements that glorified acts of terrorism and were statements from which those members of the audience who heard them could reasonably be expected to infer that what was being glorified was being glorified as conduct that should be emulated by them in existing circumstances. That was a clear provision in the Bill considered by the Lords. Taken with a definition of "glorification" in clause 20, it made what was being described perfectly clear. Moreover, it made it abundantly clear to everyone who had heard about the offence that glorifying terrorism in such a way that others might emulate it would no longer be tolerated.
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That alternative is unacceptable for three main reasons. I will explain those reasons in a moment, but perhaps I should first remind the House that glorification features in the Bill as an example of what is encompassed by the concept of indirect encouragement. It is not self-contained. Glorification as an offence is a subset of indirect encouragement as an offence and can be committed only if the conditions surrounding the main offence are met, as I just said to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden). Key among those conditions is the requirement that there must be an intention that others should be induced to commit terrorist offences or subjective recklessness on that point. Glorification without intention of emulation or without subjective recklessness cannot constitute an offence.
As I said, the Opposition's preferred form of words is unacceptable for three reasons. First, instead of being an exemplary description of what indirect encouragement could be, it is an exhaustive description. In other words, the offence is limited so that it is committed by making available to the public a statement directly encouraging terrorism, or a statement indirectly encouraging it, but only by actually describing it in such a way that the listener will infer that he should emulate it. The Government drafted the offence carefully so that it would cover all statements that were either an encouragement to terrorism or another form of inducement to terrorism. As we designed the offence, it covered statements that constituted direct and indirect encouragement and that made explicit references to terrorism, as well as those that encouraged terrorism but did not refer explicitly to it.
Let me put the argument as simply as I can. The use of the word "describing" in the Lords amendment means that the provision would not catch, as the original wording would, glorification, praise or celebration of an act of terrorism that does not actually describe the act. Similarly, the reference in the wording inserted by the other place to "listener" also limits the scope of the provision. It confines the definition to statements that are capable of being heard and so, for example, would exclude statements written on placards or published on websites.
The deficiency becomes particularly obvious in connection with clause 2, which deals with the dissemination of terrorist publications. Those who drafted the Lords amendments perhaps did not intend them to have that narrowing effect, but they unquestionably do have precisely that effect. I regard that as a serious problem because I do not believe that any form of indirect encouragement or other inducement to terrorism should be acceptable. It is also
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a problem because the Council of Europe offence on which ours is modelled was clear on precisely that point. The offence was intended to capture "public provocation", as well as other forms of encouragement or inducement to terrorism. The European convention on the prevention of terrorism includes provocation, so we should include provocation, too. Like glorifying terrorism, it is possible to provoke it without describing or referring to it.
Mr. Grieve: I listened carefully to what the Prime Minister had to say during Prime Minister's Question Time and I am not wholly persuaded by the argument that listening cannot encompass reading. I go to listen to the word of God in church, but that is sometimes communicated in written as well as oral form. If that is the extent of the Home Secretary's anxiety and the Prime Minister's, I am sure that they will agree that it is readily curable. If the Home Secretary gives the House an assurance that he would be happy with their lordships' formula if "listener" were replaced by some other word that emphasises that the statement can be heard or read, we shall be able to bring these proceedings to a close very quickly.
Mr. Grieve : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Why, in debates in the Chamber, can a perfectly clear statement sometimes immediately be distorted by the recipient into something that the plain word "misrepresentation" could not possibly cover?
Mr. Clarke: I am afraid that I was confused by the remark by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) that listening is the same as reading. Most children, before they reach key stage 2, understand the difference between listening and reading, so I would expect him to acknowledge it. Indeed, I believe that he did so, because he went on to say that the wording for which he wants to vote should be changed, and he invited me to do so. That is the simple point that I was making, but it was only the first of three points of difference that need to be addressed.
Mr. Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton, South-East) (Lab): Will the Home Secretary clarify something that is viewed as very important outside the House? The vast majority of the public were doubtless horrified by the placards on display two weeks ago after the Danish cartoon affair. If the amendments supported by the Opposition do not cover that situation, does not that show the weakness of their argument and the weakness of the proposal for which they will vote?
My hon. Friend is right. I will not comment specifically on the placards used in that demonstration, because the matter is being considered by the police and prosecution authorities, and it is entirely possible that they were illegal under existing
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legislation. However, placards with wording that is not illegal under existing legislation, but which would be illegal under the proposals, may have been used. Irrespective of that important distinction, the Lords amendment excludes anything visual such as a placard or, rather more significantly, websites. Some websites disseminate the glorification of terrorism, but they are excluded from the Lords amendment.
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