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Does my hon. Friend accept that the real problem is that the Government want to allege that by refuting this idea of glorification, Opposition Members are somehow soft on terrorism. In fact, as I pointed out in an intervention on the Home Secretary, the courts have no definition of glorification. The most that can be said is that there is a public perception of glorification, but that will not help in this instance. What we really want is a clear definition. If an opportunity can be taken
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to get another definition on its feet before the Bill concludes its passage, that will be the best way of dealing with the problem.
Mr. Grieve: I agree with my hon. Friend. We are passing law. Lord Bingham said in the Rimmington case that law had to be clear, precise and adequately defined, based on a rational and discernible principle. That is the problem. Glorification is not clear, precise, adequately defined or based on a rationally discernible principle. By plucking the concept out of the air, the Government will cause themselves and the courts that have to apply the law great difficulties. Like so many other laws that we have passed against terrorism in the past five years, when it is on the statute book, it will turn out that all the prosecutions are brought under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
In 1998, we passed ludicrous law after the Omagh bombing about conviction on hearsay evidence. Mercifully, it has never been used or had to be used. We pass such law repeatedly and it is irritating when the Prime Minister gets on his hobby-horse, postures to the world, accuses everyone else of being soft on terrorism, gets his cheap headlines, which he wants, and leaves other people to clear up the mess that he created. It is the House's job to ensure that we clear up the mess now.
Stewart Hosie (Dundee, East) (SNP): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a glorification charge would be necessary if it were not possible to charge and convict an organisation or an individual under provisions for encouraging, committing, instigating, inciting, commissioning, directly or indirectly, acts of terror or recruiting towards or fundraising for a terrorist organisation? Can he give one example of an organisation anywhere in the universe that would only glorify and not commit one of those other offences?
Mr. Grieve: I agree that that is rather unlikely. That is why we have always believed that clause 1 is a belt-and-braces job. Sometimes belt-and-braces jobs have their place, but if we are to have one, we had better ensure that we are not, in the process, creating a new world where people get criminalised and are placed in a state of deep uncertaintythat is one of the great mischiefs of the measureabout what is proper and what is not. It is all very well saying that one will ultimately be acquitted if the state is foolish enough to prosecute, but most people who enjoy freedom of speech would like the reassurance that, for example, what they say at the commemoration of the Easter rising in a pub in north London in a couple of months will not land them with a knock on the door from the police afterwards. We must take that seriously.
The Home Secretary has criticised Lords amendment No. 5. As I said, I would be prepared to retain "indirect encouragement" and nothing else. That is one approach. The Lords have genuinely sought to help the House. If the Home Secretary believes that there are textual criticisms to make, he knew that they could be made from 16 January, after the debate on Report. I do not remember their being made in the debate in the other place. The Government have had plenty of time, if they wanted, to be conciliatory with the other place. They often consider amendments that have been accepted in Committee. I have frequently presented amendments in
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Committee that the Government say that they will take away, consider and bring back in better drafted form. The Government have had a long time in which to sort out the matter.
The Prime Minister suddenly appeared to suggest, with such intensity, at the Dispatch Box earlier today that textual criticisms were the Government's objection. If that is the case, I am sure that the matter can be easily resolved. I repeat my offer to the Home Secretary to resolve it. The problem is capable of resolution. However, in the meantime, I am content with the Lords amendment.
I do not want glorification to be included in the Bill under any circumstances. I shall vote to ensure that that does not happen. If it does, we shall prolong a debate that is unworthy of the House. Glorification has no place in our law. It is incapable of proper interpretation and proper implementation; it risks criminalising those whom the Government do not intend to criminalise and, as a concept, it is frankly rubbish. It is time that the House said that to the Prime Minister even if he, most regrettably, cannot currently understand that.
Keith Vaz: It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve). He has won three awards in recent months for his parliamentary performance. Perhaps today we should give him an award for fiction. Although he had a good case, he embellished it to such an extent that those of us who may have wanted to support him are unable to do that.
I want to pick up two points. First, I want to consider the effect of clause 1 and the amendment on especially the Muslim community but also the wider Asian community. I am worried about the mood music of a rush to legislate on a wide range of issues that will affect the ethnic minority communities. I do understand the need for the Government to take strong, tough emergency measures to deal with those who wish to perpetrate or incite terrorism. The Home Secretary knows that I am with him on that because I supported the Government when we considered the matter previously.
I am worried about passing legislation after legislation, which creates in minds of the wider Asian community the concern that every member is under investigation. That is why we need to deal with the concerns of community groups, members of which are frequent visitors to the Home Secretary's office. They are worried about the way in which the legislation is framed. Moreover, they are worried about its implementation. The Home Secretary and the Government have conducted a proper dialogue with members of those groups since 1997. Recent events mean that it has obviously become much more intense. My right hon. Friend must ensure that the discussion includes reference to the police and that the dialogue is not simply about legislation"We have to do this to respond to the concerns of the wider community"but about ensuring that, in implementing the law, the police will understand the will of Parliament.
When my hon. Friend considers the disproportionate number of visible minorities and visible Muslims who are stopped and searched, arrested but not charged, and other statistics that he knows,
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including statistics relating to those detained at Belmarsh, does he agree that, for example, the Independent Police Complaints Commission should examine the entire country holistically rather than each independent police force considering how its officers are accountable?
Keith Vaz: My hon. Friend is right that the Independent Police Complaints Commission should examine the matter. Perhaps the reorganisation that the Home Secretary has in mind for the rest of the country means that the point will be covered.
Those of us who support the Home Secretary want him to go out and spread the message about why the Government are involved in such legislation. It is vital to explain in clear and crisp language that the measures are not being introduced to put the wider Asian community under pressure. Its members have made it clear that they are against those who purvey terrorism and with the Government in trying to ensure that something is done about the terrorists.
Mr. Cash: The hon. Gentleman has a strong constituency interest in this matter and must therefore be listened to with great care. The Johannesburg principles, with which I dare say he is familiar, set out the criteria for dealing with matters such as freedom of expression. They state that we should take account of the fact that
Keith Vaz: The hon. Gentleman's last point is right. Of course it is important in a democracy that we should maintain the rule of law. It is also right that, when community groups and minority groups are likely to be affected by legislation, those groups should be reassured that the legislation is being directed not against them but against the tiny minority of people who seek to subvert democracy by blowing people up as they did on 7 July last year. That is the balance that the Home Secretary has to strike. He needs not only to welcome those groups into his office for discussions, but to send out a clear message to them that they are on our side and we are on their side in dealing with those elements who seek to subvert our democracy.
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