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I urge the House to support Lords amendment No. 5, which effectively does away entirely with clause 1(4). That subsection, like the Bill itself, is unnecessary and, at worst, mischievous. Let me explain why it is unnecessary. I shall do so as simply as I can. I must see the legislation through the dark prism of the eyes of a prosecuting criminal lawyer, and in my time I have prosecuted the worst of them; but when I consider likely offences, I cannot think of an actual orto answer a point made earlieran imagined circumstance involving the imparting of glorification, coupled with encouragement or inducement to emulate, that would not be caught by existing legislation on incitement. I shall be happy if any Member can give me an example of a case in which I would not advise prosecution in such circumstances. I have struggled, and if I could have thought of such an instance, I should have been happy for the Bill to be given a much clearer passage. The fact that no such instance can be imagined, and the fact that the legislation is unnecessary, lead to the inevitable suspicionventilated and articulated in this Housethat the motivation is to persuade the people that the Government are doing something, and, worse still, to provide an alibi for what has not been done in the past.
Pre-eminent in this context is the case of Mr. Abu Hamza. I do not know why he was not prosecuted months or years ago under existing legislation. I am sure that at some stage those with responsibility, in the Home Office or in the departments directly under its aegis, will explain why Mr. Abu Hamza was not prosecuted months or years ago, together with the other clerics who are spreading violence and the concept of violence, and the encouragement of and incitement to violence that has been described to us.
Equally, I do not know why those who carried placards during the demonstration that has rightly been referred to many timesplacards that were classic incitements to violencehave not been prosecuted, and were not apprehended at the time. That failure has done no favours at all to the Islamic community. I am afraid that I was not present for Prime Minister's Questionsand I have been told by the Whips that I can go home whenever I like during this debatebut I understand that the Prime Minister suggested that we needed the Bill in order to catch precisely those people who wave placards. I do not know who briefed the Prime Minister, but I can say for certain who did not brief him: the Home Secretary's parliamentary private secretary, my good, learned and honourable Friend the Member for Redcar (Vera Baird), who would know perfectly well that what those placards contained was a direct incitement to violence. I do not know where that idea came from, but those holding the placards should, and could, have been prosecuted.
The second issue is the mischief that the use of the term "glorification" will lead to. "Glorification" is a wonderful word; it is resonant, rotund, glorious. It has
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no place whatsoever in criminal jurisprudence and absolutely no place in this particular criminal jurisprudence. In dealing with this desperate and sensitive area of law at this desperate and sensitive time, we must ensure that the law is hard, clinical, analytical, direct and immediately understandable by any who seek to look at it. It must contain the vernacular that underlines all those elements.
"Glorification" is a word that is interpreted subjectively, as we wish to interpret it; my "glorification" is not others'. Without a shadow of doubt, if we pass this legislation the office of the Attorney-General will be besieged by those who believe that what somebody else has saidbe they Islamic or Christian; it does not matterconstitutes a glorification of terrorism. Demands will be made for the Attorney-General to exercise his discretion and if he agrees to do so, it will cause immense trouble and pain. If he does not, that will also cause immense trouble and pain. The problem stems from the use of this word. "Glorification" is wonderful from the pen of Blake or Milton; it is glorious in the music of Frideric Handel. But we do not do beatitudes in the Old Bailey; rather, we do law, conviction and punishment, which is what should have happened in the case of Abu Hamza and others a very long time ago.
I hope, even now, that this wholly unnecessary word can be expunged from this statute. Of course, it will not be, but I hope that it will through the accepting of this amendment. I also hope that in future, we will have more necessary and successful prosecutions in the Old Bailey, and fewer wholly unnecessary and grotesquely mischievous attempts at legislation such as this.
Mr. Gummer : It is a pleasure to follow the hon. and learned Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews). The word "glorify" is meant to be orotund. It is a word used almost exclusively on religious occasions, when it is meant to convey a feeling. It is meant to convey much moreand much more vaguelythan the meaning that it actually has. So it does have a place, but not in law.
The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) was wrong to say that the Home Secretary, the Government and their experts have concluded that the word "glorify" is necessary. Only the Prime Minister came to that conclusion, and "glorify" remains in the Bill in order to save him from the consequences of omitting that word, to which he feels deeply attached.
No one on either side of the argument can give anything other than a ludicrous example of the difference between a case that could be caught by the term "glorify", and one that could be caught by the term "indirect encouragement". In other words, the Government have not produced a single example of someone's saying something that manifestly should be prosecuted, but which cannot be prosecuted unless the word "glorify" is included in this legislation. If the House is to support it, the Government, the Home Secretary and the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety must prove that point. It is no good making vague, suitable-for-the-"Today"-programme statements that anybody who does not agree with the Government must in some way be nasty. I know that that is a basic new Labour belief, but the truth is that many of us are concerned that the law be enforced, and be seen to be enforced, impartially, particularly on a matter as serious as this.
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Every time that an example of something that would be caught by the term "glorify" is cited and shown to be ludicrous, the Home Secretary laughs and says, in effect, "I wouldn't allow a prosecution on that basis." He has to be saved from himself. We do not want a legal system in which the public and the individual are protected from the rigors of the law not by the law itself, but by a collection of political figures. We want a law thatto paraphrase the hon. and learned Member for Medwayis clear, precise and clinical; we do not want one written in such a way as to extend Ministers' privileges and prerogatives. Having been a Minister for 16 years, I believe that Ministers should be saved from being given an apparently quasi-judicial role; that is not a proper role for them, unless it is utterly necessary in the case of a particular Minister.
Of course, there are circumstances in which the word "glorify" is not as otiose as we thinkin which it is, contrary to what the Home Secretary thinks, capable of being used unreasonably. It could have a serious effect on minority communities, and here, I have a great deal of sympathy with what the hon. Member for Leicester, East said earlier, although not with the conclusion that he came to. A person who recently preached in the town of Ipswich the particular, in my view rather narrow and extreme, position of a Protestant group was stopped by the police and told that his actionhe felt that he was preaching the gospelwas liable to prosecution on the ground of stirring up religious and racial hatred.
I believe the policeman in question to be wrong in his interpretation of the law, but I do know the effect of that interpretation on that small and perfectly decentbut, I think, wrongreligious community. They happen to live in my constituency, and they came to me to talk this thing through. They said, "We are law-abiding people and we do not wish to be put into a category whereby it may seem, either to us or to others, that we have broken the law. We wish to abide by it." Given their peculiar view of the nature of human law and their desire for a theocracy, that is a very difficult thing for them to say. However, I do not believe that small groups of decent people should be made, in a sense, illegal simply because we think them rather peculiar. Here, I mean "peculiar" in the technical sense of different from other people. I therefore point out to the Home Secretary that there is a serious reason why the word "glorify" should not be included in the Billa reason akin to that advanced by the hon. Member for Leicester, East.
We must also recognise that we are dealing with issues about which the law has to be precise. Such issues of their nature give rise to fervour, and the word "glorify" is itself a word of fervour. The great music of Steiner is fervour-creating. I very often find myself uplifted by those words and that music, but they are not a suitable subject for law. We have to be very careful, because people who speak about religion often do so with fervour, as it is the most important part of their lives. For believers, it is the most important part of life, so the use of fervent words is not surprising.
Sometimes, when the Home Secretary describes the sort of statement that he is trying to prevent, he gets pretty close to what is said in the holy books of various religions represented in this country. The step is not a big one. That is partly because holy books were usually
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written in times and language very different from our own, and partly because they use turns of phrase that are especially difficult to translate into English. The Government must be sensitive to that, and not make matters worse.
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