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Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill

Secretary John Reid, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Prescott, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Darling, Mr. Secretary Hutton, Hazel Blears and Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe, presented a Bill to create a new offence that, in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, is to be called corporate manslaughter and, in Scotland, is to be called corporate homicide; and to make provision in connection with that offence: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Monday 24 July, and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed [Bill 220].

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Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

1.27 pm

The Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Mr. Tony McNulty): I beg to move,

Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000 provides a power for the Home Secretary to proscribe an organisation that he believes is concerned in terrorism by adding the organisation to schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act, which lists proscribed organisations. An organisation is concerned in terrorism if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes or encourages terrorism or is otherwise concerned in terrorism.

That power was extended by section 21 of the Terrorism Act 2006 to include organisations that glorify the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism. Glorification includes any form of praise or celebration of acts of terrorism. We are therefore now able to take action against those who make statements that most right-minded people find abhorrent and who create a climate that supports and fuels terrorism.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend explain why we have not got on today’s list the organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose activities are proscribed in Germany and many other countries and are of deep concern to many people in this country?

Mr. McNulty: I take my hon. Friend’s point. This is not a definitive list in terms of proscription. There are any number of other organisations, among which I would include Hizb ut-Tahrir, that we keep under constant review and are seriously concerned about. I do not come here with “This year’s list of proscribed organisations”. This is an ongoing process and we keep all those organisations under review.

Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, East) (Lab): The order adds names to the list. Will the Minister explain what an organisation, once on the list, can do to be removed from it, and will he reconsider whether the People’s Mujahedin of Iran should be removed from the list now?

Mr. McNulty: Again, I take my hon. Friend’s point. I shall not reconsider organisations that are already on the list, but if he will bear with me I shall come on to precisely the point of how an organisation can try to get itself removed from the list.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Will the Minister give the House an indication of how many other organisations are under intensive review, with the possibility of being banned? Is there a danger that the Minister will need to ban other organisations over the long parliamentary recess?

Mr. McNulty: I do not think that there is any intention of introducing proscription orders over the recess. In the confines of the assorted Terrorism Acts, an order subject to the affirmative procedure has to come before the House, so there will not be any
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proscription over the recess, unless the second element of the legislation is used. That element allows orders subject to the negative procedure to be laid regarding organisations that are clearly successor groups to an organisation that has previously been proscribed. I can thus give the right hon. Gentleman a broad assurance.

The House will know that the order before us lists four organisations that we believe are concerned in terrorism: al-Ghurabaa, the Saved Sect, the Baluchistan Liberation Army and Teyrebaz Azadiye Kurdistan, which, if I may, I will call TAK from now on. Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect are being proscribed under the new glorification provisions, and this is the first time that those powers have been used. The Baluchistan Liberation Army and TAK are directly involved in acts of terrorism.

When deciding whether to make an order proscribing a group, several additional factors are taken into account. They were published in 2001. The factors are the nature and scale of an organisation’s activities, the specific threat that it poses to the United Kingdom, the specific threat that it poses to British nationals overseas, the organisation’s presence in the United Kingdom, and the need to support other members of the international community in their fight against terrorism.

The proscription of an organisation is a very serious matter, as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, East (Mr. Marshall) suggested. It means that the organisation is outlawed in the UK and that it is illegal for it to operate here. The Terrorism Act makes it a criminal offence to belong to, or invite support for, a proscribed organisation. It is also an offence to arrange a meeting that will support or further the activities of a proscribed organisation, or that will be addressed by someone who belongs to such an organisation. Finally, a person commits an offence if he or she wears clothing, or carries or displays articles, that provide a reasonable suspicion that he or she is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.

I now come on to my hon. Friend’s point. It is important to note that any organisation that is proscribed, or anyone who is affected by a proscription, can appeal directly to the Home Secretary for the organisation to be de-proscribed. If that is refused, the applicant can appeal to the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission. There is thus a twofold process whereby organisations on the list can be de-proscribed.

Given the wide-ranging impact of proscription, the Home Secretary takes the decision to propose a group for proscription only after a thorough review of all relevant material. That includes open-source and intelligence material, as well as advice that reflects consultations across Government and with law enforcement agencies.

I believe that proscribing the four groups in the order will send a clear message that the United Kingdom continues to take its role in fighting terrorism seriously. We all know that the nature of terrorism has changed. The structures used are more fluid and international, and there are organisations that recruit and radicalise, as well as those that actually commit terrible acts of violence against innocent civilians. Each day we see more and more examples of the enormous challenge that we face.

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Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): Over the period in which the legislation has been in force, is there evidence that any of the groups that were proscribed in the past reconstituted themselves ostensibly as new groups and thus had to be proscribed again?

Mr. McNulty: There is, so I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s comment. He will know that an order subject to the negative procedure is before the House today. The PKK is a proscribed Kurdistan group. We believe that we have sufficient information that suggests that the two groups that are the subject of that order—KADEK and Kongra Gele Kurdistan—are simply successor groups to the PKK, which is why they can be proscribed simply by such an order under section 22 of the Terrorism Act 2006, unless the order is prayed against during the 21 days, or whatever it is, for which it is laid. We rightly included that provision in the Act because we had evidence of such activity.

It is against the broad background that I outlined that we must consider all steps that we can take to protect our citizens from terrorism. That involves difficult decisions and judgments, but the overriding responsibility must be to protect the public. Part of that is about making it harder for organisations that are involved in terrorism—both directly and indirectly—to operate, and that is simply what proscription does.

Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect use the internet as their main medium. The two organisations are closely connected and both are successor organisations to al-Muhajiroun. They use the internet to attack the values of our society and praise those who want to use violence for ideological aims. They spread a message that is aimed at the young and vulnerable, which indirectly encourages them to emulate previous terrorist acts.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): I would have thought that most people, including those in the Muslim community, would say, “It’s about time.” However, what about the people behind these organisations: the racists and hate-mongers who are not UK citizens? Is there not a strong case for considering those people’s status in the United Kingdom and inevitably asking whether their presence in this country is really desirable?

Mr. McNulty: There certainly is; I agree with my hon. Friend. He will know that during the passage of the Bill that became the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, not least because of the events of last summer, we revisited precisely the issue to which he refers on a cross-party basis. Many of the powers that we have to get rid of the undesirables to whom he refers—those who are not UK citizens, but operate in this country—are at their strongest because of the provisions that were added to that Act, with broad agreement in the main part.

Mr. Mike Hancock (Portsmouth, South) (LD): Can the Minister give us details of any charges that have been brought against individuals who have been involved with organisations since they have been proscribed? Have any of those charges led to successful convictions?

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Mr. McNulty: I cannot offhand, not least because the organisations that have been proscribed under the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006 have not been as such for terribly long. If I can get any substantive information, I suspect that it will be about charges that have been made because the process will be unfolding as we speak. That relates in part back to the earlier statement, given the length of time that it takes such things to go through the courts. If I am able to give the information to the hon. Gentleman and the House, I will of course be happy to do so.

Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): May I ask about the removal of organisations from the proscribed list? Apart from the point that was made about organisations that become defunct, will the Minister tell us whether the Government have given any consideration to the removal of other organisations, including domestically based ones in Northern Ireland, on the grounds that they might have changed in character? We are being told that organisations in Northern Ireland are fit for government, yet they remain proscribed as illegal organisations under the legislation.

Mr. McNulty: The narrow confines of the order relate only to the organisations that are being proscribed under the powers in the Terrorism Acts, rather than the broader context of domestically based organisations in Northern Ireland and other such concerns. The order relates simply to the proscription of organisations—although I have mentioned de-proscription—and no more.

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): Perhaps I could help my hon. Friend with a previous intervention. In fact, Anjem Choudry, one of the leading lights of one of the organisations that are to be banned, was recently convicted of organising a demonstration.

Mr. McNulty: I will leave it to my hon. Friend to give the oxygen of publicity to those people and their previous, imminent or subsequent convictions. I choose not to mention names, which is why I am rather irate with my hon. Friend.

A spokesman for al-Ghurabaa explicitly refused to condemn the 7 July bombings:

Dr. Rudi Vis (Finchley and Golders Green) (Lab): I recall that in 2001 we had one vote on the proscription of 21 organisations. If any of those organisations were to be de-proscribed in the way that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, East (Mr. Marshall) suggested, would there have to be a review of all 21 proscribed organisations, because there was just one vote?

Mr. McNulty: No, there would not. No matter how many organisations are on the order, they are treated under law as separate and distinct organisations, so the de-proscription would apply simply to the one organisation, rather than to the whole list.

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As I was saying, there is material on the al-Ghurabaa website that says


It talks about Osama bin Laden being a lion and says that his opponents are

It speaks of the USA being

The Saved Sect churns out similar propaganda. Let us be clear: those are examples not of freedom of speech, but of the abuse of those freedoms. They are insidious attacks on the broad values that the overwhelming majority of communities in this country hold dear.

The case of the Baluchistan Liberation Army and TAK is different, as those organisations are directly concerned with terrorism, and have claimed responsibility for some dreadful atrocities. For example, the Baluchistan Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for attacks going back to at least 2004, including the murder of Chinese engineers in February 2006 and nine bombings of railway stations in 2005. TAK has also claimed responsibility for attacks in Turkey since 2004, including a bomb attack on an internet café in Istanbul. Although those organisations are not based in the United Kingdom, they pose a threat to our citizens, as was demonstrated by the tragic death of British citizens in a bomb attack by TAK in the Turkish resort of Kusadasi in 2005.

Mr. Mike Weir (Angus) (SNP): I have no dispute with the Minister about the proscription of TAK, but he has announced the proscription of three Kurdish organisations. There is a long history in Kurdistan, particularly its Turkish part, of the oppression of Kurdish people. Will the Minister give me an assurance that he will keep the situation under review, so that we do not end up proscribing organisations that are democratic? There can be no doubt about the nature of TAK, but many Kurdish organisations are accused of terrorism by the Turkish Government, and their members are imprisoned, when in fact they are democratic organisations fighting for the rights of the Kurdish people.

Mr. McNulty: I take the hon. Gentleman’s point, but in the context of the order, there is clear evidence against TAK, and there is already substantive evidence against the PKK. The other two organisations that we propose to proscribe in an order under the negative procedure are simply successors to the PKK. If a body is not a terrorist organisation in terms, as defined in various Acts and in the judgment and review of the Government, it will not appear on a list for proscription.

Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon) (LD): Paragraph 7.1 of the explanatory memorandum explains that under section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000, the Minister could proscribe an organisation that, among other things,

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It explains that section 21 of the Terrorism Act 2006 adds the glorification of terrorism to the reasons for proscription. I do not necessarily disagree with the Minister’s proposal, but is the section 21 power required to proscribe the Saved Sect and al-Ghurabaa, or does the Minister think that they could be proscribed under the powers in the 2000 Act, without need for that power?

Mr. McNulty: I assume that the hon. Gentleman was here at the start of my speech. I said very clearly that the organisations are being proscribed under the glorification offence in section 21 of the Terrorism Act 2006, which deals with those organisations that glorify

Glorification includes

of acts of terrorism. This is the first time that the offence has been used, and I made that clear at the start of my deliberations.

Dr. Evan Harris: When the Minister cited that provision he did not read from the website of al-Ghurabaa, so it was not clear to those of us who had not seen that website what language fell specifically under the category of “glorification”, rather than under “promotes and encourages”. I am not seeking to argue with him; I am just seeking to establish whether, in his view, what he read out from that website did not promote or encourage terrorism, but glorified it.

Mr. McNulty: I understand what the hon. Gentleman is trying to say, but I shall not, with the indulgence of the House or otherwise, read the whole speech again. I would quite like to—I could do it a bit differently this time—but I do not think that I will. The offence is under section 21, and that is the substance of the issue. Given the material that is available, as I have said, it is quite right that we should proscribe the organisations listed in the order, and I commend the order to the House.

1.45 pm

Patrick Mercer (Newark) (Con): I thank the Minister for his statement and for giving us the facility to discuss the order before we came to the House today.

The measure is apposite, bearing in mind that this Thursday exactly a year ago we were in the middle of another wave of terrorist attacks that, had they been successful, would, I suspect, have focused our minds much more closely even than the attacks of 7 July. On the next day—22 July—those attacks were followed by a series of tragic events that are close to the Government’s thoughts at the moment. We would do well to remember that many of the organisations that we are talking about today were heavily involved in the events of last year.

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