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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am sure that it can be applied with such variation as is appropriate to deal with the particular circumstances of an LLP. It does not have to be introduced without the necessary tweaking.
The consultation period does not close until tomorrow, so we cannot conclusively commit ourselves until all the responses have been considered. In particular, there is the question of whether Section 459 may be disapplied by unanimous agreement between the members of the LLP. But we have not yet seen anything which would lead us to believe that the application of Section 459 would be inappropriate.
It might save time if I observe that the noble Lord did not speak to his other amendments relating to bankrupts or to Clause 7. Perhaps I may conclude with those observations on the amendments to which he spoke.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I regret to say that I find the Minister's reply distinctly unsatisfactory. His speech was directed almost entirely to explaining why, in his view and that of the noble Lord, Lord Goldsmith, the partnership buy-out was inappropriate. My real point was the fact that there is no default provision on the partnership or company model. The Minister made no attempt to justify that.
I believe that we shall find ourselves in the situation in which the courts will have to construct for themselves, by implication of what the members would have decided to do had they thought about it at the time they formed the LLP, the results of the break-up on the retirement or death of a partner. I believe that for many years that will be a source for uncertainty and confusion and expensive litigation.
As the Minister knows, we approve of a great majority of what the Bill does and we have no intention of seeking to delay its progress into law. I hope that the Government will take the opportunity to think seriously about the points that have been raised before the Bill arrives in another place. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The Bill before us today reforms and consolidates existing counter-terrorist legislation and puts it on a permanent basis. I will come in a moment to deal with the provisions in the Bill itself in more detail. Before doing so, however, it might be helpful to the House if I explained why the Government judge that counter-terrorist provisions, which are additional to the general criminal law, are needed at all.
Terrorism, as the definition on the face of the Bill sets out, involves the use or threat of serious violence for political, religious or ideological ends. While all crime can threaten social stability, terrorism, by its very nature, serves to undermine the foundations of democratic societies.
It poses particular difficulties for those of us who live in liberal democracies. On the one hand, our sense of outrage is all the greater because in such democracies the overwhelming majority of the population rightly believe that there are adequate non-violent means for expressing opposition and dissent and for seeking change. On the other hand, we will have handed the terrorists the victory they seek if in combating their violence we descend to their level and put at risk the essential freedoms and rule of law which are the bedrock of our democracy. The challenge in framing counter-terrorist legislation is to ensure it provides an effective and proportionate response to terrorism and the threat of terrorism.
In embarking on the task of framing legislation in this area, we are of course indebted to the thorough and insightful report, Legislation Against Terrorism, by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and Mr Justice Kerr, which was presented to Parliament in October 1996. I am sure that the whole House will want to join me in taking this opportunity formally to recognise the importance and usefulness of the inquiry headed up by the noble and learned Lord.
In that report four general principles were set out which the inquiry believed should govern any code of laws designed to counter terrorism. They were: first, legislation against terrorism should approximate as closely as possible to the ordinary criminal law and procedure; secondly, additional statutory offences and powers may be justified, but only if they are necessary to meet the anticipated threat, and they must then strike the right balance between the needs of security and the rights and liberties of the individual; thirdly, the need for additional safeguards should be considered alongside any additional powers; and, fourthly, the law should comply with the UK's obligations in international law.
In preparing this legislation, the Government have sought carefully to follow those four principles. We have paid particularly close attention to the need for balance and for safeguards. We have sought to ensure that the exceptional powers in the Bill are proportionate to the threat we face and are fully consistent with our human rights obligations. It is on that basis that I and the Home Secretary have made statements under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 to the effect that in our view the provisions of the Terrorism Bill are compatible with the convention rights.
Perhaps in providing context for our debate on the provisions in the Terrorism Bill, it might be helpful if I said a little about the threat the Government perceive for the present and the foreseeable future.
The counter-terrorist legislation currently in force in Great Britain goes back to 1974, to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill. It was introduced in another place in late November of that year, a week after terrible bombings in Birmingham in which 21 people were killed and 180 injured. On the Second Reading of that Bill, the then Home Secretary, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, said:
Despite the hope in 1974 that the need for counter-terrorist legislation would be short-lived, those powers, with amendments and additions, remain in force a quarter of a century later. In the interim, more than 2,500 people have died in the United Kingdom as a result of Irish and international terrorism and thousands more have been injured. Unquestionably, the toll would have been greater without the anti-terrorist powers and, above all, without the courage
Despite recent setbacks in the political process, there is perhaps a better chance of a lasting peace in the island of Ireland now than at any time in recent years. But not everyone is signed up to peace. It is less than two years since the carnage at Omagh in August 1998 in which 29 people died and over 200 more were injured. In the past few weeks and months, we have seen a concerning up-turn in the number of so-called "punishment beatings", and there have been a number of "near misses" in which many more innocent lives could have been put at risk but for the intervention of the security forces. Even this morning, we have seen another attack on the security forces at Edrington Barracks in Londonderry where, mercifully, there was no loss of life.
In the same month as the terrible bomb in Omagh, there were particularly horrific examples of international terrorism when bombs exploded outside the Embassies of the United States in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, killing 257 mainly local people and injuring thousands. In December 1998, terrorists who called themselves the "Islamic Army of Aden" kidnapped a number of western tourists in the Yemen. During a rescue attempt by the Yemeni authorities, four tourists were killed: three of them British and one Australian. In February this year, the arrival of a hijacked Afghan aircraft at Stansted was a further reminder of the ways in which international terrorism can impact on this country.
The inquiry by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, was one of the most thorough to have been conducted into the nature of the terrorist threat. Writing before the events in Omagh, Dar es Salaam or Nairobi, the noble and learned Lord concluded that, even when there was a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, the need for counter-terrorist legislation would remain. The Government have accepted that central recommendation of the inquiry by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, and the Bill is designed to bring it into effect. In doing so, it recognises the sad but inescapable fact that terrorism is here to stay for the foreseeable future and that, therefore, it is right to provide permanent powers to counter it.
I now turn to the Bill itself and, first, to Part I. As in existing legislation, the Bill does not create a separate offence of terrorism. For the most part, terrorists will, as now, be charged with offences under the ordinary criminal law. The Government believe that to be right in principle. First and foremost, terrorists are criminals. We would not wish to give credence to their spurious claim that their actions are somehow "different" or even "justifiable" because of the cause which they espouse. Therefore, the main purpose of counter-terrorist legislation is to give the police special powers to enable them to prevent and investigate this special category of crime.
Experience over the past 25 years in this country and abroad has shown that terrorist methods have been, and are being, adopted by people who pursue a growing range of political, or more broadly ideological or religious, ends. We believe that the assumption in the existing legislation that terrorism must be either Northern Ireland-related or, in certain circumstances, international, is no longer safe. Therefore, the Bill makes counter-terrorist powers available to fight all forms of terrorism, including so-called "domestic terrorism".
Our starting point for the definition was the existing PTA definition and the recommendations of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd. It is important to note that while we are broadening the scope of the legislation to cover any kind of terrorism, we are also raising the threshold for the use of the powers by adding the important qualification that the violence concerned must be serious.
Therefore, the Bill is not intended to threaten the right to demonstrate peacefully; nor will it do so. Nor is it designed to be used in situations where demonstrations unaccountably turn ugly. Should any unlawful activities occur in such circumstances, the powers available under the ordinary criminal law will, as now, suffice. Nor is the Bill designed to target or criminalise groups or individuals established to lobby in support of particular causes, be they animal rights, environmental issues, human rights or whatever. This Government would not seek to introduce a Bill which we believed would threaten the right of peaceful protest.
The Government have made it absolutely clear that the new definition will not catch the vast majority of protest groups which exist in this country today. Instead, the definition in Clause 1 of the Bill is designed to focus on quite the opposite end of the political spectrum. The powers and offences which the definition may trigger are there to deter, prevent and, where necessary, investigate a uniquely cowardly and barbaric class of crime. Terrorism is unique because it seeks to destroy not only lives but also the foundations of society itself. Rather than attempting to make its case by the myriad of lawful means available to it, terrorism chooses to try to get its way by force.
Until now, the power to proscribe terrorist organisations has been available only for Northern Ireland-related terrorist groups. Under the Bill, for the first time it will be possible to proscribe groups involved in international and other forms of domestic terrorism as well if in all the circumstances it is right to do so. We believe that in policy terms it is right so to extend the ambit of the power. The offences which currently apply to, and have proved useful in tackling, proscribed "Irish" groups are also carried over into the new Bill and will apply in respect of all groups proscribed under the new legislation. No new offences are created.
The groups listed in Schedule 2 to the Bill are the Irish groups that are already proscribed under existing legislation. We are considering which other groups it might be appropriate to add, taking into account factors such as the nature and scale of the group's activities, the specific threat that they pose to the UK and British nationals abroad, the extent of their presence in the UK, and the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism. Proscription is a very heavy power and we shall use it only when it is absolutely necessary. Organisations and individuals aggrieved by proscription decisions will have a new right of appeal to the independent proscribed organisations appeal commission.
I do not intend to be drawn today into detailed debate on which additional groups might be proscribed once the Bill is in force. However, it may be useful to place on record that, on present information, we would not envisage the immediate proscription of any so-called "domestic" groups. The inclusion of the power is intended to send a clear message, particularly to any international terrorist organisation or its supporters that may be contemplating activity here in the United Kingdom, that they are not welcome and that we intend to frustrate their intentions.
I turn now to Part III of the Bill, which deals with terrorist property. It removes certain loopholes in the current law and broadens the existing fund-raising offences to cover the resourcing of terrorism anywhere in the world. This part of the Bill also contains a new power to seize terrorist cash at borders--a power which already exists in relation to drug trafficking.
Parts IV and V of the Bill contain a range of investigative tools and other counter-terrorist powers which to a large extent replicate, or build upon, powers in the current counter-terrorist legislation. Part V includes the retention of the special terrorist power of
The Government are of course aware that in retaining such an arrest power, without the creation of a linked offence, they are diverging from the approach recommended by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. They have considered very carefully indeed the points he made in his report but have concluded that it is right, and consistent with our international human rights obligations, to include a special terrorist arrest power in the new legislation.
Part V of the Bill, and the related schedule, also establishes a new system for judicial extensions of detention. When the 1989 Prevention of Terrorism Act was introduced, the UK had just lost the case of Brogan in the European Court of Human Rights. This focused on extensions of detention on the authority of the executive. The then government responded by entering derogations under the ECHR and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as they were entitled to do in the face of the threat from Irish terrorism.
In order to withdraw those derogations the Bill provides a system for extensions of detention under independent judicial authority. The Government intend to lift their derogations once those provisions are in force.
Part VI of the Bill contains a number of further terrorist offences, including the proposals on incitement of overseas terrorism and provisions enabling the UK to ratify United Nations conventions on the suppression of terrorist bombings and on terrorist finance.
Those proposals are important in demonstrating our commitment to change the climate in which the supporters of terrorism operate in this country. The UK has no intention of becoming a safe haven for terrorists. Our aim is to deter those who seek to use the UK as a base from which to promote terrorist acts abroad. That is not a new principle. The incitement provisions of the Bill do no more than fill gaps in the existing law.
Part VII contains temporary measures for Northern Ireland only. We are committed, under the Good Friday agreement, to removing the emergency powers in Northern Ireland as soon as it is safe to do so. The Bill will enable us to do that.
The current Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act-- the EPA--will expire on 24th August. Part VII replaces those provisions of the EPA which the Government believe are still necessary. These include the provisions governing the non-jury or "Diplock" system in Northern Ireland together with some additional powers for the police and Armed Forces.
Because they are special powers, going beyond the permanent regime we are providing for the whole of the UK, the powers in Part VII are time-limited to five years and need to be renewed each year by affirmative
We plan to implement Part VII to the same time-scale as the rest of the Bill; that is, early in 2001. However, as the EPA will expire before then, Clause 2 and Schedule 1 together provide what we call the "transitional EPA". That will come into effect as soon as the Bill has Royal Assent and will continue until it is replaced by Part VII.
It may be helpful if I mention two further, more general, matters, one of which is dealt with in Part VIII of the Bill. First, the Bill, by its silence, ensures the disappearance of the Secretary of State's power under the 1989 PTA to make exclusion orders. The Government repeat now that in their view this is a fundamentally objectionable power, allowing restrictions to be placed on the movements of citizens akin to a form of internal exile. We lapsed that power in 1998 and it has no place in the Bill.
Secondly, your Lordship's House may wish to note a significant addition to Part VIII of the Bill made after debate in another place. Clause 125 of the Bill requires an annual report on the operation of the legislation to be laid before Parliament. The Government believe that the time has come for counter-terrorist powers to be made permanent, but they fully recognise the interest and concern in both Houses, and in the country more generally, in ensuring that these powers continue to be used fairly, proportionately and effectively. An annual independent report will allow those issues to be addressed.
The Government believe that the wide-ranging and evolving threat from terrorism will not go away. The Bill therefore sets in place an appropriate and effective range of provisions, which is proportionate to the reality of the threat we face, which will be of practical operational benefit, which will send a clear message to terrorists and their supporters and which is consistent with the rule of law and our democratic traditions and civil liberties. I commend the Bill to the House.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, Second Readings deal with the principles of a Bill and we support the principles of this Bill. I welcome the fact that the Labour Party has now reverted--I think I am entitled to say--to the realism of the previous Labour government. I observe that the Conservative government did not always have such support in the interim.
It is in the national interest that a Labour Government should have picked up the baton from the Conservatives and consolidated legislation--not in the legal sense, but in the non-technical sense. I shall have some criticisms and comments to make, so, first, I want to record our support and stress the importance of agreement between the main parties on the principles. We should be, and are, united in fighting terrorism. I am very serious in my tribute to the present
In due course, history will judge that this Labour Government's Northern Ireland policy under the previous Secretary of State was, in some respects, dangerously conciliatory. I refer of course to prisoner releases and other measures. However, in this anti-terrorist legislation, the Government have wisely carried forward their predecessor's policy in most respects, and I welcome that.
It seems to me that the Bill is based on four propositions with which we agree, and, indeed, which we advanced in government: that terrorist legislation now needs to be permanent; that it needs to cover all elements of terrorism--cash and computers as well as bombs and guns; that it should be the same as far as possible in Great Britain as in Northern Ireland; and that it should also cover those in the United Kingdom who plan terrorism elsewhere in the world.
The first proposition underlying the Bill--that international terrorism has become a permanent feature of life which demands permanent legislation to defend our society and constitution by providing for special police powers and offences--is, I believe, correct. I do not think that I need to argue the proposition in detail as I expect your Lordships will agree with it. Sufficient terrorist outrages, as referred to by the Minister, both in this country and overseas, remain in all our minds. If anyone does not agree, then the issue is most thoroughly dealt with in the excellent report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, to whom I pay tribute, as did the Minister, and to whose speech I particularly look forward.
Besides, we have on the statute book at present permanent legislation in all but name. I refer of course to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 and the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act and the other statutes.
The PTA was originally passed through Parliament very quickly during my first months as a Member of another place in 1974. It remains in substantially the same form, although alterations have been made over the years, a quarter of a century later. Even in your Lordships' long-sighted House, 25 years counts as something near permanent these days.
However, because of their legally temporary nature, both the PTA and the EPA are renewed annually. That means, among other things, that we have annual debates in which we can review the threats and our responses, legislative and otherwise. We have had also valuable reviews of the working of the special legislation, latterly from Mr John Rowe QC and at an earlier stage from the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. Those annual events are a useful feature of the existing legislation, and we wish to consider the provisions the Government are making in Committee. As the Minister said, they provide for an annual report to Parliament but not specifically for a debate each year.
The second proposition, I suggest, is that we should cover not only matters to do with bombs, guns and violence of that nature, but also cash and electronic terrorism which these days can pose devastating threats to society. I have been concerned, first, during my time as Northern Ireland security Minister, and since, to emphasise the importance of terrorist finance in the whole equation. Cash is an essential ingredient of modern terrorism. Today's terrorist advances with an Armalite in one hand and a cashbox in the other. Of course, he has also a shrewd eye on the ballot box, but cash is essential. At a basic level it is necessary to finance operations, but it is more than that. It can become part of the momentum of terrorism itself.
The Mafia, after all, started as a Sicilian independence movement. Of course, it has long since changed into primarily a financial racket. Northern Ireland terrorism has gone some way down the same route--not nearly so far, of course, but some way. The extortion and the rackets are well known to anyone who knows the Province. A substantial proportion of the horrible punishment beatings that take place are about keeping control of particular areas of the Province and of the rackets within them. Too many people's lifestyles depend on terror and extortion for the comfort of democracy.
Computers and the Internet are also potential targets. Damaging them can bring ferocious consequences. The Stock Exchange computer failure yesterday has forcefully demonstrated the vulnerability of great institutions. It appears to have been an accident, but let us consider how dearly some groups would have loved to claim responsibility for it. What a triumph it would have been for the "Stop the City" demonstrators at the time of the world trade talks not so long ago. I am sure that great effort is going into trying to engineer such failures. Some of it will be by terrorists with targets far more dangerous than the Stock Exchange in mind. I am reliably informed that some states, as well as some terrorists, are actively pursuing the possibilities of attacking their enemies through such means. Therefore, it is important to be sure that the Bill adequately covers that threat.
The third proposition is that our anti-terrorist legislation should, as far as possible, be the same in all parts of the United Kingdom. Sadly, that aim can so far be achieved only in part, as the Bill shows in Part VII and elsewhere. Again, the reasons are clear. The Good Friday agreement remains the centre of all our hopes. But it is not yet fully implemented. There is a so-called official ceasefire, but we seem to be as far away as ever from taking a single gun out of Northern Ireland's politics. The terms of references of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and hence his report, are based on the idea that Northern Ireland terrorism is over and on what we should do when it is over. It is clearly too early to base this legislation entirely on that proposition.
We support the inclusion of Part VII, the continuation of the Diplock courts, and so on. In any case, quite apart from the main terrorism, as it were, there remains the problem of those who do not support
That brings me to one of the omissions from the Bill: executive detention or internment. Clearly, it is a weapon of last resort in any democratic country such as ours, but it is potentially a crucial one. If, for example, a settlement is agreed in Northern Ireland but resisted by small dissident groups, it could be right to intern some members of those groups. That procedure could succeed only if it were carried out both north and south of the border. The Republic of Ireland legislation crucially and wisely retains that power. Of course, internment also requires good intelligence--which was lacking in 1971--and surprise. It is the surprise factor which makes it important to keep the power on the statute book. Internment after new primary legislation, however quickly processed in this building, would fail. In any case, the very existence of the power and occasional speculation that it might be invoked is potentially highly disruptive to terrorist organisations. It will cause people to have to keep on the move and make both communications and normal life more difficult for terrorist leaders.
The fourth proposition underlying the Bill is that terrorism is international and that this country should not provide a base for terrorism to be used against other countries. We know that terrorist groups across the world are in touch with one another. The IRA is a well known example. At the same time, of course, we sometimes approve and back freedom struggles against oppressive totalitarian regimes elsewhere. That is only one of the factors that make the definition of "terrorism" in Clause 1 so crucial. The definition provides the trigger which activates all the special powers and provisions in the Bill. But it is difficult to conceive of a definition which would permit support for freedom fighters while applying draconian provisions to terrorists. Under the Bill, I understand, it is to be left to the judgment and the discretion of the Director of Public Prosecutions. I am not sure--to put it no stronger--that that is very satisfactory, particularly at the margins.
In any case, the definition chosen by the Government is not exactly the one recommended by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd. We shall want to explore the reasons for that and the precise intended effects of the words actually chosen and, for that matter, the reasons for omitting some other words. Will the definition, for example, including, as it does, the word "serious", covering violence against persons and property, catch punishment beatings,
Will the words "serious violence against property" be sufficient to cover computer crime? As I indicated, it is important that the legislation covers that. More fundamentally, in considering the definition we want to reflect on what makes terrorist crimes special, so justifying special measures.
In paragraph 5.11 of his report the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, identifies the special characteristics of terrorism. Among other things, he says that terrorism is designed to create fear among the public and that its purpose is to subvert the democratic process and to secure political or ideological objectives by violence or the threat of it. He also points out that it is frequently perpetrated by well-trained, well-equipped and highly committed individuals. Those considerations lead him to recommend a definition based on that used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States, which states:
Deciding what we mean by "terrorism" is crucial. The Bill must cover everything that we mean by terrorism, but not too much. We do not want draconian legislation to be applied to non-terrorist situations; nor do we want to criminalise, by accident of definition, people who are not terrorists. Editors, journalists, accountants and banks have expressed worries on that score. We also have to consider innocent bystanders caught up in terrorist situations or those wrongly suspected.
That brings me to the matter of human rights. The whole Bill is about human rights, by which I do not mean only the rights enshrined in the specific legal formulations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), but also the rights of our people and our democracy to be protected from the violence of terrorists. The greatest violations of the rights of ordinary people come from terrorists who not only kill and maim those unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time but who affect all of us. An essential part of terrorist methods is to instil fear into ordinary people so as to influence political events.
In considering the niceties of the ECHR we need to consider both the right of innocent people not to be subjected to draconian security measures and the right of all our people not to be killed by terrorists or coerced by fear. I have no doubt that we shall return frequently to matters of ECHR rights, but we must always see them in context.
Schedule 3 makes provisions about the proscribed organisations appeal commission which raise issues of legal representation. I am told that we shall need to discuss the powers to stop and search without "reasonable suspicion" and the onus of proof. The Minister mentioned one matter in which the ECHR is involved: the question of who should be responsible for permitting detention of suspects over 48 hours. The Government propose that it should be "judicial authority" rather than the relevant Secretary of State. They claim that that is necessary to bring the law into line with the ECHR. But, as the Minister acknowledged, we have a derogation from the ECHR, subsequently specifically upheld by the Strasbourg Court, so there is no legal or other need to end that derogation. It is a choice. The argument for retaining the power with the Secretary of State remains strong. In Northern Ireland the judiciary has always opposed the transfer of the power to itself for very good reasons.
On this matter, there is, to say the least, some doubt about whether there is an understanding in continental jurisdictions of UK habits. My right honourable friend Tom King pointed out in another place that when he went to Strasbourg over this issue of the Brogan case, French investigators detained people in the Eksund arms running incident in which Northern Ireland terrorists were taking arms and in the process fell into French jurisdiction. The French investigators detained people for two years on the say so of the person directly supervising the investigation because he was called an examining magistrate. I do not know enough about the Scottish legal system to be clear about how close that official's duty is to the procurator fiscal, as in England, Wales and Northern Ireland there is no equivalent. We shall need to return to that matter as well.
However, Scotland is relevant in another, wider context. The Bill relates to matters which are reserved to Westminster--terrorism and money laundering--but it also creates new offences that extend the criminal law of Scotland. Therefore, it impinges on wider aspects of criminal justice which is a devolved competence. This Parliament can legislate on matters that are devolved, but the Scottish Parliament and Ministers should be consulted. Can the Minister tell the House whether that has been done and what was the result? We are also interested to know whether there is to be consultation with the Advocate General for Scotland before regulations are proposed to this House and another place.
I do not pretend to have set out an exhaustive list of matters that will attract our attention in Committee and the later stages of the Bill, but I hope it is helpful to have indicated the main areas of concern to us. Overall, we support the principles of the Bill, although there are issues within it that require careful consideration. Great thought has been put into the preliminaries to this legislation, but it is now the responsibility of this House to decide what should rightly become permanent law on the subject of the
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, this is an important Bill that deals with an important issue. It stems from the inquiry conducted by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, set up by the previous government in December 1995. I am pleased that the noble and learned Lord will speak next. I played a minor part in his inquiry: in June 1996 I took part in an interesting seminar that he organised at Wiston House.
I must declare that I am one of the vice-chairmen of Justice, an organisation that has submitted a valuable briefing for this debate, and I am a trustee of the Airey Neave Trust that has financed research into terrorism.
I start by making two fundamental points. First, I believe that we need permanent legislation on terrorism, even if peace returns fully and permanently to Northern Ireland. Relatively minor acts of violence, such as those carried out so far by animal rights groups, could escalate into something worse. At any time, as in the past, there could be terrorist attacks on foreign targets in the United Kingdom, such as the attacks on the American, Russian or Israeli embassies. A wholly unforeseen and unpredicted terrorist threat could arise. If we do not have standing legislation, we may have to introduce new legislation rapidly and without adequate debate. I believe that the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998, which was rushed through Parliament in the aftermath of the Omagh bombing, is an example of how not to do it.
Secondly, I believe that the Bill should extend to acts within the United Kingdom in furtherance of terrorism overseas. Nowadays, terrorism takes little notice of state boundaries and it would be wrong for the United Kingdom to be a haven for those planning or executing terrorism elsewhere, although I recognise the evidential problems that can arise in such cases. Recently that led to the dropping of a case against three Algerians.
One problem that must be solved is: who is a terrorist? There is a saying which goes, "I am a freedom fighter; you are a paramilitary; they are terrorists". How can one distinguish between the ANC fighting an oppressive racist government and an organisation such as ETA in Spain, fighting a genuinely democratic government? Where in the scale between the ANC and ETA does one rank, for example, the PKK or the Tamil Tigers? I do not think that the problem can be solved by a clever definition of terrorism. Some acts committed by the ANC during its armed struggle against apartheid come within any reasonable definition of "terrorism". I believe that we would not have wished to prosecute the ANC exiles in this country if they organised such acts.
The only realistic safeguard is the need to obtain leave to start the prosecution. Under Clause 117 of the Bill, the consent needed is the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Like the noble Lord, Lord
Perhaps I may return to the question of a definition of "terrorism", which has caused very considerable concern. There are difficulties with any definition. So far, those difficulties have defeated a great deal of effort by a great many people to come up with a widely acceptable definition. I accept that violence to property can be terrorism even if it does not directly involve violence against people. However, I do not think that members of Greenpeace donning fancy dress and pulling up GM crops are at risk because I cannot see that that is serious violence. But the acts of animal rights activists, if they were to destroy research laboratories, could be regarded by some as terrorism.
Furthermore, the knocking out of the national grid--something the IRA once tried to do--certainly should be seen as a violent act, not only because a small number of people might die, but because of the enormous damage that such an act would cause to the economy of the country. It is also possible that cyber-terrorism could have a devastating effect without anything happening that could be defined as "violence" in the ordinary sense of the word. I certainly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that this must be covered by anti-terrorist legislation.
What is lacking in the definition set out in Clause 1 is any reference to the element of coercion. I am inclined to prefer, as did the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, and the noble Lord, Lord Cope, the working definition adopted by the FBI. However, in my view, the final words of that definition, which the noble Lord, Lord Cope, read out to the House; namely,
Other serious problems need to be tackled here, most of them involving aspects of human rights. The procedure set out in Part II for proscribing and deproscribing organisations needs to be looked at very carefully. Proscription makes membership of an organisation a criminal offence and enables that organisation's money to be seized and forfeited. The procedure followed for proscribing is that the Secretary of State makes a proscription order which has to be approved as a statutory instrument. Then an
I believe that proscription cannot be imposed in that way without infringing rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, especially the right to association set out in Article 11 and the right to property under Article 1 of Protocol 1. Immediate proscription would be legitimate only in the case of a crisis which would,
By extending far beyond anything that is reasonable, Clause 12 breaches the right to freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European convention. Restrictions placed on freedom of speech are not compatible with the European convention unless they pursue a legitimate aim and are necessary in a democratic society. I agree that it is both legitimate and necessary to restrain public advocacy of a terrorist cause. For that reason, I do not call for the total rejection of Clause 12. However, as it stands, this clause goes beyond what is necessary in a democratic society and is not a proportionate response to the need to restrict the advocacy of terrorism. It is not sufficient to rely on the need to obtain the consent of the DPP to bring about a prosecution.
Serious problems could also arise with the provisions set out in Clause 57 concerning the possession of articles "for terrorist purposes". This clause makes it an offence for a person to possess an article,
It is a defence for the accused to prove that such possession was not for purposes connected with terrorism. However, that means that, in a situation where there is a reasonable suspicion that possession was for terrorist purposes but a credible alternative explanation is put forward, but nevertheless that alternative explanation falls short of proof, the accused will be convicted. Plainly this falls short of the standard of proof normally required for a criminal conviction under United Kingdom law and required by Article 6(2) of the ECHR. Similar problems arise with Clause 58 as regards the collection of information.
Finally, Clauses 107 to 110, which relate to Northern Ireland, re-enact Sections 1, 2 and 4 of the 1998 Act. Clause 108 allows a police officer's opinion that the accused belongs to a terrorist organisation to be admissible as evidence of that fact. That clause was subject to a devastating analysis by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, in the debate held on the 1998 Act. I hope that, either today or in the course of the Committee stage of the Bill, the noble and learned Lord will put forward that analysis again. I do not, therefore, intend to repeat his arguments today. However, this clause is useless and should be scrapped.
I should add that although I agree in a number of respects with what the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, said, I strongly disagree with him on the subject of internment. I feel that that is an inappropriate method of combating terrorism. It was certainly disastrous when it was introduced in the early 1970s and I believe has rightly been abandoned.
Terrorism is a serious problem and will remain so come what may in Northern Ireland. The Government have been right to put anti-terrorism legislation on a permanent basis. The Government are again right to stop the United Kingdom being used as a base for terrorism overseas. But it is necessary to ensure that the legitimate aim of curbing terrorism does not restrict rights--for example, the right to personal liberty; the right to fair trial; the right to freedom of speech; and the right to freedom of assembly--to an extent greater than is truly necessary. In some respects, the Bill does so restrict those rights. This Bill can and must be improved during its passage through your Lordships' House.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, I am grateful for the kind comments made about my report by the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Cope. It is now nearly four years since I completed that report. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, will remember, it had to be based on the assumption of lasting peace in Northern Ireland. As time passed I began to think that maybe the report had found its place on that ever-lengthening shelf in the Home Office which becomes the final resting place of reports which have passed their sell-by date. But it has been taken down, dusted off, and now we have this impressive Bill. And when I say that, I mean that the
However, that does not mean that it contains all that I hoped for. I shall return to that later. For the moment I am content to say that it contains many good points; the best of all perhaps being Clause 2 itself which repeals two bits of existing legislation which had become a blot on the statute book. They were both temporary provisions which have lasted for over 25 years. I am glad that the repeal of that legislation has been given prominence in Clause 2 of the Bill--that is, right at the start of the Bill--and was not tucked away in some schedule.
I agree with everything that has been said; that it was right that those two provisions should now be replaced by permanent legislation covering all forms of terrorism--international, domestic and terrorism in Northern Ireland--without geographical distinction, save to the extent that it is still unfortunately necessary under Part VII of the Bill. Whether or not there should be permanent anti-terrorist legislation was one of the specific questions on which I was asked to advise, and I am glad that that advice was accepted. But it is right to say that some were and still are of the view that permanent anti-terrorist legislation is not required and that the ordinary law should suffice. I was never of that view. Terrorism is so dangerous and held in such abhorrence that it requires special powers to meet the threat.
I am glad, too, to see that prominence has been given to proscription in Part II of the Bill. Again, some feel that proscription serves no useful purpose and is merely symbolic. I do not agree with that view. On the contrary, it has value in itself and is also the key to so much else that is in the Bill. In other countries, notably the United States and Germany, proscription--whether under that name or other names--is the cornerstone of their legislation and it is right that it should be so with us. For some reason, at the time of the consultation the Government were in two minds as to whether or not to extend proscription to international, non-Irish terrorism. I am glad that in the end they came to what I regard as the right decision.
I note that at the moment Schedule 2 contains only Northern Ireland terrorist organisations among those that are proscribed. I hope that it will include other notorious international terrorist groups when the Act is passed. I understand from what the Minister said that that is the Government's intention. So I welcome Part II of the Bill.
I also greatly welcome the fundraising provisions in Part III, to which the noble Lord, Lord Cope, referred. That is an important part of the anti-terrorist campaign. As I understand it, fundraising for organisations which have been proscribed will be caught by the extended definition in Clause 1(3). It is done in a rather roundabout and slightly clumsy way, but I hope the Minister will confirm that that is the intention; that one will be able to get fundraising for proscribed organisations through that extended definition.
I welcome the decision to take away the power to extend detention from the Secretary of State and to put it into the hands of judges under Schedule 8, Part III. The previous Administration were always reluctant to take that course. I could never understand why. Now it has become necessary in any event, whether or not we feel it desirable, if we are going to withdraw our derogation under Article 15 of the convention. Perhaps that also may be confirmed when the Minister replies.
Turning to Clause 1, much time was spent in the other place on the definition of terrorism. Everyone agrees that the existing definition is too wide in theory, though it works perfectly well in practice, because it would extend to even quite trivial violence. It was for that reason that I suggested the insertion of the word "serious" before the word "violence" and that suggestion has been accepted.
There was then much discussion in the other place as to what is meant by "serious" and whether the word itself should be defined. I believe that that would be a waste of effort. As any lawyers present in the Chamber today will know, for over a hundred years now we have had an offence of causing grievous bodily harm as distinct from an offence of causing actual bodily harm. Generations of judges have directed juries that grievous bodily harm means serious, or really serious, bodily harm. Juries have never had any difficulty in drawing a line between what is serious bodily harm and what is actual bodily harm, falling short of serious bodily harm. I have no doubt that juries would have no difficulty in knowing what is "serious violence" as set out in Clause 1.
We must obviously do our best with the definition. However, having spent many hours looking at many different definitions, I can only agree with what was said by both the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and the noble Lord, Lord Cope; namely, that there are great difficulties in finding a satisfactory definition. Indeed, I was unable to do so and I suspect that none of us will succeed. As I say, we must do our best but I hope that we will not spend too much time on the definition. It seems to me that there are other defects in the Bill and it is to these that I now turn.
The first defect is a perfectly general matter. On this occasion, I regret to say that I believe the Government have missed an opportunity. They have succeeded in cobbling together two Acts and have done that job very skilfully. But the Acts themselves, which have been put together or consolidated--indeed, it is a form of consolidation--are an extraordinary rag-bag of miscellaneous offences of varying seriousness. There are also all sorts of other provisions that have been added from time to time as occasion has demanded, usually under the pressure of events--such as the legislation to which the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, referred which we were asked to pass two years ago after the Omagh bombing and which is now reproduced, as he pointed out, in Clause 108 of the Bill, but which has never once been used since it was passed, as most of us foresaw.
What was needed was not a cobbling together of these two Acts but a fresh look. If one had taken a fresh look, as I tried to do, I think that one would have expected to find in the Bill a comprehensive code covering all serious terrorist offences. But what does one find? Let us take, for example, a politically-motivated terrorist group that succeeds in blowing up--this is a dramatic example--half of Whitehall with great loss of life. If the perpetrators were caught, as one hopes they would be, one would surely expect them to be tried under our new terrorist Act. One would then expect them to receive a mandatory life sentence and a minimum sentence, possibly a mandatory minimum sentence, of 35 years' imprisonment.
However, if one looks through the Bill to find that provision, one would be disappointed. One would find many little offences; for example, "weapons training", wearing a uniform, and so on. But the Bill has nothing to say about that sort of atrocity and the way that it should be dealt with in the way I described. Those people would, of course, be charged with murder. If no one happened to be killed, they would be charged with an offence under the Explosive Substances Act 1883. But, to my mind, a terrorist atrocity of that kind is actually something worse than murder--an atrocity in which innocent people are killed quite indiscriminately. As I believe the Minister said, it is in the nature of an act of warfare on society.
Heaven knows, the ordinary offence of murder is a serious enough offence in itself; but, in all humility, I suggest that we are concerned here with something that is even more serious. That is my first criticism of the Bill. It seems to me that it should have brought together all offences under which terrorists are actually charged, including murder and offences under the Explosive Substances Act 1883. It could so easily have been done in the way that I tried to suggest and for the reasons that I gave at page 27 of my report; and, indeed, in Appendix E. When he replies, I hope that the Minister will say why that particular recommendation has not been accepted.
I turn to the second defect, which is the last. Many years ago, Lord Gardiner, as a Labour Lord Chancellor, recommended the creation of a new offence of preparing to commit an act of terrorism. The great advantage of that is obvious: it enables one to catch the terrorists before the atrocity rather than after. Following Lord Gardiner's recommendation, I suggested a new offence in the terms of Clause 40(1)(b), which refers to a person who,
There is one last, compelling reason for creating an offence in the terms of Clause 40(1)(b). If it is not an offence, as it clearly is not at present--it might be just as well for noble Lords to have the terms of the clause in front of them--it seems to me that the power to arrest without warrant contained in Clause 41(1) is vulnerable. That clause goes far wider than what would be permissible under our ordinary law. A man cannot be arrested for being an armed robber; he can only be arrested when he has committed an act of armed robbery, or is about to do so. In the same way, a man cannot be arrested because he is believed to be a terrorist, however strong that belief may be.
The power of arrest is perfectly valid in so far as it applies to Clause 40(1)(a), but it is completely invalid in so far as it applies to Clause 40(1)(b), since that subsection does not create an offence. To make matters worse, the power of arrest also goes beyond what is permissible under the European Convention on Human Rights, which is written in very much the same terms, and has broadly the same effect, as our own law under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Arrest without warrant is a sensitive matter. As soon as the Human Rights Act comes into force it is as certain as anything can be that someone will challenge the power of arrest as it exists under Clause 41(1). As far as I can see, that challenge--I do not say that it is bound to succeed as nothing is certain--would be very likely to succeed. Thus my fear is that as soon as the Human Rights Act comes into force we shall be back again discussing this arrest power unless the Government can see their way--as I hope they may, even at this late stage--to introduce an amendment which would make it an offence to prepare an act of terrorism. I should have thought that would receive the support of all parties in the House.
That is all I have to say. In summary, there are some good things in this Bill. Above all, it is a good thing to have a Bill at all, but in several respects I believe that it falls short, in particular in the two respects I have mentioned. It is a useful consolidation, but it could have been so much more. I give it my welcome, but it is a slightly lukewarm one.
Lord Ahmed: My Lords, last week I was interviewed on BBC Radio Sheffield on my views in relation to "Britishness". I said that freedom of speech and common sense were two main features of our British society.
I am concerned that the Terrorism Bill could infringe civil liberties and have enormous implications for international issues. Let me say at the outset that I support the Government in their determination to
Traditionally, individuals fleeing from persecution at the hands of their respective governments have sought to enjoy the protection and hospitality of the United Kingdom. Many have used British soil as a platform from which to voice opposition while operating strictly within the bounds of the law and exercising their democratic rights. However, those rights are being seriously curtailed.
I accept that there are one or two individuals who thrive on creating fear. I would have no hesitation in deporting them to their countries of origin, if that could be done. However, I am talking about dissidents who have escaped oppressive and tyrannical rulers and who campaign for the return of democracy or the right of self-determination in their countries of origin. I am talking about the freedom of British citizens who support various struggles abroad.
For example, I am a Kashmiri-born British citizen. I support the right of self-determination for the Kashmiri people. Many Members of Parliament and noble Lords attend public meetings and fund-raising dinners and make speeches against abuses of human rights in Kashmir. If this Bill is passed, shall I break the law in future when I support the Kashmiri people or their right to self-determination and the implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir?
I ask for an explanation of the definition of "terrorism". This has already been mentioned. One person's "terrorist" could be another person's "freedom fighter". Who will decide what constitutes a genuine freedom struggle? Will that be influenced by business contracts or relations with a particular regime? Would President Mandela, President Arafat, Prime Minister Begin or Archbishop Makarios be classed as freedom fighters or terrorists? In Kosovo the KLA was classed as a terrorist organisation by the Americans before NATO's involvement.
There are organisations regularly lobbying this House and supported by Members which are accused of terrorism. MKO, for example, an Iraqi based organisation with military style training camps outside Baghdad, claims responsibility for explosions in Tehran. Will Members of Parliament who support that organisation break the law in future in so doing?
An Act of Parliament can stay in force long after the government which created it have been replaced by one with a different agenda. There are many oppressive governments in the world today which abuse human rights, violate civil liberties and torture their opponents. We cannot turn a blind eye to massacres in Chechnya, Kosovo or Kashmir. We cannot forget the freedom struggles in Tibet, Cyprus, Iraq and many other places. We must find the form of words that will stop terrorist threats but allow freedom of speech with regard to the right kind of struggles.
As a Muslim Member of this House I wish to clarify an Islamic word which is frequently misused; namely, the word, "jihad". Jihad is often wrongly associated with terrorism by the western media and is occasionally abused by a self-appointed handful of leaders to fight their political and ideological causes. Jihad could be a struggle with oneself to give up evil and wrong habits. Jihad could be a community struggle against illegal activities, for example, the eradication of drugs and crime. It is a struggle for justice. Jihad could be a struggle to make one's environment cleaner and to achieve a better society. The last form of jihad is armed struggle, but only where a nation is suppressed by an oppressive force which abuses rights and engages in elimination.
Islam condemns terrorism committed by individuals or groups who want to promote their political ideology. Islam condemns attacks on civilians and peaceful targets. There is no excuse for any organisation to support these kind of activities. There is a fear among British Muslims that the Bill's proposals will affect the vast majority of law-abiding British citizens. Already allegations have been made that the secret services tried to recruit Imams to spy on Muslim congregations. Already British Kashmiris feel that their voices have been silenced in the interests of commercial gains in India. Let us not restrict our rights to support genuine struggles to achieve the right of self-determination and democracy. I support the Government's aim of preventing terrorism. However, I hope that my noble friend the Minister will respond in his comments tonight and in Committee to some of the concerns that I have expressed.
Lord Mayhew of Twysden: My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the speech which we have just heard, which I found extraordinarily interesting. It was one of several such speeches that we have heard so far.
I welcome the essential feature of the Bill; namely, that it consolidates into one piece of legislation this country's legislative response to the scourge of terrorism. That is a good thing, for all the reasons that have already been expressed.
I welcome it also because of something more particular. Its definition of "terrorism"--much has been said about its inadequacy and the difficulties to which it gives rise--does not make specific reference to Northern Ireland. That is new and it is good. It is good because it gets rid of the previous implication that was widely acknowledged that somehow terrorism in Northern Ireland was special in character. It was not. Certainly, it is something which the long-suffering people of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom have had to endure for far too long. That is beyond question. It certainly produced atrocities--Omagh has been mentioned more than once today--which were hideous in their cruelty and injustice, which is the hallmark of terrorism. It has certainly imposed on the sovereign power with responsibilities for Northern Ireland the most demanding challenges.
To that extent, I applaud the definition in Clause 1. But along with other noble Lords who have spoken, and in line with the candid remarks of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, who did not consider that his own definition was perfect, I believe, as I have listened to this debate, that we shall have to consider this question more fully.
The noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, used a very compelling phrase when he said--I am sorry about my voice; I do not know whether your Lordships will be encouraged by this, but I hope that it will last out--that there should be freedom of speech for the right struggle. One cannot define "the right struggle" legislatively, but we all know exactly what the noble Lord has in mind.
It would wrong to rely on the discretion of the Director of Public Prosecutions to mitigate the danger of an over-wide definition. I say that not because I have anything but the greatest confidence in the Director of Public Prosecutions, but because I believe that the experience of the Attorney-General is generally such that he is better suited to take the kind of discretionary decision required in a case (such as that already mentioned) of terrorism intended to take place overseas. It is a last resort. One relies on the discretion of a prosecuting authority. If one can, it is far better to get a sufficiently precise definition. I wonder whether we have that. I am sure that we shall have to spend more time on it. Special provision for Northern Ireland is nevertheless necessary in our law. That is not our fault; it is the fault of those who maim, intimidate, evict, banish and thereby frustrate, as they intend, the normal mechanisms, although not the principles, of our criminal justice system.
I very much welcome the opportunity that this debate provides to pay tribute to the report by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, which I commissioned jointly with my honourable friend Michael Howard. It has been widely referred to and admired in our debate today. That report recognises the continuing need for special provision in Northern Ireland. There has been a further bomb attack today following three attempted attacks within the past few weeks. We all hope that that need will disappear well before the five-year expiry date which is provided for in Part VII of the Bill. That the need persists today is beyond doubt. I believe that the report of Lord Diplock was published in 1971 or thereabouts. If one reads that, one will recognise the continuing need for the so-called "Diplock courts" to try scheduled offences without juries. It is necessary to say that because the continuance of the Diplock courts is questioned and even denied in some quarters, although that has not found expression today. The reason is that it is impossible to rely on juries to try scheduled offences--that is say, offences with a terrorist connection--because of giving way to either intimidation or bias. It is worth remembering that Lord Diplock was a most passionate assertor of the
I also welcome in the Bill the retention of the Attorney-General's power to certify that a particular case, notwithstanding that it is in the schedule, should be certified out that it has no terrorist connection. It is much better that that provision should be retained for certifying out rather than that the Attorney-General should certify in, which was argued for by our political opponents in the previous administration. It is quite wrong that the Attorney-General, who is--and ought to be--a protector of individual liberties, should be placed in a position of having to curtail them in any particular case.
My final point concerns the European Court of Human Rights. It is sometimes supposed that it came into our lives only with the passing of the Human Rights Act. We have been subject to its obligations since we signed up in 1952. We have always heeded what the Court has told us. I cannot claim that the human rights of terrorists were foremost in my mind when I was confronting the consequences of what some of them had done. But even terrorists have them and a civilised society has to show that it remembers that. Subject to one or two points which have been alluded to, I expect that this Bill will meet the general test of the ECHR. In case it may be held not to in any particular, I trust--I hope that the Minister will confirm it--that the Government will not forget that the convention itself permits derogation from its provisions in what are sometimes called "proper cases". That power of derogation has been referred to today. It hinges on a perception of national emergency. I shall not detain the House by reading the text.
In that regard I mention something which has already been referred to; namely, the transfer to the judiciary of the present power to secure an additional period of detention before trial. In Northern Ireland at present, that is a responsibility of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Schedule 8 to the Bill deals with that. With great trepidation, I respectfully disagree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, when he says that this is a proper and desirable matter to be dealt with by the judiciary. The reason--no doubt we shall come back to it--is that such applications depend on extremely sensitive intelligence matters. They very often involve informers. If it were known that such matters were to be disseminated even to the very limited extent of confiding them to a magistrate or some other judicial authority, less information would come forward.
Similarly, I greatly question whether it is a truly justiciable matter to decide whether or not it is proper in these circumstances to extend detention before trial. As I recall it, Brogan does not require us to do this. Brogan states that we cannot keep those concerned away from a judicial authority for seven days, which was our practice, but that it will be all right if we do so
I congratulate the Government on the Bill. They have, broadly speaking, got the right balance--and balance is the essence of every government's responsibility in this field. I salute them for doing that. I hope that the no doubt surprising support from this quarter will lead them to consider with a certain amount of favour the subsequent suggestions that will come from this side of the House for improving the balance yet further.
Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden. He came to Northern Ireland uniquely qualified to bring his sound judgment to bear on a whole range of issues. I share the view of many that he left a lasting impact on what one might call the science of governance in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. Like him, I feel that we would be wise to reflect on the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and to give consideration to the concerns that he has expressed.
The Home Secretary went on to say that terrorism poses special difficulties for those of us who live in liberal democracies, where there are adequate, non-violent means of expressing opposition and dissent. I welcome the fact that the Minister reinforced that point in your Lordships' House today.
At times it appears that other European nations are more successful in striking a fair balance. For example, as the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, said, France paid a very heavy price for inaction several years ago. Germany and Italy effectively eliminated terrorism in earlier years--but then they absolutely refused to compromise with terrorists. It is with sorrow that I say that Britain, on the other hand, has fed terrorism with concessions without end.
I admit that in the immediate aftermath of dastardly murders, some Ministers issue what I assume must be a recorded statement condemning the atrocity and asserting that the guilty will be hunted down and punished. They probably mean what they say, but the promise is never fulfilled. Even if occasionally the mass murderer is caught--and even in the unlikely event of a conviction--the murderer will be released for some sordid political reasons.
Regrettably the United Kingdom is seen as the weakling of Europe. It follows that if our reputation is to be redeemed, we must stop conceding terrorists' demands. Then, through legislation such as this excellent Bill, we must constrict and thwart all terrorist movements before they can succeed in weakening the will of government, which is their main objective.
In his excellent report, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, gave sound advice on the continuing need for effective counter-terrorism legislation. He went on to tender the view that such legislation should cease to be specific to Northern Ireland. I have shared that view for many years since the introduction of what might one might term Mark I of the prevention of terrorism legislation.
At a later stage, when I invited my late colleague, Enoch Powell, to serve on the committee on the then Bill, he succeeded in persuading the committee, and subsequently the other place, to extend the measure to cover more effectively the whole of the United Kingdom. I am glad that we are continuing down that path.
I know that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, will welcome the fact that the Home Secretary has, for the most part, accepted his sound advice. We have all noted his reservations, and it is to be hoped that we shall return to those at a later stage in our deliberations.
During the period since the introduction of the Bill, voices have been raised about the wisdom of delaying the legislation until the optimistic belief in a total cessation of violence in Northern Ireland has been realised. I humbly suggest that such a delay would expose the people of the United Kingdom to terrorism from other quarters--a threat made much more real by dramatic advances in high technology of the type that Churchill referred to as "perverted science". The House would do well to heed the warnings given on these matters by the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, supported as he was by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart.
The vulnerability of modern civilisation to ruthless enemies of democracy was brought home to me some years ago at the international airport in Perth, Western Australia. When I congratulated the senior security officer at that airport on the high standard of security there was probably a note of my surprise in my voice. He surprised me when he explained that his vigilance and technology would continue to be developed and enhanced. He then added these words:
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I am concerned that the Bill as it stands could allow future governments, if they so chose, to blur the line between terrorism--which should always be considered the most serious of offences--and protest. At the very least there should be within the Bill a
This is necessary because, as we look back over the past century, many of the protest movements which we now recognise as having furthered the causes of human rights and peace could have fallen within the definitions of terrorists in the Bill if the government of the day had been so minded.
I listened carefully to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, said about the definition of "serious violence". It is to me an extremely difficult thing to define, as it obviously has been in the other place, and before then. Violence against property could be considered serious by its extent, by the extent to which it threatened the establishment, or by the extent to which it intimidated people. If it is defined against the violence perpetrated by the suffragette protests, by the Greenham Common women, at the poll tax protests and at anti-road building protests, it could be measured in many different ways. I agree with the comments of my noble friend Lord Goodhart about Clause 12. The clause requires considerable further debate in your Lordships' House.
The need to protest will never go away. The issues change, and I hope protest will always be peaceful and respectful of property, and never violent against people. But, from time to time through history, the young especially see the iniquity of a path the establishment is trying to follow. They may raise their voices, and sometimes their fists, and they may make life very difficult for that establishment, but we should not allow it in perpetuity to decide what causes are really terrorist causes and what are embarrassments to be silenced. The line between terrorism and protest is a difficult line to define. I hope that your Lordships' House, with its extensive and most knowledgeable view of history, will be able to define the differences and then amend the Bill to preclude any possibility of future governments being able to misuse this legislation to crush the legitimate protests of our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.
Lord Desai: My Lords, I have a confession to make. I spent my morning with a terrorist. I listened to him and we all applauded. Of course, it was Nelson Mandela. That is a cheap trick, I know, but I had to do it today. Let us make no mistake about it, Nelson Mandela was about to engage in destroying a state with which we have friendly relations.
My main concerns about the Bill are not so much about what we do in Northern Ireland or in the United Kingdom. My main concerns are about subsection (2) of Clause 1, which extends some of these offences to activity against any other country. I am not a lawyer and so my understanding of it may be defective. When in 1998 we met hurriedly to pass a counter-terrorism
My noble friend the Minister quite correctly set out the liberal doctrine that when a society has a democratically elected government legitimate protest is possible but certain kinds of protest, especially protest leading to serious violence, are not permissible. I quite agree. I have no quarrel with that. But some people may not agree. We agree that ours is democratic liberal state. As I have previously said in debates on Northern Ireland, the problems of Northern Ireland are the result of the post-colonial situation. There is a minority that does not agree about the legitimacy of the state. They are wrong about it but they do not agree. That raises problems.
While I agree that the anti-terrorism Acts were entirely necessary, what brought us towards peace was the courageous decision by a former Conservative Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to negotiate with the terrorists. Let us make no bones about it. Every other colonial situation has ended by the government in power negotiating with terrorists. Terrorists become Prime Ministers. Menachem Begin became Prime Minister. He was a terrorist. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. Archbishop Makarios was a terrorist.
If UK citizens or people who are not UK citizens but are resident in the UK protest about other governments, which may not be democratic liberal governments, what are we going to do about that? If we then say that they are committing a terrorist offence, we will deny our age-old tradition of protecting and encouraging such dissent. That worries me. Let us take, as an example, someone who is plotting the overthrow of the government of Myanmar. I do not like the government of Myannmar. I do not care how legitimate they are. They are an evil government who ought to end. Let us take, as an example, the problem of Chechnya. The Russians have argued that the bombing in Moscow was carried out by terrorists from Chechnya. Some people have serious doubts about that and believe that it was carried out by Russian Mafia to encourage the invasion of Chechnya. If a group of Chechen refugees here were unhappy about that, under the Bill they would have to be arrested as terrorists. I have doubts about the extension of Clause 1(1) and (2) to all other parts. If my noble friend Lord Ahmed covered this matter when he spoke, I apologise to him.
There are other areas much closer to British life, but because of the south Asian diaspora we have people here who feel very strongly about Kashmir and Sri Lanka. Although the government of India are a democratic liberal government, there are genuine differences among the Kashmiris about its legitimacy. We really ought to think very carefully about not having too broad a definition of terrorism and, whatever definition we use, we should not extend it too broadly to here, there and everywhere. If we do that, we will certainly be creating an injustice. I do not know whether we shall fall foul of the European Court but I do feel that we shall be creating an injustice.
I very much welcome the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer. Change sometimes comes about through means which at the time were thought not to be legitimate. I have spent a lot of my life in protest. Every time I took part in protest, it was not thought to be good or legal. I am proud to say that the Daily Express said that I should be deported. Having spent my youth on protest marches and supporting various other dubious causes, I feel somewhat hesitant about letting this go by without a small protest.
Lord Vivian: My Lords, this Bill is much appreciated and an attempt to legislate against all forms of terrorism by consolidating all the different Bills into one is welcome and timely, especially when international terrorism abounds. It is essential that there can be no misunderstanding nor delay when implementing the provisions of this Bill, as speed of action is an essential ingredient if terrorists are to be arrested. As I understand it, this Bill empowers the police to take action against terrorists and terrorism. Without it, it would be very nearly impossible for the police to carry out their investigations to enable them to bring terrorists to trial. It is therefore a critical piece of legislation in which there can be no loopholes.
As many noble Lords have said, it is most important that the definition of terrorism is clear, and I am not sure that the proposed definition is satisfactory. I am not happy with the phrase, "serious violence", as it could be confusing. Some people might think that some violence against any person or property might not appear to be serious on first examination, and yet, very soon after find out that it was extremely serious but not detectable at first sight. Generally speaking, I believe that the definition which was in Section 20 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, if slightly amended, could be retained as a definition for use in this Bill. If that were the case, the definition would read: "The use of violence for political, religious or ideological causes, which includes any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public or any section of the public in fear".
It is most satisfactory to bring all proscribed terrorist organisations under one Bill and Part II deals with that. However, the list would appear to be somewhat restricted. Surely it would be better to include all the most dangerous international terrorist organisations in the Bill before it is enacted, as opposed to the Secretary of State having to add other organisations such as ETA and Middle Eastern factions such as that of Osama bin Laden at a later date. The current list seems only to include Irish terrorist organisations and none of the international ones and, since this Bill is trying to include international terrorism, it seems somewhat strange to exclude those overseas terrorist factions.
In relation to Part III of the Bill concerning terrorist property, I find it confusing and difficult to understand why it does not seem possible to list in this section what constitutes "other property". I am unable to find any reference to the inclusion of arms, explosives and bomb-making equipment as part of
I should like to comment on Part VII of the Bill, dealing with Northern Ireland. Before doing so, perhaps I may refer to my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew, and say how much I agree with his wise pronouncement that it is the Secretary of State and not the judiciary who should make decisions in relation to the time in arrest. I have worked in the intelligence organisation and I should be particularly disturbed if I thought that any of the information that I gleaned, either myself or from other people, was being passed to anyone but the Secretary of State to make up his mind about such matters.
Returning to Part VII of the Bill, without retaining and empowering the Security Forces with this legislation, it would be impossible for them to carry out their duties as proficiently as they do. Since the ceasefire, killings, maimings, assaults and bullying, threats, targeting, intelligence gathering, training and recruiting has continued to be carried out by IRA/Sinn Fein. It is possible that the ceasefire might be broken or even completely ended. If that should happen, the situation could deteriorate extremely rapidly, with terrorist incidents taking place not only in Northern Ireland but throughout the rest of the United Kingdom.
The peace agreement is exceptionally fragile and only delicately held together. Now is not the time to weaken our resolve by weak terrorist legislation, or to lower our guard or cave in to any more IRA/Sinn Fein demands. It would be utterly wrong to change the name of the RUC, remove the Royal Crown or reduce its strength, as suggested in the Patten report, when no decommissioning of weapons and explosives has taken place. No more prisoners should be released until decommissioning of all weapons and explosives has taken place, and all those who have taken part in terrorist attacks since their release from prison should be returned to prison. There may even
Since the ceasefire, there have been 50 deaths, 147 shootings and 276 assaults and punishment beatings--in many cases resulting in people being maimed for life. It is very welcome that the Government have retained the Diplock Courts, the current provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Provisions Act under Part VII of the Bill. The RUC, the Armed Forces and all the other security agencies have carried out their duties in an exemplary manner and the country owes them a great debt of gratitude. Without the strongest government support with the correct legislation--that is our responsibility in this Bill--the Security Forces are put at greater risk and their tasks are made more difficult. This is not the time to be seen to be caving in again to the demands of IRA/Sinn Fein. Overall, I welcome and support the Bill, although there may be cause for some further discussion in Committee on some of the points I have raised.
Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, on behalf of the Green Party, I welcome the Bill. The bulk of its provisions are probably necessary. We should have no doubt that the strongest steps must be taken against terrorism.
A number of noble Lords have expressed doubts about some of the detail of the legislation. I shall probably find myself in the same Lobby at Committee stage as my ex-colleagues in the Liberal Democrat Party, challenging some of the provisions that seem to impinge on civil liberties.
With the noble Lord, Lord Desai, and others, we must examine the whole question of terrorism abroad. I came here today via the Royal Festival Hall where I had a meeting and passed by the wonderful sculptured head of Nelson Mandela. It reminded me that we must be very careful when discussing terrorism abroad. It is true that last year's terrorists are this year's statesmen. That is not to excuse some of the terrorism that takes place. But we in this country are not the best judges of which foreign countries are so oppressive that terrorism is, or is not, justified. There are a number of countries in the world which flourish under seeming democracy but which are oppressive and where one can excuse people trying to take the law slightly into their own hands.
Here I draw an important distinction, as do the Government, between violence against people and violence against property. We must clamp down on violence against property which leads to violence against people, not simply violence against property. The latter is nothing like as serious as violence to people.
Provisions which create an offence if a person is in possession of a document, such as a map or other information, or is on the same premises as items such as a set of car keys carry the presumption of guilt, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, and can be used against lawyers and journalists in the course of their professional duty as well as against those who work with refugee communities. We must consider whether the provisions go too far. The Bar Human Rights Committee and the Criminal Bar Association have serious doubts about those provisions and the whole approach to the definition.
One does not want to give comfort to terrorists or those who use or threaten violence and put people in fear of their life, liberty and limb, but one has a duty to support civil liberties in this country. I am absolutely certain that that duty will be upheld by your Lordships' House. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, will reassure the House that his noble friend, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, whose name is notably absent from the list of speakers, will be here at Committee stage to help us. I welcome the Bill, but it requires improvement and a great deal of caution. I am sure that noble Lords will spend a long time on the Bill in Committee and at Report stage. I do not say that I look forward to that, but I hope that in the process we shall improve it.
Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, may well be right to urge caution but, above all, we must apply wisdom to this matter. I offer the House no promise of a learned contribution or great knowledge in this field. When I first entered Parliament in 1970 my interest was largely academic, in that Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, had lived in my constituency--two miles from my home--350 years earlier and had been largely responsible for (although not the originator of) the plantations whose historic legacy we see today.
In representing a constituency in which there was a high rate of military recruitment I quickly learnt the cost of terror. One morning in the 1970s my friend Gerald Greenwood, the vicar of Kiveton Park, rang to ask me to meet him because a terrible problem had arisen in the parish. A young soldier called Barucki had been blown to pieces in Belfast the day before. He had been a very kind and most impressive soldier. The family were churchgoers. The vicar had been called to assist. Despite attempts by the vicar and the major to dissuade the mother, she insisted on opening her son's coffin. That was a very unpleasant constituency obligation. His father, who blamed himself for his son joining the Parachute Regiment, had fought in the second world war in Poland, reached Britain and remained in the regiment afterwards. The boy's ambition had been to follow in his father's footsteps, and at the age of 19 he found himself in Belfast for just three days. Both the mother and father died in relatively early middle age. I believe that they died of
I visited Northern Ireland on several occasions. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, may recall that once I enjoyed his kindness and hospitality. On one occasion one of the local regiments, including a good number of my constituents, were in Northern Ireland. I met a young soldier from my constituency who asked me whether I intended to go to his home village of Thurcroft. I said that I had a meeting there the following Saturday. He asked me to call on his mother, who knew me, and tell her that I had seen her son and to give her his good wishes and so on. When she opened the door of her house, which was very close to the hall where the meeting was to be held, she turned white. During the period when her son had been serving in Northern Ireland she had lived with a very real fear. I regretted having gone, but I was able to reassure her that her son was well.
That is the human cost. As my noble friend has pointed out, thousands of such tragedies have occurred and we must apply wisdom in responding to them. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, will not mind my disagreeing with him in relation to his observations about economic cost. I agree that in principle life is more important than property, but if property is damaged to the point where investment is deterred, jobs are destroyed and hopelessness is brought upon society, the scale of property destruction can become unacceptable. One does not think of the massive inconvenience experienced by some of us in the north of England who, in the period of high tension, had to travel to London each week. It required a great deal of ingenuity to find one's way to the House of Commons on Monday and to return at the end of the week, which might have been a rather more serious matter.
The cost of destruction has been enormous. I recall that half a century ago when I was a student living in Westminster I saw the then Prime Minister, Mr Attlee, walking down Victoria Street without bodyguards or fuss. One could enter St James's Park and see people walking about without any inhibitions. Today, they would be surrounded by security. It would be nice to go back to a society in which there were litter bins on railway stations. The cost of destruction as well as murder is very high, and it is right that the Government should take a major interest in this matter.
One of the reasons why I speak in this debate is that I served on the Council of Europe for some time. I am aware that the noble Lords, Lord Beaumont of Whitley and Lord Cope of Berkeley, also graced the Assembly at that time. However, I do not believe that they were members when I was appointed chairman of a committee to deal with terrorism at about the time of the Lockerbie bombing. I was concerned because a number of member states, unlike the United Kingdom and others, did not appear to be sufficiently resolute or
I prepared a report which sought to improve matters. I recall that I was briefed by the Foreign Office on Lockerbie. I also met Libyan representatives in Strasbourg who were not eager to accept the evidence of the Foreign Office. I hope that the trial will verify its accuracy. It has always been difficult to get to Strasbourg, as one or two noble Lords will recall. The report was due on a Monday afternoon. Unfortunately, after 36 hours attempting to get to Strasbourg, I had to ring my opponent--my opposite number, friend and, at that time, my pair, Lord Finsberg. He had managed to reach Strasbourg; it was easier from London than Yorkshire. He had to present my report at short notice. It went through. But I am still not sure that there is adequate international response. I welcome the latest attempt to achieve an international instrument which could influence matters.
In addition to preventing and detecting the crimes of terrorism, we should be assaulting the resources of terrorism. The latest convention in January of this year seems to offer us the possibility of taking a significant step forward. If schoolboys can hack into the citadels of state security in the Pentagon and other national, supposedly secure, records, our intelligence services should be able to hack into the records of the movement of those funds and resources which allow terrorist weapons to be maintained.
I should like my noble friend to tell us what progress is being made in the ratification and implementation of the international convention on the suppression of the financing of terrorism. I note with interest and a little concern that the convention has not been ratified by the United Kingdom. We need countries to stand shoulder to shoulder in these matters. Britain has always been foremost in seeking to marry the needs of freedom with those of common sense. I hope that we shall consider the matter with interest. If there are reasons why we have not ratified it, I should like to know them. If there are areas where we should derogate, we need to be informed of that, perhaps during Committee stage.
The cost of terror is enormous. I mentioned that 50, or even 30, years ago people--even Prime Ministers--could walk freely in London. People could get inside Parliament without difficulty, hindrance or obstacle. We need to get back to that situation if we can. We should not have to face the permanent, ongoing expenditure--it may assist the economy of London--with scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of people engaged in necessary, essential security work, in occupations which create remarkably little wealth even if they protect that which exists already.
Some of my noble friends have referred to the need for freedom and liberty. But freedom and liberty depend on people being able to live at peace. While we must have due regard for those principles, those who have nothing to fear have nothing to hide. Those who
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, unfortunately, terrorism is a part of the European culture. In the last century it spread to the Middle East and Africa. Interestingly, it has never really taken root in the United States. That is why Americans are so outraged by it. And never let us forget what a powerful weapon against terrorism public outrage is.
Terrorism has not really taken root in the Far East. I exclude the Triads, a criminal organisation. I exclude the Thugs of India, another criminal organisation. I exclude Sri Lanka. That is really a civil war. The tragedy is that the civil war in Sri Lanka has been continuing for 2,500 years. The Tamils were throwing the King of Kandy off his throne in 500 BC.
A major problem is differentiating between political terrorism and crime. Some terrorists masquerade as freedom fighters. Some terrorists are freedom fighters. I am more concerned with the criminals who masquerade as terrorists. That is generally the case in Northern Ireland. Only a small minority of either Sinn Fein/IRA or the so-called loyalist paramilitaries can genuinely claim to be terrorists, let alone freedom fighters. The great majority are much more akin to the Mafia, living the good life by criminal extortion and other rackets.
I believe that Mr Jack Straw is an excellent Home Secretary of whom any political party should be proud. The Government have taken much trouble in forming the legislation. Much of it is based on the Lloyd report. I join in the tributes to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. It is a particularly interesting report. For those who have not read it, volume 2, by Professor Paul Wilkinson of the University of St Andrews, is of especial interest. My interest in these matters goes back some 16 years as a political journalist.
I am slightly worried about the name of the Bill. I would have preferred it to be called the "Prevention of Terrorism Bill" because there is no form of crime in which the priority for ex-ante prevention more clearly outweighs that for ex-post detection. An analogy which may apply to us all is that of viruses in our computers. It is a great deal more important to stop the virus getting in than to have the sweat of getting rid of it.
I have two points of substance. The first is to draw attention to a lacuna. The second is an unease at certain provisions in the Bill. On the lacuna, advances in technology have made terrorist prevention more possible. Fear of detection, as with any crime, is a most powerful deterrent and thus prevention. There have been a number of new technologies in recent years. The most obvious is closed circuit television. There is huge scope for greater use of CCTV. It is being used very successfully, notably in the ring of steel around the
However, I believe--I put evidence to the inquiry of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd--that the time has come for better identification of individuals. I am not talking about identity cards, useful though they might be. I recognise the repugnance that at least in this country the carrying of identity cards generates. I am talking about identity numbers. We all have multiple official numbers and multiple unofficial ones. Let us take the official ones--passports, driving licences, and social security, national health (the old identity number from the war), criminal record, and prison record numbers. Interestingly, if an individual goes to one prison he has one number; if he goes to a different prison he has a different number. They do not link up. The time has come for every British citizen to be given a simple identity number to be used in all their dealings with the state. It would simplify life; it would reduce the costs of bureaucracy; and it would greatly help to prevent and fight crime and terrorism. The Bill could have provided the opportunity to introduce that. It is particularly important that such a number should be given to every person who enters the country illegally.
My second point relates to my unease about threats which I have seen. I refer in particular to representations from the society of editors which represents editors drawn from the regional and national press, together with their counterparts in broadcasting. I fear that the Bill as drafted is a threat to journalistic newsgathering, investigation and reporting. I emphasise that, together with Parliament, the media, for all their obvious failings and often unattractive and unacceptable behaviour, form part of the guardianship of the freedom of our society and thus of our democracy.
Some clauses, already referred to, outlaw involvement in meetings of proscribed organisations. I remember that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when I was working for The Economist, I obtained a better understanding of the political situation in this country by attending meetings of various terrorist inclined or supporting bodies. Some of them were at the fringe of, although not part of, Labour Party conferences. However, I am worried about Clauses 57 and 58 and sanctions against the possession of information that could be used for terrorism.
I remember Sir Robert Mark, a distinguished former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, saying years ago--and it no longer applies--that one of the reasons the IRA was so ineffective was that its members were so dim they always used a Who's Who which was about six years old. Now we live in a world in which parliamentarians, at least those in another place, are recommended to omit their addresses from Who's Who.
During the Second Reading debate in the other place on 14th December, the Home Secretary said that if there were ways in which the Bill could be improved, it was our duty to accept those suggestions. I hope that in reply the Minister will tell us that that is a genuine invitation which applies to your Lordships' House. If it does, I am sure that we will accept it and make good use of it.
Lord Rogan: My Lords, in this Bill, the definition of terrorism is so loosely and vaguely phrased that it could include those who destroy a laboratory which is used for animal experimentation and yet exclude an organisation which is dedicated to the violent termination of sovereignty in part of the United Kingdom.
Any meaningful definition of "terrorism" must include a specific reference to the conspiracy of politically motivated individuals who, either through public or secret organisations, advocate, support, justify or plan violent actions aimed at undermining the state.
It strikes me as fundamentally wrong that an organisation which contrives and commits terrorist acts may fall within the proposed definitions of this Bill and yet the political front for that organisation--a front which both excuses those acts and raises the possibility of further acts as a political lever--is not and would not be covered by the definition.
Terrorism manifests itself in many forms. It would be foolish to believe that a loose definition of what it entails, together with an existing list of proscribed organisations, would do anything to defeat it, if we continue to allow the political apologists for the terrorist organisations to represent their views within democratic institutions. Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, and we must have a definition that recognises it in all its forms.
Furthermore, I fail to understand why the proscribed organisations listed in the Bill do not include the Provisional Irish Republican Army by name, nor, indeed, the Real IRA, the organisation responsible for the Omagh bomb on 15th August 1998. Once we have a tighter and more accurate definition of terrorism it becomes easier to recognise the actual terrorist.
Within the provisions of this Bill, a terrorist may be defined as someone who belongs to, invites support for, raises funds for, or provides weapons instructions to a proscribed organisation. But it does not include someone who is known to represent the interests and aims of that organisation; or who may be in direct contact with that organisation; or who seeks to excuse and explain the violent and illegal activities of that organisation. A terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist and, again, we must have a definition that recognises him or her in whatever form.
I also believe that the Bill should recognise and accommodate the need for the power of internment without trial to be permanently available to the state. The nature of terrorism and the terrorist--and
While it is undoubtedly true that internment could be introduced to meet a particular terrorist threat, it is equally true that the period required to introduce it robs it of the elements of surprise and deterrence and thereby defeats its primary purposes.
I am also surprised that the Bill makes no provision for cross-border security co-operation between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, especially in view of the fact that the Provisional IRA and other terrorist organisations use the Republic of Ireland to store their arsenals and house their members. That omission seems even more strange when we recall that the 1998 Belfast agreement commits the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to,
There is much in this Bill that I welcome. However, I am concerned that the terrorism which poses the gravest threat to the geographical and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom is the very terrorism which is least clearly defined and least adequately dealt with in the Bill. There is evidence, much of it from our experience in Northern Ireland, that terrorist organisations have discovered that it is possible to exploit and manipulate existing legislation in order that they can continue their campaign within what are supposedly democratic institutions. Much of the blame for this pollution of democracy can be sourced to the weak and slackly worded definitions of "terrorist" and "terrorism" within existing legislation.
I believe that this Bill has neither addressed nor resolved the problems inherent within previous definitions.Rather, it has repeated them and in so doing will allow terrorism to continue by other means. I urge the Government to reconsider and then strengthen the definitions.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, I begin by apologising to the Minister and to noble Lords for the fact that I had to be out of the Chamber for too many, I am sure, most interesting speeches. I had a commitment which I could not break, and I apologise.
I shall confine my comments to the effect of the Bill on Northern Ireland. Of course there will and already has been long discussion on the definition of terrorism. Increasingly, I am concerned about the regular campaign of terror, harassment, intimidation and brutal violence by paramilitaries against their own communities, as well as against their opponents. It seems to have been accepted wearily by the Government and the country as a fact of life which cannot be changed. It has even been described as "paramilitaries doing their internal housekeeping".
That campaign should be changed, and for that reason I join with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in wishing to see, as at least one part of the definition of terrorism, the retention of the phrase:
I cannot help fearing that the Act will be used sparingly, both to create an illusion of peace and because, for example, the failure to act against the bombers of Omagh (thanks to the inability of both the Garda and the RUC to prosecute known suspects because of the successful intimidation of witnesses) has rendered the would-be tough provisions of the 1998 legislation virtually void.
That brings me to another issue: the question of the Irish Government's role in the fight against terrorism, a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rogan. At present, they are only too ready to initiate negotiations with the IRA on our behalf; for example, on the issue of our military presence and on the disgraceful remains Act. However, they play no part in the control of terrorism in Northern Ireland.
The Garda and the RUC work together admirably; we all know that. However, since hot pursuit is forbidden, there is nothing to prevent the escape of terrorists over the Border, nor the use by the IRA of a friendly European Union country as a safe base. Not all the close collaboration over Omagh has made it possible to bring those murderers to justice because on both sides of the Border witnesses fear for their lives and will not give evidence. Incidentally, if true, it is deeply disturbing that, according to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the police in Northern Ireland have,
Very wisely, the Irish Government have retained not only their own version of the Diplock courts--the special criminal courts--but also the power of internment. In the past, they pointed out that they could not effectively use that power, had they wished to do so, because the same powers of internment do not now exist in Northern Ireland. I hope that during the passage of this Bill through our House close attention will be given to the need to harmonise our powers with regard to terrorists with those of the Irish Government, who have been wise enough to retain what they have and what they might some day need. Surely, it is right that they should put the need to protect the public before any rights which may be claimed for those who threaten them by the European
Finally, as far as Northern Ireland is concerned, I cannot help feeling that it is premature to debate this Bill when the report on the review of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland, which is closely related to it, has only just become available for consultation. Fortunately, my concern about the need to ensure that the complementary nature of Irish legislation is considered is recognised in the Belfast agreement's provision for consultation with the Irish Government. However, I am a great deal less happy about the intention expressed in that agreement to devolve responsibility for policing and justice issues. That is in no way consonant with the policy rightly followed in this Bill to make legislation on terrorism as far as possible national, and to recognise that Northern Ireland voted by a majority to be (as it is) part of the United Kingdom and not a colony.
The time has not yet come to consider devolution. Yesterday, The Times carried the story of two teenagers who last August were exiled from Northern Ireland by the IRA on pain of death. They begged to be allowed to return to see their father, who was dying of liver cancer. According to FAIT (Families Against Intimidation and Terror), a letter was sent to Mr Gerry Adams begging him to intervene to allow them to return safely. There was no reply. On the intervention of a Catholic priest, the IRA agreed this week to a temporary lifting of the ban to allow them to return and visit their dying father. One of them came too late. His father is dead. A Sinn Fein spokesman said that it was "nothing to do with Gerry Adams". If that is the
Recent events, and not least the admirable Rowe report, certainly suggest that this is not the moment to lower our guard and weaken in any way the forces of law and order which have so well protected us throughout the United Kingdom. I have a good deal of faith in the firmness and resolve of the present Secretary of State, his commitment to good sense and to the proper support of the rule of law.
I have one word to say about terrorism in general, whether it is the brutal and arrogant behaviour of some of the more fanatical in the animal rights lobby who have sent letter bombs to at least one distinguished scientist--a friend of mine, whose children could have been killed--or the fanatics who believe that their religion justifies murder in the form of a fatwa, or the paramilitary training of gullible young men in the same cause.
We should maintain our long and honourable tradition of giving asylum to political fugitives, but we should not allow them to forget that the ancient laws of hospitality that have long obtained throughout the world require them to consider the safety and the interests of those who have sheltered them. Wars should not be conducted from a safe base at the expense of the hosts, nor should it be normal for those who accept our hospitality, still less assume our citizenship, to abuse it. Those who raise and train militants must surely fall within the scope of this Bill.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, it is always a pleasure and of interest to follow the noble Baroness, even if in this instance I do not agree with everything that she said. Perhaps I may refer to that in a few moments.
I believe that most of us can remember the time when one could walk as a tourist--as an ordinary person--straight to the door of 10 Downing Street with no gates intervening, when one could gain access to Parliament without the security gates, when one could take a plane without going through security checks and when offices and buildings were open to everyone. I believe that it is a sad comment on what has happened in recent years that we now have security provisions as part of everyday life.
I am afraid that I take a more pessimistic view than the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, in my belief that terrorism is widespread and is here to stay, no matter what we do. I fear that international terrorism has become more powerful and sinister. We have seen thousands of deaths and injuries, not only in the United Kingdom but also in many other countries, due to acts of terrorism.
Of course, the bomb in Omagh is still the most recent terrible atrocity in the United Kingdom. I know that that one bomb will have a lasting effect on the people of Northern Ireland, both those who were in or near Omagh on the day and those who were further away.
During my two and a half years in Northern Ireland I was always aware that, whereas my family and I had not been directly affected by terrorism and none of my family or friends had been injured or killed, yet most people in Northern Ireland whom I met had had a death or injury in their family or the death or injury of a friend due to terrorism over the past 30 years. I always felt that, when I had some political disagreements with people in Northern Ireland, it was important to remember that they had inevitably been scarred by dreadful experiences which I had been lucky enough to escape. My own Private Secretary, although mercifully not injured, had been a very close to a bomb a few years ago in Banbridge. I did not know that from her until many months after she began working for me. She did not even tell me.
Therefore, it is important for us to know and realise how many people have been directly affected by those terrible events. It is for that reason that we need legislation. The Government must do what they can, with the security forces, to protect people from those terrible incidents.
Of course I believe that the level of violence in Northern Ireland has decreased. That is a relief to people, though there is still a level of violence there, as the noble Baroness mentioned. However, I disagreed with her when she said that the Government are not fully exercised about that. The Government are determined to do what they can to reduce the deplorable attacks which take place in both communities and which lead to murder, knee-cappings and other forms of mutilation.
I also differed a little from the views of the noble Baroness when she referred to the Irish Government. I believe that a lot of progress has been made in tackling terrorism through close co-operation between our Government and the Irish Government; through the close co-operation, to which she did refer, between the RUC and the Gardai. After all, there have been some notable arms finds by the Gardai, not least of which was a bomb on its way to England which was found at Dun Laoghaire. The level of co-operation and diligence and the level of success against terrorism in the authorities in the Republic have been increasing over the years.
Reference has been made to the Diplock courts. It is sad that they remain but they do remain a feature of the system in Northern Ireland, although I understand that the Government are reviewing those courts and that the outcome of the review will be known at about Easter time.
I must differ from the noble Lord, Lord Cope, and one or two other noble Lords in relation to internment. I believe that it is a good thing that internment is not on the statute book. I do not believe that any democratic country which believes in the rule of law can easily return to a process of arresting and locking up people and holding them without charge. That goes against so many of our traditions and I believe that it is counter-productive because it makes martyrs of those people who are held and detained. The last time we had internment was a time when, on all the evidence, the
I share the view that it is a good thing that exclusion orders are no longer available because they are one aspect of the Prevention of Terrorism Act that I never liked. It is a sign of progress that we do not have them any more and they will not return.
Terrorism is not confined to Northern Ireland but I want to make one or two comments just about the situation in Northern Ireland. I welcome the fact that the legislation is now to be UK-wide and that those clauses which refer to Northern Ireland are there temporarily and will not have a permanent life.
I believe that the legislation improves the rights of suspects. It brings the procedures nearer to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, with which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, was closely involved when he was Minister of State at the Home Office many years ago, when I served on the Standing Committee which dealt with that legislation. I am sure that he remembers that.
I welcome the fact that extension orders are to be decided judicially rather than ministerially. I had to sign quite a few over the years. I looked at them carefully. I spent a lot of time dealing with each one before I was prepared to sign it. But I still believe that it is proper that the process of detaining people while awaiting charge--before charge--should be determined in a judicial rather than ministerial way. That is a move for the better.
I am bound to say in relation to all the orders which I signed that, with only two exceptions, they all kept the period of detention within the PACE limits of 96 hours. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, indeed said that he prefers ministerial rather than judicial signatures on extension orders, but surely any extension of the period of custody under PACE is determined judicially and not ministerially. So in one sense, we are moving closer to PACE in what we are doing.
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