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Lord Rooker: My Lords, I shall not say any more as anything I say will qualify that statement. I say to the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that I referred to the British Transport Police, the MoD police and the atomic energy constabulary. Those police forces already operate. The atomic energy constabulary was armed many years ago when Tony Benn was the Secretary of State for Energy. I remember the legislation going through the House of Commons. It was "touchy" at one point. Nevertheless, their powers are highly restricted and curtailed. I made the point that there are probably grounds for extending some measures beyond particular sites. Obviously we shall hold full discussions on that matter. It would not make sense for proposed changes not to involve the co-operation of the police. Therefore, as I say, the matter will be fully discussed.
As I say, I cannot respond to all the points made but I shall do my best. We shall, of course, revisit the issue soon.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, will the noble Lord please help me? First, will he define "terrorist"? Secondly, will he remember that I have a vision of a man who was an Omagh bomber, leading a Rottweiler, carrying a target pistol and going to a football club to be a hooligan? All of the legislation covering those matters was passed in a rush and no one has taken a blind bit of notice of it. We have had terrorists in this country for 30 or 40 years now. We have introduced emergency legislation after emergency legislation after emergency legislation and it has not worked. I do not say that it is completely unnecessary, I just ask the Government to consider the matter carefully and to accept the situation if measures turn out to be illiberal and unnecessary.
I produce one further small point for the noble Lord to consider. As regards stirring up religious hatred, we are in difficulty with monotheistic religions. The Christians quote Jesus saying, "Only through me can you have salvation". The Muslims say, "There is one god, no god but God, and Mohammed is his Prophet". The Jews say, "God loves us and no one else". Those are all pretty mutually exclusive bits of, some could say, unpleasant attitudes. We have to be very careful before we embark on such legislation, because it will be illiberal in concept and difficult to enforce and the charges will create martyrs.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I cannot give the noble Earl a legal definition, but it is a bit like the elephant on the doorstep: I will recognise a terrorist when I see one and so will the people of this country. We have had this problem with legislation in the past. It has been said that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Generally, the people of this country and the people who were affected by what happened on 11th September recognise terrorism when they see it.
On the noble Earl's other point about religion, there is one God and there are many prophets.
Lord Marsh: My Lords, will the Government take this opportunity to review the rules that prevent the extradition of someone accused of serious and appalling crimes to other countries--even to an ally such as the United States--unless they change their domestic law on capital punishment?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, that is not true. We have extradited many people accused of heinous crimes to the United States. We have an agreement with the United States and the rules are clearly laid down. We will extradite if there are reasonable grounds, provided there is a commitment that those extradited will not be subject to the death penalty. That has worked. It has not proved a barrier to extraditing people to the United States and there is no reason why it should prove a barrier in the future.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, the Statement seems to envisage creating an arbitrary power of arrest and detention without trial and giving to the Home Secretary an arbitrary right to expel suspects, apparently without any form of judicial process or judicial examination of the merits of the case. Will the Minister assure us that, although the judicial review procedures may be streamlined, the Government do not intend to take away the right to apply for a writ of habeas corpus?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I am not qualified to give answers before full legal authority, but I think that I have made it clear, as the Home Secretary did throughout his Statement, that we are not seeking to remove appeal rights. We are seeking to streamline the position, for example by removing judicial review
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, is the Minister referring to Her Majesty's judges? It is they, not the lawyers, who take such decisions.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I shall refrain from the temptation to indulge in a lecture on theology or comparative religion, but I should like to comment on the Government's intention to act against incitement to religious hatred. No healthy religion has anything to fear from scrutiny and honest debate. That is not the problem. The problem arises when attacks on a particular religion are used as a cover for racism and xenophobia. There is no difficulty with religions such as Judaism, which belong to a particular ethnic group. Anti-racism legislation is sufficient there. The difficulty arises with religions such as Christianity and Islam, which, in principle, transcend all ethnic divisions, but which, in particular historical circumstances, have become associated with an ethnic group. Islam is not an inherently Asian religion, but in this country it is generally perceived as such, so attacks on Islam are used as a cover for incitement to hatred against people of Asian origin. That is the problem.
I know some people who do not think that there is a problem, but there is. They should see some of the material recently distributed by the British National Party urging parents to withdraw their children from religious education on the grounds that it is an instrument for the Islamification of Christian Britain. For those reasons, the Government's intention to legislate against incitement to religious hatred is welcome. However, will the Government be very careful in drafting their legislation to ensure that they hit the intended targets and do not give unintended protection to bogus groups, whose names we can probably all think of and who deserve no protection from the most searching scrutiny?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate made the case for me at the beginning of his remarks. We do not intend to define religion in the legislation as far as I am aware, because that is not the issue. The issue is criminal behaviour, which the courts can identify. There is no doubt that people have exploited religion as a cover for racial hatred. We are not seeking to ban or outlaw fair comment or debates within different religions. We are after the misuse of religion as a proxy for other purposes in the context of criminal behaviour. That is where the courts can be used to make the final decision.
Lord Baker of Dorking: My Lords, I strongly support what the Government have recommended this
We have been dealing with terrorism in our country for the past 150 years, but the nature of terrorism has changed significantly since 11th September. When the perpetrators of acts are prepared to destroy themselves in the process, new and uniquely difficult dangers are created for innocent people and prominent people. That is why the measures outlined have my strong support.
The Minister said that the Home Secretary was still considering two measures. One relates to those who, from the safe haven of Britain, still promote and support subversion and terrorism in their own country. I hope that those measures can be brought in relatively soon. As we shall be seeking to identify fanatical individuals and groups, we shall need much more intelligence about their activities, not only in this country but in the country from which they came. I very much hope that the resources available to the security forces will be increased significantly.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, the noble Lord is right. The nature of the threat has changed. If we do not recognise that, we and our fellow citizens in this country are in real trouble. However, that does not mean that we should over-react and destroy our way of life in meeting the threat. We have to be mindful of that. We need to use our brains to maintain the liberal tolerance of our society, but also to fight the new threat. That means change and accepting some duties that would not have been placed on citizens in the past. It means accepting a degree of intrusion. Communications is one example. We are not after the content of communications, but information such as the dates on which calls are made and which number rang which number. That will protect the privacy of law-abiding citizens. The noble Lord is right about the intelligence services, because we cannot operate without good intelligence. We are looking at that issue.
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