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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness and the noble Lord very warmly for their very generous words of support and for the compliments which they have rightly paid my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. I thank them equally for the wonderful, robust stance which has been adopted by leaders of both opposition parties. I endorse everything the noble Baroness and the noble Lord said. In a time of adversity, those who seek to terrorise us will never divide us. We stand resolute together to face them. I of course associate myself with the sympathy that has been expressed to those who have been so tragically bereaved and dreadfully injured by the terrorist acts.
On the issue of "acts preparatory", there are similarities, but the noble Baroness will know that we have tried very carefully together to craft something which will capture the essence of the difficulty with which we are faced. The noble Baroness will know that there are those who are in the act of preparing for terrorist activities, and we do not wish them to be able to escape.
In relation to definitions, I assure the House that as soon as drafts are ready it is our intention to share them, clause by clause if necessary, with noble Lords on both Opposition Benches so that the earliest possible access can be given for consideration. Priority will probably have to be given to that, but we will do all we can to share the thinking as early as appears to be appropriate.
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The noble Baroness will know that we intend to extend the terrorism stop-and-search powers to cover bays and estuaries. Our current legislation does not allow us to do that and we are looking to strengthen those powers. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is due to meet the head of port security and will address what may be necessary for further support, working with port operations to improve the facilities that are being provided by Special Branch.
I join the noble Baroness in commending the work that has been done by the Muslim communities. I assure her that we will concentrate on the issues she has identified, particularly in relation to those who may be disaffected and young, and therefore impressionable, in our communities.
The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, asked about indirect incitement. I agree that definition will be of real importance. We have to get this rightit has to be capable of being intelligible to our courts and something we can use effectively to stop those who wish to terrorise us. I do not underestimate the difficulty we face, but I express again my gratitude that in looking at these complex and difficult issues we will seek, as much as possible, consensus on them.
The noble Lord also asked what we intend to do in relation to reporting on control orders, bearing in mind that we are due to have a report on, I think, 11 September, when we will not be sitting. We hope that we will be able to put down a Question, which I am advised could be answered in the vacation and will give us an opportunity to take the matter further as soon as we come back. We hope that that will meet the needs of the situation. We will put the Question down before we rise, and it can be answered while we are away. We understand from Hansard that that is an acceptable method to adopt.
I close by thanking the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for continuing what the leaders of both parties have done in expressing their solidarity with the Government but also with the people of this country.
Baroness Uddin: My Lords, I add my prayers for those who perished two weeks ago. I welcome the measured way in which the Home Secretary has approached the crisis. I attended the meeting with the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, and there was a tremendous consensus about condemning suicide bombings everywhere. There was total clarity that, if suicide bombing is unacceptable and un-Islamic in this country, it is so everywhere in the world. As someone who has been interested in erasing website materials that are grossly unsuitable for anyone to look at, I welcome the Home Secretary's proposals.
Does my noble friend agree that we must put women at the forefront of every aspect of the work that is now to be undertaken by the Government? Will she accept that the work of the Mothers Against Guns campaign
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can be a lesson for those mothers among us who want to call for a non-violent means of engaging with world opinion?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lady Uddin and assure her that we wish to engage with all those who will join us to defeat this terrible scourge. The voices of Mothers Against Violence and Mothers Against Guns are very powerful. We will seek to encourage as much support for such activities as we can, because there is no person in this country whose support we do not need.
Lord Jopling: My Lords, will the Minister assure us that the Government were given the crucial information at the earliest possible moment, at each of the four bomb sites, that the explosions were not associated with chemical, bacteriological or radioactive material, which could be used by a terrorist in this sort of attack?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I assure noble Lords that the Government were informed of all necessary material. We have been keeping in closest contact with the security and other services that were involved in scrutinising the outcome of those terrorist activities, and all necessary information has been given to us.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I add my sense of the support and prayers of many, many Churches and Church people for those who suffered in this crime. Will the Minister give some reassurance about the references to preaching and ministers of religion in the Statement? These things can be quite sensitive. I do not condone in any way, of course, the use of preaching as a cover for incitement to violence, but does the Minister agree that determining the content, meaning and understanding of preaching in a different faith from one's own can be a sensitive and difficult matter? It would be unfortunate if there arose some general view without sensitive examination that, for example, imams from the Indian sub-continent were particularly prone to engage in preaching that was unacceptable, particularly in view of the very good record that imams have had in fostering co-operation in the prison chaplaincy service, for example.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I reassure the right reverend Prelate on that point. That is why, in the Statement, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary made it plain that he intends to consult the faith communities about these issues. We understand the sensitivity that is required in this area, but I endorse everything that my noble friend Lady Uddin said about how these issues need to be addressed. It is that coming together that may well save this country from any lack of moderation.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, I have brief questions on each of the three new proposed offences. First, I welcome most strongly the new offence of preparing to commit an act of terrorism. That was first recommended many years ago by a committee under
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Lord Gardner, when he was Lord Chancellor. It was recommended again in my report in 1995, and when the 2000 Act was going through I tried to introduce an offence of that nature, which was resisted at the time by the Government on the grounds that it was not the way ahead. I hope that my question is not out of order, but why has it taken the Government so long to see the light about that?
On the question of training, I am not clear why the area is not already covered by Section 54 of the 2000 Act. As for indirect incitement, I have great difficulty in distinguishing between direct and indirect incitement. If a man condones or glorifies acts of terrorism with the intention of inciting, which appears to be the essence of the new offence, why is that not already covered by the common law offence of incitement? I hope that having seen the light on preparing to commit an act of terrorism, it may still be possible for the Government to see the light on interception of communications.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, in relation to acts preparatory, the noble and learned Lord will know that we have never underestimated the difficulty of drafting proposals in relation to these matters which are sufficiently tight and which enable proper direction to be given in relation to the criminality involved. Even now, let me say plainly that I do not see it as an easy task. We have a proper regard in this country for the acuity of drafting because we know that citizens' liberty will be at stake. We do not make such provisions with anything other than the greatest of care.
In relation to intercept evidence, I assure the noble and learned Lord that we continue to consider that matter. That is something that I have made plain from this Dispatch Box on a number of occasions.
Section 54 of the Terrorism Act 2000 does not include training in the use of hazardous substances, as opposed to noxious substances. It is in order to cover all substances that we seek to extend the provision. There were a number of technical loopholes in the Terrorism Act 2000 that we now seek to close.
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