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Lord Eatwell: My Lords, I ask the Minister to take due note of the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams. I hope that my noble friend can assure the House that the sentence she quoted from the letter of my right honourable friend Hazel Blears is a mistake because it is indeed chilling. It would require libraries and universities to interrogate the motives of all their readers and all their students—an absolutely impossible task. In many cases, of course, publications would not have the defence under Clause 2(9) of endorsing views. The example given of the chemistry text book is one where that defence would not be available.

I endorse what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said with respect to the letter from the Minister of State at the Home Office. I hope my noble friend on the Front Bench can assure the House that it is a mistake.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I, too, hope that in her reply the Minister will be able to give some indication of where she feels this concept begins and ends. As at earlier stages of the Bill, I have in mind a library at St Andrews University where much of the material used is issued by terrorists. Its objective is the study of terrorism and the way terrorists behave—and you can only study that if you have examples of how terrorists behave.

If the remark in the Minister of State's letter is not a mistake—if it is intentional—is she saying that impressionable students should have no access to such material? If so, that really would be a limitation on the liberty of people. If the Minister could give a definition of where this concept begins and ends it would be very helpful.

I was not particularly disturbed by the speech from the Opposition Front-Bencher—I thought it was rather loose talk about freedom—but when the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, gave a specific example, it shook me. It clearly shook the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, who has, since our proceedings began, been thinking a great deal about this on behalf of the British Library.

I look forward to as comforting and clarifying a definition as we can possibly have.

Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, having listened to this very interesting debate, it seems to me that there are two strands which need to be sewn together. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, is right when he says that, in reality, there will be very few prosecutions under the "reckless" heading. Equally, it seems absolutely clear that many perfectly innocent and worthy people—and, indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Rees-Mogg, as well—will be led into situations where
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they have to take, or feel they may have to take, enormous precautions or be subjected to enormous worry in perfectly innocent activities. In those circumstances, if the clause is going to be used extremely seldom, either it needs to go or, at the very least, the Government need to give categorical assurances that it will be used only against people who, in their view, are real terrorist criminals but who might be sheltering behind the slight difference between "intent" and "recklessness"; and that it will not be used against people who cannot take, or do not have time to take, or, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, do not realise that the circumstances require, precautions. This would alleviate the obvious and considerable worry that there is. It cannot be right for people to have that worry and to take all that trouble for a heading which, as the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, said, will be used very seldom.

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe: My Lords, my primary concern is the definition of "intent" in Clause 2. I will save my fire until we debate Amendment No. 17, but contributions from other noble Lords have prompted me to ask the Minister how "recklessness" is intended to be interpreted in Amendment No. 20, which does not relate to a direct communication between individuals. The offence in Clause 2 is the distribution of publications where they may fall into the hands of people who might use them for terrorist purposes. It is the distance between the action of the librarian and the reaction of the potential recipient that now causes me concern. How, if you have an unrestricted group of potential recipients, can you know whether some may have terrorist leanings? Perhaps I may ask my noble friend, in sharing some of the concerns expressed, to say something about the meaning of "recklessness" in that context.

Lord Dearing: My Lords, I have two questions. First, I am interested in Clause 2(1)(d), which has to do with providing a service to others, which, in a library, of course, includes access to a computer. I would be astonished if, on the world-wide web, there is not a good deal of information and material that would be useful to a terrorist or would encourage terrorism. Would the librarian be in any way vulnerable for allowing students unrestricted access to a computer?

Secondly, and more specifically, there is a book by Bruce Lawrence, Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden, priced £10.99, newly translated from the Arabic original, and annotated with a critical introduction by Islamic scholar Bruce Lawrence, placing the statements in their religious, historical and political context. Now, let us suppose that a student, on the recommendation of a lecturer, obtained a copy through the library, and committed a terrorist act. If, on investigating, police found a copy of that book in the student's bedroom, would the university, its librarian or its lecturer be at any risk? I
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ask this question because I think it is so important that these people, who, like me, are not lawyers, and have a job to do, know precisely where they stand.

Lord Butler of Brockwell: My Lords, perhaps I may follow that by generalising the case described by the noble Lord, Lord Rees-Mogg. In his case, he had the advantage of knowing who the customer for the autobiography of Trotsky was, which may have made the culpability of the noble Lord greater, as he recognised. The job of a bookseller, generally, is to sell as many books as possible and to make books available to the public. It really is not the task of a bookseller to have to distinguish or discriminate between customers. Yet, the definition of recklessness here appears to make it an offence for the bookseller not to discriminate in that way. How otherwise could the bookseller be sure that customers would not include someone who would either be moved to terrorism or use the book for the purposes of terrorism? I think that, in those circumstances, if I were a bookseller, without the advantage of knowing the identity of my customer, I would be concerned about that.

Similarly, the task of a librarian is to make the books in the library available to students or others who want to use them. It should not be, as I think this amendment implies, the task or duty of librarians to discriminate between borrowers in order to satisfy themselves that those borrowers do not include people who might be moved to terrorism or use the book for the purposes of terrorism. My concern about these amendments is that, as other noble Lords have said, unless greater clarity can be achieved, they will make people in the perfectly honourable and normal businesses of librarianship or bookselling uncertain about whether they are at risk of breaking the law.

4.15 pm

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the debate this afternoon has surely demonstrated that the concept of recklessness is unclear. I listened very carefully to the rather rapid-fire speech with which the Minister introduced the debate. As I recall, she said that we would all agree that those who knew that they were likely to encourage terrorism should be caught by the provisions of the Bill. As I understand it, the noble Baroness was trying to explain what was meant by the concept of recklessness. If that is what she means by recklessness, why not put those words into the Bill rather than the much vaguer word "recklessness"?

This is a very sensitive Bill; it could be interpreted by the courts in very sensitive ways. If the Minister means by "recklessness" that people knew they were likely to encourage terrorism, why not state it in those terms, which are much clearer, more precise and easier for the courts to interpret?

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, the debate about recklessness was in these terms originally. "Objective recklessness" is when a person does not give his mind to what is likely to happen, although a reasonable person would realise that some harm
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would follow from his act. If a person does something which is harmful without giving his mind to the consequences, and a reasonable person would have realised it would cause harm, that is "objective recklessness". That was the decision in Caldwell, which the Judicial Committee of this House set aside a year or two ago.

"Subjective recklessness" is where a person realises the consequence of his act yet goes on to carry out that act, although he may not intend that those consequences should follow. To put it into this context—and it is a very difficult concept that lawyers have had to struggle with over many years—let us suppose that there were a manual for making a bomb. If a person were to pass that manual to a person who he considered could potentially act upon it and realises that he may be encouraging him to make a bomb, then he would, in one sense, be subjectively reckless, but I am quite sure that he would be held guilty of intending that to happen if he knew that the person had it in mind to act as a terrorist. But let us suppose that it was a book on chemistry. A bookseller, librarian or university lecturer knows that of course it is possible to use a textbook on chemistry to construct a bomb. He has no intention that the person should construct a bomb and certainly does not care whether he constructs a bomb. He obviously would care were that to follow.

The clause sets out a criminal offence, punishable by seven years' imprisonment. It would cover a person who did not actually commit a terrorist act but said something or passed on a terrorist publication such as a book or a pamphlet. Is it right that a person should be guilty of a criminal offence carrying seven years' imprisonment if he does not intend the consequences that may follow? "Recklessness" is a difficult concept, and I cannot see that it is right, as my noble friend has said, for a person to be subjected to a lengthy sentence of imprisonment when he did not intend the consequences that he foresees.

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