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Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I add one more voice to this chorus asking the Government to think carefully about this. I quickly pick up a slightly different example from any of those so far put before the House. The assumption behind this Clause, and indeed behind the Bill, is that we have some fairly clear idea about where terrorism is coming from, and that it largely emanates from Al-Qaeda and other global terrorist networks. That is probably true.

Yet my political memory goes back to other examples of terrorism which are much involved with the training of people, some of them in this country. Many of us will recall, for example, that there were training camps run by the IRA and the Provos, and also by the Loyalists, in parts of the United Kingdom. I remember as a junior Minister in the second Wilson administration that there was a serious case—the noble Lord, Lord Judd, will probably remember this too—of Colonel Stirling actually running training camps in Scotland, the purpose of which was to support a putsch against the Wilson government. That was not a legend; that was actually a fact. Much more recently, there have been other examples of terrorist camps in a country which would normally expect terrorism to come from inside. I gave in Committee the example, again a genuine one, of extremist right-wing groups in the United States running training camps in the Rocky Mountains, training people in arms, explosives and terrorism, the object being to overthrow the United States government. They admittedly were largely mad, but that did not stop them being in training.

What really worries me is that, as my noble friend Lord Thomas has said, in effect what we are looking at is a clause so narrowly drawn and so extremely heavy in its danger of sentences being brought against people who attempt to investigate this, that there is a real possibility that this whole area would be overlooked. The reason it would be overlooked is because, as we all know, it is the tendency of intelligence organisations to concentrate on—rightly so—the current major threat. They often do not notice nor have they the resources to target areas where they are not looking for trouble to arise.

I seriously hope that the Government will look at the matter again and consider adopting something like my noble friend's amendment, because I am profoundly concerned about the effects of the provision, in not only the obvious but the less obvious areas of terrorism. We have no reason to believe that terrorism in Northern Ireland has completely ended. It is possible that there might be other terrorist groups of an apparently small and insignificant nature that could
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nevertheless resume terrorist activities. I hope that the Government will very carefully think again, as this is a really serious issue and not one to be lightly dismissed.

10 pm

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I assure the noble Baroness that we will not dismiss and have not lightly dismissed this matter. She was absolutely right to remind us about the pernicious nature that training camps can have and the consequences that they can have in training and influencing those who subsequently go on to commit the most grievous acts of terror to the detriment of our respective communities and countries. We absolutely take that into account.

Clause 8 creates the offence of attending a place where terrorist training is taking place to underline that very fact. We have to put these provisions in the context of the circumstances that we find ourselves in, whereby the training of young, impressionable men in particular has led to them taking their own lives and the lives of a number of innocent people with them. Preventing those susceptible—particularly young—people being taken in by such trainers and influenced in this most pernicious way is of the utmost importance. Therefore, we agree with noble Lords that this is a very important issue indeed, and we do not take it lightly, because training is a key element of any terrorist activity and it is right that we should clamp down on it.

I know that concerns have been expressed today, not least by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, but by many other noble Lords as well—my noble friend Lord Judd echoed them—about the effect that Clause 8 will have on legitimate investigative journalism. As I made clear in Committee, the Government's position on that is unambiguous. Nothing in the clause, or the Bill as a whole, will in any way hinder the work of legitimate investigative journalism. A journalist who has suspicions that terrorist training is taking place can take steps to establish whether there is any foundation for his or her suspicions. However, at the point when his suspicions have been confirmed, the correct course is for him to leave and alert the appropriate authorities; that is as true for journalists as it is for anyone else.

Lord Elton: My Lords, I cannot see how that squares with the need for the journalist to report fully on what is going on and on the views of the people who are doing those things, which is what all the rest of us need to know.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the Government have been clear that it is absolutely proper for an investigative journalist to investigate whether a place is a training camp; but, once it has been ascertained that it is a training camp for terrorists, the proper thing for any citizen to do,
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including journalists, is to leave and to notify the appropriate authorities. That is something that John Simpson himself included in his—

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, would the Minister take this to the lengths of suggesting that if a movement started in Zimbabwe, for example, which planned violent resistance against Mr Mugabe, a British journalist could go to Zimbabwe and could go to talk to the people in this camp only on the basis that he would immediately inform the authorities of what had happened? Surely in a case of that kind it must be a matter of legitimate public interest for somebody to go openly as a journalist, not undercover, simply to find out what the leaders of such a movement were doing and what their objectives were.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, there is nothing in these provisions to stop that. In this clause we are dealing with training camps that promote terrorism and prepare and teach people how to become terrorists. If the noble Lord is asking whether we think it appropriate for someone to go to such a training camp, not to explore whether such activities are taking place, but to report, observe and participate, there is a difficulty with that. It does not impinge upon—

Lord Elton: My Lords, may I—

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I am conscious that it is five past 10. I am entirely in your Lordships' hands. We can go on for so long as the participants wish to, and for so long as the Chief Whip allows me. The Floor is yours.

Lord Elton: My Lords, I want to pick up on one word that the Minister used: "participate". I do not think that anyone was suggesting that there should be any participation.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, we are making it clear that this provision applies to training camps in this country. There is nothing to prevent journalists from continuing with their ordinary journalistic reporting with regard to troubles in other places in the world. We are dealing with terrorist camps of this nature. I remember very graphically the example given by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, of the circumstances in which she found herself. When she discovered that she was somewhere she clearly did not wish to be, in the middle of a terrorist camp, she got out of there. That is what John Simpson said in his report, too:

Quite right too. We can assure someone in that position that their ability to report in a proper way is not in any way impinged on by this provision.

We need to look at this provision with a great deal of care, and we have done so. We do not think that the first part of Amendment No. 62—paragraph (a)—is necessary. The second part of the amendment would provide that a person does not commit an offence if,
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while at the terrorist training camp, he had no intention of furthering the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism or convention offences. As I indicated before, we consider that to be a significant loophole. It is not difficult to imagine that our courts might be faced with a steady stream of people claiming that they were simply observing, but not participating. Some might claim that they were just doing the catering or running the crèche, or myriad other excuses. What would certainly happen is that people would argue that they were at the terrorist training camp only to provide humanitarian assistance.

We have to grapple with the mischief with which we are faced. It is a severe and acute mischief, which we must address. Therefore, our provisions need teeth. We cannot afford simply to allow them to be a toothless bulldog that cannot bite on any of the things that need to be changed. The Government's position is clear: no one has any legitimate reason to be at a place where they know that terrorists are being trained. It is as simple as that. I understand that there is a difference of view, but we believe that the provisions we are now putting in place are necessary to address the real threat. They should not impinge improperly upon ordinary journalistic licence; anyone behaving properly will be able to work quite comfortably within them.

I hope that that has provided a modicum of reassurance in respect of journalists, but I absolutely anticipate that, if it has not, the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and others may wish to return to the matter.

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