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Lord Ahmed: My Lords, at Second Reading and in Committee I expressed my concerns on the glorification clauses. I am not satisfied today and wish, therefore, to speak. Much has been said about the Muslim community and Muslim youth. First, I refer to the placards. I understand that the demonstration organised last month was hijacked by a handful of criminals who held placards which had nothing to do with the Muslim community. That small group has been glorifyingif one wishes to use the wordthe terrorists involved in 9/11; the placards also referred to the "Magnificent 4". I am not a lawyer but I understand that with regard to many of those placards some of the people could have been prosecuted under current legislation with incitement to murder and incitement to violence. I have not heard whether those people have been prosecuted.
The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, spoke of martyrs. There are references in all holy books, in particular the Koran, to those who have sacrificed their lives in the name of God. Where there are specific places where people have been oppressed, their rights abused, raped and tortured, it is made compulsory to rescue those people. In the Koran, such people who die are then martyrs. With regard to Kashmir, Amnesty International Physicians for Human Rights and Asia Watch have reported on abuses of human rights. Although there have been United Nations resolutions on Kashmir the United Nations has taken no action against the state responsible for those abuses of human rights. The international community called the
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Kashmiris Kashmiri militants. But in the past 12 months they have suddenly become Kashmiri terrorists. If Parliament passes the provision regarding the glorification of those involved with terrorism in the past and in the future, those of us who have supported people struggling for the right of self-determination could also fall foul of such legislation.
More importantly, I do not think that the Muslim community is concerned for one minute about legislation to prosecute those responsible for the terrorist attacks on 7and 21 July but it is concerned about the definition expanding to other areas. We have no legislation to stop governments from supporting tyrants, as in Uzbekistan, who can kill their own civilians. Governments can freely support those types of regimes. Regimes such as that in Uzbekistan could classify the good people who try to resist them, or who try to escape from such tyrannies, as glorifying terrorism.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, most of what I wanted to say has already been said, and probably more elegantly than I would have said it. However, I want to make two short points that have not been made. The noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, correctly said that there could be no prosecutions under this legislation without the consent of the Attorney-General. That is right. I am worried about what leads up to the question of whether there should be a prosecution and who will define the new offence of glorification. In the first place it will be the police. They will have to decide whether somebody should be put under arrest, questioned and held.
What worries me is legislation creep. We have had some very stark examples of what can happen when we have not defined things properly just lately. For example, we passed an Act that prohibited assembly without permission within 916 yards of Parliament. Ostensibly that was to deal with terrorism, but I think that it was probably intended to get rid of the shacks which are just outside but which are still there in spite of the legislation. But what happened? A woman decided that she was so concerned about the Iraq war and the British dead that she and a colleague decided to announce by the Cenotaph the names of the British soldiers who had been killed. Before she had got very far down that unfortunately very long list, nine policemen descended on her, arrested her, told her she was committing an offence, took her to a police station, charged her and she was taken to court. That is the sort of thing that worries methe fear that the police will overstretch themselves, as the north Wales police have, I believe, overstretched themselves in wanting to prosecute the Prime Minister for saying some derogatory things about the Welsh. In voting on these amendments, we ought to keep that in mind.
The only other point I want to make is on the manifesto commitments. Of course, we all want to respect manifesto commitments, don't we? Some people, like the Minister, think that they are
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sacrosanct, but I wonder whether they really are. I remember that in the Labour manifesto there was a commitment on smoking. The manifesto commitment was that smoking would be allowed in bars where there was no eating and that private clubs would be exempt. I am quite sure that noble Lords will all have read every word of the Labour manifesto and they will know that what I have said is true. But, unfortunately, manifesto commitments are not always taken in their complete context. On 14 February the House of Commons decided that the manifesto commitment was not good enoughthat what the people had voted for was not good enough and that the people had to be corrected. It therefore decided to amend that manifesto commitment to say that there should be no smoking in any enclosed public space whether there was eating or not and that even private clubs would not be able to decide whether or not they should allow smoking.
Manifesto commitments are not sacrosanctthey can be altered. This House has altered them and I hope that it will do so again today without being accused of insulting the electorate by not keeping completely in line with a manifesto commitment made by the Labour Party at the last election.
Notice that it does not say "comprises", but "includes", which suggests that glorification is wider than any form of praise or celebration. That in itself indicates how vague the concept is. It appeared in the manifesto, as noble Lords have said. The Prime Minister, in his press conference in August, said that he was going to introduce anti-terrorism legislation to include an offence of condoning or glorifying terrorism anywherenot just in the United Kingdom. So you have a vague concept to apply to "anywhere". I have already pointed out that the Bill refers to acts of terrorismpast, future or generally. Nothing could be broader or wider than the way it has been put.
This House was able to introduce amendments to try to tighten it up. We had already received a concession from the Government that intention was to be part of the glorification offence. This was the way in which the Home Secretary defined the offence on 15 February when he was considering our amendments:
"The offence will be committed only if someone encourages terrorism, whether directly or indirectly, including through the glorification of terrorism, intending to encourage it or knowingly taking an unreasonable risk that they will encourage it".[Official Report, Commons, 15/2/06; col. 1439.]
Your Lordships will notice again the word "including" through the glorification of terrorism and not "comprising". "Comprises" appears in the
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amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, Motion A3, which is an attempt to give some boundaries to that particular concept.
The noble Lord, Lord Grabiner, has made the same point today. I do not believe it is true at all. The Prime Minister said that by weakening our law on terrorism at this time from what was proposed, we would send the wrong signal to the whole of the outside world. He said:
"Let us be quite clear that this is not only about the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats combining to take 'glorification' out from the offence; it is also about taking out any reference to glorification from the list of proscribed groups. That would mean that we could not proscribe people who were glorifying terrorism, unless it could be proved that they were actively inciting terrorist acts".[Official Report, Commons, 15/2/06; col. 1416.]
What he said suggests that he had not yet grasped the introduction into this legislation of the concept of intent or recklessness, of which the Home Secretary was talking later in the day in that debate. If the Prime Minister does not understand the ambit of the offence as it now appears in the Bill, what hope is there that a jury at some subsequent stage will understand how widely it is expressed?
The noble Lord, Lord Hurd, said that the criminal law is not about giving signals or sending messages. It is about setting a firm boundary by which people regulate their conduct, knowing that if they step over it they will open themselves up to, in this case, seven years' imprisonment. That is what it should be to regulate conduct. Vague expressions that have no meaning in themselves and that extend worldwide, throughout history and into the future, do not set a firm boundary. I urge your Lordships to support the amendments that have been tabled to the Government's Motion.
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