|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I think that we can say without fear of contradiction that we have had yet again a comprehensive discussion of glorification. I confess that I wished that we could perhaps have had a slightly different hue to the debate, but I am refreshed that no new ideas seem to have come forward. We have made some clear points throughout the debate as to where the differences lie between the various parties. I absolutely understand, for example, the anxiety of those such as the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, who say that they are fearful that glorification will not assist but may exacerbate. I hear, too, the concerns of the noble Lords, Lord Lester and Lord Goodhart, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, about compatibility with the ECHR and with our human rights legislation. We have concluded that these provisions are compatible. Of course, it will be a matter for the courts to determine in due course whether we are right or wrong about that, but our understanding is that they are compliant.
28 Feb 2006 : Column 161
I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, that there is a marked distinction to be drawn with the martyrs, who were not terrorists but gave up their lives because of their faith. St Thomas More, St Stephen and others did not engage in acts of aggression against others, consistent with their faith. It would be unfortunate if we were to conflate the two. In relation to the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, I agree that we have to tread carefully and tiptoe into this area, and we must do so judiciously and proportionately. That is why we have put in place safeguards in relation to the DPP and the Attorney-General. They are robust safeguards that will not be easily overturned.
I warmly welcome the openness of mind of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, in demonstrating in his usual way that he is persuadable on issues. I reassure him that these provisions are of universal application. Therefore, anyone who contravenes the provisions of the Act, if it comes on to the statute book, will be liable to prosecution if the facts complained of comply with the Act. It would be wrong for us to deal with specifics.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, what gives me some unease is that not only may the facts be brought into play in the decision of the Attorney or the DPP, but the context of the facts; for example, there might be further negotiations going on with a particular terrorist group that would decide whether a prosecution was thought to be appropriate. I know that is of concern to people such as the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said it might appear that negotiations with one group caused it to be immune to prosecution, whatever the law said, while another group was prosecuted.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, it is always going to be important in every single prosecution to look at where the public interest lies. That is part of the judgment that has been made. I say very clearly indeed that these provisions should not be applied discriminatorily. These provisions are not set up to attack one part of the community and leave another part of the community to go free. These provisions are not to impinge improperly and disproportionately on the Muslim community. My noble friend Lord Ahmed is absolutely right that the Muslim community has a vested interest in making sure that criminals who complete acts of terror are dealt with very directly indeed. It is important that he makes that point on behalf of the Muslim community, because many others wish to conflate those issues and pretend that the Muslim community is not similarly concerned about them.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, is the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, not absolutely right? Go to Belfast today and look at the walls of buildings: they are full of the glorification of terrorism of the most extreme, militant and terrifying kind. Is it not the case that no one would dream of prosecuting anybody found putting those horrible images on the walls? They would not dream of doing so for political reasons.
28 Feb 2006 : Column 162
Does that not create the risk of political manipulation of these vague offences? That is the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit; is he not absolutely right?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the point is that the legislation we are putting through the statute book will apply from now on. It is important for us to look at the context in which decisions are made, but it would be quite wrong to say that we should not take such opportunities as we have to address what is now a very clear and challenging issue. We have talked about it throughout this Bill: the whole issue of terrorism has mutated and we are now dealing with a particularly virulent form, which is significantly different from anything any of us has ever dealt with.
I agree with the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Grabiner, and my noble friend Lady Ramsay. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Park, that we believe we have a sufficiently high degree of precision. We do not agree with the comments made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, or the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, about vagueness. We believe that these provisions have substance. I certainly invite the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, not to press his amendment. We have a very clear opportunity to taste and see who is right about this. We believe, with due humility, that we are.
We have also demonstrated very clearly throughout our response to this and other Bills that this Government listen. We understand that people in this House and the other place wish to protect the people of our country. We wish to do that in a proportionate way, consistent with our belief in human rights and the protection of the rights of the individual. We do not wish to take disproportionate measures that are unnecessary for the safe protection of our nation's people. We believe that these provisions meet those tests. If we are proved wrong, we will have an opportunity to look at this again. Having asked the Commonswhich we purport to acknowledge as the House with the final saythree times to think again, and it having told us with increasing volume that it disagrees, now is a time to rest and keep our counsel for another day.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, we have had a very valuable debate, lasting close to two hours. I thank all those who have spoken, particularly those who supported the amendment in my name. The argument has basically been about one word: "glorification". Even single words can have enormous symbolic importance, and I believe that this is such a word. The retention of "glorification" in the Bill, not only in Clause 1, but in any of the other clauses in which it appears, will do nothing to improve national security, and is a threat both to freedom of speech and community relations. For reasons that I explained at the beginning, it is my intention to withdraw the amendment in my name, in the expectation that the
28 Feb 2006 : Column 163
noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, will move his amendment and press it to a vote. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick rose to move, as an amendment to Motion A, leave out from "House" to end and insert "do insist on its Amendments 5, 11, 28, 31 and 34 and do disagree with Amendment 34B proposed by the Commons in lieu; but do not insist on its Amendments 15 and 32 and do agree with Amendment 34A proposed by the Commons in lieu".
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|