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The noble Lord said: This is a much smaller point. The Captain of the Gentleman at Arms will be pleased to know that progress is likely to be a little swifter on the remaining amendments to be considered today.
The point occurred to me in discussing this Bill and its terms that there are sometimes actions--there were some bombs in London not so long ago of this character--which look like terrorist actions when they happen. Therefore, the police go into anti-terrorist mode. They use some of the powers incorporated in this Bill. It may subsequently turn out that these were not terrorist actions but actions of some kind of criminal nut, as it were, in which case it may be that the actions taken by the police which probably led to the arrest of the person concerned, might be invalidated by it being shown that this was not a terrorist action and the police were not entitled, in retrospect, to take the action that they did. That is why the suggestion is made in Amendment No. 2 that action which appears to be terrorist action should, nevertheless, be able to be followed by a police cordon and all the other powers which come later in the Bill.
I realise that this could give rise to the use of the anti-terrorist powers and the anti-terrorist police operations when they are proved ultimately not to be necessary. At the same time I would not want to invalidate the prosecution of someone who is not a terrorist, but who, nevertheless, let off bombs or took
I am grateful to the noble Lord for his explanation. He has clarified the meaning of the amendment. It would appear to us that it is an action designed to be covered in his "definitional" thinking for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause where a judgment has to be made.
We have some sympathy with the spirit behind the amendment which we take to ensure that police and others can be confident that they can act even if they are not 100 per cent sure whether a qualifying motivation is present as long as such motivation appears to be present. I trust that is the right understanding of the proposal.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is important that the police are not needlessly deterred from acting to combat terrorism. However, we believe on reflection that the amendment is unnecessary. As we see it, provided the police are able to advance a reasonable case for their belief that a qualifying motive was present this should be sufficient. The fact that there have been no difficulties to the application of the current definition, which does speak of the use of violence for political ends without qualification, underlines that there may not be a difficulty in practice. I think we should rely on that.
Furthermore, I am concerned that inserting the concept of "appears" into the definition might give rise to uncertainty and drafting difficulties. I ask the question: how would it work in the context of the terrorist property provisions where the test might then be whether the funds in question were being used for the purposes of an action which is or appears to be done to advance a political, religious or ideological cause? We think that there could be difficulties in applying the "appears to" concept in the context of the decision about the proscription of groups.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Lord, as ever, has been very helpful. My understanding of those clauses is that they do provide that necessary flexibility. In a sense, that is what we require in the operation of this part of the legislation. I think that there will be common consent and agreement around the House to that point.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: One always learns something in this House in the course of these debates. I will certainly reflect on what has been said on this amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
There is a problem. My amendment does not solve it entirely. But it raises the problem and it is at least a step in the right direction. Of course, we could rely on the designation of countries as either good or bad, as it were--if that is not too "cartoon" a way of expressing it--by the Secretary of State. That is not a very good way of dealing with the matter. But we certainly could do that. I have tried to introduce a more objective way of expressing the matter in Amendment No. 10. It is an important point on which, I believe, the Minister is already going to reflect as a result of our earlier discussions. I certainly think he should do so. Meanwhile, I beg to move.
To a certain extent, where war has been declared, we are governed by the Geneva Conventions. But it is important that the law of the land states what should be done under most conceivable circumstances and I look forward to hearing what the Government have to say. I certainly look forward to arriving at something rather more satisfactory by Report stage.
Lord Bach: As Amendment No. 9 was not moved by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, I can considerably shorten my reply to this group of amendments. I deal solely with Amendment No. 10 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley. Indeed, some of what I have to say was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Bassam in reply to the long debate on the first group of amendments.
The Government are right in assuming that the intention behind the amendment--indeed, it has been made clear by the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley--is to ensure that the Bill does not cover the legitimate acts of our Armed Forces and those supporting them in times of war. We believe that we can offer strong reassurance as to that.
First, as a general principle, we believe that it would be difficult to reach the conclusion that our Armed Forces, when acting in the course of their duties in an armed conflict, could be held to come within the definition of terrorism in the Bill. Taking it further, I repeat now the general principle in law that statutes do not bind the Crown unless by express provision or necessary implication. Of course, the Crown covers the military as well as others in the service of the Crown.
In this Bill, there is one minor and fairly technical exception in Clause 118, which has already been referred to. Apart from that, the offences in the Terrorism Bill will not apply to Crown servants and, therefore, would not affect our troops at a time of war. Those are my general comments on the amendment.
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