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Lord Henley: My Lords, before the Minister responds, perhaps I may say a word or two, partly in response to the remarks of my noble friend Lord Peyton. The Minister is right to say that this matter was agreed following discussions through the usual channels. We agreed to it with some disquiet, if I may express it that way, because it is not the ideal way in which to deal with the Bill.

The simple fact is that far too many Bills are coming from the Government. There are far too many government amendments, and one suspects that that is because the Bills are thoroughly badly drafted. The fault does not lie with the draftsman but with Ministers

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who obviously give inadequate instructions to the draftsman to ensure that Bills are right in the first place.

Therefore, can the Minister give us an assurance that no further government amendments will be put down following those tabled at this early stage? Secondly, we all accept that the Moses Room is not always the ideal place in which to deal with this type of business. If, on the day that is eventually chosen for the Bill to go to the Moses Room, more Peers wish to take part than wish to discuss whatever the business may be in the House--this may be more a question for the Government Chief Whip--perhaps at that stage the two pieces of legislation could be swapped round.

Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, I wonder whether noble Lords are making too heavy weather of this matter and looking a gift horse in the mouth. As I understand it, such a move would not set a precedent. It has been done before, and I look upon it as a means of simplifying the debating procedure.

Noble Lords may make points about whose convenience is best served. I believe that it is the convenience of the House. We will have a clear run at what I understand the Government consider to be a tidy process. Noble Lords have sat in this House through Committee stages of Bills which have been a mixture of private initiatives, official opposition and official government. My understanding of the proscriptions that exist on business in the Moses Room is that there will be no inhibition on any individual to move in or out of the Moses Room and no one's rights will be infringed. The procedure appears to provide a tidy way of making progress. I shall listen, as will others, to what the Minister has to say. However, I look upon the move as a benefit to the House.

Lord Jopling: My Lords, it is possible that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, is right when he says that this move is for the benefit of the House as a whole. However, that is with the proviso that the House has plenty of time to absorb what takes place in the Moses Room. Those of us who have worked in this building for a number of years know that Bills can be changed out of all recognition when government amendments have been tabled.

Therefore, I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us that a reasonable gap will occur between the Moses Room procedures and the return of the Bill to the House. It seems to me that the two-weekends rule provides a sensible way in which to approach the matter. I hope that, having taken his instructions from the Chief Whip, the Minister will be able to tell us that the two-weekends rule will apply between discussion of the Bill in the Moses Room and its return to the Floor of the House.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Jopling. I speak as an unimportant Back-Bencher. However, Back-Benchers are concerned about what happens and, if government amendments are to be brought forward, we should be

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given notice. I know that my noble friend the Opposition Chief Whip was reluctant to accept the proposal. As I understand it, no agreement was reached as to the way in which the government amendments would be dealt with. Therefore, from these Back Benches I support what was said by my noble friend Lord Jopling.

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, in answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, I am unable to state exactly how many government amendments will be tabled. I can assure noble Lords that, for my liking, there will be too many. No doubt there will be the usual profusion of technicalities which nowadays seem to cluster around every Bill. We hope that by dealing with those in the Moses Room, much of the clutter will be cleared out of the way before the Bill reaches its Committee stage in the House. That would allow us to have a clearer and better debate on the underlying issues that your Lordships may want to address at greater length.

As to whether a reasonable gap will follow our deliberations in the Moses Room, I can assure the House that the Bill will be reprinted the following morning. However, I am unable to confirm that two clear weekends will follow that. But I hope that noble Lords will feel that sufficient time is available in which to address the issues that I shall introduce in amendments.

I accept in good part the congratulations of the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, on the elegance of what is being suggested. However, as my noble friend Lord Graham said, it has been done before. When we dealt with the Reserve Forces Bill in 1996 the Opposition neither moved nor spoke to amendments in an attempt to allow the passage of that legislation. Although I should be delighted to accept his congratulations, I shall direct them towards my Chief Whip, whose ingenuity knows no bounds.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Terrorism Bill

3.17 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Terrorism: interpretation]:

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 1:


    Page 1, line 7, leave out subsection (1) and insert--


("(1) In this Act "terrorism" means the use or threat of action where--
(a) the action falls within subsection (1A),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.
(1A) Action falls within this subsection if it--
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person's life,

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(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
(1B) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (1A) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, first, perhaps I may apologise for the absence of my noble friend Lord Bassam, who has taken the Bill through the House thus far. He will of course be in his place at Third Reading. He is not here because he has been asked to represent the Home Office today in Charleroi in Belgium. Before he agreed to do so, he sought the permission of the Opposition Front Bench spokesman. The House will be interested to hear that he was granted that permission.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I confirm that it seemed to me to be in the national interest that the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, should be about his duties as the Minister with responsibility for football hooligans, even though it meant that other Ministers had to look after the Terrorism Bill.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley. Perhaps he teaches some of his Front Bench a lesson in manners. I know not.

I have had placed in the Printed Paper Office and handed to opposition spokesmen the definition of terrorism that would result if the government amendments to Clause 1 and other clauses were accepted.

I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 1, 3, 4, 24 and 49, as well as the others grouped with them. In the light of the debates on Second Reading and in Committee in your Lordships' House, we have looked again at the definition of terrorism in Clause 1. We have always said that we were prepared to listen to concerns raised about the definition and we have tabled amendments in response to two specific lines of argument. I hope that they will find favour with the House.

The first change that we propose addresses action designed seriously to interfere with or disrupt an electronic system. It is included to ensure that serious disruption to computer systems to advance a political, religious or ideological cause is covered. Many noble Lords from all sides pressed us during earlier stages of the Bill to take that step, particularly in the wake of recent events. Our amendment is an important improvement to the Bill. As a consequence, the amendments to Clause 113 and Schedule 9 also add offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 to the list of scheduled offences in Schedule 9, so that those offences in Northern Ireland can be treated in the same way as other offences that terrorists commit.

We have also introduced an explicit requirement that for an action to be considered terrorism its purpose must, in most circumstances, be to intimidate the public or influence a government. The exception is when firearms or explosives are used. We have provided that to ensure that, for example, assassinations for political or other purposes are

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definitely covered. Of course, normally the terrorist use of firearms or explosives is a wicked attempt to put the public at fear, and often to influence a government as well, but we do not want the police to feel hindered in any way from acting in situations that most, if not all of us would regard as terrorism--such as assassinations--because it was not clear that either of those elements was present.

I hope that the introduction of this second new element to the definition will be welcome. Many have commented that our definition was seriously flawed because it lacked an explicit link with the concept of terror. That has been rectified. I should add in passing that we have moved, as some had suggested, from speaking of serious violence to serious damage to property. I beg to move.


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