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Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill): I am worried, as are a fair number of others inside and outside the House, because it looks as though supporters of the African National Congress could come under the provisions of clause 57. If that is not my right hon. Friend's intention, will he undertake to reword the clause so that that is utterly clear?

Mr. Straw: Will my hon. Friend allow me to come to that point in a moment? I will then take further interventions. I need to make--

Mr. Corbyn: What about the point just made?

Mr. Straw: I give way to my hon. Friend, then I must make some progress.

Mr. Corbyn: I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way. I am aware that this is the second time that I have intervened, but I have more than one objection to the Bill.

My right hon. Friend mentioned the European Court of Human Rights and the welcome passage of the Human Rights Act 1998. Is he aware that, according to a considerable body of legal opinion, the Bill goes well beyond the provisions of the human rights legislation, and any prosecutions under it would fall foul of the law already passed by the House? What advice has my right hon. Friend received?

Mr. Straw: I am not aware of that. I signed a certificate--I did not sign it blind--stating that in my

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view, the provisions of the Bill are compatible with convention rights. My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that far from what he says being correct, the reverse is correct: a decision by the previous Government was overturned in the Strasbourg court in 1988 in the Brogan case, which holds that executive powers in the prevention of terrorism Acts were contrary to articles 5 and 6.

As a result of that, the previous Government had to enter a derogation to the European convention, which still exists. As a result of the Bill--this is a good reason for voting for it, I say to my hon. Friend--we will be able to withdraw that derogation and bring ourselves into line with the convention rights. I was delighted, as ever, to give way to my hon. Friend. I look forward to him calling a vote, and then voting with us on the Bill.

I said before that the Bill does not create the separate offence of terrorism. When terrorists are brought to trial, they are typically prosecuted for offences in the ordinary criminal law--murder, explosives offences, conspiracy to cause explosions, unlawful possession of firearms andso on.

The main purpose of the Bill is not to extend the criminal code, but to give the police special powers to enable them to prevent and investigate that special category of crime. Those powers include an enhanced power to arrest and detain suspects, and powers to set up cordons, to stop and search vehicles and pedestrians, to investigate terrorist finances and to examine people passing through ports.

The police have no interest in using those powers in circumstances in which the normal criminal law will suffice, nor do they have the resources to do so. In 1998, only 45 people were detained in connection with terrorism, and extensions of detention were granted for just 21 of them.

I have mentioned Brogan. I shall deal now with clause 57, about which some hon. Members have expressed concern, and the new provisions on incitement and proscription.

The aim of the incitement proposals in clause 57 is to deter those who seek to use the United Kingdom as a base from which to promote terrorist acts abroad. As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North some time ago, the provisions of the Bill do no more than fill gaps in the existing law. Under the Suppression of Terrorism Act 1978, which was passed by a Labour Government, the UK already has extra-territorial jurisdiction over a number of serious offences including murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, wounding with intent, and causing explosions, and incitement to any of those offences.

That extra-territorial jurisdiction covers all Council of Europe countries, including--I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Simpson), who is concerned about the Kurds--Turkey. That jurisdiction already exists. If the police and the Crown Prosecution Service had wanted to prosecute people in this country for incitement to commit various offences in Turkey, they could have done so at any time since 1978. The countries covered by the jurisdiction also include India.

Under other specific international conventions, and UK statutes bringing those into force, hostage taking and hijacking, and incitement to hostage taking and hijacking, are offences in the UK if committed in any country in the world.

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The present law, I suggest to the House, is plainly anomalous. There is no obvious justification for incitement to commit murder in Turkey or India to be an offence in the UK, whereas incitement to commit murder in Japan or Australia is not an offence. The Bill seeks to put those anomalies right.

Mr. Hogg: I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I think that this is a serious matter.

Kurdish representatives came to see the then Foreign Secretary, the then Prime Minister and me, to obtain our support for their campaign to drive Saddam Hussein and his army out of north Iraq. On the face of it, that falls within the scope of action capable of constituting terrorism under clause 1.

I understand the right hon. Gentleman to be saying not that I am wrong, but that no one would be prosecuted for encouraging the Kurds to take such action, because of the discretionary power of the prosecution authority. That, however, is a profoundly unattractive situation.

Mr. Straw: I simply do not accept the proposition. The idea that in this country the police would investigate such an alleged offence in respect of Iraq, that the Crown Prosecution Service would bring a charge and that the Director of Public Prosecutions would give his consent cannot exist outside the right hon. and learned Gentleman's fevered imagination.

Of course, we can all invent hypothetical circumstances--fantastic circumstances--in which any of us, according to the criminal code, could be charged and subject to conviction; but there is no point in our doing so. We know that, in the real world in which we live, the criminal law is subject to a significant series of checks and balances, including proper invigilation by the courts of the land and control of the Crown Prosecution Service by Members of Parliament who are answerable to the House of Commons and the other place. Such circumstances therefore do not arise, and I do not believe that they ever will.

At precisely the time when the right hon. and learned Gentleman was engaging in the discussions to which he referred, the Government of whom he was a member were supporting the Jurisdiction (Conspiracy and Incitement) Bill, introduced in 1996 by the then Member of Parliament Nigel Waterson.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale): He is still a Member of Parliament.

Mr. Straw: In that case, I apologise to the House for failing to remember that he was not knocked out on 1 May 1997. We have so many absent friends now.

Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North): It makes one weep.

Mr. Straw: Indeed it does. Anyway, I apologise abjectly for failing to remember that Eastbourne is one of the seats that we did not win.

The scope of that Bill was infinitely wider than the provisions in clause 57 of this Bill. The earlier Bill made incitement to commit an offence abroad an offence here, referring to any offence in the criminal calendar. It would certainly have caught a variety of potential offences that the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North

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Hykeham had in mind. This Bill, however, deals with a much narrower set of offences, and is consistent with the provisions of the Suppression of Terrorism Act 1978.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington): I support the Bill, but the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) has raised an interesting point. It is entirely possible that diplomatic pressure could be exerted for other reasons--to do with trade, perhaps, or preparedness to support some new international treaty--for a prosecution to be brought against a group active in, say, Saudi Arabia. We might not deem that group to be violent, but those exerting the pressure might believe it to be so. Is my right hon. Friend entirely satisfied that that possibility has been taken into account?

Mr. Straw: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his support. I do not want to refer to Saudi Arabia specifically, but it is true that pressure was exerted on the last Government, and is exerted on the present Government from time to time, by other Governments whose history in respect of democratic and peaceful protest and representative government is not as long as ours, and who complain about the fact that people in this country are campaigning against them. As long as those people operate peacefully--and, I add parenthetically, their immigration status is satisfactory--they are fully entitled to protest. The test in a democracy is not whether one accords rights to people with whom one agrees, but to those with whom one profoundly disagrees. I defend their rights.

Mr. Andrew MacKay (Bracknell): Does the Prime Minister agree?

Mr. Straw: Of course he does.


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