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Mr. Turner: I appreciate the opportunity to intervene. We all realise that these are weighty matters, and that my right hon. Friend finds himself in a difficult position in his very responsible job. I appreciate that the appeals mechanism will give organisations the right to make representations, but I would be failing in my duty as a constituency Member for Wolverhampton, which has a large Sikh population and an active membership of the International Sikh Youth Federation, if I did not ask my right hon. Friend to recognise that the people whom I represent--
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I say to the hon. Gentleman and to those who intervened earlier that interventions are getting longer and longer. The hon. Gentleman has made his point. I remind all hon. Members that this is a debate and they will have the chance to make their contributions, if there is time.
Mr. Simon Thomas: At least one of the 21 organisations on the list has been on a ceasefire for 18 months. How will the Secretary of State review the list? Will he seek to de-proscribe organisations if ceasefires hold? How can individuals who support those organisations take part in the appeals process? If the organisations are proscribed, they may be seen as supporting terrorism, so how can they raise funds for an appeal?
Mr. Straw: The criteria for proscription are laid down in section 3 of the Act. I have also given information about the tests that I have adopted in addition to those criteria. The fact that a terrorist organisation is on a ceasefire for the time being does not, in itself, mean that it is no longer a terrorist organisation. Although the Irish Republican Army, including the Provisional IRA, has been on a ceasefire for some time, it is still on the list of proscribed organisations. If the organisation concerned
I turn now to the hon. Gentleman's second point, about the humanitarian and fund-raising activities of some of the organisations or bodies associated with them, which has been implicit in many interventions. I cannot stress too strongly to the House that the provisions of the Act are not aimed at any specific community or at those protesting in a peaceful, non-violent way against alleged injustices or for political change. Nor are they aimed at those raising funds for legitimate social or humanitarian purposes. I recognise that some terrorists and their supporters might seek to operate under the cover of legitimate organisations that are, perhaps, promoting political change by non-violent means and that some well-meaning people associated with those organisations have nothing whatever to do with terrorism. Those people have nothing to fear from the new legislation.
Dr. Starkey: Will my right hon. Friend clarify the status of information on each organisation in his letter to Members of Parliament? He will know that I am concerned about the section on Hezbollah attacks, which includes an attack by Lebanese nationals against armed forces illegally in occupation of Lebanon. Is he suggesting that that should count as a terrorist activity? Does that imply that we support the illegal occupation of Lebanon?
Mr. Straw: I have discussed this formally with my hon. Friend and yesterday she saw the Minister of State, Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South, about it. The information on organisations is nothing more than that. It is a synopsis of what can be made public to explain why I reached the decisions that I did.
We are not seeking to proscribe Hezbollah and Hamas generally. Both organisations are political movements and, just as Sinn Fein is not proscribed, neither are they. We have tried to proscribe--according to one's point of view--their military or terrorist wings, in this case, the Lebanese Hizballah External Security Organisation and the Hamas-Izz al-Din al-Qassem Brigades.
I appreciate hon. Members' concerns. I hope that the House will accept that I have tried to deal with the issue with great care, as is appropriate. In our view, the draft order is compatible with the rights set out in the European convention on human rights. It represents a fair, just and proportionate response to the threats from international terrorism. I commend the order to the House, but I shall listen carefully to representations and try to respond.
Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald): The House only has one and a half hours for such an important debate and, as many hon. Members want to contribute, I intend to be brief. I am grateful to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for making their Ministers available to the Opposition during discussions on what is a difficult subject. I associate the Opposition with the Home Secretary's remarks about terrorism. We do not intend to oppose the order.
We fully support the Government's measures to deal with the destabilising menace of international terrorism. The increasing globalisation of recent years has made it much easier for international terrorist groups to move their operations from country to country. The revolution in communications technology and the internationalisation of financial markets have also made it much easier for such organisations to operate across the globe. We agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the United Kingdom should not offer sanctuary to those who use unacceptable violence to achieve their ends. We also agree that the measures are necessary and timely. We support his actions.
I am also grateful to the Home Secretary for setting out the background. Will he expand on the opportunity that the organisations that are named in the order have had to object? Have any objected and, if so, in what terms?
Mr. Hogg: Does my right hon. Friend understand the anxiety of some Conservative Members? The appeal process in section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is not based on merits. As the Home Secretary rightly said, there is only a power to have a judicial review, which can ask whether he has acted reasonably. That is different from a review on the merits of whether an organisation should be proscribed.
Miss Widdecombe: Yes, I accept that entirely, which is why I was starting to probe the Government on the opportunities that named organisations might have had to object and make representations, either directly or through others on their behalf. If so, have there been representations on the merits of the decisions taken?
The Home Secretary gave a rather cursory answer--that is not meant critically, but relates to the time available--in response to one intervention. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) may wish to return to the subject in any remarks that he may make. I should be grateful if the Home Secretary would respond because it is clearly right in the interests of justice that that those who are named and proscribed should have the opportunity to make representations to the opposite effect.
Miss Widdecombe: I was not trying to make that case at all. I was trying to probe the Secretary of State on the issue. Reasons for proscribing are properly set out in an annexe that describes the various organisations. However, bearing in mind the fact that one or two objections have been made and that there is slight concern about some organisations, I wanted to probe the Home Secretary on the opportunity for representations--even for hon. Members to make representations on behalf of groups or in response to representations that they had received.