MPs debate the Terrorism Bill – be careful what you say! 1

Below we post two excerpts from the parliamentary debate on the second reading of the proposed terrorism bill that took place on the 26th October. First, Alan Simpson, Labour MP for Nottingham South, raises the example of what would transpire if MPs questioned the evidence on a proscribed terrorist organisation. Secondly, John Denham describes how someone vandalising a statute of the President of Uzbekistan could be guilty of terrorism under the proposed UK legislation!

For the full Hansards transcript go here

Alan Simpson: The hon. Gentleman will recall the debate in the House two weeks ago about the extension of the list of proscribed organisations. Included on that list was the Islamic Jihad Union in Uzbekistan. Many Members raised concerns about the inclusion of that organisation and, a matter of days later, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan wrote in The Guardian that there was no basis for substantiating the allegations that had been made about it, that they had come from the Uzbek Government and that we had no embedded intelligence sources of our own in the region. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the provisions relating to encouragement in the Bill would place hon. Members in an invidious position, in that, if we sought to defend an organisation that had been improperly proscribed as a terrorist organisation, we would be committing a terrorist offence under the encouragement provisions?

Mr. Denham : I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who makes a powerful case for legislation to deal with the terrorist threat that we face, but does he not acknowledge that this legislation goes far wider than that? It is a question not of someone in this country supporting an action taken somewhere else in the world, but of anyone anywhere in the world supporting any type of violence. If an Uzbek living in Uzbekistan supported the destruction of a statue as a symbol of opposition to the tyrannical regime in his country, he would be guilty of an offence under clause 17, and liable to prosecution and seven years’ imprisonment, should he come to this country. Is it really our intention to do the dirty work for some of the most oppressive and tyrannical regimes in the world?

Mr. Clarke: As my right hon. Friend knows, it is not our intention to do anybody’s dirty work; rather, we intend to do our best to protect this country’and, indeed, the world’against terrorism as a means of political change. All our constituents will want us to do that as best we can. That said, I concede, as I have to my right hon. Friend privately and in his Committee, that we have to look at these definitions in order to avoid such questions arising. I say again’

Finally, a quote from Charles Clarke on the proposed offence of the glorification of terrorism:

The encouragement offence also includes glorification, which was a manifesto commitment. After we published our initial proposals, it was clear that there was considerable unease about the proposal for a self-contained offence of glorification of terrorism. In the spirit of consensus, we have now responded to that concern. Accordingly, glorification is now an offence only if the person who glorifies terrorism believes, or has reasonable grounds for believing, that the remarks will be understood as an incitement to terrorist acts.

Ok, thats incredibly clear and not at all prone to misinterpretation or abuse. Nice work Mr Clarke.

Further, in summing up at the end of the debate, Hazel Blears simply ignored Simpson’s point from above completely. The government made no attempt in the debate to reply to Craig Murray’s point about the fake nature of the so-called March 2004 suicide bombings.

See above for Blear’s response to the criticism from Murray, which she issued in the press.

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