Government Terror Plan Branded as ‘Nonsense’

From BBC Online

Plans to allow people to be prosecuted in the UK for encouraging terrorist attacks abroad have been branded a “dangerous nonsense”.

The plans came under fire in the Commons as MPs debated details of the Terrorism Bill.

But minister Paul Goggins said all terrorism had to be tackled and the government won a vote on the issue. Earlier, the home secretary said his anti-terror laws were still on course despite a climbdown on Wednesday.

Charles Clarke was forced by the threat of defeat in the Commons to back down on plans to extend detention powers in terrorism cases.


The Terrorism Bill creates several new offences, including encouraging or glorifying terrorism, preparing terrorist acts and attending terrorist camps. And it says those offences can be prosecuted in UK courts even if they are committed abroad.

Former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke said the plans would provoke all kinds of diplomatic and political problems “as soon as other governments realise they can start pursuing their enemies here and get them arrested”.

Labour MP John Denham, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said glorifying terrorism might not even be an offence in other countries. He said it was “ludicrous” to arrest people in the UK for doing something in another country where their actions were not illegal.

And Tory shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve said the plans would stop people who had tried to overthrow totalitarian regimes seeking refuge in the UK. “This law as drafted at the moment is a dangerous nonsense,” said Mr Grieve.

Terrorism camps

Home Office Minister Paul Goggins said terrorism increasingly had to be seen in its world context. And it had to be taken seriously wherever it happened and whatever the nationality of its victims, he argued.

The government defeated an attempt to change the plans by 303 votes to 211, a majority of 92. The bill would also create a new offence of attending places where terrorist training is taking place. A Conservative amendment to protect journalists trying to investigate terrorist training camps was defeated by 316 votes to 223.

Mr Goggins said it wasn’t up to “maverick journalists” to go to camps “to do their own investigations”.

Heading off defeat

The debate comes after the government scraped a one vote victory on Wednesday over plans to outlaw glorification of terrorism – Tony Blair’s slimmest ever majority. And Mr Clarke headed off a possible defeat on plans to extend the time terror suspects can be detained without trial from 14 days to 90 days.

He said he would seek agreement with all parties and bring forward new proposals early next week.