Orders of the Day — Racial and Religious Hatred Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 21st June 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary 4:19 pm, 21st June 2005

That is a point that we have addressed on many occasions before and already in our discussion today. I do not accept the definition that the hon. Gentleman comes to.

We have had a full and lively debate, and I am confident that the Bill will undergo detailed scrutiny in Committee. That is right because of the interest that the Bill has generated inside and outside Parliament. I understand the genuine concern that some hon. Members on both sides of the House have about the impact that the Bill may have on freedom of expression, although I say again that the Joint Committee on Human Rights of this Parliament came to the view that the measures contained in it are unlikely to give rise to any violation of the right to freedom of expression. Nevertheless, I accept that the issue needs to be fully and properly debated. I note that there is near universal agreement that stirring up hatred against people because of their religious beliefs, or lack of belief, is wrong and that it is right that we should seek to deal with the problem. The disagreement is not about why or if we should deal with that behaviour, but how. Given that, I hope that the debate will be positive and constructive. I commend the Bill to the House.