Orders of the Day — Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:24 pm on 26th October 2005.

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Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Home Secretary 1:24 pm, 26th October 2005

I have accepted it, Madam Deputy Speaker. Perhaps I should formally have accepted it earlier than I did.

Of course the right hon. and learned Gentleman has the right to say that there is room for discussion about where the line should be drawn between peaceful and non-peaceful, and violent and non-violent action. I shall return to those issues when I come to the definition of terrorism in the Bill.

I suggest that the best way to contest this threat is by building and strengthening the democracy of our society, by isolating extremism in its various manifestations, by strengthening the legal framework within which we contest terrorism, and by developing more effective means to do so. That is why, particularly since 7 July but also before then, we have worked very hard—my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench in particular—to build our relations with the Muslim communities and the communities of all faiths, and to discuss how we can build our democracy and strengthen it so that all communities, young and old, men and women, have a genuine, strong stake in our society.

That means that we have to promote a society based on the true respect of one individual for another, one culture for another, one faith for another and one race for another. It also means promoting the view that democracy is the means of making change in our society. We therefore need to take steps to isolate extremist organisations and those individuals who promote extremism. In so doing, it is essential for us to work closely with the mainstream faith communities and to understand their preoccupations. That is why we need legislation to outlaw incitement to hatred based on religion or race. We need legislation that makes it clear that the glorification of terrorism is not a legitimate political expression of view. We wish to encourage faiths to pursue their faith openly and directly.

We want to attack the focus of extremist organisations. We are working, with international allies as necessary, to identify the networks and individuals who are promoting extremism, and we will use legal power to disrupt and weaken them. We intend to remove from the United Kingdom those foreign citizens who are using their time in our country to promote extremism, although that course of action is not legally straightforward. All the measures we have taken will further isolate and weaken those extremists who wish to promote terrorism as an appropriate form of activity. However, we need to strengthen the legal framework within which we can address those issues.

Throughout all this, I assert the need to retain and strengthen our human rights and the values that underlie them, but, at the same time, I say that the right to be protected from the death and destruction caused by indiscriminate terrorism is at least as important as the right of the terrorist to be protected from torture and ill-treatment. Our peoples expect not only the protection of individual rights but the protection of democratic values such as safety and security under the law. We need a legal framework that seeks to address the difficult balance in relation to those rights. We cannot properly fight terrorism with one legal hand tied behind our back, or give terrorists the unfettered right to defend themselves as they promote and prepare violent attacks on our society. That is why we are proposing legal changes in Britain to outlaw acts preparatory to terrorism and terrorist training.