London: Terrorist Attacks

– in the House of Lords at 3:22 pm on 20th July 2005.

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Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 3:22 pm, 20th July 2005

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

"With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to bring the House up to date with developments since my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made his Statement to the House on Monday 11 July.

"A total of 56 people are now known to have died as a result of the explosions. The identities of all of these have now been formally confirmed through the relevant procedures. Support and advice continues to be given to the families affected as requested, in what remain very difficult and traumatic circumstances.

"It is possible that this total may rise as the police investigation of the very difficult scenes continues. Twenty-seven people remain in hospital undergoing treatment at present.

"Until this week all four explosion sites have remained crime scenes—at this point three still are. As the police have made clear, it is vital to their work that no clues or evidence are overlooked or destroyed. However, Transport for London is optimistic that Aldgate station, which has been handed back to London Underground by the police, may be returned to service by next Monday, 25 July. The train has now been removed from the Edgware Road site, although police remain at the scene. Subject to completion of the forensic work and a fuller inspection of the tracks at Edgware Road, it is hoped that a full Circle Line service may be restored in a couple of weeks. It is not possible at present to say how long restoration of the Russell Square site may take. Roads around Upper Woburn Place remain closed at present pending conclusion of the police forensic investigation of the site.

"There has been a great deal of speculation about the ongoing investigation. The police will continue to give regular updates but I do not intend to make detailed comments since in my opinion to do so could be damaging and might impede any resulting prosecutions.

"However, the House will be aware that there has been rapid progress on identifying productive lines of inquiry. A very large volume of information, including witness statements, CCTV footage, evidence from the scenes and recovered from searched addresses, is already being analysed. The police and Security Service are to be congratulated for their work in this complex and fast-moving investigation. We are all determined to take whatever steps are needed to identify, track down and bring to justice all those involved in instigating, planning and supporting these terrible crimes.

"I now turn to the forthcoming counter-terrorism legislation. As the House will know, I wrote to the right honourable Member for Haltemprice and Howden and the honourable Member for Winchester on Friday, setting out our initial proposals for inclusion in the Bill. Copies of my letter were placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

"On Monday, I met the right honourable and honourable gentlemen to discuss this matter, and I should like to place on record my appreciation of the helpful and constructive tone which they both adopted.

"My letter set out the main items that the Government believe should be included in the Counter Terrorism Bill. I should stress that those proposals were drawn up before 7 July, and that, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister indicated in his Statement last week, we are discussing with the police and intelligence agencies whether there might be further powers that they need in the light of those events and the subsequent investigation.

"The heart of the Bill is the creation of three new offences. The first of these criminalises acts preparatory to terrorism in order to ensure that early intervention does not mean that those responsible, who may be planning very serious terrorist crimes, should escape prosecution. The new offence will capture those planning serious acts of terrorism.

"The second proposed new offence focuses upon indirect incitement to terrorism. Direct incitement to commit acts of violence is already a criminal offence. This proposal targets those who, while not directly inciting, glorify and condone terrorist acts knowing full well that the effect on their listeners will be to encourage them to turn to terrorism. So, indirect incitement, where it is done with the intention of inciting others to commit acts of terrorism—an important qualification—will become a criminal offence.

"Thirdly, the Bill will deal with the giving and receiving of terrorist training. Our existing law already criminalises much activity that could fall within that description, but we want to close the gaps to make sure that anyone who gives or receives training in terrorist techniques is covered.

"Legislating for those two offences will enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, which I very much welcome.

"The Bill will also make a number of amendments to existing legislation, which are set out in the letter that I have placed in the Library of the House.

"I am very pleased to say that, when we met on Monday, the right honourable and honourable gentlemen indicated that they were, in principle, prepared to support all those measures. Of course, they will want to see, and contribute to, the detail as it emerges, and I have undertaken to keep them informed of developments during the summer. I am very grateful to them for their support and I very much hope that we can continue to proceed by means of consensus.

"In that spirit, both indicated to me on Monday that they were in favour of the Government de-coupling this legislation from the further parliamentary consideration of control orders, to which I committed during the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, and bringing it forward for introduction in October. They further indicated to me that they were in favour of proceeding straight to introduction, without pre-legislative scrutiny, provided that they could have early sight of the draft legislation and that the normal parliamentary procedures and timetable were followed in both Houses.

"On this basis we are proposing to bring forward the legislation as soon as practicable when the House returns. We propose to return to the issue of control orders in the spring after we have the report from the independent reviewer, the noble Lord, Lord Carlile.

"The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, is not only the reviewer of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, he performs a similar function in respect of the Terrorism Act 2000. He published his most recent report on the operation of the Act on 26 May. I am very grateful to him for a typically thorough and thoughtful report. Of course, his report was published before the terrible events of 7 July but he has since confirmed that his overall conclusions remain.

"I have today published the Government's response to his report and placed copies in the Library. We have given effect to several of his recommendations and are giving active consideration to others.

"In the days and weeks since 7 July, many have raised concerns about extremists who seek to come to this country and foment terrorism or provoke others to commit terrorist acts. I have reviewed the Government's powers to exclude such people.

"The Home Secretary has powers to exclude an individual on the grounds that his or her presence in the United Kingdom is not conducive to the public interest. There is no statutory right of appeal against the exclusion decision, but, of course, it can be challenged through judicial review. In addition, immigration and entry clearance officers have similar powers. Any 'exclusion' by them would generate a right of appeal. This power is currently informed by the operation of a 'warnings index' of named individuals.

"I have concluded that these powers need to be applied more widely and systematically, both to people before they come to the United Kingdom and when they are here.

"In recent decades, for all Home Secretaries, the criteria for exercise of these powers have generally been grounds of national security, public order or risk to the United Kingdom's good relations with a third country. In going beyond these grounds we rightly need to tread very carefully indeed in areas which relate to free speech. But in the circumstances we now face, I have decided that it is right to broaden the use of these powers to deal with those who foment terrorism or seek to provoke others to terrorist acts.

"To this end, I intend to draw up a list of unacceptable behaviours which would fall within this—for example, preaching, running websites or writing articles which are intended to foment or provoke terrorism. The list will be indicative rather than exhaustive. We will consult on the list because it is important that we work with the community on this. Where there are grounds for considering that a person has been engaged in such activities, or will do so in the UK, exclusion will be considered.

"I have asked my officials, together with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the intelligence agencies, to establish a full database of individuals around the world who have demonstrated the relevant behaviours. This database will be available to entry clearance and immigration officers and will be added to the current 'warnings index'. I should make it clear that entry on this index does not itself necessarily mean exclusion, but in all cases it will trigger the possibility of a decision to exclude by Ministers.

"In addition to using this list to ensure that these 'non-conducive' powers are applied more widely and systematically at the point of entry, the specified unacceptable behaviours will not be permitted for individuals who have leave to enter or remain in this country. This arises in various categories, as follows: for those here temporarily—for example, as visitors, students or workers, or their dependants—and for those with indefinite leave to remain, any breach will lead to termination of their leave or deportation; for asylum seekers, we will as a general rule look to detain them and fast track their claims in these cases; for refugees, we will consider whether the behaviours described fall within one of the categories for exclusion from protection under the Refugee Convention 1951; we have already made clear in the changes announced on refugee status earlier this week that any breach by a refugee of the categories for exclusion will trigger an immediate review of their status; we are already consulting on changes to the conditions for leave to enter and remain as ministers of religion. We will consider with the faith communities whether further measures are needed.

"I am also urgently seeking agreement with European Union and other countries on a mutual exchange of information on exclusion decisions. The power of exclusion is necessarily targeted at those outside the United Kingdom. When people already in the UK engage in the kind of behaviour I have identified, it may well be appropriate to deport them under statutory powers. I will ensure that a consistent stance is taken in relation to both deportations and exclusions. In the past, there have been some successful challenges to proposed deportations under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. For this reason we have actively been seeking memoranda of understanding with a number of governments to address these legal concerns.

"I am pleased to announce today that the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan have reached agreement in principle on the provisions of such a memorandum of understanding regulating the arrangements by which assurances regarding the treatment of particular individuals can be sought prior to their deportation. The formal signing of the memorandum of understanding will be arranged shortly, and a copy of the text will be placed in the Libraries of the Houses of Parliament once the signing ceremony has taken place.

"I do not in general intend to comment on the position of particular individuals in these matters. However, in the light of recent public comments, the House may be interested to know that I understand that Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi is not now planning to visit the United Kingdom in the near future. If he were to seek to do so, I will of course have to consider whether his presence will be conducive to the public good. I will follow the approach I have set out today in the case of Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed and other individuals whose names are in the public domain.

"I want to conclude by applauding the efforts which the leaders of the Muslim communities are now making to improve their capacity to fight extremism and protect young people. At a series of meetings with my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, myself and others, positive proposals are emerging to strengthen our capacity to fight the destructive and nihilist philosophy of those who promoted the London bombings.

"As I hope I have demonstrated, there is unity of purpose. The Government want to work with other parties to ensure that we have the most effective anti-terrorism legislation on our statute book. Similarly, we want to work with the Muslim community to isolate and weaken dangerous extremists. I am grateful to all those engaged in this important work, which I hope will command the support of Parliament".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers) 3:37 pm, 20th July 2005

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made a short while ago in another place by her right honourable friend the Home Secretary. As ever, our thoughts go first to those who were killed or injured on 7 July and to their families—innocent lives touched by evil actions.

I want to put on the record our thanks to the Government for bringing the House up to date today and for the Home Secretary's courtesy in keeping opposition parties informed about developments privately over the past two weeks. During that time, Britain has shown that it can and will come together to fight this new breed of terrorism that stalks our land. That terrorism is extraordinarily calculating. The Kings Cross atrocity, with its calculated trail of evidence deliberately leading back to the cities of northern England, was designed to demoralise and divide our communities and to set Muslim and non-Muslim citizens against one another.

It is to this country's enormous credit that that, in large part, has not been allowed to happen. British people of all religions and none have stood together in the face of this appalling evil. As a result, almost two weeks from that terrible Thursday morning in London, the terrorists and all those who harbour and support them know that they have simply not won.

Our united response to the terrorists stems from three separate sources. First, there are the police and the security services, to whom I pay great tribute. They have come under great scrutiny since 7 July. We must never forget that when a terrorist gets through, it is a very public matter; but when that terrorist is thwarted, it very often remains secret. The services have acted with tremendous speed to identify those responsible and continue to display the utmost professionalism in tracking down those behind them. In doing so, some have had to work in hideously unpleasant conditions.

The second source is the Government and Parliament. We pay tribute to the calm and measured way in which the Government have conducted themselves over the past two weeks. They have been quick to come forward with effective proposals to update our anti-terrorism laws, which are welcome. We commend the Home Secretary for accepting our proposals to separate consideration of control orders from the new legislation and for his commitment, given today, that normal parliamentary procedures and timetables will be followed in both Houses.

The first new offence he proposes—acts preparatory to terrorism—is something that we have proposed for some time. For the benefit of the House, can the Minister clarify the difference between this and the alternative proposals of criminalising "conspiracy" or "attempting" to commit terrorist acts?

I also welcome the new law on the indirect incitement of terrorism. It is, indeed, much better focused than the alternative proposals that have been suggested in the past.

Much of the effectiveness of this new law depends on the detail of the drafting. Will the Home Secretary ensure that early drafts are available for both Houses, as soon as possible in September, so that informed and interested parties, both within and outwith Parliament—I am thinking, in particular, of the Bar and the Law Society—can pass their judgments on the proposals and help constructively to improve the law?

Perhaps I may take this opportunity to remind the Minister that we on these Benches continue to believe that allowing the use of phone-tapping evidence in court could help even further.

Will the Government look again at the security of Britain's ports? Can the Minister tell the House what actions the Government are taking to ensure that all British ports have the proper establishment levels of Special Branch officers and other appropriate personnel?

Finally, the attacks demand an active response from the community itself, particularly from prominent members of the Muslim community in Britain. They have already shown great leadership over the past two weeks, and Muslims in communities across our country have responded quickly and openly to requests for help from the security services and the police. The Home Secretary and my right honourable friend David Davis met senior members of all faiths and community groups this morning and they fully understand that the best way to fight this home-grown terrorism is by rooting it out at its source. They have a clear responsibility to act, but there are several things that the Government can do to help.

We strongly welcome the Home Secretary's announcement today about strengthening his powers of exclusion. Will the Government consider going further by looking at training more Imams here in Britain so that they are comfortable with the society in which they preach? We also hope that the Government will look at what they can do to deal with the disaffected young people who travel to madrassahs in the region of Pakistan where schooling in terrorism seems to be rife. Action on this issue would be extremely welcome.

Many words have been expended over the past two weeks as people from all areas of British society and beyond have united in their condemnation of the attacks. As time goes on, those words will increasingly turn into demands for action. With the proposals set out by the Government this week, they have shown themselves ready to meet that demand. I am happy to say that we continue to stand foursquare in readiness with them.

Ultimately, tackling terrorism in Britain will be a combined effort with politicians, the police, the security services and the whole community working together. That is what we have seen over the past two weeks and that is why we have been able to make progress in identifying those who committed the atrocity, tracking those who supported them and learning lessons to improve our defences in the future.

If, in the days ahead, we are able to carry that forward, our society and our country really will have come out of this ordeal stronger. That, I think, must be the finest tribute we can all pay to those who were killed or injured on our streets nearly two weeks ago.

Photo of Lord Dholakia Lord Dholakia Deputy Leader, House of Lords, Spokesperson in the Lords, Home Affairs 3:45 pm, 20th July 2005

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. I ask her to convey our thanks to the Home Secretary for the constructive approach that he has taken on this issue and for the meeting that he arranged with my honourable friend in the other place, Mark Oaten. My noble friends Lord McNally and Lady Williams are grateful to the Leader of the House for everything that happened yesterday relating to this matter.

I am glad that there will not be a knee-jerk reaction to the problems that we face. Of course, there should be an appropriate and a proportionate response and we are satisfied that that is so in the proposals that have been outlined. To do otherwise would simply mean handing victory to the terrorists. I convey the sympathy and condolences of those on these Benches to those who have suffered tragedies and we thank the police and the emergency services for the way in which they acted.

The Minister knows that we offer our support for the three measures outlined, as we believe that they will make a contribution towards security in this country. That is of paramount importance. The measures on indirect incitement to terrorism will be very difficult to define. I welcome the Home Secretary's commitment to work with all parties in drafting that. I hope that that will include those on the Front Benches in your Lordships' House. Does the Minister agree that the key to this law will be to produce wording that can stand up in court, but that is not so wide in scope that it could be misused?

The Home Secretary knows that we still have differences about control orders and we hope that those can be fully debated in the spring. It would be helpful to know how those orders are working at present. Can the Minister tell the House when she will next report on the number of control orders that have been issued? Does she agree that that cannot wait until Parliament returns in mid-October?

The Home Secretary has said that the intelligence services have the resources that they require, but he will know that it is the local police who are in the front line, and recent events have increased their workload. Is he satisfied that the Metropolitan Police and local police forces covering our major cities have the resources that they need? I understand that the Met has already been promised more money, but what about the others?

Border security has never been more important. Does the Home Secretary now see a case for creating a national border force to replace the current arrangements that leave immigration, Customs and Excise and local police sharing this important task?

At his meeting in Brussels, the Home Secretary began the process of discussing changes to the rules about gaining data from phones and the Internet. What involvement does he see for Parliament in that process?

Finally, it is our firm view that good legislation also needs good debate and scrutiny. The Liberal Democrats will play their part in that process and we shall do so in the belief that all parties should work together on these measures to send the terrorists the strongest possible signal that the parties are committed to democracy and are determined to join together to defeat them. The terrorists must remember that not only the Government, but all the political parties and the citizens of the United Kingdom, are united in their determination to wipe out terrorism from our soil.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 3:50 pm, 20th July 2005

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness and the noble Lord very warmly for their very generous words of support and for the compliments which they have rightly paid my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. I thank them equally for the wonderful, robust stance which has been adopted by leaders of both opposition parties. I endorse everything the noble Baroness and the noble Lord said. In a time of adversity, those who seek to terrorise us will never divide us. We stand resolute together to face them. I of course associate myself with the sympathy that has been expressed to those who have been so tragically bereaved and dreadfully injured by the terrorist acts.

On the issue of "acts preparatory", there are similarities, but the noble Baroness will know that we have tried very carefully together to craft something which will capture the essence of the difficulty with which we are faced. The noble Baroness will know that there are those who are in the act of preparing for terrorist activities, and we do not wish them to be able to escape.

In relation to definitions, I assure the House that as soon as drafts are ready it is our intention to share them, clause by clause if necessary, with noble Lords on both Opposition Benches so that the earliest possible access can be given for consideration. Priority will probably have to be given to that, but we will do all we can to share the thinking as early as appears to be appropriate.

The noble Baroness will know that we intend to extend the terrorism stop-and-search powers to cover bays and estuaries. Our current legislation does not allow us to do that and we are looking to strengthen those powers. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is due to meet the head of port security and will address what may be necessary for further support, working with port operations to improve the facilities that are being provided by Special Branch.

I join the noble Baroness in commending the work that has been done by the Muslim communities. I assure her that we will concentrate on the issues she has identified, particularly in relation to those who may be disaffected and young, and therefore impressionable, in our communities.

The noble Baroness knows that intercept issues continue to be subject to consideration. That will remain the position.

The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, asked about indirect incitement. I agree that definition will be of real importance. We have to get this right—it has to be capable of being intelligible to our courts and something we can use effectively to stop those who wish to terrorise us. I do not underestimate the difficulty we face, but I express again my gratitude that in looking at these complex and difficult issues we will seek, as much as possible, consensus on them.

The noble Lord also asked what we intend to do in relation to reporting on control orders, bearing in mind that we are due to have a report on, I think, 11 September, when we will not be sitting. We hope that we will be able to put down a Question, which I am advised could be answered in the vacation and will give us an opportunity to take the matter further as soon as we come back. We hope that that will meet the needs of the situation. We will put the Question down before we rise, and it can be answered while we are away. We understand from Hansard that that is an acceptable method to adopt.

I close by thanking the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for continuing what the leaders of both parties have done in expressing their solidarity with the Government but also with the people of this country.

Photo of Baroness Uddin Baroness Uddin Labour 3:55 pm, 20th July 2005

My Lords, I add my prayers for those who perished two weeks ago. I welcome the measured way in which the Home Secretary has approached the crisis. I attended the meeting with the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, and there was a tremendous consensus about condemning suicide bombings everywhere. There was total clarity that, if suicide bombing is unacceptable and un-Islamic in this country, it is so everywhere in the world. As someone who has been interested in erasing website materials that are grossly unsuitable for anyone to look at, I welcome the Home Secretary's proposals.

Does my noble friend agree that we must put women at the forefront of every aspect of the work that is now to be undertaken by the Government? Will she accept that the work of the Mothers Against Guns campaign can be a lesson for those mothers among us who want to call for a non-violent means of engaging with world opinion?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lady Uddin and assure her that we wish to engage with all those who will join us to defeat this terrible scourge. The voices of Mothers Against Violence and Mothers Against Guns are very powerful. We will seek to encourage as much support for such activities as we can, because there is no person in this country whose support we do not need.

Photo of Lord Jopling Lord Jopling Conservative

My Lords, will the Minister assure us that the Government were given the crucial information at the earliest possible moment, at each of the four bomb sites, that the explosions were not associated with chemical, bacteriological or radioactive material, which could be used by a terrorist in this sort of attack?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

My Lords, I assure noble Lords that the Government were informed of all necessary material. We have been keeping in closest contact with the security and other services that were involved in scrutinising the outcome of those terrorist activities, and all necessary information has been given to us.

Photo of The Bishop of Worcester The Bishop of Worcester Bishop

My Lords, I add my sense of the support and prayers of many, many Churches and Church people for those who suffered in this crime. Will the Minister give some reassurance about the references to preaching and ministers of religion in the Statement? These things can be quite sensitive. I do not condone in any way, of course, the use of preaching as a cover for incitement to violence, but does the Minister agree that determining the content, meaning and understanding of preaching in a different faith from one's own can be a sensitive and difficult matter? It would be unfortunate if there arose some general view without sensitive examination that, for example, imams from the Indian sub-continent were particularly prone to engage in preaching that was unacceptable, particularly in view of the very good record that imams have had in fostering co-operation in the prison chaplaincy service, for example.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

My Lords, I reassure the right reverend Prelate on that point. That is why, in the Statement, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary made it plain that he intends to consult the faith communities about these issues. We understand the sensitivity that is required in this area, but I endorse everything that my noble friend Lady Uddin said about how these issues need to be addressed. It is that coming together that may well save this country from any lack of moderation.

Photo of Lord Lloyd of Berwick Lord Lloyd of Berwick Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee), Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee)

My Lords, I have brief questions on each of the three new proposed offences. First, I welcome most strongly the new offence of preparing to commit an act of terrorism. That was first recommended many years ago by a committee under Lord Gardner, when he was Lord Chancellor. It was recommended again in my report in 1995, and when the 2000 Act was going through I tried to introduce an offence of that nature, which was resisted at the time by the Government on the grounds that it was not the way ahead. I hope that my question is not out of order, but why has it taken the Government so long to see the light about that?

On the question of training, I am not clear why the area is not already covered by Section 54 of the 2000 Act. As for indirect incitement, I have great difficulty in distinguishing between direct and indirect incitement. If a man condones or glorifies acts of terrorism with the intention of inciting, which appears to be the essence of the new offence, why is that not already covered by the common law offence of incitement? I hope that having seen the light on preparing to commit an act of terrorism, it may still be possible for the Government to see the light on interception of communications.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

My Lords, in relation to acts preparatory, the noble and learned Lord will know that we have never underestimated the difficulty of drafting proposals in relation to these matters which are sufficiently tight and which enable proper direction to be given in relation to the criminality involved. Even now, let me say plainly that I do not see it as an easy task. We have a proper regard in this country for the acuity of drafting because we know that citizens' liberty will be at stake. We do not make such provisions with anything other than the greatest of care.

In relation to intercept evidence, I assure the noble and learned Lord that we continue to consider that matter. That is something that I have made plain from this Dispatch Box on a number of occasions.

Section 54 of the Terrorism Act 2000 does not include training in the use of hazardous substances, as opposed to noxious substances. It is in order to cover all substances that we seek to extend the provision. There were a number of technical loopholes in the Terrorism Act 2000 that we now seek to close.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Crosby Baroness Williams of Crosby Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I add our gratitude to the Home Secretary for the extremely consultative and inclusive approach that he has taken in drawing up this legislation. I have two questions for the Minister.

My first question follows what has already been asked by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, with regard to indirect incitement to terrorism. The Minister will know very well that during apartheid many people in this country strongly supported the anti-apartheid movement and did so even after the creation of Umkhonto we Sizwe, which could have been described as taking part in acts of violence—for example, with the blowing up of electric pylons, and things of that kind. Can the Minister assure the House that every effort will be made to try to ensure that there is a sharp distinction between those we rightly accuse of incitement to violence on grounds of their wish to create acts of terrorism and those who are generally attempting to overturn extreme dictatorships when there is virtually no opportunity in the country itself to raise questions about the behaviour of those governments? I shall not list them, but the Minister will know very well the kind of governments that I have in mind.

Secondly, in relation to that matter, can consideration be given to the issue of hazardous substances? Might there be a review of the list of hazardous substances which now governs the behaviour of pharmacists and chemists to ensure that that list is added to if necessary to ensure that certain chemicals that are currently sold over the counter are rather more difficult to obtain?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness particularly in relation to the last matter that she mentioned. Certainly, it is an opportunity for us to look at the issues to make sure that the provisions that are in place are fit for the purpose, particularly in the new environment in which we find ourselves.

On incitement and the nature of indirect incitement, I reassure the noble Baroness that we understand the difficulties that we will jointly face in coming to a definition that is sufficiently precise to capture the behaviour that we all abhor and brings to justice those who are identified as guilty of those improper acts but does not improperly attack those who should not be caught, on the basis that they have not done anything that would incite someone to commit an act of terror. I have already said that I appreciate the difficult task ahead of us. I certainly reassure the noble Baroness and the House that we will do all that we can to make sure that we get it right.

Photo of Lord Mackay of Clashfern Lord Mackay of Clashfern Conservative

My Lords, I applaud the way in which the Home Secretary has gone about this difficult matter. I appreciate that there are many difficulties still to be fully overcome.

I should like to mention two matters. The first is the extent to which the emergency services proved themselves to be ready for the tasks that were given to them on that sad morning. They had done a tremendous amount of training. Often, training is a difficult thing to keep going if no immediate sign appears that that training is required. The emergency services carried that out with great persistence. The fruit of that training was manifest in the tremendous success that they had in dealing with a horrific situation on that morning. It is also a matter of great providence that the No. 30 bus was exploded just outside BMA House, where very experienced casualty doctors were having a meeting, so that immediate expert advice was obtainable.

The other matter that I want to touch on is the fact that it appears very plainly that a perverted religious ideology can be extremely dangerous—that is what we have seen—and that those who embrace such an ideology can be extremely dangerous. Therefore, does the Minister agree that it may be wise to consider whether it is right to restrict comment on such things in any way, when, after all, what we wish to do is to expose the danger of such ideology and the danger to young people in particular of embracing it and acting on it?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

My Lords, I join the noble and learned Lord in commending the emergency services. They behaved in an outstandingly courageous way. It certainly demonstrates all the work that we put into developing resilience and, indeed, into the Civil Contingencies Act. That preparation really came good, if I can put it in that colloquial way. There was no one who did not feel immense pride and appreciation at what they did.

The noble and learned Lord rightly ventured on to the sensitive issue of the impact of perverted religious ideologies. I assure the noble and learned Lord that those issues were very much in our minds before 7 July but also particularly since. The legislation that we are about to consider remains in its form, but both Houses of Parliament will go through that legislation. I am sure that it will give us an opportunity to reflect further.

Photo of Lord Harris of Haringey Lord Harris of Haringey Labour

My Lords, I also welcome the spirit of consensus on these issues that has been developed on all sides of this House and on all sides of another place. That is extremely welcome and important. As a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and as an adviser to Transport for London, I both welcome and share the congratulations to all involved in the emergency services and the transport services for the work that they did on 7 July. It was truly remarkable, and it was truly a commitment to the contingency planning that had gone on.

I would welcome some clarification from the noble Baroness about the offence of indirect incitement. In particular, is it intended that it will apply to indirect incitement to acts of terror inside this country and outside this country? I can see the difficulties of definition, but I can also see the importance for matching international obligations that we are seen to be even-handed on this one. I would welcome some clarification.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

My Lords, the new offence of indirect incitement is intended to capture the expression of sentiments that do not amount to direct incitement to perpetrate acts of violence but that are uttered with the intent to encourage individuals to commit or attempt to commit terrorist acts. The requirement for intent is very important. Anyone simply expressing a view, however distasteful it might be, will not be committing an offence; it is the intention that we are going to try to home in on. It is intended that the offence of indirect incitement will apply both in relation to the United Kingdom and abroad.

Photo of Lord Donaldson of Lymington Lord Donaldson of Lymington Crossbench

My Lords, I invite the Minister to consider including in the definition of acts preparatory words that one can take from Section 22 of the Theft Act in relation to handling stolen goods, that the offence is only committed if the perpetrator knows or believes that what he or she is doing is an act preparatory to terrorism.

I raise that because one the features of the problems that arose on 7 July appears to be that the bombers were able to prepare for and carry out their attacks without the knowledge of anyone closely connected with them. A possible way in which that can happen is if someone invites you to go out and buy some materials, allegedly for a perfectly harmless purpose, and you might well help them out by going and buying them. You would in fact be involved in an act preparatory to terrorism, but if you know nothing about it you should not be prosecuted.

I mentioned the handling of stolen goods; one has to be careful not to go so far as to criminalise suspicions. There must be some people in this House who sometimes speculated whether something offered for sale at a low price fell off the back of a lorry—that is a suspicion. If you know or believe, that is a different matter, and that is an offence.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

My Lords, the noble and learned Lord makes a good point. The precise definition has not yet been settled upon. The provision seeks to address the mischief where individuals have been identified and they have been known to have instigated an act of terrorism or to have been planning, preparing or conspiring to commit an act of terrorism. The provision is to enable us to intervene at that preparatory stage and not have to wait until they do something more that demonstrates further intent in relation to dates.

If, for instance, one went out and purchased certain goods that one had ready, with other information, that may be sufficient for an act preparatory. We are trying to think about that mischief and then try to cast the net tight enough to restrict it to those who are engaged in that way. I absolutely bear in mind what the noble and learned Lord said.

Photo of Lord Roper Lord Roper Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I join others in saying how much we appreciate what the noble Baroness and the Home Secretary have done in keeping the House informed of the developments and maintaining a consensus. However, we are moving into a rather extended Recess and wonder how the House as a whole, as distinct from the Front Benches, may be kept informed of developments. In one of her answers, the noble Baroness referred to a Parliamentary Question being tabled, but that will not come into the public domain until we sit again in October. Will she consult her noble friend the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms to see whether ways could be found—perhaps e-mail—so that other Members of the House who wish to be kept informed of developments during the Recess could become aware of them?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

My Lords, I am more than happy to take that away. I have indicated that we will give the clauses to the Front Benches as soon as they are ready. I certainly hope that we can rely on each Front Bench to try to make arrangements so that those interested from their Benches will share that information, but I absolutely take on board what the noble Lord says and I shall see what we can do.