Speaking as one whose name is on the amendment—I am glad it is there, and grateful for the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Waddington and Lord Clarke—and responding immediately to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, it seems that his illustration was not helpful to his case. If someone says in a BNP meeting that people "have it coming to them", it does not take a lawyer to suggest that that is clear example of threat. That is different from the kinds of things explicitly in the amendment.
The noble Lord, Lord Waddington, referred, although rather generally, to the memorandum of the Public Bill Committee from the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and the Mission and Public Affairs Council of the Church of England—the churches that he mentioned. The amendment's form of words, both in the other place and this place, is explicit in the last paragraph of that memorandum. It is particularly there, as the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, made clear, to safeguard the rights of expression of those who judge that they should speak and write with no intention of stirring up hatred, whether out of an orthodox Christian or other faith context. I have vivid memories of a number of times recently when the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, who is not in his place, has made it clear that although he was saying the same kinds of things in recent months in this House, he was doing so, as I think he put it to me on one occasion, not as "a paid-up member of the right reverend Prelates' faith, though perhaps as a fellow traveller".
This is not simply a question of discussion in a religious context, or by religiously motivated people. As the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, made quite clear, there is a whole range of people in this society whose freedom to talk, discuss and offer views runs the risk of being chilled unless some such amendment as this is in the Bill. I recognise that the Joint Committee on Human Rights, on page 19 of its report, believes that there is already appropriate protection for freedom of speech in the Bill. However, the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, in particular, note that the view of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and the Government in another place and at Second Reading in this House, is not well sustained.
It is important that the amendment—this form of words—should be tested. It must be there if we are to recognise the considerable weight of opinion in the country, generally as well as in the churches, not rabidly or threateningly put, or with any intention to raise hatred, but simply because many are of the view, as the noble Lord stated, that full sexual activity is for life-long marriage of two people of opposite genders. That is an extremely important point of view from whatever perspective it is put. It should not be chilled into silence by the possibility—which is not just a fantasy, but for which there is a great deal of evidence—that there have been points when, long before the question gets to prosecution, there has been investigation.
I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, is now in his place. It is very nice to see him. I hope that he does not feel that I have misrepresented what he has said in recent weeks in what I said a moment ago.
My sense is that the amendment needs to be there. Lastly, with the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, I note that a number of people, of whom Ben Summerskill is one and who speak from the point of view from which he speaks, have also expressed concern that without a provision like this in the Bill there will be a chilling effect on precisely the sort of straightforward, open discussion of these issues which, as I have understood it, people like him want to engage in. I respect Ben Summerskill and others for making that point.
There is a good reason for the amendment, which arises out of a strong sense that this point needed to be made by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches in this country. I am glad that the matter is here under the leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Waddington.