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Clause 32

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 8th May 2008.

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Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office 3:45 pm, 8th May 2008

In his defence, I am sure that it was a minor slip.

I freely accept that the thrust of the amendments is not to wreck or undermine what we seek to do—they are perfectly valid. Strangely, however, the hon. Member for Monmouth had half a point, because the mens rea for the measures is “had reasonable cause to suspect”. Notwithstanding the hon. Gentleman’s point about third parties and the ownership of property, or the points about the European convention on human rights—about article 8, on the right to respect for private and family life, and article 1 of the first protocol, about the right to peaceful enjoyment of one’s possessions—there is, incumbent on every individual, a notion that they are responsible for their actions.

The principle applies even in the examples that the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield quoted, as there might be a reasonable suspicion that some of the bona fide charities working in the west bank, or anywhere else, have clear terrorist intent. Indeed, Members present could name such organisations. If one makes a donation to such an organisation—if one’s assets are aligned with them or are utilised by them in any way—and one does not fulfil one’s responsibility to put oneself in a position in which that is not the case, it is appropriate that the forfeiture regime should apply. It has to be applied carefully and there must be all sorts of safeguards, but the Bill  provides greater safeguards than are provided in the 2000 Act, not least new section 23B, to which I think the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham referred. New section 23B(2) provides that the court must have regard to the “value of the property” and to the

“financial and other effects on the convicted person of making the order”.

I reiterate that we start from the premise that no one thinks that what the measure does is other than a good thing. The concern is about whether it has been drawn too wide, but there are appropriate safeguards. The amendments would lessen the import and strength of the measures, which is why I shall ultimately ask the Committee to resist them if they are not withdrawn.