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Clause 68

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:00 am on 15th May 2008.

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Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 9:00 am, 15th May 2008

I agree with my hon. and learned Friend. In fact, I tabled an amendment—I can well understand that that is unnecessary, because we have a stand part debate—to delete the word “racial”. However, I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that we should be very cautious about extending the range of “terrorist offences”. We need to keep in mind that conviction for a terrorist offence attracts a whole range of penalties and consequences that go outside the normal range of criminal law. The Committee has already dealt with freezing orders and forfeiture orders, and we are conscious that terrorist-aggravated offences receive higher sentences. Therefore, we should not add to the classification of “terrorist offences” unless there is a very compelling reason.

Moreover, as the Committee will know, racially-aggravated offences already attract higher sentences under existing law. We are entitled to ask, as my hon. and learned Friend has asked, what the word “racial” adds to that which is already in the definition. My own belief is that its inclusion is simply for political correctness, and I suspect that there is absolutely no justification for it. I shall of course listen to the Minister explain his reasons, but my instinct is to vote against clause stand part.