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Terrorism

Volume 690: debated on Tuesday 27 March 2007

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

How they intend to respond to the report by Lord Carlile of Berriew on the definition of terrorism.

My Lords, The Definition of Terrorism report by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, was published on 15 March 2007. The Government’s response will be published in due course.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that brief reply. I am sure that she would join me in expressing appreciation to the noble Lord for the thorough and important piece of work that he has undertaken. Does she agree that the credibility of the definition at the centre of our security and legislative arrangements is essential? Will the Government therefore give special attention to what the noble Lord recommends on the difference between influencing and intimidating target audiences, on including racial or ethnic causes in the definition, and on the role of the Attorney-General in extraterritorial cases and the issues to be considered by him? Does she agree that, notwithstanding the conclusion of the noble Lord, very careful consideration is needed of the position of those who may be faced with similar tyranny and state terrorism to that faced by Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa?

My Lords, I assure my noble friend that we share his appreciation for this very thorough piece of work. We will give every consideration to all the recommendations made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile.

My Lords, I offer our congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, on this excellent report. I note that the Minister said that she would give her reply “in due course”, rather than the conventional “shortly”. Therefore, we presume that it will be some weeks, quite rightly, before the Government give their response, as the report came out only on 15 March, some 12 days ago. I know that this was not one of the recommendations made by the noble Lord in his report, but one of the propositions that he put forward was that no definition was needed. Will the Government also consider that as a possibility?

My Lords, we certainly intend to give full consideration to each of the recommendations made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. As noble Lords will know, he took a great deal of care and attention in this. He spent about nine months going across the country speaking to a number of people to ascertain the proper way forward. We will give every consideration to everything that he says in that report.

My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister a little more. The first of the 16 conclusions is:

“There is no single definition of terrorism that commands full international approval”.

Does she feel that such a definition internationally would be useful in the fight against terrorism? If so, how do the Government intend to achieve that?

My Lords, I agree that there is no single definition for terrorism, which is because no one can agree on what that definition should be. One has to take that reality into account, as we certainly intend to do. When we look at the four main recommendations made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, I assure the House that the Government see a great deal of sense in much of what he says. We have to give the report full and proper consideration in order to make a cogent and complete answer, which we will share with the House and the other place, as will be appropriate.

My Lords, perhaps I may congratulate the noble Baroness on not having answered any of the six questions put by the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I have much gratitude.