HC Deb 27 November 2001 vol 375 cc826-7
9. Ms Oona King (Bethnal Green and Bow)

If he will make a statement on his Department's definition of terrorism. [15432]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Denis MacShane)

I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the definition of terrorism in part I of the Terrorism Act 2000, which refers to the use of violence to intimidate the public for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

Ms King

Does my hon. Friend agree that any definition of terrorism must include the deliberate targeting of civilians? Does that not have implications for state activity that might fall within the definition? In the middle east, for example, while Hamas is obviously a terrorist organisation, is it not chilling that an Israeli tribunal has found Ariel Sharon responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians? Can we look forward to a more consistent application of the definition post-11 September?

Mr. MacShane

My hon. Friend might reflect on the fact that when acts committed other than by non-state organisations are then condemned by tribunals and public opinion, that shows democracy at work. We are now talking about terrorism in 2001. We are talking about non-state organisations that commit wicked, godless crimes to intimidate people and destroy civilian life for political ends. That is unacceptable, and that is what we should concentrate on fighting.

Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk)

Does the Minister agree that it is illogical to try to distinguish between foreign and local terrorists? That, surely, is exactly what the Bill currently before Parliament has tried to do. What representations has the Minister made to the Home Secretary asking him to examine the illogicality?

Mr. MacShane

As there is no illogicality, the answer is none.

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