HC Deb 22 November 2001 vol 375 cc441-3W
Mr. Chope

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is his intention that belief in(a) the teachings of Osama bin Laden, (b) Muslim fundamentalism and (c) the Reverend Moon are religious beliefs for the purposes of Part 5 of the Anti-Terrorism. Crime and Security Bill. [16664]

Angela Eagle

It is not necessary in the context of this legislation to define religion or religious beliefs. This is a matter which can be left to the courts to interpret in the wider context of the criminal behaviour being considered. We have therefore not sought to compile a list of `acceptable' religious beliefs to the exclusion of others. It is a matter of deciding, where a criminal offence has been committed against a person or group, whether the perpetrator's hatred of that person or group was a principal or aggravating factor.

Mr. Chope

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the scope of the expression "particular circumstances" in clause 109 7(b) of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill. [16418]

Mr. Blunkett

Sub-clause (7) of clause 109 of the Anti-terrorism, Security and Crime Bill sets out the circumstances in which the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) enabling power conferred by clause 109 can be used to create a criminal offence with a penalty of more than two years' imprisonment. The expression "particular circumstances" in sub-clause (7)(b) covers the situation where the European Union Justice and Home Affairs obligation makes a distinction between 'aggravated' and `non-aggravated' versions of an offence and, for example, provides for a minimum/maximum sentence for the `aggravated' version of the offence but does not specify a penalty level for the basic offence. Sub-clause (7)(b) will enable implementing regulations in this situation to apply the minimum/maximum sentence provided for the `aggravated' offence to all versions of the offence. The courts will then be able to take the particular circumstances of each case into account when sentencing. This mechanism ensures we can transpose European Union obligations in a way which takes full account of sentencing structures in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Chope

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will prepare a register of the religious beliefs to which part 5 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill applies. [16417]

Angela Eagle

The Government will not be preparing such a register, as the Bill does not seek to define religion or religious belief. In this part of the Bill "religious hatred" means "hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief'. This is an inclusive definition, and therefore does not require a list of "acceptable" religious beliefs to be drawn up. The Government do not want to make value judgments about the nature of a particular religion. The Bill reflects the fact that what is to be considered is whether a criminal offence has been committed against a person because of, or aggravated by, the perpetrator's hatred for their religion or belief.

Dr. Kumar

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance has been issued to transport companies concerning proposals in the new anti-terrorism legislation on the collection and retention of passenger and freight information. [16884]

Beverley Hughes

No formal guidance has been issued. However, the Home Office will shortly be issuing to carriers and other interested bodies a consultation paper about the types of information about passengers and goods to be collected.