The House of Lords debated the Terrorism Bill on Tuesday 13 DecemberThe government is to adjust its plans to create a new offence of "encouragement" of terrorism, Home Office minister Baroness Scotland of Asthal said. The terrorism bill will be amended to make clear such encouragement would be illegal only if it was intentional, she told peers. The proposed objective test of recklessness would be replaced by a subjective test, relating to the defendant's intentions.
The change is just cosmetic. The Bill would make it an offence to encourage the public to commit acts of terrorism. The problem is that "terrorism" means "new terrorism" - the wide new definition created by the Terrorism Act 2000 - and "the public" means any public in the world. Glorification of actions in the "past, present or future" is taken to be a form of encouragement. This part of Terrorism Bill is the most serious attack yet on freedom of expression, and the promised government amendment will make no material difference to it. It will still be offence to encourage people to cause serious damage to property, or do something that risks public health and safety in, say, Burma or Zimbabwe or Iraq with the aim of influencing the government there.