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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 March 2006, 18:30 GMT
Lords back down on glorification
Police officers
Ministers say the 'glorification' offence is necessary
The government has finally won its battle of wills with the House of Lords over proposals to outlaw the "glorification" of terrorism.

In the sixth round of parliamentary "ping pong", peers accepted the government plans by a majority of 112.

Charles Clarke warned peers that Labour had made a manifesto commitment to outlaw the glorification of terrorist attacks and intended "to honour it".

Many peers felt the new law was too vague and would curb freedom of speech.

'Easily understood'

It was also opposed by Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs.

Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland of Asthal urged peers to back the government, saying the glorification offence was easily understood by "the ordinary man in the street".

Conservative spokesman Lord Kingsland asked Tory backbenchers to abstain this time because otherwise the government would use the Parliament Act to push through the Terrorism Bill, which would cause a nine month delay.

He said Mr Clarke had given an undertaking to "reconsider all the measures on terrorism" that were already on the statute book and to replace them.

This would give peers the chance to look at a range of issues "that have given us deep discomfort in the course of this bill".

Will become law

Lib Dem Lord Goodhart said including the word "glorification" would inhibit genuine debate and cause "significant trouble" in the future.

But peers voted against a Lib Dem amendment to the bill omitting any reference to glorification by 172 votes to 60, majority 112. The bill will now become law.

The prime minister had said the measure would allow action to be taken against people with placards glorifying the 7 July bombers - which were seen in London during protests against cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

He said the last Commons vote in favour of the new offence had sent a "signal of strength" on fighting terror and he made it clear he expected peers to respect that message.

Rocky ride

Critics say existing laws - and plans for a new offence to prevent indirect encouragement of terrorism - mean the glorification offence is not needed.

The Terrorism Bill was introduced after July's bomb attacks in London.

It has suffered a rocky ride in Parliament, with MPs voting down plans to allow police to hold suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

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