Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 4th March 2010.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 1:00 pm, 4th March 2010

I am grateful, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I may not be alone in detecting a certain philosophical inconsistency in the hon. Lady's position.

I am grateful to the Minister for setting out the Government's reasons for the order, and Her Majesty's Opposition will support the Government in seeking to add al-Shabaab to the list of proscribed organisations. Decisions to proscribe organisations should not be taken lightly. Free speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, and the Conservative party is clear that proscription should apply only to organisations whose activities include engagement in terrorism and its active encouragement.

The Minister will remember the arguments made by Conservative Members, most notably my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Grieve, during the debate on the Terrorism Act 2006. We sought to distinguish clearly between exhortation to commit acts of terrorism as opposed to the Government's definitions around glorification. I remind the House that, in seeking to prevent and suppress terrorism, we must do so in a way consistent with our values, and I am satisfied today that we can support the Government. However, I have several questions for the Minister.

Before I ask specific questions in response to the Minister's introduction of the order, may I make a point about methodology? When the Government proscribed Islam4UK in January, it followed press coverage of a proposed march in Wootton Bassett. The Opposition supported the ban on Islam4UK, and it was widely known that the organisation was a successor to al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect. However, the timing of the ban suggested that it was in reaction to the proposals for a demonstration and in response to public pressure. Can the Minister assure the House that the decision to proscribe continues to be based on evidence? In the light of these questions, and those to follow, will he give the House more detail on the internal process that leads to an order such as today's?