Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:11 pm on 4th March 2010.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Shadow Minister (Olympics and London), Shadow Minister (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Olympics and London) 1:11 pm, 4th March 2010

We all heard the Minister's opening remarks and his sobering assessment of the terrorism threat that we face, which is clearly at a high level. It is therefore entirely appropriate that we as a nation should have a high level of preparedness and seek to introduce measures to disrupt that potential risk. We shall thus support the order today, because it is clear from the evidence, so far as we can assess it, that al-Shabaab is committed to violence and the use of terror attacks to achieve its aims. Interestingly, as the Conservative spokesman pointed out, the problem is one that other nations have been aware of for a number of years. I, too, will therefore listen with great interest to what the Minister says in response to the question about what, as far as he can tell us, has triggered the Government's action now, when other nations took action a couple of years ago.

I accept the Minister's point that he should not be responsible for micro-managing things, and I would not expect him to be making hall bookings for organisations that fail to do so. However, it is perhaps incumbent on him to consider the unintended consequences of the legislation he is asking us to pass, and at least to think about who, if anyone, will be responsible for ensuring that the activities of legitimate organisations are not restricted. I am sure the Minister accepts that there is a natural tendency for people to err on the side of caution, which could have consequences for perfectly legitimate organisations.