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

I am afraid I do not know enough about that particular organisation to say whether we might in future debate proscribing it in this House, but clearly the Minister and the Government will be keeping a close eye on such organisations and whether they have transformed themselves into other organisations, describing themselves in a slightly different way.

At the risk of being criticised by the Government for asking some questions, let me say that it is legitimate for us to use this opportunity to examine the effectiveness of such bans. I would like the Minister to confirm whether there has been any analysis of the effectiveness of bans. We know that organisations such as Islam4UK have had a number of name changes and may have sought to get round bans in that way. It would be interesting to know how often that has happened, how many organisations, having been banned, have simply changed their names to escape that ban, and how many people have been prosecuted and found guilty of belonging to a proscribed organisation that has been banned in that way. It is incumbent on us to ensure that the legislation we pass is as effective as possible in tackling terrorism, but there is still a fundamental question about banning and whether it is productive in any shape or form.

Finally, on Somalia, the Government have identified al-Shabaab as an organisation against which we need to take action. Although the Minister is a Home Office Minister, it might have been useful-perhaps he can do this when he responds-to set out what we are doing as a nation to support the Somali Government and the legitimate political players there, so that we can see not only that we are taking action here against organisations that might want to pursue a terrorist agenda, but that as a country we are supporting legitimate Somali authorities.

As I stated at the beginning of my speech, we shall support the order today. However, it is legitimate to ask questions about the unintended consequences of the ban and whether the general principle of applying bans to such organisations is particularly effective in tackling terrorism.