Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:32 pm on 4th March 2010.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Minister of State (Home Office) (Crime and Policing) 1:32 pm, 4th March 2010

My right hon. Friend will have to accept that I cannot go into detail about the activities we wish to examine or about decisions taken on them. I have indicated to him clear evidence of activity abroad that we are concerned about. I hope that he will accept that, as we bring this measure forward. As I explained earlier, if an organisation does not accept proscription, it can make representations to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and if he upholds his decision, supported by both Houses of Parliament, the organisation can then take its case elsewhere and ask for the evidence to be looked at further. I hope my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East and, indeed, the hon. Member for Reigate will accordingly accept that.

The hon. Members for Reigate and for Carshalton and Wallington effectively asked me, "Why now?" We keep these matters constantly under ongoing review. The hon. Member for Reigate asked about our relationship with Kenya. We have strong relationships with that country; we keep the situation under review and we will take action against any organisation when we believe we can meet the statutory test. I was also asked whether an organisation might morph into another organisation by changing its name. We keep that, too, under constant review. The same charge was made regarding our proscription of Islam4UK some four to five weeks ago. Other organisations have changed their name, and we have had to bring back orders to meet our obligations. As I say, we have to keep such matters under review.

The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington asked how many prosecutions we have taken. Between 2001 and 2009, 31 people have been charged with breaches of their proscription, and accordingly there have been 15 convictions in various forms across the UK.

We are very concerned not to label the Somali community as a whole-this issue was raised in the debate-in connection with our concerns about this particular organisation. The Somali community-in Leicester, as in other great cities of the UK-plays a very positive role. As accepted by hon. Members, members of the Somali community are often here because they have escaped from intimidation and terrorist activity elsewhere-concerns that we are trying to tackle. Britain has a great tradition of welcoming the Somali community and other refugees into the country. Concern has been expressed about whether the order will label the Somali community. I hope that it will not, and I believe-if I reflect on these matters carefully, as I have done-that the UK Somali community will welcome this action because it shows that we are concerned to tackle terrorism in their home country and the impact of such terrorism on the interests of citizens in their adopted country. That is why I hope the Somali community will welcome this measure-I am sure they will.

I was asked what else the Government were doing to help to defuse the cauldron that leads to terrorist organisations developing in the first place. The Government are greatly concerned to support the nation of Somalia and to tackle some of the wider issues to date. In 2009, the UK Government contributed £15.7 million to the African Union Mission in Somalia. I remind you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that this mission was attacked by the organisation being proscribed today.

For the financial year 2009-10, DFID's programme budget for Somalia is £25 million, and the Africa conflict prevention pool allocation to Somalia is £5.7 million. We are also spending a further £1.4 million on counter-terrorism projects, and we spent £750,000 on a three-year migration project that ended in December last year. We are extremely concerned to ensure that we support our European Community colleagues in the humanitarian office and the United Nations central emergency relief fund. Let me remind the House that the United Nations mission was also attacked by five suicide bombers, and by al-Shabaab organisation members, in October 2008. Sometimes, to secure support and improve the situation in Somalia, which is under attack from forces trying to destabilise it, we must invest British Government money.

I hope I have assured the House that the order is valuable, and that we are committed to Somalia as a whole. We will do nothing to label citizens of Somalia who live and make their homes in the United Kingdom as fellow travellers of the organisation concerned-they are not. They support the order, which I commend to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2010, which was laid before this House on 1 March, be approved.