Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of Carers (Identification and Support) – in the House of Commons at 3:55 pm on 14th July 2010.

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Photo of Alan Johnson Alan Johnson Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities 3:55 pm, 14th July 2010

I am not aware of that. In fact, the usual argument is that the common-law countries such as Australia, Canada and even the US do not have this system. Europe is the worst place for my hon. Friend to find his examples. Let me cite Norway, for instance. Good old, solid, Scandinavian, liberal Norway has provisions that allow people to be kept in custody-renewed by a High Court judge, who is involved in any detention beyond 14 days-for far longer than 28 days, or even 42 days. That was a helpful intervention, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

I think that the hon. Member for Bury St Edmunds succinctly summed up the two issues I mentioned, but there is one further aspect that we have to consider in deciding whether to renew this legislation. It was rightly raised by my right hon. Friend Keith Vaz. The issue is whether the very existence of 28-day detention leads to radicalisation in certain communities to the extent that it defeats the objective of reducing the terrorist threat. The Home Office community impact study published in March certainly found examples of UK Muslims having a strong negative perception of counter-terrorism legislation, but concluded that there was insufficient evidence on specific aspects, such as 28 days, to lead to any firm conclusions. I doubt whether anyone in this Chamber thinks that pre-charge detention of 28 rather than 14 days has of itself radicalised anyone to the extent that they would be prepared to engage in terrorist activity.

While I am dealing with this aspect, I hope the Home Secretary can refute the story in The Guardian this morning that she has decided to dismantle the Prevent strategy. She told my right hon. Friend Hazel Blearsyesterday, as is recorded in column 802 of Hansard, that the strategy was being reviewed between the Home Department and the Department for Communities and Local Government. When I read the Home Office draft structural reform plan released yesterday, which is the source of the story in The Guardian, all I could find was the eminently sensible objective of keeping the "prevent" strand of counter-terrorism separate from the "integration" initiatives of DCLG. I would welcome clarification.

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