Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of Carers (Identification and Support) – in the House of Commons at 4:08 pm on 14th July 2010.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden 4:08 pm, 14th July 2010

It is a pleasure to follow both my right hon. and charming Friends, the Home Secretary and the deputy-sorry, shadow-Home Secretary. I am sorry; that was a Freudian slip, but almost a deliberate one.

Let me begin by wishing you a happy Bastille day, Mr Deputy Speaker. It seems appropriate, given the subject that we are discussing. I shall not recommend that we storm the barricades, but I do intend to divide the House on the motion. I tell Members that now, so that it is clear where we are going. We may not trouble the scorers greatly in the Lobby against the Government, but, given the historic role of the House in defending the liberties of our monarch's subjects, I think it important that a policy which, whatever its rights and wrongs, has so far led to the imprisonment of three innocent people for 28 days is one on which the House should decide explicitly and not on the nod.

I welcome the Home Secretary's intention to have a six-month review of counter-terrorism policy, but I say to her that, in my view, there is plenty of very clear evidence to demonstrate that 28 days is too many. I will also go through some of the points the shadow Home Secretary raised in his speech. These are not just matters of principle; they are matters of high principle and hard fact.

The shadow Home Secretary said he recognised that there are concerns that an authoritarian approach to counter-terrorism policy might have the deleterious effect of creating more radicalised Islamists-more potential terrorists-than a more traditional liberal British approach would. That is clearly the case. The hard fact supporting that assertion was given by the head of MI5 in his last speech to the country, when he said that there are 2,000 persons of interest-those are his words-to MI5, which is a 25% increase on the previous year's figure. If the increase continues at that rate, no amount of security will defend us from the consequences of our own actions.

Radicalisation is, of course, created by more than just authoritarian policies, but such policies do drive it. Anybody who talks to the leaders of Muslim communities up and down the country will know that-they will pick that message up time and again. At the forefront of that trend is the 28-day policy. In relation to home-grown terrorism, detention without charge is the biggest recruiting sergeant for our opponents.

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