Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Part of Deferred Divisions – in the House of Commons at 7:02 pm on 2nd March 2011.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) 7:02 pm, 2nd March 2011

I know that this issue was of interest to the Home Affairs Committee. As the Minister for Security made clear in her evidence, the normal overnight residence requirement will be for between eight and 10 hours. She has written to the Committee to set out that as at 10 December 2010, the longest curfew under a control order was for 14 hours, which was in place in two cases. Of the remaining curfews, one was for 13 hours, three were for 12 hours, one for 10 hours and one for eight hours. Therefore, at least six of the eight individuals will be confined to their residence for a shorter period than they are currently. The Minister for Security has made that point clear.

It is worth stressing some of the other relevant issues. Forcible relocation to other parts of the country will be ended. Geographical boundaries will be replaced with a power to impose much more tightly defined exclusions from particular places. There will be no power to exclude someone from, for example, an entire London borough. Individuals will have greater freedom of communication, including access to a mobile phone and a home computer with internet access, subject to certain conditions such as providing passwords. They will have greater freedom to associate—for example, there will be no blanket restrictions on visitors or meetings. Individuals will only be prohibited from associating with people who may facilitate terrorism-related activity. They will be free to work and study, subject again to the restrictions necessary to protect the public. These changes will allow the individual to continue to lead a normal life so far as is possible, subject only to the restrictions necessary to prevent or disrupt involvement in terrorism-related activity.

The more limited restrictions that may be imposed may facilitate further investigation, as well as preventing terrorism-related activities. The new regime will also be accompanied by an increase in funding for the police and the Security Service, to enhance their investigative capabilities. The Government intend to bring forward legislation to that effect shortly. The legislation must be properly prepared and properly scrutinised by the House. In the meantime, we are clear that it would be irresponsible to allow the current regime to lapse in the absence of alternative measures and while the investigative capabilities of the law enforcement and security agencies are being developed.

It is important to underline that control orders remain legally viable and although they are, in our judgment, imperfect, they have had some success in protecting the public. We are satisfied that the current control order powers and the order before us today are proportionate and fully compliant with the European convention on human rights, and that, pending the introduction of their replacement, it is essential that these powers continue to be available in order to protect the public.

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