I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The threat that we face from terrorism is serious, and it is growing. The Security Service believes that since the attacks on
Today, however, the threat from terrorism is becoming ever-more complex and diverse. Last year we saw the first terrorist-related deaths in Great Britain since 2005: Fusilier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered by Islamist extremists, and Mohammed Saleem, an 82-year-old Muslim from Birmingham, was stabbed to death by a far-right extremist who then tried to bomb mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton.
ISIL and its western fighters represent a clear danger. This summer, partly in response to that threat, the independent joint terrorism analysis centre raised the threat level for international terrorism from “substantial” to “severe”. That means that JTAC considers a terrorist attack to be “highly likely”. We face the very serious prospect that British nationals who have fought with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq will seek to radicalise others, or carry out attacks here. We have already seen the appalling murder of four civilians outside the Jewish Museum in Brussels, and the recent attack on the Canadian Parliament was a shocking reminder that we are all targets for these terrorist organisations and those whom they inspire.
However, ISIL is not the only threat that we face. There are further threats related to Islamist extremism, and there are threats from far-right and Northern Ireland-related terrorism, among others. Just last week, a report from the Intelligence and Security Committee on the intelligence relating to the murder of Lee Rigby highlighted the real, and potentially very dangerous, capability gaps that exist for the security and intelligence agencies—and when our security and intelligence agencies tell us that the threat that we face is now more dangerous than at any time before or since 9/11, we must act.
We are engaged in a struggle against terrorism which is being fought on many fronts and in many forms, so our response must be comprehensive, coherent and effective. Since April 2010, in Great Britain, more than 800 people have been arrested for terrorism-related offences, more than 210 have been charged, and more than 140 have been successfully prosecuted. Only last week, Mohammed and Hamza Nawaz became the first Britons to be jailed for terrorist training in Syria, and we have outlawed groups linked to terrorist attacks in Syria, Iraq and Egypt.
We have protected the budgets for counter-terrorism policing and for the security and intelligence agencies, and, as the Prime Minister announced last week, we have made an additional £130 million available over the next two years to help us tackle the increasing terrorist threat. We have replaced control orders, which had been whittled down by the courts, with terrorism prevention and investigation measures, or TPIMs. We have strengthened the criteria governing the use of the royal prerogative, which allows the Government to cancel British passports to disrupt the travel of people planning to engage in terrorist-related activity overseas. I have used that enhanced power 29 times since April 2013.
The Home Secretary referred to the Government decision to replace control orders. One of the decisions she made when she did that was to remove the relocation powers within control orders. That was a decision of choice, not one forced on her by the courts. This Bill reverses that judgment to get rid of relocation powers. Will she now admit that it was a grave error to put the public at increased risk as a result of a political deal within the coalition, and that the fact that she is now legislating to reverse those changes shows that it was a grave error of judgment?
I would say two things to the right hon. Gentleman. First, as I have just been outlining, we face today a different threat background from that we faced in recent years. Also, if he looks carefully at the Bill, he will see that we are not simply reintroducing a power of relocation into the TPIMs. We have taken on board the recommendations of the independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, who did propose the reintroduction of relocation, but who also proposed a number of other changes to TPIMs, which we are introducing, including the raising of the threshold for the introduction of TPIMs from “reasonable suspicion” to “the balance of probabilities”.
We have worked hard to make it easier to get rid of undesirable foreign nationals, including terrorists and terror suspects. We have changed the law to make it clear to the courts that article 8 of the European convention on human rights, the right to respect for a family life, is qualified and not an absolute right. We have significantly reformed the Prevent pillar of the counter-terrorism strategy so that it is tackles the ideology behind the threat, and we are working with the internet industry to remove terrorist material hosted in the UK or overseas. Since December last year, the counter-terrorism internet referral unit has secured the removal of over 46,000 items that encouraged or glorified acts of terrorism.
The emergency legislation that Parliament approved in the summer ensured that two important capabilities, communications data and interception, were not eroded further. Both of these capabilities are absolutely crucial to the investigation of those involved in terrorist activity.
If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the power to issue warrants on companies who offer services in the UK but who are based overseas or the holding of whose data is based overseas, we addressed precisely that issue in the legislation introduced in the Data
Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 that this House put through under emergency powers in the summer.
So we are taking action at home, but we must also have a comprehensive strategy to defeat these extremists abroad. This involves using all the resources at our disposal: humanitarian efforts to help those displaced by ISIL’s onslaught—efforts that Britain is already leading—and diplomatic efforts to engage the widest possible coalition of countries in the region as part of this international effort.
I am glad the Home Secretary just mentioned tackling the terrorists’ narrative. Does she have in mind in that respect not only taking down extremist postings on the internet, for example, but promoting a counter-narrative that exposes the fallacies of the terrorist narrative?
I commend my hon. Friend because he has been resolute in promoting this aspect of dealing with terrorism for some time, and he is absolutely right that it is important to promote that counter-narrative, but I think it is also important to do something else: to take a further step back and look at the whole issue of extremism more generally. That is why we have been very clear, and the work of the Prime Minister’s extremism taskforce is very clear, that we need to introduce an extremism strategy, and the Home Office is currently leading on that. It will be a cross-Government piece of work, but the Home Office is leading on that and the strategy is being developed.
The Home Secretary is right to say that progress has been made during the past year, but will she help me on one point? Where a British citizen has been found to be involved in terrorist-related activities in a foreign country, is it right that we will no longer seek their return to this country, and that they will have to be punished and dealt with abroad?
No. Under the temporary exclusion power in the Bill, when someone who has been involved in terrorist-related activities—that will be considered on a case-by-case basis—returns home to the UK, that will happen on what I would describe as our terms. In other words, that return will be managed so that appropriate action can be taken here in the United Kingdom.
The Home Secretary has just said that we need a counter-extremism strategy. May I ask her when that might be available? I remind her that the Department for Communities and Local Government was charged with producing just such a strategy three years ago, but it has not done so. My big concern about the Bill is that it appears to have a gaping hole at its centre. We have a lot about action on individuals who are radicalised, but it has little to say about countering the narrative and countering extremism in general.
As I have indicated, the Home Office is leading on the extremism strategy. We will be working on that, but the right hon. Lady should not expect to see anything published before the end of the year. On the wider issue, when we came into power, we made two changes to the way in which Prevent operated, and we did so for a good reason. First, we ensured that Prevent looked not only at violent extremism but at non-violent extremism. Secondly, we saw that in some communities, work being done on community integration under a Prevent heading was being rejected or arousing suspicion. People saw that the work was being done under a counter-terrorism heading and thought that it was about spying on individuals, when it was actually more about community integration. That is why we separated the integration work and gave it to the Department for Communities and Local Government, which has been undertaking that work.
May I press the Home Secretary about the temporary exclusion orders that she wants to have the power to exact? They would, in effect, result in the exile—albeit short term and temporary—of British citizens, in many cases, to other countries. All history suggests that such action further radicalises people and makes them more dangerous enemies to this country. If we do so without any judicial process, as she advocates in the Bill, is there not a real danger that we will put ourselves in more danger rather than less?
I caution the hon. Gentleman about the terminology that he uses in relation to the power. He has used the term “exile”, but the proposal is not about saying that people cannot return. It is possible for people to return, but they will return on the basis that we have set out in the Bill. Their return will be managed and we will have some control over it.
In response to an earlier intervention, I said that the change that we were making to the threshold for TPIMs was from “reasonable suspicion” to “the balance of probabilities”. The change is actually from “reasonable belief” to “the balance of probabilities”. I apologise to the House for having given the wrong impression about that.
Aside from the diplomatic efforts that we must make and the work we must do with those in the region, I have always been clear that we would keep our terrorism laws and capabilities under review. As the House knows, the first and most important duty of Government is the protection and security of their citizens. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear to the House on
Part 1 of the Bill will provide the police and MI5 with two new powers that will significantly enhance their ability to restrict the travel of those suspected of seeking to engage in terrorism-related activity overseas. First, it will provide the police, or a designated Border Force officer under their direction, with the power to seize a passport at ports. That will allow them to disrupt the travel of individuals, and give operational agencies the time to investigate and assess whether long-term disruptive action should be taken, on a case-by-case basis. Such action could be taken through, for example, criminal prosecution; the exercise of the royal prerogative to refuse or cancel a passport; a TPIM; deprivation of citizenship; or deportation. The use of this power will be properly safeguarded through a range of measures, including the need for a senior officer’s approval; an additional check by a more senior officer independent of the investigation after 72 hours; an initial retention period of 14 days for the passport; and a court review of the ongoing need to retain a passport, where a judge can allow more time for the police to continue their investigation—up to 30 days. There will also be a statutory code of practice for officers on how to exercise the power, and we intend to publish this code for consultation shortly.
Secondly, the Bill will create a power to issue temporary exclusion orders, to which I have already referred in response to interventions. These orders can temporarily disrupt the return to the UK of a British citizen suspected of involvement in terrorist activity abroad, ensuring that when individuals do return, it is done in a manner that we control. This power will cancel an individual’s travel documents and add them to watch lists, notifying the UK if they attempt to travel. Depending on the individual case, it may also require the individual to comply with certain activities once they are back in the UK. There has been a lot of interest in the nature of this power, as we have seen already this afternoon, but I want to reassure the House that it will not render an individual stateless. All those concerned will have the right, which their citizenship guarantees, to return to the UK. But when they do, it will be on our terms—quite possibly in the company of a police officer. Once they are back in the UK, the police will interview them, in order to explore their activities abroad, and can make them subject to further requirements. We are discussing this proposal with other Governments, in order to agree how it will work best in practice. So far these discussions have been constructive, and this proposal is consistent with all our existing international legal obligations.
Will the Home Secretary clarify something so that we can understand the implications of the legislation? What are the circumstances in which she would not grant a permit to return?
These matters will be looked at on a case-by-case basis. The point is to be able to manage the return of individuals who have been involved in terrorist-related activity abroad, and we are discussing how the power would be operated practically with a number of other Governments, as I have said. The point is to ensure that when somebody returns, they do so under control and on our terms.
I confess that I am by no means convinced of the legality of what is being suggested under temporary exclusion orders, which will, no doubt, be known in due course as TEOs, given our enthusiasm for acronyms. What is the position of someone who declines to accept conditions of return and who is not subject to deportation by the country in which they temporarily finds themselves? Are they not de facto stateless in such circumstances?
They are not de facto stateless. It is open to somebody to return, but the proposal is that they would be returning on our basis, under documents that would be issued by the Government, and therefore we would be aware of their return, be able to manage that return and, as I have indicated, take appropriate action when they return to the UK. So this is not rendering people stateless.
I understand the system that my right hon. Friend is putting in place of managed return, but what is not clear in the Bill is the system that will be present to enable that managed return requirement to be challenged. I wonder whether she can help the House on that point. It seems to me that there must be a mechanism by which a person who is told that they have to return in a particular way can challenge it on their return to this country, and do so expeditiously, if it is not to be an unwarranted interference with their rights.
There will be a form of challenge available to an individual under judicial review. We will also have to notify the individual that action is being taken against them, so that they are aware that the measure is being put in place.
On a point that was made earlier, if an individual has the right to challenge how they are managed—I think the right hon. Lady said that it would be by means of judicial review—can we ensure that they have legal aid to do that?
As the hon. Lady knows, the Government have made a number of changes to legal aid, and we are looking at the position in relation to that particular issue on these new measures.
The Home Secretary is being very reasonable to a lot of Members who wish to get in. Let us take the position of someone subject to one of these orders who finds themselves in a friendly country such as Turkey or France. If the Governments of Turkey or France request the British Government to take that person back into the United Kingdom without going through the deportation process, is it not a fact that we would really feel under an obligation to take back such a person?
If someone were in a country such as France or Turkey, and the Government of that country requested us to take back the individual, it would be possible in those circumstances for us to act in exactly the way that we are proposing in the Bill. I am talking about managing the return of that individual. For example, they might be accompanied by a police officer who would go out to bring them back into the UK, and various actions might be taken on their return. There might be an interview with the police, the introduction of a TPIM notice or a requirement to go on a Prevent programme. Those sorts of measures could be judged on a case-by-case basis.
As someone who wants to protect civil liberties in this country, may I warmly welcome this measure from the Home Secretary? There are many in my constituency who would like to see people in this situation given a one-way ticket and not allowed back into the country, so she has found a balance. Does she not think that one benefit of this piece of legislation is that it empowers mothers and fathers of impressionable teenagers to have a clear conversation with them about the consequences of their mind being warped by people on the internet trying to induce them to acts of terrorism overseas?
My hon. Friend makes an interesting point. That is part of the process of trying to disrupt people from travelling to Syria and Iraq or from being active with terrorist groups. We want to get the message across to young people that if they want to help people in Syria there are better ways of doing it than crossing into the country. They can, for example, assist the humanitarian efforts in the UK to support refugees from Syria, which can be of genuine support to people in Syria. In recent weeks, I have met some very impressive women from Muslim communities around the United Kingdom. They have been working with young people and their families, developing a number of programmes, which relay the message, “Don’t go to Syria.” The #MakingAStand campaign and the work that is being done by the charity FAST are about helping families to ensure that young people get the message that they should not be going over to Syria.
Part 2 of the Bill relates to TPIMs. It gives effect to the recommendations of David Anderson, QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, in his most recent report on TPIMs. The changes to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 will provide the police and MI5 with valuable new capabilities. That includes allowing TPIM subjects to be relocated to different parts of the country. We will also be raising the legal test for imposing a TPIM—
Will the right hon. Lady at least allow me to get to the end of the paragraph before I give way?
The changes to the TPIM Act include allowing TPIM subjects to be relocated, but we will also be raising the legal test, as I said earlier in response to an intervention, and narrowing the definition of terrorism-related activity in relation to this power. David Anderson is clear that there is no need to turn the clock back to the previous Government’s control orders regime, and I agree with him.
I have a simple inquiry, as I genuinely do not understand why the clause as drafted states that if someone is going to be relocated 190 miles away that can be imposed by the Home Secretary, but if they are going to be relocated 205 miles away it has to be a matter for agreement. I do not understand the logic in that provision at all.
We looked carefully at the proposals made by David Anderson and I believe he suggested that there should be a geographical limit for the relocation.
Part 3 seeks to amend the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 to help us identify who in the real world is using an internet protocol, or IP, address at a given point in time. Changes in how service providers build their networks, made to enable them to cope with the increased demand for their services, mean that these identifiers are often shared between a great number of users. Companies generally have no business purpose for keeping a log of who used each address at a given point in time, which means that it is often not possible for law enforcement agencies to identify who sent or received a message. The provisions will allow us to require the key UK companies to retain the necessary information to enable them to identify the users of their services. That will provide vital additional capability to law enforcement in investigating a broad range of serious crime, including terrorism.
The Bill deals only with limited fields of data relating to a specific technical problem. Without the full package of data types included in the draft Communications Data Bill, published in 2012, there will still be gaps in law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ capabilities. For example, the child exploitation and online protection command in the NCA might still struggle to identify those who have been accessing servers hosting illegal images of child sex abuse. That is an issue to which Parliament will need to return after the general election, subject to the outcome of David Anderson’s statutory review of investigatory powers.
Part 4 contains measures on aviation, shipping and rail security. They will help us to stop terrorists and those involved or suspected of being involved in terrorism-related activity from travelling to and from the UK, and will mitigate the threat of an attack on those transport services. The proposals cover three main areas. First, they will require carriers to be able to receive instructions not to carry a specific passenger in a way that is compatible with our border systems. Secondly, they will establish a new framework for authority to carry schemes, commonly known as our no-fly arrangements, that will extend to new categories of British nationals and apply to outbound travel. Finally, they will enhance our ability to require carriers operating to the UK to undertake specified security measures, including the screening of passengers. Carriers that will not comply with security requirements will not be allowed to operate into the UK.
I am puzzled that the Home Secretary has just said that carriers will be required to provide some sort of security screening. How will they do that? Would that not involve additional cost?
Obviously, carriers in most parts of the world are already required to carry out some security screening. From time to time, we say that if someone is going to fly into the United Kingdom we wish them to adopt additional methods of security screening. At the moment, this is done on a voluntary basis, but the Bill takes that and puts it into statute, which will enable us to stop someone from flying into the UK if they do not adopt the security procedures.
Part 5 addresses the issue of those at serious risk of succumbing to radicalisation and terrorism. We propose a new statutory duty on certain bodies, including local authorities, the police, prisons, probation services, schools, colleges and universities, including in the private sector, to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. That will ensure that Prevent strategy activity is consistent across the country and in all those bodies whose staff work on the front line with those at risk from radicalisation. The detail of how the duty should be fulfilled will be set out in statutory guidance, which we will publish shortly.
I hope that the House will find it helpful if I take the opportunity to clarify one specific issue that the guidance will address, which is the need to create an appropriate and sensible balance between the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and the existing duty on universities to promote freedom of speech. I believe that our universities, with their commitment to free speech and the advancement of knowledge, represent one of our most important safeguards against extremist views and ideologies. There is no contradiction between promoting freedom of speech and taking account of the interests and well-being of students, staff and the wider community. That is already subject to guidance issued by both Universities UK and the National Union of Students. We must ensure that poisonous, divisive ideologies are not allowed to promulgate.
The right hon. Lady mentioned universities and other institutions being sent statutory guidelines on Prevent. Why do the guidelines have to be in statutory format? Why cannot they just be sent, knowing that any responsible institution will follow them without their having to have legal force behind them?
The purpose of putting Prevent on a statutory basis is twofold. First, the statutory duty will now relate to a number of front-line institutions, as I have said, such as local authorities and universities. There is already some guidance that Universities UK and the National Union of Students apply to universities, as I have indicated. However, I believe it is important to ensure that there is that statutory duty on bodies such as universities, and the Bill allows the Secretary of State to make a direction to one of the bodies covered by that power if they are failing to exercise their statutory duty.
Will the Home Secretary clarify what she means by that? Could she envisage a Home Secretary making a direction in order to tell a university or institution not to allow somebody to speak?
That is not the intention of the duty; its intention is to ensure that the university or institution has in place a policy on matters relating to extremism. For example, they might have a general policy that they apply in relation to extremist speakers coming to their institution. The purpose of the power to make a direction in the Bill is to ensure that they are doing something like that, taking their statutory duty seriously. It is for those institutions that are failing to comply with the statutory duty that that particular power has been put into the Bill.
Alongside that statutory requirement in relation to Prevent, the Bill will also provide a statutory basis for the existing programmes for those at risk of being drawn into terrorism, known as Channel in England and Wales. That will enshrine existing good practice and help to ensure consistency across all local areas.
As the Home Secretary knows, the Prevent strategy falls within the competence of Scottish Ministers under the devolved settlement. Scottish Ministers have their own priorities and agenda when it comes to delivering those measures in Scotland. I know that there have been discussions with Home Office Ministers about excluding Scotland from that power, so that we can have the opportunity to consult our public bodies properly. Is she open to that type of approach, so that Scotland could be included in the measures later, when we have had an opportunity to work out what it would actually mean for our public bodies and their responsibilities?
I point out to the hon. Gentleman that counter-terrorism is obviously a reserved matter. He might like to know that his point relates to the very next paragraph I was about to read. It is the Government’s hope and intention that these provisions should also apply to Scotland. We are consulting Ministers in the devolved Administrations about the practical implications of our proposals, and obviously those discussions will continue with the Scottish Government.
Part 6 includes amendments to two provisions in the Terrorism Act 2000. First, it will put it beyond doubt that UK insurance firms cannot reimburse payments made to terrorists in response to ransom demands. To put that in context, the UN estimates that ransom payments raised up to £28 million for ISIL over the past 12 months alone. We need to avoid any uncertainty on that issue.
Secondly, the Bill will clarify our counter-terrorism port and border controls in relation to where goods may be examined and the examination of goods comprising items of post. That is an important part of our counter-terrorism port and border controls and the disruption of those engaged in terrorism. We must ensure that the law is clear and that the police can fulfil their duties.
The powers in the Bill are essential, but they should be used only where it is necessary and proportionate to do so. Their use will be stringently safeguarded, including through suitable legal thresholds and judicial oversight of certain measures. Part 7 of the Bill will also allow for the creation of a privacy and civil liberties board to support the important work of David Anderson, QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.
Finally, the Bill includes a provision to ensure that challenges to refusals of applications for British overseas territories citizenship can be heard before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, so that sensitive material can be protected. This simply addresses an anomaly in existing legislation.
I have stressed the urgency and importance of this legislation. This is not a knee-jerk reaction but a considered, targeted approach that ensure that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to respond to the heightened threat to our national security. Substantial work, in consultation with the police and MI5, has gone into drafting the clauses. Where the measures impact on those in the private sector or civil society, we have consulted with the relevant bodies.
I am grateful to the shadow Home Secretary for engaging in constructive discussions on the timetable for the Bill.
I commend the Home Secretary for the measures in this Bill, which are reasonable measures that accord with our international obligations. Does she agree, though, that there is a gap as regards communications data? I hope that we will be able to include that area in future measures as soon as possible, because although the measures she is announcing go some way towards improving national security and meet our national obligations, we must address that gap.
My hon. Friend is right that we continue to have a gap in relation to communications data. Although the Bill introduces the question of IP address resolution, it will still be the case that data that previously would have been available to our law enforcement agencies and security services will not be available in future. I am very clear that Parliament will have to return to this issue after the general election.
The need to introduce this legislation today is pressing, but I do not propose to rush it through Parliament in a matter of days or weeks. Parliament must have adequate time to consider these measures. Expediting the Bill’s passage over the next couple of months will enable that to take place, while allowing us to seek approval for crucial secondary legislation prior to the election. This will ensure that proper scrutiny can take place, and that the police and agencies are able to use these new capabilities without undue delay.
We are in the midst of a generational struggle against a deadly terrorist ideology. That is why we have brought this legislation forward at the earliest opportunity, and we will seek its swift passage through Parliament. We must ensure that the police and the security and intelligence agencies have all the legal powers and capabilities they need to stop people travelling to fight in Syria and Iraq, to tackle this terrorist threat, and to protect all the law-abiding citizens who believe in keeping the UK an open, free and tolerant nation. That is what this Bill will do, and I commend it to the House.
As the Home Secretary said, it is the responsibility of Government to protect the liberty and the security of our people, to protect our communities from extremism and terror threats, and to protect our liberty and our democratic values so that the terrorists and extremists do not win. At a time when the terror threat has grown, more action is needed to make sure that the police, the security agencies and other organisations have the powers that they need to protect us, but also to make sure that we have sensible safeguards in place—the right kinds of checks and balances to prevent abuse.
We will support this Bill because it responds to new and changing threats and also corrects some past mistakes, but we believe that amendments are needed in some areas to make the measures more effective or to ensure that sufficient checks and balances are in place to prevent powers being abused and discredited, thus undermining the fight against extremism.
Last week’s Intelligence and Security Committee report on the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby provided stark evidence of the serious challenges that our security services and police face in keeping us safe. It is a 24 hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year job, and every decision is loaded with doubt. Today we should pay tribute to their quiet stoicism and heroism. This year alone, the Metropolitan police has made 270 arrests following counter-terrorism investigations. Along with our agencies, it has disrupted several attack plots, including plots against those whose very job it is to protect our communities.
That job of protecting us all from terrorism has become increasingly difficult in the face of the growth of ISIL and its barbarous brand of terror. As the Home Secretary said, the Government believe that about 500 people have travelled to Syria, with about half having already returned to the UK. However, this problem is not unique to Britain. The United Nations estimates that foreign fighters from 80 countries may be in the region, mainly fighting for ISIL. France estimates that 900 French nationals are fighting in the regions. Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Finland have all seen significant numbers of their citizens go to fight. Many countries across Europe are introducing new policies and legislation to address the problem and we should work with them as they do so. We have also seen, through the awful propaganda videos, what people have become involved in, including beheadings, kidnaps and brutalising whole communities in Syria and Iraq.
Of course, a foreign policy response is required to defeat ISIL in the region and to strengthen the Governments who will have to fight them. A humanitarian response is also needed to try to save the lives of communities in the path—or, worse, the wake—of ISIL’s advance. The Home Secretary’s policy of taking only 90 of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria, in parallel with the UN programme, is shameful. Other countries are doing far more, and she was urged to do far more as well. She has the opportunity at next week’s Geneva conference to change her approach, and I urge her to do so.
Does not the right hon. Lady accept that Britain is one of the leading donors to providing humanitarian relief to Syria, and will she not celebrate that fact?
The Government have rightly provided a very strong response in the region and support for those who are fleeing the conflict. Members on both sides of the House have supported the Government in doing so and call on them to continue to do so. Twelve months ago, however, Members on both sides of the House also called on the Government to do more to help the most vulnerable Syrian refugees who struggle to cope in the camps, and I do not believe that the Government are doing what they undertook to do 12 months ago.
There are now literally millions of refugees in Lebanon and children are being born there who are effectively stateless. That is not a recipe for a peaceful middle east, is it?
My hon. Friend is right to say that the huge stresses and strains in the region will have long-term consequences. That is why we need to do our bit with our humanitarian response and recognise the long-term security consequences both in the region and here in Britain.
Let me turn to the Bill’s measures and how they respond to the challenge we face. More needs to be done to prevent young people from being radicalised or drawn into extremism in the first place. The Home Secretary has said that she wants to strengthen the Prevent programme, which we welcome, and we hope that putting it on a statutory footing will help do that. She will know, however, that getting the Prevent programme right is not simply about legislation. The programme has been narrowed over the past few years, which has led to criticism from the Intelligence and Security Committee, which noted in its report last week
“the relatively low priority (and funding) given to Prevent in the CONTEST programme as a whole”.
The Committee concluded:
“The scale of the problem”— by which it meant the number of people travelling—
“indicates that the Government’s counter-radicalisation programmes are not working.”
We know that Prevent support for local community programmes has dropped from £17 million to less than £3 million over the past few years. Although the Home Secretary talked about the promotion of a counter-narrative, the evidence suggests that far less work is being done now than a few years ago to promote counter-narratives within communities.
Does my right hon. Friend share my concern that, although many of the Bill’s provisions are very welcome, including those relating to the panels and putting things on a statutory footing, it is couched in terms of individuals? It mentions individual referrals and individual plans, yet, in essence, challenging the narrative is a collective responsibility for all of us, not simply individuals.
My right hon. Friend is right. She has great expertise in looking at the work of the Prevent programme, particularly the community and local work that was being done. This is a concern. The Government originally cut the number of local authorities receiving funding through the Prevent programme from 90 to 23. They have subsequently reinstated some of them, but only four out of the 30 councils that were tasked with delivering Prevent submitted evaluations to the Office for Security and Counter-terrorism last year.
The Home Secretary has talked many times—we have pressed her on this—about the fact that she has passed some of the Prevent work to the Department for Communities and Local Government, but it is of considerable concern to us that there is no evidence that it is doing significant work on it. The community-led programme to counter radicalisation simply does not seem to be strong or effective enough. Much more could be done even without legislation to improve the Prevent programme, and if the Government do not do their bit, all the legislation in the world will not make the programme effective.
Evidence suggests that the biggest pressure on young jihadists comes not from organisations, but from peer groups. What is missing is that we have not yet got into the DNA of trying to deal with peer group pressure. Does my right hon. Friend not agree that we should direct more of the funding to such community organisations?
My right hon. Friend makes a very powerful point. We should be honest about the fact that we do not know the perfect answers. This is a difficult area, and different things need to be tried. However, the current programmes are not addressing two significant challenges: peer group recruitment, which is clearly taking place in many areas, and social media, through which recruitment and radicalisation are taking place. Much more should be done to address those challenges, and community-led programmes might be considerably more effective than police-led or Government-led programmes in achieving results.
I applaud the constructive tone of the right hon. Lady’s remarks so far. May I take her back to the intervention by Hazel Blears? Most of what is being discussed is still at community or even individual level, whereas we believe that something needs to be done at national level that is comparable to the efforts made to counter Nazism in the second world war and to counter communism during the cold war.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that more needs to be done at the national level. The Bill introduces a statutory duty on a series of organisations to do more, and those organisations should certainly work in partnership to prevent people from being drawn into extremism and terrorist activity. Given the points made by my right hon. Friend Hazel Blears about some of the gaps, particularly in relation to the Department for Communities and Local Government, there is a question about whether the duty should in fact extend to that Department, rather than simply to local organisations across the country.
In Committee, we will probe the Home Secretary further on what she intends to do with her power of direction. That is still unclear from the Bill, and it is unclear what she envisages putting in guidance. She said that guidance would be published alongside the Bill, but we have not yet seen it. I do not know whether it has already been published.
I have listened very carefully to what the shadow Home Secretary is saying about the Prevent programme. As I said earlier, one of the first things that the Government did when we considered the programme was to decide that it should no longer look simply at violent extremism, but at non-violent extremism as well. Does what she is saying mean that she agrees with the step that we took, and does she therefore accept that the previous Labour Government got it wrong in concentrating the Prevent programme only on violent extremism?
It is absolutely right to look at both violent and non-violent extremism. If the Home Secretary has listened to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles has said on the issue over many years, she will know that the previous Government’s work was about looking at both violent and non-violent extremism and at the process of radicalisation from beginning to end. The whole point of providing counter-narratives is to tackle non-violent as well as violent extremism.
It is unfortunate that the Home Secretary chose to narrow the programme in the way she did and handed over community-led Prevent programmes to the Department for Communities and Local Government, which simply did not pursue them. The police have done very good work, but narrowing Prevent to just a police-led programme means that it has simply not been effective, and there have also been considerable gaps in the programme.
On the Secretary of State’s power of direction, there will questions not only about how she intends to use it, but about what safeguards will ensure that she does use that power inappropriately.
The next challenge is how to deal with those who have become radicalised and pose a serious threat. Wherever possible, those people should clearly be prosecuted and passed through our courts. We know that there are difficult cases in which that is not possible, but people still pose a serious terror threat. It will come as no surprise to the Home Secretary or the House that we welcome the return of the relocation powers. She told the House in 2011 that the removal of the relocation power was a deliberate and desirable part of TPIMs. She said:
“Forcible relocation will be ended”,
“will have greater freedom to associate.”—[Hansard, 26 January 2011; Vol. 522, c. 308.]
The Home Secretary defended her decision on relocation after Ibrahim Magag absconded in a black cab on Boxing day in 2012 once his relocation order had been revoked. She said at the time:
“I am confident in the TPIM package that was available”.—[Hansard, 8 January 2013; Vol. 566, c. 165.]
She also defended her decision in 2013, when Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed fled in a burqa after his relocation order was revoked.
No powers are perfect, but it is significant that no terror suspect has absconded under a relocation order. The Home Secretary has said in the House that she made those changes because control orders were under threat in the courts and TPIMs were not. In fact, both the former and current independent reviewer of terrorism legislation have made it clear that relocation orders were never under threat in the courts. It was a policy decision that was taken by the Home Secretary and the coalition.
The truth is that TPIMs have not worked. Despite the increased terror threat, only one is in place at the moment and it relates to someone who has left prison. TPIMs simply do not contain enough powers to be useful for the agencies or the police, or to be worth the extra effort involved. The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson, concluded in his review:
“A power to relocate subjects away from their home areas would be of real practical assistance…in distancing subjects from their associates and reducing the risk of abscond. It would also facilitate monitoring, save money and could help restore faith in a TPIM regime that has withered on the vine.”
It is not because of the increased terror threat that the regime has withered on the vine; it is because the TPIM regime simply was not effective without the relocation orders that it needed.
I have not heard from either Front Bencher the two words “civil liberties”. Is it the right hon. Lady’s view that the measures we are discussing today will tilt the balance between civil liberties and security too far towards security and compromise some very important civil liberties?
In fact, I talked about the importance of protecting both liberty and security when I opened my remarks. We need both in a democracy and it is the responsibility of Government to protect both. On TPIMs, I think that the Government were wrong to remove the relocation powers. They are important and effective, and it has been recommended that they should be restored by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, whose judgment has proved to be balanced and sensible on a series of issues. There are other areas where additional safeguards are needed, and I will come to them shortly.
The right hon. Lady will understand that there is some sensitivity on this issue, given the rather poor record of the last Labour Government on protecting civil liberties. For example, we had 90 days’ detention without trial and the imprisonment of children for immigration purposes only. Does she at least agree with the Home Secretary’s move to raise the threshold for when relocation can be imposed from reasonable belief to the balance of probabilities?
I do support the proposals, because they came out of David Anderson’s report about changes to the TPIMs regime. He looked at the evidence and came up with sensible recommendations. However, I warn the hon. Gentleman against playing party politics on this issue, because that is what got the coalition into trouble in the first place. The reason the coalition removed relocation orders was that it wanted to make party political points, rather than look at the evidence. That is why it has had to do a U-turn: it has finally had to look at the evidence. I caution him about doing the same again.
The Home Secretary said in her speech both that we were engaged in a generational struggle and that the security situation had changed markedly in the past couple of years, justifying the U-turn that part 2 of the Bill represents. Are those statements not contradictory? It is true that we are engaged in a generational struggle. It would be better for the Home Secretary to apologise for the grave error of judgment that put the public at risk than to pretend that the situation has changed radically.
My right hon. Friend is right that the threat level is the same now as it was when the Home Secretary came into office. There have been ongoing threats to our security and liberty for many years, and it was not increased threat that led either Ibrahim Magag or Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed to abscond when their relocation orders were revoked. It was the lack of a relocation order and the weakening of the counter-terrorism powers.
Counter-terrorism policy is always difficult. There will always be things that Governments find challenging, and there will be times when they get the balance wrong. However, we should look at the evidence together. The Home Secretary and the Government failed to look at the evidence about relocation powers, and they failed to listen to the advice of the security experts. They have had to do so now not because the security threat has changed but because TPIMs simply did not work. It is right that they should be strengthened now and that powers should be restored.
There are two other puzzling things about the Home Secretary’s measures on TPIMs. The first relates to the point that my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles made about the 200-mile limit: what is the difference between someone being 205 miles away and someone being 195 miles away? More puzzling is the measure that the Government are introducing to prevent people on a TPIM from having access to a firearm. That seems extremely sensible—we would not want any terror suspect to have access to a firearm—but how could any of them have had such access before? That raises the question whether either the gun licensing regime or the TPIMs regime is considerably weaker than we thought. We hope that some clarity will be provided in Committee on why that measure is needed. We will clearly support it, but it is a puzzle that existing powers are not strong enough to ensure that that sensible restriction is in place.
The next challenge is how to deal with the new and growing problem of British citizens leaving to join the conflict overseas, where they may become involved in awful crimes and barbarism, be further radicalised and become a threat to this country. We need new measures to prevent people from going. Removing people’s passports through the royal prerogative is understandably not a swift process, and sometimes faster action is needed. If troubled parents ring the police because they are worried that a son or daughter has left to join ISIS and taken their passport with them, the police need to be able to move quickly. We therefore agree that temporary powers are needed.
The lack of judicial oversight is a concern. As the Bill stands, the police will be able to seize a passport based on their own judgment of reasonable suspicion, and there will be no judicial oversight for 14 days. Even then, a magistrate will look only at whether the police are continuing to investigate, not at whether there was reasonable suspicion in the first place. The power to seize a passport is important, but that means that it is also important that it is not abused.
Does my right hon. Friend believe that the apprehension of passports requires proper border agency staffing, which the Home Secretary has cut by 50%? She is now proposing to cut the police by 30,000 in the next period, which will make it extremely difficult for any of the actions set out in the Bill to be carried out.
My hon. Friend makes a really important point. There are no proper exit checks in place across the country, and we need the staff to be able to do them. That is why we have made proposals for 1,000 additional border staff, which is the right thing to do to ensure that such checks are in place. There should also be checks and balances on the power to seize passports. It is important and necessary, but there should be further safeguards to ensure that it cannot be abused.
The next important measure in the Bill is temporary exclusion orders. There is a serious problem for the police and the agencies dealing with those returning from conflict, who may have committed awful crimes abroad and might pose a threat in Britain. More needs to be done to address that threat, which was why we called for TPIM powers to be strengthened and for the Channel programme to be made compulsory. There should be requirements on people returning, and I understand the Home Secretary wanting to manage people’s return, but it is still unclear exactly what the Government want to achieve through the new powers.
The Prime Minister has said:
“We are clear in principle that what we need is a targeted, discretionary power to allow us to exclude British nationals from the UK.”—[Hansard, 1 September 2014; Vol. 585, c. 26.]
However, it seems that that is not what the power in the Bill will do. If someone is served with an order and the host country decides to deport them anyway, Britain will co-operate and they will be returned. There is no power to exclude them. If they apply for a permit to return, the Home Secretary can refuse to grant one only if the suspect does not turn up to an interview. Presumably, that is an interview in the foreign country; otherwise, they would already be home. The suspect does not have to co-operate with the interview, only to turn up.
When I asked the Home Secretary under what circumstances she would refuse to grant a permit to return, she did not give a clear answer and gave the impression that even if the suspect did not turn up to the interview, a permit to return might still be granted. It appears, then, that there is still no power to exclude them, so this is not the power that the Prime Minister said he would introduce. It seems to be described as a temporary exclusion order simply to give the Prime Minister the headline that he wanted.
Temporary exclusion orders may be necessary—there are obvious dangers in people coming back, having been indoctrinated and wanting to commit crimes. There may be a strong possibility of that, but surely judicial oversight is needed so that if the Home Secretary takes such powers, they can be challenged in court. I trust that my right hon. Friend will take the opportunity in Committee to table appropriate amendments.
More judicial oversight is needed in this area and we will certainly table amendments. It is also important to clarify what the powers are intended to achieve. It appears that they are not intended to achieve exclusion at all and have a very different intention.
My right hon. Friend is right to raise such queries. May I add two others that she might want to put to the Home Secretary? The first is what constitutes serving notice on somebody. Presumably this happens in another country. How is that notice to be served? How will somebody be deemed to be suitable to have that notice served on them? Secondly, at what point does the exclusion start? Is it before they get on an aeroplane or a boat to come to this country, or is it at they moment they arrive in this country? Once they are in this country, what happens to them? Are they effectively deported?
Again, my hon. Friend raises important questions. The independent reviewer said that the policy was an announcement in search of a policy. It started with an announcement by the Prime Minister at a press conference. To be fair to the Home Office, it probably worked hard to try to turn it into some kind of sensible measure that might achieve something as part of the Government’s counter-terror policy but that could still have the label “temporary exclusion order” attached to it in order to keep the Prime Minister happy. The House needs to understand exactly what the Home Secretary’s intention now is. This is not a hugely responsible way to make counter-terror policy or for us all to be able to understand whether it gets the balance right between the powers and measures that are needed and the safeguards that are needed as well.
The Home Secretary has described this as a policy to manage return. The intention behind that is sensible, requiring people to co-operate with the police and security agencies and to attend Channel interviews if they have been involved with ISIL or have been in the region. That is important, but there are some practical questions about how the policy will work—first about co-operation with other countries, secondly about bureaucracy in the process, and thirdly about the safeguards and the judicial oversight.
What happens if a country does not want to co-operate? Have countries such as Turkey said that they will co-operate? Will they immediately deport people? Will they detain people at the airport? How will those orders be served and what will the response be?
There are some changes that could be made and we will table amendments to that effect, but we need to know from the Home Secretary what discussions have taken place with other countries. It is very hard for anybody in the House to propose appropriate amendments without knowing what discussions have taken place and what other countries intend to do in response. Will the measure work because other countries will co-operate, or will it struggle because other countries have said they will not co-operate?
One thing that has bedevilled these debates is that neither the Home Secretary nor anyone else has made it clear which countries are prepared to co-operate, particularly with Turkey which sends different signals.
My hon. Friend makes an important point, and by the time the Bill gets to Committee, the House needs to know whether there have been discussions with other countries, how those countries will respond, and what the level of co-operation will be.
My second question concerns what happens if the Home Secretary wants someone to return and be required to co-operate with the Channel programme, but does not want to delay their return. At the moment it appears that the order must be served and a permit applied for, and then the Home Secretary has to issue a permit, potentially introducing delays during which someone might abscond again. Is there any way to place requirements on someone once they return, without having to go through that further bureaucratic process at the airport? It appears from the Bill as though the Home Secretary cannot compel people to go to appointments at the police station or to comply with the Channel programme unless she also introduces bureaucratic delays with the application for a permit at the foreign airport. It would be helpful to know whether she has the power to allow someone to swiftly board the plane and also to introduce those powers.
What are the safeguards to prevent abuse? At the moment, temporary exclusion orders can be imposed by the Home Secretary on the basis of reasonable suspicion. That could include ongoing requirements for someone to attend regular appointments, or perhaps even to report daily to the police for two years after their return. There is no ability to appeal when someone returns—for instance, if they have been involved in humanitarian work in the region—and if the orders are breached, the penalty is the same as for breaching a TPIM. I think the Home Secretary should consider that further, because for TPIMs a judicial process rightly has to be satisfied. For a temporary exclusion order there is no judicial oversight, yet penalties for breach are the same. We believe that the powers need to be debated in detail in Committee to ensure they are effective, cannot be abused, and involve appropriate oversight. In response to the question from my hon. Friend Mr Winnick, we will be tabling amendments on judicial oversight.
Finally, I wish to raise an issue familiar to the House which was included in the original Communications Data Bill. That Bill was far too widely drawn, but there was wide consensus on the need for action on IP addresses, which had the support of the Joint Committee that considered the Bill. IP addresses are created and assigned automatically. Some companies retain those data, but some do not or routinely allocate multiple IP addresses to lots of people. That means that if an abusive image of a child has been sent from a particular IP address, agencies can struggle to discover who that address belongs to or where the child may be being abused. The Opposition support the principle behind that change, although I am sure it will need detailed scrutiny to ensure that the legislation does what is intended. We must be clear that simply having the technical and legal capability to do things is not sufficient as long as, for example, there are huge delays in the National Crime Agency investigating child abuse cases and passing them on to local forces.
I may have interrupted the right hon. Lady at the wrong point, but I would be grateful if she could outline Labour’s view on communications data more generally, and say what measures she would support as we introduce further changes.
We said some time ago that we would support measures on IP addresses, and that the whole area needs to be looked at by the independent reviewer. That is why we called for an overall review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 by David Anderson, and insisted on that being included in the Bill. It is right to allow him to provide expert evidence on the way that the police and agencies are having difficulty keeping up with changing technology, and on the scale of the additional safeguards needed. In all those areas, strong powers may be needed in some cases, but we also need strong checks and balances and proper oversight. I think there are areas where sufficient checks and balances are not currently in place.
More action is needed to deal with the serious threats resulting from the conflict in Syria and the rise of ISIL. That means preventing radicalisation and dealing with people who pose a threat. It means having the right foreign policy and action in the region, but it also means ensuring that our laws at home are effective and proportionate, and that they cannot be abused, so that we do not let extremists threaten our democratic values, the protection of our historical liberties and our security.
At the beginning of this Parliament, the Home Secretary and the Deputy Prime Minister were inclined to make grand, sweeping statements attacking previous Labour Governments, and to make strong party political claims about our counter-terror policy, be they about the Prevent strategy or control orders. The Opposition warned the Home Secretary and the Deputy Prime Minister that that was not wise, because counter-terror policy is not easy; it requires care and thought. All Governments will get things wrong, and all parties will get things wrong. The Opposition will therefore work with the Home Secretary. We agree with her on some things, but we do not think she has got it right yet on others, and amendments are needed. Parliament as a whole must be thoughtful and responsible, because our liberty and security depend on each other. We need both in a democracy to keep us safe.
It is a pleasure to be able to participate in the debate. At the outset, I should say that I welcome my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary introducing the Bill. I entirely agree with her that the House needs continuously to address the challenge and threat that terrorism poses to us. Some people think that the threat is exaggerated, but from my time as Attorney-General—I had to see some of the background briefings, and sometimes to consider cases relating to individuals who had gone abroad, particularly to Syria and Iraq—I have no doubt that she is absolutely accurate in her description of the real threat they pose to us.
With that in mind, I do not intend to take up much of the House’s time on my broad welcome of the legislation. Although the House will want to look in detail at the proposals on TPIMs and data retention, which is undoubtedly important, and the measures on preventing people from being drawn into terrorism, there is no doubt in my mind that they make good sense.
However, I hope to take a little of the House’s time this evening to talk about chapter 2, on temporary exclusion from the United Kingdom; I have flagged up my concerns on how the House should best proceed on that in a question to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. It is a fundamental principle of the common law in this country that an individual, unconvicted—the presumption of innocence applies—should be free to reside in his own land. The principle of exile, as a judicial or even an administrative tool, has not been tolerated in this country since the late 17th century. It is certainly no part of our criminal justice panoply, and certainly not part of administrative provisions or powers given to the state.
I shall make a bit of progress.
Therefore, when we consider the question of temporary exclusion from the United Kingdom, we must bear it in mind that what is proposed, even if exclusion is on a temporary basis, is a draconian and unusual power being taken by the state. The point has been made that the proposal could be in breach of our international legal obligations by rendering a person stateless.
That is a separate consideration, and I know the Home Secretary has had it in mind in introducing the legislation, but I come back to the more fundamental point about the common law right. The point is often well made that as Parliament is sovereign, it can exclude the common law whenever it likes, but the fact is that the more fundamental the common law principle, the more careful we should be before excluding it. I simply say to my right hon. Friend that this is one of those common law rights that I regard as being of a fundamental character.
If I move on from that to consider what is proposed, I am pleased to note that it seems to me that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has given careful consideration to the issue. The temporary exclusion orders, which she has put forward, appear to be of a character such that she accepts she must issue a permit within a reasonable time after a person makes the application. The process therefore is—in my view, correctly —one of managed return: a return that provides reassurance that the state, which has to protect citizens here, knows of the returnee coming back to this country and, furthermore, provides opportunities, if necessary for the state to impose conditions on that individual after they have come back.
I have to say to my right hon. Friend that what has intrigued me in reading the Bill is the relationship between that and the TPIMs the Bill seeks to enhance in a number of perfectly legitimate and sensible ways.
As she will know, the TPIM is also a serious interference in the liberty of the subject, and is therefore provided with a number of safeguards and protections in how it operates. The principal one is that although the Home Secretary instigates the application for a TPIM, the process has to be initiated through the High Court. There are some circumstances, however, in which that can be bypassed in the event of an emergency, and permission sought retrospectively.
The obligations after return to the United Kingdom, in clause 8, appear—the Minister may be able to help us when he comes to sum up—to be in large measure identical to those one might expect a TPIM to include, although there may be some differences, in which case it would be useful to have some clarification. Of course, the principal difference, as far as I can make out, is that this process does not have to be instigated by an application to the High Court; it is simply done on the basis of the Home Secretary concluding that she has reasonable grounds for requiring this process to take place.
I have to say to my right hon. Friend that I will be interested, in the course of the debate during the passage of the Bill, to understand why we should introduce two separate regimes of this kind. We know that, in respect of TPIMs, she has been broadly satisfied with the way they have been operating, even though she wishes to expand some of their scope. That is, I think, supported on both sides of the House. After all, if an individual is located in Iraq or Syria, or has crossed the border into Turkey and has indicated a desire to return when my right hon. Friend has removed his or her passport, the one thing one probably has as a result of this legislation is a short period of leisure—the reasonable period where the application is being made—for, if necessary, the process of a TPIM, or a TPIM which applies to a returnee, to be instigated through the High Court. I am a little mystified as to why we should simply resort to a judicial review process, which, although I accept it may comply with our international legal obligations and also the principles of due process, is nevertheless by its nature likely to be more ponderous and cumbersome, and would not allow the High Court to be seized of this matter at an earlier opportunity.
I say to my right hon. Friend that this is a matter on which we need to spend a bit of time during the passage of the Bill, to see whether in fact the two ways of approaching this are justified. Beyond that, I want to emphasise that the principle of the managed return seems to me eminently sensible, and my right hon. Friend has my support on it. The House will of course also want to look at some of the other issues that may apply to the details in respect of this scheme.
On the seizure of passports, the point needs to be made that a passport is not actually a right to come into the United Kingdom. I say that because we have discussed it in the terms of the matter I have just been talking about. Ultimately, the issue of a passport is a prerogative power. It is, in some ways, vouching for the person concerned. There are many reasons why my right hon. Friend may rightly remove somebody’s passport, either before they leave the United Kingdom or when they are abroad. However, I raise the following issue. We are progressively giving more and more summary powers to seize passports. There is nothing wrong in that, if, for example, it is preventing people from leaving the country when there are good grounds for considering whether they are going to commit, or are likely to commit, an act of terrorism, but it increasingly raises the likelihood of travel documents and passports being seized when it might turn out subsequently on examination that there was no justification.
The memorandum, properly prepared and passed off—I am sure—by the Law Officers before being issued, makes the point that taking passports interferes with article 8 rights. It must therefore raise the possibility of individuals who can show that their passports were wrongly taken making a claim for compensation. As far as I am aware, no issues of compensation have hitherto arisen from passport seizure. I appreciate that it might be different were it done maliciously, but I am talking not about malice but about errors made at the time the passport was removed.
During the passage of the Bill, I hope that my right hon. Friend and other colleagues on the Front Bench will think about the likely consequences, which might often be financial, of increasing powers of passport removal. I do not think that where there are reasonable grounds to suspect involvement in terrorism an individual has a right to compensation, but unfortunately there might be instances of people being targeted when they have no involvement in terrorism.
Ultimately—I have said this previously in the House, but it is worth saying again—we are engaged in a values battle. We will not stop terrorism or prevent young people from going to participate in terrorism by whatever methods of law we pass in this House, however draconian they might be; we will stop this phenomenon when we can persuade people that the virtues of our society, which are many, despite some of its drawbacks, are very considerable and that its values should be respected. For that reason, when we enact such legislation, we must have it in mind that we do not, as an unintended consequence, create the very resentments that are likely to fuel terrorism in the future.
Listening to the shadow Home Secretary, I was reminded that I have said that previously—over 90-day and 42-day pre-charge detention, both of which, I might add, were far more draconian attempts at interfering with the liberty of the subject than anything my right hon. Friend is doing in this measure, which I know she has brought forward with a prudent eye to the issues I have raised. On that basis, I welcome the Bill, but I hope that the matters I have touched on will be given serious thought.
It is a pleasure to follow Mr Grieve, whose excellent and thoughtful speech leads me to conclude that were he still the Attorney-General, the Bill would not have appeared before the House in the form it has. I hope he makes it to the Committee, because the points he raised are extremely important to ensuring that the Bill is robust before it is passed by the House.
I agree with the Home Secretary, the shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, and the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield that these are dangerous times, which is why we require the greatest possible scrutiny of the Bill. I therefore begin by raising the concern of the Home Affairs Committee that we have not had the opportunity to scrutinise the Bill to the extent we would have liked. It was published only last week, and today is its Second Reading. We have not had an opportunity to hold any sessions, and no Minister has come before us. I know that the Home Secretary is extremely busy, but she managed to fit in several other engagements instead of coming before the Committee. It would have been much more appropriate had a Minister come before us before the Bill came to the House.
When we were discussing the Wanless and Whittam report, the right hon. Gentleman challenged me in the Chamber over the fact that I had not appeared before the Committee, when in fact the Committee had withdrawn the invitation. As I understand it—he might have a different understanding—I am due to appear before his Committee in two weeks.
The Home Secretary is right that she is due to appear before us in two weeks’ time, but the legislation will probably have passed through the House by then. If a piece of emergency legislation is coming before us, as it is now, Ministers should put themselves before the relevant Select Committee. The right hon. Lady managed to fit in a visit to the British curry awards last night, at which we were of course all delighted to see her, but the point is that the date of
Is it not a particular irony that the Government always drag their heels on legislation when it comes to a subject such as circus animals, but when it comes to legislation dealing with the liberty of the individual, the Government always want to expedite the processes through the House. Is that not a nonsense?
I thank my hon. Friend, although that also happened with a Government of whom we were both Members; it is a feature of the way in which Governments tend to introduce counter-terrorism legislation. Indeed, as the shadow Home Secretary said, mistakes are made, and there were mistakes under the last Government. I remember the incredibly important speeches of the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield on 42 days and 92 days, and the role played by my hon. Friend Mr Winnick on these issues. That is why it is so important to pause, consider, scrutinise and then report to the House. The Select Committee will not be in a position to produce a report for this House as we had hoped we might, simply because there is no time to do so as we have already reached Second Reading. By the time the Home Secretary makes her much-heralded appearance before us, the legislation will probably already have passed through the House.
Having made my complaint about that matter, I agree that these are dangerous times. The Home Secretary and the shadow Home Secretary are absolutely right that we need to act quickly but carefully, while recognising not only that ISIL and extremist groups are operating in Iraq and Syria but that those who support those groups are acting in countries all over the world.
Yesterday I met Nathalie Goulet, the chair of the French Senate Committee that is inquiring into the struggle of jihadi networks in France and Europe. I was astonished to hear that the situation in respect of French citizens travelling to Iraq and Syria is much worse in France than it is in our country. I looked up the last report our Select Committee published, and it must be a surprise for the House to learn that countries such as Belgium, Australia, even Norway are in exactly the same position as we are in respect of citizens who wish to travel abroad to fight.
That is why we cannot see the fight against terrorism as something that affects just this House. The shadow Home Secretary was right to raise the international dimension. The Select Committee was very clear in its last report published earlier this year in saying that there needed to be an international platform, with countries able to pool information and act together. We suggested that we should work through Interpol, which we saw as the most appropriate organisation, as it already exists to share information about organised crime. We felt that that was a platform that could be developed to build an international network with allies such as the French, the Dutch and others to ensure that we do things together and learn good practice.
I learned that in France, for example, they have a dedicated “Green Line”, which people can ring with information about those they suspect of being involved in terrorism, and parents can ring for advice and be guided in the right direction. As a result of the activities of the “Green Line”, the French authorities have been able to stop 200 people from travelling abroad to fight. There are other examples, and I hope that we use the good practice developed in other countries in order not to repeat mistakes and to move forward and try to find effective methods of stopping people from travelling.
My right hon. Friend talked about mistakes. Going further back, would it not be wise to remember some of the measures taken against IRA terrorism? Like everyone else, I opposed such terrorism from the very beginning; it had no justification. However, some of those measures, such as internment, were counter-productive and played right into the hands of the IRA. Should we not take that sort of thing into account?
Those are exactly the unintended consequences to which the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield and others have referred. Of course we need powers in order to deal with those who wish to undermine the values of our society, but we need to be very careful about the way in which we use them, and we need to think about the consequences.
A number of the recommendations made by the Select Committee over a number of years have been adopted in the Bill. We support what is being done in respect of radicalism, but we are cautious about some of the programmes that are being used. I do not support the placing of the counter-terrorism narrative in the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Select Committee has not inquired into that, but I believe that the Home Office is the lead organisation and these should be Home Office programmes. The problem with dealing with more than one Department is the need to persuade different Ministers and civil servants of the necessity of changing things. I do not think that it works very well when two Cabinet Ministers are responsible for roughly the same area of policy. This should be done with and through the Home Secretary, so that she can deliver locally what she tells the House that she wishes to deliver in a more strategic way.
Some of us feel that a seamless counter-narrative needs to be presented, and that therefore it would be more appropriate to set up one of the MISC or GEN Committees, as I believe they are called. Several Departments—I can think of four or five—could then have overall control of a counter-narrative that has yet to be properly generated.
The hon. Gentleman has worked very hard on this issue for some years. I believe that the status quo does not work, and I have every sympathy with his proposal, which would enable the different programmes to be delivered together.
I mentioned earlier that the Home Secretary had addressed the Bangladeshi community yesterday. She was extremely well received by the 2,000 people who were present; she made a strong effort to relate directly to that important community. Obviously her message yesterday was different from her message today, because a different kind of event was involved, but the point is that we need to get into the DNA of communities.
The Home Secretary’s constituency contains a south Asian community—indeed, like my own constituency, it contains various communities—but we have in this Chamber Members such as my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr Mahmood) and for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi), both of whom are very much a part of their communities. Anyone who walks down the Lozells road with my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr will see that the entire community relates to him. We are lucky to have not just him and my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton South East, but other Members with different origins, on both sides of the House. They will tell us what the voice of the community says, which is that being told what to do never works, whether by police officers or—if I say so myself—by men in grey or black suits. What is necessary is peer group pressure and community engagement, and those must come from communities themselves.
How many times do we discover from the BBC news that parents have no idea that their children have gone to Syria to fight? One parent from Brighton said that he did not know where his son had gone until he was phoned and told that the son had died. That is why peer group pressure is so vital. How do we miss this point every time? We cannot tell communities what to do; we need to engage with them, and they need to move that process forward.
The right hon. Gentleman is, of course, absolutely right about the need for us to engage with communities, but is it not our responsibility to try to understand some of what motivates people to go and do these appalling, dreadful things, such as illegal wars, conflicts in the middle east, and the injustices that they observe in Palestine? Is there a way in which we could try to understand, and perhaps take on, some of the issues that motivate people to become involved in extremist activity?
The hon. Gentleman is right. We need to understand much more, and we can only do so at local level: in the mosque, through community activities, in schools—as the Home Secretary said—in colleges, and in prisons. People who have not been radicalised go into those institutions and come out radicalised, and then there is a failure to monitor them. The solutions are all there—in reports written by Committees over a number of years, in contributions made in all the time Members have been in this House, and in speeches of Home Secretaries, as strong as the one we heard today, when she said what she wanted to put right as far as terrorism and radicalisation are concerned—but they are not acted upon, and they have to be acted upon, otherwise we will be back here in a year’s time doing the same thing again, and we do not want that.
Does that not highlight why, in considering giving new measures to the Home Secretary it is incumbent on us to assess whether that would radicalise people further or provide greater security to us? My anxiety about temporary exclusion orders is that exile has not had a good history in Britain. When Richard II exiled Henry Bolingbroke, he simply went abroad, gathered a whole load of allies and came back to this country and removed the King. My anxiety is that these new orders will do exactly the same thing.
My hon. Friend is a greater historian than I am, but our constituents would say, if they were to find out there is someone causing mischief in Kenya, as Adebolajo was, that he should be kept in Kenya if the Kenyan authorities want to prosecute him, and that we should not try to bring him back. If there are people in these countries who are up to mischief and who wish to undermine the values of our country, I can understand perfectly why the Government are suggesting an exclusion order.
The issue here is not that we should not accept that; it is to do with the practicalities that the shadow Home Secretary and the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield have mentioned. Sometimes we need to be very careful that there is proper judicial scrutiny of the decisions we take. I think that sometimes our constituents would prefer such people not to come back. If they are brought back, they have to be monitored so they do not end up putting on a burqa, leaving a mosque and leaving the country, as Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed did. He wanted to stay in Somalia but was brought back to this country and now is nobody knows where.
Of course I support this legislation. When a British Home Secretary comes before the House and says, “These measures are necessary in order to combat the severe threat we face,” the House will obviously support what the Home Secretary is doing. However, there is a need to scrutinise the practicalities, and the Home Office must work closely with the Select Committee and the House to ensure that we have a solution and decisions that will be in the best interests of our country, and will not create the kind of unintended consequences that we all wish to avoid.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary opened the debate by referring to the nature of the threat, as did my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve in his contribution. The truth is that in some quarters there is a continual effort to suggest that the characterisation of the threat is in some way designed for political purposes. Both my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my right hon. and learned Friend have been closer to the centre of the ring of secrecy than I ever have, although we on the Intelligence and Security Committee do acquire a degree of information that is not public. It is important that people understand that what we are facing is unprecedented, and that in such conditions, in deciding where the balance rests between security and privacy, it may be felt necessary to tilt the balance in a direction other than that in which one would normally wish to tilt it.
May I make one preliminary point? I happened to be at St Andrews university yesterday conferring degrees on grateful students, and in the course of that it became clear to me that there is some anxiety among the university authorities about how they would properly implement the obligations that may be placed upon them. I therefore agree with the shadow Home Secretary that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary’s guidance in this matter is going to be of enormous importance. I am sure it will be as well drawn as possible, but the sooner that guidance is available, perhaps even for consultation, the better.
In my intervention on my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, I made it clear that I am still not yet persuaded about the legality of the temporary exclusion order. It is helpful to look briefly at the conditions that would apply to someone against whom such an order was pronounced. They would be required not to return to the United Kingdom unless one of two conditions was satisfied: either the Secretary of State has issued a permit, or the individual has been deported to the United Kingdom. Some concern has been expressed about the fact that it is entirely within the power of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, or indeed her successors, to apply the terms of such a permit. We are entitled to assume that they will be reasonable, but they may not be reasonable in the mind of the person against whom they are directed.
So far, it has been perfectly clear from the contributions that have been made that everyone accepts that the exclusion of a British-born national from the United Kingdom is contrary to both law and practice. The right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield was eloquent in his description of what the common law amounted to. Is it not the case that the effect of exclusion is to remove the right of statehood to return, even if only temporarily, if the individual accepts the terms of a permit? If an individual does not accept the terms of a permit—subject to the fact that the orders have to be renewed at two-yearly intervals—the individual may, in effect, be unable to return in perpetuity to the United Kingdom, of which he or she is a national.
The Prime Minister’s original statement on
I may have misunderstood that point that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is making, and I hope that he will forgive me if I have done so. If the orders were to be called managed return orders, but the same procedures applied, would that make any difference? I am not sure that it would.
No, it certainly would not. I think that that points up the fact that perhaps the issue was to find a description that, as has been suggested, might easily fit a headline, rather than the substance of the proposal. I see heads shaking on the Treasury Bench, but it would not be the first time that a definition created for easy understanding by the public and the press did not accurately reflect the precise terms of the legislation.
One difficulty is that the Government, although they were no doubt informed by the advice of Law Officers, have none the less produced something that on any view innovates against the principle of the right of return. I respectfully say that if that principle is as inviolate as has been suggested, any such innovation must be contrary to law and contrary to practice. In that, I differ from my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield but, as was pointed out to me on my first day as a law student, lawyers are well paid for being wrong 50% of the time. There are genuine differences of emphasis and understanding. The one thing we can be most certain about, however, is that this matter will be tested in the courts and, no doubt, in the Supreme Court in due course.
I should emphasise that I do not disagree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s characterisation of “contrary to law”, which is why we have to be so very cautious about this. However, Parliament is ultimately sovereign and despite the existence of great things such as Magna Carta and habeas corpus, Parliament has, on occasion, ignored some of the key terms of both. One has to remember that power ultimately resides here, but when one starts to interfere with what is seen as a fundamental common law right, one should look at it carefully, and the courts will look at it carefully if they come to have to scrutinise it.
A lot would depend on the interpretation of the strength of the right that a court was willing to place on the right of return. That is why I suspect that this will eventually be a matter for the Supreme Court, rather than for any intervening forum between the House of Commons and that one.
I wish to draw attention to another element in this matter. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and her successors—I almost said heirs and successors, according to law—have a considerable discretion conferred upon them in this matter, first, about the imposition and, secondly, about the terms of a permit. It is said that judicial review is available for this, but let us consider the position of someone in a foreign country with a legal aid system less generous than ours—how could we even describe ours as generous these days? What is the possibility of their mounting a judicial review in advance of accepting that they can return only under certain conditions. David Anderson QC, who has already been referred to with some approval in this debate, has drawn particular attention to this matter. So the Government would be well advised to follow the suggestion that came at one stage in our debate—I do not recall from which side of the House—to ensure that there is some intervention from the court much earlier in the system. My right hon. Friend might be obliged to go to court to ask for such an order.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield and I can agree, even if we do not agree in the ultimate interpretation, these are matters of considerable seriousness involving the liberty of the individual. In those circumstances, not only would it be right and proper to have the intervention of the court, but that might avoid the Home Secretary and her successors being engaged in political controversy because of the pronouncement of a TEO in a particular case. So I retain my scepticism and there is certainly a requirement that if this provision is to pass into law, the discretion of the Secretary of State should not be as stated in the Bill. Instead, there should be a requirement to seek judicial authority before the pronouncement of such an order.
I have listened carefully to the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s speech and fully agree with it. When the matter is being debated on the Floor of the House, as it will be on more than one occasion—I am also pleased about that—will we get the support of Liberal Democrats? I am not making a party point as such, because I know that he will vote as he considers appropriate. But it would greatly help to strengthen the measures announced by the Home Secretary, particularly on TEOs, if we could get a majority vote in favour of the High Court being involved before any such order is made.
I am too long in the tooth to try to speak on behalf of my party leader, as the hon. Gentleman might expect, but I would most certainly support an amendment of that kind, and I would seek to persuade other men and women of like mind and good sense to do exactly the same.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has spoken a lot about the rights of those who may be excluded as a result of this provision, but would he care to say something about people who feel under threat from those who have gone from this country, trained to be terrorists, committed acts of terrorism and are likely to come back here to commit acts of terrorism? What has he got to say to the people who feel threatened? What safeguards would he put in place for them?
In my own defence, when I first got to my feet—I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was present at the time—I went out of my way to applaud the fact that the Home Secretary and the former Attorney-General had both emphasised the nature of the threat that we face. I am in no doubt about, it as I am a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, but that does not mean that we should close our eyes to the possibility of an illegality that might be challenged in the Supreme Court, which would have an enormously undermining effect on legislation of the kind that we are proposing. It is an argument in favour of careful consideration, which I am sure that this Bill will have as it passes through Committee.
It is a pleasure to follow Sir Menzies Campbell. The learned discussion between him and Mr Grieve is slightly reminiscent of the legal discussions that we have in the Intelligence and Security Committee, where we are blessed with three Scottish Queen’s Counsel members.
As a former counter-terrorism Minister, I am well aware of the difficulties of legislating in this area. Most of us wish that this legislation was not necessary. No politician in a democracy takes lightly action that will inevitably impact on the rights of individuals unless there is a compelling case to do so to protect our citizens as a whole.
The framework against which we set this legislation should be the test that we apply to our agencies and all the work that we do. I am talking about the fact that any action must be lawful, necessary and proportionate, and that should be our guide in our scrutiny of this Bill today. That is the language of universal human rights, and we should judge any proposals against that test, which is well established in our law.
Inevitably, this area will be contested territory; it always has been. I remember trying to take control orders through this House. It was one of our last all-night sittings. We sat throughout the night and had some amazing discussions at 4 am, some of which were intelligible and others of which were not, so I know how difficult it can be. It is contested territory, and that is as it should be in a strong democracy. I have no doubt that the debate over the next few weeks will be intense, passionate and occasionally noisy. It is up to us here in this House and in the other place to determine whether the proposals before us are necessary and proportionate to the threat that faces our country.
Lots of Members this evening have set out the nature of that threat. I agree with my right hon. Friend Keith Vaz that if we look at the analysis, we can see that we have a problem in this country. We have at least 500 young men and women who have gone out to Syria, 250 of whom have probably come back. By comparison, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia have thousands of people who have gone out to be part of the conflict in Syria, so we should put the matter in perspective.
If 250 people have come back, perhaps one in nine or 10 of them will be radicalised to the extent that they may want to do us harm in this country. If that is the case, we are talking about 25 or 30 individuals who have come back trained, radicalised and experienced in conflict.
That may sound like a small number, but in actual fact it is a significant and serious threat. The resources required to have 24-hour surveillance on 25 to 30 people in this country are absolutely immense, and I am concerned about the resources that are being made available, even with the extra £130 million that the Prime Minister announced the other day.
Professor Peter Neumann from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation has done some interesting work on segmenting the kind of people who go out to fight in Syria and the people who come back. He has grouped them into three categories.
First, we have the disturbed people who undoubtedly have mental health problems and who are particularly susceptible to the kind of narrative that is promulgated and that draws them into extremist activity.
The second category is the dangerous. It includes those who are simply evil people and want to do us harm. They have records on social media of enticing other people to go out and take knives to people, chop their heads off or blow people up—they are dangerous people within our society. Interestingly, he describes the third category as the disillusioned. That includes all the people who have gone out to fight in Syria, perhaps in sympathy because they have seen on their televisions the terrible things that have happened to refugees and innocent families, but when they have got out there they have discovered that ISIS is a different proposition from what they thought. They never contemplated the viciousness, brutality, crucifixions and beheadings and they often find themselves fighting and killing other Muslims because of the factional and sectarian nature of the forces in Syria. It is an interesting analysis.
I do not for one moment subscribe to the idea that there should be some kind of amnesty and that people should be allowed simply to come back into this country without facing any sanctions whatsoever. I absolutely believe that when people have committed criminal offences they should be prosecuted, convicted and put away for a long time.
My right hon. Friend has done a huge amount of work on community engagement, when in government and since then, as part of the taskforce. Drawing on all the work that she has done, what does she think is the tipping point? When does someone go from being a law-abiding citizen to deciding that they want to go? What pushes people over the edge? Are we any nearer to finding the cause?
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for raising that issue. We have more experience now of the different paths that people take towards extremism, but it is still very complex. It is different for different people, but one key issue is emotional vulnerability. The analysis suggests that there are key points in people’s lives when they feel lonely or isolated and are more vulnerable to a message.
The first year at university is often a difficult phase for people. They do not have a friendship group and can easily be drawn into activity that is glorified, that represents an adventure and that is full of passion and idealism. Some of us will no doubt have experienced similar circumstances in our own politics, and I was certainly fired up to go and do something about the injustice and inequality I found around the world. Luckily, I was not being groomed by extremists—at least, I do not think I was.
One of the other causes for the 7/7 bombers was the possibility of being drawn into forced marriage. Those young men wanted to fall in love and to do so on their own terms and in their own way, and they found the prospect of forced marriage very difficult. Many emotional issues and transition points are key in young people’s education, as well as the messages that are put out.
I am grateful to places such as the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s college, as well as other academic institutions, for the work they are doing on this issue. As the shadow Home Secretary said, we must follow the evidence where it takes us and not simply our own prejudices and views.
I welcome the provisions in the Bill as a whole. Many are common sense. I have no doubt that the judicial involvement in the issues to do with temporary exclusion orders will be contested. The measures on aviation and rail security are simply common-sense approaches to matters that we need to take seriously.
I want to focus on the issues to do with the Prevent strategy set out in part 5. I have a number of questions for the Government. Obviously, I welcome the fact that Prevent will be put on a statutory footing, as that is important in getting the appropriate resources in place and ensuring a consistent approach. A crucial part of this will be the evaluation of its effectiveness. When the Government did their review of Prevent three and a half years ago, they said that there were not sufficient measures of effectiveness, that there were no metrics, and that they were not able to measure the impact. What progress have the Government made in measuring the impact of the Prevent strategy, because I have seen no metrics, no valuation and no evidence on that score? If we are going to spend significant amounts of public money, as we have done and as I hope we will continue to, we must ensure that it is making a difference. Evaluation is therefore important.
The duty that will be placed on schools, prisons, probation providers and local authorities is very welcome. The explanatory notes stated that the guidance would be published in tandem with the legislation, but I think that the bicycle has got a little bit ahead of the guidance. I hope that the guidance will be published as soon as possible, because it will be a key part of the debate. We need to see how effective it will be, how it will operate in practice and what its parameters will be. I urge the Minister to make that a top priority.
My concerns about that agenda—I know that Dr Lewis shares them—relate to counter-ideology. Where is the work, in the way chapter 5 is set out, on counter-ideology? Where is the work on tackling the narrative and ensuring that both online and offline there are positive messages that expose the poverty of this mediaeval ideology, which is about sharia law and establishing a caliphate, which is absolutely inimical to the right of women and girls, which does not believe in education, which is backward-looking, reactionary and does not provide a forward-looking view of what it means to be a Muslim in a modern, free and liberal democracy? It is all very well putting that duty on those organisations, but where is the work on counter-ideology? I want to hear from the Minister on that.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is the reason why we had to tackle the issues of the Trojan horse schools in Birmingham, which were deliberately separately pupils, putting young girls to the back of the class and not giving them the same opportunities as boys, further reinforcing that stereotype?
My hon. Friend is so right. I would like to place on the record my huge admiration for the courage he has shown in his community by standing up to some of the voices of reaction. That is never an easy place to be when taking a stand for something one believes in so strongly. He is second to none in the way he has enabled ordinary people in his community to speak out. They did not want that going on in their schools; they wanted their schools to educate their children for the future, not the past. He has done an amazing job.
My second question to the Minister is this: where is the collective work happening? Tackling the threat is an issue for us all—parents, all of us in this House and people in the community. When we see people starting to be led down the extremist path, we have a responsibility to act. Even before that point there is work to be done in increasing the resilience of communities to withstand the extremist message. Again, that is difficult to do. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East asked what the evidence is for a tipping point. The truth is that it is complicated and we do not have all the answers, but I am absolutely convinced that it is not enough just to deal with individuals who are already radicalised, to refer to the Channel group, to have a panel discussion and to come up with a bespoke programme for that individual. That is not enough. It is essential, but it has to be complemented by work that empowers people in the community, the decent vast majority of Muslims in our country who feel absolutely betrayed by this perversion of their faith. They have to be empowered to stand up, be counted, push that message back and gather the consensus around the majority of the community. I do not see that in this Bill, and I want to.
I want to put on the record my personal position on this, because there is a lot of confusion about it. As I think the Minister knows, I have always supported action against non-violent extremism as well as violent extremism. I did not always get 100% of my way—I am sure that the Home Secretary has experience of not always getting 100% of her way in Cabinet—but my personal position has always been that it is not enough to tackle violent extremism; we must also tackle the conditions in which it is allowed to become the accepted discourse and dialogue. That is where our strategy should be.
I have no problem with the Home Office leading on Channel and on the police and the agencies, but I agree with the hon. Member for New Forest East that we need a broader view on this agenda, because there are so many Government Departments involved. I do not think that the Department for Communities and Local Government should lead on this, but I believe that it has a role to play in bringing communities together. I am very disappointed by that Department’s lack of action and its failure to produce a counter-extremism strategy. We have had a statement, but we have seen no action to back it up over the past three years. I think that the issue is now incredibly pressing.
I will briefly say something on de-radicalisation. It is an even newer field and we have even less best practice on it. A very good European Union study by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has given examples from other countries, but they are mainly based on bringing people out of far-right extremism. The Islamist threat has not yet been explored enough. We need to do more work on that. People in this country are doing great work, including Shiraz Maher from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters, and those at the JAN Trust and the Active Change Foundation. We have some great, great people who we need to support to make a difference.
I conclude with what the Prime Minister said—credit where it is due—in his Munich speech three and a half years ago:
“This terrorism is completely indiscriminate and has been thrust upon us. It cannot be ignored or contained; we have to confront it with confidence—confront the ideology that drives it by defeating the ideas that warp so many young minds at their root, and confront the issues of identity that sustain it by standing for a much broader and generous vision of citizenship in our countries.”
Our country is a great place for people to live and grow up—a country of freedom, tolerance and inclusivity. We have to stand for those values and stand against the wicked, pernicious, narrow, divisive extremist agenda that is unfortunately pervading so many of our young people.
At the end of the Home Secretary’s forthright speech, she said that we are “in the midst of a generational struggle”. That is true, but we are also in the midst of an ideological struggle. That is the message that the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles and I have been trying to deliver to the Government. Our message is that we are well served by our security and intelligence agencies in identifying and disrupting home-grown terrorists, but we lack comparable capacity to neutralise the ideology that infects them in the first place and to support mainstream moderate Muslims in challenging the extremists’ perverted distortion of Islam.
In reviewing our current strategy and policies to prevent people from being radicalised and drawn into extremist activity, we should, as I said in an intervention, follow the precedents of the wartime efforts to expose and denounce fascism and the cold war campaigns to counter communist totalitarianism. The extremist ideology of political Islam is a similarly totalitarian creed requiring an organised effort to undermine its appeal and to strengthen the long-term resilience of the communities that are most vulnerable to it.
In order to succeed, this work must be owned by the whole of Government on a cross-departmental basis, working closely with local government in engaging with civic and faith organisations on the ground. It requires the creation of a specialist counter-propaganda agency—I use the word “propaganda” in its non-pejorative sense—to develop a counter-narrative and to support communities in their efforts to challenge the extremists. This agency should operate under the supervision of a permanent ministerial committee on which the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development are represented.
I assure you, Mr Speaker, that I did not give the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles any warning of what I am going to say next, but I am nevertheless going to say it, at the risk of embarrassing her. I feel—as, I am sure, will many others—that it is a great loss, given her specialist knowledge and flair for this subject, that she has decided to leave the House of Commons at the next election. Should such an agency be set up in future, I can think of no better person to run it than the right hon. Lady—whether she wants the job or not.
As we have heard, the Prime Minister has said, as far back as three years ago but also more recently, it is not enough to tackle terrorism; it is also necessary to counter what he calls the “poisonous ideology” that underlies it. The Home Secretary now says that we need to tackle non-violent as well as violent extremism, so the message is clearly getting through, but there is still some way to go. Why is there such reluctance to recognise that what we ought to be calling un-Islamic extremism, and what we certainly should not be calling Islamic State, should be confronted at a similar level, on a similar scale, and in a similar way to our approach to fascist and communist ideologies in the past? The answer, I suspect, is the fear of the pseudo-religious basis of this incarnation of traditional totalitarian, extremist doctrine.
I want to draw the House’s attention to a particularly important article by Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph on
That only goes to show that the right hon. Lady and I do not co-ordinate our efforts as seamlessly as perhaps we ought, because I should have known that. Anyway, the important thing about the article is that it looks at the consequences and conclusions of our recently published Intelligence and Security Committee report on the terrible events in Woolwich. The main question in Charles Moore’s mind about the killers is: what is it that made them so bloodthirsty and so bold in the first place? Why did they want to do such a terrible thing? He comes to the conclusion:
“Islamist extremism combines something very new—the power of internet technology—with something very old—the power of belief.”
He says that the report establishes that
“Lee Rigby’s murderers were ‘self-starting’”,
“they were not lunatics or even ‘lone wolves’. They took large doses of the drug called ideology…It was supplied by pushers who might live in their neighbourhood, but might equally well live in Yemen or Aleppo.”
Charles Moore refers to the calls that have been made to start a counter-narrative, but he notes that MI5, for all its good work, does not have—some would say that it should not have this; it is not necessarily its responsibility to have it—an ideological unit. He says:
“It is rather as if we were trying to combat Communism without knowing the theories of Marxist-Leninism.”
“Time after time, it is non-violent subversion that has prepared the ground for serious trouble”,
and he warns against the danger of running around
“trying to catch the bad fruit, instead of taking an axe to the tree.”
This is a problem that we face at a scale that is not yet insupportable, but which could get very much worse.
Somebody once said that the problem with the world is that the ignorant are cocksure and the wise are full of doubt. The problem we have is that some people with a racist, radical, totalitarian, extremist, murderous ideology have found a way, in the name of their interpretation of their God and their Prophet, to do what extremists have always wanted to do, which is to enjoy untrammelled power over everyone else.
One cannot mobilise a society or a community to counter that successfully if one confines oneself simply to dealing with individuals whom one has already recognised as at risk of radicalisation, because they will already be on the conveyor belt to an extremist outcome and, very probably, to a violent extremist outcome. What one has to do is not to be shy about the virtues of democratic politics, institutions and ideas, or about denouncing the follies and iniquities of systems based on an ideology that stands in total opposition to everything that moderate and liberal-minded people believe.
The hon. Gentleman is making such a powerful speech that I am loth to interrupt him. I am sure that he would appreciate, respect and understand the fact that we, too, have a responsibility for creating some of the conditions that have allowed this dreadful, awful and appalling ideology to take root, through decisions such as those about military adventures in the middle east, injustice in Palestine and illegal wars. In his rounded assessment, surely he should also look at our responsibility for allowing this to happen.
When I heard the hon. Gentleman, in his articulate fashion, make that point in an earlier intervention, I felt, frankly, that it was a counsel of despair. If he is saying—[Interruption.] Let me give him my answer. If he is saying that the only way to stop terrorism is to bring peace to the middle east, then, frankly, we are never going to stop terrorism. [Interruption.] I will let him intervene again in a moment if he so wishes. I want to put to him the more serious point that we have a Muslim community of between 2 million and 3 million citizens, but I am very pleased to say that out of that very large number, only a very tiny number resort to such methods. If the real cause was western folly in interfering in the middle east, that would still not justify what the tiny minority of Muslims are doing. I will give way to him again.
In no sense was my intervention an attempt to justify what is happening. It was about accepting and assuming our responsibility following the decisions that we have made. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that military adventures in the middle east have increased radicalisation, with some people finding such an ideology as a response to their ultimate and desperate frustration. Surely the hon. Gentleman must recognise that.
What I recognise is that the events the hon. Gentleman is talking about are legitimate in a democratic society for argument and disagreement, but not for resorting to terrorism.
The hon. Gentleman will forgive me for taking advantage of his good manners. In his very careful analysis, does he draw any parallel between the fact that for a long period in the 1930s Nazism was tolerated—indeed, in some parts of this country, it was welcomed—without a full understanding of the philosophy behind it, and the extravagant and extreme fruition of that philosophy in Hitler’s expansionist ambitions?
I absolutely accept that parallel. Many other parallels could be drawn that are similar to the one the right hon. and learned Gentleman has made so perceptively. For example, democracies in the 1930s faced the twin dangers of Soviet communism on the one hand and Hitlerism on the other, which is why it is understandable, although unforgivable in retrospect, that some people chose to back the Nazi approach in preference to meeting what they thought was the threat of bolshevism advancing against the western system of life and liberty.
Therefore, one can indeed draw parallels with the twin problems that we see now. There is a thousand-year war between Shi’a Muslims and Sunni Muslims. As Pete Wishart said in his interventions, as we make our attempts—sometimes misguided and sometimes more sensible—to mitigate the outcomes of such conflicts, we should not be surprised if there is a blowback effect, to some extent, on the more volatile elements in the community here. I think that I have now got his point to his satisfaction.
In conclusion, bearing in mind your precept, Mr Speaker, that one should never have more than one or perhaps two main points for somebody to take away from a contribution in the House of Commons or any other public arena, the point that I wish to urge on the Government is the same one that I have urged before with the support of—indeed, I should say under the leadership of—the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles: we need to face up to the ideology in its purest and most evil form. It is an ideology. It is not the ideology of Islam. We must mobilise and support those people in the Muslim community who wish to tackle this matter, and we must not be afraid to set up institutions and organisations that are capable of dealing with this formidable threat.
Today and over the past 10 days or so, the vast majority of people in the Muslim community in the United Kingdom, which numbers between 2.5 million and 3 million people, will have been apprehensive about what the Bill holds for them, how they will come to look at it and in what way they must play a part in delivering this policy and moving it forward. There will, of course, be those who will try to capitalise on that. They will say, “This Bill is about putting you down. It is about doing things to you because you are not regarded as full UK citizens or as belonging to society in the UK.” Those are the people we have to look at and deal with.
I stand before the House as a member of the Muslim community who believes that those people do not speak for me. The ideology that Dr Lewis spoke about is very warped. I refuse to call it a Muslim or Islamic ideology, because in no way does it encompass the beliefs that I have. To me, Islam translates as submission; it is not about torturing people and it is not about killing people of different faiths. Recognising the three great Abrahamic faiths, which belong to the book, and calling any of them kufr is certainly not justified in any way. These people will use whatever little snippet they can grab hold of, try to turn the whole thing upside down, and use that as a recruiting sergeant for their ideology. They did not have the right to cruelly butcher Alan Henning. My respects go to his whole family for what they have suffered. There is certainly no justification for that in any religion of Islam that I support, believe in and will continue to believe in.
Before I consider the issues before us, I pay a huge tribute to the police, not just in Birmingham and the west midlands where I belong, but across the country, and to the security services, which have done a tremendous job over the past decade or so to protect us all from the plots that have been mentioned by the Home Secretary and others. That is what they do, day in, day out, and they deserve huge gratitude.
As for the Bill, the first issue that I wish to raise concerns the strengthened powers of temporary restrictions on travel and the suspension of passports. A number of Members have dealt with that point, so I will try to make my remarks fairly brief. The shadow Home Secretary had a significant amount to say about it, and Mr Grieve made some important remarks about it. My hon. Friend Yasmin Qureshi also made some good points about whether legal aid would be granted to the people in question. We need to look more deeply at the proposal, because, as a number of Members have mentioned, it will leave us in a legal quagmire. I only wish the Government had taken some more time to consider it. Unless we are prepared to do that, the problems will not be dealt with properly.
On the subject of passports and people coming into the country, I do not believe that we currently have sufficient border agency staff to deal with the problem.
We need to move forward on that if we are to solve it in any way. It was said earlier in the debate that 500 people have travelled to Syria—a figure that I do not necessarily agree with—and that at least half of them have returned. If so, where are they? If we had proper passport control and exit controls, perhaps we would know. Not only are we missing those people coming back, but we are missing a huge opportunity to learn from them how they were radicalised, what their points of contact were and what happened. We miss that opportunity at our peril. I welcome the fact that the shadow Home Secretary said that she wanted to reinstate 1,000 border control personnel to fill that gap, because it is important that we deal with the problem.
I turn now to control orders, if I can call them that. I was in the Chamber when TPIMs were first discussed, and the Government did not really want to listen to the Opposition or the shadow Home Secretary. Unfortunately, we are back here now discussing control orders under different guises and different names, and there are different protestations about what we are supposed to be doing. Control orders are a difficult legal issue, but when people are significantly radicalised, it is important to try to resolve that problem. We have to start tackling it so that we can stop those people spreading their evil ideology and recruiting more people through their presence in the community. We need to find a proper answer, and we have not had the wherewithal to do that—as has been said, two people under TPIMs escaped.
The Government need to consider security arrangements overall. The new budget for the security services is welcome, but the cuts to the police and the forthcoming further cut of 30,000 people will not help. If we are saying that TPIMs are important for the safety and security of our citizens, surely we must consider how we can best put them into effect. Without the personnel on the ground, it will be difficult for us to do that.
I deal now with Prevent. My right hon. Friend Hazel Blears made a fantastic point about the work that she has done, particularly when she was in office as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. I remember a meeting that we had about some of these issues just before she left office. The issue that I raised at the time was ideology. On the subject of Prevent and how these problems are dealt with, slashing the budget from £17 million to £3 million did not help, nor did giving the responsibility to the Department for Communities and Local Government, which was not bothered about how we dealt the matter or how we moved forward, and which did hardly anything in that respect. We need to consider how we deal with radicalisation through Prevent.
I welcome the measures placed on schools, colleges, universities, prisons and young offenders institutions. Those measures will go some way. I had to deal with the “Trojan horse” schools in Birmingham, and found myself in a very lonely place. Everybody criticised me. Colleagues on the Opposition Benches were not happy with what I said. I had known for some time that there were issues that had to be dealt with. The difficulty for me was that they were not in my constituency, but in the end I got involved because I thought enough was enough. Somebody had to get involved and deal with them.
There were clear signs of what was happening in the classroom. I had taken an interest in such matters before. I spoke to head teachers of those schools, former head teachers who had been excluded from those schools, deputy head teachers, senior teachers who had been excluded from those schools, parents and governors who had been pushed out of those schools. I even spoke to students in those schools. Practices that went on were, for example, boys and girls not being allowed to sit together, and the girls being pushed to the back of the classroom so that they would know their place.
I spoke to one of the parents, who said everything was fine and none of that happened. I asked whether any of her children went to the school in question. She said that both her son and her daughter went there. I asked her to ask one of them. She asked her son. He said, “Yeah, Mum, that happens normally.” The mother asked, “Why don’t I see it?” Her son said, “When you come to school, there’s a different arrangement from what we normally do in class.” On parents evening, the parents were shown the school acting normally, but when they were not present the girls were made to sit at the back and the boys in front.
The schools had a specific interpretation of music and art and photographs of the human form or living form. The children were even told that if they had photographs of their parents or grandparents at home, or photographs of other family members, perhaps deceased, that was not right and was a crime under Islam. That is what was happening. Many people might see it as non-extremist radicalisation, but if a school has a child for eight years and passes on such teaching, what happens when the child leaves and goes to college with that ideology fixed in their mind? We need to think about how we deal with these issues and move forward.
As part of Prevent, we should recognise that we have a generation of lost young people—a small minority, as the hon. Member for New Forest East said, but still far too many.
My hon. Friend is making a very interesting contribution. Does he agree that one of the problems—only one of them—is the high degree of Islamophobia that is reported in many of our newspapers and media all the time? Any discussion about anything to do with the Muslim community rapidly descends into a quite unpleasant area. This is played out in our communities, schools, colleges and streets, and some young people are forced into extreme positions because of it. That is bad, but we should recognise that there is a bigger problem concerning perceptions in society, which has to be challenged.
I certainly agree that there are issues of Islamophobia in terms of employment, but it comes to something when people call me Islamophobic because of the work I did with the Trojan horse schools. Control of the press is difficult, given the way it sometimes tries to—excuse the pun—“sex up” certain issues. That is difficult to deal with and we need a far wiser press to do that. Trying to further excite the issue of Islamophobia affects the wider community, and we must look at that.
There are real issues about how we deradicalise our young people, and the way to do that is not to allow a half-way house—as we have done previously—or look to non-extremist organisations to hold that place. If they do that, the ideology of the non-extremist organisation allows issues to foment; we allow people to get the whole of that ideology into place, and it is then easily pushed to the next stage. That is my problem when people say that we can use some of those organisations to prevent extremism. We are currently trying to deal with issues in Birmingham, and Channel and Prevent programmes have been used with some of those organisations.
If we are to provide the safeguards we must consider the issue. Unfortunately we have had the missing link of leadership from within the Muslim community—whether the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain, or other national organisations that said they represented Muslims across the community—which did not quite deliver that. To save that lost generation, and future generations, we need a joint effort. We must start ideologically, from the point of Islam, to stop people persuading young people from within the Muslim community—including different schools of Sunni, Shi’a and other schools of thought in Islam—to be ripped away from their parents, community and societies. That is the best way to move forward. I would like to discuss other issues in the Bill, but time does not permit so I will do so at a later stage.
I often speak in the House on international issues rather than domestic home affairs, but it is important to reinforce the importance of the international context. If we talk about tackling the free flow of potential terrorists to and from various countries in Europe to states in the middle east, and if we ask the Gulf states to stop the flow of funds and support to those organisations, or ask Turkey and others in the neighbourhood to stop the flow of people across its borders, we must also play our part. It is important that we respond to the new challenge of people going as potential fighters from this country and other countries across Europe to play their part in atrocities and the awful war in the middle east that is spreading from country to country.
We can do that in our own self-interest, not only because we are legitimate potential targets for Daesh, or IS, or whatever we want to call it, but because it is the right moral and humanitarian response to try to inhibit those who would cause such unimaginable brutality, and instead to promote peace and an end to the suffering. That in turn would reduce the need for us to contribute enormous resources in humanitarian, political and even military terms to help solve these crises.
Mr Grieve was right to support the Government in saying that there is a clear and present danger to the UK from IS, as indeed there still is from al-Qaeda and other similar extremist organisations that pose a threat to the security of this country. However, it is important to remember that we have faced terrorism before, and while the dangers may be new and extremely violent, we must guard against over-reacting or reacting in such haste that in some way we compromise the liberties we seek to protect.
I am a great defender of our security and intelligence services—I have to be as the Member of Parliament for Cheltenham. I see a great tradition stretching back to the code-breakers of Bletchley Park. People regard them as absolute heroes for their contribution to surveillance and intelligence during the second world war, but the same people sometimes forget that the self-same organisation under the new name of GCHQ has continued through to the present day, and protects our liberties in a vital way. In fact, GCHQ works under a much more comprehensive scrutiny, legal and oversight framework. Such a framework did not apply to the Government code and cipher school during the second world war so, in a sense, we could say that Bletchley Park was illegal. GCHQ certainly does not act illegally.
Even my constituents in Cheltenham who work for what is euphemistically called “the office” would be the first to say that it is not for them to tell the Government or Parliament where the line should be drawn between liberty and security. It is also not for hon. Members to over-respond to the fears of the intelligence and security services in drawing those lines. We must take a measured view and judgment, and be cautious about where the line is drawn.
The Labour Opposition and Liberal Democrat Ministers have accepted that the Bill broadly strikes the right balance, and will support the Bill today. Therefore, it is right to point out that the modifications to people’s right to come back into the country with a British passport are not the same as making them stateless, and that the differences have been carefully drafted in the Bill; that the new version of TPIMs are not control orders, and that there are many differences between them; and that the data retention elements of the Bill on IP addresses were not objected to in the original draft Communications Data Bill by, for instance, the Liberal Democrats.
There are differences and the safeguards have been thought about, but there are serious questions. The former Attorney-General, the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, and my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Menzies Campbell, raised some of those questions. They spoke of the process of temporary exclusion and asked where precisely it leaves the legal status of those who are temporarily excluded or denied passports, and what their rights are to challenge those orders. There might be a suggestion in the explanatory notes or the Government’s response that we need not worry, and that processes will ensure that the orders are designed only temporarily to interrupt someone’s return to this country, so that they can be met either by a person or legal measure designed to make them less of a threat to the public, but that detail or explanation needs to be in the Bill. Perhaps the question whether the phraseology of the Bill is clear enough will be addressed in Committee.
The same goes for the questions about TPIMs. Liberty and others have suggested that TPIMs reinstate aspects of control orders that allowed for internal exile, which led to some control orders being declared illegal. They say that that is not just the wrong thing to put into legislation, but a weakness, because it would make the measures less effective.
The Open Rights Group and others have focused on some of the loose definitions in the data retention portion of the Bill. If we follow the trail of what constitutes relevant data in the Bill through the various clauses to the annexes and the explanatory notes, we find that it is not absolutely clear what relevant data are in the Bill. Internet providers are not absolutely defined, so perhaps more clarification is needed and more safeguards need to be built into the Bill in Committee.
There is a slightly deeper question. The House often responds to a challenge to security and public safety with legislation, but the response we need is often not a legislative one. Dr Lewis and other hon. Members talked about ideology. There is good evidence that many young people who go out to the middle east to take part in these battles are not really seduced by any sophisticated form—or even a perverted form—of Islamic ideology. In fact, they know very little about Islam at all. They are more seduced by attractive slick internet videos, social media and social pressures from within a peer group who have become alienated from their own communities. That is not about ideology, but a propaganda war that has to be fought. The best response to that is not always legislation. The best response may be to understand what mainstream society needs to feed back to communities and young people, and to understand why they are so alienated and why they are being seduced by these social media techniques.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that these people are not steeped in the religion of Islam, and are receiving a perverted and simplistic message. Our side of the argument still needs to be put in a comparably efficient way.
The hon. Gentleman makes a reasonable point. My underlying point is that legislation is not always the forum through which we will provide the answers to these questions.
It seems there is consensus across the House that the Bill should go forward, but there are serious questions to be answered. There needs to be careful examination in Committee to ensure that the Bill strikes the right balance between liberty and security.
Before coming on to specific provisions in the Bill, I want to say a few words on the context. Taken together, the provisions need to be subjected to a number of tests, some of which have already been debated, to see whether they are a coherent and effective way of tackling the problems we have already experienced with home-grown terrorism, and the problems of fighters in Syria and Iraq coming home, which has already started to happen.
The first and most important test, which has been discussed but needs to be reiterated, is whether proposed restrictive or intrusive measures strike the right balance between personal liberty and the right to privacy, and the degree of monitoring and restrictions placed on those who are considered to be posing a threat.
The second test is in some ways more problematic. It relates to the practical and legal framework in which any of the measures must operate to be effective in practice. The exchange between Mr Grieve and the right hon. and learned Member for North East Fife
(Sir Menzies Campbell) brought out perfectly how legal principles and practical considerations sometimes do not quite work out in the way set out in a Bill.
My final introductory point is not so much a test, but, rather, relates to having a better understanding of the paths to radicalisation, something my right hon. Friend Keith Vaz talked about. If we ignore those paths and do not understand them, there will always be a danger that proposed measures will be ill-suited to the problem we are trying to challenge.
Before saying a few words on the process of radicalisation in the UK, I want to thank, like my right hon. Friend Hazel Blears, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, and in particular its director Peter Neumann. Its work has shaped my own thinking on this subject.
Researchers who have studied the phenomenon of radicalisation have identified certain key ingredients. These include “root causes” or “grievances”, including poverty, political marginalisation and exposure to a specific ideology—we have talked about how violent jihadism seems to offer an answer, or at least an explanation, for that sense of grievance—and what my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East called “peer group pressure” and what social scientists call “social and group dynamics”. However, this area is problematic, because there are different types of group and different types of individual; some act alone, operate differently and are influenced by different means.
I shall give two examples. First, Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the London bombers, whom my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles mentioned, became disillusioned with his family and the local mosque over the teaching on arranged marriages. He wanted to make other life choices, as is modern and understandable in a young person, but the initial rejection escalated to the point where he became a violent jihadist and bought completely into the Salafist violent ideology, which was then reinforced by group loyalty. The ISC in its report studied that issue in great detail.
Secondly, by way of contrast, there is the case of Roshonara Choudhry, who tried—thankfully unsuccessfully —to murder my right hon. Friend Stephen Timms. She was a lone wolf, as the media put it, unconnected to any group; her radicalisation took place entirely on the internet. She had a grievance over foreign policy, bolstered by a growing sense of a particular version of Islamic identity, which took on a violent and ideological character. Those are some of the things that researchers have come up with and which we need to take into account.
Dr Lewis talked about counter-narrative in the context of the Prevent strategy and was asked about comparisons with Nazism in Germany and Marxist-Leninism. I understand the point, but there is a difference: the ideology we are talking about is intertwined with a particular view of Islam, which makes it a different kind of belief. Nazism and Marxist-Leninism offer particular world views, but this offers a world view that extends beyond the realms of the world—if he follows my meaning.
We ought to acknowledge that perhaps the state is entirely the wrong organ to propose a counter-narrative. If I were a Muslim in this country, I would resent the state’s telling me what Islam was and what I could believe, as I would were I a member of a Christian faith, a Hindu or any other religious believer. It is not the job of the state to tell people what views to hold. I agree that there is a need for a counter-narrative, but I do not believe it is the role of the state to come up with it—and certainly not to promote it.
Part of the Bill deals with the problem of communications data, and here I think there is one area where a certain part of the private sector could help. I refer to internet providers. Our ISC report last week referred to an unnamed internet provider that had some information about one of the people who killed Fusilier Lee Rigby that was not passed on to the agencies.
A paper that came out earlier today from the Quilliam Foundation made what I think was a sensible suggestion. It said:
“Private sector companies, particularly social media companies and ISPs, can also work to facilitate” what it calls “counterspeech”,
“in a way that provides deliverables to counter-extremism. These private companies benefit from supporting counterspeech content as a means of countering online extremism since it creates a healthier realm of ideas within their platforms and naturally develops a more hostile environment for individuals wanting to use online platforms for extremist and/or terrorist-related purposes.”
I think that is a good idea, so I hope Ministers and others will think carefully about how those companies can be used if not exactly to promote a counter-narrative, at least to provide space where a counter-narrative can exist, and perhaps in some cases even a side bar where the opposite point of view can be put.
The final issue I want to cover is TPIMs. The ISC, on which I and other right hon. and hon. Members sit, raised its concerns about them in two of our annual reports. In 2012-13, we said:
“The Committee shares the concerns of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation over what happens when individual Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures…come to the end of their two-year limit. The Government must take steps now to ensure that they have sufficient policies in place when TPIMs have reached their limit and cannot be extended.”
In our annual report of 2011-12, we said:
“The Committee is concerned about the potential increase in the overall risk as a result of the introduction of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) regime.”
My late friend, Paul Goggins, who was also member of our Committee, pursued this issue doggedly both in our Committee and on the Floor of the House. I would like to cite a point he made in June 2011:
“My final point is whether the whole new TPIM system represents the same level of risk as we had with control orders or a greater level of risk. I can only assume that the Home Secretary believes there is an increased risk from the new TPIM system, otherwise why would she be committing a serious level of resource—whatever that level is—to the police and the Security Service to help them deal with the additional work and the additional pressures that will result from the new system?”—[Hansard, 7 June 2011; Vol. 529, c. 88.]
As ever, Paul showed a sensible note of caution in what he said at the time, and in view of what has happened since, he was characteristically prescient in the remarks he made.
I started with a principle or a test, saying that the loss of civil liberties on the one hand always has to be balanced against the gains in national security on the other hand. As we have heard, those judgments still cannot be fully made in respect of large sections of the Bill. I do not oppose its Second Reading and I do not think that there is any move to do so, but a number of questions remain to be asked and a number of tests remain to be passed before everyone can feel comfortable with it, and I hope that those concerns can be laid to rest during its later stages.
Here we go again, with yet another counter-terror Bill to tackle yet another threat posed by extremism—yet another essential set of measures to keep our nation safe, and to be rushed through at breakneck speed—accompanied, predictably, by yet another escalation of the threat that we are supposed to be experiencing. We are invited to believe that we are surrounded by terror plotters and backers, jihadist bombers, extremists, and just good old-fashioned nutters. No one is safe; threats are everywhere. That is why we need this legislation as quickly as possible, just as we have needed all the other Bills as quickly as possible. There have been seven counter-terrorism and security Bills since 9/11, all of which have been rushed through Parliament, all of which have been absolutely necessary, and all of which have been fast-tracked.
I suspect that this will not be the last counter-terrorism and security Bill. In fact, I do not suspect that it will be the last of the calendar year. I suspect that there will be at least one more, perhaps two, and that they too will have to be rushed through Parliament to meet the escalating threat with which we must deal. As we have heard so many times in so many speeches, we live in an era in which there will always be an existing, growing threat for us to address. So what do we do? We do the same things.
Every counter-terrorism Bill that we have considered in the House could probably be characterised by a few key features that seem to crop up again and again. We must gather, retain and collect vast amounts of personal data from internet service providers. In this instance, internet protocols must be collected just in case we find something that could be used in the future. That cause is very dear to the Home Secretary’s heart, because she still hankers after a snoopers’ charter. She would probably have her way in the event of a majority Conservative Government next year, because I fully expect it to be included in any Conservative manifesto. We must continue to subject suspects to internal exile, for that is exactly what we are doing. I applauded the Conservatives when they reversed new Labour’s control orders—I thought that TPIMs were an improvement—but we are back to what is effectively internal exile. We are working towards depriving people of statehood. We are preventing people from travelling, and we are considering home arrest without trial. It is all the usual stuff.
My hon. Friend may recall that, during the last Parliament, 90 days of detention without trial seemed to be the litmus test of the Blair Government’s machismo. That fell by the wayside, but, in view of what my hon. Friend has been saying about those seven Bills and the “groundhog day” aspect of this debate, does he envisage a return to the “90 days” proposal?
I know that my hon. Friend has been paying real attention to some of the conversations that we have been having. That is exactly how Labour behaved. What a Government! They established and effectively monitored an anti-civil libertarian state. My hon. Friend is spot on when he reminds us of the proposal for 90-day detention. The one reason for which I applauded the incoming Conservative Government was that the first thing they did was bring about the bonfire of the ID cards and the national database. Is it not depressing that they have fallen into their old manners and customs? They are almost right back to where the Labour Government were in supporting the creation and maintenance of an anti-civil libertarian state.
We always get this wrong. At the heart of all these counter-terrorism Bills is a critical balancing act. On one hand there is our need for security—the need to make our citizens safe—and on the other hand are the civil liberties that we all enjoy as a result of being part of a democracy.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one problem is that there is a mentality and a default position that anything to do with national security and terrorism has to be dealt with by secretive special courts and a secretive special process, all designed to protect the security services from any kind of accountability? Does he agree that we should actually rely much more on the basis of the criminal law, so that where people commit criminal acts, they should be tried for that crime?
The hon. Gentleman reminds me of the last feature I wanted to include in the list of what we always see in these counter-terror Bills, which is the very thing he mentions; it is all about suspicion, and the powers of the Home Secretary and how she will be allowed to exercise them, never testing things in courts, because the evidence is not substantive enough. It is all to do with this idea that somehow we have got to make people safe in this country by proposing all sorts of control mechanisms on suspects. If the Government were serious about this—if they believed and had the courage of their convictions—they should take it to court and test it in the public court, and give people an opportunity to defend themselves. If someone is subject to one of these new TPIMs, they have no means to try to fight their defence; they have no access to having that tested in court. The Government talk about how extremism develops, about radicalisation and about the furthering of ideologies, but when they are doing things like this, it is no surprise that people might take a jaundiced view about some of the things that happen.
I enjoyed the contribution of Dr Lewis. It was good and there was very little I could disagree with. Some of the things that are necessary to tackle extremism are the sorts of things he presented, and many of the things mentioned by Hazel Blears are also absolutely necessary, but we have got to look at ourselves. We have got to look at the decisions we made. We have got to understand the things we have said, passed and done that may have inflamed the situation.
If we cannot do that, we are not acting responsibly. We have got to make sure we account for our actions and see what they led to.
I was in the House when we had the debate on the Iraq war, as were other Members, and we said what would happen as a consequence of the Iraq war—an illegal war that inflamed opinion and passions not just in communities here, but communities around the world. We said that there would be a consequence and a reaction. That has come true. That has happened. The reason why we are now having to mop up with this type of legislation and these types of measures is because of some of the critical decisions we took, and some of the appalling and bad decisions we made and are still accounting for.
Does the hon. Gentleman not recognise that, in equal measure, the decision not to intervene in the events in Syria may also have inflamed the feelings of some of the people who saw the terrible events played out on their screens showing what was happening to vulnerable families in those circumstances?
What I accept is that there was a failure to recognise some of the international dynamics that influence communities in this country. The solution always seems to be that we have to intervene—that we have got to try to make the world better—and sometimes we are unaware of the unintended consequences that come from that. All I am saying to this House is that at some point we have got to acknowledge what we have done in terms of framing the conditions and setting the environment in which these things happen. By failing to do that, and by failing to acknowledge that type of issue, we will be hampered in our approach to these matters, and the very good things in Prevent and all the anti-radicalisation programmes will fall and fail, because we will have missed out a crucial part of the holistic view we need to take of these things.
Syria has been mentioned. Last year the idea was to intervene in Syria on one side, but this year the idea was to intervene on the other side. As we encourage professionals in all walks of life in this country to critically self-assess, my hon. Friend is right to say that we should be moving towards a point where Government and MPs and Parliament critically self-assess what the consequences of our actions have been over decades past.
Again, my hon. Friend is spot-on. We should be proofing anything we suggest and put through, and assessing the impact and effect it might have and any unintended consequences on communities we represent. If we were to do that, we would start to make progress.
What does the Bill do? It is specifically designed to tackle the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State, which, according to the Home Secretary, has given energy and a renewed sense of purpose to subversive Islamist organisations and radical leaders in Britain. No kidding, Madam Deputy Speaker. What does this rush Bill propose that is different from all the others? It has got all the usual features, of course, because they are the bedrock—
Order. If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to deal with the 7 o’clock motion, I will come back to him so that he can complete his speech.
The debate stood adjourned (
Motion made, and Question put forthwith (
Question agreed to.