Counter-Terrorism: Conflict Zones

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 2nd March 2015.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:31 pm, 2nd March 2015

The shadow Home Secretary did raise a number of serious issues. She asked about Prevent and on that issue I have to say to her that she needs to stop using the numbers she likes to quote. She tries to compare Prevent before the election with Prevent after the election, but in 2011 we took the very important decision to split work on integration, which is now the sole responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government, and Prevent. That was done for very good reasons, and if the right hon. Lady wants to securitise integration work again, I suggest to her that she has not learned from the mistakes by the Government of whom she was a member. I would like her to say, at some stage: whether she supports the changes we have made to Prevent; whether she supports the fact that Prevent now looks at non-violent extremism as well as violent extremism; and whether she supports the changes we have made to make sure that no public money finds its way to extremists, as it did under the Government of whom she was a member.

The right hon. Lady made various comments about TPIMs, and has done so outside this Chamber, asking why I did not put certain individuals on TPIMs. I cannot comment on individual cases, but I think she should understand how TPIMs work and how control orders worked. I do not decide to put somebody on a TPIM; the Security Service makes an application to me for permission to put somebody on a TPIM and if it has made a strong enough case, I approve the application. If she thinks that the Home Secretary should be taking operational decisions, I suggest that she should study the history of our constitution.

The right hon. Lady raised the issue of control orders, but, as I have said at this Dispatch Box many times, control orders were being whittled away by the courts—they were not a sustainable system. TPIMs have, in contrast, consistently been upheld by the courts. She mentioned relocation, and, of course, the House has just passed the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which adds relocation to the TPIM regime. I understand that she told the BBC on Sunday:

“I think effectively— that TPIMs and control orders are—

“the same thing if you bring the relocation powers back”

That is precisely what we have done.

The right hon. Lady says the power to relocate has not always been there, but what she fails to say is that the cases that have been raised in the media date from the time when control orders and the power of relocation were in place. At no point has anybody from the police or Security Service said to me that if we had the power of relocation we would be able to prevent people from travelling to Syria. Indeed, at the weekend, Helen Ball, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, said—and they have said consistently—

“short of locking someone up for 24 hours a day, you can’t eliminate the risk they pose.”

The shadow Home Secretary herself said yesterday about control orders:

“We can’t pretend it’s going to solve all of the problems.”

I agree with her, which is why we consistently look at the powers available to the police and the security services in dealing with this issue. But, as I made absolutely clear in the answer to her question, this is not just a question of government and the powers we give to the police and to the security services; this is about families and communities as well, and we all need to work together to ensure that we can defeat this poisonous ideology.