With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on David Anderson’s report published today on recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. The attacks that took place this year shocked us all. Our thoughts remain with the victims of the attacks and all those affected by them. I am conscious that many will still be suffering acutely. However painful, it is essential that we examine what happened so that we can maximise the chances of preventing further attacks.
At the outset, I would like to remind hon. Members of the context. Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5, recently said that we were facing “a dramatic upshift” in terrorist threats. As the so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq has weakened, so Daesh has increasingly turned its attention to encouraging people to launch attacks in their home countries. Indeed, there is more terrorist activity, partly inspired and also enabled by terrorist propaganda and instructional videos online. Plots are developing more quickly from radicalisation to attack and threats are becoming harder to detect, partly due to the challenge of accessing communications that are increasingly end-to-end encrypted.
MI5 and counter-terrorism policing are currently running well over 500 live operations—up one third since the beginning of the year—involving roughly 3,000 subjects of interest. In addition, over 20,000 further individuals —closed subjects of interest—have previously been investigated and may again pose a threat. I pay tribute to MI5 and the police, who work tirelessly to keep us safe. I can announce today that they have now disrupted 22 Islamist terrorist plots since the murder of Lee Rigby in May 2013, including nine since the Westminster attack this March.
I will now turn to the reviews. Counter-terrorism policing and MI5 have conducted a thorough review process, and I have received from them 10 highly classified documents that analyse the attacks and potential improvements to operational practices. In June, I commissioned David Anderson QC to provide independent assurance of, and external challenge to, the reviews. I am today placing a copy of his unclassified assessment of the reviews in the House of Commons Library. Copies will also be made available in the Vote Office.
David Anderson concludes that the reviews have been carried out in an “impressively thorough and fair” manner, and he endorses, so far as he feels qualified to do so, the conclusions and recommendations. Based on the MI5 and police reviews, David Anderson explains that, in the case of the Westminster attack, Khalid Masood was a closed subject of interest at the time of the attack and that neither MI5 nor the police had any reason to anticipate the attack. Regarding the Manchester Arena attack, Salman Abedi was also a closed subject of interest at the time of the attack and so not under active investigation. In early 2017, MI5 none the less received intelligence on him that was assessed as not being related to terrorism. In retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to have been highly relevant. It cannot be known whether, had an investigation been reopened at the time, Abedi’s plans could have been stopped. MI5 assesses that it would have been unlikely.
Across the attacks, including Manchester Arena, David Anderson notes that MI5 and counter-terrorism policing got a great deal right. In relation to Manchester, however, he also commented:
“It is conceivable that the…attack...might have been averted had the cards fallen differently”.
In the case of London Bridge, Khuram Butt was an active subject of interest who had been under investigation since mid-2015. A number of different investigative means were deployed against him, but they did not reveal his plans. His two conspirators had never been investigated by MI5 or counter-terrorism policing. In regards to Finsbury Park, neither MI5 nor the police had any intelligence about this attack.
Taken as a whole, MI5 and counter-terrorism policing conclude that they could not
“find any key moments where different decisions would have made it likely that they could have stopped any of the attacks”.
None the less, they go on to make a total of 126 recommendations. The recommendations made in the MI5 and police operational review fall into four broad categories. First, there needs to be a concerted effort to enhance the ability of MI5 and the police to use data to detect activity of concern and to test new approaches in the acquisition, sharing and analysis of data. Secondly, MI5 should share its intelligence more widely, and work with partners such as local authorities on how best to manage the risk posed by closed subjects of interest in particular. We are considering undertaking multi-agency pilots in a number of areas, including Greater Manchester, and I have already started discussing how to take this forward with Andy Burnham. Thirdly, there should be a new approach to managing domestic extremism, particularly extreme right-wing groups, where their activity meets the definition of terrorism. Fourthly, a large number of detailed and technical changes could be made to improve existing operational counter-terrorism processes.
David Anderson ends his report with several reflections. The first is that intelligence is imperfect and that investigators are making tough judgments based on incomplete information. This unfortunately means that not every attack can be stopped. As we do not live in a surveillance state, it will always be a challenge to law enforcement to stop determined attackers getting through. Despite this, we should remember that most attacks continue to be successfully disrupted. Lastly, David Anderson concludes that even marginal improvements are capable of paying dividends that could tip the balance in favour of the security forces in future cases.
I have discussed these reviews at length with David Anderson, and separately with Andrew Parker and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, as well as their senior teams. I am grateful for all their work and am confident that they have asked the right questions and drawn the right conclusions. I am clear, as are they, that the implementation of the recommendations is crucial. There will be those who seek to apportion blame for the attacks. We should be united in our clarity that it lies squarely with those whose cowardly acts killed 36 innocent people this year and with those who encouraged them. At the same time, we must learn all that we can from these attacks and make sure that our overall counter-terrorism response is equal to the shift we have seen in the threat.
I want to turn briefly now to the next steps. Bringing those responsible to justice is our priority. We must not do anything that jeopardises criminal prosecutions being pursued in relation to Manchester and Finsbury Park. The coroners’ investigations will probe the matter further and independently assess the circumstances of the deaths. Inquests have already been opened into the attacks and suspended where criminal investigations are continuing. It is right that those inquests proceed wherever they can. If the coroners consider that they cannot fully deal with the relevant issues, that is the point to decide whether an inquiry is needed. We are ruling nothing out.
I welcome the Intelligence and Security Committee’s intention to make these attacks its top priority, and I have already discussed this with my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve. As I have already outlined, implementation of the recommendations will be crucial. I have asked David Anderson to provide an independent stock-take of progress in a year’s time. Linked to implementation, however, are resources. We will shortly be announcing the budgets for policing for 2018-19, and I am clear that we must ensure that counter-terrorism policing has the resources needed to deal with the threats we face.
These recommendations need to fit into the broader Government review of our counter-terrorism strategy. That review reaches well beyond MI5 and counter-terrorism policing to look at the whole of government response and at how we can work better with communities, the private sector and international partners. I would like to conclude by thanking David Anderson for his independent assurance of these reviews, and I again pay tribute to the excellent work of the police and MI5. I end as I started. The thoughts of everyone in this House and the other place are with the victims, their families and all those affected by the attacks. I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Home Secretary for prior sight of both the report and her statement. It was sad to read the report and to reimagine, and almost relive, the terrible terrorist incidents that we have seen this year, but it must be infinitely sad for the relatives of the victims and for the survivors. As the Home Secretary has said, the thoughts of everyone in the House are with those relatives and survivors today.
The report is by way of a quality assurance of a series of internal reviews. As David Anderson himself points out,
“internal processes have potential downsides: complacency, the concealment of unpalatable facts and slowness to see the need for change.”
It is important that David Anderson endorses, as far as he feels qualified to do so, the conclusions and recommendations of the internal reviews. As the Home Secretary observed, David Anderson notes that MI5 and counter-terrorism policing got a great deal right in relation to the attacks as a whole. However, he also says that
“the Manchester attack in particular might have been averted had the cards fallen differently”.
Labour Members believe that that is a telling phrase.
As the Home Secretary noted, Salman Abedi was a closed subject of interest and was not under active investigation, but MI5 came by intelligence in the months before the attack which—as David Anderson puts it—had its true significance been properly understood, would have caused an investigation into him to be reopened. He was identified as one of a small number of closed subjects of interest who merited further consideration, but, sadly, the meeting to discuss that was scheduled for
One of the most important recommendations in the report is the need for better sharing of intelligence. Will the Home Secretary say more about the multi-agency pilots, and about where her discussions with my colleague Andy Burnham, the former Member of Parliament for Leigh and the Mayor of Manchester, are going? I think that he would like to know that as well.
The Home Secretary concedes that linked to the implementation of review recommendations are resources. As we say on this side of the House, you cannot keep people safe on the cheap. The Home Secretary will shortly be announcing the budgets for policing in 2017-18. She talks about ensuring that those involved in counter-terrorism policing have the resources that they need, but David Anderson comments that
“the indicative profile of their grant allocation over the next three years sees a reduction of 7.2% in their budgets.”
Does the Home Secretary accept that comment, and does she agree with David Anderson’s remarks about the reliance of MI5 and counter-terrorism agencies on community policing? Does she accept that proper funding for community policing is at least as important as resources for counter-terrorism proper?
Community policing is the frontline of the community’s defence against terror. I thank MI5 and the counter-terrorism agencies for their great work on these matters and convey to them the respect in which they are held by Labour Members, but I must repeat that this comes down to resources, not just for counter-terrorism as such but for community policing.
I thank the right hon. Lady for her questions. Let me say in response to her point about the run-up to the decision making on the Manchester attack that David Anderson also said that the decision made by MI5 at the different points during the run-up to that attack was ”understandable”, based on the volume of intelligence that was coming through and the operational decisions that were made.
The right hon. Lady asked about the better sharing of data. There is already substantial sharing of data, but the report signals that more could be done. Learning from the actual attacks and from the attacks that have been foiled gives a particular momentum to that initiative. She also asked about the multi-agency pilots. For some years, people have been saying that we need to ensure that more information about closed subjects of interest, in particular, flows across local authority areas, and we are now addressing that head-on. Of course policing, particularly community policing, plays a key role, but there will also be interaction with health and education authorities. We want to work on pilots that address the multi-agency approach, so that we can collect information in a way that will not only support communities, but ensure that we have more information on the closed subjects of interest.
I would not want the right hon. Lady to imply that the report contains any suggestion that the attacks would not have taken place if there had been more resources. It is fine to ask about more resources, and I have acknowledged that more will be needed, but I should point out that in 2015 the Government recognised the need for more resources, and increased their investment in the counter-terrorism budgets from £11.7 billion to £15.1 billion in 2015-20 to ensure that this country, through this Government, is always properly resourced in that regard.
It is a truism, but one that I think must sometimes be remembered, that we are in no position to guarantee 100% safety from terrorism for the population of this country. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary may agree with me that what we must strive to do is run a system of counter-terrorism and intelligence that is as efficient and effective as is humanly possible, so that we can provide as much protection as possible against the type of dreadful attack that we have seen in past months.
In that context, does my right hon. Friend agree that what appears to shine through the Anderson report is first that there is a high level of efficiency, which he was able to recognise, and secondly that there is a need for change in the way in which the work of the counter-terrorism agencies and MI5 is linked in the sharing of intelligence? The main focus of the Intelligence and Security Committee, of which I am Chairman, might most profitably be directed towards ensuring that that happens.
I assure my right hon. Friend that the Committee will undoubtedly review what has been done in considering what lessons are to be learnt. However, rather than just trying to reinvent the wheel in respect of what Mr Anderson has done, we will endeavour to establish whether we can maximise the efficiency of both services.
Order. I indulged Mr Grieve with some latitude on account of both his senior position in the House and the fact that the statement had referred to him. May I very politely suggest to Members that they should always seek to imitate the eloquence of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but they need feel no obligation to match his length?
I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his approach. We should be very grateful for his review of the implementation phase that will now take place. He is absolutely right to say that ensuring that the 126 recommendations are implemented during the next year is critical to the benefits that we can secure and the learning that we have as a result of the review. As David Anderson says in his report, making those changes could make a really significant difference in the future, potentially stopping attacks, but, as he also says, not necessarily stopping every attack.
I thank the Home Secretary for giving me advance sight of her statement, and I join her in paying tribute to our police and security services, and in remembering the dead, the injured, their loved ones and all those affected by these terrible attacks. I commend David Anderson for his usual thorough and excellent work, and I welcome his recommendations and reflections, which will be studied in detail by my colleagues in the Scottish Government.
The Home Secretary has spoken of next steps. I suggest to her that international co-operation is vital in the fight against terrorism. As the House has often heard, organised crime and terrorism do not respect borders, and it is essential that our police and security services can access the information systems, support and technical expertise that are available through Europol, not only to make people in the UK safe but to contribute to making Europe safer. Unfortunately, at the security conference in Berlin last week, Michel Barnier said that it would not be possible for the United Kingdom to remain a member of Europol after Brexit. In the light of today’s report and the unprecedented threat that we face from terrorism, if European Court of Justice jurisdiction has to be accepted in order to maintain our membership of Europol and access to our current levels of data sharing, surely the matter of security should be our first priority, rather than a red line over European Court of Justice jurisdiction.
The hon. and learned Lady makes an important point about the international nature of these matters. We have seen some of the examples that David Anderson reviewed, and international travel was one of the elements that led up to these attacks. It is incredibly important that we continue to have access to the systems that keep our people, and our people in Europe, safe. The best way to do that is to continue to have the sort of close relationship that we have with Europol and with other instruments such as the second generation Schengen information system—SIS II—and the European arrest warrant. That is why we have proposed a third-party treaty, through which we hope we can dock into the European Union and continue to work with EU countries to ensure that we keep their people and our people safe. I am hopeful that we will be able to arrive at such an agreement. Early indications from my conversations with other Home Secretaries across Europe are that we can do that, and I would say respectfully to Monsieur Barnier that I disagree with his interpretation that the UK is stepping away from keeping Europe safe. We remain just as committed to ensuring that we keep Europe safe, and that reflects the view of the Home Office and of the Government.
I am also a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee. I should like to ask the Home Secretary two questions. First, resources are obviously crucial, but this is also a matter of how our intelligence agencies are able to cope with the changing threat. Does she think that the agencies are capable of making that move? Secondly, we have had recommendations in the past, but they have not been implemented. How is she going to make certain that the recommendations in the Anderson report are implemented?
My right hon. Friend raises two important points. Yes, the intelligence agencies are capable of making those changes. They have done a thorough review themselves and, as David Anderson has said, they have released information to him and been candid in their approach. They have shown themselves to be willing to embark on the changes that are needed. We all want to ensure that the recommendations are implemented, and I am pleased to say that David Anderson has agreed to participate in that. We will ensure that the review continues with external assurance from him. I also hope that my right hon. Friend’s Committee will play a role in ensuring that that implementation takes place.
I join the Home Secretary in condemning the terrorists who commit these vile attacks, and in extending our thoughts to the families affected. I also pay tribute to the work of MI5 and the police. They have very difficult judgments to make, and they do that with great integrity and expertise. I welcome their willingness to reflect on where there might have been an operational response that needed to change or to be improved, and we have to enable them to do that. I have already raised with the Home Secretary my concern about whether Salman Abedi should have been on watch lists. Can she tell me now, in the light of this report, what action she will take to ensure better co-operation between MI5 and the Border Force in all cases where suspects should be on watch lists?
I thank the right hon. Lady for her question. She is right to say that the security services have taken an unflinching look internally to see what they could do better, and I know that we all welcome that. This is an area that is covered in the report, and we must do better. We must have better alert systems relating to people coming and going, and ports alerts will be one area in which we will see a marked change.
The shadow Secretary of State referred to resources, but that involves not only money but powers. I had the privilege of sitting on the Investigatory Powers Bill Committee. Does the Secretary of State think that the powers in that legislation have helped the security services to thwart the 22 attacks that she identified?
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for drawing attention to the important assistance that we can give to the security services and the police to enable them to keep us safe. She is right to say that the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 is crucial in that regard. We are also looking ahead to a new counter-terrorism Bill next year, to ensure that we can have additional, carefully thought-out powers to keep people safe, and I hope that Ms Abbott and her team will consider supporting that legislation, because keeping people safe should be our priority.
I strongly agree with the Home Secretary that all our thoughts are with those affected by and suffering from these vile crimes. In September, the Met Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, said that counter-terrorism work
“puts a strain not just on counter-terror police but neighbourhood officers and all our officers and staff”.
Does the Home Secretary agree with the commissioner?
I bow to no one in the admiration I have for the work of the police in supporting counter-terrorism policing and the security services. Their work is a critical part of defending this country and dealing with counter-terrorism, and we recognise that the increase in the number of threats puts additional strain on them as well.
I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement, and particularly her reference to the evolving threat that might emerge as the caliphate that Daesh declared collapses. What work is she planning to do with our “Five Eyes” partners at international level to tackle that emerging threat?
That is an important point. A lot of the radicalisation of those people takes place online, which means that we need to take an international approach to ensure that more of that information is taken down, to stop people becoming radicalised. The “Five Eyes” have been leading on this, and the UK’s relationship with the US, in particular, has led to the first global internet forum for counter-terrorism being set up in the summer of last year. This is leading the way in ensuring that the sort of information we all want to see taken down is indeed removed.
The Home Secretary has rightly said that there has been an increase in attacks by right-wing extremists over the past 12 months. She said in her statement that she plans a new approach to domestic extremism, and I am sure that the Intelligence and Security Committee, on which I also sit, will look at that. Will she give us an indication today of how that new approach will manifest itself?
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question, and I know that he does great work on the ISC, which will provide important oversight of this report. One of its recommendations is that MI5 should oversee and engage with extreme right-wing terrorism in the same way that it does with international terrorism. That is the recommendation, and there are some clear implementations that go alongside it. We will be following that up, with his Committee and with the security services, to ensure that that takes place.
I, too, welcome today’s statement. One of its main planks relates to data, and that involves not only sharing data but checking for concerning activity. Will the Home Secretary tell us whether she is having talks with internet companies about their platforms being used for terrorist purposes?
This has come up on a number of occasions before. All of us in the House want the internet companies to do more to take down potentially radicalising material and to engage more with the security services by telling us when people are looking at material or are buying things that could help to make bombs. There is a lot more we can do with these companies, and I hope that they will engage with us to ensure we deliver on that.
What more can we insist that the social media providers do, and what more do we have to do internationally? If we get this partnership right, it will help greatly in defeating the terrorists. If we do not get it right, frankly, the social media providers will be negligent in their responsibilities and will ultimately be responsible for terrorist attacks and potential deaths.
That is a good point, which Governments are trying to make constantly to the social media companies. I am encouraged by the work so far, but in no way complacent. Today, Google announced it will be putting in additional investment, and many of the larger companies have said they are beginning to recruit many more people—hundreds, sometimes thousands. Critically, they are investing in machine-learning, so that the videos we all hate and do not want—the information that radicalises some young people—do not have to be seen in order to be taken down. We want the social media companies to invest in machine-learning and artificial intelligence so that this material can be taken down before it is seen.
I thank the Home Secretary for her statement. Will she update the House on the Government’s work to combat the terrorist threat from extreme right-wing groups?
We want to stop all sorts of terrorism, including extreme right-wing terrorism. That is why I was the first Home Secretary to ban an extreme right-wing group last year, National Action, and I will make sure that we always proscribe groups where we have due cause to do so.
The head of the German intelligence agency this week raised his concerns about those returning from Syria as the Daesh heartland is degraded. How confident is the Home Secretary that the important intelligence co-operation with Germany and our other European partners will continue into the future?
We share the concerns of most of my opposite numbers throughout Europe about returning foreign fighters. We are vigilant in making sure that, where we know they are coming back or have information on them, we track them, restrict them, monitor them if we can and stop them if we can, and we work very well across Europe with other partners to share information on that. I should also point out that on the intelligence side, a lot of the information shared is outside the EU, through the Counter Terrorism Group.
It is right that the Government have increased funding for GCHQ, the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service. The Home Secretary mentioned announcing new police budgets soon. What can the Government do to encourage chief constables, city mayors, and police and crime commissioners in the West Mercia, West Midlands and Greater Manchester regions and elsewhere to ensure that those police budgets are targeted in such a way that they support regional and smaller Special Branch units, not just the national agencies?
My hon. Friend is right: it is important not to lose sight of the local support and local impact that is needed. From 2015, we set up the counter-terrorism units, which are units that are based locally and have local information available to them and the sort of local community-based engagement that I know all Members expect.
The Home Secretary and shadow Home Secretary are right that this House stands firmly in opposition to the terrorism that scarred Manchester and London earlier this year. In a welcome move, the Home Secretary has made resources available for the Greater Manchester Police to deal with the attack on Manchester Arena; will she now do the same for the Metropolitan police, because they might otherwise face a bill of up to £32 million, and that will mean fewer police officers going forward?
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was clear that we would make those resources available to Manchester, and we have done that. We will look carefully at the proposal from the Mayor of London, to see how we can assist. We will have to see the evidence first, but are likely to give the same sort of support.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that our security services are second to none in being proactive through the use of initiatives such as Prevent, without which we would probably be far worse off?
That is an interesting point, and we do need to safeguard individuals who might become victims of radicalisation. The Prevent programme strives to do exactly that, and between 2015 and 2016 has diverted over 300 people through the Channel programme, who might otherwise have sought to do us harm on the streets.
May I add my tribute to that of the Home Secretary, not least given the experiences in my constituency with Islamist and far-right extremism? As the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, my right hon. Friend Yvette Cooper, said, concerns have been raised about individuals travelling in and out in the cases of both Salman Abedi and one of the alleged London Bridge attackers, who was apparently detained by the Italian authorities in Bologna, and that was reported to the UK. Will the Home Secretary say a little more about her plans to strengthen border checks and information sharing, particularly on exit, as well as on entry?
The hon. Gentleman is right: in those two attacks there is evidence of the attackers moving around, and, as is highlighted in the report, we need to do better at recording and communicating that information. It is crucial that that recommendation is implemented. The recommendation also dovetails with the general recommendation of better use of data. I hope that the ability to access such information more effectively and efficiently will prove to be one of the incremental improvements that will help to keep us safe.
My right hon. Friend’s Department will have received a letter from west midlands mayor Andy Street on our police funding, which I hope she will consider appropriately. Will she also ensure that local police forces, including mine in the west midlands, have all the resources they need to do their important counter-terrorism work?
Police budgets for 2018-19 will be set shortly, before Christmas. I reassure my hon. Friend that we will also always bear in mind police forces’ needs in dealing with counter-terrorism.
I echo the tributes paid to the police and security services and the comprehensive report brought before the House today. I agree with the Home Secretary that data sharing is key. When information about Salman Abedi was flagged in early 2017, that was not shared with local police services. If it had been flagged with those on the ground, who perhaps had the fuller view of what was going on in the community, further action could perhaps have been taken.
On resources, I echo what has been said: the frontline of counter-terrorism is community police, and also youth services, community groups, charities and others who operate on the frontline. We need a holistic view of that.
On the costs incurred, in Greater Manchester in particular, I thank the Home Secretary for making sure that the policing budget will be fully reimbursed, and thank her colleague, Seema Kennedy, for working with me to make sure that was the case. Can we make sure that we never have to ask again, and that it will from now on just be something that is done automatically?
I agree with much of what the hon. Lady said, but would point out that it is not just about policing, important though policing and community policing are; it is about the wider community as well, which is why we are approaching this differently and saying that we want to have a multiagency approach. We will be trialling that—including in Manchester, we hope—so that we can work out how best to yield the information in a supportive, positive way, so that we have better ears and eyes on the ground. I hope the hon. Lady will engage with us positively to support that.
Hampshire police recently undertook anti-terrorism training at its headquarters in Hamble in my constituency. It was absolutely fascinating and deeply reassuring for my constituents, and it highlighted the cross-border work with Thames Valley police following what happened in London and Manchester. Will the Home Secretary also consider the marine threat around the Solent and the risk of threat coming over the water, ensuring that that is highlighted in any approach that she takes to counter-terrorism?
My hon. Friend raises an important point. It is reassuring to hear of her positive experience of the training, but we are of course looking at what more we can do in the marine environment. We work closely with Border Force to ensure that we always stay on top of evolving crime, and I hope that we can continue to make progress there, as we do in other areas.
The Home Secretary will be well aware of the serious continuing threat from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland. We also have no Assembly and no Justice Minister. When she reviews the finances of the police forces that have to tackle terrorism, I urge the Home Secretary, for whom I have enormous regard, to give the Police Service of Northern Ireland additional funding for its counter-terrorism role. The other budgets are controlled by the Assembly, but PSNI should have further funding for that role.
The hon. Lady makes such an important point. I am of course aware of the ongoing terrorist attacks, which we take as seriously as any terrorism throughout the country. I also take seriously her point about ensuring that there is sufficient funding.
I reassure the hon. Lady that this is not a case of stopping or pausing, doing a review and making changes. As is shown in David Anderson’s report, a copy of which I have just put in the Library, MI5 has already started to make many changes, one of which relates to ports alerts, as mentioned by several hon. Members today. We are already ensuring that action is being taken to make improvements, as set out in the report.
With British combatants already arriving back on these shores after having fought for Daesh in Iraq and Syria, will the Home Secretary fast-track the new terrorism Bill? Will she consider including a reversal of this Government’s decision to permanently lower the limit on pre-charge detention to 14 days? The whole House will agree with the Government’s position that such people should face trial, but is there not a significant danger that many will be allowed to roam free in their communities while the Government and law enforcement agencies build a case against them?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support for the counter-terrorism Bill. We have already announced several changes that we will be bringing forward in that legislation to ensure, for example, that we have tougher sentencing so that convicted terrorists stay away for longer and that not just streaming, but downloading radicalisation videos online will also be a criminal offence. The hon. Gentleman’s last point is interesting, and I will have to come back to him on that, but I welcome his support for a CT Bill, because I am not convinced that I will get it from the entire Opposition. I will single him out as someone who supports us.
The Home Secretary has to accept that £1 billion-worth of cuts to the Metropolitan police has had an impact on counter-terrorism. She said that she intends to increase funding for counter-terrorism, but will she guarantee that that will not come at the expense of essential community policing?
I caution the hon. Gentleman on suggesting that resources are in any way to blame for the attacks this year—the ones that were foiled and the ones that were not. If he takes a careful look at the document—it has only just been placed in the Library, so I suspect he has not seen it yet—he will see clear recommendations and issues that are not specific to resources. We recognise that there has been an upshift, as David Anderson called it, or change in the number of attacks that we are seeing in this country, and that will require not only a change in powers—the CT Bill that we have proposed—but potential additional resources.
Every Greater Manchester MP, Mayor Andy Burnham and Richard Leese, the leader of the city council, have signed a joint letter to the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee expressing our concern that Salman Abedi’s name was shared with our colleagues in America and subsequently leaked, placing Chief Constable Ian Hopkins and the investigation in an intolerable situation. Does the Home Secretary share our deep concern about that?
Many of us—not least my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister—raised that issue with our opposite numbers, and such leaks are completely unwelcome and inappropriate. However, we must not underestimate our incredibly important close relationship with the US on intelligence sharing and support, and we must be cautious of any eventuality that might endanger that relationship. That sort of close intelligence sharing saves lives in this country.
Every day, we are bombarded with a torrent of hate-filled, intolerant and sometimes downright violent language from the pages of mainstream newspapers and websites and elsewhere. Does the Home Secretary agree that that in itself is a form of non-violent extremism? Does she believe that we have the right balance between respecting free speech and freedom of expression and preventing those freedoms from being abused in a way that inevitably incites others to convert violent words into violent actions?
Whether we have the right balance is a very big question indeed. From a legislative point of view, we will always look carefully at what is inspiring people to take violent action and, where we can, we will take action against it, such as proscribing National Action. It is critical that we remember the victims and their families, who are the ones who suffer following attacks, and we will take whatever action we can to ensure that they are well supported, which they always will be under this Government.