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Minor and consequential amendments

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 11th September 2018.

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Votes in this debate

Amendments made: 11, page 73, line 29, at end insert—

“Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 (c. 47)

18A In section 8A of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 (criminal advice and assistance: automatic availability in certain circumstances), in subsection (2) at the end insert—

“(d) a person who is detained under section 41 of, or Schedule 7 to, the Terrorism Act 2000, or

(e) a person who is detained under Part 1 of Schedule3 to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2018.””

Section 8A of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 confers power on the Scottish Ministers to provide for legal advice and assistance in relation to criminal matters to be available, without reference to certain financial limits or criteria, to the description of clients listed in that section. This amendment would add to that description persons who are detained in Scotland under Schedule 3 to the Bill or under section 41 of, or Schedule 7 to, the Terrorism Act 2000. See also the explanatory statement to Amendment 12.

Amendment 12, page 77, line 25, at end insert—

“Advice and Assistance and Civil Legal Aid (Financial Conditions and Contributions) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (S.S.I. 2011/217)

25A (1) In regulation 8 of the Advice and Assistance and Civil Legal Aid (Financial Conditions and Contributions) (Scotland) Regulations 2011—

(a) the words from “to whom” to the end become paragraph (a), and

(b) at the end of that paragraph insert “, or

(b) who is detained—

(i) under section 41 of, or Schedule 7 to, the Terrorism Act 2000, or

(ii) under Part 1 of Schedule3 to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2018.”

(2) Nothing in sub-paragraph (1) affects any power under the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 to revoke or amend any provision of the regulations amended by that sub-paragraph.”

This amendment would secure that legal advice and assistance will be available to persons detained in Scotland under Schedule 3 to the Bill, or under section 41 of, or Schedule 7 to, the Terrorism Act 2000, without reference to the financial limits set out in section 8 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986. See also the explanatory statement to Amendment 11.

Amendment 20, page 79, line 21, at end insert—

“Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (c. 25)

31A In section 29 of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (power to order preparatory hearing), in subsection (6)(e), after “purposes of terrorism” insert “, eliciting information about armed forces etc, entering or remaining in a designated area”.”

This amendment is consequential on NC2.

Amendment 21, page 79, line 22, at end insert—

“31B The Terrorism Act 2000 is amended as follows.”

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 23.

Amendment 22, page 79, line 23, leave out

“of the Terrorism Act 2000”.

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 21.

Amendment 23, page 79, line 23, at end insert—

“32A In section 23A (forfeiture: other terrorism offences etc), in the list of provisions in subsection (2)(a), after the entry relating to section 57, 58 or 58A insert—

“section 58B (entering or remaining in a designated area);”.

32B In section 118 (defences), in subsection (5)(a), after “58A,” insert “58B,”.”

This amendment is consequential on NC2.

Amendment 24, page 79, line 29, at end insert—

“34A In section 27 (meaning of “terrorism offence”), in the list of provisions in subsection (1)(a), after the entry relating to sections 56 to 58A insert—

“section 58B (entering or remaining in a designated area),”.”

This amendment is consequential on NC2.

Amendment 25, page 79, line 36, at end insert—

“35A In section 41 (offences to which Part 4 applies: terrorism offences), in subsection (1)(a), in the entry relating to sections 56 to 61, after “purposes of terrorism” insert “eliciting information about members of armed forces etc, entering or remaining in a designated area”.”—(Mr Wallace.)

This amendment is consequential on NC2. It clarifies that the offence under the new section 58B is included among the offences to which Part 4 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 applies (which provides for notification requirements for persons convicted of terrorism offences).

Third Reading

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 7:23 pm, 11th September 2018

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

On 22 May last year, I was woken from my slumber by the tragic news of the attack on the Manchester Arena: the murder of women, children and men who had been out enjoying their day and night at the arena. A member of ISIS chose to target them ruthlessly, in a way that showed total discrimination, when they were at their least defensible. Last year, society faced numerous attacks from terrorists. In March this year, we saw the reckless and very dangerous use of the Novichok nerve agent on our streets, which sadly led to the death of a British citizen.

The Government did not knee-jerk—we did not jump, as has sometimes happened over the past few decades, to take measures. The Government considered the issues, considered our vulnerabilities and not only took strong steps to produce a Bill that will help our security forces and our police tackle the changing threats, but were determined to be as collaborative as possible throughout the legislating process. Tonight, Members will have heard how we rightly accepted the observations from the Labour Front Bench and the SNP about some of the measures. The Labour party and the Government discussed the streaming of content online and came up with a sensible solution to make sure that people who stream horrific material are brought to justice.

This is not an attention-seeking Bill; it is a Bill designed to make a difference, to make our streets safer, to make our citizens safer and to send a message that one of the reasons the United Kingdom is one of the world leaders in counter-terrorism is that we not only learn our lessons from every event, but build on the experience of previous Governments. Much of the Bill is built on the back of the Terrorism Act 2000, which was brought in by the last Labour Government. We have taken the best elements and learned from our experiences and the threats to produce a piece of legislation that in my view and that of the Government strikes the right balance between liberty, individuals’ rights and the security of this nation. It is a balance that we do not take for granted and that we review constantly.

That is why this country probably has some of the greatest oversight of its intelligence services, ably led by my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve, the judicial commissioners, Lord Justice Fulford and the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. All of those learned and respected individuals take a strong role, as do the Members who sit on the Intelligence and Security Committee, in scrutinising the people who are charged with delivering the security of this nation. That, coupled with our long adherence to human rights, makes me confident that the Bill does not tip the balance in the wrong way, but navigates the difficult course that we are faced with, given the emerging technologies, to keep people safe.

Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark

I am grateful for the approach that the Minister and the Secretary of State have taken, and for the fact that the loophole in terror insurance to cover non-physical damage has been addressed in the Government’s plans. However, the explanatory notes suggested that the Government would do several things to support my community, which was so badly affected last June, yet still not a penny of Government support is going to the employers in my constituency who were affected by that terror attack. Despite the fact that the Government failed to update the legislation sooner, that could have been done some time ago and was not. My constituents and their businesses are still not being compensated for the damage they have experienced—150 firms have lost more than £2 million.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

The hon. Gentleman made that point in Committee. I was due to meet him last week. Unfortunately, because of the Salisbury issues, that meeting was delayed, but I will meet him. I have spoken to the Exchequer Secretary. The hon. Gentleman is right about some of the issues with the package for his community, compared with what has happened after other events. That is a discussion for us to have with the Mayor of London.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

The hon. Gentleman’s points are well made but, with respect to him, I need to draw to a close.

If it is passed, this Bill, much of which has the support of all parties in this House, will leave this House doing the right thing to keep people safe, striking the right balance with our rights and allowing us to remember those people who in the last few months and years have lost their lives tragically to terrorism and, lately, to the actions of a hostile state. I am afraid we must remember that out there, there are very bad people, very bad terrorist organisation and, nowadays, some very bad states who wish to do real harm to our values. This Bill protects our values, but deals with the issues and gives our security services and police forces the tools that they need.

Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security) 7:29 pm, 11th September 2018

The UK national threat level, set by the independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the security services, has been at severe or higher since 29 August 2014. We put on the record our debt of gratitude to the police and the security services for the work they do in keeping us safe. Since the terrible murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May 2013, 25 terrorist attacks in the UK have been foiled. We should never forget that as we consider this Bill.

In June 2016, there was the terrorism-related murder of our late colleague in the Labour party, Jo Cox, and between March and September 2017, there were a further five terrorist outrages, at Westminster, on 22 March, at Manchester arena, on 22 May, at London Bridge, on 3 June, at Finsbury Park, on 19 June, and at Parsons Green, on 15 September—although, mercifully, no one was killed in that final attack. It is fundamental that our approach in legislation does not undermine the very values that the terrorists seek to attack. The rule of law has to be fundamental to our approach.

I am grateful for the consensual approach that the Security Minister has taken on the Bill and the concessions he has made. The concession in respect of the three clicks in clause 3 makes it a better Bill. The concession on clause 14 and the preservation of the right to peaceful protest is very important, too, and is very much a part of what he rightly said about protecting our own values as an open, liberal and tolerant democracy.

I hope that this consensual approach can now continue into the Lords. As I indicated in my speech on the first set of new clauses and amendments, I am concerned that the designated areas clause came so late, and we will therefore want to subject it to scrutiny. As I indicated, we are not opposing it, but I would like to subject it to appropriate scrutiny—and I am sure it will be so subjected in the other place. I hope that the Minister will continue to work with me in that regard.

In addition, the Minister made two concessions during our debate on the second set of new clauses and amendments. First, he said he would look at the situation in Northern Ireland and accountability for the number of stops. I appreciate what he said about that. Of course, powers have been in place since 2000, but we have to ensure transparency in how the stop power is used. The second concession was on legal professional privacy. He knows that I feel passionately about this and have set out its key importance. He said that he would look at my very practical proposal before the Bill goes to the other place. That was, I accept, a concession. I hope he will continue to work on a consensual basis. Under my proposal, we would not need to balance liberty and security; we could have the position as it is but with a very practical solution.

Before drawing my remarks to a close, I want to put on the record my thanks to the Minister, the rest of my colleagues in the shadow Home Affairs team, the Members who served on the Committee and finally the Clerks who served the Committee so well as well as all of us who wished to put down new clauses and amendments on Report.

Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 7:33 pm, 11th September 2018

I would like to echo the thanks expressed by Nick Thomas-Symonds to our police and security services and all those who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. We owe them a debt of gratitude. I also thank the Clerks in the Public Bill Office for their assistance during the passage of the Bill. This is the first time I have been in charge of a Bill for the Scottish National party. I also thank the individuals and organisations that provided evidence—[Hon. Members: “We can’t hear you.”] Is that okay? Have I got you now? Right, thank you. I also thank the Opposition Front-Bench team for their collegiate approach during the Bill Committee’s deliberations.

Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Conservative, Rayleigh and Wickford

I do not agree with it, but I want to hear it.

Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales)

I appreciate that.

The Minister himself, despite the late tabling of new clause 2, has been open to improvements suggested by the Opposition, and I thank him also.

The SNP supports the Government in their attempt to modernise this crucially important legislation, and we appreciate the need to combat the constantly evolving threat from international terrorism in the modern digital world, but we must be extremely careful about how this is executed. We are fully aware of the challenges that we face from increasingly sophisticated criminals and terrorists, and we are in favour of giving law enforcement agencies and the security and intelligence agencies the powers they require to keep our communities safe, but those powers must be subject to stringent checks and safeguards if we are to maintain the balance of security and civil liberties that we currently enjoy.

While stressing that we support the Government’s aims, I remind the Minister that they have awarded themselves, and the police and security services, an enormous amount of power in the last three years, not only—potentially—in this Bill, but in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 and the Immigration Act 2016, to name but two. Sadly, more often than not the Government have simply not got the balance right between civil liberties and the extension of intrusive powers.

If Scotland were independent—and that time is coming—we would no doubt be drafting and enacting more legislation to deal with the increased threat of terrorism. Luckily, that legislation would not be drafted by me, but I cannot help wondering how similar our measures would be. I should like to think—in fact, I am positive—that we would ensure that our Ministers, our police and our security services had the necessary powers, without impinging too much on civil liberties. That, I am sorry to say, often seems to be an afterthought in the case of this Government.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 7:36 pm, 11th September 2018

In his opening remarks, the Minister rightly reminded us of the terrorist outrages that have been inflicted on our country and our people. The response to those outrages brings the whole House together, and I know that the Minister and his colleagues do their very best, along with the skilled people in the security services, to keep us safe on a daily basis.

On Second Reading, I explained to the Minister why I had some concerns about individual measures in the Bill. The Liberal Democrats wanted to see whether or not they would pass through the House and emerge in a better form. I have to say that in our view, regrettably, the Bill has not improved as a result of that scrutiny, and if anything, it has got worse. I will not rehearse what I said on Report, but I will say that my criticisms referred to the comments of independent experts—independent reviewers of counter-terrorism legislation—and were not made in the absence of any evidence.

There are, of course, some good parts of the Bill. Clause 5, which extends extra-territorial jurisdiction, is very welcome, as is clause 19, which deals with terrorism reinsurance and which I discussed on Second Reading. Those welcome measures, however, have been packaged with a collection of ill-thought-through measures that will not work: they will not do what they promise to do. In its report, the Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that

“some of these offences risk a disproportionate interference with the right to privacy, the right to freedom of thought and belief, and the right to freedom of expression.”

The Committee—a Committee of both Houses—warned us that the Bill

“strikes the wrong balance between security and liberty”,

and doubted its compliance with the European convention on human rights.

My list of things that are wrong with the Bill has grown since Second Reading, and the more I have looked at those items, the more my concern about some of them has deepened. Clause 1, for instance, expands the offence of inviting support for a proscribed organisation to recklessly expressing support for such an organisation. I was too kind about that on Second Reading. I argued that the concept of recklessness already exists in criminal law in respect of physical actions and physical violence, but even in that context it is controversial, given the different legal versions of what “recklessness” actually means in respect of physical actions. How much more subjective is “recklessness” when applied to speech? Ministers have failed to defend this extension, and I think that they are in serious danger of criminalising innocent people and the naive.

Given that this is a Third Reading debate, I will not rehearse many of the other problems with the Bill, but I do want to end on one particular problem that I failed to mention on Second Reading. It relates to the border security powers we briefly discussed in the last part of our debate. What the Bill says in schedule 3 is quite chilling. It gives a lot of power to state officials, which goes beyond anything I have ever seen before. I refer what the Bill says to colleagues, because this is what they are voting on tonight. In giving powers to border security guards to stop, question and detain, the Bill does not require them to justify that at any level. It states:

“An examining officer may exercise the powers under this paragraph whether or not there are grounds for suspecting that a person is or has been engaged in hostile activity.”

It says “whether or not”; not “if” there are grounds for suspecting, but “whether or not”.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

As I said earlier, these are just mirrors of the powers that have been in force since 2000. When over subsequent years the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the National Security Council in the last coalition Government did he use his senior position in the Government to seek, as this power is so unjust, and “chilling” as he says, to undo it? Will he also please reflect on this? I read the Joint Committee on Human Rights report, and there was one flaw in it: it did not take evidence from the police, the intelligence services or victims. It took evidence from Cage and other such groups, but I think its duty was to be balanced. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will reflect on his time in government.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am happy to reflect on that. As I said to the Minister in an earlier intervention, as a member of the NSC I was often asked to sign warrants to go after some of the most wicked people and in each case I was impressed by our security services and the systems of accountability. I signed every single warrant put before me because it was very clear that the powers were proportionate and justified. I am arguing tonight that the Government are going further. I do not think it is in the traditions of British justice that we give carte blanche powers to the border security guards, and if Members on the Opposition Benches were to read this provision in detail, I do not think they would be as comfortable as they are being lured into being.

I urge colleagues even at this late hour to actually read this part of the Bill, as I think we are in danger of losing our attachment to reason. That is a dangerous position in this very important Chamber. I hope that if some of us stand up tonight and say, “These powers are overreaching,” we can send a signal to the other place that it can do its job and scrutinise this legislation in ever more depth.

Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark 7:42 pm, 11th September 2018

I welcome the Government’s attempt to use this Bill to close the terror insurance loophole, with the two provisos already mentioned, but there are other concerns that have not been addressed. Even if terror insurance now covers non-physical damage, the take-up of terror insurance covers only about 2.5% of UK businesses, and the Government have not addressed how to boost take-up and ensure greater coverage.

I thank the Minister for his letter, which I received today. It addresses two further issues. First, it is good that certification will be sped up, but there is no detail in the letter as to how that will be done. Secondly, there is no detail in it about how the potential for legislation to become out of date again will be addressed other than through a vague assurance. I hope that more detail will be provided in the other place.

The Bill was an opportunity to address the fact that some seek to take profits out of public generosity and public support when terror attacks occur. Sadly, giving only half a million pounds in profits, above admin costs, in the last year alone for Grenfell, Manchester and the London Bridge and Borough market attacks is appalling. That is pickpocketing from the victims of terror and it should have been addressed here. I hope the Government will look at this again before the Bill reaches the House of Lords.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The House divided:

Ayes 376, Noes 10.

Division number 238 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill — Minor and consequential amendments

Aye: 376 MPs

No: 10 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed, with amendments.