Uk Nationals Returning from Syria

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:58 pm on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:58 pm, 18th February 2019

May I start by paying my respects to the hon. Member for Newport West? Our sympathies are with his loved ones and all those in this House who were close to him.

I welcome the urgent question from my hon. Friend Dr Offord. My priority as Home Secretary is to ensure the safety and security of this country. We cannot ignore the threat posed by those who chose to leave Britain to engage with the conflict in Syria or Iraq—more than 900 people took this path. Without the de-radicalisation work of our Prevent programme, there could have been many more. Whatever role they took in the so-called caliphate, they all supported a terrorist organisation and, in doing so, have shown that they hate our country and the values we stand for. This is a death cult that enslaved and raped thousands of Yazidi girls and that celebrated attacks on our shores, including the tragic Manchester bombing, which targeted young girls. Now that the so-called caliphate is crumbling, some of them want to return. I have been very clear: where I can, and where any threat remains, I will not hesitate to prevent that. The powers available to me include banning non-British people from this country and stripping dangerous dual nationals of their British citizenship. More than 100 people have already been deprived in this way. We must, of course, observe international law, and we cannot strip someone of their British citizenship if doing so would leave them stateless. Individuals who manage to return will be questioned, investigated and, potentially, prosecuted.

Our Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, which received Royal Assent just last week, provides more powers to prosecute returnees. It extends the list of offences committed overseas that we can act on, and it creates new laws to ban British citizens from entering designated terrorist hotspots without good reason.

Our world-class police and security services closely monitor all who return if they pose any risk. We do not hesitate to use the range of tools at our disposal. That includes using temporary exclusion orders to put in-country restrictions in place, and managing risks through terrorism prevention and investigation measures—so-called TPIMs. Members will have seen the comments that Shamima Begum has made in the media, and they will have to draw their own conclusions. Quite simply, if someone backs terror, there must be consequences.