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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 Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security) 3:58 pm, 18th February 2019

May I begin by joining the Home Secretary in his tribute to the late Paul Flynn? Paul was the first person to show me around the House of Commons, and he was an inspiration to me and many others in terms of entering politics. My thoughts today are with his wife, Sam, and all his family and friends.

The public have a right to protection from anyone thought to pose a threat to this country, and paramount for any Government is the security of their citizens. Will the Secretary of State confirm, first, that UK citizens are entitled to return to this country under international law, but that they should be held to account on their return for their actions?

Under international law, as the Home Secretary said, the Government cannot make people stateless, but they can sensibly take a number of practical steps to safeguard people in line with our respect for the rule of law. The designated areas offence introduced by the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act has received Royal Assent in recent days. The Opposition worked with the Government on developing that mechanism, which provides the legal framework to deal with the issue of returning so-called foreign fighters. However, the Government now need to designate areas to ensure that those returning face justice and due process. Is the Home Secretary considering designating parts of Syria in line with that legislation?

Recently, attention has focused on those who have travelled to Syria to join the so-called caliphate. Given that people may start to return to the UK and will face legal proceedings, I will not comment further on individual cases. However, will the Home Secretary confirm that anyone returning to this country as a UK citizen should expect to face justice for their actions, in a legal process in which our police, our prosecutors and our courts will take into account the individual circumstances of each case?