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

I welcome the questions from the hon. Gentleman. First, he asked whether UK citizens are entitled to return. So long as they are still UK citizens, they will have a right to return, but even in that case it is possible to place certain restrictions on them. In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, I mentioned temporary exclusion orders, which I have used on a number of occasions to put in place a number of restrictions by removing the passport but issuing different types of travel documents that control entry.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act and the measures in it to combat terrorism—especially the designated areas offence. I welcome the support of the whole House for the Act and particularly for that offence. He asked whether we are looking at designated areas, and of course we are. In anticipation of the Bill becoming an Act, we had already commenced some work on that. It would not be appropriate at this point for me to say which areas we looked at specifically—for an area to be designated, it has to come before the House and it has to be the will of the House to designate that area, and I do not want to prejudge that—but it is worth pointing out that it will not be retrospective, and the House should keep that in mind.

The hon. Gentleman talked of “if and when” people start to return. As I said a few moments ago, over the last few years several people have returned, and in all such cases I can assure him that we always seek first to try to control entry and question the individual. We investigate the individual, working with the police and the security services, and where appropriate we prosecute. That has always been the case and that will not change.

If we deem someone to be a serious threat to this country and it is in the public interest to prevent them from re-entering the UK and we can do so by legal means by depriving them of citizenship, or preventing entry in the case of a non-British national, we would always look to do that.