Far-Right Violence and Online Extremism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:43 pm on 18th March 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security) 4:43 pm, 18th March 2019

Mr Speaker, thank you for granting this urgent question, and it is a credit to my hon. Friend Janet Daby that she applied for it. I join all Members in passing on condolences to the families and friends of those murdered in this heinous act of terror against people for no other reason than that they were Muslims. We send sympathies to the people of New Zealand, and to those affected by the incident in Surrey and the ongoing situation in Utrecht.

As the Leader of the Opposition has said, an attack on anyone at worship is an attack on all peoples of faith and non-believers too, as they go about their lawful, peaceful business. The harrowing live streaming of events in Christchurch, on the other side of the world, raises questions about the role of social media platforms in facilitating a growing extremism. Although a White Paper on online harm is of course welcome, does the Minister accept that asking online platforms to act is not enough and that we need a new regulator with strong powers to penalise them if they do not curb harmful content?

We must also ensure that our laws and policies are robust and up to date. Will the Minister clarify when the new Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation will be appointed and in post? Will he also confirm that lessons will be learned from both domestic and international experience in the forthcoming independent review of the Prevent programme?

I am not suggesting that any political perspective has a monopoly on virtue. Does the Minister agree that such vile acts of hatred show that we must all redouble our efforts to argue for a society of tolerance and respect?