Counter-Terrorism

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons on 10th June 2019.

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Photo of Jack Lopresti Jack Lopresti Conservative, Filton and Bradley Stoke

What steps he is taking to provide security and law enforcement organisations with the tools that they need to counter terrorism.

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

A review of powers was undertaken as part of our updated comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, and the lessons learned from the attacks of 2016 and 2017 were incorporated. Following the review, the Government launched the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act, which received Royal Assent on 12 February 2019.

Photo of Jack Lopresti Jack Lopresti Conservative, Filton and Bradley Stoke

Our security services are world class, but we know that co-ordination is key, so does my right hon. Friend agree that negotiating security co-operation with our European partners and neighbours and strengthening our alliances around the world should be top post-Brexit priorities?

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

Yes, I can reassure the House that intelligence sharing will go on unchanged. The relationship between intelligence services under national security, irrespective of our status within Europe, will not diminish, and the same goes for our status within the Five Eyes community—a strong partnership for intelligence. In addition, when it comes to law enforcement tools, our relationships are also underpinned by the 1957 Council of Europe convention on extradition and the 1959 European convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters, and those will continue no matter what the settlement is.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn

This weekend, the Home Secretary announced as part of his leadership bid a £500 million investment in border security in Northern Ireland, plus ongoing costs. Will the Minister agree to publish the proposals as soon as possible, so that they can be open to public and private scrutiny?

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

The right hon. Gentleman raises an important point about investment in our border. However, I had a quick discussion with the Home Secretary, who does not have the same recollection of what he announced at the weekend. I am sure that if the right hon. Gentleman writes to the Home Secretary, the Home Secretary will set out the position.

Photo of Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Independent, Enfield North

I was horrified to read that a Hezbollah bomb factory storing three tonnes of explosive materials was discovered in north-west London in 2015—three and a half years before the Home Secretary fully proscribed the antisemitic terror group. Why did the Government wait so long to act? Why were the public and MPs not informed, given the debates that we have had on this issue?

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

The right hon. Lady will know, as a former Home Office Minister, that we do not comment on intelligence operations for obvious reasons. In addition, if Hezbollah was behaving in that manner at that time, that would have been under its military wing, as it was classified, and that would have been an act of terrorism and, indeed, would have been subject to the proscription provisions. I therefore do not think that anything different would have happened. However, as the right hon. Lady knows, the Home Secretary recently moved to proscribe the entirety of Hezbollah, partly because of such cases.