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Counter-terrorism

Home Department – in the House of Commons on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

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

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Minister of State, Home Department

It is crucial that our security and law enforcement organisations have the tools needed to keep our people safe. A review of powers was undertaken as part of Contest, our updated comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy. In February this year, the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 received Royal Assent. It ensures that our security and intelligence agencies, prosecutors and the judiciary have the powers they need to counter the threat.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

Identifying indoctrination by Islamists and similar fanatics is essential to providing the good order that Edmund Burke characterised as the hallmark of good government. As the Minister will know, the Prevent duty on local authorities obliges them to play their part in that effort. Mindful of the fresh guidance that has been published—I have it here—will the Minister now review the practice of those public bodies, identify what is going well and sanction those who are not doing their duty?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Minister of State, Home Department

My right hon. Friend makes an important point. He was instrumental in the introduction and delivery of the Prevent duty, to the benefit of everybody. There is obviously work for us to do on extremism, including the unwanted growth in right-wing extremism, which we want to bring down. We are therefore always reviewing how the programmes work, to ensure that everybody is kept as safe as possible.

Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security)

International action is, of course, required to tackle terrorism. Paragraph 78 of the political declaration, as it stands, refers to a “balanced security partnership” after Brexit. But the reality is that, three years on, the Government are no further forward in agreeing the security treaty promised by the former Prime Minister and have not put forward any ideas about how to reconcile the UK’s position as an EU third country with the level of security co-operation that we have now. Given the continuing risk of no deal, is not the Government’s attitude to our future security arrangements little short of negligent?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Minister of State, Home Department

I am disappointed that the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues did not vote for the programme motion the other day, so that we could actually have got on with the withdrawal agreement Bill, to get towards delivering on a deal with the EU and ensure that we get a good outcome. The Government’s work to prepare for no deal has continued, with meetings on a daily basis, to ensure that we are ready for when we leave. We have excellent agencies and good working across Europe—and, indeed, globally: the work we do for Interpol also plays an important part as we go forward.