Amendments made: 23, page 115, line 24, at end insert—
“Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (S.I. 1978/1908 (N.I. 27))
33A In Article 6 of the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (rehabilitation periods for particular sentences), in each of the following places, after ‘209’ insert ‘or 224B’—
(a) paragraph (1)(e);
(b) in paragraph (2), in Table B, in the first column, the fourth and fifth entries;
(c) paragraph (9)(c).”
This amendment provides for the service sentence introduced by paragraph 9 of Schedule 8 to have the same rehabilitation period in Northern Ireland as other forms of youth detention.
Amendment 24, page 123, line 45, at end insert—
“(4A) In section 2B(1) (punishment part for life prisoners: assessment under section 2A(1)(a) and (b)), at the beginning insert ‘Subject to section 205ZB(2) of the 1995 Act,’.”
This amendment provides that the court’s assessment under sections 2A and 2B of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 of the appropriate length of the punishment part of a sentence for a life prisoner is subject to the overriding requirement in new section 205ZB(2) (see clause 12) that it should be at least 14 years.
Amendment 25, page 123, line 49, at end insert—
“(5A) In section 6(1) (application of Act to young offenders and to children detained without limit of time), for paragraph (a) substitute—
(i) persons on whom detention in a young offenders institution has been imposed under section 205ZA(6) of the 1995 Act,
(ii) persons on whom detention in a young offenders institution has been imposed under section 205ZC(4) of that Act, and
(iii) persons on whom detention in a young offenders institution (other than detention without limit of time or for life) has been imposed under section 207(2) of that Act,
as the Part applies to persons serving equivalent sentences of imprisonment;’.”
This amendment makes consequential amendments of section 6 of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 to ensure that Part 1 of that Act applies in relation to persons sentenced to detention in a young offenders institution under the new terrorism sentences introduced by clauses 6 and 23.
Amendment 26, page 123, line 49, at end insert—
“(5B) In section 7 (children detained in solemn proceedings)—
(a) in subsection (5)(a)—
(i) for ‘and 20(2)’ substitute ‘, 20(2) and 26ZA’;
(ii) for ‘detained under section 208 of the 1995’ substitute ‘on whom detention has been imposed under section 205ZC(5) of the 1995 Act and children detained under section 208 of that’;
(iii) at the end (but before the final ‘and’) insert ‘(but subject to the modifications of section 26ZA in subsection (5A))’;
(b) after subsection (5) insert—
‘(5A) The modifications are that section 26ZA is to be read as if—
(a) subsection (9) were omitted, and
(b) subsection (10)(a) related to section 1A(1)(c) only.’;
(c) in subsection (8)—
(i) for ‘subsection (5)’ substitute ‘subsections (3) to (5) and (7)’;
(ii) after ‘applies’ insert ‘(but subject to the modifications of subsection (3) in subsection (9))’;
(d) after subsection (8) insert—
‘(9) The modifications are that subsection (3) applies in relation to a person to whom section 1AB applies as if—
(a) for the words “under subsection (1) or (2) above” there were substituted the words “under section 1AB”,
(b) for the words “entire period specified in the sentences elapses” there were substituted “sentence under section 205ZC(5) as originally imposed by the court would expire”, and
(c) for the words “period so elapses” there were substituted “sentence so expires”.’”
This amendment makes consequential amendments of section 7 of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 in relation to children on whom the new terrorism sentence introduced by clause 23 is imposed.
Amendment 27, page 124, leave out lines 13 and 14.
This amendment is consequential on Amendment 9.
Amendment 28, page 124, line 41, at end insert—
“Sexual Offences Act 2003 (c. 42)
51A In section 131 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (application of notification requirements and orders to young offenders), in paragraph (h), before ‘208’ insert ‘205ZC(5) or’.”
This amendment provides that the new sentence introduced by clause 23 can attract sexual offender notification requirements when imposed on a child.
Amendment 29, page 125, line 7, at end insert—
“Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (c. 28)
52A In section 45(2) of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (Scottish sentences attracting notification requirements), in paragraph (a), at the end of subparagraph (iv) (but before the final ‘or’) insert—
‘(iva) detention under section 205ZC(5) of that Act,’.” —(Robert Buckland.)
This amendment provides that the new sentence introduced by clause 23 can attract terrorist offender notification requirements when imposed on a child.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
May I take this opportunity to thank hon. and right hon. Members from across the House for their careful scrutiny of the Bill thus far? I am very grateful to everyone who contributed to the debate on Second Reading, in Committee and today on Report. I would especially like to thank my hon. Friend Julie Marson, whose impassioned speech regarding her friend Louise, who was caught up in the horrors of the 7/7 bombings 15 years ago this month, reminded us of the importance of the work we are doing here. I am particularly grateful for the co-operative and constructive spirit in which these debates have taken place, and for the broad support received for the Bill so far. That, I think, is testament to the fact that Members recognise overall the intent and purpose of the legislation, which are to protect the public and to keep our country safe. Those are the first and foremost duties of any Government.
There have been some differing opinions on certain measures in the Bill. They have enriched the debate and deepened our understanding of not just the intention behind the measures, but current practice. We have heard questions about the changes we are making to terrorism prevention and investigation measure notices—or TPIMs, as we know them. Let me say to the House that prosecution, or deportation in the case of foreign nationals, will always be our preference for dealing with terrorists, but there will continue to be a small number of cases where, despite the best efforts of the police and security services, that will not be possible. In those circumstances, TPIMs remain a vital risk management tool. A lower standard of proof will allow for TPIMs to be considered for use in a wider variety of cases and will better protect the covert sources and methods that are vital to the investigation of terrorist threat.
The Home Secretary considers very carefully the intelligence held by our security services, as well as consulting the police on the case for prosecution, before deciding whether a TPIM is necessary and proportionate. The Government have no desire to keep individuals on a TPIM any longer than is necessary and proportionate to protect the public. Removing the two-year time limit for a TPIM ensures that where subjects pose an enduring risk, we will be better placed to restrict and prevent their involvement in terrorism-related activity for as long as is necessary.
Further safeguards will remain in place. The courts will be able to consider permission hearings on whether the decision to impose a TPIM was obviously flawed and prevent the Home Secretary from doing so where that is the case. Subjects will continue to have a right to appeal any decision to extend the TPIM or vary any of its measures. The quarterly TPIM review group meetings will continue to provide regular oversight of every TPIM, including reviewing its ongoing necessity, whether prosecution is a possibility, and, indeed, the exit strategy for the subject of the measure.
Some concerns have been expressed about the removal of the statutory deadline for completing the independent review of Prevent. I must emphasise that the commitment to completing that important review continues and will remain in statute. We want the review into our strategy for safeguarding those vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism to be completed as soon as possible, but we also wanted to run a full and open competition to appoint a new reviewer and to attract as broad a range of applicants as possible. Designing and running that process takes time, and I want to ensure that the new reviewer has an opportunity to decide how best to run the next phase of the review and has enough time to analyse the evidence, develop robust recommendations and, critically, can engage as openly, fully and widely as possible with communities, civil society and others. That will all take time if it is to be done properly, and we cannot fully predict whether events might have a further impact on the timings of that review, particularly in the context of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, which, frankly, could present further practical challenges to how it could be conducted over the coming months. We should therefore avoid the risk of removing the reviewer’s ability to respond to and mitigate those events both foreseeable and unforeseeable.
For those reasons, while I fully understand the desire to put a new deadline in the Bill, there would, in my judgment, be a significant risk in doing so. It could have the unintended consequence of reducing the impact of this vital review, which I know Members across the House do not wish to do. We should not confuse our desire to give the reviewer the flexibility and time they will need with any question about a lack of commitment to it. I say again to the House that we want it to be completed along with a Government response as quickly as possible, and certainly no later than August of next year.
There has been much debate and discussion about the Bill’s provisions relating to polygraph testing, and I recall a lot of interest in the media when we announced the Bill and its details. I would like to be clear about what these measures seek to achieve and what they do not do. First, on their efficacy, the Committee heard compelling and detailed evidence from Professor Grubin, a leading expert in this field, who has attested to their reliability and their value. They are well established in this country already, having been used thousands of times on sex offenders, and they have been independently evaluated. Secondly, on their purpose, they are an additional risk management tool that can allow probation officers to test compliance with other licence conditions. They are not there to catch offenders out, and the results will most certainly not be used in criminal proceedings against the offender. We have already shown our intention to introduce polygraph testing elsewhere for use with domestic abusers, so we are not taking a novel approach for terrorist offenders. It is another way in which we can help to protect the public.
Finally on this issue, we recognise that they are currently used only in England and Wales, which is why the polygraph provisions relating to terrorist offenders on licence will not come into effect automatically. We will continue to work with Ministers in the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to provide advice and support to put the necessary infrastructure in place before polygraph testing can be conducted there. I am grateful for the continued co-operation of those devolved Administrations. I recognise the complexity and sensitivities of legislating across three jurisdictions’ sentencing frameworks. Right hon. and hon. Members have indeed reminded us of the need to tread carefully, and we do so. I would like to give reassurance that the Government are committed to ensuring that the measures in the Bill can work effectively throughout our United Kingdom, but I do not apologise for the determination, because we have to ensure our citizens are safe from terrorist offending whether committed in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
I will pause at this moment to thank all those members of the Bill team who have worked so hard to bring the Bill to this stage. Most notably, I am profoundly grateful to my hon. Friend Chris Philp for his stewardship both on Report and in Committee. Indeed I thank all the team both in the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office—some of whom are in the Box today—for working collaboratively together. They have served Ministers and indeed the House diligently when it comes to the need to marshal all the clauses in a way that could withstand the most appropriate and thorough scrutiny. I am grateful to them, and I am happy to put it put that on the record here rather than via a point of order, which I think I did on a previous occasion when you were in the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful for that, too.
The United Kingdom has one of the strongest counter-terrorism systems in the world, but we continue to face a terrorist threat in this country that is complex, and that is diverse and rapidly changing. The House has rightly noted the growing threat that we face from right- wing extremists. Since 2017 we have foiled 25 terrorist plots, including eight plots planned by right-wing extremists, but we are not complacent. We have already established a joint extremism unit to strengthen the partnership of work across the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. Of course, there is much more to do, and there will regrettably always be unfinished business.
We are on track to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers to boost frontline capability. That is why we have increased the budget for counter-terrorism policing by £90 million this year, compared with last, taking the overall CT police funding to over £900 million, and we are developing an ambitious programme to strengthen joint working between our police and our security services, which will leave terrorists with no place to hide.
As I have said on many occasions and will continue to say, public protection is our first duty. The comprehensive package of measures introduced in the Bill, on top of the investment that we are making and the programme we are putting in place, demonstrates, I firmly believe, our deep and enduring commitment to that duty.
This is an important Bill, which will have a significant impact on many aspects of the criminal justice system for many years to come. I wish to thank colleagues who contributed to the robust debates that we have had in Committee and on Report. In particular, I thank my colleague, my hon. Friend Alex Cunningham, who has made characteristically thoughtful contributions throughout the Bill’s passage. I thank also my colleague, my hon. Friend Conor McGinn, for his characteristic robust approach, and the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Kevin Foster, who has been a pleasure to work with for the first time on the Front Bench. I also thank Joanna Cherry for the joint working that we were able to do in opposition.
As I said on Second Reading, the Opposition fully accept that those who have committed serious terrorist offences should serve a sentence that fully represents the gravity of their actions. First and foremost, our approach has been an overarching commitment to keep the British public safe and to ensure that horrific terrorist attacks such as the ones at Fishmongers’ Hall and Streatham cannot be repeated. The Opposition also accept that when those who have committed the most serious terrorist offences are released, it is only right that, even if they are really sorry, they are subject to stringent licensing conditions that would allow their close supervision in the community.
We accept that the broad thrust of the Bill is necessary and proportionate. It would be a mistake to say, though, that the Bill is flawless, or that its provisions on their own can protect the public from the ever-present threat of radicalisation and serious terrorist atrocities. One of the greatest concerns that we have had, as an Opposition, since the emergence of the Bill is that the balance between the importance of punishment and the necessity to rehabilitate offenders has not been quite struck. At this stage, it is important to make one point perfectly clear: even offenders convicted of the most serious terrorist offences, those who are subject to extended sentences under the Bill, will at some point be released back into society. That is the reality that, wherever we sit in this House, we must accept. Although, as I have already pointed out, it is only right that the most serious terrorists serve extended sentences of up to 14 years, the Opposition also believe that we have a moral duty to ensure that offenders leave prison less dangerous and less willing to harm the fabric of our society than when they went in.
Failing to believe and invest in deradicalisation strategies not only fails society but actively puts members of society at increased risk. Although it is sadly true that most serious terrorist offenders will prove to be either unwilling or unable to reform, it is our duty to believe in hope over despair. It is simply not good enough to lock terrorists away for longer, put them out of our minds and hope for the best. As we have seen from the devastating attacks at Streatham and Fishmongers’ Hall, this approach does not work.
The Government cannot simply give up on rehabilitation, nor the ability of former offenders to reform, which is why it is so disappointing that so little in the Bill will do anything to strip terrorists of their hateful ideologies or to encourage them to rejoin society as reformed individuals. It is abundantly clear that we need a serious and comprehensive strategy on deradicalisation in prison, and the Opposition will hold the Government to account on that in the months and years to come.
That brings me to another issue that the Opposition have sought to recognise during the passage of the Bill: the importance of probation. We cannot begin to tackle terrorism without first recognising the important role played by the probation services. It is worth remembering that the role of probation is not just to monitor risk but to provide support to those who have been released from prison so that they are less likely to reoffend and can play an active role in society.
The provisions of this important Bill will mean that more people will serve longer behind bars, followed by hugely increased licence periods in the community. With that in mind, it is more important than ever for our probation services to be fully functioning and effective, yet we know that our probation services are already hopelessly overstretched and overworked.
In particular, Labour is concerned that the provisions of the Bill will place a huge burden on specialised probation officers, who are already very thin on the ground and hold very high terror-related caseloads. Research shows us that more time spent with offenders is essential to the carrying out of proper risk assessments, but that simply will not be possible with vastly increased workloads. The Government cannot simply increase the responsibilities placed on probation officers, increase their workload and consider the matter closed. It is vital that probation officers are given the resources that they need to do their job; the safety of the public depends on it. The Opposition will hold the Government to account if they fail to meet their obligations to the probation services.
Another concern that was stressed throughout Committee and on Report is the importance of recognising the difference between young offenders and adult offenders. Young offenders and adult offenders are inherently different: they think differently and make decisions in different ways but, most importantly, young offenders are much more capable of reform than older adults. As Jonathan Hall QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, rightly pointed out during his analysis of the Bill:
“The requirement of a minimum mandatory sentence for all adult offenders, however young,” raises the question of
“an adult of 18 years and one month” being
“any more mature than a child of 17 years and 11 months”.
The Opposition recognise that there are significant differences between adults over 21, those who are between 19 and 21, and those who are under 18. Members of each of those groups are at very different stages of their lives, and reviews, including my own, have recognised the need for different criminal justice approaches to different age groups. In order properly to reflect the difference between young offenders and adult offenders, the Opposition tabled an amendment that would require a pre-sentence report to be carried out that would take into consideration the age of the offender and whether options other than a serious terrorist offence might be more effective. It is a shame that the Government did not accept that amendment, but I hope that the Secretary of State will consider the Opposition’s concerns in the months and years ahead.
Let me finish where I started on Second Reading, first in paying tribute to a dear friend, James Adams, who was killed in the 7/7 bombings, but also in paying tribute to Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, who lost their lives in the attack on Fishmongers’ Hall. Both Jack and Saskia believed passionately that there can be a glimmer of light in even the darkest and most hardened of hearts. We on the Labour Benches share that optimism. Although it is only right that those who have committed the most heinous of crimes are subjected to extended sentences, we cannot give up hope of rehabilitation. If even the smallest chance of redemption exists, we owe it to the victims of Fishmongers’ Hall to try.
Throughout the passage of this Bill, the Opposition have sought to work constructively with the Government to ensure that the courts have the powers they need to meet the continual threat of terrorism and keep terrorists off the streets, and I assure the Secretary of State that I will continue to work constructively with him over the months and years ahead. This Bill goes some way to doing that, and therefore we will support it on Third Reading.
This is a very important Bill. The Lord Chancellor and his ministerial team are to be congratulated on delivering it. It is the second major piece of legislation that the Lord Chancellor’s Department has delivered in very different fields, if we take into account the divorce reform Bill. It deals with the most profound matter. Many of my constituents commute daily to London—or they would, under normal circumstances—and the real threat and risk of terrorism there and in our great cities is a daily matter for them. Getting this right is vital for my constituents and for the country as a whole.
That requires a balance—a balance between security, and just and due process and the liberty of the individual. I do not doubt that it was the Lord Chancellor’s overriding intention to get that right. I believe he has succeeded. There are one or two areas, which I have referred to, where perhaps we will want to see how it works in practice, but we ought to give the Bill a fair wind.
I know that the Lord Chancellor will take on board the observations of the shadow Lord Chancellor and the Justice Committee about the importance of the work done by the probation service and the Prison Service in these areas and ensure that they are not only properly supported but resourced. In particular, we must ensure not only that offenders are, where necessary, properly contained in prison and then, where possible, rehabilitated afterwards, but that those who cannot be rehabilitated are not able to corrupt and suck into their web other, more vulnerable prisoners. Giving the Prison Service resource to do that is also an important part of protection. I support the Bill.
I commend the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Philp, on his hard work to pilot the Bill through its stages so far, and on having an open-door policy to my concerns and those of my hon. Friend Kenny MacAskill about matters pertaining to sentencing in Scotland.
I also thank the hon. Members for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham) and for St Helens North (Conor McGinn); I enjoyed working with them on the Bill Committee, and it is always my pleasure to work with Nick Thomas-Symonds and Mr Lammy. We have a good working relationship, and I would like that to continue on other Bills as this Parliament goes on.
As I said earlier, terrorism is clearly reserved. The position of the Scottish National party is clear: we want to work hard with the UK Government to make sure that all communities in these islands are protected from the horrendous consequences of terrorism, but sentencing is devolved, and it is important that that is respected. I am grateful to Ministers for taking on board the concerns that I and my hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian raised about the order for lifelong restriction, and for bringing forward amendments to deal with those concerns. I am also grateful that there are ongoing discussions about the rather more difficult issue of polygraphs. In Scotland, we do not use them at present. My friend and colleague Humza Yousaf, the Justice Secretary, is in correspondence about that matter.
I add my own plea that we do not forget about the importance of rehabilitation and deradicalisation. There is not really anything about those things in the Bill. As I said earlier this afternoon, it is particularly important, when looking at children and younger offenders, that we devote thought and time to deradicalisation.
I have already made clear the Scottish National party’s concerns about the lack of a clear operational case for the changes being made in relation to TPIMs, and I suspect there will be more debate about that in the other place. That is not just the view of the SNP; the concern is shared by the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. I will leave it at that for now, but we will no doubt be revisiting matters if any amendments come back from the Lords.
I rise only briefly to state my strong support for the Bill. I should declare that prior to my election, I was the magistrate member of the Sentencing Council and a non-executive director of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. Accordingly, I was honoured to be a member of the Public Bill Committee for this legislation.
As we have heard several times during the debates on the Bill, the overarching responsibility of any Government is to keep their citizens safe, and one of the five set out purposes of sentencing is to protect the public, and that is rightly the priority of the Bill. Terrorist attacks cause carnage, murdering indiscriminately and injuring wantonly. The Bill sends a very powerful message to those who seek to bring terror to the lives of innocent people. It demonstrates the contempt in which we hold those who seek to kill and maim to further their warped ideologies. A minimum sentence of 14 years to be spent entirely in custody is a clear signal that if someone commits a serious offence linked to terrorism, they can expect to spend a hefty proportion of their life locked up, and rightly so.
I, too, am a firm believer in rehabilitation, and the Prison Service has worked incredibly hard to devise and implement deradicalisation programmes, but I think most people would acknowledge that there is considerable scope for further improvement. Several times during the Committee’s evidence sessions, we were told that the reoffending rate of terrorists is low—perhaps just 3% —somehow implying that we therefore do not need such lengthy sentences as proposed in the Bill, but that surely misses the point. Even one terrorist reoffending is one too many, because even one terrorist attack can kill hundreds of people. In cases of terrorism, we cannot take risks.
The Bill also sends a strong message to the public that this Government are absolutely committed to protecting lives and minimising the chance of terrorist attacks taking place. The changes to TPIMs reflect the needs of the Security Service to have every tool to keep us safe. When Assistant Chief Constable Tim Jacques, the deputy senior national co-ordinator in the UK’s counter-terrorism policing, gave evidence to the Public Bill Committee, he stated:
“Protecting the public is our No. 1 priority and sometimes that means we have to intervene regardless of evidence, because the risks to the public are so great.”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Public Bill Committee,
c. 26, Q69.]
Our priority must be to support our Security Service and police in the heroic work they do day in, day out, often at considerable danger to themselves in their constant quest to thwart would-be terrorists from wreaking their havoc. We owe it to them to give them what they need to keep us safe.
Finally, it is vitally important that the courts take immediate note if and when the Bill is passed. I hope that sentencing guidelines can be introduced quickly to reflect the clear will of all sides of Parliament to ensure that dangerous terrorist offenders spend more time in prison.
On that point, my hon. Friend will be assured to know that the Sentencing Council is putting work in train in any event to revise the terrorism guidelines and this Bill, should it become law, will no doubt form part of its work.
I am grateful to the Lord Chancellor for reassuring me of that. I know from having served on the Sentencing Council that its members will diligently proceed with their efforts. That work will surely reflect, as I was saying, the clear will of Parliament to ensure that dangerous terrorist offenders spend more time in prison, to give greater opportunity for rehabilitation, to reflect the seriousness of their crime and, most importantly, to protect the British people.
May I say briefly that there are many MPs in this House who have been affected by terrorism? When I was talking to Julie Marson earlier, we were relating the stories of her friend and others. This Bill before us tonight cements and strengthens our position and offers us protection. We as MPs in Northern Ireland have felt the brunt of terrorism more than most. We know about it personally—I know about it. I often think of those whom I know who have given their lives. I think of my cousin Kenneth Smyth and his friend Daniel McCormick who were both murdered on
I think it would be the right thing to do to allow our hon. Friend to compose himself for a moment as he remembers and shares with the House the horror of the effects of terrorism. We remain indebted to him and are always grateful to him for sharing his observations and we entirely understand how he must feel when he is reliving those moments.
I thank the Secretary of State very much for intervening. I do recall John Birch, Steven Smart, Michael Adams and Lance Corporal Bradley. I often think of the families of those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and of those who were injured. We owe so much to those families. Every MP in this House has a responsibility to keep their constituents safe, as others have said, which we all adhere to and I thank them for that. Today, our Minister, Chris Philp, who, I have to say, I am very impressed by—I mean that honestly—and also the Secretary of State have come in here and ensured that the protection of all the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been cemented in legislation, and I thank them for that. We welcome the Government’s commitment and we thank all in the Committee for their work and the Clerks for their administration to deliver the Bill. Madam Deputy Speaker, thank you.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.
We now come to Lords amendments to the Business and Planning Bill. I am going slowly here to allow a natural changeover of personnel at a 2 metre distance. I am grateful to hon. Members for their co-operation.