“(1) The Secretary of State must commission a review and publish a report on the effectiveness of current strategies to deal with lone terrorists.
(2) A review under subsection (1) must be conducted by a person who meets the criteria for qualification for appointment to the Supreme Court, as set out in section 25 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.
(3) A review under subsection (1) must consider—
(a) counter-terrorism policy;
(b) sentencing policy as it applies to terrorist offenders;
(c) he interaction and effectiveness of public services with respect to incidents of lone terrorist attacks.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (3)(c), “public services” includes but is not limited to—
(b) the prison system;
(c) mental health services;
(d) local authorities; and
(e) housing providers.
(5) The Secretary of State must lay a copy of the report before Parliament.
(6) A Minister of the Crown must, not later than 3 months after the report has been laid before Parliament, make a motion in the House of Commons in relation to the report.”—(Conor McGinn.)
This new clause ensures that the Government orders a judge-led review into the effectiveness of current strategies to deal with lone terrorists including, but not exclusively, current counterterrorism and sentencing policy.
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
“(4) A Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure may not be imposed on an individual, or renewed, solely on the basis of—
(a) any statement made by the person while participating in a polygraph examination;
(b) any physiological reaction of the person while participating in a polygraph examination; or
(c) any refusal to comply with a requirement to participate in a polygraph examination.”
This amendment will prohibit the use of information obtained from a polygraph test as a basis for imposing a TPIM notice on an individual in England and Wales.
Amendment 60, in clause 33, page 30, line 24, at end insert—
“(8) A Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure may not be imposed on an individual, or renewed, solely on the basis of—
(a) any statement made by the person while participating in a polygraph examination;
(b) any physiological reaction of the person while participating in a polygraph examination; or
(c) any refusal to comply with a requirement to participate in a polygraph examination.”
This amendment will prohibit the use of information obtained from a polygraph test as a basis for imposing a TPIM notice on an individual in Scotland.
Amendment 61, in clause 34, page 33, line 6, at end insert—
“(4A) A Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure may not be imposed on an individual, or renewed, solely on the basis of—
(a) any statement made by the person while participating in a polygraph examination;
(b) any physiological reaction of the person while participating in a polygraph examination; or
(c) any refusal to comply with a requirement to participate in a polygraph examination.”
This amendment will prohibit the use of information obtained from a polygraph test as a basis for imposing a TPIM notice on an individual in Northern Ireland.
Amendment 40, page 34, line 22, leave out clause 37.
This amendment removes the provision that lowers the standard of proof to reasonable grounds.
Amendment 37, in clause 37, page 34, line 25, leave out
““has reasonable grounds for suspecting”.” and insert
“, on the basis of reasonable and probable grounds, believes.”.
This amendment would raise the standard of proof for imposing a TPIM under the proposals in the Bill.
Amendment 39, in clause 37, page 34, line 26, leave out “suspecting” and insert “believing”.
This amendment would create a higher bar for the standard of proof under these proposals.
Amendment 42, page 34, line 27, leave out clause 38.
Amendment 41, in clause 38, page 34, line 31, at end insert—
“(za) in subsection (3)(a), after “met” insert “and the court gives the Secretary of State permission”;
(zb) after subsection (3)(a), insert “(ab) In determining the extension, the court must apply the principles applicable on an application for judicial review.””
Amendment 46, in clause 38, page 34, line 31, at end insert—
“(za) For subsection (3)(a), substitute “may be extended under subsection (2) only if—
(i) the Secretary of State believes on the balance of probabilities that the individual is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity;
(ii) conditions C and D are met; and
(iii) the court gives the Secretary of State permission to extend the TPIM notice.”
This amendment will provide that any extension of a TPIM notice will require (i) a higher threshold to be met (“on the balance of probabilities”), (ii) the Secretary of State must reasonably consider that it is necessary, for purposes connected with protecting members of the public from a risk of terrorism, for terrorism prevention and investigation measures to be imposed on the individual (Condition C), and that it is necessary, for purposes connected with preventing or restricting the individual’s involvement in terrorism-related activity, for the specified terrorism prevention and investigation measures to be imposed on the individual (Condition D), and (iii) judicial approval.
Amendment 47, page 35, line 21, leave out clause 39.
This amendment will remove from the Bill clause 39, which allows the Secretary of State to vary the relocation measure in a TPIM notice, if it is necessary to do so for resource reasons.
Amendment 48, page 36, line 27, leave out clause 40.
This amendment will remove from the Bill clause 40, which widens the scope for imposing a curfew beyond overnight.
Amendment 49, page 36, line 32, leave out clause 41.
This amendment will remove from the Bill clause 41, which inserts a new polygraph measure which can be imposed on TPIM subjects to test if they are complying with their TPIM measures, if the Secretary of State considers it necessary to protect the public from a risk of terrorism.
Government amendment 17.
Amendment 50, page 38, line 3, leave out clause 42.
This amendment will remove from the Bill clause 42, which introduces a new drug testing measure which can be imposed on TPIM subjects, to test for Class A and B drugs.
Government amendments 18 and 19.
Amendment 38, in clause 47, page 40, line 17, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
“(1) In section 20(9) of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 (support for persons vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism) for the words from “within the period” to the end substitute “by
This amendment would reinstate a statutory deadline for the independent review of the Prevent strategy, which will have to report by
Amendment 51, in clause 47, page 40, leave out lines 19 to 21 and insert—
“(a) in subsection (8), replace the words “6 months” with the words “2 years”;
(b) in subsection (9), replace the words “18 months” with the words “3 years”.”
Clause 47 omits the current statutory deadline for (a) making arrangements for an independent review of Prevent and (b) laying before both Houses the report and any recommendations of the review of Prevent. Instead of removing the statutory deadlines, this amendment provides for new deadlines: in respect of (a), 2 years beginning with the day on which the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act was passed (
The overriding priority of this Labour Opposition is and always will be to keep the public and our communities safe. I want to concentrate on the three amendments that our Front Benchers have tabled on behalf of the official Opposition, conscious of the fact that we have little time and I wish to hear from colleagues on the Back Benches who did not have the opportunity to discuss these issues in Committee.
As we—including me, as shadow Security Minister—said on Second Reading and in Committee, the tragic events at Fishmongers’ Hall and Streatham showed that there was a clear need for legislation, and subsequent events in Reading have only affirmed that. We on the Opposition Benches are committed to being forceful and robust in the fight against terrorism, so we welcome the Bill and in principle support its introduction. We have also sought to thoughtfully scrutinise the Bill, both to gain assurances on concerns and to attempt to improve it and ensure it is up to that most important task of keeping people safe.
To delve into new clause 8, following the shocking and tragic incident in Reading on Saturday
We on the Opposition Benches have no doubts as to the immense skill, bravery and dedication of our police and security and intelligence services. New clause 8 is fundamentally about supporting them as they tackle extremism from root to branch, because they cannot fight the battle alone. We need to look at the range of services we all rely on, particularly when we want to identify, monitor and treat subjects who pose such a huge threat to wider society.
Our proposals would make provision to assess the systemic response needed for the emerging and disturbing phenomenon of lone terrorists. A judge-led review of the effectiveness of current strategies to deal with them could effectively do that. It would address counter-terrorism policy and sentencing policy as it applies to terrorist offenders and the interactions and effectiveness of public services with respect to incidents of lone terrorist attacks. It would also undertake an analysis of a wide range of key public services, including our probation system, the prison system, mental health services, housing providers and local authorities, each of which can intervene at critical points.
The review would build on prior research and expertise, such as the extensive work carried out by Lord Anderson, the previous Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. That work has already provided insights into how we might better connect the current systems. His review’s proposal for multi-agency centre pilots would involve the identification of newly closed high-risk subjects of interest, the sharing of data by the Security Service and counter-terror policing with other agencies, such as local authorities and Departments, and the enrichment of that data using the databases of multi-agency partners. The review also highlighted barriers to local partners’ involvement in managing subjects of interest, including the challenges of resourcing.
Our public services must have the tools they need to intervene and work together in the most effective and efficient manner possible, particularly as many of the services have interactions with individuals who give them real concern. We need to undertake an assessment of the systemic response needed to confront the dangerous and growing threat of lone attackers, with all the necessary security safeguards in place, and I thank the Minister and the Security Minister for discussions on that.
Jonathan Hall, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, is looking at the issue in a review of the multi-agency public protection arrangements, which was commissioned by the Home Secretary. My understanding is that the review is currently with the Home Office. Can the Minister say a little bit more about that and perhaps commit to publishing it before the Bill reaches the other place, which I think would provide some assurance?
Turning to amendment 38 on TPIMs, we fully agree that the mechanisms must be robust and agile to help the police, the Security Service and their operational partners to do the job of keeping the public safe. As reflected by the amendments that the official Opposition has tabled, as well as those of the Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, my right hon. and learned Friend Ms Harman, and Joanna Cherry, it is fair to say that we feel the Bill’s proposed changes to TPIMs will have a profound impact on the regime, especially when taken together.
We want TPIMs to be as effective and efficient as possible, and when those on the frontline in policing and counter-terrorism say that the changes will be useful, we fully trust and support their assessment and will do all we can to assist them. We will also, however, seek assurances that proper safeguards are in place. We would all want and expect to see such safeguards on measures of such importance in a democracy such as ours. If the standard of proof is to be lowered while simultaneously making possible a potentially indefinite TPIM by removing the current limit, then scrutiny, oversight and safeguards will take on a new-found importance.
We must remind ourselves that a TPIM notice can involve a wide range of measures: overnight residence requirements, relocation, police reporting, an electronic monitoring tag, exclusion from certain places, limits on association, limits on the use of financial services, and limits on the use of telephone and computers, as well as a ban on holding travel documents. Those are robust measures and, in my view, rightly so, but we must not forget that TPIMs are a restriction on rights for people who have not yet been convicted of any crime. It is not in the interests of anyone to allow such individuals to remain indefinitely on TPIMs, either for their own sake, for society’s, or, crucially, in terms of bringing them to justice.
Does my hon. Friend accept that the concern about TPIMs is not just the breadth of measures available but their indefinite nature against people who have not actually been tried and charged?
I do, and I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for the work she has done on this issue and her commitment to it. I am sure the Minister will have heard what she says. It is something I raised in Committee and I did receive some assurances from the Minister, but I think we would wish to hear—not just in the light of what my right hon. Friend says, but of what the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation said when he made a similar point—what the Minister is doing to ensure those safeguards are in place.
It is very important that we look at TPIMs to make sure they are usable, but does the hon. Gentleman agree it is very important that the Secretary of State’s hands are not tied by legislation, but is able to respond to any emergent terrorism attacks or activities that take place in a way that is effective? Surely that has to be prominent precedent to follow?
The hon. Gentleman speaks with both great personal dignity and authority on these matters. I agree. We want the system to be agile and to be able to respond. The Bill places a very significant power on the Secretary of State. In seeking to ask the Government for assurances, we want to ensure the system itself is robust, because those protections allow authority and credibility in terms of being able to respond to the ongoing terrorist threat. The amendment we propose would ensure that there are reasonable and probable grounds for a TPIM to be issued. The higher bar would create safeguards without harming the robust nature or operational utility of TPIMs, which we want to be as impactful as they can possibly be to keep people safe.
We acknowledge that it was a Labour Government who, upon introducing control orders in 2005, imposed a standard of proof, as proposed in the Bill, to require only reasonable grounds for suspecting an individual had been involved in terrorism-related activity. That was then raised by the coalition Government in 2011 with the creation of the new TPIMs regime, and again by the Conservative Government in 2015. However, I cannot help but reflect on the words of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation to the Bill Committee, when he said:
“If it is right that the current standard of proof is usable and fair, and I think it is, in a word, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Public Bill Committee,
I think the Minister has to respond to that challenge. We need assurances from the Minister today, and an operational, administrative and procedural perspective for making those changes.
We would also like clarity on an exit strategy, given the indefinite nature of what has been proposed. Our concern with an open-ended or enduring TPIM regime is that it could see difficult cases languish, with no realistic plan for a resolution of any kind. Indeed, under the proposals, as the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation confirmed to the Committee, we could conceivably see someone who has been convicted of a terrorism offence being free from constraints before someone who has been placed on an enduring TPIM. That kind of situation is intolerable and I hope the Minister will again respond to those concerns, alongside the arguments of many colleagues in the House in relation to TPIMs and polygraph testing, which, while useful as an additional information source in certain contexts, we know is controversial and untested in the counterterrorism sphere. I do not think it would be unreasonable to run a pilot scheme, as per new clause 9, so that before making such costly national changes we could see proper independent evidence of the polygraph’s reliability and utility in the specific context of terrorist offenders. We all want an effective and efficient TPIM regime to help to save lives and protect our country’s citizens from harm, and we want to work with the Government to get it right.
On amendment 38, we have said all along that there is sadly little in the Bill on the Prevent strategy or, indeed, on how we counter extremism, radicalisation and hatred. The Prevent strategy has been a key part of this country’s counter-terrorism strategy and has kept people safe. The senior counter-terrorism officer who gave evidence to the Committee, Assistant Chief Constable Tim Jacques, said:
“Prevent is a critically important part of our role;
it is absolutely vital. It is controversial, and has been controversial, but we engage in it, we operate, and we protect the public through Prevent every day.”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Public Bill Committee,
Given the centrality of Prevent as a tool, the Bill has missed an opportunity not just for the Government but for those who are trying to deliver the policy in communities against the backdrop of what appears to be a lack of purpose and clarity on the programme itself. Frankly, they deserve better. The Government commissioned an independent review of Prevent that was legally bound to report on
The independent review was announced last January— 19 months ago—following a long-running request by Labour and other Opposition parties and civic society groups, but it has since been repeatedly delayed and postponed. The comprehensive review was and is the right approach—we still believe that to be the case almost two years later—but by now that review should have finished its work and reported to Ministers. In fact, that should have happened two months ago, but Government complacency and—arguably—incompetency have led us to the stage where they now say that they intend the review to report only by next summer. If that is the case, why not put a date on the face of the Bill rather than leave it open-ended?
In Committee, the Minister said that the Government’s commitment to complete the review was “absolute”, but that they did not want to fall into the same trap twice in relation to a statutory deadline, should “something unforeseen” happen. All our amendment 38 would do is reinstate a statutory deadline for the independent review, with a new one in place for
We accept and welcome the Government’s broader commitment to the review but, as I stressed in Committee, the introduction of a new counter-terrorism Bill before the Prevent review that was in the previous one has started makes clear the sheer quantity of time that has been wasted. There is a lack of clarity and continuing speculation and debate around Prevent that threatens to undermine the entire effectiveness and credibility of both the programme and the Government’s wider strategy.
In conclusion—I am conscious that other colleagues wish to speak—I hope that the Minister will look closely at the amendments, which are designed to assist and clarify some of the measures in the Bill and to seek the introduction of some measures that we feel ought to be in the Bill. I reiterate that we on the Opposition Benches will be uncompromising when it comes to supporting measures to tackle terrorism and keep our country and its citizens safe. That is and will always be our priority.
It is a pleasure to see Conor McGinn on the Opposition Front Bench. I have a lot of sympathy with what he said, and I hope the Minister will address the points he made, because we want to be constructive. We all support the overall thrust of the Bill, but my concern, as Chair of the Justice Committee, is that we do not do anything—albeit inadvertently and for good reasons—that undermines the checks and balances that are a normal part of the criminal process.
That is why the change in the burden of proof in relation to TPIMs needs more justification put behind it. Jonathan Hall QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, is highly regarded in this field, and the Minister has quoted him with approbation on a number of occasions. In this instance, he does not regard the case as being made out. If the Minister takes a different view, with respect, we need something more substantial as to why that is the case. There may be good reasons, but it cannot be done on a purely speculative basis. It cannot be on the basis that it may be useful to have this wider test. It might engage some people outside the jurisdiction in ways that we cannot currently in terms of gathering evidence and intelligence, but that case has to be made. Having voted on two occasions to increase the burden of proof to where it currently is, I would like to have a pretty clear sense that there is a compelling reason for reversing those decisions—and there may be, but I think the Minister owes it to us to set that out, and we need Mr Hall to set out why he comes to a different view. We may be persuadable, but it is important that the case is made and that the House understands that.
I accept that there is an overall three-year time limit on the working of the Bill, but I am concerned that, without a time limit, the TPIM will become the default mechanism and more like a control order. We surely all ought to recognise that, wherever possible—wherever proper, admissible evidence can be obtained and proceedings can be safely and securely brought—if people have done the vile things that we are talking about, which pose a real criminal threat to the security of this country and its people, the normal and proper course ought to be to prosecute through the normal due process. An alternative means of dealing with this should only be undertaken in the most exceptional circumstances. I can see that there may sometimes be such circumstances, but again, that case needs to be spelt out.
The third issue that I wish quickly to deal with is polygraphs. The Law Society takes the view that the suggestion of the use of polygraphs in some of these circumstances is more to persuade people psychologically —that is the phrase it uses in its briefing—against breaching the orders. That may be valuable in itself, but we ought to be wary of the limits of polygraphs’ usefulness. There are mixed views in academic, scientific and legal circles about the reliability of polygraphs. I do not have a fixed view about them, but I think we should approach their use with caution and proportionality.
My hon. Friend and south London neighbour is kind for giving way. Let me reassure him on his point about the limits of polygraphs. We understand and accept that they have limits, which is why a negative polygraph result on its own can never result in a recall to prison or licence conditions being deemed to have been broken. All a negative polygraph result could do is prompt further investigation by other means, which I hope provides him with the reassurance he seeks.
That is a very helpful reassurance for today’s purposes, and I am grateful for the spirit in which the Minister said that. It is an important point, and I am glad that he takes this on board. Sometimes, for the best of reasons, there can be a mission creep with these measures, which could lead to a broader spread of their use in the criminal justice system, and that would be a matter of concern. If he says that the use is very specific, I accept his word on that, but it is important that we continue to keep this under review and do not have unintended mission creep. As we all know, it is often easy to present perfectly benign and reasonable reasons for doing something that departs from the normal checks and balances, but it then becomes entrenched and permanent and spreads.
In that spirit, I take the Minister’s assurance, but he will understand why it is important that that issue is debated and that reassurances are given that the overall integrity of the justice system will not be affected by these changes. That has dealt quickly with the issues that I sought to raise. It was perhaps a record brevity, but I hope that brevity does not reduce the import of the issues raised.
It is a real pleasure to follow Sir Robert Neill, and I endorse his concerns about the provisions in relation to TPIMs. My hon. Friend Kenny MacAskill and I have tabled amendments 39 to 41 in relation to the proposed changes to the TPIMs regime. I am also speaking in support of amendments 46 to 51 and 59 to 61, tabled by Ms Harman, the Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and signed by me. I will try to keep my comments brief, because I went into these issues in some detail on the Bill Committee and I want to allow others who were not on that Committee to speak.
First, I want to say something about the Prevent strategy review. I endorse what Conor McGinn said about that. It is important to remember that it was a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and a successful amendment to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, which imposed a requirement on the Government to initiate an independent review of Prevent. It has been delayed for reasons that we have heard a lot about, and I think the delay is most regrettable. Clause 47 of this Bill removes the time limit for conducting the review. We in the Joint Committee on Human Rights have concerns about that and we would like there to be a time limit, hence the amendments we have tabled. I am happy to associate myself with the date suggested by the official Opposition.
I note in passing that the delivery of the Prevent strategy in Scotland is devolved, and that although national security is a reserved matter, the Scottish Government’s delivery of the Prevent strategy reflects a rather different procedure. I will not take up too much time with that.
Does the hon. and learned Lady agree that the delay of the review has caused quite a lot of concern in many communities who want better terrorist prevention legislation? Unfortunately, Prevent has demonised Muslim communities and put unfair duties on teachers and NHS workers. All those individuals want better terrorism prevention, but they will not get that if the review is delayed further.
I endorse what the hon. Lady says. It is important to remember that black, Asian and minority ethnic communities—particularly the Muslim community —need the Prevent strategy as much as the rest of us, but they must not be demonised by it. That is why I referred to what has happened in Scotland. The Scottish Government, working closely with the Muslim community in Scotland, have managed to avoid that degree of resentment. This review is important for all communities in England and Wales, where unfortunately the same thing has not happened.
I turn to TPIMs. The Scottish National party and the Joint Committee on Human Rights are concerned that a case has not been made out for the changes that the Government wish to make. Others have referred to the views of the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Jonathan Hall QC. In the detailed evidence that he gave to the Bill Committee, he described the combination of clauses 37 and 38 as
“a double whammy…not just reducing the standard of proof but allowing TPIMs to endure forever.”
I asked him about the possibility of safeguards, and he suggested the very safeguards that are set out in amendment 46, which is in my name and that of the Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham. Jonathan Hall said that
“if it were right that a TPIM should continue beyond two years, at least at that stage the authorities should be able to say, on the balance of probabilities, that the person really is a terrorist. That is an example of a safeguard.”
He went on to say:
“Turning to the question of enduring TPIMs, another safeguard could be to ensure that a judge would have to give permission—in other words, to treat going beyond the two years without any additional proof of new terrorism-related activity as requiring a higher threshold, or some sort of exceptionality or necessity test, as a further safeguard for the subject.”—[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Public Bill Committee,
I urge the Government to consider incorporating into the Bill safeguards similar to those suggested by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation and set out in amendment 46.
As has been said, the problem with the change in the standard of proof is that no operational case has been made for it. I will not anticipate what the Minister will say later, and I may intervene on him if we have time. The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Jonathan Hall, who is appointed by the Government and charged with looking at these matters, has said that
“there is reason to doubt whether there exists an operational case for changing the TPIM regime at this point”.
I suggest that the Bill Committee heard nothing in evidence to challenge that. He said that he had had discussions with the Government but had not been able to identify a cogent business case. That is what is missing here. Although this affects only a small number of people at present—of course, it might affect more if the standard of proof is lowered—these are people who have not actually been convicted of any offence, so if the Government want to make such a significant change, it is really important that they bring forward a clear case for doing so.
According to the evidence heard by the Bill Committee, the current standard of proof does not seem to have been in any way an impediment to the security services. We have had no clear evidence that the current standard of proof is preventing the security services from seeking or obtaining a TPIM when they consider it necessary and appropriate to do so. My position is that until we have that sort of cogent business case, the Government have not made the case for reducing the standard of proof. I do not think we will get it today, but I suspect that it will be looked for in the other place, and it would be interesting to hear from the Minister later whether he will propose any sort of business case when the Bill goes to the other place.
I am interested, as someone from a business background, to hear the hon. and learned Lady refer to business cases. We always have facts and figures that we can look back on historically. Is not the challenge for Government always to anticipate risk that has not happened? We are forever looking behind us, and the consequences are so great when those risks are missed, but this is actually the perfect opportunity for a Government to look forward and anticipate those risks. The risks might involve someone who has been active in Syria, for example, where we do not have that proof, where someone can perhaps take an opportunity for two years to bide their time, knowing that at the end of that period, they might be subject to a higher burden of proof, or just go off the radar.
I hear what the hon. Lady says, but that is what the current TPIM regime is designed to do—to anticipate risk and to keep a close eye on people who have not committed an offence yet in a way that could mean that they are prosecuted, but who may be a risk to our safety. She gives, for example, the problem of people returning from Syria. That is clearly a significant problem, but it has existed for a number of years, and the Committee did not hear any evidence that the security services are unable to deal with the problem of people returning from Syria because of the current standard of proof. I use the words “business case” loosely; an “operational case” might be a better phrase. We need an operational case based on examples to justify why this change is needed.
All of us here care about having a TPIM regime in place that does the job. There is no suggestion that the current one is not doing the job and no clear operational case for it to be changed. We would be failing in our duty as Opposition parliamentarians if we did not test this in the way that we are, and I will leave it at that for now.
I will speak briefly. As I did on Second Reading, I would like to associate a lot of my comments with those of my hon. Friend Sir Robert Neill, who again outlined with clarity some of the main issues in the Bill that I think will be challenged in another place. I hope they are to a degree and that the tyres are kicked a little harder.
We need a little more clarity from the Government on why we are moving to this much lower standard of proof. However, I am particularly pleased that the Minister has given clarification on the issue of the polygraph test. On time restrictions, I totally understand what my hon. Friend was saying about sleeper agents. Over the last few months, we have seen people going to ground for perhaps several months, or even years, and then re-emerging, but I think that there has to at least be some oversight of that and of the use of TPIMs.
Finally, I support Government amendment 18 and amendment 50. I do not see why it would be unreasonable for drug testing to be part of the TPIM regime. I generally welcome the legislation, and I hope that the Minister will be able to respond to some of these points at the Dispatch Box.
Order. We are going to have to introduce a time limit of five minutes to get in as many as we can. The Minister will come in just before 5.50 pm
I rise to speak in support of the amendments. The stakes in any debate about terrorism and how to combat terrorism successfully are extremely high, because these are issues that involve the lives and liberties of all of us. Children as well as adults have lost their lives in some of these terrible incidents, particularly in the horrific Manchester Arena bombing. Police officers have been murdered. We were all shocked by the murder of a fellow MP, Jo Cox, and I was a Member of this House in the ’80s and ’90s at the height of the IRA’s mainland bombing campaign, so, please, there is no one on the Opposition side who does not take the threat of terrorism seriously. However, it is extremely appropriate that Parliament should not be nodding through counter-terror legislation but should be subjecting it to proper scrutiny, because that is in the interests of us all. At the heart of that scrutiny has to be: will this legislation help minimise terror attacks?
Governments of all parties, including my own, have tended to want to argue that measures that undermine civil liberties are the answer to terrorism, but sometimes such measures run the risk of being a recruiting sergeant for terrorism. It is in that light that I address my remarks to the Prevent programme. The Government previously committed to a review of Prevent. I can only ask: where is the review? My hon. Friend Conor McGinn, speaking from the Front Bench, described Prevent as controversial. It is not just controversial; it is a toxic brand, and I would argue it is increasingly counterproductive in the fight against terrorism that we all want to support. We should look at a replacement for the Prevent programme. It is not that good work has not been done in the name of Prevent—I visited some of those programmes in another role—but increasingly it is not doing the job it was established to do and, because its reputation is so toxic, it is not as effective as it could be in combating terrorism.
If we examine the terror incidents that have been inflicted on our communities in detail, we find that very few of the perpetrators have ever been in contact with a Prevent programme. At the same time, Prevent casts a hugely wide net over people, particularly in the Muslim community. In 2017-18, 7,300 people were referred to the Prevent programme, and the overwhelming majority of those were incorrect referrals. In fewer than one in five cases was there any discussion of these individuals at a Channel panel, and fewer than 400 people have received support from the Channel programme. No wonder, to many communities that find themselves targeted, it looks and feels like a trawling operation. I remember that in counter-terrorism debates with reference to the IRA’s mainland bombing campaign, it was former Army officers in this House—not people on my side of the Chamber—who argued against measures that could be a recruiting sergeant for terrorists.
As we know, when Ministers are challenged on Prevent, they respond as if any criticism of it is leading to an attempt to abolish our counter-terrorism efforts altogether. I want to nail that one. As Ministers know, Prevent is only one strand of the Contest strategy and we support the other three strands of pursue, protect and prepare. Serious consideration should be given to how all of those can be enhanced and made more effective. But, from all the evidence and all the people and communities I have spoken to, I conclude that Prevent is in danger of being counterproductive, alienating communities and ultimately making the fight against terrorism harder.
A more effective anti-radicalisation programme could and should be constituted. It would involve communities themselves. It would not be imposed on communities, but it would be working with communities, relying on people’s intelligence information, their sensitivities and their very real concerns, and the very real concerns of the overwhelming majority of people in this country who are opposed to terrorism in all its guises. Working with communities and relying on them, not demonising them and ostracising them, is the way forward.
In conclusion, all of us on both sides of the House have a great responsibility in fighting terrorism. The most important duty of any Government is to keep their citizens safe, and we on the Opposition Benches feel that very strongly, but the safety and security of our people in the fight against terrorism cannot be upheld by knee-jerk reactions, simplistic formulations or programmes that prove to be counterproductive. An impartial review of the Prevent programme is long overdue. The fear is that now there is too much political capital invested in the Prevent programme for it to change course, but the fight against terrorism is too serious to be taken lightly. If something is not working, we need to fix it. That is why the time is right to review Prevent and to start again with an entirely new programme with the same aims, but a programme that works with communities rather than demonising them.
We did add some time—[Interruption.] No, it is fine. We added a bit of time because we have just redone the maths and the time limit is now six minutes.
I wish to start by endorsing some of the comments made by Sir Robert Neill about the use of polygraphs. The Minister will know that I have been in touch with him a number of times on this particular issue, and I accept his assurances that they will be used simply for behavioural science purposes and not for legal purposes.
I wish to speak to amendments 40 and 42. As others have said, there have been a number of tragic terrorist attacks this year and there is an urgent need to protect people from further terrorist violence, but we need measures that will keep the public safe, not give the Government free rein to restrict the rights of innocent people on a never-ending basis based on little more than a hunch. We must ensure that our security services have the tools and resources that they need to do their jobs, but we must also ensure that any new powers and legislation will be necessary, effective and proportionate to the threats that we face. That is not the case when it comes to clauses 37 and 38, as they would massively expand the Home Secretary’s powers to impose terrorism prevention and investigation measures, which can include curfews and electronic tagging. These changes would essentially mean a return to control orders, as Members from all parts of the House have pointed out, and they were heavily criticised for getting the balance wrong between national security and civil liberties and were then replaced by TPIMs by the coalition Government in 2011.
There is minimal evidence that putting power in the hands of a single Minister to impose curfews and tagging will do anything to keep people safe, but it will put the rights and freedoms of innocent people at risk. These changes are opposed by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Amnesty and Liberty, and the Liberal Democrats are also opposing these two clauses today. We had tabled amendments to remove them from the Bill and to keep the existing safeguards in place, and we were pleased to transfer our names to other amendments that seek to do the same.
The Liberal Democrats will continue to demand an effective, evidence-based approach to combating terrorism. Let me end by pointing out that this is the eighth counter-terrorism Bill in 10 years. If more legislation was the answer, we might have stopped these kinds of attacks by now.
As terrorism evolves, the modus operandi of terrorist groups starts to move. If more legislation has to be brought in at a later time, does the hon. Lady accept that we have to do that to evolve with the terrorist groups and how they operate, and it is about getting that fine balance right?
Yes, of course I accept that there will be occasions when more legislation is needed, but, as Joanna Cherry said, her Committee has taken evidence, and there is no compelling evidence as to why these two measures on the burden of evidence and the renewal of TPIM orders are needed.
There must be a much greater focus on effective measures that encourage de-radicalisation and rehabilitation, but instead we have in these two clauses the Government preparing for a power grab that could genuinely destroy innocent people’s lives, without presenting the public with a single shred of evidence that these measures will do anything to keep people safe or that the existing measures should be changed. That is why we will oppose them.
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this important debate.
It is our duty to reflect, calmly and seriously, on what we need to do to give people real security. This includes having the courage and strength to stand up as a matter of conscience and speak out when we see things around us that are wrong. That is why I must rise to say that the approach laid out in this Bill is fundamentally wrong. Terrorism suspects who have not been convicted of any offence now face expanded and potentially never-ending measures to control their lives. In the words of Rachel Logan, Amnesty International’s UK legal expert,
“It was never right to drastically curtail people’s liberty on the basis of secret, untested evidence using control orders or TPIMs—and we seem to be diving headlong into that territory where the standard of proof is extremely flimsy and people’s liberties can be curtailed on an indefinite basis.”
Indeed, there are real problems with the protection of human rights in the UK. In many areas, particularly in the spheres of immigration control, national security, counter-terrorism, freedom of association and speech, and the treatment of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, UK law has been the frequent subject of criticism from experts in the UN Human Rights Committee and from the Council of Europe.
For some time, many have raised concerns that our approach to counter-terrorism is perceived by some to have been modelled on Islamophobic stereotypes, policies and political structures. That is why it is utterly extraordinary that the Bill removes the existing statutory deadline for the completion of the independent review of the Prevent programme. As people will know, Prevent is widely criticised for fostering discrimination against people of Muslim faith or background. It was developed without a firm evidence base and is rooted in a vague and expansive definition of extremism. It includes overt targeting of Muslim children in schools and has meant that our Muslim young people, in particular, are increasingly being viewed through the lens of security. Many, including some in this Chamber, have expressed how they have been moved and inspired by the Black Lives Matter protesters all around the world. It is an absolute insult that rather than listening and learning as people were calling out the state regarding racism, Islamophobia and discrimination, this Bill will further entrench discrimination against Muslims.
As someone who has first-hand experience of the rise in Islamophobia over the past decade, I know that every single day people of Muslim backgrounds like me face discrimination and prejudice. It is not just about enduring offensive remarks and presumptions, bad as those are, but about living with a real and serious constant threat to our faith group. At the same time, far too often, the foreign policy of successive Governments has fuelled, not reduced, the threat to us all. Yet recently we learned that the UK is to resume sales of arms to Saudi Arabia despite concerns that they could be used against civilians in Yemen in violation of international humanitarian law. That is why my constituents in Poplar and Limehouse know better than most that we must never again embark on illegal wars, imperialism and destruction but instead adopt a progressive, outward-looking global view driven by social justice, solidarity and human rights. The so-called war on terror has manifestly failed, despite the human cost being so devastating.
As has been pointed out by many, the covid-19 global pandemic has profoundly demonstrated that compassion becomes the tie that connects us to one another. Now, more than ever, we must come together and resist those that seek to divide us through violence, intolerance and hate. We cannot let this threat of terrorism take away our hard-fought-for rights and freedoms. We should not let our fundamental values be undermined. Our values are about caring for the whole of society and all our people, not walking by on the other side of the street when they need our help and support, and loving our communities enough to make this a place where nobody is homeless, hungry, held back or left behind. On the international stage, we must stand up for the values we share—justice, human rights and democracy—and work with others to keep people safe by ending conflict and tackling the climate emergency.
I am humbled and inspired by how people continue to organise to protect our communities, and I want to take this opportunity to recognise the enormous contribution that Muslims across Britain make to our country, our communities and our way of life, from which the values of respect and understanding derive. Those values resonate with everyone as we strive to build a better society for us all. In the end, it is only that hope that can lead us out of despair.
I rise to speak about issues relating to amendments 37, 38, 40 and 46. I was seven years old on
At school and university, I encountered the effects of Prevent. It was said that it was targeting radicalisation, but when it resulted in Muslim university students being reported for reading terrorism-related textbooks as part of their degree, we knew that its effect was to target Muslims and erode the civil liberties of all. If we are worried about free speech on campuses, we need to look at the Prevent strategy.
In the past few years, terrorist atrocities have continued to rock communities across the world, from horrific antisemitic and white supremacist attacks, like that which hit the Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 and the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand last year, to the far-right extremist who assassinated a Member of this House in 2016 and the devastating attack that cruelly took 23 lives in Manchester in 2017. Everything must be done to combat such awful acts and keep our community safe. We must respect individual liberty and tackle the hate and fear that drives such horrific acts.
I have real concerns that the Bill falls short of those standards. First, it introduces control orders in all but name, which threaten all our civil liberties. Secondly, it removes the statutory deadline to review Prevent. Thirdly, it abandons any attempt to rehabilitate and reform, and instead keeps individuals trapped in a permanent web of surveillance and prisons.
On the first point, concerns and objections to changes to terrorism prevention and investigation measures have been raised by independent reviewers, including the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, and civil rights groups such as Liberty and Amnesty International. Liberty says that the change
“reintroduces Control Orders in all but name”.
Control orders have allowed people to be placed under indefinite house arrest, without ever having been convicted of a crime or even having known the evidence against them. The coalition Government rightly abolished them, but this Bill effectively brings them back. Liberty says that the changes pose
“a threat to fundamental pillars of our justice system.”
That should be a concern to us all, so I encourage Government Members to support amendments 37, 40, 46 and 47.
On the second point, the Bill removes the statutory deadline for an independent review of the Prevent programme. To say that the programme needs an independent review is a serious understatement. Again, human rights organisations have consistently raised concerns about it. In 2018, Amnesty International said that it was developed
“without a firm evidence base and rooted in a vague and expansive definition of ‘extremism’”.
Countless examples can be found of the programme’s discriminatory impact on Muslims. In addition to the ones I have already mentioned, I want to include that of an eight-year-old boy who was questioned by Prevent officials after his teacher mistook the writing on his T-shirt, as well as the labelling of countless Muslim individuals, charities and mosques as extreme by the Government. The flaws of the programme have reached such heights that the likes of Greenpeace, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Extinction Rebellion were put on Prevent documents alongside proscribed neo-Nazi terror groups. The case for a statutory review of Prevent is clear, so I again urge Conservative Members to support amendments such as amendments 38 and 51.
On the final point, this Bill omits any effort to improve rehabilitation, which is an absolutely key measure to keeping our communities safe and preventing future attacks. Endlessly locking people up and interning them in underfunded, overcrowded, privately-run prisons is no way to protect the public. Instead, it is simply a recipe for creating more problems down the line.
I cannot support the approach of this Bill. We need to tackle terrorism, and we need to do that through prevention, but also by tackling the fear and hate upon which it thrives by bringing communities together and by never letting us be divided on the grounds of race and religion.
I thank the Members who have contributed to a very thought-provoking debate this afternoon. I would like to reply, if I may, to some of the points that have been raised. I will start with the first question raised by the shadow Minister, Conor McGinn, about a lone actor review—new clause 8. I know he has had what I hope was a lengthy and fruitful conversation with the Minister for Security earlier today. He will of course be aware that the Prevent review we have been talking about touches on this, but the MAPPA review will also significantly engage with this topic.
I have been endeavouring to obtain a firm date for publication during the last few minutes. I am afraid the best I can do from this Dispatch Box at the moment is to say that it will be soon—as soon as practical. I hope it will be within the timeframe the hon. Gentleman was asking for, but I am afraid I cannot give him a precise date. However, it is imminent, and we will do it as soon as we possibly can. I believe the MAPPA review will cover many of the issues that the shadow Minister has been raising in relation to the lone actor threat that he and his colleagues have been discussing.
Let me turn to the substantive questions about TPIMs that arose both this afternoon and in Committee. Let me start with what Joanna Cherry termed the business case or the operational case: why are we proposing to lower the burden of proof? The hon. Members for St Helens North and for St Albans (Daisy Cooper) and my hon. Friend Sir Robert Neill raised the same question.
The best answer I can give the House to that question—what is the business case for changing the burden of proof?—is the evidence given to the Bill Committee by Assistant Chief Constable Tim Jacques, one of the national counter-terrorism policing leads, who had been briefed by the security services prior to giving his evidence. In his evidence, which is available in Hansard, he gave us three reasons why a lower burden of proof—a reasonable suspicion—would be better and would protect the public. The first reason he gave is that, where an individual’s risk profile is rapidly increasing, there may not be time to establish the higher burden of proof before a threat or a risk materialises. Secondly, he said that where somebody is returning from abroad—for example, from Syria—it is very hard to establish an evidential base that, on the balance of probability, someone has been involved in terror-related activity because, by definition, getting evidence from somewhere like Syria it is very hard, if not impossible. The third reason he gave was where sensitive material needs to be relied on: disclosing that material to get to the balance of probability would potentially endanger sources—confidential sources—and it is clearly easier to get to the reasonable suspicion standard without disclosing the material. Those are the three reasons he gave. [Interruption.]
To pre-empt the intervention that I sense the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West is brewing, I accept that it is true historically—looking back—that there has not been an occasion on which the security services wanted to give a TPIM but could not do so because of the burden of proof. There is no such historical example, and I freely concede the point. I suspect that was the topic of the intervention. [Interruption.] Sort of. However, as my hon. Friend Julie Marson said in an intervention, we have to deal in this House not just with what has happened in the past but with what might happen in the future.
We have been clearly advised by Assistant Chief Constable Jacques, and through him by the security services, that this measure is necessary to protect the public. When the assistant chief constable gave evidence on
The Minister anticipates my objection, so perhaps I can refer him to what the assistant chief constable said in response to me during the evidence session on
“So where there is a rapidly escalating situation or where there is a need to manage sensitive material, we already have available to us the option of a new variant TPIM without changing the standard of proof.” and he replied:
“Well, a TPIM is a TPIM. We have the option of a TPIM to manage that case, yes, as it currently stands. MI5 has pointed out that there is no case thus far where the standard of proof has been a blocker.”––[Official Report, Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Public Bill Committee,
As I said, I accept that. There have not been any historical cases where the standard of proof has been a blocker, but we have been categorically advised by the security services, speaking through Assistant Chief Constable Jacques, that it might occur, and that these proposals will make the public safer. He said that categorically, and I do not think that the House could, or should, disregard such clear advice. In relation to Jonathan Hall’s comments, I suspect that he may not have heard the evidence that I read out. He gave evidence to the Committee immediately before Assistant Chief Constable Jacques. His evidence was new to the House and to Parliament, and we did not have it on Second Reading. We do have it now, however, and we should have careful regard to it.
A number of Members raised questions about civil liberties, and not wishing to intrude on an individual’s freedom, and I will directly address those points. I will do so with reference to the original Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011. By lowering the burden of proof, we are changing only one of five limbs. The other four limbs remain exactly as they are, and one of those, laid out in section 3 of that Act, states that the Secretary of State must reasonably consider whether the TPIM is “necessary”—I use that word carefully—for purposes connected with protecting members of the public. Subsection (4), condition D, states that the Secretary of State must consider whether a TPIM is
“necessary, for purposes connected with preventing or restricting the individual's involvement in terrorism-related activity,”
That test of necessity goes far beyond the reasonable suspicion referred to in the first limb. The requirement for necessity is unchanged.
The hon. Member for St Albans said that this measure could be introduced on a Minister’s whim, and that a Minister could impose a TPIM with the sweep of a pen. I say to her gently, however, that that is not the case and there are judicial safeguards in the 2011 Act. For example, section 6 of that Act states that when a TPIM notice is given, the Secretary of State must go to the court and make an application, and the court has to verify or validate that the TPIM is reasonable, and certify that it is not “obviously flawed”. There is judicial certification.
Section 16 of the 2011 Act provides for a right to appeal. If the subject of a TPIM feels that they have been unfairly treated, or that the TPIM is unjustified, they can apply to the court in a process akin to a judicial review, and apply to have it overturned. There are judicial safeguards to protect individuals from unreasonable actions by the Government.
In the many years that TPIMs have been in operation since 2011, and in the six years when control orders were in place from 2005, the numbers used have been small. There were never more than about 15 to 20 control orders in force at any one time, and we heard evidence that as of today only six TPIMs are in force. That is a very small number, as they are used only in exceptional circumstances. When I asked Jonathan Hall whether he believed that any Government, including the previous Labour Government or the more recent Conservative Government, had ever abused the power provided by TPIMs or control orders, he answered that no, he was not aware of any such abuse. I would add that a former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Lord Carlile, has expressed support for the measures in this Bill.
Let me turn to the issue of time and how extendable TPIMs are. They currently expire after two years. We propose to make them extendable in one-year increments, as were the old control orders passed by the then Labour Government and indeed supported by some Members in this House this afternoon. We heard evidence from Jonathan Hall that there was risk where a TPIM ended after two years, as there could be a gap. He knew of two real cases where that occurred, with a gap of one year in one case and a gap of 16 months in the other before a new TPIM could be obtained. That is because we have to get fresh evidence; we cannot rely on the old evidence and we have to wait for somebody to do something wrong again to give us the grounds to renew the TPIM. Max Hill, when he was independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in 2017, said that some terrorists were “biding time” waiting for the TPIM to simply time out.
In fairness to the last Labour Government, even though the previous control orders could be extended year by year, in practice most of them were not: 30 of them were for less than two years; eight were for between two and three years; four were for between three and four years; and only three extended for between four and five years. Again, the subject can apply for judicial review if they think the TPIM extension is unfair, so a judicial protection is in place.
I have two quick final points to make. In terms of prosecution, which my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst asked about, there is a duty under section 10 of the 2011 Act that requires the Secretary of State to seek prosecution where appropriate. On Prevent, let me say that the statutory obligation to carry out the Prevent review remains. There have been some delays, because the independent reviewer had to be replaced and then we had the coronavirus pandemic. Our commitment to do it remains in statute. Obviously, specifying a date caused a problem before, and we do not want to repeat that mistake. We hope and expect that this will be done by August of next year, but we feel that, given the experience of the recent past, putting that date in the Bill would simply be setting a bear trap. So I hope that I have laid out the case for resisting these amendments.
In the brief time available, I wish, first, to thank the Minister for addressing some of the concerns we have raised, not just today on Report, but through a thorough examination of the Bill in Committee. Although Labour Members wholeheartedly support robust action to keep our country and our citizens safe, and to tackle terrorism and its causes, it is the duty of any responsible Opposition to examine fully the Government’s proposals. I feel that we have done that, with the assistance of Scottish National party and Liberal Democrat Members, those from other parties in the House, and colleagues on the Back Benches.
The Minister and the Government should listen carefully to the very personal testimony given by my hon. Friends the Members for Coventry South (Zarah Sultana) and for Poplar and Limehouse (Apsana Begum), and indeed by my right hon. Friend Ms Abbott. Although I might not have agreed with her on every crossed t or dotted i, or even on whole words or sentences on occasion, she does speak with the voice of years of experience in this House and a commitment to these issues. She also, like Members who spoke from these Benches, speaks authoritatively and with great passion on behalf of the constituencies and communities she represents. The Government should listen to them, which was why I made the points I did about the importance of not only getting this Prevent review right but getting on with it, to give the clarity and confidence needed, and to address some of the challenges and controversies associated with it.
I was hoping that we might receive a commitment from the Government to publish their MAPPA— multi-agency public protection arrangements—review before we got to consideration in the House of Lords, because it is important, given the removal of the statutory deadline for Prevent and given that the Opposition have proposed a review on lone actors, to have some timeframe on that. I appreciate and understand that the Minister has made valiant efforts to do that, but I regret that it has not been forthcoming to date. I hope that in considering the request for a review on lone actors, the Government understand that we do so in a constructive spirit.
I thank the Lord Chancellor and the Minister for that commitment. The robust exchanges we have had have been in the context and spirit of working constructively on a Bill of huge importance, which is concerned with keeping our country and its citizens safe. Our proposals for that review are in keeping with that view. We await to see what the MAPPA review by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation comes forward with. Colleagues in the other place will no doubt wish to scrutinise that. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.