"With permission, Mr Speaker, on 29 and
My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for repeating that Statement. There was a great deal in it—it was a long Statement, and understandably so—and it will need time for reflection. This is, of course, an area where we will work together, as my right honourable friend Mr Cameron indicated in another place.
If the noble Baroness will permit me, I must say one thing. There was a measured tone to the Statement which differed from some of the more hysterical pronouncements that we have become used to over recent years. However, I am afraid that, outside Parliament, we have seen some of the old spin—"Prime Minister challenges opposition parties to stand up against terror", and so on. Spin of that kind helps no one because it undermines the consensus that the noble Baroness and the Prime Minister say they are trying to create and it belittles the difficult judgments that lie behind all this as to the balance between our ancient liberties and the challenge of terrorism. The debates in which this House perhaps above all others has distinguished itself are not about will but about method; they are not about party politics but about what is right and what is most effective. I hope that the noble Baroness will use her influence to rein the spin doctors in.
The noble Baroness is right to say that we face exceptional challenge and new methods of attack but, equally, this fine old country has faced a few challenges along the way, and we have seen them off without compromising our essential freedoms, which were so hard won and defended at a cost far greater than any we have seen in recent years. It is easy to lose a freedom. Once lost, it is no longer a birthright and its return becomes a concession from the state. That is to change fundamentally the whole nature of British liberty, which is not enshrined in conventions and rights but in the rule of law and parliamentary constitutional government. I have no doubt that this House will approach these questions with that in mind, and it will be right to do so.
The security services, the police and, indeed, courageous members of the public have distinguished themselves in recent weeks in thwarting terror. The whole House will thank them for that. I have no doubt that they will be called on again, and we welcome the additional resources that have been announced today. However, can the noble Baroness confirm that funding for Special Branch, which carries out much vital surveillance work around the country, will be included in that budget? It urgently needs to expand. To defeat terrorism will require tough, consistent and rigorous action at every level. It will need intelligence, and I very much welcome the revised arrangements for the Joint Intelligence Committee. It will need to tackle extremism and the preachers of extremism. We will look carefully at the ideas in the Statement, but we need to be firm; far firmer than we were for far too long in dealing with the Abu Hamzas of this world. It will need effective policing, including at our borders. We welcome the apparent acceptance by the Government of the idea being put forward by our party of a unified border police. Perhaps the noble Baroness will therefore explain why the Government have spent years resisting and rubbishing that idea.
How many illegal immigrants, and among them how many potential terrorists, have got in under the wire while the Government were playing nimby politics over effective control of our borders? Can the noble Baroness tell us the Government's current estimate of the number of those in this country without lawful authority, the number of former foreign criminals released into the community who have not yet been traced, and the number of those under control orders currently on the run? Will the Government draw on the work of the Conservative Party's commission under the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, to prepare and implement that policy?
It will not have escaped the notice of the noble Baroness that we have the UK Borders Bill before this House at the moment. Now that the Government have dropped their opposition, will they consider recommitting the Bill in the autumn to enable the creation of the border police on the fastest possible timescale? I have not been able to consult my colleagues in another place but, if it is practical and if the Government really mean what they said, we in this place would be ready to discuss in the usual channels any reasonable measure, including carry-over, to enable this important provision to be made.
We welcome the fact that, on intercept evidence, the Prime Minister has accepted another of our proposals, for a Privy Council committee. Will the Government legislate immediately if the committee finds a way of lifting the ban on the use of this vital evidence in court? The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, has played a major part in this argument. I hope that he, too, will be consulted in this review. Again, however, why did the Government resist this proposal for so long?
We cannot agree on the question of ID cards. This House laboured hard to try to inject some sense into this debate. It is immensely disappointing that the new Prime Minister is not prepared to think over this again. The costs are spiralling; its effectiveness is questioned; and, behind the scenes, a giant surveillance apparat is being planned and created, quite unprecedented in the free world. Surely the money could be better used to bolster security and public safety elsewhere. On ID cards as on money laundering, child protection and so much else, the Government are obsessed with giant computer projects, placing every citizen under surveillance and imposing a presumption of potential guilt that is as corrosive of trust as it is of liberty. They are building giant haystacks in which the lethal needles go unnoticed. No evidence has ever been presented that ID cards would have prevented any of the major outrages we have seen.
Use of such instruments needs to be far more focused, and we will look at the measures on people coming to this country, but why do they apply only to those here over six months? Surely an act of terror can be planned and perpetrated in less than six months. We will also explore carefully what is proposed on controls on terror suspects travelling abroad. The ID card system makes travel abroad for UK citizens conditional upon submitting to permanent domestic surveillance. Surely the priority is to target resources on the suspect and suspect organisations. When will Hizb ut-Tahrir be banned?
We agree very much with the need to win hearts and minds. Not enough has been done to integrate new arrivals to our country. Our country, our history, our language, our culture, our freedoms become their treasure, too, and the birthright of their children. We must sweep away zany ideas in education that have diminished teaching of our national traditions. We might begin by keeping Churchill in the history curriculum. He fought for the freedom of every religion, race and land, and people of every religion, race and land fought alongside him.
I welcome the decision to finally take up our proposal to allow the questioning of a suspect after they have been charged. Is this not the most important way of ensuring that the police can get their job done without introducing what could in time start to look like executive internment? Certainly we have to frame carefully the rules on the use of this power so that it is not abused, but should we not consider the effectiveness and value of this and other instruments before returning to the totemic question of 28 days?
We will look at these consultation papers carefully, but both Houses struck a difficult compromise only two years ago. What has changed since last December, when the then Home Secretary, the then Attorney-General and the Lord Chancellor all agreed that fresh evidence was needed before any further change could be justified? Should not this House ask that Ministers prove that all existing laws are being used before they reach for new legislation? After all, it was a Victorian statute that helped to stop Abu Hamza. Our liberties are precious, and one of the greatest ironies of recent years is that some of them are being eroded because of the operation of the Human Rights Act. Will the noble Baroness admit that this Act is frustrating our fight against terror and will she undertake to include reform of that, too, in the ambit of any cross-party discussions?
Security is necessary, but liberty makes us the country we are. If we erode that, no one wins but the terrorists who are our enemies. That is the difficult balance we must strike—where the role of Parliament, properly, is to be sceptical; and the role of government is not to chide Parliament for doing its job, but to heed its occasional wisdom.
My Lords, I, too, welcome the Statement made by the Leader of the House. We learn that the Government intend to consult widely and to seek all-party consensus. That is key, and must of course be welcomed. However, consensus does not mean, "Everyone else, adopt our policy"; it means listening and sometimes changing policy, and we will judge this policy of consensus according to that criterion. I also hope that the Government will accept that this House in particular has special experience and a special role to play in examining these matters.
I start almost at the end of the Statement by welcoming the various initiatives to go into communities. A couple of weeks ago, I received as part of an educational programme a Muslim lady who was a social worker. After I had shown her and a number of others around, we talked generally and she told me that she had an 18 year-old son who was very keen to join the police. She then paused and said, "But of course he would not dare say that down at the mosque". For me, that sent a chill that must be addressed. Young Muslims should be able to think of joining the police, our Army and other parts of our national life without fear of mentioning it down at the mosque. We also have a special job to do in universities where some very dangerous extremism is given root. There is a need for an educational role there. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, caught part of the mood of this. We understand the statistics on the number of plots and terrorist gains; our scepticism arises when the Government have to rush to make new and fresh legislation every time a plot is discovered. Surely the point of the previous legislation was to deal with those very points. Legislation on this must not become a ratchet or an ever-incoming tide. We must look very carefully at each case.
We of course welcome the publication of the national security strategy and the review of counterterrorism measures, but I hope that once the noble Lord, Lord West, with all his experience, has looked at how ID cards and their costs are unfolding and has reached the conclusion that resources might be diverted more effectively to other parts of counterterrorism, the Government will have the courage to accept such advice. They have heard our advice and are going down that road but, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, indicated, there have been some spectacular and costly failures in the use of new technologies, and it would be a pity if the more mundane parts of the service, such as Special Branch, were starved of resources simply because the Government did not have the courage to admit that they had got into a costly cul-de-sac.
Again, we welcome the review of intercept evidence. I shall not tick off all the ideas that we or the Conservatives had first because, if we are working towards consensus, we should all take the credit. I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, is given special mention; he is almost heading for sainthood so far as the Government are concerned. However, there are other experienced views on the 28-day rule on these Benches, not least those of my noble friend Lord Dholakia, who pointed out only yesterday—at col. 758 of the Official Report—that we have moved very quickly from 14 days to 28 days, and that 56 days are now proposed. The voice of the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, carries at least as much weight as that of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. Yesterday, in the same column of Hansard, he pointed out that we already have the longest holding period without trial of any liberal democracy. I therefore hope the Government realise that we on these Benches will test very carefully the arguments on 28 days and that we will look for the evidence that an extension is needed.
I suppose, however, that it ultimately comes back to the theme in the Prime Minister's intentions, and certainly to the spirit which the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, mentioned. Around both Houses and across the country there is a real pride in the term "liberal democracy", in the broader sense, and what it means for our freedoms. There is a real determination which goes beyond any political party to defend and not to lose the things that make a liberal democracy worth defending. It will be a very difficult balance.
I echo the last point made by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde—by their fruits will we know them. Leaflets suggesting that the Liberals are soft on terrorism and press briefings suggesting that only the Government have national security at heart are what will destroy the consensus. We will listen, we will watch, we will participate—but by your fruits we will know you.
Indeed, my Lords, and I expect nothing less. I am conscious that I have a short time to try to respond to some of the key points. I will respond further later.
There is no question that the Government are attempting to spin anything; we seek a genuine consensus. Frankly, I do not care who came up with which idea. The difference for those in government is that we get a chance to look at ideas and how to implement them properly. If we can work together on these important issues it will be a credit to all noble Lords, to the Government, especially, and also to Parliament. That is what we should seek to do. I am extremely grateful for the general warmth with which both noble Lords received the proposals, with all the caveats that they put forward.
I want to make it clear that we are talking about a unified border force, not a unified border police. We are saying that border control, Customs and UKvisas coming together. Special Branch, as I said, will have a role within that. I have figures on funding which I will send to the noble Lord. As my right honourable friend said in another place, the work of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, is an important piece of work in trying to look at all the evidence and all the views. We will be keen to ensure that we do that. I, too, pay tribute to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, who I am sure will have much to say on these issues. I look forward very much to discussing those with him.
On biometric data, my noble friend Lord West will not hesitate to tell the Government if he believes that there are different avenues to be explored. That is precisely why he is in your Lordships' House and doing the enormously important work that he is undertaking. However, I also know that the importance of biometric data should not be underestimated. Such data have already proved incredibly valuable in the current work and I think that noble Lords should consider how to take the issue forward in that spirit.
As noble Lords will know, since December we have had not only the Home Affairs Select Committee report but circumstances in which it has not been possible to deal with those about whom we are worried until the 26th or 27th of the 28 days. On their own, those are two good reasons why we should consider the issue again. There is no question of rushing legislation through. We have brought this forward today in a measured way so that, over the summer, noble Lords and Members of another place can consider the proposals and build what we hope will be a genuine consensus on taking these issues forward. I agree completely on the issue of what we have described as hearts and minds and on the importance of working with all institutions—particularly those in education and especially universities—to support vulnerable young people who may be at risk from those who would seek to change them into supporters or joiners of terrorist organisations. That is a core part of the work that will be going forward.
I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, does not wish to confer sainthood on the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, but I am sure that he will agree that it is right and proper—and I accept that the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, has much to offer—to draw attention to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, because of the role that he has undertaken and performed so well.
My Lords, will the Intelligence and Security Committee remain a committee of parliamentarians, effectively a creature of the Executive, reporting to the Prime Minister and publishing report, or will it become a committee of Parliament, effectively a Select Committee? Can we be assured that reform of the ISC will not be circumscribed by the Intelligence Services Act 1994?
My Lords, noble Lords will know from the Statement and from our debate on the previous Statement that I made—the noble Baroness, Lady Park, was particularly concerned, and she may wish to comment on this again—that we seek to enable greater debate and openness within Parliament while recognising the importance of the committee's work. My noble friend said "creature of the Executive" in a particular tone of voice. We want noble Lords and Members of another place to have greater confidence in the committee's role within Parliament while not losing sight of the value and importance of its work and so preventing it from fulfilling the role we wish it to perform.
My Lords, I, too, welcome the Statement. It is a huge relief to discover that the Government are not contemplating a detention period of 60 or 90 days and have accepted that only on rare occasions should the period exceed 14 days, so 28 days must not be regarded as the norm—I hope it never will be. However, it is said that, on even rarer occasions, it might be necessary to go beyond 28 days. I accept that that might be so.
It seems to me that the safeguards now proposed are such that they might form the basis of a consensus across all the parties. I cannot conceive of any circumstances that would justify an extension of a further 28 days, making 56 days in all, which, as I have said on many occasions, would be clearly contrary to Article 5 of the European convention.
There is one other possible safeguard that would do much to convince me. In Ireland, there used to be an office known as the Independent Commissioner for Holding (Detention) Centres, who did more than anyone to ensure that within detention centres the police complied with the law and got on with the job. I suggest that we should have a similar arrangement at Paddington Green.
Finally, I welcome the appointment of the review committee on interception of communications. I cannot imagine four men more likely to reach a sensible result.
My Lords, I am grateful for the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. His comments about what happened in Ireland are very valuable. That is exactly the kind of dialogue we wish to have and the sort of input we wish to receive from noble Lords and Members of another place in considering what might be done. I confirm that we are talking about 28 days' detention as rare. The reason for our proposals and options in the paper is that the combination of what the Home Affairs Select Committee has said and recent real-life experience make it right and proper to give Parliament the possibility of extending the 28-day period in the way my right honourable friend has described, but with all the safeguards mentioned and, indeed, additional safeguards that might be suggested. I look forward to discussing these issues further with the noble and learned Lord.
My Lords, I remain deeply concerned about the implications of public discussion of intelligence matters, and I should like a reassurance from the Minister that, when the Government say "consulting", they mean that we shall be consulted in October and not returning to a fait accompli. If not, I can only say that no agents will come forward, no foreign intelligence services will trust us and it will be a disaster. This has to be considered further, and I should like to be reassured that "consulting" does not mean that two or three people will meet in the recess and make a decision. This is a major issue.
My Lords, the noble Baroness has raised this with me previously. I assure her that we are starting the consultation but there will not be a fait accompli. Some issues can be debated and discussed fully over the summer, of course; but the noble Baroness has rightly raised issues from her great experience, and it would be completely wrong not to take them on board. I think that we need to do that separately as well. If I may, I shall talk to her about that today.
My Lords, there is an impressive international architecture in place, notably UN Security Council Resolution 1373 and the UN convention, but there are gaps because many countries do not have the capacity to implement those conventions. My noble friend mentioned co-operation with the French; is it not something that we and our French colleagues could do? Mainly the non-complying states are in Africa, and we through the Commonwealth and the French through the Francophone countries could offer mentoring and technical assistance in helping them to implement the relevant UN conventions and Security Council resolutions.
My Lords, my noble friend makes an important point. We need to discuss with our European colleagues, including the French, Germans and other members of the 27-strong European Union, our influence and how we can support other countries.
My Lords, I welcome the Statement. Have the Government considered asking Parliament for a detention period longer than 28 days, with judicial supervision but increasing the period by stages, by affirmative resolution, as the evidence of need emerges?
My Lords, again, that is precisely the kind of contribution that we are looking for. Two documents have been released on paper and two more are available on the Home Office website. We hope that noble Lords will look at what the Government are saying in the round and consider the implications of the evidence before us and how, in parliamentary terms, to tackle some of the underlying concerns raised. In particular, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, raised the need to ensure that we are not moving inch by inch towards a different kind of state. The noble Lord's comments will be taken on board.
My Lords, it is welcome news that the Government are finally going to link up our terrorist watch list to the Interpol database of stolen passports, given the robust criticism from the director of Interpol a couple of weeks ago about our consistent failure to do that. However, we have other failures in information exchange. I recently learnt that the DVLA is refusing to exchange vehicle registration details with its EU counterparts. Perhaps the Minister would look into that.
The Minister also referred to EU access and exchange of immigration data, but the UK is not allowed to access Schengen information system data on persons to be refused entry because we are not in the Schengen zone, as has been brought out in a Lords EU Select Committee report. Will the Government not at least develop some long-term strategy and express an intention regarding the Schengen zone, with caveats about secure external borders, to perhaps advance our access to the Schengen immigration data?
My Lords, the noble Baroness will know that we are currently before the courts on a data-sharing issue. The Government have made their position on Schengen very clear. In the longer term, they will keep everything under review, but we recognise the importance of sharing information with our European Union partners. Whether we are in or out of Schengen should not affect our opportunity to share information that could be vital in tackling serious and organised crime and terrorism.
As for the DVLA, we must ensure that the legislation under which we have brought in bodies, or in which we have laid out the ways in which they can operate, enables them to share data. All the data sharing implications, including those within the context of data protection, need to be looked at. We shall come back to Parliament on that.
My Lords, I regard this as the greatest civil liberties outrage in modern times. It is quite outrageous. Whatever conciliatory noises my own Front Bench makes, I shall be a renegade on this. There is absolutely no way that I regard even 28 days as appropriate. Seven days is, in its own way, far too long. What is wrong with hours rather than days? I cannot believe that this will lead to anything other than sloppy and bad policing. I am in favour of good policing. If you allow the police 56 days to agree what should be done, I cannot believe that they will do anything for 55 days other than sit on their hands. That is simply wrong. I do not believe that day one is day one. What will the noble Baroness do, or am I simply alone in believing that 56 days is an outrage, and that she ought to be ashamed of herself?
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord speaks on this matter with enormous passion. I am not at all ashamed of myself. It is very important that the noble and learned Lord's voice and that of other noble Lords, who may feel equally passionately in the same direction or another, is heard. That is an important value of your Lordships' House. It is important to examine the circumstances of cases that have come before us. My right honourable friend's Statement sets out some of the difficulties and issues that have been raised.
I have far greater faith in our police forces than the noble and learned Lord. They work incredibly hard and have done a huge amount to keep us as safe as possible. In that context it is important to listen to and talk to them about what they believe they need. We should not necessarily always do everything that they say but we should put it in the right context. As I indicated, the comments of the Home Affairs Select Committee and the evidence that we have on people who have been charged suggest that we have a problem. It is right for Parliament to consider this, to deliberate in a measured way and to look at what needs to be done and the right and proper safeguards that need to be put in place. I hope that the noble and learned Lord will voice his passionate feelings in those debates.
My Lords, I join with the majority of noble Lords who welcomed the Statement's measured and restrained tone and the breadth of the ways in which the issues are to be addressed. I am somewhat anxious that if we are to go beyond 28 days a state of emergency will have to be declared. It seems to me that that could be misused or misunderstood by the public. I wonder whether that is the best mechanism to adopt if we have to go beyond 28 days. I welcome the measure on working with the Islamic community, especially in this country, consulting carefully about what happens in the madrassas and potentially sponsoring English speaking imams. I believe that for some years the French Government have worked with the Islamic community in sponsoring French speaking imams. I suggest that there may be other ways in which working very closely with the moderate voices in the Islamic community could be as key a part of the strategy as the more direct security measures referred to.
My Lords, I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate. My personal reaction is that the state of emergency issue is over the top. There may be particular circumstances involving an individual in which that could apply if Parliament agreed, but with the safeguards that I indicated. I am not talking necessarily about a series of plots resulting in the declaration of a national emergency. However, we indicated in the documents that we want to discuss these issues fully and we will do so. I could not agree more with the right reverend Prelate about working with the Muslim community in the context of interfaith relations and looking at how we can support communities and vulnerable young people who could be drawn into difficulties. We very much look forward to working with the right reverend Prelate and other representatives from different faiths to see how we should do this.
My Lords, I once had the pleasure of debating these issues with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, at Durham University, and he was equally wrong then. Given the evidence of the police having to go to the wire in many detention cases, does the Minister agree with me that, if they had to release important suspects simply because of lack of time, the public would be outraged if they were endangered as a consequence? Equally, does she agree that the greatest threat to civil liberties is that of being blown to smithereens?
My Lords, I agree with my noble friend that the Government's first responsibility is to keep people safe, above anything else that we do; therefore, it is right and proper for the Government to consider the measures that need to be taken, to bring them before Parliament and debate them properly. My noble friend is right in all that he said about the importance of ensuring that the public have confidence in the measures taken by Parliament and Government to keep them safe. The balance that we are seeking to strike is that, in changing the nature of what we do, we do not lose sight of the value and importance of individual liberty, on which this country is founded.
My Lords, against the threat of illegal or suspect immigration across the 300-mile land border with the Republic of Ireland, are we currently primarily reliant on Irish immigration control?
My Lords, I am not, as the noble Lord would expect, as familiar with the work that is happening in Ireland as he might like, and I will therefore write to him on that.
My Lords, I apologise that I was unable to be present when my noble friend repeated the Statement, but I have read it. Having served on the Intelligence and Security Committee in the last Parliament, I put it to her that it is a second-order issue whether the ISC is technically a Select Committee or a committee appointed by the Executive. However, I cannot conceive, given the matter under its consideration, that public hearings could be other than rare and, at best, ceremonial.
There are three factors which govern the ISC's effectiveness. First, it needs the power to see, without question or argument, the material that it requires in the course of its investigations. It must have that information freely supplied to it on request, by the agencies and by the Government. Secondly, it must have the resources at its disposal within its secretariat and, through the co-operation of the agencies and the Government, to pursue its inquiries thoroughly. Thirdly, it must have the will to pursue its inquiries with the utmost thoroughness. Provided that those three conditions are met, the ISC will be an extremely valuable instrument.
My Lords, I agree completely with what my noble friend has said. The Statement refers to "where appropriate". I saw the noble Baroness, Lady Park, nod in agreement with my noble friend. These are important issues. The committee must be able to do its work effectively, but I am also mindful that we must get it right. Where there are appropriate means by which the committee is able to say things in public, it should be able to.
My Lords, I reiterate what the right reverend Prelate said about this Statement being measured and restrained. It makes me feel more comfortable that the Government are pursuing the first objective, which is to ensure people's security. I think that it is a focused Statement but, not having read it, I believe that there is a problem: £70 million is to be given to local authorities for involvement in youth leadership schemes, extension of women's groups and citizenship education, all to deter extremism. I am worried that that might take people's eyes off the main ball, which has been the focus of the Statement. Could this not be hived off to local authorities without being involved in this exercise?
My Lords, I am grateful that the noble Baroness has welcomed the measured tone of the Statement. Work will be done over the summer to look at how best to use the available resources and to ensure that we are able to support organisations appropriately and that we do not, as the noble Baroness fears, take our eye off the ball.
My Lords, does the Minister accept that, if the Republic of Ireland authorities do not upgrade their controls on illegal immigrants, those immigrants will be able to cross into the United Kingdom over the land border without any checks whatever by police or immigration personnel and then take a ferry boat to Liverpool?
My Lords, we are in discussion with the Irish Government, and further work is taking place on these issues.