Queen’s Speech - Debate (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:46 pm on 27th June 2017.

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Photo of Lord Marlesford Lord Marlesford Conservative 7:46 pm, 27th June 2017

My Lords, I wish to speak about national security. I suggest that the greatest threat to our national security comes from political Islam and, in particular, its military wing, Islamic State, which has in fact subsumed earlier jihadist organisations such as al-Qaeda. Since ISIS announced its arrival in Raqqa three years ago with the aim of creating a worldwide caliphate, we have seen enough of its brutal methods to be able to classify it as a fundamentally fascist movement wearing the cloak of Islam. The political motivation is clear. In this, it is remarkably similar to Soviet Bolshevism, but of course with Islamist theocracy taking the place of communism as the monopoly form of government.

This morning I visited the British Library exhibition on the Russian Revolution. I would like to quote one full paragraph from the catalogue which makes the point with elegance:

“Inaugurating the next stage of history, the proletarian revolution would, in their view, accelerate, extend and transform these globalising dynamics”— the world moving to ever closer integration—

“further dissolving national territorial distinctions of class, ethnicity, religion and culture. The revolution would lead to the creation of a unified socialist world-state, and ultimately to world-wide stateless communism”.

I have nine specific proposals to make to the Government. First, HMG should always make an independent assessment of the greater national good where the interests of national security clash with civil or human rights.

Secondly, British jihadists who have travelled to take part in IS operations anywhere in the world should not be allowed back into this country, whether they be British citizens by birth or naturalisation. Their passports should be cancelled and their citizenship revoked. They have made their free choice and, if they have not died from it, they should live with it. We cannot afford to take the risk or pay the price of doing otherwise.

Thirdly, we need greatly to tighten our borders. This must mean that the Passport Office is aware of any other passports held by a British passport holder.

Fourthly, the Passport Office should temporarily invalidate electronically a British passport held by someone who is serving a custodial sentence or is on bail under charge of a security offence.

I note that it was reported that one of the London Bridge killers was on bail at the time of the attack. This will involve automatic notification of such instances by the courts and the police to the passport authorities.

Fifthly, there must also be automatic electronic cancellation of passports on death as soon as notified by the registrar of births and deaths.

Sixthly, it is most urgent that there be automatic recording, for a period of at least five years, of all departures from or arrivals in the UK. It is absurd that there is scant recording of departures, with the wholly inadequate excuse that closer scrutiny is “intelligence led”.

Seventhly, we do not necessarily need national identity cards, but we need national identity numbers with individual biometrics centrally held, but not just on any document held by the individual. Documents containing biometrics—although necessary for many purposes—can be dangerously misleading if the biometrics of the holder cannot be compared with a central record. At present there are a plethora of government numbers allocated to the individual: national insurance, NHS, passports, driving licences, HMRC and criminal records to mention half a dozen obvious ones.

Eighthly, new standards of positive vetting must be introduced to help ensure that terrorists, of whom we know there are now many in the UK, are not able to get into sensitive positions.

Finally, there should be a fresh appraisal of the role and legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain, whose links with jihad are not unlike those that Sinn Fein once had with the IRA.

None of these proposals is new. I have made them all before, but with scant response from the Home Office—although sometimes Ministers have privately told me that they agree with me. Perhaps the time has come for a department of homeland security on the basis and lines of that constructed in the United States.