Terrorist Attacks - Statement

– in the House of Lords at 3:08 pm on 5th December 2017.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 3:08 pm, 5th December 2017

My Lords, I will now repeat a Statement made in the other place earlier today by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary entitled “Report on Recent Terrorist Attacks”. The Statement is as follows:

“Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on David Anderson’s report published today on recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

The attacks which took place this year shocked us all. Our thoughts remain with the victims of the attacks and all those affected by them. I am conscious that many will still be suffering acutely. However painful, it is essential that we examine what happened so that we can maximise the chances of preventing further attacks in the future.

At the outset, I would like to remind honourable Members of the context. Andrew Parker, the director-general of MI5, recently said that we are facing ‘a dramatic upshift’ in terrorist threats, and as the so-called caliphate has weakened, Daesh has increasingly turned its attention to encouraging people to launch attacks in their home countries. Indeed, there is simply more terrorist activity, partly inspired and also enabled by terrorist propaganda and instructional videos online. Plots are developing more quickly from radicalisation to attack, and threats are becoming harder to detect, partly due to the challenge of accessing communications that are increasingly end-to-end encrypted.

MI5 and Counter Terrorism Policing are currently running well over 500 live operations—a third up since the beginning of the year—involving roughly 3,000 active subjects of interest. In addition, there are more than 20,000 further individuals—or closed subjects of interest—who have previously been investigated and may again pose a threat. I would like to pay tribute to MI5 and the police, who work tirelessly to keep us safe. I can announce today that they have now disrupted 22 Islamist terrorist plots since the murder of Lee Rigby in May 2013, including nine since the Westminster attack in March this year.

I now turn to the reviews. Counter Terrorism Policing and MI5 have conducted a thorough review process. I received from them 10 highly classified documents which analyse the attacks and potential improvements to operational practices. In June, I commissioned David Anderson QC to provide independent assurance of, and external challenge to, the reviews. I am today placing a copy of his unclassified assessment of the reviews in the House Library, and copies will also be made available in the Vote Office.

David Anderson concludes that the reviews have been carried out in an ‘impressively thorough and fair’ manner, and he endorses, so far as he feels qualified to do so, the conclusions and recommendations. Based on the MI5 and police reviews, David Anderson explains that:

‘In the case of the Westminster attack, Khalid Masood was a closed subject of interest at the time of the attack. Neither MI5 nor the police had any reason to anticipate the attack’.

Regarding the Manchester Arena attack, Salman Abedi was also a closed subject of interest at the time of the attack, and so not under active investigation. In early 2017, MI5 none the less received intelligence on him, which was assessed as not being related to terrorism. In retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to be highly relevant. Had an investigation been reopened at the time, it cannot be known whether Abedi’s plans could have been stopped. MI5 assess that it would have been unlikely. Across the attacks, including Manchester Arena, David Anderson notes that MI5 and CT Policing got a great deal right. However, in relation to Manchester, he also commented that,

‘it is conceivable that the attack … might have been averted had the cards fallen differently’.

In the case of London Bridge, Khuram Butt was an active subject of interest who had been under investigation since mid-2015. A number of different investigative means were deployed against him, but they did not reveal his plans. His two conspirators had never been investigated by MI5 or CT Policing. In regards to Finsbury Park, neither MI5 nor the police had any intelligence about this attack. Taken as a whole, MI5 and CT Policing conclude that they could not,

‘find any key moments where different decisions would have made it likely that they could have stopped any of the attacks’.

None the less, they go on to make a total of 126 recommendations.

The recommendations made in the MI5 and police operational review fall into four broad categories. First, there needs to be a concerted effort to enhance MI5 and the police’s ability to use data to detect activity of concern, and to test new approaches in the acquisition, sharing and analysis of data.

Secondly, MI5 should share its intelligence more widely and work with partners such as local authorities on how best to manage the risk posed by closed subjects of interest in particular. We are considering undertaking multiagency pilots in a number of areas, including Greater Manchester, and I have already started discussing how to take this forward with Andy Burnham.

Thirdly, there should be a new approach to managing domestic extremism, particularly extreme right-wing groups, where their activity meets the definition of terrorism. Fourthly, there are a large number of detailed and technical changes which could be made to improve existing operational counterterrorism processes.

David Anderson ends his report with several reflections. First, intelligence is imperfect and investigators are making tough judgments based on incomplete information. This unfortunately means that not every attack can be stopped. As we do not live in a surveillance state, it will always be a challenge to law enforcement to stop determined attackers getting through. Despite this, we should remember that most attacks continue to be successfully disrupted. Lastly, David Anderson concludes that even marginal improvements are capable of paying dividends that could tip the balance in favour of the security forces in future cases.

I have discussed these reviews at length with David Anderson, and separately with Andrew Parker and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, as well as their senior teams. I am grateful for all their work and am confident that they have asked the right questions and drawn the right conclusions. I am clear, as are they, that the implementation of the recommendations is crucial.

There will be those who seek to apportion blame for the attacks. We should be united in our clarity that it lies squarely with those whose cowardly acts killed 36 innocent people this year, and with those who encouraged them. At the same time, we must learn all that we can from these attacks, and make sure that our overall counterterrorism response is equal to the shift we have seen in the threat.

I turn now to the next steps. Bringing those responsible to justice is our priority. We must not do anything that jeopardises the criminal prosecutions that are being pursued in relation to Manchester and Finsbury Park. The coroners’ investigations will probe the matter further and independently assess the circumstances of the deaths. Inquests have already been opened into the attacks and suspended where criminal investigations are continuing. It is right that those inquests proceed wherever they can. If the coroners consider that they cannot fully deal with the relevant issues, that is the point at which to decide whether an inquiry is needed. We are ruling nothing out.

I welcome the Intelligence and Security Committee’s intention to make these attacks its top priority, and I have already discussed this with my right honourable friend the Member for Beaconsfield. As I outlined, implementation of the recommendations will be crucial. I have asked David Anderson to provide an independent stock-take of progress in a year’s time, but linked to implementation are resources. We will shortly be announcing the budgets for policing for 2018-19. I am clear that we must ensure that counterterrorism policing has the resources needed to deal with the threats we face.

Finally, these recommendations need to fit into the broader government review of our counterterrorism strategy. That review reaches well beyond MI5 and CT Policing to look at the whole-of-government response and at how we can work better with communities, the private sector and international partners. I conclude by thanking David Anderson for his independent assurance of these reviews. I again pay tribute to the excellent work of the police and MI5.

I end as I started. The thoughts of everyone in this House and the other place are with the victims, their families and all those affected by the attacks. I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Photo of Lord Rosser Lord Rosser Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 3:18 pm, 5th December 2017

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made earlier in the House of Commons. We share the view expressed that responsibility for these awful incidents rests solely on the shoulders of the perpetrators. We all owe a debt of gratitude to our intelligence and security services and the police for the work they do seeking to protect us from acts of terrorism. Without their commitment and dedication, this country would not feel like a safe place to live. We know only too well from an act of terrorism here on our doorstep that their commitment and dedication can result in loss of life—in this instance, of a police officer doing his duty to the full. We should all be grateful to David Anderson QC for his report, although our first thoughts must be with the families and loved ones of those who died or suffered life-changing injuries in these awful incidents.

Those who have the burden of responsibility of protecting us are entitled to expect our full support. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has recently reported that policing is under significant stress. Officer numbers have declined significantly since 2010 and further reductions in numbers of officers and police staff are on the way. A government claim that reserves totalling £1.6 billion are available to the police has been dismissed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, which said that not only was the figure £200 million less than the Government had claimed but also that two-thirds was already earmarked to be spent.

The chair of the National Police Chiefs Council has been quoted as saying, “We’ve made £1.6 billion efficiency savings in the last five years and predict we’ll save another £0.9 billion in the next five. This at a time when HMIC recognises policing is under significant stress from rising demand and reported crime that is increasingly complex with … budgets due to fall in real terms over the next three years”. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has warned of cuts to officer numbers if her force has to make a further £400 million in savings because of budget pressures. The indicative profile of the counterterrorism police’s grant allocation over the next three years sees a reduction of 7.2% in its budgets. Can the Minister say what the Government now intend to do to address that situation in the light of the Anderson report and the continuing, indeed increased, terrorist threat?

The Anderson report refers to the work of M15 and counterterrorism police in improving their co-ordination and reliance on community policing, even though the Government have previously attempted to maintain, in the face of reductions in community and neighbourhood policing numbers, that counterterrorism and community policing are unrelated activities. What do the Government intend to do to bolster community policing, now that they have been told, not for the first time, that it is a vital part of counterterrorism activity, building confidence and trust among communities and securing crucial intelligence?

David Anderson has said that, in the case of the Manchester terrorist attack, MI5 and counterterrorism police,

“could have succeeded had the cards fallen differently”.

How do the Government interpret that? We know that the police and security and intelligence services have more people who should be monitored than they can properly cope with. Do the Government intend to increase the resources available to address that reality?

Another area that is important in countering terrorism is the effectiveness or otherwise of border controls. Currently, scarce resources are available to be spent on telling people who have lived in this country for over 50 years that they face deportation before bundling them off to an immigration detention centre. On the other hand, resources are not available to prevent 11 people in a lorry from apparently being smuggled into this country undetected by border controls and found in a layby in Wiltshire only when they start banging on the side of the vehicle—11 people who could have constituted a terrorist threat. Is it not time that the Government had a hard look at not only whether they are providing sufficient resources to our hard-pressed security and police services to counterterrorist threats but whether they have their priorities right in how the resources available should be used?

The Statement refers to the fact that the Government will shortly be announcing the budgets for policing for 2018-19. The Home Secretary has said that she is clear that we must ensure that counterterrorism policing has the resources needed to deal with the threats that we face. In the Statement, the Home Secretary also said:

“I would like to remind honourable Members of the context. Andrew Parker, the director-general of MI5 recently said that we are facing ‘a dramatic upshift’ in terrorist threats”.

If the Home Secretary is to deliver on what she has said, and the Government with her, about the need to ensure that counterterrorism policing has the resources needed to deal with the threats that we face, it has to be very clear in announcing the budgets for policing for 2018-19 that no one will have any grounds for saying that the police and counterterrorism activity are being left underresourced.

Photo of Lord Paddick Lord Paddick Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

My Lords, I too thank the Minister for repeating the Statement and associate these Benches with the Home Secretary’s sentiments concerning those affected by the terrorist outrages. As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, has just reiterated, there is no doubt that the blame for the suffering that was inflicted remains with those who carried out these criminal acts and those who supported them. As far as I am concerned, we have the best intelligence and policing services in the world.

It is important to explain what a “dramatic upshift” in terrorist threats actually means. Having been briefed by those at the highest level, my understanding is that the number of people being influenced by extremist propaganda, particularly online, who are then tempted to conduct unsophisticated attacks such as those at Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park, is increasing. Can the Minister confirm that it is in the volume rather than the degree of sophistication, the amount of strategic planning or the co-ordination, that is seeing a “dramatic upshift” in the threat?

In the case of the Westminster, Manchester and Finsbury Park attacks, which were apparently carried out by so-called “lone wolf” attackers, can the Minister explain how end-to-end encryption mentioned by the Home Secretary would have made any difference to the likelihood of those attacks being prevented? Bearing in mind that in all these attacks, except the London Bridge attack, none of the murderers was under active investigation, how would their communications have been monitored, whether end-to-end encrypted or not? In the case of the one attacker who was an active subject of interest, can the Minister confirm that the investigative means that were deployed against him could have overcome end-to-end encryption? Is it not the fact that end-to-end encryption is a global issue that cannot be banned, and that we should be focused on what we can do something about, rather than on what we can do nothing about?

Can the noble Earl confirm that David Anderson agrees with MI5 and Counter Terrorism Policing’s conclusion that they could not,

“find any key moments where different decisions would have made it likely that they could have stopped any of the attacks”?

The Home Secretary reflects David Anderson’s conclusion that intelligence is imperfect and investigators are making tough judgments based on incomplete information, and she promises to deliver the resources Counter Terrorism Policing needs to deal with the threats we face. Does the Minister agree that a vital part of the intelligence picture is provided by community policing, to which the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, alluded? The day after the London Bridge attack, a neighbour of one of the attackers told journalists how he thought that the man was being overfriendly and was asking about hiring a van without using a credit card on the day of the attack. Despite, as the Home Secretary said, a “number of” investigative means being deployed against him, this intelligence, which might have been discovered by a community policing team to whom the neighbour may have had links, did not surface until afterwards.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, among many others, have warned about the erosion of police resources and the demise of community policing. Despite assurances from Ministers to the contrary, the facts are that police budgets continue to fall in real terms. For example, the Metropolitan Police has already had to make savings of £600 million, with £400 million of cuts in the pipeline. Does the Minister agree that effective community policing is as important, if not more important, against the current unsophisticated threat, as Counter Terrorism Policing, and that community policing must also have the resources needed to deal with these threats?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords for the very appropriate sentiments that they have expressed in relation to these terrible attacks. They asked about police numbers and the police budget. Overall police numbers is a big subject and it is probably appropriate that I write to them as comprehensively as I can with the details of the approach that the Home Office is taking.

As regards counterterrorism policing in particular, however—that is surely our focus for these purposes—we will, as the Statement made clear, shortly announce the budgets for policing for 2018-19. Ministers are absolutely clear that we must ensure that counterterrorism policing has the resources needed to deal with the threats that we face. We agreed £24 million of additional funding for CT policing this year, following the recent attacks and the move to “critical”. We will continue our regular dialogue with the National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters and wider policing to understand demand in relation to the increasing complex threat that we face from terrorism.

It is, however, worth reflecting that, when it comes to policing in the community, it should be incumbent on all of us—communities as a whole—to play our part in being vigilant. We have, through various means, encouraged communities to report on suspicious activity. To defeat terrorism, CT policing launched the national awareness campaign, Make Nothing Happen. The campaign urges the public to act on their instincts and report suspicious activity, including all types of extremist behaviour, to the police.

I was asked by both noble Lords about the words used by David Anderson in relation to the Manchester attack, when he said that MI5 and counter-terrorism policing got a good deal right and,

“could have succeeded had the cards fallen differently”.

MI5 and the police conclude in their reviews that a successful pre-emption of the plot would have been unlikely had an investigation been open on the basis of the available intelligence. Ministers have probed this issue carefully both with David Anderson and with MI5 and the police, and having done that, we believe that the decisions made by MI5 and the police were entirely reasonable. However, while the scope of the inquests relating to the Manchester attack has not been set, I expect that the coroner will want to consider whether the state could have prevented the deaths. In any event, it is vital that we learn the lessons from these attacks. There are, as I have mentioned, 126 recommendations arising from the reviews, and we will be working with MI5 and the police to ensure that they are implemented.

I was asked about border controls. Of course, that is a very relevant topic when we consider the number of individuals who have travelled to Syria and parts of Iraq during the recent conflicts there. The flow has reduced considerably in recent months. Approximately 850 UK-linked people of national security concern have travelled to engage with the Syrian conflict. We estimate that just under half of these will return to the UK and more than 15% have been subsequently killed while fighting in the region. Everyone who returns from taking part in the conflict in Syria or Iraq must expect to be investigated by the police to determine whether they have committed criminal offences and to ensure that they do not pose a threat to our national security. Where there is evidence that criminal offences have been committed, those responsible should expect to be prosecuted under the full weight of the law.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked whether the intensification of the threat was a reflection of the volume of cases that the security services and the police are dealing with. Broadly, the answer to that is yes. Much of the radicalisation that we are concerned about is, of course, radicalisation online. The internet must not be used as a safe space for terrorists or for those who mean us harm. The noble Lord will know that the Government were at the forefront of encouraging Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube and Twitter to jointly launch the global internet forum to counter terrorism this year. Collectively, the launch of the forum and the development of the hash-sharing database is welcome progress, with 40,000 hashes so far. On an individual basis, since the Prime Minister led an event at the UNGA on preventing terrorist use of the internet, we have seen the companies be more public with their efforts, which is welcome. Recently, YouTube stated that 83% of its extremist videos had been taken down after being identified automatically, and Facebook stated that 99% of removed terrorist content is automatically detected, and 83% of original and uploaded copies are removed within one hour of upload.

On end-to-end encryption, which the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked me about, encryption of that kind undoubtedly makes the job of MI5 and policing harder—there is no getting away from that. As I am sure he will understand, there is a limit to what I can say about these particular cases and the part that end-to-end encryption played in them. For example, there is a potential prosecution relating to the Manchester attack, which none of us would want to compromise. However, the noble Lord is right that end-to-end encryption cannot be banned. His part in the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act, which I am sure we both remember with a good deal of pleasure, will remind him that we had long debates on this subject during which it was made clear that end-to-end encryption was something that the security services and the police had to live with.

Photo of Lord Singh of Wimbledon Lord Singh of Wimbledon Crossbench 3:36 pm, 5th December 2017

My Lords, while we owe a great debt of gratitude to MI5 and the security services, does the Minister agree that in itself their work does little to tackle the causes of terrorism and of extremism? Does he agree that that cause lies in the misuse of outdated religious texts to incite impressionable youngsters to commit outrages?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, yes, I agree with that. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister was clear in her statement of 4 June that “enough is enough”. We need our counterterrorism strategy, which is currently being worked up in the Home Office, to keep up with a number of fast-moving areas. One is most definitely to tackle terrorist ideology and to deny online safe spaces to terrorist communications, part of which will be to ensure that warped doctrine does not reach the internet. However, we also need to deny safe spaces in the real world so that malign and misleading published material is not promulgated.

Photo of Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate Non-affiliated

My Lords, I welcome the Statement repeated by the Minister and the report. Does he agree that the report illustrates well the importance of surveillance and good intelligence in preventing—in many cases—large-scale conspiracies to commit terrorist acts? However, it is of course more difficult with lone-wolf attacks, which are probably inspired over long periods of time without the necessary ingredients of a large-scale conspiracy. It is extremely difficult to prevent those offences. Consequently, all we can hope to do—I hope the Minister agrees with me—is to minimise the damage done once one of those attacks is commenced. The answer to that is more armed response officers in the area. Is there any plan to increase the number of armed response officers on the streets of the United Kingdom?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord’s knowledge and experience in this area. He will know that policing requirements are assessed almost day by day, and a particular situation may well require more armed police officers to be stationed in particular locations. I cannot generalise about that, but I am sure that noble Lords will all be conscious that the Palace of Westminster has seen a much tighter degree of security from armed police in recent months, for which we should be grateful.

On the noble Lord’s general point, I agree. Surveillance is important but, as David Anderson himself acknowledges, it is impossible for the authorities to prevent every single terrorist attack. In his executive summary he says in terms that the recommendations, if accepted, would not remove the risk of a terrorist attack—to do so would be manifestly impossible in a free society. He also mentions that MI5 and CT policing have thwarted 20 Islamist terrorist plots in the past four years, resulting in 10 life sentences from the seven plots that have so far come to trial. So we can point to some signal successes achieved by MI5 and the police, but they cannot possibly be expected to pick up lone-wolf attackers.

Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Conservative

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for repeating the Statement. I agree that it is the responsibility of us all to ensure that we do all we can to prevent these terrorist attacks. Much of this evidence is now in the public domain, but can he confirm that in each of the attacks by so-called Muslims—Khalid Masood, Salman Abedi and Khuram Butt—these individuals had been reported to the authorities by friends, family or members of the communities in which they worked and operated? In the light of the Government’s commitment, can he also undertake to ensure that all those attracted to terrorism are prevented from going down that route, and that the Government will look again at the recommendation of David Anderson, Human Rights Watch and individuals in the security services and the police to now have an independent review of the Prevent strand of the Contest strategy?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, as the Statement made clear, a number of the attackers in each of these incidents were, to put it loosely, on the radar of the authorities as either open or closed subjects of interest. I am afraid I am not aware of how exactly those people’s names came to the attention of the authorities but, if I am able to shed further light on that, I will of course inform my noble friend.

I hope my noble friend will agree that, if we did not have the Prevent strategy, we would need something very like it, because it is all about taking an end-to-end approach in the community and ensuring that partners work together to share information and that those who are vulnerable and susceptible to malign indoctrination are protected and not radicalised. I will write to my noble friend to let her know where the thinking in the Home Office has reached on the progress of the Prevent strategy, but I think it is doing very good work, and we can point to some welcome statistics on the number of people who have been successfully counselled.

Photo of The Bishop of Peterborough The Bishop of Peterborough Bishop

My Lords, from these Benches I very much welcome the Statement and the sentiments in it, particularly its focus on the direct victims. However, there are also indirect victims of such attacks—those who are made to feel more afraid simply to go about their daily lives. That includes a lot of people, not least many in our Muslim communities. Does the noble Earl agree that, as a result of these attacks, it is very important to do all we can to increase the feeling of safety among those in Muslim communities, seeing them not just as people who must be targeted for information but as people who are part of our wider community and whom we must cherish and care for, helping them to feel safe and welcome? This includes not just community policing but many other areas of work with them, and it includes a very strong focus on dealing with right-wing extremism, which would threaten those communities.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

The right reverend Prelate makes a series of excellent points and I of course agree that we need to remember that there are sometimes hidden victims in all this, not least in our ethnic minority communities, who may feel—wrongly, in my view—that they are being put under pressure or discriminated against. However, that feeling needs to be addressed, and I know it is very real among some communities.

On victim support more generally, we are very aware of the need to ensure that effective, comprehensive and co-ordinated support is available, which is why the Government created a new cross-government victims of terrorism unit earlier this year. We have worked closely with each local area affected by the attacks, alongside the police, the third sector and other agencies, to make sure that support to victims is comprehensive and effectively delivered.

Photo of Lord Blair of Boughton Lord Blair of Boughton Crossbench

I noticed that the Minister responded to the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Paddick, by saying that our focus must be on counterterrorism policing. I worked in that field for nearly 10 years, and I am afraid that that is not the answer. Counterterrorism policing, as a budget, is likely to take money from other parts of the police budget—it is a continuum. As both noble Lords said, community policing is a vital part of the counterterrorism process and if, as in Norfolk, the decision is taken to remove all the police community support officers, we are failing in our approach. It is not right to say that the focus must be on counterterrorism policing as a budget; I ask the Minister to consider that as a mistake that has been made for at least the last 15 years.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

I of course take note of the noble Lord’s very well-informed comments. I undertook to write on the whole issue of policing and the approach the Home Office is taking, and I will make sure that his observations are factored in to that letter.

Photo of Lord Marlesford Lord Marlesford Conservative

The Statement makes it clear that, as Islamic State has been expelled from most of the territory it occupied in Iraq and Syria, there has been a great dispersal of those fighters. The Government said that 850 potential fighters went out to join ISIS—there can be no clearer commitment to the objectives of terrorism than having done that. Of the 850, we gather, 15% have been killed, some 400 have already returned and 300 remain, perhaps waiting to return. Has the time not come to make it absolutely clear that anyone who has left this country to fight for ISIS should not be allowed back? We cannot afford to take that risk, or to pay the huge costs of dealing with them if they do come back. Do the Government have legislative power to stop them coming back and if not, will they take such powers?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, I will be advised on whether this is correct but my understanding is that the authorities have sufficient powers to apprehend and intercept anyone who is known to have joined a terrorist organisation overseas when they return to this country, and those people should expect to be subject to arrest and detention where appropriate. There are provisions in law for removing passports from certain individuals, but I would need further advice as to the conditions of those, and I will write to my noble friend about that.

Photo of Lord Christopher Lord Christopher Labour

My Lords, I got the impression while the noble Earl was speaking that the general public might have no real comprehension that they, too, have a part to play, and think that this is essentially something that can be left to the services. I am old enough to recall what we did just before the last war with the “Careless Talk Costs Lives” and similar campaigns. On the whole, those were remarkably successful. I am sure that no one wants to panic, but I believe that someone could examine how that was done. For example, people buy considerable quantities of certain chemicals. Every year, I buy two hundredweight —to use an old term—of a certain chemical for gardening purposes, although I will not mention the chemical. I was asked what I use it for. The noble Earl has mentioned a similar example. Actions like that could provide the public services with more information than they get now.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

I am grateful to the noble Lord for his suggestions; indeed, they resonate very closely with comments made by David Anderson in his report, when he talked about the need for the public sector and the private sector to work together rather more than they do to keep the public safe. I would go further. The Government cannot and should not seek to carry out their work without drawing on the significant expertise that the private sector and, indeed, private citizens can offer. This is not about spying on innocent people; it is about enlisting the support of retailers, for example, both online and physical, to report any suspicious activity. We know that schemes such as Neighbourhood Watch have been extremely successful in their own way in preventing household crime. Perhaps that is something that could be developed rather further to encompass the kinds of crime that we are now discussing.

Photo of Baroness Hussein-Ece Baroness Hussein-Ece Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

My Lords, one of the terrorists, Khuram Butt, is reported to be an acolyte of Anjem Choudary, who virtually became a household name. He was given the oxygen of publicity and a platform to carry on spewing his vile hatred. That is something that we need to take into account and stop.

Unfortunately, preachers inspired by the Wahhabi faith are still coming over from Saudi Arabia and preaching in mosques up and down the country. That is going on. I spoke recently to the family of a young man who is now distant from the family. He has been groomed and cut off from his family. He has dropped out of university and all he does is go round preaching. I am not saying that he would go out and do something but he has been groomed. What is being done to monitor the situation? These imams are coming over from Saudi Arabia and being given platforms in British mosques where they should not be and have no business. What is being done? Are they being monitored, and what is being done to prevent them entering the country in the first place?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, whenever there are reports of imams or anyone else preaching seditious material or any other kind of malicious doctrine, those reports are followed up. As the noble Baroness will know, the full force of the law is there to bear down upon them. The challenge is to find out where these people are and who they are. That is something that the community as a whole can play a part in highlighting. It cannot solely be for the police to do that. Indeed, it is important that communities should not feel that they are being spied upon all the time.

Photo of Baroness Manningham-Buller Baroness Manningham-Buller Crossbench

My Lords, does the Minister agree that one of the things that is encouraging about David Anderson’s report is the clear evidence of a complete lack of complacency in both the Metropolitan Police and MI5 and the self-criticism of their own performance? That has led to their producing 126 recommendations. David Anderson, as far as he goes, supports those recommendations, and we know that the ISC will look at them in detail. As the Minister said, there will also be other ways in which their performance will be scrutinised in the inquests. I, for one—and, obviously, I declare a strong interest—am proud that everyone I know who has been working on this, working extremely closely with the Met, has looked with great self-criticism at their own performance.

Perhaps I may be allowed to answer the noble Lord’s question. A great amount of information from the public reaches both the police and the Security Service. That does not undermine the discussions on the need for community policing, but many plots have been stopped because of information from members of the public in the first instance. People are not ignorant of the need to help.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, with her extensive experience in this field. She is of course right that we can be proud of how the police and MI5 have addressed their own performance in the way that these cases have been investigated. David Anderson is very clear that their process was thorough and fair. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to us all that we did commission David Anderson to do this exercise. It was not that the police and MI5 were not trusted to do the job but, on some occasions, we need that added element of reassurance which we have received clearly from Mr Anderson.