Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Immigration) 5:00 pm, 12th November 2018

My Lords, I support my noble friend. I do not know whether he used the words “confidence”, “trust” and “perceptions” but he certainly alluded to them when speaking about the operation of Prevent—that is something we will come to in the next group of amendments. He referred to the public good that comes of transparency. I understand that local authorities that are in receipt of freedom of information requests about the local operation of Prevent are advised by the Home Office to say that they cannot answer, on grounds that include national security, health and safety and—something I was particularly puzzled by—commercial interests.

When questions are asked about the delivery of Prevent projects, the generic answer is apparently that to disclose information could reveal commercial interests and negatively affect the commercial viability of the organisations that deliver the projects. I am sure that the Committee will be interested in how the Home Office suggests that requests for information of this sort should be answered. I do not expect the Minister to disclaim the way in which the Home Office has been advising, if it has been—or at any rate not without taking some advice. But the issue of commercial confidentiality throws a light on this that I had not expected to see.