Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:45 pm on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Pickles Lord Pickles Conservative 12:45 pm, 28th February 2019

My Lords, it is a great honour to follow the noble Lord, Lord Judd, whom I have known and admired for a good few years. I am delighted to say that he has lost none of his firebrand qualities. He articulated what the Labour Front Bench and the Liberal Democrat Front Bench were saying in shades of blancmange—as a kind of procedural thing, that somehow we have to make sure the procedures are right. I kind of understand that, when the issue is very difficult and you would like to say “Let’s ban them” but you do not want to do that, you hide behind a load of procedures.

Essentially, this is a subjective decision for the Minister to make. The Minister receives advice, weighs that advice and has to come to a conclusion. There will be no magic moment at which the Minister says, “This is the advice that has changed”. If noble Lords on the Opposition Benches do not like this order, they should vote against it. They should not say that they will not oppose it but that they think in their hearts that they should oppose it, or that they would like to oppose it but it would look bad with some members of their party. It is important to decide on the issue.

Much has been said about my honourable friend the Security Minister, whom I have known for a good few years. In a brief gap in the proceedings of this House, I took the opportunity to go into the Gallery of another place and watch the proceedings. Having had the opportunity to watch the Minister in his previous speech, when I watched him on the Front Bench his body language looked much more relaxed on this occasion than it did on the previous one. I have no doubt that this is the right decision. I argued with my party, and I pay tribute to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary for coming to this decision.

If the House will allow me, I also pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Polak, who has been a champion of this over a number of years and has kept this issue in the minds of both Houses of Parliament. He deserves considerable credit for arriving at this decision.

The strange thing is that the difference between the military wing and the political wing is an entirely separate western construction. It does not exist in the minds of Hezbollah. We know that those who chair the grand jihad council and the Shia council are one and the same people. They do not see any distinction. It has been a convenient device for us to talk to them. The Minister made an immensely important point: Hezbollah is not just against Israel; it is against the Jewish people.

We heard the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, quoting Hassan Nasrallah; perhaps for reasons of delicacy she did not read out the quotation in full. I will do so:

“The Jews are a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment … If they all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide”.

That is pretty unambiguous.

It is not a question of saying that, if we help the political wing, we will somehow help the military wing; they are the same person. The military wing does not decide to go around bombing various people and trying to organise the deaths of British soldiers or citizens elsewhere, while the political wing discusses the price of tickets at the theatre in Lebanon; they are one and the same people, and we need to recognise that.

We also need to recognise one other thing. The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, commented very reasonably on this and made an interesting pitch, perhaps offering her services as a spin doctor to No. 10. The point is that our population—and our British Jewish citizens—need to feel safe; it is about their ability to go out without facing these flags of hate or the chanting, about feeling safe in the United Kingdom. It is important to set down the message that this country will have no place for anti-Semitism. You cannot have that view if you allow an organisation like this to move freely.

We must also remember that the issue is not just about security concerns; a substantial part of this organisation is funded by the smuggling of drugs. It is a main player in the trafficking of drugs throughout the world. We have seen arrests in France and in the United States. It is not a single part of our community only that is affected, but the whole community. Our streets will be perhaps just that little bit safer by removing from this organisation a convenience that, frankly, we should never have granted it.