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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:00 pm on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development) 1:00 pm, 28th February 2019

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. I start with Brexit, which for once is irrelevant to this debate. Matters of national security and intelligence-sharing were in place between states before the EU ever existed, and I know they will continue after it.

One of the major questions asked was: why now? Why did we resist proscription 13 months ago and what has changed? Proscription is a very significant step to take and, as my noble friend Lord Pickles says, it is a decision by the Home Secretary. We keep our response to terrorism under review and it is entirely appropriate that we take all available opportunities to strengthen the UK’s response to both domestic and international threats. Proscribing organisations is just part of that response.

The UK has continued to call on Hezbollah to end its armed status. It has not listened and in fact, contrary to what the noble Lord, Lord Glasman, says, its behaviour has escalated. The links between the senior leaders of the political and military wings and the group’s destabilising role in the region mean that the distinction between the wings is now simply untenable, as noble Lords have said. As the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, my noble friend Lord Polak and the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, said, Hezbollah has itself publicly denied a distinction between its military and political wings. To answer noble Lords’ point, the UK has had a no-contact policy with any part of the organisation for a number of years.