Terrorist Attack: New Zealand - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:42 pm on 18th March 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) 6:42 pm, 18th March 2019

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall repeat an Answer to an Urgent Question asked in the other place earlier today. The Answer is as follows:

“Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I am grateful to the honourable lady for asking the Question so that the Government can set on record our position towards extreme right-wing, neo-Nazi and other types of violent terrorism. The Home Secretary would have liked to respond personally to this Urgent Question, but he was visiting Regent’s Park mosque with the Communities Secretary today to show support for British Muslims, following last week’s horrific terrorist attack in Christchurch. The attack was a sickening act of terrorism which this Government condemn, as we do the incident reported in Utrecht today and the attack in Surrey on Saturday evening.

The Government take all forms of terrorism and extremism seriously. Our counterterrorism strategy, Contest, does not differentiate between what motivates the threat. It is designed to address all forms of terrorism, whatever the ideology, be it Islamist, neo-Nazi, far-right or extreme left-wing.

If we are to tackle terrorism in the long term, we must challenge those seeking to radicalise people. The Prevent policy is designed to safeguard our vulnerable citizens from being recruited or motivated into terrorism. That is why I always urge people to get behind the policy. Our counterterrorism strategy is agnostic to the threat. It is not relevant to us what name terror strikes; it is the use of violence and hate that we seek to stop. Government and law enforcement will direct their funding wherever the threat emerges, and if we are to stay one step ahead as the threat changes, so must the funding. We will continue to keep funding for protective security measures under review as that threat moves, and will indeed consistently be reviewed for places of worship and other areas that may be vulnerable.

Social media platforms should be ashamed that they have enabled a terrorist to live-stream this evil massacre and spread this mantra of hate to the whole world. As the Home Secretary has made clear, “Enough is enough”. We have been clear that tech companies need to act more quickly to remove terrorist content and ultimately prevent new terrorist content being made available to users in the first place. This must be a wake-up call for them to do more. There can be no safe spaces for terrorists to promote and share their sick views. The online harms White Paper will be published imminently and it will set out clear expectations for tech companies to keep users safe, and what will happen if they fail to do so. This Government take the growing threat of the extreme right wing extremely seriously, and I can assure the House and our Muslim communities that we will stand together to counter it wherever it manifests itself in our society”.