UK Terrorism Threat Level - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:41 pm on 10th November 2020.

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Photo of Lord Rosser Lord Rosser Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 1:41 pm, 10th November 2020

We extend our condolences to the families of the victims of the recent horrific attacks in France and Austria and our sympathy and hopes for a recovery to those who were injured. It is these attacks that have prompted the decision by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre to raise the threat level for terrorism to “severe”—the second highest level—indicating an attack is highly likely. This is a decision we support since we have a shared responsibility to keep this country, our people and our communities safe. We extend our appreciation to our security services and those involved in counterterrorism policing for the vital work they do to keep us safe.

Could the Minister say what impact raising the threat level from substantial to severe will have as far as the daily lives of our citizens are concerned, both while we are in lockdown and when we come out of lockdown? Does the raising of the threat level require greater use of resources by our security services and counterterrorism policing? If so, were those additional resources already available or have they now been made available? Does the raising of the threat level apply across the United Kingdom? Is there uniformity of approach and practice across the United Kingdom in moving to the higher threat level? If not, what are the differences and where? Where do we now stand in relation to the independent review of the Prevent strategy? The raising of the threat level makes this more not less important.

The raising of the threat level from international terrorism reminds us of the importance of international co-operation. Do the Government accept that agreements must be concluded to ensure continued co-operation with the EU in combating terrorism after the end of the transition period?

In the Commons last week, the Minister said that he and the Home Secretary had

“asked officials to review with partners existing and proposed powers in the light of the horrific attacks in France and Austria to consider what more, if anything, might be needed.”—[Official Report, Commons, 5/11/20; col. 529.]

When is that review likely to be completed? I would like to know what kind of things come under the description of

“what more, if anything, might be needed.”—[Official Report, Commons, 5/11/20; col. 529.]

I conclude by reiterating our support for the decision to raise the threat level, and stress the need for our citizens to remain vigilant and steadfast. Combating terrorism and international terrorism is not, as some would like to suggest, a fight between different faiths, or people of different faiths. Our enemies are terrorists. It is a fight, as the Austrian chancellor said, “between civilisation and barbarity”.