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National Security

Volume 467: debated on Thursday 22 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made on each of the 12 points outlined by the former Prime Minister as security measures on 5 August 2005; and if she will make a statement. (165724)

Progress on each of the 12 points is set out in the following table.

Progress on 12 point plan

Measure

Progress

1. Introduce new grounds under which the Government can deport and exclude foreign nationals (i.e. on the basis of incitement/glorification as well as direct national security threat)

Since the introduction of the new grounds of Unacceptable Behaviour for deportation and exclusion, 65 individuals have been excluded from the UK and 1 deported. A further 40 exclusion and 4 deportation cases are under consideration.

Separately, we are also seeking to deport people on national security grounds under longstanding immigration powers. Since 7 July 2005, 9 foreign nationals have been deported under immigration powers on grounds of national security (8 Algerians and 1 French national). A further 24 foreign nationals are subject to deportation proceedings on grounds of national security.

2. To create an offence of condoning or glorifying terrorism

The Terrorism Act 2006 includes the new offence of encouraging terrorism, including glorifying terrorism, which is now in force.

3. To refuse asylum in this country automatically to anyone who has participated in terrorism

Section 54 in the Immigration and Nationality Act allows us to deny asylum to terrorists while respecting our obligations under the Refugee Treaty. Section 55 in the Act allows the Secretary of State to certify that an appellant is not entitled to the protection of the Refugee Convention.

4. To consult on extending the powers to strip citizenship, applying them to British citizens engaged in extremism and making the procedures more effective

A provision included in the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 lowers the bar for removal of citizenship by replacing one of the existing criteria with a new power to deprive where such action is held by the Home Secretary to be “conducive to the public good”. The power came into force on 16 June 2006. One person has been deprived under this new power. A number of other cases are being actively pursued having been identified as priority cases by the Security Service and the Special Cases Oversight Board.

5. To consult on setting a maximum time limit for all future extradition cases involving terrorism

Rashid Ramda extradited.

The tri-departmental group set up to speed up the extradition of terrorist suspects has concluded that part of its work and is now considering how to prepare for the expected surge in European Arrest Warrants after the introduction of the Schengen Information System 2 computer in 2010.

6. To examine a new court procedure to allow a pre-trial process to allow sensitive evidence to be brought forward in court.

Pre-trial processes considered. Decided not to take forward. We are awaiting the outcome of the Privy Council review on using intercept as evidence.

7. To extend the use of control orders for those who are British nationals and cannot be deported

The last Control Order Quarterly Statement to Parliament on 17 September 2007 confirmed that there are 14 orders currently in force, 8 of which are in respect of British citizens. Control orders continue to be an important tool to address the threat posed by suspected terrorists who cannot currently be prosecuted or, in respect of foreign nationals, who cannot be removed from the UK. But they are not perfect, and never have been.

8. To expand the court capacity to deal with control orders

Work continues to review the capacity of the courts, specialist tribunals and the judiciary to deal with existing and anticipated caseload relating to terrorism.

9. To proscribe Hizb-ut Tahrir and the successor organisation of Al Mujahiroun

The Terrorism Act 2006 widens the criteria for proscription. Two of the successor organisations to Al Mujahiroun were proscribed in July 2006. HUT are a group of real concern and remain under review.

10. To review the acquisition of British citizenship to make sure that it is adequate and to establish with the Muslim community a commission to advise on better integration

We have extended the requirement to be of good character to virtually all applicants for British citizenship. The relevant provision, section 58 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, was commenced on 4 December 2006. We are also looking at extending the checks carried out to establish good character.

The Commission on Integration and Cohesion was launched on 24 August 2006 with a remit to identify local and practical ways in which cohesion could be built. It reported on 14 June 2007 and made 57 recommendations. On 5 October 2007, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced her initial response to the report, which included £50 million additional funding for local authorities over the next three years to build cohesion. This will be followed by a full response in the new year.

11. To consult on a new power to order closure of a place of worship which is used as a centre for fermenting extremism and to consult with Muslim leaders in respect of those clerics who are not British citizens to draw up a list of those not suitable to preach and who will be excluded from our country in the future

The public consultation on taking powers to close place of worship resulted in a decision not to legislate at this stage. This decision was announced to Parliament on 15 December 2005.

The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) formally launched on the 29 October 2007 alongside a set of draft core minimum standards and constitution for mosques and imams in the UK.

MINAB have also contributed to the work of the Border and Immigration Agency on Entry requirements for ministers of religion.

12. To bring forward the proposed measures on the security of our borders with a series of countries specifically designated for biometric visas over the next year

By March 2007, all visa applicants (100 nationalities) will be required to provide biometric data (10 fingerscans and digital photograph) wherever in the world they apply for a UK visa. The equipment and process changes to enable this are being deployed overseas between autumn 2006 and the end of 2007. We are currently collecting biometric data from all visa applicants in 115 countries and checking the data against records held on the Border and Immigration Agency’s Immigration Fingerprint Service database. The intention is that in due course all fingerscans will be checked against the Border and Immigration Agency’s Immigration and Asylum Fingerprint Service database held in the UK, and the police national database, prior to reaching a decision on the visa application.