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Security Threats

Volume 520: debated on Monday 6 December 2010

2. What methodology her Department follows to determine the nature of security threats to the UK. (28266)

12. What methodology her Department follows to determine the nature of security threats to the UK. (28276)

As part of the Government’s national security strategy, we conducted a national security risk assessment—the first time that a Government have undertaken a comprehensive assessment of all national security risks to the UK. The most important risks were then placed into three tiers to inform the strategic defence and security review.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does she agree that the issue is even more important today, because the recent activities of WikiLeaks have shown the need to strengthen cybersecurity measures in the UK?

My hon. Friend makes a very pertinent point. On WikiLeaks, the Prime Minister’s national security adviser has written to all Departments to ask them to look again at their information security and to provide him with assurance about the level of that information security.

My hon. Friend makes a wider point about cybersecurity. This Government recognise the importance of dealing with cybersecurity and cybercrime, which is why we focused on both in the strategic defence and security review and in the national security strategy, and over the next four years £650 million is being made available to develop a national cybersecurity programme.

My hon. Friend also makes an extremely important point about security. We must remember the importance of prevention as well as dealing with security threats as they arise. We are reviewing the Prevent programme, which was initiated by the previous Government, with a view to separating more clearly its counter-terrorism work from the integration or participation-in-society work of the Department for Communities and Local Government. In that work, we are also looking at radicalisation issues so that we can ensure that our programmes are effective.

What action is my right hon. Friend taking to ensure the security of the Olympic and Paralympic games in 2012?

The Home Office’s Olympic and Paralympic safety and security strategy, run by the police, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, the Olympic Delivery Authority and other partners, provides a framework for projects to safeguard and secure London 2012. The Minister for Security and Counter-Terrorism has conducted an audit and review of Olympic security planning, which concluded that that work is well placed. There is of course more work to be done, but an effective foundation has already been established, and we are absolutely sure that there is sufficient funding to deliver a safe and secure Olympic games in 2012. We have protected the Olympic security budget, and counter-terrorism policing budgets will stay flat in cash terms.

May I first concur with the Home Secretary about the threat posed by those involved in WikiLeaks, which is to be condemned by all in this House? In looking at the methodology for assessing a security threat, however, will she listen in particular to those voices internally who advise her on control orders, so that she does not move away from control orders in a way that potentially damages the United Kingdom but recognises that orders signed by former Ministers such as myself were placed for absolutely correct and proper reasons?

I accept that any Minister who has taken such a decision has done so for proper reasons. In relation to the right hon. Gentleman’s question on control orders, I can assure him that the Government and I have national security at the forefront of our minds. In considering the counter-terrorism legislation review, we need to rebalance national security and civil liberties, but we are absolutely clear that we can enjoy our civil liberties only if we have national security.

Does the right hon. Lady accept that the current system for intelligence gathering in Northern Ireland used to counteract the threat from dissident republican and other paramilitary groups has failed? The system is flawed and needs to be reviewed. The Police Service of Northern Ireland needs to take the lead in intelligence gathering to counteract the security threat.

I do not accept what the hon. Lady says about the flawed system that has existed so far. Sadly, the PSNI has had to deal with an increasing number of incidents over recent months in relation to bombs and other attempts on the lives of people in Northern Ireland. As I say, that threat has been increasing. It is important that we ensure that the tools are available to enable the PSNI to do the job that it has been doing. The whole House should congratulate the PSNI on its work.

On control orders, will the Home Secretary give the House a categorical assurance that she will always put the safety of the British people first and that she will resist pressure to appease either her maverick Back Benchers or her Liberal Democrat coalition partners?

I think that I answered that when I responded to the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson). As I said, the Government are absolutely clear that there is a need to rebalance national security and civil liberties. We can enjoy our civil liberties only if we have our national security, and we are absolutely clear about the Government’s responsibility for ensuring our national security.