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TPIMs (Expiry)

Volume 574: debated on Monday 27 January 2014

As of 30 November, eight TPIM notices were in force. The previous Government did not provide a running commentary on control orders, and for sound operational reasons we will not comment on individual TPIM cases. The next quarterly statistics are due to be published in March.

I thank the Minister for that response. Until last week, both the Home Secretary and the High Court backed TPIMs. What has changed, and how will the Government protect the public now that they have made that change?

It is worth highlighting for the House that TPIMs provide some of the most stringent restrictions in any democratic country. The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson, described them as a “harsh” measure. I highlight that the two-year limit for TPIMs is supported by David Anderson and his predecessor in that role, Lord Carlile, who was appointed by the previous Labour Government. There are measures in place to manage TPIM suspects when they come off their orders, and we have confidence in the ability of the police and the Security Service to manage risk, which they do every day.

Does my hon. Friend accept that this matter is a very strong reason for looking at the radical measures hinted at by our right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in relation to the European convention on human rights? Until 10 years ago, all Governments of all complexions accepted that some foreign suspects were too dangerous to be allowed to roam about.

As my hon. Friend will know, the Government have pursued deportation with assurances in seeking to deport individuals from this country who would do us harm—we did so successfully in removing Abu Qatada from this country—but there will always be a cadre of individuals whom we cannot deport. We maintain TPIMs to be able to guard against risks from those individuals, and that is why we consider that TPIMs continue to be effective.

Does the Minister share my concern about the number of British citizens who are travelling to and from Syria to participate in extremist activity? The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation estimates that 366 British citizens have made the trip to Syria and back again, and some may well have reached the criteria that make a TPIM order appropriate. Now that the orders are expiring, is he satisfied that there are practical measures to monitor individuals of this kind?

The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the risk from Syria—that individuals may travel out there and then come back and pose a risk to us in this country. That is why the Government have taken a number of steps. For example, the Home Secretary has highlighted the change and strengthening of approach in relation to the royal prerogative. We will not hesitate to take measures to disrupt travel and to prosecute those involved in terrorism whether here or in other countries, such as Syria.

Will the Minister assure me that he will not follow the example of Labour Front Benchers who, in a debate last week, trampled on centuries of long-established principles of justice purely to look tough on this issue? Instead, will he continue to balance the principles of British justice with the rights of suspects?

My hon. Friend makes a very important point about the whole issue of the challenges that can be made in the courts. As control orders were being steadily eroded, we reviewed them very carefully as part of the counter-terrorism review at the start of this Parliament. The courts have upheld every TPIM notice that they have reviewed, and TPIMs have been endorsed by the courts, counter-terrorism reviewers, the police and the Security Service.

Last year, after Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed absconded from his TPIM, the Home Secretary told this House that he no longer posed a threat to the UK.

Turning to AM, another terrorist subject, Lord Justice Mitting concluded that AM was involved in

“a viable plot to commit mass murder by bringing down transatlantic passenger airlines by suicide bombings, which was disrupted by the arrest and prosecution of a number of individuals in the United Kingdom”,

and that

“there is every reason to believe that AM would have killed himself and a large number of other people”.

With AM’s TPIM order arbitrarily ending this month, will the Minister now confirm to the House that AM no longer presents a threat to the United Kingdom?

It would be wrong to comment on the detailed operational issues surrounding TPIM subjects, as that could undermine the very work of the police and security services. The police and security services have been clear that TPIMs have been effective in reducing the risk from such individuals, and they have tailored plans in place to manage them. If any individual engages in any further terrorist-related activity after the expiry of their TPIM, the police will not hesitate to prosecute.

Does this matter not underline the problems caused by European human rights and make stronger the case for human rights modernisation and reform to ensure that the UK Supreme Court has the final say?

As my hon. Friend will know, we are actively considering how to strike the right balance on human rights. The Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims and the Secretary of State for Justice are looking at that issue closely to ensure that the rights and freedoms of individuals are upheld properly in this country.