[Relevant documents: Oral evidence taken before the Home Affairs Committee on 3 December 2014, on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, HC 838; Written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, reported to the House on 3 December 2014, HC 838; Oral evidence taken before the Joint Committee on Human Rights on 26 November 2014, on counterterrorism and human rights; Written evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, on counter-terrorism and human rights, reported to the House on 26 November 2014, HC 836; Oral evidence taken before the Joint Committee on Human Rights on 3 December 2014, on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, HC 859; Written evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, reported to the House on 3 December 2014, HC 859.]
[2nd Allocated Day]
Further considered in Committee
[Mr Gary Streeter in the Chair]
Seizure of passports etc from persons suspected of involvement in terrorism
I beg to move amendment 29, page 1, line 8, at end insert—
‘(2) This section shall be repealed on 31 December 2016 unless both Houses of Parliament have passed a resolution that it should continue in force until a future date.
(3) The date specified in a resolution of both Houses of Parliament under subsection (2) may be modified by subsequent resolutions of both Houses of Parliament.”
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Clause 1 stand part.
Amendment 17, in schedule 1, page 30, line 14, at end insert—
“(c) the individual subject whose travel document has been removed may appeal against this decision in the courts over the evidence on which conditions in paragraph 2(1)(a) and (b) of this schedule were met.”
Government amendment 13.
Schedule 1 stand part.
New clause 8—Police bail for terrorism suspects—
‘(1) Section 34 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1) after “offence” insert “or on suspicion of being a terrorist under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000”.
(3) In subsection (2)(b) after “Act” insert “or section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000".
(4) After subsection (5) insert—
“(5A) A grant of bail under this section shall last no longer than six months from the date of release.”
As an alternative to the ad hoc passport seizure and retention scheme set out at Clause 1 and Schedule 1 of the Bill this new clause would make police bail, with conditions, available for those suspected of terrorism.
Mr Streeter, I welcome you to the Chair of the Committee. I rise on behalf of my hon. Friends to speak to amendments 29 and 17.
I hope you will allow me a little leeway, Mr Streeter, before we begin the debate. Although this Bill has nothing to do with what has happened in Sydney, Australia, I think it would be appropriate for the Committee to recognise that there has been a serious incident there and for us to express our condolences in relation to those who have died as a result. It reminds us that terrorism and terrorist activity are never far from our shores and from individuals in our communities as well. That is why it is important that we look at the new clauses and amendments before us in what will be, I hope, a positive discussion and debate.
The Government believe there is a need to legislate on counter-terrorism. There is a terrorism threat in the United Kingdom: on 29 August the independent joint terrorism analysis centre raised the UK national terrorist threat level from substantial to severe. [Interruption.]
Order. I am reluctant to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but a lot of background conversations are going on in the Chamber and we can hardly hear the most important speech that is being made. Will colleagues please keep the noise down?
I am grateful to you, Mr Streeter.
It is important that we recognise that terrorist attacks are, sadly, highly likely. According to the Government’s own analysis in the explanatory notes:
“Approximately 500 individuals of interest to the police and security services have travelled from the UK to Syria and the region since the start of the conflict. It is estimated half of these have returned. In the context of this heightened threat to our national security, the provisions of the Bill”
are designed to address those matters.
My hon. Friends the Members for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) and for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson) and I have tabled amendments 29 and 17 because there needs to be a debate about two particular issues. If the Bill’s measures are agreed by both Houses they will become law, but there will be no end date or review date for the powers. Amendment 29 seeks to ensure that clause 1
“shall be repealed on 31 December 2016 unless both Houses of Parliament have passed a resolution that it should continue in force until a future date.”
It goes on:
“The date specified in a resolution of both Houses of Parliament under subsection (2) may be modified by subsequent resolutions of both Houses of Parliament.”
The amendment is therefore designed to create, in effect, a sunset clause to review the legislation, which is not unusual for terrorism legislation. It would not demand that we revisit the whole clause by seeking to enact new legislation; it would simply require a resolution to allow the provisions to continue. The amendment has merit and I will willingly discuss it with the Minister.
Although I agree with the shadow Minister that that amendment does, in principle, have some merit and that it focuses the mind on the fact that we need consolidating legislation to deal with a whole range of different terrorism-related issues, does he not recognise that the raw logic of his proposal is that if such a sunset clause is agreed, the provisions could end up entirely unprotected if the Government did not introduce any new legislation at that point? That would not be a desirable state of affairs.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has looked carefully at amendment 29, which states:
“This section shall be repealed on 31 December 2016 unless both Houses of Parliament have passed a resolution that it should continue in force”.
Therefore, it does not require new legislation; it simply requires a resolution of this House, which could be agreed in an hour-and-a-half debate, as has happened in the past. Indeed, clause 17(5) states:
“Subsections (1) to (4) are repealed on 31 December 2016”,
so there is already a remit for a resolution to review the provisions. Amendment 29 has a similar purpose.
Amendment 17 is slightly different. It states that, if an individual has had their travel document removed under the provisions of clause 1 and schedule 1, they
“may appeal against this decision in the courts over the evidence on which conditions…of this schedule were met.”
At the moment there is no appeal procedure for an individual who has lost their passport, and that needs to be considered.
On amendment 29, clause 1 introduces schedule 1, which defines a number of areas and sets out a course of action relating to the seizure of a passport from a person suspected of involvement in terrorism offences. Under the heading “Interpretation”, the schedule states that immigration officers, customs officials, qualified officers and senior police officers can remove a passport from an individual. By “passport”, it means either a United Kingdom passport or one issued by another nation. The schedule defines involvement in terrorism-related activity as the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism; conduct that facilitates the commission of terrorism; conduct that gives encouragement to terrorism; and conduct that gives support or assistance to terrorism. The schedule also includes powers to search for, inspect and retain travel documents. Authorisation for that will not just be sought from a senior police officer; the schedule also includes conditions for how that authorisation will be agreed.
I refer to those points because they are definitive statements. They may or may not be appropriate or work in practice, but whatever the Minister tells us today he will accept that the Prime Minister indicated in his announcement at the end of August that the measures would be introduced. It is now December, which means that the Bill has been drafted speedily. I make no general criticism of that, but even the Bill’s explanatory notes state that there has been limited consultation on a range of aspects, even though the matters covered in schedule 1 involve serious powers.
The schedule allows for the period in which the document can be removed and retained by the judicial authority to be extended from the initial 14-day period to 30 days. Paragraph 14 states:
“This paragraph applies where a person’s travel documents are retained”.
Paragraph 14(2) gives the Secretary of State a great power:
“The Secretary of State may make whatever arrangements he or she thinks appropriate in relation to the person… during the relevant period”
“on the relevant period coming to an end.”
The Secretary of State is also bound by schedule 1 to produce a code of practice covering training, the exercise of functions by constables, the information to be given, and how and when that information is to be given. The code of practice will be published in draft and laid before this House. All those matters are covered by schedule 1.
I have gone through the schedule in detail because it covers an awful lot of potential activity that may or may not work as the Government intend it to. The purpose of our proposed sunset clause is not to say that Her Majesty’s Opposition oppose clause 1 or schedule 1, because, although some Members might, we do not. Our amendment addresses the fact that the schedule proposes creating a complex new code of practice relating to the criteria covering individual officers and others who can exercise the powers, including removing the passports of not only British citizens but citizens of foreign countries.
If we enact that in the next few weeks, it will be a serious piece of legislation. In view of the reasons the Minister has given for introducing the provisions, it would do no harm for him to consider—this is the purpose of amendment 29—a date for us formally to allow the legislation to fall, unless the House is satisfied with the original proposal. By December 2016, there will have been a general election and the House of Commons will be composed of whoever has been elected, and whoever is the Minister will be able to review the legislation to see whether it works. They would then be able to table a motion to pass a resolution allowing the legislation to continue unamended.
The shadow Minister is making some fair points and I think the whole House would broadly support the idea that we need to consider how the Bill will be applied in practice. We all recognise that the new powers raise some legitimate concerns relating to civil liberties. Rather than having a sunset clause, has the right hon. Gentleman given some thought to the idea of imposing on the Home Office an obligation, within a year of the Bill being enacted, to produce a full report on the workings of this novel change in procedure?
We did consider those matters and I originally drafted an amendment that sought to do that. I could have tabled it last Thursday but I decided to focus our debate on whether the legislation is fit for purpose. I am not saying that it is not; I am simply saying that there are severe changes in the Bill that restrict individuals, give powers to police officers and others, set out a new code of practice and give a range of powers to the Secretary of State to do what they wish with detained individuals. If the Opposition are to support the clause this evening, as we will, it must be reviewed at some point in the future. The mechanism we suggest means that a Minister, whoever that might be, must review the situation and either table a motion or, if the legislation ultimately falls, table a replacement piece of legislation in time for 31 December 2016.
I am not seeking to cause difficulties for the Minister with amendment 29. I simply want him to consider in detail his proposals in clause 1 and schedule 1 and whether we should have a sunset clause. We want such a clause because one of the gaps in the legislation means that there is no mechanism for appeal in the event of the powers in schedule 1 or clause 1 being exercised against an individual. An individual's travel documents will be removed for 14 days, and potentially for 30 days, but in the meantime there is no mechanism through which they can appeal effectively against that decision. Amendment 17 allows for an appeal in the courts on the subject of
“the evidence on which conditions in paragraph 2(1)(a) and (b) of this schedule were met”.
The Committee will agree that the right of British citizens to travel freely, unrestricted by state interference, is crucial and historical.
Given the right hon. Gentleman’s concern, would not the right approach be to accept his amendment 17 and the judicial right of appeal rather than having a sunset clause? Does he plan to press that amendment to a vote?
I welcome the hon. Gentleman back to this place, as this is the first opportunity I have had to do so. I shall wait to see what the Minister says, but I am minded to say that it is important that the right of appeal is paramount. The Minister might or might not accept the amendment and I will have to listen carefully to his argument, but if he does not accept it there will be an opportunity to test the will of the Committee should we so wish.
The shadow Minister has already said that schedule 1 is detailed and that there is a lot to contemplate in it. Would not adding the right to appeal further complicate it? People will already get their passport back after two weeks, so why this additional complication?
I was coming on to those points, but I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question. It might help if I outlined some of the circumstances. If an individual’s passport is removed, it will be because there is reasonable suspicion that he is involved in some activities that mean he should not travel abroad. That suspicion might be well founded—I am trying to be fair, and I doubt that the power would be exercised if it were not well founded—but there still might be occasions when an individual was travelling to a difficult, challenging country for a family wedding, a holiday, an employment interview, or for other perfectly legitimate reasons. The security services might wrongly identify an individual; that can occasionally happen. The individuals responsible might have challenges for a range of reasons. The information supplied to the security services—for example, by a parent whose adult child is travelling—may be wrong.
The simple point is that if that power is exercised, the individual loses their passport and their ability to travel and so might well miss a job interview, a family wedding or a holiday and might be wrongly marked out in their social circles. That could happen. I am not saying that it will, but it could. Amendment 17 is meant to ensure that if that individual feels that they have been wrongly treated, they have a right to ask for a review by a court. It is reasonable to do that under UK law.
After two weeks, the individual will get their passport back anyway. This is a really wishy-washy way of carrying on, and we should either be confident that this is a good measure or not. They will get their passport back within two weeks.
This is a very strong and effective power, which the Opposition support as it will ensure that measures are taken against individuals who might go abroad for terrorist purposes, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman accepts that one of the balances of strong powers is the right to strong redress. It might only be for 14 days, as he says, or it might be for only 30 in due course, but that could mean losing a £5,000 or £6,000 holiday with no compensation, missing a family wedding or a person’s own wedding or losing a job opportunity for what could be a case of mistaken identity.
I will let the right hon. and learned Gentleman intervene, because I know that he has expressed concerns about the power. In a very helpful article in The Guardian on 3 September, he said:
“Allowing police to confiscate passports at the UK border to prevent an aspiring young jihadi from leaving for Syria via Istanbul may be justifiable on good intelligence…But unless there is some rapid means of review there must be the likelihood that mistakes will occur as the use of this administrative power increases and perfectly innocent…people will find their travel plans wrecked.”
I agree with him and that is why, even given the 14-day period, I think that we should consider the proposal in amendment 17. I hope that the Minister will do so.
I expressed that concern and it remains a concern, but the interesting point about amendment 17 is that if we were to allow an appeal, as the right hon. Gentleman describes it, how quickly could such an appeal be heard and would it have a significant impact on the shortness of time in which a passport might be capable of being returned, given that we now know that there will be two weeks, or 14 days, for that return to take place? I listened carefully to what he has to say and it seems to me that he is making a good point, but I would also be interested to hear from my hon. Friend the Minister and from the right hon. Gentleman how such a system could be made to work in reality.
Order. Before I call the shadow Minister, let me say that interventions should be slightly briefer than that.
Thank you, Mr Streeter. I take the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), but we are in opposition, which is a difficult and cold place. We do not have the officials that the Minister has. The principle is that we believe there should be an examination of the right of appeal on any decision that has been taken. The purpose of amendment 17 is to place that argument before the Government so that they can say whether they believe there should be any right of appeal or whether they believe that 14 days or 30 days is sufficient, for the reasons given by the hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Julian Smith) and by the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, and that there is no need for an appeal as it would not resolve the issue. It is inherent in any decision of this seriousness that an individual should be able to challenge a decision on the grounds of mistaken identity or the grounds of loss of service in a court.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way and I apologise, Mr Streeter, for taking up too much time. I shall be brief and make more frequent interventions, if I am allowed them. It seemed to me when I made that point back in September that a particular concern was somebody who might be prevented from going away for a wedding or for employment reasons and who wanted a rapid review, but I am also realistic about whether such a rapid review can be made available in practice. That was why I raised at a subsequent date the other question of whether we should consider compensation if somebody were disadvantaged.
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that point and we probably agree on the principle. The purpose of amendment 17 is to give the Minister the opportunity to tease out the practicalities of deliverability for any form of appeal. I take the view—it may be old-fashioned, but that is not for me to say—that if someone is effectively charged with involvement in terrorism, which is why a passport will be removed, that is a serious initial action by the state against an individual. The individual might be the subject of mistaken identity or factually wrong information might have been given, whether maliciously or not. They might be travelling for perfectly legitimate purposes, as I have said. In each of those cases, they should ultimately have the right to say to a third party, “I appreciate that these facts have been put before the passport remover, but they are fundamentally wrong and I demand my passport back.” That must be possible in a more speedy and effective way than is the case under the Bill.
Is it not the case, if we believe in fairness and the rule of law, that the stronger the action taken against an individual by the state, the more powerful the argument is that the individual should have the right of appeal? Without the right of appeal, the Bill gives the state excessive powers.
That is an important point.
As the Committee will know, under schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000, there is the power to stop and question individuals who are suspected of involvement in terrorism. The annual report on the Terrorism Acts by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, that was published in July this year gave facts and figures about that power. It included the number and ethnicities of the people who have been examined under schedule 7 in recent years. Although he noted that there was not overwhelming evidence that the power was exercised in a “racially discriminatory manner”, he noted:
“It remains imperative that police should exercise their considerable powers in a sensitive, well-informed and unbiased manner”.
Would the proposal in amendment 17 not be stronger if there was a time limit within which the Home Office had to reply to the application to remove a passport, so that the court would have to consider the matter in a timely manner? There is a parallel in the people who are denied entry to this country or are deported from this country and who have to appeal from a third country. The fact that there is no time limit means that the injustices that such cases often involve can go on for a very long time.
That suggestion is worthy of consideration.
The official Opposition tabled an amendment to say that there should be a right of appeal for the reasons that the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield set out. That concern is shared by Members across the House. It is a basic right of appeal. We can look at how it could be exercised, as ever. We might be able to improve the amendment technically. However, if we had not tabled amendment 17, we would not be having a debate about the right to appeal against this measure. The purpose of the debate is to say to the Minister that we think there should be a right of appeal. If the Minister is sympathetic to that idea, he can take it away.
I give way first to the hon. Gentleman.
Perhaps I do not share the great faith in the bureaucratic competence of the Home Office that was expressed by the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn)—
It was the opposite.
I guessed that that was the case. I was being slightly ironic. One issue with the notion that we could have appeals is that if there was a great emergency and the passports of many dozens or even many hundreds of people were seized, the appeals process would become unwieldy. One hopes that such a situation will not come about. If there was a small number of individuals at any one time, it would be quite manageable, but if there was a large number, that would make it more difficult.
We do not yet know on how many occasions the power will be exercised. I suspect that a vast number of passports will not be seized, but we cannot anticipate that. According to the Government’s explanatory notes,
“500 individuals of interest to the police…have travelled from the UK to Syria…since the start of the conflict.”
That has happened over the past 18 months to three years. The number of individuals travelling out of the UK who may be of interest might be small, but that does not mean that they should not have the right of appeal because, as I have said, mistakes can be made.
I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for North Down (Lady Hermon).
I am grateful to the shadow Minister for referring to me as his hon. Friend. I remind my right hon. Friend that, as he would have been well aware when he was in the Northern Ireland Office, under the Belfast agreement, which was signed on Good Friday, people who are born in Northern Ireland are entitled to citizenship of the Irish Republic and the United Kingdom, and to hold the passport of the United Kingdom, the passport of the Irish Republic or both. If those travel documents were confiscated, would it be the Irish passport and the British passport for those who have both? There has to be some form of appeals mechanism if they are confiscated, because the issue is even more complicated if people are leaving or entering Northern Ireland.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that comment. She will see that under paragraph 1(7) of schedule 1, passport means “a United Kingdom passport” or
“a passport issued by or on behalf of the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, or by or on behalf of an international organisation”.
It is imperative that we consider the issue of appeals because foreign citizens or citizens of the UK might have two passports.
If information is provided about an individual, this measure will allow the serious act of removing their passport and stopping them travelling. Although it will no doubt be very well researched, very well executed and very well managed by the security services, the police, immigration officers and others who are allowed to undertake these matters under schedule 1, the possibility of wrong or disputable facts will always be there. Those wrong or disputable facts will mean that a UK citizen loses their liberty, their passport and their ability to travel. We need to be cognisant of that issue.
Further to the point that was made by the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon), if a passport that was issued by a state other than the UK was seized, does my right hon. Friend envisage that that state would seek to join the appeal against the seizure? Does he believe that Ministers have fully taken account of the diplomatic implications of that?
Again, that demonstrates why the issue of appeals is important. Paragraph 1(7) of schedule 1 refers to
“a passport issued by or on behalf of the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom”.
I can envisage a situation in which an individual who is the citizen of and holds the passport of not, dare I say it, the Irish Republic, but another country in the European Union or even a country outside the European Union, but who is resident in or travelling from the UK, is suspected for a range of reasons of involvement in terrorism-related activity under paragraph 1(10) of schedule 1. Again, the UK would be in the difficult situation of depriving an individual from another country of their passport on the basis of a range of suspicions that may or may not prove to be factual. I am in danger of repeating myself and am being careful not to do so, but we need to examine such facts carefully. The purpose of amendment 17 is to stimulate a debate about that.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?
I am trying to wind up my remarks, but I will give way.
Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify what is his mechanism for appeal? Surely the measure allows border control officers to take a passport without giving too many reasons and, after two weeks, for a judicial review to take place. How would his appeal process work? How would we avoid giving away intelligence during the appeal that could jeopardise the United Kingdom’s security?
That is a valid point, but judicial review is not what I would call a cheap and easy process. It could not be accessed quickly and easily by an individual who had lost their passport in the circumstances set out in schedule 1. The hon. Gentleman will see that we have included in amendment 17 a reference to appeal “in the courts”. That is intended to stimulate debate—it could be a magistrates court, a court sitting in private or a Crown court. We simply say that the appeal should be in a court. The schedule allows the Secretary of State to produce a code of practice, which could indicate which court should deal with such matters and whether it could sit in private. It would be reasonable for the code of practice to do that.
My purpose in tabling amendment 17 was to focus on the issue of appeals. I will be happy to withdraw it if the Minister provides reassurance, or we might revisit the matter in the other place. However, since the publication of the Bill and Second Reading, we have felt that we needed some mechanism for examining the case for appeals.
I have detained the House for far too long, but I wish to say two final things. First, amendment 29 is simply about a date of review and would not detract from the Bill in any way, shape or form. It would simply provide a date by which the Secretary of State would have to examine clause 1 and decide either to continue it or bring forward new legislation. One reason why we need that review is that there is no appeal mechanism, which amendment 17 would provide.
Secondly, I will listen to what the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) has to say about her new clause 8. I have some concerns about her proposal for police bail for terrorism suspects. We need to think carefully before using police bail if a Government have decided to remove someone’s passport. I do not wish to comment further on the new clause at this point, but I will listen to her remarks.
I hope that the Committee will consider my points about the Opposition’s amendments, and I hope for a positive response from the Minister.
I would indeed like to say a few words about new clause 8, which I tabled. As we know, there will be situations in which it is necessary to prevent a person from leaving the country, but I would argue that the police already have a tried and tested way of preventing suspects from doing so—the power of arrest, combined with the ability to require passport surrender if a suspect is arrested and released without charge. However, passport surrender is not currently possible in the case of those arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, as conditional police bail cannot be granted following such arrests. That anomaly means that there is a currently a loophole in the ability of law enforcement to require passport surrender of terrorism suspects. It would be much simpler to remove that loophole than to proceed with the convoluted passport retention scheme set out in clause 1 and schedule 1.
The safest and fairest way to prevent suspects from leaving the country to participate in terrorist activity would be for police officers to use their powers of arrest. If an individual was considered to pose an immediate risk to the country, they could be detained rather than left to roam the UK for 30 days, as would happen under the Government’s proposal. If they did not pose an immediate risk, they could be detained and bailed, and their passport could be surrendered as part of the process.
Including that provision in the Bill and removing the bar on police bail would be much simpler and fairer than a convoluted passport surrender scheme. It would deliver the same practical result as the Government seemingly wish to achieve—preventing individuals from leaving the country—but would do so in a way that, crucially, protected against misuse and discrimination.
My new clause is intended to give the police the powers they need, and to enable them to exercise them consistent with upholding suspects’ human rights. That would act as a greater deterrent, by allowing for arrest rather than summary passport seizure, and would help to overcome some of the in-built discrimination that exists in relation to stop-and-search and would inevitably be part of a stop-and-seizure approach to passports.
I do not wish to cast judgment on the two proposed processes, but does the hon. Lady not recognise that the arrest and bail process would probably involve a higher threshold than mere passport seizure? Considerably fewer people would therefore be subject to it, so it might not make the rest of us much safer. The Government’s intention in using passport seizure is to stop those who wish to escape these shores—they will not necessarily be guilty of any offence before doing so.
I thank the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think his point stands up. Under new clause 8, an individual considered to pose an immediate risk to the country could be detained rather than being left to the roam the UK, as would happen under the Government’s proposal. If they were not considered to pose an immediate risk, they could be bailed and their passport seized. Seizing a passport as part of the bail process would be more effective than what I believe he proposes.
The problem is not that there would be a risk of people roaming through the UK and being a direct and immediate risk to other UK citizens. It is that they might leave these shores to carry out terrorist activity abroad.
I do not see that as being more of a risk under my new clause, the advantage of which would be that we would not be involved in a so-called stop-and-seizure approach, which we know is often not effective. Summary stop powers do not yield effective results—Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary has found that in most years since 2001, more than 1 million people have been stopped and searched, but only 9% were subsequently arrested. If the summary sanction were the removal of a passport, that failure rate would be too high. In addition to risking injustice for the individuals concerned, such an approach would serve to perpetuate a climate of fear and suspicion rather than encourage good relations between different communities in British society.
The Home Secretary herself recently recognised the prejudicial nature of stop-and-search powers and sought to scale them back. She stated:
“Nobody wins when stop and search is misused. It can be an enormous waste of police time and damage the relationship between the public and police.”
It appears odd to legislate for a new stop-and-search-type power when the problems that such an approach causes have been clearly identified and when it is contrary to the Home Secretary’s policy on stop-and-search away from the borders.
I do not think that my suggestions in new clause 8 would reduce our ability to ensure that we are secure. On the contrary, they would make us better able to know where people are, and crucially, they would mean that we would not use so-called stop-and-seizure powers, which have been discredited and are not very effective.
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) for the opportunity to debate a number of provisions relating to part 1 of the Bill, particularly the power of passport seizure and, most relevantly, schedule 1.
The right hon. Gentleman highlighted some of the real-life events that are taking place elsewhere. We will all have been shocked to see the pictures on the television screens during the past few hours. The incident in Sydney is profoundly shocking, and it is deeply distressing to hear of the fatalities that have arisen from the hostage situation. The facts are still emerging, but our thoughts are with the families of those caught up in the tragic events. We all stand with the Australian Government and the people of Australia in utterly condemning anyone who would seek to use violence to advance political ends. The incident reminds us again that we must all be vigilant.
I will turn shortly to the new clauses and amendments, including amendment 13, which is in the name of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. In the light of the debate, however, I think it will be helpful if I make some general points about the power of temporary passport seizure and its importance.
The increasing number of people travelling to engage in terrorism-related activities overseas, and returning to the UK with enhanced terrorist-related capabilities, means that we need an additional power to disrupt an individual’s ability to travel at short notice. The Government are clear: we will provide the police with the powers they need to stop people travelling to fight for terrorist organisations overseas. Clause 1 makes provision for schedule 1 to the Bill, which provides for the
“seizure and temporary retention of travel documents”
at port by the police. Under the schedule the police—and designated Border Force officers at the discretion of the police—can seize and retain a travel document when they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a person at a port in Great Britain intends to leave to engage in terrorism-related activity outside the UK. That power can also be exercised at a port in the border area in Northern Ireland.
Right hon. and hon. Members have highlighted different measures, and existing powers have different tests and focus on different things. The new measure is significant because it will give the police, or Border Force officers directed by the police, power to seize travel documents, including passports and travel tickets, at a port to disrupt immediate travel—I underline that point—based on “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is travelling for terrorist-related activity. The passport is not cancelled and the document can be held for up to 14 days or, as we have heard, 30 days if the retention period is extended by a court.
This important Bill does not just apply to international terrorism, it applies to terrorism, and we in Northern Ireland have been afflicted for years by terrorism waged by dissident republicans. Will the Minister confirm whether he has been to and driven along the border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland? How many border posts and Border Force officials did he meet on that trip?
I had the pleasure of visiting Belfast on a number of occasions when I was security Minister, but I have not travelled along the direct route that the hon. Lady highlights. The important point is that the power clearly applies to people who are seeking to leave the United Kingdom to engage in terrorist-related activity outside the UK. We are arguing for such a power because of the effective way that it can disrupt terrorist-related activity.
I am sincerely grateful to the Minister for giving way because this is a really important point. We have a very open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and we are the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a frontier with another EU member state. There is no border built; there is no wire or wall, and it is full of little lanes and easy access to the United Kingdom. I am extremely anxious to ensure that Northern Ireland does not become the soft underbelly of the rest of the United Kingdom for those who would wish us ill or want violence in this country. Will the Minister consider increasing the number of Border Force officials along the porous border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?
I understand the hon. Lady’s sincerity and the manner with which she has advanced her point, and we must be vigilant about risks and threats that may be posed to the United Kingdom, whether in Northern Ireland or any other part of the UK. There is good work between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda Siochana, and the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have a clear joint interest in ensuring border security. Indeed, we very much consider the common travel area to be an external border, which is why we work closely with the Republic of Ireland to ensure that it remains effective and in no way goes down the path mentioned by the hon. Lady. The Government must maintain that sense of vigilance and focus.
I represent a border constituency and we do not particularly want the border demarcated further in ways that applied historically. Schedule 1 defines the border area as one mile from the border with the Republic of Ireland. Is that as the crow flies, or when travelling? If there is a dispute about where the person was stopped and had their passport seized, how will the question of where the seizure took place be resolved?
Ultimately, those facts will concern any challenge that may be made, and a review may be undertaken of the proper exercise of the power and oversight provided for in the Bill. The right hon. Member for Delyn commented on the nature of the protections in the Bill. I hope that will assure the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) about the way such things would be advanced and protected, and that oversight is provided to deal with the issues he has raised.
Will the person whose passport or travel documents are removed be informed of the reason they have been taken away? The maximum time the passport can be held without going through a legal process is two weeks. When does the Minister envisage that there will be a review of that decision, and when can the person reasonably expect to get their documents back and be allowed to travel? The points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) were clear—the issue is one of access to a judicial process, rather than an executive decision, which is effectively what the removal of the documents would be.
The hon. Gentleman leads me neatly to mention a number of protections in the Bill, and to say how we will ensure that the exercise of this power is proportionate and suitably circumscribed by a range of stringent safeguards. Some of the points about the need for speed and assurances about the exercise of such powers have been well made. A powerful power is being advanced in schedule 1, and those who exercise it must be satisfied that it is necessary to retain the relevant documentation. The different mechanisms available to challenge a decision underscore why we regard current protections as proportionate to this power.
In essence, officers who might exercise the power would be governed by a specific code of practice that would specify how they are to use it. Paragraph 2 of schedule 1 states that the constable must have
“reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is there—”
in the port—
“with the intention of leaving the United Kingdom for the purpose of involvement in terrorism-related activity”.
The officer then has to seek a further review by a senior police office of at least superintendent level to confirm that the power is appropriate in that case. There is a further review by an officer of chief superintendent rank within 72 hours of the officer’s findings, and that is referred to the chief constable who must remain satisfied with the case. Even from an administrative perspective there are a significant number of checks and balances to ensure that the power is being exercised effectively. If the documents are to be retained beyond the 14-day period, there is a court process and a review to consider how further oversight should be provided.
I completely understand why the Government have decided that within the 14-day period there should be no appeal or review, but I cannot understand why paragraph 8 of schedule 1 prohibits or prevents the judge from considering whether there is a basis for the order or retention in the first place. All the judge can do is ensure that those who are considering the matter are doing so diligently. He is not able to look at the foundation and basis for the entire retention—at whether there are reasonable grounds for suspicion.
My hon. and learned Friend highlights the mechanisms provided in paragraph 5 of schedule 1 on the manner in which the judge must be satisfied with the continued need to retain the documentation. His point is the basis or central tenet for the use of the power in the first place. Indeed, I think this relates to the point advanced by the right hon. Member for Delyn in one of his amendments. Judicial review is available to challenge the basis of the original decision. Therefore, there is a judicial right to question and challenge the basis on which the officer has used the power in the first place, as set out in paragraph 2 of schedule 1. We therefore believe there is a direct means to be able to challenge the underlying decision.
The Minister refers to a point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson). Judicial review is an extremely difficult and expensive route to secure justice. The point about magistrates, as the hon. and learned Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr Cox) says, is the diligent and expeditious use of an administrative power. Where there are grounds for a simpler right to appeal relates to a point made by the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), which is where someone has suffered repeated instances of having their documents taken off them. On that basis, a swift appeal system would at least give some confidence that it was not being used indiscriminately.
For the relevant document to need to be retained, the provisions in paragraph 5 of schedule 1 must remain outstanding: there must be consideration of whether the Secretary of State would use the royal prerogative, whether there are charges to be brought against that person, or whether there are other measures that may be relevant. The requirement still needs to be satisfied, which is why we have brought in the 14-day provision to ensure direct oversight and checks and balances through the mechanisms in the schedule.
On cost, following further discussions with the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, it may be helpful to clarify and expand on the evidence I gave to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on 3 December, on the availability of legal aid for those subject to the proposed temporary passport seizure powers and to provide clarity on the potential scope of legal aid in this context. I have written to the Chair of the Joint Committee today on this issue.
Legal aid would potentially be available for the magistrates court proceedings provided for in the Bill, but at present that would be a discretionary decision for the director of legal aid casework. The Government are considering whether it would be proportionate to bring those proceedings within the scope of the general legal aid scheme to put individuals’ access to legal aid, subject to the statutory means and merits tests, beyond doubt. Legal aid is available under the general civil legal aid scheme for judicial review challenges by those subject to the temporary passport seizure power and the temporary exclusion order power, subject to the statutory means and merits tests.
Returning to the provisions, a code of practice will provide clear guidance on how police and Border Force officers will exercise the powers. The Government will carefully review all responses received to the consultation that we propose to undertake in respect of the code, to ensure it contains effective guidance and provides clarity to officers on how the new powers should operate. The power is a proportionate and prudent response to the threat we face. It will allow the police to disrupt travel at short notice when there is reasonable suspicion that someone is travelling for terrorism-related purposes.
Let me now turn to the amendments before us. I shall deal first with those from the Opposition. Amendment 17 seeks to provide a process for individuals to appeal to the courts against the decision to remove their travel documents at port. As I have described, the Bill already provides a specific court procedure. In addition, the individual can decide, at any time, to seek a judicial review of the initial passport seizure in the High Court, where closed material proceedings may be available to allow consideration of any sensitive material. I do not believe, therefore, that the amendment adds a significant additional safeguard to the use of this power.
Amendment 29 seeks to introduce a sunset clause to the temporary passport provisions. Doing so may send an inadvertent message to would-be jihadist travellers of our lack of intent to deal with the threat they pose if they believed that the powers would end in two years’ time. Terrorism-related travel is a serious and ongoing issue. Our law enforcement agencies need to have a range of tools at their disposal to deal with it in a necessary and proportionate way. I wish we could be confident that the conflicts that attract these individuals will be resolved in two years, but it would be imprudent to plan on that basis.
If that is the case, why does clause 17 have a repeal date of 31 December 2016?
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman raises that point. The parallel I think he seeks to draw is not relevant in this context. As he well knows, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, to which this provision relates, contains a sunset clause because of the need to have further and wider debate on communications data. What we are talking about here is a specific and focused power to deal with the immediate operational needs of our police and law enforcement agencies at the border to disrupt terrorist travel. Therefore, the parallels he seeks to adduce between the two clauses do not actually stack up.
The Minister referred to sending out a very clear signal to jihadists who wish us ill in this country. I agree entirely and I am sure the Committee agrees too. May I invite the Minister to confirm that the Bill will also apply to dissident republicans who sit in the Republic of Ireland and wish to bomb and murder prison officers and other members of the security forces within the United Kingdom, particularly in Northern Ireland, so that the message is as loud and clear to dissident republicans as it is to jihadists?
Terrorism can take all sorts of different forms. The Bill is rightly not specific on what terrorist-related activity outside of the UK may be relevant, so I think the power is appropriately drafted.
The hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) raised a point about the one-mile limit and I am conscious that I have not addressed it. The Northern Ireland border area is defined in the same terms as in other legislation, such as schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The Northern Ireland border is one mile from the Republic of Ireland as the crow flies. I hope that provides certainty.
Let me now turn to the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). As she has explained, they would remove the temporary passport seizure provision in its entirety. She also flagged up a point relating to the availability of police bail. I am sure the hon. Lady takes public safety extremely seriously, particularly in the current climate where we are facing the biggest challenge to our security since the horrific attacks of 9/11. The nature of terrorism-related arrests inherently means that the exact risk to the public from an individual, or their suspected involvement in a terrorist plot, may not be well understood at the early stages of an investigation. That is part of the reason why the police also have the power, 48 hours after the arrest of a terrorist suspect, to apply to the courts for a warrant of further detention to extend the initial detention up to a maximum of 14 days, subject to the seven-day review. To grant bail as the hon. Lady would want to, and at the stage she would want to when significant parts of an investigation are still ongoing, would increase the risk of potentially dangerous individuals being released before they have been sufficiently investigated. That is a risk the Government are not prepared to take.
In preparing for this debate, I noted that when the right hon. Member for Delyn was a Minister back in 2009 he made exactly the self-same point. There are certain issues we disagree on, but his statements on the record underline the issues relating to the use of police bail and other relevant factors. We continue to judge, responding to David Anderson on this very point, that the granting of bail is not appropriate.
Plenty of experts who agree that our security is the ultimate goal also see that my amendment is more robust than the Government’s proposal. With bail, one can attach a wide range of conditions, including curfews, restrictions and so on, and it is simply an anomaly for our security forces not to have this tool in their toolbox should they need it for terrorism.
The hon. Lady has made that point several times, and she has been consistent in advancing her case, but there is a balance of risk, and we judge that bail in these circumstances would not be appropriate because of our fundamental focus on protecting national security. Furthermore, the Bill provides appropriate safeguards in several different ways to ensure that it is proportionate and meets the issues of necessity.
Finally, the Government are making a technical amendment in relation to the code of practice. Amendment 13 would
“make it clear that the Secretary of State can comply with the obligations”
in paragraph 19
“to publish a draft of the code…to consider representations, to make any appropriate modifications”
in the light of those representations
“and to lay the draft before Parliament by doing so before the Bill receives Royal Assent.”
Without the amendment, it could be argued that such things would only be valid if done after the Bill becomes an Act. The amendment removes any doubt about that.
With the assurances I have given, I hope that the right hon. Member for Delyn and the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion will be minded not to press their amendments.
I am grateful to the Minister for his explanations and for reminding me that I have form on police bail as a Minister in the last Government. He will be pleased to know that although I gave the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) the opportunity to make her case, we do not support it, having listened to it. We might have form on this issue, but that form is consistent with our approach to the matter.
Our amendment 29, on a sunset clause, and amendment 17, on the right of appeal, still bear merit. The Minister has not convinced me that a sunset clause would be damaging in the long term to the Bill. Neither, given the concerns of Members such as the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) and others about appeals, am I persuaded not to press amendment 17.
I urge the right hon. Gentleman to think carefully about pressing his amendment. What sort of message will it send to terrorists and people who threaten our country if he goes down this wishy-washy path of supporting the Bill but saying we should review it in 18 months’ time?
Having been counter-terrorism and policing Minister in the last Government, I know the extent of the threats we face, perhaps even more so than the hon. Gentleman, and I do not think that anybody has ever accused me of being wishy-washy on these matters—in fact, I have often been accused of being a little too harsh. However, it is right and proper, when we give powers to remove passports from individuals, that the House of Commons at least commits to reviewing those powers in two years—possibly to see whether we need to make them stronger; it might not mean we want to make them weaker. If he had his passport taken off him at Heathrow or Dover on spurious grounds, he would wish to have an appeal process in place. It is one of the basic tenets of this House of Commons.
So, not being wishy-washy, but being committed to tackling terrorism at its core and taking firm and effective action to reduce the threat to this country, I still believe we need to review the Bill in two years’ time and give people the right to argue their case, should they so wish, and question the grounds on which their passport has been taken from them. On that basis, I would like to press amendment 29 to a vote.
Question put, That the amendment be made.
Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
seizure of passports etc from persons suspected of involvement in terrorism
Amendment proposed: 17, page 30, line 14, at end insert—
“(c) the individual subject whose travel document has been removed may appeal against this decision in the courts over the evidence on which conditions in paragraph 2(1)(a) and (b) of this schedule were met.”—(Mr Hanson.)
Question put, That the amendment be made.
Amendment made: 13, page 36, line 13, at and insert—
‘( ) Anything done before the day on which this Act is passed is as valid as if done on or after that day for the purposes of sub-paragraphs (1) and (2).” —(James Brokenshire.)
This would make it clear that the Secretary of State can comply with the obligations to publish a draft of the code of practice under Schedule 1, to consider representations, to make any appropriate modifications and to lay the draft before Parliament by doing so before the Bill receives Royal Assent.
Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.
Temporary exclusion orders
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
With this it will be convenient to consider the following:
Clauses 3 to 10 stand part.
Amendment 14, in clause 11, page 7, leave out lines 16 and 17 and insert—
““specified individual” means a person named in a notification and managed return order and in relation to whom Conditions A-D of section [Notification and managed return orders] are met.
“a carrier” has the same meaning as at section 18.”
Amendment 15, page 7, leave out lines 20 to 24.
Amendment 16, page 7, leave out line 41.
Clause 11 stand part.
New clause 4— Notification and managed return orders—
‘(1) A “notification and managed return order” is an order requiring a person (“a carrier”) to notify the Home Secretary that—
(a) a specified individual intends to travel to the UK, and
(b) the date, time and location of the specified person‘s scheduled arrival.
(2) The Secretary of State may impose a notification and managed return order if conditions A to D are met.
(3) Condition A is that the Secretary of State reasonably suspects that the specified individual is, or has been, involved in terrorism related activity outside the United Kingdom.
(4) Condition B is that the Secretary of State reasonably considers that it is necessary, for purposes connected with protecting members of the public in the United Kingdom from a risk of terrorism, for a notification and managed return order to be imposed on a carrier in relation to a specified individual.
(5) Condition C is that the Secretary of State reasonably considers that the specified individual is outside the United Kingdom.
(6) Condition D is that the specified individual has the right of abode in the United Kingdom.
(7) During the period that a notification and managed return order is in force, the Secretary of State must keep under review whether condition B is met.”
New clause 5—Notification and managed return orders: supplementary provision—
‘(1) The Secretary of State must give notice of the imposition of a notification and managed return order to the specified individual and the carrier.
(2) Notice of the imposition of a notification and managed return order may include notice that the specified individual may be stopped, questioned and detained on return to the United Kingdom.
(3) A notification and managed return order—
(a) comes into force when notice of its imposition is given; and
(b) is in force for the period of two years (unless revoked or otherwise brought to an end earlier).
(4) The Secretary of State may revoke a notification and managed return order at any time.
(5) The Secretary of State must give notice of the revocation of a notification and managed return order to the specified individual and the carrier.
(6) If a notification and managed return order is revoked, it ceases to be in force when notice of its revocation is given to the specified individual and the carrier.
(7) The validity of a notification and managed return order is not affected by the specified individual—
(a) returning to the United Kingdom, or
(b) departing from the United Kingdom.
(8) The imposition of a notification and managed return order does not prevent a further notification and managed return order from being imposed on a carrier in relation to the same specified individual (including in a case where an order ceases to be in force at the expiry of its two year duration).
(9) The imposition of a notification and managed return order does not prevent a further notification and managed return order from being imposed on another carrier contemporaneously or consecutively in relation to the same specified individual.”
New clause 6—Penalty for breach of notification and managed return order—
‘(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations setting out the penalties to be imposed for breaching a notification and managed return order.
(2) Regulations under subsection (1) must make provision—
(a) about how a penalty is to be calculated;
(b) about the procedure for imposing a penalty;
(c) about the enforcement of penalties;
(d) allowing for an appeal against a decision to impose a penalty;
and the regulations may make different provision for different purposes.
(3) Provision in the regulations about the procedure for imposing a penalty must provide for a carrier to be given an opportunity to object to a proposed penalty in the circumstances set out in the regulations.
(4) Any penalty paid by virtue of this section must be paid into the Consolidated Fund.
(5) Regulations under this section are to be made by statutory instrument; and any such statutory instrument may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before each House of Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.”
New clause 9—Imposition of terrorism prevention and investigation measures—
‘(1) The Secretary of State may by notice (a “TEO”) impose a “temporary exclusion order” which requires an individual not to return to the United Kingdom on an individual if conditions A to E in section [Conditions A to E] are met.
(2) 1n this Act “temporary exclusion order” means requirements, restrictions and other provision which may be made in relation to an individual by virtue of section [Conditions A to E] “prior permission of the court” and Schedule [“Proceedings relating to temporary exclusion orders”].
(3) An individual subject to a TEO may not return to the UK unless—
(a) the return is in accordance with a permit to return issued by the Secretary of State before the individual began the return, or
(b) the return is the result of the individual’s deportation to the United Kingdom.”
New clause 10—Conditions A to E—
‘(1) Condition A is that the Secretary of State reasonably suspects that the individual is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity outside the United Kingdom.
(2) Condition B is that the Secretary of State reasonably considers that it is necessary, for purposes connected with protecting members of the public in the United Kingdom from a risk of terrorism, for a temporary exclusion order to be imposed on the individual.
(3) Condition C is that the Secretary of State reasonably considers that the individual is outside the United Kingdom.
(4) Condition D is that the individual has the right of abode in the United Kingdom.
(5) Condition E is that—
(a) the court gives the Secretary of State permission under section 3, or
(b) the Secretary of State reasonably considers that the urgency of the case requires a temporary exclusion order to be imposed without obtaining such permission.
(6) During the period that a temporary exclusion order is in force, the Secretary of State must keep under review whether condition B is met.”
New clause 11—Prior permission of the court—
‘(1) This section applies if the Secretary of State—
(a) makes the relevant decisions in relation to an individual, and
(b) makes an application to the court for permission to impose measures on the individual.
(2) The application must set out a draft of the proposed TEO notice.
(3) The function of the court on the application is—
(a) to determine whether the relevant decisions of the Secretary of State are obviously flawed, and
(b) to determine whether to give permission to impose measures on the individual and (where applicable) whether to exercise the power of direction under subsection (9).
(4) The court may consider the application—
(a) in the absence of the individual;
(b) without the individual having been notified of the application; and
(c) without the individual having been given an opportunity (if the individual was aware of the application) of making any representations to the court.
(5) But that does not limit the matters about which rules of court may be made.
(6) In determining the application, the court must apply the principles applicable on an application for judicial review.
(7) In a case where the court determines that a decision of the Secretary of State that condition A, condition B, or condition C is met is obviously flawed, the court may not give permission under this section.
(8) In any other case, the court may give permission under this section.
(9) If the court determines that the Secretary of State‘s decision that condition D is met is obviously flawed, the court may (in addition to giving permission under subsection (8) give directions to the Secretary of State in relation to the measures to be imposed on the individual.
(10) 1n this section “relevant decisions” means the decisions that the following conditions are met—
(a) condition A;
(b) condition B;
(c) condition C; and
(d) condition D.”
New schedule 1—Proceedings relating to Temporary Exclusion Orders—
1 In this Schedule—
“appeal proceedings” means proceedings in the Court of Appeal or the Inner House of the Court of Session on an appeal relating to temporary exclusion order proceedings;
“the relevant court” means—
(a) in relation to TEO proceedings, the court;
(b) in relation to appeal proceedings, the Court of Appeal or the Inner House of the Court of Session;
“rules of court” means rules for regulating the practice and procedure to be followed in the court, the Court of Appeal or the Inner House of the Court of Session.
Rules of court: general provision
2 (1) A person making rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings must have regard to the need to secure the following—
(a) that the decisions that are the subject of the proceedings are properly reviewed, and
(b) that disclosures of information are not made where they would be contrary to the public interest.
(2) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings may make provision—
(a) about the mode of proof and about evidence in the proceedings;
(b) enabling or requiring the proceedings to be determined without a hearing;
(c) about legal representation in the proceedings;
(d) enabling the proceedings to take place without full particulars of the reasons for the decisions to which the proceedings relate being given to a party to the proceedings (or to any legal representative of that party);
(e) enabling the relevant court to conduct proceedings in the absence of any person, including a party to the proceedings (or any legal representative of that party);
(f) about the functions of a person appointed as a special advocate (see paragraph 10);
(g) enabling the court to give a party to the proceedings a summary of evidence taken in the party’s absence.
(3) In this paragraph—
(a) references to a party to the proceedings do not include the Secretary of State;
(b) references to a party’s legal representative do not include a person appointed as a special advocate.
(4) Nothing in this paragraph is to be read as restricting the power to make rules of court or the matters to be taken into account when doing so.
Rules of court: disclosure
3 (1) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings must secure that the Secretary of State is required to disclose—
(a) material on which the Secretary of State relies,
(b) material which adversely affects the Secretary of State’s case, and
(c) material which supports the case of another party to the proceedings.
(2) This paragraph is subject to paragraph 4.
4 (1) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings must secure—
(a) that the Secretary of State has the opportunity to make an application to the relevant court for permission not to disclose material otherwise than to the relevant court and any person appointed as a special advocate;
(b) that such an application is always considered in the absence of every party to the proceedings (and every party’s legal representative);
(c) that the relevant court is required to give permission for material not to be disclosed if it considers that the disclosure of the material would be contrary to the public interest;
(d) that, if permission is given by the relevant court not to disclose material, it must consider requiring the Secretary of State to provide a summary of the material to every party to the proceedings (and every party’s legal representative);
(e) that the relevant court is required to ensure that such a summary does not contain material the disclosure of which would be contrary to the public interest.
(2) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings must secure that provision to the effect mentioned in sub-paragraph (3) applies in cases where the Secretary of State—
(a) does not receive the permission of the relevant court to withhold material, but elects not to disclose it, or
(b) is required to provide a party to the proceedings with a summary of material that is withheld, but elects not to provide the summary.
(3) The relevant court must be authorised—
(a) if it considers that the material or anything that is required to be summarised might adversely affect the Secretary of State‘s case or support the case of a party to the proceedings, to direct that the Secretary of State—
(i) is not to rely on such points in the Secretary of State‘s case, or
(ii) is to make such concessions or take such other steps as the court may specify, or
(b) in any other case, to ensure that the Secretary of State does not rely on the material or (as the case may be) on that which is required to be summarised.
(4) In this paragraph—
(a) references to a party to the proceedings do not include the Secretary of State;
(b) references to a party’s legal representative do not include a person appointed as a special advocate.
Article 6 rights
5 (1) Nothing in paragraphs 2 to 4, or in rules of court made under any of those paragraphs, is to be read as requiring the relevant court to act in a manner inconsistent with Article 6 of the Human Rights Convention.
(2) The “Human Rights Convention” means the Convention within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998 (see section 21(1) of that Act).
Rules of court: anonymity
6 (1) Rules of court relating to TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings may make provision for—
(a) the making by the Secretary of State or the relevant individual of an application to the court for an order requiring anonymity for that individual, and
(b) the making by the court, on such an application, of an order requiring such anonymity;
and the provision made by the rules may allow the application and the order to be made irrespective of whether any other TEO proceedings have been begun in the court.
(2) Rules of court may provide for the Court of Appeal or the Inner House of the Court of Session to make an order in connection with any appeal proceedings requiring anonymity for the relevant individual.
(3) In sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) the references, in relation to a court, to an order requiring anonymity for the relevant individual are references to an order by that court which imposes such prohibition or restriction as it thinks fit on the disclosure—
(a) by such persons as the court specifies or describes, or
(b) by persons generally,
of the identity of the relevant individual or of any information that would tend to identify the relevant individual.
(4) In this paragraph “relevant individual” means an individual on whom the Secretary of State is proposing to impose, or has imposed, measures.
Initial exercise of rule-making powers by Lord Chancellor
7 (1) The first time after the passing of this Act that rules of court are made in exercise of the powers conferred by this Schedule in relation to proceedings in England and Wales or in Northern Ireland, the rules may be made by the Lord Chancellor instead of by the person who would otherwise make them.
(2) Before making rules of court under sub-paragraph (1), the Lord Chancellor must consult—
(a) in relation to rules applicable to proceedings in England and Wales, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales;
(b) in relation to rules applicable to proceedings in Northern Ireland, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.
(3) But the Lord Chancellor is not required to undertake any other consultation before making the rules.
(4) A requirement to consult under sub-paragraph (2) may be satisfied by consultation that took place wholly or partly before the passing of this Act.
(5) Rules of court made by the Lord Chancellor under sub-paragraph (1)—
(a) must be laid before Parliament, and
(b) if not approved by a resolution of each House before the end of 40 days beginning with the day on which they were made, cease to have effect at the end of that period.
(6) In determining that period of 40 days no account is to be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than 4 days.
(7) 1f rules cease to have effect in accordance with sub-paragraph (5)—
(a) that does not affect anything done in previous reliance on the rules, and
(b) sub-paragraph (1) applies again as if the rules had not been made.
(8) The following provisions do not apply to rules of court made by the Lord Chancellor under this paragraph—
(a) section 3(6) of the Civil Procedure Act 1997 (Parliamentary procedure for civil procedure rules);
(b) section 56(1), (2) and (4) of the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 (statutory rules procedure).
(9) Until the coming into force of section 85 of the Courts Act 2003, the reference in sub-paragraph (8)(a) to section 3(6) of the Civil Procedure Act 1997 is to be read as a reference to section 3(2) of that Act.
Use of advisers
8 (1) In any TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings the relevant court may if it thinks fit—
(a) call in aid one or more advisers appointed for the purposes of this paragraph by the Lord Chancellor, and
(b) hear and dispose of the proceedings with the assistance of the adviser or advisers.
(2) The Lord Chancellor may appoint advisers for the purposes of this paragraph only with the approval of—
(a) the Lord President of the Court of Session, in relation to an adviser who may be called in aid wholly or mainly in Scotland;
(b) the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, in relation to an adviser who may be called in aid wholly or mainly in Northern Ireland;
(c) the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, in any other case.
(3) Rules of court may regulate the use of advisers in proceedings who are called in aid under sub-paragraph (1).
(4) The Lord Chancellor may pay such remuneration, expenses and allowances to advisers appointed for the purposes of this paragraph as the Lord Chancellor may determine.
9 (1) The Lord President of the Court of Session may nominate a judge of the Court of Session who is a member of the First or Second Division of the Inner House of that Court to exercise the function under paragraph 8(2)(a).
(2) The Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland may nominate any of the following to exercise the function under paragraph 8(2)(b)—
(a) the holder of one of the offices listed in Schedule 1 to the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002;
(b) a Lord Justice of Appeal (as defined in section 88 of that Act).
(3) The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales may nominate a judicial office holder (as defined in section 109(4) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005) to exercise the function under paragraph 8(2)(c).
Appointment of special advocate
10 (1) The appropriate law officer may appoint a person to represent the interests of a party in any TEO proceedings or appeal proceedings from which the party (and any legal representative of the party) is excluded.
(2) A person appointed under sub-paragraph (1) is referred to in this Schedule as appointed as “special advocate”.
(3) The “appropriate law officer” is—
(a) in relation to proceedings in England and Wales, the Attorney General;
(b) in relation to proceedings in Scotland, the Advocate General for Scotland;
(c) in relation to proceedings in Northern Ireland, the Advocate General for Northern Ireland.
(4) A person appointed as a special advocate is not responsible to the party to the proceedings whose interests the person is appointed to represent.
(5) A person may be appointed as a special advocate only if—
(a) in the case of an appointment by the Attorney General, the person has a general qualification the purposes of section 71 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990;
(b) in the case of an appointment by the Advocate General for Scotland, the person is an advocate or a solicitor who has rights of audience in the Court of Session or the High Court of Justiciary by virtue of section 25A of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980;
(c) in the case of an appointment by the Advocate General for Northern Ireland, the person is a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland.”
I am very pleased to be able to participate in this part of the debate on an important Bill, and particularly pleased to be able to talk about temporary exclusion orders. Let me begin by explaining the background.
Earlier this year, the joint terrorism analysis centre raised our national terrorist threat level from substantial to severe. That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely. Approximately 500 individuals who are of interest to the police and security services have travelled from the United Kingdom to Syria and the region since the start of the conflict, and it has been estimated that half of them have returned.
In the context of that heightened threat to our national security, we need a power that will allow us to disrupt the travel, and control the return, of British citizens who have travelled abroad to engage in terrorist-related activity, and to manage the threat they pose. The temporary exclusion power will do just that. It will make it an offence for an individual who is subject to an order to return to the UK without first engaging with the UK authorities. It will also allow for the imposition of certain limited requirements on the individual on his or her return.
Let me make it clear that this is a discretionary power, which will be considered for use on a case-by-case basis. Let me also reassure the Committee again that it will not render any individual stateless. British nationals who are made subject to an order will have the right—which their citizenship guarantees—to return to the UK. Clauses 2 to 11 relate to this TEO and set out the way it will operate and issues around the permits to return.
As I have said, this measure will not make anybody stateless, but it will mean that when the people concerned return, they do so on our terms, and that could quite possibly be in the company of a police officer. The process of managed return will be a valuable addition to the suite of powers available to our agencies.
It may assist the Committee if I set out in more detail how the power will operate. I, as Secretary of State, can impose a TEO if I reasonably suspect that an individual is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity while outside the UK, and I consider that such an order is an appropriate tool to manage the threat he or she poses to the UK. Individuals subject to TEOs will have their British passports cancelled. They will be a class of passengers for whom authority to carry will have to be sought by carriers, under a new authority to carry scheme.
The TEO will be imposed for two years, with the possibility of a new order being imposed following consideration after this time limit expires, but a person subject to an order will be allowed to return to the UK within a reasonable time frame if they make an application to do so or if they are deported by another country. To be clear on this point—because some might get confused about the two-year time frame in the Bill—that relates to the time the order remains extant and for which the terms of the order can be brought to bear on the individual. If the individual remains a threat at the end of that period, clause 2 allows for the imposition of a further order on the same individual.
As I have said, these individuals will not be rendered stateless. They will not be left unable to return to the UK for an indefinite period. They must be issued a permit to return within a reasonable period if they apply for one, and attend an interview if required to do so. I should restate, to make this very clear to the Committee, that the policy is compliant with all our domestic and international legal obligations.
I am most grateful to the Home Secretary for taking part in this section of the debate. That is lovely, and although the Minister was very good, it is always very nice to have the Home Secretary here in person.
We have an individual who lives in south Armagh—this is not in any way to criticise the people of south Armagh, who are ordinary, decent, hard-working individuals—whose land straddles the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I am not going to use parliamentary privilege to name him, but he is well known to the security services on both sides of the border and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and it is well known that he funds dissident republican terrorism. I would like the Home Secretary to confirm that that particular gentleman could be excluded using the temporary provision power in this new legislation. I would love to see him kept out of his territory and his land in Northern Ireland. Please confirm that he can be.
I appreciate the eagerness with which the hon. Lady rises to refer to that case, but I have to say to her that I am not going to comment on a particular case. As the Minister indicated earlier, however, the Bill is not, of course, restricted in the type of terrorism it refers to, and it does refer to those who have taken part in terrorist-related activity outside the UK, but I emphasise that situations would be looked at case by case, so this is not a power that will automatically be applied to any individual who satisfies those criteria. It is a matter of looking on a case-by-case basis to determine where it is appropriate to apply this power.
I have listened carefully to what my right hon. Friend has said, particularly about our compliance with our own national and international legal obligations. One anxiety that has been expressed about this measure is that a person could be particularly vulnerable during the period before they might return, if they are located in a country whose human rights record is inadequate. I wonder whether my right hon. Friend might focus on that issue, because my understanding has been that consular protection would remain for such an individual in exactly the same way as for somebody whose passport was still working.
I am very happy to respond to that point. We as a country take the issue of human rights responsibilities very seriously in dealing with other countries and their treatment of individuals, but the individual would remain a British citizen and, notwithstanding that their passport had been cancelled and they had to apply for the permit to return, as a British citizen consular facilities would be available to them in those circumstances.
How would the person concerned prove to the British consular service that they were the person they claimed to be?
In such circumstances, the passport will probably still be in the individual’s possession, although it will have been cancelled in the sense of its ability to be used to provide access to the United Kingdom, so I would expect them to have that document available to provide that proof.
On the points made about the individual being in another country, if an individual subject to an order attempts to travel to the UK, we will work closely with the host country and consider appropriate action. This may include detention pending deportation action, but only where appropriate under the laws of the other country, and, again, where appropriate, UK police officers will escort the individual back to the UK.
We are discussing this proposal with other Governments, in particular France and Turkey, in order to agree how it will work best in practice. The problem of foreign fighters travelling to Syria and Iraq and then seeking to return home is one we share with many of our international partners, and so far these discussions have been constructive.
Once in the UK, the police may interview the individual in order to explore their activities abroad. We may then subsequently require them to engage with a programme, potentially comprising reporting, notification of change of address and de-radicalisation activities.
I turn now to the amendments tabled by the shadow Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), and her colleagues. New clauses 9, 10 and 11 and new schedule 1 all require the Secretary of State to apply for permission from the courts before imposing a TEO. The mechanism provided for in these amendments is almost identical to that in the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011—indeed, it appears to have been copied so directly that the right hon. Lady may want to reconsider the title of new clause 9, which refers to the imposition of terrorism prevention and investigation measures, which I suspect might be an error.
As the Minister with responsibility for national security, it is right that I, as Home Secretary, and not the courts, impose an order of this kind. As I have said, this is a discretionary power that will be used only in a limited number of cases where it will have the greatest impact. With oversight of all other national security and counter- terrorism matters, I am best placed to make an informed judgment about whether a TEO is appropriate in each case, taking into consideration the wider context of the terrorist threat we face. For the same reasons, to vest the power to impose one of these orders in the Secretary of State without first requiring an application to the courts is in line with the comparable use of the royal prerogative to cancel the passport of a British citizen.
We must also consider in this context the level of interference with an individual’s rights as a result of the power. A TEO does not take away the right of an individual to return to the UK, and the in-country elements that might be imposed on an individual as part of it are much less restrictive than those available under TPIMs, and for this reason do not require the same level of review. There is therefore no need for a requirement to apply to the courts before imposing an order, and it will of course remain open to an individual to apply for judicial review of the decision to impose an order.
The way the Home Secretary is describing how people can respond to a TEO suggests they would be able to access legal services. It does not take into account that they might be in a failed state, for example, or be being controlled by others or not have sufficient money. Does she not accept that in those circumstances, a TEO could actually mean a loss of intelligence about the suspect’s whereabouts and a loss of control?
But we are talking about an individual who, having had a TEO placed on them, attempts to travel to the UK, at which point they would have to apply for a permit to return and the arrangements for them to be accompanied by a police officer could be put in place. I recognise that there could be some circumstances in which a person might not have immediate access to the legal review, but they would be able to get it at the point at which they chose to return to the UK. This is about having the ability to ensure that certain people return to the UK on our terms, and that it is a managed return.
When would such an order become valid—when it was served on the person concerned? How would the British officials involved identify the person in order to serve the order on them? Would the process be triggered only if the person sought to come to this country?
A temporary exclusion order will be in place, and it will come into effect when it is served or deemed to be served on an individual. The arrangements relating to its being served are similar to those that we use for certain immigration rules relating to people outside the country.
I was about to talk about how the carriers will know whether to carry someone, because that subject has been mentioned in some of the other new clauses. On the question of whether the courts or the Home Secretary should make the decision, the Government and I are absolutely committed to the appropriate and proportionate use of this temporary exclusion power and, for the reasons I have set out, I believe that the Secretary of State is best placed to ensure that it is used in that way. I would hope, therefore, that the shadow Home Secretary will not press her new clauses to a vote.
Opposition Members have also tabled new clauses 4, 5 and 6 and amendment 14, which seek to make provision for “notification and managed return orders”. These would be orders imposed on a carrier such as an airline to notify the Secretary of State that a specified individual intended to travel to the UK and to notify the date, time and location of that individual’s arrival in the UK. Carriers already provide advance passenger information to the Government’s border system. That information enables the current authority-to-carry scheme to operate and, similarly, it will underpin new schemes under clause 18 of the Bill. When an individual intending to travel to the UK is a person who is inadmissible to the UK, the national border targeting centre will contact the carrier to refuse authority to carry the individual to the UK. The Government intend that individuals who are subject to temporary exclusion orders will be a class of passengers in respect of whom authority to carry must be sought by carriers, under a new authority-to-carry scheme.
The proposal that a carrier should be required to tell the Secretary of State that a specified individual intends to travel to the UK implies that every carrier operating to the UK needs to know the details of every individual liable to a managed return. Disclosing to carriers around the world the details of individuals reasonably suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activity outside the UK is unnecessary. The Government hold and maintain those details, and we match them against information provided by carriers. We know from our experience of planning for and operating the current authority-to-carry scheme that carriers much prefer the Government to do the matching. It is for the Government to take the responsibility for getting that right and making the right decisions, which can result in individuals being prevented from travelling to the UK or, under the Bill, being liable to temporary exclusion and a managed return.
Equally, the new clause providing for penalties to be imposed on carriers that fail to notify the Secretary of State when a specified individual is travelling to the UK is unnecessary. Criminal penalties are already in place for carriers that fail to provide passenger and crew information when required to do so, and there is provision in schedule 2 to the Bill to complement those provisions with civil penalties.
Finally, amendments 15 and 16 relate to the interpretation of the temporary exclusion measure. The first of those amendments would impact on our ability to prosecute an individual for breaching a temporary exclusion order. The second would prevent us from correctly implementing a temporary exclusion order, should a host country seek lawfully to expel the individual under powers other than deportation. Both amendments would seriously jeopardise key fundamentals of the policy and, perhaps, would not produce the result intended by the Opposition.
In the light of what I have said, I hope that those who have tabled new clauses and amendments will see that they are unnecessary and will not press them to a vote. This is a necessary power that will be important in enabling us to mange the return of those who have undertaken terrorist activity outside the UK. I believe that it is a necessary and proportionate power.
The UK authorities will have an obligation to let the Home Office know about the passenger lists in relation to individuals returning to the United Kingdom, but can the Home Secretary reassure the Committee that she will work closely with her Irish counterpart to ensure that the Irish Government keep similar information about those who are suspected of terrorism abroad? We must ensure that there is close co-operation on the two lists, which might contain the details of highly suspicious individuals coming back into Ireland and indirectly back into the UK through Northern Ireland.
The hon. Lady makes an important point, given our relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the operation of the common travel area. I can assure her that we work very closely with the Irish Government on the necessary information exchange between us, to ensure that the common travel area could not be—and, in general, is not—a means by which people can access the UK when we do not wish them to do so.
As I was saying, this is a necessary and proportionate power and, given the circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is entirely appropriate to introduce a power that will enable us to disrupt and mange the return of a number of individuals who have been involved in terrorist-related activity outside the UK.
I should like to speak to the amendments and new clauses standing in my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I am grateful to the Home Secretary for her explanation of the measures in the Bill, which are worthy of discussion today. We have tabled new clauses 4 and 5 to provide a supportive narrative to the one that the Home Secretary has put forward. The new clauses and amendments taken together form some of the options that could support the control of terror suspects who are at our border in the UK rather than at a foreign port. They provide a mechanism for the issuing of a notification and managed return order, which would be similar to the measure proposed by the Home Secretary but with a slightly different emphasis.
It is important that we recognise the threat posed by British citizens travelling abroad to participate in terror camps or to join the fight with ISIS in the middle east. The threat from ISIS is serious, and the Government need to do more to prevent young people from being groomed and radicalised to go and fight, and, using the measure in clause 1, to deal with such people when they try to return, having left the country to take part in such activity.
That threat is still live. On 21 October, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, was quoted as saying that five Britons were travelling to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS every week. The Government’s own information states that more than 500 Britons have travelled to Syria and that as many as 250 are now seeking to return. Self-evidently, we need a mechanism to protect the British citizen and to deal with those who wish to return. It is also vital that we are able to deal with people we know to be involved in these activities but who are unaware that we know about them. There is a synergy between what we are trying to achieve and what the Government are proposing. We particularly think there may be practical difficulties with the Bill in relation to individuals at foreign ports returning to the UK, and I would welcome the Home Secretary’s view.
The blanket exile proposal—I know the Home Secretary has not used that phrase—was referred to by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, as an
“announcement waiting for a policy”
when it was made. He was worried, and still has some worries, about whether it is legally and practically workable. We now have plans before us that, at first sight, appear closer to managed return than exile, but I wonder how they work in practice. If the aim of the policy is to keep dangerous individuals out of the country and then, ultimately, to manage their return, we need to explore real issues about that, not least what happens when individuals do not choose to apply for consent to come back—or indeed when they do choose to do that. The Home Secretary has touched on this, but what happens to individuals in particular countries? Would Turkey be happy to detain, potentially for months on end, a Briton suspected of illegally fighting for a terrorist organisation if he or she turned up at Ankara airport but was banned from departing to the UK? What options are in place for that? It is not clear whether the British Government have negotiated agreements with particular countries and whether they intend to do that on a case-by-case basis. What provision is in place—if it is not detention—to stop an individual who finds themselves faced with an order at the airport taking an alternative course of action, either returning to the host country in a different way, or returning and leaving for another country, not the UK? There is a practical argument as to what happens under the Bill to individuals in whom the Government have an interest.
Our new clause 4 seeks to examine an alternative model, which could work in parallel with the Government’s proposals but gives an opportunity for a managed return. We have tabled new clauses 4, 5 and 6, and the consequential amendments, which we are happy to look at and to reflect on, given what the Home Secretary has said about them. There is an argument to be made that the Government’s measure is too blunt a tool, in that it either prevents people from coming back or allows them to return. A more graduated response would give the security services and the Government much greater choice in how they want to approach each individual. Our notification and managed return orders proposal provides an alternative that gives security to the Government and takes effective action against individuals in whom the Government have an interest, but does so by allowing them to return to the UK and be managed in the UK, as opposed to leaving us facing some practical difficulties elsewhere.
Our approach would require carriers to provide advance notice of travel bookings for certain named individuals in whom the Government have an interest, and that is well and good. It would allow the British authorities to have advance knowledge and notice of suspects’ travel plans so that arrangements could be made for police interview or arrest at the port or border immediately on their return to the UK. If that model were used as well, it would in part transfer the procedure that the Government are trying to achieve in a foreign port to a UK port. At that point, interviews could be undertaken and action could be taken against an individual, and we could also ensure that we had dealt with an individual of interest to the UK Government in the UK That could be an alternative model.
Is not one potential problem with the right hon. Gentleman’s proposal, which is in many ways perfectly reasonable in structure, that it does not prevent the individual from continuing to travel abroad between third countries? If the UK Government reasonably suspect that somebody is involved in terrorism, ensuring that person’s managed return—an act of a responsible Government—to this country is perhaps a priority. Is there not a danger that the right hon. Gentleman’s proposal would enable such a person to continue using their passport abroad, because the carrier would have no responsibility to give notification of travel between different countries?
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his intervention, which touches on one reason why we are presenting alternative, parallel models. I am not saying that the provisions in new clause 4 would be appropriate in every circumstance, but I do not believe—if the Home Secretary can convince me otherwise, we will look at that—that provision is in place for a formal managed return, as under our proposals; we simply have the Home Secretary’s proposals for a request to come back or for detention at a foreign port of entry to prevent someone from returning. We are seeking to give her a menu of options, and our approach could be a better way of managing individuals. Judgments will be made by Ministers and the security services as to how this could be managed, but the concerns expressed by David Anderson QC and by Liberty, which I thank for its assistance in helping us to table these provisions, give rise to a potential alternative that could be examined.
How would the right hon. Gentleman get around the Home Secretary’s comments about the security implications of his model—giving out data to carriers that could compromise British national security?
We would be looking to do that in a number of circumstances anyway; data are already given to carriers about individuals. Under the Government’s model, information would also be provided to the carrier that the individual was of interest to the UK Government.
On the face of it, this may not look like a significant point, but it is. There is a very real difference between giving a list of a large number of people to a carrier and saying, “If any of these people travel, please tell us” and looking at the carrier’s information and saying, “This individual shall not be allowed to travel.” The amount of information about individuals that the carrier holds is very different under the Government’s proposal; much more information about individuals would be held by the carriers under the Opposition’s proposal, and that provides less protection for the individuals.
Again, these are matters of genuine debate and interest. The point I make to the Home Secretary is that this is entirely in her gift. Under the model we are proposing, her model is not being deleted from the Bill. It is still there to provide the ability to say to carriers, “If Mr X or Miss X turns up at Schiphol airport, we wish you to take action against them and exercise the powers in the Bill.” I could have turned the television on at any time in the past month and seen the names of individuals that we know have travelled abroad—individuals that are publicly travelling abroad and that relatives have said have travelled abroad. It is quite possible for the Home Secretary not to make these two possibilities mutually exclusive. The issue is simply—[Interruption.] If the Minister for Security and Immigration wants to back up his boss and intervene, I am happy to allow him to do so. The debate is about the practical difficulties of the Home Secretary’s proposals, which are to have people sign to say that they will come back under managed return, to have detention or to stop carriers at ports. Are they the sole way to deal with every case that is brought before the Home Secretary’s notice? We are trying to provide at least one alternative for consideration.
Before I move on, may I say to the Home Secretary: well spotted on our deliberate error? We did put terrorism prevention and investigation measures at the top of one new clause. As she has noticed, we modelled the court procedure on the basis of her own legislation on TPIMs. Taken together, new clauses 9, 10 and 11 and new schedule 1 have the effect of creating a court process through which the Secretary of State would have to go in order to place an individual on a temporary exclusion order under the proposals in the Bill. As has been said in our previous discussions, there is currently no judicial process before a TEO can be awarded.
David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, gave evidence on 26 November to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. According to media reports and the transcript, he was sceptical about the imposition of the proposed temporary exclusion orders against suspected jihadist fighters. He said:
“If the Home Secretary wants to impose a TPIM she has to go to a court first and if the court says she’s got it wrong, it will say so.”
There is a mechanism and judicial oversight for that. The principle is the same in relation to temporary exclusion orders. We must look carefully to see whether the power requires the intervention of the court at any stage or whether it is envisaged as something that the Home Secretary can impose. That is a real debate for this House to have. The Home Secretary has the power to impose an exclusion order on an individual under the Bill if it becomes law. She would also have that power under our proposals in new clause 4. Would it be better for her to have that power and have it judicially overseen by a court procedure, so that we can ensure that we have independent scrutiny of what the Home Secretary does? That is not our suggestion, but the suggestion discussed by Mr Anderson as the terrorism overseer.
The language used in new clauses 9, 10 and 11 and new schedule 1 mirrors precisely—almost too precisely—that used in the Government’s own TPIM legislation. I hope that the Government can accept—if not today, perhaps during the passage of the Bill—that the procedure to go through to award a temporary exclusion order under our clause would be sound, fair and efficient in the same way that TPIMs can be on the same legislative basis.
The rights being removed under the exclusion orders are nowhere near the same as those being removed under TPIMs, so the need for executive dynamism and an ability to move quickly should trump the point that the right hon. Gentleman is making.
It is still a big deal to refuse a British passport holder access to the United Kingdom. It is a very big step to take. I am not saying that it is the wrong step to take, but it is a big step. The powers under current TPIMs and, potentially, under the revised TPIMs, involve restrictions on movement and contact. The Bill as proposed could involve detention in a foreign country, pending return to the United Kingdom under a managed process. Charges may not have been made. A person could be held simply on the basis of evidence that has been gathered by the security services. Although those measures are not the same, an element of judicial oversight is something to which we should aspire. As a fair man, I am tabling these issues so that the Home Secretary can reflect on them because I am aware of the concerns that exist outside and inside this House. Undoubtedly, there will be heavy scrutiny of these sections of the Bill and their implications when the Bill reaches the House of Lords. It is important that we flag them up here to say that we should have in place a mechanism whereby the Home Secretary has to make her case to a relatively small cohort of individuals in order to progress the matter. I do not want to have the Home Secretary tied into a long-winded or unresponsive channel for application. I do not want the Home Secretary to have a slower processing ability that means she cannot enable counter-terrorism activity to take place in a speedy and effective manner.
However, if the Government believe that the TPIM regime is not unduly cumbersome when trying to control terror suspects in this country, there seems little reason why it should not be appropriate for use on individuals in other countries, particularly as the Home Secretary will often know who they are and have a close interest in them. The current stipulation is that the Home Secretary simply has to reasonably consider whether someone is involved in terror-related activity. That is a very low bar, and one that I think should be subject to judicial oversight.
In conclusion, I think that the Government should at least look at the alternative model set out in new clause 4, which has widespread support. I would also genuinely like to hear from the Home Secretary why she feels—she has already indicated as much—that the arrangements for TPIMs are not appropriate for what is still a severe restriction on liberty, which might be the right thing to do, under the proposed TEO notice. I look forward to hearing other Members’ contributions.
It is a pleasure to participate in this debate and to follow the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), who has put forward some alternative proposals, by way of probing amendments, on how this matter might be approached. Having listened to the comments from both sides of the Committee, it seems to me that there is actually a substantial measure of agreement that it is proper for the Government to take action to deal with the question of the managed return of individuals who have gone abroad from this country and whom the Home Secretary reasonably considered might be involved in terrorism.
It is slightly unfortunate that we have become mired in the title of temporary exclusion orders, because it seems to me, having read the Bill, that what we are really talking about is managed returns and how that process is properly to be done. In that context, the approach adopted by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary seems perfectly logical. As I pointed out in my intervention on the right hon. Member for Delyn, one of the problems with his proposals is that as the passport remains with the individual whom the Home Secretary reasonably considers to have committed an offence, that individual could use the passport to travel between third countries at will. If the United Kingdom wishes to act responsibly, particularly as we currently have a system whereby we remove passports from individuals trying to travel abroad in some circumstances, it seems rather odd that we should preserve that mechanism.
On the other hand, there is an issue that I think the Committee has to consider. A point was made earlier about how notification of the removal or revocation of a passport might take place. In some cases it might prove impossible in practice to communicate the revocation to the individual concerned and to indicate that a managed return must take place, because the temporary exclusion order is now in place, through the person contacting the consulate. That raises the prospect of an individual turning up at an airport, having purchased a ticket, only to be turned away at security. I might be wrong about that, in which case it would be useful to know how the Home Office envisages that working in practice. That in itself might not matter at all. If we are dealing with a country that is a trusted partner—my right hon. Friend indicated that there were discussions with France and Turkey—that might not be a problem. The individual’s return might simply be delayed until they have gone to see the British consulate and been interviewed.
However, the proportionality test that has to be applied to these cases means that my right hon. Friend will have to assess whether an individual—notwithstanding the fact that she might reasonably consider them to have been involved in terrorism—might be put at serious risk of having their human rights infringed, for example by being detained or tortured, if revocation of their passport would lead to their being exposed as a person who could be viewed as a terrorist in circumstances in which the Government would feel unable to share that information with the Government of that country because they were concerned about the risks that would be attendant on their arrest.
There is an issue of practice and practicality that needs to be thought through, and I hope that as a result of this debate my right hon. Friend and the Home Office may be in a position to provide reassurance as the Bill goes through the House that they have that subject very much in mind. Having listened to my right hon. Friend talk about proportionality, I am reassured that this is a matter of which she is well aware, as I know from the experience of working with her as a colleague; she knows it can sometimes be an issue. Subject to that, the process that she has adopted, which requires the individual to go to the consulate and get, in essence, a one-way ticket back to this country so that we know when the individual is returning, seems perfectly proper as long as the delay period is not too long, and as long as there is not some subtext intention of causing that individual problems in the country in which they happen to be located—a point that I made earlier.
That brings me to a further point raised by the right hon. Member for Delyn, which is about judicial process. I raised on Second Reading and again subsequently my question why it is so difficult to have a system in which there is not a judicial process to initiate it. I appreciate that there is a difference between a TPIM and the temporary exclusion order proposed—a difference in terms of the restrictions that may be placed on the individual when they return, which are capable of being challenged by judicial review anyway, and because the revocation of a passport is an exercise of the royal prerogative, which is different in nature and quality from a TPIM. It is nevertheless a draconian sanction.
As my right hon. Friend will confirm, removing passports from individuals in this fashion is not a process that has previously been carried out, certainly not in circumstances where the individual when they are abroad does not have the possibility of accessing a different nationality, for example. I continue to wonder whether a judicial process might be valuable. My right hon. Friend may have powerful arguments to make against that, but I have not yet had explained to me in quite the detail I would wish the Government’s reasoning on this point. The point has been made that a temporary exclusion order may have to be issued as an emergency or rather quickly. The current TPIM system allows for a TPIM to be issued without a judge’s sanction—an imprimatur—if necessary, so that could be included in this process.
However, it strikes me—perhaps I am wrong, and I am always prepared to be persuaded that I am wrong—that in this process there is likely to be a slightly more leisurely approach anyway, because the Government will know that an individual is abroad and likely to come back to the United Kingdom, and unless that return is likely to happen very quickly, I would have thought it might normally be possible to apply ex parte to a court for the order to be sanctioned and for some scrutiny to be carried out as to the reasons why it is to take place. If that were to happen, it would also allow for a measure of judicial scrutiny as to whether the issue of the temporary exclusion order might endanger a person’s fundamental rights because it would expose them to risk in their present location.
Those are my thoughts on this matter. I should make it clear that I put them forward in an entirely probing spirit because the principle of what my right hon. Friend is doing seems to me, as I indicated earlier, to be utterly unexceptionable, even though it is an unusual power. However, in the context of the risk and threat that the United Kingdom faces which, as I have said on several occasions, I believe to be a real threat, this is reasonable, necessary and proportionate to a legitimate goal that the Government are trying to achieve. I hope that as the Bill goes through the House we will have an opportunity to examine the proposal, which will enable us to get the right outcome on the provision. If we get the right outcome, history has shown that it will cause my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary far less trouble with court challenges thereafter.
As the Member for Holborn and St Pancras, whose constituency and constituents experienced the bombs on the tube at Russell square and on the bus at Tavistock square, I am second to no one in my desire to prevent terrorism from taking place in this country. It behoves all of us to do whatever we can to protect people in this country from terrorism and not to have terrorists on the loose, whether they are home-grown and have not been abroad, foreigners who come here, or British citizens returning to Britain. Those British citizens have rights and duties. One of their most important rights is the right of abode in this country as a citizen, but they also have a duty not to break our law or, as I understand it, international law.
The British Government also have rights and duties in this regard: a right to enforce the law, a duty to comply with the rule of law, and a duty to protect all our citizens, whoever they may be and wherever they may be. If British citizens abroad are suspected of terrorism by British officialdom—by the British Government and their agencies—then the British Government have a duty to bring them to justice, but in the process of doing so, they cannot stop them being treated as British citizens.
Temporary exclusion orders are in danger of neither protecting people’s fundamental rights nor getting people brought to justice. A person suspected by the security services, and then by the Home Secretary, of being a threat to security is either guilty of it or not guilty, but whichever they are, these things apply. That person is then to be served with an order, or “deemed” to be served with one; I am not quite sure what “deemed” means in these circumstances. If they are served with such an order, one effect will be to tip them off that if they come back to this country they are very likely to be prosecuted for terrorist offences. That may cause them to wish not to come back but to disappear. Allowing a British citizen who is suspected of terrorism to disappear—in fact, in certain circumstances, possibly to be provoked into disappearing—does not seem to be a particularly good idea.
As the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) said, there is then the question of somebody who has been fingered by Britain as a terror suspect subsequently being picked up by the security service of the country in which they are located. This does not quite amount to rendition, because we are not sending them there; it is a sort of stationary rendition whereby people are left in a place where they may be in danger.
Does my right hon. Friend think that this will lead to a whole cadre of virtually stateless people who will congregate together in one place, and that will be a problem for absolutely everybody rather than one state? Surely, as he rightly says, a state has a responsibility towards its own nationals.
I understand my hon. Friend’s point. The whole proposition of exclusion orders seems to be predicated on the idea, first, that these people are totally rational; and secondly, that their greatest desire is to come back to Britain. Neither of those things will necessarily be the case, because some very odd people are going to be involved.
The right hon. Gentleman seems to be in danger of attacking the idea that was originally presented rather than that contained in the Bill, which is much closer to being a process of determining that, if somebody who is thought to be dangerous comes back to this country, we can control, monitor and supervise them. Surely that is a more sensible objective, which the original, apparent objective of making people stateless would not have been.
I agree that the Government have modified their position since the first daft statements were made—things have been made more rational—but I do not think they have come up with the best proposition. The proposal for notification and managed return orders may not be perfect by any means, but it is a better proposition than that suggested by the Government.
The peculiarity of the functions of British consular services when a person is suspected is extraordinary. The consular services will serve people with an order and then, if somebody else nicks them and puts them in prison or starts torturing them, the same consular services will turn around and start looking after their interests. That seems to me to be at the odd end of the functions of a consular service.
If this measure does not succeed, what would my right hon. Friend say in response to the powerful argument made by the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) about the judicial process? Would there not be a very strong case that a court should decide on temporary exclusion orders?
That might be an improvement, but the practicalities of what happens in Turkey or Syria are not changed by a court decision or endorsement here.
What the process does not do—I would have thought that we all want to see this done—is bring people under our jurisdiction, prosecute them and, if they are found guilty, jail them. Surely that should be the main objective of Britain’s policy. The process is likely to get them picked up, but not by us: they will be picked up by somebody who may or may not be one of our allies. I believe, therefore, that the basic Government proposal undermines and interferes with their fundamental rights of abode in this country and it does not achieve what we want, which is to see terrorists brought to justice. The proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) would address both issues, so it would be an improvement.
The human right of a British citizen to abode in this country is not some fancy right dreamt up in Brussels or Strasbourg, and it has not been created by the Human Rights Act 1998. It is a right of citizens to which Gladstone and Disraeli would have subscribed, not to mention Palmerston, who, after all, sent a gunboat to Greece to protect the interests of an exceedingly dodgy Maltese who probably had committed a crime. There is nothing new about this right and we need to be very careful abut doing anything that would undermine it.
I believe that notification and managed return orders do not deny the fundamental rights at all; do not expose people to being picked up by the Turkish authorities and still less by the Syrian authorities; involve the identification of the suspects but do not tip them off that they will be arrested if they come back to this country; which the temporary exclusion orders do; bring the suspects within British jurisdiction; and will result, if those people are guilty, in their being prosecuted and punished, which is what we want. We do not want them roaming around. If they come back here and are guilty of what they are suspected of, they will be picked up when they arrive at the port, the airport or St Pancras station. That is what we want to happen and it will not happen under the exclusion orders.
I had not intended to speak today, but I have been sitting here getting rather more uncomfortable about some aspects of the proposal. I do not propose to go into the complex practical issues, which were well laid out by the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson), who gave thoughtful input, as ever, and by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve). They outlined the issues and complexities very well and I suspect that those complexities will best be addressed by negotiation between those on the two Front Benches, which is not something I often recommend.
What concerns me today is the issue of the Home Secretary herself exercising the power. I am concerned that it comes about without prior judicial approval or, indeed, without being a power of the court, which would be my preference. Over time, I have become progressively concerned about the accretion of fairly absolute power to the state in counter-terrorism policy. Absolute power is pretty important. My hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Julian Smith) suggested that these measures did not impinge on people’s liberties in the same way as TPIMs might, but I am afraid that the impingement is pretty sizeable. I do not necessarily disapprove of it at all, but it should be exercised with a degree of judicial care.
These accretions of power have come about since the late 1980s and the 1990s when we avowed the various security services that had up until then not been recognised in public policy, or that were at least not in the public domain. At the time, it seemed quite reasonable for the Crown prerogative to be used as a method of giving warrants and of enacting the state’s will to protect the public. I took the 1994 Bill on the Secret Intelligence Service through the House. We did not foresee the level of use—the number of warrants used and the level of power being exercised—that is now necessary to deal with the Islamist terrorist threat.
What is more, we did not give much thought to how such power might be abused—not that it is at the moment, but it might be in the future—or how many errors might occur, which does happen. We had at the back of our mind a model of accountability that, frankly, does not work. The Minister for Security and Immigration will be familiar with the number of times on which he and I have had exchanges that amount to my asking him a question and his writing back something like, “I never comment on security matters.” That is not a particularly good form of accountability for any mechanism.
My concern is that along with progressive secrecy, secret courts and all the other things we now have, the weak accountability—
Will my right hon. Friend give way?
If my hon. Friend will permit me, I am coming to the end of my speech.
The level of secrecy, the low level of accountability and the power accruing to the Government, which is enormous when we think about our historic liberties in this country—this is in no way a criticism of the Home Secretary, as I would say the same of any Home Secretary, any Foreign Secretary or any Secretary of State—are why I am attracted by new clause 11. I do not know whether it will be pressed to a vote tonight, or whether it will come back on Report, but I ask the Government closely to consider the TPIM model. It is very sensible and those on the Opposition Front Bench have made a good case for it.
I want to say a few words about the amendments tabled in my name. The tone of the debate has been useful and thoughtful and I have agreed with much of what others on both sides of the House have said. We are all trying to grasp our way towards something that provides robust security while guaranteeing human rights. My worry about the Government’s proposals on temporary exclusion orders is that they get that balance slightly wrong. There is a significant risk that, for many of the reasons that were outlined by the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson), they will, rather perversely, be counter-productive. I therefore think that the alternative system of notification and managed return orders has a lot to commend it, although the comments of the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) caused me to think again about how it would work in practice. There is a lot to explore here.
I come at this issue not just as a representative of a party that has often spoken out about the way in which successive Governments have used the threat of terrorism to justify the undermining of hard-won civil liberties and human rights, but as the MP for a city that was once home to two brothers who have just lost their lives fighting in Syria. Jaffar Deghayes, who was aged 17, and his brother Abdullah, who was aged 18, died in separate incidents earlier this year after leaving the UK in the belief that taking up arms against the murderous Assad regime was the right thing to do. They might have been typical of the kind of young idealists to whom the Bill will apply, had they not been killed, but instead tried to return home.
Their father, Abubaker Deghayes, still lives in Brighton and I would like to share his response to the proposals we are debating:
“The strategy you are using with our sons does not work. You are criminalising them just out of the fear they might become a threat to this country. Do not push them to be radicalised, used by groups like Isis who are out for revenge and thirst for blood.”
His advice bears listening to. Not only does his bitter personal experience give him insight into how we might better respond to the growing number of British citizens leaving home to fight abroad, but his position is, in many ways, backed up by evidence.
If the primary purpose of counter-terrorism policy is to make us safer, which clearly it is, it might well be counter-productive to condemn individuals to being exiled from their families and friends. Evidence from countries such as Sweden and Denmark clearly indicates that families and friends can play an essential role in challenging and ultimately overturning extremists’ beliefs. I know that that is not the subject of what we are discussing, but I look forward to the opportunity to discuss the whole issue of de-radicalisation tomorrow. I will say no more about it now because the Chair, Mr Crausby, would stop me, but this issue is related to the amendments on alternative de-radicalisation programmes that have been tabled for debate tomorrow.
If return is denied to those who, for practical or other reasons, have been unable to apply for the permit that removes the temporary exclusion order, we will run into problems. I was not convinced by the Home Secretary’s response to my saying that people may well not be in a position to access legal advice or may not have sufficient funds to jump through all the hoops that the TEO requires them to jump through, particularly if they are in a failed or failing state. Such people will effectively be denied the right to return.
The Home Secretary’s plans assume that the people in question will know that they are subject to a TEO. That cannot be guaranteed, given that many of those who are targeted will be in countries that are suffering from internal armed conflict. They will not just be sitting behind a letter box—it is much more complicated than that.
If somebody does have the means to apply for a permit to allow them to return, they will have to attend an interview. Failure to do so, either because they are unable to do so or are prevented from doing so, could result in their being refused the right to return.
I am trying to keep up with the hon. Lady. What are the circumstances that will make it impossible for people to apply to the consulate or somewhere else to come back to the UK? She is making a number of assertions that she is not backing up.
I do not think that I am making assertions. I am asking questions about whether it will be possible for people in all circumstances to go through very formal processes at a time when they may well be living in a culture of fear and when, by definition, severe conflict is going on. Such people might already have been fingered as someone who is trying to leave and be at particular risk of attack from others. I am describing a rather more complex situation than someone simply using the postal system, knowing what they have to do next and then marching down to the consulate and doing it. The reality on the ground is likely to be far more complex than the hon. Gentleman suggests.
If someone does complete the process successfully, the Home Secretary will have what is defined as “reasonable time” to let them come home. I am concerned that, as far as I can see, there is no indication of what that time would be. The period of enforced temporary residence in another country could effectively trap British citizens in countries where jihadi groups have a strong presence, such as Sudan, Somalia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq. As the human rights group Liberty states:
“Those who are equivocal are more likely to be pushed towards terrorist factions by the imposition of executive led punishments and enforced periods in close proximity to such groups.”
If the primary purpose of counter-terrorism policy is to make us safer, why would we take steps to alienate individuals by condemning them to exile when some of them—I quite understand that this does not apply to all of them—may simply have made a terrible mistake? They may have been horrified by the bloodshed and barbarism that they have seen and want to find a way to come home.
The hon. Lady has referred a number of times to “exile” for the individuals concerned. We have to be absolutely clear that the provision will not exile an individual or prevent them from having the right to return to the United Kingdom. It will mean that when they return to the United Kingdom, it will be on a managed basis under terms that the Government set.
I thank the Home Secretary, and I accept that she is technically correct, but I am describing a situation in which, because a person has not been able to follow the process that she described, they cannot find a way back and feel as though they were in exile.
If the primary purpose of counter-terrorism policy is to make us safer, it is surely sensible to ensure that individuals who definitely pose a threat are somewhere where it is easier to keep an eye on them, investigate them, arrest them, charge them and prosecute them, should the evidence warrant it. Surely we want suspected terrorists close at hand so that we can take targeted action against them rather than allow them to roam who knows where doing who knows what. As the old adage goes, “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer”. Moreover, if someone is intent on carrying out a terrorist attack on British soil, does the Home Secretary really believe that having to apply for a permit and attend an interview will act as any kind of deterrent or obstacle?
The Government’s scheme does have one element to recommend it, which is the steps taken to ensure that agencies and the police know of an individual’s location should they need to place him or her under surveillance. That comes from the stipulation that someone return on a specific flight to a specific airport. However, I argue that the same outcomes could be secured by placing a simple notification requirement on carriers, as set out in new clauses 4 to 6. Crucially, as the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras described, that approach would not automatically alert a terror suspect to the fact that they had come to the notice of the authorities and that their return was being monitored. I argue that it would instead facilitate a targeted and intelligence-led response, and that the ability to undertake close surveillance of suspects would be maximised, with a view to arrest and prosecution. The option under existing counter-terrorism powers of interviewing a suspect on their arrival back in the UK would also be retained, and there would be further options as appropriate.
I have some concerns about the human rights aspects of the proposals on TEOs, but I also believe that they could end up being counter-productive from a security perspective. They will not provide the robust level of security that people in Britain have a right to expect.
The right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson), the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and now the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) have all argued, from slightly different standpoints, that the ideal situation is to have some sort of judicial process. I do not think anybody could argue against that from a democratic and human rights perspective. In cases in which there is the possibility of a prosecution or other judicial process to bring about the type of outcome that we desire, that is clearly the preferred option.
As I see it, the choice is between the measures in the Bill—temporary exclusion orders with a managed return—or a form of judicial process that might be even worse than that. Perhaps the Home Secretary will correct me if I am wrong, but in almost every case I can envisage that would be affected by this process, the information that will determine the trigger of a temporary exclusion order would be based on intelligence—she is not shaking her head in disagreement, so I will assume assent on that point. If that is the case, any form of judicial process to verify or authorise that process would inevitably involve wholly or partly closed proceedings. It would be impossible to give evidence from intelligence in open court for all the reasons that we have repeatedly debated. Although that is the ideal situation, given the presumption that in most, if not all, of these cases the evidence will be intelligence based, it will be difficult to rely solely on a court proceeding, no matter how it was constructed or held, other than on the basis that it would be either closed, or at very least semi-closed.
The right hon. Gentleman is a thoughtful and long-standing expert in this area, and he is right to say that it will be a Special Immigration Appeals Commission style process. In the past, however, SIAC-style processes with control orders and TPIMs have prevented quite egregious errors—he will remember the case of MI5 presenting the same passport two weeks running against two different suspects, and that being caught and stopped by the SIAC. My concern is not just about the increase in power; it is also the error rate and the fact that someone can be denied serious rights without a proper review. The right hon. Gentleman is right that a SIAC-style process would be necessary. He knows I am not fond of that, but it is better than nothing.
I think I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but none of that changes the fact that, regardless of the quality of the submission to the SIAC court, some intelligence material would be required. Even from a justice point of view that is not an ideal situation, and that is a problem.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that as well as the intelligence issue, the British people want the state to act in a nimble and dynamic way, as long as measures are proportionate, against one of the biggest threats to our security in decades? I suspect he acknowledges that broader point given his role on the Intelligence and Security Committee.
I was coming on to talk about the sorts of cases that we might be confronted with. If my remarks answer the hon. Gentleman’s point, so be it. If not, I am sure he will intervene again.
Temporary exclusion orders and the managed return process, as the Home Secretary described it, is seen as the alternative to a judicial process that for various practical reasons would either be not very just, or at least closed or partly closed. It would therefore be impractical and difficult to judge whether proceedings were fair or otherwise for anyone who was not involved, and even for some of those who were. In principle the provisions in clause 2(1) are probably acceptable, but I have a couple of issues—this goes directly to the point made by the hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Julian Smith)—about how they will work in practice. Perhaps one way of looking at it would be to give examples of the kinds of cases that we are likely to see with people returning from Syria or Iraq. For convenience, I have bracketed them under three headings. They are not mutually exclusive and it is possible that in some cases all three will apply, and in others just one.
The first group identified, supported by research, are those who return traumatised. We have all seen graphic examples of horrific acts that have taken place. Some of those returning traumatised will have witnessed beheadings and other atrocities carried out by those they have fought alongside. They may have had mental issues before they went out to fight with ISIS—or whichever group they were with—but it is certainly possible, because of that trauma, that they will have mental health issues when they come back.
The second category has been well documented by researchers in touch with people in Syria and Iraq: it is those who have gone out for idealistic reasons. They may have understandably opposed the Assad regime, felt there was a humanitarian cause and gone out there to do their bit for democracy and the liberation of the people in that part of the world. There is no doubt that some of them will become disillusioned. They may be quite easy to reintegrate back into society. They have seen the alternative and perhaps will have come to recognise the merits of our democratic system, the rule of law, human rights and so on.
I wonder whether, when the Home Secretary replies, she could make it clear who, in relation to Syria, would be regarded as a terrorist suspect. Would someone who is not a jihadist but has gone out to fight against the Assad regime, sympathising with and supporting the British Government, be regarded as a terrorist? There may even be a few who have gone out to fight for the Assad Government. Would they be regarded as terrorists? It is not at all clear.
I think I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his intervention, although I rather suspect it was aimed more at the Home Secretary than at me. Some fighters out there are involved in ISIS or another group and they went out to fight for a completely different cause from the one they have ended up fighting for. It is literally that complicated.
On the disillusionment front, we will talk about the Prevent strategy tomorrow. I suspect there are some means by which Prevent, or a revised form of Prevent, would be appropriate for those who have come back disillusioned and want to reintegrate back into society.
I am sure nobody will disagree that the most difficult group are those who were radicalised in the UK, adopted a particular kind of Salafist view and went out specifically in pursuit of jihad. They think still that they are out there creating a caliphate, which is the whole meaning behind what ISIS are doing. Some will return not because they have stopped believing in that particular ideology, but because they want to resume their activities in the UK. That is the most difficult group.
To conclude, I would be grateful if the Home Secretary answered a couple of questions. I realise it is difficult in an open forum such as this, but will she indicate what assessment will be carried out of the individuals concerned to determine which of those three categories—it might be all three—they fit into? Will the conditions applied to a managed return relate to that assessment? If she could say a bit more about that, it might give people greater confidence that the process she is proposing is preferable to a judicial process that, because it is based on intelligence, might at worst be completely closed and at best partly closed.
I seek some clarity on clause 9 on pages 5 and 6.
We know of two young men who have left my constituency to fight—we believe—in Syria, and we worked with one of the families, with the assistance of the Government, to enable them to go to Turkey to try and convince the young man to return. When I read his letters to his parents, I found them to be extremely sincere. He thought he was going to Syria to fight against the Assad regime—he called it “jihad”—to protect people being bombarded by the regime and to prevent what he considered to be war crimes. I also found him sincere in his hope that his parents would not be distressed. It was a rather sad leaving letter. At one point, he explained to his parents that there was still a few bob left on his Oyster card for them to use. It was a short, extremely moving letter from a young man in his late teens, early 20s, explaining his intentions. I believe that many young men, and possibly women, have gone out with what they and others would consider to be the best of intentions: to engage in a military action to protect people from the abuse of human rights by a dictatorial regime that, as we now know, was using gas and other weapons against its own people.
I am trying to find a mechanism to encourage people to come back and be reintegrated into our society because I think that a lot of people who went out realise they made a mistake; they might have thought their intentions virtuous in the first instance, but I think many of them would now acknowledge that they made a mistake and it has gone wrong. Clause 9, however, introduces significant offences. It states:
“An individual subject to a temporary exclusion order is guilty of an offence if, without reasonable excuse, the individual returns to the United Kingdom in contravention of the restriction on return specified in the order.”
It would be extremely helpful if the Home Secretary gave us greater clarity, either now or later, about what a reasonable excuse would be. I would not want practicalities—for example, a person not knowing they had an exclusion order against them—to be an issue. Clause 9(4) states:
“In a case where a relevant notice has not actually been given to an individual, the fact that the relevant notice is deemed to have been given to the individual under regulations under section 10 does not…prevent the individual from showing that lack of knowledge of the temporary exclusion order, or of the obligation imposed under section 8, was a reasonable excuse for the purposes of this section.”
We need to be clear about what a reasonable excuse would be in this instance.
Many of these individuals already led chaotic lives, but they are now in a zone of operations that in itself is chaotic, and I think that many will want to return. However, the fact that there is uncertainty about what would be a reasonable excuse for returning—of getting on that plane and coming back—and the risk of up to five years in prison or a summary conviction of up to 12 months could act as a disincentive.
I think we should be easing the path as best we can to as many as possible of those who want to come back to be de-radicalised or rehabilitated. In some instances, unless we are absolutely clear about the nature of these offences and, in particular, about what would be construed as a reasonable excuse for return when the person does not know whether a temporary exclusion order is in place, it could provide a disincentive to carrying out the purpose that the Government, the Opposition and others want to happen—the process of managed return.
I shall speak briefly because I know the Home Secretary is about to reply. Following the speech of the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) about the general direction in which anti-terror law has gone, I want to make two essential points. Ever since I have been a Member, we seem to have had some piece of anti-terror legislation before us every year. I assume that there is a very large department in the Home Office that is writing next year’s anti-terror Bill and the one for the year after that. I am sure there will be an ambition to do that.
The theme that runs through all such legislation is an attempt to give greater and greater executive powers to the Home Secretary, which are usually rowed back by a combination of the courts and parliamentary action; then, a year or two later, we come back to yet another counter-terror Bill in respect of which the Home Secretary, no doubt with the very best of intentions, is nevertheless given a high degree of executive power. It is no part of our duty as elected Members of Parliament to undermine an independent judicial process and hand executive powers to Ministers, on the basis of which they can either detain or exclude people under any process whatever. That is fundamental to what I understand our democracy to be.
Although there is—ultimately, I suppose—some degree of judicial oversight when an excluded person finally comes back to this country, I would have thought that the points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) are surely true and important. If someone goes abroad, albeit on the basis of perhaps misguided notions about what they can do when they reach the zone of conflict to which they have gone, they will be there and will subsequently be prevented from returning. That might render them at risk of imprisonment by another judiciary, which might have much less concern for human rights than anyone here, and they could then be tortured and all kinds of terrible things could happen to them. Would the possession of British nationality on the part of someone affected in that way require the British Government to intervene on their behalf to stop them being tortured, given that the Government opposed their return to Britain in the first place? This whole process is full of many complications and contradictions, which I hope have been adequately thought through by the Home Secretary in introducing this legislation.
Secondly, I want to note the points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth). We are involved in a process of making subjective judgments about who goes where to fight for what, and for whom. My right hon. Friend made the point that if somebody goes to fight for ISIS in Syria—I wish they would not; I have no truck whatever with ISIS—they will be deemed to be a terrorist and a dangerous person. If they go to fight for the Syrian Government, I presume the same point applies, but if they fight for the free Syrian army, which is supported by the Americans and the British, and they do things as despicable as they would in any other force, are they then deemed to be all right? Do they then have to prove which particular force they joined in Syria’s three-way civil war?
There is a further complication. If someone enters Syria from Turkey to fight with the Kurdish forces, having been taken there by the PKK, which is a listed terrorist organisation in Turkey, they would nevertheless be on the side of the Kurdish forces against the forces of the Syrian Government and against ISIS. There are an awful lot of contradictions surrounding how we decide who is a good fighter and who is a terrorist; who is struggling for liberation and who is a terrorist. There was a time when people involved in Umkhonto we Sizwe in South Africa were known as terrorists; they were later welcomed to this country as freedom fighters. Things can turn full circle.
None of what I am saying is intended to give any succour, comfort or support to ISIS, but I feel that we should think about this rather more carefully and avoid the knee-jerk reaction of saying, “These are bad fighters and those are good fighters, so we will ban these and allow those in.”
My hon. Friend has already answered the question that I was going to ask, but I will make my point anyway. I am sure he agrees that there is no comparison between the barbaric acts that are being committed by members of ISIS and what was done by the freedom fighters in South Africa.
Of course that is true. I have no truck with those who commit those barbaric acts, and nor does any other Member.
Our job is to scrutinise legislation, and that is exactly what we are doing tonight. We can vote to change some of the amendments tonight, or we can return to the issues on Report. However, I hope the Home Secretary understands that a great many of us are deeply concerned about the principle of dealing with British nationals in this way, as we would be in relation to any other country. We are concerned about the long-term consequences: about what such treatment does to those people, and about the increased radicalisation of others. My hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) talked about that.
I have encountered young people who have been attracted to what ISIS is doing. They say that what the west did in Iraq and Afghanistan was appalling, and was questionably legal in the case of Afghanistan and definitely illegal in the case of Iraq. We are living with the consequences of the war on terror of 2001, and if we continue to try to create legal obstacles and make value judgments about people without considering the overall policy we are following, we will return to legislation such as this again and again, year after year.
That is a humbling thing. It is, however, a lamentable fact that my constituent Omar Hussain appeared on the BBC to express considerable support for ISIS. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that such people need to be subject to special measures when they return to the United Kingdom?
I have no support for ISIS whatsoever, and obviously that should apply to someone who has committed crimes, but we should bear in mind that expressing a political point of view is not in itself an offence. The commission of a criminal act is clearly a different matter, but expressing a point of view, even an unpalatable one, is sometimes quite important in a democracy. We should be slightly cautious about announcing that we will start to deal with people on the basis of a general view that they have expressed. We should think seriously about where our foreign policy has brought us, and what our legislative position now is.
I am very much inclined to agree with what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but the problem is that this particular individual expressed support for beheadings with a knife. I feel that the practical realities mean that we must take special measures in the case of such people.
I would want that person to have some kind of treatment, or I would want measures of some kind to be taken, but expressing support for something and doing it are two rather different things.
There are very unpleasant parallels in the British colonial past. I sat through the hearings in the High Court when the Mau Mau people were seeking compensation. The way in which they had been treated by the British Army in Kenya in 1955 was disgusting and disgraceful beyond belief. We are now going through a horrible, vile period in Syria. We must understand where we have come from and how we will get through this period without denying our own civil liberties and encouraging more people to join in this whole ghastly process.
This has been a constructive and well-informed debate. Some Members have raised practical questions and others have raised questions of principle, but it was the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) who brought home to us why we must look at the issue of our terrorism legislation when he explained that his own constituency had been affected by not the theory but the actuality of terrorism, and that people had lost their lives as a result. So this is not an academic discussion; we are talking about a real threat to this country, and we need to do everything we can to combat that.
The hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) talked about the balance between civil liberties and national security. I have always taken the view that without our security we cannot enjoy our civil liberties, but I would simply point out that this Government reviewed counter-terrorism legislation when we came in and took a number of steps such as reducing the period of pre-charge detention from 28 to 14 days, so we have been very conscious throughout of the need always to be aware of the freedoms we hold dear and the desire to ensure we can maintain them.
I am grateful for the constructive tone adopted by most of those who spoke in the debate. There will of course be discussion of the details and consideration of how best to achieve our desired objective, but many of those who spoke recognised the legitimate aim of what the Government are doing. It is perfectly legitimate to try to ensure we can manage the return to this country of those who may pose a threat to the people of the UK.
The right hon. Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) talked about the complexity of the situation we are dealing with, particularly in relation to Syria and Iraq. People going out there, sometimes with the best of intentions, may find themselves being radicalised. People may go out to fight or work with one particular group but get caught up in fighting with other, more extreme terrorist organisations. So it is a very complex picture; I understand that.
The right hon. Gentleman raised the question of whether people would be looked at in categories, and described a number of categories. As I have said, individuals will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Whether they meet the criteria set out in the Bill will be considered, and that will include looking at them in much the way he described, and putting in place the appropriate measures in relation to particular individuals. Of course, such considerations will be made in consultation with operational partners, notably the security services and the police, but that this will be done on a case-by-case basis is a very important element that people should remember.
My point in illustrating those categories is that the hope is that the conditions attached to the return would point individuals in the direction of prevention or some form of surveillance, as the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) accepted might be necessary. I was interested in those two things coming together.
I understand the point the right hon. Gentleman was making, and the intention is indeed that that will be done on a case-by-case basis—both the question whether there should be a TEO, and how that individual would be managed on their return to the United Kingdom. For some, it would be appropriate to look at further action when they return to the UK—for example, it could be right to put someone on a TPIM—or it might be appropriate for them to be put in the direction of some form of programme that helps to de-radicalise them. The right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras raised the issue of potential prosecution, too, and it may be that there is evidence and it is appropriate to prosecute somebody when they return. So we are talking about this being done on a case-by-case basis. I know that is a well-used phrase, but that is genuinely intended to operate in this instance.
I hope that answers the point the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) made in referring to her two constituents who had died in Syria. Of course we think of the father she quoted, who has seen his sons die in those circumstances. Again, I assure her that we would decide whether to impose a TEO on a case-by-case basis. As I have said, people will go out to Syria for a whole variety of reasons, some of them believing they are going for humanitarian purposes.
The Government have given a clear message to everyone: if you are thinking of going out to Syria for humanitarian purposes, don’t go. There are better ways of helping the people of Syria than going out there and potentially getting caught up in the fighting and losing your life.
I welcome the constructive approach adopted by the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), who led for the official Opposition, and by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve). I want to respond to some of the points that they and others have raised. A number of Members spoke as though the Opposition’s notification and managed return proposals were an alternative to the Government’s proposals, but I think the right hon. Member for Delyn made it clear that they were in addition to our proposals. The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) asked what would constitute a reasonable excuse. In fact, that would ultimately be for the courts to decide. A reasonable excuse could involve circumstances in which an individual had inadvertently breached the terms of their permit to return to the UK for practical reasons—for example, when their plane had been diverted.
If a person who had been made the subject of an order that had been deemed to have been served came to this country without knowing that it had been served, would they have committed an offence?
I was about to come on to the issue of serving the order. It is set out in the Bill that the fact that someone does not know that an order has been served is not necessarily a sufficient excuse, but that is a matter that would be tested in the courts. They would be looking at the action that was to be taken in relation to a breach, and it would be for them to determine what a reasonable excuse would be. An order would be served in person whenever possible, but when that was not possible, we would seek to ensure that an individual was made aware of the order through other mechanisms. We might, for example, seek to serve it at the individual’s last known address or serve the order to file. As I said earlier, similar systems work effectively in other contexts, such as informing foreign nationals about decisions on their immigration status.
This reminds me of one of my constituents. He went to Somalia and then went to Djibouti, where he was arrested and handed over to the Americans. When he said he was a British citizen, he was told, “No, you’re not. The Home Secretary has taken your citizenship away.” He was unaware of that fact, but I gather that the order was deemed to have been served on him in Somalia because it had been sent to his mother’s address in Islington.
As I have said, when it is impossible to serve an order on an individual in person, it is standard practice to make every attempt to serve it in a way that ensures the information gets to them. Using their last known address is one way in which such decisions are served.
Can we be clear on this point? Clause 9(4) states that when a relevant notice
“has not actually been given to an individual, the fact that the relevant notice is deemed to have been given to the individual…does not…prevent the individual from showing that lack of knowledge of the temporary exclusion order…was a reasonable excuse”.
To be frank, that will not be strong enough in many cases.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but as I have just said to the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras, the point is that what is a reasonable excuse will be tested in the courts. I did not quote the exact words but I cited the spirit of the point in clause 9(4). As I say, that matter would be tested by the courts and it would be for them to determine whether or not what the hon. Gentleman describes constituted a reasonable excuse.
Let me deal with two specific points about the Opposition proposals, the first of which relates to the process of information going to carriers for the notification and managed return order. The proposal works only because the full name and birth details of individuals are disclosed to all carriers. The existence of that list and any failure by any carrier to protect that data could expose a number of individuals to mistreatment, and we must not forget that some countries’ national airlines are state owned and operated. This goes to the point I made when I intervened on the right hon. Member for Delyn: there is a real difference between saying that the Government hold all the information, obtain it from the carriers through advance passenger information about individuals, carry out the matching, determine whether there is an individual for whom authority to carry should not be given and then give that information on that individual to the carrier, and the Opposition’s proposal, whereby information on a large number of individuals should be given to all carriers on the off chance that one of those individuals will attempt to travel with one of those carriers.
That difference is important, and as I indicated in earlier remarks, what we have found in dealing with carriers is that they feel, as the Government do, that the responsibility for getting that matching process right in determining whether authority to carry should be given for an individual should rest with the Government. On requiring that notification from the carriers, the information as to who is being carried is already provided by carriers when they submit advance passenger information to the Government’s border system. But, as I say, it is then for the Government to determine whether one of those individuals is somebody against whom action should be taken through not providing the authority to carry.
As part of the TEO, the individual’s passport will have been cancelled, which makes it much more difficult for them to travel through other countries. That point was made by a number of Members, including my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield. He, like a number of other hon. Members, mentioned the other issue I wish to deal with: whether or not the decision to impose a TEO should be for the courts or for the Secretary of State. Comparisons were made with TPIMs, where we have that judicial process in place, but even in that process the initial decision is taken by the Secretary of State. Arguments have been made in the past that the decision should be given over entirely to the courts, but I have been clear that it is important that such decisions, where we are imposing restrictions on an individual, are being taken by someone who is democratically elected and therefore accountable to the electorate—to the people—for them.
As for whether or not there should then be a separate automatic court process in relation to the imposition of a TEO, this is about the operation of a royal prerogative in terms of the cancellation of a passport, and that operation currently does not have that judicial process inserted within it—the decision is taken by the Secretary of State. That is the first point to make. The second point is that the TPIMs have far more restrictions that can be imposed on an individual than would be imposed simply by the TEO. A number of hon. Members referred to the TEO in terms of taking away the right of abode for somebody in the UK, and I intervened on the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion in respect of her use of the term “exile”. This is not about saying to somebody that they are for ever exiled from the United Kingdom and cannot return. This is about not stopping somebody’s right of abode in the United Kingdom, but saying to an individual about whom there is concern that they have been involved in terrorism-related activity outside the UK that when they return they will do so on the basis of a process that the Government have put in place such that their return can be managed.
What makes some of us uneasy about temporary exclusion orders—I was certainly uneasy about them from the very beginning—is that excessive powers are being given without the individual having legal redress. I hope that one does not have to say that one is against terrorism and loathes every form of criminality, when we see what is happening with terrorism and what is happening in Australia. That does not alter the fact that these powers should be subject to some form of legal redress, and it is unfortunate that they will not be.
They are subject to a form of legal redress; it is called judicial review. The debate has not been about whether there is some form of legal redress available to individuals but about whether there should be an automatic court process after a decision has been made by the Secretary of State.
The hon. Gentleman is welcome to intervene again.
The judicial process comes afterwards, and it can be very complex for the individual concerned. What I am saying is that if the Secretary of State is going to take powers such as temporary exclusion orders, those powers should be subject to a court order, and the arguments should be put in court. There may be some obvious restrictions for reasons that have been stated, but at least they are all part of living under the rule of law.
I remind the hon. Gentleman that the power to remove a passport from an individual—the royal prerogative power—is not subject to an automatic court process. This is more akin to that royal prerogative exercise in the removal of a passport than it is to the imposition of the sort of measures that can be within the terrorism prevention and investigation measures.
Let us be clear: a judicial review is not an appeal; it is an examination of process. It is no more and no less than that. To call it a judicial oversight is really not correct.
The point is that there is a process in which the courts consider whether the decision by the Secretary of State to exercise the temporary exclusion order was reasonable. Let me come back to the point made by the hon. Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick). If we look at the difference between a royal prerogative power and the terrorism prevention and investigation measures, the restriction on an individual that can be imposed through a TPIM is far greater than that imposed through the exercise of the royal prerogative power. This power of the temporary exclusion order is more akin to the royal prerogative power, which is why I believe that the proposals in the Bill are appropriate for the sort of measure that we are putting in place.
As the Bill goes through its various stages in this House and the other place, there will be further discussion on the issues that have been raised by hon. Members today. What we are proposing is a new power, but it is both necessary and proportionate. As I have said before, it will not render anyone stateless. It will ensure that those who have been fighting abroad and who want to come back to the United Kingdom do so in a managed way and on our terms, and it is compliant with all our domestic and international legal obligations. I invite all those who have tabled amendments to withdraw them, and the Committee to agree that clauses 2 to 11 should stand part of the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 2 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 3 to 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
To report progress and ask leave to sit again.—(Mel Stride.)
The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again tomorrow.