[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 counter-terrorism 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; and 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.]
[3rd Allocated Day]
Further considered in Committee
[Mr Mike Weir in the Chair]
General duty on specified authorities
I beg to move amendment 30, page 13, line 34, at end insert
“and must also develop capacity to combat and reject the messages of extremism”.
This amendment introduces a requirement to support work combating the ideology of extremism as part of preventing people being drawn into terrorism.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Clause 21 stand part.
That Schedule 3 be the Third schedule to the Bill.
Clauses 22 and 23 stand part.
Amendment 19, in clause 24, page 15, line 6, leave out “may” and insert “must”
Changes it from optional to compulsory for the Secretary of State to issue guidance to accompany the statutory obligation provided for under Clause 21.
Amendment 31, page 15, line 7, at end insert—
‘(1A) Any such guidance should include a requirement to develop capacity to combat and reject the messages of extremism”
This amendment introduces a requirement to support work combating the ideology of extremism as part of preventing people being drawn into terrorism.
Amendment 20, page 15, line 21, leave out subsection (5) and insert—
‘(5) Before giving guidance under this section, or revising guidance already given, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament—
(a) the proposed guidance or proposed revisions, and
(b) a draft of an order providing for the guidance, or revisions to the guidance, to come into force.
(6) The Secretary of State must make the order, and issue the guidance or (as the case may be) make the revisions to the guidance, if the draft of the order is approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
(7) Guidance, or revisions to guidance, come into force in accordance with an order under this section.
(8) Such an order—
(a) is to be a statutory instrument, and
(b) may contain transitional, transitory or saving provision.”
This would ensure that statutory guidance produced under Clause 24 was subject to an affirmative resolution of each House.
Clauses 24 to 28 stand part.
Amendment 21, in clause 29, page 17, line 29, leave out subsection (7) and insert—
‘(7) To support panels exercising their functions under this section the Secretary of State must—
(a) provide guidance on the exercise of those functions;
(b) provide a list of approved providers for de-radicalisation programmes that may be referred to under subsection (4);
(c) ensure that the providers listed under paragraph (b) are subject to monitoring.”
This would give a greater role to the Secretary of State in supporting the role of local support panels. The Secretary would have to provide guidance (rather than it being optional) and she would also have to provide a list of approved providers for de-radicalisation programmes and ensure they would be subject to monitoring.
Amendment 22, page 17, line 41, at end insert—
“(c) the responsible local healthcare commissioning group; and
(d) local representative of the National Offender Management Service.”
This would include local health bodies and the probation service on the assessment and support panels.
Clauses 29 and 30 stand part.
That Schedule 4 be the Fourth schedule to the Bill.
Clauses 31 to 33 stand part.
New clause 12—Review of international best practice around deradicalisation—
‘(1) The Secretary of State Shall, within three months of this Act coming into force, lay before both Houses of Parliament a review into international best practice around deradicalisation.
(2) The review under subsection (1) shall include in particular—
(a) examination of best practice in—
(iv) other countries as determined by the Secretary of State.
(b) the role of community-based organisations in developing and delivering strategies to prevent radicalisation and to deradicalise individuals.
(c) evidence-based recommendations for the rapid implementation of a comprehensive deradicalisation programme in the UK.
Before embarking on my remarks on the amendments, I want to say a few words about the appalling events that have taken place in the past 24 hours that illustrate the importance of the work we are doing this week in Committee. I am sure the Committee will join me in sending our deepest sympathies and thoughts to the families of Katrina Dawson, the young barrister, and Tori Johnson, the café manager, who were killed during the 17-hour siege in the Lindt café in Sydney. Those were horrendous events and the whole community in Sydney is shocked. Our thoughts are with them and their families.
Also in the past 24 hours, we have seen a terrible attack on a school in Pakistan. I understand that at this moment the figures are hard to determine, but about 128 people have been killed, the vast majority children under the age of 16. As far as we know, six gunmen broke into the school compound, entered every single classroom and killed the children. Locals heard the screams of students and teachers. This has been described as a national tragedy and utter barbarism. I am sure the Committee endorses those sentiments. The work we are doing this week sometimes does not necessarily attract as many Members to the Chamber as other topics, but it is of the utmost importance to national security.
Amendments 30 and 31, tabled in my name and that of the hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis), seek to address what we consider to be a really important gap in the proposed legislation. We welcome part 5 of the Bill as a whole, and we had a good debate on it on Second Reading. The Government’s proposals to put the Prevent strategy and the Channel programme on a statutory footing are absolutely welcome.
Will the right hon. Lady join me in saying how disappointed she is that part 5, which is a critical part of the Bill, does not extend to Northern Ireland? Young people in Northern Ireland are not immune to being radicalised and entreated to join terrorist organisations.
The hon. Lady has deep, if not unique, experience of the practicalities of these issues in her community in relation to Northern Ireland terrorism, which we have faced for many decades in this country and in Ireland as a whole. She makes a powerful point. I am sure that the provisions aimed at preventing young people in particular from being drawn into terrorism would have the same applicability in Ireland as they do in our country. In fact, I am sure there are many lessons we can learn from the dreadful experiences in Ireland that could inform our policy and practice in England, Scotland and Wales. I hope she will return to that in her remarks later on.
I welcome part 5 of the Bill and putting the Prevent and Channel programmes on a statutory footing. I hope that that will succeed in achieving more consistency, better practice and the sharing of projects. At the outset, I say to the Minister that I was very grateful for the recent briefing given to members of the Intelligence and Security Committee on the operation of some of these programmes. I think I saw a step change in intensity, breadth and depth in some of the programmes being implemented. I give the Government credit for doing that. As ever, I will say to him, “Good try and good effort, but there is much, much more we can do,” but I was pleased to have that information.
Amendments 30 and 31 are small, if not quite perfectly formed, but I hope that they will enable us to have a good debate on one of the most important things we ought to be doing to stop people being drawn into terrorism: challenging and combating the ideology that is the foundation of many of the problems we find here and across the world in the global jihad movement and in extreme political Islamism. I hope the amendments will be a catalyst for debate and I am very interested in what the Minister has to say.
Amendment 30 relates to clause 21(1), which puts a general duty on local authorities and other agencies to have regard to work done to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism when they are exercising their functions. The amendment specifically requires that when those duties are being carried out, they must also develop capacity to combat and reject the messages of extremism. Amendment 31 relates to clause 24, which provides that the Government should produce guidance on how those duties in clause 21 are to be carried out. I am very disappointed that the guidance has not yet been published. The Government’s explanatory notes to the Bill state that the guidance will be published in tandem with the Bill. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to have the fullest possible debate that I want us to have, without having some guidance in front of us. A key question for the Minister is when the guidance will be available. Will it be available before Report at the very least, so that we can have a full and proper debate when the Bill returns to the House? Amendment 31 states that the guidance should include provision on developing capacity to combat ideology.
The purpose of the amendments is to fill a gap in the Bill. My biggest concern is that part 5 of the Bill is couched in terms of addressing the vulnerability of individuals being drawn into terrorism. Clause 28 refers time and again to working with individuals who are already at risk of being drawn into terrorism. There are two things to say about that: it is a narrow interpretation that deals with individuals, but it also deals with individuals when they are already on the path to radicalisation. I believe there is a real gap in the Bill. As well as work with individuals, work ought to be undertaken on a broader basis with families and communities to build resilience so that people are able to withstand and reject the messages of extremism in the first place.
I thank my right hon. Friend for all the amazingly important work she does on this issue. She is making a very powerful argument. Do we not also need to reassure families that the purpose of participation in those engagement activities is not punishment but rehabilitation? We have had far too many examples of families ringing up and reporting young people at the centre of this only for those young people then to be broken away from their families. It is important to keep the family unit close together when dealing with these issues.
My right hon. Friend makes an important point. He is correct to say that much of this work needs to be done with families in a supportive environment. People who are already involved in terrorism are another matter. Unfortunate though this may be for some of the families affected, there will often be a case for prosecution when people cross the line and engage in criminal activity. Before that point, however, if we can find at the earliest possible stage people who are just beginning to be groomed—this is about grooming, which is relevant to other contexts as well—and who are about to take that path, and if we can support them and get good families and the rest of the community around them to give them resilience, we will have a much better chance of keeping them out of trouble than if we let them go down that path. It is much harder to bring people back than to stop them getting on that conveyor belt in the first place. That is why this work is so important.
I agree entirely with the right hon. Lady that we have to start the process as early as possible, but the real problem in my city, which has been suffering quite badly from extremism—we have already lost four young men and there are others still out there—is how to give confidence to families in the community that, first, they will be taken seriously, and secondly, as the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) has said, that, somehow, their children will not be punished. How do we get to the families? I have yet to hear a decent argument that will give confidence to families.
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. The work is difficult and complex. It is not easy. During my contribution I shall give a couple of examples that I hope will reassure him that we have made more progress over the past couple of years than in the past on exactly the area he mentioned.
I want to cover several aspects. Why is this work important? Who is best placed to do it? That is a key issue. I also want to address the importance of having an online presence these days, because so much is done through social media. I also want to address the role of religious leaders and scholars. That is a controversial area, but it is absolutely essential to work with them. I shall also give some practical examples.
Why is the work important? Young people are being drawn into situations and scenarios that are absolutely horrendous for them and their families.
The right hon. Lady is a good friend of mine and one thing that has not been mentioned so far is friends. Does she agree that the peer group is probably as important—and sometimes more important—in influencing young people? I speak as the father of four teenagers.
The hon. Gentleman, whom I count as a friend in the House, makes an extremely important and valid point. Interesting research has been done lately on the contrast between exposure to radicalisation online and peer groups. It is very interesting that we concentrate on having a presence on online social media, but evidence is emerging that peer group influence is just as important—possibly more important—than online messaging.
This work is very important, particularly for young people who are even more vulnerable. Quite a lot of research has been done on people with mental health problems and how vulnerable they are at certain points in their lives. We had a good discussion about that on Second Reading. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) asked about the tipping point and what we really know about the issue. The work is also important because it counters the justification for terrorism and the powerful narrative about grievance and victimhood, which underpins all the work done by our Contest counter-terrorism strategy.
In the past such work was seen as something of an add-on to the Contest strategy: the important thing to do was to pursue the terrorists, disrupt plots, prosecute and convict. All that is absolutely essential, but because the Prevent strand of our work is about emotional vulnerability, mental health problems and families, friends and peer groups, it is much more difficult to have a direct and targeted strategy. It was therefore almost seen as a second-order issue. I am absolutely delighted that Prevent has now been put centre stage not only because the Bill puts it on a statutory footing, but because of the contributions of many Members. Of the 500 young people who have gone to Syria, 250 have come back, some of whom will be radicalised and pose a threat to this country. There is now an increased focus on that aspect, and I am absolutely delighted about that.
I ask the Minister whether that increased focus will be reflected in the money to be allocated to the Prevent programme. I would be very interested to know how much of the £130 million that the Prime Minister promised will actually be allocated to Prevent and Channel work.
I am sincerely grateful to the right hon. Lady for allowing me to intervene on her once more. Church leaders are another very important and influential group. I speak from the horrible experience in Northern Ireland. My late husband was the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary during the worst of the troubles—indeed, he was the longest-serving Chief Constable—and the late, wonderful Cardinal Cahal Daly, the leader of the Catholic Church, condemned, without hesitation, IRA violence and beseeched young people not to get involved with the IRA. The involvement and contribution of religious leaders is hugely important.
The hon. Lady makes another point illustrating the depth of her personal experience of the issues under discussion. The leaders of our faith groups play an essential role. Increasingly, Muslim leaders are condemning many of the atrocities, even so far as to issue fatwas and to say that they are un-Islamic activities. There is, however, further to go, because it is one thing to condemn something, but the big challenge is to build an alternative narrative that says it is not justified by religion or Islam, and that the way in which quotes from the Koran are twisted and perverted to justify violence is absolutely wrong. Government cannot play that role, and nor should they: it ought to be the role of respected scholars and religious leaders in the community. That work is essential, because the violence is justified by reference to a perverted view of a religion, which is a betrayal of mainstream, moderate Muslims.
Is the right hon. Lady aware of the distrust and suspicion in some communities of what might happen? After the Bradford riots, many parents escorted their children to the police thinking they would get told off, but they ended up with long, extended prison sentences for actions that, at the beginning of the day, were simply not in the minds of those young people. There is a danger that people will be reluctant to come forward because of the way in which they will be dealt with by the police.
I am very much aware of the difficulties faced by people in such circumstances. It can be a dilemma for families and friends to take those steps, but what I will go on to say might reassure the hon. Gentleman to some extent.
Sara Khan is the director and co-founder of We Will Inspire, which might be an unfortunate name, given what has been said so far in the debate. The group works with Muslim women and empowers them. Sara Khan says:
“When I was growing up I was exposed to a moderate British Islam which talked about integration, active citizenship, love for one’s neighbours and it was this theological grounding that played a significant role in making many young Muslims that I knew resilient to the extremist narrative.”
She goes on to talk about a project she did:
“Earlier this year, Inspire completed a 6 week challenging extremism programme in Leeds to help educate women about the extremist threat and taught them key theological counter-narratives to extremist ideology. Many of the participants lived doors away from the homes of the 7/7 bombers and participants time and again stated ‘if I knew this information ten years ago when my children were teenagers, I would have taught them about the issues raised in this course. This is the first time I’ve been educated on such a crucial and important topic.’ These women expressed feelings of disappointment in religious and civic Muslim leaders in not providing their children with a contextualised understanding of Islam and their inability in directly challenging extremist ideas so easily available on the internet.”
When such work is done, therefore, and people feel confident in being able to rebut those arguments, it is absolutely possible to provide that kind of community assurance.
I agree entirely with the right hon. Lady about the role of women in the community. I have talked to women in communities in Portsmouth, some of whom have lost their sons. They wished they had had more information and had been aware of what was going on. The trouble was that those young people had been radicalised outside the home and, in most cases, outside their working environment. Most of those young men were in further education and that was where they had been radicalised, which led them to go to Syria and, ultimately, to lose their lives.
The hon. Gentleman is right. He will see that in schedule 3 to the Bill there is a list of educational organisations that will be subject to the general duty in clause 21. I am pleased about that, and hope that the Minister will give us the assurance that, as well as formal education institutions, madrassahs will also be covered by this kind of work. Sometimes informal educational settings do not have standards that are as robust as we would all like.
Sara Khan has also given a good example of where community resilience building has worked really well, in Bristol. Five or six years ago, when local people were worried about young people being drawn into extremism, they set up an organisation called Naseehah, which trained 25 local people to recognise radicalised people, and then support and deradicalise them using Islamic theology. A potential suicide bomber who wanted to blow up Bristol town centre was sent to prison, where he was deradicalised. He then sent a message of endorsement to the community organisation, saying how important it was to challenge extremist ideologies.
That is one of the best illustrations I have seen of preventing extremism. It is about building resilience in communities, directly challenging the ideology, supporting vulnerable individuals and then referring them on to a channel project for an early intervention. If all the parts of the circle work together, we have a really powerful mechanism. At the moment, the Minister has a general duty on Prevent and his Channel provisions, which deal with individuals. I honestly think there is a gap on challenging ideology and building the resilience of communities so that they can take that work forward.
When I have raised that matter previously in the context of the Bill, people have said that that is implicit in clause 21—if there is a duty to prevent people being drawn into terrorism we will have to challenge the ideology. If it is implicit, what is wrong with making it explicit? The Prime Minister has said time and again—in his Munich speech, for example, and in his speech in Canberra—that this is a long-term generational struggle. It therefore ought to be explicit within the legislation. [Interruption.] The Minister talks about the Prevent review, but that was in 2011. I hope to persuade him today that it is a tiny step to say that work under clause 21 will include combating ideology.
I will move on now to online messaging. We have discussed previously some of the excellent work done by Erin Saltman of Quilliam, who has pointed out that, yes, it is important to take pernicious material off the internet so that people cannot access it, but that is not enough. People will find other ways to put that information back up, perhaps via another website, as there is still the technology. Therefore, what Quilliam has classed as counter-speech is very important. The hon. Member for New Forest East has talked a lot about that issue and has a lot of in-depth knowledge on it.
Quilliam has been good at saying what that counter-speech should look like. We need three things: a good message, credible messengers and a means of getting the message across. Quilliam has made the distinction that that should be done through a partnership between civil society, the Government and local government, and has pointed out that civil society organisations are often the best placed to deliver that message. It is not always the case that the Government have to do everything; they can facilitate, help, encourage and provide financial assistance, but the people out there in civil society organisations are crucial to efforts on this matter. Quilliam has made the point that many extremist groups are themselves peripheral civil society groups, so what better way to challenge them than robust civil society groups with really good values that want to do the right thing?
That point brings me on to the role of scholars and of theology. We have already had a good discussion on that. Ed Husain, who is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has written a very good article, called “Until We Understand ISIS, We Cannot Hope to Defeat It”. He talks at great length, in a much more expert fashion than I can, about the way in which religious ideology drives ISIS. He talks about the Salafis and their adherence to a violent creed around Islam:
“To the violent Salafi, tawheed is political as well as credal. To rule by democracy is to violate God’s sovereignty. Man-made law is the ultimate violation of pure tawheed”—
that is, under the ISIS version—
“and, to oppose this corruption of monotheism, extreme Salafis will walk the path of jihad. Their jihad is not to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or a secular government; it is to create ‘God’s government’ or a caliphate that holds up God’s law by applying their form of sharia.”
That is an interesting analysis of why people hold so dearly to that kind of ideology. Fortunately, only 3% of Muslims hold to that creed, but it can be influential in the wider sphere. When something is explained by reference to religion—the things that people hold really deeply and have a real adherence to—that can be very powerful indeed.
Ed Husain goes on:
“Isis offers a caliphate and death. Our message needs to be of life, an Islam of the Muslim majority supported by 1,400 years of history.”
So he has an optimistic message as well as a dire warning. Many of us in this House will never have that depth of knowledge and expertise; if we are not of the faith and have not been brought up with it, we will have some knowledge, but being able to work with people who have that depth of understanding will be really important for us. Will the Minister make absolutely sure that when we are doing Prevent work and building resilience, we draw on all the skills and talents of people who increasingly are doing a lot of academic research on this area and have a lot of in-depth knowledge?
In other places around the world, people are engaged in exactly the same work as we are. In Singapore, a religious rehabilitation group has set up a counselling centre and reference centre for religious teachers, researchers and the community. The Australian Government have just produced their first strategy on countering violent extremism. That strategy discusses building
“community cohesion and resilience to violent extremism”
and the need to work with communities,
“both through their own activities and in collaboration with government”
to do this kind of work. If building community resilience can be in the Australian strategy on countering extremism, I am sure we ought to be doing precisely the same in our legislation.
This is an emerging area of study. As we said on Second Reading, no one has all the answers. It is a complex and developing area, and we are learning a great deal as we go along. I was heartened to see Bradford’s action plan for the Prevent programme for the next two years, “Working Together to Challenge Extremism”, which is very practical. I was pleased to see that it says:
“Our approach is centred on challenging the ideology which leads individuals to extremist views and actions. Prevent will work with young people offering them forums to express themselves. Through education and dialogue we will provide access to a wide range of knowledge and opinions enabling groups to further develop ‘critical thinking’ skills and to make informed choices.”
That is a really good encapsulation of what the duty in clause 21(1) should be doing. If in their action plan Bradford Prevent workers can talk about combating ideology, I am again at a loss to see why we cannot incorporate amendments 30 and 31, on combating ideology, into the Bill. That is a really important message that we should be sending out to people in everything we do.
I will not pre-empt my speech by seeking to respond to all the points made so far, but I thank the right hon. Lady for the manner in which she is approaching the debate. Let me assure her that the fundamental aspect of challenging ideology is at the core of Prevent and the intent of putting this on a statutory basis is to endorse the work of Bradford and many other local authorities and organisations that are doing absolutely that.
I am grateful to the Minister for putting that on the record in such trenchant terms and I still want to encourage him to take the extra small step of putting it on the face of the Bill as well as putting it on the record in Hansard. Perhaps we will be able to do that together with our colleagues.
I have a few questions for the Minister. First, does he agree that tackling the ideology is important? He absolutely does. Does he agree that there is a gap in the legislation, in that it does not refer specifically to this work? Does he agree that this work should specifically be included in the guidance? I would be very interested in his response on that point. We might actually see the words “combat ideology” in the guidance, which would be very helpful. Perhaps we could return to the issue on Report to see how far we have moved.
My final questions are about resources. How much of the £130 million announced by the Prime Minister will be allocated to Prevent and Channel? We cannot do this work without the resources and the funds to do it. When does the Minister expect to be able to publish the counter-extremism strategy that I know he and the Home Secretary are working on? That would provide an important backdrop to the legislative work we are doing to make this happen.
I think there is a great deal of consensus across the House. I wish we were not having this debate and that we were not faced with the terrorist threat that we are, but as we are I am pleased that the Prevent part of the counter-terrorism strategy has become more central to what we are doing. There is recognition that if we stop people being drawn down this path, it not only would be good for them but would mean that we would not have to spend millions and millions of pounds on disrupting the plots that unfortunately threaten the essence of our nation. As with many other programmes, if we invest in prevention we do not have to pick up the pieces at the end of the day.
I am an optimist and although this work is difficult, I believe that if we work together—communities, central Government, local authorities, families, practitioners and academics—and ensure that we put every bit of our energy into preventing people from being drawn down this path, we can all learn together, although it will take time, and we can ensure that we live together as communities in peace and prosperity rather than being driven apart, as we are at the moment, by the hatred of this pernicious ideology, which is causing so much heartbreak and concern to communities across the world.
I rise to support the thrust of the argument made by the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears). We have worked on these issues in tandem so many times that if they were put on to a DVD, we would be in danger of compiling a box set between us. However, by returning to the same subject again and again and often in the same terms in our campaign to get the Government to do more in this field, we are illustrating the principle that the Government ought to be applying when they do that—namely, if one is to win an argument about or involving ideology, it is not good enough to set out one’s stall a single time as though one were a university professor and to think that that is the end of the matter. One must keep the message coming over and over again until one gets one’s own way. We are saying that what is lacking in the machinery is the ability to consolidate and wage counter-propaganda warfare—I use that term in a non-pejorative sense—against this barbaric ideology, and we are talking about doing it in a way that will have an effect at a much earlier stage of the process than most of what is proposed in the Bill as it stands.
It is quite understandable, in the light of atrocities such as 9/11 at one end of the spectrum and what happened in that restaurant in Sydney in Australia at the other, that the Government’s first concern must be countering and impeding what in IRA terms used to be called the “men of violence”. I fully accept that as long as there is a totalitarian ideology at large in the world, in most societies, even democratic ones, there will always be a few people extreme enough, unbalanced enough, criminal enough or at a loss and vulnerable enough for indoctrination to subscribe to it. Even in this day and age, we can find supporters of Aryan theories of Nazism and supporters of Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism, but the key point is that those supporters are absolutely isolated from the wider communities in which they live. We are not concerned about the ability to prevent, by persuasion or counter-indoctrination, every last person who is susceptible to becoming an extremist from becoming an extremist. We are talking about ensuring that that minority remains a minority and that their poison does not leach out into the wider community and, in particular, that the counter-measures taken by the state against what they are doing do not have the effect of radicalising the wider community.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way; he is always very generous in these debates. Although I agree with almost everything he says, I have a small concern and perhaps he could talk me through some of it. He talks about “combating” extremism and ideology, but does he not think that the whole notion of combat and conflict was one of the things that got us into this trouble in the first place?
I disagree. When one is dealing with an intolerant ideology, one cannot simply say that one will, through some calm rationalisation, remove all the barbs, evil and poison. I am talking about what must be done to counter the pernicious ideology with which we are confronted.
Although I understand what my hon. Friend is saying, I rather agree with the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) that we are sometimes very unwise in our choice of words. When we choose words such as “war on terror”, we give the other side the standing of soldiers when often we are dealing with criminal misfits. Should we not be more careful about our language?
Absolutely, and by using concepts such as “the war on terror” as part of our counter-propaganda campaign we may indeed be scoring an own goal. But in discussing techniques for what we are doing in this place, believe me, there are not a host of radicals hanging on every word we use in this debate about the machinery that we should set up. Once we have set up the machinery, we can then go into the niceties of which expressions we use and which we do not. But let us be frank; this is a battle of ideas. It is a battle between barbarism and civilisation. The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire and others can shake their heads as much as they like but were I to make, for example, a similar argument against racist and Nazi exterminatory ideology, they would not blame me for couching the argument in the terms of a battle of ideas. It is a battle of ideas; the people who subscribe to this extreme doctrine have declared war on our civilised standards of democracy and tolerance.
I always mention—it so appropriate and someone always forces me, or perhaps I should say, incentivises me to do so—what the late great Sir Karl Popper described as the paradox of tolerance in a free society. He defined it in the following terms: you should tolerate all but the intolerant because if you tolerate the intolerant, the conditions for toleration disappear and the tolerant go with them. I make absolutely no concession to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire or indeed to my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis). My right hon. Friend was talking about something slightly different—what we do when we are engaged in a battle of ideas—so I will give my right hon. Friend that get-out. But I make no concession to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire about using the phrase “a counter-propaganda battle.” That is exactly what it is. We used to wage it against fascism and Nazism and against communist ideology and extremism. This is the latest incarnation, albeit one that goes back to a time hundreds of years before those terrible and extreme ideologies came on the scene to terrorise mankind.
It is fully understandable that a Government’s first concern has to be with the end of the conveyor belt at which fully formed terrorists spring into action, either on what they call a “spectacular” scale by killing hundreds or even thousands of people, or what we on the Intelligence and Security Committee prefer to call the self-starter end of the spectrum. We use that rather than the “lone wolf” appellation for reasons similar to the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden. But whichever it is, by the time we reach that end of the conveyor belt nothing can be done. I venture to say that even the best counter-radicalisation and counter-extremism programme will not prevent some individuals from getting on that conveyor belt and travelling all the way to the end. The question is how we isolate them from the majority and prevent them from infecting the majority.
In the amendment, my opposite number—and friend—the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles and I are trying to get something stronger in the Bill. For example, we are trying to add to clause 21 words about developing
“capacity to combat and reject the messages of extremism”.
I am terribly sorry but the word “combat” is in there; I make no apology for it. The clause says that a
“specified authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.”
I think having “due regard” is a pretty weak obligation and, as the right hon. Lady said, much of the focus here is on the obligations of various organisations and authorities covered by the Bill towards individuals who have already been identified as being vulnerable, at risk or on the path towards radicalisation. But we need to do something else. We need to try to create an atmosphere and a climate that is totally hostile to the propagation of the basic extreme ideology so that it becomes increasingly difficult to find anyone who is on that path to radicalisation because the whole concept of the ideology is anathema to society as a whole, or will be by the time we have finished.
I have been listening to my hon. Friend talk on the subject of ideology. One thing that crosses my mind is that some of these gentlemen may well have no ideology whatever, beyond the fact that they think that it is a good cause and they are a jihadi and are suddenly big men in their community. They can swank around and say “I’m a jihadi and I’m going off to fight.” After all, did not one of them have “Islam For Dummies” in his bag when he left?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right and the insincerity of some of those who do these sort of things is an important issue. It is important because if we succeed in making adhesion to the ideology something that nobody in the community would want to touch with a bargepole, it makes it much more difficult for anyone motivated by the desire to say “Look at me: I’m this glamorous figure and I’m going on jihad”, particularly if they know that the rest of the community would respond with “What are you saying? Are you mad? Why do you think we should admire you for saying that you are signing up to this ideology?”
A related point common to all these totalitarianisms is this: it is interesting to note how often everybody else gets wrapped up with the historic inevitability of whatever extreme cause it is or the God-given duty to follow it, but funnily enough, it is the people at the top who always seem to end up having supreme power over everyone else. Is it not convenient if someone is an megalomaniac to have to hand an ideology that justifies doing whatever the person wants to do in a society in which civilisation has broken down? As the famous philosopher Thomas Hobbes said, life would be “nasty, brutish and short” in such circumstances.
In reality, these extreme ideologies allow psychopaths and megalomaniacs to get to the top and exercise untrammelled power—but not, of course, for themselves. No, they are doing it because God has laid down that society should be run this way. I feel that, over many hundreds of years, our civilisation has torn down this edifice of extremism, and most of us feel that we will be damned—I use the word almost literally—if we do not stand up to prevent it from being re-erected in the heart of our own society or other societies.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not fall into the trap that his hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) was leading him into—of believing that these young men and women who have gone to Syria were parading themselves around the community saying that they were on their way there. I do not think that any available information suggests that that is the case. In fact, it is the very opposite of the case.
Indeed. It is certainly true that, for obvious reasons, many of these journeys are undertaken in conditions of great secrecy. I cannot help interjecting one of my concerns—I have to be careful not to step into judicial areas and I make no reference to any particular recent case even though there might have just been one—which is about judges who take the view that they want to set exemplary and terribly harsh sentences on people who have come back when we do not know whether they have done anything while overseas other than commit the crime of going overseas to fight in the conflict. Handing out a sentence that would be commensurate with the sort of sentence someone would get in this country if they have committed manslaughter and taken a life, must be a huge discouragement to members in these communities—mothers, for example—to co-operate with the authorities when they are trying to get their sons back and when there is no reason to believe that their sons have any evil intent to carry out terrorism on their return. That is why we sometimes feel there is a need for greater co-ordination and that the issues should not be managed within just one Department. We should try to work out an integrated strategy.
Let me return to the point about counter-propaganda. I learned this lesson many years ago in an entirely different context—in fact, in several different contexts where time and again one would see extremist minorities hijacking moderate majorities and purporting to speak in their name. Where that sort of thing was going on repeatedly, it was almost like trench warfare or a battle of attrition. In those days, such battles would be carried out in the letters columns of the newspapers. A particular organisation or cause might get report after report in the media—and nobody would be answering. The way to deal with it then was to ensure that every report was followed by another report—or, alternatively, a critical letter in the press—so that eventually the radicalisers and the counter-radicalisers would be neutralised, and the wider community would say “We are sick of all this bickering—why don’t both of you just shut up and stop?”
We are not talking about some idealised situation in which we shall be able to let down our guard because there will never again be a small number of people who are willing to try to carry out terrorist acts at the end of the process. We are talking about a wider threat: the danger that, however effective we are in catching terrorists at the end of the conveyor belt that leads to their crimes, there will always be plenty more being fed on to the beginning of the conveyor belt by people who, shall we say, have a certain strategic grasp of what they are trying to achieve.
I thank the Committee for its patience in listening to my speech. As I said earlier, the sort of counter-campaigning that needs to be done on the issue of extremist ideology is, in a sense, demonstrated by the fact that we have to keep returning to this subject until the House gets sick of hearing from us, and the Government decide that the line of least resistance is to toughen up the legislation and create an agency that will be able to supervise, co-ordinate and resource the efforts of moderates in our Muslim community to ensure that their own communities are not hijacked by the barbarians.
I want to say a little about new clause 12, which I tabled. I believe that there is strong evidence from countries that are already investing in deradicalisation programmes that they are effective, and I think that we need to look more closely at those programmes—as well as counter-radicalisation programmes—and learn from them.
Let me make it clear at the outset that none of the programmes is a substitute for effective counter-terrorism legislation. They are, however, an important tool that we can and, I believe, should be using to better effect in tackling terrorism. They acknowledge that someone becomes radicalised for a reason, and suggest that therefore, in principle, that person can be deradicalised.
Members who were in the Chamber yesterday may have heard me read the words of Abubaker Deghayes, a Brighton man whose two sons were recently killed while fighting in Syria. He warned:
“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.”
He feels passionately about the need not simply to take urgent, effective action to curtail suspected terrorists, not simply to wash our hands of those who may have become radicalised, and not simply to generalise about who people of this kind are. He believes that we need to understand more about who they are, and why they have become radicalised.
I met Abubaker Deghayes, the father. I met his solicitor, Gareth Peirce, and I met campaigners from organisations such as Cage UK. All of them have a wealth of experience related to the impact of counter-terrorism legislation, and all of them paid tribute to the difference that deradicalisation programmes can make. I hope to host a parliamentary meeting early in the new year, before the House of Lords debates the Bill, in order to give colleagues an opportunity to hear from a range of experts, including police officers, who are engaged in such programmes in other European Union member states.
Before I say any more, it might be helpful if I defined my terms. In doing so, I shall refer to a very useful paper published by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which has conducted a comparative evaluation of counter-radicalisation and deradicalisation approaches in the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. It describes deradicalisation programmes as those that are
“generally directed against individuals who have become radical with the aim of reintegrating them into society or at least dissuading them from violence.”
That is notably distinct from programmes such as Prevent, which are concerned more with counter-radicalisation, which the Institute for Strategic Dialogue defines as
“a package of social, political, legal, educational and economic programmes specifically designed to deter disaffected (and possibly already radicalized) individuals from crossing the line and becoming terrorists.”
I, too, have read the paper from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Would it be fair to say that a lot of the evidence that has been gathered is about deradicalising people from far-right groups, because the work around political Islamism has not yet been developed to the point at which we would be able to get a lot of useful evidence? We need to do much more work in that area of threat facing us, because the far-right work is not necessarily completely comparable with the other threats we face at the moment.
The right hon. Lady makes a perfectly fair point. Most of the evidence is coming from that direction. I agree that we need more evidence gathering specifically on the Islamist threat, but none the less I think the point I am making remains that we need greater understanding of why people are radicalised.
I was talking about counter-radicalisation and Prevent, and I wanted to flag up the fact that, as Members will know, Prevent has been criticised for failing properly to engage at the community level and instead making some communities feel singled out and stigmatised. I think that is a lost opportunity and we must redouble our efforts and engage in effective community-led counter-radicalisation programmes, learning from other countries that have done just that.
Deradicalisation is more relevant to the debate we are having now. I draw Members’ attention, if they are not already aware of them, to programmes in places such as Denmark, where a programme called Back on Track has been operating. Its targets include prison inmates who have been either convicted of terrorism or involved in hate crimes or other extremism-related crimes. The aim of the project is to support inmates through mentoring to become better at handling everyday situations, problems and conflicts. Another key element is to focus on engaging families and social networks in order to offer inmates long-term support when re-entering society. Other Members have already underlined the importance of family and kinship groups.
Back on Track has been running alongside another programme, De-radicalisation-Targeted Intervention, which uses mentoring to support individuals who are trying to leave an extremist group. It is focused particularly on being proactive by reaching out to potential beneficiaries and motivating them to participate. A key objective is helping them to find constructive social alternatives to extremist groups.
Germany has what is known as the Hayat programme, which has been developed to reflect the premise that the minds of young Europeans intent on practising jihad in Syria or Iraq are perhaps less likely to be changed by politicians’ threats or force of law than by their next of kin. One of Hayat’s family counsellors says:
“Families are the closest social community that most radicalised young Muslims have. It is the perfect living counter-narrative to radical Islam.”
Since 2012 Hayat has operated a national helpline, which families who are concerned about their sons or daughters drifting into radical Islam can contact.
While I agree that there is much we can learn from what happens in other nations, does the hon. Lady agree that significant work already goes on in our communities, both with the Prevent programme and without it, which takes the lead and which also co-operates with other nations along the lines she is outlining? On the deradicalisation programme, it strikes me that we have to deal with incredibly difficult issues, but I am confident that a lot of thinking is going into this and there is a lot of co-operation between nations, particularly on the very large number of returning jihadis, which is an even bigger problem, in numbers terms at least, in places such as France and Germany than it is in the UK today.
I do not doubt that much work is going on, some of it very good, but I wanted to pinpoint the experience of young people who have got caught up in some of these things. They have gone to places such as Syria and they want to come back, and at the moment it does not feel that there is a path that is particularly encouraging to them to come back. We talked about this yesterday when we discussed the temporary exclusion orders and whether or not that means someone will go straight into criminal proceedings.
What I would like us to do is look at some of the models in places such as Germany and Denmark, so that when we have someone who is trying to come back and who is turning their back on what they have done, we do not automatically put them through the criminal process but instead devote a lot more time to trying to see how they can be reintegrated. Obviously one would not do that at the expense of wider security issues, but neither do I think that this is a soft approach. I think, in fact, that it could be a way of making us safer in the long run if some of these deradicalisation programmes work. There is a bit of a gap there, and it is an area that I would like us in this country and our Government to be looking at in more detail.
Does the hon. Lady not recognise that we are some 20 weeks away from a general election and so, unfortunately, the rhetoric about throwing away the keys will inevitably come from party leaders? However, in their heart of hearts they all recognise the importance of looking at this issue in a much more holistic way. I agree with her that it is in the interests of our intelligence services, apart from anything else, that we make common cause to find out about some of these returnees, as they can perhaps co-operate. I suspect that work of that order is going on, as well as the range of programmes to which she refers. In many ways, it is understandable that tabloid rhetoric has its part to play, but our authorities are bringing to bear a much more sophisticated, nuanced approach to this very real problem.
Again, I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but I would not be as relaxed about the tabloid rhetoric as he is. I certainly do not think we should be stoking it in this Chamber because that sends out a message that is heard out there and makes young people believe it is too dangerous to come back. I am aware of people from my constituency and the wider area where I live who are out in places such as Syria and do want to come back, but are terrified of doing so. It is not in the interests of wider security that we just send out the same messages; we have to have different messages and learn from countries that seem to be doing a better job on some of this work than we are.
The hon. Lady was on to a powerful theme when she was describing some of the other initiatives we witness across Europe. I am familiar with some of the programmes in Germany and Denmark that she mentioned. Would she say that the major difference in character is that Prevent seems to be a more prescriptive solution whereas the initiatives in Europe are much more organic and involve the community more? The language of “combat”, “taking on” and “fighting” seems to be the prevalent language in Prevent. If the Minister and the Secretary of State were to look a little more carefully at the European models, they might find a more useful model of working within our communities.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. He rightly says that in this country it feels very much more as though deradicalisation is done to people, rather than being something people get involved in, and therefore own and are more likely to be part of.
In the light of the previous intervention, I should make it absolutely clear that Prevent is a locally based approach. The right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears), in her initial contribution, highlighted clearly the excellent local work done in a number of different areas, including by civil society groups. I assure the hon. Lady that the Government continue to look at other programmes from various parts of Europe—indeed, I was in Scandinavia last year visiting various Governments for that very purpose.
I thank the Minister for that. If it is all happily happening as he suggests, I hope that he will be able to agree to new clause 12. I suspect it is not happening, which is why young people in my community tell me that they feel that the Prevent approach is stigmatising. That is not a criticism of the local people in my constituency who are doing their very best to deal with what they themselves feel is not a terribly helpful approach. It is a criticism that echoes what the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) just said about the feeling that the approach targets people in a very stigmatising way, as though they are the problem, rather than asking the wider questions we have a responsibility to ask about how and why people become radicalised. If we ask those questions, we might find ourselves rather more responsible for some of the answers, in the broadest sense, than if we simply assume that this is somehow outside our control and our responsibility.
I am most grateful to the hon. Lady, who had a difficult choice to make. I am curious about why she did not look a little closer to home at the best practice that has worked in Northern Ireland. We have former republican terrorists who have committed the most appalling terrorist crimes and former loyalist terrorists who have committed equally appalling crimes, including just murdering Catholics because they were Catholics, who have turned their back on violence and turned young people away from the path of violence in Northern Ireland. She has cited what has happened in Denmark and Germany, but I say to her that good lessons could be learned from experience in Northern Ireland.
I thank the hon. Lady for a well made contribution. She was perfectly right to make such a point, and it does not undermine the position that I am advancing. Indeed, I would love to learn more about the experience she describes. I suspect that the success of the scheme was not achieved by making people feel excluded or terrified about coming forward. I worry about the context in which we are having this discussion, which is the proposed legislation that the Government are setting out right now.
I echo the points made by the hon. Lady, but I just wonder what projects she has visited. Some of the work I have seen has been about not stigmatising individuals but putting on drama in schools to enable these issues to be brought to the surface and then challenged in quite provocative ways. There is training for teachers and some community-based projects. She is making the point that I made to the Minister, which is that I want to see more of that kind of work, because it is about enabling us to build community resilience rather than targeting individuals. There is some excellent practice in this country, as well as in Ireland.
I completely agree with the right hon. Lady. I have seen and been part of some of those extraordinary community engagement processes. The drama in particular has a huge role to play. I come back now to the wider context. I am simply reporting to her what young people have said to me, which is that when they hear the Prevent programme being talked about and the kind of language and rhetoric that get used when we are talking in the abstract it feels to them as if this is something that is stigmatising and off-putting. They feel as if they are the problem. The programme does not seem to be the most conducive thing to engage them, even though when they get to it, they might find that it is something as constructive and as community based as she describes.
I think that I thank the hon. Gentleman for that. There are problems with the way he describes things in a black and white way. Of course I would be the first to say that we are seeing barbaric acts, which are part of a barbaric ideology. But to continue to use that language is not helpful when we are talking about young people. There are young people who have got mixed up in this in an ignorant way. I am not trying to excuse what they have done; I am just trying to understand it. If we think in terms of barbaric ideologies, that suggests someone who has spent an awful lot of time becoming involved in this, understanding it, knowing it and thinking of themselves as ideologues rather than as people who may have mental health problems, who may be excluded, who have faced massive racism in their lives and who have ended up in a very unfortunate position for a huge number of reasons that are not necessarily helpfully described when we talk about a barbaric ideology.
The hon. Lady is very kind. This will be my last intervention, so she has an open goal after that. I simply say that nobody hesitates to describe Nazi ideology and communist ideology in terms of their barbaric nature. If we are to succeed in saving people from being drawn into this form of barbarism, we have to get it into the same category, because, fundamentally, it comes from the same drawer of ideologies.
I have no problem with talking about barbaric ideology or about actions that are barbaric, but if we frame the whole debate in those terms, we do not get any closer to being able to understand why some young people are getting more and more attracted to going out to take part in wars in Syria. We certainly do not get any closer to understanding how we can get them back safely and deradicalise them. All of us share that as the overriding priority. What we want to do is to keep our country safe by trying to ensure that people who get involved in this kind of activity are prevented from doing it in the first place and by deradicalising them if and when it happens. I am simply arguing about the best way to reach out to those people. I am not sure that what the hon. Gentleman is describing is the best way to do so.
The situation in Northern Ireland has already been mentioned, where the emphasis has been on a process of inclusion, rather than one of labelling and exclusion. Indeed, there is a veritable infrastructure for inclusion through EU moneys and other mechanisms that were used precisely to work at community level to ensure that people had a real stake in new beginnings and new processes. Attempts to exclude through broadcasting bans, vetting of community funding and all the rest of it did not work. We have to take people at the level they are at so that they can move forward while thinking that they retain the integrity of their outlook.
I definitely thank the hon. Gentleman for that contribution, which is immensely helpful and really sets us back on track to where I think we are best placed to move forward on the issue.
I will begin to draw my comments to a close, because I have spoken for longer than I had originally anticipated. In conclusion, analysis of successful deradicalisation programmes suggests that the most effective identify how individuals become radicalised, rather than simply labelling them. They examine whether and how the process can be reversed, and how Government-led initiatives can help ensure that committed terrorists avoid illegal activity after they are released from custody. We know what some of the ingredients are; we have talked about the importance of family members, education, vocational training and religious dialogue, for example.
Religious engagement is one of the more contentious elements of deradicalisation programmes. It may be effective in reforming radical Islamists, but primarily because it provides an environment that is conducive to behavioural reform, not necessarily because it encourages ideological reform. Some of the reports from the Council on Foreign Relations seem to suggest that focusing on rehabilitation, rather than ideological change, is particularly sensible if it is acknowledged that committed ideologues might not give up their beliefs but might just change their behaviour, which I think is what we want them to do.
These programmes are not about being soft on terrorism. On the contrary, as I said at the beginning, they are an add-on to, rather than a substitute for, good counter-terrorism laws. I hope that Members will join me in calling for a review of deradicalisation and counter-radicalisation best practice in order that we might equip ourselves as effectively as possible for the substantial challenges we face from jihadi and other terrorist groups.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Weir—the more Scottish National party Members we see in such positions, the better—and to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). She made several pertinent points, particularly on the need to look at experiences from across Europe, and I shall listen carefully to the Minister’s response. It struck me that there is an attempt to look at some of the measures that other countries are adopting to try to tackle this serious issue, but there are also different things being done across the United Kingdom. I wish to focus my remarks on what we are trying to achieve in Scotland.
We are absolutely committed to ensuring that law enforcement agencies and other bodies have all the tools they need to tackle terrorism effectively. We take that particularly seriously in Scotland. We believe that we have robust but different measures in place to tackle these issues. We have massive concerns about what is proposed in the Bill, particularly in part 5. We are concerned that it might cut across some of the initiatives in our Prevent strategy.
It is natural that in Scotland we look at things differently from the rest of the United Kingdom. We face a different range of issues, we have smaller ethnic minority communities, and we have not had the same sort of tensions within our communities, so obviously we look at things differently. I like to think that we therefore look at things a little more holistically, and certainly more holistically than a Conservative-led Government would, or even—if I may be so brave as to say it—than a new Labour Government would.
Our Scottish Prevent strategy shares the same objectives as Prevent across the rest of the United Kingdom, but it differs in some pretty serious and significant ways, particularly in how it is delivered. I think that it does all it can to reflect our Scottish context. Our approach uses Prevent though a safeguarding lens, with an emphasis on keeping people safe, on community cohesion, on participative democracy and on making sure that it is consistent with the needs of, and risks to, all our communities. The Scottish Government’s Prevent strategy for tackling violent extremism works with and through key sectors, including higher and further education, the NHS, the Scottish Prison Service and local authorities. Prevent delivery also benefits from Police Scotland’s model of community engagement and the strength of the relationship between our Muslim communities and the police service.
We sometimes ignore the cultural context, but it is important. One of the most impressive features of Scotland’s Asian community is its willingness and eagerness to adopt what is seen as Scottish identity. We have what is called the bhangra and bagpipe culture. Particularly in Glasgow, where we have a large Muslim community, it is striking how eager the community is to take on board some of the central, defining features of Scottish culture and to get involved. We saw that during the referendum campaign, as Mr Weir in particular knows. One of the fastest growing groups in the movement was Scottish Asians for independence, because there was a natural affinity with what we were trying to achieve as a nation, and there was something about what we were trying to do in order to transform society that proved attractive to many people who had come from countries such as India and Pakistan, which had in their own way secured their independence from the United Kingdom at some time in history.
This feature in Scotland differs significantly from the rest of the United Kingdom. Efforts have been made by the Scottish Government, Ministers and colleagues to try to ensure that the cultural context is taken into account when we approach issues such as radicalisation. I am sure the Minister has seen on his trips to Scotland how the Muslim community, particularly from south Asia, has been integrated in our society and our community. We should all be impressed by that, and perhaps the Minister can learn from our experience.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion made a powerful point about how we start to approach these matters and look at some of the community dimensions. We cannot be prescriptive. We cannot talk down to communities or expect them to respond to our stimuli, our suggestions and our objectives. I shall not dwell on what my hon. Friend said, but we have to work with communities. This process has to be organic, a conversation within communities and groups, to ensure that we come to the right conclusions.
The one thing that I want to add to what my hon. Friend said is that we must also look at the external environment. We have to try to understand what motivates people to get involved in what the hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) rightly describes as barbaric activity. There is one thing that this Government have never done, and it surprises me how little work has been done on it. I encourage the Minister to look more closely at it: there is very little profiling of people who have gone out to the middle east to get involved in such activity. We do not have a sense of the pull factors, the reasons why people go there and get involved, because we do not ask them. We are too busy locking people up and all the other things that go with that.
We spend very little time trying to understand what it is that drags people to engage in such awful behaviour and activity, and I suspect that our reluctance to do that has much to do with the results that we are likely to find. When we see people being interviewed about their involvement in such activity, they are not people who would concern the Government on a day-to-day basis—people who have just emigrated from Pakistan or the middle east. They tend to be second or third generation who have been here for a long time. The ideology has not been brought here; it is an ideology that has emerged and grown within our communities.
When we listen to people being interviewed by broadcasters trying to understand what informs the way they behave, they all seem to be pretty respectable, cultured, almost middle class, standard citizens of the United Kingdom. They do not seem to conform to the traditional vision, if I may say that, of jihadists, and the caricatures that develop around that. We fail to get that right, to understand and to do the necessary work to profile—
I have some sympathy with the argument that the hon. Gentleman is developing on working with communities, which is the approach that I have always wanted to emphasise. Does he accept that one of the reasons that many of the people who are born and brought up in this country and have lived here for very many years then decide to go to Syria, or to create a terrorist plot here in Britain, is that they have been influenced by an ideology based on hatred and a complete rejection of other people unless they agree 100% with their very narrow world view? We have debated whether we use the word “combating” or “countering” in relation to this ideology, which has its roots in Salafi thinking. It is about a violent version of Islam that supposedly justifies this kind of terrorist activity. There is quite a lot of research on this, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware of some of it.
Indeed. The right hon. Lady is partly correct. There is something that draws people in, but our failure to understand some of the motivations and pull factors is a fault that we have.
I do not want to labour my next point because I had an exchange about it with the hon. Member for New Forest East on Second Reading. It is that people feel such a sense of injustice and frustration about not being able to use the traditional, normal political process to exert some sort of change that they are driven to get involved in these activities. People are not born genetically programmed to become jihadists and terrorists: something fundamental and significant happens during their journey that influences them and makes them get involved. We fail to understand that.
We also fail to take responsibility for what we may have done in setting the external stimuli in this regard. For example, we fail to acknowledge the disaster that was the Iraq war and how that cause became a recruiting sergeant for a generation of young Muslims who, with their perverted sense of justice, saw no alternative but to get involved in these terrorist activities. We do not even need to debate this: we can see the line going all the way back to when it started. Yes, there were issues before Iraq and before some of the other difficulties in the middle east, particularly in relation to Palestine, but it is when we get to the invasion of Iraq that we can see the exponential growth in these activities.
We have to take responsibility for that. We have to acknowledge that the decisions we have made and the environment we have created perhaps give rise to some of the massive frustrations that people have. People are not born predisposed to be terrorists, to be jihadists, to be the most barbaric type of murderers. Something happens along the way and a frustration develops. Unless we address our responsibility for creating these conditions, we fail.
No, of course not. If I may put it ever so gently to the right hon. Lady, that question is not worthy of her. There are conflicts right across the middle east that we fail to understand but only condemn, but in some way we are the major power in all this. We are the interveners in these types of activities, and we therefore have responsibilities in that regard. Of course this does not reflect UK foreign policy, other than perhaps at the margins.
I apologise for not being here when the hon. Gentleman started his speech. I agree that the Iraq war was undoubtedly the tipping point, and most people now recognise that it was a mistake, but that has not stopped young Muslim men becoming radicalised. All the baring of our chests and saying “We were wrong and it was a terrible thing to do” has not changed what has happened by one iota.
The hon. Gentleman is right. Of course it has not changed behaviour, but we owe it to ourselves to acknowledge this issue. It is a flaw that runs all the way through a lot of the programmes to counter, or combat, radicalisation that we embark on. Unless we understand the external stimuli and the environment that were created, I am afraid we will not have any great success in these things.
There is another factor that informs this and it is some of the debates that we have in this House. If I were a young Muslim listening to some of the poisonous debate about immigration that takes place nowadays, I do not know what I would make of being told, “You’ve got to stay away from here; you’ve got to be kicked out, or sent back, or whatever”—all the inflammatory language that this House hears almost on a day-to-day basis when we debate these things. We have got to be careful, for goodness’ sake. We cannot just believe that it will all of a sudden be reasonably accepted and adopted, and that nobody will mind that this language is employed when such debates take place. Again, let us just be careful about what we do to contribute to the environment that has been created or the conditions leading to such frustration.
The hon. Gentleman is exactly right to warn of the dangers of hon. Members helping to feed the very things they say they want to fight. If there are those who are out to sow the seeds of radicalism, extremism, cynicism and alienation, people should take care not to propagate those seeds by measures that, in relation to international policy, only feed the cynicism of those who see them as double standards, or in relation to this country, even propose to create a twilight zone around the very concept of citizenship. How does that help to counter the very disillusionment of which the hon. Gentleman speaks?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman because he is right to say that we must see this in the round. That is one of the reasons why I have difficulties with what is suggested in the Bill. I will not support the amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears), as I think she knows, because I just do not like this type of language. It does not really address the difficulties we face and the things we have to take on. In looking at anti-radicalisation or ensuring that our communities are resilient in fighting against such messages, as the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) set out so eloquently, we must work holistically—in the round—and ensure that that is combined and merged with all other community issues that would help us.
We are trying to work towards that in Scotland. Historically, we have taken that approach. We have had responsibility for the Prevent programme for eight to 10 years, and I believe that we have made real progress. With our distinct legal system, we have our own means of doing this sort of thing, and we are making great attempts and efforts to do so. We just take a different view of such things: we have a different type of community and a different approach to the issues that have emerged during the past few years.
The Minister for Security and Immigration is now deep in conversation, but I hope he will allow us to pursue our agenda on such matters. Scottish public bodies that were initially listed in schedules 3 and 4 are no longer included, so I hope that the Minister, when he finishes his conversation, might be of a mind to allow us to make our own progress when it comes to such things. The Minister is now back with us. I was saying—I know he missed this—that Scotland has been excluded from the schedules of public bodies. I know that there have been conversations with the relevant Scottish Minister, and that the Minister for Security and Immigration understands that we have our own particular agenda for this sort of thing.
I hope that in time—perhaps amendments tabled during the remaining stages of the Bill will help him to come to this conclusion—we can have our own strategy without the combat and the fighting language that we do not like. We do not think it works or believe that it adds much to achieving the objective that we in this place all want, which is to make our communities safer and resilient enough to ensure that we get the right type of result and response. I hope that the Minister will be open to further suggestions that will exclude Scotland from part 5 and allow us to pursue our own agenda. We do not like some of the language, and we do not believe it works. Perhaps even in his response, he could satisfy me and my colleagues that we will be allowed to pursue our own agenda and do this our own way.
I come to this debate with a great deal of sadness about what has happened in my own city. Six young men went out, of whom four are now dead, and one returned to the UK and is now starting a very lengthy prison sentence.
One of the saddest moments in my 45 years’ experience of politics was reading the letter that one of the lads wrote to his parents and left for them when he went to Syria. His parents sat in front of me in the office not saying that they wanted us to fight back, but really begging for something to happen or for someone to take the initiative. They could not understand how this very well educated young man, who was at university—he had a glittering career before him—could walk away from university and go to Syria without discussing it with anyone, not his local peer group or, most importantly, his parents. The last words of the letter were, “Don’t worry about what’s going to happen to me when I come back because I have no intention of coming back.” His parents read into that that he had every intention of fighting, wherever it took him. How sad it was for his mother to read that letter.
We have tried desperately hard with the community in Portsmouth. We have a large Bangladeshi community and four mosques. Portsmouth has a great, integrated society. Everyone was horrified that our city was highlighted in the way that it was and nobody could understand how it had happened. The imams in the mosques did not know, the people who run the madrassah did not know and the extended families of the young men did not know how it came about that these young men were radicalised in such a way that they were prepared to walk away from everything they had in front of them, put their lives on the line and even put it in writing that they did not believe they would be coming back. Some sort of fightback is required on the part of all of us who care about the young men and women who have done that.
I do not share the view that giving disproportionately long prison sentences to people who come back will help the situation. I do not know whether other Members have spoken to young Muslim boys who have been in prison or whether they understand the pressure that those boys are put under in prison by much older members of the faith and the other issues that they raise. We need to find a mechanism to sort that out. I am in favour of the various things that the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) exposed so eloquently. The Bradford example is a fine one. However, none of them offers an easy solution to finding the right role model who can put the alternative case to these young men and women, and do so in the right place.
Nobody has yet suggested that there is an easy way out of this situation. I have first-hand experience of the pitiful state of the families who are devastated when their young sons or daughters are killed and taken away from them. Surely the Bill goes some way towards starting the process that the mother who sat opposite me in my surgery called for when she said, “For goodness’ sake, Mike, we’ve got to find a way of preventing this. I’ve got an 11-year-old son and I’m worried about what will happen to him. What is he thinking? How will it affect him and his peer group when they talk about their brothers who have been killed fighting in a war in Syria?” It is no good just saying that they were mistaken and that they did not believe in what they were going to do. They were believers in what they were going to do and they knew the risks they were taking. They were so certain about it that they were still prepared to do it. We ignore that at our peril.
Again, I agree entirely with the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles that we have to start lower down the age range. We need to find a mechanism for very young people.
I apologise for missing the beginning of the debate; I was in Westminster Hall. Does the hon. Gentleman not think that there is an issue with the general narrative in our society and in our media, where there is a high degree of Islamophobia, with throwaway comments being made on television programmes the whole time? It is regrettable, and on some people—on a very small minority, maybe—it has the beginnings of a very bad effect.
It is more than regrettable that that has happened—it is despicable. Of course the hon. Gentleman is right that it must have an effect on people. It would have an effect on me if I had that sort of problem. I know what it is like to have abuse thrown at me. I know what effect it had on me. Goodness knows how other people feel when they have abuse thrown at them day after day. I hate the thought that people in my constituency have stooped to cutting off a pig’s head and sticking it on the gatepost of an Islamic school. What sort of message does it send to young children going to school if there is a dead pig’s head stuck on a railing outside that school? It is appalling, and the hon. Gentleman is right to say that we must combat such things and be more realistic about allowing certain comments to go unchallenged. It is important that that message comes over loud and clear in debates such as this.
I hope that the Bill gets the support it deserves and that the promised resources are forthcoming and go to the right places. All of us involved in this issue for one reason or another must work hard with our communities and, most important, with those who are prepared to step out and say the right things, and encourage young men and women to think that there is an alternative to what they believe in. However, it is no good suggesting for one minute that those young men and women do not believe 100% in what they are doing at the present time, because they certainly do.
I will make a couple of brief points on amendment 20 and the impact of clauses 21 to 27 on universities, and I do so as someone who represents Sheffield’s two universities and more students than any other Member of the House.
Some 28 years ago, in my previous career in the university sector, I remember preparing a draft code of practice on freedom of speech in universities, to entrench further something that has traditionally always had a strong place in our higher education sector. I did so in response to the Education (No.2) Act 1986, introduced by the then Conservative Government, which sought to ensure that universities maintained that commitment to freedom of speech.
As I am sure the Minister is aware, that Act imposed a duty on universities to ensure that the use of their premises is
“not denied to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with the beliefs or views of that individual”.
Universities have always taken this issue seriously and sought to fulfil their legal responsibilities, but it is not clear how that provision sits alongside new responsibilities in the Bill. What potential legal quagmire might a university find itself in if, for example, an action is brought by a third party to challenge a decision made under the provisions of this Bill, on the basis of the university’s responsibilities in the 1986 Act? That issue needs clarity so that we do not find ourselves in a very big mess.
My second point relates to the general, sweeping nature of the Government’s new powers in the Bill, and the potential for direct intervention in the governance of universities that it establishes. Amendment 20 deals with that issue, but the House would be making a big mistake to allow such a measure to proceed without ensuring proper parliamentary scrutiny. I understand that universities have been reassured by the Home Office that guidance is being prepared, but our difficulty is that we have not yet seen that guidance and do not know how the Government intend to proceed. It seems a fairly fundamental principle that Parliament ought to be able to scrutinise the initial guidance, and any subsequent guidance that the Government might issue should they feel that universities are not complying with requirements in the Bill. Amendment 20, which I hope the Minister is able to embrace, seeks to strengthen confidence in what the Government are trying to achieve by ensuring proper parliamentary scrutiny of the process, and that links to some of the imprecision in the language and description of terms in the Bill.
The Minister will be familiar with a recent case, which has been well documented in the press, where Christchurch university in Canterbury found itself in conflict with the police over an unwillingness to provide information on its students in relation to a fracking debate. There is a concern within the university sector that the shifting balance of relationships that might be implicit in the Bill could add to the pressure on universities to co-operate or provide information on a much wider range of issues than is the Government’s intention. I recognise that that is not what the Government are seeking to do. The importance of ensuring proper parliamentary scrutiny in the guidance that might be issued is something we should endorse today.
I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) for opening the debate and making a compelling case, along with the hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis), for why the amendments are important to today’s debate on Prevent. I agree with her sentiments about the appalling events in Sydney. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the people who died. We stand in solidarity with the Australian people. We stand, too, with the people of Pakistan, where dreadful events have unfolded this morning, with hundreds murdered.
Part 5 introduces a series of obligations on public bodies and local authorities to deliver the Prevent agenda. I hope the Minister will respond to the issue raised by the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) on part 5 not covering Northern Ireland, and to the issue raised by the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) in relation to Prevent in Scotland.
Most of the Bill is taken up with tough measures to tackle those who are thought to be involved in terrorism, but part 5 deals with preventing people becoming involved in the first place. The previous Labour Government introduced the Prevent agenda and we remain absolutely committed to supporting and strengthening it where necessary. However, before we look in detail at the measures to strengthen the delivery of the Prevent programme, I want to point out two areas where I think there are gaps in the Bill. First, there needs to be a much clearer commitment from central Government to do more to support and facilitate the Prevent agenda. A lot of additional duties are being put on to local authorities and public bodies, but there is more of a role for central Government to support them in fulfilling that duty. Secondly, in the past four years there has been some confusion in relation to the Prevent agenda and the roles of the Home Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government. It would be helpful if the Minister is able to enlighten us on the problems that have arisen due the confused situation relating to Prevent.
We all agree that Prevent should be about local delivery, but, as I said, there have been some problems because of a mixed approach by central Government. For example, it was a Government decision early on to reduce the number of priority areas for Prevent from 90 to 23. The Government then realised that leaving areas such as Greenwich out of the priority areas was a mistake, so a number of local authority areas had their funding reinstated. Even within those priority areas, however, I do not think the Government have been paying enough attention to whether the Prevent agenda is being successfully delivered with evaluations. Only four of the 30 priority areas provided evaluations to the office for security and counter-terrorism last year. That is obviously of concern when public money is being spent, because we want to know that it is being used effectively.
There has also been a marked decline in funding streams for Prevent: funding is down from £17 million to £1 million a year. Some of that has been part of a conscious decision about reallocating funding, but questions are raised by the fact that, while £5.1 million has been allocated every year for local delivery, over the past six years more than 60% of it has gone unclaimed by local authorities.
My hon. Friend is making a very good point about funding. Does she agree that it is also important, from the point of view of a public message, that we place a strong emphasis on preventing extreme right-wing racism in our society, and on combating it as vigorously as we combat any other kind of issue?
My hon. Friend makes a very important point as part of the debate about Prevent spending on combating extremism across the piece.
On the Government’s record with Prevent, it is striking that, while overall spending has gone up—it reached £40 million last year—spending on local delivery accounts for barely 10% of the total. Will the Minister confirm whether those figures are correct?
Local authorities are not the only bodies captured by the new duty. Universities will also be covered and my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) has just addressed some of the concerns relating to the university sector. However, just because universities are included in this particular duty does not mean that they have not previously been included. My hon. Friend referred to work that was done many years ago to tackle these issues. A significant section of the Prevent agenda is devoted to universities, which are asked to agree Prevent action plans with local police forces. I have repeatedly asked parliamentary questions to find out how many universities actually have a Prevent plan in place, but the Government have repeatedly refused to provide an answer. I do not understand why, because it is not a matter of national security: the information requested is simply a number. Do the Government refuse to answer the question because they do not actually know how many universities have agreed a plan or because they are not willing to tell Parliament? Why are we not allowed to know?
The Bill also extends obligations on schools, which were also not excluded from the previous Prevent agenda. A significant thread of Prevent has always been aimed at schools. Indeed, the 2011 Prevent review identifies a significant number of threats to schools and suggests measures to counter those threats. Given the conclusions of Oftsted’s investigations into Birmingham and Tower Hamlets, the 2011 review seems remarkably prescient. It identified a series of risks facing schools, including that posed by people with radical beliefs who were attempting to obtain positions in schools—that is, on school governing bodies.
The review also identified some challenges that needed immediate action in schools. For example, 70% of schools felt that they needed more training and information to build resilience to radicalisation. To address those issues, the Department for Education committed to a nine-point plan of action to prevent radicalisation in schools. However, it has provided no evidence on the delivery of that plan. I have asked it numerous questions—both written and on the Floor of the House—about the overall implementation of the Prevent agenda and the specific commitments contained in the 2011 review, but I have received no evidence in response to my inquiries. I have asked the Department to provide a general update on its work delivering the Prevent agenda, but to no avail. Will the Minister tell the House whether the measures in the Bill that relate to schools are a response to the failure of the DFE to deliver on previous commitments?
Also missing from the Bill are measures to address radicalisation outside public institutions. Local councils can of course try to counter radicalisation in public places and public bodies, and universities can try to counter it on campus, but as my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles said, much more work needs to be done on broadcasting and the internet industries to reduce hate speech and extremism arriving directly into homes through social media and satellite television.
Last week, the Prime Minister announced international efforts in partnership with industry to tackle online child abuse. We all welcome those. However, equivalent measures on terrorist propaganda are in their infancy. Although the Internet Watch Foundation has forged vital links with industry to actively prohibit the dissemination of abusive images, my understanding is that the Home Office’s counter terrorism internet referral unit has never received a referral from a communications service provider about extremist conduct. I will be interested to hear from the Minister whether that is correct. Although we welcome the measures in the Bill, which are about the Government telling other authorities to do more, we should remember that there are areas where the Government themselves could do more and have failed to deliver so far.
I turn now to the specific provisions in the Bill, starting with clause 21, which puts a general duty on various public bodies to tackle terrorism; the bodies are numerous and are listed in schedule 3. The clause is complemented by the provisions in clause 24, which allow the Secretary of State to introduce guidance on how authorities should implement their obligations. The Secretary of State’s power in this area is strengthened still further by the provisions in clause 25 for her to direct public bodies to act in a certain way.
Parliament’s scrutiny of the Bill has been constrained, once again, because we are debating the principle without getting to see the specifics. It is extremely unfortunate that the Government have not published draft guidance to aid our considerations. We have no problem with the principle of a general duty to prevent terrorism, but that could mean a number of things. It is therefore essential that we have access to the guidance, so that we can debate what is in it.
For that reason, the Opposition have tabled amendment 19, which would ensure that the Government must use their powers to issue guidance, and amendment 20, which would ensure that Parliament could scrutinise the guidance under the affirmative procedure. I would like to hear the Minister’s views on those amendments, but if he is not able to accept amendment 20 I will test the opinion of the House on giving Parliament an opportunity specifically to debate the guidance.
The Secretary of State could introduce guidance of potentially enormous scope, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Central said, could have a bearing on free speech and academic freedoms—I would go so far as to say it could even affect patient-doctor relationships—yet at the moment Parliament would have no role in debating that guidance. My understanding is that only one set of guidance will be issued. It will apply to the numerous bodies set out in schedule 3, and will therefore have to apply in disparate settings. It is important that the implications of the guidance are discussed fully in Parliament to allow the potential implications for different sectors to be raised and debated fully.
The guidance will also be important in ensuring that the policies implemented are both efficient and effective. Thousands of similar bodies will be implementing policies under clause 21, and it is important that they do not all start from scratch in deciding how to comply with their new duty. The issues that bodies will need to address are complex and disparate, ranging from the far right, as my hon. Friend the Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) just mentioned, to the intra-religious issues that have been discussed this afternoon. The Home Office needs to support organisations in dealing with those disparate issues, particularly intra-religious conflicts of the sort we see in Syria, which are the driving force behind the rise of ISIL. They are particularly difficult to address, and public bodies need full support in tackling them.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles talked earlier about the counter-narrative issue and the Muslim community is trying very hard to combat sectarianism with a narrative of peace and unity. Public bodies should be supporting community bodies in doing that, but they need guidance on how best to achieve it. That is why the Opposition think we must have guidance and that it must be properly and effectively scrutinised. I hope that the Minister will therefore agree to accept amendments 19 and 20.
I want now to turn to the cost of the Government’s approach. The impact assessment presumes that a local authority with high risk will face costs of about £40,000. It also estimates that about a third of local authorities will be in this high-risk category—that is, just about the 90 local authorities that Labour deemed priority areas when Prevent was introduced. As I said at the outset, that number reduced when the Government had their review in 2011. I want to be clear whether the Minister is now acknowledging that the 2011 Prevent review got the numbers wrong and that 90 is nearer the mark for the number of areas at high risk. The £40,000 compliance cost is about the level of support provided to those areas under Labour, so will the Minister confirm whether the Home Office will meet those costs? Or is it a cost that local authorities will have to meet?
I have spoken about the problems in the Department for Education in delivering on the Prevent agenda and I want to talk a little about the cost to schools. The impact assessment now seems to put the onus on schools to bring in people to help with training and says that that will cost £62 for every 20 people trained. That seems a rather low figure to me. For example, if a school in my constituency wanted to bring in an individual to provide Prevent training in Hull it would probably need to bring in someone from an area with expertise—let us say Leeds. That person would have to travel for an hour from Leeds and then deliver the programme. A cost of £62 to cover the travel costs, travel time, the presentation and the preparation seems very low for 20 people. Will the Minister explain how he reached the figures for the additional costs that will be put on the police, prisons and the probation service?
Schedule 3 lists the bodies to which the duty will apply and clause 22 gives the Secretary of State powers to add to that list. Schedule 3 is extensive and includes health bodies, education bodies, prisons and probation services. I note that local NHS trusts and foundation trusts are included but there is no mention of the clinical commissioning groups. Why has no duty been put on the commissioners of services to fulfil their duties on Prevent? I also note that there is no mention of general practitioners, or some of the social enterprises that have been set up to deliver NHS services, such as community health partnerships. We know that more privatisation is coming into the NHS, so will the Minister explain how private health care providers will be covered by this provision? Similarly, the Government are in the process of privatising probation services, so will the Minister explain how G4S, Serco and others will be covered by this duty?
In theory, the Government can extend the duty to other bodies as they see fit subject to the limitations of clause 22(2), which lists legislative and judicial bodies as exempt, as are the Secret Intelligence Service and the Security Service. Why cannot the intelligence bodies be included in a duty to prevent people being drawn into terrorism? It seems the type of provision destined to fuel conspiracy theorists.
More importantly, I want to turn to the implications of clauses 21 and 22 for the devolved Administrations in Wales and Scotland. While counter-terrorism is a retained power, clause 21 will cover a number of bodies that are otherwise entirely accountable to the Welsh Assembly or the Scottish Parliament. The Opposition welcome provisions in clauses 23 and 24 that would demand consultation with the Scottish and Welsh Governments, but can the Minister confirm that, regardless of the specific set-ups in Scotland and Wales, devolved bodies will be covered by the same guidance as English bodies? It is noticeable that no Scottish institution is included in schedule 3. Presumably that is because consultation with the Scottish authorities has not yet concluded. Is the Minister expecting, or intending, to add to schedule 3 while the Bill is going through the remaining stages?
I presume from her comments that the hon. Lady does not want Scotland included in this. I am sure that she has heard about the different, more holistic approach that we have. Could she help us to persuade the Minister to allow us to do our thing uninterrupted by what has been proposed in the Bill?
We are at the Committee stage of the Bill, looking specifically at the Government’s provisions. Scotland is covered by Prevent. I am concerned that within schedule 3, which lists the bodies that are covered by the duty, there is nothing from Scotland. That worries me. I want to hear from the Minister why that is and what discussions are being held. As the rest of the Bill applies, I assume that there is a gap that needs to be filled.
On Northern Ireland, when the Government introduced the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, they neglected to consult the Northern Ireland Executive. The result is that, after four years, the National Crime Agency still does not have a remit to work in Northern Ireland. I am concerned that we could end up with a similar situation with Prevent and the agenda in Scotland.
I am grateful to the hon. Lady but I just want to correct a tiny detail. The National Crime Agency’s full remit does not extend to Northern Ireland because Sinn Fein and the Social Democratic and Labour party refused to allow that. It is not about consultation with the rest of the parties or with the Northern Ireland Executive; they all want it. The people of Northern Ireland want it, but two parties are holding the rest of us hostage, so to speak.
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for that comment and for putting the record straight.
Although clause 38 is not covered by this group, I want to refer to it as it confers upon the Secretary of State the power to make amendments to any piece of legislation that interferes with the operations of the Bill, including Acts of the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly. If I have read this correctly, if the Home Secretary thinks, for example, that the setting up of a new type of school in Scotland by the Scottish Parliament is affecting not just the implementation of clause 21 but the specific policies provided for under clause 24, she can change the devolved legislation on its operation. She can even do that without consulting the relevant Government, which is why I have tabled amendment 18, which we will discuss in the next group.
Similar issues exist with the Channel programme. It would be placed on a statutory footing alongside the rest of Prevent. As with Prevent, this is a policy area of enormous importance and the Opposition support efforts to strengthen it. Once again, however, the Government are putting obligations on local authorities without ensuring that there are provisions to make sure that they are fully supported by central Government. Clause 28 provides for the creation of local assessment and support panels in every local authority. According to clause 33, this includes county councils, district councils and unitary authorities in England and Wales. Again it seems that the Government have not yet reached agreement with the Scottish Government on how this would be implemented in Scotland. I am sure that the Minister will respond to that point. In addition, the legislation is not clear on which local authorities are meant to have a panel when there are multiple tiers of local government. Does the responsibility rest with district or county councils? What happens where there are unitary authorities and district councils? Has this yet been decided and thought through? The impact assessment says that local authorities will be able to combine to create support panels, but can the Minister explain why that is not provided for in the Bill?
Many panels should already exist and comply with the current guidance provided by the Home Office. Will the Minister tell the Committee how many councils have created these boards and what assessment has been made of their operation? What evidence led the Government to decide that the current system was not working? I have asked parliamentary questions about this in the past, but the Government have refused to give details or even to confirm that a monitoring framework is in place. Will the Minister provide further information about how well these panels are working?
Under clause 28(3), a chief officer of police must make the referral to the local support panel. The current system allows numerous local bodies, including schools, colleges, universities, youth offending teams, local authority troubled families teams, charities and voluntary groups to be able to refer to the police, who can then conduct a screening process. Will the Minister confirm that this process will be allowed to continue, and will he explain why this particular aspect was not put on a statutory footing as well?
My first concern is with the level of expertise that these panels must have, which is why I tabled amendment 21. As provided for in the Bill, local support panels have to assess the individual’s risk of radicalisation and tailor a support package to address those risks. The issues are complex: the current guidance cites 22 vulnerability indicators that may lead to a Channel referral. The panel must weigh up these factors and tailor a support package, which could have any number of elements. In some areas, the panel will be addressing issues it has not faced before, such as sectarian hatred, which can be exacerbated by poorly provided support.
This is why we feel the Home Office needs to support local panels by providing an approved list of support providers who are able to give the specialist interventions needed to address the specific issues facing the individual. The panel is tasked with assessing the progress the individual makes, but it does not necessarily have the ability to assess the quality of support provided by other agencies, which is why we want the Home Office to assess providers.
The Government have repeatedly claimed to be stepping up efforts to stop Prevent funding going to organisations that could be radicalising people. That cannot be done unless the Home Office takes a lead in vetting those bodies. Under clause 32, the Home Secretary may indemnify Channel providers, so it seems quite reasonable for her to assess them as well. Indeed, it is my understanding that the Home Office, along with regional groups of police forces, do provide this level of support. It is our view that this role should be in the Bill, alongside the responsibilities given to local authorities. I hope that the Minister will be able to accept this amendment. We both want to see support working better to provide locally led interventions, but the Home Office needs a stronger role in supporting local authorities.
The second amendment I shall speak to is amendment 22, which seeks to expand the membership of panels provided for under clause 29. At present, the Bill provides for just two statutory members of the panel: the local authority and the local police force. The local authority may, according to the explanatory notes, appoint other members. This contrasts sharply with current best practice as set out in the Home Office guidance, which suggests panels of up to 14 members. We do not think all need to be on every panel, and indeed many of them are part of the local authority, so they could be brought in as and when necessary, but we do think that both probation and health professionals should always be on the panel.
There are two advantages to increasing the expertise on the panel. First, the panel will be in a better position to assess the 22 vulnerability indicators that I mentioned and to make a correct decision. Secondly, it ensures that more of the bodies that will provide the support have a role in determining that support. If we look at the existing guidance, we find that it may include: life skills, anger management, cognitive and behavioural contact, health awareness contact and drug and alcohol awareness. Each of those categories would obviously need to be tailored, and would come with a cost. We therefore think it is important for probation and health professionals to be included as statutory members of the panel.
I want to raise three more issues with the Minister. First, will he tell us who will be responsible for monitoring the duty given to public bodies, which would potentially lead to the issuing of a direction by the Home Secretary? The Bill refers to a mandatory order, which I assume the Home Secretary can seek when she wishes to enforce a direction, but will an appeal process be available to a public body that considers a direction to be unfair or unfounded?
My second question concerns co-operation. Clause 30 gives various bodies, as listed in schedule 4—again, Scottish bodies are absent—a duty to co-operate with the directions of the panel, which, as I have said, could take a number of forms. Who will bear the cost of providing the support, and how will disputes between the panel and the provider on questions such as cost, proportionality and effectiveness be settled?
Thirdly, there is the issue of compulsion. The programmes for which chapter 2 of part 5 provides are—rightly—voluntary. Will the Minister tell us how the police, or indeed the panel, would respond if an individual rejected support, or if support were deemed to be ineffective?
Although we support the measures in this part of the Bill, we have a number of concerns, to which I hope the Minister will return. They relate to burden-sharing between local agencies and central Government, practical support for local authorities, implementation in devolved areas, and the level of scrutiny. I hope that the Minister will feel able to accept the modest improvements that we have suggested, and to give assurances on other matters. If he does not, we will reserve our position, and may return to the issues at a later stage.
We have had a good and wide-ranging debate that has touched on powerful and important themes relating to how we should confront some of the extremism and terrorism that sadly resides in many of our communities.
The right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) rightly drew attention to the very direct context in which the debate takes place. I referred last night to the unfolding events in Australia, but we have now learnt that Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson lost their lives in that appalling incident, and I know that the Committee will wish to send its kindest wishes and thoughts to the families and friends of those involved. We also learnt today of a shocking further attack in Peshawar, where innocent children who were simply going about their studies in north-west Pakistan were brutally killed. That news is deeply shocking. It is horrifying that children should be killed simply for going to school. I think that we all share an utter revulsion at and condemnation of those who were responsible for these despicable acts.
We have had a useful debate on part 5, and the nature of seeking to put the Prevent strand of our Contest counter-terrorism strategy on a statutory footing. Of course, Prevent aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism—it deals with all forms of terrorism, including terrorism associated with far-right extremists—but resources are focused on the areas of highest threat. The most significant of those threats currently comes from al-Qaeda, from the so-called Islamic State, or ISIL—which is neither Islamic nor a state—and from other terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq. However, terrorists associated with neo-Nazis and far-right extremist groups pose a continued threat to our safety and security, and remain very much a focus of our work.
Before the Minister moves further into singing the praises of part 5, with which I actually agree, I do think he owes the people of Northern Ireland, and indeed this House, an explanation or some justification for the omission of Northern Ireland from the application of part 5. We in Northern Ireland suffer not just from those who leave Northern Ireland to be radicalised in Syria and come back into Northern Ireland; we also have to deal with the current recruitment by dissident republicans such as the Real IRA and Continuity IRA. The Minister must explain why part 5 does not extend to us.
Of course I absolutely recognise the continuing challenge and threats in Northern Ireland and commend the work of our various agencies and the Police Service of Northern Ireland in keeping people in Northern Ireland safe from Northern Irish-related terrorism. What I would say to the hon. Lady is that Prevent does not currently extend to Northern Ireland. Different measures are put in place in Northern Ireland and the intent of the Bill is to put on a statutory footing the programmes and arrangements that currently exist under the Prevent strand, but that is not in any way to undermine the very important work taking place in Northern Ireland to confront the terrorist threat there.
I rise with some sense of exasperation because with the greatest respect to the Minister, for whom I have a very high regard, he will know that the only mention of the Prevent strategy is in the explanatory notes, which are not part of the Bill. The terms of the Bill, and clause 21 which is under consideration, provide that there is a duty to have
“regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.”
That applies to Northern Ireland and should apply to Northern Ireland. The word “Prevent” is not in clause 21.
As I have sought to explain to the hon. Lady, the clause seeks to give effect to the Prevent strategy. That is why it has been formulated in the way it has. As I have underlined, these provisions are about placing the existing programmes on a statutory footing. Currently Northern Ireland does not have programmes equivalent to, for example, Channel, which is available in England and Wales, and that is why the Bill has been constructed in this manner, but that is not in any way to resile from the exceptionally important work that continues to be undertaken in seeking to arrest or to disrupt terrorist threats in Northern Ireland and work seeking to counter people being drawn into terrorism. We have taken that different approach in respect of Northern Ireland. I recognise that the hon. Lady does not accept or agree with that response, and obviously I respect her perspective, but this is the manner in which the Bill has been advanced.
I am grateful to the Minister. I need him to put on the record whether or not the Home Office has capitulated to any overtures made to it by Sinn Fein or other political parties that this part of the Bill should not extend to Northern Ireland. I am glad the Minister is shaking his head.
I can give a categorical no to the hon. Lady’s question. This is rather about the manner in which the Prevent strategy has been advanced and, indeed, the separate arrangements with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who has the lead responsibility in relation to a number of these matters.
I want to come back to the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles, who opened the debate, and her direct challenge in relation to where the focus should lie and the underpinning of terrorism. I draw her attention to objective one of the Prevent strategy, which is the ideological challenge. That is absolutely at the heart of the Prevent strategy—the work we do as central Government and the work undertaken at a local level in communities. It says in terms:
“All terrorist groups have an ideology. Promoting that ideology, frequently on the internet, facilitates radicalisation and recruitment”,
“Challenging ideology and disrupting the ability of terrorists to promote it is a fundamental part of Prevent.”
I will come on to respond—
I will respond, if I am given a chance, to the amendment the right hon. Lady has tabled and to a number of points other Members have made.
It is worth underlining that we have made it clear that we will work with all sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation, including, as we have heard, those in education, health care providers and the wider criminal justice system. In legislating, our intention is to spread the many examples of good practice that have developed and to ensure that across the country specified authorities understand the risk from radicalisation in their area, and take proportionate steps to confront and deal with it. What that will mean in practice will be set out in statutory guidance, which I will go on to talk about.
One area that has attracted comment is the power in clause 25 for the Secretary of State to issue directions to a specified authority to enforce the performance of the Prevent duty. Directions may be given only where the Secretary of State is satisfied that the specified authority has failed to discharge that duty. The Secretary of State must consult the Welsh or Scottish Ministers before giving a direction where the direction relates to the devolved functions of a Welsh or Scottish specified authority.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), speaking for the Opposition, asked what challenge process there would be. In essence, there is an escalation process. The guidance will set out certain responsibilities for each of the different agencies and institutions. If an agency or institution is then not meeting that, the Government will seek to work with that body to put in place appropriate guidance and steps that may be necessary. I chair a Prevent oversight board—Lord Carlile is a member of it—which seeks to assess our delivery. It would seek to assess that process and perhaps make a recommendation to the Secretary of State in those circumstances. The Secretary of State then has to give a direction, which is open to challenge by way of judicial review. For the Secretary of State to enforce it, she would have to get the specific order from the court and the court would need to enforce it. So there is a clear escalation process. Reaching the end of it would be highly unlikely, but it is absolutely right that we reserve that ability to give directions in that way and provide that escalation process.
That is an important point for the universities sector to understand, and it was certainly in the evidence I gave to the Joint Committee on Human Rights in highlighting some good practices. There is good guidance to be found among individual universities and in other sectors—indeed, I could cite the guidance of the National Union of Students. Many examples of good practice highlight where the duty needs to go, in ensuring that good practice is put in place and in sharing it. So a number of safeguards and limitations are built into these proposals to ensure that the powers are dealt with appropriately, with multiple layers of protection, including judicial oversight. It is important to restate that.
Let me deal with amendments 30 and 31 to chapter 1 of part 5, which stand in the names of the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles and my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis). I listen carefully to their recommendations and contributions, because I know the passion they hold for this subject matter, the knowledge they have and their intent to ensure that the Government and society as a whole are doing the right thing when seeking to prevent terrorism and in confronting the narrative, and the perverted and twisted justification that may lie behind it. She made some good points in drawing the Committee’s attention to the work of Sara Khan and We Will Inspire, and I am very aware of its work. It is a good example of a civil society group taking action, underlining the role British Muslim women play and empowering people. Other organisations such as Families Against Stress and Trauma are looking at the role of family and seeking to ensure that families feel able to come forward to seek assistance.
One issue that has been of deep concern to me for the past few years has been the lack of support for communities more generally to build their resilience to the extremist message. The Government seem now to be making a distinction between their work with individuals and Channel, and their work with families, but what I do not see is the broader work with communities more generally that can help to create a climate within which this ideology is not tolerated, the discourse is not acceptable and work is done on a broader framework. I am concerned about this and I would like to hear from the Minister that communities are not excluded from this programme of work.
They absolutely are not. Those communities are very much a core strand of the work. If we look at what Prevent has achieved over the period from 2011, we can see that approval has been granted to 180 projects, reaching out to 55,000 people. This year we are supporting more than 70 projects, and with the engagement of our co-ordinators we are actively building the capability of communities and civil society organisations and providing them with the skills to campaign against extremist material, including that which is available online. I recognise the point that the right hon. Lady makes, but it is absolutely our intent that Prevent will continue to do that work.
The Prime Minister has announced an additional £130 million to be made available for increased counter-terrorism work, which will include Prevent activity. I can assure the right hon. Lady that although there is still work to do on how the funding is to be allocated between different aspects of our Contest strategy, Prevent will clearly be an important part of the support and indeed will help to meet the obligations that are contemplated in the Bill.
On the counter-terrorism internet referral unit, the right hon. Lady made a point about challenging extremism online, as did the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North. I underline the fact that since the CTIU was set up, 65,000 pieces of unlawful terrorist-related content have been taken down, with 46,000 items being taken down since December 2013. There is the ability to report that. The general point has been made about the role of industry, and there is more that industry can do. That is a point that we as a Government have underlined very clearly. It is also a message that this House has underlined, reflecting as it has on the work of the Intelligence and Security Committee in its recent report.
Let me move now to the specifics of the right hon. Lady’s amendment. In respect of the duties in the Bill, confronting extremism that can lead to terrorism is not some implicit aspect of this but absolutely intrinsic to the work. That was why we did not see the necessity of placing this matter in an explicit way in the Bill, because it is so intrinsic in meeting that obligation. We believe that that is adequately covered in the duty, but obviously I will continue to reflect on the clear message that the right hon. Lady has given on this. I recognise the sincerity and the manner in which she has advanced her amendment.
I certainly recognise that extremism goes much wider than terrorism and includes behaviour that it would not be appropriate to target in counter-terrorism legislation or work, and that we must not consider that wide-ranging work solely through the lens of counter-terrorism. That is why the Home Secretary has announced that the Home Office is developing and leading a new extremism strategy across Government, recognising that it is not simply the Home Office that should be involved, as a number of different Departments also have roles and responsibilities. We plan to publish the new strategy in the spring.
Amendment 19 would change clause 24 to say that the Secretary of State “must” instead of “may”
“issue guidance to specified authorities about the exercise of their duty”.
We have publicly committed to issuing guidance at the same time as we commence these provisions. We will be publishing a draft version of that guidance for consultation very shortly. The guidance will set out the type of activity that we expect specified authorities to consider when complying with the duty. The draft guidance will set out a risk-based approach to the Prevent duty. As a starting point, all specified authorities should demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the risk of radicalisation in their area, institution or body. It will also address the circumstances in which it is appropriate to share information and make it clear that neither the Prevent programme nor this duty will involve any covert activity.
I want to take on board the point about universities and freedom of speech. As I have said previously, universities’ commitment to freedom of speech and the rationality underpinning the advancement of knowledge mean that they represent one of our most important safeguards against extremist views and ideologies. The duty is not about restricting freedom of speech.
It is intended to be one set of guidance covering all the relevant public bodies, but our intention is not simply to publish it; we also intend to hold a public consultation. It is not simply about the House being satisfied with the guidance; we intend to consult widely so that these issues can be examined carefully. The hon. Lady also mentioned clinical commissioning groups. Certainly, as part of the consultation, we will want to receive inputs regarding whether any other bodies should be brought within the ambit of the Bill.
When we were discussing the need to counter ideology, I asked whether that would be included in the guidance. I think it is absolutely essential that we have that guidance before we debate the Bill on Report, because so much hangs on its contents. It will be impossible for us to take that broader view without it.
I hear that message loud and clear. I hope that the right hon. Lady will receive further reassurance when she reads the guidance.
We shared the details of our proposals with the devolved Administrations at the earliest opportunity, subject to ongoing discussions within the Government. I have spoken and written to the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice and the Welsh First Minister about the Bill. The Home Secretary also had the opportunity to discuss these matters with the First Minister in the Joint Ministerial Committee on Monday, which was chaired by the Prime Minister. We continue to work closely with counterparts in the Scottish and Welsh Governments, at both ministerial and official level, but the Government’s intention is that the provisions will apply to Scotland. We are discussing that with the Scottish and Welsh Governments.
I heard the comments from the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), but this is a reserved matter and many of the specified authorities that will be subject to the duty in Wales and Scotland will exercise devolved functions, so it is important that they continue to work in that way. The clear point is that this is about national security. I think that we can learn in both directions. He said that lessons could be learned from practice in Scotland, and I am sure he would recognise that equally there might be very good lessons—we have heard some examples today—that could be learned from practice in England and Wales.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North mentioned amendment 20 and the requirement that it be considered. I hope she understands that it is still to be considered by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. We shall wait to hear what it says before making a change of the sort she contemplates. I recognise the need for appropriate examination of these matters and note the comments she has made. We will certainly reflect upon that point in the light of any further considerations and recommendations.
Amendment 21 would require the Secretary of State to issue guidance to support panels in carrying out their functions. As I have explained, clause 28 already includes provision for the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance to support a panel in respect of its functions. Guidance already exists for local partnerships. We will consult relevant bodies on how that should be updated and then issue new statutory guidance. The amendment also seeks to provide the panel with a list of approved providers of deradicalisation programmes and ensure that they are subject to monitoring. The list of approved providers is already made available to key members of the panel so that they can determine who might be best placed to deliver a theological or ideological intervention. It is the role of the chair to use the panel’s expertise to identify the most appropriate support package for an individual.
Amendment 22 would amend clause 29 to add the local health care commissioning group and a local representative of the National Offender Management Service as required members. These organisations are listed in schedule 4 as partners of local panels under the duty to co-operate. It is key to the success of the programme that panels have access to the right information and have the most appropriate attendance. I agree that it is essential that partners from health and NOMS co-operate under these provisions, and I believe they will. It is not necessary to express that in the terms of the amendment. It may not be appropriate for them to take part in all aspects of the meeting, but we need to keep the matter under review.
Clause 30 places a duty on partners of a panel to co-operate with the panel and the police in carrying out their functions and supporting people who might be vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. This will include the giving of information.
Finally—[Hon. Members: “Ah!”] Thank you. Finally, on new clause 12, I say again to the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) that we consult closely with our European partners and that is kept under close review. We take international best practice firmly to heart. Her new clause, which specifies certain European countries, is not needed because of that over-arching requirement.
On the basis of the assurances that I have provided, I ask right hon. and hon. Members to withdraw their amendments.
I thank the Minister for his customary good manners, politeness and attention to detail on these issues. I have no doubt that he will consider in great depth the amendments that were tabled.
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) for supporting the amendments today, and I thank members of my own Front-Bench team for their attention to detail, helping to raise the profile of Prevent and Channel and countering radicalisation, which is so important to all of us not just in this country, but across the world.
I do not want to ruin the Minister’s Christmas, but he has given me a solemn undertaking that he will continue to consider the substance of our amendments. If, indeed, countering the ideology is intrinsic to all the Prevent work, I still cannot understand why there is a reluctance to make that commitment explicit in the Bill. I accept that it might not be implicit. I accept now that it is intrinsic. I would like the Minister to move just that one step forward from intrinsic to explicit, and if he was able to do that, I would be extremely grateful.
The Minister has also given us an undertaking that the guidance under clause 24 will be available for consideration on Report in this House. That is essential. I am delighted to have that commitment on the record today. On that basis I am happy to withdraw the amendment, reserving my right to come back on Report.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clauses 21 to 23 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Schedule 3 agreed to.
Amendment proposed: 20, page 15, line 21, leave out subsection (5) and insert—
‘(5) Before giving guidance under this section, or revising guidance already given, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament—
(a) the proposed guidance or proposed revisions, and
(b) a draft of an order providing for the guidance, or revisions to the guidance, to come into force.
(6) The Secretary of State must make the order, and issue the guidance or (as the case may be) make the revisions to the guidance, if the draft of the order is approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
(7) Guidance, or revisions to guidance, come into force in accordance with an order under this section.
(8) Such an order—
(a) is to be a statutory instrument, and
(b) may contain transitional, transitory or saving provision.” .—(Diana Johnson.)
Question put, That the amendment be made.
Clause 24 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 25 to 30 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Schedule 4 agreed to.
Clauses 31 to 33 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
New Clause 12
Review of international best practice around deradicalisation
‘(1) The Secretary of State Shall, within three months of this Act coming into force, lay before both Houses of Parliament a review into international best practice around deradicalisation.
(2) The review under subsection (1) shall include in particular—
(a) examination of best practice in—
(iv) other countries as determined by the Secretary of State.
(b) the role of community-based organisations in developing and delivering strategies to prevent radicalisation and to deradicalise individuals.
(c) evidence-based recommendations for the rapid implementation of a comprehensive deradicalisation programme in the UK.’—(Caroline Lucas.)
Brought up, and read the First time.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.
Insurance against payments made in response to terrorist demands
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 34 and 35 address two discrete but important aspects. Clause 34 amends the Terrorism Act 2000, so that an offence is committed if an insurer or reinsurer reimburses a payment that they know, or have reasonable cause to suspect, has been made in response to a terrorist demand. Like other terrorist-financing offences, the measure will have extraterritorial effect. As a result of the measure, we will ensure and put beyond any doubt that UK insurance companies do not form part of a terrorism ransom chain, and that those who make payments to terrorist entities cannot be reimbursed for the payment.
Clause 35 introduces schedule 5, which contains amendments to the power to examine goods at ports contained in schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000, as well as amendments to other enactments relating to that power. Those changes follow on from a number of recommendations that David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, highlighted in terms of the need for certain clarifications in respect of the specific schedule 7 power. The purpose of these changes is to clarify the legal position in relation to where goods may be examined and the examination of goods that comprise items of post, and to put beyond doubt the basis in law for this vital investigative capability.
I thank the Minister for his helpful explanation. It is right that we do not pay ransoms and that insurance companies are not allowed to do so. The Bill proposes to make it illegal to make payments on ransom insurance policies, and that is an argument I support and do not wish to argue against this evening. However, I do want to ask him a couple of questions.
Will the Minister tell the Committee how he has consulted insurance companies on the impact and implementation of these measures? The Government’s own impact assessment makes it clear that there is a risk that:
“UK insurers/reinsurers may lose business. Overseas insurers may be able to offer the same product as UK insurers but without this restriction. Based on consultation, we estimate…UK insurers/reinsurers’ annual gross premium income from kidnap and ransom insurance policies to be between £60 and £160 million.”
a year. There are two issues I want to raise. What response has he had from insurers on their potential loss of £160 million? I am particularly concerned about whether the measure will simply transfer that insurance risk to companies that operate abroad.
I want clarity on clause 34, which makes it a criminal offence for people in the UK to take out ransom insurance. If a UK citizen insured themselves through a foreign company, would the provisions still apply? The Minister has mentioned extraterritorial reach, but I want to be clear that the Bill does not deny UK insurance companies the premiums of £60 million to £160 million by simply transferring the fund to foreign companies. Will the provision apply to a company based in the UK but whose policy could be placed with an insurance underwriter based in America, France or Rome? I would be interested to know whether all those aspects are covered. I am sure the Minister will be able to allay my concerns and fears.
As an Opposition spokesman I continue to support the straightforward principle—I supported it when I was a Minister—that we do not pay ransom demands, because they simply encourage further kidnappings and associated activity. Does the Bill cover other areas, such as a kidnapped oil worker? We may not pay a ransom, but there might be insurance issues related to covering his loss of salary or his mortgage payments. I want to be clear that the measures cover the issue of ransom, as opposed to other insurance matters that a responsible company would want to implement.
Finally, the Bill has a clear definition of terrorism, but I would welcome the Minister’s view of, for example, Somali pirates. They are not terrorists, but does the definition cover the payment of ransoms in general, or is its focus on terrorism alone? If the Minister wishes to table further amendments, I would be happy to support measures that address other types of ransom, because it is a cardinal principle that we do not pay ransoms in any way, shape or form for individuals who have been kidnapped. I do not quite understand the Minister’s approach to insurance payments, helpful though it is, and I would welcome an explanation of his position on other types of kidnap ransoms.
We support clause 35, which is a sensible measure. I do not need to say anything else. I hope the Minister will respond to my comments.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his support. It is a sobering fact that ISIL alone made $35 billion to $45 billion between September 2013 and September 2014. There is no doubt that that has boosted its capability. Simply put, money paid to terrorists equals an increased threat to the safety of UK citizens. The right hon. Gentleman understands that, as he made clear in his speech.
We consulted leading representatives of the insurance industry and its regulators, the police and operational and international partners about the measure. We have had constructive discussions with the industry. This is a niche part of the wider insurance market and it makes up only a small part of the business of those insurers. Insurance companies have been clear that their policies exclude reimbursement of ransoms paid to proscribed groups in any case. The point of the measure is to make that absolutely clear and put it beyond doubt. Section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2000 centres on what constitutes arrangements and we are seeking to provide complete clarity. The measures are framed in the context of terrorism, although there are various insurance policies that operate in the market, because they are intended to prevent money going to terrorist groups.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about extraterritorial jurisdiction. The measures are intended to govern insurance companies based in the UK, so that they cannot offshore those payments; if they have some other insurance company with links to the UK, that company will be caught by the measures. It is therefore important that the legislation is framed in that manner.
There is no suggestion that UK insurance companies have been paying or facilitating the payment of terrorist ransoms. The UK insurance industry conducts itself professionally and with due regard to UK legislation and regulations. However, we do not want insurance companies to be put in a position in which they reimburse payments that have gone to terrorist groups, which does represent a real risk. It is important that we underline the due diligence that both insurance companies and their customers should undertake in such situations.
We believe that this legislation will give a clear message that kidnap for ransom is deplorable. The focus of the Bill is countering terrorism, and ransom payments can provide terrorist groups with huge injections of money, which they can then use in threatening the public. That is why the measures are required.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 34 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 35 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Schedule 5 agreed to.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Board
I beg to move amendment 24, page 22, line 14, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
“(1) The Secretary of State shall by regulations made by statutory instrument establish a body to—
(a) provide advice and assistance to the persons appointed under—
(i) section 36(1) of the Terrorism Act 2006,
(ii) section 31(1) of the Terrorist Asset-Freezing &c. Act 2010, and
(iii) section 20(1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011,
in the discharge of their statutory functions;
(b) review the operation, effectiveness and implications of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, the CounterTerrorism Act 2008, this Act, and any other law or prerogative power to the extent that it relates to counter-terrorism;
(c) consider whether such legislation contains appropriate safeguards, is proportionate and remains necessary;
(d) review intelligence-sharing guidance and practice to the extent that it relates to counter-terrorism and the functions of the Board;
(e) make recommendations to any public authority about the exercise of its statutory functions relating to the prevention of terrorism;
(f) undertake inquiries relating to counter-terrorism when invited to do so by the Home Secretary, the Treasury or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, or on the initiative of the Board;
(g) encourage good practice in the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of terrorism.
(h) provide advice and assistance to Government on the development and implementation of policy relating to the prevention of terrorism.”
This expands the remit of the body to match that which is described in the Government‘s Terms of Reference for this body.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Amendment 23, page 22, line 22, leave out “Privacy and Civil Liberties Board” and insert “Counter Terrorism Oversight Panel”.
This would rename the body created by Clause 36.
Amendment 25, page 22, line 25, at end insert
“in accordance with the Code of Public Appointments”.
Amendment 26, page 22, line 32, at end insert—
“(i) the information-gathering powers of the board;
(j) reporting requirements, and the formulation of and consultation on an annual work plan;
(k) the access to such relevant classified material as may be required in order for the board to undertake its functions under subsection (1);”
This increases the points that have to be included in regulation brought forward by the Secretary of State to include information gathering powers, formulation of an annual work plan and relevant to classified material.
Amendment 8, page 22, line 32, at end insert—
“(3A) Regulations under section (3) shall include provision requiring the board to undertake an inquiry into the retention of and access to data relating to professions that operate under a duty of confidentiality.”
Amendment 9, page 22, line 34, at end insert—
“(4A) Regulations under section (3) shall provide for the membership of the board to include representatives of professions who operate under a duty of confidentiality.”
Amendment 10, page 23, line 9, at end insert—
““professions who operate under a duty of confidentiality” shall include, but not be limited to, journalists, legal representatives, medical professionals and Members of Parliament.”
Clause 36 stand part.
Clause 37 stand part.
Amendment 18, in clause 38, page 23, line 31, at end insert—
“(4A) The Secretary of State must consult with Welsh Ministers before making provisions under subsection (1) so far as relating to any Measure or Act of the National Assembly of Wales.
(4B) The Secretary of State must consult with Scottish Ministers before making provisions under subsection (1) so far as relating to any Act or instrument of the Scottish Parliament.
(4C) The Secretary of State must consult with the Northern Ireland Executive before making provisions under subsection (1) so far as relating to any Act or instrument of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”
This would ensure that the Secretary of State could not amend legislation from the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland Assembly without first consulting with the Scottish or Welsh Governments or the Northern Ireland Executive.
Clauses 38 to 41 stand part.
Government amendment 12.
Clauses 42 and 43 stand part.
New clause 3—Intercept Evidence—use in legal proceedings—
“(1) Section 18 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (c.23) is amended as follows.
(2) After paragraph 1(f) insert—
“(g) any proceedings relating to an offence which, if committed in England and Wales at the time of the conviction, would have constituted an offence triable only on indictment (“an indictable-only offence”) under section 51 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.””
This new Clause removes the exclusion of intercept evidence from legal proceedings in criminal prosecutions.
New clause 7—Review of Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament resources and powers—
“The Secretary must, within a reasonable time period, consult the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament and lay a report before Parliament within six months of the commencement of this Act, on the resources and powers of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.”
This group of amendments relates to the Government’s plans to create a privacy and civil liberties board. Clause 36 does not actually tell us very much—it is an enabling clause—so I have tabled amendments 24 and 25 to allow us to debate what the board will actually do.
As the clause is drafted, we have a name for the board, and there are three possible ways it could go. First, we have an idea of what a privacy and civil liberties board could look like from its name, which invokes the idea of a body with a wide remit of work on privacy and civil liberties issues in the United Kingdom, and which would safeguard human rights. Such a body would be very similar to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which was created by a Labour Government.
Secondly, the Home Office has published terms of reference, which suggest a body that will support the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in providing oversight of counter-terrorism legislation in the UK and investigating the operation of that legislation. We think that what is contained in the terms of reference is sensible and would provide both capacity and openness in the oversight of counter-terrorism policy. However, as I have said, clause 36 is quite an empty provision at the moment.
The third possible version of the board is as currently constituted in clause 36, which gives the Home Secretary powers to create—in future, if she wishes to do so—procedures, membership and the work plan for the board and provisions on publishing of reports. All those details are left to future secondary legislation.
If the body is created it is important that it has strong powers. Our amendments 23 to 26 would help achieve that. The post of independent reviewer of terrorism legislation has been around for over 40 years and its current formulation was created by a Labour Government. The post works well, and both holders of it since 2001 have served with real distinction. That does not mean that we are opposed to further strengthening of the oversight arrangements. Earlier this year, the current independent reviewer, David Anderson, QC, identified the limitations of his reviewer role, including the fact that it was restricted to certain statutes and the fact that significant powers, including those in the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, were excluded and were therefore going unreviewed. He also pointed out that as a part-time reviewer without proper administrative support, he has extremely limited capacity.
I guess that the precursor of the proposal is the organ with exactly the same name in the United States, which was activated only after the Snowden events, when information was not just put in the public domain but became controversial and raised issues in Washington. The danger is that the body becomes toothless, does not have investigatory powers and cannot pre-empt a future Snowden. It seems to me that the most important aspect of that is the investigatory powers, not the rest.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will contribute to the debate, and I certainly have things to say about the title of the body and what it will be doing.
It is important to note what David Anderson said about being a part-time reviewer without proper administrative support and limited capacity. If the proposals on clause 36 were meant to address those concerns, they do not achieve that. They do nothing to address the areas of counter-terrorism legislation excluded from the remit of the commissioners, such as those in the 2008 Act, the powers in this Bill or use of the royal prerogative. David Anderson notes:
“These omissions reduce confidence in counter-terrorism law and are hard to understand, particularly after the Home Secretary agreed, as recently as March 2013, that ‘the scope of the Independent Reviewer’s responsibilities should keep pace with changes to primary legislation’, and accepted in principle my recommendation that the 2001 and 2008 Acts ‘should be examined with a view to extending your statutory functions to include the review of relevant sections of those Acts’. Indeed, as initially proposed in July, the functions of the PCLB would have extended to both these Acts.”
The Bill does not address issues of capacity and resources for the independent reviewer, either, although the impact assessment suggests that the board will receive far greater resources than those given to the independent reviewer. The cost of members of the board seems to take up much of that, and the impact assessment anticipates that the rate will be £897 a day. Is that correct and will the Minister comment on it?
The work that members of the board will do is not clear, either. The current reviewer describes the relationship between the independent reviewer and the proposed new board as
“ill-defined and potentially problematic”
and goes on to say that
“the idea is…for the Board ‘to provide advice and assistance’ to the Independent Reviewer. Both advice and assistance are always welcome: but the former, including from the most eminent and knowledgeable quarters, is already frequently sought and freely given, whereas the latter is critically lacking. To require the Independent Reviewer to chair a Board…will make further claims on the Independent Reviewer’s time and could easily lead to competing priorities and inefficiencies. For there to be a net benefit, commensurate with the cost of resourcing the Board, its members will have to be doers rather than talkers, willing to accept direction in relation to often unglamorous researching and writing tasks.”
The Bill does not make provision for this, nor does the impact assessment’s description explain who will undertake the research and assistance roles that are so badly needed.
Finally, there is an issue about access to documents. Will the panel be security-cleared to the same standard as the independent reviewer? Will the staff? What will be the procedures for redacting documents either before they are passed on to the board or before they are published? These are the issues we are trying to address with our amendments.
Amendment 24 has been tabled to ensure a board with a statutory remit that includes the areas that the independent reviewer does not cover. It will also ensure that the board could respond to other areas of considerable and understandable public concern about the operations of counter-terror policy. We want the board to consider not just privacy but other human rights impacts, as well as the effectiveness of counter-terror policy. As David Anderson points out, counter-terrorism oversight in the past has taken strength from not being limited. If the office of the independent reviewer has influence with the authorities, it is in part because the reviewer can make recommendations to improve not just the fairness, but the effectiveness of counter-terrorism law.
Importantly, especially given the earlier discussions about the breadth of public bodies going to implement Prevent, we also want the board to be allowed to make recommendations to public bodies and public authorities. We tabled amendment 25 in particular to ensure that appointments to this body are made in line with the code of public appointments. We want the board to include real experts who will be able to access materials and provide real insight. We do not want a body compiled through patronage. We tabled amendment 26 to ensure that the statutory instrument creating this body addresses key questions about information gathering, reporting and access to documents.
We would rename the body to give it a title that reflects the nature of what it will actually do. As I said, the current name is misleading. As David Anderson has pointed out, the name not only offers little clue as to the function of the proposed body, but suggests a pure civil liberties watchdog, which this is not. It is not clear why privacy is singled out. Other important human rights are potentially infringed by counter-terrorism law, including the right to liberty, the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression. Mr Anderson takes issue with the word “board”, which he feels is better suited to the historical management of waterways than to the rigorous exercise of scrutiny under the direction of an independent reviewer. So Labour would call the board “a counter-terrorism oversight panel”, and we would give it the powers to back that up.
If the Government are genuinely committed to creating the body they outline in the terms of reference, they should accept these amendments without any hesitation. Of course, this is only part of the oversight package that we require. When the Justice and Security Bill was before the House, the Opposition suggested a number of ways of strengthening the Intelligence and Security Committee to give it a stronger, more independent and more open remit. We remain absolutely committed to the ISC and want it to continue to play a vital role in the oversight of the security agencies alongside a more prominent role for the intelligence commissioners, which is why we tabled new clause 7.
Let me turn briefly to the miscellaneous provisions, particularly clause 38, to which I have tabled amendment 19. Under clause 38, the Secretary of State can make changes that are
“consequential on any provision of this Act”
in any piece of legislation made by any UK legislative body, including the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. This is important because under part 5, and particularly under clauses 21, 24 and 30, the Bill creates obligations on a range of bodies that are otherwise entirely devolved. As I mentioned in speaking to an earlier group of amendments, I do not think the Home Secretary should be able to amend devolved legislation without first consulting the relevant Government. That is why we tabled amendment 19, which I hope the Minister will feel able to accept.
I shall speak to new clause 3, tabled in my name. It is entitled “Intercept Evidence—use in legal proceedings”. It is a probing amendment and I do not propose to press it to the vote on this occasion. If I had wanted to press it, I would have included in the new clause the relevant legal machinery required, which is complex but not difficult to achieve if I wanted to do so. My aim is to provoke some sort of non-partisan debate on what is the cornerstone of counter-terrorism strategy—the legal treatment of intercept evidence. If need be, depending on what the Minister says and what the Government do in the meantime, I shall come back to the issue on Report.
The United Kingdom is unique among major western powers—common law powers and European Union countries—in not allowing the use of intercept evidence in court. I shall come on to the few exceptions in a moment. Why is that the case? It is difficult to know. GCHQ and its predecessor has always resisted putting any intercept evidence into the public domain. Frankly, this has probably been the case since the invention of the telephone. In the early days, I suspect it happened because gentlemen thought it ungentlemanly to listen in on other people’s conversations. Today, however, the argument advanced by the agencies concerns the protection of technique and capacity. Their attitude is very different from that of every other agency of its sort in the world. All our allies in the “five eyes” countries and beyond are equally concerned about protecting capability, but they also give high priority to the prosecution and conviction of terrorists and those who commit serious crimes. They manage to square that circle, but we do not appear to be able to do so at present.
The fact that we cannot use intercept evidence makes it more difficult for us to secure convictions in court in terrorism and serious crime cases. Lord Lloyd of Berwick has talked of the
“difficulty of obtaining evidence on which to charge and convict terrorists, particularly those who plan and direct terrorist activities without taking part in their…execution”.
Obtaining such evidence is incredibly important to those who must deal with the al-Qaeda style of terrorist operation, in which the bit players disappear in a cloud of vapour as they carry out their evil tasks.
I pay attention to Lord Lloyd because he is an appeal judge, a past Interception Commissioner, the man whom the last Conservative Government put in charge of reviewing all terrorism legislation, and a strong advocate of the use of intercept evidence in court—as, indeed, are the past Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald and the past Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith, along with a large number of senior police officers who are in charge of counter-terrorism.
The result of not being able to use intercept evidence in court is the greater difficulty of securing convictions. That in turn has been used to justify indefinite detention under part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, control orders and terrorism prevention and investigation measures, and the proposals for first 90, then 42, then 28 days of detention without charge. I am glad to say that all those proposals were defeated, or have subsequently been revoked.
What is perhaps worst of all is that the difficulty of securing convictions encourages our counter-terrorism agencies—both the intelligence agencies and the police agencies—to rely too much on disruption rather than prosecution. As the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) is present, let me add that that approach patently failed in Northern Ireland. It leaves too many terrorists on the streets, and leaves the agencies with a bigger job and a very difficult, perhaps impossible, task of assessment. That is clear from the report from the Intelligence and Security Committee on the Lee Rigby murder. The agencies fell down on the assessment of the murderers, who were known to them. The 7/7 bombers were also known to the agencies, but were judged to be too far down the list of 2,000 suspects. The problem is made worse by the failure to prosecute terrorists and to imprison terrorists after their convictions, and the lack of intercept evidence makes it worse still.
GCHQ told the Chilcot inquiry, and the subsequent Privy Council committee, that the use of intercept evidence would not deliver many extra convictions, but it is very hard to square that with evidence from other countries. When I was looking into the matter seven or eight years ago, I went to America to speak to all the various “three letters of the alphabet” agencies over there, as well as—most important in this context—the Department of Justice, about their use of intercept evidence. The man who was the second-highest-ranking representative of the Department of Justice—the highest-ranking non-political appointee—said that not a single terrorism or organised crime case had been successfully prosecuted in the United States without the use of intercept evidence, which was a major part of its massively successful counter-terrorism and counter-Mafia operations.
I have mentioned the Mafia and counter-organised crime operations because the problems involved are quite similar. Obtaining witnesses is difficult, as is obtaining intelligence. Those people kill their witnesses, and they are very clever about their use of communications. The organised crime syndicates in America are better advised than the likes of al-Qaeda by lawyers and technical people. The Americans have something called a CIPA process—CIPA stands for “Confidential Information Protection Act”. There is a CIPA court, which is a bit like the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. It involves security-cleared prosecution and defence counsel and a security-cleared judge, and all its hearings take place in secret.
That court decides on what evidence can be put to the main trial. This is a big battle that goes on. It prevents malevolent fishing expeditions by malevolent or badly judged lawyers, but it ensures that both sides of the case get proper treatment and proper justice is delivered. The Department of Justice representative said: “If we win the CIPA case, the main case goes straight to plea bargaining”—in other words, the other side gives in and accepts the outcome. He viewed the British approach as “incomprehensible.”
It is not just the Americans; all the other English-speaking peoples in the “five eyes” do much the same. In 2006, Australia, under its intercept arrangements delivered just short of 1,500 convictions—a combination of serious crime and counter-terrorism work. Its director of public prosecutions was even fiercer. His words at that time were: “If you don’t use intercept against terrorists, you are not being serious.” There are various problems in the UK under the European Court of Human Rights regime which make things a little bit more risky for us than for others, but there are nevertheless issues that can be dealt with.
The agencies talk about protecting methods or techniques and operations. They are both perfectly legitimate concerns and we need to deal with them. Let us deal first with methods or techniques. GCHQ is good but it is no better than the National Security Agency and it is tiny in comparison with the NSA. The techniques that are used to intercept are commonly in the public domain in court in all of the “five eyes” countries—in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In the days of the internet, we can get court records from around the world, and if we are worried about al-Qaeda knowing what we are doing, it can know by looking at every other country in our alliance, because they do the same things. So I do not think that that argument—the argument of technique—stands up much at all, but we can protect it.
The second question is about protecting individual operations and agents and I will come back to that. This is manageable, too. All the countries—the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Israel—have techniques for certification and warranting that explicitly protect operations and operational security, again from malevolent defence lawyers going on fishing expeditions. I will cite the example later.
Before I go any further, we should be clear that there is a range of exceptions to the ban on intercept evidence in court. One exception is intercepts carried out in other countries. We have this extraordinary arrangement in our law that means we can use intercepts arrived at abroad but not in the UK, so quite how we deal with the issues of protection of technique and operations in that regard is interesting and debatable. A number of the suspects who were charged after the Heathrow bomb plot were not convicted and the lack of some of those convictions were critical. Three in particular—Ali, Sarwar and Hussain—were so critical that they were retried. The evidence that convicted them was e-mail intercept evidence obtained from Yahoo! in California. It led to their conviction in 2008. That demonstrates straight away the value of intercept in difficult cases. Those intercept data were not initially released because the US felt at first that it compromised an existing operation—against a man called Rashid Rauf in Pakistan. He disappeared or died—we do not know which—under strange, mysterious circumstances, and the information was then available because that operation was no longer sensitive. That is a simple example of both the effectiveness of the mechanism and the fact that we can control the information using American or other “five eyes” processes to release it when appropriate, and do it safely.
There are two other exceptions to the use of intercept evidence in court that the House should be aware of. The first is the intercept of telephone and other communications out of prisons, which is open. For example, the Soham killer, Ian Huntley, was convicted largely on the basis of intercept evidence arrived at from there. The second is bugging. If we bug a phone, we can use the information, but if we intercept the phone we cannot. That is an extraordinary distinction, particularly given that if we put a physical bug in the phone I am holding, we could use the data, but if we put a software bug in it, we cannot. That is an astonishing piece of out-of-date law and it needs to be brought up to date.
As I said, the intercept ban inevitably pushes agencies towards disruption rather than prosecution, which, of course, is inevitably less effective and leads to a progressively more difficult problem for agencies over time. The Privy Council committee very nearly recommended allowing a tentative use of intercept evidence some time ago, after Chilcot, but it appeared to be put off by one case that came up at the last minute—Natunen v. the Finnish Government. The ECHR stepped into that case, which revolved around intercept, and struck down the conviction. Natunen had been convicted as a drugs smuggler and some intercept evidence had been used in the case. It turned out that the police had destroyed some other intercept evidence that could have been—may have been—exculpatory. That case shocked the Privy Council committee. The reason for the change of stance at the last minute, as I understand it, was that Chilcot laid out five principles, a couple of which said, “The agencies have at all times to control the recording, transcription, storage and, by implication, the possible destruction of any evidence, and this should only be under the agencies’ control, not under judicial control.” Of course that leads to a problem—if they destroy evidence without judicial control, the balance in a court case may be changed—and so that cannot be done. It seems to me that we need to revisit that issue and start to try to copy some of the techniques used by other countries.
This matter is very technical on one level but straightforward on another, and I go back to what I said about how the Americans do it. They have a court that goes through this information and sifts out what is available to put before the court, which is fair to both sides and does not allow the compromising of proper intelligence operations. That court is very like SIAC, a court we already use and which can hear intercept evidence. Although SIAC has had its rulings overturned from time to time by the ECHR, it has never been given any sort of instruction to put that intercept evidence in the public domain or make it available to people who are perhaps not responsible. So this issue is capable of resolution. We have been overly nervous and overly attentive to the understandable worries of GCHQ and the other agencies in the past. That is why those who work with this, including the police, are more—
I have listened intently to the right hon. Gentleman’s contribution. Will he reflect on the fact that when we had Diplock courts in Northern Ireland they were supported by one section of the community and despised by another. We do not have Diplock courts in Northern Ireland any longer. If his proposal were to be legislated upon and we have a secret court that sits and hears all the evidence, including the intercept evidence, which I agree should be allowed into court, how does he think that would be received in Northern Ireland?
I speak as probably one of the last people to give evidence at a Diplock court. It was against a terrorist who was convicted and then, under the Good Friday agreement, promptly released—it was a very frustrating process. Of course there is a problem of acceptability with any secret court. The hon. Lady will know that I fight vigorously against the idea of secret justice, but what we are talking about here is not secret justice; it is about a decision to let into the public domain more than is currently let into the public domain. Sometimes that information is exculpatory. One of the problems that has arisen with SIAC is that the agencies have not been good at their evidence discipline. At least one case has been struck down. A special advocate called Nichol, who is now a judge, discovered that MI5 was claiming that one person against whom it was bringing a case had used a passport to cross a border one week, and then the next week had brought a case against somebody else claiming that he used the same passport on the same day in a different place. So the agencies have their weaknesses. Nevertheless, the tool is significantly better than what we have at the moment. We may use intercept evidence in terrorism prevention and investigation measures and control orders. I happen to think that TPIMs and control orders are completely ludicrous, because they people who should be inside prison leave out on the streets. They should perhaps be called non-control orders, because all the dangerous ones disappear. Of course, it is not easy and there is an issue of presentation, but if there is fair representation from both sides to decide on what information should be put in the public domain, it is as close as we can get to public justice. That is the point.
Most important of all, the agencies’ job now begins to look more possible. Even some members of the Intelligence and Security Committee have been critical of the agencies. The right hon. Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) criticised the agencies, saying that they seem unable to deal with the thousands of suspects that they have in front of them and to sift them in such a way that they can find the ones who are really dangerous. That is what happened in 7/7, 21/7 and in the terrible murder of Lee Rigby. This tool will give us a powerful anti-terrorism weapon and make the job easier to do. It will reduce the size of the target and, at the end of the day, deliver justice. I take the view that one of the most important things that we can do with would-be terrorists and actual terrorists is to convict them in a court of law so that their own communities understand what they have been planning and then punish them properly and take them out of circulation so that they are no longer a threat to the public. We need to take this matter incredibly seriously. Frankly, it is more important than most of the other issues in this Bill, except perhaps for Prevent. The Government should get a grip of this issue after 30 years of indecision.
I congratulate the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) on his consistent approach to this matter. I wholeheartedly support new clause 3, and hope that he brings it back on Report. I still cannot comprehend why intercept evidence has not been used. I have never had a satisfactory response to that in all the debates we have had.
Let me turn now to amendments 8, 9 and 10, which stand in my name. I bring the Committee back to the debates we have been having throughout this Bill and that we had during the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014. I am talking about the protection of professionals, journalists in particular, who have a duty of confidentiality and secrecy. Let me remind Members of the background to this. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 has been used as a device to avoid the requirement in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 for judicial authority to undertake police investigations of the operation of journalists in particular, which also means collecting data on them.
There is currently a case before the courts involving six journalists. Despite frequent freedom of information requests, there has been a complete inability to find out how much RIPA has been used by the police to investigate journalists. That puts journalists at risk, undermines the relationship that they have with their sources and puts their sources at risk.
In addition to that concern, which is now being addressed by the courts, there is the issue with regard to the European Court of Justice, which struck down the EU data retention directive. That directive explicitly recognised the importance of data retention in preventing and detecting crime. It also stated that one of the 10 principles that a state must abide by is to
“provide exceptions for persons whose communications are subject to an obligation of professional secrecy.”
The Minister helpfully allowed me, National Union of Journalists representatives and its solicitor to meet officials to discuss his earlier indication that the data acquisition code of practice would be amended to ensure that where there are concerns relating to professions that handle privileged or confidential information, such as journalism, law enforcement should give additional consideration to the level of intrusion.
The Minister kindly published the guidance last week. It is now out for consultation, which I welcome. Paragraph 3.74 states that
“applicants, giving special consideration to necessity and proportionality, must draw attention to any such circumstances that might lead to an unusual degree of intrusion or infringement of privacy, and clearly note when an application is made for the communications data of a medical doctor, lawyer, journalist, Member of Parliament, or minister of religion. Particular care must be taken by designated persons when considering such applications.”
I think that is really helpful. It does not go as far as the NUJ and others wanted, which was judicial oversight or approval in some form, but at least it gives us the basis for special considerations being taken into account with regard to journalists and others.
My amendments would simply strengthen the role of the privacy and civil liberties board, or whatever title we give it tonight as a result of various amendments. Amendment 8 would ensure that the Secretary of State publishes regulations under section (3) that include a provision requiring the board to undertake an inquiry into the retention of and access to data relating to professions that operate under a duty of confidentiality. That would allow the privacy and civil liberties board to look at how the new code of practice is operating and report on what impact it is having on the operation of journalists and those in the other professions.
Amendment 9 seeks to amend the regulations so that the membership of the board includes representatives of those professions that operate under a duty of confidentiality. In that way, we would ensure some overview of the new code of practice and of the implications for journalists and others. In addition, the voice of journalists and others in professions that operate under this duty of confidentiality would be represented and heard on the civil liberties board when it advises the Secretary of State on the overall operation of this legislation.
The amendments are in the spirit of trying to find, as we have done throughout our considerations of the Bill and the debate on DRIPA, a balance between ensuring that the authorities can investigate appropriate crime, including terrorism, and protecting those professions that work under this duty of confidentiality. It is a serious matter for journalists. There is a real concern that it might undermine their operation and put them at risk, but it would also undermine the ability of whistleblowers and others to come forward and put them at risk. As we have seen in recent cases, that might now be tested in the courts.
I do not intend to press my amendments to the vote. They put forward some points for debate. Hopefully we will get a positive response from the Minister on the inclusion of at least some review, but also perhaps representation on the board.
Let me first address that last point from the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell). Obviously we touched on that during our previous consideration of the Bill with regard to the code of practice under DRIPA, which has now been published, and I welcome his comments on that. We look forward to receiving feedback from him and from the NUJ on their views about our proposals as part of the consultation exercise. I understand his desire to see further scrutiny and challenge. Indeed, that examination remains ongoing on a number of different fronts. The interception of communications commissioner is carrying out a review in that area, which he intends to complete by 31 January next year. I repeat that we will of course want to consider his recommendations when we come to finalising the code, along with any other comments received. This is an important area that we have already debated. As I made clear on that occasion and am happy to reiterate, the Government recognise the importance of a free press and are determined that nothing should be done that might jeopardise that.
It is notable that the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation is examining the issue more broadly. The civil liberties and oversight panel is intended to support the independent reviewer in some of his work. The Home Affairs Committee has provided its thoughts in relation to this issue, and Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is looking more broadly at privacy and liberty. We look forward to receiving its report in due course, which may well touch on some of the themes that the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington brought to the Committee this afternoon. Although I think his amendment is not necessary in the context of the debate today, I can reassure him about the level of scrutiny and examination that is being given to these essential points. I look forward to continuing the discussion of the matter.
On clause 36 and the Opposition amendments, the privacy and civil liberties oversight board is intended to support the independent reviewer and in so doing will provide much-needed capacity to allow the reviewer to consider a wider range of subjects than it is currently possible for one individual to undertake. However, it is right that we ensure that the statutory functions and objectives of the board are in line with those of the role it is designed to support.
Clause 36 provides for regulations to be made that would set out the detail of the board, including provisions about its composition, functions and appointment. These regulations will be subject to the affirmative procedure. Clearly, this is an important matter and any changes to existing oversight must be carefully considered—the point that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) rightly highlighted. That is why the Government will publish a full public consultation that invites comments on the proposals and provides an opportunity for all interested parties to influence key elements of the board, including its composition and appointment, some of the rights of access to documentation and the structure of the membership.
We will carefully consider the outcome of the consultation prior to bringing forward the regulations. We will invite comments on key elements relating to the organisation, membership, appointment and work programme of the board. Clause 36 already provides, subject to the outcome of the consultation exercise, that regulations may include provision about any number of the most important considerations relating to the board. That would allow the matters addressed in the amendments to be dealt with in the regulations, should it be appropriate to do so.
Even though part 5 does not extend to Northern Ireland, I would welcome a guarantee from the Minister that there will be at least one representative from every region of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has, unfortunately, a huge wealth of experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. A guarantee that there will be a member from Northern Ireland on the new board would be very helpful and reassuring indeed.
I recognise the knowledge and expertise that reside in Northern Ireland. The independent reviewer has made a number of visits to Northern Ireland to satisfy himself about the application of a number of items of terrorist legislation pertaining to Northern Ireland. In the support that the board provides to the independent reviewer, it will look at those functions. I have heard clearly the hon. Lady’s representation and when the consultation is launched, I encourage her to make representations for the appropriate changes.
The consultation will invite views on the important matter of the work programme—a point made by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North. The Bill provides that the privacy and civil liberties board will support the statutory functions of the independent review. Its remit is therefore in line with this aim. Should the statutory remit of the independent review change in the future, this would be reflected in the role of the board. The appointments will, of course, be undertaken in accordance with best practice, but until we have decided exactly how appointments are to be made, it would be premature to prescribe the process unduly.
I turn to some of the other amendments tabled by the hon. Lady. The name of the board properly respects privacy and civil liberties. The aspects she referred to, such as broadening its scope, relate to matters of privacy and civil liberty. We therefore judge that the name of the board properly reflects its process of independent scrutiny of counter-terrorism powers to ensure that the balance is right.
On the consequential amendments, amendment 19 addresses a point that we recognise in terms of how this may apply to other related matters, including the devolved matters that the hon. Lady highlighted. In practice, we would consult devolved Administrations. However, although Parliament and, in this case, the Secretary of State could still legislate, I can see the case for statutory consultation. Accordingly, I have some sympathy with what the amendment seeks to achieve, and I do not believe that we have a particular difference of view. Therefore, if she would be minded to withdraw her amendment, I would like to reflect on how we might best achieve the objective that I think we both share.
On the ISC, the Justice and Security Act 2013 expanded the Committee’s role and remit, including formalising its role in overseeing the wider intelligence community. The budget has been doubled to £1.3 million per year, and that is reported on in more detail in the ISC’s annual report. This additional funding has strengthened the ISC, as is already being seen in the work it has undertaken in its scrutiny of the agencies through the new powers. As recently as 25 November, the ISC laid before Parliament a memorandum of understanding, which, in addition to addressing certain matters in the Justice and Security Act, sets out the overarching principles governing the relationship between the Committee and the parts of government that it oversees, including its remit and powers. It is important that we allow the new memorandum of understanding to bed down properly before we institute another review. Therefore, I am not currently minded to accept the hon. Lady’s amendments.
New clause 3 was tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), who has had to step out of the Chamber. That is not intended to be any discourtesy to me in seeking to respond, and he has sent his apologies. I am grateful to him for tabling the new clause, which gives me the opportunity to debate an important issue that is recognised by many Members across the Committee. I think we all start from the same position that people who have committed a crime should be prosecuted and brought to justice. Anything that might make a successful prosecution less likely in cases where a person is guilty is clearly less than ideal and should be contemplated only where there is very good reason. The Government are committed to securing the maximum number of convictions in terrorism and serious crime cases. If a viable regime were identified, the introduction of intercept evidence might help us to do that. For that reason, the Government have sought to find a practical way to allow us to use intercept evidence in court.
A further review of the issue has been undertaken—the eighth in 21 years. It has been overseen by a cross-party group of Privy Counsellors, including the right hon. Member for St Helens South and Whiston (Mr Woodward) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith), who is in the Chamber, as well as Sir John Chilcot and a former Home Secretary, the noble Lord Howard. I am sure that the whole Committee will recognise the breadth of experience and wisdom to be found in that group. The review will be published imminently. I hope that its findings will help further to inform consideration of this legally complex issue, which is crucially important for the UK’s national security. It is vital that all options are thoroughly explored and assessed. It would be wrong at this stage to seek to make the change that my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden proposed, albeit that it was a probing amendment more than anything else.
This will probably be my last opportunity to speak in the Committee. I thank all right hon. and hon. Members for their thoughtful and constructive contributions to our three days of discussions and debate on the Floor of the House, which have added to the Bill. I have very much enjoyed taking part, and I look forward to continuing a number of these debates when we return on Report.
I listened to what the Minister said, in particular, about the amendments on clause 36. While I will not press them to a vote, I am minded to reserve our position until we return after the Christmas break. I thank everybody for their contributions to the Bill’s Committee stage on the Floor of the House, and wish everybody a very merry Christmas. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clauses 36 to 41 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Amendment made: 12, page 25, line 3, at end insert—
“() section 18(10);”—(James Brokenshire.)
Clause 42, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.
Bill, as amended, reported.
Bill to be considered tomorrow.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I understand that references have been made during the course of today’s proceedings to the atrocities that have occurred in Pakistan. The latest information is that 141 have been murdered in Pakistan, of whom 132 were children aged between five and 14. As we would all agree, this has undoubtedly been an act of murderous inhumanity.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I raise this point of order not just to give the latest information, but to ask you whether there is any way in which the House can express its horror at and condemnation of what has occurred in Pakistan. It is an act of terror carried out —and recognised and admitted as such—by the Taliban. I hope that it will be possible for such condemnation to be expressed by the House.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I am sure that he is aware that I am not strictly in a position to say precisely when or by what means the House will be given the opportunity to express, on behalf of the people of this country, its feelings about what has happened in Pakistan. However, I am quite certain that those on the Treasury Bench have listened to what he said. Indeed, Members referred to this matter during the debates on terrorism this afternoon.
May I on behalf of the House say that I am sure that every Member of the House, on behalf of the people whom we represent, would wish to express our absolute horror and enormous sadness at this terrible atrocity? We are used to seeing dreadful acts of terrorism, but rarely have we seen such an awful act of terrorism against children. I thank the hon. Gentleman for bringing the matter to the attention of the House. I am quite sure that the House will, at some point in the very near future, have the opportunity to address this matter.