I beg to move amendment 7, 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.
With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 6, 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); and
(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 of State 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.
Let me begin by expressing my horror at the terror attack that took place in Paris today. I am sure that the thoughts of the whole House will be with the family and friends of the victims of that attack, and, of course, we all stand in solidarity with the French people at this time.
Part 5 of the Bill contains measures to counter extremism in communities and to deal directly with vulnerable individuals. As Ministers will recall, it was the last Labour Government who introduced both the Prevent agenda and the Channel programme, and we remain absolutely committed to supporting and, indeed, strengthening both policies. Obviously the Government reviewed Prevent when they came to office, and it is important for us to view the measures in the Bill in the context of the changes that they introduced. I think that those changes are a rather mixed bag, and I am not sure that they were particularly successful.
Both Prevent and Channel require a partnership between central Government and local agencies, and amendments 7 and 6 are intended to ensure that the Government support local bodies in the delivery of both programmes. While we agree that Prevent should involve local delivery, it seems to us that the recent problems stem from central Government. There has been a marked decline in Prevent’s funding, which has fallen from £17 million a year to just £1 million. Some of that clearly resulted from a conscious decision, but there also appears to have been mismanagement. Every year £5.1 million has been allocated for local delivery, but I understand that over the past four years more than 60% of it has gone unclaimed.
In Committee, I raised a number of concerns about the delivery of Prevent at national level, and about the monitoring and support supplied by central Government to local agencies. I am sure that the Minister for Security and Immigration, the hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire)—although I am pleased to see the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley) in the Chamber today—recalls that I spoke at length about my concern about the performance of the Department for Education. I do not want to go through all that again, but I think that the Government’s role should be formalised in the Bill so that we know what is expected of them.
Does the hon. Lady agree that this provision should relate not only to public bodies? If an individual believes that someone is likely to become radicalised, it really should be incumbent on that individual to tell someone about it so that something can be done. It is not only bodies such as schools that should have responsibilities in this area; individuals should, too.
The hon. Gentleman makes the important point that we all have a responsibility in this area. My concern, however, is about the specific responsibilities being placed on local authorities and other public bodies under the Channel programme. We must make sure that we get this right, which is why I am focusing on why the first stage of the programme is not being placed on a statutory basis but the second stage is so being placed. I wonder whether that is the best way of doing it. I take the hon. Gentleman’s point, however.
Only when a person has been identified as at risk will the provisions in clause 28(3) kick in. That subsection allows a chief officer of police to make a referral to the local support panel that has been set up by the local authority. My first concern is with the level of expertise that those panels must have, and that is where amendment 21 comes in. As provided for in the Bill, local support panels will have to assess the individual’s risk of radicalisation and tailor a support panel to address the risks. The issues involved are complex and varied.
The current guidance cites 22 vulnerability indicators that could lead to a Channel referral. The panel must weigh up those factors and tailor a support package, which could have any number of elements. In some areas, however, the panel will be addressing issues that it has never faced before, such as sectarian hatred, which can be exacerbated by poorly provided support. That is why we feel that 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.
This is a crucial stage of the Channel process and it should be recognised in the Bill. My understanding is that the Home Office is already doing this work to some extent, and I welcome the Minister’s commitment on Second Reading to continue to do it, but as we are putting the obligations of local authorities into the Bill, I think we should also be placing the responsibilities of central Government in the legislation. That could be particularly important for local authorities that are making referrals for the first time. I have repeatedly asked for the number of occasions on which each local authority has made a Channel assessment and referral, but unfortunately my requests for that information have been repeatedly refused. However, there must be many parts of the country that have never had to deal with issues such as these before.
This Government have repeatedly claimed to be stepping up efforts to stop Prevent funding going to organisations that are radicalising people, but 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 is accepted that the Home Office has a role in that regard. It therefore seems reasonable for it also to have a role in assessing and vetting providers and ensuring that they are fit for purpose. These are really important issues. I know the Minister shares the commitment to making sure this Bill is as good as it can be and to getting Prevent and Channel right. I therefore hope she will realise that the support the Home Office is providing on Prevent and Channel needs to be reviewed again and improved, and that the guidance that has been issued as a consultation document can be improved in many areas. I hope she will feel able to accept the amendments.
Today’s events in Paris are yet another shocking reminder of the threat we all face, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and colleagues of the victims. I echo the comments of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in condemning that barbaric attack, and I am sure the whole House stands united with the French people in our opposition to all forms of terrorism.
Part 5 of the Bill and schedules 3 and 4 deal with an important area of our counter-terrorism work: preventing people from being drawn into terrorism. That was subject to a long and insightful debate in Committee, and I recognise and welcome the deep interest many right hon. and hon. Members have in the area. The shadow Minister made a number of points about the Prevent programme in general, and I wish to address those before dealing with the specifics of the amendments.
The hon. Lady made a point about funding for Prevent, so let me make it clear that this Government are committed to the Prevent programme: £40 million has been allocated for Prevent spending in 2014-15, and the spending has been £36 million in 2011-12, £35 million in 2012-13 and £39 million in 2013-14. She knows as well as anybody that the spending is not just done by the Home Office and that that is spending across government, including by local authorities, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Home Office. It is worth saying that the Prime Minister announced on 25 November that an additional £130 million was being made available for increased counter-terrorism work, which includes Prevent activity. With that funding, we will introduce a clear legal obligation on our universities, prisons, councils and schools to play their part in tackling extremism. The new funding being made available will also include additional resources for programmes to prevent radicalisation.
The hon. Lady asked about the Prevent projects. We have delivered more than 180 community-based Prevent projects since 2011, and we are currently supporting more than 70. Prevent local projects have reached more than 45,000 people since early 2012. All our current Prevent projects are focused on the current threat, including Syria and Iraq. In the 2013-14 financial year, Prevent local co-ordinators in our 30 Prevent priority areas worked with more than 250 mosques, 50 faith groups and 70 community groups. In addition, since the revised Prevent strategy was issued in June 2011, we have trained more than 120,000 front-line public sector workers to identify and support those at risk. We are currently rolling out new updated training, through the Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent—the WRAP training programme—now in its third iteration. We have seen a significant rise in the number of referrals to the Channel programme, which provides tailored support to people identified as being at risk of radicalisation; the Association of Chief Police Officers reported a 58% increase in the past year. Since April 2012, there have been more than 2,000 referrals to Channel, and hundreds of people have been offered support.
Let me now deal with the amendments. Amendment 7 is a repeat of an amendment first tabled in Committee, which was taken to a vote. It concerns the guidance that the Secretary of State may issue to specified authorities that are subject to the new duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Under clause 24, the specified authorities subject to the duty must have due regard to such guidance in carrying out that duty. Amendment 7 would require that the guidance may be issued only subject to parliamentary approval. In Committee, hon. Members were clear that an amendment of this type was not required, at least not at that stage. Clause 24 already provides that the Secretary of State must consult before issuing guidance and, as my hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Immigration announced to the House by written ministerial statement on 18 December, that consultation has already begun.
The shadow Minister asked about the draft guidance on which we are consulting. It is draft guidance, and we will be holding regional consultation events to explore further examples of best practice with those who will be subject to the duty. The consultation exercise also includes an opportunity for people to comment via the gov.uk website, or by e-mail or post. It is aimed at all those who will be subject to the duty, as well as the public at large.
This public consultation provides sufficient opportunity for interested parties, particularly those who will be subject to the Prevent duty, to scrutinise and influence the guidance. The guidance will benefit from extensive consultation and expert input, and I trust that the final guidance that is published will be all the better for having had this period of formal public consultation. The draft guidance, which we are currently consulting on, sets out, over 40 pages, the type of activity we expect specified activities to consider when complying with the duty.
The starting point for all specified authorities will be an assessment of the risk in their area, institution or body. Where a risk has been identified, they will need to develop an action plan to address it. Staff training and working together with other partners will be key themes.
Let me give some examples of what we expect a specified authority to consider when complying with the duty. Local authorities should ensure that publicly owned premises are not used to disseminate extremist views. Higher education institutions should have policies and procedures in place for the management of events on campus and for the use of all university premises that apply to all staff, students and visitors. Further education providers should have policies in place relating to the use of IT on their premises. Schools and their governors should make sure that they have training to give them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism, and know where and how to refer children and young people for further help.
The health sector should ensure that training is provided to front-line staff to ensure that where there are signs that someone has been or is being drawn into terrorism, the health care worker can interpret those signs correctly and is aware of and can locate support for them. Prisons should offer support to an individual who is vulnerable to radicalisation or move them away from an individual of concern, and those at risk of radicalising others should face the removal of privileges and segregation from others. The police should support individuals vulnerable to radicalisation, for example, through the Channel programme and support partner organisations to deliver Prevent work.
Those are just a few examples, and the shadow Minister asked about childminders. Carers in early years have a duty of care to the children in their care similar to existing safeguarding responsibilities. We are not expecting childminders or nursery workers to carry out unnecessary intrusion into family life, but we expect them to take action where they observe behaviour of concern. It is important that children are taught fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way. For children in early years, that is about learning right from wrong and challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes—for example, if a child makes anti-Semitic remarks.
If someone, perhaps a childminder, has a worry about a threat and reports it, are they guaranteed anonymity? Is a system in place to guarantee that people are not found out, including when reports are fallacious?
I thank my hon. and gallant Friend for his comments. I understand that anonymity would be provided to people coming forward in that circumstance.
The shadow Minister asked about areas with low risk. The guidance sets out very clearly that we are looking for a risk-based approach, but areas need to understand the local risk. This is the starting point, and we are clear that the type and scale of the response will vary. She also asked about the number of Prevent priority areas. The Government have changed our method for prioritisation of local authority areas since 2011 and it is now based on assessment of the risk of exposure to radicalisation in specific areas rather than on simple demographics. The prioritisation also takes into account activity that we have seen by terrorist organisations and terrorist sympathisers. The process is regularly reviewed and activity is currently focused on 30 local authority priority areas where the risk of radicalisation is identified as being higher. Those priority areas received funding for a dedicated Prevent co-ordinator and are able to bid for funding for targeted local projects to work with communities and partners. There are also a further 14 supported areas where we support projects only.
I thank the Minister for going through the answers to my questions in such detail. The impact assessment says that 90 local authority areas are at high risk, the consultation document identifies 50 priority areas and the Minister is now talking about 30 areas and an additional 14 areas. These numbers all seem a bit confused to me. Will she say the exact number of Prevent priority areas the Government are concerned about?
If the hon. Lady will give me a few moments, I will come on to that point.
We do not believe that it is crucial for the guidance to be subject to additional parliamentary approval because we are conducting a wide-ranging consultation and, although the specified authorities must have regard to the guidance, they are not required to follow it in all cases. That is not an uncommon approach for statutory guidance of this nature and we set that out in detail in the delegated powers memorandum published with the Bill. However, I recognise the need for these issues to be properly considered, and that is why my hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Immigration made clear in Committee our intention to await the conclusions of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform before giving further consideration to whether we should make any changes of this sort. I hope that the hon. Lady will agree that that is a sensible approach and will be content to await the report of that Committee. On that basis, I invite her to withdraw the amendment, so that we can return to the issue in the other place.
Let me now turn to amendment 6, which would amend clause 29 to require the Secretary of State to issue guidance to support panels in carrying out their functions. The amendment would also require that the panel had sight of the list of approved providers for deradicalisation programmes and that the providers were subject to monitoring. As my hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration and Security explained in Committee, Channel is a multi-agency programme that provides support to people identified as vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It has been in operation in all areas of England and Wales since 2012. In Scotland, the relevant programme is known as Prevent Professional Concerns. It is the Government’s hope and intention that these provisions should also apply to Scotland and discussions with the Scottish Government are ongoing.
As the hon. Lady asked about the devolved Administrations, I want to confirm that we are speaking to the Scottish and Welsh Governments about how the duty should be implemented in those Administrations and consulting on how we should make the guidance appropriate to bodies in Scotland and Wales, particularly because the different legal system in Scotland might mean that we need to implement things differently there. As part of the process, we are consulting them on how the duty should be monitored and enforced.
It is very helpful to hear the Minister set that out, but once agreement has been reached with the devolved Administrations, will there be a further period of consultation on the guidance, so that local authorities and other bodies can comment on what has been agreed between the Governments?
I am not sure that that is how we envisage it happening, but we are consulting and working very closely with the devolved Administrations to ensure that we take into account their views and get this right for them.
The hon. Lady asked about the number of priority areas under Prevent, so let me clarify. There are currently 30 Prevent priority areas, and we anticipate that that will rise to up to 50 in the next financial year. The impact assessment allows for up to 90 priority areas, should the need arise.
The hon. Lady asked about referrals to Channel relating to the far right and whether the Channel programme targeted only Muslim radicalisation. Like Prevent as a whole, Channel covers all forms of terrorism and extremism related to terrorism. It does not target Muslims and anyone can refer a person of any age, ethnicity or faith background to Channel. A significant number of people who have started receiving support through Channel were referred for far-right concerns. ACPO has reported that around a quarter of Channel referrals relate to the far right.
The hon. Lady has expressed concern about the expertise that panels must have and has retabled the amendment that we considered in Committee. Clause 28 includes provision for the Secretary of State to issue guidance to support panels in carrying out their functions. I can assure the hon. Lady that existing guidance is being updated in consultation with relevant persons, including those who deliver on the ground such as panel chairs. My right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary, will issue this guidance before the provisions are commenced.
Local panels assess the individual’s risk and, if appropriate, develop a support package. It is the job of the panel members to provide advice in respect of their areas of expertise, and to arrange, where agreed, support interventions from their services. Interventions that are delivered by such statutory partners are subject to existing monitoring arrangements.
In respect of theological or ideological support, the police representative will recommend to the panel the provider most suited to the case. The list of approved providers for such support is already made available to key members of the panel.
Safeguards and measures are in place to monitor the support providers—I hope that that reassures the hon. Lady—and they are all bound by a service level agreement with the Home Office that sets out the terms and conditions of their appointment, including conduct. In addition, the police, as part of their co-ordination role, regularly review progress made against any interventions commissioned. Any misconduct or quality concerns will be treated seriously by the Home Office, with the option of terminating an agreement with a provider.
On this basis, I hope that the hon. Lady is reassured that amendment 6 is unnecessary. I invite her to withdraw amendment 7, so that we can return to the parliamentary scrutiny of the Prevent guidance in the other place.
I am grateful to the Minister for going through my questions in such detail. On amendment 7, I am surprised that the Government are not willing to agree that both Houses should have the opportunity to scrutinise the final version of the guidance, which we have not yet seen. I note what she said about keeping the matter under consideration. I am sure that the matter will be returned to when the Bill goes to the other place. On that basis, I will not seek to divide the House on amendment 7. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move amendment 13, page 47, line 10, at end insert—
“A person carrying out a function of an authority mentioned in section 1(2) of the Local Government Act 1999 by virtue of a direction made under section 15 of that Act.”
This amendment would add the authority specified to those subject to the duty contained in clause 21 and would make the relevant entry consistent with the corresponding entry in Schedule 4.
With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 14 to 17.
In respect of the duty to have due regard to preventing people from being drawn into terrorism in clause 21, the Government have tabled a number of corrective amendments to the list in schedule 3, which specifies the authorities subject to the duty. The amendments will ensure that the intended specified authorities are subject to the duty.
Amendment 13 would add:
“A person carrying out a function of an authority mentioned in section 1(2) of the Local Government Act 1999 by virtue of a direction made under section 15 of that Act.”
This appears in schedule 4, as regards Channel, and should also appear in schedule 3. The effect will be to ensure that where local authority functions are transferred, for example to commissioners if an authority is failing, the duty will apply to them too.
Amendment 14 will add the principal of a secure college to the criminal justice section of schedule 3. That will ensure consistency with schedule 4. Amendment 15 will remove an unnecessary entry. An institution
“within the higher education sector within the meaning of section 91(5) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992”
will also be a qualifying institution within the meaning of section 11 of the Higher Education Act 2004, which has its own entry.
Amendment 16 ensures that the privately funded higher education providers are listed in schedule 3 as intended. They are covered in schedule 4, as regards Channel, but are at present missing from schedule 3. The draft guidance published for consultation has been drafted as though they are included in schedule 3. Amendment 17 corrects an inadvertent error by removing reference in schedule 3 to police authorities.
Very briefly, I was surprised that there was reference to police authorities when they were abolished by the Government some time ago. I guess that that is what comes when Bills are hastily drafted. I have one question for the Minister, which relates back to the issue of Scottish bodies that will be covered by the Bill. Currently, they are not listed anywhere. When will we have a list of the Scottish bodies that are covered?
I thank the shadow Minister for her question. If she will forgive me, I will have to get back to her on that point at a later date.
Amendment 13 agreed to.
Amendments made: 14, page 47, line 16, at end insert—
“The principal of a secure college.”.
This amendment would add the authority specified to those subject to the duty contained in clause 21.
Amendment 15, page 47, leave out lines 20 to 22.
This amendment would remove an unnecessary entry. An institution within the higher education sector within the meaning of section 91(5) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 would also be a qualifying institution within the meaning of section 11 of the Higher Education Act 2004 (which has its own entry).
Amendment 16, page 48, line 25, at end insert—
(b) courses of a description mentioned in Schedule 6 to the Education Reform Act 1988 (higher education courses).”.
This amendment would make the relevant entry consistent with the corresponding entry in Schedule 4.
Amendment 17, page 49, leave out lines 5 and 6.—(Karen Bradley.)
This amendment removes references to police authorities which no longer exist.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Board
I beg to move amendment 3, 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 Counter-Terrorism 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 2, 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 4, page 22, line 25, at end insert
“in accordance with the Code of Public Appointments”.
Amendment 5, 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; and
(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 regulations brought forward by the Secretary of State to include information gathering powers, formulation of an annual work plan and relevant to classified material.
These amendments relate to part 7, which confers powers on the Secretary of State to establish a body to be known as the privacy and civil liberties board. While most of the Bill introduces new powers, part 7 introduces checks on those powers. It is worth mentioning at this stage that no level of general oversight will ever negate the need for proper judicial oversight of the specific use of these powers, which until yesterday the Government unfortunately were fiercely resisting.
Labour has always said that strong powers need strong checks, which is why we support the principle of a new oversight body. It is also why we tabled amendments to the Justice and Security Bill when it went through Parliament to increase the powers of the Intelligence and Security Committee and why we have consistently called for a bigger role to be given to the intelligence and surveillance commissioners.
Although the creation of a new body is good in principle, what is actually set out in the Bill does not match the name “privacy and civil liberties board” or what the Government set out in their terms of reference, and it does not introduce what we think is needed. That is why we have tabled amendments 2 to 5. The problem is that the Bill determines nothing other than the name of the body. The name evokes the idea of a body with a wide remit to work on privacy and civil liberties issues in the UK, a body to safeguard human rights, a body similar to the Joint Committee on Human Rights created by the Labour Government, but that is not actually what is provided for in the Bill.
The terms of reference published by the Government suggest a body that will support the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in providing oversight of counter-terrorism legislation in the UK and investigating its operations. Broadly, we think that what is contained in the terms of reference is very sensible and that it would provide both capacity and openness to the oversight of counter-terrorism policy. It would also address some of the issues relating to the capacity of the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation that the current incumbent, David Anderson QC, identified earlier this year—I went through some of that in detail in Committee.
However, what we see in the terms of reference does not match what we see in the Bill. The third version of the board is the one provided for by clause 36, a body that the Home Secretary may create in future if she wishes. In future she may decide on the body’s procedures, membership, work plan and the publishing of its reports. If the body is created, it will have very limited statutory remit and powers. We do not think that is good enough, so amendments 2 to 5 address what we see as the Bill’s shortcomings as currently drafted.
Amendment 3 would ensure that the panel or board will have a remit that includes all the key counter-terrorism issues. Specifically, it includes the terrorism statutes, which the independent reviewer is currently precluded from investigating. Unlike the independent reviewer, we do not envisage a remit that is overly prescriptive or requires annual reviews of certain pieces of legislation. Amendment 3 would also give the board a role in undertaking specific inquiries in certain circumstances, to make recommendations to public authorities, to review intelligence-sharing guidance and to encourage good practice in the prevention and investigation of terrorism.
On classified information, all the information will be very sensitive, so presumably whoever is considered for appointment to such a board will be vetted and security cleared to receive such information. Is that assumption correct?
No doubt the Minister will be able to confirm that. My understanding is that the level of information and intelligence given to the board will mean that its members will have to undergo appropriate vetting to make sure that they are suitable. Perhaps the Minister will comment on that.
The amendments would give the board a proper remit, with members appointed on merit, procedures for agreeing a work plan and access to the relevant information. Finally, amendment 2 would give the board a name that matches the role that we envisage for it—the counter terrorism oversight panel.
The hon. Lady is making good points about the role of the panel, but does she not think that the name she suggests increases confusion? She and I want judicial oversight of the operation of the Bill and other counter-terrorism Acts. To call the board an “oversight panel” invites confusion because that is not precisely its role.
We have argued throughout our discussions that we want proper judicial safeguards where appropriate, especially in relation to the provisions of the early parts of the Bill. I am not sure I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the proposed name of the panel causing confusion. The current name, the privacy and civil liberties board, does not describe its role. The name is problematic. We have suggested an alternative. If it can be improved, I am happy to consider that, but we think the name proposed in the amendment best serves us at present.
I am not particularly enamoured of the Government’s suggested name, either, as it does not describe the role properly. But I believe the word “oversight” invites confusion.
Perhaps the matter can be discussed further in another place. “Counter terrorism oversight panel”, the name that we have suggested, best describes the role that we envisage for the body.
As I have stressed, these amendments do not seek to do anything radical. They aim to ensure that the legislation matches what the Government have previously committed to do, and they ensure that what is in the Bill goes some way to addressing the concerns raised by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. The amendments are not overly prescriptive; they leave plenty room for the detail to be spelled out in secondary legislation, but they would ensure that that secondary legislation was meaningful as it related to the provisions of the Bill. I hope the Minister will seriously consider accepting the amendments.
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for tabling the amendments.
Our debate has built on the one held in Committee where there was broad support for the principle of creating the privacy and civil liberties oversight board. The Bill introduces a comprehensive package of measures to disrupt people’s ability to travel abroad to fight, reduce the risks they pose on their return, and combat the underlying ideology that feeds, supports and sanctions terrorism. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has made clear, these powers are essential to keep up with the very serious and rapidly changing threats we face. Of course, as that threat evolves, we need to consider and update our legislation accordingly. However, it is also right that at this time, in the light of the increased threat level, and as the legislative landscape changes, we consider the oversight arrangements that we have in place for UK counter-terrorism laws to ensure that we are getting the balance right between responding to these threats and the protection of privacy and civil liberties.
The United Kingdom already has a very effective and transparent system of independent oversight and scrutiny. Few, if any, other countries in the world manage as well as the UK the balance between the need for powers that must necessarily be exercised in secret and the need to provide reassurance to the public about what is being done in their name. However, we should not rest on our laurels. During the passage of the Bill that became the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, which received Royal Assent in July, the Government committed to establishing a board that would provide additional assurance to the public.
Clause 36 provides the Secretary of State with a power to create a privacy and civil liberties board, which will support the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, currently David Anderson. The increased demand for a review of particular aspects of counter-terrorism legislation means that this is a substantial task for one individual to undertake. David Anderson himself has been clear that there is a need for reform of the independent reviewer role. The board will be chaired by the independent reviewer. It will assist, advise and undertake particular duties in support of the independent reviewer’s statutory functions, and expand the capacity and breadth of experience available in our oversight arrangements.
What is the reason for the name of the board, because it does not seem to fit with the role that the Minister has described? “Privacy and civil liberties board” goes much wider than that.
I assure the hon. Lady that I will come to that point.
Clause 36 provides for the making of regulations that would set out the detail of the board, including provisions about composition, functions and appointment. These regulations will be subject to the affirmative procedure. We can debate, as we are, the precise details of the board’s composition and functions, but, as my hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Immigration noted when the Bill was in Committee, no one took issue with the principle that establishing such a board would build on the already strong oversight arrangements that exist in this country. I am pleased to say that since that debate took place, the Government have published a consultation paper on the composition, functions and remit of the board. It can be found on the gov.uk website, and copies have been placed in the libraries of both Houses.
I encourage all right hon. and hon. Members, as well as those from outside Parliament with an interest in these matters, to participate in the consultation exercise. We hope that it will elicit a large number of replies covering a wide range of views. The results of the consultation exercise will certainly influence the terms of the regulations. Those regulations will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure and will cover all the key questions about the board’s composition, remit, powers and functions. Those responding to the consultation will be free to express an opinion on all relevant questions relating to the board. That is why I do not believe that amendment 5 is necessary.
Amendment 3 deals with the board’s functions. As my hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Immigration explained in Committee, the board will fully support the independent reviewer. In doing so, it will provide much needed capacity to allow the reviewer to consider a wider range of areas than it is perhaps currently possible for one individual to undertake. It is therefore right that we ensure that the board’s statutory functions and objectives are in line with those of the role it is designed to support. Should the statutory role of the independent reviewer change in future, we would need to ensure that the board’s role fully reflected that change.
On amendment 4, one of the issues that the consultation covers is the appointment of board members, including those to whom that task should fall and whether there are any prior qualifications that board members should have. It might emerge, for example, that there is strong support for the notion that each board member should represent a particular interest group or category and that that interest group should have a say in the appointment. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) asked whether members will be vetted. It will clearly be important that any individuals appointed to the board are provided with an appropriate level of security clearance. The independent reviewer is cleared to see classified information, and if necessary the same will apply to the board members.
Has the Minister given any thought to whether it would be appropriate for Members of Parliament or Members of the House of Lords to serve on this body?
I will return to that point in a moment.
I am sure that we will want to ensure that all appointments are made in accordance with best practice, but it seems to me that it would be premature unduly to prescribe the process until we have decided exactly how appointments are made. I think that that applies in this case.
Amendment 2 would change the board’s name. We have been clear that the primary objective of the board is to offer further assurance to the public that careful, independent scrutiny is being given to the UK’s counter-terrorism powers to ensure that, in the face of the threat to the UK, we are getting the balance right and that our legislation and policies have due regard for civil liberty and privacy concerns. The board’s name properly reflects that purpose, and I see no reason to change it.
I am pleased to say that there is no great disagreement within the House on what we are seeking to do. Given the threats that the UK faces, it is a sad necessity that we need a suite of counter-terrorism powers. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said in Committee:
“I have always taken the view that without our security we cannot enjoy our civil liberties”.—[Official Report, 15 December 2014; Vol. 589, c. 1229.]
To return to the point about Members of Parliament, we have no firm views on that question. We are currently consulting on the board’s composition, and we will take all views expressed into consideration.
I will give way to my right hon. Friend.
Presumably the members of the board will be paid, so would that position be considered an office of profit under the Crown? Members of Parliament are disbarred from such offices if they are to remain Members.
My right hon. Friend has clearly given considerable thought to that matter. We will of course consider all points of view when we look at the responses to the consultation, and the point will be considered at that stage. Does the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) wish to intervene? [Interruption.] He was going to make the same point.
Given the exceptional nature of counter-terrorism powers, it is right that they should be subject to proper oversight and scrutiny. This country has been very well served by the very distinguished individuals who have been independent reviewers, not least the present incumbent, but it is right for us to keep our oversight arrangements under review and be prepared to change them when required. It is worthwhile creating a new board to support the work of the independent reviewer, providing greater capacity in this area and giving the public greater assurance that in framing our legislation we are striking the right balance between privacy and civil liberties.
As I have said, the Government have published a full public consultation inviting comments on the proposals. We will seek to act on the points made in response to the consultation, which covers the composition and functions of the board. I believe that will address most of the issues covered by the amendments. Accordingly, I invite the hon. Lady to withdraw amendment 3.
There is a question about the board’s name, and I hope that that will be considered in the other place. I am interested to hear about the consultation on its membership. On the basis of what the Minister has said about this group of amendments, I will not press them, but we will want to return to them in the other place. I beg to ask leave to withdraw amendment 3.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Power to make consequential provision
I beg to move amendment 12, page 23, line 24, at end insert—
“( ) Before making regulations under this section the Secretary of State must—
(a) if the regulations contain provision that would fall within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament if included in an Act of that Parliament, consult the Scottish Ministers;
(b) if the regulations contain provision that would fall within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales if included in an Act of that Assembly, consult the Welsh Ministers;
(c) if the regulations contain provision that would fall within the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly if included in an Act of that Assembly, consult the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland.”
This amendment would require the Secretary of State to consult the relevant devolved administration before making consequential provision by regulations under clause 38 if any of that provision would fall within devolved competence.
With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 1, 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 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.
Amendment 12 involves an important point of principle. It concerns the power to make a consequential amendment to existing legislation, including legislation made by the devolved legislatures. Such consequential amendments would themselves be reserved, as the Bill clearly legislates on the reserved matter of counter-terrorism. It is possible that a consequential amendment made under this provision might alter a piece of legislation enacted by a devolved legislature. In cases where that is done for a reserved purpose, proceeding without consultation is clearly permissible under, and properly respectful of, the devolution settlement, although in practice the Government would of course raise the issue as a courtesy with the relevant devolved Administration.
The issue would be different were any consequential amendments made under the Bill to fall within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly or the Northern Ireland Assembly. Amendment 12 would require the Secretary of State to consult the relevant devolved Administration before making consequential provision by regulations under clause 38 if any part of that provision fell within the competence of the legislature in question.
I should reiterate that we do not expect there to be any requirement to make such consequential provisions, and in practice, the Government would always consult the devolved Administrations should such a circumstance arise. I trust that amendment 12 will provide reassurance to right hon. and hon. Members, and to the devolved Administrations themselves, that the proper consultation will take place if required. On that basis, I ask the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) not to press amendment 1, and I ask the House to agree to amendment 12.
It is very nice that the Government have tabled amendment 12, as it is effectively the same amendment that the Opposition tabled in Committee to ensure that there is proper consultation with the devolved Administrations if the Home Secretary introduces changes. We are pleased that the Government have seen the sense of what Labour suggested, and that we can claim a victory on ensuring that there is full consultation. I am happy not to press amendment 1, because Government amendment 12 is exactly what we were trying to achieve.
As we discuss counter-terrorism for a fifth day, our thoughts are very much on the appalling murders in Paris today. It was not only an appalling attack on journalists and a newspaper office but an attack on free speech, and today all of us can say, “Je suis Charlie”. Given those sickening events, it is pretty hard to discuss counter-terror measures today, but we live in a democracy and we will discuss them. We will not let any terrorist attack deter us from our influence on the matter or how we approach our business.
We are eternally grateful for amendment 12, because it is the beginning of a recognition of Scotland’s distinct responsibilities for measures under the Bill. The Bill asks that we be consulted on competencies for which we are actually responsible. It is not consultation that the Minister requires, it is our consent. We are responsible for delivering those competencies in the Scottish Parliament. We are responsible for education and health, we have a distinct legal system, and we are responsible for the judiciary. The Scottish police force, Police Scotland, is accountable to the Scottish Parliament. We have our own institutions and our own set of responsibilities and competencies. Yes, we are grateful that the UK Government are going to pick up the phone and consult our Ministers, but it is our consent that they require when passing measures under the Bill.
We will agree with the Government on most measures, and I am sure we will get on perfectly well, but we take a different and distinct approach on a number of issues. Of course we do—we have a different culture in Scotland. We do not have the same size of ethnic communities as there are south of the border, and we have a different and distinct approach to community relations. We see and deliver some things very differently from the UK Government.
The vast platform of the Prevent strategy will be administered in Scotland by Scottish public bodies, responsible to the Scottish Parliament and under the guidance of Scottish Ministers. Consultation—great. Thank you ever so much, Home Secretary, for being prepared to consult Scottish Ministers, discuss things with them and maybe even ask their views, but what we need is to give consent. If we are to be realistic about the devolution settlement and the range of responsibilities we have, and if we are talking about the respect agenda, that consent is required. Consultation is certainly not good enough.
Our approach to Prevent is different, of course. We see it more through the lens of safeguarding, with an emphasis on keeping people safe, community cohesion, participative democracy and ensuring that action is consistent with the needs of, and risks to, all our communities.
I cannot see any difference between that and what is proposed in the Bill. Those are exactly the same measures that everyone in this country wants to see instituted.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but there are differences. They may just be nuances to him, but we take them particularly seriously in Scotland. For example, we work with key sectors in Scotland, such as the NHS, further education, the Prison Service and local authorities. Prevent also benefits from input from Police Scotland’s model of community engagement and from the strength of the relationship between various arms of the community and all the public services in Scotland. The key point is that we perhaps look at the cultural context differently.
What we are keen to do in Scotland—and we have had a great deal of success—is ensure that a sense of Scottish citizenship is given as quickly as possible to new immigrants, particularly from south Asian communities. That has been incredibly successful. We talk about the “bhangra and bagpipe” culture in some of our larger communities, especially in Glasgow, and we are particularly proud of that. Believe it or not, most Scottish Asians supported Scottish independence because they saw from their historical experience, and from being a colonial power or being part of the empire, that independence was not a scary issue. They were able to join us to ensure that such transformative change—
Order. I have given the hon. Gentleman quite a bit of leeway, but now we have got on to independence. This debate is about consultation, but I think it has stretched a little further than that. As we know, Third Reading is coming up, but at the moment we are dealing just with the amendment.
I am grateful, Mr Deputy Speaker. We need consent, rather than consultation, because things are so different in Scotland, and we have responsibility for those bodies. Such issues must surely be up to the Scottish Parliament, and not just through consultation. Consultation is great and there is nothing wrong with it, but this is about ensuring that we have consent. We will not oppose the measure today—it is great that we will get that consultation. We enjoy debating with the Home Secretary. She is always welcome in Scotland, and we enjoy making sure that her views are known. Consent is fine, but we need to ensure that such matters are the responsibility of the Scottish Government and that we make those decision: not consultation, consent.
I will not detain the House for long, but I thank the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) for her comments and for agreeing not to press her amendment. It is a shame that the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) was not in the Chamber earlier when we had a relatively lengthy discussion about the devolved Administrations, and the consultation and work to ensure that the Prevent programme works appropriately in Scotland. I like to think that we have more in common than we have differences.
Issues relating to policing and counter-terrorism are clearly reserved matters. Consultation, not consent, is the appropriate requirement in relation to these issues, and that is respectful at all times of the agreed devolution settlement. I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman will be supporting the Government amendment, and I am glad he agrees that we must ensure that the Bill becomes an Act.
Amendment 12 agreed to.
Queen’s consent signified.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
Earlier today we heard about an appalling attack on the office of a magazine in Paris. Twelve people are reported to have been killed, and a number injured. We do not yet have full details of the attack, but I reiterate the Prime Minister’s comments in the House earlier today, and we stand with the French people at this time for freedom of speech and democracy, and against terror. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families, friends and colleagues of the victims.
Last month we also saw deadly and callous attacks in Sydney and in Peshawar, Pakistan, where it beggars belief that terrorist gunmen should carry out the horrific and targeted murder of children at a school. In 2013 we saw the first terrorist attacks on the streets of Britain since 2005, when Fusilier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered by Islamist extremists, and Mohammed Saleem was stabbed to death by a far right extremist. There can be no doubt that the terrorist threat we face is grave and relentless. It is a threat that takes many forms and causes suffering in many countries.
I have always been clear that we need to keep our terrorism laws and capabilities under review, and ensure that the police and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to do their job. That is why the Bill is so important. As I told the House on Second Reading, Parliament must have sufficient opportunity to consider the Government’s proposals, and I believe that the House has had that opportunity. We have had full and frank debates on the measures in the Bill, and the timetable has allowed us to consider all the amendments that were tabled. The Bill, and the powers within it, have benefited from robust scrutiny by the House.
We are agreed on the need for these powers. I am grateful to the shadow Home Secretary and her colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench, the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) and the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), for their constructive approach throughout. I pay tribute to the right hon. and hon. Members who have contributed to the debates in Committee and on Report, and, in particular, to a number of members of the Intelligence and Security Committee: the right hon. Members for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) and for Knowsley (Mr Howarth), my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) and my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis). Each has brought considerable knowledge and expertise to the proceedings, but all contributions have ensured that our debates have been enlightening and valuable. I thank the members of the Panel of Chairs who presided over the Committee of the whole House, and the officials, Officers and staff of the House, and those in the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, who have enabled the House’s expedited consideration of the Bill.
In the past two days, we have again had a full and detailed discussion of the Bill on Report, with many excellent contributions from all parts of the House. The Bill will strengthen our existing powers, so that we can disrupt the ability of people to travel abroad to fight, and to control their ability to return here. It will enhance our ability to monitor and control the actions of those in the UK who pose a threat, and it will help us to confront the underlying ideology that feeds, supports and sanctions terrorism.
During the Bill’s passage through the House, we have considered the powers in part 1 of the Bill relating to temporary restrictions on the travel of those seeking to engage in terrorism-related activity overseas, and on those suspected of involvement in terrorist activity abroad who wish to return to the UK. We have considered the safeguards that should circumscribe the use of the powers.
My right hon. Friend will be aware of the amendment I moved yesterday regarding the question of jihadists of British origin who decide that they wish to return to the United Kingdom, even though they have repudiated allegiance to it and sworn allegiance to another state or entity. Will my right hon. Friend at least be good enough to say that she would be prepared to consider the amendment when the Bill goes to the House of Lords?
I recognise that there will be those who wish to return to the United Kingdom. The measures we are taking on the temporary exclusion orders are about ensuring that those who wish to return and have been involved in terrorism-related activity may return on our terms. They will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
On other matters, in particular safeguards, as the Minister for Security and Immigration, my hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire) made clear to the House yesterday, in the light of the views of David Anderson QC, as well as of many right hon. and hon. Members, the Government have committed to look very carefully at judicial oversight of the temporary exclusion order power. We will return to this issue in the House of Lords.
The House has also debated the duty on a range of authorities, as at part 5, to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. If we are to counter poisonous extremist ideology and prevent vulnerable people from becoming radicalised in the first place, we must ensure that we have the necessary provisions. I appreciate the considerable interest that has been shown in how the duty will work in practice, and trust that the draft guidance, on which we are currently consulting, has helped to address the concerns raised by a number of right hon. and hon. Members.
We discussed the nature of the privacy and civil liberties board, which will support the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. I reiterate the point made by the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), who has responsibility for modern slavery and serious and organised crime, that we are consulting on this proposal at present and it is right that this consultation should conclude before the final detail of the board is agreed.
The House is aware that the need for this legislation is significant and pressing. Our security and intelligence agencies tell us that the threat we face from terrorism is now more dangerous than at any time before or since 9/11. The appalling conflicts in Syria and Iraq continue, with ISIL solidifying its hold on much of the region. More than 550 people from the UK who are of interest to the security services are thought to have travelled to the region since the start of the conflict, and we estimate that about half of those have returned. Some have become disillusioned and simply wish to reintegrate into British society, but others pose a significant threat and in recent months the police have arrested and prosecuted a number of these people. The Bill will help us to counter that threat.
The powers in the Bill should be used only when it is necessary and proportionate, and their use will be subject to the appropriate level of safeguards and oversight. The Bill represents a considered and targeted approach that strikes the right balance between civil liberties and security, but we must not delay. The threat from terrorism is ever present and evolving. We are in the midst of a generational struggle, and we must ensure that the police and the intelligence agencies have the powers they need to keep us safe. The Bill will help them to do that, and I commend it to the House.
I join the Home Secretary in supporting the Third Reading of the Bill and in condemning the disgusting attack in Paris today. The details will continue to emerge over the next hours and days, but we know that 12 people have been killed and others injured, and I am sure the whole House will agree with the words of the French President, Francois Hollande, who said it was
“an exceptional act of barbarism committed against a newspaper”.
He said that France would be firm and strong in facing down these threats and punishing the attackers.
The whole House, the Government and every party stand in solidarity with the people of Paris and France, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost their lives, their families, their friends, their colleagues and those across the city and the country who will feel this terrible loss. We have experienced terrorist attacks here, and we have stood firm with other countries that have endured such attacks—the Home Secretary rightly referred to the heartbreaking attacks in Pakistan, as well as those in Australia and Canada—and we will stand with other countries again against the hatred of the killers. We will stand up for our democratic values and never let terrorists win.
We have seen, too, the strength of the response from the French people: the “Je suis Charlie” response; the determination not to be cowed or afraid; the determination to stand together. We will stand with them. Those who died or were injured include journalists, writers, cartoonists and police officers, and the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo has said:
“I don't understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”
As we know, the free press we defend here in Britain, and which is defended across Europe, is vital to the freedom of speech that democracy depends on.
Our thoughts and tributes should also be with the police and security services in France and here in Britain who run towards danger when terrorist attacks take place and who put their own lives at risk as they do so. As we discuss the Bill, we should also pay tribute to our security services and police, who will be working even now with the French authorities to provide any international intelligence that could help France catch these vile killers and bring them to justice. While we know not yet the details of those responsible, we know that the killers do not represent Islam or reflect the faith of millions of French and British Muslims. Muslim leaders in Paris and Muslim community groups and organisations in Britain have been among the first to condemn this appalling attack.
We debate the Bill in the knowledge of the threats that can affect any country and at a time when the terror threat has grown. We have said for some time that more action is needed against terrorism to ensure that the police, security agencies and other organisations have up-to-date powers to act and that we have up-to-date safeguards to protect the liberty and security that terrorists and extremists seek to undermine. That is why we have supported the Bill and called for stronger action to deal with terrorism, alongside stronger safeguards so that we defend those democratic values too. That requires both strong and proportionate powers to act, and oversight—the checks and balances—to defend the very freedom of speech that terrorists have attacked today, as well as the liberty and democracy that extremists want to undermine.
The Home Secretary has talked about the additional challenge from the Syrian conflict. More than 500 people are suspected of having travelled to Syria, and half of them have returned to the UK, which changes the challenges we face here in Britain. Over the past few days and weeks, many of the measures in the Bill have been subject to detailed debate in the context of the Syrian conflict.
As the House reaches the conclusion of its consideration, I thank again my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn and my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Phil Wilson) for their efforts, as well as all those who have been involved in scrutinising the Bill. More needs to be done to prevent young people from being radicalised or drawn into extremism in the first place. We hope that putting Prevent on a statutory footing will help to strengthen it. We will continue to probe in the other place how that will work in practice, including through a role for Parliament in debating future strategy.
On TPIMs, the Home Secretary knows that we have called for some time for the Government to bring back the relocation powers that were abolished a few years ago. We are glad that she has finally done so. It is clear that the police and the agencies had concluded that TPIMs were no longer useful in their previous form. I hope that this Bill will change that and make them useful again in the extreme cases where prosecution has proved too difficult but the threat remains.
The police also need to be able to take swift action to stop someone believed to be trying to leave the country to join ISIS. If troubled parents ring the police because they are worried that a son or daughter has gone, they do not have time to invoke the royal prerogative to remove someone’s passport. However, we still believe that more checks and balances are needed to ensure that these important powers cannot be abused. We hope that that will be debated further in the other place. We agree, too, that action is needed to enable the police and security agencies to manage the return of those who may have been drawn into the conflict and ensure that they do not pose a risk to the British public if they return. Where possible, people should be arrested and prosecuted for crimes committed. TPIMs may be required in extreme cases where no prosecution is possible, and everyone returning should be expected to engage with the Channel de-radicalisation programme.
The Home Secretary has changed the policy very substantially from the original pledge by the Prime Minister to exclude people from Britain—we believe she has been put in a difficult position by those announcements. However, we remain concerned that the policy has been designed to fit an announcement, rather than to fit the needs of security, and that it is still unclear how it will work. We believe it will benefit from serious further scrutiny in the other place to ensure that it does not become too complex and bureaucratic, and instead can achieve the aims that she has set for it. We also argued from the start that more judicial oversight and safeguards were needed. I welcome the acceptance by the Home Secretary after the debate on our amendments yesterday that judicial oversight is needed for temporary exclusion orders. We look forward to seeing the Government’s proposals, as well as the debates on them in the other place, to ensure that the appropriate method of judicial oversight is used and that it is tried and tested.
Finally, we have supported, though sought to clarify, the important power to retain IP addresses—which had the support of the Joint Committee that considered the previous draft Communications Data Bill—and in particular the contribution that that can make to tackling online child abuse, as well as international terrorism.
Today’s vile attack just across the water brings home to us the threats that we have to address, the need for vigilance and the need for us in Parliament to ensure that we defend and protect our democratic values. That means that we need to scrutinise any counter-terrorism legislation in great detail. We need to take seriously our responsibilities in this House to protect both the liberty and the security of which Britain has always been proud from extremists of any kind. On that basis, we support this Bill and its Third Reading and look forward to the further debates that will take place in the other place.
Like the Home Secretary and the shadow Home Secretary, I think it is quite impossible to contribute to this debate without starting with the grim events in Paris and the attack on Charlie Hebdo. It is beyond any acceptable behaviour—of course we know that—but as the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) said earlier, it goes beyond terrorism, in that it would appear to be an attack precisely on free speech. I hope and trust that at the end of the day it will be proved that the pen is mightier than the sword—that people’s ideas cannot be defeated with bombs and guns—because that is what the counter-terrorism fight is all about. As the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) and the hon. Gentleman said, I hope that every Member of this House will be able to repeat: “Today, je suis Charlie aussi.”
It is normal on these occasions to welcome a Bill, but I do not think that I can welcome a Bill that deals with such a continuing problem. I can say only that it is a grim necessity. We should not welcome the fact of ever reducing our traditional rights and liberties other than to protect the rights and liberties of others. That is what we are, sadly, about today.
One occasionally meets people who will say that the threat is imaginary and is something somehow dreamt up by politicians in order to build their empires. I do not believe that that is the case for one moment. As someone who was on Capitol hill on 9/11 and at Aldgate station on 7/7, I do not need to be told that there is a real threat from terrorism in this and other countries—so frequently that is the case.
The test is not whether there is a necessity to deal effectively with terrorism, but whether the instruments that this House puts in the hands of the Executive are proportionate, effective and actually increase our capacity to fight terrorism rather than make the situation worse. I am, I am afraid, a veteran of far too many debates on counter-terrorism legislation over the years; other right hon. and hon. Members around the Chamber today are in the same position. I have supported some such Bills; some I have opposed; of some I have been deeply critical. I have always opposed the Home Office—I am talking about the Home Office rather than the Home Secretary—when it appears to have been more involved in legislative incontinence than getting to grips with what works and what is effective.
However, where the necessity is there, where the checks and balances are sufficient and where we ensure that every single action taken by the Executive can be reviewed and checked to see whether it is reasonable and appropriate and based on good evidence, this House has a responsibility to act on behalf of people in this country. When this Bill eventually returns from the other place, the issue of judicial oversight over the earlier parts of the Bill will be a key point for me. I hear the arguments about judicial review—that it is a retrospective and partial review—but I do not believe that that is sufficient to the task of ensuring that any Executive do not act on occasions in an excessive or peremptory way. That is why the courts have to be involved. I had this argument many times with the then Government during the last Parliament. Sometimes they accepted the arguments; sometimes, sadly, they did not.
Fortunately, our democracy continues—despite the horror in Paris and what has happened here. I hope my intervention will not be misunderstood, as it is part of democracy. Why did the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues not support judicial oversight yesterday? Why wait for the provisions to go to another unelected place?
I listened carefully to what the Minister had to say and I am confident that the Home Secretary has clearly got the message that the Government need to table amendments in the other place, which will return to us and will then, I hope, be approved by this House. I believe that to be a perfectly appropriate mechanism. I would have preferred to have had Government amendments yesterday, but there were not any on this issue. I was saddened that we had not yet reached the point at which the Government accepted the arguments, but I believe that they now do accept them. If they do not, I suspect there will be a majority in the other place that will impose a judicial oversight amendment in any case. We would then have to debate not a Government proposal, but one concocted by colleagues in the other place. Provided that such a proposal is not grossly inappropriate, I will support it when it returns to us. I am sure I am not alone in that, and I know that the Home Secretary is looking at this very carefully. I am genuinely grateful to her and her colleagues for the fact that they have engaged with that argument.
There are still issues to be resolved. We had what was almost a semantic debate, but one that I think was important in the context of the Bill, about the difference between temporary exclusion and managed return. I feel that we are on a journey in that respect. Some people would say that the language amounts to the same thing, but I think that “managed return” better expresses where we need to be.
I have a concern that was not expressed on Report. The Bill requires the Home Secretary to issue a permit to return “within a reasonable period”. I hope that that “reasonable period” will be constrained enough to prevent people from being in limbo for a long time. They will need to know what they must do to ensure that their return is managed appropriately, and that must be arranged promptly and timeously if it is to be effective.
In a sense, however, those issues are peripheral to the main thrust of the Bill. As I have said, I cannot welcome a Bill many parts of which I would not wish to see in place, but I do not live in a perfect world. I live in a world in which the events that happened in Paris today happen not only here, but throughout the globe. We have to recognise that, and we have to deal with it. I hope that we shall reach a point at which we will no longer have to legislate in this way because people will no longer behave in the way that has become so common in recent years, but, sadly, we have not reached that point yet.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr Heath), who is standing down at the next election. We shall miss his wise words and the eloquent way in which he put the case for engagement and against terrorism. I join him, and both the Home Secretary and the shadow Home Secretary, in condemning the events in Paris. We know that the community in Paris and in France as a whole—along with the community here—utterly condemn what has happened. We hope that people of good will in that country and in the rest of Europe will come forward and ensure that we recognise the great strengths of diversity and the importance of understanding different cultures and religions, while isolating those who wish to undermine the values of our society.
I commend those on both Front Benches for the way in which they have dealt with this difficult Bill and for the progress that has been made. I, for one, thought that it would not be possible for the Bill to complete all its House of Commons stages by now, but it has done so. I think that the Opposition’s constructive approach—matched, I hope, by the Government’s approach in the form of a pledge to table amendments in the other place—will enable us to be a House united in our condemnation of terrorism and a House united in the method by which that is achieved.
As I have said before, however, I do not think that legislation is enough. The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome was right to say that we do not welcome Bills of this kind. We would rather not have them, because we would rather not have terrorism. We need legislation because it enables us to provide a framework for the incredible people who work in the police and the security services and who do things that we could not possibly even imagine doing. They are on the front line, dealing with such problems, every day. But what we must do, both in government and in opposition—what every Member has a responsibility to do—is ensure that communities are fully engaged in the fight against terrorism.
I am not saying that the communities are not engaged. They condemn those who wish to undermine our values. When we frame legislation, however, we use words such as “prevent” as though communities were able on their own to prevent what is happening. I think language is extremely important, and that is why I prefer the language of engagement. It should be “engagement, engagement, engagement”. We should be constantly working with communities. We cannot tell them to inform the authorities that someone is behaving in a way that causes them concern. Mothers will be fearful of reporting on their children, because when one woman did so, her son was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Following that case, women will believe that if they try to prevent their children from going abroad, those children be sent to prison for years and years with no prospect of rehabilitation.
These are complex and difficult areas therefore, and although we want these issues reported, we need a counter-narrative to make sure that, whenever the terrorists go on to the internet and prosecute their case for violence, we have an alternative. The people who run our internet services therefore need to do much more. The Prime Minister spoke about the dark net, and I contacted Google as I was very keen to get into the dark net, to try and see exactly what was going on in there, and Google told me, “It’s called the dark net because we can’t get into it.” That is the problem. There are areas on the internet that even the most sophisticated and clever people in our security services are not able to penetrate. That is how the terrorists and those who support their cause have been able to prosecute their case.
We need to get the internet providers to do much more. They need to take down more sites. They need to be more vigilant. They should not wait for complaints; they should act with speed and efficiency. That is clear. It has been clear to the Home Affairs Committee, and I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick) for all the work he has done; he is particularly eloquent on these issues when we look at counter-terrorism and conduct inquiries into these matters.
The problem has moved from the madrassahs and the schools and, I have to say to the Home Secretary, from the universities to the prisons and on to the net. So the old days when we could find the imam who was preaching the cause of terrorism have gone. There is now one-to-one radicalisation. Those who go into prison may become radicalised while there, and, unfortunately, they are not monitored sufficiently when they come out. That is what the Select Committee found in our last report. They then radicalise other people. With the best will in the world and the best resources put forward by the Government, it is very difficult to isolate people who are in prison if they are mixing with others who have different views and if they want to blame somebody else for their plight.
That is why, rather like the Jesuits, we need to deal with this at a much earlier stage. The counter-narrative needs to start much earlier. If we fail to do that, we will, in a sense, allow a whole generation to believe some of the stories that are recurring in certain parts of the country. That is why we commended the work of Google and its work with Abdullah-X, who informed us in his broadcasts that peer group pressure leads to people deciding to give up their way of life in this country and suddenly choosing to go and fight in Syria or in another country. They give up everything—the love of their parents, the support of their families and all their friends—because they believe they are fighting for a better cause. We cannot sit by and wait for that to happen.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) keeps telling us, the counter-narrative must begin now. We must be as aggressive as we can be now. We cannot wait for any more people to go. Ten years ago, Members could stand in the House and the Home Secretary could come to the Dispatch Box and not fear the fact that 500 British citizens had left this country to go and fight abroad. The figure was much less then.
The figure now is much higher in France and the rest of Europe than it is here. Thankfully, our numbers are lagging behind those of the rest of Europe. Taken as a whole, however, this is a real problem and it is getting worse. That is why the Select Committee has said on numerous occasions that what we need is a firm international platform to deal with counter-terrorism. This is done bilaterally at the moment, and we suggested the expansion of Interpol, with all the good work international organisations such as Interpol and Europol do, and that there should be an international platform involving countries of good will. We cannot allow every country into this, because we cannot be sure about every country, but those who are on the right side—if I can put it like that, in a diplomatic way—should work together on an international platform to identify those responsible.
We talked about the need to support countries such as Turkey. Turkey is an international hub: it is where people go before travelling on to Syria to carry on with their fighting. It is essential that we use all our resources to deal with these issues, but unless we work with families and communities as equals, we simply will not win this battle. We cannot prevent someone who is the subject of an order from going into a mosque, putting on a burqa and disappearing. We have to tell communities—no, “tell” is the wrong word; we have to work with communities and try to persuade them to come forward.
In France, there are ways of reporting these things, just as there are here. There, they have the “green line”. Here, we have the anti-terrorist hotline. When parents in this country are having a discussion at breakfast about the possibility of their child going off to fight in Syria, they do not sit around saying, “I think we should ring the anti-terrorist hotline.” Of course they do not want to report their children for terrorism. We need to look again at the language of effective reporting, so that we can encourage people to report their suspicions without fearing that their family unit could be destroyed. Every member of the Muslim community I have spoken to condemns what is happening out there in Syria. They condemn the people who are going out there to fight. I remember listening to a father being interviewed on BBC television. When he was told that his son had died abroad, he did not even know that he had gone to fight. Families sometimes do not know these things.
We need to ensure that there is effective monitoring, not only of those who come out of prison but of those involved in these activities. The Government and the Opposition work closely together to bring forward orders under prevention of terrorism legislation. Whenever Ministers come to the Dispatch Box to say that they want to ban this or that organisation, there is unanimity in the House that that should happen. It is quite right that the Government should be supported in that way, because they have information that we do not have. However, the ability of organisations to change their names and the ways in which they engage in terrorism is a cause for concern, and we need to be careful about that.
On exclusion orders, I understand why the Government are seeking to exclude people. I understand the logic and the reasoning behind the proposals; the Home Secretary appeared before the Select Committee in December and told us why she thought they were important. However, the practicalities will provide problems, which is why it is important that we assess what the Government are doing in the near future. There will not be time to do that before the general election, but it will be worth assessing how the provisions are working.
I recently met a delegation from Pakistan, which has its own severe troubles. The delegates were interested to hear about the Home Secretary’s exclusion orders. They asked me and my colleagues what we thought would happen if Pakistan decided to exclude any of its citizens who had been involved in these activities and prevent them from returning to Pakistan. Once those people were in Europe—and in the United Kingdom, in particular—we would be lumbered with them. If other countries decide to do what we are doing, there could be real problems. We would have to keep here certain people we would prefer to send away. International co-operation and bilateral conversations are therefore absolutely critical.
I support the Bill. Many of the recommendations that we have made in the past seven years are in it, at least in part. Like the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome, I wish that this could be the last counter-terrorism Bill that the House had to consider. I will be fighting the next election, and I hope that I will be returned to the House by the electors of Leicester East. If they want me back here and I am returned, I anticipate seeing more counter-terrorism legislation being introduced. I would be very much against having more, but if we have to have it, we have to have it. I hope, however, that we will look at the practicalities involved, so that when we put this kind of legislation through the House, we carry communities with us and ensure that the proposals are as practical as possible.
Gérard Biard, the editor- in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine which has been attacked, has said:
“A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”
The fact that it has been attacked is an example of how some people object to what others say and do. When I stopped being a Minister in Northern Ireland, I became associated with New Consensus and then New Dialogue, which after each IRA outrage would say, “This is not being done in our name.” That was a way of not going back to the 1970s. When there were terrorist bombs and outrages, people would start to hate the Irish, but by the 1990s most of the Irish were saying, “This is not being done in our name.” We probably need to find a way of letting people—not moderate Muslims but those who are just not violent—express the same thing. We have to say to the French, as others have, “We are with you.” The word “solidarité” is one we can take into English; we can stand in solidarity and suffer in solidarity, just as many people did with us on 7 July 2005.
I did not want to add to the debate on Third Reading, because I have not taken part in the Bill’s earlier stages, but I wish to say that we need to be careful about taking action that drives more people into believing that extremism works. We have to support those who have the responsibility for gathering information and trying to take action. It is worth putting on the record that the anti-terrorism hotline, which can be found by any internet search, is 0800 789 321. People may say to themselves, “I don’t know if this matters”, but when specialists get the information, or talk to someone, they can take things in and make the judgment. If anyone finds something suspicious or odd, it is far better to ring that number and provide the information to the authorities.
In expressing our horror about what has occurred in Paris, some understandably ask how it is possible that it could take place. They ask how it is possible that journalists could be gunned down in the way they have been because of what has been written or because of cartoons. The answer is simple: we are dealing with murderous psychopaths. If hon. Members are puzzled or mystified by how such an outrage could occur, I simply ask them to remember what the Nazis did and remember the millions of people murdered for one reason only—not their politics and so on, but simply their racial origin. We are dealing here with people with a Nazi mindset, who consider it an obligation, as the Nazis did, to take lives. I am glad that the House has had an opportunity today, both in Prime Minister’s questions and now, to express our deepest sympathy with the loved ones and relatives of those who have been murdered.
During our consideration of this Bill I have expressed reservations on a number of occasions, and those remain. I am pleased about what has happened on judicial oversight or intervention—it does not matter which way one wants to put it, but we are talking about court involvement—in respect of temporary exclusion orders. For one reason or another, the Government have come rather late to accept that, but if they have accepted it and this will go through the Lords, that is all to the good. It is unfortunate that it could not have been decided in the elected House of Commons, but if a Home Secretary decides otherwise, there is little we can do about it.
I praise the remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), who has set out clearly many of the problems we face in Britain in dealing with this terrorist danger. I simply say that what has happened in Paris has demonstrated, yet again, that we are not alone. Britain is not the only democracy to face an acute terrorist danger. Far from it: other democracies, and counties that are not democracies, also face it.
One has only to look at the horrors that have been happening in Nigeria or in Kenya, for example. Reference has been made to 7/7, when 52 people were murdered in London and many were seriously injured. I was in the United States on a private visit when 9/11 occurred and that evening took part in a rally. I was staying with people in Philadelphia and notices were put up during the day on churches, on other places of worship and in community places, and we decided that we would go and show our support for the United States and our solidarity against the terrorists. We were pleased to do so and I spoke as a private British citizen—not as a Member of Parliament, which I had no authority to do—and expressed the solidarity of this country with the United States in combating terrorism.
We must recognise that the terrorist danger will not go away in the near future. It will outlive me, although that is not saying a great deal. The danger of terrorism will remain; I wish I could come to another conclusion, and I very much doubt that the security authorities think differently. It will be a problem and a danger for years to come and it is no use our trying to deny that or to minimise the amount of time involved in trying to deal with the issue.
I am concerned about how far we will be able in this House and in the future to maintain our democratic rights and privileges—all that we consider so important and that have been built up over centuries—while at the same time taking every possible measure to safeguard our citizens. Every Home Secretary who comes to the Dispatch Box with a new Bill says the same thing. We say the same thing in the Labour party, whether we are in opposition or government. We try to reach the right balance. The fact that I am a critic of many of the measures that have been introduced does not alter the fact that I obviously accept that a balance must be reached. I recognise that there is an acute terrorist danger, as shown by all that I have been speaking about, so it would be foolish to say otherwise.
What concerns me is covered to some extent by what was said by the hon. Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley). The danger is that we will take measures that might well be necessary or essential but that could antagonise the very community we want to ensure remains on board and our ally, made up of our fellow citizens. What gives me satisfaction, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East was absolutely right on this point, is the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims not only in Britain but in France and in other countries loathe and despise the terrorism that is supposedly carried out in their names in the same way as we do. That is a great asset. It is understandable and we would not expect otherwise, but we must be very careful about the measures we take to safeguard our citizens so that they do not undermine that support and give the terrorists the sort of ammunition they would like. All the indications are that terrorism will have very limited support in this country, as shown in what occurred after 7/7, when all the Muslims I spoke to in my constituency—my right hon. Friend referred to those in his constituency—condemned it in the strongest possible terms, as I would have expected. In the same way, we have done that in the House of Commons.
The challenge in the coming years, as I have said, is to protect our democracy and protect the rule of law as we understand it while at the same time trying to ensure the safety and security of our citizens so that the crimes and atrocities that occurred on 7/7 and in Paris today are not repeated.
It seems a bit odd to be having the last word on this Bill after we have spent five days debating and discussing it. May I congratulate the Front Bench and shadow Front Bench teams on the consensual way in which they have approached these issues? We have significantly improved this Bill from its early conception, but it was perhaps a tad over-optimistic to have five full days of debate on it. On some days, the Chamber has been a bit like the Mary Celeste on a foggy day—perhaps Members are counter-terrored out. We have had a number of these Bills over the past few years, and no doubt, as the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) has said, we will see many more in the future. We will come back to this issue time and again, and we will have to deal with it year on year. I can already see that we will have another such Bill early in the new Parliament when we reconvene in May.
I do not want to add anything more to what I have already said about the events in Paris this afternoon other than that I hope we have learned something from those appalling events and that we approach and respond to them proportionately. In the past, the temptation has always been to have a knee-jerk response. Indeed this idea that something must be done is a characteristic of so many of the Bills that we have debated over the course of the year: we must be seen to be doing something, to be strong and to be acting. I hope that there is not that kind of response to the events in Paris. We have seen it so many times in previous counter-terror Bills. We have seen the response of a Labour Government—ID cards, the possibility of 90-day detentions and control orders. Let us try to be more imaginative this time around, and respond to the attack in a proportionate way.
At the heart of all such Bills—we have seen it with this particular Bill—is attention. We need to ensure that our citizens are safe and secure and that we pay attention to civil liberties and the freedoms that we enjoy in a democracy. I see many veterans of previous counter-terror Bills in the Chamber. They know what it is to wrestle with the problems. There is this clear balance that we have to strike between our civil liberties and the measures that are needed to keep our citizens safe. Does this Bill achieve that? I do not think so. Again, we have mucked about at the edge of our liberties. We have sacrificed some of the freedoms that we have the right to enjoy in a democracy. As we go forward, we must ensure that we get absolutely right that balance between what we expect as citizens of a democracy and the measures that Governments must take to keep us safe.
This Bill came alive when we discussed the Prevent measures and the radicalisation in our communities. Some of the things that this Government are doing are right, especially the way that they have tried to engage communities. They want to ensure that communities have the resources, ability and capacity to try to tackle the problem themselves. That is the right thing to do.
We have failed in some of our measures and debates to recognise why people get involved in these terrible activities. Nobody is born predisposed to be a jihadist or a terrorist and to do appalling things. Something happens along the way that makes people respond in a particular way. It might be ultimate frustration or a feeling that no other means can be used to exact political change. Something happens, and we have failed to understand some of the features that determine the development in some people’s minds. I hope that in the future we can look at this matter a bit more carefully and clearly. We must also take our share of responsibility for shaping the environment. It would be good if we could acknowledge some of the terrible decisions that we have taken in this House. I am talking about those things that may have provoked some of the responses that we have seen internationally. The war in Iraq, for example, was illegal. If we are looking at any sort of starting point or trajectory for things to escalate in the way that they have, we have to come back to this clear issue. We set that framework up and must start to accept our responsibility for shaping that environment.
I am disappointed that exclusion orders, which are a key feature of the Bill, have been left to be determined by the unelected House of Lords. I think that we, as Members of Parliament who are elected by our constituents, have a duty to consider these things ourselves. We had the opportunity to put that right yesterday. The public expect us to deal with these issues and make the decisions ourselves, not to leave it to the other place, whose Members are not elected, to sort it out behind the scenes, particularly on something as important as counter-terrorism and security. I hope that when the Bill comes back to the House we will have an opportunity to debate exclusion orders properly. We will look at what the Government are offering on temporary exclusion orders and will be able to make some sort of progress.
There are many things in the Bill that I do not like, such as the balance it strikes with our civil liberties, which I think is wrong, as it is in most of these Bills. However, we will not oppose it. When we return here in May, hopefully with about 30 or 40 Scottish National party Members, I am sure that we will revisit the matter. Let us make sure that in future we do not rush such legislation through at breakneck speed. We must take our time on these weighty and important matters, which deserve proper scrutiny. Let us deal with them properly. One thing that we will certainly be doing is coming back here to discuss this once again.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.
[2nd Allocated Day]
Further consideration of Bill, as amended in Committee of the whole House
Power to issue guidance
So, we have no problems with the principle of the general duty on public bodies to prevent terrorism, but this could mean a number of different things, and it is therefore important that the guidance is as full and effective as possible. In Committee, we tabled an amendment to mandate the issuing of guidance. As a consultation on the draft guidance was then issued—I think on the last day before the Christmas recess—we have not tabled that amendment again, but we do still feel that the guidance that has been issued, and which is subject to consultation, should be subject to a very full debate and approval by both Houses of Parliament. That is why we have tabled amendment 7.
I shall raise some issues with the current guidance but first I want to emphasise the potential scope of the guidance. Under the enabling provisions as currently drafted in the Bill, the guidance could be written and rewritten by the Secretary of State at will. The guidance is very important because it could have a bearing on free speech, academic freedoms and patient-doctor relations, but under the Bill as currently drafted, Parliament would have no role in overseeing what is in it.
My other concern is that one set of guidance will apply to numerous bodies, as set out in schedule 3, and therefore will have to apply in very disparate settings. There are also real issues as to how the guidance will cover Scotland and Wales. The consultation document states:
“Where English and Welsh authorities are different, however, the guidance has so far been drafted only to apply to the English authorities. It is the hope and intention of the UK Government that Scottish authorities will be included, and that this guidance will be applicable to authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.”
The guidance is therefore supposed to cover all countries in the UK, but consideration has, at this stage, been given only to England. Will there be fresh consultation looking specifically at Wales and Scotland once agreement has been reached with the respective Administrations about which bodies within those countries it will apply to?
There is similar confusion over two-tier local authorities, which was also a matter I raised in Committee. The guidance that has been issued simply states:
“In two-tier areas, county and district councils will need to agree proportionate arrangements for sharing the assessment of risk and for agreeing local Prevent action plans”,
but nothing more is said about how that is going to work and how the relative burden should be shared between different authorities. I have to say that I do not think that local government will find this guidance helpful in the way it is currently drafted.
In addition to these issues about where the guidance is to be implemented, there are a number of issues with the guidance itself. My key concern with the document is that there is very little help for public bodies in identifying what terrorism actually is. The document talks about tackling both violent and non-violent extremism, but contains very little to help public bodies identify either. I think we can draw important comparisons with child abuse and domestic violence in this regard. Improving best practice in those areas has required better understanding of the indications of abuse. Everyone agrees we should stop child abuse and violent extremism, but in both cases the problem is that public bodies have often failed to spot the key signs. This document does not do enough to remedy that for extremism and terrorism.
The guidance is very strong on procedures, but short on content. There is a real danger that the guidance could result in a series of time-consuming tick-box exercises performed by public bodies at all levels, without any improvement in the identification or understanding of violent extremism, and that is something we should all want to avoid. For example, there are frequent instructions for bodies to conduct risk assessment exercises, but no guidance on how they should conduct such an exercise, or what factors they should prioritise. If we look specifically at health care we see that duties are placed on a whole host of bodies, and then Monitor, the Trust Development Authority and the Care Quality Commission are all expected to monitor compliance. However, it is envisaged that those bodies—which are already over-stretched—should just check that processes have been followed. I therefore question whether this is the most effective way of ensuring that the Prevent agenda is implemented.
I have similar concerns about the higher education sector. The document’s references to that sector envisage that the Higher Education Funding Council for England will be conducting monitoring and evaluation of the processes that the sector will have to undertake. I wonder whether the Minister might be able to help me understand what happens in Wales and Scotland—as far as I am aware, HEFCE covers only England.
When I met Calie Pistorius, the vice-chancellor of Hull university, which is in my constituency, and its student union president, Richard Brooks, I was very impressed when I learned from both of them about the procedures and practices already in place at the university for dealing with external speakers and room bookings, for example, and for making sure that everybody understands their responsibilities and that there is effective communication. The university and its student union have been identified as one of the best examples of working together to ensure that issues of concern to Prevent are dealt with effectively on that campus, and I pay tribute to them for the work they are doing.
All this focus on processes in the consultation document risks detracting from outcomes and wasting time and effort. At a time of huge cuts in the public sector, we should be trying to minimise the burden on public bodies, particularly those facing very low risks.
Much has been made of this guidance applying to nurseries. The right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) has raised that, and he makes the important point that that setting will generally face a low risk, as will district councils in the Outer Hebrides, for example, yet these bodies will still have to fulfil the processes under Prevent. The guidance document therefore needs to include some differentiation to enable this to work in practice. I want to ask the Minister about childminders in particular, as they are identified in the consultation document. What exactly is a childminder expected to do to fulfil the Prevent requirements, especially as we know that small children—boys and girls—often like to play and act using toy guns and swords? What does the Minister think childminders should be expected to do in such circumstances, in the light of the Prevent consultation?
Throughout the document there is a real failure to deliver a proper analysis of the problem. The introduction makes clear that the focus should be on “Islamist extremists”, and it is clear that a much lower priority is given to white supremacists, for example. I want to ask the Minister a couple of questions about that. Can she tell me how many referrals to the Channel programme have been for people proclaiming white supremacist views? It would be helpful to have the numbers on that. We have seen the rise of the far-right parties across Europe, and in recent days the demonstrations in Germany. Recent cases such as that involving Anders Breivik show that we should never be complacent about the dangers from the far right and white supremacists. Will the Minister address that point in relation to the Prevent consultation document?
Why does the guidance refer to “Islamist extremists” as though that was just one single thing? The guidance states that the aim of Prevent is to tackle Muslim extremists who have an anti-west agenda, yet we know that the current conflicts in the middle east—particularly those in Syria and Iraq, which are fuelling ISIS—are not between Muslims and the west but are intra-Muslim conflicts. Intra-Muslim tensions have also been identified in numerous UK cities and linked to a series of attacks. We believe that the Prevent agenda should address such intra-Muslim conflicts as well. At the moment, those elements seem to be absent from the guidance.
In Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) talked about counter-narratives. The Muslim community is trying hard to combat sectarianism with a narrative of peace and unity, and we support it in doing that. Public bodies should be supporting community bodies in doing that, but they need guidance on how best to undertake that work. Again, that is completely absent from the consultation document.
That leads me to my second overall criticism of the consultation document: the lack of evidence to support what is in it. If the consultation document had said that a particular piece of research revealed a problem with Prevent delivering in certain areas or identifying certain issues, it would have been much easier to understand the measures in the document, but such evidence is not there. As I said in Committee, the Government do not seem to have done enough to monitor the implementation of their revised Prevent agenda across the country and across different bodies. They are now reacting in a blanket fashion because they have not done the necessary work to identify the weaknesses of the revised programme. It is welcome that the guidance includes some brief details about what the Home Office will do to support public bodies, but this could be expanded on, and it seems almost entirely limited to the Prevent priority areas. What about the rest of the country? These duties will be placed on public bodies throughout the country, not just those in the Prevent priority areas.
I want to ask about the Prevent priority areas, because they are a little muddled. Under the previous Government, there were 92 priority areas. This Government reduced the number to 23, but they then realised that that was not quite right. They reinstated funding to some areas, such as Greenwich, and the number of Prevent priority areas rose to 30. The consultation document says that there will be 50 Prevent priority areas, yet the Bill’s impact assessment refers to about 90 local authorities facing high risk. This is a bit of a mess. Do the Government know how many high-priority areas there are? Will the Minister tell us the actual number? Is it 90 or 50? In the light of the issues that I have raised, it is important that Parliament should have an opportunity to scrutinise the guidance, once it has been finalised. At the moment, all we have is the consultation document, which has large gaps in it.
I turn to amendment 6 and the Channel programme, which will be placed on a statutory footing alongside the rest of Prevent. As with Prevent, it is a policy area of enormous importance, and the Opposition support efforts to strengthen it. Once again, however, the Government are placing obligations on local authorities without making provision to ensure that they will be properly and fully supported by central Government.
Clause 28 provides for the creation of local assessment and support panels in every local authority, but once again the Bill is being implemented before a decision has been made about what will happen in Scotland. The Bill puts on to a statutory footing only a small part of the Channel process, and of course what it is putting into statute should already exist. It is surprising that the Government have not been able to provide evidence of how many councils have already created such boards, given that that information has been asked for.
The first stage of the Channel programme is not covered by the Bill. That is the stage at which an individual is referred to the police because of concerns about radicalisation. Under the current system, numerous local bodies can make a referral including schools, colleges, universities, youth offending services, local authority troubled family teams, charities and voluntary groups. The police then conduct a screening process. Only after that does the statutory footing appear to kick in.
Amendment 4 would ensure that appointments to the panel were made in line with the code of public appointments and not used as political patronage. We know that the role of the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation has been so successful because the calibre of the individuals appointed has been outstanding, but this has been possible only because candidates were appointed for their competence rather than their politics, and the same principle should apply to members of the board.
Of course, a board can be effective only if it has a work plan that is agreed with the relevant parties, information-gathering powers and access to the relevant information which, for a board of this type, will often include classified information. All this would be provided for by amendment 5.