Consideration of Lords amendments
I must draw the House’s attention to the fact that financial privilege is involved in Lords amendments 1, 2, 9, 21 and 32. If the House agrees with them, I shall ensure that the appropriate entry is made in the Journal.
Seizure of passports etc from persons suspected of involvement in terrorism
I beg to move, that this House agrees with Lords amendment 1.
On the day the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill was last considered by this House, news of the appalling events in Paris and the brutal murders at the office of Charlie Hebdo were still unfolding. What followed was a two-day manhunt for those responsible, a horrific attack on a Jewish supermarket and further murders of innocent people. Those attacks were yet another reminder of the very grave threat we face from terrorism, a threat that we have discussed in this House on many occasions. I am certain that everyone in this House is committed to ensuring that the police, MI5 and others have the powers and capabilities they need to keep the public safe. That is why we brought forward the Bill and sought its swift progress through Parliament.
Since the Bill was sent to another place, it has been the subject of robust scrutiny. A number of substantial amendments have been made to ensure that these new powers will deliver the optimum capability for our agencies, and to reassure the public that they will be used appropriately and proportionately. They were all Government amendments, which were broadly welcomed by their lordships, and I hope and expect that they will find similar favour in this House. I will now turn to the amendments themselves.
Two amendments were tabled by the Government to part 1 chapter 1 of the Bill, which concerns the temporary seizure of travel documents from individuals reasonably suspected of wishing to travel overseas to engage in terrorism-related activity. Amendments 1 and 2 make provision for civil legal aid to be made available where appropriate at the hearings of applications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to extend the 14-day time period in which an individual’s travel documents may be retained. This is an issue in which the Joint Committee on Human Rights took considerable interest. Legal aid is already available for judicial review proceedings in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland, subject to individuals’ meeting the statutory means and merits tests.
Turning to temporary exclusion, as I have made clear to this House at earlier stages, the Government are absolutely committed to the appropriate and proportionate use of this power. As my hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Immigration indicated on Report, we carefully considered the constructive suggestions from David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, on the matter of judicial oversight, and following that consideration, we tabled amendments to introduce oversight of the power in line with his recommendations. Specifically, the amendments propose the creation of a permission stage, before the imposition of a temporary exclusion order, and a statutory judicial review mechanism to consider the imposition of the order and any specific in-country requirements.
I thank the Secretary of State for giving way so early, but is not consideration of these issues the job of elected Members—those who bothered to go to the electorate—not that affront to democracy down the corridor whose Members have taken it upon themselves to form Government business?
The very reason we are debating the amendments is that the House has an opportunity to consider them, so the hon. Gentleman’s argument is completely false.
During the permission stage, the court would have the power to refuse permission for the order where prior permission was being sought, and in retrospective review cases, it would have the power to quash the order. During the statutory judicial review, the court would have the power not only to consider in detail and quash the specific in-country requirements placed on an individual, but to consider whether the relevant conditions for imposing the temporary exclusion order were and continued to be met. It could quash the whole order or direct that the Secretary of State revoke it. The amendments will ensure effective judicial scrutiny of the power, and I trust they provide sufficient reassurance to the House on this important issue.
That does provide me with the reassurance I sought at an earlier stage, and I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for having listened carefully to the representations made here and in another place. They are most welcome and I believe will add considerably to the Bill’s legitimacy.
Alas, I am not quite at the same stage of happy reassurance as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve). Will my right hon. Friend reassure me that the additional judicial step will not mean that, in the time we understand it will take for a return to be made, people can get back into the country while legal proceedings are ongoing? The purpose was to say to those with a family member subject to terrorist infiltration that if they went abroad it would be a one-way ticket. My concern is that this additional legal step might stop that in some cases.
As my hon. Friend will recall, we have retained the initial decision by the Secretary of State, but, as with the legal process for terrorism prevention and investigation measures, it would then be for the court to consider whether it was right for the Secretary of State to have taken that decision. That process would be followed and then the order would be served, so I do not think that the timing issue, which he is concerned about, would arise.
The whole point is that such people will be outside the country. The aim of a temporary exclusion order is to ensure that when they return to the UK, they do so on our terms, which is why their passport would not be available to them and they would have to be issued with temporary travel documents. As I indicated to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller), the process of judicial oversight would have to be followed before the order is placed on the individual. As I said, these are important additions to the Bill reflecting the concerns expressed by right hon. and hon. Members at an earlier stage.
I now come to amendments 10 and 11, the aviation, shipping and rail security amendments, which provide for direct parliamentary scrutiny of an authority-to-carry or no-fly scheme made or revised by the Secretary of State. Any such scheme would be subject to the affirmative procedure. These amendments act on a recommendation made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.
Amendments 28 and 29 bring the aviation security powers in the relevant schedule into force on Royal Assent rather than at a later date by order. This includes strengthened powers to request information from the aviation industry and issue security directions, with a penalty regime to enforce them. The threat to aviation from terrorist groups is well documented and continues to evolve. We already work closely with foreign Governments and airlines, as well as UK operators, to make sure that the necessary security measures are in place and are being implemented effectively. These measures will enhance our ability to do so. I therefore hope the House will agree that it is right for these strengthened powers to be available at the earliest opportunity.
There was an extensive debate in the other place on the Prevent duty set out in chapter 1 of part 5. Most notably, debate took place on the potential impact on freedom of speech and academic freedom in universities. The Government listened to those concerns, and amendment 16 ensures that further and higher education institutions must, when carrying out the Prevent duty, have particular regard to the duty contained in section 43(1) of Education (No. 2) Act 1986 to secure freedom of speech.
I hope to say a few words on this subject later if I get the opportunity to do so, but will the Home Secretary tell me whether subsection (3) of the new clause proposed by amendment 16, which applies the duty to ensure freedom of speech and academic freedom to the Secretary of State herself in drawing up the guidance, will have a material effect on the draft guidance she has already issued?
As my hon. Friend knows, the draft guidance has been subject to consultation. We received a significant number of responses to the draft guidance, and we are going through those responses in order to make changes as appropriate. The point of building this directly into the Bill is that it makes it very clear to those exercising this duty that we are introducing for universities under Prevent that they must have “particular regard”, as it says, to the issues of freedom of speech and academic freedom. This makes it absolutely clear that the Prevent duty is not overriding, to put it that way, the academic freedom that we all accept our universities should have.
Can the Home Secretary assure me that when she considers the responses to the consultation, the final document will be so cast that it does not, albeit inadvertently, impede the work of genuine, benign and well-intentioned student bodies such as Christian unions and other groups that are active within our universities?
The Home Secretary is generous in giving way on this point. I am sure she can understand the concerns raised locally with me, a university MP, and I welcome the renewed emphasis on freedom of speech and on the stronger scrutiny for Parliament in amendment 16. Can she assure me that the guidance will be sufficiently clear for universities to have no uncertainty about their responsibilities under the new legislation?
I thank my hon. Friend for giving me an opportunity to make it absolutely clear that we intend the guidance to be clear. We have produced the guidance for consultation; as I said, we are considering the responses to it; and we are looking at areas where we need to clarify the guidance. It is important for universities, notwithstanding academic freedom and the need to secure freedom of speech, also to recognise the duty of care they have to students. That is why I believe it absolutely right for universities to be within this legislation and within the Prevent duty that is being put into statute. We will, of course, make the guidance clear, so that universities can operate appropriately.
I very much agree with my right hon. Friend’s view on the issue of freedom of speech. Vice-chancellors and others who are in control of our universities are worried about their ongoing duties, so can we ensure that the guidance will not fall into place and further duties will not be placed on our universities until such time as the clarity of the guidance is manifest, even if that means waiting for a further academic year?
There is a reason why we are putting the Prevent duty on a statutory basis, and there is a reason why the Bill has gone through Parliament slightly more quickly than would normally be the case. We have made it clear that we have issued guidance for consultation, and that we will respond to the consultation and revise the guidance. We have also made it clear, in the amendments, the particular regard that universities must have to freedom of speech and academic freedom. However, as I have said, I think that universities must also recognise their duty of care to students. I hope that, if students are being radicalised on their campuses, universities will get to know about it and take some action.
I have been very generous in giving way, and I should now like to make a little more progress. Let me simply say to my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mark Field) that the duty is that which is in the legislation, and that the guidance will be revised in accordance with our response to the consultation. The Secretary of State will also be required to have particular regard to freedom of speech and academic freedom when issuing guidance, or when giving a direction to an educational body that has failed to discharge the duty.
Lords amendment 17 allows the Secretary of State to nominate suitable monitoring authorities for further and higher education institutions, and obliges relevant bodies to provide them with such information as they require, including information about the steps being taken to improve performance. We fully expect institutions to co-operate with the authorities, but there may be rare cases in which institutions do not co-operate. Lords amendment 18 provides for the Secretary of State to give directions to relevant further and higher education bodies when they have failed to supply information, and the Secretary of State can, if necessary, seek a mandatory order from the court to enforce any such directions. Lords amendments 14 and 15 provide that the guidance underpinning the duty will be subject to the affirmative procedure, which will ensure further scrutiny of it before it takes effect.
There are a number of more minor amendments to this part of the Bill and the corresponding schedules. Lords amendments 12 and 13 would ensure that, if further bodies are made subject to the Prevent duty in the future, there will be greater flexibility to make it possible to focus on particular functions of the authorities, while Lords amendment 19 makes it clear that functions exercised outside Great Britain are not subject to the duty. Lords amendments 34 to 39 tidy up entries in the schedules listing the Prevent specified authorities and the Channel panel partners. Lords amendments 26 and 30 allow the Government to amend those schedules by order at any time after Royal Assent, subject to Parliament’s approval of the changes.
The amendments to part 7 relate to the remit of the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation and his relationship with the proposed privacy and civil liberties board. They reflect the extensive debate that has taken place in both Houses, and the views that have been expressed by David Anderson QC. Lords amendments 21, 22, 25 and 27 make changes to the statutory remit of the independent reviewer to include areas of counter-terrorism legislation that are currently not subject to independent oversight. They also allow for a greater degree of flexibility in the reporting arrangements relating to the Acts that are within his purview. Lords amendments 23 and 24 make it clear that the independent reviewer will chair the privacy and civil liberties board, which in turn will operate under his direction and control.
I have received several e-mails from constituents who are worried about the speed with which the Bill will be implemented. The Home Secretary has allayed some of my fears, which will enable me to support the Bill, but will she tell us more about the policy and civil liberties board, and about when it will come into effect?
I will say a little more about the board later in my speech, but I can tell my hon. Friend that, as certain matters will have to be dealt with, it will not come into effect in the immediate future. As for the amount of time that has been given to the Bill, it has indeed had a faster track through Parliament than a normal Bill, with the agreement of the Opposition. There has, however, been considerable debate both in the House of Commons—and the Committee stage was taken on the Floor of the House—and in another place. Yesterday, during the final debate in another place, a number of their lordships expressed their gratitude for the amount of time that had been made available and the amount of scrutiny that had taken place. So I think there has been sufficient scrutiny.
While I recognise that concerns have been expressed about the privacy and civil liberties board, it is worth reflecting on David Anderson’s most recent comments on these matters:
“if skilled and practical people are appointed to the Board, content to work under the Reviewer’s direction, the capacity for independent review will be improved.”
I should also draw the attention of hon. Members to his acknowledgement published on his website and dated 31 January that
“the Government has listened to what I have been saying, and put forward changes which should significantly improve the ability of the Independent Reviewer to do an effective job.”
On the point of people’s concerns about privacy, we now have a Select Committee, which has done a detailed report on Lee Rigby and has shown it is scrutinising Parliament and the intelligence services, and we now have the civil liberties board. We have tremendous oversight in this country, and is it not now time that we say we have got good control of our intelligence services and we need to let them get on and do the job?
My hon. Friend makes an important point. Our country has one of the strictest legal structures for dealing with these kinds of matters. We also have significant oversight through the role of the various commissioners and the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation and through the enhanced capabilities of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, which has, through its Woolwich report, shown how it can use those powers to scrutinise in detail what has taken place and report to the public. Our intelligence agencies do a very good job for us every day of the week, and we need to ensure they can carry on doing that job with appropriate oversight, which I think we have in place.
On the privacy and civil liberties board, as I said in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Dr Offord), there is further work to be done because we have to consider the responses to the recent consultation on it before bringing forward regulations to establish the board, but I trust the amendments we have made will reassure the House about the Government’s approach to these important issues.
The range and significant nature of these amendments demonstrates the approach that the Government have taken on this Bill. With the support of the official Opposition, we have agreed a timetable to ensure that it will be enacted at the earliest opportunity, but we have also ensured that our proposals have been subjected to robust analysis, and we have listened to the full range of views from all sides of both Houses. The Bill has certainly benefited from that scrutiny.
I welcome the fact that these measures have broad cross-party support, and I am grateful to all hon. Members, and particularly the Opposition Front Bench, for the constructive approach that they have taken throughout our consideration of this Bill.
As I have made clear previously, we are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly terrorist ideology. The first duty of Government is to keep the people of Britain safe and this Bill will help us to do so. The amendments made in the Lords will improve the provisions, and strike the right balance between our rights to privacy and security. I invite the House to agree them, so that we can enact this legislation without any further delay.
We, too, welcome the Lords amendments. The Home Secretary was right to commence her remarks by reminding the House of the events in Paris and the ever-present threat of terrorist activity on these shores. It is for that reason that we took a constructive approach to the Bill; we believe there is a threat, and it needs to be effectively managed, and we in Her Majesty’s Opposition give the Home Secretary the support she needs for the work of the police, MI5 and others, which she has sought to give extra powers to in this Bill.
We are also keen to respond to the positive comments made last year by David Anderson, the reviewer of terrorism of legislation. We are grateful that the Home Secretary has listened to the comments made by Mr Anderson, and indeed by the other place.
The Bill was introduced into this House at the end of November. There was no pre-legislative scrutiny or public consultation on most of its provisions and it finished its Commons stages on 7 January. I understand why the Home Secretary has moved quickly on these matters, but the fact that 39 amendments were made in another place and have come to this Chamber shows that some serious issues have had to be reflected on during the passage of the Bill.
We welcome the thrust of the amendments made by the Government, because they are a series of concessions to points made not only in another place—I take the point made by the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) about that—but in this House.
Does the right hon. Gentleman regret, as I do, that the amendments tabled by the noble Lord King that sought to bring back the draft Communications Data Bill, or all the elements of it, did not make it back to this House? Does he agree that we need to move forward with that as soon as possible?
We need to look at and deal with that issue. Five years ago, in my last year as a Minister in the Home Office, I was briefed as the Minister for Policing, Crime and Counter-Terrorism on the need for such a Bill, so we do need to examine the matter. Whoever wins the election in some weeks’ time, the next Parliament will have to return to that issue. In fact, I think it would have returned to it in this Parliament had it not been for the Liberal Democrats—but let us not find division where there is none this evening.
We welcome the measures agreed to by the Home Secretary. We need strong terrorism powers and to accept that the rise of ISIL and associated groups represents an exceptional threat, but we also need to look at how we manage such powers within the confines of ensuring that we uphold the principles of democracy in this country. On the temporary exclusion orders, therefore, we welcome the principle of judicial oversight being accepted following amendments in another place. In this House on 2 December the shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), rightly pointed out that there was such judicial oversight for terrorism prevention and investigation measures, and stated that we would be tabling amendments on that very principle. The Home Secretary said to me in Committee on 15 December that such oversight was not necessary and that for her to have the power to make that decision should suffice.
Not only Opposition Members but Government ones, such as the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mark Field) and others, made the point that we need to uphold democracy and the right of appeal and oversight at the same time as tackling the threat head on. The debate continued on Report and, indeed, the Opposition tabled an amendment to achieve the objectives that the Government are now accepting following amendments in another place. Both Government parties voted against the earlier Labour amendment, but now support proposals that, broadly speaking, do exactly the same thing. It is a significant U-turn by the Government, but welcome all the same. The case for judicial oversight has been clear all along, and the conditions now in place are welcome.
Her Majesty’s Opposition also fully support the Prevent strategy changes made by the Home Secretary this evening. Labour developed Prevent when in government, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) was key to that at the time. It is important for us to have a statutory basis for Prevent. The Bill introduces the obligation on public bodies to implement Prevent and to follow statutory guidance. We supported that in principle, but, again, we made it clear that we wanted to press strongly on the guidance, on the nature and drafting of which my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) made some key comments. We tabled some amendments, which the Government have now accepted, on the guidance being subject to parliamentary approval. That amendment was drafted by the Labour party and supported by Universities UK. We also supported in another place specific protection for universities’ obligation to uphold freedom of belief. I welcome the fact that my hon. Friend made those points, that Labour Members have made the points in another place, that the House of Lords has agreed the amendments and that the Government have now accepted them.
We support the creation of the privacy and civil liberties board, but there was significant confusion about its role as introduced in the Commons. Yet again, we raised that issue in this place and in another place, and the Government have now accepted some of the points made and have clarified, particularly, the interaction of the board and the independent reviewer. That will address some of the capacity problems faced by the independent reviewer.
It is also important that we have accepted the amendments on the authority-to- carry scheme. That is a vital power but most of the detail and how it will impact carriers has been left to secondary legislation. The Government have now accepted that these detailed regulations will need to have proper parliamentary scrutiny, and, again, that is welcome.
There was not a great deal of division between the Government and us on the principles of the Bill before it left this place, but we did want to see some strengthening, and those strengthening measures have been put in place. I wish not only to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North and my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford for raising those issues here, but to thank Lord Rosser and Baroness Smith of Basildon for raising and dealing with those issues in another place. Serious consideration has been given in the House of Lords and this Bill is the better for it. I am pleased that the Home Secretary has accepted those amendments, and she will have our support on them tonight and on the implementation of the Bill in due course.
As I said on Report, it is extraordinarily difficult to get the balance exactly right between the security of the citizen and of the realm and the accretion of powers by the state. I pay tribute to the Home Secretary and her colleagues in the Department for listening carefully to the things said about this Bill by Members on both sides of the House. All the amendments we have received from the other place, many of them stimulated by our discussions in this House and now back before us, improve the Bill rather than make it worse. That is not to say that there are not areas where I might have gone a little further than the Government amendments in the Lords, but let us recognise that it has been improved.
I particularly welcome—this was the deal breaker—the introduction of judicial oversight of the temporary exclusion orders. I honestly do not understand why the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) believes it would be better for the House to have supported an Opposition amendment that was inadequate to the task rather than the Home Office’s own amendment, which we were promised on Report and which has now been produced in the Lords.
That is not the way Third Reading and Report work; what we put into the Bill then is the Bill—it is not a question of principle at that stage. The principle was that the Home Secretary accepted our arguments, she has brought this back and I am grateful to her. I am also grateful to her for the changes to the privacy and civil liberties board.
The one area where we still have a mess, despite the welcome improvements, is on the draft guidance on places of higher education. Of course I welcome the explicit references now in the Bill to “freedom of speech” and “academic freedom”, but introducing those as something to which both the universities and the Home Secretary need to have particular regard means that we have an incomplete hierarchy of priorities between that and the guidance in the draft guidance. That makes it difficult for vice-chancellors and others to assess exactly where their duties lie.
The saving grace lies in amendment 14, which means that the guidance will come before this House for consideration. The reason I specifically asked the Home Secretary what changes she would make to the draft guidance as a consequence of subsection (3) of the new clause in amendment 16 is that there is a clear implication, if that means anything at all, that there will be changes made on that basis. It cannot simply be done in response to the consultation process; there needs to be something that emerges from that process. I look forward to seeing the draft guidance revisited, reissued and then coming before this House for final decision. However, I make a plea to the Home Secretary not to have something that is too bureaucratic or to have hurdles that are impossible for large universities to jump. I have to say that I would be quite incapable of telling a university at which I was speaking what I was going to say two weeks in advance—I do not know what I am going to say when I stand up to make a speech.
Perhaps I can give my hon. Friend a little further reassurance. My noble Friend Lord Bates made it clear in the other place that we would be amending the guidance, and I have made that clear, too. This issue of speakers providing two weeks’ notice of what they are going to say is precisely something that we will clarify as not necessary.
First, I should like to place on the record my thanks to the Minister for Security and Immigration, the hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire), who is not in his place this evening, for his conduct of the debate on this Bill; he has been open, inclusive and generous. Very often, he has listened and genuinely responded to the points that all Members have made. I also wish to thank him for coming to a roundtable discussion that I organised two weeks ago. He made an excellent contribution among a group of academics, practitioners and people from think-tanks about how we can do some practical work around tackling extremism and radicalisation. I will let him have a report of that discussion this week, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue with Government about what we can do in practical terms to make this situation better than it is at the moment.
I wish to comment briefly on amendments 14 and 16, which relate to part 5 of the Bill and the Prevent programme. Like every other Member, I welcome amendment 14, which provides for parliamentary scrutiny of the guidance. I am delighted that the Government have now accepted that. It will be through the affirmative resolution procedure, and it will enable proper detailed scrutiny and debate of the matters that are in the guidance.
I have now had the opportunity to read the guidance. On Second Reading and in Committee, I kept saying to the Minister, “When will we see the guidance?” He implored me to be patient, saying that the issues I was raising would be addressed in that guidance. Well, I have been as patient as I can be, but I remain concerned about two issues that the guidance seeks to address. The first matter I raised in debate was that much of the Bill is couched in terms of dealing with individuals who are in danger of being radicalised and drawn into terrorism. There was very little, if anything, about the need to work on a broader basis with communities to build the resilience of communities to the extremist message and to galvanise communities into being actively engaged on this agenda. I am afraid that the guidance, as I have read it, is still completely focused on individuals.
This afternoon, I read the guidance in great detail, even to the point where I did a word search on it. It is 39 pages long and has 178 paragraphs and—I hesitate to say this to the House—the words “parent” and “family” do not appear once in that guidance. I would that thought that families and parents are absolutely on the front line of trying to prevent our young people from being drawn into extremism. I know that the Home Secretary will know that mothers, sisters and women in those communities can play a life-changing role in safeguarding the future of our young people, and yet nowhere in the guidance is there any mention of families and parents.
The right hon. Lady is making a very important argument about increasing community resilience. Does she agree that one of the most important ways that we can do that is by improving critical engagement with online content, which is one of the most pervasive forms of radicalisation?
I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady that online radicalisation has become increasingly important as technology has developed. Many young people are drawn into the most horrific websites and see the most horrendous content, which inevitably affects how they view these issues. I personally believe that the service providers have a great responsibility on this agenda and would like them to be much more active. Google, for example, has done some excellent work on gangs and I would like to see it replicate that work for the counter-terrorism agenda. We need a more inclusive conversation with the service providers on all these issues.
Does the right hon. Lady agree that we should not focus too much on the individual, as it is that individual who is at risk and who cannot put the circumstances into context in making decisions? Secondly, does she agree that communities are dispersing around the country and if we do not equip families to have those conversations, the strategy will not be as effective as it could possibly be, given those changes?
Unfortunately, the right hon. Lady is stepping down as a Member of this House very soon and I only hope that her voice will not be stilled on such topics in other arenas. Does she agree that although there has been a welcome change in that Ministers from the Prime Minister downwards are now talking about the underlying perverted ideology at the root of radicalisation, we need to back up that new rhetoric with arrangements to counter that perverted ideology?
The hon. Gentleman has a proud record of having pursued these issues with such determination and tenacity that he has, perhaps, had no small influence on the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister in talking about the long-term generational struggle and the need to deal with ideology.
I want to return to the point made by the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood) about resilience, as that is the second issue that I am concerned about. I have read the guidance very carefully and the first mention of building community resilience is in paragraph 175 of 178, on page 39. It is about the police and it states:
“The success of Prevent work relies on communities supporting efforts to prevent people being drawn into terrorism and challenging the extremist ideas that are also part of terrorist ideology. The police have a critical role in helping communities do this. To comply with the duty, we would expect the police, working with others, to build community resilience”.
There is no objection to community resilience in principle in the guidance, yet it takes us 175 paragraphs before we talk about the need to do that. The Home Secretary is looking at me quizzically, but this is the guidance as we see it now and when it is revised, as I hope it will be, I hope that there will be a stronger emphasis on families, parents and communities. I have made those points consistently and I asked the Home Secretary to reflect carefully on that.
Within those communities, there is a hunger to be engaged and a worry that at the moment the terms of engagement seem to be determined completely by the police and not sufficiently by families. I had a meeting with a group of Muslim mums in my constituency who asked for better education on how they could understand what was going on on the internet. We need a non-police-led element to this Prevent work as well.
My hon. Friend makes a point that is based on experience and it is all the more authentic and powerful for that.
These issues are not mutually exclusive. The police have a role to play and have an important security role, but other agencies and people in the community can equally make a big contribution.
The second point that I have raised consistently is about ideology. I am more reassured about ideology and paragraph 4 of the guidance, right at the front of the document, states that one of the objectives is to respond to the ideological challenge. Paragraph 17 talks about the need to train front-line staff so they are aware of the ideology and what they can do to push it back. I have asked again during the passage of the Bill how much resource will go into the area. We have £120 million to deal with the increased threat, but how much will go into the Prevent agenda? It is very important for people out there to know that. There is a hunger for training, support and capacity building among all the agencies that will have to carry out that duty. We need to offer some reassurance that that capacity and guidance will be in place.
My final point is about freedom of speech. I know that many Members have made their points on that already. The noble Lord Bates made a neat attempt to try to make the division between having due regard to and having particular regard to. I am not sure that I would envy him the prospect of litigating on that basis, because it seems to me to be a bit of a philosophical exam question. I know that the Home Secretary will look at that guidance again and make it as practical as possible, but reconciling those two formulations seems to me to be intrinsically difficult. I do not think for one moment that I am capable of reconciling that; that would require a greater philosophical brain than mine. Perhaps it will eventually come to judges. If the Home Secretary could say a little more about that, that would be very welcome.
Finally, will the Home Secretary publish all the responses to the consultation? That would help us all significantly in seeing the direction of travel. She has said that this is an ongoing generational struggle, as indeed has the Prime Minister. He said last week that the shadow will hang over our generation for many years to come. We are all engaged in trying to ensure that we tackle the problems we face. I will certainly seek to make whatever contribution I can to this agenda now and in future.
On Second Reading, I and a number of other Members talked about the need for judicial or legal oversight of temporary exclusion orders and of the removal of passports and documents. I am pleased that some judicial or legal oversight has now been provided, but I am still a little disappointed about the number of days that a person’s passport can be held before that can effectively be challenged in the courts. I am also concerned that temporary exclusion orders are still closed proceedings, which means a person will not necessarily know what is being said against them. The ex parte nature of these proceedings is fundamentally wrong.
It has been said that any application for an exclusion order or to take someone’s documents will be intelligence-led and based on proper evidence. If that is the case, why is everybody frightened of proper judicial or legal oversight? That would not be by the method of judicial review, but in a proper, straightforward way, for example by going to the High Court to argue why a person should be excluded, or why they should not be on the managed programme, or why their documents should be taken. Proper legal aid should be provided for all those purposes as a matter of right, not as a matter of discretion.
On Prevent, I have to say that I disagree not only with the Home Secretary, but with my party and with what has happened previously. Prevent was brought in on a voluntary basis in 2007. I am afraid that some people think that they can introduce these kinds of things and then sit back and say, “Right, that’s going to deal with the whole issue of radicalisation.” That view is based on a fundamental flaw in the argument, which is that somehow this is all based on ideology. It is not based on ideology, or on a perverted ideology; there are other reasons why these things happen. It is completely wrong to think that simply by monitoring people in nurseries, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries we will be able to identify who might make the big leap from having a socially conservative view of something to going out to commit suicide and injure and maim other people.
I am very disappointed that that has not been looked at critically in this House. There seems to be universal acceptance here that Prevent is some kind of panacea; it is not. A number of organisations have said the same. A Demos report from 2010 recommended that the Government should dismantle the preventing violent extremism programme. The Intelligence and Security Committee’s report following the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013 said that the Government’s counter-radicalisation programmes are not working.
Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former director of MI5, who should know what she is talking about, said recently when the Bill was debated in the House of Lords:
“However, it seems to me that Prevent is clearly not working. . . It also follows, therefore, that I am not convinced of the value of putting Prevent on a statutory footing. I am out of date. The Government may be able to convince me but I cannot see how legislation can really govern hearts, minds and free speech.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 13 January 2015; Vol. 758, c. 752.]
Other researchers have reached similar conclusions. Mark Sageman, who was a CIA counter-terrorist officer, looked at 500 so-called radicalised persons and concluded that programmes such as Prevent had no effect on them and that religious ideology was not the motivation for those people to go on to commit serious criminal offences. Studies in this country by MI5 also conclude that such offences are not to do with ideology and result from other things.
I know I am going to be lynched, because whenever somebody expresses such opinions, everybody else has a go at them. What is happening internationally, what is happening in the political world out there has a bearing on some of that behaviour. That is not the total explanation, but it is part of the equation. To ignore that and concentrate on ideology is to look at the problem through a prism.
We know what we are talking about. We are talking about the Muslim community and it is thought that people commit an offence because of ideology. Putting Prevent on a statutory basis is one of the worst things that could happen. Even the voluntary scheme was not a good idea. I have spoken to some of the people who have been taken away to the so-called radicalisation unit. What sort of questions were they asked? Questions such as, “Were you against the Iraq war? What do you think of the middle east situation? Did you go to the Iraq war demonstration?” Millions of people in this country would answer yes to those questions. Does that mean that we should all be subjected to a programme to deradicalise us? No.
We are heading towards a McCarthyite state, where everybody will be spying on everybody else, where nursery teachers, school teachers, hospital nurses, doctors and everybody else will say, “My friend said something that may be critical of someone or something. That means I have to report them to the local authority or the police.” That person will then be arrested, taken away and questioned.
I shall give an example of a woman who worked in a hospital. She went off to do umrah—hajj—in Saudi Arabia. When she came back, she was wearing a headscarf and she started praying a bit more. What happened? Her manager apparently reported her to the Prevent people and suggested they have a chat with her. It turned out that, in her opinion, she had become a little more religious. That kind of thing will happen, and it has been happening in recent years. All it has done is cause people to feel angry and to feel that they are being spied on. That is not a British value. It is not how we do things in Britain. British values do not entail spying on our next-door neighbour or the person next to us and reporting them.
With the regulations being put on a statutory footing, there will be more and more picking on people, which will not help anyone. It will not make anyone safer. If Members think that holding a socially conservative view about particular issues means that people are going to commit suicide and kill everybody around them, Members do not understand the real situation out there. I mean that very respectfully. We are going to have a McCarthyite state where people spy on each other, and that is not right.
People who commit such offences are criminals and should be dealt with. Anybody who saw the two criminals who killed Fusilier Rigby would have seen that they were frothing at the mouth. It is clear that they were mental. Many educational psychologists and others who have studied people who become radicalised and commit criminal offences say that those people are often educationally deprived, economically deprived and have mental health issues. It is those issues that we should address. Concentrating on Prevent will not stop all the problems. Whatever is happening internationally and what those people are doing will continue.
I appreciate the passion with which the hon. Lady is making her point and I agree with a lot of what she says about the fact that the people who commit those terrible crimes are unbalanced and unstable. That was true of the criminals who killed Lee Rigby, but it is precisely because they were unbalanced and unstable that they were susceptible to a particular extreme interpretation of a religious ideology. Therefore the two things interact. It is not quite as simple as she says.
I do not agree with that. One of the murderers of Fusilier Rigby quoted, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” That comes from the Old Testament, not from the Koran. We cannot start saying that this is somehow linked with religious ideology. These are just confused, mentally disturbed people.
I am sorry, but I have only a little time, and I have something to say that is different from what everybody else has said, so I would like to be able to take the opportunity to say it.
People do not seem to appreciate that a lot of these people are mentally unbalanced and have other issues. The Prevent programme has shown that spying on young people, taking them in and questioning them incessantly simply traumatises them—I have spoken to some of them. It does not help them in any way, shape or form, and it makes them even more frightened to say anything. Programmes like Prevent, in channelling people’s thoughts or what they say, are effectively stopping them discussing things. If I come across somebody who has a certain view and take the law enforcement agencies or the local authorities to them, they will clam up and we will not hear anything that they have to say. These things are completely counter-productive. The former director general of MI5, the noble Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, is not somebody who does not know what she is talking about. She and a number of people like her have said that Prevent does not work and we do not need it. If people do not want to listen to me, why cannot they listen to people like her and intelligence officers who have been involved in these kinds of things and say that ideology is not the reason behind them?
Finally, I want to talk about an aspect of the Bill that I hope the Home Secretary will reassure me about—part 4, on ships and aviation. I hope that these provisions will not end up stopping people from a particular country being able to travel to this country. Some of my constituents have expressed the fear that if certain parts of part 4 are applied, the way that the law is currently worded could allow people to say that because people from one particular country are coming here with some issues and challenges—
I thank you for your indulgence, Madam Deputy Speaker.
I hope that the way the provisions in part 4 are put together will not lead to airlines or countries saying, “We will not allow people from this particular country to travel here.” I hope that reassurance will be provided in the guidelines that are produced later on.
I know that what I am saying may be different from the conventional view of some people in this House. However, as somebody who talks to young people all the time and deals with people who commit criminal offences, defending and prosecuting, I have a very good knowledge of the criminal justice system and the people who often come into it. Most of them are unhinged and most have problems. Prevent is the worst possible thing to put on to a statutory footing. It will criminalise people. I do not often agree with Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail, but I agreed with his article of 15 January where he said that these kinds of things are going to lead to people being banged up, and in 10 years time we will ask how that happened. It happened, I am sorry to say, because not enough people in this House got up and said that Prevent is a bad idea and the whole process of looking at these things is wrong.
My local mosque is extremely progressive, but I was invited to visit it on Monday because it has concerns about the Bill. Perception is sometimes as effective as reality and they feel that the Muslim community is under suspicion and that this Bill is targeted at them.
I understand what has been said about the speed at which the Bill has gone through, but I do not think that the wider community has caught up with the debate or why there is a sense of urgency. On the Bill’s implementation, it is absolutely critical that we engage at local level and allow the community to lead, rather than just the police. I completely agree with the argument about the involvement of families and mothers in particular, but that involvement has to be resourced as well. There is a real feeling in my community that these measures are targeted at Muslims in a way that will infringe on their religious freedoms and divide the community rather than unite it.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi): real care needs to be taken in how the Bill is implemented at the local level. In my area, we are bringing all the mosques and agencies together to talk through the detail of the Bill, not only so that people can be brought up to speed, but, more importantly, so that we as a local community can drive the initiative, rather than its being seen as something that is being done to the Muslim community by the state.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi) made some very important points. I have two concerns about the Bill, which unleashes worries about civil liberties in this country. The first relates to the effective banning of people from either travelling from or returning to this country. That will open a can of worms, the effects of which we will suffer for many years to come. Surely the principle of holding nationality is that a person should be free to return to the country of which they are a national.
My second concern relates to freedom of speech. I recognise that the House of Lords has tried to improve the question of freedom of speech in universities, but I draw this House’s attention to the letter signed by 500 professors in The Guardian on 2 February. It pointed out that the issue is fraught with enormous difficulties. On the one hand, the Prevent strategy is being imposed on universities, but at the same time it is being insisted that they have freedom of speech.
Racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are all awful things—
One hour having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on consideration of Lords amendments, the proceedings were interrupted (Programme Order, this day).
The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83F), That this House agrees with Lords amendment 1.
Question agreed to.
Lords amendment 1 accordingly agreed to, with Commons financial privileges waived.
The Deputy Speaker then put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83F).
Lords amendments 2 to 39 agreed to, with Commons financial privileges waived in respect of Lords amendments 2, 9, 21 and 32.