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House of Commons Hansard
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Counter-Terrorism (Statutory Instruments)
10 March 2015
Volume 594

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I beg to move,

That the draft Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Authority to Carry Scheme) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 2 March, be approved.

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With this we shall consider the following motions:

That the draft Passenger, Crew and Service Information (Civil Penalties) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 2 March, be approved.

That the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Code of Practice for Officers exercising functions under Schedule 1) Regulations 2015 (S.I., 2015, No 217), dated 12 February 2015, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12 February, be approved.

That the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers and Review Officers) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 27 February, be approved.

That the draft Aviation Security Act 1982 (Civil Penalties) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 2 March, be approved.

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The statutory instruments appear on the Order Paper under the names of the Home Secretary and the Transport Secretary. This secondary legislation has been introduced to implement measures in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. The measures were debated by the House recently and the primary legislation was enacted on 12 February. During Parliament’s consideration of the legislation, there was widespread recognition of the threat from terrorism and broad support for the measures. The instruments bring to life some of those important provisions. In passing that legislation in February, the House accepted the need for those powers.

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Authority to Carry Scheme) Regulations 2015 bring into force the authority to carry scheme. The regulations are provided for in section 23 of the 2015 Act, and the purpose of the scheme is to prevent or disrupt travel to and from the UK by individuals who pose a terrorism-related or other threat to the UK. It also mitigates the threat of terrorist attacks against aircraft and, should the threat change, ships and trains expected to arrive in or leave the UK.

Authority to carry is now an important element of our counter-terrorism strategy. The new 2015 scheme allows us to respond to the changing threat and prevent individuals who might pose a terrorism-related or other threat from boarding flights from, as well as to, the UK. In order to remain responsive to changes in the threat, it is necessary to include international rail and maritime. The expanded scope of the scheme places outbound no-fly arrangements on a statutory footing and extends the operation of the authority to carry scheme to a broader range of individuals who pose a terrorism-related or other threat to the UK, including British nationals.

The protection of children assessed to be at risk of travelling abroad for the purposes of involvement in terrorism-related activity is clearly paramount. The new scheme will enable us to prevent the travel of minors considered at risk of going abroad to join terrorist groups. That might follow a referral from their family or it might be based on intelligence. The intention is not to criminalise children, but to enable the police to intervene before travel and use protective custody powers until they are able to return the child to their family.

In addition to the categories of individuals included in the 2012 scheme, authority to carry to the UK may be refused in respect of: individuals who are assessed by the Secretary of State to pose a direct threat to the security of an aircraft, ship or train, or to persons or property on board; individuals who are the subject of a temporary exclusion order made under chapter 2 of the new Act; individuals excluded from the UK or subject to a deportation order; and all individuals who are subject to international travel bans, as well as individuals who are using an invalid travel document or one that is being used fraudulently for the purpose of travelling to the UK.

The new scheme will, for the first time, require carriers to seek authority to carry individuals from the UK. The penalty for breaching any requirement under the scheme will be set out in further regulations, which we expect to debate next week.

The second measure is the Passenger, Crew and Service Information (Civil Penalties) Regulations 2015. They establish civil sanctions that may be imposed upon carriers that fail to comply with a requirement to provide information under the Immigration Act 1971 or the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. They will complement existing criminal offences. The regulations allow the Secretary of State to impose a civil penalty not exceeding £10,000 for each breach, but a carrier may not be required to pay a penalty if it has a reasonable excuse or has otherwise been penalised for the same breach.

I will now turn to the regulations that bring into operation the code of practice in relation to the exercise of powers under schedule 1 to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. These powers are exercisable at the border area of Northern Ireland and at ports throughout the UK. They allow for the seizure and temporary retention of travel documents when there is reasonable suspicion that the person intends to travel to engage in terrorism-related activity outside the UK. Officers exercising the power are required to follow the code.

That statutory instrument was made and laid before Parliament under the made affirmative procedure on the day of Royal Assent and came into force the next day—13 February—bringing the code of practice into operation on the same day. The made affirmative procedure made that power available to law enforcement agencies as soon as possible, properly safeguarded by the detailed code of practice. I can confirm to the House this afternoon that the power has already been used. Obviously, I cannot give details of the particular circumstances, but I believe that this demonstrates that we were right to bring forward this piece of legislation and to bring it into force at the earliest opportunity.

The Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers and Review Officers) Order 2015 gives effect to a revised code of practice for examining and review officers who exercise powers under schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000, as amended by the 2015 Act. As a result of amendments made to schedule 7 by the 2015 Act, changes have been made to the schedule 7 code of practice. The code before us today contains new guidance that reflects provisions in the Act concerning the location of goods examinations. The guidance includes express provision for where goods examinations may take place. It also provides the Secretary of State with a power to designate a location as a place where goods examinations may be carried out, if the Secretary of State reasonably believes that to be necessary.

Finally, the draft Aviation Security Act 1982 (Civil Penalties) Regulations create a civil penalty scheme for addressing non-compliance with certain security directions or information requests made by the Secretary of State under the Aviation Security Act 1982 in relation to inbound flights. The Secretary of State would have the power to impose a penalty of a maximum of £50,000. Specifically, penalties could be issued where, in respect of an inbound flight to the UK, a carrier has failed to comply either with a request for information or a direction requiring that certain security measures are applied, for example security screening. The threat to aviation from terrorism remains serious. The regulations will help to ensure that the Government can enforce their power to specify certain security measures for flights operating to the UK where necessary.

These instruments are needed to implement measures in, or consequential to, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. They will help the Government and law enforcement agencies to keep the country safe from terrorism. I commend these instruments to the House. They will assist in our response to the continuing threat from terrorism. I beg to move that they be approved.

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I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation of the statutory instruments before the House.

The Minister and the House will know that in August 2014 the joint terrorism analysis centre raised the UK threat level from substantial to severe, and that there are real concerns about the level of threat to the UK. The Minister will also know about the increased level of threat as a result of developments in Syria and Iraq in particular, where terrorist groups are planning attacks on the west. It is clear, from the discussions currently taking place on the alleged murderer Mohammed Emwazi, and the three schoolgirls who travelled from London to Syria, that there are still great concerns about movement and involvement in terrorist activity. The attacks in early January on Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the incidents in Sydney bring home to us the fact that such incidents could occur in the United Kingdom.

The Opposition support fully all five statutory instruments. In a time of heightened terrorist threat to our country, it is right that the Government take action to protect our country. The measures are proportionate and reasonable. We support the draft Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Authority to Carry Scheme) Regulations 2015. As the Minister said, the scheme specifies the classes of carriers to which it applies, and the passengers and crew in respect of whom authority must be requested. It is proportionate and reasonable.

We also support the draft Passenger, Crew and Service Information (Civil Penalties) Regulations 2015. Again, we believe it is reasonable. My only comment relates to paragraph 3.1 of the explanatory memorandum, which states that the instrument was laid before Parliament less than 21 days before the proposed date that it is due to come into force. I accept and understand the urgency with which the Minister has brought the regulations forward, but I just want to put down a marker and say that it is good practice to ensure that we have confidence in statutory instruments by providing the appropriate time for discussion.

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I entirely accept the right hon. Gentleman’s important point about scrutiny. It is certainly not the normal approach of the Government to breach the 21-day rule. However, I hope he appreciates the need to act with pace in this case, given the national security issues at stake.

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I fully accept that and make no criticism of the broad sense of it. It is important for any future Government, whether it is the hon. Gentleman or I holding this ministerial post, to give due regard to process; otherwise, it will give rise to suspicion. I welcome and support the proposal. I also support provisions relating to passport retention and travel with passports. The Opposition have no problems with those issues.

My final comments relate to the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers and Review Officers) Order 2015. The order is helpful, as it clarifies information, gives proper powers and puts forward a proper code of practice. It provides an opportunity to clarify, in paragraph 7(1) of the Act, the type of power and when it is exercised. I am pleased that it is subject to review by David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, but given the sensitive nature of these issues, will the Minister assure me that David Anderson will be able to publish statistics on the use of the power and information on the designation areas? It is important that these statistics be presented to the House, if not the detail behind them, as the Minister has undertaken today.

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As he has shown in his reports on, for example, the terrorism prevention and investigation measures, David Anderson clearly provides details about when the powers have been used, and I expect him to take a similar approach to the review of these powers.

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I am grateful to the Minister. We have a consensus on these issues. There is support across the House for the measures, and I hope that the House will support them.

Question put and agreed to.

Immigration

Resolved,

That the draft Passenger, Crew and Service Information (Civil Penalties) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 2 March, be approved.—(James Brokenshire.)

Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism

Resolved,

That the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Code of Practice for Officers exercising functions under Schedule 1) Regulations 2015 (S.I., 2015, No 217), dated 12 February 2015, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12 February, be approved.—(James Brokenshire.)

Resolved,

That the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers and Review Officers) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 27 February, be approved.—(James Brokenshire.)

Civil Aviation

Resolved,

That the draft Aviation Security Act 1982 (Civil Penalties) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 2 March, be approved.—(James Brokenshire.)