I beg to move,
That the draft Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Risk of Being Drawn into Terrorism) (Amendment and Guidance) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 12 March, be approved.
With this we shall take the following motion:
That the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S.I., 2015, No. 406), dated 26 February 2015, a copy of which was laid before this House on 27 February, be approved.
This secondary legislation has been brought forward to implement measures in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. The measures were debated by the House very recently and the primary legislation was enacted only 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 in the Bill. The instruments bring to life two of those important provisions. In passing the legislation in February, the House accepted the need for these measures.
I should inform the House that the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has considered both the instruments we are debating. I place on the record my appreciation for the forbearance that was shown by the Chair and members of the Committee in considering the instruments outside the normal time scales. The Committee cleared the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Risk of Being Drawn into Terrorism) (Amendment and Guidance) Regulations 2015, but drew the attention of both Houses of Parliament to the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2015. I shall return to the issues that were highlighted by the Joint Committee later in my contribution.
It may help the House in its consideration of the instruments if I briefly outline what the Government seek to achieve by them and why we have brought them forward at this time. The regulations have been brought forward in respect of part 5 of the 2015 Act, which is concerned with reducing the risk of people being drawn into terrorism. During the recent debates on the primary legislation, there was a very informed debate on the duty that is imposed by section 26 of the Act, which is known as the Prevent duty. The regulations are crucial to the effective implementation of the new duty.
The purpose of the regulations is threefold. First, they amend schedules 6 and 7 to the 2015 Act to add Scottish bodies to the list of authorities that are subject to the Prevent duty and to those that are listed as partners to local authority panels, which are required to be in place by section 36. Those panels form part of the Channel programme—the deradicalisation programme—in England and Wales, and Prevent Professional Concerns in Scotland, which are programmes designed to provide support to those who are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.
Secondly, the regulations make a number of amendments to the Act that are consequential on adding those Scottish bodies. In particular they ensure that Scottish further and higher education institutions will have the same requirement to have particular regard to the need to ensure freedom of speech and the importance of academic freedom while complying with the Prevent duty as their counterparts in England and Wales. It has always been the Government’s intention that provisions in part 5 of the Act would apply to bodies in Scotland. We have consulted Scottish Ministers, and they are supportive of adding Scottish bodies to the duty.
Thirdly and finally, the regulations will bring into effect guidance issued under section 29(1) of the Act for specified authorities in carrying out the Prevent duty. The guidance sets out the detail of what that duty will mean in practice for authorities subject to it, and seeks to explain the steps that should be taken to best secure compliance.
The House will recall that the Government introduced an amendment to the Bill to ensure that the guidance will only take effect following Parliament’s approval. During the passage of the Bill, a formal public consultation on the draft guidance took place, and hon. Members will have read the summary of responses referenced in the explanatory memorandum. More than 1,700 responses were received during the consultation, and another 300 people were reached over the course of five events held in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh. The responses enabled a thorough revision to take place, and the results of that revision are now before the House.
There are two versions of the guidance: one for authorities in England and Wales, and a separate one for authorities in Scotland. Following discussions with the Scottish Government, the Government decided that separate guidance that specifically addresses the particular circumstances of Scotland would be more helpful than trying to address those circumstances through one set of guidance. The Scottish guidance has also been subject to consultation through a targeted process undertaken by the Scottish Government.
Hon. Members will have noted that neither document addresses the issue of managing speakers and events in further and higher education institutions. How universities and colleges balance the Prevent duty with the need to secure freedom of speech and have regard to the importance of academic freedom is an extremely important issue that requires careful consideration. On account of that, the Government amended the legislation to ensure that institutions pay particular regard to the importance of academic freedom and freedom of speech when complying with the Prevent duty. As I made clear during the passage of the Bill, that freedom is important in challenging extremist views and providing almost an antidote to some of the extremism that might take place were it not for that challenge. We shall use the time before the duty commences to produce further guidance on managing speakers and events in further and higher education institutions, and it will be for the next Government to bring that to Parliament early in the next Session for the approval of both Houses.
In the context of human rights legislation, and particularly the Human Rights Act 1998 and the charter of fundamental rights, which is increasingly being brought in by the European Court of Justice, does the Minister believe that these proposals, and many aspects of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, will survive against those in the human rights lobby who are determined to put human rights ahead even of the prevention of terrorism?
Yes, I am confident of that. Obviously, we considered the implications of the Human Rights Act when the primary legislation was taken through this House. That does not necessarily mean that it will not be subject to legal challenge—we have legal challenge for all forms of legislation—but we are confident about the way the measure has been brought forward, and it touches on the competency of member states in national security issues. I recognise the long-standing and consistent approach that my hon. Friend has highlighted, and I am sure he will continue to highlight it to ensure that we get legislation in the right place and properly consider human rights challenges and other issues in that regard. I welcome his intervention.
As for the guidance itself, it is essential that it is accurate and workable for all institutions. It is not the Government’s intention that the duty in respect of higher education and further education institutions should commence for those sectors until guidance on speakers and events has been published. This, as I have explained, will of course be for the next Government to carry through.
It is important to take the opportunity to remind the House of the purpose of the new duty and its importance. The emergence of ISIL and the number of people—particularly vulnerable, young people—who have misguidedly travelled to Syria and Iraq present a heightened threat to our national security. The intelligence agencies tell us that the threat is now worse than at any time since 9/11. It is serious and it is growing. The threat has changed and so must our response.
As part of that response, we need to continue to combat the underlying ideology that feeds, supports and sanctions terrorism, and to prevent people from being drawn on to that path. The Prevent duty will ensure that such activity is consistent across the country and in all bodies whose staff work on the front line with those at risk from radicalisation.
Will the Minister place on record his support for the work being done by a group in my constituency to tackle the root causes and extremist ideologies that have been affecting people in Cardiff? They are doing fantastic work as part of the Movement for Change “Make a Choice, See a Change” campaign online and with their peers to combat ideology that may have affected some people in their community.
I commend the hon. Gentleman for highlighting the work of community groups in his constituency. Some incredible people and organisations are standing up against terrorism, highlighting the peaceful nature of the Islamic religion and challenging some of the ideological underpinning that has been perversely twisted by those who support ISIL and other terrorist and extremist organisations. It is the work of community, family and people in the locality and the neighbourhood that is making a real difference in standing together and confronting and combating pernicious ideology. This is a generational struggle. Bringing forward the guidance and the Prevent duty underlines the important responsibility we all have—government, community, family and individuals—to stand together to ensure that a clear and robust message is given. I know that good work is taking place in Cardiff and in many other parts of the country to do precisely that. I welcome the opportunity to put that on the record this afternoon.
I would like to turn now to the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2015. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced temporary exclusion orders, which enable the Secretary of State to disrupt and control the return to the UK of certain British citizens suspected of engaging in terrorism-related activity abroad. TEOs also enable the Secretary of State to impose certain requirements on individuals on their return to the UK.
The House will recall that the Government introduced two stages of judicial oversight of this power during the passage of the Bill. The first stage requires the Secretary of State to seek permission from the courts prior to imposing a TEO or, in exceptional circumstances, to seek such permission from the courts retrospectively. The second stage provides a statutory review mechanism to enable the TEO subject to challenge the imposition of the order and any obligations imposed on their return to the UK. That judicial oversight was introduced in response to concerns raised by right hon. and hon. Members on all sides of the House, and was welcomed during consideration of the amendments made in another place.
The Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2015 are required to implement this judicial oversight in England and Wales. The instrument introduces the court rules for temporary exclusion order proceedings in the High Court and appeals to the Court of Appeal, which are essential to ensure we are able to operate the appropriate safeguards for this power. I have already mentioned that the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has reported this instrument and drawn it to the attention of the House.
The Government have acknowledged the issues raised by the Joint Committee and committed to updating the rules by an amending instrument as soon as practicable. That amending instrument will be made by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee, and I can assure the House that the process for doing so is already under way. However, as the Government made clear in their response to the Joint Committee, we do not consider that the drafting errors acknowledged render the rules invalid or inoperable. The court rules are required in order to implement the important judicial oversight of TEOs in England and Wales.
My hon. Friend can probably guess that I am about to ask a question similar to my last one about judicial oversight, the charter and human rights legislation. I am sure he recognises that there is a potentiality, if not a certainty, that these matters will be challenged, particularly the exclusion orders. Does he not think that there is still time to consider imposing a restriction on those who have repudiated allegiance to the UK to prevent their returning to the country?
My hon. Friend tempts me into a broader debate that extends beyond the statutory instruments and deals with preventing from returning to this country people who have engaged in activity contrary to the interests of this country. This issue was considered at length in this House and the other place, and it was determined that TEOs were the appropriate mechanism, considering our international obligations and the issues he highlighted of legal challenge and ensuring an effective mechanism. We judge that the TEOs provide this, but we recognise the potential for challenge. Indeed, we have built in an oversight process through the scrutiny of the judiciary.
I hope that I can assure my hon. Friend that the rules are based on those used for similar preventive measures, such as terrorism prevention and investigation measures, some asset-seizing legislation and closed material proceedings, and therefore are based on the experience and judicial oversight applied to those rules. I hope that gives him some assurance of the careful consideration we have given to the rules.
I raised this question precisely because of my concerns about how the judiciary is effectively subordinated to the European Court of Justice, which overrides not only our Supreme Court but this Parliament. On matters concerning TPIMs, control orders and the rest of it, the Minister knows that people who should never have been allowed out have continued their stay.
I can assure my hon. Friend that TPIMs are robust and that we have taken steps to ensure their legal compliance. That was considered when they were introduced and during the passage of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011. I fear that I am straying from the statutory instruments, but I recognise his challenge and assure him that our consideration of the rules reflected our experience of similar orders and some of the operational legal practice that the rules intend to operate.
The regulations are needed to implement effectively the Prevent duty across England, Wales and Scotland, which ultimately will help the Government and law-enforcement agencies to keep the country safe from terrorism, and the court rules govern proceedings that are essential to ensure appropriate safeguards for the TEO. With those comments, I hope the House will be minded to support the instruments.
I thank the Minister for introducing these regulations. It is important to understand the measures in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill and the implementation of the Prevent agenda in the context, I think, of some of the muddle the Government have created for themselves over the past five years. In 2010, they inherited 93 Prevent priority areas and in one year they cut them to 23. They then restored funding to seven areas, including Greenwich, to bring us back up to 30 priority areas. From next year, the Government will be increasing the number of priority areas to 50 and in their impact assessment on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, the Government revealed that they expect this to rise to 90 areas over the next few years. In two years, then, we may be back where we started five years ago, but we have lost seven years thanks to the muddle coming from the Government.
That was not the only poor decision that the Government made, either. They reduced funding for Prevent from £17 million to £5.1 million a year, but not all of that £5.1 million was spent. In one year, just £1.6 million was spent and overall, since the Government re-launched the Prevent agenda, just 40% of the money allocated to local authorities was spent.
Prevent is meant to be a national and comprehensive strategy, yet last year just four areas delivered Prevent projects. We have seen particular failings from some Government Departments. The 2011 Prevent review identified the need to support schools in counter-radicalisation. The Department for Education committed to an 11-point plan, none of which seems to have been delivered.
The Home Secretary is threatening schools and universities with contempt of court proceedings if they do not implement the Prevent agenda, while I think the Government have serious questions to answer about their failures to deliver on their own commitments. Some of us believe that the Government need to get their own house in order before challenging other institutions and public bodies.
What is also a matter of real concern is that, overall, the Government appear to have little hard evidence about what Prevent work is going on or how effectively it has been delivered. We know that the Home Office’s chief economist refused to sign off the impact assessment to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill on that basis.
The hon. Lady made this point about the impact assessment the other day. Will she acknowledge that the matter to which she refers is in the regulations before us this afternoon and that there is also the Scottish duty? She has completely mischaracterised this point.
I know that when we discussed the primary legislation around the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, it was reported that the chief economist at the Home Office did say what I suggested, so the Minister has not refuted the statement I made. We now know from the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill that there has been recognition that the Prevent agenda matters and needs to be supported.
Yesterday, of course, the Home Secretary went even further, talking about introducing a counter-extremism strategy, although I understand that such a strategy has not been published and there is not much detail about it. Today, however, the Home Secretary has made several claims. She first promised to work with communities in a way that different parts of different communities around the country have been requesting for some time. She promised that she would be very clear about distinguishing between Islam and Islamic extremism. All that is very welcome and, I have to say to the Minister, about time too.
The guidance in front of us does not, however, go as far as it should in meeting the pledges the Home Secretary made yesterday, but I do want to say some positive things about it. As the Minister knows, the original guidance was put out to consultation over the Christmas recess period, and I think improvements have been made to it. The document is less prescriptive throughout, so it can plausibly be said to be introducing the risk-based approach that the Government said they wanted from the outset. I welcome, too, the introduction of a clear set of commitments on what the Home Office will do to support the implementation of the Prevent agenda. This has been clearly lacking, I think, since the Prevent agenda was re-launched in 2011.
Let me briefly mention Scotland. It is good to see the inclusion of the Scottish organisations. I listened carefully to what the Minister said about the consultation with the Scottish Government and the inclusion of the various Scottish organisations, but I should like to ask him a question. There is separate guidance for the Scottish organisations, but I understand that it was not issued for full consultation. The Minister said earlier that there was a targeted process for the consultation. Will he explain what he meant by that?
Would the hon. Lady be good enough to tell us to what extent, if any, she has taken the opportunity to discover the views of the Scottish nationalists on this question? Has she had any indication of their views? They are not even here, but I am sure that she can provide us with a fairly good guess as to what they might think. We did hear Alex Salmond suggest the other day that they would be putting their foot down on matters that they thought were important to Scotland, in their own terms.
During the Bill’s passage, as the hon. Gentleman will know, members of the Scottish National party made a great deal of fuss about the involvement of the Scottish Government in consultation about the public institutions in Scotland that would be affected by the Prevent agenda. I was pleased to hear the Minister refer to the level of consultation that had taken place with the Scottish Government. I may be presuming too much, but perhaps the absence of members of the Scottish National party this afternoon means that they are fully content with what is being proposed. Obviously we must wait and see, but there is no one here to put an alternative case.
Let me now deal with some of the areas in which the revisions of the guidance have not addressed some of the shortcomings that I considered to be present in the first draft of the document. I believe that they have been raised both here and in the other place, and also in the responses to the consultation. The Minister said that there had been more than 1,700 responses, which is a very large number.
The first of those areas is the definition of extremism, which remains unchanged in the guidance. It is still defined as, basically, “an opposition to British values”. The failure to define extremism is central to other problems that the Prevent agenda encounters, as was recognised in the 2011 Prevent review. Front-line professionals do not properly understand what extremism is. There is considerable evidence of that poor understanding. A survey conducted for the Department for Education in 2011 revealed that 70% of schools felt that they needed more training and information in order to build resilience to radicalisation. That was picked up repeatedly in the consultation responses, and it is also a clear issue in relation to the Prevent agenda. We know that only 20% of the people who have been referred to the Channel programme have been accepted. The overwhelming majority are incorrectly referred, because front-line professionals have misunderstood the nature of the issues involved.
It was a failure of the Government not to fulfil the commitments made in the 2011 Prevent review to improve front-line understanding of extremism, and it is disappointing that they are repeating their mistake by failing to include in the guidance either a detailed explanation of what constitutes extremism, or an explanation of how a risk assessment for extremism should be conducted. In Committee, I gave the analogy of child abuse: we will combat the issue only when we fully recognise it for what it is.
The failure to define extremism properly also means that the guidance fails to live up to the promise that the Home Secretary made yesterday to distinguish clearly between Islam and Islamic extremism. The definition of Islamic extremism is limited: an Islamic extremist is described as someone who is angry with the west and resents western intervention in wars in Muslim countries. The guidance talks of a “them and us” rhetoric. That ignores the fact that the majority of the victims of Islamic extremists are Muslims, and the fact that those who are most likely to encounter it in the United Kingdom are Muslims. There is still nothing in the guidance about intra-Islam sectarianism, such as involving Wahhabis, Salafists and those with other views that have been specifically connected to ISIL, in particular Salafism. There is no discussion of that important matter in the document. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 was supposedly a response to that rising threat from ISIL-related terrorism. Does the Minister think more can be done in recognising that intra-Islamic sectarianism is not properly addressed in the guidance?
Those British people who have been leaving the UK to join ISIL are not generally joining a war against the west. They are joining a war against other Muslims, mainly Shi’as. This document should recognise the changing nature of this threat, and the need to recognise the degree of sectarian division related to groups such as ISIL within the UK.
In addition to this thematic problem within the guidance, I want to highlight some of the practical issues. The consultation highlighted confusion over what exactly was expected of non-Prevent-priority local authorities. Given that the Government seemed to be confused about exactly what a Prevent-priority area is, I am not terribly surprised that this is not addressed properly in the revised guidance. There is existing confusion about the role of central Government and the division of responsibilities within central Government. For example, how exactly is the burden of oversight shared between the body specifically charged with inspection of implementation—for example, Ofsted for schools—the Government Department with responsibility for that public body, for example the Department for Education, and the Home Office? What about the role of Departments, such as the Departments for Business, Innovation and Skills and for Communities and Local Government, in sharing good practice?
Several different bodies raised concerns about this in the consultation. It will be helpful if the Government publish a clear strategy as to how they will help promote best practice in relation to Prevent. Some of the obligations on certain bodies are unclear. Neither the guidance, nor the Minister in the other place yesterday, have been clear as to exactly what is expected of a nursery or childminder in terms of their responsibilities under Prevent. So I ask the Minister again today to set out exactly what this guidance means in practice for a childminder.
An issue raised in the consultation, which I also raised during the passage of the 2015 Act, was why the only NHS bodies to be included in the guidance are hospital trusts and foundation trusts. Under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 many more services are now going out to the private sector. Are those private companies going to be covered by the obligations under Prevent? Why are clinical commissioning groups and other commissioning bodies not included? General practitioners at the front line may come across people who are vulnerable and who may perhaps have mental health issues; should GPs also be under some of the Prevent duties set out in the guidance, and if not, why not? On the health and wellbeing boards that the Government established, I assume that because they are part of a local authority, they also have a Prevent duty.
On the provisions for universities, I am glad the guidance is less prescriptive than before. The new guidance has dropped the requirement that all academic presentations have to be submitted and vetted two weeks in advance, which was both absurd and unworkable. However, it is bizarre that the third paragraph of the guidance relating to universities states that further guidance will be issued to cover extremist speakers on campuses. As the Minister will be aware, that was one the most contentious issues. Yesterday the Minister in the other place did not seem to be able to explain why this was or how the issuing of updated guidance would work. I heard what the Minister said about the new guidance being a matter for the next Government, but I wonder whether he can answer the following questions. First, does he think the requirement for all speeches and presentations to be submitted two weeks in advance will be included in the new guidance?
Secondly, can the Minister explain how the external speakers guidance will be implemented? Will it require a separate statutory instrument and, therefore, approval by Parliament? Will the rest of the document have different implementation guidance from the external speakers guidance? Will there be a separate consultation?
I can answer the hon. Lady directly. Our contemplation is that there would need to be updated guidance and that a separate statutory instrument would therefore need to be approved by the House after the general election.
That is very helpful, and I thank the Minister for his straightforward response.
Yesterday, the Home Secretary announced that compliance with the Prevent agenda would be a requirement for universities in order that they may sponsor international student visas. Will the Minister explain whether this is Government policy that will actually happen, or whether it is a Conservative party pledge for the election? I am drawing this distinction because I understand that the coalition Government are not speaking with one voice on counter-terrorism issues these days, and I want to be clear about whether that is Government policy or not.
The hon. Lady has alluded to questions that might arise between the Conservative party and the Liberal party on terrorism. Would her party be in favour of putting terrorism on a par with or ahead of human rights? We have heard suggestions recently that human rights should trump terrorism.
That question opens up a whole new debate. We are dealing here with two specific statutory instruments. I know that there has been some tension in the coalition, particularly in the Treasury, with the Chancellor delivering his Budget and a separate Budget being delivered by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and I wanted to be clear about whether this particular proposal was Government policy or just Conservative policy. I was seeking guidance on that.
The focus on external speakers could create the risk that we ignore internal extremists. Where in the guidance is the specific reference to that threat? What would happen if a university’s Sunni society was agitating against the university’s Islamic or Shi’a societies? Have the Government considered the implications of such a situation for a university’s best practice?
While we are talking about universities, I also want to ask about the IT requirements. The guidance seems to imply that all universities should introduce the filtering of internet access through the university. Can the Minister explain the degree of filtering that would be involved? Is he confident that software exists that can do the job accurately? In the past, the platforms most commonly associated with extremism have been Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Would students be prevented from accessing YouTube? Does the Minister expect this provision to apply in accommodation provided by the university, such as halls of residence or other housing provided to accommodate students? Can he confirm that the provision will not extend to a requirement for universities to collect data on internet sites accessed by their students?
We know that the Oxford and Cambridge unions, both of which are private institutions that have a history of giving a platform to high-profile racists and extremists, are excluded from the terms of the guidance. Why did the Government choose not to specify in either the Bill or the Prevent guidance that those organisations should be covered by the duty?
There are measures in the guidance that we very much welcome. We recognise that it has been significantly improved since the draft guidance was published over Christmas. Most importantly, we recognise that it is an extremely important document. Counter-extremism is a vital part of our counter-terrorism strategy. But there are some flaws, which I have identified, that show that the Government are playing catch-up at the end of this Parliament for neglecting counter-extremism for their first four years. Because of that, we are not where we should be today.
I wish briefly to discuss the second statutory instrument before us, which sets out the procedural rules of judicial hearings in relation to temporary exclusion orders. Thanks to the Opposition, the 2015 Act contains judicial oversight for TEOs. I welcome the provisions in the Act and in these regulations today, which will enable judicial proceedings to hear sensitive and confidential information. It has always been the Opposition’s position that strong powers, such as TEOs, require strong checks on this power, and these regulations will enable those strong checks. Of course, the need to protect sources and sensitive information will impinge on the operation of the courts, but, as we have seen with control orders and subsequently TPIMs, that does not mean the courts cannot provide an effective check on Executive power. We think these regulations will be able to do that. We would add a slight caveat: the regulations are complex, as are the proceedings they are covering. We hope the Government will commit to keeping them under review and will be prepared to come back to this House with amendments if issues do arise during court proceedings that require the passing of further legislation.
In the couple of interventions I made on the Minister and on the shadow Minister, I returned to a point I made in the lead letter in The Sunday Telegraph of 8 March. Following its lead of the previous week, I said that we were talking not about just an accident, but about a failure of legislation in dealing with the question of human rights and the charter of fundamental rights in relation to all the matters we are now discussing and to the whole problem of counter-terrorism. The Minister has had a pretty hard time from me over the past couple of years on this subject, but I wish to say to him that I acknowledge that difficult issues are clearly involved here. I am not denying that for a minute. But many of us were deeply disturbed when in a recent discussion—I cannot give the precise details but I am paraphrasing—the question arose as to whether taking action against terrorism would have human rights consequences. In that instance, the human rights lobby indicated that human rights should prevail.
I find that view completely impossible to understand, not least because the first human right is the right to be secure—the second, and equal, human right is the right to life. We have only to consider what happened in the case of Lee Rigby or in the case of the terrible murders that have been taking place in parts of the middle east to realise the difficulty that such a view represents. On the simple proposition that human rights does not trump terrorism, we have to be absolutely clear. I am very glad to see a slight nod from the shadow Minister, because she knows that this is true. But the trouble is that there is a tremendous amount in these documents—I will not make a long speech on this, but will simply get it on the record. We discussed judicial oversight in relation to an amendment when these matters were before the House of Commons. I cannot remember whether the amendment was defeated or withdrawn, but it then went into the House of Lords and it was that shambolic debate that we recall. Judicial oversight has now come in. My point is about the substance of the issue: if judicial oversight is part and parcel of these issues before us today, then on the basis that the judges have to obey the law and the law does invoke the question of human rights, be it under the European convention on human rights and the Human Rights Act, or the more difficult and invasive charter of fundamental rights, which is justiciable by the European Court of Justice, we have got a real problem on our hands in dealing with terrorism. The reason why many people whom we have tried to deport—in some cases for more than a decade—were not deported was to do with human rights. Everybody should be in favour of human rights, but there are questions over how they are applied and what the procedures and thresholds are.
I conclude with this thought: we have not got it right. As I said in that letter in The Sunday Telegraph, tinkering with control orders, TPIMs and the rest of it might go some way to dealing with the problem but it will not resolve the issue if people can launch a challenge in the courts based on human rights or the charter of fundamental rights. They will not be deported and they will not be dealt with.
In the Prevention of Terrorism (No. 2) Bill that I introduced in 2005, I proposed that we should override the human rights laws to ensure the security of the citizens of this country. I said that habeas corpus was absolutely fundamental. All people who are accused of a crime, whether of terrorism or anything else, are entitled to a fair trial and due process. If we have those two things, and we override the Human Rights Act and the charter, we are in a position to deal with the problems, to satisfy the requirements of fair and judicial process and to ensure that the people have a proper trial.
My final thought is on this question of whether terrorists can get away with what they do. We know that there are many sleeping terrorists, so we are talking about a question not of if there is some form of terrorism, but of when. We should remember that the charter of fundamental rights, which came in under the Lisbon treaty, is much more difficult to deal with than the Human Rights Act, because of sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act 1972. In the context of the judicial process as a whole, it is imperative to recall that those on both Front Benches during the Lisbon treaty debates wanted to exclude that charter.
In one of his last statements to the House, Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister, said that we had an opt-out from the charter. We in the European Scrutiny Committee took evidence on that matter. Lord Goldsmith, who analysed and negotiated the arrangements in the Lisbon treaty, gave evidence. Sadly, those arrangements did not work and we are now finding that the European Court of Justice is continuously getting involved in applying the charter on a case-by-case basis. My concerns about the charter remain in relation to terrorism. Unless we resolve that, we will not be able, either under these orders or other terrorism legislation in general, to provide the security and stability that the people of this country deserve.
I was pleased to hear the words counter-terrorism towards the end of the hon. Gentleman’s oration. We are all reassured.
I am tempted to respond to some of the points made by the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), but, in the interests of time, I will not.
In his opening remarks, the Minister underlined the widespread recognition, on both sides of the House, of the need to combat the threat of terrorism. That recognition, I am sure, exists well beyond the House, among people of all faiths and none, and nowhere more so than in my constituency where I have a strong Muslim community. It is a tragedy for communities, for families and for the young people themselves who get sucked into the tyranny of the so-called Islamic State. Certainly those in my local Muslim community are quick to point out that that is an abuse of words, because Islamic State is neither Islamic nor a state.
We need to be clear and to take care in our response to the threat of terrorism that we do not exacerbate the problem by reacting in a way that further alienates some sections of our communities. The risk of that has been made clear to me during my recent visits to mosques in my constituency by the very people who feel passionately that we need to resist the threat of terrorism. We also need to be careful not to respond in a way that puts undeliverable responsibilities on our institutions, and it is to that point that I will speak briefly, raising concerns about the guidance regarding higher education that apply equally to the section on further education.
Universities, like all public organisations, have clear responsibilities under the Human Rights Act to ensure freedom of expression, but universities have unique additional responsibilities. I am pleased that the Minister acknowledged that in his opening speech, when he spoke about the need to balance the struggle against terrorism and the implementation of the guidance with the responsibility to maintain academic freedom and the opportunity for debate in our institutions of higher education. I am pleased also that, in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), he made it clear that the guidance would not take effect until the guidance on speakers is approved, not simply published as he said in his opening remarks—clearly, it was a slip of the tongue. It is reassuring that approval of the further guidance is needed before the rest takes effect.
The Minister will know, because I have mentioned it before, that 29 years ago, in my previous career in the universities sector, I drafted a code of practice on freedom of speech for the university of Sheffield. That was required in every university across the country under the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, introduced by the then Conservative Government, with the aim of ensuring that universities maintained that commitment to freedom of speech. The hon. Gentleman will know that the Act imposes on universities a duty to ensure that use of their premises
“is not denied to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with…the beliefs or views of that individual”.
We considered that when we debated the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, now the 2015 Act, but I think it remains unclear—I hope the consultation will produce some clarity—how the requirements of the 1986 Act sit alongside the responsibilities in paragraph 105 of the guidance.
Is the hon. Gentleman asserting that there is an absolute right to freedom of speech in all circumstances? Does he place any limitation on it?
No, I am not asserting that. The right of freedom of speech is conditional in a number of ways. We have put in place legislation against incitement to racial hatred, for example. It is a question of how to get the balance right.
My point is that we need to avoid conflicting legislation, and there is a potential conflict between the guidance and the 1986 Act. For example, what position would a university be in if an action were brought by a third party to challenge a decision made under the provisions of this guidance on the basis of the university’s responsibility under the 1986 Act? Unless there is absolute clarity when the final guidance is published, universities may find themselves in a time-wasting and expensive legal quagmire, which apart from anything else sits uncomfortably with the Government’s views on unnecessary red tape.
My second concern relates to the general duty placed on universities to act against what is described as non-violent extremism, and it echoes a point made by my hon. Friend the shadow Minister. Non-violent extremism is defined in the guidance as:
“opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance”.
It is absolutely right to describe those values as fundamental to our society, but they are meaningful only if they allow space for those who do not share them. Clearly, as I said a moment ago in response to an intervention from the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), society does impose limits—for example, on incitement to racial hatred—but such limits have created crimes defined by this Parliament. The difficulty here is that we are giving our universities a responsibility to ban activities which are not themselves illegal, where the act of banning them may be seen by some to be in conflict with the very values that we are trying to protect.
We treasure our universities as the institutions that need to be able to debate our fundamental values. It was for that reason that the then Conservative Government included provisions on freedom of speech in the 1986 Act. We need to take great care when we legislate on these issues, and I fear that the guidance as it stands leaves too many unanswered questions.
I am grateful for the contributions this afternoon and the broad support for the two orders that we have been discussing. A number of the contributions strayed into the broader principles and issues surrounding counter-terrorism. I shall not detain the House by repeating a Second Reading debate on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, but some important points were raised and I wish to challenge some of the underlying assumptions.
For example, in respect of Prevent and the Prevent duty that this guidance refers to, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) made a number of assertions about the actions of this Government, and those assertions should be challenged. She asserted that there had been some muddle. The only muddle was the thinking of the Labour Government in their delivery of Prevent, and the fact that they conflated work on integration with combating terrorism activity, which stood in the way of doing that work effectively. That is why this Government were right to make a clear separation between the two parts of the work to ensure that they were effective.
The hon. Lady made various assertions about the activity that had taken place. Perhaps I can give her some figures, rather than the ones that she cited. I do not know where she got them from and I certainly do not recognise them. We have delivered more than 180 projects since 2011 under Prevent. The programme has reached more than 55,000 people. This year we are supporting more than 80 projects. We have provided a focus that did not exist under the Labour Government and, to judge from the shadow Minister’s comments, would not exist under Labour now. It has been useful to tease that out in the course of the debate.
I heard the point highlighted by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) in relation to freedom, liberty and security, a subject to which he has rightly returned on a number of occasions. He spoke about the issue of human rights and how that may impact on the court rules and the orders before us this afternoon. As the lead Minister who was responsible for the successful deportation of Abu Qatada from this country, I well understand the challenges posed by human rights issues in the context of the Government’s actions in seeking to uphold security and the best interests of this country. Yes, I think more does need to be done, but I shall not stray into a broader debate on the need for a British Bill of Rights. Ultimately, liberty and freedom should reinforce and be reinforced by security. I do not see that as an either/or. They should be two sides of the same coin and support each other. This is no doubt an issue that will be returned to in the next Parliament, continuing the debate that took place in this one.
The hon. Lady referred to the impact assessment and the report that she read in the newspapers. Perhaps I may comment on that. The impact assessment looked at the impact of the specific statutory instrument before the House this afternoon, particularly the impact of adding Scottish authorities to schedules 6 and 7. Neither the impact assessment nor the chief economist’s statement were concerned with the Prevent strategy as a whole or the Prevent duty outside Scotland. I hope that clarification is helpful.
The hon. Lady also talked about changes in Prevent priority areas. Our approach is informed by the changing threat picture and by the advice we receive from the joint terrorism analysis centre. It is in that context that we set priorities, and it is right that we keep these things under review. It is not a question of going back to the past, as she wrongly asserts; it is about the here and now, meeting the challenges and threats we face as a country and protecting those things that we hold dear, and that is the Government’s priority. I am sorry that the hon. Lady has failed to understand the issues at hand. That underlines again why Labour is simply not competent to deal with these issues.
As I have said before, the question of how universities and colleges balance the Prevent duty with the need to secure freedom of speech and have regard to the importance of academic freedom is extremely important. The Government take that extremely seriously, which is why we amended the legislation to ensure that institutions must have particular regard to the importance of academic freedom and freedom of speech when complying with the duty—the point made by the hon. Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield).
I reiterate that the Government are clear that universities represent one of our most important arenas for challenging extremist views and ideologies, but there is a risk that some people might use higher education institutions as a platform for drawing people into terrorism. We will use the time before the duty commences to produce further guidance on managing speakers and events in further and higher education institutions. It will be for the next Government to bring that guidance to the House early in the next Parliament for approval by both Houses, as I have indicated. I think it is important that there is a good understanding of the full guidance and how it relates in that manner.
The Minister will be aware that I have previously raised concerns about that with him and with other Ministers. Given the context of devolution, particularly in the universities sector but also in education more generally, is it not absolutely vital that there are regular, proactive discussions between universities and Education Ministers across the United Kingdom, and will he ensure that in future there is Cabinet Office guidance on how often those matters should be discussed among Ministers across these islands?
The Prevent oversight board, which has an integral role in ensuring that the guidance before the House is properly recognised, has the ability to share good practice, and indeed the issues on adherence to it. That will provide a good mechanism for drawing Government together. It also needs to have good contact with the devolved Administrations. As the hon. Gentleman might know, I have already had discussions with the Welsh Government, and I certainly wish to see that continue in relation to the operation of the guidance. I also highlight the £40 million allocated for Prevent work in 2014-15 and the fact that the Prime Minister announced on 25 November that the additional £130 million that has been made available for increased counter-terrorism work will include additional funding for Prevent.
Schools and nurseries have a duty to care for their pupils and staff. The new duty will be seen in a similar way to their existing safeguarding responsibilities. The early years foundation stage framework makes it clear that providers must be alert to any safeguarding and child protection issues in a child’s life, either at home or elsewhere, so the work on the guidance supports and strengthens that. With regard to training, we have used Prevent to train literally tens of thousands of people to raise awareness of the need to adhere to an understanding of the issue, the threats and the risks within safeguarding, and that approach will certainly be extended further.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North asked whether we have covered all appropriate health bodies. The foundation trusts and NHS trusts identified are the most likely to have the most direct contact with people on the front line, with regard to their staff and the hospital settings. She referred to the issue of CCGs. We will certainly keep that under review in terms of extending the duty to other bodies, and I will have an open mind in adding it at that stage. However, a CCG is effectively a commissioning body rather than a body that delivers front-line services, and I hope that she understands that distinction.
GPs are very much in the front line and may well come across people who are very vulnerable, perhaps with mental health issues, for whom provision needs to be put in place under the Prevent duties that the other health bodies would have.
GPs are generally sole practitioners, or perhaps partnerships, rather than health bodies. We will continue to keep under review the sharing of the need to raise awareness of Prevent, which has already been rolled out to tens of thousands of front-line health professionals.
The hon. Lady highlighted sectarianism and the different natures of the threat that we face. Prevent and our Contest counter-terrorism strategy cover all forms of terrorism, as we have made clear on a number of occasions. I hope she understands that the guidance extends to all forms of terrorism, of whatever nature.
I welcome the broad support—despite some of the comments that have been made—for the two orders, and I hope that the House will approve them both. That will make a difference in the fight against terrorism. It will also underline this Government’s commitment to ensuring national security and the safety of the public. We have that at the heart of our work and will continue to do so.
Question put and agreed to.
That the draft Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Risk of Being Drawn into Terrorism) (Amendment and Guidance) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 12 March, be approved.
Senior Courts of England and Wales
That the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S.I., 2015, No. 406), dated 26 February 2015, a copy of which was laid before this House on 27 February, be approved.—(James Brokenshire.)