With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the terrorist attacks in Paris, our response and the threat we face from terrorism in the United Kingdom.
The full details of last Friday’s horrific attack in Paris are still emerging, but at least 129 innocent people, including at least one British national, have been killed, with more than 352 injured and 99 of those declared critical. As the names of those brutally murdered become known and we learn more about the appalling events of that night, our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones, suffered injuries or are affected by these horrific events. These were co-ordinated attacks, designed to inflict the maximum number of casualties on people who were simply enjoying their daily lives—our way of life. Those killed and injured include people from many countries across Europe and other countries around the world.
The international investigation into the attacks is ongoing, but we know that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has claimed responsibility. This is not the first time ISIL has struck in Europe. We have seen attacks either inspired or directed by the group in France, Belgium and Denmark, as well as attacks in Lebanon, Turkey and Kuwait, and the ongoing devastating violence in Syria and Iraq. And in June, 30 British nationals along with others were killed by a gunman at a tourist resort in Tunisia. It also looks increasingly likely that the Russian Metrojet plane that crashed two weeks ago in Egypt was brought down by a bomb. The scale of this latest attack and the degree of co-ordination and planning leave us with little doubt that the threat is evolving.
In the UK, the threat level, set by the independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, remains at “severe”, meaning that an attack is highly likely and could occur without warning. In the past months, a number of serious plots have been disrupted here in the UK. Over 750 people are thought to have travelled to Syria and Iraq, and approximately half of those have returned.
Our law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies are working constantly day and night to keep the people of this country safe and secure, and the Government are taking all necessary steps to make sure they have the powers, the capabilities and resources they need. As soon as the attacks took place, we took steps to maintain the security of the UK. The police have increased their presence on some streets and at some locations, and they will be intensifying their approach at events in big cities. Officers are working closely with London’s communities and businesses to provide advice and reassurance.
Border Force has intensified checks on people, goods and vehicles entering the UK from the near continent and elsewhere. Additionally, in order to help the French authorities secure their own border, Border Force and the police have been undertaking additional and targeted security checks against passengers and vehicles travelling to France via both maritime and rail ports and a number of airports across the country.
Yesterday I chaired a meeting of Cobra to review the situation and our response. As I said in a statement afterwards, UK police and security services are working extremely closely with their French and Belgian counterparts to identify all those involved and pursue anyone who may have been involved in the preparation of these barbaric attacks. Members will be aware that a number of arrests have been made in Belgium and France in the last 24 hours.
As I informed the House following the events in Paris in January, we have long had detailed plans for dealing with these kind of attacks in the UK. Since the attacks in Mumbai in 2008, we have improved our police firearms response, building the capability of our police and the speed of our military response. The emergency services have also improved their preparedness for dealing specifically with marauding gun attacks. Specialist joint police, ambulance and fire teams are now in place at important locations across England, with equivalents in Scotland and Wales. This summer, the police and the emergency services tested this response as part of a major counter-terrorism exercise. As I have told the House previously, the police can call on appropriate military assistance when required across the country.
Nevertheless, in the light of events in France, it is right that we should review our response to firearms attacks, and we are doing so urgently to ensure that any lessons are learned. The UK has some of the toughest firearms laws in the world. The sort of weaponry used in the attacks in Paris in January, and those that appear to have been used last Friday, are not readily available in the UK. We must therefore focus on tackling firearms entering and moving throughout the EU, and ensuring that we have the right capabilities at the UK border to detect firearms being smuggled in.
This Friday I will attend an extraordinary meeting of the European Justice and Home Affairs Council, where I will press the need for greater information-sharing, passenger name records, and action on firearms. In the United Kingdom we have seen tough legislation work, so we want to see action taken to make a difference to the availability of firearms in Europe, particularly assault rifles.
It is imperative that Europe pulls together to defeat this threat. France is one of our oldest allies, and we work very closely with it on matters of national security and counter-terrorism. Yesterday I spoke to my counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Minister of the Interior, to offer our deepest condolences to France, and to make it clear that the United Kingdom stands ready to provide any additional support and assistance. I am very grateful to Minister Cazeneuve and to the French for maintaining a police presence at Calais during a very difficult time. I have also spoken to the Belgian Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, to offer our assistance. Today, as the House will know, the Prime Minister is at the G20 in Turkey, where he is discussing the crisis in Syria urgently with other Heads of State. He will make a statement to the House tomorrow.
Since 2010, the Government have undertaken significant work to strengthen our response to the threat that we face from terrorism. In 2014, we passed legislation to ensure that law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies could continue to access the information that they needed. Although that legislation will not expire until the end of 2016, last week we published a draft Investigatory Powers Bill. The Bill will improve the oversight and safeguards of the police and agencies’ use of investigatory powers, while also ensuring that they have the tools that they need to keep us safe. Following any terrorist attack, we always consider the legal powers that we have to keep our country secure, but it is important that this landmark legislation undergoes proper parliamentary scrutiny.
The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 includes measures to deal specifically with the problem of foreign fighters, and to prevent radicalisation. It includes a power to seize, temporarily, the passports of people suspected of travelling to engage in terrorism overseas, extends our ability to refuse airlines authority to carry people who pose a risk to the UK, and introduces a statutory Prevent duty for a wide range of public bodies. Through our existing Prevent and intervention programmes, we identify people at risk and work to help them to turn their lives around. Our Channel process, in particular, engages vulnerable people in conversations to prevent them from being drawn further into extremism or violent acts.
The police and the security and intelligence agencies do an incredible job to keep the people of this country safe. Their work often goes unseen and unrecognised, but we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. We have protected the counter-terrorism policing budget since 2010, and earlier this year, in his Budget speech, my right hon Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed that counter-terrorism spending across Government would be protected over the course of the spending review. Today we have announced that we will go further. Through the strategic defence and security review, we will make new funding available to the security and intelligence agencies to provide for an additional 1,900 officers—an increase of 15%—at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, in order to respond better to the threat that we face from international terrorism, cyber-attacks, and other global risks.
We will also boost aviation security. The Prime Minister has ordered a rapid review of security at a number of airports around the world, and aviation specialists will conduct assessments over the next two months at locations in the middle east and north Africa in particular. That follows additional measures that the UK and the United States have introduced at a number of potentially vulnerable airports over the past year. Those steps will be reviewed to establish whether they go far enough. Tomorrow, at the National Security Council, we will discuss the Government‘s policy on aviation security. and we will present a proposal to more than double Government spending on aviation security over the current Parliament.
The events in Paris have shocked and appalled people around the world. In France, people have queued up to donate blood, lit candles, and laid flowers. In Britain, Australia, America, Mexico, Canada, Brazil and many other countries, iconic landmarks and buildings have been lit in the colours of the French tricolour. People of all faiths have condemned the violence, and British Muslims —indeed, Muslims worldwide—have said very clearly that these events are abhorrent. The attacks have nothing to do with Islam, which is followed peacefully by millions of people throughout the world. The terrorists seek to divide us and destroy our way of life, but theirs is an empty, perverted and murderous ideology. They represent no one, and they will fail. France grieves, but she does not grieve alone. People of all faiths, all nationalities, and all backgrounds around the world are with her, and together we will defeat them.
Order. Before I call the shadow Home Secretary, the House will wish to know that on behalf of the House of Commons I will be conveying our heartfelt sympathies to my colleague Claude Bartolone, the President of the Assemblée Nationale. Our thoughts today are with our colleagues in Paris.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. May I strongly welcome the Home Secretary’s statement and many of the steps she has just announced? As we have come to expect, she has acted quickly and with clarity, and she will have our support in taking the action needed to protect the public here and across Europe.
Our thoughts today are primarily with the friends, the families and the loved ones of those killed or injured in Paris. These horrific attacks on innocent people—as the Home Secretary said, many were young people, enjoying a night out—were an attack not just on France but on the way of life we all share, on our freedoms, our multicultural societies and our shared values. Those responsible want to intimidate us; we will not let them succeed. We stand in solidarity with the people of Paris and all the citizens of France.
The Home Secretary was right to praise the British intelligence and security services who work so tirelessly to keep us safe. Much of what they do goes unseen and unreported, but, as we know, they have foiled many attacks here in recent times. They deserve our support and our gratitude.
Two things are apparent from recent events. First, ISIL has now demonstrated that it has the capacity to hit mainland Europe and cause widespread casualties. Secondly, this is evidence of an escalation of intent, as alongside the Paris attacks we have seen the downing of the Russian airliner and the bombings in Beirut, and victims of both of those atrocities should be in our thoughts at this time. This requires the international community to formulate an urgent and effective response.
Let me start with the circumstances of the attack. What this atrocity reveals is how an attack on one member state can be planned and co-ordinated in another, and by individuals who may not be known to the domestic security services of the state where the attack took place. What arrangements are already in place for co-operation between security services across Europe? Can those arrangements be strengthened in the light of what has happened, and is there greater assistance that can be provided across Europe between security services?
Let me turn to border security. The Schengen agreement is of course primarily a matter for the countries who are participants in it, but it does impact on our own border security. While any changes remain a matter for the participants, do the Government have a view on the way Schengen is operating, and are they making representations to those member states? Can the Home Secretary say more about what she thinks the impact of the Schengen agreement is on UK borders?
Concerns have been raised in recent days about people travelling across Europe in cars in the light of these attacks, and that becomes particularly relevant in respect of the measures at the Channel tunnel. The Home Secretary said security there will be strengthened. Can she assure the House that lorries and cars coming through the Channel tunnel will be subject to the same security checks as passengers travelling through airports and using Eurostar? Is she confident that proper arrangements are in place at all regional airports? We welcome what she said about improving airport security, but are regional airports in a strong enough position to deal with the challenges they face?
Let me turn to refugee policy. It is of course essential to remember that many of the people fleeing are fleeing the horrors of ISIL themselves. It is possible of course that one of the attackers in Paris came through the refugee route, and the idea cannot be dismissed that this might have been an attempt to undermine public confidence in Europe in welcoming genuine refugees to our country. The fact that Europe is prepared to welcome people is a wonderful validation of our values, and we must not be deflected from that, but the policy raises certain issues. First, will the Home Secretary tell us what can be done to strengthen the processing and documentation of refugees as they arrive in Europe, so that an up-to-date database can be maintained? Secondly, would it be helpful if that information were to be shared quickly across the security services of Europe, so that individuals who might pose a risk can be identified?
In regard to the high-profile events that are coming up, particularly the football match between England and France this week, can the right hon. Lady reassure the public that the necessary security measures will be in place to ensure that those events can take place safely? She mentioned the Muslim community, and she was absolutely right to say that ISIL’s evil ideology is not a true reflection of Islam; indeed, it is a perversion of it. However, the Muslim community in this country will be feeling an extra sense of nervousness right now. What more can she say to reassure law-abiding members of the Muslim community that they will have our full support in dealing with this threat?
Finally, let me turn to the powers and the funding of the intelligence and security services and the police. Given the Prime Minister’s comments earlier today, does the Home Secretary anticipate a need for the Investigatory Powers Bill to be expedited? We welcome her announcement of money for counter-terrorism, but I urge her not to view counter-terrorism in isolation from the general policing budget. She will know that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said last week that cuts above 10% to the police budget would hamper his ability to fight terrorism on the streets of London. Today, Ian Blair has said that the loss of police community support officers from our streets would be a “disaster”.
Responding to questions earlier, the Home Secretary said that it was not about the numbers of police but about the quality of the policing. Of course it is about the quality, but it is also about coverage on the ground. The Government have been talking about a 25% cut to the police budget. Can the right hon. Lady assure the House today that she and the Chancellor will revisit those assumptions about the police budget in the light of what has happened, to ensure that the police have the funding they need to do the job?
This is the single biggest challenge of our generation. We need to avoid a knee-jerk reaction, but we must not shy away from taking decisive action. We must act with resolve, with strength and with judgment, and we must build consensus, because the stronger we are together, the sooner we will defeat this threat. ISIL’s aim is to divide our communities, to divide us politically and to divide us from our European partners, with whom we share common values. The message must go out today that we will not let ISIL prevail. Let us say clearly that it will not succeed and that we will stand as one in our communities and as a country, united with our European partners.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his support for the steps that the Government have taken so far, and for the clear message, which goes out from the whole House, that we condemn the attacks that took place in Paris and that the terrorists will not win. We will defeat them. I also thank him for his support for the security and intelligence agencies. As I said earlier, they are unseen and unrecognised, but they do an important job for us day after day.
The right hon. Gentleman was right to say that although we are currently focusing on the attacks in Paris, a number of terrorist attacks have been conducted in the name of ISIL around the world, and our thoughts are with all the victims. He mentioned the Muslim community in the UK, and we should never forget that the largest number of people killed by terrorists around the world are themselves Muslims. Islam is a peaceful religion that is practised peacefully by millions of people around the world, and many of them have already risen up in communities here in the UK, in France and elsewhere to say that these attacks were not perpetrated in their name. We look forward to working further with people in the Muslim communities around the United Kingdom to help those mainstream voices to be heard.
As the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), said in Home Office questions, we have asked the police to identify anti-Muslim hate crime separately so that we can see the nature and extent of it. It has been increasing in recent years, as has the number of anti-Semitic incidents.
There is already a considerable amount of co-operation between intelligence services and police across the European Union. We will be looking at what further can be done. I have offered extra assistance, in the wake of the attacks, to both my French and Belgian counterparts, but I expect that we will consider the question of co-operation and sharing of intelligence at the Justice and Home Affairs Council.
Of course what happens in Schengen is predominantly a matter for those countries that are in Schengen; we are not in Schengen, nor will we be. None the less, we have been working with countries that are in Schengen to strengthen our external borders, and to look at ensuring that the necessary processing and documenting of people coming in as migrants take place at those external borders. That is important, because, as we know, many coming through are not refugees, but illegal economic migrants, and it is doubly important to ensure that people can be returned when they have no right to be in Europe.
We are working on the hotspots at the external borders, and have also provided some capability from the UK to help debrief migrants coming through on those routes so that we can get a better understanding of the criminal gangs that are operating and what is happening at the borders.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the England-France football match. It is important that the match goes ahead; it is a sign and a symbol of the two countries coming together in a friendly activity. I have spoken to the police and they will ensure that appropriate security measures are in place for that match. Those are operational decisions for the police to take.
On the question of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, it is right that, at all times, we review the timing of our legislation. That is a significant Bill and it is right that it should be given proper scrutiny in Parliament. On the issue of national security and policing, let me say this: very often people think of national security in terms of just the security and intelligence agencies, but there is also counter-terrorism policing, and policing more generally. Other areas of work include border security, which also comes under the Home Office and which is an important part of our national security. We will look at all of those issues in the round.
Events in Paris have exposed the truth about ISIS and its fellow jihadists, which is that they hate us not because of what we do, but because of what we are. They hate our history, our identity and our values. Does my right hon. Friend agree that those who say that we will be left alone if we leave them alone are peddling a dangerous and deadly deception?
My right hon. Friend makes a very important point. It is quite clear from those who attacked in Paris and those who have attacked elsewhere that their poisonous ideology is against the way in which the west conducts its life—the sort of lives that we lead and the sort of structures that we have in the west and elsewhere in other parts of the world. He is absolutely right that it is not the case that if we take no action, they will take no action against us. It is clear that they have evil intent and, sadly, as we saw on Friday, they have put that evil intent into practice.
I welcome the tone of the Home Secretary’s statement and thank her for advance notice of it. I also wish to associate myself and my party with the comments of others about the gratitude that we all feel to those who keep us safe, whether it be the police or the intelligence services. I also wish to add the condolences of Members on these Benches to those of the rest of the House.
I reiterate the comments that Scotland’s First Minister made at the weekend. Our thoughts, prayers and solidarity are with the people of Paris and France after this “unspeakably awful” and deeply shocking event. It is only right that we should review matters in the light of such events, and we should be in a position to give people the assurances that they require about their safety. However, it is important that we do not turn on each other. I welcome what the Home Secretary has already said about the Muslim community, who are a highly valued and integral part of Scottish and United Kingdom society. Will the Home Secretary assure me that she will stand alongside the Scottish Government in preventing these events from destroying or affecting that feeling of unity?
I also applaud the fact that the Home Secretary seems determined not to make a knee-jerk or ill-considered response to these atrocities and is approaching matters in her usual measured fashion. This morning, we heard the Prime Minister hint at the possibility of speeding up the passage of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill following this atrocity. I hear what the Home Secretary has said about that already, but will she confirm that there will be no curtailment of the necessary time already allocated for pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, and will she stand by her previous assurances to this House that adequate parliamentary time will be allocated for its passage?
As regards refugees fleeing the barbaric war in Syria, will the Home Secretary confirm that the Home Office already has in place robust and thorough screening processes and that she will remain resolved to protect and give refuge to these people? Finally and briefly, she mentioned increased security at a number of airports. Will she confirm that all airports with external flights are subject to such measures?
I thank the hon. and learned Lady for joining the condemnation of the attacks that took place last Friday, as she did earlier. She is right to say that we should stand united across the United Kingdom in condemnation of those attacks and that we should be united one community with another. None of us wants to see any sort of backlash against any part of the community in the United Kingdom as a result of the attacks. It is important that we give the reassurance that we are one nation, the United Kingdom, standing together against the terrible barbarity of these terrorists.
On the subject of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, as I said in my statement, as we consider terrorism legislation, we review at every stage what is necessary as well as the timing. The Bill is significant and it is right that it should be given proper parliamentary scrutiny.
There are processes in place for the screening of refugees, and the process is twofold. The UNHCR, which refers refugees to the Home Office for resettlement here in the UK, undertakes screening that includes taking biometrics, interviews and looking at documentation. A further level of screening is undertaken by the Home Office that involves further biometrics and looking at security checks for the individuals concerned.
This threat and its underlying ideology will have to be combated for many years, but the task will be much more difficult if the ideology continues to have territory under its control from which to project attacks on us and other countries. As the Prime Minister made clear this morning, defeating ISIL in Syria requires a transition out of the Syrian civil war. Does my right hon. Friend welcome the fact that during the talks in Vienna over the past three weeks the international community has seemed finally to be getting its collective act together?
My hon. Friend is right that we need a solution and resolution to the conflict in Syria. The transition to which he referred is important and I am pleased that talks are progressing in Vienna. I am sure that everybody in the House wants those talks to be successful and wants an end to the conflict and barbarity in Syria and being carried out by ISIL elsewhere.
I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement and the unity of those on the Front Benches. We are the most multicultural country in the world and we should be proud of that, which is why engagement with communities is so important. The question of airport security concerns not just our airports. British citizens travel to north Africa and other holiday destinations, so if there is a request from those countries to supply equipment to help them, will we be willing to do that? As for the sharing of information, which country is preventing the use of passenger name recognition and how can we convince them to change their minds? When will we be ready to join the I-Checkit Interpol system?
The right hon. Gentleman is obviously right that security at airports around the world from which British citizens travel is important to us. On a number of occasions, we have done exactly what he has said and either offered equipment or made equipment available to other airports around the world to help them increase their level of security. As I said in my statement, an exercise is being undertaken to look at the security arrangements at a number of airports, particularly in the middle east and north Africa. It is absolutely right that we do that to ensure that we have confidence in the level of security being provided for those travelling through those airports.
No coherent military strategy against Daesh/ISIL in Syria can be formulated unless and until the Government face up to the unpleasant fact that they will have to co-ordinate their efforts with those of Russia. Would a useful first step be co-operation between the Russian security services and ours in this field, despite our reservations and concern about Russia’s behaviour in other parts of Europe?
Of course, talks have been taking place in the G20 with a number of international leaders about Syria, what action needs to be taken about it, and its future governance. Obviously, I look forward to the outcome of those talks. It is important to ensure that every effort is made to bring about a resolution to the conflict in Syria, not only because of the impact that that could have on ISIL, but because of the many millions of Syrians who have been displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict.
I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement of solidarity with the people of Paris in the face of such terrible losses and this barbaric assault on all our values. I welcome the increase in resources and staffing for the intelligence and security agencies, which do so much work to keep us safe. I urge her to apply the same approach to core policing work, particularly around neighbourhood policing. She will know that the work that those teams do on prevention and local intelligence, which helped stop the killer of Mohammed Saleem, is immensely important. That is because this is a battle for hearts and minds, as I am sure she knows.
As the right hon. Lady says, this is indeed a battle for hearts and minds. As she will be aware, we have launched a counter-extremism strategy. We wish to work in partnership with mainstream voices in communities across the country to ensure that we promote the values that we share, and that we challenge the ideology that seeks to divide us. It is important that that work is undertaken in a variety of ways. A concern that people in many communities have had about some of the Prevent work is that it has been too much in the security space, and not enough about the integration and cohesion of communities. It is absolutely right that our counter-extremism work is done in partnership with people in communities, so that we work together to promote cohesive communities and mainstream voices.
Will my right hon. Friend explain why the Government have, for four months, blocked debate on the Floor of the House on the European agenda on immigration and refugee smuggling and relocation—a debate that has been demanded by the European Scrutiny Committee? Will she meet me and other MPs to review the Government’s rejection on 6 January of my amendments to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, which would have prevented UK jihadists from returning to the UK? Could we also discuss the disproportionate legal protections conferred through human rights legislation, including the charter of fundamental rights, which can and do endanger human life, and override the Supreme Court and our Parliament? The European Union, far from enhancing national security, often undermines it.
I understand that it should be possible, in the not-too-distant future, to debate on the Floor of the House the matters that my hon. Friend raised. Of course, in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, we took in hand a number of powers relating to those who would travel to Syria, or are returning from it. That has increased the powers available to the police, and to security and intelligence agencies.
Further to the answer given to my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), the Home Secretary knows better than most people in this place that successful counter-terrorism depends on information gathered through neighbourhood policing. If she cuts that extremely important link, her increase in intelligence officers will not bring about the result that she desires.
Of course, counter-terrorism work depends on the gathering of intelligence. That intelligence is gathered in a variety of ways. As the hon. Lady will be aware, and as we indicated in Home Office oral questions earlier, the percentage of police officers who are now involved in front-line policing has gone up over the past five years.
Will my right hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to Nick Alexander from Colchester, who was tragically killed in the Bataclan? Will she assure this House that she will do all she can to work with the French authorities to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice?
I join my hon. Friend in sending our condolences to the family and friends of his constituent, Nick Alexander, who was brutally murdered in the attacks that took place in Paris on Friday night—somebody just going about his business, a business that was about providing enjoyment and fun to other people, particularly to young people; yet he was mown down. I can give my hon. Friend an absolute assurance that we are giving every assistance that we can to the French authorities and others in Europe to ensure that we bring to justice those who were any part of the preparation of that attack.
For 10 years I lived near Paris and spent many evenings in the area that was desecrated on Friday night. To our French friends I state: le Royaume-Uni est en deuil avec la France and les Français et nous allons combattre le terrorisme ensemble. I am sure the Secretary of State will join me in stressing that Europe’s response to the actions of a small group of fanatical murderous terrorists must not be to pull up the drawbridge on the hundreds of thousands of genuine Syrian refugees who are fleeing terror similar to that which was inflicted on Paris on Friday.
The right hon. Gentleman is right. In a number of questions this afternoon, I have responded in relation to the United Kingdom’s plans to bring in a number of Syrian refugees. It is right that we continue doing that. As I have indicated, we have security-check arrangements, but there are many people who have been displaced from their homes as a result of the barbarity that has taken place in Syria and who need protection and assistance, and we stand ready to play our part, as indicated, in providing that.
I, too, welcome the meeting that took place earlier today between the Prime Minister and President Putin as a constructive contribution towards the resolution of the civil war in Syria which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said, is at the heart of this crisis. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the events in Paris illustrate to us the need to provide our security and intelligence services with all necessary powers in order to keep us and our people safe from these depraved Islamic fundamentalists?
It will not have escaped the Home Secretary’s attention that at least one of the perpetrators of these appalling attacks had previously been on the periphery of an inquiry that the French security services had been carrying out. I welcome the fact that she will be attending the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Friday. When she raises the issue of sharing information, will she also talk about sharing information about such cases? If we cannot spot them early enough, we will not spot them before the crime is committed.
The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point. In looking at these issues, as far as possible we wish to be able to identify people before they get to the point of conducting an attack. That ties in not only with counter-terrorism but with criminality, which is one of the reasons why we are looking for an improvement in the exchange of information about criminality among the countries in the European Union.
As I have many French relatives living in Paris, I associate myself wholly with the Home Secretary’s remarks about this outrageous act. May I raise two points with her? First, she rightly made the point that in avoiding such acts in this country, we are blessed by the fact that automatic weapons and in some cases more sophisticated explosives are harder to obtain in this country. It therefore becomes particularly important that we should have adequate screening at our borders to prevent their importation. We know that we have very good intelligence, but that in itself cannot be a substitute for it. What priority will she be able to give to that point? Secondly, on her comments about Islamophobia, its existence is very widespread at present in this country and this House would be wise not to underestimate its impact on law-abiding Muslims. That is a task for all of us.
My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right on the latter point. One reason why it is important to ask the police to record anti-Muslim hate crime separately is so that we can get a much better understanding of its extent. The Tell MAMA statistics suggest that it has been increasing in recent years. It is therefore important that we all play our part in addressing the problem and recognising the impact it has on Muslim communities.
My right hon. and learned Friend asked about firearms. I have been pressing for some time for greater action within the European Union on the movement of firearms. I expect that it will be further discussed this week. The National Crime Agency has undertaken a number of operations, together with the Border Force, to consider how it is possible for firearms to enter the United Kingdom across the borders and what further action can be taken to prevent that.
I was alarmed to hear that last week French security services were informed that a man had been detained in Bavaria with automatic weapons in his car and Paris inputted in his sat-nav system. I welcome the Home Secretary’s commitment to provide additional resources for our security services. Will she confirm that it is new money and that 1,900 new officers will be appointed? Will she also confirm that if such relevant information had been given to our security services about a planned attack on the United Kingdom, the outcome might have been different?
I am not able to comment on the case the hon. Gentleman outlines because I do not know all the facts. There have been reports in the media, but it would not be appropriate for me to comment. I confirm that these will be extra posts and that it will be additional money.
As chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on France and on behalf of all those in this place who love France, may I express our solidarity with our French colleagues in their national Parliament? Just as in the two world wars, we stand shoulder to shoulder with them. May I speak directly to them and say, “A nos collègues à l’Assemblée nationale, maintenant et pour toujours, vous avez nos prières et notre solidarité. Vive la République. Vive la France.”?
May I add my voice to those who have condemned the barbaric attacks on France, the Lebanon and those who were flying from Egypt to Russia? One of my many concerns is that, as has been said, there has been and will be a rise in Islamophobia. I welcome the Home Secretary’s acknowledgement that Muslims across the world are standing up and saying, “Not in my name.” In the light of that, I encourage everyone in this House to stop using the name of Islam when talking about these terrorists. It appears in the names that the terrorists have given themselves: ISIS, ISIL and Islamic State. I encourage everyone to use the term Daesh. It is a derogatory term, but they deserve it. That might break the link in people’s minds between Islam and terrorism.
I have considerable sympathy with the point the hon. Lady makes. I often use the term Daesh. As it happens, I have not done so this afternoon. She is absolutely right that this group is not Islamic and is not a state. We should not give the impression that either of those is the case.
I thank the Secretary of State for her statement, which will be widely welcomed in France for her offer of support and co-operation, and for her insistence that normal life should go on, with particular reference to the football international. She will know that there are numerous attempts to attack the British public. We should be deeply grateful to the security services here.
Will she reflect on the proposals in the draft Investigatory Powers Bill to involve the judiciary in the executive decision of issuing warrants? That decision should be in the hands of Secretaries of State, who bear a heavy responsibility and are responsible to this House. The judiciary should, by all means, be involved after the event, perhaps days or a week later, but will she consider the idea that it must be a responsible, democratically elected Secretary of State who makes such difficult decisions, and that speed is vital?
My right hon. Friend is right that there are cases in which speed is absolutely essential, which is why the draft Bill provides for emergency or urgent situations when timeliness is required. In those circumstances it will be possible for the Secretary of State to sign a warrant that will come into effect immediately before the judicial authority has considered it. He asks me to look again at the double lock that we have put in place. I agree that it is important to have public accountability for a decision taken by the Secretary of State, but I also know that people are concerned to ensure that there is a second element of judicial authority. Indeed, some people want there to be only judicial authority, but I do not think that would be right. I think that the way we are going, with the accountability of the Secretary of State and the independence of the judiciary, is right.
Plaid Cymru condemns these murderous and depraved attacks, and we send our condolences to the bereaved and the injured. I thank the Home Secretary for her statement and for early sight of it. Organising such attacks and outrages takes considerable planning and resources. Can she assure the House that the Government are doing all they can to help in international efforts to stop the supply of arms matériel and expertise to the terrorists at source?
We are looking across the board at every measure and every step that can be taken in relation to these matters. This attack was different from those that have previously been carried out in the name of ISIL, because it clearly required considerable preparation and planning. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that it is important to try to stem the availability of weaponry at source, which is one reason why we have been looking, and will continue to look, at the whole question of the movement of firearms across Europe, particularly heavier weaponry such as assault rifles.
I would like to add my condolences, and those of my constituents, to those already expressed following Friday’s horrific attacks in Paris. The Prime Minister suggested this morning that the Government would be looking at the timetable for the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. Events in Paris and Brussels have highlighted the importance of making sure that our intelligence and security services have all the resources they need, within a legal framework, to monitor those who show signs of radicalisation and to prevent cowardly acts of terrorism from happening here at home. Therefore, can my right hon. Friend offer any further information on the Prime Minister’s comments this morning? I also support her comment that Daesh are neither Islamic, nor a state; they are nothing more than a death cult.
I commend my hon. Friend for those comments. With regard to the timing, as I have indicated, we will obviously always look to ensure that we have in place the legislation that enables our security and intelligence agencies to have the powers they need. The draft Investigatory Powers Bill is a significant measure that we expect to stand the test of time. We do not want future Governments to have to change investigatory powers legislation constantly, so it is important that we get it right. It is therefore important that the Bill receives proper scrutiny and that it has support across the House, given the nature of it.
These mad young people of Daesh who carried out the attacks in Paris must obviously have been brain washed somewhere along the line by someone—a mad mullah or whoever. First, what is the Home Secretary doing to try to stop them getting to young people, because they do not always come from Syria? Secondly, who finances Daesh? If they are getting oil, who are they selling it to?
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about counter-radicalisation. That is why we have in place the Prevent programme and, within it, the Channel programme; Channel deals specifically with individuals and works to move them away from a path of radicalisation, while Prevent works more generally within communities. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced the Prevent duty for the public sector, so greater training is now being given to help people identify potential radicalisation and to be able to take action against it. Beyond that, of course, we have launched our counter-extremism strategy, because it is important that we challenge the extremist ideology that lies behind radicalisation, and that is what our strategy aims to do.
Does my right hon. Friend accept that many of the successes against drugs and arms smugglers have resulted from the work of the Border Force maritime aerial surveillance capability and its team based at Hurn airport in my constituency? Will she therefore reverse the decision to terminate that contract with effect from 6 January 2016, at a saving of £4 million, and in so doing heed the warning of Baroness Neville-Jones that we will otherwise be left with a significant gap in our maritime surveillance capability?
I ask this in a genuine spirit of inquiry, and it is a sensitive area, but would the Home Secretary ever consider withdrawing citizenship from some who sought to promote and act on the basis of an ideology that was so repulsive that it threatened their fellow citizens?
Of course I do have it in my power to remove citizenship from individuals, and I have acted in that way on a number of occasions. While this is subject to some limitations in relation to ensuring that people are not made stateless, we did enhance our ability to remove citizenship in the Immigration Act 2014.
In her welcome statement, the Home Secretary stressed the importance of our counter-extremism strategy in building a sense of shared values that counter what she called the “perverted and murderous” values of these terrorists. Will she meet her colleagues in the Department for Education, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Department for Communities and Local Government to discuss what more those Departments can do to build that shared sense of values?
The extremism taskforce chaired by the Prime Minister includes the very Departments that the hon. Lady mentions, and others, as well as the Home Office. If she looks at the counter-extremism strategy, she will see that it includes references to action that can be taken by the Department for Education. Indeed, it has already moved in relation to this work on promoting the values that we share as part of living in this pluralistic society.
My right hon. Friend has mentioned the 129 murdered and the hundreds still in hospital, but in addition there are people like a friend of mine, who on Friday night was in a bistro just yards from the café that was attacked. He and two English friends—he is English too—escaped and ran down the road, only to find themselves getting very close to another area, the Bataclan, which was under attack. He has now returned home, and I can tell my right hon. Friend and the House that he is totally traumatised. Will she work across Government to ensure that people like him and others who have returned to the UK who have been hurt in this way will receive assistance from the Department of Health and other organisations?
Yes, I can give my hon. Friend that reassurance. Indeed, the Foreign Office has ensured that such support is available for those who have returned who were caught up in this—not just those who were physically injured but those who have been traumatised as a result of the experience. I suggest that my hon. Friend contact the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), who is on the Treasury Bench, who will be able to enlighten him on what is available.
This afternoon I have received the sad news, courtesy of the Press and Journal, a newspaper in Scotland, that a young man from Fort William, Hamish MacDonald, known as Callum MacDonald, is in an induced coma in Paris having been caught up in the events in the Bataclan. What support can we give to the family in this situation—not just the young man involved but his extended family—and what solidarity can we show to those in France who have been caught up in this as well?
I am sorry to hear of the sad case of the hon. Gentleman’s constituent. Our thoughts are with him and his family and friends. Obviously, we hope that he will make a recovery.
Consular support is available to families who wish to support members of their family who are in hospital in France. On a wider point, we have also been looking at what assistance the Department of Health and its experience can give to France, particularly with regard to those who have been traumatised by the event. Work is ongoing on those sorts of exchanges. As I have said, consular assistance is also available from the British embassy in Paris, and the Foreign Office has sent a team to Paris to help with that work.
Following the 2003 Casablanca bombings, Morocco set up the Mohammed VI Institute in Rabat to train foreign overseas imams and preachers, including women preachers, in the moderate Sunni-Sufi tradition that characterises that country. Last month, an agreement was reached with France in that respect. What can we learn from that experience? Would it be of benefit to the UK? Will the Home Secretary commend Morocco for its initiative?
My hon. Friend raises an important example and I absolutely commend Morocco for the initiative it took. The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East, who has responsibility for north Africa and the middle east, visited that facility recently and we are encouraging other countries in the middle east to take a similar approach to that taken by Morocco.
May I join the Home Secretary in thanking our security services, police and armed forces for the important work they do in keeping us safe? The Home Secretary rightly spoke about taking all necessary steps to prevent attacks on the UK. I would be grateful if she said something about what work is taking place to audit our existing security capabilities, to ensure that we have what we need in the right place and at the right level of preparedness and that it is properly resourced. Will she also confirm that she is examining our resilience not just in London, but in towns and cities across the UK?
I can certainly assure the hon. Gentleman that we look at resilience not just in London but across the United Kingdom. As I indicated earlier, we had enhanced our capability to deal with these sorts of marauding gun attacks in particular—not just the police capability, but the ability of the emergency services to work together to save lives in high-risk situations—but that is being reviewed as a result of the Paris attacks, to see whether there are any lessons we need to learn from them. We are, of course, looking at other aspects of our security arrangements, to ensure that they are appropriate for the threat we now face.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of France, and our thoughts at this time have to be with the families and friends of all the victims. When it comes to the security of our borders, we are all only as strong as our weakest link. The French reintroduced border controls at the weekend. To what extent can the Home Secretary and, indeed, the Government initiate a discussion to look at reintroducing border controls throughout the rest of the European Union?
The internal borders within the Schengen area are a matter for those countries that are members of Schengen, but we have, of course, been discussing with other EU countries the whole question of the external borders of Europe and how we can enhance security at them. We will continue those discussions.
I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement. She is aware that my constituency of Brent North has the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers from the middle east in the country. In the light of the clear advice of both current and former Metropolitan Police Commissioners on the importance of neighbourhood safety teams and local policing, will she meet the current commissioner and look at the needs of constituencies such as mine, to ensure that those local neighbourhood safety teams are kept in place and enhanced in order to ensure that the strategy is followed?
I very much welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement, particularly with regard to the doubling of resources for airport security during this Parliament. She will know that, over the weekend, Gatwick airport had to be closed after someone with a firearm—likely to be a French national—was foiled. Will she join me in paying tribute to Sussex police and all who work in security at Gatwick airport for their vigilance?
I wish to add my condolences, and to affirm that these people are not of my faith and should not be regarded as such.
I pay tribute to our police and security services for the continued excellent work that they do to keep us safe. I acknowledge the new funding that has been announced and the Home Secretary’s comments on Islamophobia, but will she look at the Border Force staffing that is needed? It is not only the key airports that need to be looked at; all of our ports and airports need to be looked at, and the more resources we have to deal with them, the better.
May I first welcome the statement that the hon. Gentleman made? It is important that he has made that statement in this House, and that message should go out across the whole country.
We do look at staffing across not just airports, but sea ports and—obviously, in relation to St Pancras—railway stations as well. We are constantly looking at the appropriate staffing and at the measures in place to maintain security, which we of course review on an ongoing basis.
I strongly welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of increased funding for our intelligence services, which do a magnificent job, and also of the protection of our counter-terror funding. In the light of the appalling events in Paris and the heightened risk in London, may I echo the calls for sufficient funding to ensure comprehensive neighbourhood policing in London, which is a crucial tool in tackling home-grown terror?
Obviously, the funding that will be made available to individual police forces and the policing budget in general will be made known after the spending review and the allocation, which will be made a few weeks later. I assure my hon. Friend that in looking at all these matters, we of course look at the capabilities required by our police. In looking at counter-terrorism work, we look across the board at the capabilities that are required to ensure that we can maintain our national security.
May I inform the Home Secretary that, over the weekend, there were great celebrations in Iraqi Kurdistan at the recapture of Mount Sinjar by the peshmerga in co-operation with the PYD—the Democratic Union party—in Syria and with the assistance of UK forces in the air, as well as other partners and allies? That has broken the connection between Mosul and Raqqa. Will the Home Secretary speak to her colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Departments to assess whether it is time that we in this country did more both to assist the Kurdish peshmerga and to see how we can destroy the Daesh caliphate cult in its headquarters in Raqqa?
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that we of course need to defeat Daesh. We are doing that in a whole variety of ways, but dealing with it where it is primarily based is of course part of that. He is right to refer to the recapture of the important landmark of Sinjar, which was an important battle and an important success. I am sure that he has noticed that there is a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister on the Front Bench, who will have heard his remarks.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that those who seek to defend our liberties—enjoyed by Christians or Muslims, those of faith or of none—by depriving the security services of the powers we need are actually putting those liberties at risk and should consider their position?
I spent this morning with one of my constituents who spent Friday night just yards from the Bataclan. Despite the trauma he had been through, he wanted to speak to me about his concerns about the Syrian community, especially in the light of the passport that was found. His view was that those who run away from Islamic State in Syria do so because—like us—they do not share its values. It is important that we continue to make it clear that Europe—and Britain—welcome refugees.
Indeed and, as the hon. Lady knows, we are committed to welcoming 1,000 Syrian refugees before Christmas and 20,000 over the course of this Parliament. She is right: those fleeing Syria are fleeing from the barbarism of ISIL and, in many cases, from attacks on the Syrian people by their own Government. That is why it is so important that we ensure that we find a political resolution to what is happening in Syria, so that those many hundreds of thousands—millions—who have had to flee can go back to their homes where they want to be.
My right hon. Friend referred to the French Government’s maintenance of police in Calais at this difficult time, and I support her expression of gratitude to them. As she knows, some 5,000 people living outside Calais are desperate to get to the UK—and they are living in desperate conditions. The Government rightly invested in better security this summer, which has been effective, but still some people get through the border every night. What further steps will she take to make sure that the border at Calais is secure and also that conditions in the camp are not inhumane, but reflect our values, especially of compassion?
As regards conditions in the camp, I believe that some EU funding has been made available to the French Government for facilities in the camps and the UK Government have committed funding to the French Government to work with them, especially to identify victims of trafficking who may be in the camps.
On the security front, we have stepped up the screening that is taking place in Calais and other ports, of freight, cars and passengers. As my hon. Friend rightly says, we have increased the security fencing there, and the French Government have increased the police presence at Calais and Coquelles.
The Home Secretary will be aware that on Saturday Glasgow, like many other cities, was the scene of a spontaneous vigil for peace and tolerance in solidarity with Paris. The city is also preparing to welcome refugees under the Government’s resettlement scheme. Does she agree that the promotion of peace and tolerance is the best way to counteract terrorism, and living up to our pledge to welcome refugees is one of the best ways to demonstrate that tolerance?
It is right that we should all do all we can to encourage peace and tolerance, and especially to ensure tolerance within communities in the United Kingdom, as several hon. Members have mentioned. Our welcoming of refugees, giving protection and a home to those who have been displaced by the conflict in Syria, is a good example.
I am grateful to the Home Secretary for mentioning the consular work done in Paris. Will she explicitly pay tribute to the work of Sir Peter Ricketts and his team who have been working around the clock since the events? As someone who was on parliamentary business in Paris only last Monday, I invite her to take the opportunity to recognise that now is not the time to weaken the work done by our consular services across the globe.
My hon. Friend is right. I first met Sir Peter Ricketts when he was the national security adviser, so he is well aware of the issues of national security and counter-terrorism work. He has done an outstanding job as our ambassador in France. I worked closely with him in the summer on the issue in Calais, and he and his staff have worked tirelessly over the weekend to ensure that consular support was available to those British families who were caught up in the terrible attacks, and that every assistance was given to the French authorities in the work that they were doing.
Further to the question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), the indoctrination of young, vulnerable minds is a real source of concern when it comes to the growth of radical Islam. Last week, Ofsted found 15 illegal schools educating 800 children in very worrying circumstances. We have a real problem with private Muslim faith schools and pupils dropping off the register. May I urge the Home Secretary to work on this with the Education Secretary and Sir Michael Wilshaw? This is an area of real concern, because we are not doing the job at the moment.
The hon. Gentleman raises a very important point. We have already seen some actions taken in this area. The Government are committed to taking further action in relation to supplementary schools, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced in October. We will be looking at further inspections of supplementary schools that are providing a certain number of hours of education. This is important both in relation to the issue he raises on radicalisation and as a general safeguarding issue.
I join Members across the House in welcoming the Home Secretary’s statement, in particular the announcement of extra resources for GCHQ and the security services. As she will recognise, the Metropolitan police has responsibilities for counter-terrorism not only in London but across the country. What extra support might be extended to the Met police for the execution of those duties?
My hon. Friend is right that the counter-terrorism command—what was called ACPO TAM, but is now NPCC TAM—is based in the Metropolitan police. It is funded through the counter-terrorism policing grant, as are the counter-terrorism regional units that exist in places across the country, such as the west midlands and the north-west. We have already protected counter-terrorism policing budgets over the past five years and we have been clear that counter-terrorism funding will continue to be protected.
Europe must pull together to tackle this threat. We welcome the Home Secretary’s attendance at the European Justice and Home Affairs Council on Friday. Does she agree that it is imperative we continue to co-operate with our European Union partners and friends to stem the flow of arms, to share information and to stop these vile acts of terrorism?
Indeed. That co-operation is important. We are looking to enhance co-operation in a number of areas, including in relation to the movement of firearms, as I indicated earlier, and in relation to the exchange across borders of information about criminality and criminal records, so we can all better protect our citizens in future.
I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement, in particular that there will be increased border checks for vehicles entering the United Kingdom. Does my right hon. Friend not agree that to further reduce the risk of illegal immigrants and illegal firearms being brought into the United Kingdom, every single vehicle entering this country should be thoroughly checked?
Decisions on the extent of checks on any particular vehicle will be taken at our borders by the Border Force. It operates under a clear mandate. It has increased the number of checks it is undertaking. It will be looking for those who are trying to enter the United Kingdom illegally and for those who are trying to bring in firearms illegally. It has had success in both those areas; our Border Force officers do an excellent job for us.
The Home Secretary will have heard, in departmental questions and during the statement, the high level of concern across the country about cuts to police forces. What consideration has she given, in discussions with the Ministry of Defence, to utilising the armed forces in the prevention of, and in response to, an armed attack in the UK?
I assure the hon. Lady that there are tried and tested arrangements in place for military support to be provided to the police when necessary. We looked at this issue again after the attacks in Paris earlier this year. Exercise Strong Tower took place on the streets of London this summer. Hundreds of individuals took part in the exercise, which involved not just the police but the military.
As somebody from a Muslim background, I agree with the Home Secretary that this was an evil act carried out by an evil organisation and that we must unite to defeat Daesh, including its ideology and propaganda. It is estimated that 80% of attacks aimed at the United Kingdom in the last five years have been prevented thanks to intelligence sharing with the Saudis and other Gulf Co-operation Council countries. Is that correct, and will we continue with that intelligence sharing?
I do not comment on any particular information or intelligence that leads to our being able to disrupt attacks. We work, of course, with a number of countries in relation to intelligence sharing, and I can confirm that, as the Prime Minister said this morning, in the last 12 months, seven terrorist attacks have been disrupted in the UK.
I listened carefully to the Defence Secretary’s justification for the drone strike against Reyaad Khan, from Cardiff, and his description of the nature of the threat he posed to the UK. Will the Home Secretary say a little bit about the nature and origins of the threats we face and the extent to which they are supported directly from Daesh-controlled territory in Syria?
The threat we face is diverse. The threat we face from Daesh is diverse. As we saw in Paris, it comes from individuals conducting an attack that has been prepared and planned, but it is also possible these days, with social media, for people based in one territory to reach out to others and to encourage them to go out, perhaps as lone individuals, to undertake an attack on our streets. The threat we face is diverse, and obviously some of it originates from ISIL-held territory.
Our thoughts go out to those in Paris. Further to the last question about the nature of the threat, is my right hon. Friend saying that if Daesh were defeated in Syria and Iraq, it would not necessarily stop the problem in western Europe?
It is important that we defeat Daesh, but as my hon. Friend will recognise, we face threats not just from Daesh—for example, there are still threats from organisations with links to al-Qaeda. It is important, therefore, that we defeat the ideology that lies behind these terrorist groups, and that can be done in a variety of ways. For that reason, moves we have made, such as on the counter-extremism strategy in the UK, are also important. There is often a focus on what security agencies and the police can do—on that sort of activity—but defeating the ideology is essential.
A survivor of the Paris attacks expressed surprise at the young age of some of the suicide bombers. For example, it has been reported that one of the suicide bombers at the Stade de France might have been as young as 15. I have already raised the issue of the growing number of child suicide bombings in the House. Is this not an urgent matter that we need to do more to consider?
I share the hon. Gentleman’s concern about the potential youth of some of those involved in the attack. Sadly, in recent times, we have seen more and more younger people attempting to travel to Syria and more teenagers in the UK being prosecuted for their involvement in potential terrorist activity. This is a matter of real concern. It is a question of dealing with the radicalisation of those young minds.
As my right hon. Friend knows, Plymouth is a dispersal centre for asylum seekers and will be welcoming a share of them over the next few weeks. What action is she taking to make sure they are genuine asylum seekers, not terrorists, and that younger asylum seekers are not radicalised?
In relation to the refugees we are accepting from Syria and to people claiming asylum here, of course we carry out the necessary security checks when considering claims. That is an important part of the process. In terms of children or minors coming to live in the UK as unaccompanied asylum seekers, my answers to hon. Members about radicalisation are important. It is important that we promote the mainstream voices and cohesion within communities that can help provide the resilience against radicalisation.
How does the Home Secretary respond to the claim made by President Putin that Daesh is funded by 40 countries, including members of the G20? Do not the Government and the Opposition deserve the nation’s congratulations on their restrained, measured response to these terrible events? Do the Government now fully embrace the notion that hearts and minds can never be won over by bombs and bullets?
What lies behind the terrorist attacks and Daesh is a perverted ideology. It is important, as I have said in response to a number of questions this afternoon, that we deal with that perverted ideology. We need to take steps to ensure that our police, our security and intelligence agencies and our Border Force have the powers they need and the ability to keep us safe and secure. What underpins what the terrorists do is that perverted ideology, which is why dealing with that ideology—confronting and challenging it—is so important.
In respect of anyone who is a matter of interest to the police, law enforcement or security agencies, a number of powers and measures are available. For those planning or seeking to undertake terrorist attacks, of course, we have strong counter-terrorism legislation here in the United Kingdom, and I think everyone would agree that the best place for a terrorist is, after prosecution, behind bars.
Does the Home Secretary understand that the Prime Minister will not get a consensus for increased military intervention unless and until he comes to the public and to this House with a plan involving increased diplomatic, development and military options? When can we see some leadership? The right hon. Lady says that the UK will stand with France. When will this happen?
I find the hon. Gentleman’s question a little confusing: we do stand with France and we have stood alongside France. We have been providing France with assistance and co-operation in these matters, and we continue to do so. The hon. Gentleman mentions the issue of whether the UK will take part in military action in Syria. The Prime Minister has been very clear that if and when he comes to this House in relation to such matters, it will be on the basis of a consensus.
From Beirut to Paris, and not forgetting the explosion on the Russian Metrojet plane, it is clear that ISIL/Daesh is looking to take its barbaric battle beyond its hoped-for caliphate. Will my right hon. Friend tell us what steps are being taken to work with the international community, particularly including Arab states, to cut the funding to these terrorist groups and particularly to Daesh?
A group of counter forces has come together in coalition in a whole variety of ways in respect of these matters, including carrying out work to counter the narrative given by Daesh. Our Foreign and Commonwealth Office is playing its part in the coalition of states with that single aim of ensuring that we can defeat Daesh.
Michael O’Connor from South Shields lay on top of his girlfriend in the Bataclan; as shots fired around him and bodies fell, he lay there still, pretending to be dead. Michael’s actions saved both of their lives, and I am sure that the Home Secretary will join me in commending his brave actions. I welcome what she said about the support that the Government are offering to British citizens caught up in the aftermath of the attacks. I would like some confirmation that such support will be extended to those who are temporarily resident in Paris, such as my constituent Michael.
I join the hon. Lady in commending her constituent Michael O’Connor for the action that he took. It is unimaginable to have been in that situation, with the shots all around and so many people being killed; the presence of mind that he showed was considerable. As the hon. Lady said, it saved two lives.
I can confirm that the support available to British nationals who have been caught up in this extends to those who are temporarily resident in France.
I share my right hon. Friend’s gratitude to our intelligence and security services, but as long as Schengen continues—and I hope that the British Government are actively advocating reform and the end of Schengen, to the extent that that is possible—our security will depend, at least in part, on those on the front line of Europe. What support are the Government giving the intelligence and security agencies on the front-line extremities of Europe to beef up our own security?
As I have said in reply to a number of Members on both sides of the House, the internal borders of Schengen are primarily a matter for the countries that are in Schengen, but the United Kingdom takes very seriously the question of the external borders of the European Union. We have been working to enhance the security of those external borders by, for example, encouraging the proper registration of migrants who are crossing them. We have also supplied resources to Greece in particular, but we have offered resources to Italy as well, to help those countries to deal with the numbers of people crossing the borders, as part of the process of strengthening the security at the external borders, which, as my hon. Friend said, is so important to us.
The financing of terrorist organisations such as Daesh is essential to their capacity to carry out atrocities of the kind that we witnessed on Friday. What strategy is in place to combat the financing of such groups, both here in the United Kingdom and internationally?
Action is being taken at international level to deal with the financing of such organisations. Daesh took territory that enabled it to access oil supplies, and part of its financing has resulted from that. In the wider context of the funding of terrorism, we take very seriously the existence of links between organised crime, such as kidnappings, and terrorism finances, and we work on that problem not just as the UK but on an international basis.
The people of Yorkshire have been showing their solidarity with the people of France over the weekend. We made many friends in Paris and beyond when we hosted the Tour de France last summer. May I add my voice to those who have demanded a review of the availability and resourcing of armed rapid response units in our regional towns and cities?
We had previously considered the whole question of the availability and capability of rapid response and armed response vehicles, and over the last five years we have increased capability of both straightforward armed response and specialist counter-terrorism armed response. We are now considering where it is most appropriate for capabilities to sit to ensure that they provide the greatest reassurance and security.
I welcome the Home Secretary’s reference to the understandable measures to boost border and aviation security. Are there specific corresponding plans to review railway security in particular, including the role of the transport police and the resources at their disposal?
The increased security arrangements that have been introduced since the attacks in Paris include increased security in relation to rail movements to the continent. That action was taken in conjunction with the French authorities, who were keen for rail travel security to be increased. That is important in continental Europe, as well as being important in terms of the links with the United Kingdom. We assess the capabilities of the British transport police regularly and as part of the post-Mumbai exercise that I mentioned earlier, we have reviewed their capabilities over the last few years. As a result, those capabilities have been increased in this regard.
Vital to upholding our values of freedom and liberty are measures of the sort in the upcoming Investigatory Powers Bill. Of course that Bill must be examined thoroughly and the joint scrutiny Committee will be meeting shortly for the first time. May I ask the Home Secretary what message she would send out today to my colleagues and I serving on that Committee?
I think the message I would send out is that this is a significant Bill. I think it is an important Bill. I think it is crucial that it has the scrutiny that it requires, and I look forward to the report that will come from the joint scrutiny Committee. I commend my hon. Friend and others on agreeing to serve on what I think is going to be a very important Committee doing this significant piece of work.
I had the privilege of being invited to attend and speak at the Ahmadiyya Muslim community peace conference in Scotland on Saturday. Not only do they fully contribute to life in Britain, but they raise thousands of pounds each year for British charities. The horrific events of Friday evening in Paris were condemned by all attendees. True Islam is a peace-loving religion and the Ahmadiyyans follow this principle in their daily lives: they believe wholeheartedly in peaceful solutions to all matters.
It is very sad that in today’s world there is a minority of Muslims intent on presenting an alternative image of Islam. The Ahmadiyyan Muslims wish to promote loyalty, freedom, equality, respect and peace, and the motto they live by is “Love for all, hatred for none.” All of us would do well to remember, and try to live by, that motto also.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of attending the Ahmadiyyan mosque in Morden and I have met on a number of occasions with members of the Ahmadiyya community. The hon. Lady is absolutely right: they are a very good example in terms of not just the values they live by, but the practice—the way in which they put those values into practice in working within their local communities.
It is clear that as a country we face a growing tension between our desire to be compassionate and welcome those who are genuinely fleeing the violence in Syria and our own safety and security. Since the events on Friday, I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are very concerned about this issue. Please will the Home Secretary reassure my constituents and the country that the safety and security of our own people remain this Government’s No. 1 priority and that they will not be compromised by our desire to welcome refugees?
I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that the safety and security of people here in the UK is our No. 1 priority, but that is not in conflict with our desire to ensure that we can welcome into the UK a number of those who have been displaced and affected by the conflict in Syria. We have security arrangements in place to provide proper security checks for those refugees coming from Syria into the UK. It is absolutely right that we do so, and in doing so we can both work to keep people here safe and secure and provide that protection to a number of people who have fled from the conflict in Syria.
My constituents in Darlington would like me to convey their sympathy and solidarity with the people of Paris after the horrendous events on Friday. We know from experience in France, Denmark and elsewhere that often people who commit these atrocities have served time in prison. I am not convinced that the people who run our prisons know as much about radicalisation in prison—or, indeed, the opportunity for deradicalisation there—as they could. How confident is the right hon. Lady that we are doing all we can in our prisons to prevent radicalisation?
Of course the Prevent duty we have introduced covers prisons as well as other public sector institutions. When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice came into his post, he required a review of the provisions for dealing with radicalisation in prisons. That review has, I believe, yet to report, so there is a piece of work ongoing to look at what is happening in prisons. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Security will soon be meeting the prisons Minister to talk about exactly these issues, because we do recognise that we need to look at what is happening in prisons and ensure that we are taking every possible step to reduce the potential for radicalisation.
I was delighted to be able to join many of my constituents this morning in Sutton to observe a minute’s silence and to remember those who had fallen in Paris. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as well as testing our resilience to a similar attack here in the UK, we must also play a full role in defeating Daesh at its source on either side of the Iraq-Syria border? Does she also agree that it is most important that we continue with our daily way of life, in the full appreciation of the fact that we live in a free and democratic society?
I welcome the fact that my hon. Friend joined his constituents for the minute’s silence. A minute’s silence was observed in the Home Office and in other Departments this morning, and I joined the French ambassador at the French embassy for the minute’s silence there. My hon. Friend’s point about our way of life is absolutely crucial. If we change our way of life and stop doing the things we normally do, the terrorists will have won. They want to divide us and to attack our very way of life, so it is important that we continue with it.
Over the weekend, a number of my constituents have contacted me with concerns about the adequacy of security arrangements at the port of Hull, which provides a major route into the United Kingdom from northern Europe and particularly from Belgium. Will the Home Secretary undertake to look specifically at the adequacy of the security arrangements at Hull and other sea ports?
I welcome today’s funding announcements, but given that our police officers are the nation’s front line on the ground in responding to and protecting us from these barbaric individuals, will the Home Secretary make the strongest possible case for police funding to be protected in the spending review?
I can absolutely assure my hon. Friend that I discuss these matters with the Chancellor, and I am very clear about the important role that policing plays in the life of our nation, and not just in relation to these sorts of matters. I indicated earlier that counter-terrorism and policing grants had been protected. Also, Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary has pointed out that police forces can make changes that would enable them to make savings without affecting their ability to respond to matters such as these.
The tragic events of the weekend illustrate yet again that we live in changing times in terms of threats to national security. To that end, I welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement of additional security officers and aviation measures. However, given the concerns being expressed by Members, including those on her own Benches, does she agree that a greater investment in policing, security and prevention measures would be far more productive than wasting £167 billion on Trident? That would also give future Governments greater flexibility to react to events.