My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister.
“Mr Speaker, in advance of the National Security Strategy, which will be published in the next few weeks, and following the statement by the head of MI5 about the potential threat from UK-based terrorists, I want to update the House, as I promised in July, on the measures we are taking at home, following the incidents on 29 June and 30 June, both to root out terrorism and to strengthen the resilience of communities to resist extremist influence, measures that to succeed will require not just military and security resources but more policing and intelligence and an enhanced effort to win hearts and minds.
“Let me first of all thank the police, the security services and the Armed Forces for their vigilance, their service and their courage in facing up to the terrorist threat.
“The terrorist attacks in June revolved around an attempted bomb attack on a London venue where hundreds congregated and a vehicle bomb attack on Glasgow airport. The conclusions today of the review by the noble Lord, Lord West, on the protection of strategic infrastructure, stations, ports and airports and of other crowded places identifies a need to step up physical protection against possible vehicle bomb attacks. This will include, where judged necessary, improved security at railway stations—focusing first on those of our 250 busiest stations most at risk—airport terminals, ports and over 100 sensitive installations. The report proposes the installation of robust physical barriers as protection against vehicle bomb attacks, the nomination of vehicle exclusion zones to keep all but authorised vehicles at a safe distance and making buildings blast-resistant.
“While no major failures in our protective security have been identified, companies that are responsible for crowded places will now be given detailed and updated advice on how they can improve their resilience against attack, both by better physical protection and greater vigilance in identifying suspicious behaviour. New guidance will be sent to thousands of theatres, restaurants, cinemas, hotels, sporting venues and commercial centres, and all hospitals, schools and places of worship. This will include advice on training staff on how to be more vigilant.
“Up to 160 counterterrorism advisers will train civilian staff to identify suspect activity and to ensure that premises have secure emergency exits, CCTV footage used to best effect and regular searches and evacuation drills. From now on, local authorities will be required, as part of their performance framework, to assess the measures that they have taken to protect against terrorism.
“We will now work with architects and designers to encourage them to ‘design-in’ protective security measures into new buildings, including safe areas, traffic control measures and the use of blast resistant materials. For this advice, I am grateful for the recommendations of the honourable Member for Newark, whom I thank for his work. Following further work we will report back soon on what more we need to do to strengthen security to protect against the use of hazardous substances for terrorist purposes.
“Just as we are constantly vigilant to the ways in which we can tighten our security, so too we must ensure that the travelling public are able to go about their business in the normal way. In the most sensitive locations, for example, some large rail stations, while doing everything to avoid inconvenience to passengers, we are planning additional screening of baggage and passenger searches.
“But in the last few months at key airports there has already been additional investment in new screening capacity. We have been able to review the one-bag-per-passenger rule. The Transport Secretary is announcing today that as soon as we are confident that airports are able to handle the additional baggage safely, these restrictions on hand baggage will be progressively lifted. Starting with several airports in the new year, we will work with airport operators to ensure that all UK airports are in a position to allow passengers to fly with more than one item of hand luggage.
“The security budget, which is £2.5 billion this year, will rise to £3.5 billion in 2011. Because of the terrorist threat, the size of the security service, which was under 2,000 in 2001 and is 3,300 now, will rise beyond 4,000—twice the size of 2001.
“I can report also that we have now constituted dedicated regional counterterrorism units with, in total, more than 2,000 police and support staff. These are responsible for overseeing investigations into those who recruit terrorists and promote hate.
“From the Home Office budget, from now until 2011, an additional £240 million pounds will finance counterterrorism policing. It will be focused as much on preventing the next generation of terrorists as pursuing current targets. This will include additional funding for further training of over 3,500 neighbourhood police teams to deal with radicalisation in their local communities.
“The scale of our international effort is such that around £400 million over the next three years will be invested through the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development and the British Council to tackle radicalism and to promote understanding overseas. The Government will report back on action overseas with other countries to counter extremism when we launch the full national security strategy.
“I can confirm that £70 million is being invested in community projects dedicated to countering violent extremism. So in total we are investing nearly three times as much in security now compared with six years ago.
“In line with the measured way we responded to the terrorist incidents in June, we will only seek new powers that are essential to the fight against terrorism. In the forthcoming Counter-Terrorism Bill, to be introduced shortly, there will be stronger sentences for terrorist-related offences, and where terrorists have served sentences, new powers for the police to continue to monitor their activities. Asset freezing is an important tool in the fight against terrorists buying weapons or using money for terrorist purposes. Sophisticated evidence-gathering of financial transactions can both deny terrorists finance and locate the sources of terrorist plots. Current legislation makes it difficult for us to take preventive action, so the Bill is intended to give new powers to ensure that we can use all the available information to pursue those who finance terrorist attacks.
“In addition to measures to process terrorist cases more efficiently and reduce the time between arrest and trial, including 14 new specially protected courtrooms, a single senior judge has been nominated to manage all terrorism cases. There will also be a single senior lead prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service who will be responsible for cases relating to inciting violent extremism.
“To ensure that we protect our borders and detect possible terrorist suspects, from January of next year members of the new UK Border Agency will have the power to detain people not just on suspicion of immigration offences or for Customs crimes, but for other criminal activities, including terrorism. Powers are also being given to airline liaison officers to cancel visas where justified. In line with the Statement I made in July, there will be a single primary checkpoint for both passport control and customs, and the UK Border Agency, which will have 25,000 staff, will now apply controls at the point of entry and exit on people and goods into and out of the United Kingdom, as well as working throughout the world. The new agency will enable us to transfer intelligence from UK operations overseas to those making visa decisions and to check biometrics taken from visa applicants against criminal and counterterrorism records. Further details of the new border agency, which has been welcomed by the Association of Chief Police Officers, are published in the Cabinet Office report issued today. This will go hand in hand with what is increasingly necessary. There will be biometric visas for all applicants from March of next year, biometric ID cards for foreign nationals introduced from the end of 2008, and a strengthening of the e-borders programme, with the contract to incorporate all passenger information awarded today.
“Having agreed repatriation arrangements for foreign terrorist suspects with Jordan, Lebanon and Algeria, work is under way with a number of additional countries with a view to signing new agreements for deportation. In addition to the nine foreign nationals recently deported under immigration powers on the grounds of national security, a further 24 foreign nationals are currently subject to deportation proceedings on national security grounds. Four thousand foreign prisoners are likely to be deported this year.
“All faith communities in the UK make a huge contribution to all spheres of our national life. They are integral to our success as a society. As we found when listening to all communities in June and after, the vast majority of people of all faiths and backgrounds condemn terrorism and the actions of terrorists. But the objectives of al-Qaeda and related groups are to manipulate political and humanitarian issues in order to gain support for their agenda of murder and violence, and to deliberately maim and kill fellow human beings, including innocent women and children, irrespective of their religion. We must not allow anyone to use terrorist activity as a means to divide us or isolate those belonging to a particular faith or community.
“To deal with the challenges posed by the terrorist threat, we have to do more, working with communities throughout the country, first, to challenge extremist propaganda and support alternative voices; secondly, to disrupt the promoters of violent extremism by strengthening our institutions and supporting individuals who may be being targeted; thirdly, to increase the capacity of communities to resist and reject violent extremism; and, fourthly, to address issues of concern exploited by ideologues and where, by emphasising our shared values across communities, we can both celebrate and act upon what unites us.
“This will be achieved not by one single programme or initiative and it will not be achieved overnight. This is a generational challenge which requires sustained work over the long term, by a range of actions in schools, colleges, universities, faith groups and youth clubs, by engaging young people through the media, culture, sport and the arts, and by acting against extremist influences operating on the internet and in institutions including prisons, universities and some places of worship.
“As part of intensifying measures to isolate extremism, a new unit bringing together police, security intelligence and research will identify, analyse and assess not just the inner circle of extremist groups but those at risk of falling under their influence, and share their advice and insights.
“Building on initial roadshows of mainstream Islamic scholarship around the country, which have already attracted over 70,000 young people, and an internet site which has reached far more, we will sponsor at home and abroad, including for the first time in Pakistan, a series of national and local events to counter extremist propaganda. The next stage will draw upon the work commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, King’s College and the Royal Society for Arts on how best to deal with radicalisation at home and abroad.
“One central issue is how to balance extremist views supporting terrorism which appear on the internet and in the media. The Home Secretary is inviting the largest global technology and internet companies to work together to ensure that our best technical expertise is galvanised to counter online incitement to hatred. I also welcome the decision by the Royal Television Society and the Society of Editors to hold a conference and regional debates on how to ensure accurate and balanced reporting of issues related to terrorism in the media.
“To ensure charities are not exploited by extremists, a new unit in the Charity Commission will strengthen governance and accountability of charities. A specialist unit in the Prison Service will be tasked with stopping extremists using prison networks to plot future activities. Because young people in the criminal justice system are especially vulnerable to extremist influence, we are making further funding available through the Youth Justice Board, the National Offender Management Service and the many voluntary agencies that work with young people, to support young people who may be targeted for recruitment by extremist groups.
“Following evidence that some of those involved in promoting violent extremism have made use of outdoor activity sports centres and facilities, we are working with Sport England to provide guidance for the sector to ensure that these facilities are not abused. Backed up by a new website to share best practice, a new board of experts will advise local councils, authorities and communities on tackling radicalisation and those promoting hate.
“We have had mosques in the UK for more than 100 years, serving local communities well. These communities tell me that mosques have a much wider role beyond their core spiritual purpose in providing services, educating young people and building cohesion, and the majority already work hard to reject violent extremism. As the newly constituted Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body recognises, however, the governance of mosques could be strengthened to help serve communities better and challenge those who feed hate.
“Our consultations with Muslim communities emphasise the importance of the training of imams, including English language requirements, and the Secretary for Communities will be announcing an independent review to examine with communities how to build the capacity of Islamic seminaries, learning from other faith communities as well as experience overseas.
“In addition to updated advice for universities on how to deal with extremism on campus, the Secretary for Skills and the Higher Education Minister will later this month invite universities to lead a debate on how we maintain academic freedom while ensuring that extremists can never stifle debate or impose their views. We will now also consult on how we can support further education colleges.
“The Secretary of State for Culture is working with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to agree a common approach to deal with inflammatory and extremist material that some now seek to distribute through public libraries, while protecting freedom of speech.
“We know that young people of school age can be exposed to extremist messages. The Secretary of State for Children will be convening a new forum of head teachers to advise on what more we can do together to protect young people and build bridges across communities. To ensure that young people have the opportunity to learn about diversity and faith in modern Britain, we will work in partnership with religious education teachers to promote the national framework for teaching religious education in schools, including making sure that children learn about all faiths. An advisory group will work with local communities to support the citizenship education classes run by mosque schools in Bradford and elsewhere.
“I can announce that one essential part of this will be to twin schools of different faiths with our new £2 million school linking programme, supported by the Schools Linking Network. I am also announcing today a youth panel to advise the Government from different parts of the country, which will enable young people to debate and discuss issues of concern—as does the work of the Youth Parliament, which has been running debates about the impact of terrorism on young people.
“We are sponsoring and encouraging a series of national and local mentoring programmes for young people—a Business in the Community Muslim mentoring programme linking 100 young people with professional mentors and role models, and local youth leadership schemes in Blackburn, Waltham Forest, Leeds and in partnership with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in Haringey.
“After discussions with Muslim women, a new advisory group has been set up by the Secretary for Communities. This will advise on the access of women to mosques and their management committees.
“It is by seeking to build on shared interests and shared values that we will isolate extremists and foster understanding across faiths. Following the recent remarkable letter by 138 Muslim scholars from a diversity of traditions within Islam that paid tribute to the common roots of Islam, Christianity and Judaism and called for deeper dialogue, we stand ready to support in Britain new facilities for multifaith scholarship, research and dialogue. A Green Paper will be published to encourage interfaith groups to come together in all constituencies in the country. I am also inviting the Higher Education Funding Council to investigate the idea of setting up in Britain a European centre of excellence for Islamic studies.
“We will have joint work with the French and German Governments on building an appreciation of Islamic and Muslim heritage across Britain and Europe. The Arts Council England, the Tate Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Library will all be taking forward projects for greater understanding. Just as the British Council is connecting young people across the world through school twinning and volunteering exchanges, I am announcing that we will finance a rising number of young people from all communities to volunteer overseas.
“The intercept review will report in January. We believe a consensus now exists on post-charge questioning, and the Home Secretary is beginning a new round of consultations with parties and communities on detailed proposals on pre-charge detention where we believe we can establish an all-party consensus.
“Mr Speaker, there is no greater priority than the safety and security of our people and building the strongest possible relationships across all faiths and communities. I believe it possible, with the actions we are proposing, to build a stronger consensus that will both root out terrorist extremism and build more vibrant and cohesive communities. I commend this Statement to the House”.
My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for repeating what I can see is a long Statement. I can partly understand why it is so long, but if it is an example of the terseness of the Prime Minister, it must be hard to get a word in at meetings with him.
I have a question at the outset, to which I hope the noble Baroness will be able to reply; after all, she is sitting next to the noble Lord whom it concerns. What happened to the noble Lord, Lord West, this morning? Shortly after eight o’clock he said on the radio:
“I still need to be fully convinced that we absolutely need more than 28 days”.
An hour later he said:
“My feeling is, yes, we need more than 28 days”.
What on earth happened between those two statements? I cannot believe that an old sea dog like the noble Lord was fazed by an early rise. Did he go from one studio to another via Damascus?
The House will know that there is a desperately serious side to this. When we talk of detention without trial, when we talk of overthrowing habeas corpus, or of holding people without telling them why, we are playing with the deepest and most fundamental matters. I regret to say that we are doing so in a society where an innocent young man can be gunned down on suspicion on the London Tube. We do not play politics on this, and we never should play politics with our freedoms. However, the real suspicion, reinforced this morning, is that, when it comes to the issue of 28 days, it is politics that is sadly uppermost in the Prime Minister’s mind.
We can and must be a safe society, and we support a whole range of the proposals in this Statement. But we must also be a free society. Without freedom, life is not worth living, and, this week of all weeks, we recall how many people died for that freedom. We should not barter it away to play to any focus group. Let us hope that it is the sensible talk of consensus about intercept evidence, about post-charge questioning, that now prevails, and not the “let’s fit-up the Tories and Lib Dems” mentality of those election-hungry young Turks around the Prime Minister.
We sincerely thank the noble Lord, Lord West, for his work and for his careful report. We look forward to studying those parts of it that we are allowed to see. We back the national security approach, the idea of a national security strategy and the creation of a national security committee. Those were all proposed and adopted in our recent policy review.
On the broader issues of security in the Statement today, we have three particular areas of concern. We have long argued for effective securing of our borders. Will the noble Baroness say whether these proposals include the police and so create a proper border police force? On intercept, where we have supported the campaign of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and on our idea of post-charge questioning, can the noble Baroness say whether the review will be complete in time for those provisions to go into the much awaited and anticipated Counter-Terrorism Bill?
We welcome proposals on security at railway stations, airports, sports stadia and shopping centres, but will the noble Baroness assure the House that disruption to the legitimate travelling public will be minimised? Too often lately, we have seen heavy-handed measures and absurd super-projects like ID cards aimed at the innocent, while there has been a corresponding lack of focus on high-risk areas and elements.
The noble Baroness described new controls from the Charity Commission. We can understand them, but can the noble Baroness say how she will prevent them ending in more unnecessary burdens on every charity? We hear of more action on asset-freezing and seizure. That is good as far as it goes, but can the noble Baroness assure us that it will go hand in hand with easing some of the absurd rules on money laundering that make life impossible for any child wanting to put a few quid into a bank account?
We welcome provisions for spending more on security, focusing on foreign nationals and tackling extremist preachers and imams. Those provisions, too, are good, as far as they go, but let us hope that they will be followed through. Recently, the Irish Government refused entry to Ibrahim Moussawi, head of the viciously anti-semitic TV station, Al-Manar. Will the British Government stop Moussawi when he tries to enter the UK to speak at a conference in December?
It becomes harder and harder for UK citizens to enter their own country. Some airports make a habit of making UK citizens queue to get in, while lanes for foreign nationals are scarcely used. British people find it increasingly hard to understand how all this is imposed on them, when illegal immigrants waft in and out of Britain in numbers that even the Home Office cannot count and can even end up guarding the Prime Minister’s car. They would not even put that in an episode of “Yes, Prime Minister”. Why are 4,000 prisoners still awaiting deportation? What is the cost to the UK taxpayer of keeping them?
The Statement talks of road shows in Pakistan to combat extremism. We all know—and there is increasing public concern about this—that Pakistan has been a fount of extremist groups and extremist teaching, but what authority is going to enable this action? What Government are going to combat extremism there? Is this not a matter of the profoundest concern?
Finally, of course we welcome projects to promote greater understanding of the contribution of Islam to European history and culture, but can we have projects on the contribution of Judaism and Christianity, too? We are all in this together, and the time for relativism and intellectual ghettoes is gone. We have common traditions, common values and common ideals, which British people of all faiths and none can cherish and share. We support everything in this Statement that tends to that. We must win the battle for hearts and minds among those who might be tempted by extremists, but we must not win it while losing the hearts and minds of those ordinary people who want to lead their own lives, without unnecessary intrusion, surveillance and fear.
My Lords, I associate myself with the thanks given by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, to the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, for repeating this Statement.
There is a lot of sound common sense in the Statement, particularly in relation to initiatives in education, the media and the community, and cross-faith initiatives. The length of the Statement deserves a full debate, and perhaps we can look at an opportunity to have one. I repeat the point that I made at the opening of the Queen’s Speech debate: we on these Benches are fully committed to measures to combat terrorism and ensure the safety of the public. We support the police and security services in their difficult and sometimes dangerous task of countering terrorism. We urge all communities to see the fight against terrorism as their fight.
It is not a question, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, has said, of one party being tough on terrorism and other parties being soft, nor is it a matter of being able to pass a law or adopt a policy that will make us 100 per cent secure and safe. There will be attacks in future and we have to think hard about how best to foil or respond to such attacks. It is on that basis that we welcome the Government’s search for a cross-party consensus.
There are areas of agreement: for example, we agree with the Government on post-charge questioning and support the concept of a unified border force. The training of staff and the use of architects and other professionals to make public areas and public buildings safer is eminently sensible and we shall examine the report of the noble Lord, Lord West, with due respect for his experience and expertise. We also welcome the constructive measures proposed to engage and involve our Muslim fellow citizens, who could be the greatest victims of all if terrorists are allowed to succeed.
The actions at all levels of education are to be welcomed, as are actions to ensure that those preaching in mosques are not preaching violence and hatred and the initiatives proposed among Muslim women and young Muslims. The proposals to work more closely with our European partners are also to be welcomed, as sharing experience and information can only be of value, as is the work to use financial intelligence to cut off funding to terrorist networks. However, consensus can go only so far; Parliament has a job to do.
During the Second World War, Winston Churchill described Aneurin Bevan as a “squalid nuisance”, because he kept up the responsibilities of opposition, even at a time of coalition and war. When government and agencies seek more powers over the citizen, Parliament has a duty to examine such proposals and ensure that the highest hurdles are cleared, otherwise we slip into a permanent state of emergency. The Government have a duty to inform people of the realities that they face but not to encourage panic or hysteria. In that respect, we welcome the absence of knee-jerk reactions to June’s events.
So we will question the justification for extending the period of detention without charge beyond 28 days. However, I will not go into a close debate on that today, otherwise the Lord President will simply quote to me the noble Lord, Lord Carlile—who is fast achieving sainthood on the government Benches. We will probe whether the rapid expansion of the security services outlined in the Statement is matched by improvements in co-ordination between the services, particularly between MI5 and MI6 and between those services and the new border forces and dedicated regional counterterrorism units. We will probe what political control and accountability those services will have.
We will continue to question whether the billions spent on an untried and untested ID card system would not be better spent on more mundane but more effective projects. For example, I read in the newspapers that the police are short of staff who can quickly and expertly decipher computer information. As the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, said on Monday, the police should be recruiting the young, with their computer skills, from our colleges and universities and get them on board to do this job. One could say the same about a number of the hearts-and-minds initiatives outlined in the Statement. There is a real danger that in many of these areas we will be doing too little, too late, while the ID card scheme gobbles up resources.
One of the lasting images of the Second World War was of Londoners trudging to work through glass and rubble. Such fortitude came from shared values and a common purpose. There is much in the Statement that will promote shared values and the shared interests referred to and promote that common purpose in the face of present dangers. However, Parliament has a duty to test demand for new powers against protection of hard-won and long-standing civil liberties. We are a robust society and one which is instinctively tolerant. So it might do us no harm to keep in mind another of Churchill's war time statements: we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords for their general welcome for the Statement. I make no apologies for its length or detail because my right honourable friend felt it very important that there was an opportunity in another place and in your Lordships' House to hear all the detail on an issue of such great importance. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that my right honourable friend can be very short in his responses when it is required.
I want to deal first with the issue which the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, raised about my noble friend Lord West, who is in his place beside me. The noble Lord described him as an old sea dog. My noble friend described himself earlier today as a simple sailor. I do not think that he is either. I think that the right honourable gentleman Alan Beith got it more correct in his remarks about my noble friend’s stature. However, as my noble friend said to me only a couple of hours ago, those who speak on the radio sometimes do not say quite what they intended to.
My Lords, that is exactly right. He also said that I should repeat what he said at 9.43 this morning, which is actually his view. When asked, “Are you convinced of the need for more than 28 days’ detention”, my noble friend said:
“Yes, I am personally convinced there is, but I think what we’ve got to make sure is we’ve got all the evidence there to show people and … we have to balance civil liberties”.
That is my noble friend's position, and my noble friend will, I know, be nodding in agreement with that.
What the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said about the concerns being deep and fundamental is absolutely right. However, when looking at such deep and fundamental questions, one of the issues we have to address is the need to reach consensus in building on the expertise and experience in your Lordships' House and in another place. It is not about fitting-up the Tories and the Liberal Democrats—an interesting parliamentary phrase—nor about taking away what the noble Lord, Lord McNally, described as the Opposition’s role to oppose. It is about using the robustness of those positions to ensure that, when we reach decisions where we can, we can reach a consensus on protecting the people of this country.
I was not going to quote the noble Lord, Lord Carlile—though I think that he should achieve sainthood on the Liberal Democrat Benches for the work that he does. Part of the reason why I would quote him is because he is a man of great independent thought. I know that he is highly valued by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, by the Liberal Democrats and by your Lordships' House. I pay tribute to the work that he has done. He does not say what he does not mean, and he does not say what he believes the Government wish to hear. Therefore, when he speaks on these issues, we listen, and it is right and proper that we should.
The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, asked about the borders agency and the role of the police within it. There was a review, as the noble Lord will know, and we found that there were strong arguments in favour of a consolidated police border force but there were also strong arguments against. The key people that we talked to were divided on what they thought should happen. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is leading further work into that. The Association of Chief Police Officers is very pleased about that. We are making sure that the police work collaboratively. A senior police officer will be on the executive board; there will be better operational co-operation; a single lead official at ports and airports responsible for liaising with the police, drawing on the skills of the police, their expertise in training officers, and working jointly to look at controls at smaller ports and airports. My right honourable friend will come back when she has considered further how we might work closer together, so it is an issue that we take very seriously.
The noble Lord also asked about disruption to the public’s travel. Indeed, my right honourable friend was at pains to set out in the Statement that we want to make sure that disruption is minimal while also recognising that there are safety issues. Members of the Conservative Party asked what we would do within the Charities Bill and beyond to look at issues that are reasonably raised about extremism and the use of charities. That will be done properly and partly at the behest of noble Lords opposite. We will make sure that it does not create the unnecessary burdens that the noble Lord fears.
On asset freezing, my children take money out of bank accounts, not put it in, but that is an interesting thought; that is teenagers. But it is important that we do this in a proper and measured way, as the noble Lord says. I take those points on board and I am sure that will be part of it. As regards the individual that the noble Lord mentioned, I believe that my right honourable friend said to the right honourable Leader of the Opposition that he would write to him about individuals. I am sure that that letter will be copied to your Lordships' House and to the Lord, Lord Strathclyde. I shall ensure that that happens.
The relevant Bill will take account of the work of the privy counsellors who are reviewing intercept evidence and will allow that to happen, as I understand it. As regards interfaith issues and the questions raised about Christian, Jewish and other communities, the point about interfaith is to enable those collaborative approaches to take place. But as the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said, Muslim citizens are potentially the greatest victims of this terrorism. Therefore, we have to make sure that we are talking properly with Muslim communities right across the country.
Finally, I relate an anecdote from my time as an education Minister. After 9/11, I spent a day sitting in a Muslim girls’ school. The girls were terrified of going to school because of the way people treated them on the way to school. That treatment resulted from ignorance but none the less it had a huge impact on those young girls and was very distressing to witness. We have to make sure that we help and support the Muslim community who are critical to the success of what we are seeking to do. I take nothing away from what the noble Lord said but I put the emphasis in that direction.
My Lords, has the noble Baroness’s attention been drawn to an extraordinary project by the Commission in Brussels to put together a list of critical infrastructures inside all the member countries of the European Union? Does she not agree that such a list would be a gift for potential terrorists? Is she further aware that the Government have quite rightly expressed their opposition to creating such a list? Will she give us an undertaking that the Government will redouble their efforts to kill this lunatic idea?
My Lords, I am not aware of the list. My noble friend Lord West assures me that we have made it clear that we are not comfortable with it. On that basis, the noble Lord can be reassured that there is no proposal to put such a list in the public domain.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for the Statement. I will reflect aloud on one or two issues. First, there is the language that frequently occurs in debates such as this about “the Muslim community”, as though there is only one; my experience is that there are very many. If we get our language wrong at the start, we shall be incapable of enabling the subtleties and nuances that are required to be developed. I hope that we can develop language that recognises the complexity of the situation in our country.
Secondly, while I welcome the concern about making our country safer, it somehow leads me to think that if we are not careful, we shall be scuttling from one fortified place to another down narrow corridors, flashing our ID cards wherever we go, with cameras catching us every time we sneeze. That would be terribly sad. While I recognise the need for us all to be safe, this is profoundly about humanity and the range of humanity in our country, and how we collectively work together on “hearts and minds” kind of stuff. If the amount of money that is likely to be put into soft architecture and barriers at stations could be directed with equal concern and excitement towards interfaith work, we should achieve a great deal more in the long term.
Thirdly—I speak as a former chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews—the amount of support that national bodies that have been working in this area for so long have received from the Government is so tiny as to make little effect. I very much hope that as the Government try to move forward they will have serious conversations with those bodies, such as the CCJ, that have existed since the middle of the Second World War, and ask them, “How do we learn from what you are doing?”.
Finally, I hope that real attention will be given to what is happening on the ground in small interfaith groups up and down the country in places such as Luton, St Albans and Bedford, where the amount of effort being put in by religious communities to create stability is remarkable. If we can support those people, that would be enormously helpful. I shall stop there by saying Amen.
My Lords, the right reverend Prelate covered a lot. I apologise for making a wind-up sign, but there are only 20 minutes and many people may want to come in.
I will comment on only a couple of points, although I agree with much of what the right reverend Prelate said. I am guilty of using the wrong language as well. In the Statement, my right honourable friend was at great pains to point out the diversity within Islam and the different communities. One of the elements of the Prevent work is to look at and try to map out more the diversity of different cultures and communities to support and address that. As the right reverend Prelate will see when he reads it, funding for some interfaith work is in the Statement. We do not want to create anything that means scuttling from one fortress to another, but both through the ideas of design and building and through using technology appropriately we believe that we can keep people safer and allow them to go about their everyday business.
My Lords, my contribution will be a short question. I was interested in the reference in the Statement to the United Kingdom Border Agency. Will the units of that agency operate throughout the whole of Great Britain or throughout the whole of the United Kingdom?
My Lords, I fear that I have been asked this question before by the noble Lord and I did not give him a satisfactory answer. I know that there are issues to do with how we relate both in the United Kingdom and with Great Britain. I will write to the noble Lord to set it out properly, so that I answer him effectively this time.
My Lords, the Statement holds out the prospect of a further considerable increase in the staffing of the Security Service, MI5. What confidence do the Government have that it will be able to recruit people of appropriate quality in sufficient numbers and develop and train them to be able to meet the timescale? The Government rightly recognise that this struggle will not be won simply and solely by the professionals and the Statement spoke of the importance of increasing the capacity of the community. Will my noble friend tell us something about the insights that the Government have gained and a bit more about how they intend to arrive at a better understanding of the psychology of terrorism and the pathology of the terrorist so that we can hope to identify those who are susceptible to terrorism and extricate them from that? Does she accept that it is not realistic to expect to keep a whole citizenry in a permanent state of high alert? How do the Government expect to advise and assist our citizens to be appropriately and intelligently alert to the incubation of terrorism in our midst?
My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right that one of the key issues will be how to ensure that we can recruit effectively for the security services. Recruitment is going on and is being successful, but I take nothing away from the point raised by my noble friend about recruiting not being a simple and straightforward proposition. Secondly, in terms of the communities and understanding better the conditions that can lead people into terrorism—that is indeed the work that the Prevent strategy is undertaking; it is examining areas where we know that young people may be susceptible, who is approaching them and what their role is, how they are being brought into a network, the role of the internet, technology and so on. All of that is important. Finally, it is important that citizens are alert and vigilant without feeling that they are in a state of high alert at all times. The British public are extremely good at doing exactly that.
My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that in 2005 I had the privilege of serving on the Prime Minister’s task force on Muslim extremism? Looking at this complex and lengthy Statement, I see that much of our work, done rather in haste and a little bit on the back of an envelope, has come to some kind of fruition. I congratulate the Government on that. Many initiatives here deserve our support. I shall pick up one or two that I am engaged with.
The ESRC project involves critical academic research on some of the pathologies and psychologies that the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, mentioned a minute ago. I am delighted that the Government are committed wholeheartedly to supporting that, because that is what in the long term will give us the answers to some of the riddles about what drives our young people.
The Leader of the House did not quite answer questions on two areas about which I have reservations. One was the question of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, on the roadshow in Pakistan. The noble Baroness may know that I am a patron of the Pakistan human development commission. We have found that in terms of going out to young people and women in most poverty-stricken areas of Pakistan the battle for hearts and minds is not necessarily won through people coming in and talking to these people but through pure development aid and education. I hope that, following the commitment that the paper makes, DfID will indeed target its resources to Pakistan in that fashion.
My final question has been partially answered by the Minister, but I would like a bit more reassurance about the impact that these well meaning, wide-ranging measures will have on the Muslim community. Will she have in due course a more open and lengthy debate with that community and explain to us how much our vested interest lies in these measures?
My Lords, I am very grateful for the work that the noble Baroness did on the task force and I hope that it is reassuring to see much of that work coming to fruition in the Statement. I agree with her on the need to support the work of the ESRC, which has the Government’s wholehearted support. I ran out of time regarding the work in Pakistan and I apologise for that. I take the point—DfID, the Foreign Office and the British Council will play a fundamental part in that and I agree completely with the noble Baroness that this is in large part about education, knowledge, support, training, opportunity and so on which are key to people being able to develop their own lives.
I, too, hope that there will be many opportunities to debate this. I do not propose that we have a debate in your Lordships’ House but it is important that individual communities debate this. That is why my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is looking at involving Muslim women in particular in certain areas and, more generally, at communities to support the network of those who are able to help us to work out a preventive strategy.
My Lords, will the Leader of the House assure us that these measures to protect the community will apply to all the people of the United Kingdom?
Indeed, my Lords.
My Lords, I welcome this timely and balanced Statement. In particular, I am delighted that so many of the issues raised in the work that I led in relation to the Metropolitan Police Authority—it involved consulting Londoners over a year—have been addressed in it. I also welcome the emphasis on the prevention of violent extremism; that is why it is so important to balance extra measures on security with measures that will reach into the different communities around the United Kingdom. Did the review look at the issues around the electronic security of the critical national infrastructure in view of, for example, evidence of state-sponsored cyber-attacks on a number of countries and of the very high technological and IT knowledge of some of those who have been arrested in respect of terrorist matters in this country? Is my noble friend satisfied that the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure—which I understand is not a statutory body—has sufficient powers to require that those organisations that constitute our national infrastructure are properly protected electronically against cyber-attack?
My Lords, I pay tribute to my noble friend for his extremely valuable work. Yes, the issues that he raised have been considered; the work is ongoing within the CPNI.
My Lords, I congratulate the Government on the Statement, which seems to be the product of a great deal of creative and imaginative thought. However, I underline the fact that there seems to be an unanswerable case to what might be described as international collective security in this matter. Although a terrorist attack may ostensibly be aimed at a particular religious or cultural group, any such attack is essentially an attack on humanity as a whole and on the very concept of a sovereign state.
My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lord’s welcome to the Statement. Of course it is true that we must think about this nationally and internationally and consider the implications of what is being done by terrorists all over the world. We need to work with other states to prevent terrorism arising and deal with it properly if, sadly, it does.
My Lords, it is the turn of the Liberal Democrats.
My Lords, I think that there is plenty of time but I shall be brief.
About five years ago, after the disturbances in various northern towns—Burnley, Oldham, Bradford and so on—various reports, from Ted Cantle and others, identified the problem of parallel communities: of different communities living apart. It is the general view of people in many of these towns that the situation in the past five years has not improved; there is a value judgment that people have grown more apart rather than more together. There is a concern that focusing on Muslim communities as such, as opposed to different ethnic communities in their wider diversity, is not really tackling the problem. Do the Government agree that funding streams that cater for local projects that bring people together at street level, at community level and at the individual personal level should have a higher priority than they do?
My Lords, I agree completely with the noble Lord, Lord Greaves. I remember very well the work that Ted Cantle did and I also pay tribute to him. It was important to look at how communities were growing up in some of our cities and the parallel nature of that, as the noble Lord described it. As part of the work that is going on in that regard, we will need to find ways of bringing people together at street level, community level or local authority level and so on. I was merely pointing out that we need to be aware of certain issues for members of the different Muslim communities in particular. It is right and proper that the Secretary of State considers that and talks to that community as well in the light of the events of the past year.
My Lords, does the Leader of the House recognise that a real gap in our security at present is that no routine monitoring of people leaving the United Kingdom takes place? Has she noticed that paragraph 4.25 of the noble Lord’s paper says that,
“the intention is that passengers arriving and leaving the UK will be monitored electronically”?
That is urgent. When will it happen?
My Lords, it is indeed part of the e-borders proposal. I do not have the exact date but I shall write to the noble Lord and let him know.
My Lords, we have increased screening procedures for those employed in the private sector who have the ability to go airside—such as cleaners on airplanes, baggage handlers and so on—but, in the light of the recently well publicised case of an extremist woman who worked in a shop at an airport, is the noble Baroness satisfied that the screening procedures for such employees are sufficiently watertight? Finally, in view of the vast sums now being given to the Muslim community, will she be aware of the need for certain caution that those of other faith communities, such as the Christian community and others, might be just a little jealous?
My Lords, it is very important to recognise that, try as we might, we can never guarantee a 100 per cent success rate in a screening process. Certainly, procedures have been reviewed, and are kept under review, to ensure that we recognise, identify and work through problems that have arisen or might arise in the future. However, I make that caveat. It is very important that we do not end up with jealousies but with a thriving, vibrant community within this country that recognises its diversity and celebrates it.
My Lords, I declare an interest in the security industry and I very much welcome a lot of what is in the Statement. There will be an opportunity for good security companies to assist the Government in their plans. One small point that bothers me concerns the immigration numbers for those who should be returned to their country—4,000, I think the noble Baroness said. I am sure that unwanted immigrants should be returned to their countries but it is almost as though the Government are afraid of doing so. How many have been returned lately, and what plans are there to get rid of those 4,000 from this country?
My Lords, I do not have with me the exact figure for those who have been returned. I think that the Statement made some reference to it but I will ensure that the information is available to noble Lords. Of course, the figure changes as people return. When I was involved in asylum and immigration legislation in your Lordships’ House, one issue that I was aware of was knowing where people had come from. Noble Lords will know that those who travel with false passports are often loath to explain precisely from whence they come and, on occasion, countries are reluctant to take them back. Therefore, as noble Lords would expect, it is not a simple process by any means. In addition, one has to be mindful of ensuring that people are returned safely and that they will not be tortured or killed.