(3 months ago)Read Full debate
I have been sitting here for the last 30 minutes or so listening to the shadow Chancellor, and I have to say, “The brass neck of the shadow Chancellor!” No mention of the jobs boom and rising wages; no mention of bringing the deficit down by four fifths; no mention of our huge investment in public services; and no support at all for this Queen’s Speech, which delivers on the people’s priorities and moves this country forward from a decade of recovery to a decade of renewal. It is a Queen’s Speech that backs our NHS with £34 billion a year of new investment by 2024, that backs law and order with 20,000 new police officers, that backs the next generation with £14 billion more funding so that every school has more money for every child, that takes great strides towards decarbonising our economy, and that boosts our economic infrastructure, increasing investment in roads, railways and energy.
If the right hon. Gentleman bears with me, I will come on to that issue in just a moment.
We can only do all these things that I have just mentioned because of the strength of our economy and our commitment to fiscal responsibility, and because of the hard work of the British people over the last decade. We will not throw that away.
One of the most important measures in the Queen’s Speech is of course the withdrawal agreement Bill. Passing this Bill will allow us to get Brexit done, to focus on the people’s priorities and to move forward as a country.
And let me be clear about one thing: they said that we could not do it—they said that we would not be able to reopen the withdrawal agreement—and we did; they said that we would not be able to get rid of a backstop, and we did; they said that we would not be able to negotiate a better deal, and we did. And then they said that we would not get Parliament to support that deal, and, guess what, we did that too. They were wrong, wrong and wrong again, as they always are.
Let me address the issue raised by the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) and the shadow Chancellor about concerns expressed in this House about the impact assessment of the deal. What Parliament is being asked to vote on is the withdrawal agreement, which covers the deal on the budget, citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland. The Government have already provided and published a full impact assessment; it is a shame that the shadow Chancellor has not even bothered to look at it yet. The political declaration lays the groundwork for our future relationship, and with those final details still to be negotiated the only thing blocking us from getting on with Brexit is the Labour party and its disposition to dither and delay. Once we leave the EU we will start those talks, and of course we will keep Parliament fully informed at every stage of the process.
(3 months, 3 weeks ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend has made an important point: it is in everyone’s interests—ours and our European friends and partners—that we reach a deal. Intensive negotiations are going on, both with the Irish Government and with other European partners, and there is a very strong recognition that it is in all our interests that we reach a deal.
First, I do not recognise that picture at all. It has been made up by the Liberal Democrats. Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman talks about what is unacceptable. What is unacceptable is for the Liberal Democrats to pretend that the referendum on the European Union never happened.
(4 months, 2 weeks ago)Read Full debate
I thank my right hon. Friend for his support for the increase in defence spending and I can give him that assurance. When the fiscal rules are looked at in time for the next Budget, that will be done openly, transparently and clearly, which is exactly what is needed to maintain market confidence.
(8 months, 2 weeks ago)Read Full debate
I support what the hon. Lady said about the Ramadan package and the work that she has done with her community and others to raise the issue. She is also right to raise the issue of schools. I mentioned in my statement that there is £14 million of support for the Jewish community, as there should be. Most of that is for Jewish schools. It is right that we take a fresh look at other schools and religious establishments where people of certain faiths gather. Schools and community centres would be included in that. I have asked my officials for further advice to make sure that we look at this issue again in the light of the recent terrorist attacks that we have seen internationally. I know that the Secretary of State for Education shares my determination to make sure that we are doing all that we can by working together.
Yes, I can confirm all those points for the right hon. Gentleman. On the places of worship scheme, the £5 million for security training is available to all faiths. I encourage any faith group or organisation that feels that that could help to apply. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned different parts of the Muslim community. We want to make sure that we consult all different viewpoints in each faith and take their concerns into account.
(9 months, 2 weeks ago)Read Full debate
I am sure my hon. Friend will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to refer to any accusations that may or may not be made against Mr Assange. I understand that he has talked about this issue on a number of occasions, including today, on “The World at One”. He is very articulate, and I am sure that many people will have heard him.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his support for today’s action. In the first instance, the extradition request is a matter for the courts. Once a full extradition request is received, my Department will determine whether it is certifiable, but after that it will go to the courts, which will have to make the initial decisions according to our law.
(9 months, 3 weeks ago)Read Full debate
In our publication today, we set out carefully what type of eligibility and what type of losses can be covered. I believe that, with the consultation process and with the support of Martin Forde, it is a very fair process.
(9 months, 3 weeks ago)Read Full debate
(10 months, 2 weeks ago)Read Full debate
My right hon. Friend has made a number of good points. He is, of course, absolutely right: someone who returns can be prosecuted for an offence only if the relevant laws exist. He alluded to new counter-terrorism legislation that is included in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, and to the “designated areas” offence. I believe that the maximum sentence that can be received for that offence is up to 10 years. It was precisely to try to secure more tools with which to prosecute returning fighters that I made that amendment to that Bill. We are constantly considering what further improvements can be made, and what further tools can be introduced to prosecute returning foreign fighters. I agree with my right hon. Friend that it is time to look at the laws on treason, and to modernise them.
As I have said, these decisions are never taken lightly. A number of factors would be considered, on a case-by-case basis, and we would look at what is in the best interests of defending our national security and act on the basis of the advice that we received.
(11 months ago)Read Full debate
That is a good question, and my hon. Friend knows that we will keep under constant review the different terrorist organisations and groups, particularly ones we have proscribed some part of before, and we would look at both secret intelligence and there would be more open source information. For example, my hon. Friend asks what has changed: in terms of open source information it is evident that Hezbollah has got more involved in and drawn into the Syrian conflict, and is responsible for the death and injury of countless innocent civilians.
We will also look at advice from officials. There is a proscription group of officials made up from across Government Departments, not just from the Home Office, but including for example the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and we would listen to their excellent advice. They have made it very clear that Hezbollah is clearly a candidate for proscription because it meets all the tests set out in the Terrorism Act 2000.
The short answer to the right hon. Gentleman’s question is no. For a number of years, the UK Government have had a long-standing policy of no contact with Hezbollah and, in a way, that has made this decision more straightforward in terms of any potential impact on Lebanon. Our ties with the Lebanese Government and our support for Lebanon through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development are strong. There has been a need to ensure that those arrangements are compliant with this order, but they remain largely untouched and our relationship with the legitimate Government of Lebanon will remain.
Break in Debate
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s support, but I will reserve my judgment on the Opposition. I will wait to hear the shadow Minister’s thoughts. However, some Members might already have seen a press release from the official Opposition which suggests that they are against the proscription of Hezbollah. I am sure that is actually not the case, and that the shadow Minister will tell us that that must be some kind of typo and that they are absolutely committed to fighting terrorism because they know that that is what the British people want. In that regard, it would be wise for the Opposition to note that ever since the Terrorism Act 2000, no proscription order that has been brought to this Dispatch Box by any Government, Labour or Conservative, has ever been opposed by the official Opposition. They have supported the banning of every organisation that has been suggested. If it actually turns out that the Labour party objects to the banning of Hezbollah, that will be a first in this Parliament, and the British people will judge that for themselves.
Secondly, the order will proscribe Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, which is also known at JNIM, its aliases Nusrat al-Islam and Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen and its media arm, known as az-Zallaqa. JNIM was established in March 2017 as a federation of al-Qaeda aligned groups in Mali. It aims to eradicate government and the western presence from the western Sahel region, including parts of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. In their place, it wants to impose a strict Salafist interpretation of sharia law. To that end, it attacks western interests across the region and kidnaps western nationals to raise ransom money. Three civilians and two military personnel were killed in a 2017 attack on a tourist hotspot in Mali. Az-Zallaqa then proudly announces the atrocities and claims responsibility. JNIM is already designated by the US and the UN, and I have no hesitation in doing the same.
Finally, the order will ban Ansaroul Islam and its alias Ansaroul Islam Lil Irchad Wal Jihad. The group wants to take control of the Fulani kingdom of Djelgoodji in Burkina Faso and Mali and to impose its own strict interpretation of sharia law. It announced its existence in 2016 by claiming responsibility for an attack on an army outpost in Burkina Faso that killed at least 12 soldiers. Its methods include attacks on police stations, schools and public officials. The predominantly Fulani organisation often target other ethnic groups, leading to mass displacement. Ansaroul Islam is already designated as a terror group by the US, and it is highly likely that it is supported by JNIM. Given its murderous actions, it is only right that we outlaw it in the UK.
As I mentioned earlier, we keep under review not just which organisations need to be proscribed, but which organisations may need to be removed. Organisations have been removed in the past, and organisations are not added every year, but we keep the matter constantly under review.
I have no doubt all three proscriptions are in the national interest. Under section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000, I have the power to proscribe an organisation if I believe it is concerned in terrorism. Currently, 74 international terrorist organisations are proscribed under the Act, alongside 14 connected to Northern Ireland that are proscribed under separate legislation. I only exercise the power after thoroughly reviewing all the available evidence. I consult colleagues across Government, intelligence agencies and law enforcement, and the cross-Government proscription review group supports me in the decision-making process.
Once proscribed, an organisation is outlawed and unable to operate in the UK. It becomes a criminal offence to be a member, to support it or to encourage the support of others. Proscription makes it harder for a banned group to fundraise and recruit, and its assets can become subject to seizure as terrorist property. Those linked to such groups may be excluded from the UK using immigration powers. Once a group is proscribed, it is also an offence to display its symbols in public and to brandish them on flags and clothes to indicate or encourage support. Earlier this month, Parliament passed the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, which strengthens these powers by also making it an offence to publish an image of such an item and extends extra-territorial jurisdiction so that UK nationals and residents can be prosecuted in our courts for doing so overseas. This will help us further bear down on online propaganda and terrorist grooming, enabling us to act when a foreign fighter uses social media to reach back to the UK to build support for their terrorist organisation.
I take this opportunity to update the House on another order, which I laid yesterday. The order came into effect today and it outlaws aliases of two already proscribed organisations: Daesh and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation party. We will not allow these or any other groups to continue to operate merely by changing their name. Banning these aliases will leave those groups with nowhere left to hide.
I have outlined the terrorist threat posed by these groups. To ignore this would be to fail in our duty to protect our citizens and our allies. It can only be right that we add them to the list of proscribed organisations. The time has come to act, and I will not flinch from doing do. Subject to the agreement of this House and the other place, the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2019 will come into effect on Friday 1 March.
(11 months ago)Read Full debate
I have been very clear, and I am very happy to say so again to my right hon. Friend, that we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are here in the UK, whether there is deal or no deal. She refers to concerns raised by hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire. I welcome the interest of both him and my right hon. Friend. I would be happy to meet them to discuss it further.
I could not be clearer: the rights of all EU citizens who are here in the UK prior to exiting the European Union will absolutely be protected. We will do everything we can, whatever is necessary, to ensure that. The right hon. Gentleman makes a suggestion about a declaratory scheme. I say again—this is a very important point—that that is exactly what was done in the ’70s with the Windrush generation and we all have seen the consequences of that all too clearly. They were not designed by anyone; that was the outcome of a declaratory scheme. We cannot have such a situation again. I am happy to look at any other ideas and thoughts that hon. Members have on this matter, but I think we all share the concern that we must ensure that rights are protected and properly protected.
(11 months ago)Read Full debate
To keep this country safe, we must be prepared to make tough decisions. As I told the House on Monday, there must be consequences for those who back terror. More than 900 people travelled from the UK to engage with the conflict in Syria and Iraq, At least 20% have been killed in the region. About 40% have returned. They have all been investigated, and I can reassure this House that the majority have been assessed to pose no or a low security risk.
Those who stayed include some of the most dangerous, including many who supported terrorism, not least those who chose to fight or to raise families in the so-called caliphate. They turned their back on this country to support a group that butchered and beheaded innocent civilians, including British citizens; tied the arms of homosexuals and threw them off the top of buildings; and raped countless young girls, boys and women.
I have been resolute that, where those people pose any threat to this country, I will do everything in my power to prevent their return. This includes stripping dangerous individuals of their British citizenship. This power is used only in extreme circumstances, where conducive to the public good. Since 2010, it has been used about 150 times for people linked to terrorism or serious crimes.
We of course follow international law. An individual can be deprived of British citizenship only where it will not leave that individual stateless, where they are a dual national or, in some limited circumstances, where they have the right to citizenship elsewhere.
It would not be right to comment on any individual case, but I can say that each one is carefully considered on its own merits, regardless of gender, age or family status. Children should not suffer, so if a parent does lose their British citizenship, that does not affect the rights of their child.
Deprivation is a powerful tool that can be used only to keep the most dangerous individuals out of this country, and we do not use it lightly. However, when someone turns their back on fundamental values and supports terror, they do not have an automatic right to return to the UK. We must put the safety and the security of our country first, and I will not hesitate to act to protect it.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his questions, which I want to go through. But let me say to him and the House that these decisions are never taken lightly, and I am not just speaking for myself.
The power has been in place for more than 100 years. It was set out properly in the British Nationality Act 1981, since when it has been used by successive Home Secretaries. Although I will not know every decision that every Home Secretary made in the past, I can be certain that none would have taken decisions on deprivation of British citizenship lightly. There are a number of things to weigh up: national security, moral issues and legal issues all need to be carefully taken into account. No decision of this type—as serious as this—can be taken lightly.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about the grounds for a citizenship decision. As I have said, I cannot talk about an individual case, although I am happy to try to answer his questions. Almost all these decisions, depending on how far back one goes, are made on what is called the “conducive test”: conducive to the public good. The test can apply to a number of issues—to the case prominent in the papers now, but also to many recent cases, including the ones that he mentioned, to do with terrorism and national security. In each of those cases, I would look at the evidence put in front of me: some of that would be secret intelligence and some would be more publicly available information. That would be used to determine the threat that the individual might pose to the country. Alongside that, officials from the Home Office, working with other partners and partner agencies, would put together a case, including a legal case, to look at a number of issues but of course absolutely to make sure that if we went ahead and took the decision to deprive someone of their British nationality, that person would not be left stateless.
In every decision that I am aware of—I cannot think that any of my predecessors would have taken a different decision—that has been applied, every single time. Our lawyers are expert in this field and would look carefully at judgments in previous cases—the right hon. Gentleman referred to those—if they have been challenged, to see whether there are lessons to be learned. Those would be taken into account. When a decision then has to be made, I have to be, in every case, absolutely confident that it is not only conducive to the public good, but legally proper and correct, and compliant with both international and any relevant domestic law.
The right hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that Lord Carlile, an individual whom he will know well, has already made a public comment—I can refer to public comment—about the case in the press at the moment and other such cases that he has been familiar with. He is worth listening to on how this practice has taken place in the past.
The right hon. Gentleman also asked about minors. Again, I cannot talk about any particular individual or case, but in the case of a minor, clearly even more care must absolutely be taken. It is absolutely paramount in all cases to take into account the welfare of minors. I cannot refer to any particular case, but that is also in domestic legislation: in any immigration decision, including about deprivation, the welfare of a child is taken into account where that is relevant.
Finally, I say gently to the right hon. Gentleman that he was a senior member of the previous Government. He was not only in the Cabinet: for almost three years, if I remember correctly, he was a member of the National Security Council. He would have discussed counter-terrorism issues in that council on countless occasions, and it would be hard to think that the issue of deprivation never came up. Not only was he a member of a Government who made decisions on deprivation, many on terrorism grounds, but he even voted for the Immigration Act 2014, which extended the powers of deprivation. Now he stands here pretending that he knows nothing of that and trying to play politics with such an important issue. He should reflect on that.
(11 months, 1 week ago)Read Full debate
My right hon. Friend makes a very good point. This is a complex situation and we should always be looking to see what tools we have at our disposal to ensure that those who are guilty of terrorism, or of supporting terrorist groups, are brought to justice. That means ensuring that we have the right laws in place. I referred earlier to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act, which received Royal Assent only last week, which gives the courts more powers. There are already powers in existence, including those covering extra-territorial jurisdictions. He made another important point about something else we could look at. I have read that article and heard what Professor Ekins has said in the past, and I think that it is worth considering it carefully.
Again, I cannot speak about a particular case or an individual, but I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is better in every case to talk to someone who has left to join a terrorist group to try to find out why; I do not think that that is the case. The driving factor on every occasion should be what is best for the security and the national interest of this country. He is right to point to the issue of why so many people—as I said, it is approximately 900 over a number of years, and many of them are British—have been drawn to leave these shores to go and join such a vile terrorist organisation. We at the Home Office and our partners in the police, the security services and others take that work very seriously. When we start to understand more why that happened, we must use those lessons to safeguard more people, especially young people.
(11 months, 3 weeks ago)Read Full debate
I thought the hon. Lady was taking over my speech for me, but she raises an important point. On fighting crime, as I mentioned earlier, there has been a particular rise in certain types of crime, especially those that are more complex and so by definition require more resource. That is what the settlement recognises—that where crime, especially more complex crime, has risen, more resources should be provided. This is a record settlement—the largest since 2010—and contains £18 million for the hon. Lady’s local force.
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong in saying that this debate is just about national support. The report also includes the Government’s decision, subject to the will of the House, to allow an increase in the precept of up to £24 without a referendum, as I mentioned earlier. That is part of the total funding package, to which I have referred, of £970 million.
Break in Debate
My hon. Friend makes an important point, and it draws me back to my earlier comment in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Seely) about the national funding formula for policing. We are committed to looking at that when we consider longer term funding through the spending review process.
The Government are determined to respond to the threat from terrorism, organised crime and serious violence, and the police are of course a vital partner in that work. We must give them the resources they need to get the job done, which is why we are proposing the largest increase in police funding since 2010.
(11 months, 3 weeks ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend has highlighted an important point, and it is worth emphasising. Members of the Windrush generation were affected by decisions made by a number of Governments, including the last Government.
If the right hon. Gentleman is referring to cases in which someone does not have—to use his own words—precisely the right documentation, of course that should be looked at very carefully. The whole purpose of the taskforce is to work with such individuals to make the process as easy as possible, and to ensure that issues such as incorrect documentation are sorted out.
(11 months, 4 weeks ago)Read Full debate
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Concern over uncontrolled immigration was at the heart of the debate in the run-up to the European Union referendum. The result left no doubt: people in the UK want control over our borders. They want a fair system that works for the entire UK, that attracts the brightest and the best from around the globe, and that allows access to the UK based on what someone has to offer, not where they come from. Leaving the EU means just that. For the first time in more than 40 years, we can deliver this by putting control over who comes to the UK firmly in our hands. Ending free movement is the first step, and that is what the Bill delivers.
This is not about closing our doors—far from it. That is something I would never allow. We will continue to be an open, outward-looking and welcoming nation, because immigration has been invaluable to Britain. Immigrants to this country, such as my own parents, have been essential to the success of our society, culture and economy. They have powered—indeed, they have often created—many of our businesses. They have helped to deliver vital public services. Their experience has brought new perspectives and expertise, stimulating growth and making us the tolerant, outward-looking nation we are today. Far from slamming the door on immigration, the end of free movement will be a clear path to a fairer immigration system, helping us to welcome the most talented workers from any country while cutting net migration to sustainable levels.
For many people who voted leave in that referendum, immigration was one of the big, key issues. Many of them would have wanted, first, to see immigration coming down to more sustainable levels. It was certainly my experience that many of them wanted us to end freedom of movement and reform the process so that we could have more control over our borders.
Break in Debate
Yes, absolutely. Anyone who has paid the fee under the scheme will be reimbursed in full.
I will make some progress and then give way later.
Given the concerns that were raised in the referendum, we must control immigration to make it fairer and more sustainable. We wanted to ensure that our proposals were based on the very best evidence, which was why we commissioned the independent Migration Advisory Committee to review the impact of European migration on the UK’s economy and society. It was clear that, with free movement, we could not guarantee that we would maximise the benefits of immigration, so it recommended a system that was focused on skilled workers. We heard that, and our White Paper, which was published before Christmas, proposed a skills-based system welcoming talent from around the world, with no automatic preference for the EU.
(1 year ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this issue. We have started to deploy aerial surveillance of the English channel since I declared a major incident. While we await the arrival of the two cutters in early February, we have increased the presence of vessels, including with help from the Royal Navy. I will be meeting my French counterpart, Minister Castaner, this week.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that those databases are important, which is why it is very good that we have an agreement in the political declaration to consider how we can keep using such arrangements. Again, if he is that concerned, he should support the deal.
(1 year ago)Read Full debate
That is a very good question. It is important to keep this under constant review. Border Force has a limited number of vessels and a great deal of work to do, not just in the UK but as part of international operations. I asked for advice on redeployment, and once I had received it and was comfortable that it could meet both its international obligations and prioritise the UK border, I made a decision, and that is what was implemented.
The right hon. Gentleman should stop treating this as a political game; we are talking about people’s lives. This Government, as much as any other before them, care about those people’s lives. I have mentioned the aid we are providing in region, including the more than £2.7 billion—more than any other country—to help Syrian refugees, and our refugee resettlement programmes, which I know he supports. Under those, we resettled more refugees in 2017 than any other EU state. Rather than trying to score cheap political points, he should join us in trying to help these people.
(1 year, 1 month ago)Read Full debate
My right hon. Friend, who speaks from experience, raises a very important point. Of course, we cannot control who makes an application to come to the UK, or who sponsors them, but still he raises a very important point about other ways of helping or reducing concern in this area. One way is certainly through our international aid budget. He raises a second issue about doing everything we can to train more doctors and nurses here in the UK.
I will give three answers to the right hon. Gentleman. First, the settlement scheme for the 3 million-plus EU citizens, which he mentions, is being separately staffed—more staff will be hired as the scheme properly rolls out—and much of the extra funding has already been allocated. Secondly, we will make the best use of technology—for example, we are expanding e-gate usage to eight other nations, which will help a lot. Lastly, the new system does not actually come into place until 2021, which gives us more than enough time to prepare.
(1 year, 1 month ago)Read Full debate
I very much agree with hon. Gentleman’s sentiments about the importance of immigration. We are a much stronger country because of immigration and immigrants have contributed to every part of British life—not just our economy, but our families and communities. We should always be looking for opportunities to celebrate just that.
(1 year, 2 months ago)Read Full debate
The Government are supporting all those EU citizens who wish to stay in our country. As I said, we actually want them to stay, not just because of the economic benefits they bring but because they are part of our society and part of many of our families. So we want them to stay, and as we have made clear, whether there is a deal or not, they will still be welcome to stay. Our new immigration system will continue to welcome talent from across the world.
(1 year, 2 months ago)Read Full debate
My right hon. Friend makes a very important point. It is good to remind the House that my statement was about the wrongful mandatory use of DNA evidence; as he says, DNA evidence can be a very helpful tool when it is completely voluntary. I understand that the Home Office has, in some cases, helped individuals to do that on an absolutely voluntary basis, because the provision of such evidence can help people, especially if they are in particularly distressing or difficult situations or they are otherwise vulnerable. I think it is helpful to point out that when someone chooses to provide DNA evidence, and it is purely their choice, that should be taken into account.
I think the right hon. Gentleman meant to refer to a compliant environment. That is an environment in which we make sure, on behalf of British citizens, that we have a robust immigration policy that is fair to people, but that enables us to be strong on those who set out to abuse our immigration system and enter or settle in our country illegally—for example, in fraudulent cases—not least to be fair to those who use legal routes for migration to or settlement in the UK.
It is worth reminding the right hon. Gentleman that for five years he was part of a Government that worked on compliant environment policies, which began many years before that with previous Governments. He now appears to have a problem with some of those policies, but I do not remember him raising them when I sat alongside him in Cabinet. That said, there absolutely are lessons to learn from this. We must conduct the right review, with independent oversight, and learn those lessons.
(1 year, 6 months ago)Read Full debate
One of my announcements today was about more support for vulnerable detainees. They included a number of things such as looking again at how rule 35 works, the bail referral process and, as my hon. Friend mentioned, staff training. We are looking at exactly how that can work within the Department, but we want to make sure that not just the gatekeeper staff and those who are at the entry point when someone comes into detention but all staff have some level of training to help spot vulnerable people. The reality is that if someone is vulnerable, they may not always come forward; in many cases, they do not. There are things that one can look for to help to spot people in that situation and try to help.
That is a very partial reading of Mr Shaw’s report by the right hon. Gentleman. I appreciate that he has not yet had much time to read the whole report, but I do encourage him to do so. I think that he will find that, as well as rightly finding issues and challenging us to do more, which I am and which we will continue to do, Mr Shaw talked about the progress that we have made, including on alternatives to detention. One example of how we intend to take that recommendation forward is the one I gave earlier about piloting a new programme to do with women in detention.
(1 year, 6 months ago)Read Full debate
Yes, I very much agree with my hon. Friend. That is exactly what we have been doing, especially since the incident in March. This recent incident is a reminder that there is more to do.
(1 year, 6 months ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend makes an important point, but the evidence that we have seen shows that the real issue is about young people getting their hands on this acid. We have seen examples of them getting hold of it and separating it into two mineral water bottles, then carrying it around and using it to devastating effect. The measures that we have here, alongside the measures on possession of acid in a public place, will combine to make a big difference to the situation we find ourselves in today.
I must point out that when I said to the right hon. Gentleman, “On acid?” I was not asking him if he was on acid. It was a more general question, although I noticed that he readily jumped up and said yes. He makes an important point about ensuring that once the changes are made, all those who need to be aware of them will get training in the process of bringing them about. As he knows, this will involve trading standards and local authorities, and we are in touch with those groups. By the time the Bill has progressed and hopefully achieved Royal Assent, we will have worked quite intensively with the groups that have an interest in this to ensure that the measures in the Bill are well understood.
If I may turn to knives, it is already against the law to sell knives to under-18s, but some online sellers effectively ignore this. Sadly, such knives can get into the hands of young people and this has led to tragic deaths. We will stop that by ensuring that proper age checks are in place at the point of sale. We will stop the delivery to a home address of knives that can cause serious injury. We will also crack down on the overseas sales of knives by making it an offence to deliver them to a person under 18 in this country. I find it appalling that vicious weapons are on open sale and easily available. It shocks me that flick knives are still available despite being banned as long ago as 1959, and that zombie knives, knuckledusters and other dreadful weapons are still in wide circulation. The Bill will therefore make it an offence to possess such weapons, whether in private or on the streets, and it will go further and extend the current ban on offensive weapons in schools to further education premises.
(1 year, 7 months ago)Read Full debate
The hon. Gentleman makes another good point in this debate. He is right to say that many leading internet organisations were not searching for proscribed organisations, or certainly not for all of them. So far this year, however, there has certainly been a significant improvement. We are monitoring this ourselves, and we are in constant dialogue with those companies. I am not going to pretend that every single one of them is doing that now, but there has been a huge improvement.
To be absolutely clear, what the right hon. Gentleman referred to as the three clicks approach—let us call it the multiple viewing approach—is absolutely the right one, which is why it is in the Bill. From the discussions that I and the Minister for Security and Economic Crime have already had with colleagues on both sides of the House, I think that it commands a wide body of support in the House, and that will of course be tested during the passage of the Bill.
The wider issues of internet regulation—those applying not just to terrorist content, but to child sexual exploitation, serious violence, gang violence and such offences—and the collective harms of some internet content are together being looked at by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, and I believe that a consultation is going on at the moment. That is the right place to look at those issues, because the kind of regulation mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman is not covered by the Bill.
(1 year, 7 months ago)Read Full debate
For a moment I thought I was back in Housing, Communities and Local Government questions, as that sounds like a question about local government funding in Lincolnshire. My hon. Friend makes an important point. There is an increase of more than £3 million for local policing in Lincolnshire in the latest settlement, but this is an important issue that I wish to look at much more closely as we get to the spending review.
What I recognise is that, for a number of reasons, there has been an increase in recorded crime and in certain types of crime, such as cyber-crime, and there has been more reporting of past sexual offences and of domestic crime. We are encouraging that and we want to see it reported. We have to make sure resources match that demand, which is why the increase this year is very welcome. As we get to the spending review, we have to make sure that we have the right amount of resources for the long term.
(1 year, 10 months ago)Read Full debate
I will come on to the local government financial settlement shortly, but if the hon. Lady is so concerned about the resources that local government receives, why did she vote against a real-terms increase for the next two years for local authorities? She can perhaps reflect on that while she waits.
Returning to the reforms that councils are making, some authorities are opting for unitarisation. In Dorset, for example, the nine existing councils will be abolished to create two new unitary councils, generating annual savings of approximately £28 million. I have announced that I am minded to replace the existing five councils in Buckinghamshire with a single council for the area, which could generate savings of £18 million.
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was present for the statement I made yesterday on Northamptonshire County Council, but the independent inspector specifically concluded that the situation was not due to a lack of funds but to the mismanagement of funds and other issues. However, the right hon. Gentleman makes a wider point that councils can face certain financial difficulties even if they are managing their finances well, and those councils should rightly make maximum use of the available flexibilities. If they want to go further, they can try to get the support of local people through a referendum. In the longer term, we need a fair funding review, to which the hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse) recently referred, to ensure that the system distributes funding more fairly. The recently closed consultation received some 300 representations, and will be going through them.
(2 years, 7 months ago)Read Full debate
The victims unit, which is now based in my Department, has a number of officials from at least six Departments. The idea is that if any victim, family member or friend has any issue that central Government can help with—it might relate to immigration, tax and benefits or housing—they would have to deal with only one individual, making it much easier for them.
I reassure the right hon. Gentleman that funding is already being provided by central Government in certain circumstances. We have made it clear that if there is an issue and the remedial work to make a property safe cannot be done immediately, as was the case in Camden, the local authority should not hesitate but should take action immediately, regardless of cost, to make residents safe. When the local authority needs funding support, we will work with it and provide that support.