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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 15 July 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
HM Treasury
Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Including of an economic character.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
15 Jul 2019, 2:39 p.m.

Given the economic character of that question, the best thing is for me to write to the hon. Lady with the detail of the number of financial investigators—[Interruption.] The hon. Lady has not been particularly specific. Does she mean the number of detectives within the National Crime Agency, within the Met’s serious organised crime command, within the regional organised crime units or within the local forces? I will send her the details so that she can analyse and discuss them.

See more like "Far-right Violence and Online Extremism"

Far-right Violence and Online Extremism
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 18 March 2019

(11 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

I still believe that the best way to challenge the ignorance and misinformation spread by the likes of Katie Hopkins is to call them out and challenge their argument. The best way to bring these people down and show them to be the Walter Mittys or the fake people they are is to put their arguments to the test, because time and again they fail. I read the online advice published by groups such as al-Qaeda; it is by made-up half-trained imams who do not know what they are talking about when they talk about Islam. I see the neo-Nazi and National Action stuff; it is written by pretty much imbeciles making two plus two equal 10. The best way to expose them to our young people is to challenge them, because when they are challenged in any forum they fall over at the first test. That is a good way to put them out of business for good.

Mr Speaker Hansard
18 Mar 2019, 5:45 p.m.

May I say very gently to the Minister and to colleagues that as we have now been on this matter for one hour and two minutes, there is a premium on brevity, on this the occasion of the 574th urgent question during my time in the Chair? I never like to cut these questions off and I want to facilitate colleagues, but it would be helpful to have questions and pithy answers, rather than orations.

See more like "Speaker’s Statement: New Zealand Terror Attacks"

Speaker’s Statement: New Zealand Terror Attacks
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Friday 15 March 2019

(11 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Mar 2019, 9:35 a.m.

In respectful memory of the 49 people who horrendously lost their lives in the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, and of the apparently dozens who were injured in the attack on the two mosques, as well as in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and Muslims around the world, I humbly suggest to the House—I know that both sides of the House are on the same page as me in this regard—that we hold one minute’s silence at 11 am. I think that some colleagues will want to say something about this matter now, before we get on to today’s business, sitting in private or any of that. I therefore call Minister Ben Wallace.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Mar 2019, 9:35 a.m.

Let me say to the House on behalf of the Government that we send our sincere condolences to the victims and people of New Zealand for their loss, and that they have our offer of any assistance required to deal with this repugnant attack. The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with New Zealand against terrorism, and we will not falter in our commitment to uphold the values of tolerance, religious freedom and democracy that we both hold so dear.

Later today, the Home Secretary and I will be speaking to police counter-terrorism leaders and the security services to discuss what further measures we can take to protect our mosques and communities from any threat here in the United Kingdom. No one should be in any doubt that our police and security services treat all threats the same and all terrorists the same. No matter what community, religion or background they come from, a terrorist is a terrorist, and we shall deal with them exactly the same.

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Mar 2019, 9:36 a.m.

I thank the Minister for the clarity and passion with which he has addressed the House. Colleagues will not be surprised to know that I intend to write to my opposite number in New Zealand, and I know that I will be able to do so conveying the sympathies of the House and the collective outrage of the House at this bestial slaughter.

See more like "Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]"

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords]
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Wednesday 30 January 2019

(1 year ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Parliament Live - Hansard

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr Speaker Hansard

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 1, in clause 1, page 1, line 19, at end insert—

‘(4A) The Secretary of State may not make regulations designating an international co-operation agreement providing for the use of—

(a) section 52 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (interception in accordance with overseas requests), or

(b) any other enactment which provides for the collection of electronic data,

unless the condition in subsection 4B is met.

(4B) The condition is that the states party to or participating in the international cooperation agreement have given assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed in any case in which or in whose preparation the intercepted communication or electronic data obtained under this Act has been used.’

This amendment would prohibit the Government from entering into a treaty for the provision of intercepted communication or electronic data without securing assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed in cases where that data is used.

Amendment 12, page 1, line 19, at end insert—

‘(4A) The Secretary of State may not make regulations designating a treaty as an international co-operation arrangement under subsection (5)(b) where that treaty provides for requests to be made by the competent authorities of a country or territory, or of more than one country or territory, in which a person found guilty of a criminal offence may be sentenced to death for the offence under the general criminal law of the country or territory concerned.

(4B) Subsection (4A) does not apply if the country or territory has, within the international co-operation arrangement, given assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed in any case in which or in whose preparation electronic data obtained under this Act has been used.’

This amendment would require that assurances be secured from the foreign country or territory concerned that the death penalty will not be applied in respect of any offence for which a defendant has been found guilty and in which the information provided from the United Kingdom contributed in any way to securing.

Amendment 18, page 2, line 3, at end insert—

‘(5A) The Secretary of State may only make regulations designating an international agreement under subsection (5) where that agreement—

(a) provides for safeguards and special procedures in respect of applications by competent authorities of a country or territory other than the United Kingdom for orders in respect of journalistic data and confidential journalistic data that are equivalent to those in this Act, and

(b) provides for at least as much protection for freedom of expression and the protection of journalists’ rights sources as Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.’

This would amendment would seek to ensure that the terms on which other states may access electronic data held in the UK mirror the UK’s own safeguards for press freedom.

Amendment 10, in clause 3, page 3, line 40, at end insert “, or

(c) confidential journalistic data (within meaning of section 12(4)).”

This amendment would bring confidential journalistic data within the definition of “excepted electronic data”.

Amendment 14, in clause 4, page 4, line 39, leave out “(6)” and insert “(6A)”

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 13.

Government amendment 2.

Amendment 13, page 5, line 26, at end insert—

‘(6A) Where an application for an order includes or consists of journalistic data, the judge must also be satisfied—

(a) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the specified data is likely to be relevant evidence;

(b) that accessing the data is in the public interest, having regard—

(i) to the benefit likely to accrue to the investigation if the data is obtained; and

(ii) to the circumstances under which the person is possession of the data holds it,

(c) that other methods of obtaining the data have been tried without success or have not been tried because it appeared that they were bound to fail.’

This amendment would require a judge to be satisfied that journalistic data which is the subject of an application for an order constitutes relevant evidence.

Government amendment 3.

Amendment 15, page 6, line 9, after “section” insert—

‘“relevant evidence”, in relation to an offence, means anything that would be admissible in evidence at a trial for the offence.’

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 13.

Government amendments 4 to 6 and 19.

Amendment 16, in clause 12, page 10, line 11, leave out

“that is confidential journalistic data”

This amendment would require notice to be given of an application for an overseas production order for electronic data which is believed to contain any journalistic data, not just confidential journalistic data.

Amendment 17, page 10, line 12, at end insert—

‘(1A) Where an application is for journalistic data, the court must not determine such an application in the absence of the journalist affected, unless—

(a) the journalist has had at least two business days in which to make representations; or

(b) the court is satisfied that—

(i) the applicant cannot identify or contact the journalist,

(ii) it would prejudice the investigation if the journalist were present,

(iii) it would prejudice the investigation to adjourn or postpone the application so as to allow the journalist to attend, or

(iv) the journalist has waived the opportunity to attend.’

This amendment would give a journalist opportunities to make representations in relation to any application for data which he or she may hold.

Government amendment 20.

Amendment 9, page 10, line 20, leave out subsection (4) and insert—

‘(4) Confidential journalistic data” means data—

(a) that a journalist holds that is subject to such an undertaking, restriction or obligation; and

(b) that has been continuously held (by one or more persons) subject to such an undertaking, restriction or obligation since it was first acquired or created for the purposes of journalism.’

This amendment would redefine confidential journalistic data for the purposes of the Bill.

Amendment 11, page 10, line 20, leave out subsection (4) and insert—

‘(4) Journalistic data is “confidential journalistic data” if—

(a) it is acquired or created by a person or persons in their capacity as a journalist and is held in confidence, or

(b) it is communications data of a person acting in their capacity as a journalist, or

(c) it is held subject to a restriction on disclosure, or an obligation of secrecy, contained in any enactment (whenever passed or made).’

This amendment would amend the definition of confidential journalistic data.

Government amendments 21 to 23, 7 and 8.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 2:07 p.m.

May I begin by making a slight apology to the House? As the amendments have been grouped together, my speech will be in a single block, so I ask Members to be patient.

Let me begin by addressing amendments 12, 1 and 24. I recognise that amendment 24 has not been selected, but I am happy to deal with it, because it was tabled.

Throughout the progress of this Bill, as with others that I have piloted through the House, I have been keen to reach a consensus. Labour Front Benchers, as well as members of the Scottish National party, will know that I have often been open to their ideas, and that in the case of a number of Bills—such as the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill and indeed this Bill—I have taken their ideas on board and put them into law. I have done so not only because I truly care about keeping our citizens safe, but because I know that our laws work best when they do what they set out to do and are supported by the broadest consensus of the public.

The House of Commons cannot ignore the times in which we live. In the last decade, we have become more and more dependent on the internet and smartphones. In fact, 78% of people and 95% of 16 to 24-year-olds now possess a smartphone. Such technology can be a force for good, but it has also become an accelerant to those who wish us harm. Whether we are talking about county lines, terrorism or child abuse, smartphones have opened up a whole world of encrypted communications which I believe presents the biggest single challenge to our police and to law enforcement.

As Security Minister, I recall many occasions on which I was woken to deal with security issues. I remember being woken on the night of the Manchester Arena bombing, and I remember hearing the chilling news that a nerve agent had been used on the streets of Salisbury. But the day that I remember above all from the last two and a half years was the day of my visit to a regional and organised crime unit, where I had to listen, via an online chatroom, to a paedophile plot to kidnap, rape and kill a seven-year-old girl, about the same age as my daughter. If that was not sickening enough, I could sense the frustration of detectives who needed data from overseas to stop the abuse being committed, because in case after case timing is everything in these investigations.

So when the US Government, supported by Senators in the House of Congress, offered to help to solve this problem we grabbed at the chance. The House should recognise what they have offered: they have offered to remove legal barriers in the US to enable compliance with UK court orders. The Americans recognised, as we do, that the vast majority of data that we need for our investigations reside on the other side of the Atlantic—Google, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, to name but a few. In fact, 99% of data that we need for child abuse investigations resides overseas and only 1% resides here.

These stark figures say two things to me. First, the reality is that we need the US data far more than they need ours. That was true before Donald Trump and it will be true after Donald Trump. Secondly, in this case, the US is doing us a favour. The Bill before us is the legislation required to give effect to a future US treaty and any other treaty we may make with another country in future, for example, Canada, so we can access that data much more quickly than we do now. These treaties will come before us separately, to this House and the peers House, at a different time, and Members will be able to scrutinise and challenge them at that point.

Let me deal directly with the Labour amendments. During the Bill’s passage in the Lords the Labour party attached to this Bill an amendment that would prevent the UK from making the necessary treaty with the US unless it got assurances that data sent across the Atlantic would not lead to the death penalty. This Bill allows enforcement agencies to access content directly from communications service providers based overseas using an overseas production order. These orders can only work when a relevant international agreement, such as a treaty, is in place between the UK and another country and as the majority of the CSPs, as I said, are based in America we expect the first such agreement to be with the United States. Both amendments 1 and 12 attempt to amend the Bill and reinsert the Lords amendments.

First, and bearing in mind how little data we hold here, having looked back over 20 years, we have not been able to find a single case whatsoever where only the data that the Bill deals with would have led to a death penalty overseas. Secondly, this is about data, not people. Extradition from the UK is dealt with by separate legislation and Her Majesty’s Government are already prevented from handing over someone without death penalty assurances. Thirdly, this Bill is about our data requests overseas in order to bring data back here for investigations and when I last looked we do not have the death penalty in this country. So to try to use the Bill as a vehicle to deal with a treaty as yet not concluded is simply wrong.

Throughout the passage of the Bill, I have been clear that the US has been generous in its offer. I have also admitted on the record that on this subject we do not have equality of arms with the US. This is not about a fantasy that we are bowing to the US. I noticed the allegations that the right hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) made in her column in the Daily Mirror recently saying that this was all about cosying up to Donald Trump, that the Labour party amendment

“simply blocks data sharing co-operation with all countries if the death penalty is a risk”,

and that the

“reason Ministers seem to be so keen to tear up our laws and ignore our human rights is because they are in a terrible mess in refusing to rule out a No Deal Brexit.”

Of course, nowhere does her op-ed address the central allegation that her blocking data will mean child abusers will be free to continue abuse of children for longer because we simply will not be able to get the data that we wish. And perhaps I could put her mind at rest: the US offer on this treaty was initiated not under President Donald Trump, but under President Obama. This is about the reality and the decisions we need to make to put our citizens’ safety first. Members should understand that the current drawn-out methods of getting data can take months and years.

See more like "Points of Order"

Points of Order
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Wednesday 30 January 2019

(1 year ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 1:46 p.m.

Order. I have indulged the hon. Lady, who always addresses the House with great courtesy. I hope she will forgive me. She is very forensic, but she was reading out what amounted to a speech on this matter. It therefore strains credulity to suppose that it could be characterised as a point of order. I normally have no wish to cut her off. She has made her point with considerable force and insistence—[Interruption.] And she enjoys the benefit of the endorsement of her right hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw), who has just observed from a sedentary position that she made her point very well. I suspect that her cup runneth over, and I think she should leave it there.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I rise to support your comment that political discourse of course produces different points of view. Speculation in this House on live intelligence actions and investigations is unhelpful and rarely reflects the facts. All Members should be cautious about entering into sub judice or live investigations with speculation that can add fuel to the fire.

Mr Speaker Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 1:47 p.m.

Everybody should be responsible in his or her use of language. I can say only, however, that although I am not unmindful of the Minister’s point, no breach of order has taken place. We will leave it there. He has made his point with some force, and I do not think there is any need for me to add to it.

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Points of Order
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 03 December 2018

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Attorney General
Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:05 p.m.

If anybody has inadvertently misled the House, that person must correct the record, but I hope the hon. Gentleman will accept that I do not think it incumbent on me now to act as arbiter of whether it happened. The issue has been given a full airing. Both hon. Members are very experienced, are not backward in coming forward and can pursue this matter either through the use of the Order Paper or by other means in the days ahead. I do not in any sense seek to deny them the opportunity to do so.

If there are no further points of order, if the appetite has at last been satisfied—it is very important that Members have the opportunity to express themselves—we can now proceed. The Minister looks very relieved about that.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 7:06 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

As a simple soldier, it is nice to follow a debate full of so many learned colleagues. I have sat in wonder at the lawyers and their questioning over the last two and half hours. It was incredibly generous of the Attorney General to give so much of his time and to answer so many of my colleagues’ questions. I fear that we cannot normally afford lawyers for that long, but I hope the House managed to get to the bottom of it all.

This year, Dr Matthew Falder was sentenced to 25 years in prison. His charges included 137 offences of encouraging child sexual abuse, blackmail, forced labour and possession of indecent images. He tricked his vulnerable victims into sending him naked or partially clothed images of themselves and then blackmailed them into sending increasingly sickening images. He traded these abuse pictures on “hurtcore” forums, whose users revel in controlling and inflicting pain on victims. These hurtcore sites—hidden dark web forums—are dedicated to the discussion, and the sharing of images and videos, of rape, murder, sadism, torture, paedophilia, blackmail, humiliation and degradation. Long delays in getting vital evidence to our law enforcement agencies help people such as Dr Matthew Falder to continue abusing vulnerable children. It is our duty to protect victims from people such as him as quickly as possible.

The Bill is a straightforward piece of legislation designed to remove the bureaucratic barriers we currently face in investigating and prosecuting serious criminals when evidence is held by companies based outside the UK. The Bill provides a new route to allow law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities quick and efficient access to electronic data held by overseas communication providers. As I am sure hon. Members are aware, communication service providers are increasingly based outside the UK, and although we can currently access data held or controlled by these providers using mutual legal assistance channels, these processes are often long and bureaucratic, delaying serious criminals being brought to justice. In some cases, that even leads to investigations being abandoned.

Under MLA, there are several obstacles to overcome before law enforcement agencies can obtain data for use in an investigation. The requests must go through both countries’ executing authorities and both countries’ central authorities before getting to the relevant CSP. It can take anything from six months to two years to receive what could be vital evidence, meaning that the prosecution of criminals such as child sexual abusers can be severely delayed, in which time they can continue abusing. Indeed, less than 1% of child sexual abuse content stored online is hosted on UK platforms, meaning that 99% is hosted on platforms owned by companies overseas. The Bill will ensure that law enforcement officers and prosecutors can more effectively investigate and prosecute these horrific offences, meaning that children in all our constituencies can be kept safe.

Officials in the Home Office have been working closely with operational partners to understand the scale of the problem. Child exploitation and abuse is a very real, very serious and growing epidemic. The National Crime Agency received more than 80,000 individual referrals of horrific online content from the tech industry in 2017, a 700% increase since 2012. In 2014, the NCA made more than 1,600 referrals to UK police forces following tech companies highlighting horrific online content. After just three years, in 2017, the figure rose to nearly 10,000. The agency estimates that in the UK, a minimum of 66,0000 to 80,000 individuals present some kind of threat to children. In one operation, it worked with overseas partners to take down a site that contained more than 100,000 videos of child sexual abuse material that had been downloaded more than 1 million times.

All the case studies that I have been given make chilling reading. There are examples of people abusing children online—people whom our agencies struggle to identify and prosecute because of the delays in accessing the data that they need. It is our duty to do something about it, and to protect those who are vulnerable online. Of course, online crime goes beyond child sexual abuse. Electronic messages in the form of texts or emails can incriminate arms dealers, drug traffickers, people traffickers and those involved in other types of serious crime, including terrorism. We must ensure that our laws reflect the modern, technological world in which we live.

The overseas production order process offers a much simpler and quicker alternative to MLA for obtaining certain types of electronic data. An overseas production order could be served directly on the relevant overseas CSP rather than via that country’s courts and central authority, which means that our law enforcement agencies and prosecutors will be able to gain access to the data that they need in a matter of days or weeks rather than months or years. The orders will operate in a similar way to domestic production orders. To that end, the Bill was designed to reflect existing domestic legislation as far as possible. Of course, the necessary stringent safeguards will exist to govern access to the data. That includes a requirement that UK courts must be satisfied that the data is of substantial value to the investigation or proceedings, and that there is a public interest in its being produced before an order can be granted.

For the power to make an overseas production order to be available, a relevant international agreement needs to be in place. We envisage that the first agreement will be with the United States, given that a large majority of CSPs are based in North America. Parliament will have an opportunity to scrutinise each international agreement properly and thoroughly before it is ratified in the usual way.

Members of the other place have already expressed their broad support for the Bill, but a non-Government amendment was made to clause 1(6), on international agreements. As it stands, the subsection is technically deficient, because it refers to data that the UK provides “under this Act”. The Bill is only about the UK’s outgoing requests for data from overseas providers, so the UK would not be providing data under it. Because that subsection would not achieve what the Government understand to be the Opposition’s intended effect, “this Act” will need to be amended to “the agreement.” I have listened carefully to the arguments advanced by Members of the Lords, and I look forward to working with Members of this House to address their concerns.

Members may accept that bureaucracy is sometimes a necessary evil, but when electronic data could be obtained in a much quicker way and further criminal activities could be prevented, it needs to be reduced. The overseas production order process, together with the international agreements that will underpin it, will remove the unnecessary bureaucratic delay that currently exists in accessing the same electronic data through MLA.

Delay extends the investigation when someone has molested children. Delay leads to continued offending, and those children continue to be abused. Delay leads to serious criminals absconding before they can be brought to justice. Delay could even lead to our law enforcement agencies and prosecutors issuing fewer MLA requests to seek evidential data as they lose faith in the system, and thereby failing to pursue these vile criminals. We do not want to end up in that position: such delay is unacceptable. That illustrates why the Bill is so important, and the heavy price that we continue to pay every day without it.

See more like "Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill"

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Tuesday 11 September 2018

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Parliament Live - Hansard

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr Speaker Hansard

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendments 1 to 5 and 15 to 18.

Amendment 13, in clause 18, page 19, line 14, at end insert—

“(8) After section 39 (Power to amend Chapter 2), insert—

‘39AA Review of support for people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism

(1) The Secretary of State must within 6 months of the passing of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2018 make arrangements for an independent review and report on the Government strategy for supporting people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.

(2) The report and any recommendations of the review under subsection (1) must be laid before the House of Commons within 18 months of the passing of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2018.

(3) The laying of the report and recommendations under subsection (2) must be accompanied by a statement by the Secretary of State responding to each recommendation made as part of the independent review.’”

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 3:53 p.m.

Today is obviously the anniversary of 9/11, a devastating terrorist attack that happened on the soil of our ally the United States and ended in the deaths of 77 United Kingdom citizens who were working in New York at the time. Today is also one of the first days of the inquest into the Westminster Bridge attack, when we lost PC Keith Palmer and four other people.

Let me deal as succinctly as I can with the Government amendment in this group, beginning with new clause 2. Since the phenomenon of UK-linked individuals travelling to join terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq began in earnest in 2014, the Government have kept under review various options for banning or requiring notification of travel to conflict zones overseas, underpinned by criminal sanctions. The essential feature of new clause 2 is to make it an offence for a UK national or resident to enter or remain in an area overseas that has been designated by the Home Secretary. The designation of an area will be given effect by regulations, and any such regulation would necessarily need to come into force quickly, but we recognise the need for full parliamentary scrutiny of any designation. Accordingly, such regulations will be subject to the affirmative procedure.

Once an area has been designated, there will be a grace period of one month, enabling persons already in the designated area to leave before the offence takes effect. Of course, there will be individuals who have a valid reason to enter and remain in a designated area, such as to provide humanitarian aid, to work as a journalist, or to attend a funeral of a close relative. To cover such cases, we have provided for a reasonable excuse defence. Once such a defence has been raised, the burden of proof, to the criminal standard, will rest with the prosecution to disprove the defence. The new offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, and it will be open to the court to impose an extended sentence.

The new offence is necessary for two primary reasons. First, to strengthen the Government’s consistent travel advice to British nationals, which has advised against all travel to areas of conflict where there is a risk of terrorism. And secondly, breaching a travel ban and triggering the offence will provide the police and the Crown Prosecution Service with a further tool to investigate and prosecute those who return to the United Kingdom from designated areas, thereby protecting the public from wider harm.

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Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 11 June 2018

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 9:12 p.m.

This has been a good debate, and Members on both sides of the House have demonstrated a desire to take a collaborative approach to counter-terrorism legislation. I am heartened by that, and delighted that we can start the process in that spirit. Every point that I have heard today has been made with passion, consideration and genuine belief. I might not have agreed with some of the points, but I certainly recognise that this is not about posturing or anything other than trying to make an effective piece of legislation that will make us safer. Over time, while we are doing this Bill, I intend to do as much as I can to work with Members on both sides of the House and to be as collaborative as possible. I shall work to see whether there are better ideas to improve the legislation, to ensure that we can deliver it in such a way as to enable the intelligence services, the police and local communities to feel safer than they do today.

On 22 March last year, many of us who were in the House heard shots being fired outside and heard about the horrendous events on Westminster Bridge. I was about to come into the Chamber when I heard a police officer say, “Shots fired.” We lost our friend PC Keith Palmer that day. He did his very best to defend us from a man intent on killing indiscriminately and spreading terror. On 22 May last year, in this job as Security Minister, I remember being woken just after 11.30 pm by a phone call from my office telling me of the dreadful news that a bomb had been detonated at the Manchester Arena and killed a significant number of people. Manchester is my local city, and my own daughter had been at the Arena only the week before. Those events brought home to us the vulnerability that we face.

Every one of us in the House, while not directly affected by terrorism, will have fought the general election feeling—perhaps for the first time and perhaps because of social media—the level of hate and bile that is directed at us all. I think that that made us feel a little uneasy about the society that we are in, and about what lies at the extremes behind that hate. Some of my friends on the Opposition Benches are right now under threat from the extreme right, and we remember our dear fallen colleague. Also, a good friend in my part of the world has been under real threat from some particularly nasty people. I think that we have to reflect on these issues.

There is often pressure after such attacks to have new legislation—something must be done—and I am proud that this Government did not rush to legislation. We set up several significant reviews that were consolidated into four main reviews. The operational review produced a classified report of some 1,300 pages that went into every single decision, piece of intelligence and bit of work that went on in the lead-up to some of the attacks. I read all 1,300 pages not just because I am incredibly interested and because it is my duty, but because only then could I learn what legislation will put right, what is reasonable to be asked by our security services and police and what should not necessarily need to be placed on the statute book.

We also had the Home Office’s counter-terrorism legislative review, and we reviewed Contest, pausing its relaunch to see whether anything needed to be handled. Several of those reviews were “oversighted” by David Anderson, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, or Max Hill, the current reviewer, who reviewed how police used their powers in the aftermath. That gentle but solid consideration is why we are here today with legislation that hopefully helps to answer some of the challenges we face.

When the terrorists unleashed attacks on us in 2017, that demonstrated clearly not only the empowerment that they now have through social media and encrypted communication, but how they had adapted to our statute book to find new vulnerabilities. They have shifted their ambitions to find where we are not as protected as perhaps we should be, and they have exploited that. Good terrorists do that. Terrorists are all about our soft underbelly and our vulnerability. If they cannot get an AK-47, they get a truck. If they cannot get a truck, they get a knife. That is part of what they do, and if they cannot do any of that, they intimidate and scare us with words and propaganda. They exploit our constituents, whether they are vulnerable or children.

Daesh are the among the worst. They have no fuss about who they twist and corrupt. They do not care whether they are Muslim, young, abused or vulnerable or whether they suffer from mental illness. Anyone will do to carry out their twisted, murderous campaign. Despite the loss of territory in Syria, they keep their flame alive. They are adapting, and as we speak there are people in this country planning to repeat what we saw last year. There were five attacks last year, four extreme right-wing, neo-Nazi attacks have been stopped over the past 12 months, and 25 plots have been disrupted since the murder of Lee Rigby. We have 3,000 current subjects of interest involved in nearly 500 live operations. I have never seen things at such a scale, and the threat is a great challenge not only due to encrypted communications, but due to the speed at which someone who does not mind getting caught can reach out, grab a knife, go out of their front door and literally kill people as they see fit.

I will now answer some of the points made today. The shadow Home Secretary offered some positive support for the Bill in principle, which I welcome, but she highlighted some of her concerns, which I may be able to answer. In clause 1, there was a worry about reckless encouragement, but it is our challenge to deal with people who go out to inspire others. It is no coincidence that al-Qaeda’s online publication, which contains sections such as “Just Terror Tactics”, is called “Inspire” because inspiration is one of the challenges we face. There are some very charismatic people in our communities, some of whom are currently in prison but are due to be released, who have used their presence and their inspiration to recruit without actually muttering the words, “And I want you to join Daesh, and I want you to go and fight in Syria.” That has been part of the challenge, and some of them—one individual, in particular, has been responsible for hundreds of people being drawn into extremism—have used it so well for so long, which is why we have sought to plug the gap in the space of inspiration.

I agree with a number of colleagues on both sides of the House on the substance of Prevent. Whenever I hear people criticise Prevent and I ask, “Okay, what would you do?”, they just describe Prevent, and they come back to the bit about the Prevent brand being tainted. Fine, the brand is safeguarding; I will sell safeguarding all day long. We call it Prevent, but it is about safeguarding people from being exploited.

The shadow Home Secretary is worried about whether local authorities have the expertise. They do not have expertise in counter-terrorism, but, by golly, they have expertise in safeguarding vulnerable people and children. We should put Prevent referrals in perspective. There are 9,000 Prevent referrals a year, of which half are of people aged up to young adolescence. There are 621,000 referrals a year to safeguard people from domestic abuse, sexual abuse and grooming. Let us put this in perspective. Prevent is not a Big Brother spying operation.

The end result has been that, in two years, more than 500 people about whom we had serious concerns they were on the path towards, or were about to engage in, violent extremism are now deemed no longer to be a threat. That is 500 people—it takes one man to drive a van across Westminster bridge—and, in my book, that is a success.

Yes, there are people who are worried about the branding of Prevent, about which I have two things to say. First, when I raise the extreme right or the neo-Nazis, people say, “Prevent is quite a good thing for them.” Secondly, when I look people in the eye whose families have been prevented from going to Syria, they do not argue with Prevent; they say that Prevent works. One of the reasons we publish the figures is that they put it in perspective and show that there are successes. It is not 100%, but 30% of the people it picks up need other types of safeguarding.

Often the people who attack Prevent the most are the ones who do not want Prevent to work because they are the flipside of the recruiters of extremism in this country. We should not forget that some people want the narrative to be, “Don’t trust the state. We don’t like the state, and we don’t want the state. Our way is the best way.” They peddle this myth that a child was reported to have said, “My uncle lives in a terrorist household”—we have all heard that one trotted out by the anti-Prevent lobby. What the child actually said was, “I live in a terraced house, and my uncle beats me.” It never was a Prevent referral; it was a referral because the child was being abused. The same people will peddle that myth until the cows come home.

Our ambition is to broaden Prevent, to get the local community engaged and to get local authorities alongside the police on referrals. One of the criticisms of Prevent is that it is too police-focused. Local authorities may understand some of the nuances in their community to determine whether a person is really being radicalised. If the local authority says, “We think they are being radicalised,” why should it not be allowed directly to refer that person to Channel? I think that is a good thing. It is not a step backwards; it is listening to some of those criticisms about Prevent.

My right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes) is right to talk about keeping people safe. This is about safeguarding. On whether we have too much legislation or legislation enough, there are two things to say. Britain is a world leader in counter-terrorism. All our legislation has got us to a point where most countries come to ask us how to do it. Most countries around the world are envious of what we have.

Also, unlike other countries, we have probably the most oversighted intelligence services, security services, police and law enforcement in the world. A number of the measures in the Bill were recommended by the independent reviewers. The hostile activity port stop power has been included because the independent reviewer identified two occasions on which our police were abusing the counter-terrorism power to stop people we thought were from hostile states and recommended a separate power. The Biometrics Commissioner was the one who recommended the changes to the biometrics. So the Government have listened to some of these independent reviewers and thought, “That is a good thing to do.”

May I say to the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) that I welcome the Scottish National party’s support in principle for the Bill? Of course I will continue to work with him and the Scottish Government. I first entered the Scottish Parliament at the same time as his Justice Minister. I had a phone call with him last night. If he feels at any stage that they are not getting the engagement, he should not hesitate to get in touch and I will make sure that it is done. It is incredibly important that Contest and our counter-terrorism legislation reach all the fingertips of the United Kingdom. I note that when National Action was proscribed, something called Scottish Dawn popped up quickly—it is now proscribed, too. It is important that we do not muddy the waters where we all agree to agree.

On the issue about recklessness, part of this is about how we deal with those who are targeting people without caring whether they understand or not—I refer to the issue of vulnerability. In March, Umar Haque was convicted of trying to radicalise hundreds of children at school. He got them to swear allegiance to ISIL. He got them to re-enact the Westminster Bridge attack in their classroom and he showed them footage of people being beheaded. He said to those children, “If you tell your parents, you will go to prison.” Those people were vulnerable—they were children—and we have to find a way to make sure we close the gap in determining how much intent has to be involved and how much the receiver of that information has to know what they are getting.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk)—my learned friend—gave an excellent example about recklessness when he talked about a baseball bat. What we are dealing with here is not that different—I may disagree here with the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey)—and the law has established on a number of occasions where recklessness comes in. My notes tell me to cite R v. G and another from 2003, and I think my hon. Friend is the only person who would understand what case that refers to. It was not an enlightening note, but it shows that this has been done.

Points have been made about hostile activity stops on the border. One way we temper the no suspicion issue is by the fact that whatever oral statements are made then cannot be used in court as evidence. That is an important way to try to balance this, but there is the issue about suspicion to address. If I were an agent of a foreign country, I would be trained. I would know the law of the country I am coming into, so I would give my electronic equipment to a family member. If we had to have reasonable suspicion, we would have to have reasonable suspicion about everyone else travelling with that person; it would be harder to adapt to something as it happens.

I hear what the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty) says, as he is right, about the impact the current schedule has had, including on my constituency, and the cost and what people perhaps lose when they are stopped under counter-terrorism powers. We have to look at whether we can make sure the information is provided in a timely way, so that people do not miss flights. Sometimes things are too last-minute, but this has been incredibly useful.

The hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) talked about the challenges of dealing with foreign fighters. Some 150 people have been prevented from going to train, fight or engage in terrorism because of that schedule. We managed at the airport to stop them, and in examining their electronic devices, we saw that they were not really going on a family holiday to Turkey but were in fact, for example, taking their three young children to Raqqa. No one wants to go on such a holiday, and those three children had no say in that.

I hope and believe that the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Neil Coyle) will be meeting the Economic Secretary to discuss the issue he raised further. I hear what he says, and I also want to pay tribute to his colleague the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell), as she has talked a lot about loss of business around the Manchester Arena. It is right to raise this. I am also glad he has called out Aviva. It is important for us to remember—this is the same for our constituents going on a summer holiday—that slowly but surely over the past 10 years travel insurance firms have dropped terrorism from their coverage, yet the odds of being a victim of terrorism are still absolutely tiny. So I have asked to see what we can do with insurance companies more widely to ensure that, although people are at only a tiny, tiny risk of being a victim, this is not just casually dropped out of people’s schedules.

My hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell) referenced Hezbollah. Of course we always keep proscription under review. I hear what he says about it and I understand the hurt people feel here when they see others flying flags of Hezbollah on the streets—for example, on al-Quds day. He also talked about the Council of Europe. It is absolutely the case, on the border point, that we need to engage those partnerships post Brexit. We need to make sure that we continue with all the tools that we use at the moment. The United Kingdom Government’s position is unconditional on that. That is what we would like to engage with. The question is for the European Commission—whether it would like to have that.

Security is not a competition. Trade might be, but security is not. I think that is something they understand in Europe, going by my private conversations, and I hope that, by the time we get to Brexit, we will see it in place, because that partnership, both domestically and internationally, is why we are so successful in counter-terrorism.

I can already give the hon. Member for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson) some good news from the Dispatch Box: there is no 20-year bar on glorification of terrorism offences, nor will there be. In that sense, hopefully, he will be able to progress and go forward.

The hon. Member for Barrow and Furness is right that we have to find ways to explore the foreign fighter challenge. That is not just us—it is the French and the Germans, too—where we might have intelligence that someone is out there engaging, but it is hard to get the evidence. During the passage of the Bill, we are going to explore new measures or other measures on which I am happy to work together that I hope will do that for us.

We have also extended extraterritorial jurisdiction, because it is ridiculous that someone can sit in Syria and try to recruit people from the United Kingdom and somehow not be prosecuted correctly.

Mr Speaker Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 9:31 p.m.

Order. Forgive me. Am I right in thinking that the Minister of State is approaching a peroration as eloquent as Demosthenes but markedly briefer?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 9:32 p.m.

The usual channels have taken over. I have lost the first battle.

In summing up, I apologise to the other Members who contributed so eloquently to the debate. I would, of course, be happy to meet them outside the usual channels. I should say very clearly that we owe a great duty to our intelligence services and police in thanking them for all the hard work that they do. We will progress with this legislation. I will work as much as possible in partnership with Members from all parts of the House to get a deal and a Bill that works to keep us safe.

Mr Speaker Hansard

The Chair was merely making an inquiry, and there was a question mark at the end of it, but I get the impression that the peroration was not altogether unwelcome to the House. We are very grateful to the Minister of State.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

COUNTER-TERRORISM AND BORDER SECURITY BILL (PROGRAMME)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill:

Committal

(1) The Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.

Proceedings in Public Bill Committee

(2) Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Tuesday 17 July.

(3) The Public Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.

Proceedings on Consideration and up to and including Third Reading

(4) Proceedings on Consideration and any proceedings in legislative grand committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which those proceedings are commenced.

(5) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on that day.

(6) Standing Order No. 83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings on Consideration and up to and including Third Reading.

Other proceedings

(7) Any other proceedings on the Bill may be programmed.—(Paul Maynard.)

Question agreed to.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Money)

Queen’s recommendation signified.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 52(1)(a)),

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any amounts payable by the Treasury in respect of obligations incurred, under any agreement of reinsurance or guarantee, as a result of the amendments made by the Act to the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993.—(Paul Maynard.)

Question agreed to.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Ways and Means)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 52(1)(a)),

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, it is expedient to authorise the charging of fees, under amendments made by the Act to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, in connection with traffic regulation orders or notices made or issued for the purpose of protecting events or sites from risks associated with terrorism.—(Paul Maynard.)

Question agreed to.

Women and Equalities Committee

Ordered,

That Teresa Pearce be discharged from the Women and Equalities Committee and Tulip Siddiq be added.—(Bill Wiggin, on behalf of the Selection Committee.)

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Social Justice Commission
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Tuesday 22 May 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Mr Speaker Hansard

Before we proceed with the main business of the day, I remind the House that we will interrupt the debate at 2.30 pm, or possibly a few seconds before, to hold a one-minute silence to remember the terror attack in Manchester on 22 May 2017.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Hansard
22 May 2018, 2:09 p.m.

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the Serious Violence Strategy.

A year ago today, 22 innocent people, including many children, lost their lives in an appalling and cowardly attack on the Manchester Arena. Today, we remember their lives and share a thought for all the families who were affected on that tragic day.

We are reminded today of the devastating consequences that hatred and violence can have for ordinary lives. This Government’s absolute priority is the safety and security of their citizens. No one should feel unsafe on our streets and in our communities. That is why I am here today to talk about another issue affecting the lives of ordinary citizens and to lay out the Government’s strategy for tackling violent crime.

This Government are determined to end the deadly cycle of violence we see on our streets today. We are clear that these crimes are unacceptable, that there is no place in society for these horrendous crimes and that anyone committing these acts of violence must feel the full force of the law.

The recent increase in serious violence is of deep concern to us all in both Houses, and I assure Members that the Government take this very seriously. That is why on 9 April we published our “Serious violence strategy”, which sets out the action we are taking to address serious violence and in particular the recent increase in knife crime, gun crime and homicide.

The Government have also made a commitment to bring forward legislation in the coming weeks. Our strategy represents a step change in the way we think about and respond to serious violence, establishing a new balance between prevention and the rigorous law enforcement activity that is already happening up and down the country.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

No, I really have to press on. I have given way quite a lot. I am about to read my speech backwards, and Members will not want to hear it twice.

As I have said, it is vital that we steer young people away from crime in the first place. We have to support positive alternatives and timely interventions to provide them with the skills and resilience to lead productive lives free from violence. In the strategy we propose a range of universal targeted interventions, including the early intervention youth fund, which will be launched this summer and to which police and crime commissioners can apply to support early intervention and prevention activity with young people. We will also provide support to Redthread to expand the pilot and its youth violence intervention programme outside London and to develop its services in London hospitals.

We have reviewed the evidence, and the strategy sets out the trends and drivers of serious violence. The analysis makes it clear that the rise in serious violence is due to a range of factors, but the changes in the drug market are a key driver of recent increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicides, which marks the second element of the strategy.

Crack cocaine markets have strong links to serious violence, and evidence suggests that crack use is rising in England and Wales due to a mix of supply and demand factors. County lines drug dealing is also associated with violence and exploitation, and its spread is also a key factor.

In addition, it is thought that drugs market violence may be facilitated and spread by the social media I talked about earlier. The strategy sets out a range of activity we will undertake to tackle serious violence, including more than 60 specific commitments on action. We are providing £40 million over two years to support the initiatives in the serious violence strategy, including £11 million for the early intervention youth fund and £3.6 million for a new national county lines co-ordination centre that will sit in the National Crime Agency.

We are particularly concerned about county lines because of the violence they are now developing. The links behind the county lines are complicated, and the threat crosses police and local authority boundaries, which is why the national county lines co-ordination centre will be key not only in sharing intelligence but in co-ordinating responses and in making sure that victims are supported or diverted away from the county lines.

We will also work with the Department for Education on the support and advice offered to children who are educated in alternative provision, including those who have been excluded, to reduce their risk of being drawn into crime or on to the pathways into crime. In addition, we will work with the Department for Education and Ofsted to explore what more can be done to support schools in England in responding to potential crime.

However, taking effective action means that the issue needs to be understood and owned locally as much as nationally. Communities and relevant partners must also see tackling serious violence as their problem, which is the third pillar of our approach. We are supporting communities to build local resilience and awareness by continuing to match fund local area reviews, which identify the resilience and capability of local areas to respond to gang-related threats, including county lines. That follows on from our support to help partners.

Police and crime commissioners have a vital role in working with community safety partnerships, or the local equivalent, in providing local leadership to bring communities together. That is why the Government are also committing £1 million to our community fund for each of the next two years. The fund, which was launched last week, provides support for local initiatives that work with young people to tackle knife crime. Those initiatives include early intervention and education, as well as mentoring and outreach work. In March we launched a major new media advertising campaign, #knifefree, aimed at young people and young adults to raise awareness of the risks of carrying knives. That was chiefly delivered through social media targeted at young people and it has had a positive response from our partners. We must pursue, disrupt and prosecute those who commit violent crimes, and a robust response from law enforcement therefore remains critical. As I have said, we will bring forward legislation to strengthen our response to violent crime. That includes the introduction of new measures such as—

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 May 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Order. Colleagues, we will now hold a one-minute silence to remember all those affected by the terror attack in Manchester a year ago today.

The House observed a one-minute silence.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
22 May 2018, 2:32 p.m.

A year ago, I was in Manchester, from very early in the morning of the attack, and I wish to take this opportunity to place on the record my appreciation to Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, to the leader of the council and to chief constable Ian Hopkins for the fantastic and amazing work they have done over the past 12 months in helping to heal Manchester and bring that community together. Having visited the investigation on many occasions, I cannot say just how much regard I have for the police and intelligence services, who are still pursuing leads and still working to keep people safe. I believe we have the best police and intelligence services in the world, which is why Manchester is back on its feet, alongside a great community who are determined to make sure that the spirit of Manchester lives on. Although I am not there with them today, many of us are there in spirit and we stand ready to continue to help that great city.

We must pursue, disrupt and prosecute those who commit violent crimes, and a robust response from law enforcement therefore remains critical. As I have said, we will introduce legislation to strengthen our response to violent crime. That will include the introduction of new measures such as restrictions on buying and carrying knives and corrosive substances; and banning certain firearms. An offensive weapons Bill will be introduced into the Commons or the Lords in the next few weeks. We will also continue to support and facilitate police action such as Operation Sceptre—weeks of action designed to tackle knife crime—and action to prevent violent gang material on social media. The serious violence taskforce has been established to drive the implementation of the strategy and support the delivery of key objectives. The taskforce brings together Ministers, Members of Parliament, the Mayor of London, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, the director general of the National Crime Agency, other senior police leaders, and public sector and voluntary sector chief executives.

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National Crime Agency
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 16 April 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

In answer to the hon. Gentleman’s first question, that will be part of the overall funding package from the Home Office through either normal police transformation funding or existing National Crime Agency funding. However, county lines are developing more and more across the country, and that is why the Home Office—internally, with the National Crime Agency—has put together a strategy to look at what intelligence can be learned. If the lessons are that we require more resource or better inter-agency working, we will obviously reflect that in the serious and organised crime strategy that is due to come before the House soon.

Mr Speaker Hansard

We still have a lot to get through, and I am keen that we should do so.

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Kerslake Arena Attack Review
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Wednesday 28 March 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 1:34 p.m.

It is a very important question and I think a single-sentence reply will suffice.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 1:34 p.m.

All I can do is entirely support the hon. Gentleman’s observation. The death knock, as I think some journalists often call it, is not something that should carry on. It is awful and just unacceptable.

Break in Debate

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. We should put it on record that the civic leadership of Manchester—including Andy Burnham, the chief executive of the council and the leader of the council—has been exemplary. Because of that, the terrorists have not been successful in dividing our communities, and nor will they be. Manchester is a perfect example, and I used it recently when talking to Salisbury’s local civic leadership. I said, “If you want an example of how to do it, albeit on a different scale—making sure that your communities return to normal and being prepared to ask central Government for funding—look at the way they did it in Manchester.” We should all be proud of it.

Mr Speaker Hansard
28 Mar 2018, 1:38 p.m.

I thank the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) for highlighting this extremely important matter, and I thank all colleagues for taking part and for taking part in the way in which they did in the exchanges that followed.

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Money Laundering
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 19 March 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait The Minister for Security and Economic Crime (Mr Ben Wallace) - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Mar 2018, 3:35 p.m.

I thank the shadow Chancellor for giving the Government the opportunity to come here today to say what they have been doing on dirty money and money laundering in the United Kingdom. It is a long list, Mr Speaker, so I ask you to have a bit of patience and I will try to be as quick as possible in reading it.

We have made it harder for crooks to launder money through property, jewellery and betting. We have reversed the burden of proof so that people we think have links to organised crime have to prove where their assets come from. If they cannot prove it, we will seize the asset and dispose of it, or keep it to distribute it to countries where it may have been stolen. We have, for the first time, through the Magnitsky amendment made it possible to confiscate assets from people guilty of gross human rights abuse. We will complete that with an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill currently going through Parliament. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) and the right hon. Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge), who actually led the campaign on the Magnitsky amendment, not Labour Front Benchers.

We have made it easier to seize criminals’ money from bank accounts. We have introduced new powers to be able to freeze terrorists’ assets, and we did so on the very day that the provision came into force. We have made it a criminal offence to fail to prevent tax evasion, both at home and overseas. We are currently exploring the potential of widening other areas where failure to prevent may apply in economic crime.

We have brought a number of prosecutions under the Bribery Act 2010 of those involved in bribery, and we have had the first conviction of a company for failing to prevent bribery. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Mar 2018, 3:36 p.m.

Order. There is quite a lot of noise. I know that the Minister is keen to rattle through, and we are deeply obliged to him for doing so, but I just say very gently to him that there is no prohibition on breathing during the delivery of an answer to an urgent question.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Mar 2018, 3:37 p.m.

We introduced deferred prosecution agreements to ensure that we maximise incentives for companies to face up to fraud and corruption. We are setting up the National Economic Crime Centre within the National Crime Agency. We have brought together the many strands of economic crime under one Minister—namely myself. We have bolstered the Serious Fraud Office by ensuring access to blockbuster funding so as to ensure that big business and overseas oligarchs cannot use their wealth to obstruct justice. The previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, initiated an international anti-corruption summit. In response to the Panama papers, we established a joint financial analysis centre within the NCA. We have established one of the world’s first public registers of beneficial ownership of companies. We have helped to establish in all overseas territories and Crown dependencies a register of beneficial ownership, with mutual and, in some cases, live-time access to law enforcement. We have committed to establishing a public register of overseas owners of property in the United Kingdom.

This Government have taken real steps to tackle criminal finance in this country. Whoever the crooks are, wherever they are from, and no matter what their nationality, we will pursue them and their cash.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Mar 2018, 4:19 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has put the position very clearly on the record. The Minister is welcome to reply if he wishes. He is not obliged to do so, but if he does, it will stand in the Official Report.

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Mar 2018, 4:19 p.m.

Is the Minister bobbing?

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Mar 2018, 4:19 p.m.

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) for referring to his stance back then. Before coming to the Chamber, I carried out a Hansard search for the word “oligarchs”, to which he has not referred. The only time it came up was in a 2016 report, when the right hon. Gentleman spoke about the schools White Paper. If Hansard was incorrect or I did not see that, I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman, but the clear point that I was trying to make was that Labour was almost entirely silent on all the measures that the Government introduced in the Criminal Finances Act 2017. This is all about something other than money.

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Mar 2018, 4:20 p.m.

I am grateful to the Minister. I simply say to him that Hansard is not incorrect, and it is very important that we acknowledge the magnificent work of those who prepare the Official Report. I am not going to call the right hon. Gentleman the Minister, whom I have known for a long time, a semantic pedant, because that would be unkind, but his point seemed to focus on the use of the word “oligarch”. He has made his own point in his own way, but the shadow Chancellor’s factual recollection is also very clearly on the record.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 08 January 2018

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Speaker Hansard

I call the Minister.

Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard

We are working on a third party treaty to address just that. It is absolutely our intention to continue collaborative working in all areas of security with our international partners, whether they be in Europe or further afield, because that is the way to solve it.

Mr Speaker Hansard
8 Jan 2018, 3:14 p.m.

I do apologise if I missed something extremely valuable. If I did, I suggest that the right hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) place it in the Library of the House, where I imagine it will be regularly and exhaustively consulted.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 20 November 2017

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Nov 2017, 3:27 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes a valid point about the threat that these people pose. That is why the Government will where possible—where we have the evidence—prosecute, as we have prosecuted them in the past, people who go to fight, no matter whom they fight with, if they commit an offence overseas. We also use things such as temporary exclusion orders, deprivations of citizenship and terrorism prevention and investigation measures as ways to make sure we mitigate the threat.

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Nov 2017, 3:28 p.m.

I call Mohammad—[Interruption.] It is very good of the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Bambos Charalambous) to drop in on us. We are deeply obliged to him. I call Mohammad Yasin.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 16 October 2017

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

The hon. Lady makes the valid point that a number of shooting crimes are being committed at the moment. That is why the Government have increased funding to police and specialist policing by £32 million for armed uplift to ensure that we have trained officers on the ground to deal with such threats, and that when we go after criminals who are armed, the police are protected and have the right equipment to do the job and make sure that those people are put in prison.

Mr Speaker Hansard
16 Oct 2017, 3:42 p.m.

Last but never least, Mr Chris Bryant.

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Topical Questions
Debate between Mr Ben Wallace and John Bercow
Monday 16 October 2017

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Home Office
Mr Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace - Hansard

The hon. Lady makes the valid point that a number of shooting crimes are being committed at the moment. That is why the Government have increased funding to police and specialist policing by £32 million for armed uplift to ensure that we have trained officers on the ground to deal with such threats, and that when we go after criminals who are armed, the police are protected and have the right equipment to do the job and make sure that those people are put in prison.

Mr Speaker Hansard
16 Oct 2017, 3:42 p.m.

Last but never least, Mr Chris Bryant.